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.