These days when I am at work I have a feeling like a big heavy toddler sitting on my chest. It feels like being choked ever so slightly, and makes me want to breathe deeper and swallow a lot. I have a lot of crappy management things to attend to and I find it all so frustrating and annoying that it has now manifested itself into somatic symptoms.
What this means, dear reader, is that I am a fucking crazy person. I am the kind of patient that annoys the shit out of me. How cosmically karmatastic this is that I should be suffering stress induced symptoms. I am a somatiser and I hate myself for it.
None of this stress relates to actually
doing my job, it’s all the extraneous hassles that are causing me to verge on panic symptoms every time I get an email from someone wanting annual
leave. I am properly mad, oh dear. The only thing that seems to help is eating lots and lots of food. Oh dear.
Luckily I am going on holiday soon, and I am going to set up a “I am on holiday and will return to work on blah blah day” ping back email. I am not going to check my email the whole time I am away. Hopefully the almost globus hystericus I am trying to ignore will resolve with a bit of time off.
This time I am complaining about the Daily Mail’s health section as opposed to my traditional rant about the Femail strip of misogyny and shame that appears down the right hand side of the screen even if you are reading the news headlines.
The Health section should really be called “bungling medics and it could happen to you”. Collated here by someone who presumably is suitably qualified in the field of health journalism (perhaps they once had a verruca removed or their mum is a radiographer) is a collection of stories that are frequently beyond belief.
I feel particularly qualified to say this as a friend of mine was recently in the Daily Mail following a press release about her raising funds for charity by doing a number of ridiculous sporting achievements. The Daily Mail picked up the story and interviewed her, sadly not mentioning the charity fund raising activities and instead focusing on the “massive tumour the size of a hippo could have killed me” aspect and “NHS wrote me off as dead” aspect and the “GP missed the early signs” aspect. My friend was rightly aghast at this Daily Mailified version of the story and was mortified by the story as it was run.
Today they are again heavily into Doctor Bashing (who knew so many journalists didn’t get into medical school?) and using that wonderful phrase “bungling medics”. The stories are awful, the accounts of some of these mistreated patients are areas of serious concern but instead of a well thought out article on why these sorts of things happen (short staffed, over worked, poor infrastructure, locums, bank nurses, communication failings, no formal handover…) we get sensationalist headlines.
They have a hatred of all cosmetic surgery that is NHS delivered, especially breast implants and frequently call out trusts that fund fake tits but not £50000 operations in America for unwell children or pricey wheelchairs that have been deemed not cost effective. I am not a plastic surgeon but it strikes me that we do breast augmentation on the NHS so we can continue to train the trainees how to do cosmetic breast augmentation, which is an important useful operation to a lot of people.
Onto the “it could happen to you” stories. Today a 50 year old lady tells how she was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma (so fucking rare I have seen 2 people in 20 years) the symptoms of which can be “a lump or swelling, abdominal bloating, swelling or pain, a change in menstruation”. Lucky for me I am not a GP who will this week have worried hypochondriac punters who have overdone the diet coke or have a hernia or a lumpy bit of fat and every woman with a period that is heavier/lighter/earlier/later making their way to their local bungling medic who will ignore these early warning signs.
And so the vicious Daily Mail cycle continues. The only people they seem to like are Professors; I should start spending less time on the computer and more time doing important research. Bungling surgeon sounds marginally more worrying than bungling medic I think.
I know that medical students and I are not of the same generation. I could be their mother really, some of the youngest are 18 or 19. The reason I know for sure that they and I are completely different is that they use a different language to me. Take for instance the word “like”.
I like running, maltesers, sashimi and sunshine. This is the extent of my usage of the word like. I do not ever use “like” when I mean “perhaps” or “for example” or when I need to pause to arrange my thoughts.
This is a real conversation at what is one of the top medical schools in the UK- you need straight A grades and all the other crap to get in here. Our taxes are funding these little twats.
KBW: can you tell me about Charcot’s triad?
Student: is it like, when you are like, yellow because like, you have jaundice? And is it like, you have jaundice and you’re like yellow and you have abnormal flow? Oh no, I know, it’s like to do with bleeding?
KBW: what are you talking about?
Student: I knew this ages ago, but like I’ve forgotten
KBW: just tell me one cause of obstructive jaundice?
Student: ummmm, hepatitis?
KBW: you can leave the ward round now and go and read your textbook and notes on jaundice.
Oh my fucking god. I could have dealt with it if she had just said I’m sorry I don’t know. Or if she hadn’t been wearing a pair of shorts. The like count was perhaps even higher than I have reproduced here, I was so irritated I may have underrepresented the number of likes.
While I am on my high horse about this can I add in that the word inflamed is spelt as written here, it is not ever inflammed!
I am an old person. It’s official.
As part of my job I am expected to dress by certain rules that are frequently flaunted by many doctors. These are;
1. No jewellery other than a plain wedding band (that includes this seasons essential a big chunky clunky necklace)
2. Covered toe shoes
3. Hair tied back
4. Clean and neat appearance
5. No neck ties
6. Blah blah blah
This is to protect patients and staff from endangering one another in some way. When in theatre or endoscopy I wear scrubs and (nowadays a white coat is banned) on top of my scrubs I wear a surgical gown and gloves which I am tied into and is sterile. The gown is meant to protect me from getting soaked in blood/faeces/urine/pus/wash fluid etc. It also protects the patient from bacterial strike-through from my skin organisms if it all was to get wet and soggy. We do sometimes get right inside you when you are being operated on, we really are intimately close and we are pressed against you for hours.
The fatal flaw in this plan is that the gowns are cheap crap, I end up at least once a month in blood soaked underwear and not because I’ve neglected to bring a tampon.
Health and safety imagine that a rogue diamond stud is going to magically unhook itself from my ear and free fall into someone’s subhepatic space where it will form an abscess and result in a huge payout by the hospital. Or perhaps a silky scarf will drape itself over a filthy wound and then I will go and look in another wound and spread disease and bacteria via my silk scarf . Or worse still, under the ring on my right hand will lurk Clostridium difficle which magically cannot live under my wedding band. What a load of shit.
The picture below isn’t of me, but it could have been me last week after removing 200cm of dead necrotic intestines that dissolved into a mass of black pudding and blood. (Image is copyright of Janet Caldwell. It’s an amazing image, sorry of you are annoyed it is here. I am not massively sure if I am allowed to do this or not.)
Next time I am a bloody mess I’ll get a photo done of me. You will notice that I will not be wearing earrings. Meanwhile, I’ll continue getting drenched in blood, shit and pus from nipples to knees all in the course of my employment.