A half hour passed by before I heard the first trauma announcement overhead. The pager buzzed at the same time and somewhat startled me. I grabbed the on-call phone, pager and shears and quickly walked to the emergency department (ED).
I had just started my third year, and I had already witnessed six patients die. I had never been called a black cloud before this, but it immediately stuck and seemed fitting.
Through my patient’s same wants and needs, I saw my own thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, fears and my own desire to be liked, to be wanted, to be needed. I felt, for the first time in a very long time, a genuine human connection.
Good times have never passed as quickly as the three months, ten days and twelve hours
I have spent under Dr. ***’s service.
When I was younger, I, too, had problems both with listening to my M.D. and alcohol use. However, I am not referring to M.D. as in medical doctor but M.D. as in mom and dad.
My mind kept returning to the patient I had encountered earlier that day. I experienced this subtle feeling that something important had happened. I became curious about the man and his story, but above all, I wondered what the most important part of that appointment had been.
“We have a drug seeker in two,” the nurse declared. My preceptors responded with a long sigh, and they rolled their eyes in unison. My pulse quickened.
Overhead, we hear the monotone hospital announcer’s voice through the intercom system: “CODE BLUE. First floor. Short-term cardiac care unit. Room…”
Though the white coat’s role in medicine today is complex — to some, a respected symbol of medicine’s history; to others, a antiquated relic of a paternalistic past — few medical students or frontline residents would deny this emblematic item one major utility: a source of pockets.
Medicine is a sacrifice. I knew this upon admittance into medical school. I did not know the sacrifice would be an erosion of my humanity.
“Are you okay, sweetie?” asks the intern as we start to ascend. She is completely unconscious, looking into nothingness. I start to feel the adrenaline. “I don’t think she’s okay,” remarks the intern.
In medicine, as in medical training, time is the enemy. There is not enough time to talk to patients or study for board exams. There is not enough time to read the latest literature. At the end of the day, there is not enough time to make plans with friends or develop a gym routine that is anything but sporadic.