Looking from both sides of the fence
- By: Alan Woodall
I knew something was wrong when my father left an answerphone message for me. He hates using the telephone. He is a tough man, an ex-miner and ex-soldier, but his voice was strained with the emotion that he was trying to suppress as he asked me to call home. A second message had been left, more urgent, but more informative. I had just returned home after my first week as a house officer to learn that my mother had renal cancer.
My first week had been exhausting, due to the pressures of work on a busy medical firm and my own inefficiency and inexperience. The first days were spent juggling impossible levels of demand; endless requests from nurses and perpetual bleeps were draining. Despite my ideals, I felt frustration when asked to speak to patients or relatives who “got in the way” of our ward jobs—the endless blood forms to