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don’t let medicine crush you

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This week, we want to share an article written by formation community member, Dr. Sara R. Ahronheim. Sarah works as an emergency physician, and is wearing Bespoke form scrubs in Metamorphic. She originally shared her story on KevinMD.com:


The house is asleep, and I can’t turn off my brain. I just cried my way through an episode of SEAL Team, especially the part where two SEALs are opening up to a psychologist about feeling broken. One says he’s tired of pretending he’s OK that he has PTSD and needs help. Later, he breaks down, and his wife folds him in her arms and tells him she’s there to pick up the pieces.
I feel like that SEAL.
Maybe that’s why this show resonates with me. After all, I’m not one for gratuitous violence and warfare. I’ve often asked myself if I only watch it because I have had a crush on David Boreanaz since he headlined “Buffy” and then “Angel.” But no — now I see the hell they go through reflects the hell we go through in medicine.
These days, it’s really hard to self-reflect and allow others to read my words or feel my emotions. There’s just too much pain in our world now, and everyone is suffering. What makes my pain more important than my neighbor’s? Nothing.
But I’m going to allow myself to write about it and let others read it because maybe it will give you, the reader, license to sit with your own grief by feeling mine.
Every day I go to work, it’s a minefield. I never know what or whom I will meet and maybe destroy or be destroyed by. When I pick up a chart for an ankle sprain, that patient could be the woman whose husband pushed her down the stairs, and that’s why she sprained her ankle. Or the chest pain in a 20-year-old man could be lymphoma. Or the constipation in the 40-year-old exceedingly kind-looking man with the softly accented voice could be new rectal cancer.
After a minor car accident a few months ago, the X-ray of her ribs was normal and my patient was sent home by the physician she saw at a community hospital in Ontario. She was still in pain three months later, so she presented to the ambulatory side of our ED. I figured, when I saw her, maybe a small fracture was missed, and it’s not healing well, or perhaps it’s all just muscular pain.
My clinical assessment found tenderness along one rib in particular. Repeat X-ray showed something not quite right, so I ordered a CT. Before even reading the whole report, in my haste to keep going and see new patients, I called her into the reassessment room. She met me smiling and thanked me for the analgesia that had dramatically improved her pain. Reading the concluding statement of the report as I stood across from her expectant face, I took a sharp breath, and without the ability to self-edit I said, “Oh no, I’m so sorry.” Then, “Let’s sit down.” Her face froze. I had fucked up. I had stabbed her in the heart with my stupid words. Thankfully, her husband was there and guided her to a seat. A harbinger of doom, I read the words aloud that sealed the fate not only of herself, but of her lover and her family, forever changing their lives.
Metastases. Multiple. Unknown primary.
Her eyes wet. Her husband’s eyes met mine, knowing. The world shifting.
It was, however, as if she already knew. The gnawing bone pain waking her and keeping her from sleep could only be one thing. And she knew. She just knew. And she tried her best to be strong for her husband. Together, they accepted the words, the plan, the further CT scans that found a large lung cancer. Together, they stoically met the dangers with swords in hand.
And me — I am devastated. Crushed. Heartbroken. Not only by the diagnosis and knowing what comes next, but by my failure. My failure to keep my mouth shut, to hold, to wait. Maybe it’s burnout, exhaustion, sleep deprivation. Maybe it’s stupidity. Maybe it’s delirium. No matter what, it’s awful.
So I know how those soldiers felt in their moments of emotional agony. I feel it too.
Emergency medicine — medicine in general — hurts my soul in ways I never knew it would. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know what I know. Walking into a room after reading a triage note, and already knowing what I’ll find. Knowing the diagnosis and the denouement of my patients’ stories way before they do. Prophecy of sorts, based on training and experience. And prophets have never had it easy. Foresight is a curse, a crutch, a needle always stabbing just that right spot where the pain is always fresh.
Medicine also lifts me. Sometimes. But lately? Nope. It has drowned me.
And I feel broken too. Hoping somehow to mend the pieces, sew them together like the wounds I’ve fixed at work, stitch them or crazy glue them until it’s possible to continue. The SEALs on the show say “ignore and override” — this can be said for physicians and nurses as well. But it’s not the right thing to do.
I hope that reading my story and hearing my struggle can help you with yours. Don’t let medicine crush you. Fight back with all your strength. Talk about it. Write about it. But let it out. In the space between people, there is healing — there is space for all the hurt inside to come out. Though you may be scared to burden others, if they care for you, let them be your parachute.”

