sleep deprived’s diary – 32 yr old mother of 1 starting surgical training

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    Dear diary,
    having just latched onto this site 2 weeks ago i’ve enjoyed perusing the topics and am finding many common themes that i can totally relate to.

    i thought i’d start writing some diary entries more for myself to keep track of the ‘experience’ and as a good way to look back and reflect on time passed. besides, for the premeds or those making career decisions it is also very helpful to see things from another’s angle.

    i’m 32 yrs old, have a beautiful 5 mth old baby girl and have been married for 9 yrs.
    i started out as a PT and then after working 5 yrs in the U.S. my husband and i moved back to australia and i began medical school. All along i have been very interested in pursuing a career in orthopaedics.

    I graduated from medical school 2 yrs ago and am just starting my 3rd year out now as a basic surgical trainee which is a 2 yr programme where you work as a resident/registrar in mainly surgical rotations and study for the surgical primary exams. i’m now in the 2nd week of this ‘programme’ and my first rotation is ICU – its a very busy time.

    I am currently finding the juggling between being a mummy and a junior Dr very difficult as i am at home running around trying to fit in all the things that a mummy (mommy) needs to do and then i go to work and have to do all the running around, trying to stay on top of everything and knowing what is happening everywhere at once that a junior Dr is expected to be doing.
    Its not fun at the moment – i think it is a combination of the hours, missing family, great expectations (the beginning of my ‘surgical’ career and i’m doing less this year than i would have done previously – go figure!) and the realization that this could be the beginning of a very long and arduous journey – is it something i need to continue – would i have regrets if i didn’t continue?

    So – currently doing some soul searching and creating a diary seems like a good way to start as i can look back and compare as the months go by.

    I have a very supportive husband but he has been very honest and admitted that he knew i’d be away but not this much and also didn’t realise how that would impact us as a family unit. We’ve recruited the nanny to do some extra hours while we ‘get our feet on the ground’ and that has been a fantastic help. I do think our lives would function a hell of a lot easier if I was around more – besides things would be a lot more fun!

    Unfortunately, i do not know any other women who are in my situation right now. Surgery is still a very male dominated profession here and i have no problem with that but it would be nice to be working alongside a couple of other gals who are also married/mothers etc. to share the journey with.

    finding this site by sethina has been just what i’ve been looking for…..thankyou!


    dear diary,
    back again! i’ve been meaning to write sooner but…..time has been in limited supply ++
    Well, I’ve survived at least 7 weeks of this icu term now – the lack of teaching is the most surprising thing for me. Rudeness from my bosses does not surprise me although of course it disappoints me. There truly is no inspiration to be found in this particular department.
    The patients themselves – well, there have been some interesting cases along with the many routine post-ops that head to icu for monitoring post CABG or post VAT for lung lobectomies/biopsies etc.
    My procedural skills have equated to being allowed to prep and start putting in 2 CVL’s – only to be taken over by the bosses due to their lack of patience more than anything rather than patiently guide and teach me how to get it in! Not too worried about it – my friend at another hospital doing same rotation has only done about 30 by now so is starting to feel extremely proficient at that particular procedure – obviously learning on the job is so situation specific.
    The nurses have been the saving grace and have helped me maintain my sense of humour when getting blasted for things that i have had no control over – it really has been quite unbelievable their moodiness and lack of ‘respect’ for another member of their staff – i have often asked questions at appropriate times to be told ‘well, that is just the way we do it here’. Time will pass – i’m in the middle of yet another week of night shift so am looking forward to the next days off!
    I’ve organised to fly back to San Francisco on tuesday as the Ortho Int’l conference is on – I used to live there and a lot of my friends from my old job as a PT are taking the week off to attend parts of the conference and I will also have time to catch up with them and they can meet my baby!
    Basically, can’t wait – also am hoping to get inspired again – I realise that my current terms have nothing to do with my eventual career path but do miss bub while i’m away (and hubby as well).
    Also, have ordered and just received some good books from amazon that were recommended on this site – this side of doctoring, woman in a surgeons body and complications – surgery an imperfect science. Lots of short stories so I am bouncing around between the 3 books at present while i’m on shift at night.
    There have been some interesting cases and I’ve enjoyed tracking the progress in some of those…….all good to do when inspiration is just not being found.
    Oh well, i’ll keep slogging on – have 8 days in san francisco to look forward to in the immediate future (travelling with bub straight after night shift will be interesting but being received bvy good friends at the other end…) and then not long after that and I will be moving onto new rotations although it will still be shift work.

