Now, if you are reading this, you may be wondering why on earth I am writing my junior doctor blog about “Centurions”, the fierce Officers of the Roman armies after the Marian reforms of 107 B.C, who commanded over 80 men at a time. Am I going to talk about their physical prowess, the psychological traumas, the nutritional challenges of being at war, or the ravages of disease in an era without antibiotics or modern medicine? No.
What I actually meant to write in the title was “Centenarian” – a person living beyond the age of a hundred. However, because it was such a silly mistake to make, I thought a little bit of public self-humiliation would do be good and keep me grounded.
Now I am 31 years old. I still consider myself young in mind, body and spirit, as does my mother who is well, only just slightly North of sixty. This pleases me immensely as I think a person’s approach to age can greatly dictate how they perceive their health and wellbeing. After-all, I have met 50 year olds on the ward who look 80 years, and very sadly some 30 year olds who look 50 years old (these are the decompensated alcoholic liver disease patients in intensive care who I have mentioned before and who tragically were never discharged…).
Besides, they do say that age is just a number. Well I have met a patient who is the very embodiment of this. They are 104 years old and just fantastic. This patient has a sharp mind, and well, ok, a not so sharp body – but it is all working – albeit slowly. I have seen them enjoy the World Cup Finals, BBC News, and visits from lots of relatives and staff.
I feel so privileged that I have been in a position to help look after someone who was 5 years old when World War One broke out, and a young man during World War Two. They have seen the world change beyond all recognition. They have seen nearly all of their friends come and go, technology overcome face to face social interaction, and the pace of life move from a comfortable 2nd gear to unmanageable 5th gear.
I continue to be part of the team that look after this 104 year old – and it is a sheer joy. Every day I try and ask them something different – and every day the answer fascinates me. We, as a society, should embrace Centenarians, talk to them, ask them questions about their lives because we will not have the privilege like this again to explore through conversation a world that is far beyond our current face paced, superficial, contentious and demanding world we have created.
Next week is my final blog entry as a Foundation Year One Doctor. Yes, it has really been 12 months. I will be reflecting on a year gone by and the highs, lows, and changes I have seen in myself both personally and professionally.
Have a great week!