I had no intention of being absent from the blog for as long as I was. Work got busy; life outside of work got busy; and somehow, in the midst of it, six weeks passed without a single blog post. Sorry!
A few weeks ago, I was finally starting to settle into the routine of being an attending. My anxiety about being responsible for all the people was becoming manageable; I was figuring out how to work with my large and diverse group of clerks and nurses and other support staff; and I no longer had moments when I would look around me hoping that there was, in fact, someone other than me who was in charge. It was refreshing after two months of nearly continuous panic. Then, two weeks ago, I started back on the inpatient service, and it all went to hell again.
In addition to my entirely manageable schedule of clinics and clinic prep time (so many labs to review, so many patients to call), I was once again dealing with new consults and follow ups and phone calls from remote communities with no access to anything and residents with their own needs and personalities. And it was nuts. I would find myself at the end of the day doing the terrifying dance of a three-year-old in need of a potty because I hadn't made it to the bathroom since I left for work in the morning. I kept cancelling plans with my girlfriend because the work never seemed to end. I was exhausted. And stressed! So stressed that I could think of nothing other than the seemingly endless needs of the patients under my care.
And then, Friday night, after 12 consecutive days of call, I finally got a reprieve. My girlfriend had forced me to take the weekend off of call because her birthday was Saturday, so I started my glorious 63-hour break from my pager. It took me the first 24 hours to stop frantically reaching for my belt and panicking that I'd forgotten my pager at home, but it has otherwise been lovely. We've had a birthday party with friends, gone to explore a new kitchen store*, eaten at a fancy restaurant, and bough $245 worth of booze**. I am now sitting on the couch in pjs with cats, which is pretty much my favourite way to spend a Sunday. My girlfriend is off at church, and when she returns we will have a second birthday party, complete with fancy cocktails and cheesy card games. Life is good.
As long as I don't think about the fact that I go back on call at 8 am tomorrow***.
*Funny story (to me at least): The kitchen store was selling a chef's knife that I have been coveting for years for 50% off, and we decided that it was too good a deal to pass on. The only problem was that my girlfriend had been planning to buy it for me for Christmas, which she obviously couldn't do with me standing right there. I offered to just buy it for myself, which she thought was a terrible idea, because I am a person who wants very few material things and is therefore impossible to shop for. (I'm also incredibly picky.) After hemming and hawing for a few minutes, I finally decided that she should just go ahead and buy it for me, but wanting to maintain the illusion of surprise, I loudly declared "I'm just going to walk over to the other side of the store, and I will pay no attention to whatever may or may not happen between you and that knife." The clerk thought we were nuts.
**I bought my girlfriend a cocktail recipe book for her birthday, and we decided that we needed "a few things" in order to make some of the more interesting cocktails. We probably shouldn't have gone to the liquor store late at night when we were both exhausted/lacking our usual self restraint, but the upside of the experience is that we are now well-equipped to make pretty much any cocktail that a person could want. Unless it requires cognac, because I still had enough self restraint to not spend $3 per ounce on the cheapest bottle of cognac. Hard liquor never goes bad, right?
***Thankfully for only three days. On Thursday, I head to San Francisco for a conference and a few days of vacation with my girlfriend. I was traveling in San Francisco when the girlfriend and I started chatting online, so I'm looking forward to showing her all of the places that I told her about when I was first wooing her.