In the Life of a Fickle Intern

July 16, 2012

Unlucky

Filed under: Daily Lowdown — dailymedicine @ 22:01

I cannot decide if I’m the luckiest unlucky person out there or if Baltimore really has it out for me. I’m lucky in the sense that I have all the means necessary to overcome all of these ridiculously annoying issues that the city of Baltimore has thrown my way, but I feel like my relationship with Baltimore is so very fragile and it keeps on testing my very limited loyalty to it.

On my drive back from dinner tonight, a kid, yes, a 16 year old kid, ran into my car in the middle of a very busy street. He has his learners permit and his mother decided to let him drive in downtown Baltimore in the midst of construction. Though I hate to admit it, my aggressive “don’t mess with me” temper came out and I think I may have even slammed my door and huffed and puffed about something. I was pissed. This was the middle of the street! After demanding insurance information and everything, I took a deep breathe and finally saw the fear on the poor kid’s face. I calmed down after my mini-temper tantrum, and we exchanged the necessary information. The mom seemed reasonable and apologized for her son’s action. I think he was in shock. I apologized for my temper and we assessed the damage together.

The kid’s look of fear reminded me of my nephew’s car wreck last year. He called me after the incident and I remember so clearly how scared and worried he was. Thinking of this brought me back to reality. My car was fine. It was mildly dented and scratched up on the side, but in the long run, it’s just a car. Right? More importantly, no one was hurt and both of our cars were still running. We talked, exchanged insurance information, attempted to call the police (I am getting really good at calling them!), and parted way.

I have not decided how far I want to push this, whether I should get the insurance company involved, or even if I want to do a formal police report. Like I said, my car is a little beat up, but they seem like nice, normal people. I asked the mother what she did to get a sense of their social standing. Her husband works for the IRS and she is getting her master. Normal people stuff.

I think I just need to see my car again during the day time and go from there. I am wiling to forget the whole thing if it doesn’t look too bad, but I also know that I should be more practical and less emotional when dealing with these types of situations. No matter how nice I try to be, I feel like I have really bad karma! Or at least it has felt that way recently.

But most importantly, despite the annoyance of these seemingly recurring situations, I am grateful for everything else. Trying to keep things in perspective.

July 10, 2012

Safe

Filed under: Daily Lowdown — dailymedicine @ 11:32

It’s easy to forget what ERs are really meant to do because people tend to abuse it, at least in my perspective. They come in because they can’t make an appointment with their own doctor or they have some vague complaint  or they are seeking narcotics or they’re bored and/or drunk. I would say that the majority of the people I’ve seen so far this month have no real medical issue, at least not acutely. I am currently working in a private ED that is affiliated with my program. As a second year resident, we start getting exposure to the private world to provide us with a different perspective. Instead of the high acuity, the high volume, and the long wait that I’m used to at our University Hospital, I now deal more with the “bread and butter” complaints. The term “bread and butter” is used in medicine to describe the most common things that you will see in that field. It’s what my job will entail if I decide to work in a private setting.

However, recently, Baltimore experienced a pretty severe summer storm that left many people without power, and with this, I was reminded that “acuity” can have so many different meanings, especially to people experiencing it. So many people were affected by this power outrage. Many of them like my attendings had the means to find an alternative housing option, but for the rest, unfortunately, they were left in their powerless home with temperatures in a record high. Without saying, we had an influx of patients coming into the ED because of heat related problems but so many people, especially the elderly, just came in because they could not handle being at home. Though these issues are not technically medical problems, these people ended up staying in the hospital because we couldn’t discharge them home to develop heat related illnesses. We admitted people because of social reasons. It sounds so silly typing this out, but unfortunately, these were old, fragile people who have so many medical issues and so little resources. They had no where else to go.

After three days of seeing patients who came into the ED because they didn’t have power, I started paying attention, really paying attention, to the patients overall and not just their complaints. I was pleasantly reminded that despite being jaded about my job at times, I have a really cool job. I work in a place that many people go to when they are hopeless, medically or not. No matter what happens, they can always come into an ED and know that they will be safer than where they were. We see everyone from domestic abuse victims, rape victims, trauma patients, sick patients, and not sick patients. People have such wide variety of reasons to come see us, and it’s frustrating at times because as I mentioned before, most of these issues are not emergencies, but on the other hand, I like knowing that I help in providing a semi-safe haven for so many people.

Granted, this does not change my mind that I think that people abuse the ED, but it gives me another reason why I do love my job (on most days). And to be completely fair, it’s definitely safer to sober up in the ED than under a bridge, right?

July 1, 2012

Outlook

Filed under: Daily Lowdown — dailymedicine @ 23:55

It’s amazing how one little thing can change your whole outlook on everything. The only difference between Friday and now, a little before midnight on Sunday, is that I’ve moved. Okay, it’s kind of a big difference, but now, everything is more manageable since I don’t have to worry about my living situation anymore.

Last week, I was a bit of an emotional wreck. I was working everyday. I was tired. The patients were obnoxious. Nights were long. I ate poorly. And the list goes on. On top of that, I had to move and to arrange everything that went with that. There was so much to do and I just had no motivation or energy to do anything (though of course I still did everything…)  I was not a happy camper. I was overwhelmed and overworked and burnt out. For the first time this year, I felt like I needed my family, if only just for moral support. I felt really alone and the last time I felt this way was when I was in Vietnam by myself after college where I was physically and emotionally alone.

During my end-of-the-year session with one of my program directors Friday afternoon after a week of feeling this way, I bursted into tears when he asked me how life was. I sat and sobbed for 10 minutes. Poor guy. He doesn’t have any children and I could just tell that he had no idea what to do with me. Nonetheless, I felt so much better letting out all of that pent up emotion. Work that night was so much  more bearable.

Saturday came and went, and despite only getting 3 hours of sleep, I had a successful move into my new apartment. Though I am still 98% unpacked, I feel like a huge burden had been lifted. These last two months have been really tough. Though I do have a tendency to downplay everything and to try to make the best of all situation, it really sucked. Granted, it worked out better than I could have ever hoped, but seriously, getting robbed twice really gets to you. And despite having an overall good intern year, it was a really rough year. I worked on average of 70 hours a week. I lost countless hours of sleep and lost weight and ate poorly and lost hair and had countless canker sores and worst of all, my shoulders have been knotted since my very first day. Though I would love to tell everyone that residency is really fun and easy, I would be lying through my teeth. It’s fun but it’s really hard work.

Nonetheless, it’s a new year in a new apartment with new opportunities. It’s a brand new start. My goal this year is to survive being a 2nd year and to not be robbed. Reasonable, right?

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