Friday, 30 August 2013

What would I do if I was I was in charge of Day One at Medical School?

As a new university year is fast approaching, I have been thinking abut the messages that our future doctors will be getting on their first day at medical school in a few weeks time.

Thinking back to my first day, aside from the intoxicating mix of fear and excitement, the messages I remember were about how hard the next few years would be and how much science we would have to learn. I really don't remember there being much of a patient focus at all, although I know it was six years ago, and memory can be selective. The first time I met a patient was a few weeks in, in the setting of a GP surgery - exactly how you imagine a patient to be, receiving care. But since being a patient myself, I have realised that patients are more than just a problem to be cured, or a recipient of care, they are their own experts and have capacity beyond the walls of the clinic, to supporting every aspect of healthcare through their involvement. Shouldn't we be introducing our future doctors to this wider potential of patients as resources and colleagues in healthcare? And when better to do it than Day One? 

What would I do if I was in charge of Day One of medical school? 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Tilt Table Tests

For many reasons, I really admire Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who tweeted from the ISS the most spectacular images of earth from space, life on board ISS, and his rehabilitation. As a family, we caught up on his tweets each day over dinner. Then his posted this tweet....

Tilt table tests are the main part of a POTS diagnosis and any future investigations. Aside from our family jokes about which was a quicker way to get a tilt table test - sit on the waiting lists at Queens Square or qualify as a astronaut and spend six months in space.... Chris Hadfield became even more of a hero! 

My tilt table tests were to test the effectiveness of a potential new medication. I had to be "starved" as they put it from midnight the night before, so I enjoyed a bit of a carb fest for supper the night before! I personally prefer the word "fasting" or simply "not eating", but I guess "starving" is fitting with the torturous nature of the rest of the tests!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

What if....

The "what if....?" question can be my worst enemy, in two different ways. 

I have been doing a lot of reflection recently (prompted by some #patientleaders conversations), and with considerable effort, I have steered clear of the heart-wrenching self-searching questions like "what if I hadn't gone sailing that day and had the accident?", "what if I hadn't decided to see the Chiropractor?" and "what if I hadn't got flu that weekend at ended up with GBS?". There is also the other side of looking back through "what if" glasses - what if I hadn't got to hospital in time? What if I had been to another hospital where they weren't specialists in my condition? Maybe I am pretty lucky after all?!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Bittersweet #tipsfornewdocs

I have never been a fan of the word 'acceptance', in that particular form, suggesting something completed. I much prefer 'accepting' which gives a hint of an ongoing process. The phrase "acceptance is a journey not a destination" is one I strongly believe. Some days I feel more accepting of my situation that others, and that is just the (bumpy) path of recovery.

Yesterday was one of those days where I found accepting my condition particularly challenging. Having such a health focused twitter feed, I noticed a fair few tweets using the hashtag #tipsfornewdocs and #changeover. We are at that time of year when newly qualified doctors start working as F1s. 

If I had not been ill and had to stop medical school, that would have been me. I would be preparing to don my stethoscope as Dr de Iongh. But illness got in the way. Although many of the tweets were full of advice to cope with the many physical and emotional challenge of being a doctor (try being a patient!!!), and I love my work now, I still felt pangs of jealously and anger. If only I hadn't been ill...