A special report from the Special Care Nursery

Guess who got to bring her laptop to work today and get the chance to blog (with coffee in hand!) in the pantry? That's right. This fortuitious Boxing Day, we get to experience the luxury of the ethereal "work life balance" everyone keeps banging on about.

Seasons greetings dear readers,
I am reporting to you live from the pantry of the Special Care Nursery (SCN) on an overcast Monday afternoon, accompanied by a hot black coffee in my grey reusable silicone IKEA cup, and the piercing cold of centralised air conditioning.

Never Have I Ever

Thought I would be able to write a blog post, on my rose gold notebook no less, from my actual workplace. Almost every day now, I complain about the harshness of my reality, the ceaselessness of sick babies, and the rigamarole of rounds. My most commonly used phrase this year has to be "I'm tired of being tired." So why the sudden luxury? The combination of it being a public holiday, and there being too many Housemen working. Boxing Day is a public holiday in Malaysia, and I think the boss in charge of our schedule has everyone working today, which means we'll all be allocated a replacement off day. I am a little bit surprised at this nice gesture because this is the same person who holds us hostage to a timetable that perpetually gets sent too late for any extravagant plans to be made.

Three nurses have entered for their fika and relegated me to the chair next to the sink, and strategically facing the trashcan, almost as some hilariously timed joke to remind me of the dismal state of my existence.

How has your day been?

Earlier today I was seated at the nurse station working on slides for a presentation I have to give on Wednesday. In every department, we have to attend, and at some point, give, lectures in a series called Continuous Medical Educations, or CME. The topics I'm assigned is "Prematurity and Neonatal Hypoglycemia", both important, relevant, and timely to my time spent in SCN the last couple of weeks. I wouldn't normally considering doing this at work but I have to given my (mad) timetable this week.

My night shift is Tuesday, so normally I would sleep and chill the entire day, then be up all night receiving new babies, and sleep to regain my sanity come Wednesday morning circa 9am, but this time around, I'll spend Tuesday morning studying for my mid-posting assessment with one of the Paediatric specialists, then go to work, and after a 13 hour sleepless shift, put the finishing touches on my presentation slides, and give the lecture on Wednesday afternoon. Doesn't that just sound unnecessarily brutal? Sadly this is considered quite normal, but at least I have Thursday off to recover, before one last 14 hour shift for 2022, and beckon the new year with a couple days off. FYI, I take more little vacations more than any other house officer I know, and I love it. Rest is rejuvenating. Sleep is healing.

Anyway, yes, I was seated at the nurse station trying to ignore the symphony of sick baby screams and work on my slides, very occasionally being interrupted by the ringing telephones. This is exclusively the reason almost no one is ever at the nurse station alone. Calls from other wards, hospitals, concerned parents, nosy relatives, the record office, pharmacists, security guards fending off parents outside of visiting hours, and just about anyone with a phone who knows the SCN extension will call asking for information regarding Baby Of XXX, and with at least 70 babies and up to 100 babies, the sucker picking up the phone is then rendered to hunt down this small blob of a being and appease the callers queries.

Most of the time you'll see a group of people sitting at the nurse station, collectively ignoring both the phones ringing thinking, "If I don't answer, someone will, and if no one answers, I am not the sole person to blame." Some people call it lazy or irresponsible, I call it a serendipitous solidarity.

I've taken a break because I'm tired of studying (read: ringing phones), and I thought it was a good time to lean into the idea that maybe, just maybe, with some solid work life balance, I could do it all? I could be a doctor, and also a blogger, and also an aspiring YouTuber, and live a brag-worthy life? I could put the hours into serving my community and doing field work on the conditions I will one day want to improve, while documenting the process on my designated digital platforms?

That way, I wouldn't have to choose either/or, because that's where my mind has been circling the last months. After spending the first two departments shaking my head at my deplorable existence, and then learning how to relax into my new life in the next two departments, I've been wondering what the next step is. I mean, if I don't get extended along the way, I have 10 months of Housemanship left. 10 months! That's no time at all. Especially not for someone like me with a constantly brimming social calendar, and blind determination to kick ass at life.

Questions for Future Seetha

What will I choose as my elective deparment? Emergency or Anesthesiology? Where will I choose to float as a Medical Officer? Where will I apply for my placement? Close to home or somewhere much further away? Will I even continue to work as a doctor for the Ministry of Health, or follow through with the plan of quitting the moment I procure my APC (Annual Practicing Certificate; my license to kill, the ultimate bragging right, and basically the light at the end of the tunnel, or view from the summit, or whatever metaphor answers the "why am I doing this" for you), and go back to freelance writing while making plans to travel the world in my yoga pants? How will I feel about working as a doctor once I've finally finished Housemanship? What if I meet a handsome prince from a far off land that offers me the chance to spend the rest of my life in the pursuit of pleasure?

Oh, my phone just buzzed and it appears my specialist has finally decided to show up for rounds at 4.57pm. If I wasn't meant to be going home at 9pm, I would, in the words of one of my favourite colleagues, have "hit a child."

Merry Christmas everyone.

P.S. That last question was a joke, obviously.

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