Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Perfect Game

There's been no shortage of perfect games in the world of baseball over the past few years it seems. But to experience a call night with no consults, no traumas involving neurosurgical needs, and no ER admissions is something akin to the holy grail of a neurosurgery resident's call night at a level one trauma center in the middle of one of the largest cities in the United States. But the gods were kind last night, and for my 101st call as an R2 I had a no hitter. Going into any call you pray that it'll be a light day. With the post operative checks, the 15 patients in the ICU, and the 20 some odd patients on the floor any given call can potentially be a busy one without the steady flow of consults from other services or the emergency department. As a lot of what we do as physicians is innately pattern recognition, my co-residents and I have become increasingly superstitious about our rituals and routines that we perform to ensure a quiet call night. Initially when I started I noted that whenever I brought my book bag to get some reading done, I would be hammered by incessant calls from the ED and direct admissions from clinic. Suffice it to say my book bag has not experienced much use in the past few months. Granted, it's a little healthier and far less harmful than one of my co-residents who believes that the number of chocolate muffins consumed will be inversely proportional to the number of consults he'll get while on call (true story). I don't see them to be correlated to how busy his calls are at all... but now he's addicted and can't stop eating them.

101 calls done people. Only 12 more overnight calls for this academic year. Don't get me wrong, we'll still be doing in house call as a 3rd year, but it'll be more along the lines of 3 times a month instead of every third night.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Chemical Romance

14 calls left.

I don't remember a time when I wasn't a junior neurosurgery resident. Maybe it's because we've worked enough in 10 months to bill for two years; or maybe because we've been awake long enough to have lived two lives. My dreamless nights suffocate under the fatigue of the day, and lacking any visions apart from this reality, my consciousness holds only the threads of this endless toil. As reality blurs into what should be dreams, whilst we sleep still standing and read pages half asleep, intracranial pressure management and surgical techniques overtake every moment of our lives, forcing us to relive our jobs many times over. The compounded whittling of endless nights have shaved us down to emotional cadavers, as our weary minds stumble behind our weathered bodies. At 1AM when the 20th hour of my work day strikes, my judgment fails me as my body cries out for just a moments rest. Oftentimes it's then that I realize I haven't eaten since morning, though my stomach has become accustomed to the constant neglect and abuse of on-call binging. As I'm ready to despair, and let the post op patients go unattended and the nurses pages unanswered for a quick nap, I pull myself together long enough to grab two Full Throttles from the downstairs night cafe. Unashamed of my growing emotional dependence on caffeine I knock one back, and receive the energy to last through my post op checks and the rest of the night's check list of tasks. The other I drink during rounds to keep me awake long enough to sign out my patients and stumble to the downstairs call rooms where I bury myself within the darkness of basement level quarters. By the time I wake and determine it's safe enough to drive home, I've been in the hospital for 36 hours. This year needs to end.

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About Me

I'm a quixotic idealist that's readjusting to the reality of the world around him. An aesthetic at heart, willing to not shower a week at a time to go camping, exploring, hiking, etc. I love food, poker, and anything that can be turned into a competition.