Some hectic days at work, especially those filled with patients with mental health illnesses, challenging social situations and complex medical needs, can lead me to question why I do this as a career. I have already discussed other jobs I occasionally fantasize about doing on one of my older blogs ( The ultimate dream job…), but sometimes it’s about recollecting the multiple steps I took to get me where I am today.
So high school finished, and I guess I could say I had done okay. At that point, all I wanted to do was computer science as I felt computers were the future. I had just completed my IGCE examinations which included a project where I computerized my grandfather’s store inventory management and as I submitted my floppy disc for assessment, I thought that my career decision was well and truly settled. Given high school ended in early December and the results were published end of January the following year, I had a restless Christmas break fielding questions from family and friends regularly about what the next step was. To kill time and avoid the interrogation, I spent a lot of my time trying to distract myself from the questions by watching a whole lot of television.
I am a self-confessed television addict and I am happy to watch anything and everything on screen. That summer, I got myself addicted to a show called Forensic detectives on Discovery channel and with every passing day convinced myself that I should become one of the forensic pathologists. I persuaded my mother to organize an interview with a forensic pathologist locally so I could decide whether that was a career to pursue and the nice gentleman just burst my bubble. He could not understand why I would be interested in the field and basically said it was not as exciting as it was made out to be on the show I had been watching. “You are just a glorified police officer” were his exact words as I left his office dismayed.
As university approached, I figured I might as well apply to study medicine and see how I would go during my “pre-medical term”. Unfortunately, the pre-med term was basically all the sciences and mathematics and didn’t provide much in terms of taste of medicine. After 12 months of the course, however, all that changed as we were placed on a 2-week job experience placement at our local hospital where I fell in love with medicine in general. A friend and I decided to extend our placement by a whole month and by the end of it we were being treated as junior doctors. We were suturing stab wounds, managing fractures and assisting in theatre which was all amazing.
I left that placement inspired to do medicine and with that in mind worked hard through medical school and fellowship training to get to where I am today as a family physician. Choosing a speciality in medicine also threatened to cause some stress but as I wanted to be a general doctor who could still do obstetrics and eventually palliative medicine etc on the side, being a family physician was a no-brainer. So, when I hear another sad story about people, their social situations or whatever it might be they attend me to help with, I find myself very privileged to help in whatever tiny way. I hope to continue practising in this field that continues to ignite my passion regularly. I must admit that “leaving patients at work” is something I will forever grapple with but with time, and hectic days included, I can say I really do love my career.
Dedicated to my UB partner in crime Morapedi
I just completed Trevor Noah’s “Born a crime” semi-autobiography and thought I would pen something down about it. When it finished, it truly felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend that I had come to know very fondly during the past few days. If you have read my previous blogs, you know how I love audiobooks and how they allow me to multitask and this one was certainly a great accompaniment to the recent transition of my life and will forever remain one my of my great reads.
Trevor, yes, we are now on a first name basis, is someone who has always seemed to be different and far removed from the kind of life I grew up in. He is currently hosting one of America’s famous late-night shows and when he was introduced in that role, I thought that was another notch that would seal our differences. Here he is now, being famous, being a millionaire etc and here I was, not being famous and certainly not a millionaire… yet. But this book gave me a glimpse of the humble beginnings he comes from and what a transformation he has made to be where he is today. Some of his early stages are somewhat like mine, not the having the white father bit or growing up during apartheid South Africa bit obviously but a lot more than I would have known had I not read the book.
Growing up in Gaborone West, G-West/G wa-wa as it is colloquially called, I can appreciate when he says he grew up in the hood. My hood had everything his hood had.
- No tarred road which meant cleaning off the dust from the house every morning only for some hoon undo all your hard work by the evening.
