Medicine

Was it worth it?

It’s coming up to the last few weeks of FY1 and after a long week of on-calls, the mountain of shit I have to do begins to crumble on top of me, one pellet at a time. So a massive bar of chocolate (no regrets) and two cups of tea later, I find myself muddling through a presentation about… bones. In the midst of my grand struggle, I recall that I have multiple sets of notes on orthopaedics that I wrote in medschool that I could copy and paste out of so, why, dear lord am I wasting my time on this utter nonsense?

So I hit up the old document region, venturing cautiously into the folder labelled ‘Fourth Year Medicine’, a dark and melancholy abyss that I had conveniently forgotten all about for a year. My mouse furrowed its way even deeper into ‘Musculoskeletal’, then even further still into ‘Lower limb orthopaedics’.

In that instant, my world just broke.

Before my eyes, I see reams and reams of typed notes that I had forgotten all about, complete with diagrams and jokes (yes, JOKES because I had to entertain myself through the extreme boredom and time commitment involved in writing them). Stepping back and inspecting the cave that is ‘Fourth year medicine’, laid out before my eyes are multitude of beautifully typed documents, exactly like the one I had open on my screen. Then I picture my attic floor. Therein, sit eight massive files full of colour coded, handwritten notes that literally have their own gravitational field. Want a summer body? Squat my medschool files. Suddenly, I’m absolutely seething.

‘Fuck you, medschool!” I think. When my gorgeous boyfriend describes all his hilarious nights out with his crazy friends during his university days, I’ve often found myself sitting there thinking ‘I swear I’m fun… why are my medschool memories so patchy?’ And here, in front of me, I see the answer, clear as the sky above the Love Island Villa. I spent five years pouring my sweat, blood, time, emotions, tears and life into ‘Lower Limb Orthopaedics’ and the equivalent. I worked until my brain could no longer function. And for what? For a grade that said I’d passed, issued in a heartless building that couldn’t give less of a flying fuck in those fleeting moments before finals where I thought I would never make it through the depression, the low self esteem, the shit, in essence that medschool bestowed upon me.

You know I passed my French A-Level with the highest grade in my year? If I’d tried, I could’ve studied Languages at Oxford or Cambridge and had something to show for my abilities. Something more than a thankless degree and not enough nights out propelled by strong gushes of tequila, not enough memories with my friends… not enough of the good stuff, the stuff that really matters.

I take a long, hard look at myself. Let’s accept the reality of life. I have never had the raw intelligence, nor the memory, nor the conceptual brain needed to satisfactorily wade through a medical degree and enjoy my life at the same time. I sacrificed a lot of it, in exchange for sheer hard work and seemingly little reward. I got my piece of paper and the black hat on my head for a day, a few photos on my mum’s phone and walked out, never looking back.

And for what? Was it actually even worth it?

As a junior doctor, and general dogsbody, I’ve come across two types of people. They are broadly classified into ‘Lazy’ and ‘Not lazy’. I fall into the latter category and I’ve often found that the fact I work hard and don’t cop out of shit jobs means that the nurses like me just that little bit more and make me cups of tea during a hellish on call where my bleep doesn’t shut up.

Then there was Chris on the surgical ward yesterday who’s just had his appendix taken out. He’s been feeling kind of rough so I do what all good doctors do- made fun of him and told him the reason I’m not coming back this weekend is because I don’t like him. He told me to stop making him laugh because it hurt his abdomen.

Two months ago, I bent over backwards to arrange a scan for Beth who was 95 and I just knew she was dying. I would’ve done anything for it not to have been on a hospital bed but it was. Days before, she squeezed my hand and said ‘Thankyou Dr Gowri for everything you’ve done for me’. The day she passed away, I hid in the toilet and cried, thinking… I wish I could’ve done more.

Alison left the ward last week. She’d been in before and I happened to find a lump in her breast and thankfully it was benign. This time, she came in for surgery and cried relentlessly for two days after it. When she cried, I went and sat with her, gave her tissues and told her it was normal to feel like the shit trickling out of her stoma bag. The day she left, she gave me a massive hug and I said ‘Alison, in the best way possible, I hope we don’t see each other again’. I don’t think I’ve ever made anyone smile that much.

Then there was Jen who invited me to Cyprus with her, Liz and Betty who let me unleash all my medical students on them so they could practise for their OSCEs, and Ruby, Dot and Paula who all got better from their mental health problems and walked out into their own homes after their long stays in the psychiatry unit.

Once, a colleague told me that he thinks it’s really amazing how I remember people’s names (for clarification; none of the names I’ve used here are real). It’s funny because memory was one of my biggest weaknesses in medschool. But I remember names because I find some way to connect with these incredible people and their amazing stories.

