Archive

Personal

I was looking at WordPress for a client and then I found myself looking at my blog and realising that I missed blogging…

I don’t know where to start seeing I was mostly absent in 2014. Well I guess 2014 in short… I took a break from Medicine; met a boy; went to the Polo and felt like Pretty Woman; went to the beach… many times!; saw cool sand sculptures; did 3 months of study, had a lot of fun and graduated with Certificate IV in Graphic Design; did a few design internships and jobs and realised design work and design study are totally different…

Bought a mushroom gelato cake for a friend; got sick, then sicker then improved; went to a Beer festival & tasted a beer called Godzilla which reminded me of miso soup and beer mixed together; came to the conclusion that unpaid internships are not cool; got obsessed with poppies over Winter; watched lots of movies…

Turned 26 and had a small celebration with a red velvet cake, old fashioned cocktails and polaroid snaps with my closest pals; missed Medicine; was a finalist in an Australian Design competition; had a poster exhibited in London raising money for Cancer Research; attended calligraphy and sign painting workshops; saw Once the Musical and loved it; still undecided with what to do with Medicine; saw a Dior documentary which was amazing and reminded me of my love for fashion and all things design; attended the Korean film festival; learnt I had to get used to being with myself and had to take care of myself more; perused a few Design Markets; designed wedding invitations for a friend; finished Naruto!!!; celebrated Christmas and then brought in the New Year with drinks at a hidden Japanese bar and fireworks. Phewww…!

2014 was meant to be a wobbling finding myself year and to my dismay a year is not long enough. Let’s hoping 2015 brings a bit more clarity.. and more photos that are not from my dodgy old iPhone :p

Advertisements

The last few months have been tough and I’ve been going through a lot of learning curves and re-learning curves. In October I took some time off work due to illness and then had my annual leave.

For my annual leave I went on a holiday which I had organised earlier this year (who knew I would find myself in a position where I might need to cancel a trip because of illness) however my friends and doctors advised me to go thinking it would be the best thing. It was.

For 11 days I cruised along the West Coast of the United States of America in a coach with 50 other travellers from around the world. Everyday was a new experience, with new sights, facts, experiences and people. I was excited to wake up in the morning even if it meant I only had 3 hours sleep the night before. The sunshine, the backdrop, the people- it was just what I needed to give me a boost. Then I moved onto Oaxaca, Mexico where I met aa new group of travellers and joined in on the festivities of the Day of the Dead festival. Mind-blowing. Looking back it feels like a dream. There was a sense of madness and magic in the air which I can’t quite comprehend. To end the 3 weeks, I retreated to NYC. I was in NYC last year and I just wanted to go back to a place I was familiar with and experience it more as a “local.” It suited perfectly because the 3 weeks had worn me out more than I thought . I spent my days wandering downtown, dining at cute cafes, shopping and returning to my little hotel for an early night and indulging in reality TV.

I’ll definitely post more of my experiences, but I guess from meeting all those amazing people in my travels; I befriended 18 to 80 year olds; students to art teachers to cab drivers to music producers, that it made me realise that there was no race in life. We spend so much time comparing and wishing we forget about the big picture.

Before this break I felt stagnant and that I was going no where in life and that nothing had changed. But when talking to younger travellers on my trip I realised I had changed. I may not have the obvious husband, house or sure career but I have grown up and every day I learn something more about myself. I am different to the girl I was at 16, 21 and even last year! And it doesn’t stop there as I have noticed with the older travellers- we’re constantly evolving and finding ourselves. There’s no right path and sometimes we create a path we didn’t know we needed like for me and these last few months.

There’s no shame in falling. There’s no shame in making mistakes or making the same mistake several times before you get the message. It’s all part of the experience. If you’re constantly comparing yourself to your inner circle you’ll forget the world around you. It’s much bigger than you realise. One day at a time. One moment at a time. It’s going to be a hell of a journey from here.

 

Duomo di Siena, Italy

This last week I started a new rotation. After 13 weeks working in the Emergency Department of a town 3 hours from Melbourne, working shift work, practicing resourceful and proper clinical medicine, improvising because of the limited resources, seeing the 6 day old, to the child-bearing to the psychotic to the 100-year-old, dealing with coughs, colds, sore ankles, heart attacks, intracranial bleeds, overdoses and the “we have no idea” to the “can’t cope at home,” and of course getting to know the lovely staff,  I was nervous to get back to the big smoke.

I have now returned to a bustling metropolitan hospital doing Infectious Diseases and Rheumatology. Yeah it’s a little strange that I am shared between two units, also weird getting back to “Medicine” and having to know the knitty-gritty instead of the fast world of Emergency where you stabilise and move on.

It’s always hard starting a new rotation. Every rotation I go through the same motions:
1. panic and anxiety before rotation starts
2. feeling inadequate and out of depth when rotation starts (not realising it’s only the first day or week!)
3. finding my feet at week 3
4. starting to get over it and looking forward to changing rotation week 13
5. loving the rotation and not wanting to leave week 13.

