Weekly Update: High Five! Edition.

I started off Monday by walking out of my front door and directly into a snow drift. Where just seven hours previously there had been no snow. Hello blizzard. I slid in my little car (with absolutely no tread left on the front tires, we’re talking like made-the-tire-guy-gasp-in-horror no tread, Safety High Five!) to the main road, and through several intersections before I decided that, even with my crazy-mad snow driving skills honed after a decade-plus of wintering in the Upper Middle States, hitting the interstate to drive 30 miles to clinic would be a Stupid Idea Of Epic Proportions.

So, I slip-n-slided to the nearest Big Giant Hospital affiliated outpost, sat in the parking garage and had a good cry (Yeah, I’m A Big Cry Baby, What Of It? High Five!). After I had (somewhat) collected myself, I Googled the nearest non-blatantly-shady-looking tire place that I could get to without having to go up any sort of incline, drove there, got yet another credit card (Fiscally Responsible High Five!), got some decent (d*mn) tires (finally), and afterwards, I went to clinic. Oh yes, I did.

That night I got pretty much no sleep, for no good reason (because I usually have four to twenty, very noisy, undergrad party animal reasons directly above my bedroom for not sleeping, A**hole Neighbors High Five!), and woke up exactly 24 minutes before CREOGs (the Big Annual OB/GYN Resident Assessment Exam) started the next morning (2 Minute Shower High Five!).

After taking all of the shelf exams (core clinical med student exams most people only have to take once) numerous times in med school, not to mention surviving second year which consisted of approximately 92.7% taking exams, I was not too worried about a little one-day test which included free lunch (Free Food High Five!). Plus, I had been told by pretty much everyone (aside from my program director, of course), not to sweat the test as an intern because the whole point is to show improvement over the four years of residency and kick @ss on the test in third year if I want to do a fellowship. Don’t stress over something in residency when I have 57 million other perfectly good things that I actually need to stress about? Done.

The test was not exactly a Super Happy Good Time, but turns out all the studying I’ve been doing for the rotations I’ve been on so I have some idea of what I’m doing when I have to treat real live patients, came in handy when I had to answer hundreds of questions about purely theoretical ones as well (Indirect Benefit High Five!).

With the test over and new tires on my car, I was free to spend the rest of the week freaking out about how frigging old I and my (apparently, literally) elderly ovaries are, and how I probably have a better chance of growing a second head than of giving birth some day. Yep, I am on REI right now (Infertility Freak Out High Five!)

Every day I am counseling women (significantly) younger and healthier than myself who just can’t manage to pregnant for no good reason. I know the stats people, and right now (officially in my early-to-mid-thirties), my chances of ever getting pregnant ain’t looking good, and get worse by the day (Who am I kidding? By the second.). The realization of which kind of makes me want to jump up and bust out of whatever stuffy, sterile little consultation room I happen to be sitting in at the time, and immediately get to work on getting knocked up. At least five times a day.

Because I have always wanted to have kids and I still do. But, I am a resident. And the reigning verdict on having a baby as a resident is that you have to: #1 – Be Rich, #2 – Have tons of people just sitting around ready and willing to raise your child while you are at work all the time, #3 – Be a Magical Pregnancy Unicorn who never gets sick, never misses more than 10 seconds of work (this includes your effortlessly popping that little miracle out and seamlessly handing it off to your Nanny Squad who have been on standby in the lounge for the last nine months, between consults), and in fact works harder while all PG, and ever afterwards.

At this point, I am the opposite of rich. As in, if the surgeon general starts putting warning labels on credit accounts, there will be no writing, there will just be a picture of my broke @ss. I don’t even have enough money to buy a used couch, and I have started to pray every time I buy a package of ramen noodles that my credit card won’t be rejected (Glamorous Doctor Life High Five!). Plus, my support people consists of my cat. Who, as far as I can tell, considers waking me up in the morning by sitting on face and hard-core licking her privates to be the absolute pinnacle of supportivity (Hey, It Got Me Out Of Bed In Time For CREOGs High Five!). I’m not even going to address the Magical Pregnancy Unicorn issue. Knowing my luck, I’d probably have a barf bag strapped on like a feed bag for 9 months, 8.75 of which I would probably be on Strict Bed Rest what with my PIH, GDM, VB, MSG, OMG……..(Just Being Realistic High Five!).