It’s weird how the things other doctors value: clinical competence, knowledge and skills are often different to what patients value: connection and a sense that you’re doing right by them. Interestingly, I never learnt any of this during my degree.

Yet, the fact of the matter is, guys… French at Oxford couldn’t have given me this.

I still feel mad when I look at my medschool notes. I even feel bitter that I could’ve had a better time in my early twenties and I gave some of it up for a piece of paper. Yet, the truth is… that piece of paper gives me the opportunity have these little moments a few times a week, throwing myself into a world outside of myself for people who need it; even if most of the things I do aren’t clever, newsworthy or validated by my senior doctors.

The more of these moments I have… the more I think ‘Yes, yes, yes. It was absolutely fucking worth it’.

 

Fun & Semi-Relatable, Medicine

Not together

You know how there are people in this world who are really, what I call ‘together’? Honestly, I’m referring to women here, although I’m sure a male equivalent exists… I just haven’t paid a great deal of attention to them. This is because my warped conditioning means I compare myself to other women almost reflexively, eyeing up their waistlines in proportion to my own on the regs.

Anyway, I’m actually deviating right now because what I’m trying to say is that I’m really not together. And today is the least together I’ve felt in the longest time.

See, together people have this vibe about them, where confidence appears to be this trait that they’re born with. They walk in a certain way, dress with class, are poised in all their actions from the way they drink, to the way they toss their hair behind their shoulders, right down to (probably) the way they shit.

Now, everyone knows ‘together’ people and I bet you, right now, reading this can conjure up the image of someone who is very together in your mind. I can certainly think of two or three. If you can’t think of someone, that’s probably because you’re one of them (but I don’t feel like together people read my blog, so then again, you’re probably not).

The thing that really sucks about me is that I genuinely try so hard to be together. I do. Take my pre-employment check for example. I thought I was being so together: I organised my documentation into three labelled folders, I wore a shirt that day and I even walked with my shoulders back (a genuine struggle for a lanky individual such as myself) and then I rocked up there and there was a whole online thing that I’d forgotten to do. I swear this happens to me all the time. I always think I’ve done it… then I miss something important.

The way I act is absolutely not together either. Unfortunately, I have one of those really honest faces so I feel like if I’m absolutely bricking it, you can read it in my eyes like an open book. That’s stressful. Also I suck at faking it. The other week, I went to this amazing, michelin star meal which I didn’t even have to pay for but I was really tired and emotionally drained. Two glasses of expensive wine later, down came the wall and I couldn’t even be bothered to socialise, so I switched off. Even now when I think about it, I cringe at the number of together people at that meal who witnessed my lack of togetherness.

Also, women, I wear flats. I don’t wear heels. EVER. Exactly. Because I hate them, they’re painful, our bodies are not designed to stand on such a tiny pressure point and I refuse to let society push me into believing that I have to wear them, even in my best. So I always end up looking a little less together but I am taking it on the chin and saving my calves.

So I guess this level of confession usually leads to something a little deeper and you’re right, yes, it does. Tomorrow is my first day as a doctor.

And I’m not together enough for this. And I can’t even fake it.

Perhaps not something I should be admitting so publicly, but I am bricking it to some other level. I feel like all the Medicine I ever learned has drained out of me. Worse still, as I filed away my academic transcripts yesterday (in another desperado attempt at togetherness) I realised that I’ve got this piece of card that says I’ve done this degree but I don’t feel like a doctor at all. Sure, I wore the gown and walked the walk but it doesn’t mean a thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure I fluked my way through certain parts of medical school.

I know everyone feels like this and at some point, through repeatedly falling on my face (metaphorically) I will somehow get back up and learn how to do this job. The thing is though, the falling really scares me and I’m not together enough to fall gracefully.

I still don’t know if I’ve missed anything from the horde of emails I’ve been sent. I feel like there will be something. I don’t know the route to my new work place. Does my car even have enough petrol in it? To add to this, we’re having some big indian party today at the house (sigh, I live at home now, together points -2) and this means I can’t be a stresshead all day which is my way of coping.

I’ve just thrown my head back on my pillow in utter exasperation. Such is the catharsis that accompanies writing. It’s 10.56am. What respectable human is still in bed at this time? Not a together one, I’ll tell you that.

Anyway. I have a day to fake my way through. Time to get up and paste that smile on for the arrivals and pretend to be oh so excited to start my new job tomorrow, yay! God, I hope I don’t get too drunk.

Til next time, I wish you all the togetherness that I do not possess myself.

