I’m much better now (physically) , after recovering from the drama of last week – I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on my daft behaviour.
It’s often said that doctors are the worst patients, and I think that’s true
1. we ignore symptoms that we would take seriously in our patients
2. we have a tendency to bypass impartial medical advice; diagnose ourselves and get help from colleagues in an informal way
3. Most of us find it really hard to prioritise our own health / well being.
All of these things are true of me. Even though I have a lovely GP, and I do consult her about long term issues; when something acute happens, or the correct option is to go to hospital, I try to manage it myself. This backfired quite spectacularly on Wednesday.
I’m fortunate that more harm was not done.
So what of the future. I feel chastened and vulnerable right now, but how will I alter my behaviour? I have two epipens now, and I will keep them in my bag. I will carry antihistamines and steroids. I will probably discus a referral to an allergy clinic for some more up to date testing.
And I will TRY to behave more ‘sensibly’ in the future. At least partially I feel because I compromised my colleagues, asking them for help when I should have been seeking emergency help at the hospital.
Its so easy to minimise things ‘in the moment’ ; and hope that they will just sort themselves out. Longer term things I have taken seriously. like my raised BP – I visited my own doctor and we sorted out medication. But somehow, acute symptoms of illness get brushed under the carpet, under the ‘have to carry on’, ‘can’t take time off’ ‘feel a fraud’ ; this false premise that we , as health care workers, who KNOW what its all about, can therefore control it and carry on without disruption.
Its not that I feel particularly robust, I really don’t. If I were my patient I would have told me to rest and not go to work for a few days. I would have explained that the huge reaction has a whole body effect. The symptoms are caused by the sudden release of chemical substances, including histamine, from cells in the blood and tissues where they are stored. The release is triggered by the interaction between an allergic antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and the substance (allergen) causing the anaphylactic reaction. In this case some kind of nuts – probably Brazil’s. This is not a limited condition It affects your whole body. I was close to shock when my BP dropped. I should definitely have gone to hospital as many people suffer a biphasic reaction. i.e. the symptoms return some hours later.
Its more of a ‘I have to carry on’, and not because I don’t think anyone else could do my job, that I am somehow indispensable; far from it. Its more that I don’t really believe that I deserve the care I would give to others. Deep down.
That’s what a lot of this is about.
Lack of respect for myself. Lack of care for myself. Round and round it goes. Poking out in every area.