Of fleetingness and the ER.

 

Working in the ER constantly reminds you of the undeniable ephemerality of life. The fleetingness of it all.

One minute you are having your breakfast and next minute your coffee cup is on the floor, and you cannot move your hand to pick it up while your mouth utters garbled sounds.

In the fresh rays of a cool morning, you head out to the desert with friends for some winter dune- bashing. Young and free, life flirtaciously beckons you into her frolicky arms. By afternoon you are in the stark, sterile confines of a operating theatre with your skull open and a bunch of strangers poking and prodding at your very essence.

An innocuous but persistent cough turns out to be an life- altering diagnosis of lung cancer.

I could go on. I’m not sure if it’s the work environment, or divination; but I have this constant sense of foreboding. That my DIAGNOSIS is just round the corner. Morbid as it sounds, I constantly think of death and dying- the hows and whys of it. The science behind it and philosophy around it.

Every time I am faced with an unsavoury or difficult situation, I think of death. Every time I meet an arrogant, full-of-himself person, I think of death. Every time life throws curve- balls at me, I think of death.

And odd as it sounds, death or rather the thought of it is my coping mechanism. I ask myself “If I were to die the next moment, or tomorrow or the next month, would this still be as important or distressing as it is now?” And it helps.

On a tangential note, the ER also shows how painfully long and unchanging  life can sometimes be.

For example, a 90 year old gentleman, passing on after a long, long wait. After being confined in bed for 20 years and having had multiple hospital admissions, surgeries and resuscitations. After being in long term care, and bearing the ignominy of having no control or right over your body though your mind is sound. After having more than two dozen home- nurses over a period of several years, and having them do things for you which you wouldn’t want to do even yourself. After having every organ in your body shut down painstakingly slowly, bit by bit and having two ER doctors administer CPR for what seems like hours, till their arms ache and their shoulders lock. After which it all ends in a melee of relatives and third generation progeny shedding token tears instigated by social propriety while inwardly sighing with relief. Finally, it’s over. It has been a full life for the gentleman, most likely; but it has also been a long one.

Till next time.

Dr J.

 

 

Runday Monday- Why I quit running..

I have quit.

There.

I have said it.

Out loud.

* Long breath*

The mojo has long been murdered by circumstance, though I can not be blamed for giving in without a fight.

I fought, long and hard. But my loss was pre-ordained, almost inevitable.

I could blame dodgy knees. Or work-days which stretch into the ungodly hours of the night. An endless barrage of chores and domestic tasks that magically burgeon in every hour that they lay undone. Presentations which crop up every week and pre- rounds that begin at the crack of dawn.

Regardless of the raison d’être, the guilt and helplessness (of not doing what one wants/ yearns to do) has been festering within for long now. Letting go, has been a relief. Unexpectedly I sense a calm resignation descend upon me, one that soothes frayed nerves and restless thoughts. It’s better now. Like emesis post a long episode of relentless nausea. The pressure is slowly but surely fizzling out, and the competitiveness and will to go harder, faster and further has dimmed and almost died out.

I thought such a day might never come about. Heck, I did not know such possibilities existed.

But then I always thought things wrong!

Life truly is an evil, manipulative, sadistic ol’ devil.

 

 

Till next time.

Dr J.

 

 

Winds of change and change of winds.

Boy oh boy is Doha awake at midnight today! A there-one-minute-gone-the-next shower the previous night; a few degrees drop in temperature, a cool ocean breeze and the eve of the weekend- the perfect recipe for the folks of Doha to rush out onto the roads at night apparently. In droves.

The grills have come out of hibernation, the shishas are seeing the outdoors again. The little girls have whipped out their tasseled scooters and the boys are whooshing past on their shiny skates. The adults are busy trading family gossip and work whines while the kids are still wide awake at hours that will seem insane to people from any other part of the world.

All the convertible tops are down, the colourful Vespas are on full show and the Ducatis are zipping past full throttle. Everyone from the Civics and Corollas to the Rolls Royces and Maybachs, with all the LandCruisers and Patrols in between are on the streets this evening it seems like.

There is not a parking spot in sight at The Corniche, Katara, MIA park or any of the usual haunts of the folks in this town.

Sigh! How quickly things change.

If you are not from around here, or have never lived in such a land, you might have no clue what I’m rambling on about. The weather change, literally and metaphorically heralds a drastic lifestyle change.

