High Mountains And Deep Rivers

1 Week of Cardio done. 

Cardio is interesting. Patients with way crazy conditions, some quite unwell, some where there’s just not much you can do. 

It’s been quite busy for me. Not quite finishing on time. But hey the day goes by quickly.

I had a lovely registrar this week. And it was actually his final week as a cardiology registrar. He was nice and included me in discussions and even helped out with a lot of the jobs. 

Today, on his last day. Though we had only been working together for 3 days, he told me that I’ve been a great House officer and he wanted to give me this.

He said he had been saving this book to give to someone who was really good. To use and help them study. He said he wanted me to have it for being so great this week. 

Then I found out that the charge nurse on my general medicine ward last rotation, had nominated me for House officer of the month. 

I didn’t win of course. But it was nice to be nominated.

From my low point last week where I thought I was just the worst House officer in the world having nearly killed someone with my prescribing blunder, this was quite the opposite feeling.

It was nice to feel good about the things I do. And be grateful for people who seem to appreciate me. 

It really is having the highest mountains and having the deepest rivers.

You can have it all but life keeps moving…. 

Gen Med Is Over

Today was the end of my general medicine house officer rotation! 

Stayed late to seal the deal ofcourse.

And I even did some therapeutic baking to finish it off.

Poifect chocolate cupcakes. Well I learnt quite a bit of medicine I suppose. And I was busy. 

But my consultant told me I did a great job this rotation and my medical student said I’ve been very helpful and the nurses on my ward gave me this 

And told me they really loved having me on the ward.

So I suppose even though there are good days and bad days and Fridays and days I want to rip my head off, I still seem to be something right and people seem to appreciate it.

It feels good.

Onto my first few night shifts next week! 

So it goes…

Mid Morning Delight

So today, like every other day since I started working, around 11am, I started to feel slightly dizzy and light-headed. And hungry.

I’m hungry most days without much motivation to actually eat something. Today wouldn’t be much different. But I had some free time and thought that I should at least go to the staff café and pick up a snack to keep me going. My energy levels were also dropping. I thought I would get some chips or packaged nuts or an energy bar or something.

I walked into the poorly lit café. The trays that served hot food were empty. Breakfast time had ended and the cooks were working on making the lunch menu. I walked over to the shelf with bags upon bags of chips. “Kumara crisps” the bright red writing on the packets said. A boast that this is super healthy, why wouldn’t you pick me? Low salted, baked and virtually bland, oddly shaped chips that can scratch the inside of your mouth or crumble down the front of your shirt as soon as you bite into one. I picked up a bag without enthusiasm.

Just then, someone walked past me with a small paper bag in their hand. They had come from the other side of the pillar I was standing in front of, where the cabinet was. The cabinet usually has sugary treats. Caramel slices, passionfruit cheesecake, raspberry brownies, etc. I’m not a big sweet tooth. So there’s no point in my going over to the cabinet.

But the person that walked past me said “I’ve just got a Danish” to the lady at the cash register.

Danish?

I curiously went over to the other side and saw a large platter with a cake cover placed over it on top of the cabinet that had the same treats they always had. The platter however, had four, flat, eye-shaped, bright golden pastries piled one on top of the other. “Danish” the pink writing on the outside of the cover read. That’s a terrible description, I thought. I lifted the lid and eyed the pastries. I could immediately smell butter, sugar, and something like golden syrup intertwine and assault my senses.

Hmm. The pastries were eye-shaped with a border of pastry crust but a centre of custard and three raspberries in a row baked in with the pastry. And the whole thing was covered in  a layer of dried golden syrup. This looks promising, I told myself.

I picked one up and placed it in a white paper bag and headed for the cash register.

When I was back in my office, I pulled the pastry out of the bag and saw the top few layers of pastry crumble into my hands. Ooooh. that’s the sign of good pastry.

The smell was strong as I brought the pastry to my mouth and took a bite, making sure I had a mouthful of the pastry, the custard and the raspberry all at once.

In a word: Heavenly

The pastry crumbled away in my mouth as the soft, sweet custard and golden syrup delighted my taste buds, and the tart and perfectly cooked raspberries cut through the sweetness, and sent a burst of flavour straight to the pleasure centres of my brain.

Every bite, the buttery, crumbly, slightly sweet pastry alone, or the soft, creamy, perfectly balanced custard alone, or the small but immensely flavour concentrated raspberry bringing it all together, made me smile. I took small bites, savouring it and making sure I was aware of every mouthful.

