Monday, November 12, 2012
and then we came to the end of all things. (and a message to haters who comment)
PRIMUM NON NOCERE
6 years of blood, sweat and tears (all literal) boiled down to one moment that was over in a flash, but also seemed to last a lifetime. I almost cried when I took the Hippocratic Oath. I blew my family a kiss as I walked across the stage. My feet felt like death on daggers in my heels, but I felt amazing.
It got me thinking, what does this mean for me? I have been heckled, time and again online for writing this blog, with my background. Does it mean I cannot be a good doctor? Does it mean I am a danger? Does it mean I should know better? No, no and yes. Yes. I should know better. But then again, none of us wandered down this path thinking that we would be glamazons. We all know what lies ahead of us or with us.
And, to make it clear to any of my harshest and most vocal critics, DO NOT THINK I CHOOSE TO BE HERE. I found myself here. Maybe it didn't creep up on me, and maybe I did see it coming but I didn't wish for it and when I saw it coming, I feared it. And now that I am here, I will do everything in my power to prevent another girl from ending up here. This is not somewhere anyone should be. It's the 7th level in Dante's Inferno, we're down here, freezing with the devils in our heads who tell us every second, of every day that we are fat, ugly and totally undesirable.
Maybe I should have done something about it sooner. But in the same way that deer freeze in headlights, I froze. I was too ashamed to go for help, and now I am too ashamed to go because I don't look thin enough to need help, and I am far too old. You may say that I am resigned to my fate. I see it as embracing the inevitable and trying to do the most good with whatever time I have left.
Having an eating disorder doesn't make me a bad doctor, nor does it make me a danger. Surrounded by other doctors, they would drag me kicking and screaming to recovery before I became either of those things.
I hate it when I am judged online by people who have only read one post of mine, and already think I will be a bad doctor.
There are people in my class with substance abuse issues, there are people in my class who have attempted suicide (and one who succeeded), there are people who are alcoholics, there are people who sleep around like you wouldn't believe, there are others with eating disorders, anger issues and relationship issues, people who are racist, sexist and worst of all, people who are only in it for the money. So don't tell me I'm going to be a bad doctor. We all have our demons, but they are ours, and I'd like to think that most of us would rather take a bullet than let it interfere with patient care.
All it means is that I can probably spot an eating disorder before most, and it gives me patience. I understand when patients don't listen to advice because it stops them getting what they want. I understand when they try their best but can't seem to succeed. I can spot the lies, but I do not hate them for lying to me. I totally get it.
Yes, I know I am expected to be super human. I am not supposed to have problems, I am not supposed to have issues, I am not supposed to forget things, I am supposed to be always happy, cheerful, full of wisdom and I am supposed to take all the racist and sexist abuse that patients hurl at me with a large tub of salt and smile and love them like all the other patients. I am supposed to have a wonderful boyfriend, a perfect family, no debt and perfect teeth. I am supposed to be an angel of life. I am none of those things. I'm just a normal girl, with my own demons, trying to do my best.
I will probably battle my eating disorder until I die. But why should I be greeted with such hate and disgust, why me and not the patient with heart disease because they ate too much? Why me and not the patient with lung cancer because they wouldn't quit smoking? Why me and not the schizophrenic who stabbed his own father? Why does my profession mean that I am not allowed to have a disease?
I wish people would remember that while being in hospital might be a once in a lifetime thing for them, I have 60 patients, 60 patients that change every day. Much as I would love to, I cannot devote a full day to one patient, and all I can do is my best. I am only human, but I shall, like all my colleagues, do my best to be more than that.
They say that you are not a real physician until you have killed a few patients. And that is what they told us on the first day of medical school. So I will enter the killing fields on Monday. Hope to never see you on the frontline, my friends.