Thursday 9th April 2020:
Who knew that being a doctor behind a computer and on the phone could be so tiring?! This may be my temporary new normal at work, but I already cannot WAIT to be back seeing and treating patients face, the reason I came into my beloved profession. Out remote cancer meeting interrupts my computer time briefly, and I go back to my desk to finish the day. Our Team Time is very bonding, albeit from various locations, which can never fully replace the flow of being in the same room as one another, but it's clear to see that we can work in this way quite effectively. I am almost certain that our new work "after covid" will involve more remote working for many of us in the NHS.
But behind the unity of the meetings, and the individual and group support we are all lending each other, there are also moments of unease, shorter fuses and minor intolerances to small things which seem to be magnified in ways that at any other time wouldn't even bring attention to us, altered reponses, either with far greater or far lesser emotion than would be expected of that individual, more disagreements that agreements over some things that would have easily been managed and far quicker before now.
And I have recognised all of these things also in myself. And even of a particularly strong and long friendship with a colleague of mine, and someone who we mutually regularly share our worries, our uncertain clinical judgements, our insecurities at work, yet somehow through the medium of whats app and emails we have unnoticeably been building a chasm that felt to be widening. And when all we needed to do was to talk about it and iron out the mis-read intonations in the messages. We talked it through after work today on the phone, a long awaited and much needed chat, and realised immediately that we were both misreading the tone and intention of the messages and therefore needed clarity, closure, to reset, and to go back to our usual understanding of each other. There is no question that the underlying uncertainty, anxiety, and lack of usual contact in the usual ways has been hindering our judgements, responses, and defences, and in the end we realised we need each other as much as ever right now! Such is the infiltration of this current situation in different, and sometimes the same ways, for us all.
The clapping for the NHS has become a regular Thursday fare. Amazing scenes around the country, around our neighbourhoods, around all of us. Every Thursday, for a special few minutes, the applause and the cheers and the fireworks and banging pots and pans and the people, and the rainbows that everyone everywhere are painting, and the messages in our high streets, make it feel like we are all having one enormous hug. It makes me weep again tonight, and I wish I could do more. Then a text comes through from my GP surgery looking for volunteers to take small medical supplies to patients who can't get to the surgery. I volunteer.
By Dr Sam Anthony
Survivor of a career in medicine, a career break from medicine, cancer, and blogging..join me in my quest to make us happier healthier individuals and doctors