Sleepless Nights

My feet are sweating, my eyes are dry and my tongue can’t decide whether to rest against the floor or the roof of my mouth. Were my knees always this bony?

That feeling when you can’t seem to find a comfortable position, as if your bed is a shoe shoved hastily onto the wrong foot. Too hot, then too cold, then somehow forming weird pressure areas in places you didn’t even know you had.

I started losing sleep big time the first year after I qualified. No matter what I did, nothing seemed to disengage the engine in my brain, revving away churning the day’s events over and over searching for mistakes and catastrophes that I was damned sure hadn’t happened. Why? Because I’d checked.

My god the checking. I wince when I think back to the time, mental energy and telomeres I wasting checking almost inconsequentially insignificant minutiae of my day to ensure that yes, for the fifth time, I’m not going to kill Mrs Higgins by giving a litre of fluid over ten hours rather than twelve.

My current self would make past-me shriek, so cavalier and hasty I must seem in my decision making. But I’m not. I’ve simply built up enough experience to have the confidence to know which decisions warrant more thought than others. Having seen Co-amoxiclav prescribed 1.2g TDS three hundred or so times, and having seen no ill effects, I’m far more willing to prescribe them because my patient ‘might have pneumonia’.

What’s the point of this? It’s to say to my previous self, and to others in the same position, that it will get better. It just takes that bit of time for the anxious brain to trust itself, and it’s own judgement, to allow itself the opportunity to relax into the wonderful profession that is being a doctor.

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