Seven years ago my granddad was visiting our home in the UK when he had a heart attack in the middle of the night. It was the summer between my first year of university and the last year of school. It was a summer of goodbyes and a summer of anxious excitement. But with my granddad being so unwell, it quickly turned into a summer of confusion and multiple hospital trips.
Our closest tertiary cardiac centre was a hospital named St. George’s. Over the next three months all of our family members became closely acquainted with Atkinson Morley Wing, the visiting hours and the ever bustling streets of Tooting. Eventually my granddad got better and we took him home.
I started writing this blog four years ago. It was the summer between my final year of Biomed and starting medical school. It was a challenge to my self. A way of keeping my self connected to who I am and what I believe in. Over the years this blog bought me refuge from the outside world. It bought me repute for my writing. It bought me closer to understanding myself and my world. I started this blog because I wanted to record the moments and slice of life of being a medical students. So that I could look back many many years later and cringe, laugh, relate and understand my journey.
Four years later, with the title of ‘Doctor’ only freshly awarded, with the notifications bar still popping and with a surreality to what comes next, I know not what to do with this blog. Do I carry on as if nothing has changed – even though, it really has. Do I blog about every day life as a doctor? Or do I let it go?
I don’t really have a purpose for this blog anymore as it has done its purpose. Done its purpose of helping me get through medical school. But I’m already letting go of a lot of things. My home. My university. Student life. Perhaps I can hang on to this for a while longer.
After all it might be the end of an era but its the beginning of a whole new chapter of life…the pages of which, have yet to be written.
We shouldn’t be so afraid of change. Life is uncertain at times. Confusing at times. Difficult at times. And yet change is inevitable. We don’t know if tomorrow we’ll be successful. We don’t know if tomorrow we will be sick. We don’t know if tomorrow is to be a good day, an okay day or our last day.
But we shouldn’t be afraid of change. Without change we don’t have hope for tomorrow to be a better day. For our loved ones to not be sick. Without change we don’t know if we’ll ever reconcile with those we fought.
If we’re afraid of change, we’ll forget to live our today.
I’m about to go through many changes in the upcoming months. Change of home, change of status, change from my ‘norm’. But this change will help me grow and evolve and be a better me.
As a patient said to me, recently, ‘it’s all changed now, the healthcare system.’
So I’m the first born child of first generation immigrants. I remember going to ‘English as a second language’ classes – even though my parents went blue in the face explaining that in fact I could speak English before I learnt to speak Hindi.
I remember explaining to my non-immigrant classmates that my accent is a hybrid because I’d been to eight schools before the age of 13.
I remember standing in a hall in London and belting out the national anthem as we were handed our red passports – telling us we were citizens now.
I remember walking in to a A&E with my grandfather and the nurse explaining to my dad that we needed to pay if we wanted any further treatment for his heart. They had unblocked and stented one coronary artery and the other one was 80% stenosed but not quite shut off enough to kill him. Yet.
Obviously, we paid.
I remember walking into my university -which is also a hospital – and seeing large billboards reminding patients to bring their passports or insurance papers with them to their appointments.
But as an immigrant I find it strange that mere ten years ago I didn’t belong and my health had a price. Now, because I’m British, I can walk into any hospital, anywhere in the country and get first class treatment. Just because a stamp on my passport makes me a citizen.
As we leave the EU, as social tensions grown, as governments threaten to strip citizens of their rightful citizenship, I do wonder: where is the line? Will it be at the cost of my health or yours? Or worse, at the cost of those defenceless and vulnerable individuals who can’t afford healthcare and may be denied so on the grounds of being ‘foreign’
A junior doctor is any doctor between one year out of medical school and one year short of becoming a consultant.
A junior doctor starts work well before most patients wake up. Finishes work when all the urgent jobs are done. A junior doctor can’t just leave at 5pm because it says so in their contract. Not if their patient is in uncontrollable pain, or hypoxic or in dire need of a medical review.
A junior doctor eats lunch when they can. Often its a working lunch. And it might be interrupted if their bleep goes off.
A junior doctor will miss birthdays, festivals, weekends and evening plans because they are working.
A junior doctor won’t stop being a doctor when they’re in the supermarket, the train or even another country.
A junior doctor wants to be one. They’re on the patient’s side, fighting their battles with them.
A junior doctor will be the one a patient sees daily, the one who takes their blood test and runs it to pathology. A junior doctor might even do the patient’s surgery.
A junior doctor doesn’t give up on healthcare.
As 2018 draws to a close in just a couple of days, it seems prudent to reflect on the year past. I turned 25 this year. Quarter century. Started my final year of medical school. Recognised I was overworked, stressed and not coping. Found some healthy (and some not so healthy) ways to overcome the problems. I finally went on a friends only holiday. I visited Russia. I saw a 12 year old die. I helped saved the life of a 96 year old. I put a catheter into a man’s urethra after he had come in from a road traffic collision. I watched a new born baby being born, a man become a father. Many moments made 2018 an emotionally charged year and some moments will always stay with me. Continue reading