The thing I hate about sleeping in the hospital (and sometimes at home, too) is that I can never tell the difference between pages I really get, and the ones I just dream about. When I’m napping in the call room, I wake myself up every half hour or so (in addition to real pages) by imagining that my pager is going off, and that I’ve talked to someone about some emergency that I need to deal with right away. Then I drift back to sleep, and wake up five minutes later, panicked about having missed something, and trying to remember what the problem is. If I don’t wake up thoroughly at that point, I can spend the rest of the nap fighting subconsciously about that nonexistent page – or sometimes more than one. I even imagine whole conversations with nurses or referring residents, and detailed histories of the patients I’m irresponsibly ignoring.

So far my only solution is to be meticulous about making a note on my papers about any real calls that I get, since I do have to be fairly awake to talk to real people on the phone. Then when I really wake up, I look at the papers to see if there are any new patients or emergencies that I haven’t taken care of yet. I haven’t ever really missed anyone, but it makes for pretty restless naps, with a lot of adrenaline surges.

Maybe on a Freudian level the problem is that I feel guilty for having the quiet time to sleep, so this is in compensation. Result of being a white cloud, I guess.

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