Resident survival story

August 21, 2019 | Author: Royal College Staff

Dr. Elizabeth (Lizzy) Elsey, General Surgery trainee, East Midlands, United Kingdom. 

Tuesday March 3, 2009 is a date now written to my memory in permanent ink, never to be washed away. This was the day I went to work as a junior surgical trainee with a deep sense of dread and pain- both physical and emotional. Because I knew. I just knew.

I prepared for the ward round with a forced smile despite my pale, pinched face. The rest of the team arrived and we got to work reviewing patients. After an hour, another wave of cramping agony came over me and I excused myself from the ward round. A trip to the staff restrooms confirmed my worst fears.

I returned to the ward round and spoke to the senior trainee leading the ward round.

“I’m so sorry. I hate to let you down, but I need to go home.”

“I’m having a miscarriage.”

Sadly, over the next few days of shoulder- heaving sobs, pain and bleeding and intrusive scans, it was confirmed that I had lost my first pregnancy.

I have since reflected on why I dragged myself to work that terrible Tuesday. Why did I insist on attempting to look after other people when what I really needed was to be cared for myself? The need to deny the reality of what was happening and the desperate desire to carry on as normal were overwhelming, but perhaps not the correct reaction.

I hope I have learnt to prioritise my wellbeing better since but I also hope I now consider the wellness of my colleagues more. Loss, death, illness, relationship problems affect us all. Our trainees often feel a deep sense of responsibility to their work and training and may need permission to take time away. Let’s try to pick up on those subtle clues of quieter than usual trainees or forced smiles with sad eyes that unfortunately are present from time to time and consider the lives behind the residents.