(Trigger warning: miscarriage/stillbirth)
So yesterday was day number…whatever…of this last call block. I’m off call today, going to a writing conference (ECWC). But before I could leave for ECWC, there was work to be done, and yesterday pushed the emotional and physical limits of my patients and me.
Doesn’t help that I have a whopper of a cold. Yeah, no one wants to acknowledge it, but doctors get sick. Especially when I see every coughing, booger-oozing toddler in a twenty-mile radius for the past two weeks. And those same sick toddlers like to sneeze directly on me, or grab at my face with those grabby, snotty, glistening, crusty little hands. So that’s the background. Not at 100% to begin with on this last day of the call week.
Yesterday. Phone rings at 6:30am. It’s the ER. 20 week patient has delivered a fetus literally 2 minutes ago in the ER, and the patient is bleeding badly. My head spins. Is it my patient? If so, which one? ER doc doesn’t give a name. Just asks me to get there quickly. I go from REM sleep to fully awake in 5 seconds and provide a few orders before pulling on clothes and hurrying to the hospital. En route, I’m thinking through hemorrhage protocols and meds, and also planning for the non-clinical things that need to be done to help the patient through such a devastating event.
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What dudes see. (and what they don't see)
Here's the scene: I'm working late, hubs is at home waiting for a Handy Guy to come over and give us a quote for repairs.
My text: Please make sure personal stuff and mess is picked up before Handy Guy comes by
His text: Roger.
I come home after Handy Guy has left. In my bathroom is the untouched mess of hair product, hairdo electronic implements, and assorted anti-old age goops. Oh, and my Pill package is wrapped up inside a crumpled towel. Ah yes, he has removed the offending Personal Item from view but left the messy stuff out. Sigh. Good job.
Then, as I walk back through the bedroom, I see it: 2 bras and several undies. Just sitting on the dresser in plain sight. Super obvious. Yup.
When asked to describe the logic behind the choices made, hubs said, "I didn't see the clothes."
Right there. Plain sight.
But thank God the prescription was hidden...
…mostly because hubs and I would rock at these events. (We had free time. We made a list.)
#1) Checkers. Before you laugh, recall that ESPN considers poker to be a SPORT. (Seriously?)
#2) Synchronized cannonballs. What’s not to like? This event would be even more awesome off the high platform, but I suppose then they’d increase the chances of broken bones. (If femur pokes out after the dive? Degree of difficulty: HIGH)
#3) Eating chocolate. Dude. Just give me the gold medal already.
#4) Speed reading. Yup.
#5) Side eye and eyeball rolling. Points for distance and for snarky impact.
#6) Riding that inflatable banana thing that you see at the beach or on the lake.
#7) Maintaining a perfect 11:30 minute mile pace for 30 whole minutes. Play me the freakin’ anthem and pass the snacks.
#8) No sleep as an endurance event.
#9) Avoidance of housework. Complete with tiptoeing around hairballs on the carpet.
#10) Competitive rock, scissors, paper
Hubby and I were playing the hypothetical/impossible game of ‘what if’ a few nights ago.
To understand how ridiculous the game is, let’s call the proverbial spade a spade: Hubs and I are a short and stumpy match made in heaven. While we like to imagine that once upon a time we were ‘elite athletes’, the reality is much different. We’re okay with that fact.
But for funsies, let’s go through the list and see what sports might net these two hobbits a gold medal!
#1) Archery: Not really. I can’t hit a fly with an oversized flyswatter, and hubs would kill himself with the compound bow.
#2) Rowing: While it’s a point of dubious pride that I have pretty amazing, flabby man-arms, it’s a foregone conclusion that a few rows with the oars and I’d be done. Snack, please.
Let’s explore what ended up as some truly awful decision-making.
It was a good day. I’d slept more than 8 hours. I had eaten at least one serving of vegetables and only went for the office M&M jar twice that day. So to cap off the new health kick, and spawn increased amounts of bad choices, I read a magazine article.
It’s getting super close to vacation. How do I know? Because I’m this close to losing my mind due to crazy Day Job. That’s typically the indicator light, warning me that it’s time to get away for a while. Sure enough, Day Job stupidity is about to make me lose my mind.
Image by Kenji Yamamoto on flickr.
The grass is always greener elsewhere, you say? Of course it is. But that’s not the point of today’s blog. The purpose of today’s blog is as an indulgent compare and contrast time for Day Job (medicine) vs. Night Job (writing). Let us commence the therapeutic hyperbole, for I have 20 more patients to see on Monday and then I am On Vacation. (Why Monday and not Friday before? Well. Yeah. I never claimed to be a genius.)
Day Job = Miracle of life (baby)
Night Job = Miracle of life (book baby)
Day Job = People with very narrow job descriptions and smidgen of power who make doing our job difficult or impossible. Many decisions take place in dark, smoke-filled rooms, behind the scenes.
Night Job = Ok, yeah. This happens everywhere.
#1) Think hard about laundry. It might miraculously get done on its own.
(image via Flickr and Wesley Underwood)
#2) Try to stay focused at work. This means no taunting, gloating, or loudly calling out how many days are left until vacation starts.
#3) Probably worth figuring out if I have a passport. Maybe also see if it’s expired or not.
#4) Plot numerous ways to sleep on the plane. Recognize that none will work and I’ll arrive jet-lagged no matter what I do.
This week is a call block, which means yours truly is on call for 7 days in a row for Ob deliveries, if my colleagues need someone to do a C-section, and at times for all admissions to the hospital (adult or peds) and q15 minute calls from the nursing home. Call is always feast or famine. It could be boring. It could suck rocks. I work in a small, rural hospital, so FP’s do pretty much everything here.
If you live in a big city, then this job may seem like the unholy love child of Marcus Welby, M.D., Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and Dr. Joel Fleischman (Northern Exposure). And you’d be correct. The net result when I’m on my call stint? Poor sleep, putting out fires in the office and all hours of day and night, and difficulty doing anything but sit around and wait for the next call to light up the phone.
If you read the recent post about my abnormal mammogram, you’ll know the depths of crazy that an abnormal test like that can take a person.
I also discussed the fact that, as a physician, I know way too much about the process and the likelihood of Medical Things Happening. Look, if you see enough of these types of cycles, you know how the process typically goes. Testing, results. Re-testing, results. Biopsy, results. Answer, treatment plan.
So I fully expected to be finishing up this process with a biopsy, because 90%+ of the abnormal mammogram findings similar to mine end up going to biopsy. And often beyond the biopsy. As a result, all last weekend, my very rational, logical, calm, cool and collected brain just spun and spun.
It’s amazing how worry can suck the energy out of a person.
I got the repeat mammogram done this morning, and the tech (with whom I work) showed me the extra images and was like, “Um, yeah, the spot didn’t go away with the extra view. Let’s see what ultrasound says.” Thankfully, the ultrasound tech had an opening and got me right in for that step. That meant I would have results today, without having to wait another day. Good.
That afternoon at 2pm, I got the result. Normal. No biopsy needed.
Author, daydreamer, and practitioner of trying very hard to duct tape folks together and help when I can.
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