Why I left medicine
Rachel Armstrong finds the pressures of being a junior doctor overwhelming
I was chucking my guts up. My fingers down my throat. The pressure inside my head was at boiling point. Outside, the casualty department was in chaos. I was the only doctor on the door. Only a few minutes ago I had been bleeped to clerk in a backlog of desperately sick patients: bleeding bowels, heart attacks, diarrhoea and vomiting, a strangulating hernia, a rupturing abdominal aortic aneurysm. I needed help and strangely found my courage return in the bowl of a NHS toilet.
Having purged myself of all feelings of despair and powerlessness in this battle zone, I calmly returned to casualty with congested membranes, a bloated face, and black lines on my face where my mascara had run. No one seemed to notice. Perhaps everyone else was bulimic too.
Those were black days, trimmed with white corridors and embroidered with the intrusive red light of pagers. On-call weekends