You can start to live a life that is not artificially climate controlled. Where you do not feel like your face is burning up as you head to your car in the open parking lot, or where you actually may have to carry change of clothes if you have to walk, or stand outside an air-conditioned building for more than two measly minutes. Where the heat can actually make you reconsider your recent life and decisions. Where children have to start school at ungodly hours, and finish several hours before noon because the heat gets unbearable past 10 AM. Where it gets so hot, that not only cars and buildings, even human beings feel capable of spontaneously combusting.

anyhow, I am not on call this weekend, and that means I can stay out for as long as I want tonight (even though I have no hopes of sleeping in!). The decent weather reminds me of the milder weather of the place I call home and I can’t seem to get enough of it.. The “just- about- cool” winds have brought a tune to my lips and a song in my heart. I feel a lightness in my step and a calmness in my head. At this moment, life seems decent. Good. Even great maybe 🙂

The relentless heat, has finally relented and given us harried souls some reprieve. And I am thankful for it.

Enjoy and cherish everyday of the coming “winter” folks. Soon only the distant memories of breezy morning and cool nights shall remain, while the mercury becomes friends with Mr Forty Odd and Mrs Fifty Can’t- bear again!

Till next time.

Dr J.

The post- call haze and an impromptu “what’s in my bag”!

I gaze at my Fitbit. It shows a series of numerals. 3 1 2 3 4 0 or thereabouts. I see the numbers, they register somewhere in the nether regions of my acutely occupied mind, stowed away for comprehension at a more convenient time (a.k.a. right now).

This was at about the 17 hour mark, there were still seven hours to go before I could could call it a day.

I did not go running that day, nor did I fuss around on the treadmill. I did not eat a meal seated down in one place, but I did drink 3 mocha lattes, 1 espresso shot and one tea with milk and sugar.

I will not comment on the number or type of patients admitted; but I can tell you that I did a LOT of purposeful corridor striding, more than two dozen phone calls (consults), reams of documentation and charting. Hardly any sleeping.

Rewind to the beginning of the day.

I am up at 3:30 AM, getting nursery meals and snacks ready and packed. Then put my most comfortable scrubs into the washer-dryer on the “quick wash” cycle, iron it dry and still wear it slightly damp. I did not realise until then that I had no clean scrubs. Anyhoo…

5 AM and I leave my domestic self behind at home and put my game face on at the wards. Pre- rounds, Grand Rounds, five hours of ‘educational activities (a.k.a mandatory lectures) and on- call from 3 PM to next morning- it is going to be a long, long, long day.

Day. It is over 24 hours after all. Post- call rounds never finish before 11 AM the next day.

Reaching home at 12 noon the next day, gives a small window in which I can wash the germy grime worth 36 hours off me, get some grub in the tummy, partially arrange some scattered stuff around…… And then it’s time for the nursery run, and “baby- story” unfolds from thereon.

Sleep is a luxury that I often covet, but rarely beget.

I have no complaints or regrets. I chose not to. My life may not be all sunshine and daises, but I like it, for now. Heck! talking about sunshine, there are days when I don’t see it at all. Yet, I do not wish to whine. Then why, you may ask, fulmination?

This emesis of text was induced by a silly comment this afternoon, a relative whining about the money his neurosurgeon makes per month.

That neurosurgeon probably did this and much more (depending on the era and area of training), for about 20 years, before the money first started to trickle in and ultimately “flood” (as the lovely gentleman put it) in.

I rest my case.

On a chirpier note, leaving my bag unattended for five minutes with a toddler within 10 feet of it, means I have its contents strewn all over the living room floor. And it gave me an idea.

Any blogger/ vlogger worth his/ her salt, puts up a “what’s in a bag” post/ video. Though I am averse to herd- following and charting the beaten path, I personally find those bag posts to be fun and interesting. I guess we are all voyeuristic to some extent. And ever curious about another’s bearings and being.

Also, this post is dedicated to The Husband who thinks The Bag is unnaturally heavy.

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This is the dressier version of my work bag. There is another more “heavy duty” one for theatre days, and presentation days. (This is the Marc by Marc Jacobs Ligero Tote for those who like to know such things- like me.)

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It is a sturdy, roomy bag, which on days like this would be packed to the brim. It is a decent- sized tote, with a solid, reliable, zipper. Zippered totes are a rare breed by the way.

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And here are the contents. Nothing fancy, or unnecessary in my opinion. The light green pouch is my on- call survival/ emergency kit while the hot pink one has all the absolute essentials (ID, access cards, bleep, stamp, torch….)

A tablet to check patient records, OR scrubs (different from the call scrubs) and a couple of other self- explanatory items.

There you go, most residents and fellows I know carry similar luggage, some a tad more and some a tad less. I have also seen some extreme cases, and a couple of complete nut cases too. Some carry their own towels, blankets, sheets (YES! in the car if you want to know) and then at my old workplace a gentleman came to work with only his bleep on (steth, pen, and everything else can be borrowed you see).

So, that’s it for today folks (and the week perhaps). See you soon, hopefully. And yes, I did log over 35000 steps that day (about par for a call day) and apparently burnt well- over 3500 calories. Not a bad work- out on a full- work day eh? 😉

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Till next time.

Dr J.