3 months.  3 months I saw patients with varying degrees of attention and quality.  3 months I walked those corridors, struggled through them, cried in them.  I cried every. single. day.  In cupboards, to my friends, and into my lunch.  I left evening teaching early because my breasts were like rocks and leaking but I couldn’t stop breastfeeding because it’s all I felt like I had for her as a mother.  I had nothing else to give her.

3 months I froze and practiced and froze and practiced and froze and froze until I didn’t anymore.  The words started to come, not perfectly, but there they were.  A semblage of structure, something approaching sense coming out of my mouth.  I was struggling and behind right up until the last two days, two days before, it suddenly started to click.  I have lived my life to varying degrees of raw and burnt out and never before have I been so raw and burnt out.

3 months I sat in teaching, feeling like an outsider, feeling like I shouldn’t be there.  Mother’s don’t do this.  My colleagues were already in study groups, they didn’t know me nor I them and I was alone.  Mother’s on TV were doing washing and not letting their babies watch television and steaming sweet potatoes.  Mother’s don’t do this.  They don’t become mothers and sit both specialty training exams in the same year. I cried.  I can’t repeat how much I cried.

And for 3 months my husband, not without his own challenges, got the baby up and fed the baby and changed the baby and played with the baby, rinse and repeat for 12 hours a day.  That precious hour I got with her was a shadow.  I could barely look at his drawn and haggard face, the guilt nearly killed me.  3 months of the most crushing guilt and escalating burnout.

I showed up on the day, exhausted, in something resembling a suit that I’d cobbled together to fit my new odd-shaped body.  My hair has all fallen out from breastfeeding and stress and it was barely passable.  My tights felt uncomfortable.  I walked in there and did my thing.  I forgot to do so many things.  I said stupid stuff.  I ran away in the lunch break and cried some more, somehow there were still tears left.  I listened to the other candidates bang on at each other with nervous excitement.  I sat on hard plastic chairs in a 1970s hospital lunch cafeteria and ate a bad sandwich.  After lunch I did embarrassingly badly, I can hardly think about it.

Afterwards I went and sat in my hotel bar and bought myself a glass of champagne because everyone who’d sat it sent lots of messages to our group about how happy they felt that it was done.  I drank that glass and cried some more.  I didn’t feel happy.  I felt broken and defeated.  And stupid.  Really really stupid.  Only a stupid person would attempt this with a baby and no extra family support.  For the next two weeks I was so sure I’d failed.

And there it was, like stardust.

In my inbox, there it was.  For whatever reason, uncomfortable stockings, imperfect skills and hair and motherhood, I passed.  In spite of it all, I passed.

No one I worked with could ever really understand the self-doubt I felt.  From the outside I seem to have it more-or-less together except for the corridor-tears with my inner circle.  So much has happened since I started this journey in 2013.  More than I want to recount or even think about.  I’m a different person than the one who started.

The further down the rabbit-hole I go the less I feel like I know.  But I know that for what it’s worth, I did this.  I really really did this.  I got into medical school, survived it, and did the physician exams and passed them.   Whatever happened long ago, who I might have been and the things that might have happened just don’t matter anymore, because I did this.  And I can’t wait to get on with my life.

Sunday sessions

Homespa - Rolled

It’s taken me a while to learn that you can’t do anything that’s important to you unless you’re pretty relaxed first.  I’ve taken to making one of my weekend days dedicated to hardcore active relaxing.  Everyone is different – some of my friends can’t relax until they’ve run 20km.  Other’s clean their house.  I like to spend an hour on my skin and hair.  I also realised that relaxing has nothing to do with doing nothing and everything to do with ritual and distraction.  I love chill out and watch TV sometimes, but when I’m really stressed, that doesn’t do anything.  It explains why cleaning, running, hair washing, toenail polishing and what have you do a better job of it.

For my darling friends reading this while studying for their primaries – procrastobaking and cleaning is actually relaxing your mind before it can learn!

Here’s my current ritual for relaxing (it changes all the time, and the products you use only matter insofar as you feel good using them).  My hair and skin are a little on the dry side so a lot of stuff below is geared towards that.

1.  Light a candle.  My current go-to is Diptyque Baies – yes I did pay that much.  After 7 straight night-shifts of horror.  It was worth every cent.  I know it divides the masses but I love it.

2.  Brew some tea.  I love T2’s White Jasmine, and I’d run out of everything else!  I’d probably go for a nice fruit and herb blend though if I’d had it.

3.  Put a twenty cent piece of coconut oil through your hair and massage it in well.

4.  Watch an episode of Scrubs!  I’m rewatching it, it’s immensely cathartic for me.  Or you can just wait for 45 minutes.

5.  I wash my hair (but don’t condition) then clean my face with the Clarisonic Mia and Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple.

6.  After that I put a twenty cent piece worth of the brilliant Terax Crema hydrating treatment through my towel-dried hair – its basically lanolin, then put my hair up in a wrap.  There’s some great cheap hair wraps on Ebay, I have a stack of them!

7.  My favourite fask masque at the moment is the Clarin’s Hydraquench Masque.  Smells amazing and leaves my skin really soft.  I slap lots of that on too.

7.  Time for another episode of Scrubs!  If I really want to dig the relaxation vibe, I use my Meditation Oasis app for 30 minutes and do a guided meditation (they’re brilliant).  If you don’t want to pay for an app, then their free Simply Being app is outstanding (I started with that).

8.  I rinse off the hair treatment and face masque, and condition my hair, then dry it off, comb it out with the Best Hairbrush Ever (my Tangle Teezer) and put it back up in another clean wrap (seriously they’re $3.75 for three on Ebay!)

9.  I use the Endota Spa Green Tea and Pea eye cream, followed by their Bush Honey and Macadamia Skin Drink as a moisturiser at the moment.  Both are lovely and the result of a recent facial + splurge.  I don’t think I can justify continuing to buy the eye cream, but I’ll keep up with the moisturiser, it smells like dessert.

10.  After that I slap on a little bit of coconut oil to the rest of my body – and done!  Life seems a lot easier after all of that.

What do you do to relax?


Happy March

So excited am I upon reading The Happiness Project, I decided to start my own. Coming up with twelve areas to improve my happiness and then creating action tasks for each was fun – I limited it to only three or four – except for the first one but not all of it’s daily.

I’ve always felt like I’ve had less energy than most people. Like there was some magic it genetic reason that people seemed able to do more than me, that I should just rest up and resign myself to the fact that I can physically do less than others. It’s only recently that I realised its not true. Interest and habit make up so much of who you are. My mother hates exercises and avoids doing anything physically uncomfortable. As a single parent her mantra has long been “I’m too tired”, and I realised that “too tired” is often code for “it hurts” or ” I’m scared”, “I cant face it” and a myriad of other things that have nothing to do with bing tired, but masquerades as it. In medicine when someone’s emotional pain is expressed through physical, we call it somatization. It seems a lot more than mere pain masquerades as the physical and unconsciously and through habit, I’ve learned my mothers attitudes.

There is no medical reason why I can’t do as much as anyone else. I’d like to have as much energy as everyone else seems to. It requires a change in attitude and a willingness to experience and live with the physically and personally uncomfortable – but if you can do it, then I can too.

March – More Energy.

    Go to bed at 9.30pm
    Get ready for bed after dinner/exercise
    Exercise 4x a week
    Eat well
    Fix outstanding health issues

I’ll rate how I did for the next month and share with you how I went. You might say that I’m not being specific enough, but I know to avoid fat and sugar, and I don’t really care about the type or intensity of exercise, just that I do it and get into the habit of doing it. The rest will follow.