Friday, March 6, 2009

ER, take 2

I don't know what it is about working in the ER, but after a twelve hour shift, I feel like I've been at an amusement park (sans rides). I'm exhausted, my feet hurt, and I really need a shower. At one point this afternoon, I thought, "Hey, it's Friday...FRIDAY!" But then I remembered that I still have two more twelve hour shifts to do before I get a day off. So, for me, it was really only Wednesday; and no on ever thinks, "...WEDNESDAY!"

My greatest accomplishment of the day was teaching the third year medical student how to do a pelvic exam. (On patients. I taught her on the patients. I'm not that committed to her education.) By the end of the night, I'd made an amateur gynecologist out of her. And, to be honest, it was nice to teach someone something. My alma mater's motto was, Having light, we pass it on to others. This was similarly inspired, Having speculum...

I would like to say that I saved a couple lives today, but I actually left before the life saving occurred. The helicopter was hovering overhead as I walked out of the ambulance bay doors tonight and headed to my car.

I remember walking out of the nearby health education building after orientation during my first week of medical school. The helicopter was circling around to land where I stood tonight, outside of the ER. As we craned our necks back to watch it land, the student next to me said, "You know, in a few years, that will be us waiting for that helicopter."

"I know," I said, wide-eyed and grinning, "I can't wait."

If you had told me then that I would walk away from an incoming trauma, I would have told you that you were nuts.

Tonight, the third year student--the amateur gynecologist--was the one who couldn't wait. When the attending asked, "Who's going to take this trauma?" She volunteered before he could even say, "It's a guy with a crush injury."

When I rotated through the ER this time last year, that was me. But, while I would have happily been in that trauma bay if the guy had come in earlier, I wasn't going to stay late to see him tonight.

I haven't grown disinterested in the last year. I've just learned...there will always be another helicopter. Plus, I really needed a shower.


kate g said...

I work in a SNU in PT. And while it is certainly not the same, I am learning a similar truth from a different angle.
There will always be someone else I will adore, I will work with, I will help to walk/climb stairs/go home/get better... And when some leaves or passes on or is just discharged because we cannot do more and no they have no family who comes to see them, they only have us...their SNU family...

I am trying to learn that yes it is sad, but to let go. Do what I can while I am there because otherwise I will make myself insane...I will work to exhaustion and that is not helpful to anyone.

Least of all me.

gitz said...

I think ER would be so hard because you often see people at their worst and probably rarely see people well again. I imagine that to be so draining, and yet that first line of defense is the place where you really save lives.


Maria said...

I was one of those nutty ones who stayed . ALL THE TIME. I would get mad as hell if anything interesting happened when I was gone and I would elbow out anyone and everyone just to get a front row seat on a trauma.

By the time I was 35, I was so over that shit.

joshua said...

Just the words of something like "A guy with a crush injury" make me wince.

Eric said...

I was one of those adrenaline junkies, as a young cop I'd stay over to the next shift and take any overtime that came along just so I wouldn't miss anything. When that wasn't enough I worked with EMS and did some firefighting on the side. Basically, if it had lights and a siren I wanted to be on it. It was really nice when I realized that I only needed to save the world for forty hours a week.

nina said...

pace yourself Dr T. One day it could be me in the helicopter and I will be damn mad if I see you making a B line for the coffee shop next door.



MmeBenaut said...

12 hour shifts are just awful Terroni so I can understand perfectly your need for that shower and to unwind after all the drama. As for Wednesday, once it is over, the back of the week is broken - for this reason we call it "hump day" (no pun intended). So, now you have a reason to celebrate Wednesdays that are really Fridays.
Take care of yourself Terroni. Sleep, eat and rest during the downtime. There will be time for fun on your days off - it is a challenging career you have chosen so don't burn out little one.

deboo said...

Reality does have a tendency to set it - finally.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor - take an extra minute in that hot shower!