The Train Journey

The train journey (from Edinburgh) was interesting. I’d gotten on ready to claim my rightful place but I eventually had to move and give up my window and table seat.

I was sitting with two other passengers: a woman and a man. At first I thought they’d arrived together because he was mid-conversation when I approached the table. I caught the end of his sentence about being torn between two places: Lancaster and I can’t remember the other place. It was clearly an emotional topic. I just assumed this conversation must have begun before they’d boarded the train (because we’d all got on at the same stop).

He was speaking so gruffly and erratically and the woman still hadn’t spoken. I realised at that point, she probably didn’t know him. *sighs inwardly* I was hoping for a quiet journey. He got up to let me sit by the window, then sat back down beside me and continued his one-sided conversation. It was fragmented and sort of made sense but I wasn’t paying too much attention. It felt like he was speaking his thoughts old loud, but it was awkward because we were all sitting around a table in really close proximity to each other. In my mind, I kept wondering: is he talking to us or… at us…or to himself…?

I thought it couldn’t get any more weird but we then descended onto new levels. He began asking me questions. Normally, I don’t mind engaging in friendly chit-chat, but there’s usually a nice opening like ‘hey’ or some remark about the weather or something neutral to get the ball rolling. I don’t know if he was drunk (I couldn’t smell any alcohol) or whether he just had an eccentric personality but his line of questioning made me uncomfortable and it seemed it made the lady in front of me uncomfortable as well because she quickly came to my rescue and asked him to stop.

I’d been caught off guard. I was trying to formulate a polite way to tell him to stop. But in that moment where my brain was trying to process what was happening and also think of an appropriate response: polite but firm, I just mumbled answers. I wanted to make sure I didn’t over react. So, I was in awe at how quickly she came to my aid. Then after, she asked me if I was ok, and I mouthed that I was.

I sat there and contemplated moving. I was wedged in. He was sitting beside me and the table (and the other lady) were in front of me. If I wanted to move, I’d have to engage with him again. The journey was three hours long and we were less than 20 minutes in. I could sit there and just ignore his ramblings or I could move. A younger me would have stayed, too embarrassed to move or to offend anyone else and just suffer silently .

I moved. I deserve the right to travel in peace. Plus, it was 2 in the afternoon and there were barely any other passengers so it didn’t make any sense to sit in what was essentially an empty carriage with bad company.

I’m thankful for that woman and how quickly she shut him down. I think sometimes, it takes someone on the outside looking in to realise that something isn’t right. So, I’m really, really grateful.

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Travelling

I decided to do something out of the blue. I’ve picked the destination, booked the ticket and the hotel. And though it’s not far, it’s to a new place/country I’ve never been before and on my own. A few firsts.

Why?

  1. I have travel envy. Seeing other people visiting new places, it makes me want to travel. Swiping through Instagram makes me feel inspired to look up cheap flights and dream.
  2. It’s hard to find people to travel with. I’ve made the mistake before of travelling with a bunch of people. There were a lot of arguments and tantrums. It’s not an experience I want to repeat.
  3. It’s hard to work around schedules and people are busy. After a few attempts, things just never panned out which is ok. Plus, with our kind of schedule (nights, on calls and the like) finding time takes a lot of forward planning and effort.
  4. It’s a trial run. There are loads of places I eventually want to visit: South Africa, Rio, Tokyo, New Zealand. I want to try to work myself up to the more far flung areas by starting small. I’m hoping I can build up my courage.When it came to booking the tickets, the worried part of me went in to overdrive, and I nearly talked myself out of it.
  5. I want some time away. Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. I just want to take it easy and not think about the wards or hospital or the last few months.
  6. I want the peace and the quiet. Living with my family, it can feel like I don’t get the chance to just be by myself which makes me cranky and irritable. A few days on my own might be just what I need.

