Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday, Sunday

So, here I am again...I'm sitting in the little intern office on the women's unit at State Hospital, waiting for my suicidal drunk guy to come in from the local ER. It's stormy and windy and Maggie was not pleased as I frenetically packed up my stuff. I kept having to stop and snuggle the big, wide-eyed, thunderstorm-averse pup. Fortunately, Sparrow came to rescue her and take her over to stay with them right as I was leaving.

I took the Ruthie approach to packing for call and brought a little bag of random things-crackers, dried fruit, an apple, peanut butter, carrots, I don't know what the hell I threw in there. Ruthie usually brings a large grocery bag of randomness whenever she's on call. Consequently, our office here at State Hospital looks like some sort of organic food bomb exploded in it. Followed by a big paperwork bomb. We should really clean this place up, you know?

I've also adopted her habit of not wearing scrubs on call, but rather, comfy clothes. Not, like, flannel pants, but not my "business casual" finest, either. Things in which I can sleep (ha) but still be seen in public. She's an ex-surgeon as well, and makes the very good point that we spent enough time in scrubs in our former life, and, let's face it - scrubs just aren't that comfortable. Plus, both of us are reasonably curvy women, and scrubs are usually cut for men. Who? Aren't curvy. It makes a difference.

I think she's been a bad influence on me...

So it's my last call at State Hospital. From now on, if I'm on call here, I'll be moonlighting, which means they have to pay me handsomely. But it also means that I have to get re-fingerprinted and get new letters of reference (from people who've known me at least ten years. What? I mean, I have plenty of people who've known me for that long, but do they really care what my best friend the lawyer or my grade-school friend the Spanish teacher think about my ability to practice medicine?? The NC Medical Board is weird) and stand on my head while drinking water or some such nonsense. And after I do all that, then I have to wait six months for them to decide if I'm worthy of the privilege of having a permanent medical license. Which, knowing the issues I had with them at the beginning of the year, probably means that I'll have to go sing the entire score of Die Fledermaus at a meeting of the general assembly or something. In German, while patting my head and rubbing my stomach.

Oh, but how I could use the money. To quote Mike, I am just broke as a joke right now. Or alternatively, to use my aunt's phrase, po'. As in, so poor I can't even afford an "r". But, in time, these things will come. By which I mean in time for me to start paying off my med school loans. Remember when doctors used to drive $100,000 cars and every psychiatrist had a house in the Hamptons?

Ah, well. Clearly, I'm not in this for the money, and let's face it, I'm not living in a box, or bunking with my patients in the South Wilmington Street Shelter.

It's interesting, actually...I had lunch with one of my med students today that I worked with earlier in the year. She's going into OB, silly girl (says the one spending her Sunday night in a state mental institution wearing mismatched socks and listening to opera on YouTube...), and wanted some advice. So we had a very nice brunch, and of course I came home and spent the rest of the afternoon playing the "what if?" game.

If I'd stayed at the Emerald Palace...I'd have graduated probably last week, instead of still being an intern for another month. I'd probably have moved back to Chicago for fellowship, or maybe gone somewhere else. I suspect that I might not actually be doing high-risk obstetrics, but possibly minimally invasive gynecology, which is the direction to which I was starting to lean by the time I left. Which is nice, because that's a shorter, if non-accredited, fellowship. I...okay, you know what? Realistically, if I'd stayed there, I'd be dead by now. Or some very different, hardened, torn-down, bitter version of myself that in no way resembles the person I want to be. So let's just take that option off the table right now.

The issue for "what if," I guess, is more what if I'd stayed in OB/GYN? I do miss it from time to time. I miss the procedural nature of things, the adrenaline rush of delivery. I miss the sweet moments as a family is forged. The pulling undertow of fate as lives are changed in an instant. I miss the excitement of the OR. I miss feeling dexterous and that moment of alignment as the counterintuitive movements of laparoscopy suddenly make sense. I miss the comforting repetition of scrubbing, those contemplative moments gazing over the scrub sink through the windows into the OR, mentally prepping for a case. I miss the give of a uterine sound as the internal os concedes and dilates, and the instrument slides in to hit its mark. I miss the solid bite of suturing a uterus, the snap of a hemostat, the rhythm of an imbricating stitch. I miss the satisfaction of the cervix popping into view on the first try. I miss the flow of clinic and the smell of Chlor-prep (although there are a lot of other smells I don't miss from my job, let me tell you).

I love my job, my work, now, in so many ways. And I think it's where I'm supposed to be. I think I can be more useful, my work more meaningful, from this side of things. But occasionally, it saddens me that I had to leave all those things behind. What saddens me more is how I feel like something I loved was stolen from me, with all that happened up north. But, a door never closes without another one opening. And I really do love what I do.

Speaking of which, I have to go admit someone. So maybe I'd better go do what I do...


Anonymous said...

I'll do it for you. (The letter). Tell me what you want it to say, and I'll say it.

DK said...

Awesome. "I've known Kate since she was days old..."

I'll let you know.

Robin said...

The smells should be enough to make you grateful for a different field. Although I am not so sure psych doesn't have it's fair shares of smells!

Dr.VonB said...

I, for one, am glad that you left OB and went into psych.
I think you're good at it, and I got to have you as my intern, which was awesome.
My big ol' pup is terrified of storms too... he's such a baby. The girl is fine, but the boy just leans on me and shakes.