In the Life of a Fickle Intern

September 26, 2011


Filed under: Personal Ramble — dailymedicine @ 14:11

I think that working in medicine has really altered my emotional balance. I’ve always been a rather emotional person fully expressing every inkling of feeling on my face. Being aware of this trait, I was actually really nervous about going into medicine. I had doubts about my ability to handle the emotional stress both from my patients and from my colleagues, not to mention the presumed judgement that patients may feel with my facial expressions (though I promise they’re just reactions rather than judgements.) However, somehow, someway, I’ve managed to almost completely prevent myself from being overly sensitive in the work place. I take criticism from my colleagues with the mindset that I can only get better; I see patients yelling as me as people who are frustrated and in pain (and/or drunk); and most importantly, I have learned not to take too many things personally. Though this is not fool-proof, I think I’ve done a decent job separating my feelings in the workplace.

However, this last week, I had my first patient die. Though he passed away after I had left the hospital, I took care of him from his arrival. He was the sickest patient I’ve taken care of since intern year started. We had to put a tube down his throat to help him breathe and use medicines to help his heart pump. His family withdrew life support a few hours after I left. Learning of this the next day, I was sad, granted, but I was mostly fine. I went on working as if it was just another day.

Though I am grateful that I wasn’t an emotional wreck after learning about this patient’s death, I’m really worried about my seemingly apathetic reaction. I’ve always imagined how I would handle my first death; I would have to hide in the supply closet and cry until I got all the hiccups outs. Ok, maybe not all that, but I thought that it would affect me more.

Better yet, on my flight to California for my week of vacation, I was sitting there sobbing as I read The Kids are Alright (the book) about a mom dying from cancer. I am sure the older gentleman in the next seat thought I was a hot mess as I sat there blowing my nose and hiccuping from this silly book. It was sad, but I see patients in worst conditions all the time!

I think my emotions are confused.

September 8, 2011

Doctor’s orders

Filed under: Daily Lowdown — dailymedicine @ 20:33

I snuck out of the ED for 15 minutes the other day when I was semi-caught up and had one of the ophthalmology residents look at my eye. I went with the intention of setting up a time to come back after work, but the resident, who was super nice, insisted that I get examined right then and there. Though I felt bad for leaving the ED, I gave in to appease my curiosity. So, the final diagnosis? I have superficial punctate keratits on my left cornea, most likely from contact overuse. It just means that I have little abrasions on my cornea. Apparently contacts were not made to be worn more than 8 hours a day. I had no idea! Though this is completely unrealistic, especially for someone in the medical field, I did promise her that I would wear my glasses for at least a week to ten days or until my vision returned fully. So no contacts. I’ve never been a big glasses person but I guess I gotta do what the doctor ordered. At least I now know that I am not developing some horrible disease like multiple sclerosis!

September 4, 2011


Filed under: Personal Ramble — dailymedicine @ 20:49

I think my body hates me. Especially now. I am finally in the Emergency Department at the main hospital this month and it’s everything I expected, hoped, and feared. I’m really tired, but I’m having a really good time. I love the patients, most of them, and I love, LOVE the nurses. They’re young and energetic and really great at their jobs. Best yet, I’ve been told by several nurses that I’m their favorite intern, not that that really matters, but it’s still very nice. I’m so glad to be back in such a fast and exciting environment.

But unfortunately, as with all Emergency Departments, we have to switch between day and night shifts relatively frequently. Apart from being tired, I feel ok, but my body is telling me otherwise. After finishing a string of night shifts this last week, I think I have to go to the doctor, an ophthalmologist to be exact. About four or so days ago, I noticed that my vision in my left eye has dramatically decreased despite wearing contacts and/or glasses. Both of my eyes have become amazingly sensitive to any sort of light stimulation. Driving has been quite a feat these last few days considering I can only see clearly in one eye. I was not really worried about this until one of my attendings during a night shift on Thursday really encouraged me to go see an ophthalmologist. I paged the ophthalmology resident on call and though she wasn’t too worried, she wanted to see me in clinic the next day, but as tired and stubborn as I was coming home from being up all night, I told her I would come in on Tuesday if it doesn’t improve over the weekend. It hasn’t improved.

On top of that, I have all of these canker sores in my mouth and my hair is falling out, even more than usual, in clumps. I think I am falling apart. I also noticed today when I was doing a quick eye exam on myself how anemic I am. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start taking a multivitamin. Being deficient in basic vitamins would definitely explain a lot of my symptoms. I guess eating candy and pretzels as one of my three meals a day isn’t doing the trick. Oops.

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