Saturday, 3 July 2010

Dr Under (the weather)

Wow, April 2nd was the last post on this blog!

I've been out of action for a long time, and time has flown.

I was actually sick. I was on the other side of the fence, which is why I haven't been up to posting. I won't go into details of my medical condition, as it potentially makes me identifiable, but suffice to say I had pretty big surgery.

I'm well on my way back to greatness now, though!

It's taken several months to get back to some reasonable level of activity. But I'm almost there. I'm back running and cycling (though not much further than 2.5km in any given day). I'm also back to martial arts training, and I'm slowly getting back into boxing. Mind you, with my current fitness levels, 12 year olds are knocking me black and blue in the ring.

But it's all part of the process, and hopefully I'll be back to normal in a month or 2.

But I have to admit it's odd being on the other side of the doctor-patient relationship. Even allowing for the fact that the doctors I deal with usually give me some special attention (calls on my mobile after their clinic t have a chat about a result that's just come in, the surgeon phoning my parents back in Ireland to let them know everything was going well while he was taking a quick break during the operation), it's still not nice being a patient.

Waiting rooms are inhumane! I once waited 3 hours in the waiting room, while a clinic was running behind. The chairs are tiny, and the receptionists are cranky.

I once popped in on my way to work to leave a urine sample into the clinic for a dipstick. The nurse asked me to wait "a few minutes" while she did the test. So, I waited. And I waited. For an hour and a half! I went looking for her, and she was gone. So I just left. Never did get the result!

But, in fairness, however much we grumble about the health infrastructure, we really are very lucky to be able to get the care that we do. Most of the world's population don't have access to the type of surgery I had, or the support afterwards.

I'd like for this to be a learning experience, which could help me empathise with, and improve conditions for, patients. But, as always, I feel powerless to change anything.

So, the post-script to all this is that I think I have a better understanding of what patients go through. I think I have much more of an appreciation of how lucky we are to have the things we have.

But I don't know what to do with this lesson. All ideas gratefully received.

If there are any readers left, feel free to share your patient experiences in the comments section below.

Dr Thunder.


  1. Glad to see that you're back!! I wondered what had happened.

    I spent 9 days in hospital this year for something that is as yet still undiagnosed but very painful. There were lots of problems during my hospital treatment, which wouldn't have been resolved as well as they were without me being a medical student. I wrote in more detail on my blog. I totally see where you're coming from with what you've said though.

    Here's my post on my being ill:

  2. Dear Dr Thunder/Under/Chunder

    Sorry to hear you've been under the knife.

    Rest assured, you'll look at patients differently from now on.

    One of the nicest things a doctor ever said to me on a ward round was...

    "it's a pleasure to treat patients like you as you show an interest in your care."

    Knowing that I'd gained his respect, gave me a real boost.

    This same registrar used to sit down on my bed during ward rounds, to talk to me (in chair) at the same level. I always knew what news he was about to deliver by his face. He 'felt' my pain, and my joy and that made my journey one hell of a lot easier.

    Continue to get well and may you be greater than ever!

  3. Been there a few times........I have to agree with you that it is a totally different experience. Should be a mandatoy experience for every budding medical student. I grew to hate the cheery "Hello, B****, I'm Joan" approach. I detested the full disclosure "chats". [Would I be going for CABG if I didn't know there was a risk of dying???] Regrettably, I fell into the "Victor Meldrew" class of patient who responds "You cannot be serious" when a fresh faced F1 emphasises with the pain of a median sternotomy!!!
    Being a patient sucks!!! Wewould do well to remember that!!

  4. Hope you're better. Have worked in hospitals and commmunity health all my life (mostly in mental health though originally worked in the general side). Am facing into surgery myself for the first time, and really wish I didn't live in Ireland. Have visited enough archaic, gloomy wards and ones that were overcrowded - not with patients, but with equipment. The first action if anyone arrests in these wards is an exercise in furniture removal for the crash team.

    I do have private health insurance, but it only covers part of the expenses. So concerned about my meagre savings too.

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