What’s Up Doc? 


I’m trying to do some e-learning in my lunch break at work. The computer doesn’t seem to have sound. I click on the speaker icon a couple of times and acknowledge that’s the extent of my technological skills and I call IT.  

“What’s up Doc?” They ask. 

So I explain and in response they send down the new, young, awkward (dare I say it, stereotypical) IT guy to my room. He comes in, makes very little eye contact and attaches some cables. There is no small talk or pleasantries.  
“That should work now. I will just press play” 

Which he does. On the screen is a role play scenario between a clinician and a patient. I had however, ramped up the computer to full volume (when it didn’t work instantly for me the first time) and  sure enough he has fixed the problem so the consultation comes booming out of the speakers: 

“I just can’t get it up doc, we kiss and cuddle but then it all goes wrong…” 

The module I’m studying is psychological sexual dysfunction. The man (or maybe ‘boy’ would be more accurate) hurriedly clicks pause- several times in his panic- resulting in a stop start continuation of the audio torture. He is mortified. Horrified. He can’t speak and appears to also not be able to move as he is still lunging over the desk staring at the screen in dismay. He remains this way whilst the awkward silence continues.

“Thanks! It sounds like its working” 

I say in an effort to bring the most awkward moment of this poor geeky IT chaps life to a close. Then before I can stop myself I continue:

“Although thats not what he was saying eh?!” Pointing to the computer screen while internally screaming ‘why why why did I just say that?!’.

My effort at humour did not help the situation. He blushed an even deeper shade of red, developed a panicked sweat and literally ran out of my room without saying a word. 

I just hope he never has to be the patient in that consultation. Although I fear I may have traumatised him so significantly he might be…. 

Public Parenting Politics…


I get that everyone parents differently, I’m in no position to judge. There are definitely times when I’m absolutely not winning parenting awards and occasions when I’m barely parenting at all. However. When I say I’m not judging… 

The Girl has swimming lessons. 8 kids in an old school swimming baths, teacher in the water, arm bands all round, parents sit on benches next to the pool. You get the the picture. 

Parents generally sit on the side, perspiring, passing the time of day, some checking their phones, others lightly snoozing, or like me, chasing after a newly wandering baby (who I know isn’t really a baby anymore but I’m damned if I’m gonna accept it). 

 All except Billy’s mum. Billy’s mum doesn’t sit down. Billy’s mum paces the side like an Olympic swimming coach. Billy’s mum is rather vocal. And because of this, every other parent knows that Billy’s mum is “so proud”, we all know that Billy “is the most amazing swimmer ever” (an awkward declaration in front of 7 other “swimmers”), we are all aware that it was “really amazing swimming” when Billy didn’t sink, despite him having arm bands, a woggle and kick board – it would have been more of an achievement if Billy had managed to sink with such an array of floatation devices. 

Now, I know it’s a bit catty, I don’t know the ins and outs of Billy and his mums life (other than how accomplished Billy is at preschool and how much he excels at football, running, and everything else) and I KNOW I shouldn’t be, but I am so intensely irritated by Billy’s mum.

At the end of the class there are 3 showers and 8 children. Billy is one of the first ones in (obviously – he would be, his mum cheer leaded him in to it from the poolside), and Billy’s mum is waxing lyrical to anyone who will listen about how great Billy is. 

Billy says “Mum, I’m going to do a wee”. This is witnessed by 5 waiting children and at least 6 of the parents. One of the parents who didn’t hear is Billy’s mum. Billy’s mum is still vocalising her sons success. So she misses it the first time he says it and also the second time. She also misses it when Billy pulls down his shorts, takes his willy out and starts sprinkling the shower floor, and the poolside with his chlorine water diluted urine. In fact, Billy’s mum only notices when she gets a warm, wet foot. 

Billy’s mum is mortified.

Inside there is a tiny bit of me smugly enjoying the fact that this perfect little boy with his perfect mum is absolutely, totally, 100%, normal. 

Obviously at this point I do the right thing. I drop a classic line “boys will be boys” and follow up with some small talk my urology husband tells me when I question the amount of time The Boy spends playing with his todger. “If boys weren’t meant to mess with their boy bits then they wouldn’t have been made with them at hand height”. 

So, Billy’s mum just learnt that that kids make sure that pride comes before a fall. Billy’s mum, being the way she is, clearly feels more mortified about this than most. 

So, then on reflection I feel guilty about how annoying I find her. I decide over the next week that I will not be annoyed by her over enthusiastic parenting, and will instead recognise that I’m maybe slightly envious, as this highlights my own shortcomings as a parent.  

But then the next lesson comes. And Billy’s mum won’t sit down. Or shut up. And “Darling Billy” is still the “best swimmer ever”. Even if he does publicly pee all over his mother. 

