Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Palliative medicine is pretty amazing. I hesitate to say I enjoy it – perhaps it is better to say I find it medically, emotionally and spiritually challenging, yet fulfilling. It dabbles into all areas of medicine, yet gives there is time to talk to the patient; indeed, the psychosocial aspects that can only be assessed by discussion with the patient are a fundamental pillar of palliative care.

And I like that. I like the talking therapies. Although I am a hands-on person, I enjoy communication with patients, finding out about all aspects of their lives.

(Probably because I am essentially very nosy.)

This placement has been hard – not intellectually, but emotionally. I have met some incredibly sick people, and been privileged to sit in on some intense consultations. The hardest was a 21 year old girl dying of refractive Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Firstly, she looked dreadful, and was obviously very ill, which was distressing. But most distressing was her own complete denial of her mortality. And I can understand why. 21 year olds shouldn’t die. They should be looking forward to everything life brings. The world should be her oyster, but instead life is sliding out of her grip.

I feel tired and battered by this placement, but in a healthy, constructive way. I feel this is an area of medicine that could challenge me for the rest of my life.

But I am also feeling a little sorry for myself, as another year has passed and I don’t feel as though I have achieved anything. In my head, I know that this is not true, but in my heart I still feel I haven’t grown up yet.

I know, I know, 22 is hardly old, but I still feel like a naïve, shy teenager. Logically I know I have grown and changed so much in the last 3 years, especially this last year. But I still don’t feel as though I am enough.

And I know you’re thinking ‘Here she goes again, harping on about being enough’ but that is the title… When I started this blog, I picked that name out of the air. I felt it reflected my struggle to get through medicine. However, I have learnt, in the last 9 month of writing, that it reflects the fundamental core of me: I do not feel like enough in any area of my life. I don’t think I ever have. Maybe I never will do.

Currently listening to: my favourite mix of emotionally charged stuff, including Tracy Chapman (The Promise), Eva Cassidy (Kathy’s Song), Coldplay (The Scientist), REM (At my most beautiful), John Cale (Hallelujah)…

O, and for your delectation (as the other picture worked, thanks again to Marysienka!) here’s something cheerful: my cousin Helen, my brother John and me, at my parents wedding anniversary party. The funny thing is, John and I were sober (performance pressure…), and Helen was absolutely ratted. You’d think otherwise from the photo!

God, I look so tired… I’m desperate for our week holiday – which starts on Monday! Yippee!


Marysienka said...

For some reason, this picture doesn't work. did you put the right url? try again!

Palliative care is challenging, i have no doubt about it. I'm not sure how I'd feel doing a placement there though, at our ages. I feel so young, I don't know what I could "bring" to the families there. We're there to learn, of course, and well I'd almost feel cheap. Ah well, dunno if that makes sense what im saying. im tired as well...

Anna said...

i know what you mean, but i think just being there and listening is more important than having the answers.

after all, what answers can you give? no doctor, however talented or insightful or 'nice' knows what it is to die from cancer. no-one can truly understand another's grief.