The ups and down

These days I have been feeling out of sorts regarding work. It suddenly feels heavier and work just saps the life out of me. A lot of the time, I’m just on autopilot. I have been for a long time, it’s the only way I get through life. Having finished a set of 6 night shifts, I came across some fb post regarding how doctors’ kids feel like – of how she misses her mum and wish she can spend more time with her mum. And that line of ‘I wish I’m a doctor too… so I can spend more time with you’. Cue heart sounds – crash, burn and melt.

I was putting Zayan to sleep and suddenly cried regarding that post. I do question what I’m doing … whether it’s worth it. I try to tell myself that I want my kids to have their parents work ethic and be proud of us. Not look back and wish their parents weren’t there for them.

Zayan is so so so much better now about my going on night or weekend shift. Sometimes though, he does get sad about it. And when I come home late, I’ll find him on the sofa, still awake (at 10 pm). “I want to wait for you, Mama…” Sometimes I’d put him to bed and fall asleep in my work clothes. Sometimes I let him lie down next to me whilst I eat my 10 pm dinner. Once, he fell asleep on the sofa, fresh tears still wet on his cheeks. He insisted on sitting on sofa waiting for you, I fell asleep in the room (with baby), says M.

Is it worth it?
Will it be worth it?
I wish I could just go back home but for our future, I know I just have to plod along.

……

So, those are my thoughts these days.

It was just another (busy) day at work today, it was non stop clerking and reviewing and being on the phone and taking blood tests. I was asked to do blood test on an 8 year old girl. The minute I walked into her room, she sat up in the bed and pointed me to her mum. “That’s her!! She did my blood test!” Mum explained to me that I was supposedly the best doctor according to her daughter. Once upon a time, I did the blood test after a dozen attempts by other people. And I was even better than doctors from tertiary hospital she has been to, she says.

I looked at her name, looked at her face and couldnt quite place her. Have I seen her? Was it actually me she was talking about? When was this again?

She was scared about doing the blood test but we did it without any drama (no tears, first attempt, I didn’t make a mess of the bed). I walked away feeling chuffed with her undisguised rave of my performance. I’ll take the credit even though I really didnt think it was me she was talking about … I’m the most ‘junior’ registrar and others had much more experience than me. It must have been someone else.

An hour later, it clicked on me. That night, there were a few (not a dozen! probably 4-5) attempts by other doctors before I came on that shift. I went into her room and she suddenly burst in tears when I mentioned we were gonna try again. Dad said it’s ok, this lady’s special, she can do it (oh yeah thanks Dad, no pressure). I sat with her for a bit, telling her that I’ll do it JUST ONE MORE TIME and then I’ll stop if I can’t do it. No pressure, Fizah, you’ve just promised the kid to do it ONLY ONE MORE TIME. She was a very sweet kid and Dad was very nice and conversational. I remember going out of the room and telling the nurse, She’s such a sweet kid.

…………..

The other day, I was in clinic seeing a baby girl with her parents and brother. I finished tending to the baby and was happy to discharge her. “You diagnosed my son…” Sorry? My son has a heart problem and needed operation. You were the one who did the baby check and arranged the scan. They found it then and he had an operation.

I thought back – That would be about 4 years ago, I would have been in my first year of paediatric training and I was working there at the time. Really? Are you sure it was me?

Yes, yes, I remember you, I remember you’re Asian and your scarf, Dad said. He said something in their language to mum. She nodded and replied back to him. She said, you told us your husband has a heart problem too, he has the same murmur. (Technically their son had a similar heart condition but was made complicated by other heart problems needing surgery) I laughed, yes I do have a husband with a heart murmur. Four years ago huh, and they still remember.

………………….

It’s a little thing I know. But things like this, when my patients or parents remember me… those things make me just want to stick around a little bit longer.

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