Well, that’s unconditional parental love right there. So I guess Billy’s mum is alright really.  Just wish she would pipe down, because clearly The Girl is “the best swimmer ever”…

Under Pressure…


The exam is done. Well the first attempt is complete. And no. I don’t know how it went. It was an MCQ, and I’m human, so out of the 200 questions I answered, I keep remembering the 3 I got wrong. I could have got all 197 others correct (I didn’t, but theoretically I could have) and I would still only remember the 3 astoundingly irrelevant ones. I could have revised day and night for a lifetime and I would still never have got those right. 

Now, in my younger days before children and responsibilities when my time was my own and how hard I worked was down to me- I would be anxious about the results- could I have done a little bit more? Should I have done those extra few questions? Should I have approached it differently? But now. Well, what will be will be.

If I pass it’s because I am amazing. It’s because I worked so blinking hard. Its because I arrived an hour early for work and my lunch breaks were spent alone in my room reading NICE guidelines and the BNF. It’s because I put the kids to bed each night and hid in the spare room answering question after question. It’s because I packed off my children to any willing relative and knuckled down with the cool kids in the library. Its because I sat down with the GCSE and A level candidates and the uni students. Its because I sat surrounded by top knots and high tops, exposed mid drifts and teenage angst. Its because I sat opposite the younger version of me, and watched as she shared her pens with her boyfriend, swapped medical books with each other and had lunch lying on the grass outside together. 

Its because I wondered. I wondered what the hell possessed me to still be doing this. Why 12 years on I’m sat in the same library revising again but this time on my own? Is this really what I signed up for? Didn’t I work hard enough when I was younger? Could I not have taken an easier option? Could I not do something else? 

No. No I couldn’t. I know nothing else. And so, I got on with it. I gave it my best shot. Therefore, if I pass, it’s because I am ace. 

Well, that and the fact Phil put his work on hold and didn’t once moan about the fact that he was bottom of my priority list, my mum basically moved in for a week and became my house keeper and chef, I let the neighbour mow my lawn, I paid a lady to clean my house, a man to cut back the garden, my sister in law took the children to play group, my dad taught The Girl to ride her bike and picked her flowers that made her “sooo happy” when I couldn’t, making my heart swell and break in equal measure. 

They say it takes a village and I’m incredibly lucky to have mine. 

And if I fail? Well, I tried. I did my best. 

So yes, being a working mum and revising seems pretty tough. So many people have remarked on how challenging it is to do all this with kids. But in some weird way it actually makes it easier and less stressful. Somehow having children gives some perspective, a limit to how self absorbed I can be, and constant reminder of the bigger picture. 

The Girl told me today, “Mummy you’re going to be a winner, you have worked so hard, you’re going to be a winner”. So I may not have learnt enough to pass this exam, but it looks like The Girl learn something pretty important. 

Then she puts on the toy stethoscope and tells me she is going to be a doctor. Actually, maybe she learnt nothing at all… 

It’s Complicated…Or Is It?!


So, what with everything going on in the world and International Womens Day happening, I found myself thinking about my values and opinions regarding feminism. Now, I’m not a raging bra burning feminist or anything but I’m a strong believer in women’s rights. Like I am in men’s rights. And in fact most other rights. So I guess you could say I’m all for equality. 

Now fear not, this isn’t going to turn in to some political blog – I’m astoundingly ill educated in politics (unless it involves the NHS, in which case you just can’t shut me up some days!) so I would only embarrass myself if I attempted it. But I thought it would be interesting to get The Girl’s view on the world. So I thought of a whole series of questions I was going to subtly slip into conversation to explore her take on the crazy world we are living in. First question….

Me: Are boys and girls the same? 

The Girl: Yep…. But boys have willies. 

And she wanders off to tuck up her large plastic roaring dinosaur in its pink fluffy blanket for a nap. 

Right then. That’s that sorted. 

The Working Week: Part 2

Thursday : A smooth start to the day. I’m now a pro at making breakfast in the lounge with the make shift kitchen I fashioned, and my mother has dutifully maintained and stocked. The bags were packed the night before, lunch is in the fridge, the car has fuel, we are out the door. I’m snotty, in a big way, I’m coughing at all the wrong times during the practice meeting and I’m 100% more ill than some of the patients I see today. 

I opt for a take away instead of another microwaveable meal. My dad – part of the 4th emergency service – declines. He spends the evening in the bathroom, not in the recreational sense. He takes to his bed and we don’t see him until I am summoned to his bedside to answer his medical questions regarding throwing up his tablets. I make up a sensible answer, shout it at him (as he has taken his hearing aids out) and steer clear- a cold is enough for me just now. 

