Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crappy Birthday to Me

I'll be honest, it's been very hard to celebrate today. Today began in a particularly craptastic fashion, what with flunking a practical driving test after I took leave especially so I could take it. (Don't ask.) A fairly minor mishap in the greater scheme of things, but on top of growing a year older, all alone and far away from all the people I would want to celebrate with... the end result wasn't pretty.

It's so much easier to wallow. But as a wise friend recently told me, the only person who can create joy for me is me... and it's something that I have to work on, as well, for the sake of my sanity. And I figured I'd start by trying to change my perspective - at the very least of this day.

On the upside, I did get a whole lot of Facebook greetings from friends from afar, a few unexpected phone calls, and a pizza and pavlova dinner surprise from my surrogate family in Perth to sort of make up for the disaster that was my birthday. In the light of all that, despite my downward spiral into stress-induced depression, things weren't quite so bad.

It's a common wisdom that one of the most effective ways to get a better perspective on life is to celebrate all the things one should be grateful for. Given my propensity for utter negativity these days, I figured tonight - on the eve of yet another birthday - I would make an effort to celebrate the things that I am grateful for.

Here's my (very random) list!

- Both my parents, alive and reasonably healthy, albeit hundreds of miles away
- A warm and supportive extended family, both here in Aussie and in Manila
- A group of friends in my adopted city that has become my family away from home
- A growing number of godchildren!
- A full-time job that lets me earn a decent living
- Having a decent place to stay for a bargain price!
- Living near the water (something I have always dreamed of doing)
- being reasonably healthy - if not as fit as I was a few months ago
- Being alive.

Yes, I have quite a bit to be grateful for.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

When It Rains...

I seem to have lost Girl Power Claire somewhere along the way about six months ago, and I've been struggling to find her ever since.

To be fair, I have had quite a lot to deal with these past few months. You would think that after having pulled myself up by the roots to move to an entirely new country, everything else would be a piece of cake... NOT! I don't know, maybe the pressure of a new job just doesn't agree with me. Maybe I'm just not very good at dealing with change.

Or maybe, deep down inside, I am really just a Type B kind of person playing at being a Type A lunatic.

It doesn't help that at this point, I'm still so muddled about what it is that I really want. It's hard to motivate yourself to a course of action when you're not very clear on what your motives are.

What the heck am I doing here and what am I doing it for?

I feel bad about whining when in reality I am pretty lucky to be where I am... but sometimes, being lucky is relative. All I know is that these days, it seems that all there is is rain... and it's pouring pretty darn hard.

Okay, rant over.


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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beddy-bye Baby Dreams

Just last year, heady with my new-found financial independence and single-woman empowerment, I boldly declared that if by the time I turned 35 I had still not found a suitable partner to start a family with, I was going to have a baby. On my own. By hook or by crook.

I have since then changed my mind.

Parenthood is hard enough to adjust to with a supportive partner, let alone flying solo. There is absolutely no way I'd be able to do the single mother thing. And my hat is off to the courageous women who have managed to pull it off - whether by choice or by necessity.

Don't get me wrong. I love kids and babies. I won't deny that I experience some twinges of baby envy when I see most of my really good friends with their cute little progeny. I wouldn't be averse to having one or two in the future (assuming my eggs meet the deadline) despite my abject fear of the enormous responsibility surrounding raising them. I just don't think I could do it by myself. Well, maybe I could if I had to, but at this point I don't think I really want to.

I really admire women who are able to strike a balance in their lives and pull off "having it all." At this point in my life, I can barely deal with what's happening at work and being able to stay on top of my laundry. Maybe that makes me a shallow single person who refuses to grow up, but chronologic age does not necessarily reflect psychological maturity.

Maybe I'll change my mind a few years down the line, when I've gotten a handle on what it is to be a responsible adult and a better concept of life balance. Until then, I'm happy to borrow my friends' babies for my cuddle-fix - because I know I can easily return them when they become fussy or need a nappy change.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

How the Heck Did I Get Back Here?

It's been more than two years since I decided to get off the medical training rat race for the sake of my own sanity. So what the hell have I done by hurtling myself back into the lunacy that I wisely left behind?

It's been three months since I took the plunge back into the world of acute tertiary hospital medicine. It only took two days into the job to realize that I was back in the same situation that I had flown thousands of miles across the ocean to escape. Only this time, I was starting from scratch in an unfamiliar environment, a completely different system, and completely and utterly alone.

Okay, okay... maybe all the stress has made me prone to exaggeration. After all, I have been working in the Australian health system for more than a year now - albeit in a small, laid-back, and friendly secondary hospital in the capacity of someone just one notch above internship. And I have been lucky enough to make my move up to registrar level in a tertiary hospital that is larger and busier but still small enough to be, in theory, less overwhelming.

But let's be honest here - there is no such thing as "less overwhelming." When you're overwhelmed, you're overwhelmed.

It's hard not to feel like you're drowning when you hear a Code Blue announced through the paging system and have no idea where the heck it is. Or when your page refuses to stop beeping while you're in the middle of figuring out what to do with the latest patient you've been asked to admit. Or when a nurse is reaming you out for not having "a proper plan" for a patient who you haven't even seen yet.

And that was just on my second day.

It's been tough going these past three months. And it's also been all too easy to morph back into the high-strung, maladjusted stress ball that I'd always been. The one whose start of the work day is heralded by palpitations and capped by tension headaches. The one who suddenly wakes up at 4 in the morning and is unable to go back to sleep because all of her patients and their problems are running through her head. That stress ball.

I'm coming to the conclusion that maybe I'm just not cut out for the responsibility of being in the driver's seat. Or maybe practicing medical training is bad for my mental health. Which leaves me in a huge dilemma: because medicine is the one profession where: a)one is absolutely not allowed to stop learning and growing, and b) you can't get any more full on in the responsibility department than dealing with life and death.

Is too late for me to try my hand at becoming a lounge singer instead?
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