Sometimes I think I'm a bad person. Or at least that I use up all my good will at work, and when I actually step out of the hospital, all that's left is a cynical, self-centered husk. I was sitting on the subway post-call this morning struggling to stay awake, and seated next to a middle-aged disheveled man who was clearly trying to do the same. Obviously I was having more success than he, as the guy kept listing over to one side and doing the bob-and-weave so commonly seen during boring lectures in med school when the lights go down. The man was out of it, though from plain fatigue or chemical-induced delerium, I cannot say. Finally, he flopped over so far that he actually fell over onto the ground, where he lay there for what seemed like an eternity before lifting up his head, shrugging, and resuming his righted position back on the subway bench. I am a bad person because this is what I thought when he fell over:
Oh shit. Does this mean I have to do something?
He's an adult. Maybe I can get away with feigning ignorance because I do Peds.
But I'm wearing scrubs. I'm obligated to help. Shit. I'm tired. I was helping patients all night long. I don't want to help some guy on the subway too.
What if he's dead?
Should I get down on the floor all BLS style? Should I ask him if he's OK? Is it all right if I just nudge him with my feet instead of using my hands? That's probably rude.
Please get up. Please. Don't make me come over there.
Oh, thank god. He's getting up. Now to resume my life of apathy.
So you can see, I'm a very bad person. But that's the thing about working in the hospital. You spend all day giving and giving and giving to people and it's never supposed to be about you. Which is ultimately good I guess, that's why medicine is a satisfying profession and all that. But the unfortunate backlash, unless you're some kind of otherworldly saint, is that at the end of the day you're just sick and tired of being the go-to guy (or gal) for everyone's needs except your own. And this causes you to be selfish sometimes with your time and resources. I don't want to take care of you, random drunken stranger man. I have to take care about too many other people already.
I guess I'm not a very nice person.
Currently reading: The cartoon issue of The New Yorker. Franzen is right, "Peanuts" was much better before they introduced Marcie and Woodstock.