Monday, March 20, 2006

My first Canadian call

Well, this morning I came home from my first Canadian 24 hour emergency room stint. I underestimated the traffic through a small town emergency room. I was rushed off my feet from 8 in the morning til 3am the next morning and then I was up at 6 again. Okay, internship was busier, but I was spoilt last year with 12 hour shifts. I am exhausted today and I still have to work a full day in the office.

For those of you who have never worked a 24 hour, or for that matter a 12 hour call in an emergency room - let me try and paint you a picture. The day part always feels really long, even if you are really busy. By about 3 in the afternoon you start losing hope. Mostly because you have 10 patients waiting to be seen, some old biddy who's hard of hearing having a heart attack, the first drunk teenager of the day has just arrived and the nurse you need is on tea. Its universal. Eventually you find time to eat and the world suddenly becomes a better place. Your stack of unseen patients slowly dwindles and your old biddy stabilises. When you finally see that last file, around 3am - usually someone with a sore throat, and there is no-one waiting, you feel like a champion. Now you make your way to your room, usually somewhere in the darkest depths of the hospital, and usually once you lie down you get paged for something else. Most nights hold haemmorhoids, lacerations and a cold. It continues like this all night, but I think almost every doctor will agree with me - the night's are much faster.

Then comes morning. Glorious morning. The silence that usually accompanies it is so peaceful. A clean slate, a new day, another chance to try again. In South Africa often broken by the songs and morning prayers of the nurses. Then 10 minutes before you go home, you are delerious with the thought of a hot bath and warm bed and it seems like it wasn't so bad. You made it. You helped. You rock. You'll be back.

So I feel at home. I have found something familiar, even if it is the ER.


At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Mom said...

It is really good to be able to see what you are up to in the real world of doctoring and such like. The best of all for me is that since I have someone at home who knows something about these machines, I can now post an irrelevant comment whenever I choose and you will both at least know that we are still alive!


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