Severe headache, blood shot eyes and the all too familiar siren of the iPhone alarm drilling into my skull. It felt like I’d only been asleep for 5 minutes. Thirteen snoozes later I finally realised that my friend had stayed the night and was asleep next to me.
Quietly I crept out, jumping over the empty glasses from the night before. It hadn’t been a party night, just the only time the stars had aligned and we had all been available. We’d spent the evening chatting on the sofa, watching fireworks from my 16th floor window and listening to Drake; a GP, an A&E doctor, an anaesthetist and a surgeon, each too flat and flaccid after a long days work to do anything else.
A quick turn-around later I had concealed the bags under my eyes and was on the road to work again. As if by muscle memory I hit the radio 1 button and heard the, too-cheerful-for-the-time-of-the-day, sound of Nick Grimshaw! Usually by the time I have driven out of my garage, chirpy Grimmy has been vetoed for a more subdued, mood appropriate, smooth FM (or the “wake up” playlist on my phone.) But not today, Grimmy cheerily went on and on about Coldplay, the new number 1, clipping toenails and plucking eyebrows…I didn’t care. I’d forgotten how much I loved his show and found myself laughing uncontrollably to myself. Whatever was the matter with me? I had been an avid radio 1 listener ever since I’d learnt to drive 13 years ago, but lately hadn’t been able to stand the cheery disposition of morning radio. Then it hit me, its Friday, and I have a whole two days off…I had the “Friday Feeling.” A small yet such enjoyable pleasure in life.
The relentlessly arduous A&E rota has had my Saturdays merge into Tuesdays and weekends disappear into workdays. I couldn’t remember the last time I had had the “Friday Feeling.” For the last 5 weeks I had worked every weekend and had changed radio stations at any “TGIF” chit chat. I had simply forgotten how good it felt. The Grimmy effect continued into work. A high-five to the porter, a wink at the x-ray guy, a cheeky flirt with the locum, a blue instead of a green cannula for the patient and even a kiss for the nurse. I was elated and wasn’t going to let the five-hour wait, or the sea of miserable faces get me down.
I broke my own record and saw more patients, did a better job of it, and if I can say so myself, was a general delight to be around for patients and colleagues alike. I was Sana 2.0. Why couldn’t everyday be like today?
For the last 5 weeks the NHS had worked me into exhaustion with a random Tuesday off for recuperation before the next 12-day stretch. I had not only been tired and unproductive, I had also been very demotivated. Work that I enjoyed so much had started to feel like punishment, and freedom had become a Martin Luther King’s dream (Ok…admittedly over dramatic.)
A&E rotas are relentlessly anti-social, but at least for now I have an end in sight. I dread think what would happen if under the new junior doctor contracts our entire lives were to become one big A&E rota! Working doctors into the ground may give the appearance of a “7-day NHS” but doesn’t do anything for their own or their patients’ health. Good morale makes for a better and more productive work force. For the shortest time I had forgotten the simple pleasure of having two consecutive days off to spend as I wish (even if that is updating my e-portfolio or revising for an exam.)
As the ballot papers flood our post-boxes I pray my colleagues unite and for the sake of Friday vote YES and YES, alas a worry for another day, for today I revel in the “Friday Feeling.”