In September 2015, after reading Tom Foreman’s My Year of Running Dangerously, I got it in my head to run the Two Ocean’s Marathon. For some reason I didn’t click that it was actually an ultra at 56km, and that I would need to run a qualifying marathon first. What can I say, sometimes I’m a little inattentive.
ANYWAY. Today I ran my qualifying marathon, the 43rd Buffs Marathon in East London (South Africa) – and my first marathon ever.
I had such a lovely experience last week. I was working Accident and Emergency overnight, as I have finally completed my surgical posting and moved on to Family Medicine.
A mother brought her nine-month old baby in with a chronic cough. Now, it was probably the happiest baby I had seen all night and probably could have just waited to go to the clinic the next day, but whatever: she was there, so I saw her.
In among the questions of TB, smoking relatives, and pets, I asked if Baby was born term, and how. Her response, “Yes, he was a big baby! You did my Caesarian Section!”
I heard this song for the first time as I was driving to my New Year’s Day call on Friday. Apparently I’m the only person in the whole world who hasn’t heard it, but WHATEVER okay.
I wept a little.
THIS is what I want to say to people. To the new interns who are hopefully going to realise this year that medicine was the right career for them; but who will certainly meet many challenges this year.
Medicine is hard and you’ll be expected to be super-human, never to have broken wings, never to feel like you can’t go on.
Remember that for every person who expects you to motor on without a wink of sleep, without any debriefing after a difficult resuscitation, there is another who will lend you their wings when it’s hard.
Look for them. Look for us.
Find the people who will support you when your day or week or month is shitty.
And when your wings are working… please help someone who needs them.
As my first year as an adult (sort-of maybe I guess?) draws to an end, I find myself reflecting a lot on what has happened. Incoming interns ask for advice and I wanted to write a really cool and inspirational post but I find myself not knowing what to say. Almost as if I haven’t learned enough to offer advice.
I didn’t want to know that the man with the compound skull fracture had fallen into a sewer drain while being chased by the police because he was the man that had been scamming poor people out of their grant money for months.
I didn’t want to know that the man with the gangrenous arm had been bitten two weeks ago, by a girl he was trying to rape.
I understand the importance of a good clinical history. But right now, while I’m saving their lives, can I not simply know that he fell in a ditch? Or that he suffered a human bite?
I don’t want to know WHY these things happened to them. Not right now in any case. Tell me later, when they have pulled through the worst. Tell me then, if you must.
As I write this, I’m sure that most of them are in a deep slumber trying to catch up on all the sleep they missed out on this year. I am jealously thinking about the summer holiday they have ahead of them, so I made a list of things I think one should do before starting your first official job as a doctor.
If you don’t sleep a lot during your last big holiday I might actually disown you.
2. Do what you’ve been dreaming of all year
In my case it was spending the festive season with my family; for others, it was traveling. DO IT NOW. You deserve it.
Chances are you’ll be moving into a new place – maybe even a new city! Instead of chucking everything your own into boxes, spend some time going through the detritus of your life and getting rid of things you don’t need or don’t use. Haven’t worn that all year? Chuck it. It’s the age of minimalism – dust is gross and moving companies are expensive. If it’s old and gross throw it away; if someone might still use it, donate it to a charity shop.