Standard New Year’s Eve Reflection Post.

Things I learnt in 2016

1. The patient is always right (even when they most definitely aren’t)

Example: This young fool who told me he has encephalitis, forcing me to do a lumbar puncture (LP) only to tell him what I already knew – that he has flu. But alas he was still convinced he was right and that there was a good chance he would have died had he not come to the hospital. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the therapeutic LP. 

2. It’s okay to have no clue what you are doing in pediatrics because the sisters in the neonatal ICU know what’s up. 

During one of my first paeds calls I was called to write up dobutamine for a patient in ICU. Dobutamine is a drug that helps keep blood pressure up (to put it very simply), and I had no idea how to prescribe it for a 2 day old baby. I looked at the Sister with panic in my eyes. Fortunately she felt my pain and rescued me with the the words “Doctor, just write this…”. My hero. 

3. When you fall off, just get back on. 

Related mostly to my bicycle but also to medicine. Some days you have bad ones. Where you miss something big, or you struggle with every drip you try (again, paeds sisters are the real heroes here), or you wonder why on earth you decided to become a doctor. But then you get back on your bicycle and though you feel a little shaky at first, in the long run you will find you have grown, your skills have sharpened and you won’t fall as much in the future. 

4. Sleep whenever you get a chance on call.

Even if it’s 8pm and it’s way too early, and you know that you’ll probably get a phone call at 9pm anyway. At the end of the day, every second counts. And when you work in casualty ain’t nobody got time for that. So sleep while you can. “Sleep when you’re dead” was so 2015 !

5. A mother will do anything for her child.

Except spend Christmas in hospital. I’ve never been accosted with so many discharge requests than in the week leading up to Christmas. The previous week their precious child almost died, but now Christmas is coming and “hy makeer niks Doktor*”.

*There’s nothing wrong with him Doctor

6. I am more capable than I think

Every first is always daunting. My first day of work, which also happened to be my first call. My first day of surgery. My first solo procedure. My first paediatric call. My first neonatal resuss. I was terrified, and mostly still am, but I’ve learnt that I can handle most things. I survived them all, and will survive whatever is to come. (Having just said that I am still scared to start Orthopaedics).

7. Find someone who has your back, and you theirs. 

Medicine can be one man for himself a lot of the time. People will act like they are a good team but at the end of the day, you’ll find yourself alone in the ward while everyone else has gone home quietly. But their are a few good ones who will always make sure you are okay and don’t need help. Those are the ones you should cherish, and make sure they are okay too. This past year my intern partner was my life saver. We never left each other behind, and that’s what made those ridiculously long days in surgery a little more bearable. 

8. A lot of other things that I should probably have learnt a long time ago. Better late than never.

Here’s to 2017 and a lot more learning. 

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