It has been a long night. Most nights are this way now. But thankfully (or not) dawn has arrived and I sit here with a cuppa while The Little Man sleeps on his papa.
I think back to my days as a rotating resident in general surgery. The night shifts. Doesn’t matter which part of the body you decide to hack up for a living, the initiation is almost always by general. I won’t get into the arguments of which surgery is hardest and other trick questions like that, but general is by far the most busy with ortho coming in a close second. Of course, this depends on the kind of hospital you work in.
You go in, all prepped for the night. Meet the guy/ girl from the previous shift in whichever bay/ area/ bathroom/ OR/ closet/ cafeteria that he/ she wants to meet you in. After the hell she has been through, she earns the right to choose the meeting area.
You sit for a mere fifteen minutes or so and try and absorb the barrage of info that she assaults you with. Meanwhile the wretched bleep on the table goes off about 5 times (on a good day/ night). She wraps up her “endorsement” and right at the end casually throws in the fact that apart from the last five bleeps, the four before that are also mine. You are welcome!
The night passes in a haze of pressing abdomens, probing arses and squeezing pus from all sorts of nether crooks and crannies of the human body.
(Thank God I deal with Head and Neck in my world!)
On good nights, you may see the bed in one of the on call rooms. The operative word being SEE. You see it, and you wish to sink into its hard, noisy springs. But you just sit on it for ten minutes or so and type away pending charts furiously while the bleep/ pager goes berserk next to you. All you bloody wanted is to hide away for five minutes, gather you ragged breath, steady yourself and get the darned charts updated. Damn you surgical gods!
As the night progresses, you get into The Zone. You go into auto- pilot. Your senses are heightened, your concentration is at it’s peak. You don’t have to think, you just do.
As dawn approaches, you are almost experiencing a high. You know the end is near. At the appropriate hour, this shall be over. The burden shall be offloaded from you to another. (of course, there are still incomplete charts, pending cases, rounds..). You look forward to your cool shower and warm bed later.
I try and get through my mommy calls similarly. I prep for the night, gather all my supplies and mentally grit myself for what lies ahead every night. But there are no endorsements, no handing over. No end. THIS. CALL. NEVER. ENDS. Save me lord.
Some nights, we (aka MR H and I) tag team and therefore things are a tad easier.
I am a sissy mother, who does not sleep train her children willingly. I rock, sing, bounce, sway, soothe, cuddle, nurse my baby to sleep. I put him to sleep by ‘whatever means necessary’.
My first born was the same as a baby. And I can now tell you folks that I did not ruin her for life by doing so. She sleeps on her own and stays asleep, until morning of course. So I guess there is hope, but not in the near future.
As the night progresses, you get into The Zone. You go into auto- pilot. Your senses are heightened, your concentration is at it’s peak. You don’t have to think, you just do. You change, nurse, bounce, rock, sing automatically and do whatever it is that needs to be done.
But, the thought that this call does not have an end hour, is utterly thought defeating.
The main difference between the hospital calls and this is the loneliness. And the bright lights. There is a buzz around you in the hospital. Here, I move around in dim lights, half- awake and not quite asleep, soundlessly (lest I disturb the older one) while I try to do whatever I need to do to put the baby to sleep and keep him that way.
Won’t lie to you folks, some nights I am at the threshold of insanity and want to pull my hair out and run out into the streets of Doha in my spit- up soaked pyjamas, bellowing profanities into the universe. Just like I sometimes want to do when I’m dealing with stubborn/ weird/ drunk patients or unreasonable, know- it- all nurses on a particularly bad call.
However the night goes, the first rays of sunlight brings hope. I’m not sure why, but things always look less bad when looked at from the other side of dawn. I know this too shall pass. And unlike the first time, the utter dejection and the constant worry of “Is my life f*&^ed for ever” isn’t quite there.
I am tired folks. So, so, so very tired….
Oops, I think I dozed off. There goes my pager again. The human one.
Till next time.