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Being in hospital for a life threatening condition is without doubt a significant event in a person’s life. We doctors though, tend to forget that we are also vulnerable to such diseases. I was only 24 at the time, having just finished my final year elective attachment. Still recovering from a bad flu, I could hardly wait for the holidays to finish, as I had my job interviews straight after, followed by the last four months of my student life.
As soon as I went to bed a headache started building up. Within one hour I was screaming with pain, and later on I started vomiting continuously. Two days later I was in intensive care with markedly reduced conscious level, and a heart rate of 30. I had massive cerebral oedema, which kept me in hospital for 32 days! During this very traumatic ordeal I experienced the humiliation of being washed by the nursing staff, fed by relatives, experiencing dysarthria, and suffering from delirium. Every day I could see the sadness, anguish, and fear in my friends’ and relatives’ faces. Every night I would start thinking about how close to death I had been, and most importantly what would happen to my life.
This adventure showed me exactly how patients feel when they are in our hands, and I believe this made me a much better doctor. The most important lesson I learned though was to enjoy life as much as I can, as it may end suddenly, without any warning.—Marios Tryfonidis, PRHO General Medicine, Manchester Royal Infirmary, UK;