The floodgates

I finally broke down today when I reached the car after twenty four hours of non stop working. I was devastated and broken. I was being dismissed at work by my superior who thought that I was not even fit to be on call because I was not performing well. I felt so crushed because despite the hardwork I presume I put in - of always getting to work earlier than everyone else, preparing the OT even before the house officers come, doing more pre-meds than my colleagues, going that extra mile and even reading up day before - she still thought I was very poor and got really disgusted at me.

I broke down because I was criticized by the decisions I even though I thought I was practising safe by informing if I was not sure or confident. I was being told off for not knowing what is urgent. I thought it was a little too harsh.

But then again, people may dismiss me saying I am just a plain spoilt brat. I was trained in a developed country (nevermind all the NHS crisis going on) in one of the oldest medical school. I did more weeks of anaesthetics than anyone else in medical school - a total a over 2.5 months. While my colleagues talk about NHS and its TPOT, I sat there thinking - hey, I was once involved in one of the TPOT initiatives. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I remembered how the Lead Consultant Anaesthetist console me about being confident in doing what I do.

All these, apparently, do not even apply in this setting. This, developing country setting with a strange mindset. I know people would totally hate me for making statements like this. They would be calling me stuck up and proud for nothing (that is why I am writing it here, duh, where no one reads). I reconsidered my decision so carefully about entering this department.

At the end of the day, I felt it was a passion rekindled. I was happy and excited for a moment. And then it came all these criticism and backlashes. People put me down. Some may call me sensitive but I can tell those subtle non-verbal cues and sarcastic comments certain superiors throw at me. I am, after all, trained in a setting where we read a lot into non-verbal and verbal communication.

Superiors do not allow me to do procedures such as insertion of epidural catheter. Then after that, they tell me off saying I am not enthusiastic enough to hunt for procedures to learn. I just politely pointed out that no one allowed me to do, then how am I suppose to even get the chance? At this point, I am doing most of them secretly with supervision of colleagues because I earnestly want to do but never given a fair chance.

I admit - I am as brilliant as you all who managed to garner the Masters programme and then pass it. I am not as sharp as what a typical doctor should be. I have always been a hard worker. I was responsible since young - I did my homework and revision and rested enough. I did well in school not because I was smart but because I was responsible and played my part. I remember finishing every single math work book I could find at home (my mother being a math teacher) and finally I overcame math by scoring 100% easily. I used to struggle to even finish an exam paper in the stipulated time. I put in effort and reaped the harvest. So you get the picture - I am not brilliant. I have very poor observational skills. I kept telling myself maybe I could learn epidurals by observing my colleagues doing, since I was not allowed to touch them - I still could not. I am just not a visual sort of person. My dexterity is even worse! I have very poor skills. I took ages to even learn how to tie a necktie. What more to say hand tie and anything else. I am clumsy and have poor touch sensory. But I always persevered. I always practised. When I was in paediatrics, I saw most of my colleagues being able to take bloods and cannulate tiny babies in the first few weeks. I, on the other hand, always volunteered to do the procedures but I never got them right. I always tried hard. I worked in NICU for 3 weeks and I never gave up. Before I completed paediatrics, I managed to easily cannulate even the most premature babies. I need time. I am slow but I always persevere and would manage it eventually. I just need time and opportunities.

However, those two are not exactly the things people are kind enough to offer at times. While people who are more junior than me are able to insert central lines and epidural catheters, I, who graduated housemanship more than two months now couldn't even do one independently. I know how people would smirk (even mentally even if they don't show) at me when I fumble and stumble.

I told myself - I am slow, but I am persevering. However, people view me as lazy and only love to sleep.

Today, I bit my lips hard and looked away trying to hold my tears back. When I got into my car, the tears could not be held any longer. They came down like floodgates being opened. I sobbed alone in the car. I was crushed.

Knowing how gossipy the culture is, no doubt by now everyone would have known my poor reputation. They would mark me and then get really cautious next time they work with me. I would be blamed for everything. I would not even get recognised even though I still continue to arrive earlier than anyone else. No one would care because at the end of the day, they just look at how smooth you talk and perform your procedures.

I told myself no more tears for my job. Today, I broke my own promise. And really, it is really sad to cry over something you genuinely loved.


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