I just have to say, that this totally sucks.

It sucks that in this day and age, I and many other women are forced to choose between having a career or having a family. It sucks that I could have stayed a nurse and probably had three kids by now, but no, I chose to go on to medical school and be a doctor so I could do more to help other people, so now, by the time I can (responsibly) have a kid, I probably won’t be able to.

I realize that it was my choice, and after I made that choice my ex-husband said “Okay, then we can’t have kids because you won’t be around to take care of them.” And then divorced me. (Yep, Better Off Without Him High Five!) And then I kept right on going, I suppose the implications of which are now finally, fully setting in.

Because who thought, in this day and age, I would really have to be making the choice to have a career or a family? Obviously, not me. Sure, it was probably hanging around somewhere in the back of mind where I store disturbing things I would just rather not think about (Denial High Five!), but come on! Nahhhh, that will never happen.

Fast-forward five years, and here it is, happening. And regardless of how self-inflicted it may be, it still totally sucks.

Fast-forward to today (Fast-Forward High Five!), and I’m in my own clinic. And one of my very own patients, who I delivered with my very own hands, brings in her baby to get a picture with me. And brings me a picture, which I am instructed to display on my very own Baby Board. It is the very first picture I have gotten to display on my very own Baby Board.

And for the rest of the day, I don’t give a d*mn about choices (Having My Very First Baby Picture To Display On My Very Own Baby Board Is The Epitome Of AWESOME High Five!). I go home and lay in bed and watch stupid TV on Netflix and eat candy for a couple hours, and then I dance around like crazy in my fuzzy jammie pants to a song that makes me feel like me and my (elderly) ovaries are young and juicy and carefree all over again……

And then I go for a long walk, and it’s snowing again, and all I can think about is how it sparkles…..

snowwalk

And I listen to a hopeful song……

And I stay up too late to write a blog post. (On Call All Weekend High Five!)

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Just in time……

I finished my last shift as an RN a few mornings ago.

Just in time. It was the last of five night shifts in a row, and I’m afraid I was on the verge of getting, as one of my fellow night shifter RN buddies terms it, ‘stupid tired.’

Two days of trying to readjust to being awake during the day, lots of errands, goodbyes, and 27ish hours of sleep later, I still haven’t completely processed it. I am done being a nurse. It still feels like I’m going to get a phone call any second, that someone has called in, someone has a sick kid, or someone broke their [insert bone and/or joint here], and they need me to fill in. They need me to be a nurse again, one last time.

I was supposed to leave for residency this morning. I don’t really have to I suppose. Orientation doesn’t start until the middle of next week, and what am I going to do? Unpack in a couple hours and sit in an apartment with no furniture, hot water, or internet, and stare at the walls for several days because I am trying not to spend any money (that I don’t have)?

Forget that.

I’m staying as long as I can. At home. With The Writer, where my friends are. Not to mention I couldn’t pack my car today anyway. The Hound decided to run off from the farm over the weekend and I had to take her back. She was fine until my friend who was watching her went on vacation. Apparently, she got bored after a couple days and ended up getting busted chowing down on a neighbor’s garbage. The Hound has never been able to resist a heaping, odoriferous, tantalizing (?) pile of garbage. I got a call from my vet while I was at work, letting me know she had been apprehended. I picked her up today, took her for a long walk, gave her some bones, and sat with her on the lawn scratching her belly. Naughty, spoiled Hound.

I drove her back to the farm and she happily slobbered, shed, and farted all over the back seat the whole way. Naughty, spoiled, smelly, sheddy Hound. I’d really missed her. She, however, hopped out of the hatchback as soon as we arrived and set out for some serious sniffage. With one brief look of acknowledgement back at me, “Hey, thanks for the ride!”, she was off, like she’d never left.

I drove away, knowing they will take good care of her, but still missing her. I followed the sunset on the way home. Suddenly realizing I had my camera in the car, that I haven’t taken a picture in weeks, so I lost myself in the chase. I managed to get a few shots, as the sun quickly sank, lighting up the sky and the clouds. Just in time.