I haven’t said where I’m going yet, but you might be able to guess…

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The Final Few…

Like the final moments before the end of a marathon, I’m just trying to sprint*. I’m running, I’m keeping my head down and getting on with the job. Yep, I can do that. Yes, that’s fine, I’ll do it. The finish line is in sight and I’m so nearly there. If I can just make it through this placement on a good note, that’ll be a success. Anything potentially annoying, I just smile and move on. I’m so, so close. Just a few days left. I’m just praying I can sail through the last few shifts hassle free.

I’ve been telling myself to ‘grin and bear it’ for the last several weeks, but the penultimate days have been the hardest. Only because I’m yearning to dive into the sweet release of annual leave. I can almost picture it which makes me even more desperate for it to arrive sooner. Like now. Alas, patience is required.

Towards the end of this placement, I’d already decided to cut my losses and just get on with the job. The idea that this rotation would live up to the last one in terms of the relationships I’d built with my team was unrealistic. I’m just happy to survive it all with a fewer scars as possible.

* (At least, that’s what I assume happens.)

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Lately

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.

I’ve piled on a lot of expectations, all with good intentions, but now I’m struggling with constantly falling short. My goals aren’t outlandish, they’re the same old ‘eat healthier, drink more water’ mixed in with other less standard stuff like ‘write two blog posts a week’.

I don’t help myself though, because I complicate things. Take eating healthier as an example: I look up a few new recipes (which alone probably takes a few hours) and try make them all on the same day. Too much, too quickly. I’m not that great a cook, so why am I suddenly trying to make Michelin star meals on a Sunday. Because even if I can manage to do it once, I can’t do it every week. I can’t sustain that. Currently, I have around 5 cookbooks from the library all siting in a dusty corner of my room. The idea of flicking through one of them, rushing to the store to get the ingredients and then the disappointment of it not looking anything like the picture, exhausts me to the point where I give up, temporarily.

But It’s what I do. It’s the same with blogging. I wanted to change it so I got a new blog and I became obsessed with making it perfect and doing all the right things. Then I became overwhelmed and had to take a step back.

It’s a cycle. Excitement, overexert, fall back, begin again. In a weird way, it means I don’t really give up because I usually always start again, but it isn’t an ideal way to approach anything.

I think the best way forward for me is simplifying my goals. If it starts to feel like too much hard work I know that I’ll abandon it. Particularly if I’m taking on several things at the same time. So, that’s what I’m working towards: simplifying.

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5 Awkward Situations I Always Find Myself In

I can be really awkward sometimes, it’s painful. But I can also have a laugh at my expense so I thought why not just write it all out for the internet’s pleasure? These are the 5 awkward situations I often find myself in…

  1. Pretending I haven’t seen someone so that I don’t have to make awkward conversation. Does anyone else do this? You kind of know someone (but not really) because you work in the same place or you’ve walked past them enough times to recognise their face, but don’t actually know them know them. Every time you see them you might say ‘hey, how are you’ and they go ‘hey, I’m fine thanks, how are you’ and that’s probably as far as you go in the way of conversation. If I don’t think the other person has seen me, I might  try to avoid them by going a different way. ( I never do it to be rude.)
  2. Those awkward door moments. The times where you approach a door and someone else has already gone through, but they keep the door open for you because they see you coming (even though you’re a fair bit away). You, in turn, quicken your pace a bit (so as not to keep them waiting) and you start half-running half-walking towards the door. Awkward. But, I do the same thing sometimes. I wait at the door, holding it open for someone else to go through the same awkward skipping/running manoeuvre. It’s an entirely different scenario if you’re helping an old man or lady with a walking stick.
  3. Calling someone by the wrong name. I am so much better at names than I used to be. Sometimes my mind just says the wrong thing and I don’t know why. The other day, I called one of my colleagues by the wrong name. I know his name. Why would I just randomly call him something else? Another time, in medical school, I introduced my clinical partner (they put us in pairs) to a patient, with the wrong name. *cries inwardly*
  4. Walking in the wrong direction. I regularly walk in the wrong direction (forget why), correct myself and walk the other way. Then I remember why I started walking in the other direction in the first place but I’m aware of how crazy I’ll look if I turn back, so I keep going in the wrong direction.
  5. Eating lunch by myself. Enough said.

