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My Ecology

You died. You bloody died! You weren’t supposed to die. You were supposed to be the part of the story where I learn the true magic of modern medicine, the Saving Lives dream come true. But you died.

My history of you begins with the bat phone. It’s really called that. Loud important noises go off, the two way radio gets picked up, the story begins. An electronically transmitted ECG appears on the screen. It’s bad. It’s real bad. My registrar tells me to go to the resus bay and I busy myself setting up stuff to put a line in and get blood. Needles, tubes, alcohol wipes. And then you’re there on a stretcher, eyes wide open, scared. You’re barely moving. You’re talking two words at a time. People are everywhere, fussing with breathing gear, setting up for an ECG, attaching you to monitors. The boss is shouting orders. I shout back that I’ll get a line in. My reg leans in and says “are you sure can do it fast?”. I nod yes. It’s automatic. Immediately I doubt myself, I’ve only tried one line this large before and it was such a horrible painful failure that I never tried again. But this time it’s different. The line goes in immediately.

We push in fluids, the cardiology team arrives, time for you to go upstairs. Upstairs. The magic life saving place that is the cath lab, where truly broken hearts get fixed and where you’re supposed to live. You’re only young. Your wife and daughter appear as you’re being wheeled away. The boss stops the bed moving for a minute so they can have a moment. An eternal moment. I watch from a distance as your wife sinks into a chair and your teenage daughter stands there blankly. And then you’re wheeled away. Wow, I think. Wow. To be a cardiologist must be so amazing, because they’re going to fix that.

We go back to our other patients. Five minutes later the sound of emergency pagers ring out, reaching a collective crescendo. The team leader nurse is already halfway out the door with the portable defibrillator. She shouts at the medical student, the only one free to push the cart. He’s only just started on clinical rotations None of us doctors can help, we’re too busy with the other patients. I watch him obediently follow her up stairs.

We go back to work. Later the team leader appears. “He arrested. He’s tubed now. They’re pushing on with the angio”. Everyone agrees to find out what happened in the morning, it’s time to go home, now past midnight.

I’m at work today. I have a few patients I’m sorting out, mainly elderly people with elderly person problems. I see the cardiology registrar. I ask him. The registrar shrugs and says “oh that guy died”, and walks off.

You weren’t supposed to die.

I go back to work. The wind is out of my sails. For a minute a small voice tells me I want to cry. Another tells me it’s not my journey. Another tells me to get back to work which sounds sensible so I do. Another says nothing and just observes.

“You’ve got to learn to be more lazy”. I look up, and an intern is standing there, handing me a coffee. It’s late. It’s nearly time to go home. “you’ve seen so many patients” she says, “way too many!”

She’s right in a way. I’m not getting out on time. There’s a lot of paperwork left to do but I don’t really mind. I used to mind. I stay back and finish it. I lament my lack of thoroughness for seeing so many. I call consultants to get the patients admitted and give half baked stories but it’s late and they just want to sleep so they accept them.

I get my handbag and walk back to my car. Driving home I notice the other cars on the highway, some big, some small. Lights passing through the night.

You weren’t supposed to die.

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Knocked Up

Yesterday I visited my GP with some questions. Specific questions. Like, I’m thinking about having children questions. After some vitamin advice and a bunch of blood tests and a couple of pointed comments about my age (bloody hell, I’m not that far past 30!), I was sent on my way with my head spinning.

I then made the mistake of Googling the topic. Ladies, don’t google. Just don’t. The vitamin advice and raft of blood tests was plenty. Sure if you’re a smoker/heavy drinker/recreational drug user/overweight/red bull junkie then you might need a bit more information, but good lord, if any topic proved that opinions are like assholes….

I’m not that person. I’m not that belly hugging air sniffing Mommy. The term ‘yummy mummy’ makes my skin crawl. I’m a person first and a woman second. It took me this long to even decide that kids are what I want because I finally feel like I have some wisdom to pass on. And every time I make dubious food choices or sit on the couch instead of exercising or lose my temper, I think, how on earth can I teach my kids (should I even be lucky enough to survive all the things that stand in the way of conception) not to do these things if I can’t lead by example?

