Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Inner Peace

This vacation has been much needed to decompress, de-stress, refocus, and recharge.  It has also been useful to help me re-center myself find an inner peace again.  I've been so off-balance the past 4-5 months it's scary.
This morning, just before waking up, I had a dream.  Bear with me for a while.  In this dream, I was seeing maybe a 16-year-old black/Latino teen in clinic.  He had a history of cancer, now in remission.  He was complaining of abdominal pain and had a large laparatomy-type scar.  I do my exam and summon my attending.  She brings in another attending, who cuts open the surgical scar to peek underneath (this never happens in real life, btw).  His organs looked good but we were shocked to not find any rectus muscles or even a peritoneal sheathe.  The attending closes him up, wraps his abdomen with bandages, and send him to the procedure room where I would suture/staple his wound close.

He manages to hobble over there, obviously in some pain.  I gather my supplies and head over there.  I enter the room to find him face-down on the ground, barely conscious.  I run over to him, turn him over, and check the ABCs (airway, breathing, and cardiac).  He was breathing and had a pulse, but was in some pain.  The first attending stopped by the door where I call a code.  She goes off to assemble a quick team (this also never happens in real life, an attending won't just up and leave like that).  It being the end of the day, practically no one was around.  It was just me and this teen, barely conscious, in pain, but breathing and heart beating.

A respiratory therapist comes by and gives me a bag and mask, which at that point my patient stops breathing.  I resuscitate him with the bag and mask, while checking his pulse.  A third-year resident comes by and assesses the situation, and by now my patient has regained consciousness.  I was able to give him some pain meds, staple his wound close, and send him out the door (also doesn't happen in real life, you don't send a critical person home).
Although unrelated, something about that dream triggered a moment of clarity and an inner peace.  I realized that I must have been, in some way and to some degree, in love with my friend (who's been mentioned a few times now).  This was why I dwelt on him for so long, why it felt like a slow painful heartbreak.  What we had shared in the past felt right, and may have been right at that time.  But not now.  Not when we're on opposite coasts and there's an age gap and he has a boyfriend.  Perhaps he too felt this tug, and decided to cut off contact to "rip off the bandage" as it were and get it over with.  I will likely never know.  But I'm at peace with it now.

Why should I cling to something so ephemeral when reality dictates that it wasn't meant to last?  I will always remember the friendship we had shared and that time together.  I'm okay that he's decided to close contact on his end, but I may still intermittently send him a warm text or message.  I'm okay being a friend in the shadows, available if/when he decides to contact me again.

I feel, for the first time since all this started, I can move on yet still hold on to what we had.

P.S. Bonus points to whoever catches the reference in the deviantART pic shown above.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Last Man Standing

Yeah yeah, I know it's been months since I last posted.  In my defense, it's been such a crazy ride I don't even know where to begin!  This residency thing is no joke, with all the days that I just want to break down and punch a wall.  To anyone contemplating medicine, my advice is: do not do it if you can see yourself doing anything else with your life.

Anyway, I've basically been on 5 inpatient rotations back-to-back, starting with NICU, then wards, then 4 weeks of night shift (6:30pm till 8am), then back to wards, then to newborn nursery (which, despite the benign-sounding name, has inpatient hours - 6:30am till 7pm).  That's basically 5 months straight of working 13-14+ hours a day, averaging 6 of 7 days a week.  I've had to work 19 days straight twice already!  Those 19 days are brutal.  And even that's an understatement.

At the end of each day I'm just exhausted.  I barely have time to take care of errands, much less myself!  My chief residents wonder why I don't feel "happy and excited to go to work every day."  Gee, it's not rocket science.  If you basically work twice the "normal" 40 hours/week and have half the number weekend days off in a month, would you be happy and excited even if it's something you love doing?  Likely not, I think.  It's not that I don't love my patients and families - I do.  They're why I haven't quit (well, one of many reasons).  And there are rare moments of joy in my day, but it's so hard to really feel "happy and excited" when it feels like you're just nose to the grindstone every single day.  At least I'm not a surgery resident . . . I'd probably have quit or committed suicide by now.
On another depressing note, I think I may have lost a friend.  Even back in June I hadn't chatted with him in like a month or so.  Now it feels like all communication has been cut off.  He doesn't respond to Facebook messages, texts, IM's (actually, he doesn't even show up on IM or Skype anymore, leading me to think he has either deleted or blocked me), Tumblr messages, etc.  A couple weeks ago I noticed that he unfollowed me on Tumblr and blocked me, such that none of his posts showed up on my dashboard.

I'm at a loss for words and thoughts.  I don't know what I did.  I know he has a boyfriend who he's quite involved with, is busy with school and work, but it just doesn't explain why he doesn't respond to any mode of communication.  I even called him once or twice and left a voicemail.  I don't know what to do.  I haven't really tried to communicate with him much over the past several weeks, to give him some space.  I'm just at a loss as to why he cut me off like this in the first place.  Maybe it's partly cuz of what we did when we met in person, and given he has a boyfriend now?  Idk.
On a happier note, I was lucky to have Thanksgiving off so I could go visit my family (I work both Christmas and New Year's).  It's always nice to see my grandparents and my little cousin.  It's such a world removed from work.

And now I'm on vacation visiting my brother in Texas for a few days.  Huzzah!  It's nice to sleep in.  :-)  I'll try to find time to post some pics later this week when I return to my apartment.  After 5 blocks of inpatient rotations back-to-back, these 2 weeks of vacation are sooooo well-deserved.  And I fear it'll fly by quicker than I can blink . . .