Sunday, September 18, 2016

False Summit

I finished my first stretch of call as an attending. Ten days of surgery coverage, two days of obs coverage mixed in there with a few ER shifts, consult clinic days, assisting, and scoping. Lots of "firsts" over the past 10 days.

I did my first middle of the night cesarean as an attending. No one there to tell me to cut higher or wider. No one there saying "it's safe to divide the omentum there" or showing me "the bladder is right there". It was just me standing there with sweat soaking through my bra and my socks.

The call came in around 3am, waking me and my husband up. I threw my pile of getting called back to the hospital clothes on. Duncan sleepily asked me what I was going in for.

Possible section. 

Good luck hon. 

Driving to the hospital I tried to breathe but it wasn't easy. I tried to remember the words of encouragement my attendings had given me over the last few years. Of course the only voices that easily came through were the words of doubt, the criticisms I've received. The houses along the way were quiet and dark as I rolled past, a contrast to my thoughts.

Later, when I got home. I was too wired to sleep. It was around five am. The edges of night were falling away and the morning bird songs had begun. I wasn't ready for bed but I went to our bedroom. I knew that Duncan would have had fragmented sleep after I left. I creaked open the door and he turned over.

How did it go?

It went well. It wasn't easy. I was terrified.  

I couldn't get back to sleep, I kept drifting in and out, wondering what time it was, hoping you'd be home soon.

I'm going to watch TV for a bit, I can't sleep yet. 

Thanks for coming in to tell me everything went OK, congrats. 

The big sleepy and warm hug was perfect. I went to the livingroom and put on Jim Gaffigan's newest stand up.

I thought that things would get easier when I finished residency. I thought that residency was really stressful because you were always having to do things the way other people wanted. You are always having to bend your preferences, practices, and schedule to the whim of your attendings. I had many days last year when I thought that being a resident would break me. I thought the stress and sleep deprivation was reaching the edges of sanity.

Like most things in life if I could go back I would do things much differently, and I'd chill the fuck out a bit too. The transition to becoming an attending has felt like taking off a 60lb backpack at the end of a hike, only to be handed a 100lb one while being told you have another 50 miles to walk. If only I'd known what was coming next.

1 comment:

PGYx said...

Sorry to hear attending life is not all it's cracked up to be. An attending in med school told me that life as an attending only gets harder. I took this to heart and during my education and training observed many examples that supported his assertion. My own experience as an attending correlates. I am baffled that the public think doctors lead charmed lives. I suppose this myth is a holdover from the past when doctors were wealthy, highly desirable mates (male docs, anyway), and well respected by all. Now we are forced to enter ever-growing piles of data and meet productivity quotas per administrative folks who were smart enough to steer clear of med school but not intelligent or driven enough to jump through the many cognitive and financial hardship hoops needed to pass medical school, board exams and complete residency.

Many patients hate doctors because we stare out our admin-mandated computer screens for most of the visit even though we'd give anything to look our patients in the eye. I know I shouldn't take it personally, but I feel really disheartened by all the negative comments I read about doctors these days. So many think we are uncaring and unintelligent money-grubbing meanies who get kickbacks from big pharma to prescribe meds.

Sorry I can't offer a more optimistic view today. Nice to see you back on the blog, tho'!