Monday, 4 April 2011

My First Day (caution: Naivete abound)

My first day in the ER, I was assigned to the Resuscitation Room. This is the worst  and most stressful room in the entire ward. Basically, it's where the really critical patients come in (ranging from gunshots to car accidents to falling off balconies) We have a simple rule: if there's even the slightest bit of head trauma, they need to go to the resuscitation room. Thankfully, I ended up with a morning shift (which had the least flow amongst the 3 shifts ; nights being the hardest)

I went in and got myself acquainted with the residents and colleagues and went  straight to work with the patients. I'd noticed that most of the patients in the room needed a neurosurgical consultation (as most of them had head injuries) but the neurosurgeon was nowhere in sight. So I asked the resident where the guy was because it looked like they needed attention right away. I say looked like because after 6 months in the hospital, your definition of 'urgent' and 'right away' begins to broaden more and more and include a bigger timespan. He laughed and told me that we'd have to wait a couple of hours till the doctor came.

"A COUPLE OF HOURS! For God's sake man, these people need attention now!"  It was my first day ; what can I say? I was young and naïve. I decided to take matters into my own hands and look for this son of a bitch neurosurgeon (who was probably munching on some Rotato chips at the kiosk right outside the ward).  So I made sure I didn't have any work left and ventured out of the room into the hallway looking for Dr. Neuro. It was odd because I everyone I asked seemed to be covering for him. I kept thinking, why the fuck would anyone cover for this piece of shit doctor who's on call but never around. I finally found him half an hour later. He was sleeping in a supply closet! Needless to say, I was furious. Here was this man, bereft of humanity, sleeping like a baby while other patients were dying simply because he couldn't set aside his beauty hours of sleep. I woke his ass up and dragged him down to the room so he could look at the patients. I asked him how he could sleep here and he just shrugged it off and looked at some of the CTs belonging to the patients. 

At the end of the shift, as I was going to sign out, I bumped into a good buddy of mine who had finished his internship already. So I ended up talking about how much of a dick this Dr. Neuro guy was. So my friend looked at me and said to me, "Dr. Neuro was the neurosurgical consult when I was an intern here too." So I said to him, "Was he a dick then too?"  His reply was chilling, "You don't get it. He's been ON CALL SINCE I was an intern here."

My friend finished his ER rotation 2 months before I started.

Dr. Neuro has been the neurosurgical consult 24 hours every day, for 2 months.He goes home once a week for a couple of hours so he can take a shower and come back.

Wow. I felt like an asshole. I eventually got to know Dr. Neuro and he's a great guy. He could have exploded in my face when I was an ass to him but he chose not to. Now, whenever there's a neurosurgical consultation, I wait for as long as humanly possible (without putting the patient's life in danger obviously) before I wake him up.

I remember this one time I was talking to him a few weeks later at 7 am in the morning. We were watching the janitors exchange shifts and he said to me, " It's not fair. They get to change shifts  and I don't. This is what's become of my life. The janitor has more access to human rights than I do."

I did what any other person would do. I patted him on the back and lied:

"You're going to be alright." I said.

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