For my inaugural blog post, I’d like to begin by sharing an anecdote, a story – just one of more to come – from my journey through medical school and beyond.
I have been blessed to rotate on – what I think – are some of the most entertaining, best, and friendliest hospital wards my city has to offer.
Cue the nursing team. No, not the unit clerk. Yes, that’s right, the other ladies (and gents!) on the ward. Such hospital staff can be tough to tell apart sometimes. I’ve sustained many an eye-roll by approaching the charge to ask a question better suited for the unit clerk and vice-versa.
A good nursing squad makes any rotation a delight. Often, they can be like surrogate mothers at 3AM when your head hasn’t yet hit the pillow and one chides you to sit down and “Eat dear! Eat!”
After one particularly busy night, I show up to the early morning chaos of shift change. Now, any rotating medical intern knows exactly what I mean by that statement. For those who do not, I shall do my best to set the scene.
First of all, medical interns (as I myself was and still am) are often sleep-deprived. We sleep overnight in a small hospital room on an uncomfortable hospital bed – in the very same beds and with the very same bedding as the patients we have the privilege of meeting, assessing and caring for as part of our training.
And, not unlike those very same patients, we are awakened irregularly, at the behest of the very same doctors, resident physicians-in-training, and other hospital staff who come knocking at all hours of the night and day.
The only difference is that they are not knocking and asking for more information or blood draws or other prods and pokes – with us interns, instead, we receive a page. Yes, that’s right, straight outta the 1990s (at least that is the last time I remember ever seeing a pager before medical school). Bih-beep Bih-beep! I must say, that sound has and continues to haunt my nightmares.
And so, that particular day, come early morning, as any responsible medical intern does in spite of a night without restful sleep – I awoke to complete the rounds expected of me before my teaching physician and fellow learners arrived.
Now, that might look like any other twenty-something who has just crawled out of bed to grab a coffee at the local Tims’ after an all-night frat rager. With the fog of sleep still lingering in both my eyes and on my breath, I can certainly see how one of my very own patients could mistake me for the same.
As I peer over the turnstile of aged navy-blue binders that encase patient information – much the same way as the biofilm that surely lines them – I sense an impatient presence just to my left. Tepidly, I ask if I can be of assistance.
Shyly, a nurse, not much more experienced than myself, informs me that the patient in bed 10-2 has been complaining of abdominal cramps.
As an aside, I must add that referring to patients by their room number only serves to confuse my already sleep-deprived mind.
At this point, I haven’t yet slept for the last 24 hours. I’m not sure I know one actual human being who wouldn’t be irritated at just that circumstance alone. Nevermind the fact that I now have to match a room number with the face of a real live human being.
To be fair, I think I understand why medical staff might train in this manner. Nonetheless, I do not think I will ever become accustomed to the above-accepted medical
nomenclature of human beings.
To acknowledge my affirmation, I nod. As I glance atop the spinning turnstile, the overnight nursing staff comes into view.
Beneath the green-fluorescent lighting, the scene appears dated and torn straight out of a local and now-defunct community hospital, which resides just to the Northwest and not far from my current writing position.
The charge nurse from the night before pops into sight, looking much more put together than my own self, given her blue eyeshadow and well-coiffed blonde perm. Feeling like a waitress communicating with a short-order cook across the pass, I half-shout over the din the same information just relayed to me regarding the patient in bed 10-2.
Another senior nurse yells back over the turnstile “order her a pink lady!” Again, I am ever so briefly reminded of a late-night bar scene, due to the harried nature and cacophony of the early morning hospital ward.
Flipping through the binder labelled bed 10-2 – while affecting a relaxed pace despite the frantic energy lying just beneath – my fingers fumble to find the pink order sheet.
Writing the date and time (after a quick, albeit arduous mental calculation, from the 12-hour clock to the militaristic 24-hour clock) I scribble in capital letters:
1. ONE PINK LADY STAT
As I do customarily, I print my first initial and last name, followed neatly by my signature and pager number written directly beneath.
I pop the binder back into the correct turnstile slot while eyeing the next to grab.
Not a minute later, I hear a noticeable guffaw. I look up to catch the glance of the same senior nurse for whom I just wrote the order for bed 10-2.
She sees my attention is drawn to her as well – and laughs out loud in my direction – “No! Don’t write that!!”
And, here I am, years later, writing about the very first Pink Lady order I ever scribed into existence.
Thank you for bothering to read my inaugural post. I certainly hope it has added some levity to my fellow medical learners’ journeys while providing an inner view of medical training to those who are not privy to the same.
The Pink Lady