Sunday, March 20, 2016

Something someone once said...

For those of you who had been following me previously, I hope you'll be pleased to learn that I am now a fully-fledged doctor (and have been for some time now)! It's been quite a journey getting to that point, and since then too has been interesting to say the least. It's been a journey of mixed emotions - some days have been good, some have been worse than bad, and others have been bittersweet in that I have been pleased with something I have accomplished but at the expense of another's ill health. There is one moment that happened to me recently that had me remembering something that had been said to me during a meeting at med school and it's been playing on my mind a bit.

I had many meetings with the disability liaison officer while I was a student, though they were far and few between as I would try my best to avoid needing them. I think this particular one was quite early on at my time there, when I was struggling to find my feet and the school was having second thoughts about my suitability to a career as a doctor. When the topic of autism came up, one of their damage control strategies was to try and aim me towards certain medical specialties that stereotypically involve very little or zero patient contact, such as pathology and radiology. In fact, I can recall many times where a member of faculty has tried to hint that one of these specialties would be perfect for me. But, during this particular meeting, I rebuffed the suggestions with my own career plans in emergency medicine. I have many reasons for why I felt I would be well-suited to such a career, but my apparent lack of emotions was not one of them.  This member of faculty, however - the disability officer - seemed to have an epiphany once I'd said that. Their response was along the lines of, "Perhaps you'd be good at that. When you have to deal with a sick child, you would be able to stay calm as you would lack the same emotional responses others would have in that situation."

So I received a tiny morsel of support and approval at my career choices, but not because of my own adeptness to it, but because I apparently wouldn't care.

How wrong they were.

A few weeks ago, I had to deliver some bad news to a pregnant woman who had lost her baby and I can tell you, it was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. Difficult not only because I was unseasoned, but because I'd formed an emotional attachment to this patient - I liked them. She was kind and sweet and well-meaning, and all she wanted was to bring a new life into the world so that she could share those things with that child, and much more. But she had been bleeding for a few days and came to hospital because she was worried she'd lost the baby. Just as quickly as she'd found out she was pregnant, I had to tell her that she was no more, and on finding out myself that she had miscarried all I wanted to do was walk outside somewhere and cry. Not an unreasonable response to rubbish situation, I don't think.

Despite this being a very difficult thing for me to do, I managed to do it. I stayed as calm as I could and maintained my professionalism throughout, and I was clear yet sympathetic in my approach. And this situation hasn't changed my opinion of what I want to get out of and put into a medical career. In fact, that day hasn't even factored into any sort of rationale for my not wanting to pursue a career in emergency medicine, and, if anything, it has made me that slight bit more determined (not that I need to be at this point). Definitely one of those bittersweet days...

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