Black Wednesday


It happened and I survived. More importantly the patients survived too. It was a strange day – not anything like how I thought it would be. Everything is such a rush. I feel I know nothing. What have I spent the last five years doing? I feel so out of my depth and not prepared. But I passed all the exams, the written papers, the practical exams. I wore the gown and got my certificate so they think I am ready but I don’t feel ready at all.

I’m working in a male gastro ward and it’s unofficially called the Yellow Brick Road because of the number of jaundiced people inside. The majority of them are patients with alcohol liver disease. I have never seen such yellow people and the men look pregnant with really big bellies from the ascites. I’m sorry to say but it’s the shade of yellow of the Simpson’s cast.I have never seen anything like it in real life.

And the more yellow they are and the bigger the bellies – the sicker they are. These men are not well at all. But the team are working hard to save as much of their livers as possible. The sad thing is that many arrive acutely unwell, undergo care and processes that will take off the fluid, and they recover but then they go back out to drink and the start the cycle again.

I will be seeing most of these patients for the rest of the four months I am in Gastro I am told. It’s a revolving door for many until they kill themselves from drink. There is a sign on the door warning that if any relatives bring in alcohol onto the ward for the patients, they will be escorted off the hospital site, never able to return.

I was on a day shift today.  I have a horrendous commute in because my partner refuses to relocate to the city where the hospital is. I don’t think people who are not doctors understand what this job is like. I am only on day one and know that this arrangement is not going to work.

The swollen oedematous patients are quite hard to get cannulas into. I am already having a hard time getting them in. A nurse has helped me today. They are not going out of their way to make me feel welcome but instead I feel like I’m being sussed out. I think it’s going to take a bit of time to build some bridges here – they see us come and go every four months. But at the end of the day, a patient needs iv access and I’m struggling. So the nurse has done it but something tells me I’ve got to learn and learn fast.

The ward round in the morning produced a list of jobs that I split with the SHO on the ward. She still wears a white coat and is a bit of a character. I’ve not seen anyone wear a white coat since I did my anatomy dissection class. But true they are great for pockets to put all the essential little books in them. She has worked through the list, helping me to organise the jobs in a logical manner.

I finished an hour late today – leaving at 6pm. I’m exhausted from the anxiety of it all. I look forward to the day when I am not terrified about coming into work.

I’m too tired for Star Wars analogies today.

2 thoughts on “Black Wednesday

  1. Congrats on making it through the day. You will quickly pick up the skills you need, even if it doesn’t feel this way now. Take advantage of getting seniors to supervise you – we have all been in your exact position and you are not alone. Try to make life a bit easier for yourself and consider staying in hospital accommodation during the week if that is viable but don’t underestimate the comfort of actually being at home with your partner – it is far too easy to let your foundation years feel as if you are just waking up, going to work, eating and sleeping. HPB patients can become very unwell and I would recommend that you familiarise yourself with the local guidelines regarding: upper and lower GI bleeds and hepatic encephalopathy so that you aren’t as flummoxed as I was when I started! But in all honestly, keep your head up, no-one died, and make sure to spend some time with the other F1s – you are all in the same boat and will become each other’s support network. Welcome to life as a doctor – you’ll be great!

    Liked by 1 person

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