"Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?" A standard question in Consultant interviews- and I honestly can't remember my answer. Beyond the external façade of being cool and collected, the adrenaline was pumping, the heart was racing...I so desperately wanted to work in the diabetes department at Portsmouth...the whole interview, to this date, has continued to be a blur. But whatever I may have said, today, standing where I am, about to embark on the next 5 years of my Consultant life, I can guarantee you that I wouldn't have been able to predict I would be where I am. It has been a spectacular 5 years, a roller-coaster ride with more highs than lows...and I couldn't possibly have scripted it any better. Awards, fame,notoriety, recognition, accolades...everything have come along the way and I wouldn't change any single bit of it. So many have contributed to it..made me grow..understand the joy of achievement..moments you couldn't appreciate without the pangs of loss. People who have become a part of my life, people I have lost...all a part of the growing up process.
5 years can be a lifetime and perhaps its my inherently positive nature, but I have genuinely enjoyed my time. I don't have time to sit and moan- that has never appealed to me- and spending the last 3 weeks in India has given me a more deep seated realisation as to what kind of amazing opportunity I have been given in life. I have taken my hat off and bowed respectfully to colleagues in South India whose work ethics have made me look simply..ordinary. Yes, there is corruption, yes, there is the base drive towards money which corrupts most peoples morals...but the overwhelming majority work day in, day out, battle against the system and still have time to smile. As I have said before, I am a Consultant in Diabetes in England- earning well, having free weekends mostly, a good social life..everything I could hope for...and in return, I have one shot, just one shot at hopefully making a difference in the lives of those who have diabetes.
I keep reading in social media, media outlets about those lazy GPs and Consultants, heartless nurses, managers who are simply target driven, clinical commissioners who don't understand anything...the problem is that unless I live in utopia, I don't find those individuals in a majority. You sit down with any of those groups, smile, have a coffee, spend some time...and inwardly burns bright a deep seated desire to do some good. 5 years has taught me many things...but most importantly to place trust in that inherent goodness. If you can't do that and simply mistrust everything and anything, look for a conspiracy in everything, you will sink in your own negativity. Conspiracy theories are good- but in the main, people within the NHS are trying their hardest to improve care.
I set out 5 years determined to make a mark- and fame or notoriety, I suspect I have...I am human- have my faults as anyone else- but am trying to bring the smile out more rather than the one who needs to fight the system all the way. This holidays and time spent with family has made me appreciate many things...appreciate the strength of a family,appreciate the support they provide, appreciate that in the eyes of your parents you are still just the son who they have never stopped loving..not some trailblazing Consultant..but simply their...son.
Nothing would be complete without acknowledging the folks I work with who tolerate my darker moments with a smile, let the lighter side flourish...folks in whom I place complete trust to deliver and in return, watch with awe their unshakable faith in my vision. And finally, my patients...who continue to teach me every day, more than anything my training period taught me...I make mistakes, I learn...and each day my resolve to make things a bit better grows stronger.
So to all those who have made my last 5 years such an experience...my family, my colleagues and my patients, I humbly and respectfully say..thank you. All I can say is that I promise to do what all have placed faith in me to do...but perhaps with more humility and a bit more smile.
I have always loved the comic book analogy..Batman..the dark character who is a loner has always appealed to me. 5 years on...a simple realisation...It's time to hang up that cape ...I don't need an alter ego to do what I need to do. With so many people's blessings and good wishes, why would I? Here's looking to the next 5 years.