Friday: Phil is on Call. Again. But I don’t even notice. I have no work, I survived and more importantly so did the kids. So now with a genuine sense of joy I get to go in to full mum mode. Nappies, snot, tantrums, swimming lessons, food slinging, and being mauled are all welcome. 

The grandparents don’t depart until the evening as my dad wanted to ensure that his tummy upset has fully passed before they set off on their 2 hour drive. Unexpected faecal incontinence is not desired by a man who insures his wife on his car but won’t let her drive it for fear of her “disrespecting” it. 

Whist still feeling thoroughly crappy and full of cold I’m doing good. I finally have a kitchen sink, the men are all leaving today and after nearly 3 years of living in the most dysfunctional 1980’s kitchen, I now have most of a modern-currently-still-dysfunctional-but-at-least-no-longer-with-a-1970s-serving-hatch kitchen. 

I head to bed with slight feeling of contentment, possibly achievement (and some blocked sinuses). But we have been here before, I know when I’m feeling like this, it’s too good to be true. This is when a child is going to shatter my world. 

Enter, The Boy. 

Vomiting.

All over everything. Cot sheets, teddies, sleeping bag, jammies, him. All need washing. I eventually faff around, get him cosy and snuggle him up all clean and dry.

For about a minute. And then round two commences. This one getting all of the above and me. Despite being a medical professional I have never been great with vomit so whilst I’m retching away I decontaminate myself and him, as quietly as possible, and pray that The Girl doesn’t wake up. 

Once again we get ourselves sorted, we are clean and dry, and shattered. The Boy is trying to drop off to sleep again. Realising I only had one sleeping bag left I decided not to put him in it just yet. Which was just as well. 

He hurls again, splattering the bed we are sitting on, him, me, anything else near by… The vomit is also bright red thanks to jelly he demolished at tea time, it’s starting to resemble some sort of a horrific crime scene in his lovely pastel coloured nursery. Where was he storing all this? There is definitely more volume being projected from him than could possibly be stored in his tiny body. 

Fortunately at this point I hear the front door shut. Either we are being burgled (in which case I’m pretty sure they are going to turn right around when they see this) or by some sort of divine intervention Phil has actually come home, and his timing is perfect. I text him. 

“HELP”

There is a momentary delay in his reply so I continue. 

“NOW” ….. “PLS” 

I have never been so pleased to see him. Together we deal with the devastation and pop the first of several washes on before he heads to bed. He is still on call and will be for the weekend.  

Saturday: The wash didn’t flipping work. The machine is full of water so I can’t get the door open. 

I google like a maniac and conclude that my waste pipe is blocked. I proceed to drain the washer via a tiny tube at the front like the Internet told me to, which involves filling a frying pan and then tipping it in to the drain and repeating about 400 times. The frying pan is not the ideal tool I recognise that, but due to the upheaval of the new kitchen I can’t access a more appropriate receptical.  

Eventually, I’m able to move the washer forward to find a kinked and now (thanks to me trying to straighten it out) cracked waste pipe. I’m up to my knees in vomit covered garments and no functioning washing machine. 

Someone get me a mangle and a bar of soap – I’m gonna do this old school style…..Actually, no. No, I’m not. There are still chunks of sick and it smells horrid. 

So I attempt to, whilst trying to entertain and feed the kids their breakfast, attach a new waste pipe. To my untrained eye, it appears to work. So prior to stepping outside to burn my bra and perform a victory dance, I pop a wash on. 

…..It wasn’t quite the raging success I was hoping for. Turns out there is a reason that we have washing machine repair people. The waste pipe connecter I fashioned failed, so the washing machine leaked all over the floor. On the plus side once I wade through the foamy ocean spreading even further as I watch, at least I can open the washing machine door…Which enables me to discover the the new pillow case from The Boy’s bed has turned the whole entire wash a lovely teal colour. Yep. Of course it did. 

So, in true GP style as per my eportfolio requirement, here follows a reflection summary: 

What happened? 

A Sh*t storm hit. 

What happened next? 

It carried on. 

What did you learn? 

How to drain a washing machine, and, incidentally, what bullnose architrave is. 

What will you do differently in the future? 

Buy a lottery ticket. 

The Working Week: Part 1

My first week back at work happened. It’s complete and it was a joy. Now I’m back in the throws of being a GP trainee it’s only right I should reflect on what happened. 

Monday: Following on from a rough night I wake up with a sore throat and raising anxiety levels. The day is tantrum central thanks to The Girl, well thanks to me really, I mean why would I insist that she wear knickers?! Phil is on call, he like the rest of us had a cold. We waved him off from our lounge-cum-kitchen at 7am. The table at the back of the lounge is set up with toaster and the kettle and a box of food, all positioned as centrally as possible as apparently The Boy has grown his arms for the occasion and can now reach all but the very middle of the table. 