Love and all,

G xoxo

P.S. I know my blogging consistency has been crap recently. I act like I’m so popular… sincere apologies to all my fans and loyal readers lalala  bullshit. Honestly, my head has been so screwed up and when I write, it means I have to face the reality of what is happening in there and recently, I haven’t wanted to. That’s the whole truth.

P.P.S. Despite the lack of togetherness, one thing every goddamn tutor I’ve had over the last five years has said is that I’m ‘enthusiastic’. And actually, I am. I can’t wait to start work. I can’t wait to have a purpose. I can’t wait to feel absolutely exhausted because I’ve done something good with my day. So it’ll be fine. It’s all going to be okay.

P.P.P.S. ‘Enthusiastic’ is so much better than ‘together’.

Medicine, The Breakdown Chronicles

The Breakdown Chronicles Pt 2: Dear Medschool

Dear Medschool,

I am writing to you to let you know that I am absolutely done. I only have a few more weeks left and I’m towing that incredibly fine line between giving up because I cannot be bothered to even care and fighting until the end and I promise you that you’re not going to get the better of me. I plan on seeing you through, seeing this through and shooting down every demon of mine that you’ve fed for the last five years. I am better than you.

It’s a damn shame that my perfectionist personality fell right into your arms, like so many of us, such that you’ve let me be entirely consumed by feelings of low lying inadequacy that loiter in the background of every teaching session, manifesting as hesitancy to answer a question, whilst someone else comes out with the answer I was thinking of. That same inadequacy rises to the surface every single time I know I have to sit another fucking exam to get through the next loophole.

Your value system does not favour me despite the sweat, blood and tears that I’ve poured into you. I don’t have a fucking photographic memory, okay? I’m not a fact absorbing sponge that an OSCE examiner can squeeze in order to regurgitate everything he/she wants to hear. I’m not a walking-talking-Oxford Handbook. And don’t shit all over me and say it’s my ‘exam technique’, because that’s like saying my mind is reduced to something that is less than intelligent because it cannot distinguish between b and c on a multiple choice paper.

As far as this relationship goes between us, the thing I will take away from you is a scroll of paper that puts a ‘Dr’ in front of my name. Other than that I’m just another anonymous, insecure student, spewing away every single time her results have rocked up with another scrape through. Because according to your value system, all I am ever capable of is a scrape.

Let me present to you the saddest part of it all. Every time I actually sit down to learn something, I realise that I am utterly fascinated by Medicine. Any time I feel part of a team, any time I’m able to care for someone even a little, I’m filled with the utmost satisfaction. Sadly, those experiences have been so few and far between, although they are the ones that have pushed me through this course. The reason I get so nervous before the tired examiner in front of me is because I care so much and I get tongue tied, my brain feels like it’s wired differently. You might have forced me to read my way through textbooks and papers so that I know enough in theory but on a practical level, I’m still shit scared of being an FY1. I don’t even feel vaguely ready and I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m sick of ‘seeking learning opportunities’ because the reality is that when you’re a medical student, you’re not part of a team and no one really cares about you being there so you spend 3 years learning how to professionally not-get-in-the-way and that’s just so demotivating.

And the purpose of this letter is as follows. This feud between you and me is so close to being over. There are only a few more loopholes for me to get through and once it’s over… it’s over. I’m no longer going to be brought down by the toxicity of this environment. It won’t matter how much I know because by then I’ll know enough and I’ll learn the rest. I’m not stupid, Medschool, contrary to what you’ve often led me to believe. I realise that it isn’t you that has done this to me, but me. That these were pre-existing insecurities that have only grown because of my surroundings. You were merely the surroundings. The fertile soil that created a breeding ground to grow what was already there. I’m so over seeking approval and validation from exam results and consultant’s comments. I’m so over feeling a certain way about myself that’s dictated too much by you and not me. I’m so over this power struggle.

So let’s end with this thought. I might’ve scraped through, but I still fucking passed every time. I still did everything else I wanted to do outside of this degree. I’m leaving with new skills, new experiences, challenges that have shaped me and friends who have morphed into family. And as hard as you’ve made it for me to convince myself that I’m good enough, the final push is no longer about that. On Monday, I will find out where I’m going to be a doctor for the next two years (which is terrifying enough as it is). And then, for a few weeks only, I will go into focused hibernation and then all I have to do is pass. Exactly like I’ve done for the last four years and if I’ve done it before… I can absolutely 100% do it again. I’m not going to let you make me feel like I’m your little bitch anymore and I’m not going to lose motivation now.

It’s the final fucking hurdle. Watch me jump it.

