During my medical internship we could be doing up to 10 afterhour calls per month. Meaning every 3 days we worked at the hospital for over 25 hours. It maybe varied in different departments but the logistics were the same. Eventually your physiology becomes completely disrupted. Chocolate, coffee and panado take on a different meaning. I made the decision then, that I owe it to myself, my family and my patients to never engage in such a risky, depleted and unhealthy and frustrating lifestyle again!

Here is a poem I wrote: 

Day in. Day out.

Cold. Wind. Rain. Shine. 

Never a prediction on the day. The night.

Fluids. Trauma. Tests. tears.

Suprises. Relief. Anticipation. Fears.

English. Afrikaans. Xhosa. Other. Deaf or dumb.

Alone. With other. Ambulance. Car. None.

Patients. Impatience. Next file and next.

Name. Number. Urgency code colour.

Soul? Person? Emotions – oh bother!

Another one. Another to see. Way past my lunch break and I need to pee.

“Don’t be scared. Lie down and relax. We’ll take good care of you” – as I turn my back.

“What? Waiting 4 hours with a broken shoulder?”

No pity – “You’re lucky – it could be longer.”

Be still – “Your child? Mother? Wife?”

“We doing what we can – be patient – that is life.”

Another bed another day.

Another patient – go or stay?

Day in and day out. To see people suffer.

Themselves – with pain, fear, diagnoses, prognoses, handicap, disability,

may never be the same.

Finish the notes. Failed resus.

Book the chemo appointment, surgery, add some pain meds ^^^  ^^^

Close book and raise hand to reach for the next folder.

What if we stop and even attempt to fathom the consequences…

of this breast biopsy for this 32 year old mother of young children…

The birth of this child…

This unexplained intra-uterine death.

Young stroke. Forever a list.

Overwhelming sadness cannot wear a heavy enough shield.

But now should there be one?

A pill to stop feeling. A pill to feign care – unknown.

A drug to block the reality that accompanies every patient – every file – the unknown story.

What healing occurs?

A plaster hiding the plaster hiding the plaster?

The pill to blind the effects of the previous pill of the previous pill…

Or alternatively – cut it out.


The absolute truth reality  – that first recognition of a mother and her newborn child – priceless!

Of a tired doctor coming home to a families welcome and a hearty snuggle with her loved ones.

Sleep another night. Eat another meal.

To rise and do it all again.

But the truth is known and truth shall come.

At work I do my job.

5 July 2011