The Anxious Doctor – Central Line

In my albeit limited experience, I have found that one of the best remedies for my constant worry that something might go wrong, is when something actually does go wrong, and everything then turns out fine. While being a remarkably unpleasant experience at the time, it does however allow my brain to recalibrate, and to learn to accept that people can get sick, stuff can go awry, and it doesn’t always end in tears. This was one such occasion.

Everything is fine as long as you don’t lose the guidewire
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The Anxious Doctor – Driving back

Clunk.

There it is. Just as I walk through the door having driven home after fifty eight hours of work in five days. It had been a good week, hard work and demanding but enjoyable and rewarding. My anticipatory joy for the coming weekend is quickly swallowed and replaced by a wrenching fear, knowing that this feeling is going to plague me until I’m back at work on Monday, when any little worries can be put to rest by checking. Until then? The cool shiver trickles down my spine while my stomach proceeds to churn itself into an ever tightening knot.

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The Anxious Doctor – Welcome

I’m an anxious person. Always have been, always will, but hopefully to a progressively lesser degree as time goes on. Throughout my life I’ve worried about the tiniest things, far more than I know I should, but I couldn’t help it, it just happened. While others around me would seemingly sail blissfully through their day, my brain would churn relentlessly, analysing everything and anything that might possibly go wrong that I would then have to deal with or be chastised for, working myself up into a shaking nervous wreck that could hardly think straight. This got bad enough that as a medical student and foundation doctor I was frequently waking up in drenching sweats at night, panicking about the decisions I’d made during the day, absolutely convinced that I’d killed someone with my spectacular ineptitude as a medical professional. Not exactly a recipe for a successful career as a doctor is it?

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The Anxious Doctor – Checking

Clunk.

That sickening feeling in your gut as the adrenaline kicks, when you suddenly panic that you’ve missed something important. The hairs up your spine tingle on end, your stomach starts to squeeze and churn, palms become clammy, breathing more shallow. Immediately the ritual begins, as you start recounting, retracing your steps through the events of the day, trying desperately to find the mistake, the thing you did or didn’t do that now seems to be of such dire importance. Did I check those blood results? Did I document accurately about that sick patient? Did I prescribe those medications correctly? On more than one occasion I have driven back to the hospital well after my shift has ended to reassure myself that something wasn’t missed.

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