I did it.
Exactly a year after I started working, I did one of probably the most difficult shifts an intern can get: New Year’s Day on the surgical service.
It was my roughest call ever. Rougher even than that one on obstetrics.
By this time, I am not quite as slow anymore. I can see patients quite quickly; I know the ropes. So to go a night without sleep now is a lot busier than back in January.
Usually our calls start fairly calmly, then get worse at night, and slow down at around 04h00 again. Not this time.
It was busy from the get-go. It felt as though for every one patient we got out of casualty, two more arrived. And most of our patients were drunk as a lord; which meant that most of them ended up being restrained.
And then there was that one man that managed to extricate himself from the bed despite being restrained. After that, we just put a mattress on the floor and had him sleep there, to prevent any injury.
Happily, only one person came to casualty unnecessarily – a “query appendicitis” that ended up being a simple cystitis.
It was really a horrid night – many MVAs, head injuries; having to counsel families that their relatives were brain dead.
Stab wounds galore – some people were stabbed such that we didn’t even have to make a single cut during their laparotomies.
The one benefit to the call was seeing how well a focused team can work together. It was so cool. We were a well-oiled machine. Nobody argued. We just WORKED.
But sleep? We each took a fifteen minute power-nap, and that was it.
What a night. What a night.
What a baptism by fire.