 

I feel like I should title this with a part 1 or something, because I can pretty much guarantee there’s plenty more awkward to come. Maybe make it into a series.

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Telephone Consultation

I had a telephone consultation with my GP recently. At one point during the conversation, she started explaining something in lay terms i.e. no medical jargon. She did it really well, if I wasn’t medically trained, I would have understood everything she was saying. Whilst she was talking I wondered whether I should let on that I was a medic as well so she that she wouldn’t need to make as much of an effort, but I didn’t.

I thought it’d make the situation awkward and I didn’t want to throw her off. If she’d known she was speaking to someone like me before she dialled my number, she probably would have communicated accordingly. I don’t know much about this GP so it’s possible she may not have even batted an eyelid. A few of my colleagues have been in situations where they’ve had to put in cannulas in consultants (who’ve been patients) and it’s made them extremely nervous. I can imagine feeling the same. It would feel like you’re being tested on your ability to perform, like being in an OSCE situation but instead of doing it on a dummy, you’re being asked to do it on the examiner. No pressure.

I also didn’t want judgement. I can imagine patients might feel like they’re being told off if they smoke or if they’re overweight. Now, I’m the one seeking someone else’s insight and following their instructions. I didn’t want her to think ‘you should know this, you’re a doctor’.

Once, I was speaking to a patient’s daughter and I was explaining the blood test result. I was trying to do it in really simple terms and half way through she told me she was a nurse. It threw me a bit. I felt slightly embarrassed like I’d been caught patronising her which wasn’t what I intended. I just assumed, like most of the people I come across, that they would have minimal medical knowledge.

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8th February 2017

Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

Wasn’t one of my best days at work (I’ve been having a run of bad days). There’s been an issue that’s been causing a bit of tension between me and 2 of my colleagues since around December. Finally, after avoiding the issue, we decided we’d get together and discuss it on Monday.

It’s been a source of anxiety for me and I’m not sure why. Every time I think about the topic and the fact that it’s still unresolved, I would get a churning feeling pretty much automatically. I would randomly think about it whilst doing other things and try brace myself for that feeling. It passes quickly but it just compounds the issue, making it feel worse than it should do.

We finally decided to talk about it today (Wednesday) especially as our meeting on Monday fell through (which didn’t help my anxiety because I was sitting around for 20 minutes gearing myself up for it). So early afternoon, we found a quiet spot and discussed it. Argued is probably a better way of putting it

Things got heated pretty quickly. I’m not the kind of person to start arguments if I can avoid it, especially at work, but I wasn’t prepared to back down on something I felt strongly about. Do I regret that we couldn’t work it out there and then, yes. Do I regret that things turned sour, yes. I can apologise for those things but I won’t apologise for what I feel is right. I could have been calmer in the situation.

I think my colleagues are being unreasonable. But I can see quite clearly from their side they think the same thing about me. Which is fine, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

And in some ways, I feel better for getting it off my chest. But my mind is still replaying the scene in my head, going over all the things I said, all the things they said. I suspect things are about to get very awkward.

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7th February 2017

 

I got a telling off. It was done in such a gentle way, I couldn’t tell who was more uncomfortable me or the consultant.

He basically said that he’d had reports that I hadn’t been answering my bleep and that I was frequently non-contactable which meant the registrars and the SHO were being bleeped instead. And that this was also affecting patients getting discharged.

I appreciate that he needed to have a word with me because that is a real issue. If the registrars are continuously being hounded because no one can reach me then that’s going to stop them getting on with their own jobs. I see why it needs addressing.

