Yesterday marked one month since I arrived in Adelaide . . . I thought I would give an update! I am currently sat on the beach with my thermoflask with this view #ratherblissful
Time has flown by. I feel like it has been a whirlwind journey with ups and lows and in-betweens! I found the first 2 weeks really hard and had to keep giving myself little pep talks to keep strong and not think of home. I would get so easily emotional and teary. Although I tried to be really organised before I came, it is just the overwhelming feeling that I have moved here and need to set a life up. I have never experienced those feelings before. It isn’t the same as when I came 2 years ago for my elective, as I knew after 4 months I would be returning home. This time around, I have moved to Australia to start a new chapter in my life.
Lets just say, starting up a life in a different country is quite stressful, not straightforward and there are numerous obstacles in the way. It felt like I would take 1 step forward and then 10 back! I am quite an inpatient person and I like to just get things sorted. But I have learnt since arriving here, I just need to not get stressed about things I dont have control over. Everything works out in the end.
I have some family friends -Eve & Crispin- who live on a property (Australian term for a farm!) in the Adelaide Hills. When I arrived I stayed with them for the first week which was just so nice. It meant my first few days I wasn’t alone and had home comforts, so I didn’t feel too homesick. They looked after me and have been such support since being in Adelaide. Their property is in a beautiful location overlooking a valley and is the perfect retreat! I imagine I will be escaping there a lot when I have a free weekend. They also have 2 dogs so I get doggy cuddles!
Hattie on the tractor!
SO what has happened this past month . . .
WORK . . . I have now been working for 3 weeks. I am working in ED [A&E in UK] in a district hospital NW of Adeliade. It is about a 30 min cycle from where I am living now. My first few days were very overwhelming and I hit the ground running, well more trying to hold on and keep up. I felt lost, unsettled and wondering why I had chosen to do this. My first day I had no induction or orientation, I basically was thrown into the department. Starting work in a new place is stressful enough but in a different healthcare system . . . I was rather petrified to say the least!
I remember my first patient I saw – she was listing all her usual medication – I was absolutely clueless as to what was she was saying. In Australia, most people use brand names for medications rather than generic. eg cartia is the brand name for aspirin. So I stood there nodding and pretending to look up “guidelines” on my iphone- whereas in fact I was googling and trying to work out what the hell she was taking.
It is a supportive environment and the consultants expect you to discuss every patient and your plan, which is quite different compared to the UK. I am enjoying it, especially now I don’t feel so on edge. I have had some interesting cases over the past 3 weeks and what is rewarding and reassuring is my clinical judgement is often fairly right! Recognising when a patient is sick and needs admission sounds easy but it isn’t always the case. I had a young girl in her mid twenties who came in with “exacerbation of asthma”. She looked unwell with a fever of 40C and tachycardia (fast heart rate) at 120bpm. Her chest sounded completely clear and she hadn’t had any nebulisers, so I thought an asthma attack didn’t seem right. I did a chest X-ray and her left lung showed a multilobar pneumonia. In a girl so young, it is rare to have such a nasty pneumonia and it made me think of unusual causes e.g. atypical pneumonias or tuberculosis – TB. Interestingly her grandfather had TB last year. I chased her the next day and she was being treated for TB. That felt good as I had recognised she was sick, needed admission and TB was my first differential. #patontheback
In ED you do shift work so that isn’t a Monday-Friday 9-5, instead you work a mixture of normal day shifts, late evening shifts, weekends and nights. When I got my job in April I was told they try to make the rota flexible for UK docs and clump together our time off. However, when I arrived was really disappointed with my rota as it was pretty shit. I had random days off so it felt like I was at work all the time. Speaking to a couple of the other ED doctors, most were unhappy and felt it was not the rota they were promised. Some of the doctors had worked 6 weeks with no weekends off. I think my hospital was very short staffed and so that was why rota was so erratic. I also know my limits and have voiced my concern saying what I am not happy with. I think it is important to highlight issues otherwise what is the point of moaning. The consultants have been very understanding and are aware people are not happy and trying to improve it. My October rota looks a bit better and I have been promised I will not be given 7 day stretches ever again. Woap woap! So that has been a challenge starting work in a completely unknown system and having little time off. However, I am thinking positively and it looks to be changing. Currently my motto is just take baby steps . . . that way I don’t get stressed!
LIVING . . . Before I arrived, I organised a short term let via airbnb for a month. I am currently living at South Henley Beach in a small unit. It has actually been the perfect base and I am so glad I chose to live at the coast rather than the city. The coast is about 10km East from the city centre. I have loved living so close to the beach, it is a 3 min walk from my unit. Most days I will go for a run/stroll along the beach and I still cant believe this is my home! I feel so lucky to have this on my doorstep. I find it very therapeutic and even when I feel homesick or stressed, just going out for a walk with the sea breeze and beautiful beach, is the perfect remedy!
View from my unit- sunrise
Henley is quite a small sleepy beachside town with a couple of cafes, restaurants and a supermarket. It has a beautiful beach and sometimes it is almost like I have to myself! I love it and think it will remain as one of my favourite places. However, I have decided to move to my neighbouring town called Glenelg. It is larger with more going on and think would be a better place to settle and create a social network.
Photos in Henley
Compulsory brunch photo!
EXPLORING . . .
I brought my road bike from the UK and I have loved having it here with me! It is my mode of transport to work and gives me the freedom to explore. Adelaide is quite bike friendly with most roads having a cycle lane. Also along the coast is very popular for road cyclist, at weekends, there are packs of them cycling !
I love exploring the coast line on my days off, there are some beautiful coastal trails. The photos below are from the Marion Coastal Boardwalk, which passes through the Hallett Cove Conservation Park. It was stunning with the rugged cliffs and rocky coast line.
One of my days off I headed to the Belair National Park which is 13 km South of Adelaide. I did the waterfall hike which is a 6.5km circuit and has stunning picturesque escarpments of 2 waterfalls. There were some challenging inclines though but it was so worth it!
My unit is located right next to the mouth of the River Torren which runs to the city and out to the hills. There is a cycling trail that follows the river, which is great to cycle into the city and avoid the roads. Except I learned that magpies can be quite aggressive here. After one flew into my helmet, I was really confused and thought maybe it saw its reflection. After the third time of it happenning, I thought it couldn’t be a coincidence. Google, my friend, informed me Australian magpies when nesting can be really aggressive, especially to cyclists if you are near to their nests. Lesson learnt!
Little things make me happy
- Having my bike here – it is like my travelling buddy. It was such an effort to bring out. I had to get a special bike bag [thanks dad!] and dismantle my bike … putting it back together was interesting! But I love having it here. I can just hop on it, cycle along the coast and gives me that independence.
- Living right next to the beach – most days I will go on a run along the beach or just walk along the front. It makes me feel so at ease and I can’t believe it is on my doorstep. I sometimes forget I am living here and not on holiday!
- Getting a takeout coffee. I love coffee and australia really knows how to do Good coffee, trumps the UK! I have got into a habit of after my run, getting a takeout coffee and walking back along the beach to my unit.
- Australian blue sky – I can’t explain it but there is something about the blue sky in Australia that is special. It is so blue and bright, like that feeling you get when you have clear blue skies when skiing.
- SO much open space- I already know that my work life balance is going to be a lot healthier and happier here. The outdoors lifestyle Australia suits me so well. For example, there are so many hiking trails around – coastal walks or nearby national parks. Fresh air and exercise is such great self car and love!
That is a rambly update! I am now going to enjoy rest of the sunset and head back to my unit for dinner, as starting a stretch of night shifts tonight boohooo.
Speak soon and miss you all
Love from Adelaide