Saturday, June 10, 2006

'cause they'll never stay home and they're always alone

I know that I've been away for a while, and I apologize. I just started a month in the surgical ICU, and it has been somewhat difficult to get back into the flow of ward medicine. Let me tell you, I did two years of a ward-based medical specialty, and in that time probably did about four or five unit months (as in "intensive care unit," not Moon Unit Zappa) but man, after doing OR medicine for almost a year, I feel as green as a third year med student in July. What are these "rounds"? And "writing orders"? And having the same patients every day? The mind, it boggles. I can't believe there was ever a time that I thought I might want to be an intensivist. But if anyone is taking this down for the record: I don't anymore.

But enough about my boring work woes. Because they are woeful, and boring. Instead I will now talk about fears.

My fear is that, between Cal and work, I will find at the end of this residency that my marriage will be, like a neglected lawn, in a sad state of disrepair. Here's an illustrative example of how things are. Earlier this week, Joe and I were actually home at the same time for dinner. I had already made dinner for Cal that weekend and froze much of it into double serving-sized portions, so he was ready to go with his balanced meal, all chicken and veggies and rice and wholesomeness. What did Joe and I have for dinner? Ramen served in styrofoam.

The unfortunate and unavoidable truth of the matter is this. Where there is a priority system, Cal comes first, work comes second, and Joe and I as a unit comes third. For those of you who say that maybe Joe and I should come before work, I thank you for caring, but I think that if it were your mom being put under for surgery, or your grandfather getting his cataracts taken out, you would prefer the priority be on them rather than me and my husband being able to spend time together every night. I don't complain about this, I just accept this as our reality for right now, and try to assure myself that residency is, above all, temporary. That's probably how residents get through life, actually. We just keep telling ourselves that this all is temporary. Still, finite as it is, two more years is a long time.

This week, Joe and I saw each other for maybe a total of eight waking, non-commuting hours. Keep in mind that WE LIVE TOGETHER, so that's really not a whole lot of time. But what are we supposed to do about it? Give Cal the short end of the stick? Take crappy care of our patients? Can't be doing that. So we keep on doing what we're doing. Eke out a few hours here, a few hours there. This morning, we all went to the playground en famille, and it was great. But it'll have to last us until next weekend. Joe just got called into the hospital after we got back from the park, and I'm on call tomorrow, and then again on Friday and Sunday. So...see you Saturday, then. Sleep is for the weak.

I don't have a solution, or even a point, really. Only to say that mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be medical residents.

Currently reading: This article in the Times about music in the ORs. Personally, I like music in the OR, so long as it isn't too loud for me to hear my monitors, and so long as it isn't opera. (The iPod has revolutionized music in the ORs, by the way. But what are med students supposed to do now that there are no more CDs to changed?) An added point of interest is that most of the physicians interviewed in the article are from my hospital, so I get to be all like, "I know that guy!"

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