Hidden amongst my night shifts have been a couple of days off, not just any days off I can assure you, these ones have been a long time coming. About 365 days coming if I’m being precise. For June 6th was Bella’s 4th birthday, and this is a child who loves a birthday! For the last 4 months she has woken each morning telling us about her dreams. These are of a fairytale land, with a pink castle surrounded by a chocolate moat. There are princesses everywhere, wearing costumes of pink, red and purple. There are bouncy castles made of marshmallows, and big wheels made of party rings. Music and laughter fill the air. These are her dreams and she describes her dreams as her birthday party.
The pressure has been felt but the Queen’s Jubilee has eased this enormously. The presence of all things regal; parties for Queens, diamonds, crowns and tiaras in most shop displays. A few days off from pre-school and a princess party have fulfilled Bella’s criteria for another year. It was in fact a party of minimal proportions due largely to my disorganisation whilst averaging a 75 hour working week. But the key players were there. It was in a dance studio where a patient teacher tried to tame the excitement to teach a dance set to the Disney princess theme. It was an exhausting couple of days but well worth it.
The balance was restored yesterday when I returned to a buzzing A+E department on the late shift. I start another 5 night shifts tonight which may be arguably less tiring than a 4th birthday party! I will reserve my judgement however until next week. Sleep may be a precious commodity as I want to see the Olympic torch and go to Bella’s sports day, both fairly inconveniently timed to my diurnal slumber.
The highs and lows of the city’s largest A+E department continue. Yesterday being no different, each story so personal to the individual, their life and those around them. The success of aspirating 800mls and resolving a spontaneous pneumothorax in a teenager was countered by an out of hospital cardiac arrest in a man of a similar age to myself. The pleasure of telling a lady her MRI scan was unremarkable and she did not have spinal cord compression as feared, was countered by telling an elderly patient his abscess was in fact a skin metastases from an unknown primary tumour. The delight of the professional sports-player in finding out he had a simple sprain was countered by telling the 11 year old she had broken her foot and could not take part in next weeks dance show. The lives of so many are touched in this department.
I am always humbled by the commitment of those who choose this as a career. It really is so much more than a job. Being on the front line day in and day out, delivering the best and the worst of news on an almost hourly basis, and facing a significant degree of personal sacrifice in doing so.
Myself and Surgical Dad have spent a lot of time this week talking about inspiration. He is reading a book by Steve Jobs and I have been listening to presentations styles which make you stop and think, Nancy Duarte being a strong favourite. There are a couple of doctors in A+E who inspire me, those who lead by example and make you strive for the better version of yourself.
There is more to be learnt from this job than just medicine, and if there’s one thing to be taken from it all – the best way out is always through.