Today this blog turns four years old. Technically a few minutes to midnight yesterday, but it’s much of a muchness really. Four years ago I wrote about practising speculum exams on sim-dolls in the skills lab. I was so embarrassed to do a bimanual examination on a doll in front of my male classmates. Everything was new and scary and who would have guessed that four years later we would be effortlessly sliding speculae and doing Pap smears and getting ready for the big wide world.
I remember when I delivered my first baby and on vaginal examination I couldn’t even feel the cervix, much less figure out its dilatation. I remember when I could never find the damn cervix on speculum examination.
Now it almost comes naturally. Sometimes I still have to remind myself how to hold the speculum, because there are so many different techniques, but mostly it is smooth sailing.
They say medicine is always challenging and stimulating, and that is true, but certain parts of medicine become routine and easy with practice, and it keeps despondence at bay. It makes you feel accomplished: maybe I can’t remember that dosage, or maybe I don’t know why this woman is infertile, and maybe my supervisor just crapped on my head, but this thing I can do.
OBGYN? It was my first introduction to clinical skills and now it is my last rotation of med school. I admit the novelty has worn off a bit and it is not one of my favourite rotations, but this I can do: I can screen a woman for cervical lesions. I can teach her the warning signs. I can counsel an infertile couple. I can teach a woman to do breast exams. I can show a new mom how to latch her baby. I can welcome the squealing pinkfoot into the world. I can hold a woman’s hand when she finds out her infant has died in utero.
Every day I discover that I can do more. The metamorphosis happens slowly, but it happens.