So, part two of my post. A few hours ago, I got home after working my first series of night shifts. 7 nights in a row, just me and a surgical intern to keep the hospital running between midnight and 8 AM. It's been terrifying, exciting, humbling and incredibly invigorating all at once. But mostly exhausting. In the last few months I was happy to have finally settled into a regular sleep cycle, but that all went overboard last week. Sleeping during the daytime just doesn't work for me, so I became increasingly sleep-deprived as the week went on.
But the work itself... I have learned so much in just seven measly days. Night shifts are usually quiet, but not this week. I have been running all night every night, trying to be everywhere at once. At some point I had to attend to 6 patients at the same time, located on 5 wards on 3 different floors. I had to lead multiple resuscitations, send a few patients to the ICU, declare a few patients dead. I had to make a lot of calls in the middle of the night. I got to discharge a few people as well, but that's more of a rarity during the night shift.
At some point I got yelled at by patients because they had to wait for a long time. Explaining that I am actually the only non-surgical doctor around at night, and that I see people by urgency, not by order of admittance, did nothing to calm them down. I was almost grateful when my buzzer alerted me to start running towards yet another resuscitation. Almost, because I have come to dread my buzzer. Whenever it goes off, I have to run to the designated floor, because it means a patient is critically ill and needs immediate attention. I'm expected to take charge and lead a team to find out what's wrong and how to fix it. Which is stressful, especially if you don't know the patient and don't know the team you need to lead. Last night I was beyond exhausted. There was a point at around 4 AM when my eyelids felt so heavy, and I got called about the same critically ill patient for the third time that night, that I just lost hope for a bit. I found myself wondering if there was any way I could just pretend the call never happened, so I wouldn't have to see to this patient and could just lie down for a bit. For a split second I found myself wondering if I couldn't just let nature run its course and let this patient die. I wondered if I'd get into trouble. The man was super old anyway... Luckily, these are just thoughts, I dismissed them in a second, and I would obviously never neglect a patient. But it does illustrate how incredibly tired I was and how emotionally numb it made me.
Emergency medicine isn't really my thing, I'd much rather spend my days on my ward tending to my own flock of patients. But I think that after the hectic week I've had, I'll be a lot more calm at my job. I've seen some things. Many things. And I made it this far.
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