Medicine


I really enjoy keeping a blog and taking inspiration from the words, ideas and values of others who take the time to write about their passions. I have gained so much (including inches on my waistline, thanks food bloggers!) and one of my favourite aspects of jumping online is to go through my bookmarked folder of an ever-expanding list of people and their blogs, whose paths I may not ordinarily cross.

That said, the narratives we create online are not reflective of our lives behind the screen – but why should they be? I enjoy posting photos of my surroundings, I doubt anyone wants to see an unmade bed, a baking disaster or tears of frustration. I chose to start this blog because I wanted to write about my life as an expat, and I would be doing a disservice to myself if I wasn’t being honest about the realities of my situation. I’ll include some pretty pictures along the way.

The truth is: I am struggling. There have been days where I have sat with my credit card ready to book the next available flight back to the UK. There have been days where as a non-smoker, I have raided my friend’s emergency cigarette stash. And on some days ending in ‘y’ I have taken a leaf out of Radiohead’s book and asked, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’

My decision to come to New Zealand was a very hasty one – and I don’t necessarily think of that as a negative thing, but I became infatuated with the idea of moving abroad that so much so, everything, including my career became overlooked because of the overwhelming need to change my narrative: girl goes to medical school and grows to hate it. After crying in the toilets for the nth time, she decides to take a risk and book a ticket. Girl graduates safe in the knowledge that her fate is not sealed in an NHS hospital, finds a home in one of the most beautiful places in the world and everything comes up roses.

How things actually turn out is often different – not necessarily better or worse, just different. I fell into a trap of assuming my medical degree was a golden ticket – I had forever been told by my seniors and anyone else that as a doctor, I could go anywhere and do anything. This is not strictly true; in London, perhaps. In New Zealand: not really, and getting a job isn’t as straight forward as simply applying for one.

This leaves me in an interesting situation. I may actually have to use my medical degree as intended, if the medical council will let me work here. It’s not really what I want, but as time goes on, I cannot afford to be choosy and let’s face it, there are far bigger problems in the world than a white, middle-class, well-educated woman in a developed country having a mini career crisis, oh the horror(!)

So… I am going to bite the bullet, and try to get a house officer job out here. If I can’t, I will simply return to the UK for 12 months and complete my first Foundation Year and consider my options after that. Until then, I’m stuck, but stuck in a wonderful place.

Creative prescription procrastination

Today would have been my first day on the job as a junior doctor. I feel somewhat wistful about it, I would have worked in obs & gynae; the only specialty in medicine I enjoyed. However, just re-reading that sentence tells me that now would not have been the right time.

Medicine is a vocation though; you can be on a plane moving away from the life you had, but people still get sick and they’re not going to care about your internal turmoil when the stuff hits the proverbial. Two entries ago I wrote hoping that no one would fall ill on the flight… oh.

While flying over the middle of nowhere, a passenger announcement requested medical help for an unwell patient. No one moves. I recall swearing quietly under my breath, and made my way to the galley. I introduced myself to the cabin crew and they showed me to the patient who looked unwell, but in no immediate danger.

As I took her history, her symptoms set off some alarm bells and it was impossible to examine her properly given the cabin noise. I felt completely in over my head, and I asked the cabin crew to put out another tannoy for a doctor, otherwise I would have requested the pilot to make an emergency landing. Fortunately, help came in the form of an experienced anaesthetist and he said she was stable enough to continue flying but we should keep an eye on her.

So somewhere over India, I sat in darkness in Business class with a chamomile tea, looking eagle-eyed at the O2 sats monitor while my first patient slept opposite me. I don’t know what the universe was trying to tell me, but it sure has a sense of humour.