My Evolving Opinions About Doctors’ Working Hours

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I started working on this post two days ago. Since then, I have received news of a colleague who died in an accident while driving post-call. She went to my alma mater and graduated last year, and though I did not know her personally, my heart breaks. A country with a shortage of doctors has lost a young doctor who was just starting in her career. She was well-loved, and we will all feel her absence.

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Baby-CPR: Full Circle

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The first time I partook in a baby’s resuscitation was during my fourth year of medical school. It was a disaster: the wall-suction malfunctioned, the nursing staff were in the precarious business of changing shifts, and all algorithms flew out of the window.

I vowed optimistically that when I was a doctor, I would not let a baby die that way.

I had a lot of criticisms, which is so easy for a student to do; but I did learn from it. I learned to prepare myself mentally for any scenario where a life may need to be saved, so that I could give that life a fighting chance.

Last night it was my turn. I was called to the ward for a desaturating baby with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). It was my call to start bag-mask ventilation, and then to start compressions when his heart rate dropped below 60.

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Chest X-ray of a child with PCP. European Respiratory Journal. Click for link.

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The Nicest Interns: Part 2

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I just recently finished a four-month Family Medicine rotation. Our after-hours duties on Family  Medicine are as casualty officers at the Accident and Emergency Departments of two different hospitals. Because A&E has high-intensity decision making, our shifts were not allowed to be longer than twelve hours (compare: 24 hour shifts in any other department).

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Unrealistic YA Fiction Is Not Such A Big Problem

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Young Adult fiction treads a fine line. On the one hand, it needs to be in touch with its audience. YA readers want to see protagonists who speak realistically, eat realistically, and act realistically.

On the other hand, reading offers us the opportunity to live different lives; to travel to places and settings and adventures that we may never have, and very few people want to read about a normal, boring setting. (Although I am told that Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here addresses this very well, I’ve not yet read it.)

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Not the topic for this discussion, but I do want to read this book.

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Two Ocean Ultra Part 1: My Race

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This past weekend I  ran the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. It was 56 km and the biggest race I have ever entered. (Both in numbers and in distance! The marathon I ran had about 700 participants and 500 finishers. This ultra had 11 000 entrants!) I’ve only been running semi-seriously for a short while now so it was probably a bit ambitious too.

Well, I finished it, but not before the cut-off time of seven hours. It was a bit of a disappointment but I had 14 km during which to prepare myself for the inevitability.

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In the months leading up to OMTOM, I had many nightmares. I dreamed that I overslept, that my running shoes broke during the race, and that I got lost on Chapman’s Peak.

I never dreamed that I didn’t finish within cut-off. I guess partially because seven hours honestly seemed like enough time, but also because finishing in cut-off was not the important bit. It was entering it, getting there, doing it, finishing in any time whatsoever.

I must admit that I vastly underestimated OMTOM. My first marathon was actually pretty easy, and I though, “Hey, maybe I’ve finally got the hang of this running thing.” So, I may have been a little over-confident. Continue reading

A Key To Disillusionment In Work And Play

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disillusionment2The phenomenon of disillusionment is well-discussed in the world of medicine. Roundabout third year of medical school, students begin to realise that the medical world simply does not live up to what they envisioned.

It is easy to say, “Just don’t have such high expectations,” but in reality a doctor without vision becomes a mindless drone. Disillusionment is discussed so widely because even though by definition it seems simple, its origins and characteristics are complex.

Funnily enough, I began to really understand disillusionment when I started club-running. Don’t be mistaken: joining a club was the best decision I could have made. It introduced me to many like-minded people and provided ample opportunity to amp my mileage.

I joined a club because I felt that I loved running enough to do so, but not long after joining I started experiencing an emotion I recognised from the medical world. I was feeling disillusioned. Continue reading