Thieves of our Day

Quote of the Day

“It isn’t the burdens of today that make men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are the twin thieves that rob us of today.”

                                                                     – Extract from The Station” by Robert J Hastings

My Week

Well the sun has left us temporarily in London as I type this. That’s Ok though as being a Brit through and through, it wouldn’t be right to not have the opportunity to say that well, we needed a little rain didn’t we! Mind you, I loved the lightening show that tickled the skies last night over the Thames – it’s nice to realise how little we are on the backdrop of nature’s show.

So the quote of the week was sent to me by my Uncle in the States. I am a big fan of quotes – I find for me anyway, that they rouse my inner desire to achieve and press on when I doubt myself or worse, when I have doubters around me. Self-belief is a powerful weapon for you, me – anyone. So with that Hasting’s words went round and round my head this week and I soon found myself reciting it in my head. Then not before long, along with the already inked marker pen phrases “Option B” and “Take Another Step”, I found his words scrawled on my bathroom mirror. In case you are wondering – yes, there is plenty of space on the mirrors and I can still see my face in it (though some days I wish I couldn’t!). For some reason my house equipped my bedroom’s en suite with a celebrity style changing room with two HUGE mirrors and light bulbs around them. So plenty of space for more messages to myself…

So, Hasting’s to answer your question of to regret yesterday, do I? What about the years gone by? Do I regret becoming a doctor? I ask myself that question a lot some days because whenever I tell people that I am a new doctor I get the same response – “oh that’s difficult” and “oh you’ll have no time for anything else” and so on. These answers frustrate me. Nothing in life worth doing is easy. Medicine is worth doing and yes I know it’s not easy. Why state the obvious. I realise many have a fascination with the job and love the idea of it crippling the young junior doctor in some morbid voyeuristic fascination but how about just wishing me good luck instead. You know, sometimes, I look back and realise how lucky I was to even study medicine as my grades weren’t great and to be honest I am sure there were far better candidates. Plus I have learned so much about myself through the good times and probably more so through the more difficult stages of my life and the mistakes I have made. It’s framed me for what comes next – a future as a doctor.

So onto Hasting’s next question – to fear tomorrow? Do I? Well to be honest, I am not going to sit here and state bravely whilst beating my chest “NO! I fear no man, woman or beast!” because that just isn’t true. Of course I am fearful a little – I would be stupid not to be and I would also be worried if I didn’t as it would highlight a distinct lack of caring of what the future outcomes may be. So Hasting’s yes I am fearful but in a positive constructive manner (that sounds like such management consultant’s spiel I know!). Will this fear cripple me on my first day as a doctor, right through to my last day as a doctor? I hope not. I will fight that feeling every step on the way. What I fear most is what most doctors fear most – making a fatal mistake. There is little else to say on that one.

So after a week at home seeing my family, re-engaging my brain with medical related matters thanks to the 6 editions of the British Medical Journal that I have tactically avoided like the last girl standing on the dance floor at the end of a night, and having that internal dialogue with Hasting’s, it is finally here – Next week, I have my induction at my new hospital – working life as a doctor awaits me with warm, welcoming hands…or should that be an iron fist in a velvet glove…or perhaps there’s not even a velvet glove but just an iron fist waiting. Who knows. Either way I will approach with Option B in persona and Hasting’s in my head.

…what can go wrong…


Pic: Don’t spend a lifetime looking over your shoulder to the past – look to the future

Medical Thought of My Week

This week I read an article that my mum had left out for me while I was back home in Essex. It was about a young teenage boy who has a congenital heart condition that ultimately now required a heart transplant. This boy, like many had been robbed of many of the childhood pleasures that we have had the privilege to enjoy and had instead seen the inside of a hospital for more days than he cared to remember. In the end he went to ITU and was induced into a coma. He had all of his basic functions controlled mechanically and with medications and tubes – from his breathing to urinating to tube feeding. His parents visited his bedside on a daily basis religiously not sure what lay ahead for their son. When we has finally taken off the ventilator and awake he and his mum would talk about the future and all the things he wanted to do – see the world, play football with his friends, get married and so on. It was the words of a future that he and his family knew would never happen if a donor was not found. In the end a donor was found and this young teenage boy survived and went on to leave hospital with his new donor heart. Before long he was making plans to go to University and was asked to play in a friend’s band. Two things amongst many that lit up his life – not least the sight of his parents so happy.

This young man then wrote a letter to the donor’s parents. A letter, or rather the extracts that he was willing to share, that immediately brought a tear to my eye. He explained to these grieving parents that he will never take for granted the heartbreak that their son’s death would have inevitably have had on them and that he will made the most of every single aspect of his life in full respectful recognition of this fact. Since this young man was given a second chance at life because somebody else had to tragically lose theirs he has earned a perspective that many of us don’t have.

And this is the message – why is it that tragedy and death are so often needed to give us perspective on life? This young man will see life richer in colour, louder with laughter and with an eagerness to drink in as much life experience as he can – for he has been very thankfully given another chance. In the word’s of Hasting’s – I doubt he fears the future. I found myself so pleased and happy for this stranger that I surprised myself. I wish him every success.

So look around you, realise how lucky we are and go and enjoy life to its very maximum opportunity and potential. Do this now. Don’t wait for a tragedy to give you perspective – work out how to give yourself that without it. You do that and you have a wonderful life ahead.

See you next week,

Dr Nick


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