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.
Chest X-ray of a child with PCP. European Respiratory Journal. Click for link.
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).
This means that on any one day, four of us would be on call (two at each hospital).
It made the roster a little full and for the first time during my internship, I saw people completely missing the fact that they were on duty that day. It happened to me, too.
But sometimes it happened that a person realised too late that there was an error in the roster. Like when they were put on back-to-back calls.Or they were already out of town for the weekend without realising they were meant to be on call.
Or sometimes, as with any rotation, one of us got sick.
There was one of our colleagues who volunteered to help out not once, but TWICE.
Twice she cancelled her plans for the evening to do a call that someone else could not make. Of course, they would then do one of her calls; but all the same, she did them (and us) a huge favour.
I told her once, “You’re like the fairy-godmother of saving calls.”
She said, “I just think we should stick together more.”
Now isn’t that the attitude doctors should have? In a high-stress job where it sometimes feels like everyone from the janitor to the CEO is out to get us, shouldn’t we help each other as much as we can?
We really should.
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.)
Not the topic for this discussion, but I do want to read this book.
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.
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
The 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
Before you read what I have to say, you should read Dr Nikki Stamp’s post: How tired is too tired?
One day, I’d like to have a study to prove the post title. But for now, we’ll have to settle for another anecdote:
A while ago this secret appeared on PostSecret:
“Medical School made me self harm. It better be worth it.”