Yours for not much longer,

Gowri

Fun & Semi-Relatable, Medicine

21 Things That Have Been Going On In Every Final Year Medical Student’s Head For The Past Two Weeks

  1. Oh. My. Life. I. Am. Going. To. Be. A. Doctor. Next. Year. I’m so not ready for this. Cue mental breakdown number 12 of the morning.
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  2. A GMC number just arrived in my inbox. Everything is suddenly real. Neither the last four years of my life nor Jeremy Hunt’s antics have prepared me for this.general-medical-councilOh balls.
  3. Oriel just reminds me of Ariel. As in… The Little Mermaid.giphy1
  4. Speaking of which… must Oriel really undergo maintenance during the most crucial two weeks of my med school career?screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-21-32-46

    Cheers.

  5. Soooo…. The whole of Scotland is one deanery. Cool.Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 21.29.22.png
  6. Everyone else has six Pubmed IDs and two additional first class degrees with honours. I mean, Scotland can’t be that bad. It’s fine. I’m fine.giphy2
    Seriously, I’m fine.
  7. You know, the SJT is such a game changer and I have like… so much common sense, so it could really turn my life around. #NorthThamesgiphy7
  8. My geographical knowledge of this country amounts to zero.giphy3
  9. I have sixty tabs open on my internet browser, every third one being Google Images of various towns that I absolutely didn’t know existed. 

    Miscellaneous

  10. I cannot base my career for the next two years upon Google Images.giphy4
  11. Let me study the competition ratios from last year so I can tactfully place West Midlands North as my second choice.25020150205154022cropped
  12. I’ve gone on three dates with this other medic from Tinder and I feel like I can really see a future there. Do I bring up the whole linking thing? 

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  13. If one more person asks me where I put as my top choice I will literally go into cardiac arrest in front of them. And since they are probably only as ready as I am to be a doctor, this doesn’t bode particularly well for my health.giphy6
  14. I still don’t know if my clinical referee quite knows who I am.giphy8
  15. Do I operate under a gender other than the one assigned to me at birth? I mean, what is my sexual orientation really? What is the meaning of life and what part do I play in it?

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  16. The submit button is a massive red cog. My life changes the moment I click it and I already have so many commitment issues. Maybe I should just wait until tomorrow. 

    giphy12

  17. But then if Oriel crashes the night before the deadline I’m done.
  18. Five people have taken screenshots of their submitted applications on Facebook so I have a vague idea of what my life would look if I did press it.
  19. Maybe I should just press it.
  20. OH. MY. LIFE. I. AM. GOING. TO. BE. A. DOCTOR. NEXT. YEAR. I. AM. SO. NOT. READY. FOR. THIS.
    giphy13
  21. Screw it. Neither is anyone else.

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Fun & Semi-Relatable, Medicine

20 Positively Glorious Things In Life.

I am on a strictly timed revision break right now.

Currently, microbiology is absolutely draining my soul and pouring it into little agar plates and petri dishes only to find the minimum concentration of Medicine required to kill me completely. I think this is an apt time for me to stop.

So here’s a challenge. I get 40 minutes to come up with 20 happy things and absolutely none of them will be bacteria related. Here I go. Deep breath. And…

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1. Chocolate exists.
And in addition to this beautiful, wonderful sugary fact of life, the final trails of Easter still happen to be lining the corners of select shelves at Tesco Express. And the last time I walked in there, Lindor Eggs cost 25p. Instant happiness with a delightfully melting middle.

2. It’s the sunny side of the year.
Thankyou, thankyou THANKYOU! I don’t know about you but waking up to sunshine and sleeping when its traces still sweep the sky literally fills my body with its glow. Nothing makes me happier than long, lush, balmy and slightly sticky summery evenings sitting outside a pub with a cold Kopparberg and they are all on their way.

3. I deleted the Instagram app off my phone. Also Facebook. Also Twitter.
And I well and truly recommend the same social media detox to everyone. I’m really embracing this hype of productive procrastination (doing things like reading about how sassy Ed Milliband is and blogging) over scrolling through photos of famous people whom I don’t really care about. Also it means I don’t have to look at all those fitness pages I follow where I convince myself looking at these people will make me want to exercise, whilst I reach for my next Lindor Egg.

4. The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is literally the medic Bible.
Okay strictly speaking, this isn’t exactly about bacteria. But it IS exam period and without my second hand copy of this gloriously yellow, green and red book with its tattered pages and frayed ribbons, I would be completely clueless about anything and everything. May we take a moment of silence to give thanks to the Handbook.

