Not Waiting Anymore

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A few months ago I did something on the spur of the moment. Something unlike me, something I was sure I’d regret.

I invited a colleague for a coffee/debriefing session after work.

I’m an introvert. Initiating a social event, even a small one, is unlike me.

I asked her because we bumped into each other at work, and had a quick chat about how downtrodden and hopeless we felt. (Internal Medicine is hard.)

I asked her, selfishly, because I needed it. But also because I realised that she needed it.

It’s a small thing. And maybe silly to make a big deal about it.

But in many ways, that day was the day I took agency of my life.

For so many years, I have waited for other women in medicine to make medicine a safe space for me. A space of mentorship, and care, and of reaching out to our colleagues.

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I have waited and waited and been disappointed that it didn’t happen.

I’m not going to wait anymore.

I am not a little girl anymore.

I am not a student anymore.

I am still junior, but there are others more junior than me.

I, too, am a woman in medicine. I, too, can take responsibility for creating a safe space. I am able to do this.

I will do this.

Doctors and Piercings: Part 3

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It’s been nearly five years since I decided to get a nose piercing. I mused about the decision on the blog both before and after the fact.

Since becoming a “real” doctor, I’ve never had a patient refer to my piercing. As mentioned before, it really isn’t that conspicuous. I’ve also noticed more and more doctors who have nose piercings, so it probably isn’t so strange in South African healthcare workers as it was in 2011.

This year, after working with a certain doctor for three months, he finally noticed the piercing. His response was, “Well that’s atypical,” then he laughed and we moved on with our ward round.

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You can see it, but just barely.

I removed my nose jewellery recently, and in many ways that decision was as difficult as getting it in the first place.

Over the past few months, I just grew a bit tired of it. The person I was when I got it was not the same person as I am now, and although it’s just a silly piercing, it sometimes started to annoy me. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe the same way one can tire of the same hairstyle?

It had me wondering about my motivation behind getting it. I don’t remember, but sometimes I wonder if I got the piercing because I wanted one, or because I wanted to make a point. (Probably a bit of both. I’ve always loved piercings.)

Before I got it, I told naysayers that it really wasn’t such a big deal. I could remove it whenever I wanted – much easier than getting rid of a tattoo if you get tired of it.

But if I remove it, I wondered, wouldn’t people think I’m going back on my belief? That I now admit that nose jewellery is not professional? This of course is not the case at all. I stand by my prior statements. I still think nose jewellery is nice, and I still think it has no bearing on professionalism. Getting rid of mine is a personal choice, not a professional one. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder.

It’s been out more than two weeks now, and nobody seems to have noticed its absence. Not even my family or my boyfriend! What an anti-climax.

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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