Monday, October 04, 2004

top shelf

Last night, for the first time, I slept on the top bunk in the resident call room. So now I know better. Always pick the bottom bunk. Here, a crude schematic:

Yes, the call rooms have bunk beds. It's Kamp Krusty. The call room is obviously small, but the niche into which the bunk bed is wedged is really small, barely larger than the bed itself. And as you can see, this creates some logistical difficulties for actually getting into the bed. Bottom bunk, fine. Just sit down and swing your legs in. Top bunk, you're crawling through a foxhole and wiggling your torso in between the bedpost ladder and the ceiling. And are you thinking of sitting up in the top bunk? Bad idea. Maybe we should put some padding up there.

Anyway, I chose of my own free will to go for the top bunk out of good old-fashioned med school guilt, feeling that if I was lucky enough to get to lie down during my night on, it should at least be as painful as possible. So I slithered into the top bunk and shut my eyes for a moment. Which brings me to my first theory about the hospital paging system, that there must be some kind of a weight-sensor on the mattresses in the resident call rooms, such that one's pager is guaranteed to go off the second one lies down to rest. (My second theory is that there is a similar pager-activating weight-sensor on the toilet seats of the staff bathrooms. But never you mind about that.) So of course, the second I lie down, the sensor is triggered, and my pager starts going off. The patient's K is 2.1. Do you want to write for a run? Do I ever. Awkwardly lower myself to the ground, check the patient, write for potassium, re-ascend the ladder, slither into bed, with much jangling of keys and ID tags and rustling of signout sheets. Another page. This kid's blood gas is going down the toilet. What do you want me to do? Suction that ETT but good and I'll be there in a minute. Another perilous descent, socked feet slipping on metal rungs, and another precarious ascent, coins and pens dropping from my being. I lie down again and one second later...This kid is starting to look a little mottled and his chest tube is putting out green mucous. Oh lord, why bother?

I did manage to get some sleep in the end, however. That's the good part. The bad part is somewhere between climbing up and slithering down for the five millionth time, I seem to have lost my stethescope. I looked everywhere for it, but it just got sucked into the void somehow. I'm sure it will turn up, but I hope sooner rather than later, as I switch sides to the cardiac ICU tomorrow, and if I need any one thing, it's probably going to be my stethescope. Well that and, like, my brain.

Currently reading: I just got some new books at Borders, ostensibly for Hawaii plane reading, but I can't resist just breaking into one. I'm deciding between "The Fortress of Solitude" and "The Corrections."

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