It was the first time in days that I actually enjoyed eating something. My mouth was very happy. And I had the right amount of sugar and happiness in my brain to continue on with my day

BRB: Being Grateful

Oh my goodness! One of the things I was stressing about worked out amazingly well!

And I just gotta take a minute to be so grateful! When things work out well, it’s so important to stop and be grateful to the universe and everyone involved.

Ahh so happy! ^^ And uber uber grateful to the universe!!

Worthwhile

Today I was on my long shift and feeling the blues as usual when I was asked to see a patient as part of gen med review. 

She was a lovely elderly woman who had come in for some obstructive jaundice 

As I began to examine her, she looked at me and said 

“You have healing hands. I can feel it.” 

She then turned to her relative in the room and said 

“She’s the most gentle doctor I’ve seen you know”

And as I was leaving, she asked me when she would see me again.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m really helping anyone. When I’m tired, I wonder if I’m good enough to do the things doctors do. Sometimes I feel like maybe I’d be suited better somewhere else.

But when I interact with patients like this lovely woman, and they tell me the smallest things make a difference for them, I am so incredibly grateful for me and being in a position to impact someone in that way. It makes me strive to be better. It makes me appreciate my apparent skill of treating people in a way that makes them feel comfortable. 

I am so grateful to have met that woman and to have made her feel that way. It made me smile. It makes other things seem less significant. 

I’m glad.

The Time A Chef Cared

Life is sometimes hard when you’re a vegetarian. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m iron-compromised a lot. But also, I get discriminated against a lot. 

Especially when you’re the only vegetarian among your friends. 

It’s not fun when you want to catch up with some friends for lunch/dinner or a birthday, and when the question arises about where we should go eat, they give each other the side-eye and say “we have to go somewhere with vegetarian options”… blech. Or they invite you somewhere, saying there are vegetarian options, and you arrive only to find that the “options” are 3 different types of salads. Or something with tofu. 

Like excuse me I am Not a rabbit. And I hate tofu. 

Now I’m not ferociously vegetarian. I don’t tell people they’re going to burn in hell for eating meat or they’re murderers for eating a cheese burger. Everyone has their beliefs, and I have mine. I actually enjoy watching cooking shows and like appreciating how well the chef prepares a filet mignon. And sometimes, I just wish I were non-vegetarian. Just so I wouldn’t have to put up with the discrimination from the carnivores. 

I call the people who are ferociously non-vegetarian ‘carnivores’ because they are the people that cannot contemplate my lifestyle. And make a point of telling me so. The people that go “omggg you have NEVER tried chicken?? Omg you poor thing” “ahh you’ll never live life properly” “you wouldn’t understand about this… It’s so good though. You’re missing out on life” …Like for real? Get over yourselves. It’s just food. No need to be so dramatic. But oh well. I’m used to it. I’m just glad I’m not an overbearing vegetarian.

But anyway, today I had a different experience. Some friends wanted to meet up in a Café for brunch and I went along. This cafe had hardly any vegetarian options to choose from. 

So I had to do my regular walk of shame to the counter and ask if one of the dishes could be made without the meat. It was this ‘Mexican omelette’ thing that had bacon and chorizo etc. So without those things it was essentially a spinach and mushroom omelette. Which was fine. Better than nothing. And definitely better than salad or tofu.

But when the dish came, the chef came up to me and placed a very colourful omelette in front of me. I looked up at him and he smiled and said “I added some extra vegetables just so it’s a little more interesting. Hope you like It.” 

I could have burst into tears in the middle of that place just then. It was such a thoughtful thing to do and it tasted amazing. I thanked the chef repeatedly. 

He didn’t need to do that. He could’ve just put in less effort and made the bland spinach thing. After all, I was paying the same amount as a full Mexican omelette. And I’m someone who will probably visit this cafe very rarely. I’m not a regular. He didn’t have to care. But he did. He realised I was vegetarian and made the effort to make sure I didn’t feel like the annoying customer I usually do. 

That gesture completely made my day. It’s not that hard to be considerate. He showed me that. I am extremely grateful to him.  

Unexpected Loss

Today I spent the morning in another hospital for tutorials on psychiatry. When I returned to the Mason clinic where I am based, I saw one of the patients there leaving, surrounded by police. I waved and said hi to him as I usually do. He smiled back at me. I wondered where he was going and resolved to ask him later. I assumed he was leaving to a court hearing. 

Later while I was updating myself on the patient’s notes, I found that the patient (Mr. PH) had been discharged from the Mason clinic back to prison. 

I was shocked and upset. 