However, my issues are that:-

1) I’m essentially being accused of something without no one giving me the benefit of doubt and

2) I do answer my bleep. Period. Whenever my bleep goes off, I answer it as soon as I can. Even if I’m having lunch. If I’m bleeped whilst in the middle of a task that I can’t stop, then I call back. Honestly, there have been times where I’ve forgotten but those situations don’t even happen that regularly.

3) I’m almost always free. There are so many times when I’m not doing anything and I’m literally looking for tasks to do, why would I then ignore my bleep and continue doing nothing. I’m literally typing this at work, in between getting data from an audit I’ve asked for. All because there is nothing to do. There were 3 patients on the ward round and they’re all being discharged which means no jobs. I really can’t stress how annoying this whole situation is.

Not being given the benefit of doubt paints me out to be a bad F1. And to be told off as an adult is humiliating. But if it was something I knew I’d been doing, I’d consider this a warning and act right. But I’m at loss as to what to do next. I feel like I’ve been found guilty and I’m the only one that thinks I’m innocent.

One of the registrars did mention it to me 2/3 times back in the beginning of the placement but I had my bleep changed and I thought that had resolved the issue. I was surprised to have this be brought up again. I’d expected the registrar or the SHO to have cornered me and asked why I wasn’t answering my bleep. But none of them said anything. Why wouldn’t they say anything? At least that would have made me aware that there was a problem.

And if a patient falls ill and I’m “non-contactable” then it becomes a safety issue which is potentially serious.

And to top it all off he said something about another issue which made me highly suspicious that this may all be driven by one of the registrars who I’m sure hates me.

So, I’m essentially on a mission to prove my innocence because everyone obviously thinks that I’m in the wrong which I think is overwhelmingly unfair.

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How Donald Trump Becoming President Has Motivated Me

If anyone had told me, in 2015, that Donald Trump would be the next American president, I wouldn’t have believed them. Before the whirlwind of the general election, I knew little about Donald Trump. I knew he was a celebrity and that he had a reality show called The Apprentice. In my mind, he was like an American Alan Sugar (who’s on the UK version). I’d never seen him in any interviews or even paid any attention to anything he did, so I never really formed an opinion about him.

All of this changed when he put himself forward as a candidate; then he was all over the news. But again I wasn’t paying much attention. 2016 was a mix of studying for finals, planning an 8 week trip abroad, preparing for F1 amongst other things. My mum would be my filter and fill me in on the latest shocking Trump related incident.

I was amused. This guy couldn’t be president surely? Amusement turned to shock.

I still cannot even fathom how he’s done it. How do you get from no political experience to president of the United States of America?

My mind is still trying to understand it, but it made me think: how many things do I think are out of the realms of possibility?  How many ideas have I pushed aside because I’m unable to envision their reality? It’s made me more motivated to take risks and try things out but to also be conscious on how I go about it. I want to experience amazing opportunities  but through the right means. I want to be able to be proud of the journey as well as the outcome.

 

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February Already

It’s February already. How did that happen? We celebrated New Year’s Day 5 minutes ago and now we’re 1/12th of the way to the next one. Time is going by quickly and it’s making me wonder whether or not I’m making the most of it.

All throughout medical school I struggled with time management. If there was an hour between one session and another, I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself and I’d end up doing a whole load of nothing.

And now I’m facing the same issue. I have a lot of free time, especially around the middle of the day, yet I still seem to be falling into bad habits. I could use the opportunity for self-study but I don’t. I take long lunches with the other F1s and just generally coast until half 4.

What do I end up achieving, nothing. I could do so much more. I could be focusing on actually getting a case report done, or on this blog. There’s no point me sitting around all day, only to try to squeeze in some writing before bed time.

So, it all comes down to discipline and motivation. I want to do more than what I’m doing right now. By putting this out there, I’m hoping I’m making myself more accountable. I think some of us need that extra motivation. We’re starting to get comfortable because that buzz of the new year has died down. Imagine though, how much more we could achieve if we kept it up the whole year round.

Here’s to February.

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