5. I am a fully functional human being.
At the moment I’m so so fortunate to say that I’m not unwell physically or mentally in any way and though I feel incapacitated by microbiology from time to time, I can still come up for air and interact with other humans in a relatively normal way.

6. High waisted items of clothing are hip and cool.
Suck it in girls.

7. I am about to take my driving test in a month.
Okay so this is a totally personal one but all year I’ve been feeling this massive deficit in my independence because I can’t drive. I’ve had Shakespearean levels of drama with my driving so I am eternally grateful to be in a position where I’m actually ready to take a practical test now. My licence isn’t even pink yet and I’m brimming with gratitude.

8. Life is such an adventure.
Oh for heaven’s sake, she’s being all philosophical again. Okay, yes, this is true, I am. But if we just stop and think for one second- our fast paced lives are actually taking us somewhere and so many of us are actually in the process of chasing and living our hopes and dreams and that is really really exciting. Even if it seems dull… look at the bigger picture. Life is effing exciting.

9. Zayn Malik left One Direction.
This roughly translates to ‘Zayn Malik has finally realised how rude he has been for the past four years in not realising that he needs to marry me right now (Don’t worry, I’m over the Thailand girl, I’m not all uptight like Perrie) so, errr, hey wedding bells’.

10. Comedy Central plays F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episodes back to back 24/7.
I don’t even need to elaborate this point. Ah. Unagi.

11. Success is defined by our own terms.
During my long days of philoso-studying, I stumbled across a sweet little thought that makes me smile every time I repeat it in my head. Which is that the minute we stop comparing ourselves to the people around us, we are well and truly unique and successful people. I realised that I spent so much time thinking I’m not good enough that when I eradicated this need to see myself relative to those around me and instead just see me for me – I’ve realised that I’m doing what I want and getting where I want and my hard work has put me here and it’s keeping me here. Happy, happy, happy.

12. Even the worst of days are undoubtedly made that little bit better with a single hot, steaming cup of tea.
All my fellow tea drinkers… can I get an AMEN.

13. Buzzfeed is such an excellent way to pass time on the toilet.
I don’t care if people judge me for this. Yes, social media may have left my phone but Buzzfeed is still there, it’s still hilarious and it’s still 100% relatable. The greatest kind of trash.

14. Trees.
One of my best friends is obsessed with trees and it’s made me really notice them. And they are almost the most peaceful form of nature. They’re so deeply rooted in just being there. And they are about to spray our summer views with lush green leaves and make everything look beautiful so let’s all be like Helen and get excited about trees.

15. Our lives are full of wonderful people.
I read a quote last year which said ‘Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Energies are contagious’. And it is so insanely true. When you’re around a person, if you listen to your intution, the feeling right at the bottom of your chest, your consciousness has already decided for you whether you like them or not. And I am grateful to say that at this moment in time, I am surrounded by people who keep those energies saturated with positivity and happiness. Those people are my friends and I love every single one of them. And if you think you’re not surrounded by such people… you have the complete power to shake off the ones that let negativity mess with your vibes. Use your intuition filter to keep the ones in your life who make you laugh until you cry and who you can ring up at 2a.m. to suggest a McFlurry.

16. This blog nearly vanished and I hadn’t saved it, but then it was only my computer messing up and it’s actually still here.
When you get onto point number 16, you don’t want to lose the flow. And in life, there is a save button. I just pressed it. All hail the save button.

17. The world is a beautiful place.
And we have aeroplanes that can get us from one continent to another in hours. This world has so much for us to explore. We live in a time where everywhere is so accessible. And that possibility to roam it exists for all of us. Next month, I get to go back to my beloved Kerala and see my grandmothers- the two most wonderful women on Earth. Thank you Life for being good to me. Thank you Wright Brothers for the invention of planes. Thank you Emirates for the insane collection of Bollywood movies that will entertain me for all 17 hours of the journey.

18. Kebab Land is a five minute walk from my house.
Applicable to any student who lives anywhere near a half decent takeaway. Cheesy fries, ketchup, mayo and chilli sauce are merely footsteps away.

19. There are 24 Hours in a day.
24 hours is like gold dust. That’s a lot of time to achieve a lot of things. For me right now, that’s a lot of time to cram a lot of facts.

20. Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too,
I walked around the corner, and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled… I realised… I’d passed it onto him.
I thought about that smile and then I realised its worth.
A single smile, just like mine could travel round the Earth.
So if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic, quick, and get the world infected!
Thought I would end the post with a solid sprinkling of cheese. And this is one of my favourite poems of all time because it’s succinct, it’s cute and it’s cheesy. And I now have 19 more reasons to apply this poem to my life.

