Dear Junior Dr’s and medics out there …
You often end up saying sorry to me.
Usually its when tears start to fall, even though I desperately try not to cry, when you insert the 6/7th needle into my arms/hands desperately trying to find an access point because my veins are not playing ball, as usual. OR if that hasn’t got me, it will be when you have tried to get my blood gas for maybe the 3/4 time. Or when a Consultant has come to do it, but still they struggle. Or when you’ve had to numb my wrist so you can just dig around a bit.
You say sorry to me when it all just gets a bit much and I can’t help but cry.
You say sorry to me when you have to come and talk to me about HDU or intensive care, and the possibilities of ventilation. Something I’m starting to understand and get more and more used to, however each and every time my respiratory system goes into close/melt down it still feels just as scary as the time before.
It seems like you say sorry to me a lot.
At the same time as working quickly, tirelessly and wisely to save my life.
Because thats what you do.
You save my life.
This time last year I was in hospital (a regular occurrence at the moment) but I was not responding to medications. You were making phone calls to move me to ITU. My OBS were insane, and my oxygen levels crazy. Things were going badly, fast. You called out the consultant who was covering the entire hospital that night. And you stayed with me a lot.
You were calm, cool and collected. Even when I asked if you needed my Pastors phone number because if I was going to die it would be important for me to see him.
You were calm, cool and collected when with the Consultant who came pretty quickly you explained the options. The option of a medication that I’ve once had a severe reaction, but which once I’ve responded to.
You were calm, cool and collected when tears silently fell (I was too tired, and too unable to actually breathe to cry properly) as you explained the risks. The risks of having this medication. And the risks of not having it. Neither looked good at that point.
And just before I lost consciousness for a moment or two I told you to do what you thought was best. Because I was too poorly to know or care right then.
And you did. You did what you thought was best. In that moment. That emergency life/death moment.
For me. You did what you thought was best, for me.
A couple of hours later I came round enough to realise I was still alive. I had an ITU nurse with me. And you. You were there. Apparently you hadn’t gone far at all.
You saved my life.
Thank you for that time, and the times before, and the times since. There has been a few times you have saved my life.
And a few times where things have not gotten quite so serious but have still needed time in hospital, medications and you.
I can not do this thing called ‘living’ with out you.
I can not do this thing called living with out you, you the junior Dr who treats me when I rock up at the hospital, either by ambulance, myself, or via my GP who has admitted me directly onto the emergency assessment ward.
I can not do this thing called living without you, you the one who has trained and is training for years to be that emergency medic who helps me in a crises. Or you who has trained for even MORE years and become that Consultant who also gives me the care I need which so far has always got me back to a point where I can walk (slowly) OUT of the hospital and carry on for a bit longer.
I can not do this thing called living without you who has decided to specialise and become a GP, my Gp, who makes sure that on the days I am ‘well’ ish I can keep on. The GP who gives me half an hour appointments when I’ve needed to just sit and cry. Or when he has needed that time to explain where things are at and where to go next.
I can not do this thing called living without you, the junior Dr who has specialised in Respiratory medicine who see’s me on a very regular basis and who also makes sure that on the whole, apart from the crises moments I can have some quality of life. And I do. I have a quality life. Accepting I am chronically ill is hard, but I am alive.
I have good days. But I am alive. I have bad days, but I am alive.
Because of you.
I never find out much about you, really.
As I sit writing this I realise that I never find out much about you, your life, your family, what you have going on outside of that moment, that moment where you are a ‘DR’.
Sometimes I don’t even remember your names, especially you who have been my emergency ‘crises moment’ medics.
I don’t know about how many hours you have worked that week, or how long you have been on shift without a coffee, or a meal break, or even a loo one.
I never get to find out just how tough your day has been, how many difficult decisions you have had to make, how many lives you have already saved, or how many lives that day that no matter what you or anyone else could do it has not been enough.
I never get to see the tears you might sometimes shed over that one person.
You never complain to me. You never moan to me. You never yawn, or look tired to me. You never get frustrated or short fused with me even though you are probably more tired than you have ever felt in your entire life.
I never get to see that side. But I know about it, because I have friends who are Dr’s.
And because I am not stupid.
I never get to see it because I am your patient, and you are a professional. And your focus is on me.
For which I am grateful. So so grateful.
And now I want the focus to be on you.
Which is why I am writing to you.
I want to say thank you to you.
Thank you for all you do.
Thank you for the hours you put in, for the blood, the sweat, and the tears (and if anyone tells me they don’t exist, I don’t believe them).
Thank you for the price you pay to save my life.
You deserve so much more.
You deserve fair hours.
And I support you.
And so should everyone else.
With much love from a very grateful patient,
What beautiful words. About to start a run of 3 12.5 hour night shifts cover the medical wards on my own. Although at times it gets busy and stressful being a Doctor is the best job in the world and patients like you make those times where you might not get a cup of tea or time to go to the loo not so bad! Stay as well as you can, but we are always there when you need us, the junior doctors.
