30 years

Today is thirty years since I left my first job as a House Surgeon in south-east England to become a House Physician in the north-west.

I can vividly remember looking up the dose of paracetamol for a patient in the British National Formulary on my first day as a doctor, despite consuming that drug as a hangover cure for six years previously.

I remember the poor guy with throat cancer coughing and bleeding to death as his carotid artery was eroded by his disease. I remember the young housewife whose life I saved by transfusing her with blood while packing her severely bleeding nose with compressive wadding.

I also remember successfully diagnosing malaria as a cause of unexpected fever in a youngster from Pakistan who had had minor ear surgery that morning as a health tourist.

Then there were my not so glorious moments. The time I clumsily and insensitively broke the news of breast cancer to a young woman, for instance. There were many other gauche episodes in my first six months as a doctor, which I would rather not detail here. I still blush with shame when I remember them.

I moved onto my next appointment which was equally mixed with good and bad, for my patients and for myself. The only consolation is that I gradually improved as a doctor as I gained experience and endured shame and necessary desolation. God is good and blesses us all.


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