Saturday, 7 June 2014

The reality of life as an FY1

So I'm now in my tenth month as a foundation year doctor working at one of the busiest hospitals in the country (great job picking there Halfadoc!) . I'm not going to apologise for having thoroughly neglected my poor blog even thought its something I never intended to happen and gives me the occasional sharp guilt pang before I forget about it again (probably due to being distracted by remembering another of the 1 000 000 life tasks I have forgotten to do).

The reality of life as a junior doctor is that at points of the rota I am so busy, so tired that I scarcely can summon the energy to do the bare essentials of eating and washing before I go to bed.  This isn't deliberate hyperbole and I do not think it is that far from the truth at times.  It isn't the entirety of life as a junior doctor either but when on the "easy" rota shifts you often find you need to spend your slightly increased spare time catching up on the washing you neglected during busier patterns, attending own health/dental appointments, paying bills, hoop jumping for the dreaded e portfolio (an online method of assessing Junior doctors  using a series of tasks that are about as useful as the labours of hercules) paying in ash cash cheques (not all chores are bad!) etc etc.  The remaining spare time not surprisingly you often feel like spending as selfishly as possible ;). I used to be reasonably keen at playing sports (albeit in a lazy halfhearted kind of way).This year I have attended exactly one training session and one competition - in which I came second to last in, I guess the lack of training has caught up with me.    So that is why my blog has been neglected badly enough that if it were a patient in the NHS it would probably have gain a DNAR (do not resuscitate) form by now.

So is it all bad?
No. But you have days/weeks when it feels that way.

However there are moments that bring you back and make it feel worthwhile again and here are a few examples to stop this post sounding all doom and gloom:

  • Mrs Jenson, the lovely old lady who recently submitted to me cannulating her with a stiff upper lip that all too few of the patients have and afterwards thanked me for doing what is after all a painful procedure (though not as painful as some patients suggest) and gave me a handful of her chocolates as thanks.  She wouldn't take no for an answer and I was very grateful for her as that handful of chocolates was in fact the total of my lunch for that 12.5 hour shift.
  • Mrs Smith, I met this lady whilst they were in the surgical high dependency unit where I was the sole junior doctor for a nerve wracking few weeks.  She was there throughout my time and had a really rough time of it.  She'd had a surgery to remove a bowel tumour which had left her with a stoma.  Unfortunately the stoma wasn't working and she had a condition called Ileus which basically means her remaining bowel had gone on strike.  This is very common after bowel surgery but this poor lady had it worst than most.  She was in high dependency for weeks, required a repeat operation after a leak from where she her bowel had been joined up at which point she developed prolonged ileus yet again.   She was very ill and very low in mood and yet in spite of this had her relatives bring in regular chocolates for the ward staff and once even summoned me over and gave me a box of chocolates and said it was just for me for the help I had given her (naturally I did share it with the nurses as I had certainly nicked theirs to keep me going through skipped lunches).  She also used to say "god bless you " to me on a regular basis which as an atheist made me feel a bit guilty but I appreciated the kind sentiment.  This lovely lady fortunately did go home shortly after I left the unit.
  • The adrenaline rush of a crash call and amazing feeling when the patient DOES regain an output.
  • A thank you from a healthy patient who is going home.
  • Pay day.  I didn't do medicine for the money and theres a lot of better, easier ways of earning the same or more and definetly earning more per an hour.  However when times are tough and you barely can keep going at least it is a day to focus on.
(As ever all names/ details have been changed.)

Lately I've been re reading Max Pembertons junior doctor book and realising what an accurate portrayal it really is of life as a junior doctor. I read it before medical school, and I thought I understood what he was saying and what being a junior doctor would/could be like, but I'm now not sure you can until you are really there.   I don't think even medical school fully made me realise what it would be like.  I particularly however liked this quote from his book: "I was never naive enough to think that medicine would be a bed of roses, I just never realised there'd be so many nettles" 

For this weekend however this fy1 is enjoying the sunshine safe in the knowledge of impending annual leave and the e portfolio finally being handed in.

Till next time,

Halfadoc x