A Day in the Life of a Doctor – Jessica Writes Ode to Superhero Husband

Eli Rhode attentively working on a patient.

By Jessica Rhode

Last year, I had the opportunity to “shadow” my husband at work. Although I know what medical doctors do, I never actually knew exactly what their day consists of. Eli always comes home utterly exhausted, wanting to relax, sleep and just unwind with some PlayStation. Sometimes it’s frustrating – I also want to spend time with him and go out and have some fun. To understand his life better, I decided to walk a day in his shoes.

It was chaotic. Patients lined up with problems ranging from dislocated shoulders to stab wounds to broken bones. Paramedics bringing in motor vehicle accident victims, including a 2 year old John Doe, to an 85 year old delirious, septic patient. At one point I had to step aside and collect myself. It was tear jerkingly sad.

Not only do they have to diagnose and treat hundreds of patients, but they also have to do heaps upon heaps of paperwork – all while patients are complaining that they’ve been waiting too long, or wanting to know why they haven’t been called in yet for their minor problem. Oh and let’s not forget the complete lack of resources these government institutions are given – no equipment or drugs needed to save some of these patients lives, resulting in them having to be referred to bigger hospitals.

Although all I did was observe, at the end of the day my feet were burning and I was exhausted – emotionally and physically. I’m just so thankful there were no resus patients this day, as the previous two days brought with it an 18 month and 10 year old – both crushed by cars and who both, unfortunately, did not survive. I don’t know how I would’ve contained myself if this were to happen in front of me.

This, however, is the day to day lives of medical doctors. They’re doing their best on a minimum amount of sleep and with the little resources they have. They’re trying. They sacrifice their lunch break to help patients, working long after their home time, and spending free time doing courses to extend their knowledge so they can help even more patients.

After this day, my respect for this profession and my husband has grown even more. Eli – I am thankful for all that you do – you are a real life superhero!

Note: Jessica Rhode is a dentist who completed her degree at the University of the Western Cape, while her husband, Eli Rhode, is a medical doctor who completed his degree at Stellenbosch University.

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