Friday, March 28, 2008

the best-laid plans of mice and men

I will tell you that I had big plans for my week on night float for the pain service. BIG PLANS. I figured that since I had to be at the hospital anyway, I would come in, stay up most of the night, do some writing, research my job contract, finish paperwork, maybe even rescue patients from the pernicious effects of nocturnal pain. Then, in the morning, I would go home, shower, and spend the entire day with Cal, going down for an hour or two during his afternoon nap, waking refreshed and ready to return to the hospital for another night in a place where the lights are always on. I would be so productive it would be sickening.

Well, a couple of things got in the way of these plans, first of which is my apparently boundless ability to procrastinate. The first two days I was almost afraid to open up the Word document of my book manuscript, not so much because I had writer's block (I had a couple of ideas that I wanted to work on), but because I was so paralyzed by how many things I wanted to do that I couldn't do anything. Also, I was afraid (as I often am when I step away from writing the thing for a while) that upon re-reading with a clearer eye, that I would find that the thing reeked and that I was now many months closer to a deadline but with nothing to show for it but a garbage can full of crumpled paper. (That's metaphorical, by the way. Though there is something romantic about the idea of writing a book on an old typewriter, ripping out false starts with a zzzzp! and crumpling them into a ball before lofting them backwards into the trash. Also, there would be a bottle of scotch next to the typewriter.) Finally, I after two wasted nights at the beginning of the week, I just forced myself to open the file and read the damn thing, like jumping into a pool that you know is going to be bracingly cold but you know you have to get into. And you know, upon reading it through, I was actually pretty happy. Surprisingly happy. And this not-suckiness motivated me to get cracking again.

This may be overambitious, given, you know, everything else, but if I can finish my first draft by May 1st (a date that once seemed so distant but now is looming rather alarmingly--April is next week) that will give me two months to do some illustrations, let the manuscript sit for a little while, and give it a little polish before submitting it to my editor on July 1st. The May 1st self-imposed deadline is a little neurotic, I guess, but I wanted to give myself a margin of error, allow for a little extra time in case I needed it. This is the same reason, by the way, I show up for every flight three hours early and end up sitting there bored out of my mind for a flight that is inevitably delayed anyway. Thank god for trashy magazines.

So yes, there was procrasintation, but also, there is apparently this biological need for sleep. I have not had very good sleep these past few days--my sleep cycle is all screwed up from working nights, and even if I do sleep in the hospital, I get friction burns from the cardboard mattress and the paper pillowcase--but the need for sleep is enough to curtail any serious efforts at non-medical work past, say, 3:00am. So, there's that.

Finally, when you're a senior resident on night float for Pain (a service that historically isn't all that busy overnight--oh look, I just jinxed myself) you will end up getting pulled for cases in the OR. Monday I spent a couple of hours over at the Eye Institute (yes, there is an Eye Institute) helping with a ruptured globe in the OR (globe = eyeball)(you're welcome), and yesterday, I was pulled to the Peds OR to help with another case. I don't mind helping, of course--the Pain resident is a universal backup resident, and hey, I'm here anyway--but it did somewhat curtail my ability to do all the imaginary tasks that I fooled myself into thinking were possible.

Still, I got some stuff done. And I got to see Cal during the daylight every single day this week! How often does that happen? Today he told me, "Mama, you're so happy to see Cal." And I was.