 

 

 

 

 

I think I will leave in the morning. The car is packed, I just need to make the leap and go. It’s so tempting to wait as long as possible, to stay as long as I can, one more dinner with friends, one more visit with The Hound, one more cuddle on the couch with The Writer, until I have to race into orientation at the last second. Just in time.

And this is why I continue to work as a nurse….

One topic that has routinely come up at interviews so far is the fact that I’m a nurse. That’s right. I was a nurse and then I went to medical school, and *gasp* I occasionally still pick up shifts while attending medical school. I don’t get why this is so shocking. I mean, it’s not like I was lion tamer or something. It seems like a fairly logical career move to an unattached, childless, total nerd, school/all things medical lover like me. Shrug.

So I get to work last night and all is calm and all is right. One of the day-shifters is escorting the last in-patient out the door and the ER is dark. 1930 and the census is officially zero. Sweet. My RN compadre for the night and I hustle through cart, fridge, and supply checks. We hastily, but efficiently, stock cupboards and IV trays, lock doors, count narcs, and settle into the lounge. By 2 am I’ve cleaned out my back pack and purse, read two chapters in my new ER text, researched my next interview stop, posted on the blog, finished four (a new, one shift personal best) crossword puzzles, drunk an entire pot of coffee, and sort of watched three Christmas movies. Nice.

Then, the ambulance radio goes off. We perk up to hear a call for ambulance and fire crews for a car accident nearby. Oh yeah, that one is coming here. We head out to the desk to listen in and sure enough, 15 minutes later, they are en route to our ER. The adrenaline wins over the 3 am sleepies and we head to the ER to prep. And find the computers are down for some reason. At this point, working as sporadically as I do, I can barely manage to use the new EMR system when its working, I have next to no idea what the h*ll to do when it’s not. More adrenaline. We run out to riffle through manuals and call IT. No one answers at IT, and the ambulance has arrived.

I go back to the ambulance bay, check my own pulse, and open the door. I realize at that moment how truly easy it is to be a med student. Right then I knew I had no one to hold my hand, tell me what to do, or take over. Tag, I was it. Yes, I had another (amazingly awesome) RN to work with, and an MD in the call room, but I was not an observer or an unresponsible learner in this scenario. I was as utterly responsible for the patients as they were, I had better pull my weight, know my sh*t, and there was no room for error. The shift in roles hit me harder than it had in a long time.

Then two stretchers roll in and I’m inundated by excited chatter from the EMTs. Screw the EMR, I grab a blank sheet of copy paper, and we start writing everything we do and hear down as we follow Trauma protocols. We get the basic information, assessments and interventions done, call the MD, and reboot all the computers. The sign-in screen for the EMR flashes up and we both cheer. My (amazingly awesome) co-worker takes over the lion’s share of the documentation, but I manage to hold my own. We continue to care for the patients until the day shift arrives.

I walked out this morning and thought about that moment of realization, that instant of terror, when I realized how completely responsible I was for the lives of others, and I was glad for it. I thought of residency, when I will gradually, carefully be introduced to that level of responsibility and authority as a physician, and I was scared again. But, I thought, I’ve been there before, I will work my behind off to know as much as I can and be as ready as possible. I thought of probably the majority (?) of other med students who haven’t had the experience of really being responsible for a patient’s care, and I felt lucky to know exactly what I am facing. I wonder how they manage without knowing, without having been there. I know they do, and they do just fine. But I still wonder.

And that is why I continue to work as an RN while I go to med school, and I am very, very happy to do so. (Okay, it’s also, in part, because I miss my nurse buddies. And because I’m poor. Very, very poor. Not gonna lie.) It’s not because I’m some kind masochistic, gunner, workaholic, showoff freakazoid. It’s almost comforting to keep going back and feel the terror, because it makes me feel that much more humbled, and prepared.

So now maybe I’ll have something more concrete to tell interviewers when they incredulously ask “You were a nurse??” “You still work as a nurse??”

Sigh.

Yes, yes I do. I am d*mn lucky to do so, and here’s why…..