It’s 6.45pm. We haven’t heard from Phil.
The Girl : Is Daddy going to be home in time?
This is the question I get asked about 25 000 times a day and what it means is “Is my favourite person in the whole world going to read my bedtime stories, or will I have to make do with you reading them while The Boy gnaws on your nipple because Daddy isn’t home on time?”
Me: Not sure, let’s give him a call.
So we do. It’s goes to voicemail and we leave a message: “Helloooooooo Daddy! Are you going to be home on time?”
Clearly Phil is still in clinic- the one that’s meant to finish at 5pm and is taking place an hour away from home. So no. He won’t be home on time.
10mins later he calls back.
Phil: I’ve just had a man arrest in clinic.
As crude as it sounds I’m just praying this didn’t happen while Phil was examining him (urologically) – it would be a pretty undignified way to go and I’m not sure how Phil would cope if he thought he had killed a man by putting a finger up his bum.
I take Phil off speaker phone and we chat. It turns out the chap didn’t make it to his appointment, he collapsed in the waiting room and was brought to a clinic room where he had a cardiac arrest. The nurses shouted for help and Phil responded, he did what he is trained to do and tried to resuscitate him. As Phil is telling me this I know he needs to talk about it. It’s not very common as a urology registrar that you have to actually resuscitate someone. Talk about it yes, make decisions about it yes, but not actually do it. So he is a little out of practice and he needs to debrief. He needs me to tell him that he did everything he should have done. He needs me to tell him that he wasn’t the stereotypical surgeon floundering around in a resus situation. He needs me to tell him that it’s ok that he had a moment of uncertainty when he wasn’t sure if he could feel a carotid pulse (which it is- it doesn’t just switch on and off- it can be there, then it’s thready and weak and then it’s gone). He needs me to tell him that that the lady who went to her husbands routine hospital appointment and is now going home a widow, is going to be ok, and that he couldn’t have changed that.
Phil needs me to be his wife and his friend and also his colleague . He needs me to understand what he has just been through, he needs to not have to explain it in “laymans terms” he needs me to just get it. Which I do. I really do. Which is good because most of all he needs me to tell him to get over it and deal with the next patient. Which I do….sort of.
The problem is that whilst Phil needs a wife, a friend and a colleague, our children need their Mummy. I’m attempting to get them in the bath but The Boy has done an enormous poo so I’m trying to take his nappy off – he is covered in poo from his nipples to his knees and he won’t lie still for love nor money. He is smearing crap all over the bath mat, the side of the bath, my hands, the toy he is holding, absolutely everywhere. This is causing The Girl to freak out. She doesn’t want to get in a bath with The Boy covered in crap. Which is fair enough. But she is shrieking it right in my face while grabbing my shoulder, whilst I’m trying to talk on the phone, it’s past 7pm and my patience is running thin. So I snap, and I shout.
“For goodness sake I’m not going to bath you in poo. Now take your clothes off and get in!”
The Girl is now crying. The Boy is still covered in faeces and The Husband has gone pretty quiet.
“Phil, I will call you back”
Moments later the kids are both in the bath. I’ve apologised to The Girl and eventually been forgiven. It’s all slightly calmer.
The Girl however is not happy that she thinks I will have missed a bit and there will be small bits of poo under the bubbles. Again this is a fair point, if I believed in homeopathy there is probably enough poo in that bath to perform a faecal transplant.
But then she scales it up again.
The Girl: Mummy there is poo in the bath!
Me: There isn’t poo, I’ve been through this, I’ve wiped his bum…and everywhere else!!
The Girl: Mummy there is!!!
Hysteria is setting in. And I’m close to flipping out – again. But then, once again she is quite right. Clearly the boy hadn’t quite finished, as peaking out through the bubbles is a sneaky little partially formed log.
…..So I’ve failed today. I couldn’t be the wife, the colleague, the friend that I needed to be. Because, I was trying to be the Mummy I should be, and unless you class bathing children in excrement, I didn’t exactly succeed on that front either.
Welcome home Phil, the bathroomis full of poo, part of your dinner is in a pan (the rest is still in the freezer), the kitchen looks like a bomb site, your tutor has informed you that you need to work over your holiday, your best mans speech for the wedding at the weekend isn’t finished, your wife is hiding in the office trying to revise for an exam (which due to her maternity pay running out, you get the honour of paying for), your several hours late home from work ….oh and a chap unexpectedly died on you today.
So yep. Just another day as junior doctors, living that ‘Moet Medic Lifestyle’ the media go on about.
But after a day like today, especially, after a day like today, we are just grateful that we get a tomorrow, to do it all over again.