Saturday, 24 December 2011

My abnormal life

In my last post, I sounded rather appreciative of the whole anesthesia/critical care thing. While it's certainly not a lie, I have to admit that it's not the complete truth either. Here's the other side of the story:

This rotation drains the life out of me. I'm starting my 3rd week and already I'm surprised at how strong I turn out to be. But, Friday morning, my body totally gave up inside the changing room. I slept for half a day that day. I vaguely heard sounds of people coming in and out of that room, some wondering why I was where I was (sprawling on the floor), and at least one saying to her friend that I might be ill.

I hadn't caught the flu or ebola, so by that definition, I wasn't ill, thank you very much. But I did feel like a walking dead. For almost 3 weeks now I live an automated life. I complete my SOAP notes, I do whatever the nurses tell me to do, I march to the lecture room and sit through the entire lecture wide awake like a good student, I prep all my OR patients,... basically I still work effectively. And yet I'm isolated in the triangle of OR-ICU-changing room, and when you get isolated, you can't help but change. I change. Now, planted in my consciousness, is the new duty to be awake at the most ungodly hours. And the rising sun is a sign that the day has ended, and that it's my turn to sleep. Strange.

When I finally got some days off this weekend due to Christmas, I slept for 18 hours, with around 4 hours of medium-level wakefulness and aimless internet browsing in between. So I've noticed, to make up for, say, 6 hours loss of sleep, you can NOT just take another 6-hour nap. This thing is not mathematical. The amount of time you need to recover is MORE than the hours lost.

This cycle is made more vicious with the fact that my med school had not delivered anesthesiology lectures separately. Anesthesiology was spread out in pulmonary system, pharmacology, and surgery lectures. Before, this trick worked out nicely---my teammates and I had quite a pleasant sail through other rotations, because we are accustomed to integrating different stuff together. But in anesthesia rotation, it doesn't work too well. The logic in anesthesiology is somewhat different. So here I'm trying to combine studying from scratch for the [what shaky] foundation and cramming everything I've got for the bricks. Coupled with the currently abnormal biological clock, I'd say it's pretty hellish.

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