December 13, 2010 Leave a comment
And so we enter into the Q3 (every third night) 30-hour call of the surgical ICU. The most intense of the ICU rotations, not only because of the call frequency but also because of the patient volume. By far the saddest stories in the hospital. Young trauma victims, healthy before their tragedies, now completely incapacitated – and many with little hope for recovery. As December snow falls gently outside the windows, I slide into my Q3 schedule with ease. The hospital has become home for now – uncomfortable call beds, cafeteria food, monitors – they are almost comforting in their familiarity and hardly bother me anymore. And as busy as things are, it is still a nice reprieve from the chaos of the emergency department.
I am almost at the pinnacle of my second year now, with only 7 more overnight shifts left after today in a long stretch of 30-hour calls. As I trudge upwards towards the finish line, I take in the view from the windows at the top of the hospital. It is a place I will not return to for a long time after this. My retreat to the windowless basement of the emergency room is imminent, and I reflect on it all with mixed feelings.
Now I understand the origin of the word resident, a term coined when residents truly did live in the hospital. There is a learning process, through absorption over time, that takes place during an intense month like this that cannot be replaced by shifts broken up into 12 or 16 hours. But this is only the beginning and already I am growing exhausted, day after day. And so the count down begins.