Archive for September 11th, 2006

Playground politics

I have only vague memories of my first day at school. I remember being scared and not wanting to leave mum and I remember Anna Wilson’s bubble gum shoes – I have no idea why I must say. It wasn’t what I would call a significant event in the scheme of things.

I had my first day at work today. And I make the comparison to first day at school cause all the fears and insecurities I have about things like this (and many others) are garbled, grown-up versions of playground ‘politics’.

And no, I didn’t have my lunch money stolen, in school or today. Nor my head flushed down the toilet or even ‘wedgeed’ (tricky spelling, sorry).

But it’s the fear when you don’t know anyone, that no body will eat their lunch with you or share their toys. Which is why teachers make you share your toys with new kids. And yes, Jonny Lockhart I still remember (and harbour much bitterness) that mrs wallace made me share my lego with you in P2 simply because you were new.

And so I lay awake last night worrying about such things. Actually I didn’t lie awake all night at all, that such sounds dramatic but I did wake quite early and think that I should have worried about it.

The unknown can be daunting when you have to face up to it. Whereas the unknown from the far side of the world isn’t nearly as daunting cause you don’t have to practically deal with it.

I’ve only ever worked in one hospital, and that for 6 years in a row. So I knew everyone, I knew the way everything worked, I knew where to find the forms and how to work the phones – which is 90% of the work of a junior doc. As your man in Shawshank says, I was a man who knew how to get things. Some people may want to add a ‘wrong’ at the end of the previous sentence.

Like going from P7 to 1st year in junior high, I am no longer a big fish in a small pool. Or at least a pool where I knew where all the best algae was, and all the cool bridges to swim under were. Or something like that. Not good with those metaphor/similie thingys.

But sorry, this doesn’t really tell you anything of what happened. I turned up at 8am as requested and met Craig, the guy who organised the job and who i’ve been emailing for the past 4 months or something. Good lad. There was me and an english fella called Tafique starting on the same day, so we spent the first hour filling in various forms and signing various statements that will no doubt all come back to haunt me.

And then occupational health. Now they’re the folk who ensure you’ve not got some terrible contagious disease when you start work, and that you don’t give it to the patients. They’re also the same folk who advise you how not to catch some terrible contagious disease from the patients you’re supposed to treat.

This was more than the usual box-ticking session it usually is, I was swabbed, jabbed and prodded and probed to ensure I wasn’t smuggling so much as the common cold into the country.

MRSA, which I suspect you are all aware of, is much less of an issue here than it is back home. To the point that there was the ludicrous question on the occ. health questionnaire – have you ever come into contact with MRSA positve patients in your job. Those who work in the health service will realise that this is a ridiculous question as working with hospital patients is working with MRSA. Sorry that’s enough MRSA talk.

Had to listen to a crazy women telling me how not to poke needles into myself for 15mins. Though I thought this was all rather elementary and that if I stuck to the simple principle of not sticking needles in myself then I would probably be fine.

From there we had a wondeful computer training session. Which in most places is a 2 min chat on your password and not looking up porn on the net. But this was something else entirely.

In hawke’s bay (where I work, cool name eh?) they have tried to do what seems incredibly obvious to most people and computerise lots of the stuff. You would think this might simplify matters but the software itself is a mystery. Saving lives and raising the dead will be easy in comparison.

Got a brief tour of the hosptial from Craig. Confirming the fact that hospitals are the same the world over. That each ward needs a room to place the drugs, rooms for the patients, a room for paper work, a room for the linen and a room for all the poo-related issues. These rooms must be placed in no particular order and decorated in classic 19-whatever tat.

And it was then that I got scared. Not by the wards, but by all the people working there. Busy, focused-looking people who seemed to know where the forms where and how the phones worked. For all I knew they could have been doing the job for years. All I could see was them not understanding that I didn’t know how to page someone or get a CT done. I’m sure they’re all lovely folk really, folk generally are, but in my head I was going to be shown up as a big useless doc who couldn’t find a blood result.

And this is a fraction, a glimpse of the neurotic, self-consciousness that fills my waking hours every day. If it wasn’t for reason, common sense and a sense of humour i’d be a gonner.

And all of it was needless anyhow. The medical council of new zealand have decided they need to see me face to face to make sure i’m not the next Shipman (note to self – lose the beard) before they let me practice (got to love the truthful accuracy of the term) in NZ. Unfortunately they want to see me in Wellington (the city not the boots) which is a 7hr round trip from here. Not so good. I start work on wednesday instead now, if I can get rid of the beard and the criminal record that is.

But it’ll not be too bad. I like driving and NZ is a cool place to drive in. I bought a tool kit today (enough to build the next A-bomb, and all for 3quid), all men need tool kits. I took apart the CD player in the car, broke a few bits at the back, taped them back together with some medical tape stuck to my stethscope and managed to wire in a jack socket so I can plug in my MP3 player. There have been few things that have brought such a self-satisfied grin to my face since I arrived.


September 2006