Posted by on June 24, 2014 | 0 comments

Giving The World The Best of You

I once worked with a doctor who absolutely loved trauma. Seriously! At the first sound of a stretcher being wheeled down the corridor at high speed her eyes would light up; she knew that the sound signalled the arrival of a badly injured patient. I knew that sound well too, and it always made my heart sink. Not so for Anna*. She was often the first to drop whatever she was doing to attend to the trauma case. I worked with Anna for just a few months but her passion was unmistakable. I was not surprised when I heard recently that she is now a specialist in Emergency Medicine at one of the leading hospitals in Cape Town. We all have it – that thing that lights us up whenever we think about it. It’s the reason we are on this planet in the first place; it’s the work we are meant to do. I must admit that I didn’t always believe this; I thought I could do whatever...

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Posted by on June 17, 2014 | 0 comments

When Doing What You Love Isn’t Loved

There is no doubt in my mind that most people believe – in principle anyway – that we should all do work we love. It’s an ideal many of us subscribe to, though only the minority think it’s actually possible. But sometimes I get the impression that it’s only okay for certain people to do what they love. This weekend I had the opportunity to be interviewed at the South African Book Fair, an annual event that celebrates books, literature and publishing in South Africa. The discussion revolved around my memoir, Postmortem – The Doctor Who Walked Away, and my reasons for leaving the medical profession. I got the distinct impression from some of the questions that the decision I made was “just not okay”. The interviewer went so far as to say that she was angry with me as she felt that I had let down not only the medical profession and my patients, but also women and Black people in general! I doubt an engineer would get...

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Posted by on June 10, 2014 | 0 comments

Money Back Guarantee

When I started out as a writer I had nothing going for me except the desire to write. My training was so deeply entrenched in the black-and-white world of science and medicine that I wasn’t even sure I’d know how to be creative. But I didn’t let that stop me. I enrolled on writing courses and I got writing. And writing. A lot! The first rejection letter was devastating. For a while I thought they’d made a mistake because I was so sure my efforts would be rewarded. I’d worked so hard, put so much energy into my writing. Didn’t they know how much I wanted it? That initial disappointment stayed with me for some time, but after a while it began to ease, and I got stuck into my writing again. I cannot even begin to describe what it was like when I opened that email that said: “Congratulations…” We’ve all grown accustomed to the money back guarantee. We spend freely on all sorts of items, knowing we...

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Posted by on June 3, 2014 | 0 comments

The Problem With The Blame Game

Often when things go wrong we want to find someone or something to blame. This job/relationship/flat screen TV hasn’t lived up to my expectations, so someone has to pay! There may even be a clearly identifiable culprit so we feel justified in pointing the finger. As valid as it may be to point out where others have failed to honour their responsibilities, blame is ultimately disempowering. When I was writing Postmortem I was conscious of the need to take responsibility for the actions I took and the decisions I made during my time as a doctor. Sure, I worked in trying situations, but what did I do about it? What did I decide about my job, environment and career? How did I choose to interpret what was going on around me? Others faced similar or even worse challenges, yet they made different decisions. I think it’s precisely because I chose to approach the writing of the book from this angle that it became a valuable healing exercise for me....

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