Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday morning

It's finally cooled down enough to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows. I'm sure this will only last a few hours, but still...a breeze wafting through these walls is just what this house needed. (Well, a breeze and a dust rag perhaps.)

My second cup of coffee and I are sitting in a rocking chair next to my front window, listening to the birds, watching the old men take their morning walks. Seems like sort of an old lady way to start the day, eh? Yes well, when the time comes, after years of practice, I'm going to rock at being elderly.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Text message to my mom, the former children's pastor

I have all the patience of Job.
Not the good, vacation bible school Job, but the bitchy, whiny, "what the fuck happened to my goats?" Job.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The one that's too long

Text from Blake: "Btw, I'm tired of waiting on you to post an orientation blog, so I'm just gonna come out and say... Blog."

Then, he started bitching about how long the post was going to be. This post. A post that had yet to be written.

I get home from a long day at work. All I want to do is relax and put my feet up. Instead, I have to listen to him complain about the ways he anticipates I may annoy him in the future. Coupled with the fact that neither of us has any desire to see the other naked, this friendship is a lot like a thing called marriage. (Not your marriage, of course. No, your love is special. I'm talking about other people - the ones you don't like.)

Orientation started with a few days of... Well shit, I don't even remember what we did those first few days. There were hospital tours, and lectures, and piles of human resources paperwork. We signed five copies of a form which said, in effect, "I will not take naked pictures of my patients and post them on Facebook. And if I do, I'll scratch out their medical record numbers with a sharpie first." The program director handed out anesthesia books and then, just to get it out of the way, yelled at us for not reading them enough this year. Just to get it out of the way, we went ahead and felt a little ashamed of all that reading we, apparently, won't be doing.

After a few days of this, the department took us out to a local restaurant and we all drank free booze until the tab ran out. Then, too drunk to care how much we were spending on liquor, we all opened our own tabs and, just to get it out of the way, drank our first paycheck.

It was somewhere in between their tab and ours that Blake and I told the program director the impound story. The more colorful version of this tale involves eight uses of the word fuck and at a single uttering of the phrase, ass virginity. (As in, Blake said, "There we were driving through the ghetto with four hundred dollars, my pretty truck, and your ass virginity, and I thought for sure we were going to lose it all.") I managed to retell it with only four uses of the word fuck and no mention of ass or virginity. And to think, Blake says I have no filter.

The next day, I drove to Connecticut to see Graci. It was 105 degrees. My car has no air. I sat in parked traffic in New York for two hours. At one point, I stopped sweating and had to concentrate really hard on not throwing up. I think this is called heat stroke. I don't know for sure because, as my program director predicted, I have not read that chapter.

The whole drive took almost eight hours. I nearly died. And it was completely worth it.

Graci's apartment looks almost exactly like the one we shared in medical school. Books, pinned bugs, wood carving craft projects from her camp counselor days - everything about it is just so...Graci. And it feels just like home. I packed anesthesia books and notes but didn't read a word all weekend. Instead, I just talked about how nervous I was to start in the OR without knowing anything from those books and notes.

My very first case on my very first day was a craniotomy. Fucking brain surgery. That is, in fact, what I said when I heard it. "FUCKING BRAIN SURGERY? Are you fucking kidding me?" I called Blake and said it. I called my mom and said it. I said it to Graci every four and half minutes all weekend long. She reminded me over and over again that they weren't going to let me kill anyone. (At least, not on my first day.)

Blake's first case was some simple little kidney procedure. It was complicated only by the fact that his patient was mostly dead. In fact, his anesthetic plan looked a lot like this.

Three weeks later, Blake and I are almost sort of kind of maybe in some small way getting used to this job. Partnered with another first year resident and an attending, we're rarely left alone in the OR. This all changes after next week when our month long orientation officially ends and we start doing our own cases. Once again, we will be scared shitless. (In my case, I mean this literally as stress gives me terrible diarrhea.)

At the end of every day this month, we have an hour long lecture on one of the basic topics in anesthesiology. Last Friday, Blake collapsed in the chair beside me in the lecture room and sighed. He looked like he'd been hit with a bus. He always looks 17 times better than I do, so I can't even imagine how I must have looked - like I'd been hit by 17 buses, I suppose. As we waited for the lecturer, we talked about how exhausting it was to spend all day trying not to kill the mostly dead.

And then, suddenly, as if the room was on fire, Blake grabbed his bag, stood bolt upright, and yelled, "Fifteen minute rule. I'm out." And with that, he was out.

I looked over the room of stunned, silent faces. They'd never seen such a dramatic exit from a non-event. I shrugged a little, reached for my bag, and said, "I'm uhh...I'm with him."

"I wish you could have seen the looks on their faces," I told him. We laughed about it all the way to our cars.

Blake, I could get through this residency without you. But friend, moments like these make me so glad I don't have to.