Archive for February, 2012

Working Hard and MASH T-shirts

February 19, 2012

It’s been a long time since my last post, and a lot has happened since then.  So much so that I don’t think half a dozen posts could do the events justice.  But at the least I can try to give a bit of a flavor, a beer-sampler if you will, of the past several months.

If there was one word to describe the passed time, it would be “busy.”  Surgical residents are nothing if not busy.  I’ve rotated through the VA hospital, the general surgery service and anesthesiology since my last update, and I’m now nearly two weeks into my SICU rotation.  With the gross exception of anesthesiology, all have kept me extremely busy.

I think one of the things I struggle with is finding understanding from my (non-medical) friends.  I take my job very seriously, and I work very hard.  When I go home I want to relax and joke about things, but sometimes I want to talk about some of the heavy stuff, and I have a hard time finding good understanding from those people in my life who don’t have medicine as their career.  I work 70 or 80 hours a week, and it’s easy to see the number in your head, but understanding what it actually means in real life terms is something else.  At the end of a 13 hour day you’re tired.  I regularly buy dinner from the hospital cafeteria because I don’t have the time to go grocery shopping.

And the work is stressful.  I desperately want to be good at this job, but there are always little mistakes.  So far nothing too harmful (thank goodness) but it’s very frustrating to work so hard and still screw up, and even more worrisome knowing that the day may well be coming when your mistake will cause someone harm.

And patients die.  Not long ago I was speaking to a man with an actively rupturing abdominal aortic aneurism.  He was stable at the time, but I left the room to discuss him with my boss, only to return to find his mental status altered.  He was quickly intubated and taken to the operating room, but there he died on the table (longer version of this story to come).  These dramatic things don’t happen every day, but they do happen.  Patients that I’ve taken care of for weeks suddenly die.  You meet their family, get to know who they are.  These people trust you.

But then there are days like to day.  It’s my day off and I am sitting outside my little dwelling, with my MASH t-shirt on in the sunlight.  Sipping a soda and taking a break from some pleasure reading to update my blog.  I wouldn’t trade this crazy life for anything.