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 . . .


naturgesetz said...

I guess the subject of residents' hours is one that gets lots of discussion. It seems to me that two important questions are that health of the residents and whether there is impaired judgment caused by sleep deprivation. OTOH the 40 hour workweek is a fairly recent invention. (Was it needed before the industrial revolution?)

Anyway, I'm glad you got through the first months and that you're actually getting a vacation. Enjoy!

To bad about the friend. It would be decent of him to explain why he's cut you off, but the fact seems clear. Sometimes people have good reasons, sometimes they have bad reasons, and sometimes they just lose interest.

fan of casey said...

Someone (perhaps from the government) should break these ridiculous hours residents have to endure. My brother was a surgery resident and to be up 2 days in a row with maybe 2 hours of nap in between, who wants to be attended as patient on the long end of that shift?

I ask me brother why don't the new residents demand changes - he said it's the inertia of the medical profession and kind of a hazing ritual. The senior doctors, who are in management/supervisory level feel like they did it when they were residents, so all doctors have to go thru the same ordeal.

Just hang in there and eventually it will be over if it doesn't burn you out first.

Biki Honko said...

I had a very good friend that I met over blogger, and then met in person. We hung out, he even came to Alaska for a visit. Then he got a boyfriend and the bf is very controlling and I was soon pushed out. His phone number was changed, email account deleted, blog closed. So, I know what you're going thru with missing a good friend. Hopefully he will come back to you.

Resident hours are stupid, and a left over from the grim days of medical training. And like all outdated traditions its time for the overwork of residents to come to an end. Hang in there!

Jeremy Ryan said...

Sounds like life is a bit crazy for you. I know what your going through with having a friend out of the blue stop responding. I've got a friend like that. He moved got married had a kid and got divorced and remarried. I think he stopped talking with me because he figured out I was gay. I have no idea why he won't talk to me. It hurts but life goes on. Keep doing you!

madmanMD said...

tough first 5 months! one month of night float straight is really tough too it's too bad your program does it that way. anyway we've all been through it and you'll get finished soon too so just keep plugging away!

Aek said...

@fan of casey: It'll take more than "simply" imposing more "reasonable" duty hours. There is something to be said for repetition and experience, and that can be quantified as hours. If duty hours decrease, then shift work must increase and likely the duration of residency increase as well. There doesn't ever seem to be a good clear answer.

@Biki, Jeremy: Yeah, it's quite sad. :-( He opened up to me a fair bit, though he always kept a part of himself guarded. I don't discard close friendships like that easily.

@madmanMD: 1 month of night float isn't quite as terrible as it seems. I got every weekend off, which was quite nice. :-D But yeah, by the 3rd week of nights, I was pretty ready for it to be over.

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