Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nothing Profound

I realize that the longer I postpone another update on the blog, the more pressure I feel to make it something noteworthy or profound. And so another week or two goes by and I have many little moments where I think, "I should write this down" or "I should post this little anecdote" but then it seems too small to creep back onto the web with.

So I resolved that this week I would just start with a basic hello. An update to say I haven't abandoned ship completely.

It's been a busy few months, as I am sure you all can relate to. Been going though the usual questions regarding life choices, career choices, and where I see myself in 3, 5, 10 years time. Having been on the delayed gratification, long-term goal track, it sometimes feels hard to get off it and just look at today.

I have written and erased so many posts in the last few months. Finding it harder to know who reads this blog and for what reasons. I don't want to violate my patients' privacy but I also don't want to violate my own.

In brief, I will say that I was offered a residency spot last spring in obstetrics. It was a really challenging decision making process to go through. For many reasons I did not take the seat and chose instead to apply for the additional year in enhanced surgical skills training. Which I have done, and found out today that my interview is in a couple of weeks. Which is exciting and daunting.

The GP-Surgeon route is all about faith; faith in rural medicine, future practice, and future policy makers. Faith is something that I have very little of these days. Thus, a nearly ongoing, "what am I doing, where am I going, what type of practice will I have, will I regret this decision" thought spiral of despair. I've worked so hard, so hard to get to this place and yet I am constantly berating myself for not having worked hard enough.

I know a big part of this is burnout, stress related to my family medicine boards, stress related to having to live away from home for 8 months of this year, and having to apply for provisional licences in other provinces/countries. But just because I can identify the aetiology of my distractibility it doesn't make it any easier to bear. I watched the ZdoggMD TED talk a week or so ago and it seemed to tip me over the edge on the major life dissatisfaction precipice. Now all I can think of is one of my mentors telling me a long time ago, "don't lose yourself in medicine, make sure you like the person you become at the end of it.". Well, so much for heeding that advice.

But there are enough REAL issues going on the world. No one needs to come to my blog to read a whiny rant. Real issues like ISIS, and the youth justice system, and violence towards women, soldiers getting killed on Canadian soil, ebola running rampant in West Africa, and I could go on. Hello, reality check.

Well, I will endeavour to keep writing, keep plodding, keep smiling. But for now, laundry, and then a 3 hour drive to work.


L."Wren" Vandever said...

I've been reading your blog since before you started medical school, and I've kept reading because I'm fascinated with your story providing rural healthcare in remote places--such a vital thing!--and the challenges you've met along the way as you've pursued your dream. You're an excellent writer. You've made it easy to laugh--and cry--along with you.

I've missed your posts since you returned to Canada, but I do understand how life simply becomes so intense--and not always in an exciting, noteworthy way--that blogging about it is hard. I'm glad to hear from you today. Rest assured that you still have at least one reader that cares about you and your journey.

Albinoblackbear said...

Thank you for your thoughts and kind words, Wren. Really appreciate it.

PGYx said...

May I suggest you write posts and then save them for later editing / de-identification and publication? That way you can write about a patient you saw "yesterday" several months or years ago.

As always, I admire your tenacity and can empathize with the ongoing thought spiral you describe. I've concluded that working in the current medical system can be more challenging for a thoughtful, conscientious person.

That said, your enthusiasm for your work is second to none. A wise friend and colleague recently wrote to me, "Happy doctors seem to be as diverse as people. Some are very religious. Some don't really care much about their patients. Some enjoy the consistency of their work. Some love the lack of consistency. Some really focus on the money. The ones I admire the most are those who have developed a detached compassion for the patients and simply find balance. Doctors who think too much generally aren't happy, or they go more into teaching." I think there is a lot of truth to his words.

Wholeheartedly agree with Wren that you're an excellent writer!

Unknown said...

Thanks for an update. I am a early 30s female trying to get into medicine. It's helpful for me to see the good and real of medicine by reading about experiences such as yours.

You don't need to write about earth shattering experiences to have my attention. You're doing a great job. I think we all understand how life is too busy to do a million things at once. As I'm sure you've learned, sometimes you have to choose a few things to invest your time in, and say "no" to the others. Remember to say "yes" to some things you enjoy as part of that!

Thank you for your posts, and I'll be ready to read more whenever you're next inspired. Stay well (and warm, by the looks of the snow!)!

Albinoblackbear said...

PgyX- Nice to hear from you, and as always I enjoy your perspective and thoughts on important matters. I think your colleague made some excellent points and I hope, pray, dream to someday feel like balance is attainable.

