John 3:16

There has been too much negativity on this blog recently.

So here’s some good news of great joy!

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BFFs? Maybe not anymore

Today I came to a (startling) revelation that one of my girlfriends whom I have always considered my “BFF” may not be a BFF after all.

I have known her for 14 years and we have certainly been close friends… but upon careful reflection, she is not my best friend by any measure.

To me, best friends are people who will be there for you all the time. People who have the same general outlook in life as you do. People who will stick with you through thick and thin and provide encouragement along the way. BFFs are people whom you can pour your heart out to, who will listen to you rant and ramble without making any judgment. They are the ones to whom you can speak before you think, or maybe even know what you want to say without so much as a word being exchanged.

KS is none of the above.

I have no doubt that we used to “click” and enjoyed each other’s company. I have no doubt that there was once a time when I could say anything and everything to her. I have no doubt that she was once a true BFF to me. Once upon a time.

I think time and distance has drawn us apart. Perhaps further than I am willing to admit. With her living in the USA for the last 8 years and me in the UK for the last 12, her living with her boyfriend and me remaining forever alone still, her pursuing an academic career and me a clinical one… I think our paths which once were crossed have now straightened out into parallel lines. Perhaps I don’t know who this person is anymore.

I find it so daunting to speak to her these days. Everything that I say needs to be politically correct. Everything I say gets a comeback from her. When I make a comment about my wants and desires, she throws a wet blanket over and never ceases to remind me how the grass is always greener on the other side. When I pass judgment over someone or something, she quickly reminds me that she never judges because “you have to hear the other side of the story.” When I talk about something interesting I’ve seen on facebook, she is swift to tell me to stop living my life through others’ and to “get off facebook and get a hobby” (whilst she herself is a subscriber to every single form of social media known to mankind). When I lament about the tragic state of society in general, she hastens to quip that “you shouldn’t make such sweeping statements.”

Yes, I know that she may well mean well. She may sincerely want me to have a balanced outlook at things. But no, I need this voice of reason when I’m being stupid; not when I’m frustrated and upset. When I’m irritated or sad I need a girlfriend who will just listen and build me up, not someone who will kick me to add an extra bruise to my wounds.

I’m fed up and sad at the same time.

Every time I get beat down I get so angry. I get so mad that I can literally feel the heat build up towards my head. I shake with frustration and then become completely inarticulate (which totally does not help my cause). I get so pissed off with her for making me feel like I am of questionable character.

Or am I really just pissed off with the fact that perhaps we are truly no longer the BFFs that we naively thought will actually last forever?

I really want this friendship to work. Having lost so many precious friendships to time, distance and relationships, I am grasping onto whatever is left. But I guess whatever is left is simply not good enough.

Not good enough.

And it hurts.

Grumpiest doctor

In the last 2 days, about 3 of my colleagues have commented that I am the grumpiest doctor they know. One of them even went so far as to say that “she doesn’t even enjoy what she is doing.”

They claim to have made their comments in jest, but these comments really jolted me into reflection.

Am I really such an unhappy doctor?

At this stage of my training, perhaps I am. I am still re-living the nightmare of 1 month ago on a daily basis- every time I think I feel a little bit better, something else happens to put me right back into my place of misery. Adding to that, I have an educational supervisor from hell- she demands me to do this and that, then buggers off into the fog and provides no guidance or support whatsoever for me to achieve all these lofty plans that I have no interest in. Thirdly, there has been little teaching and learning where I am working at now. To be fair, there have been half-hearted attempts at teaching. I always have a great desire to ask questions, to explore thoughts, to learn new skills; but when the teachers appear disinterested, my enthusiasm runs dry. Fourthly, the patients I have been seeing recently have been sick as dogs. When I have been to review these patients on the wards or in A&E, I have so regularly found myself thinking “sh*t, they look like they are going to arrest on me anytime soon.” I have had to scoop and run with so many of these critically unwell patients, many of whom I then spend the entire day with as my “private patient” trying to resuscitate and stabilise on the ITU. Transferring someone to CT scan with pH 6.9, unrecordably high lactate, on 40ml/hr of adrenaline and a systolic BP of 80? Check. Jumping onto a patients bed to intubate a morbidly obese Down’s syndrome patient with a difficult airway during a cardiac arrest? Check. Hugely difficult to ventilate patients post intubation? Check check check. Anaesthetising a grey and clammy patient at a remote site that I’ve never even been to for an interventional radiological procedure requiring awkward positioning? Check. Having to place invasive lines in massively coagulopathic patients with platelets less than 10 or INR more than 10? Check. My sphincters have never been clenched so much in the space of 2 months, and my adrenal glands have been so plump from all the adrenaline needed to help me fight or flight through these massively stressful situations.

Finally, the junior doctors in this country have been/ are being shafted by the government. They are proposing new contracts that will remove safeguards against overworking doctors. They want “social hours” of working to extend from 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday (i.e. no recompense for obviously antisocial working- seriously, who values their 9pm Saturday evenings the same way as 9am on a Tuesday morning?). Doctors are essentially doomed to a 30% pay cut under their proposals, whilst the people in authority have recently given themselves a 10% pay rise so that they are “paid the right rate for the right job.” And? Does this same rule not apply to us? What is the right rate for being at work 3 out of 4 weekends in a month? For having lunch at 6pm or missing meals altogether? For being vomitted or even spat on? For having to examine bits of people’s anatomy that will make your stomach turn? For enduring the melange of odours that the body is capable of producing? For all the difficult decisions that need to be made? For having to face death every single day? What is the right rate for having to study for extremely difficult professional exams in our own time? For having to pay thousands of pounds to sit said exams? For needing to pay for medical defence, college registrations, professional development courses? What is the right rate for sacrificing such a large part of my own personal and family life so that I can look after you?

So yes, I am miserable. I am depressed and demoralised. This is not what I signed up for when I was 18 years old and fresh out of junior college.

But I know I need to smile more. Other people do not need to be at the receiving end of my misery.

Come on, J. You were not like this before. You don’t have to become like that now.