Well in the summer of 2018 it will be 30 years since I graduated.
Strange how entire weeks and months of our lives merge into sludge, but certain minutes or hours are seared into memory. I remember the day still, walking to the university in light purple sandals, and a dusky pink skirt. The mass of people in the deanery trying to find names on the paper lists pinned to the dusty cloth behind the glass screen. Someone congratulating me before I had reached close enough to see, then another and finally seeing for myself, my name at the very top of the list of graduates for the year.
I was walking on a cloud, and didn't really want to go home as I basked in the warmth of the sun and of my success.
Many miles away in a war-torn city my father was distributing fruit squash and sweets.
That evening my mother took me out to a smart part of town and I remember thinking I have done it I have won.
I am clearing out the loft conversion into which we moved, when my sick mother came to stay just before her surgery, and this week I have at last discarded the graduation photo, it was creased and in one corner torn, but the final decision to discard it was made easier as I looked through the faces trying to remember more than a handful of names.....
As we go through the third round of "should I go or should I stay" as both my husband's and my hospitals are both being reshaped by the financially more secure / militarily supported establishment that took them over, and the original team are pushed ever so not gently out of the way, I start to update my CV, thirty years a doctor, fifteen of which I have spent here, and what do I have to show for it? very little it would seem. Fifteen years of gradual decline, gradual loss of specialism and with that expert staff, and a shift from numerous conditions treated, several trials open, and shared care that means we provided some of it in house, to a second rate general dumping lot for conditions other aren't interested in, a median patient age of 75, and I find myself trying to figure out how to publish experience that isn't even really my speciality it is so generic.
I guess the only consolation is that with a cohort of over 400 graduates distributes over every continent in the world, there are never any reunions.