And yes - I think writing things down at the time and publishing later is a wise idea.

Christie - Thank you for that. I often erase my grumpy posts but then regret it as I feel we are in such a Fake Face Book reality that no one really realises that people actually do struggle and have difficulties. People will always tell you medicine is a tough road but few people will tell you why.

I used to be really resentful of those that tried to discourage me from going into medicine. Now I see that if someone caught me on the wrong day I'd probably say many of the same things. I am not as true and honest as I could be on this blog, but I hope it gives somewhat of an accurate insight into the trials and tribulations (and rewards!) of this path.

Good luck on your journey!!

Pam said...

Good to hear from you.

peace said...

I had read every single page of your blog. And I had reread many of them because they were so beautiful.
Please continue being yourself and care less about who comes here to read and why. You have got a great story telling talent and you are so good in narrating. Any topic you post is highly appreciated.
Good luck with your board.
Thank you.

"Don't lose yourself in medicine, make sure you like the person you become at the end of it."

Anonymous said...

So, so glad to read a new post from you - such a deeply honest post at that. Thank you very much.

Unknown said...

I read your blog for many reasons
It stops me becoming cynical and reminds me why I went into medicine in the first place.
It is an insight into the struggles faced by my colleagues who are at a more vulnerable stage in their career.
As an emigrating surgeon who worked in Limerick and is headed for New Zealand it is both a reminder of home and a primer for adopting a new country.
It is well written, thought provoking funny and honest.

In response to this post - You don't have to be brilliant in every post - I think from reading the comments a lot of your readers feel a connection and like to hear things are going okay for you. After all if it doesn't work out for you the rest of us are probably doomed.

Regarding your choice - this job is tough enough, make sure you end up doing something you will enjoy day in day out for the next couple of decades. Do the training and find your niche - You might have to move but you will be happy where ever you move. If you are tied to a particular place and doing a job you didn't want to do you will always regret it especially if you're the sort of person to go back to medicine after qualifying as a Nurse.

My sincere best wishes and I eagerly await your next post.

Fordo said...

I have been reading your blog since way before you started medical school as well. You were enjoying nursing and dreaming of being a rural doctor. My blog has since gone by the wayside simply because I can't fathom that anyone would be interested in what I have to say.

You have found a place in our hearts, ABB. Please enjoy life, settle into your place in this world and maybe one day you'll pull out these memories and smile. We'll be waiting when you chose to start writing again.

Albinoblackbear said...

I am actually just overwhelmed at the genuinely lovely and thoughtful comments.

I remember sort of starting with one squinty eye, face turned to the side, every time I got a comment in the old days because it seemed there were so many trolls just wanting to shred anything I wrote.

David I am so envious of your migration pattern! I wish I could do the same ! Hahah I had a good laugh at your "If it doesn't work out for you the rest of us are probably doomed" comment. I'll take that as the highest compliment.

Really though, thanks to everyone for taking the time to read and comment and to stick with the blog despite my pathetically intermittant instalments of late.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing again. It is somehow always good to read what you have in your mind.

I really want to work on the person I want to become at the end of this journey. Thank you for giving words to basically what I have been trying and hence validating it.

NurseJannie said...

So nice you posted - and please don't worry.... your faithful minions will always stick around :-). Molts of love from Copenhagen, Denmark

Helen said...

Like many of your other commenters, I've been reading your blog for a long time. I needed to read this today - not because I'm happy you're struggling, of course, but because I've always admired your motivation and passion for your work, and I've been feeling so discouraged with my own career lately. I'm a very new lawyer, working in a smaller community, and constantly second-guessing my area of practice, my location, and law itself. I worry I've made a huge mistake.

It helps to know the beginning can be bumpy for others, too.

Jono said...

I am envious of you going through these decisions and self-evaluations. I wish I was young enough to go through them all again. I can also say "ditto" to the love fest given from your other readers.

way2 college said...
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Unknown said...

Hey ABB, like many of the other commenters, I have been reading your blog for years (I found you through an episode of White Coat Black Art when I was trying to decide if I should pursue med school in Ireland). Now that I'm (finally) a med student at UBC, I still love your blog because it's so real. The highs are real, the lows are real, and you have brought me and the other readers along on your spectacular journey.
So often you hear physicians (especially if they are trying to recruit you to their specialty) say that they have the Best Job in The World. Maybe, but I sort of call bullshit. It can be an amazing job, but it can also be shite and the process to get there is filled with lots of pot holes and insecurities (along with the amazing people and wonderful detours). Thank you for adding to my perspective on this journey. And best of luck to you :)