The full article is published here. If you’d like to be part of a formation community feature, please drop us a line at hello@myformatio.ca - extra bonus if you have pictures of you rocking your formation scrubs!


We got this,


- the formation team

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Pulse, Barbie & In Charge - A Perfect Match 💓

Pulse, Barbie & In Charge - A Perfect Match 💓

 

Barbie has proven to be THE biggest debut ever for a film directed by a woman after earning a reported $162 million during its opening weekend! Wow.


I had been waiting and waiting to see this movie with my three teenage girls! Of course we dressed up, just like the rest of the moviegoers, fully embracing and creating an immersive experience earlier this week. And it did NOT disappoint. If you haven’t gone, go.

Even if you don’t like pink!

I wore my new formation scrubs in Pulse Pink - which ironically are being released now, at the same time as Barbie!

Here I am with my girls going into the movie:


Pink is a colour that many people have struggled with for a long time. When I was little, it was known that “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” - so I avoided pink, even though I kind of liked the colour. I was known as a ‘Tom Boy’, so I was not about to be pigeon-holed as another girl-who-likes-pink!

Now, I actually love the colour pink and what it means to me and those around me. To me, pink represents unconditional love, which is something that those in health care understand deeply.

It’s unapologetic, it doesn’t waver, and it boldly stands for what and whom we believe in.

Pulse Pink is here to embody that.

Pink now also represents strength, which has been a slow shift over the years. In a way, this also reflects some progress for women as well, as pink is traditionally “girly”.

For those who aren’t aware, I’m a physician, but also an artist. I try to sew in my studio as often as I can. I created this “mini” quilt for a call for entries. (I normally create 8 ft x 8 ft abstract modern quilt pieces). It still speaks to me, and how the world perceives women.

My quilt was chosen to be featured in the publication, here was my artist’s statement:

In Charge Quilt
Which do you want to be seen as?
In Charge, or, you Charge In.
There is a subtle difference, I feel, especially for women, which is why I chose these colours.
Pink for the traditional female, and orange is often seen as a colour of stepping into and owning our vulnerabilities and in doing so healing.


Times have certainly changed since my training days when I’d be one of three women at a cardiovascular surgery conference of hundreds.


I left “Charge” unquilted as it is imperfect. I feel we are all trying to figure this out - maybe you already have - but for myself, every day I am striving to be #incharge 💗


As you step into your Pulse Pink scrubs, remember that you are not just wearing a colour; you are embodying the spirit of empowerment, love, and authenticity. And, you are In Charge.


When Greta Gerwig was asked by People Magazine how she dealt with right-wing conservatives who expressed their disapproval for the film by declaring it “woke” and threatening to burn their Barbies, she said, “Certainly, there’s a lot of passion. My hope for the movie is that it’s an invitation for everybody to be part of the party and let go of the things that aren’t necessarily serving us as either women or men. I hope that in all of that passion, if they see it or engage with it, it can give them some of the relief that it gave other people.”


Pulse Pink is a limited edition colour - when the fabric is gone, we are not restocking. We have left some fabric out of production so you can still get a Bespoke form. We are gender inclusive, honour all forms, and 1% of proceeds support healthcare workers' mental health. You can find your form in our new fitting room on the site, and as always, reach out to me if you need any help or have questions at hello@myformation.ca.


I’d also love to hear what you thought of the movie and see photos of you in Pulse!


We Got This,


Dr. Kathryn Dundas M.D., C.C.F.P.

'tis the season for giving

'tis the season for giving

This holiday season, help give a healthcare worker the gift of formation scrubs! 🎁


We believe in the power of collective action, which is why we created the Pay It Forward program.  


The program allows individuals, businesses, or organizations to give the gift of the scrubs, without needing to purchase a pair. Through community donations, this program facilitates the purchase of a pair of scrubs for a health care worker through anonymous donations. 


Just like finding out at the drive-through window that the kind soul ahead of you has bought your meal, a health care worker will be surprised at the checkout on our website with a message that lets them know someone has already paid for their set of scrubs.


Our hope is that this kind gesture by community members and customers will bring a smile and moment of joy to our health care workers who have been working tirelessly on the frontlines. 


Recognizing your commitment to supporting formation’s community of health care workers, and all that they do to keep us safe and healthy, is important to us. Without the generous contribution from sponsors like you, our Pay It Forward program would not be possible.


Have a healthy and happy holiday!


We got this,


- the formation team