My Experience as A Patient

So I’ve been unwell this past week, with mainly flu like symptoms (sore throat, coughs, joint aches). I knew it was probably just the standard run of the mill flu symptoms, but it was only in the past few days that something bothered me; pleuritic chest pain.

Waking up from sleep, I had a sharp well localized pain on the R side of my back. Deep inspiration seemed to exacerbate this pain. That got me a little worried, because it meant I had pleuritic chest pain! And with it, it meant inflammation of the pleural lining, something I was taught in medical school, was something quite serious.

Worry setting in, I decided whether to go to the ED department for treatment or not. I mean, it would be long waiting times maybe, and it would be weird in a way to be treated by previous colleagues. After pondering, and a great deal of reluctance, I decided to go. The possibility that I could deteriorate and be much worse off was enough to get me going.

The triage nurse recognized me “you work here don’t you?”. That was the first part of awkwardness; being recognized by other staff members.

The ED waiting room was empty. The TV blaired on in the background, with news reports. I took out my smartphone, and started to study some Chinese. And from this point, you could tell that I wasn’t really that sick. I guess I wanted more reassurance, and to just get seen just in case of something serious.

I got my observations and vitals done, and was then sent into the fast track room. There, I did some more waiting, waved at a colleague, and got attended to by one of my previous colleagues. So I explained my story, throwing in medical terms like pleuritic chest pain and such. The obligatory chest exam was done, with auscultation of lungs. Then I got sent for a CXR. And then, I got an ECG.

The senior doctor came in and saw me, asking me how I was. She had a new hairstyle from when I last saw her. Essentially, I had pleurisy, with no need for antibiotics, just some rest, and NSAIDs. It was a relief I guess.

All in, it took about 2 hours and 20 minutes. The funny thing is, that right after I left the department, my pleuritic pain disappeared! How convenient. If it happened earlier, there would be no need to go to the ED, and I could have avoided the awkwardness of being seen by colleagues. But it was interesting to know what it was like as a patient, sitting in the seats, and being in the other spot as a patient, as opposed to being the doctor.

What was even more amusing, was that as I rocked up for my afternoon work, the other doctors had known I was at ED earlier that morning, and were asking me if I was ok.

Sigh…. I vow to never be sick again as to need to be seen by ED again.

That Bastard!

Meeting up with a colleague for dinner a few nights ago, I was reminded of how smooth life can be at times. Here I was, little worries (since it was after work) and chilling at dinner with a friend.

My friend looks at me with a serious expression on her face.

“I’ve got something to tell you, but please don’t tell anyone else.”

“Yea, sure” I reply casually.

“You know X, one of our colleagues from the Emergency Department? She has resigned due to the pressure put on her by one of the consultants. She’s now got depression. I saw her at the supermarket the other day, and she looked like a lost soul”

I looked at her with a bewildered expression. I remembered that colleague. She was nice and friendly, although I had only spoken to her like 3 or 4 times. I thought back to my interactions with that particular consultant, and reeled with disgust. He often put the junior staff down, and humiliated them in front of other doctors. I hated presenting cases to him, because he would constantly interrupt my flow of thought, and point out my mistakes. He was rude and disrespectful.

I felt sad too for my colleague who was now suffering depression from such a horrible human being. I couldn’t imagine what suffering she must have put up with, the tortures of putting up with such a man.

My friend and I both sat in silence for a while.

We both hoped karma would come back and get this man for his horrible actions. I don’t know what else to do to help. I felt wronged by this man, and I’m sure several junior doctors have suffered immensely from him as well. But I don’t know what to do. The environment in ED is just toxic, and days have come and gone where I question my abilities, I question why I am still doing medicine.

Are there things we are just supposed to put up with such as these? I’m going to be dealing with this man again probably next year. If I report him early and he loses his job, I won’t have to see him again next year.

I don’t know what to do.