Mr. PH was the first patient I had met in the Mason clinic. He introduced himself to me on the first day when I seemed a bit clueless and told me that I would learn a lot there. He was the first patient I had taken a psychiatric history from. He knew it was my first history taking session and was patient and cooperative throughout the 1h it took me to take the entire history. Mr. PH shared many of his life stories and we found we had a few things in common. 

From then on he had always greeted me and asked how I was. He offered to teach me how to play jazz style on the guitar and wanted to have a jam session together. 

Mr. PH has bipolar disorder and had committed a theft during one of his manic episodes. He was facing 7 years in prison. He told me of how scared he was of returning to prison and his worries that he may not get the bail he was moving towards. I had tried to encourage him to keep positive. 

He was a really sweet person who I became quite fond of. So much so that seeing him around everyday was almost comforting. I had no idea he would be sent back to prison so quickly. Apparently, neither did he. He was the reason I first realised how vulnerable patients at the Mason clinic were. Sure, they were big scary criminals to the outside world, but this was mostly due to their mental illness. When treated, they were all just very simple, regular people who had talents and hopes for the future. 

If I had known I had been walking past Mr. PH as he was leaving, I probably would have said goodbye or wished him all the best. I am sad that I wasn’t able to do this.

Every so often, you’ll lose contact with someone you know abruptly. And when that happens, you’ll feel a pang of loss. And a regret. That you didn’t get a chance to tell them you’re grateful to have known them, and for all they had taught you and that you’ll miss them. Well, that’s how I feel anyway. 

I didn’t get a chance to say thanks and goodbye to Mr. PH and I didn’t get to have a guitar jam with him. Both of which I’m deeply upset about. I wish Mr. PH all the best. I hope he gets bail. I hope his life is happier from now on. And I’ll miss seeing him around. 

Sigh. 

Bad Goodbyes

Today was the last day of my genmed run in hospital so I was trying to be extra nice to my stressed out registrar who has been amazing the whole time. I had this whole speech planned out in my head to thank her for all she’s done and how helpful she’s been, etc. But when the time came for me to leave and say goodbye, the words just fell out of my head. Eugh.

Our team had just finished rounding on the wards and my registrar had just finished talking to our consultant on the phone. I waited patiently. I had to go off to a lecture and then I was done for the day. So now was as good a time as ever to thank my registrar and say goodbye. My house officer was also there waiting for the registrar. He knew I was leaving and encouraged me to talk to her now. (He was new so I didn’t have much to say to him other than thanks for being helpful this week. Not particularly hard). Anyway, she hung up on our consultant and I tapped her on the shoulder. “Hey, I’ve got to go to lecture now and then I’ll probably leave”. She took a second to understand the implication of what I said and replied with a smile and “Oh” We then proceeded to have this awkward exchange of “Thanks so much for everything” and “Oh you’re welcome I hope you had fun”. And I was just gearing up to say everything else I have bullet-pointed in my mind, but was sadly interrupted by her phone ringing. We had to make it short because obviously whoever was calling was more important than my clumsy attempt at saying bye. My house officer noticed I was struggling and also noticed the phone complication so jumped in with “She’s trying to say her final goodbyes”. To which my registrar responded “No no we’ll see each other around don’t worry” I can’t really say if she was serious or not because though it’s true that I’ll probably see her somewhere in passing around the many wards, we probably won’t interact at all beyond a smile or wave and we definitely won’t discuss patients or general life. This made me sad. Which ofcourse made more words fall out of my head completely. But it ended with a full hug and thanks from both of us (not a very long one because the damn phone was still ringing). We broke apart, she answered her phone and I walked away. That was the end of the interaction.

Thinking about it now, I really wish I had been able to give her my thank you speech because I always feel like I never say enough to the people I am grateful to. But I stink at it. I’m no good with goodbyes. I hate them and I can never walk away from someone feeling like that there was proper closure. I envy people that can express themselves so easily with words and can tell people exactly how they’re feeling. No matter how much I plan things in my head, they never come out sounding how I wanted them to. Sighh. I hope that from the hug, she knew how grateful I am that she was my registrar, how helpful she’s been, how she didn’t make me feel stupid about not knowing things, how much she taught me in the short few weeks, and how much I value that.
Yeah I really should have just said all these things. Gah.

Why are goodbyes so hard?! Does anyone else have this problem? Maybe I’m just bad at them. Note to self: Keep everyone in my life. Do not create situations for awkward goodbyes. Or if such a situation should arise, write out cue cards. >__>