The Most Interesting Thing About Medicine…

Fresh off a 24 hour call, I have a lot to say and, at the same time, no enough of a filter to so eloquently put them.

After working for 24 hours, you’re kind of like a squirrel. Attention can be diverted immediately and without rhyme or reason.

Things you should not do after a 24 hour call include going to the grocery store or doing any frivolous shopping. You will buy everything because your fatigue brings out any impulse shopper you may have hidden inside you.

However, should you need to find a dress for an occasion, I highly suggest staying up the whole night before doing so. I have found two dresses within 20 minutes or less after a 24 hour call. Both at Bloomingdale’s both on sale. I saw it, I like it, and I bought it. The two easiest dress shopping experiences I have ever had. You just don’t have the wherewithal to think too hard – either you like it or you don’t.

Anyways, I listened to the soundtrack of “Rent” for a vast majority of the 24 hours yesterday. The anesthesiologist, with whom we share a call room, seem less than enthused.

That’s right anesthesia friend, its still no day but today in this call room.

I control the Spotify!

Moving on…

One of the most interesting things about medicine is that you can never predict how a patient is going to make you feel.

Much of the day, you move from patient to patient. Getting things done. Making sure their “health care maintenance” (i.e. the preventative stuff everyone should have – pap smears, mammos, colonscopies) is done. Making sure they have the appropriate labs and testing for whatever point they are in their pregnancy. Making sure you addressed their concerns and questions. And making sure you were efficient, but also wrote a good note so the next person reading it has a frame of reference for when they see the patient.

Amongst the hustle that is a clinic or hospital day, you usually feel happy and amicable towards each patient, but every once in a while a patient really makes you feel something.

Happy.

Sad.

Frustrated.

Exasperated (“Yes, a colonoscopy after age 50 is definitely recommended!”)

Scared.

Curious.

The most interesting thing about all of this is that you can never predict when its going to happen. You can be totally fatigued and wondering why on earth the “X” service called for this consult that “probably isn’t anything.”

And, then you see the patient and realize they are terrified, alone in a big hospital, being seen by a bunch of different doctors (many of whom, like myself, are really just 20 somethings who spent a small lifetime in the library), and they don’t really know what to tell you when you ask “where is your pain?” because they’re too terrified to even pin point. You realize that they actually have no GYN pathology whatsoever, but that just sitting down and talking to them about what brought them here and what they can expect might help them, a little, even if you can’t with all of your fancy knowledge backed by a very expensive degree (No, NYU, I cannot donate to you – that’s what I did for 9 years with “tuition!”).

Sometimes you meet a patient who has a long and convoluted medical history. Who is anxious. Who keeps up with every medication and procedure they have had done on a small scrap of paper with torn edges, yet every so meticulously collected.

Sometimes you realize that you just don’t want to know they patient’s disease, but you want to know them. “How can I help you?” takes on a whole new meaning.

I guess that’s the point of medicine, really, and maybe the crux of being a good doctor. To be able to see the forest for the trees; that the patient in front of you isn’t just a list of health care maintenance check boxes to be crossed off, but a person with a story intertwined with some problem or disease.

When you’re filling out 1600 forms just to get one patient a hysterectomy, remembering this makes it worth it.

So, I guess I wrote this blog for myself to realize that, in the grand scheme of things, maybe I’m a pretty lucky person to get to  do these 24 hour calls.

[Even if they do seem slightly in humane at times.]

Seasons of love, people. That’s what its about.

See what I did there?

But, seriously, now…how am I gonna pay last year’s rent?! (Ok, really, this month …. that’s just not the lyrics of the song).

Some English teacher out there better be really happy how I brought it all back to one theme. Or sort of did.

Anyways, that’s all for now…

Until next time…

Daily coffee tally: thus far, 2, but the day is STILL YOUNG!

PS: I write these posts quickly and don’t proofread. I’m sure there are many errors and that it may or may not make sense. Full disclosure.

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2 thoughts on “The Most Interesting Thing About Medicine…

  1. This English teacher is happy! Well said–the reader can not even tell how fatigued you are. Keep writing and keep loving your job!

  2. I floated to the CCU one night, and it was all going quite well with my one crazy patient (the Tegaderm was killing her) and the other very nice patient. The very nice patient called me into her room at 3am for some water or something, and then mentioned something about “the time she hid from the Nazis.” An hour later, I’d heard her whole life story – I just thought I was getting her water/adjusting her pillows/some other simple task, and BOOM – what a life history to be introduced to. These patients are so sneaky with making me have the feels…

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