In the mountain of the all the things you have to do as a busy F1, there are still beautiful moments. I am writing about them because if you’re an F1 at the moment, you will know about the other stuff. What can feel like a sometimes daily struggle.
Slowly you are becoming more tired each day.
In all of this it’s hard to apprecate the good. It is an effort because you are so busy doing everything else.
A few days ago was one of the busiest days for me as an F1 so far. I know I have very little to compare it to, but my third night shift was something of a beast. For everyone involved. So much so that all of the nurses were still talking about it the next day. The busiest night in a long time they tell me.
I was stressed, tired, hungry, emotional and terrified. I was being bleeped all the time, several times whilst seeing a sick patient and was running between wards trying to find what I needed and running between ABG machines on different levels because they don’t all do the tests I needed, praying the blood wouldn’t clot.
When my SHO saw me and asked me if i wanted a cup of tea, I laughed because the idea that I had even 1 minutes seemed ludicrous.
I get it. I know the struggle. I’m living it, but I thought I would shine some light of some of the beauty to come out of one of the worst shifts of my life. Because it is everywhere, and these are the moments that will see me through one day to the next.
“You’re a nice doctor”
I was flattered, but baffeled. We had barely spent five minutes together. I had been bleeped for a cannula for a patient who was notoriously difficult to cannulate. I had that heart sink moment when they told me that even the anaesthetist struggled the day before and was considering feet or neck.
I was intrigued enough to ask why they thought that I was nice. What had she gathered in just under 5 minutes!
“You put a pillow under my arm to make me comfortable.”
It was something so tiny and automatic for me that it barely regstered, but to this patient it made a big difference. After repeated cannulation attempts, this counted a lot to them.
At 6am one patient was so happy to tell me that I didn’t hurt them when I was talking bloods. They were so jolly and chatting away about their family. They had cancer and were in hospital having surgery and having lots of blood test yet they were still so jolly.
What an positive person I though and what the hell did I have to complain about. At the moment, nothing at all.
The nurse who cornered me, shoved some tea and toast in my hand and ordered me to sit down immediately and eat. After 8 hours of no fluid or nutrition or sitting down, this act of kindness was much appreciated.
I went back and gave her a hug the next day.
The nurse who called the path lab for me to get them to report blood results immediately when I needed to do 50 other things and she saw that it needed to be done. One less job for me to do. The benefit of this when you are busy is huge.
The patient who I had to wake up from their sleep who asked me how I was! “You must be tired doc”.
I was but I wasn’t expecting this act of kindness.
The nurst who went to her bag to get chocolate and the other nurse who shared her grapes with me and then encouraged me to eat and write at the same time. I managed half a chocolate bar.
The nurse who gave me a lecture on drinking and going to the toilet (both of which were NOT happening). Just the motherly advice I needed for the next shift, where nutrition and hydration were both taken more seriously.
Even on the worse days, there is still a lot to be grateful for. We all know about the struggle and talk about it (and rightly so, we all need a debrief) but don’t forget to stop, even if just for a second, to appreciate the good too. Because there is a lot of that, it’s just a little more concealed.
And if it’s all going terribly, remember there is always time off!
Here is what I got up to on mine this weekend at the Edinburgh fringe festival.