I’m Lucky – As A Doctor I Still Get To Go To Work

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cast iron fireplace in doctor's house

I am in my second year of working as a doctor – that is, Foundation Year 2 (F2).

 

When Covid hit in March we were due to change to our next rotation but across the UK all the  doctors in Foundation training stayed where they were – so there wasn’t that added disruption. This meant I did eight months instead of four months in the stroke ward –  which I loved.  Currently, I’m working in psychiatry, which is very different. 

Even though I’ve only worked as a doctor for two years it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t wear gloves around patients. It seems crazy that we didn’t do that before… but that’s the way it was. 

From March to August  I didn’t really see very many people with Covid. Then, I was seeing everything first-hand –  and that obviously has an effect on you. All the patients were tested as they came in and, if there were some  with Covid, they were put into a side room. Thankfully it didn’t spread on the ward. 

At the start, it was very unclear exactly what  PPE you were supposed to wear. You had to get a test to ensure you had the right sized ( highly protective) FFP3 mask.  Then it turned out  you didn’t wear the FFP3 mask all the time, you just wore the usual surgical fluid-resistant mask. We had most of the PPE, apart from the visors, which took extra time to come through. 

lamp with light arc by window

Having worked on a Covid ward  –  and not have Covid – it makes me  feel very secure and that the PPE does work.

Initially, there weren’t any rules about changing before you came home. I would just jump into the car  and  as soon as I got through the  door I would strip. There would be a towel ready to put round me and  I would run upstairs to get showered. I washed my hair every day – which was new for me – and put my uniform into the wash basket straight away, so I didn’t have to touch it. 

On my next rotation there was a rule that you must change before leaving work. That meant changing into casual clothes, bringing your work clothes home in a bag and then getting showered at home. 

 All you can do is to do your best to follow the current rules.

Moving from F1 to F2 is a very short period of time to adjust to more responsibility. I found that tough –  coupled with the fact that Covid had hit the ward. It was very hard seeing not so many people leave the hospital. People  were in for a lot longer,  and you just felt a little bit helpless about what you could do for them. 

There was a lot more pressure. 

On nights… there was some quiet ones, but also a  few nights that were pretty horrendous. So, I have felt the pressure of Covid. I think now that it has got worse and I’m glad to be out of there. But I do feel very sorry for all the people working on the ‘Care Of The Elderly’ ward. It can be pretty relentless.  

In the ‘Care Of The Elderly’ ward every day you try to explain to the patients  why their relatives are not allowed in to see them. Some of them missed their family, but some weren’t really aware what was going on.

It was hard on the patients but –  maybe more so –  on the relatives, especially when the patients were very sick.  Whenever they were on the phone  you could always hear that little bit of tearfulness coming through.  It is very difficult for families.

front door of doctor's house

This house belongs to my parents.

My boyfriend and I had been planning  to move in for quite a while. When Covid hit in March that slowed the building work down, but we managed to finish  it around May.  

Because of Covid, I hadn’t seen my boyfriend for 6 weeks. When we met up on a (very) socially distanced walk I said: –  Why don’t we just set a date to get the house finished and  move in?

So that’s what we did. Two weeks after that it was ready! 

Mum wanted us to wait to get the garden done before we moved in, but I sort of had an inkling that it wouldn’t be done in two weeks. And it still isn’t done. 

The layout is actually quite similar to my mum’s  house.  She ran things by me to see  what I thought, but she made all the final decisions – some that I didn’t quite agree with. For example, we have a skylight in the kitchen which, if you are buying the house just to rent out, is a lot of extra money and work.  But, anytime anyone comes in that’s what they always comment on it.  It really makes the place.

pictures on doctor's mantlepiece

I helped to pick out the colours. We did it all in one night. It worked out really well and we get a lot of compliments…. There’s a nice navy in the living room which goes well with my green plants.

We are very lucky we didn’t have to buy  much when we moved in.

The sofas came from mum’s house –  because  she wanted new ones anyway.  We got a TV  unit donated to us by my old child-minder… a TV given to us from my boyfriend’s dad’s friend …. and a light from my auntie. That’s really all there is in the living room. The table and dining chairs will stay in the house. 

living room at night

It definitely feels like this is our wee house.

We thought we would put a year on it and then start looking to buy our  own place; if we have saved up enough in that time. But… I love this house and I would be happy to stay here for another while. I feel that this is our home and we have put our own wee stamp on it. 

The house is a very open plan, semi-detached house on the bottom of a lovely avenue. It’s lovely and warm, and heats up very easily. The  living room, dining room and kitchen are downstairs. There is also a small bathroom under the stairs and a cupboard space, where we keep all our coats and things.

Outside, there is a little patio area and a  grassy area.

We bought our own outdoor table which meant over the summer, when the weather was better, we could have a few socially distanced get togethers with friends. That was really nice.

Upstairs, there are two decent-sized bedrooms. We have taken the back one – even though it’s smaller –  that’s just because  I like sleeping in the back of the house. I think if you are in the front of the house you hear more traffic – even though it’s quiet here.  You are not looking onto other houses, you can literally just see gardens.

new bathroom in doctor's house

The bathroom is lovely- although we don’t have a bath, much to my boyfriend’s annoyance. He loves  taking a relaxing bath. Because he is currently working from home he  has taken over the other bedroom as his office – so that’s his space.

