Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Normally on the last night of the year I write a post summing up how I've felt about the past year and what I hope for in the coming year. Last year I was unable to get to a computer on new year's eve so I didn't make one, but this year I have my laptop at hand, and despite the drink beginning to kick in, I think I can make it through this post whilst still sounding coherent!

Anyone who's read through this blog over the past few weeks will have probably picked up on the negative tone of the last few entries. Unfortunately that's pretty much the whole year summed up. I'm trying to be objective and fair about it all, and I don't want to cast a downer on things, but in all honesty, 2014 has been the worst year I can recall - trumping even 2010, because at least 2010 picked up towards the end. 2014 had it all - a relationship break-up, an inconveniently timed operation, an ongoing crisis of confidence in my own abilities as a med student...and that's not even getting into the longer term things I'm unhappy about. In general, it's just been a pretty rubbish year and I'm glad to see the back of it.

What do I hope for in the coming year? I'm not sure, but I think these would be my wishes and things I will try to work towards:

1) I want to pass my first examinations since starting clinical medicine (in March) with good marks - this would be such a boost to my confidence and would help me stop feeling so lost and adrift the whole time.

2) I want to reconnect with the reasons why I got into this thing - I love medicine, from the bottom of my heart, I really do. It is a tempestuous, mercurial mistress, but I have never wanted anything more than I want to be a good doctor. I want to go back to brimming with eagerness instead of feeling so angry and burnt out so often.

3) I want to hate my uni town less - yes, I miss my hometown, and yes I'm realistic enough to accept I'll never love it here, but at the same time, it would be nice if I could at least reach a state of cordial indifference, instead of outright loathing with the place.

4) I want to improve my social life - I don't have any great hopes for this one since I don't really have time to get out there and do new things...but still, it would be much appreciated.

5) I want to learn to differentiate between what goes on in the hospital and what happens in my private life. A rubbish day at the hospital should not mean that I should have a rubbish time when I get back home, and vice versa. I would say that this one is probably the most important one...and I would really appreciate any tips on how to achieve this goal.

6) I want to maybe get back on the horse, romantically speaking.

The cynic in me says that I probably won't reach all of these goals, at least not fully. The hopeful, optimistic side of me thinks that since 2014 was such a shit year, 2015 has nowhere left to go except up. I don't usually post "inspirational quotes" but for some reason, earlier today, I remembered a film I last watched some time ago, and I couldn't get the following quote out of my head:

"Let's drink to good times. Comic or tragic, the most important thing to do is to enjoy life while you can because we only go round once, and when it's over, it's over. And, perfect cardiogram or not, when you least expect it, it could end like that"

Happy new year to you all.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How can I snap out of this?

Block: Orthopaedics, week 3

My name is Grumpy, and sometimes I get angry.

The only problem is that as of late (the past three months especially) I have noticed that I am becoming more and more angry about more and more things, and it's really beginning to affect the quality of my life and my work.

As a person, normally (i.e. forgetting the past few months), I am quite calm and I don't have a particularly short fuse. I tend more towards being patient than impatient, and I'm not particularly prone to being over-emotional. Usually when I get angry, I don't show it at the time and I don't take my anger out on people around me (especially people who have done nothing to deserve it) - being prone to neuroticism, I tend to wait til I get home and then overthink it to death by myself. That's not particularly fun, but at least it means that I'm not perceived to be a dickhead by other people (hopefully).

Lately however, this is changing and I'm beginning to make it more and more obvious just how irritated and easily angered I am becoming. Matters came to a head earlier today when I ended up being short and quite rude with my consultant, something which I would never have seen myself doing before. The consultant, to be clear, had done nothing to deserve it - he just unfortunately happened to be on the receiving end of the past three months of my complete frustration and anger at so many different things. Luckily, I haven't completely lost all perspective, so a few minutes after being angry with him, I apologised and he was very nice about it. But that's not the point; this should never have happened in the first place. I'm not that guy. That's not me. That's not how I wish to be seen. But I can't seem to get back to who I really am.

What's even at the root of all of this? I would guess it's to do with the following factors (in no particular order):

1) Having had to work, since February, with a student with whom I have had a major personality clash (God, I hate that phrase) - genuinely, every time I see this person (almost everyday) my mood instantly dips and I don't perform as well as I want to.

2) Still not feeling like I've fully settled into clinical medicine - feeling stupid and behind virtually all the time. The lack of comprehensive feedback on one's progress definitely does not help.

3) The general negativity of the hospital environment as a student.
4) The usual longer term complaints: lack of a satisfying social life, no decent stress relief, missing my hometown, slowly hating my uni town more and more, feeling broke, etc.

5) Not having anyone to talk to about all of the above - apparently I have a "personal tutor", who I met once, nine months ago, with ten other students, for 30 minutes. I doubt he would recognise me if he passed me in a corridor and I certainly can't imagine talking to him about any of this crap. Never mind the fact that he doesn't even work at the same hospital which I'm on placement in and getting hold of any consultant as a student is the devil's own job at the best of times, let alone when you're based ten miles away from them.

Regarding point 1, thankfully I don't have to work with this person any longer after this term (i.e. next week). It's been a painfully long ten months, but at least it's coming to an end. But as for points 2, 3, 4, and 5, I genuinely have no clue what to do...and I don't see any of them changing anytime soon.

I just really wish I had someone to talk to, someone who's been through it all before, or who at least understands what I'm talking about without having an agenda of their own. I don't want to talk to anyone at the med school because I don't want to gain a reputation for being a "complainer" or "difficult", and even if I did, what exactly would I say to them? That I'm really tired of constantly feeling so stupid and that I wish I had a better social life and that I was back in London?  I'm struggling to come up with a suitable answer to those problems myself, so what chance would a complete stranger stand?

Alternatively, if I can't change any of the above points, I wish I at least had a better way of coping with them...but at the moment all I can come up with is counting down the months til I finish here and hopefully move onto something better, but that strategy doesn't feel like it's working particularly well at all.

Deep down, what really disappoints me the most is that it's even come to this. I did not envisage feeling like this when I got into med school or when I first started here. Comparing the optimism and excitement of my first entry on this blog (a month before I started) with the general tone of my past few posts and how low I feel pretty much every day now, I just want to go back to 2012 and start over. Or at least apologise to that guy and tell him I really didn't mean for it to turn out like this.