Of looking up labs, heading to patient rooms to see tired, unfrustrated veterans who have resigned to what may happen, almost fatalistically, also thankfully that they get healthcare amongst a paucity of other privileges. Of heading back to the office, reading the NY times, dreading a page for a new consult in the minutes before I decide to drive back home. What gives?
I trundle, unplanned for the unplanned. If a UFO crashed in my path, I may not recognize the need to run to safety. Oh really! You critters are aliens. How bout that , eh. Mind if I get along?
A new batch of interns, on the floors below, performs in Brownian randomness. Some misdirectedly over enthusiastic, some glad not to goof up. They are learning the right wrongs from their peers, speaking the phraseology, diuresing the dry, walking troponin plateaus, smelling the diabetic feet, getting high on nebs and vanco, smiling goofily at strangers who look on as they run athletically gracefully for code blues, in scrubs, green pixie shoes and dirty loaded lab coats and all, thinking for the moment , that this is it.....what I became a doctor for.
Invariably, the final year resident/fellows are a more pessimistic lot. They have known the shibboleth, learnt from mismanaged codes and perfectas gone snafus, raked through piddleshit, got scutted out, had an inspiring encounter, and an insipid one, lost and redeemed themselves over and over. They know to locate the vocal cords, the subclavians, Mr Babinski's erection, flutters with 2:1, spectra of beta-lact-amazes, the right words to discuss end of life care, SIRSies and dopies. And this becomes a learnt exercise. Notes become less verbose, patients become lists, time off becomes more important than time on, and the present gives way to planning for future.
They were once interns.
The current interns will be residents and fellows later. This cycle goes on. At least for the observer. For the passenger on this conveyer belt, this training time will never come back. What started as passion becomes a profession. Notes become codified billing sheets, processes become bulletted problem lists, pathogeneses become DRGs, recoveries become hospital stays. Families expand, priorities change, anxieties are decentered. The angst at aimlessness is now felt to be a wasteful frustration.
Get off the gas, clutch, lower the gear, drive on.
Times of changing gears are weirdly surreal. The knowledge of going into an unknown time mass feels like someone deafferented your gracile and cuneate nuclei. I am sure all the interns felt this way leaving med school going into the real world. When I moved out of home, bag and baggage into the mosquito infested room in the KEM resident quarters where 9 tired house men bodies competed for aedes aegypti lullabies and dry bath towels, among other things, I was as just as random, kibitzing around. I made my mistakes. I learnt.
Times of change are good for stress testing a growth reserve as well. It is a good stimulus for the senses also. I think this country offers the opportunity to do this. At some point, you can clutch, raise your gear , and drive on. Along one of the long interstates.....someplace else.
Btw "htiu#" : that was the text of my 14 month old daughter's first tweet. Figuring out what it means...