I just completed my three months rotation in pediatrics department, and, as a farewell gift, a little girl decided to pee on my “Friday wear” as I was rounding up. No worries, I am in a different set of clothe as I type this. So far, I have been bled on, peed on, vomited on, but on the plus side, I finished the department without getting pooped on. Yes you guys, that is an achievement.
All that being said, I figured I’d share just a little part of my experience working the pediatrics field. And before you ask, I have answered this question already yesterday, this is where the journey ends for me in Pediatrics, for life. Here are some of the things I learnt during my short stint in pediatrics.
1.The child shouldn’t pay for the parent’s mistakes.
I can’t begin to explain how many times parents, grandparents, caretakers are rude to the doctors, to the point of being insulting and almost getting physical. Doctors are also human beings wth feelings and emotions. It takes a lot of nerve to have someone standing over you in a threatening manner, and still be able to mentally tell yourself, “treat this kid like any other kid, their lack of manners is not his price to pay“. And having to mentally recite this over and over in a day.
2.Every parent should love their kid (but they don’t).
This is a hard truth. In a perfect world, every parent should treat their child as a human being, loving them as they have never loved another soul on God’d earth. A parent’s love should be unquestionable, immeasurable, but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Working in pediatrics (especially in the environment I work in), is being able to do what you can to save a child’s life while hearing the parents verbally give up within just a few minutes of arriving the hospital. It means, getting used to hearing parents say “if it’s his time, it’s his time…. there’s nothing we can do“, to a child who actually has a chance of living.
3.You can’t save everybody
There are some cases where you will try everything within your means and beyond, I mean, paying for the patient’s medications because they can’t afford it, tagging urgent to investigations to get them done on time, following the book management of the condition to the T, leaving zero chances for error and yet, the child still wouldn’t make it. The truth is, you can’t save everybody, but the consolation is, knowing you did the best you could.
4.You’d get used to it
I hate to say this but it is true. You will get used to seeing kids die, you will get used to hearing children scream at the top of their lungs but turning a blind ear because you’ve done everything within your power and a sicker kid needs your attention. You will get used to pricking a child with the needle in order to find a vein. You will get so used to it that at some point, you will help the scared mother to hold the hands of her child tightly while he is screaming with all of his strength during cannulation.
5.Take care of you
Doctors burn out is a fact. And as the saying goes, you cannot come and go and kill yourself. Working 36hours straight would definitely put some dent to your psyche, add to that poor eating and hypoglycemia. Any chance you have to take a break, take it. It is okay to tell the patient, I can’t function right now, I need to go eat something and I’d be back. You can’t come and die. But of course, so long as the patient is in a stable phase I mean… don’t go leaving a breathless child.
6.Take things with a pinch of salt
Being the most junior set of doctors in the hospital means, being “shouted at” in a twisted effort of making you “tougher”, being accused of things you may or may not have done, being shamed in front of anyone and everyone and at the same time, being expected to keep your cool. At times, it’s like a mini military drill, except that you are getting paid. In the end, the older ones do know their stuff. Take the good, learn as much as you can, ignore the bad and keep it pushing because in the next 3 months, it will pass.
7.Find time for things that give you joy
There is a quote by Charles bukowski which says- find what you love and let it kill you. I will counter that with saying, “you can’t come and kill yourself”, which basically means, you can work but you shouldn’t work yourself to death because the reality is, before your corpse is cold in the grave, there is already another doctor to replace you. So find things that give you joy aside medicine- mine is, laughter, coffee and dressing good, not necessarily in that order. As I once said to someone who said we laughed a lot- I’d be crying otherwise, considering the amount of things we see in pediatrics. I would rather find joy and humor and dwell on that.
8.Cordial work environment
You wouldn’t like everyone you work with, heck, they might not like you. That being said, it is no excuse to not work in a cordial manner, to be rude or disrespectful. At the end of the day, we are all adults and should act like one.
9. Everyday is a chance to make a difference
This is something not to be taken lightly, especially in pediatrics. Every life of course is precious, but the life of a child is a gem, especially because their surviving depends on a combined effort between health workers and the parent. As a doctor, ensuring you have adequately passed the message across to the care takers because they are the ones to carry out the conservative and non medical management.
10. Patience is key
Last but not least, Kids are tough to handle, now sick kids are even tougher and harder. Patience goes a long way. You can only be good at this job if you can practice patience with a sick child. Its not going to be easy with a kid kicking at you, screaming at you, cursing you and your ancestors while you trying to get them to better, but you have to bear in mind, they are sick and they are kids.
There are still a lot more stories to bore you with and a lot more experiences to share but I think I’ve bored you enough with the medical stories for now. Have a great weekend ahead. Until next time, wishing you loads of love, laughter and of course coffee. ❤️