So thank you all for joining me on my journey. I feel fully refreshed and ready to tackle the Principles of Pathogenesis. I know this was kind of personal, but I hope some of these are applicable to any lovely person who might be reading this and I hope you can all find 20 Positively Glorious Things in your life too.

Many many pots of love to you all,

Gowri xxxxxxx

Medicine, Thoughts & Musings

The Buzz.

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“To realise one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

There is such pressure on us in the world in this day and age to do what we love. Anyone reading this right now is probably reading it from a computer. I’m going to take a stab and say you might even own the computer that you’re reading it from. And forgive me for generalising… but if you’re reading this from your own computer, it probably means that you’re in a privileged enough position to have had a choice in life as to what you want to do to earn your living. The world is full of opportunities to do what you love.

But what if we don’t know what we love? What if we haven’t found that out yet? The internet and social media are notorious for flinging around ‘positive’ quotes such as ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do’. Books such as ‘The Alchemist’, make out as though everyone has a certain destiny, a calling, if you will… and if you make that your work, you’re sorted in life. (Totally not dissing The Alchemist by the way, incredible book… everyone go and read it- I’ve read it thrice and still open it up when I’m losing my way).

But is it always possible to love what you do? To that kind of level? I’m talking the kind of passion for your work that you wake up every morning and you can’t wait to go to work? Because you’re positively infatuated with it. See, to me, that’s the dream.

And here, dear blog, is the reality.

I made the choice to apply to Medschool at the age of sixteen. That’s a very young age to be deciding your entire career path. So three years ago I dipped a toe, then a foot, and then I fully immersed myself into the journey that was to be Medical School. And I remember writing all sorts of things on my personal statement centred around the two basic concepts of ‘I love science’ and ‘I want to help people’. Call it a cliché, for that’s exactly what it was. The truth is that I didn’t know what any of it entailed. And the truth is that no one really does, until they’re probably too far in to get back out.

The Alchemist says that the only things that really stop us from achieving our destiny are fear and love. Love for others whom we want to please. Fear of failure in what we don’t perceive to be ‘achievable’.

The real reasons I decided to go into Medicine at the age of sixteen? Well here they are. Here is, if you want, the real personal statement.

  • Medicine offered a certain level of job security. I’m not going to pretend like I understand what the credit crunch is, but I’m pretty sure that if Wall Street crashes, the world will still need doctors.
  • In Medicine, let’s face it, you can earn quite a lot. I have never been particularly driven by money because the thought of being ‘rich’ doesn’t excite me that much. But I would like to be doing more than just about making ends meet. I did’t want money to be something I had to worry about.
  • I was too scared to explore something non vocational.
  • My parents are doctors. I’m fortunate enough to say that they never once put pressure on me to choose the path they chose. But they were most certainly relieved when I said ‘I’m doing Medicine’.
  • My friends, specifically my two best friends were also doing Medicine. As were so many of the people around me who I really looked up to.

It all just seemed to fit. There wasn’t much else I could see myself doing. Of course there was always French which was a huge passion for me- but it never quite fit the bill as the kind of degree I wanted to do at university.

Then, I had some work experience arranged at a local hospital. It was with an ENT surgeon. But there was something about being in that clinic. I felt something that week… I couldn’t describe it as anything other than a buzz. Medicine was getting me really really excited. Of course, the doctor I was shadowing was a fully established consultant (and a great one). There was something about the way he applied all this accumulated knowledge that made me think ‘Wow, he is awesome’. And he just… knew what was wrong with people. The people who walked in that door really really trusted him. And everyone who walked out, walked out with a smile on their face. I don’t know if I felt the buzz because I was making myself feel it… or if it was really there. Either way, it made me cough up a joyously clichéd Personal Statement.

But the first term of Medical School was a let down. The lectures were so heavy. Oh God… I didn’t realise I needed to work this hard. My flatmates get to go out every night and rock up in the afternoon for one lecture… why am I in this building from 9am- 6pm every day? Do I really want to even be here? That Christmas, I came home and started seriously rethinking my decisions. Did I work so hard to be somewhere where I don’t even want to be? Why didn’t I just take French? At least I would have been good at it.

That January, the university organised a day called ‘Hospital Orientation Day’. It was a day where we were assigned a Fifth Year who we would be shadowing during their hospital placement. It required me to get up at 6am and walk in the biting cold to get picked up by some people who I didn’t know, but whatever, I was rolling with it. That day, I shadowed the fifth years on their ward round. They showed me some abdominal X-rays and blood results which they asked me to interpret. I examined an inguinal hernia. I took a history. I shadowed a ward round and a consultant asked me a question thinking I was a fifth year… and I got the answer right. All this stuff seems trivial now that hospital is an everyday routine for me… but when I was 18, I felt a familiar feeling coming back. I couldn’t use any other word to describe it other than… a buzz.

