Thursday, August 27, 2009

There's only so much the body can take

The adage goes: "what does not kill you, only makes you stronger."

But what if it does kill you?

Work in this month's department had been horrible - so much as as to break me down mentally and even physically.

I'm on sick leave because of a bout of nausea and diarrhoea, likely due to to the unhygienic practice of working and eating at the same time.

Here's how usual lunchtime goes: hurriedly type out some semblance of a discharge summary, and while the computer takes its obligatory 10-15 seconds to save it, grab 2 biscuits from the package using my left hand, which was previously flipping the pages of the case notes which was previously flipped by hands which had just touched the skin of patients which is probably faecal contaminated.

Yes I do know that it's not polite to wolf down food so rudely. I do know that it's gross and unhygienic. And I do know that biscuits are not proper lunch.

But what other choice do I have?

I can't grab a sandwich; it would take too much time and the nurses who had been pressuring me to get some tasks done on the other side of the building are already threatening me that they're going to inform my superior. I'd made some sarcastic comment about how she was being a bitch and how I have some bleeding patient or some sick patient who needed more attention than her sick obsession with paperwork. Stress makes all of us monsters. I've been catching not just me - but the nicest of my colleagues screaming at pharmacists and nurses for getting in the way of things - even if their intentions are good.

On the worst days we have just 2 doctors to handle more than 30 rather sick patients, a doctor-patient ratio that would be alarming even in third-world countries. It's a mad rush to get work done, and sometimes, it is impossible to get everything done. There's so much we could do for the patients, but simply have no time to do so. No matter how fast we walk, no matter how we make rude noises to get the tardy porters out of our way on the corridors, there's simply not enough time.

The number of corners we have to cut just to stay afloat disgusts me. We don't even have as much time to take proper medical histories and do physical examinations as the classically-overworked emergency department does. We make numerous medical errors in our work, but that's inevitable. It's a choice between giving all our patients substandard care; or giving some of our patients great care and for the other patients - no care at all.

It's exhausting.

It started out with random chest pains and palpitations - the unfortunate effect of chronic stress and anxiety.

There were days I had wanted to simply end it all. Yes, it was that bad.

And yesterday, I got the first sick leave I had taken in about 7 years. I really couldn't work, nauseated with such a bad tummyache.

I must not let my job kill me.

Great and I just received news that this posting will be extended 3 days because of manpower issues.

Life truly sucks. Will this nightmare ever end?


Sausage said...

kin chung u like the taste of fecal coliforms ah

kc said...

Ya :(