I seem to have caught the only cold available all summer, and promptly passed it along to at least one of my sisters. So I’m miserable, hanging onto the premise that “doctors don’t get sick,” and definitely don’t act like it if they do. I didn’t dare try calling in sick, partly because I was sure the attending wouldn’t buy it, and partly because I didn’t want to drop all my patients on the other students. I thought if I looked really sick, they might send me home. Apparently I didn’t succeed in looking, or sounding, as sick as I was feeling. :S

I did avoid going in to see my 80-yr-old patient, but other than that I did everything else. I did get permission from the attending to go home a couple of hours early, after I finished the write-up of my new patient for the day. But lo and behold, just as I finished, three new patients dropped in on us, from the ever-generous ER. And two of the students were gone for their half-day in outpatient offices. Leaving me and the one other girl. And I wasn’t sick enough to justify leaving her with three patients to admit. So I stuck around and did another one, and thus barely managed to leave by four. Oh well. Now I know that it is possible to ignore being really sick. If it was an ICU, or more seriously ill patients, I might have asked at the beginning of the day if I might go home. But these patients aren’t really sick, their immune systems are fine; so just trying not to breathe on them too much, and washing my hands every so often, was probably ok.

The really awful thing about my day is that all my patients are depressed and suicidal. There are now only a few psychotic or manic patients among lots of depressed ones, and the two guys are very eager to get exciting/possibly dangerous patients. I’m not up to competing with them; so I let them have the wild ones, and settle for the half-hearted aspirin overdoses. (Don’t overdose on aspirin; it takes a lot to kill you, but it’ll mess up your liver, and leave your ears ringing for weeks.) That’s also why you’re not hearing much about my patients right now. They’re all alike. Chronic drug abuse, poor relationships, disappointing children, unemployment, hopelessness, and finally real or halfhearted suicides. Even the residents are having trouble keeping separate which guy tested positive for cocaine and marijuana, and which one was positive for cocaine and opiates.

The one funny part of the day was one of my patient’s names; the guy stated that he hates his first name, and would like to be called Ed. I shrugged; that’s fine. But inside the nurses’s station, everyone who looked at his chart started grimacing. And whenever someone explained the anomaly of a man named Michael who was called Ed, everyone in the vicinity would chuckle sympathetically. Finally I asked for an explanation. The intern condescendingly told me to shorten his first name, and combine it with his last name. “I still don’t get it.” “Say it really fast. . . Ok?” “I’m sorry, I don’t get it.” The intern was too embarassed to say more than that it’s a really rude phrase referring to xyz. And then everyone started laughing at my blank expression, because even when I was told it was rude, I still had no clue what the word was. “She’s homeschooled,” the intern explained.

My parents are rather pleased with these stories. It’s fine by me to be a fool in the world; I’m just a little concerned that when I get to OB I won’t understand half the conversations. Oh well. Most people are happy to explain that ice means crack, and weed means marijuana, and so on, when the medical students don’t know; hopefully they’ll explain the other words too.

Wandering through the library the other day, I found a CD of American folk hymns by the Boston Camerata. Lovely. Acapella choir singing these beautiful, simple verses, full of scriptural quotations and allusions, to the loveliest bouncing, flowing tunes. The best part is where they sing Scots Wha’ Hae, or Rule Britannia, or The Draggle-tail Gypsies, and then sing a an old Christian song that uses the same tune, and turns the idea of the song into a Christian one. Scots Wha’ Hae –> Christian life as battle and victory; Rule Britannia –> Christ triumphing over the serpent; Draggle-tail Gypsies (noble lady leaves her husband for the gypsies) –> abandoning the world to follow Christ.

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