It’s been a long while since I’ve had to work seven days in a row. In of itself, that kind of schedule makes me cranky. Add to it the fact that this included two overnight calls, and that’s approximately 120 hours of work. Fun times.
I forget who to credit with this little known fact, but I think I’ve figured out why the hours of a resident are so insane. After all, back when modern medicine first started off, amphetamines were legal and easily obtainable, and apparently such illustrious figures in our own mythological pantheon such William Osler, Harvey Cushing, and Stanley Robbins were tweakers.
You’d think working 120 hours every week would be a piece of cake if you were taking speed, too.
Wow. Think about it. I’ve worked three weeks worth of work in seven days. By the end of this rotation, I’ll have worked the equivalent of 3 months!
But I’m not complaining. sarcasm
This whole life-and-death thing is strange. In the space of the last 30 hours or so, I’ve seen a man with metastatic cancer drown in his own blood, another man succumb to multiple infections and septic shock, and another man who has been in a persistent vegatative state for the past week become completely brain dead. Two of these three I dictated the death summary for. The last has become a moral quandry, because of the fact that despite being, for all intents and purposes except organ donation, completely dead, the family refused to let us disconnect him from his IVs and from the ventilator.
We are effectively desecrating a corpse.
It’s kind of creepy.
If I got to choose what kind of death I’d like to experience, I think I’d prefer one that wasn’t catastrophic and all-of-the-sudden, and yet not too long and drawn out. The guys who come in walking-and-talking and then suddenly exsanguinating really get me down. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of those guys who sit on the wards for months on end slowly dying of cancer, losing organ function literally bit by bit.
Then it dawns on me. Despite the fact that life is pretty damn short, maybe guys my age shouldn’t be so fixated on death. This despite the MSM’s insistence that we bury our faces in it and—I don’t know—pray to God that we might be saved. Iraq. Virginia Tech. Anna Nicole Smith. Are we a culture of Death, or what?
But as to the praying to God thing, sorry, no dice, folks. We all gotta go sometime. Kicking and screaming ain’t gonna win you any prizes in the afterlife. If there even is an afterlife.
Why can’t we all just get along in this lifetime? (And I fully realize that anyone who suggests such a thing tends to get nailed to a piece of wood, or shot, or beaten with police batons.)