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Your life in their hands

I am perfect. I never make mistakes and always say the right thing. I was born this way. NOT!

In my early years as a Consultant Breast Surgeon, I learn every day. It’s why I get out of bed in the morning. My desire to know more, do more, be more. So far this year I have learned an important lesson. That when you care about your job, it’s not so much the patients life in your hands, but yours in their hands. Let me elaborate.

I try to do my best to communicate with my patients. From my last blog discussing my understanding of ‘limbo-land’ in waiting for test results, if possible and appropriate , I try to let patients know theirs as soon as I can. In doing so for a fellow healthcare professional, I opened the door to Expectation. My old friend who I try to keep under control. Who’s always followed me when I was taking exams as a child, to getting onto the netball team to getting married to becoming a consultant.

Don’t get me wrong. Expectation is not a foe. But when a patient is vulnerable at the time of diagnosis and the anticipation of your phone call paralyses them for the day, then it can be. Communication can break down and you lose the precious rapport and trust that forms so quickly and uniquely in a Doctor-Patient relationship. I knew she felt alone and I knew she felt I contributed to that by not calling and writing to her instead. My clinical letter appeared to her as defensive medicine. In my eyes it was a clinical record of our discussions. I had opened a can of worms, one I often open but quickly seal back up but this time a few wriggled away and burrowed deep in my mind.

I found it difficult to sleep and found myself talking about how I felt I failed my patient. I was reassured I had gone over and above what most doctors would do, but I needed closure. So we met and openly discussed it all. I told her I’d do things differently if I had the chance again and she said the same. She pulled out a bottle of champagne to say thanks and believe me, she made my day!

I always thought it was important to exude confidence and to not show weakness. It gets you absolutely nowhere. To talk of others mistakes is one thing, but to openly talk about your own and how you learned from them, humanises you and exalts you to a higher state of practice. You have learned. You have grown.

So now I am perfect, never make mistakes and always say the right thing. Until next time.

Guilty as Charged

This week, www.womenempowered.co.uk published their monthly online magazine called GRIT. I was asked to write about parenting including what I believe are the biggest challenges for bringing up children today, whether there are different ‘rules’ for raising girls and boys and even coping with parental guilt.

My section is entitled Terrorism, Technology and Trump. Just a few of the things that affect the pace at which the world is moving and how I feel affects our ability to parent today.

I jumped at the chance, when the word guilt was mentioned. It’s something I always relate to and am sure all women who take any time for themselves feel, whether it’s going to work or going to the spa. Ok maybe not the spa.

My guilt has taken various forms. Buying the most ridiculous and useless gifts from the hospital WRVS shop after a night shift, late night Amazon Prime buys of things that really could wait until their birthday, extreme junk food and late night movie watching cosied up on the sofa together. It’s the age old saying ‘You can’t buy love with money’ oh yes you can! Kids LOVE you when you do all of the above.

But as my children grow and their needs change from a two minute distraction toy and exams, acting classes and the reality of their future looms, the guilt spreads to how much quality time I can give them. Undivided. Un i-Phoned (Yes it’s a word, I just made it up) and with a smile.

I’m learning. It feels good, therefore I’m winning. And when they do their best, what more can one want? They re asleep right now and I only ordered one thing from Amazon Prime. Oops!

Read this months GRIT www.womenempowered.co.uk/grit

I’d love your comments

‘She’s here to make the place look pretty’ #Pressforprogress

‘This is Anushka Chaudhry. She’s a breast surgeon and here to make the place look prettier’

That was my introduction to a ‘by invite only’ society of reputable surgeons as we sat for our first lecture on digital mapping of the spine for fusion surgery.

‘I’d like to think I’m here to offer a bit more than that’ I said, seething inside.

Remarks such as this have always been a part of life and never really bothered me so much. I kick myself now for not protesting on the sexist comment and calling him out. I questioned the invitation that had made me feel special and accomplished. Should I leave this group?

I used to be a knee-jerk reactor but as I have grown, I realise that processing my emotions helped me rationalise what I was feeling and how to react. So that’s what I did. Some of these men worked in times when the theatre changing rooms were for ‘Men’ and ‘Nurses’. Their culture consisted of a hierarchy where the man led the team supported by their staff. Despite years of working in a changing environment of more female leaders, their position remained static and in the past. Should I take this personally, or understand it and move on?

In a quiet moment, I took him aside the next day and explained what had disappointed me. Met with a huge portion of apologies with a side of dismissive laughter, we agreed it was inappropriate.

I spent the next day engrossed in fascinating talks and discussions with surgical specialists that opened my eyes outside the world of breast surgery. It made me hungry for more and I told myself I’d stick with them. I deserved a place in this historical society and make history myself. As the second woman in the group and the first breast surgeon and Indian ever invited, something is changing. Slowly but surely.

Hello world!

Welcome to my world!

What can I offer this exciting world of blogs, tweets and ever so experienced social media users?

I’m Anushka, a Breast Cancer Reconstructive and Cosmetic Breast Surgeon living in the South West of England.

My job is far more than operating. It’s a blend of psychosocial-oncoplastic-counselling-hugging-teamworking-sometimeslonely-sometimessad happiness.

I’m an educator and perpetual believer in trying to inspire the next generation of baby doctors to not be afraid to be themselves and everything will fall into place.

I am a mother and a wife – this drives me and pulls me and pushes me to do better, always.

I am a million things rolled into one being, ever growing and changing and as I grow, feel the force of so many things that interest me. DJing, setting up a charity, fitness and more!

So, lots to offer – watch this space…

#askanushka