You don’t want to be nearby at step 1 or 2, not only do work insecurities come up but every uncertainty rises to the surface. It didn’t help this time round because I was newly single and had just finalised plans to take a break next year from being a doctor, so my sense of self, career and love were all in the air really. It also didn’t help that I kept bumping into colleagues with their long-term boyfriends and new husbands who were excited about the training program and job offers they were getting next year.

Sometimes it’s hard for the voice of level-headedness to come through when a catalyst like first day nerves initiates a negative cascade. I’m learning to be on my own for the first time in many years. Actually sitting back and facing the person I’ve become.  I’ve started a new rotation with new expectations, colleagues and bosses and this will happen again in 13 weeks. I have a 5 week solo trip to the United States and Mexico in 10 weeks. I have made the choice to take a year off next year to rethink what I want to do with my career and pursue dreams. I’m in the process of finding a place to live. I’ve never been the type to do things in halves huh? Here’s to the new … the scary, frustrating, exciting new.

One of my pitfalls is worrying about future events which have not yet happened. I have this fear that nothing good ever lasts long so I pre-empt myself with the dread and, inevitably it happens. The demise is either caused by fate, me or both. I am trying to amend this by being more present and not getting upset over things I cannot control.

But what happens when future events have been guaranteed and you know what you have now has an expiry date?

I’m currently in this predicament where the parties involved already have their foot out the door. Both transitioning between reality and obtaining their dreams.  2014 is the year and both have no intention to stop now, not even to smell the roses. Yet they have found themselves catching a whiff of the flowery scent, but this rose will wilt. Is there point in living in the moment when there is an obvious end point?

Is there point investing yourself when there’s a deadline? But then if you never intended to stop for your plans does it matter what you do with your time until then- isn’t this living in the moment and for the long term?

What am I really afraid of?
Wasting time? No that’s not it because the next 6 months are about my plans coming into fruition.
Giving up my dreams? I’ve put too much thought and emotion into them to give them up lightly. I’ve even had many appealing work offers put to me recently but I have politely declined them for the risky alternative I’ve set myself up for next year.
Getting hurt? Hm, maybe. But why is that an issue when I know I will not compromise for my dreams anyway? Why is this so important? Is it an ego thing?


As I finish writing this I haven’t really come to an answer but more questions, but I’ve come to the realisation: why does it matter?
The past has been written, knowing is better than regret, questioning every emotional investment is going to dim down the feeling and take away the satisfaction of life. This is easier said than done for a girl who sees a glass half empty, but:

Live in the moment. If it makes you unhappy- get out, you have control. If it makes you happy keep it close. If there are tears at the end, it means you’ve made it so beautiful that it’s worth remembering. So does that mean you’re also living for the long term?

I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut lately which is unfortunate because being creative is my form of relaxation and de-stressing. It’s a mixture of excuses really, from feeling exhausted after work, laziness, negative perfectionism. I’ve been wanting to make my own layout for so long however WordPress has made it extremely difficult. It appears you can only customise your layout if you’re hosted. I’m not keen on having my own domain at this time, so I’ve been fiddling with Blogspot a lot. It’s typeface is not as good as WordPress however I like the ease of design on a free platform.

So while I play around with WordPress and find a host, I will be blogging between here and blogspot, depending on my mood. :o)

Page

Part 1 made me a little emotional so I had to stop typing and take a break.. Here are a few more random thoughts/highlights from Internship. I hope you enjoy Part 2!

3. The dreaded pager and dealing with requests

Ironically enough, one of the exciting things starting out as a doctor is receiving your pager for the first time. Suddenly you feel, “I’m a real doctor know, looking all important with my pager.” :p  Unfortunately that excitement dies pretty quickly when you become a slave to its beeps and to the people who page you. The sound becomes irritating and nerve-wracking and sometimes you just want to throw it out the window!

The pager is a form of communication between you and other health professionals. There is a particular way you should send messages to ensure clear communication and also the person calls or pages you back. Not all people receive this education and unfortunately not all people check whether you’re at work or not- so it’s vital you turn off your pager when you’re not working or you’ll be woken up in the middle of the night with “Patient is unwell. BP 80/60. Please review,” and as an individual who is primed to worry and care you can’t ignore this page and have to either 1. call back urgently telling them you’re not working and they better all someone else ASAP or 2. come in yourself- which I’ve heard some of my colleagues do!

You learn very quickly that not every page is worth running to. Some people seem to like sending threats or scare worthy pages to get you moving while others like to send those vague pages which leave the responsibility on you, ie “Just letting you know… patient is ….”, but when you’re on cover shift and are covering multiple units and more than 100 patients you don’t really have the time to see everyone (especially at 2 in the morning!). You learn very quick to prioritise: have a piece of paper and write a list of your pages/to do list- this will help you remember and it’s also satisfying to cross off :) Try to call back all pages because you’ll inevitably receive the same page in 2 minutes and also it’ll help you determine whether 1. the patient is really sick 2. the patient is really agitated  or 3. the patient is really yours at all and it’s polite :)

Pages will continue to be a part of my Doctor life … until I become a consultant. Here’s to another year of “beeps!”

