Friday, September 05, 2008

First Call

I had my first call on Wednesday this week. It was kind of rough, mainly because I felt like a total jerk by the time it was all done. CCF has a night float system, which means that the residents who are here at night get to sleep during the day. However, the students do not get to sleep during the day. So I was in clinic in the morning, in the OR all afternoon, and then on call that night. The senior resident had me go see a consult in the ER who was having abdominal pain. My patient was an elderly man and kind of out of it because he had been given pain medication, but he was still in a lot of pain. I had no idea what was wrong with him based on the history and physical. Really the only thing I could find was that his stomach hurt any time he moved, and there was a huge bruise on the lower part of his stomach where he had been injecting himself with blood thinners.

When I went to present to the senior, I wasn't the most organized. Afterward, I realized that I should have taken notes while I was talking to the patient, because my memory was just shot by that point. Somehow, I muddled through with the resident correcting my presentation every few sentences, and then the resident asked me if I had done a rectal exam. Done a what?!?! He scolded me a little for not having done one. We went to see the patient and he did it himself. The poor patient was in pain every time he had to move, so rolling over for the rectal wasn't exactly a small ordeal. I had spent a couple of hours doing my history and physical, and then the resident poked and prodded the patient for another half hour or so. I still couldn't figure out what was wrong with the patient, so the resident finally told me that the patient had a rectus sheath hematoma. That's basically a fancy name for a big abdominal wall bruise. I found a review article about it, read it, and wrote up my patient log. At that point, it was 2:30 AM, and the resident told me to go to bed.

I was feeling pretty bad about having basically tortured this patient for a couple of hours for something that wasn't even a surgical problem. The building where the call rooms are was completely deserted except for a janitor who was mopping the floor. As I passed by him, he said, "Good night, Doc." That made me feel even worse.

Yesterday morning I was back in the OR with a different attending who was doing a laparoscopic repair of a hernia. The senior on this team was into teaching, and she let me do some suturing. Fortunately, I had been practicing while I was on call and at home. There are some really good websites that have instructions for suturing. My favorite is the site from Boston University. I also got to drive the camera for a while, which is a lot harder than it looks. It was a good experience, but I was feeling kind of sick because I had only gotten about two hours of sleep. But since I was post-call, I got off at noon and could go take a nap. At 5 PM, I met my team for evening rounds, which was incredibly stupid of me. We didn't get done until 9:30, plus my attending gave me three new learning objectives to do. That's what I get for trying to be responsible and part of the team. Sigh.

Today we had another point-counterpoint presentation, this time on the best way to treat atrial fibrillation (quivering of the upper chambers of the heart). I wasn't presenting this time, and it was a lot less fun being in the audience. Afterward, there was a seminar on treating blood clots. In the afternoon, we had another round of meetings with the Block Assessment Team. I can't even put into words how much I hate these stupid, pointless BAT meetings! I was so tired and cranky and not in the mood for this. It was hard to stay awake all morning in class, and then I was sitting around in the libary on my so-called afternoon off, waiting to have a five minute meeting so that the faculty can tell me I'm doing fine so far. Don't even get me going about how they assign the order for our meetings. After the block leader changed the order around for the third time today, we didn't wind up meeting with the BAT in our scheduled order anyway. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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