Last night after writing that, I sat there and read over the last near-10 years of posts. What hit me was how obviously hard-working I was, and the other thing that hit me was the gaps, and all the things left unsaid. Reader, deep down I always thought I was useless. My self-esteem has been so poor going through all of this, that I truly thought of myself as borderline-remedial. And while it’s done a lot of growing up (because what else is low self-esteem really, than a small frightened child?), looking back over my posts broke my heart a little. The enthusiasm, the genuine concern for her patients. I always wanted to be that ‘star’ resident, that ‘star’ registrar. And my career choice (not that I have regrets), has been very shaped by that poor self esteem. I truly believed I would have no hope in certain specialties, and now I realise I would have been great in them, and would have been welcomed, if only I’d posessed a little more self-belief. What makes you get hired? Caring about your patients. Being personable. Not bringing your personal shit to work. Clicking with the right team. Not being so wound up and twisted-in-yourself-anxious that you can barely form sentences because when you’re like that, people can’t get to know you.
And then there’s the gaps. 2013, where the workload, the bullying, a miscarriage, and all the stuff that has made its way into the news now was my reality, where I truly fell apart. 2014, where I failed the written but had a baby which put everything in perspective. 2015 where I passed the written and the clinical with a tiny baby, but still so broken from 2013 I didn’t think any training program would take me because there was something inherently wrong with me. I did no pre-interviews, no meet and greats and there but for the grace of whatever deity there is, I was offered a job in geriatric medicine. 2016, where I moved interstate with a baby, got no time off work and suddenly found myself in a new state with new systems, and a constantly daycare-sick kid broke me in a new way. 2017, another miscarriage. 2018, another baby, maternity leave. And here we are now, 2019, two kids, full time work. So. much. change.
My new job feels like I’ve been hit over the head repeatedly like a hammer. I am stunned. Stunned by the flow of information coming at me, the meetings, the workload. Slowly I find myself coming to, but at the same time slipping into that I’m-not-good-enough mentality. It’s always hard when you start a new term. You have to forge new relationships while remembering that everyone there has just lost a relationship with the last doctor, who mostly, they’ve grown to appreciate. You can’t possibly fill their shoes. They talk about your predecessory fondly while looking at you suspiciously, and by the time you’ve earned their trust and their love, it’s time to move on, only to do it all again. And every little slip that I make, I feel like a knife. Coupled with the fatigue that two small non-sleeping children bring, I find myself thinking ‘how can I possibly measure up?’.
When it comes to having a good short term memory and an excellent recall of exam-level knowledge, I don’t think I can. I can be just good enough I think. But I make up for it in other ways. I make myself freely available to my patients and their families. I tell them I don’t have the answer and that we can find it together. I hold hands with unconscious patients. I sit with crying adult children. I’m painfully honest about what I haven’t done or don’t know to my boss because it’s the fastest way to trust when you can’t be that star. But oh to be a star! Oh to have that endless mojo of my resident youth that lent me the energy to walk 13km a night and do endless cannulas and want to change the world of medicine. I hope it comes back soon. I feel the weight of the years, of the impossible juggernaut that is the public hospital system in which it’s so difficult to enact change in the face of that endless historical resistance. And the older and more established the hospital, the harder it is. But I still hope. I hope for a bit more sleep, for the motivation to exercise, to read studies, to be better. I hope for my mojo back. Hey two posts in two days – something has definitely changed, and I think for the better.