I really am incredibly intolerant.
I think (I hope) that most people (patients and colleagues) who meet me in a professional capacity think that I am pleasant, relatively patient and sympathetic to their problems, as well as being fairly helpful most of the time. My friends, whom I think (hope) feel that I am a reasonably good and sympathetic listener, know that I nonetheless have a fairly serious moaning habit and that I can be rather bitchy at times. Perhaps the more charitable would say that I do not suffer fools.
My internal monologue, however, is a total bitch. A miserable, intolerant, cantankerous, curmudgeonly old bugger. And it is becoming increasingly vociferous. When I was a bit younger I used to empathise very much with most patients, and people in general, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Whilst I've always had a quick temper, I would generally not make snap judgements about people, and if I was speaking to anyone about a problem I would usually feel genuine sympathy. I also used to be a bit more willing to help people out, do people favours, you know - and I would genuinely enjoy helping on most occasions (even if only for brownie points).
Now? Forget it. Don't get me wrong, I do sympathise with people having a genuinely shit time, e.g. young patients with horrible brain tumours who have months to live (and most of them are just so bloody nice
), but whinging fucking people who really don't have much to whinge about do my fucking head in. And this internal voice of mine is getting louder and louder.
Breast cancer patient (cured, under follow up): 'Right I've made a list of things I need to ask you'...clears throat....
Me: smiling '
Oh, that's very organised of you!'
Internal monologue: 'I'm going to poke my own fucking eyes out.'
Patient: 'When can I start dyeing my hair again? Because I always used to dye it this lovely brunette colour you see, and now it's all grown back kind of grey, and I have this salon I used to go to, and....'
Me: nodding encouragingly...'
Yes, that's a common question'...cue standard speech about hair dyeing post chemotherapy
Internal monologue: 'Do I look like a fucking hairdresser? DO I??!!'
Patient: 'OK, next thing....would it be OK for me to go back to my Pilates class? Because my abs have really gotten flabby and....'
Internal monologue: 'Shut. The. FUCK. Up. And fuck off with your greying hair and your flabby abs.'
A recent telephone conversation with one of the Consultants:
He: 'Layla, are you busy?'
Me: 'Er, yes actually, I'm in clinic with Dr X at the moment.'
Internal monologue: 'Don't you dare give me anything else to do, I've had a bucket of espresso and I can't even hold a pen.'
He: 'Is it a busy clinic?'
Me: 'Well, fairly busy, yes'
Internal monologue: 'How long have you worked in Oncology, dumbarse?! Of course it's a busy clinic, clinics are always
fucking busy, you chuck a wobbly if I just ask you to sign a chemo script when you're doing your clinic because you're so busy, for FUCK'S SAKE.'
He: 'Have you got many people waiting at the moment?'
Me: 'A couple, yes, but do you need me to do something for you?'
Internal monologue: 'Get to the fucking point, arsehole, you're going to make me do something anyway so just FUCKING WELL ASK ME AND STOP WASTING MY FUCKING TIME!'
He: 'They've called me about Mrs So-and-So on the chemo unit, apparently they've lost her consent form so another one needs doing, only I'm busy in planning and you know my registrar's away this week, so....'
Me: 'OK, no worries. I'll nip round now shall I?'
Internal monologue: 'You are a total fucking wanker and I hate your guts.'
It's not just at work either. I was at a conference the other day, where there were a lot of other registrars, most of whom I knew. I saw a registrar wearing a suit and tie, who I didn't recognise. He did nothing but walk past me, but my internal voice said, clear as day:
'I wonder who he is? He looks like a twat.'
I'm a little worried that the internal monologue will externalise at some point and I'll end up seriously offending people. I do tend to be a bit more vocal (some would say nasty on occasion) when I'm drunk. In vino veritas - I really am horrible then.
Possibly the worst thing (or the best, depending on how you look at it), is that for the moment I'm quite good at covering my utter disdain and impatience with smiles and encouraging gestures. The breast cancer patient I mentioned above (who went on to ask me about underwired bras, holidays and dairy-free diets before I spontaneously combusted) seemed very pleased with my demeanour and the way I answered her questions. When I went out to call the next patient after she'd left my room, I overheard her talking to the Breast Care Nurse:
'That doctor is so lovely - will I be seeing her again next time instead of the Consultant?'
If only you knew lady, if only you knew.