Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The flu and other sundries

I've started a 3 month rotation in the pain clinic a few days ago. Although I like the action of the OR, it's a nice respite to work in a fairly relaxed clinic atmosphere. The fact that the rotation is in another hospital in a different city has additional advantages: First, I don't have to see my boss every morning. Second, it's always important professionaly to be exposed to different approaches. The only drawback is the commute. The days my wife gives me permission to use the car (i.e. when she has the use of the company car) it's not so bad. But otherwise, it's two and a half hours each way by public transportation.
I've returned from the clinic to be on call in the ICU. I've been percolating an upper respiratory tract infection (aka the flu) for the past few days. But I just walked in throught the door and gave a sneeze that registered 8 on ol' Richter's scale. Now, before you nurses out there jump on me and rip me to shreds for not treating the nurse in question with the respect due to her, I will mention that one nurse, with whom I have a very good working relationship, will heretofore be referred to, as "the witch".
One would assume that as a colleague with whom I've worked with shoulder to shoulder for years, might actually show some compassion for my unfortunate situation, i.e. working while in the throes of a full blown flu. Nope, she just said you shouldn't have come in to work, you might infect me. So much for the legacy of Florence Nightingale. (I recall a nurse telling me that Ms. Nightingale died of syphillis, the reader is invited to jump to any reasonable conclusion.) Every time I came near her (approximately 5 yards) she would shield her face with whatever was handy at the time, including at one point, a bedpan. Nice. Make me feel like a leper. Witch, wicked wicked witch. I asked the nurses, one of whom is named Peter, if they have heard of Tchaikovsky's "Peter and the wolf". Of course they have. I asked if they also knew of a lesser known piece called "Peter and the witch". They just laughed at me (or was it with me?). Yeah, I said, laugh away, it's about an evil nurse who taunts and teases the doctor on call, but Peter comes to the rescue and put's her a straight jacket
The truth is, I always regret being on call while sick. Besides the danger of infecting co-workers, it becomes real torture. Eyes tearing and itching, nose running, throat burning, a real treat. Every time I vow never again, but with the shortage of anesthesiologists I always feel guilty if I call in sick.
At one point another nurse looks at me and says, "you look like crap". Oh, gee thanks. I feel like crap. Not as bad as the patient we are admitting to the ICU, but almost. 50 year old male, riding his bicycle on a rainy night (how stupid can one be?) and of course he had to get hit by a car. The proverbial accident waiting to happen. Yes ladies and gentlemen we have an acute shortage of common sense. But, this is our lot in life, to treat the injured and try to save them from their own inane behavior.
It's been a fairly quiet night all things considered. All of the patients are stable, so I may actually get a couple of hours of rest tonight. In a few hours I be home and I'll spend the day in bed under a nice warm blanket.
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