- Those guys who wake up to sit on the side of the road when you are going to school and you find them in the same spot on your return home
- That guy who is the hood mechanic, who has a few scrap cars in various states of repair cluttering the yard and occasionally spilling onto the side of the road
- Being sent off to buy half a loaf of bread at the neighbourhood tuckshop, which Australians call a milk bar, which was a room in someone’s house that was converted from a bedroom to a shop by installing shelves and having a large sign next to the window. My mother eventually converted our garage into one of the tuckshops which sold simple groceries and progressively added beer and braai, otherwise called BBQ, to what was on offer to its patrons. This obviously attracted a few interesting characters and we could sit at the back of the house and listen to never-ending stories about the hood.
- I was one of the girls he talks about who was essentially instructed to spend all my after-school time indoors, doing chores and studying and would get a serious hiding if ever my sister and I sneaked out and got found out.
- My mother left her teaching job to get a better-paying employment as she wanted my sister and I to attend private school despite us coming from the hood. Having been part of the public-school system, she wanted different for her children.
- There was a very famous cannabis dealer at the end our street and his place was fondly called HQ by those in the know. It was not astonishing to see the celebrities of back in the day, chilling outside the premises drinking or smoking joints as I made my way home from school.
When you grow up in the hood but then experience a totally different life compared to the average hood resident, it can be very tempting to try and shake off that part of your past. I remember battling with that part of my identity in high school where I knew no one who came from the hood like me. I have however, through passage of time, learnt to look back with fondness at my history and those beginnings I came from. I even had part of our wedding ceremony in the hood, where the whole neighbourhood was invited and we sure did have a blast. Hearing Trevor recount his memories of growing up in the hood with such affection, the laugh out loud moments of his cheekiness and the overall book made my day and allow me to proudly say that I am from the hood and glad Trevor and I somewhat share that history.
*Image from Google
I know that I have probably assisted in saving a few lives in my career as a family physician. However, there is nothing like having someone’s life literally in your hands and this was one of those days I still reflect on and thankful for what I do as a profession.
I was about 7 months pregnant and working the evening shift in a metropolitan medical center as a General Practitioner. I had just finished having my afternoon break and was on my way back to see my evening patients when one of the receptionists asked me for some assistance. She had been notified by a passerby that someone had fallen outside the clinic and she was pushing the wheelchair to go and see what was going on. As we strolled over to where there was now a few people standing in the middle of the road, I could hear someone saying “Sir, keep your eyes open and stay with me”. I immediately thought “F*ck, Fu*k” and quickly waddled my pregnant self to the scene where an elderly gentleman was lying lifeless in the middle of the road bleeding from his forehead.
I immediately went into doctor mode, instructed a passerby to call the ambulance, got the receptionist to call more staff to help, did a basic assessment and started doing chest compressions (CPR). I should add, it was nothing like the one illustrated on the above cartoon image, in case you were wondering. Here I was, kneeling in the middle of the road which was really wet as it had been raining that day, with a huge belly, singing “Row Row your boat” to keep count of the chest compressions and trying not to shit myself waiting for more help.
After a few minutes doing solo compressions and silently praying for the man not to die, I could finally hear sirens and knew that more help was on the way. Soon the firemen with their big muscley arms had taken over doing the compressions and I could try and recollect my thoughts and give them a handover of the situation I had found myself in. The ambulance was soon also at the scene, the road cordoned off and a mini emergency room set up in the middle of the road as they tried to stabilise the patient before transfer to hospital.
I quickly dried my pants and retreated back into the medical center to see my patients who had apparently been impatiently getting mad at the receptionists for not being seen on time despite the lights and sirens they could clearly see and hear from the waiting room. I completed my evening shift and headed home where the emotions took over as I cried, recalling and finally processing the events of the evening as I debriefed with hubby. The following day, I found out that the elderly man had survived and was admitted to intensive care. I got to meet his lovely wife the next day who couldn’t stop expressing how grateful she was for our actions as well as stroking my obviously humongous baby bump.
As I reflect today on that day years ago, I am eternally grateful for the skills I have attained in my medical training and the ability I had to make such a big difference in the man’s life. I am also appreciative of the little changes I am able to contribute to my patients’ lives daily as I continuously work on collecting brownie points to heaven.
*Some names and locations changed to protect the patient and staff
*Image from Google
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