How it all started….

Two years ago I decided to write a book about becoming a doctor. True to form I wrote 50,000 words and then did nothing with it… so, in another bid to avoid the paperwork I’ve decided to look back and see how I felt two years ago. Here’s what I said…


Bleeping haunts every second of my day.

It starts with my alarm that wakes me at some pre-dawn hour calling me to; well at this point it’s calling me to prayer. A rushed and hurried prayer to a nameless god in whom I have no belief, but prayer all the same.

I spend my entire time in hospital praying; praying that no one will crash when I’m on call; praying that I’ll get a cannula into a little old lady’s collapsed and sclerosed veins before I get done for GBH for multiple stabbings, praying that the demented woman in the side room will stop screaming




for long enough for me to call a relative to tell them that their wife/husband/son/mum is dying.

Anyway – back to the bleeping…

Bleeping governs my day – the high pitched alert of an obs machine that indicates a patient’s imminent demise, the scream of the ambulance as it swerves into A&E, the soft interminable bleep of a blocked fluid-giving set… all topped off by my own personal bleeping machine, that goes off once every 5 minutes, and causes me to run to the nearest phone, to be told one of the myriad ways I’ve fucked something up that day. There’s no end to the bleeping. Sixteen years ago I went on a march against the criminal justice bill, holding a banner that read ‘repetitive beats make happy peeps’. If I had that banner now I’d burn it.

Being a junior doctor. No one can possibly imagine the naked white fear of hearing the phrase ‘Doctor – there’s a patient in side room 3 that’s going off. Can you come and sort her out?’, and knowing that the doctor to whom this nurse is entrusting another human’s, possibly short, existence, is you.

Five years ago I was the successful celebrity editor of a best-selling consumer magazine, flying to New York to interview Britney Spears at the top of Trump Tower, and being flirted with by boybands. Now I spend my days filling demented old ladies with IV fluids, and inserting my index finger into old men’s bums.

When I think of how and why I got here, I’m not really sure. I remember a childhood dream to be a doctor, followed by school, and then the wilderness years wandering the planet in an effort to discover what I wanted to do: a round of ‘cheese and wine expert/cleaner on board a hotel barge on the Burgundy canals’ and ‘chalet assistant in the French Alps’, ‘English teacher in Japan’.

Then I remember finally getting serious and getting a journalism career. Six years later I wind up bored and frustrated, and desperate to give something back to the world. Medicine seemed like the answer. Now I’m too tired to even remember the question.

I’ve got precisely two years to master this thing they call medicine. Become a doctor that I’m proud to be. One with the medical acumen of House and the surgical skills of Meredith Gray. I’ve got to gain the skills and the confidence, without becoming one of the doctors that you see roaming the hospital corridors. The ones that are ashen faced with exhaustion and so fed up with medical politics and management bullshit, that they no longer give a toss about their patients, and instead just count the hours until their retirement. In short, I have to achieve the impossible. Here goes nothing….


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