Sunday, April 02, 2006

the simple life

So Daylight Savings has robbed me of one precious hour of vacation time. Bastards! I don't know who exactly these Time Bandits are, but I curse them all the same.

I was checking the OR schedule online yesterday, looking at my assignment for Monday, and thought to myself, as I sometimes do, how much easier it would be in so many ways to be a "normal" resident. That is to say, a resident like all the other residents in my class. A resident without a baby.

(Now, I know that every person is different, and just because someone doesn't have a damn baby at home doesn't mean that they're living the Miller High Life, free and clear of all obligations or responsibilities once they leave the hospital. I also know that there are other residents who have kids, though the percentage of family-types really depends on the residency program. But I'm just speaking from the vantage point of someone who, just a few short months ago, was a "normal" resident.)

As a normal resident, life would be easier. I could wake up later in the morning. I could sleep in on the weekends. We would be making twice as much money. I wouldn't have to worry about what was going on at home while I was at work, unless Cooper was sick or something like that. Certainly, I would want to get out on time at the end of the day, as anyone would, but I wouldn't have to worry about getting home by a certain time to avoid paying $15 an hour in overtime childcare, and I wouldn't have to worry about whether or not I should grab something to eat on the way home, because if Joe was trapped in the hospital late and I was flying solo, I might be too busy sit down and eat dinner once I walked in the door. Post-call days I could spend all day between the bed and the couch if I so wanted, just relaxing and reading and watching bad TV and re-charging the old battery. I could go to the movies.

In the olden days (pre-Cal), it wouldn't be a big deal if I got home at 7:00 or 8:00pm. There were certainly months when I was in the PICU that I got home at past 8:00pm every day--that is, if I made it home at all. But it wasn't a big deal. 8:00pm was still early. I could come home, eat dinner, catch up on my e-mail, read the newspaper, watch some bad TV, do lots of little things before I had to go to bed. Time at home was leisurely. It was time for me and Joe to just unwind.

Now I feel like I'm on the clock all day. If I'm not on call, I pray and scramble to get home before 7:00pm. The second I get home, I'm in the bathroom, washing my hands and face so that I don't populate Cal with MRSA or whatever other scourge I'm carrying on my skin, change my clothes, and then rush out to take the baby so that Georgia can get out the door. 7:00pm is dinnertime, 8:00pm is bathtime, 8:30-9:00pm is bedtime, depending on how many naps Cal got in during the day. In between, we try to squash in as much playtime or quality family bonding that we can.

Sometimes I'll check my e-mail with Cal on my lap, and feel guilty because Lord, woman, you can check your e-mail at work, but now's the time you should be paying attention to your son! Sometimes I have the TV on in the background when I'm feeding Cal, be it the news or "King of the Hill" or some Cooking Network crap, and I feel bad because Look, it's the baby that you've been waiting all day to see, right in front of you, and you're distracted by a cartoon about a man who sells propane and propane accessories? It's just straight from one fast-paced demanding job to another, or so it seems. After Cal is down for the count, there's maybe half an hour that I have for myself, but I usually spend that time preparing my lunch for the next day and making sure that my breast pump is fully packed and that the current day's milk is decanted and in the fridge. I'm in bed before 10:00am and, depending on how Chucky-like Cal is being, sometimes I'm up at night dealing with him. The sick thing is that I really don't even mind it when Cal gets me up in the middle of the night. I kind of like it that he still takes a snack at midnight. Because at least then I get to see him.

Things I don't usually have time to do: Study. See friends. Watch TV. ("Hey, do you watch 'Grey's Anatomy'?" is the question I invariably get asked. No, I have never watched "Grey's Anatomy.") Engage in any sort of leisure activity. (Yes, this includes updating this webpage.) I still get some time to read on the days that I take the subway home, though, which is a saving grace. I've tried on multiple occasions to study anesthesia on the train--seems like the only free time I get to do it, since I hate to spend all day at work and then take more time away from Cal when I'm actually home READING ABOUT WORK--but believe you me, after a long day in the hospital, the last thing you want to do when you're headed home is to read about the oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve. Especially if you don't get a seat and have to stand. Then, juggling the textbook in one hand, a cooler in the other, a breast pump on your shoulder and the subway pole between your knees, it's like one of Dante's circles of Hell. (One of the outer ones, though.)

Were things simpler last year when I was a "normal" resident? Well, of course. There was certainly a lot less pressure, fewer obligations and responsibilities, less guilt and more time to spend doing whatever it was I used to waste my time with. Life was easier.

But do I ever have days where I wish I was a "normal" resident again? No. Never. Ever.

May I repeat: never.




Currently watching: "Red Eye." Another DVD loaner from my sister. Cillian Murphy is freaky-looking. And also, A WOMAN.

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