Being a medical doctor is more than a career. It becomes your life. In excess of 240 hours a month: it sneaks into every quiet moment, family occasion and early morning hour.
It’s your day always being seen as pre, on or post call. It’s the impending doom, even when on leave, that the overtime “catch up” chase starts when you return to work. It’s the underlying fear that you didn’t do enough, or in rare cases -did too much. It’s lying in your bed after 30 hours of being awake and not being able to switch off. It’s the replays of the night before. It’s the paranoia of “should I have” and “did I?”. It’s the weighty burden of being responsible for another’s life. It’s the awesome fear (and not in the modern funky but rather fearful sense of the word) that you are a gatekeeper at life and deaths door. It’s the holy privilege of seeing someone knocking at heavens door: heart beat disappear. Dead. And then in the blinking of an eyelid return with a sudden gasping back to life. It’s the tear in a mothers eye speaking appreciation no words can explain. It’s love and endurance pushing beyond what the human body and it’s mental restraints should allow.
In the last 18 months, Medicine has transitioned into something much more sinister. it’s become the tears in my Judah’s eyes when I’m called out to work in the middle of the night. The anger in my husband’s heart at a system that won’t allow his wife to rest. The long hours away from home, and the short tired returns.
There is so much honor in being a doctor and rightfully so. I always shied away from and perhaps denied the honorable ideas of what others thought doctors were. I think at that stage in my career, I did not yet perceive the price paid. Doctors, I.e the true public servants, especially those who remain in the cruel state system, deserve honor. They walk a road that demands a lifetime of selflessness and sacrifice, often unbeknown to the naive dreamy medical student who starts their career “to help” the world.
Since childhood I’ve believed the misconception that doctors are rich. It was probably the fancy cars parked outside Dr Kaskar and Dr Kirsten’s practices. This was not the motivation behind my decision to pursue Medicine but definitely not a deterrent. The compensation is by no means adequate. Then again, regardless of the amount earned, it never could be.
Time is a priceless commodity and Medicine demands all of it.