Tuesday, 28 August 2012

That's Life, That's What All The People Say...

Well, the past few weeks have been something of an emotional roller coaster. As well as dealing with some very challenging things at work, I've also split with the guy I was seeing (definitely for the best but I'm still gutted) and lost my Nana (we weren't close but I hate seeing my Dad so upset).

My first run of 12 shifts in a row was really quite exhausting. Being able to switch my alarm clock off when I went to bed on Friday felt like a definite luxury. Even though I don't start work particularly early (9am so the alarm goes off around 7), it's amazing how tiring it can feel just knowing there isn't the option of a lie in at all! The weekend in particular was pretty tough as I was working 12.5 hour days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with very little in the way of senior support.

Being a doctor is much more emotionally demanding than I had anticipated. I'm not sure whether this is because I've also had other stresses in my life or I was just rather naive when I started. I seem to have a lot of patients who are either essentially dying or medically as fit as we can make them but unable to leave the hospital because there are social/care provision issues. I wasn't quite prepared to be discussing end of life care with relatives after only a matter of weeks in the job, nor was I aware that I'd be representing the "medical team" at case conferences and meetings so early in my career.

I'm now on a week of annual leave, which is a bit strange. I hadn't really anticipated having any length of time off so soon after starting work, but we get allocated our leave so someone will always have it in August - and at least I didn't have the first two weeks of the month off like some of my friends did! I'm not doing an awful lot but I get paid on Thursday so maybe I'll do something a bit more exciting when I have some cash...

Nothing more exciting to report, sadly, but my MSc starts in October so I should have something useful to write about then!


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Working Girl

Apologies for the unintentional hiatus in posting recently. Things have been rather busy recently. I have moved into a new flat, graduated, been away for a week and started work since I last posted (there's also a boy on the scene but I shan't bore you with the details).

My graduation was absolutely lovely. I was lucky enough to graduate on the one day where it wasn't absolutely tipping it down with rain. Lots of close friends were there and it was a very happy occasion with plenty of wine and Pimm's too. The icing on the cake was my friend's boyfriend proposing to her just after the ceremony - very exciting and I'm delighted for them :-)

I've also had another week away with Over The Wall. Anyone who has read my posts from last summer will be aware that I'm something of an OTW evangelist. Once again I had an amazing week and met some really inspiring kids. I hope I can arrange my leave/days off so that I'm able to go next year - I'd be absolutely gutted if I couldn't. After a wonderful but tiring and emotionally draining week, it's sometimes easy to forget the real reason we do this, but the comments from some of the kids and their parents after they'd got back just sum it up so well. These are two of the quotes which really made this year worthwhile for me.

"I have just recently came back from the 2012 Tulliallan "over the wall" camp, i would just like to say thank you now because i did not have time to do it before i left.

Thank you for.....

Helping me push myself beyond myself beyond my limits
Making me enjoy at first seemingly immature songs :).
Letting me feel Normal for once"

"Thank you so much for letting me join you again this summer, for another amazing camp. This past week has been the best week of my life. I will never forget the laughs, songs, the dances, the tears (emotional/happy ones!), and the memories that have come out of it. I have met some fantastic people that will inspire me everyday for the rest of my life. It is truly impossible to put an Over The Wall camp into words. From the staff and volunteers, to the campers: every single person at Over The Wall is just incredible. Your camps are the highlight of my year and heaven on earth for me. I look forward to seeing the photos that were taken this past week, which I will treasure forever. Leaving camp this morning was so difficult and emotional for me - but that shows what a great time I've had there.
What you do is wonderful.
Thank you."

I'm feeling quite emotional reading those back. I know both the kids who wrote them and they are really wonderful young people who have overcome some really tough challenges but are none-the-less bright, talented, enthusiastic and kind.

I could talk about camp all day (in fact, I pretty much do) but I should move on to what I imagine is more exciting for most people who read this: starting work!

I was one of the slightly unfortunate people who drew the short straw and my first ever shift was a night shift. Although it was pretty nerve-wracking and hard going, I feel like in only two shifts I learnt an awful lot and am already much more confident than I was before starting. I've also now done 5 day shifts on the ward where I'm based. I'm quite lucky in that the other doctors are very supportive and helpful and our consultants are happy to be contacted if we have any queries or concerns. The nurses, therapists etc are also all lovely, which makes the whole process of settling into the job a lot easier.

Without giving away anything confidential, I have seen and done a real mixture of stuff. I was really worried about practical procedures as my last student placements didn't offer much opportunity for practising, however, I have successfully managed venepuncture, cannulation, arterial blood gas sampling and catheterisation in the past week. Hopefully this means that my colleagues won't think I'm incompetent should I struggle with a few difficult patients in future. I have also confirmed death and filled in death certificates - rather morbid but something every junior doctor needs to get used to doing.

Whilst it's true that being an FY1/JHO/lowest of the low is largely about organisation and paperwork rather than medicine, I have found I've had plenty of opportunities to assess sick patients, prescribe, examine and generally use my brain - something I was worried wouldn't be the case. In true Learnaholic fashion, I have also found myself some research to be getting on with, and my MSc starts in October.

Right, I must head to bed as tomorrow is day 1 of 12 and I need to get enough sleep!

Goodnight xxx