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05 Mar 2019

It’s 6am and my alarm went off, I am due for a run but snoozed for 20 mins because I'm too sleepy. I reluctantly get out of the bed to do meditation instead, a ritual attempt to settle my mind before work. I spent all of last evening worrying about the upcoming rotation. Got ready and reached work in 45 mins, met my intern and together we print the patient list (daily procedure) - then a Stroke Call comes in. I'm sent to Stroke call in Emergency to help two registrars: an 80-year-old lady with severe stroke symptoms on waking. I scribe, order blood tests, order imaging, and try to find out this lady's identity and past medical history since she is unable to speak.

My first reaction is to call the patient's husband and GP once we know her name, scribe more, and console a very distressed patient who is unable to form words or move, which makes her very frustrated and emotional. I try to console her, the patient squeezes my hand to say ’thank you’, probably because I'm the only one to stop and try to understand what she is desperately trying to say – empathy goes a long way in our profession, a little touch of sympathy builds trust among doctor patient relationship.

It’s been 2 hours into my work day and it already feels full on. Together with the registrar I go back to complete the ward round while the rest of the team is seeing the final patient. In 10 mins the consultant arrives for review of the sickest 3 patients on the ward. Full team (8 people!!) stand there while consultant speaks to and examines the patients. It's great for our learning but our pending tasks list is now staring right at me! We have a long list to get through (order blood tests, radiology, consulting other teams etc) but there’s no hope in sight - because now we have the weekly Departmental Meeting at 11:30. And then - a ray of hope - free catering (food, yay!).

Straight after my 30-minute break, I frantically run around trying to get as many jobs done so as to not to overwhelm the intern. I start attending the outpatient clinic: requesting and obtaining approvals for each of the CTs, MRIs, ultrasounds for our 15 ward patients, track specific bloods tests, answers from relatives, and speaking to Allied Health teams (Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists) to request their input and listen to their recommendations.

Late afternoon, I am driven by a fellow team member to our sister hospital for clinic duties. Our busy day was then interrupted by a surprisingly insightful conversation about the quality of life, motherhood as a doctor, struggles with depression and colleagues' suicides (but with a bit of caution as it’s "contagious"). My seniors agree and we resolve that as medical professionals we have a stoic approach to life and should be more open and supportive about our struggles.

I arrived at Outpatient clinic - I've never done this before so I'm nervous but feel supported, compared to the previous experiences of being totally overwhelmed. Then I see a fascinating Neurology patient, and another peer consultant explains the patient’s complex symptoms. I mentally add about 5 more topics to my Planned Reading/Study list. It’s already dinner time, I can feel myself slowing down, but I soldier on – trying to console myself that it's my first Neurology Clinic and I'm learning a lot. 

It’s around 8 pm and it feels nice to be back home – a partner’s hug and a kiss goes a long way. My partner cooks while I answer a few emails, so much studying yet to be done, it's hard to decide where to start.

Dinner done, and now I move on to watching a lecture though tempted to watch new series on Netflix. I can't concentrate so instead I hang up my washing (proudly, since I was procrastinating for 3 days), shower and blow-dry my hair as a treat (I never get the time to do this in the mornings so why not!). While I take this time for myself, I start feeling guilty about: not helping my partner with dinner, my dirty apartment (haven't vacuumed or cleaned our bathroom in over a week), not exercising (I've missed my last 3x scheduled runs – sheer exhaustion) and forgetting to reply my friend's text messages earlier that week. I reflect on my thoughts and feel guilty but then think about change I bring through this profession, it was a dream to help people. Sorry for over-sharing but guilt is a predominant emotion in my life these days.

Starting work can seem daunting, but you will settle in quickly. Expect things to make a little more sense around week three. Most importantly, internship is fun so look forward to it and revel in all the new skills you’re going to pick up.

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Published: 05 Mar 2019