Thank you so much for these kind and beautiful worlds. Sometimes it feels hard to keep going when it seems as if no one really appreciates what you are doing. Your words are very encouraging and have made my currently bad day a very good one. I wish you well. Kind regards a junior doctor.
Thank you so much for writing this. You and people like you are exactly the reason we are fighting so hard. I wish you all the best with your health.
Thank you for writing this.
I want to add my thanks to the Drs who have saved my Brother’s life ny Dad’s life. Who tried but could not save my Mum. But I remember her saying in more than one occasion that the same young doctor was there in the morning, the evening and late at night.
Thank you Helen. Your words resonated so much with me they reduced me to tears. Thank you.
Politicians only do their job for the short term…4-8 years ….you do it for LIFE.
Thankyou. You are the exact reason we keep going! Thank you for your support- that letter is inspirational.
This has brought tears to my eyes. This is why we want to save the NHS. Thank you so much.
Thank you for taking the time to write such a beautiful blog, it brought me to tears reading it. It really means a lot to us, to know that our efforts are appreciated.
I hope and pray you keep well, best wishes, a junior doctor.
Thank you, Helen, for your kind and moving words, and thank you for your motivation to keep well – it is what drives us to keep going.
Sorry indeed, and also thank you for your ongoing patience with us with repeated attempts with venous and arterial access. We know it hurts, we really do!
Wishing you all the very best.
Thank you so much for your kind, eloquent, honest and beautiful words. Your words gave me strength to keep on going. I hope you keep well.
A junior doctor
Thank you for your beautiful and inspiring words. Stay well
Genuinely incredible and beautiful words. So, so kind of you. Sometimes it can be hard not to forget what it is all for. Then I read this. Thank you
Helen, thank you so much for taking the trouble to write this. I have been junior doctor, GP and patient. Your eloquent account is so important because those who have not been in your shoes or looked after those in your shoes sometimes cannot understand how important our NHS and its staff are. And I don’t want them to find out when it’s too late.
Good luck with your health.
I really hope your Junior Doctor gets to see this please especially with all the rubbish that is going on in the NHS at the moment. I hope they get to know how appreciated they are.
When I had my little boy sixteen months ago we had a student midwife take care of us on our arrival in the Delivery Suite. She was so lovely. I think at that point it was quiet on the ward so she only left my side to go and get bits and pieces to make sure baby and I were okay. She put the monitors on my bump and realised something was up so she moved the monitor round my bump to see where the heartbeat had gone. Most Mums would probably freak out at this point but I was calm because of her. She said something about that she was struggling to find the heartbeat but she was sure it was still there because the other monitor was picking up movement. She nipped out to get the doctor and it turns out that my little boy was coming feet first. Think he had decided that live was for living and he was excited to get going. From then until my surgery about two hours later she took care of my husband and I. I wasn’t allowed anything to drink until my pre-op antibiotics. I had the tiniest of sips to get the pills down and she said you can drink the rest of the cup – so I drained it! She helped me get into a gown and got me ready for the C Section. I think she left me when I had to walk to surgery but she’d done a full hand over to another midwife so I still felt well cared for. Either the new midwife or the student one said that C (my husband) could go put on scrubs and come into theatre with me.
I got to theatre and the anaesthetist’s assistant held my hand really tightly and talked to me while I had my spinal block. The other thing I noticed happened when the surgeon came in. Apart from him everyone was female. I don’t know if that was intentional or accidental but it made me feel more comfortable. They did a who who’s round the theatre for the records, the surgeon did what he needed to, wished my boy a happy birthday, then left. The Maternity ward was a bit busy over the next two days but apart from discharge and one other small occasion I felt so well cared for. It was amazing.
Oh Helen you just made me cry.
Helen, thank you for keeping me going.
Just finished my last night after working 11 days straight. So many times last night, I went to see ‘you’. I was ‘Dr’ and I did all I could for that patient at that point. Thank you so much for your wonderful words. I love what I do and I will keep doing it as long as I can.
This was so good Helen. Thank you x
Thank you from all of us Helen. We love our jobs. We don’t train to be thanked, but when we are it means the absolute world. I’m on the train on the way back from a medical course, training to make a difference where I can.
Thank you again, and in the best possible way I hope we never have to meet in Resus.
Emergency Medicine Junior Doctor
Helen, heart touching words, reduced to tears after reading. In the midst of all the politics, this is a beautiful reminder of what many of us love about or jobs. Great people like you. Those who are incredibly patient whilst we struggle with access, who sometimes scare us when they are critically unwell, who we meet once or repeatedly, who we worry about when we get home, those wonderful people who still face the challenges life brings with such courage and strength, the kind, lovely people who take the time to say thank you. You make it worth it.
Keep well this winter,
yours, another junior doc x
Thank you thank you thank you. You are the reason, and you inspire me to keep working and learning.
All the best for your health Helen.