Even though I love my home, I’m still very grateful that I do get to get out of the house every day. I’m not sure I would cope working from home. I definitely would need something else to focus on because I think your motivation would be quite low if you were stuck at home. 

It’s really lovely coming home every evening and being greeted by my boyfriend, but also  by our little cat – Lucinda –  who  we adopted in August. She is a big part of the house as well. 

She is an eleven year old cat and was in need of a loving home.  We wanted a cat  – perhaps a ugly one, that nobody wanted, because  they would spend the most time in the sanctuary. But, they paired us up with Lucinda. I thought she was too pretty, but they told us about her over-active thyroid which means she needs medication every day. She is no bother, she’s brilliant. 

cat
Lucinda

On days when it’s raining when you can’t go out you can just have a little pet with her. We discovered that she loves tummy rubs… she can’t resist it and will immediately lie down. It’s great to have her around. 

Lucinda has her own little  corner in the house where we have a little table; her litter tray is hidden underneath. I have little coat for her that I put on  when it’s very cold and she wants to go outside.   She’s never out for too long because she’s more of a house cat. 

kitchen window and sink

When we are tidying the house we end up both  doing  it together,  which makes it more fun. We stick some music on and can tidy it within an hour.  It’s great to get it done. I definitely think it’s nicer when the house is tidy.

Without  writing lists we have kind of divided up certain jobs around the house.  It feels very  equal.

Before moving here I didn’t have any interest in plants. Then I bought a Pothos (Devil’s Ivy) –  which is one of the plants you should get  if you are not very good at looking after things. It will sort of look after itself. And, it has done  really well. It’s just kind of spiralled from that. I have about seven or eight lovely plants now –   that’s my thing!

We have quite a collection of framed pictures but haven’t put any up yet. I’d rather have mum come over and decide everything properly. Once we put holes in the wall they are going to be there for everyone else who rents the house. So, we want to have them in really well thought out places. 

bed and lamp

I usually leave the house about 8.30am. I’m very lucky that  I only live about  20 minutes drive from work so it’s really handy – which is another reason why I love it here. 

When I get into work I change into scrubs and see  patients. I am supposed to finish work at 5pm but  I tend to not finish until 5.30-6pm. 

When I get home, I get showered, wash my hair and we will either go out for a walk or make dinner. In the evening to relax we watch Netflix.

We have recently started doing a Wasgij  – which is a jigsaw backwards. It’s  slightly more complicated than a normal jigsaw. You see an image of people looking at something… and that something is  what your jigsaw is. We’ve been working on it for about  two weeks and I’d say we are only about a tenth of the way through it. 

dining area and sofa in doctor's house

Before Covid, every Tuesday we used to go to a quiz with friends and meet up with them again on Saturday. I definitely miss that.

In the first lockdown we were a lot better about organising things and every Saturday we would have a Zoom quiz. That has stopped this time round…I don’t know why. Everyone seems to be doing their own thing, or managing OK. 

I do miss socialising with friends but I am doing a lot more walking than before.

It’s actually quite nice to just have a bit of down time and go outdoors – even if it is freezing outside. It suits me because I still  get the social aspect from work  – whereas that is much more difficult  for other people. I feel I am getting the best of both worlds – at work and at home. I can’t really complain at all.

In lockdown, I suppose it’s just about finding alternative ways to pass your time – like doing the Wasgij.  For Christmas, my mum bought me a sketchpad and paints and I am  going to take an online Zoom class tomorrow night on water colouring painting – which is  probably something I would never have done.  I think other people are looking at trying new things… Zoom yoga. Things like that.

Over the summer we did quite a bit of camping. We had already had  tent but this year we have  used it a lot more because of Covid. Hopefully, when this is all over we will do a few more staycations.

open plan kitchen and dining

Moving into this house together is definitely positive… and very exciting… and fun.  And also, getting  a little cat.  I’m a bit of a cat lover. 

When all this ends…   I look forward to having conversations that aren’t all about Covid – and  getting to see friends in England. 

In work, although conversation tends to sway towards Covid we try to have  a bit of craic outside of that and not  focus totally on Covid.  You deal with it enough during your day so that you don’t want to be talking about it all the time. 

Because of Covid I think people are a bit better about looking out for their friends.

Pre-Covid, people you know could have been struggling  but you’d never know because they were their usual bubbly self when you met up.  With Covid, I find you are  extra aware that you need to check up on people to see how they’re really doing.

bedroom with view out

As a doctor, when Covid  first hit, life was still very much the same for me because  I still had to go   to work every day. I was aware that it was very different for other people, and I’m grateful – I still am very grateful  – that I have that reason to leave the house and go to work.  

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Follow Nuala Rooney:

I am designer, educator and researcher with 25 years teaching/research experience delivering human-centred insights across the social/spatial sphere. My passion lies in exploring people's personal relationships with space across different life stages: design as lived experience.

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