Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Status idioticus

Thanks for your supportive comments to my previous post.  Since then things have improved a billion percent plus or minus 999,999,999 or so.  I'd like to think that it's because I am a winner, but that's only partially so.  Sadly, I still haven't managed to have any Vitamin C(ricket) but life can't be perfect.

Monday was not good.  I was there for 12 hours straight, didn't get to eat anything, didn't get to drink anything, if I hadn't been running around like a madman you'd have thought I was fasting for surgery myself.  Perhaps I'd be more productive if I wheeled a drip-stand around with me, with cool refreshing sea-water flowing into my veins, and a nice fat urinary catheter to cut out those pesky bathroom stops.

Things got off to a poor start when the Hatchling woke umpteen times the previous night.  I then managed to somehow miss half of the plans during the round and never quite caught up.  It didn't help that my RMO (the person between me and the Registrar, who is the person between the RMO and the consultant, who is the Big Boss) is away this week and there's no reliever so I'm kind of flying blind.

I failed to arrange some urgent consultations from cardiology and anaesthetics to prep a patient for surgery on Wednesday (today) because I simply couldn't get anyone to return my pages.  Either that or I wasn't in one place long enough to actually take a phone call.

Then the consultant surgeon came and asked me some questions about my patients and it turned out I had no idea about them because again I sleep-walked (slept-walk?) through the round, so he deservedly rebuked me for that.

Then I had two code blues (dramatic emergency for crashing patients) in 4 hours plus another patient started having massive rectal bleeding so I had to quickly arrange a whole bunch of stuff that I previously had no idea about.  And because of that, I fell further behind and the consults never got done and as I was sitting at my desk at 8pm scribbling out blood forms for the following day my Registrar came in and revved me about needing to get my shit together.

So I went home and the Hatchling was screeching because she hadn't eaten and was sick and was driving my Smaller Half bonkers because she's been just as busy as me and by bedtime I was pretty much ready to run away and join the circus until I realized that I already lived there.

Tuesday was better though and today was better again.  Here's some tips for new interns on how to make it so:
  1. Get a student to write the notes.  Concentrate on trying to figure out what the plan actually is.
  2. Review your patients yourself.  For surgical patients you need to listen to breathing, check IVT/fluid balance, check calves for DVTs, check the surgical wound is clean and ensure that they have correct anticoagulation.  This will put a cap on how much of an idiot you look like when the consultant starts quizzing you.
  3. When your registrar starts flinging around multiple, ambiguous or conflicting instructions, make him clarify himself (or indeed herself).  He may in fact get annoyed that you "waste his time" by doing this, but if you don't you'll regret.  This is no time to be meek.
  4. Page people once.  Give them 5 minutes to answer, then go through Switchboard to call their mobile.  Why we have a paging system when I am the only person who seems to actually use it is beyond me.
  6. Ask for help within a few seconds of getting baffled or confused or being unable to find something or not knowing how to do something.  Sure, you might look silly, but at least you'll be able to go home at a sensible hour.  This is no time to be proud.
  7. Write down everything you do in the notes.  Writing it down often makes you remember what else you should be doing as well.  Which may well make you yoyo back and forth between the patient and the notes, but hey, what's the alternative.  This is no time to be super-organized and work hard through med school so you know what you're doing.  It's too late for that shit.
  8. Drink lots of water.  Do not eat the junk food in the office.
  9. Stand up straight.  Sniff the morning breeze.
  10. Be strong.  Be energetic.  Be determined.  Know yourself.  Be the ball.  Keep left.  Buy low.  Sell high.  Take the All-Bran Challenge.  Squeal like a pig.  Something's gotta work!
I just wanted to say good luck, and we're all counting on you.


Lesleyfish said...

I'm sorry you had such an awful day. However, my lowly 6 months of experience tells me to tell you that it will get better, and it will get better fast (you're already getting on top of it, as proved by your list!). Hang in there...and whatever you do, don't do 12 hours without eating and drinking again. You will get progressively stupider as your brain runs out of fuel and dehydrates, you'll have the mother of all headaches and you'll feel rough as anything. Sometimes you just have to sit down for ten minutes and recharge. Even if you are next to a phone so you can answer bleeps!

InkBlot said...

I hope things improve when your RMO returns. Your post reads like an actual nightmare. It sounds like you are adapting fast though ...

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who did that rotation. The consultant would tell her she was wrong and do things a certain way, then the next day after changing to make him happy, the same consultant would tell her she was wrong again and do things the previous way. Its not you :)