So I picked myself back up again. I said, you know what I’m just going to push on with all this work because eventually I’ll make it to third year and get to do something a bit more real.

Third Year. Oh the joys of being permanently ignored on the ward. The joys of being useless at almost everything. The joys of failing at cannulation multiple times and exhausting poor people’s veins. The joys of turning up to teaching only for it to be bloody cancelled. Why do I bother with this stupid, unrewarding degree? Argh, I’ve got a surgical on call this week. Can’t wait to get up early and be ignored all day. I’ll just turn up at 8a.m. and get a kind faced FY1 to sign off my form and then I can get myself a Greggs. Wait, there are two doctors here and they’re being nice to me. Holy crap… this consultant is a legend. Yes, of course I’ll take a history and present it back to you. Subcutaneous Injections?! I can do them. Oooh Clexane. Damn, that click feels good. It’s 7pm. I’ve been on this ward for 11 hours, how the hell did this happen? The consultant actually thinks I’m a keen person. I feel amazing right now, I’ve been showered with all this positive attention today. God, what is this feeling. I couldn’t describe it as anything other than a buzz.

So Medicine, thank you. Thank you for pissing me off every day for weeks and then doing something to draw me right back in and love you all over again. This buzz is what keeps me going. I’m going to tell myself that The Alchemist was right all along and the buzz is the universe telling me that it is my destiny. I’m here for a reason, and that reason is that one day, I am going to be a goddamn brilliant doctor. Because at the age of sixteen, even with the thought of job security, money and the peers, it’s the buzz that brought me here and it’s the buzz that will keep me here even in my darkest days.

So here is the moral of the post. There may be people out there who are able to get up every morning and be so deeply infatuated with what they do. And that is still the dream. But ultimately, jobs may have their good days and their completely terrible days. I can’t wait to find the part of Medicine that gives me that buzz every single day. Because that will be my calling and I’m going to get there.

But if you’ve found your buzz, follow it. And even if you’re not truly in love with what you do, try and remind yourself of the buzz that brought you there and keep pursuing it until the good days outshine the bad ones.

Love and peace & all my prayers and happiness

Gowri xxxxxxxx

Medicine, Thoughts & Musings

The Annual Revision Period Psychoanalysis.

So it’s been a day and I can’t keep my fingers off the keyboard. Looks like I’ve contracted an acute bout of Blogacythaemia- too much blogging excitement in my bloodstream.

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I’m currently in my study period for my upcoming exams in a couple of weeks time. And every study period, as most students know (work with me here), is brimming over with thoughts that go something like this…

Shit.

I’m actually screwed.

I wonder if we’re in the Matrix.

I’m going to have a meltdown. I’ll never be able to learn all this on time.

Why did I do nothing all year?

In fact… why did I do everything all year EXCEPT my degree?

I am a shameful person. Ooh chocolate.

If I suck my tummy in, it reduces by about 30%. If I really go for it though… ok no. Can’t breathe.

I’ve just taken a four day revision break. Maybe I should embark upon some revision.

Perhaps not to that extent, but that’s the picture. I know for sure, that every exam period… and this might well just be me- I go into massive psychoanalysis mode. Instead of focusing on the work in question, I often focus on whether I really deserve to pass, have I done enough, am I worthy of all this? The reason I doubt myself is because of a long-held philosophy. Hard work gets results. And I have a complex that I don’t work hard enough for the university I attend. It’s been brought on greatly by the fact that I feel as though I’m always surrounded by people who work harder than I do. And I only deserve the results I work for. So I address this complex by thinking about it and trying to justify it to myself. Perhaps I ought to just have a lot more confidence in my ability. At this point in time, that confidence isn’t there. So I compensate. By thinking.

Some would argue that all this contemplation is just ridiculous. Just do the work in front of you. Yes, yes, yes! I wish I couldI wish that were me… but no. I’m a thinker, and this is what thinkers do. And when we’ve finished thinking, our minds are in a good place to focus on the task at hand.

So here it is.

Psychoanalysis 1: First Year

First year Medicine was a blur. In my first term, I did next to no work, too preoccupied with how much blackcurrant squash it would take to really mask the taste of vodka. I paid for that mistake when my results came out in January. Straight A* girl messed up big time. It didn’t help that I was particularly unhappy at university during this time- I missed home, the pressure to fit in was huge, and I hadn’t found my real niche at uni yet. Of course- that’s a post for another day. I didn’t even know what my degree really required. It was only around about Easter that I realised what I needed to do to get by. I call it ‘Memorise a load of crap you don’t quite understand and then regurgitate it appropriately back onto paper, and blur the handwriting for the bits you forget’.