Then I had a dream about the world being flooded by the ocean, which is the dream I always have when I’m feeling overwhelmed. And do not even get me started about the Sea of Opinion. There is nothing like motherhood to give everyone else a seemingly free license to police you, your body, and your child. Suddenly your breasts and what you choose to do with them become a topic of judgment. You get death stares like you’re a baby murderer if you use a dummy. Or don’t use a dummy.

I did admit some of this to the GP, and in spite of her judgment of my old age, she had a couple of pearls for me. One was that we’ve been doing this for millions of years. I’ll manage. The second was not to get too overwhelmed by all the information, because it’s mostly instinctive.

At the end of the day, instinct and a strong evidence base wins. I don’t care about a random busybody on the street’s disturbing opinion about the choices I make with my boobs or whether or if I’m a baby-killer because I’m drinking a black tea or eating salt. I’ll stick to my GP and a good journal review search engine.

And by god if someone polices me on the street I am going to ask them what their evidence is, what journal it was published in, the number of study participants, and the p-value of the results!

(P.S I’m not actually knocked up. Just thinking bout it. Maybe too much. )

I love my couch.

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This is my couch. It’s nearly ten years old and I bought it as a student after I moved out of home for the sole fact the whole thing was easily re-coverable with many Ikea options. They promptly discontinued it after I bought it and I was left with it’s original brown cover. The problem is that I love this couch. It is stupidly comfortable. Addictively comfortable. The cover had seen its day a couple of years after purchase but I just couldn’t. In a fit of decluttering spirit I decided one day to buy a new couch. Armed with savings and dedication, I looked everywhere. Expensive leather couches, every damn couch place in the state. I now know more than I need to about couches. But none matched up. I need butt-sink ing cushion filled soft goodness and it just wasn’t there.

Then I discovered there are businesses dedicated to recovering Ikea couches in custom fabrics. Who knew? In Australia that’s Comfort Works – my brown cover evaporated into a thatched grey arrangement for $350 with change left over for cushions. Aah. Decluttering be damned.

Easter colour

There’s something about Easter that gets me feeling incredibly festive, even more so that the sound is finally out around these parts! I’d love to tell you that I’ve been baking easter cakes and blowing eggs (which is what I’d rather be doing) but I’ve been staggering through night shift, a whole world of pain I’ll go into another time. The day they invent nightshift doctor robots will be cause for celebration worldwide. Who on earth is good at decision making at 3am?

That hasn’t stopped me embracing colour and life in my days off.

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I’m so into clashing prints at the moment it hurts.

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I love multicoloured roses in a small bunch – these ones smell just beautiful and are making me so happy right now!

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I bought this Marc by Marc Jacobs bracelet as a post horror shift present recently. I love the turnlock clasp and bright colours!

My favourite thing to do on Good Friday is go to the fish market and eat a seafood platter. This year the queues were horrible and while my blood pressure was rising, I thought of The Happiness Project and realised I didn’t want to feel angry. Then it occurred to me, how lucky I am to go out on a sunny day and buy a plate of seafood when so many places in the world are undergoing a debt crisis and people are worrying about their jobs. Waiting in a queue for fresh seafood is a very first world problem. It was a small and happy moment to turn my anger into something better.

What are you doing over Easter?

Home Dec Sunday

I spent the afternoon on a couple of small sewing projects that I’d been meaning to do for a while but that was right up there with ‘combine health insurance’ in terms of priorities. Something took over me today though and I dug around in my neglected fabric collection and threw together a couple of things. I use plastic supermarket bags as bin liners so I keep all of them – lately in an ugly drawer, so I made a bag holder. You shove them in the top and the bottom is elasticised so you can cram many in and pull out one at a time.

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The fabric is a screen print from Etsy that my sister bought me years ago, and my mother loves to collect bias binding from opshops for me, meaning I’ve usually got matching stuff on hand. The whole thing is so fast to make in that it’s just a square rolled and sewn along one edge, with some elastic in the bottom.

Now that the wind is picking up, the doors at home are slamming all the time so I made myself a pyramid doorstop for the bedroom, with the fabric again sourced from an opshop by my Mum. I love that she’s always finding me treasures!

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I tried to line it all up as well as I could to make it just as nice to look down at.

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It’s so nice to turn around a corner at home and see something pretty out of nowhere! I’m looking forward to Easter so I can get some more done!