4. Standing your ground as a female doctor- I’m not being a bitch!

I had a good relationship with most of the hospital staff however there were moments when it was difficult. I don’t know whether it’s a “girl thing” but it was hard sometimes to get things done when you’re working with other females, especially with nurses. It was observed that male doctors had it easier and I even had a nurse tell me that “men doctors were easier to work with because they’re nicer.” To be honest, I don’t think that is true and I was pretty offended by that innocent remark.

I’m a self-conscious person so I found it difficult to be firm feeling it may sound arrogant or “bitchy,” whereas male doctors seemed to get away with that. So I found myself in situations where I just did things myself (even though I shouldn’t have) and was taken advantage of because I was an intern and I didn’t know the system well. There were moments where I was ganged up upon because staff didn’t agree with me or my Registrar’s or Consultant’s decisions so they pick on the most junior. You really have to stand your ground, as a person and as a doctor and for your patient.

5. Separating your personal life from your work life- how to stay sane!

Firstly, this is extremely difficult and it’s something I still need to work on a great deal. A lot of the time I come home still stressed and hyped up about my day and I lash out on my unexpecting family. It  gets frustrating that they don’t understand what I do and I have to keep reminding myself that “they don’t know” so I shouldn’t get angry. This is when you need to have regular drinking and bitching sessions with fellow doctors to get all the stress out of your system! :oP And also finding a hobby and exercising is extremely important!!! Like my friend, who goes to the gym before she starts her 11pm to 8am ED shift, says: “There’s always never going to be time, so just do it!”

Well that concludes the informal random thoughts which come to mind about my first year as a doctor, hope you found it interesting/enlightening. If you have any questions I’m more than happy to try to answer them :o)

Want more? My First year as a Doctor – Part 1

I write this post filled with sadness and anger. Earlier this week a friend and colleague of mine passed away in a car accident after working a 14 hour shift. She had just graduated from Medical school and was in her 2nd week of internship so really it is meant to be a time of excitement and discovery for her.

There are so many elements wrong with the event that occurred. She was young, smiley, happy-go-lucky and her doctor career was just beginning. The most terrifying component of all this is driving home after a 14 hour shift is actually “the norm” for us junior doctors. It happens regularly and me and my colleagues wave it off because “it just is” and “the way things are.”

I’ve had friends who had to drive across rural Victoria in the middle of the night; the only thing keeping them awake is coffee and having all their windows down so the cold air would keep them fresh. I’ve had friends who have fallen asleep at the wheel and luckily only mounted a curb. Unfortunately I’m all too familiar with the “short blackouts” during a car ride.

The most I’ve been rostered on is 14 hours in a day, but this doesn’t take into consideration that I worked 14 hours the previous day and 12 hours before that. If I’m lucky I may grab something to eat or go to the toilet- but you forget about these normal bodily functions when you’re worried about someone else’s and the people who page you know nothing about breaks. These rostered hours do not relate to reality, because most of the time we stay back to finish up the growing paperwork or to review a patient we’re concerned about as it’s unfair to leave the cover person who is covering 100+ patients they don’t really know. At the end of the day, we’re expected to drive home and be fresh for the following day. Few weeks ago I finished work at midnight and then was called in to work at 8am the same day. It is expected.

I know it’s not as bad as it used to be. My consultants when they were junior doctors worked for 3 days without sleep (I’m not kidding)! The unfortunate thing is, working long hours and unpaid overtime is seen as a “learning experience.” Every day of my life as a doctor is a learning experience… but compromising our health and our patients isn’t.

It’s ironic how the people who are meant to care for the sick are not well looked after themselves. The system takes advantage of our empathy. The administration staff know that even though we’re rostered on until 4:30pm we don’t leave the hospital until 7 or 8pm. I’ve seen my Registrar stay around the hospital until early hours of the morning and he’s right on time for ward rounds the same morning at 8am!

To the people who don’t know, to them doctors are just money grabbing individuals who don’t have time for patients. The thing is, most people who want to be doctors want to “help people” as cliché as it sounds. If they’re in it for the money they won’t last (believe me). We don’t get paid overtime most of the time and there are lists of other patients we need to see in a day- some of them very sick. To the people who do know, they believe this is the culture of our profession “work and save lives” until what… until another doctor dies? Is this really a system which is helping our patients? A hospital system run by tired and overworked individuals (who are only human), is that the kind of people we want treating patients?

Maybe we can shorten the hours, 12 hours max. Maybe we can have designated lunch or tea breaks, like the nurses do. Or maybe if someone works for 12 hours or more they should be given a taxi voucher to go home.

This shouldn’t be the norm. Doctors are not superhuman! I know nothing is going to budge in the near future. But it needs to change, before another life is lost… whether it’s in the form of a doctor or a patient …