24 August 2015


I guess we are all addicted to something. My poison is chocolate. I can't be in the same room as chocolate and not eat it. It worries me until I've eaten it up. I have to hide a box of chocolates somebody has bought me or I would probably eat the whole box in one sitting. But I can go months without it, so it's under control (unless I'm in an exceedingly long queue at the supermarket and it winks at me from the checkout display!) Alcohol - I can take or leave. I love a glass of wine or a cocktail like the next person, but can count on one hand the number of glasses I consume in every two months. I used to smoke cigarettes a long time ago as a student but stopped 35 years ago. I have never taken drugs.

When you are really and truly addicted to a substance, it is hard to ignore. No matter how much people tell you you are going to die from it, you cannot see that. You can only see that your body is crying out for more and craves it so much that dying is far less of a problem than the craving. You need it and you need it NOW. (Greg wanted nothing more than to stop drinking but try as he might, he could not, even with professional help. )You know you are hurting the loved ones around you and you gladly want to stop for their sake if not your own, but the craving pushes you on to your next fix.... and the next..... and the next. You lose your family, your friends, your job, your money, your home and you eventually hit rock bottom, where you either claw your way back to recovery or surrender to the grim reaper.

The following  is a song written by Rick Hale who has lost a brother to addiction. I think the song and video beautifully encapture what it is like to be an addict or live with an addict. The video contrasts the present with the addict as a child in a family setting. The words are below.....

The muffled sound of old regrets
Burning out like cigarettes
Halfway gone and half to go

Fill the air with darkened haze
And all my empty yesterdays
Have brought me down a deeper low

And I can hardly breath it in

What if there’s no end at all?
How much further can I fall?
Getting higher as my life’s descending

Something’s taken over me
I’m not the man I used to be
And I can’t take it if it’s never-ending

I know it’s hard to understand
You’ve only breathed it second-hand
But never walked inside these shoes

You hope someday I turn around
When I’ve crashed against the ground
And I have nothing left to lose


Trace the marks across my skin
Laying draped around my frame
They tell the story of my sin
But you turn your back and wash your hands of all my shame


17 August 2015

Two weeks on

Kay finally got through the first twelve-days of her new job and came up to see me yesterday to celebrate my mum's 92nd birthday. It was lovely to see her again. When she was up north at university, I probably saw her once every few months. Now she is only about 30 miles away, we shall be able to see one another more often - I shall be able to pop over to see her for a few hours or vice versa. Lovely jubbly, as Del Boy would say.

As reported in my last post, her initiation in her first job was horrendous. The first five days on the ward with 28 patients, some of them very ill with no senior doctors (or junior for that matter). Just her and the nurses. She did 5 days of 13-hour shifts with no (or no more than 5-minute) lunch breaks. Everything changed at the weekend. She was on-call which meant she was floating round the whole hospital, dealing with newly admitted patients, but she did have a Registrar senior doctor to advise her. Then on the second Monday, she was back to the old ward again firefighting single-handedly. One patient had died over the weekend, meaning her first Monday morning job was to perform an examination of the corpse in the Mortuary to issue to the undertaker. The Registrar was back from his holiday but spent little time with her. It was Wednesday before he realised the extent of her work and arranged for two locums to come in swelling the ranks from one doctor (Kay) the previous week to five doctors (Kay, two locums, Registrar and the F2 who had also just started)  at the end of the second week. It was bliss. Kay only had 6 patients to deal with  for the last 3 days of last week , was able to finish at 5pm and even had a whole lunch break, sitting down! Her consultant returns from his holiday today so maybe she'll even get some recognition for what she did. Miracles can happen. Meanwhile she's made a heck of a lot of friends in just the space of two weeks and her fellow junior doctors all around the hospital have elected her to be president of the doctor's mess, organising their socials. She's not quite sure how this has happened, but is looking forward to taking the role on in her spare time!

I waved her off last night in her car filled to the roof with home comforts to make her digs more home-like. She says she's very happy. And that frankly makes me even happier.

05 August 2015

Working Girl

Two days ago Kay started her first ever real job (not counting Saturday jobs as a teenager or the hospital placements as a medical student). This is her first ever paid "proper" job and her first as a doctor. After two days handover with the outgoing junior doctor, she is on her own from today.  Apparently her Consultant and Registrar are both on two weeks' annual leave, which means she is effectively on her own with any of the problems that could arise (God help her). She's already signed her first prescription. She's doing 12 days on the run before she gets her next break (she's on-call over the coming weekend). Welcome to the World of the Workplace!

(Added 24 hours later. On her first day, with no senior staff or peers, she single-handedly looked after 28 patients. She did a 13-hour shift with a 7-minute lunch break. That's what I call a baptism of fire and very bad rota planning.)