The kitchen men arrived at 7.45am and are greeted by me in my snot stained leisure wear and directed to the 1980s kitchen to rip everything out. I’ve packed the biscuits away and don’t have much sugar in the jar so I appear to be providing a little a health promotion to my rather rotund kitchen team. This is not well received so I ferret around and manage to dig out a box of chocolates from Christmas and allow them to indulge themselves. Their type 2 diabetes isn’t my problem but the cost of this job is and the bill is in their control…

The self proclaimed ‘4th emergency service’ AKA my parents arrive in the afternoon. Noise, mess, dust, disease, no kitchen sink and a house full of men requiring infinite tea rounds welcomes them. I could tell they were delighted. 

My evening is spent digging around to find various proofs of address and photo IDs, as the little darlings at the Deanery have lost all the documents I sent them months ago. They only thought to tell me the day before I return to work despite my 5 enquiries prior to this. 

I also appear to have lost my stethoscope. Fortunately being married to a urologist means there is a spare unused one to thieve. I’m prepped. I’ve eaten take away and I’ve laid out everything I possibly can. All I need now is a good nights sleep….

Tuesday: Phil is on call again. He did come home at some point after I had gone to bed last night so it can’t have been too bad. I have had 4 hours sleep in preparation for my first day at work, thanks to a, presumably, teething boy and an ’emotional’ girl. 

We do however, against all odds manage a successful departure from house involving single handedly getting both children dressed and out the door in time to arrive at work which is quite the achievement. There were times in the past when my achievements were getting a central line in or placing a chest drain successfully, now it’s leaving the house….Cheers kids. 

The Boy cries as he is abandoned with strangers (albeit with full DBS checks) at nursery, I keep it together and at the risk of looking uncaring I promptly turn my back and walk out, with a smile on my face and a nauseous, guilty, heartbroken feeling on the inside. The Girl wants to know why we are leaving her baby brother in tears. I ignore the question and bundle her in to the preschool room. 

Wednesday: I woke up alone. Inconveniently some chap had a testicular issue over night so as a result Phil left in the small hours and once the task was complete he opted to catch 40winks in the on call room. 
I tell Phil later that I wish I had an on call room to go have an hours kip.

“It’s a plastic mattress in a cold room, of borderline cleanliness – you don’t”

I explain it’s preferable to a memory foam mattress covered in snot and being shared with 2 huge, bony starfish with a soundtrack of screaming. He doesn’t reply and we continue in our marital bliss.

Anyway, hearing that we are a man down The Boy kicks off the day with a vomit at 6am secondary to the mother of all coughing fits. It’s everywhere, so an early bath is required. The Girl is waving around a vomit stained stuffed panda shrieking about the fact that HER panda was in the cot and fell victim to the spew fountain (to be fair she has a point but The Boy loves it and when he was throwing a wobbler in the small hours I gave it to him). Granny was called into action, this was not a one man job.

I decided once we were all sorted that I would offer him a bottle – huge mistake. He is at this point starving and guzzles the bottle (he’s a newbie to the bottle as time pressures mean I’m claiming the baps back – in the morning at least) so subsequently he vomits all over him, me and the sofa. Last minute costume changes are required. We eventually get out the door, leaving Granny to deal with the vomit and the washing. Grandad hasn’t put his hearing aids in yet, so he is entirely oblivious to what waits downstairs for him.

I drop the kids off (The Boy continues to try and break my heart with his distraught cries) and get to work.

 I complete yet more paperwork and get told for the 4th time in two days how lonely being a GP can be. 

Compared to home this week, ‘lonely’ is actually a bit of welcome break. At one point today I heard genuine silence. Just for a moment – while I tried desperately to find the right icon to magic a prescription, but it was there, pure silence. 

Pretty sure the patient didn’t appreciate the silent (possibly long enough to be a little awkward) delay to their day, but I certainly did. 

Hi Ho Hi Ho…

Dinner conversation tonight with The Girl:

“Mummy you’re going to work tomorrow?” 

“Yep”

“Mummy, do you love work?”

“Erm, well I like work, and it’s important that I do work.” 
“Mummy which do you love more, work or me?”
“Hands down you, easiest question ever, definitely you.”
“Well then why can’t we stay at home together tomorrow instead?”
And with that, all my composure and pretence of taking things in my stride has gone. I’m broken. Officially broken. 
No one ask me if I’m feeling ok tomorrow. 
I will definitely cry. 
Whilst being very British about it and answering “I’m fine, I’m fine” and desperately searching for the nearest loo to weep in…