Thursday, February 28, 2013
if it hadn't been for Cotton Eyed Joe.
"Digging to the rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren, one that pushes me along and leaves me so desperate and ravenous. I'm weak and powerless."
With the safety net pulled out from beneath my feet I find myself medically managing all the orthopaedic patients. And it is so scary. These past few days I've been running on nothing at all. I don't know how I keep going. I've made a few silly mistakes as well. Today I was so hungry and nauseated and dizzy and deluded I had to ask a friend to come bail me out for an hour while I drank hot tea. I'm effectively breaking a 24 hour coffee and tea fast with a small meal each day.
Thinking of Mark makes me sick. I don't want to see him or speak to him. But I feel even more sick if I don't see him or speak to him because I don't know how to manage my patients' infections without him. And that thought scares me more than I dare to admit. So I call him every ten minutes until he answers his phone, and I run after him on the wards.
Tell me what to do Mark. I don't know if this man will live without your advice. I know I'm asking dumb questions, I know I'm pissing you off, I know you want my bosses to do things that I can't get them to do. I'm only a little junior doctor and I'm doing my best, even if you don't think it's enough. I'm doing all I can. Tell me off as much as you want, if you've had a bad day, take it all out on me. Take it out on me, let it all out. All the bad things my bosses have done to you, all the unreasonable demands that they make, all the annoying patients, all the other doctors, all of us that won't leave you alone. Say what you like to me, but don't make my patients pay for my incompetences when you can cover the holes I'm leaving.
So I say sorry over and over again, apologising for mistakes that aren't even mine. And I say thank you, over and over, and I tell him how unfair it is for him, how difficult it must be for him, and how much I appreciate him. And I eventually get what I need. Bloody long phone calls for the one sentence answer that I need.
I'm stretched so thin. So thin. When people don't answer your calls for help, what do you do? How much longer can I battle on myself?
But I get it done. I don't care. I don't care who I have to call, I spend all day ringing if I have to. At the end of the day, my patients are prepped for theatre, they're stable after theatre, they're discharged with a solid plan. I might be dying, but they're not. I'm so tired. I can't sleep at night.
If it wasn't for Joe I'd be crying in the cupboards by now. He might call me every ten minutes with new jobs, he might pull me with him to see patients, but it's only because he trusts me. He's the first person in 3 months to acknowledge how hard I'm working. It makes me want to curl up cry on his shoulder because until he pointed it out, I hadn't realised how much I'd done. Until he said thank you, I didn't realise I was doing anything worthy of thanks. Such a small gesture, but it's made everything feel justified.
If this isn't trial by fire, I don't know what is.