Friday, February 27, 2009

something beautiful

It has been fascinating and entertaining and heart-warming for me to 'meet', and converse with bloggers from around the world. I often take comfort from a wise post or comment, I frequently laugh, and I sometimes find myself covered in goosebumps, or close to tears ..... all on account of what others have written. It is a wondrous world out there, and I am now connected to many other people on this earth via the internet.

I met Heather via her blog almost 4 years ago now. What first drew me in was that the things she wrote about parenting just resonated with me so strongly. She sounded like a firm but fun mother. She knew when to enforce the rules, and when to throw them away (like taking her two boys out late to the first night of a long-awaited Harry Potter movie). She knew when to cuddle and pacify, and when to get tough. She sounded like the type of mother I aspired to be. We exchanged comments many times, we began e-mailing, and eventually we became friends. Real friends.

Heather has a best friend named Sharon - an artist who is becoming more and more sought-after. She has had several gallery showings, and in fact has one this weekend. And when Sharon saw a photo of my daughter (from a beach holiday late last year), she had the urge to paint the scene. I told her to go ahead, and was excited just to think she was painting a picture from a photo I'd taken.

And then she SENT me the original watercolour. It is beautiful.

But what is even more beautiful is the generosity of this gift. A woman whom I have never met, who lives on another continent, who knows me only a little, has sent this precious piece of art to me. There was no reason, there was no ulterior motive, she did not ask for any money (and I know for a fact she would have been insulted had I tried to pay). Sharon painted this and she gave it to me, simply because she wanted to make someone else happy.

Sometimes things get me down, sometimes I feel weary with life's trials and tribulations. But every day, if only I take time to notice, there are all sorts of kindnesses shown - thoughtful acts, warm words, or even simply the gentle overlooking of my mistakes by the people around me. I am surrounded by beauty.

I am so grateful not just for the painting, but also for the spirit in which it was given. Sharon, thank you.


Thank you also to everyone who offered words of empathy and encouragement in response to my last post. I was a little in the doldrums, and it meant a lot to me that so many of you took the time to verbally give me a boost out of the pit of self-pity I'd fallen into! Many thanks :-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the error of my ways

I haven't had much to say lately - mainly because my mind's been on other things; things I haven't wanted to talk about. I've been waiting until a cheery topic came along, but I've decided hang it all, I'll write about this.

I made a mistake at work. (Although it is by no means the first time, I still get a small lurch in my stomach just to write these words down.) It was not an error due to lack of care, or laziness. It was not even an error due to lack of knowledge - the type of faulty diagnosis that haunts my dreams some nights. No, this was a simple case of misremembering routine guidelines, getting muddled, being wrong. I gave a patient incorrect advice, telling him that certain steps were not necessary. Thank goodness, due to an inbuilt follow-up system, I discovered my mistake. I have contacted the patient, and revised my advice. I have taken the appropriate steps, and, although the results are not yet final, it seems that the end result for the man concerned will be unaffected. However. What scares me is not so much the consequences of this particular mistake (although I won't truly relax until I know the definite outcome for this patient), but rather the failure on my part. My brain let me down. My brain let this patient down. And however sweet anyone I've told has been - telling me I'm only human, I should forgive myself an honest mistake - the fact is, I did wrong by a patient. Their health could have been affected. It's one thing to be, say, a travel agent, and stuff up a hotel booking for a client, but its another altogether to mess with someone's life expectancy.

Rationally, I realise I cannot be perfect, and that I will inevitably make mistakes. But a voice from the centre of my being shouts You can't afford to make mistakes! Your patients trust you with their very lives!

So what is the solution? How do I make this better, how do I sleep at night? I have recalled all my patients with the same condition in the past year, to check that they have been correctly managed. I have talked over my medical misdemeanour with colleagues; I have confessed to friends. I have felt anxious and uptight and distracted and ashamed. In the end, I can do nothing. I can try to do better, to be more careful, to read more journals. I just try to let the anxiety wear away over time, wear thinner and thinner until it is as fine as gossamer and I barely notice it.

Until the next time.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

five senses on a Saturday

Overheard yesterday (a thirty-something woman talking on her mobile phone):
"Well, I knew this when I married him seven years ago!"

Spotted yesterday - a tiny tot down by the sea, skin brown as a berry, her hair the whitest platinum blond, wearing sequinned gold shoes.

Smelt yesterday - the briny sea air, blowing clean and cool in the late afternoon, despite the heat.

Tasted yesterday.... fresh crumbed fish and fat potato chips.

Touched yesterday - Fatty's warm hand in mine, as we walked out on the jetty, children charging ahead.