    :goodvibes: I love feeding baby still – it is one of the most comforting things to come home and do when you’re totally exhausted!
    I think I’m going to survive.
    thank god my husband has been so supportive – it is a long time since we’ve had true time out together – he won’t be able to come to san francisco because of his work schedule but once i get back we are going to focus ++ on our little family unit. It truly is the #1 priority for me over work – that is becoming clearer and clearer to me as the days go by – he suggests I slow down the search for ‘answers’ and keep going and let the answers present themselves to me.
    so here we go….onward and upward! :grouphug: 😉


    I enjoyed my time away – it was the best thing to do to step back, and see life objectively for what it was.
    Instead of being super woman I became wonder woman – ie. I wonder why I am doing such long long hours at work for very little (at present) reward – I do not mean financially here, either. I wonder why I am missing out on the things that mean the most to me? That is, my family and I wonder why I continue to pursue my ‘original’ career goals at the expense of all of the happy and exciting things that are happening in my life right here, right now?!!!
    Well, wonder no more – I came back – gave the nanny notice – that was the smartest thing i’ve done in a long time…. then we interviewed some more and after meeting and chatting with various others i told my husband that i thought i would apply for the job myself! ie. No more surgical training for the current time and I would get to spend time with him and baby again and enjoy watching my happy healthy baby grow as well as take some time to look after me – the chief nurturer in our household who ended up being too busy nurturing others with absolutely not a drop left of energy or time to spend nurturing myself.
    So, I handed in my resignation last week. I have no option to train on a part-time basis and at that do not know of anyone else in a similar position who could potentially jobshare down the track.
    Of course I have mixed emotions as I am letting go (just at the present, this may not be for ever) of my professional dream yet also relief++ of b eing able to fully experience my personal life again.
    My husband and I had not had dinner together for several weeks due to the timing of my shifts and had our 2nd weekend together as a family last weekend. We didn’t do anything overly exciting but it was so great to get up and get the papers and make brunch to eat on the back deck on a saturday morning.
    For us it really is enjoyment of the little things right now – a lot of change is happening once again. (life is never dull in our household)
    so – who knows what tomorrow or next week/month/year shall bring?
    It’ll all fit into the big plan and for now I have the ‘fun’ factor back in my life and more satisfaction than i have felt through my work thus far.
    I’ll continue the blog as i can though as I am still a momMD – or should i say MumDr as we call it over here………….


    Ah! Am catching up on some sleep and starting to feel more human again. It is so good to feed my baby and just sit and enjoy the experience rather than rush her or try to do 3 other things at that time. This is what I need – for a while… I know it won’t be for ever which is all the more reason to enjoy it now.

    Because, as everybody keeps telling me (and I get so sick of hearing it but it is so true) – they are only this little once so enjoy every second!

    When I called one of the training supervisors to tell her that I was disembarking from the training treadmill she was quite candid with me. ( Which I do appreciate as I have always liked a person who tells you what they truly think as opposed to what you want to hear at the time.)
    She said that she considered having a baby and training in surgery to be a conflict of interest.
    I did disagree with her – if I had more support ( and I think the answer would be to hire 2 nannies that tag team each other with me as then you wouldn’t have 1 nanny that refuses to do the difficult hours) I know it could be done. However, being practical also steps in here – with one nanny I did not have enough help when I needed it and it was already starting to cost me to go to work. For how hard I was working it was ludicrous and I did feel like I was trapped in the middle of some kind of ridiculous joke. Anyhow, I did point out to her that there are women out there practising surgery that have children – obviously it wouldn’t have been easy for them but as a general rule the majority would have had their babies towards the end of their residency and most after they had finished their specialty. That would make things far less stressful and your work peers more accommodating as you were on a similar par to them so could call some of the shots rather than being the gopher resident trying to do all and missing out on pumping for a whole shift, for example.
    For me, I felt I was majorly missing out on the daily moments with my daughter – maybe i would feel different if this was my 2nd baby who knows?
    Obviously the maternal feelings that I have are way stronger than i thought they could have been and who was to know that one year ago?! That is part of the beauty of life – it is so unpredictable!
    So, I have applied to defer until next year which gives me time to really think. Deferring is not traditionally accepted – ie. they tell me they have never approved a deferral request before. I can only but try them.
    The college of surgeons is such a staid organisation and way behind the times. I know they say they want women in surgery but until they make it somewhat more comfortable than walking over hot coals to participate if you have family its just not going to be a viable option for many women to even consider let alone participate. Their loss is all I can say – as we all know, there are a helluva lot of good women out there who could do a very very good job in the right circumstances.
    Oh well – was my birthday today and got to enjoy a lovely lunch with my family at a local restaraunt. How lucky am I?


    thankyou so much for the words of support they really were lovely to receive :twocents: worth when warranted. Its so good to find such a diverse group of women that do understand because they’ve lived it and breathed it themselves. :grouphug: thankyou!


    the good news is that I no longer consider myself ‘sleep deprived’ – I must mail sethina and find out how to change my log in name now that i’m not so doggone tired!!!!
    was a great weekend – caught up with loads of friends that I just haven’t had time to see for months and months – weather was beautiful – it was just great to hang and catch up as there was so much to catch up on!


    April is coming to an end already! Time really is passing quickly – little Missy is ready to crawl – gets up on all fours and rocks backwards and forwards practising lifting up diagonal arm and leg – it really is as if she is doing her exercise routine in preparation for the real thing.
    mental note: ” must get those gates up ”
    Our house needs some major childproofing – and of course we’re going to probably have to have it all done by the day after tomorrow she is just so ready to take off.
    Well, I still haven’t heard back from our College of surgeons – it does not surprise me though!
    No plans have been made yet – I’m still just enjoying the days….

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