I’ll Be There For You

As part of our training, we are taught that patients often have an agenda when they come to see their doctor. What that basically means is that the reason they say they have attended, isn’t the real reason why they’re there. They’ve come to talk about something else.

In addition to managing the patient’s symptoms and diagnosis, we learn to pick up cues in a patient’s dialogue and offer the listening ear. I learnt this week that you can sometimes pick up an agenda without any cues.

This was a week where I found myself being a part of some eye-opening relationships-both with patients and colleagues alike. In one morning session, I saw two patients in consecutive order, who were both having relationship problems. This included one lady in her 20s who was going through a divorce. Apart from treating her ailment, I didn’t feel like I did anything else. Interestingly however, she ended our consultation by saying:

‘I’m sorry I had to offload on you like that’.

Later on this week, a gentleman came to see me because his wife was worried that he was getting tired more easily. It’s an interesting pattern I’ve seen a few times, when patients will only attend the surgery if a loved one asks them to. He thought he was tired because of his medications, though he had been on these for quite some time.¬† On delving deeper, he eventually admitted that he was stressed with things at home. He was a full time carer for his mother and this would cause anybody stress and fatigue. It was only when he admitted this that he became teary, and I couldn’t help but feel sad.

The last patient who I want to shed a little light on today (there’s obviously more!) is an elderly lady I’ve been following up on for her diabetes. After discussing future treatment, she went on to tell me about her faith in God, how we are all connected, and how she always does her part to keep healthy. This last little bit is something called ‘shared management’. Doctors love this, becaue it encourages patients to take responsibility for their own health.

This lady then shared a story with me (which out of respect I won’t share here, as beautiful to me as it is). Maybe it was the way she told it to me, but it really got to me. It got to me so much that I tried to hold back my emotions. Usually I can do this. However this was the occasion I would do something I’ve never done before-cry in front of the patient. I tried to hastily wipe away my tears through my cardigan sleeve, but it was too late. I thought to myself…great. She has a cry baby for a doctor.

The patient had seen me weep and her smile turned to laughter. My tears later turned into laughter too, but an ugly site I’m sure! I didn’t know what to think of my reaction, so I confided in my mentor about it. We had a lovely heart to heart, which made me feel tonnes better about things.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s the importance of being kind to people. Its a key skill Dale Carnagie talks about in ‘How to win friends and influence people’ and I try to always keep it with me. But I think this comes at a level. Particurlarly when seeing patients, I’ve read how doctors fall into the trap of getting ‘too involved’ in their patient care, to the point that it starts to affect them, and how they are around others. I don’t think that’s very healthy either, and I think it’s all about balance. One day I’ll learn how to do it.

In times like these I learn to find pleasures in simple things. I start to get more appreciative of the times around me. On the Friday evening after work this week, I popped into the supermarket and purchased a range of goodies for Halloween. This was my first time going trick-or-treating shopping ūüôā We never have sweets when children knock on the door so we thought we’d actually try this year!

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I was drawn by the ‘2 for the price of 1’ offer and didn’t really think about how I was going to give the clusters and brownies…wrap in cling film maybe? I decided that whatever I have left over I’ll leave it in the staffroom at work ūüôā

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Sweet Child O’ Mine

Over the past year or so, I’ve had my fair share of conversations with taxi drivers. The majority of them tend to start off in the same way…

‘You off to work?’

‘Yeah’.

‘Oh what do you do?’

‘I’m a doctor’.

Yes, at times it can get boring. It’s the same responses and especially when I’m tired, I prefer to keep my answers brief and read a book instead. However over the past couple of weeks, there have been two chat encounters which I wanted to reflect on, both of which have a recurring theme-the drivers were parents, and they wanted their children to be doctors.

The first conversation involved an driver, who told me that his son had graduated from medical school one year ago, and is now working as a doctor. I congratulated him.

‘So you must be very proud of him. How is he finding it so far?’ I asked.

‘Oh he doesn’t like it, he hates being a doctor’.

It turns out that the driver has always dreamed of his son becoming a doctor, so he saved up to put him through medical school. He paid for his accommodation, travel expenses, petrol, everything. His son, however never wanted to become one. He wanted to study economics. And now he hates his dad for his new found career. I was curious and asked the driver what he would like his son to specialise in…

‘Surgery, I want him to be a surgeon’.

The second conversation involved a driver, who inquired about what type of high school I went to, where I studied medicine and what I specialise in. He then went on to speak about his 3 year old daughter. He explained that he wants her to be a doctor, and has made several attempts to get her interested in science.

‘She can tell you all the planets. We also bought her one of those books about the human body…oh what’s it called?’

‘Anatomy?’ I replied

‘Yes, an anatomy book!’.

I then started to think about how I got into medicine. Did my parents want me to become a doctor? Deep down yes. I think the difference though, was that they didn’t pressure me into becoming one. They didn’t force me to attend medical school, nor did they thrust anatomy books upon me as a 3 year old.

I don’t think I had any real external influences to become a doctor.¬†We don’t have any in my family apart from my grandfather, who passed away long before I was born. But a part of me always knew I wanted to be one, and I couldn’t see myself becoming anything else. I think in the end it comes down to the individual, and there is no point in resenting others for a choice they made. If your parents really want you to become something which you don’t believe is you, why would you go down that path? After all it’s your life you’re living, not somebody else’s.

Connect with your inner child

What did you want to be as a child? I mean¬†really what were your dreams? Mine definitely wasn’t to be a doctor. Somewhere down the line, I realised that I wanted to live my life by practising medicine and serving others…but my childhood dream was to be an explorer.

I watched Jurassic Park for the first time when I was 6 years old, and I fell in love with dinosaurs. I read the dinosaur magazines that came out, drew pictures from them and collected them in my blue clipboard. I loved the team of paleontologists who went on all fours, digging for remains. I admired Laura Dern’s character as Dr Ellie Sattler. In¬†my mind she was a true¬†explorer…she was courageous, wore awesome adventure clothes and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty (remember the Triceratops poop?). I wanted to be just like her, and a part of me still does.

6 years later I watched The Mummy and I was obsessed with the film. I loved the idea of discovering another realm, digging for artefacts and relics, reading the Egyptian scriptures. The¬†fantasies of exploring and searching for Egyptian remains continue to thrill me even today. Since watching this movie at the age of 12, I’ve always wanted to learn how to read the Egyptian hieroglyphs. I even bought a book, not too long ago, in a bid to teach myself how to read the scriptures, but I haven’t read one page still.

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These women maybe from movies, but as a child that didn’t stop me from aspiring to them. In my eyes they were the embodiments of exploring.¬†

So why now have I decided to share with you my childhood dreams? Because they are still relevant.

My boyfriend introduced me to a YouTube interview of the¬†international bestseller¬†Robert Greene, by ¬†Tom Bilyeu on his inside quest channel. If you can find it, I highly recommend you watch it…otherwise here it is in a nutshell:

First know what it is you really love doing, know what you are meant to do with your life. ¬†As a child you would have been¬†passionate about something, but because of the others around you, your parents etc. you found a career in something else. ¬†You had passions¬†at such a young age but you don’t remember them, or don’t think they are¬†relevant. Figure out what you loved as a¬†kid, and then decide how to¬†incorporate¬†this into your life’s work.¬†

This is my next step, deciding how to incorporate my inner child into my future life. What is your inner child telling you to do with yours?