For pre-clinical Medicine, as far as I knew it- very little skill or application was required. Just memory. But memorising that kind of volume takes WORK and DEDICATION. So I learnt that it was best to write up the accumulating pile of lectures as time went on and then spend weeks learning it until you’re practically fluent the day before the exam.

I passed.

Psychoanalysis 2: Second Year

Second year was a really tough year. The volume went up, big time. But a few things changed. The first was that I knew what I was doing this time around. Medicine wasn’t going to win. And the second was that I was so much more settled. I didn’t really care about vodka anymore (I discovered the delights of Gin, may I add) and was more preoccupied with extra curricular activities and my course. In my second year, I was on an incredible committee for our University’s Hindu Society. It most certainly stands out as the best thing I’ve done since coming to uni. And being the kind of girl who loves being busy- I thrived under that pressure. So I wrote up those lectures like a madwoman- even if I came home at 11pm at night. That Easter, I worked harder than I’ve ever worked before.

I passed.

And so my third year began. This year was a completely different ball game because for the first time, we were on placement. I spent two terms seeing patients in different hospitals. I still carried on doing as much as I could outside of Medicine to maintain my livelihood. And so, blog dearest, I thought I would share with you the Gowri Nair Psychoanalysis of Third Year Medicine.

Psychoanalysis 3: Third Year

1. Have I done enough work to pass these exams?

No. I haven’t. Because there is never such a thing as doing enough work. Medics as a species, especially Birmingham ones have it written in there genes to work hard (and sometimes be twats about it too.) But I wrote up those lectures didn’t I? Sure, I didn’t put in the hours of slavery that I did last year- but the work was more proportional to the year in question. I tell myself maybe I should have worked harder. But should I? Does that make me happy?

2. What was really required of me this year?

Working through those lectures. Attending hospital every day. Going to my teaching. Being proactive- seeing patients in my own time. I went to hospital most days. I skipped teaching sometimes. In my first hospital, my teaching was so good that I didn’t even need to be proactive. My second placement on the other hand, was awful. Completely crap in all the ways you can imagine. Bad hospital, bad teaching, and I didn’t really get on with the people who I was put with because we all had such different personalities. It wasn’t great. But I was more proactive. I found patients, I found teaching, I found a Foundation Year doctor who really inspired me… because there are still diamonds to be found in situations you perceive to be horrific. But I can’t change what I’ve done now, so I may as well be happy with it.

3. What do I want from my university life?

I want to be heavily involved in as much as I can. I want to make friends for life. I want to experience living away from my family and have the independence of living alone, but not the full responsibility of working. I want to learn what it takes to become a doctor. And I want to maintain what I have to eventually become a good one.

My degree is too difficult for me to put all my energy into being at the top, when in all honesty, I’m happy to put in enough, to be average. Currently, I stand a little below average. Of course, it would be incredible to do really well, but what will it gain me right now? And I hear medics say ‘All I want to do is pass’, when I know that isn’t true- you want to smash it and good for you. Do what makes you happy. But me? Seriously. All I want to do is pass. In my first year, I remember a doctor once saying “Once you’re in Medicine, that’s the worst bit over. Just stay under the radar until it’s done”. Sweet. Time to be invisible.

4. Am I even a good medical student?

I am, by no means whatsoever, the hardest worker anymore. I just do what I need to get by. I have never aimed to be at the top because being an amazing medical student has never mattered to me. What matters to me is that I become an amazing doctor. I have told myself that all knowledge and clinical skills are accumulated over time. But the manner I maintain with patients, my communication skills, my empathy, my desire to care for people… and my relative interest in science are the qualities I am relying on to set me apart from other people. Not my knowledge of antibiotic classes or the clotting cascade. For me, that’s enough.

5. So what, you utter fool, have you even gained from your psychoanalysis?

I really need to push past the thoughts of whether I’m in the matrix or not, in order to get through. But hopefully, the work I’ve done will be enough for me to get by this year. I’ve had a great year- it has been my happiest and most stable time at university and I thank God so much for that. The pressure has kicked in now. it’s a completely different ball game to the first two years of Medicine but with the work I’ve done, a smile and a pinch of positivity…

…And some hope

…Throw in a prayer

…And a solid cram right before the end of it…

I’ll pass.

Love & hugs & all the smiles

Gowri xxxxxxx