Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Day In My Life

Over at Mothers in Medicine, a blog dedicated to exactly that, the most recent topic has been "A Day in the Life of..." These amazing women tell what a typical day is like for them as a mother and a neurosurgeon/cardiologist/obstetrician/pediatrician.

This blog has been a wonderful "support group" for me. It lets me know that there are women who have been through what I have and come out as real people and functional mothers on the other side.

The most recent topic has inspired me to share a typical day for me. The only problem? There is no typical day for an intern. Each month is a new service, a new team, a new job. I can only share what is typical for this month.

A day in the life of an anesthesia intern on trauma surgery...

4:30 am: Alarm goes off. Want to push snooze, but don't.

4:55 am: Toast bagel, pack bag with fruit and snacks to eat later that day.

4:58 am: Run upstairs, kiss sleeping boys and sleeping husband good-bye.

5:00 am: Get in car, drive to work in the dark. Eat bagel while driving.

5:10 am: Catch shuttle in parking lot.

5:15 am: Arrive at hospital.

5:20 am: Get to locker room, hang up coat, put on green hospital scrubs and white coat. Check to make sure I have stethoscope, pager, ID badge, PDA.

5: 30 am: Arrive in SICU for check-out from overnight team. One new admit overnight, 19 year old assault victim, intubated, 2 chest tubes in place. Hemoglobin stable. One of patients on the floor had SVT overnight, beta blocker started.

5:45 am: Pre-round on SICU patients. Neurosurgery taking one patient to OR today; we sign off. Assault victim looks stable, tell SICU team okay to extubate.

6:00 am: Pre-round on floor patients. No further SVT seen on telemetery. Patient reports she had this before, but has been off regular medication. Start home medication back up. See orthopedics team, taking another patient to OR to fix tib/fib fracture. See ENT service, thank them for suturing ear laceration on patient.

6:30 am: Return to team room. Write notes, adjust some orders.

6:45 am: Go with team to cafeteria for breakfast. I don't eat any. I had a bagel when I left home. Sit at table with surgery residents. Can't wait until I'm doing anesthesia. Conversations re-affirm I do not want to be a surgeon.

7:00 am: Head to conference. Topic is interesting: angiography to identify vascular injury in trauma. Still can't stay awake. Doze off in back of auditorium.

8:00 am: Conference is over. Head back to team room to check on chest x-ray for assault victim. No evidence of pneumothorax. Labs back on floor patients. No electrolyte abnormalities on patient with SVT.

8:30 am: Call neurosurgery regarding patient with lumbar spine fracture. Injury non-operable. Order patient back brace.

9:00 am: Meet attending trauma surgeon in SICU to round together. Assault victim has been extubated. Remove one of chest tubes. Put in orders to transfer patient to floor.

9:30 am: Get page to clarify order.

9:35 am: Get page to let me know patient's IV infiltrated. Patient taking good PO. Stop IV fluids.

9:37 am: Get page with update on rehab placement for patient.

9:45 am: Return to team room. Finalize notes, finish orders. Finish discharge summary for patient going to rehab.

10:00 am: Try to read ICU textbook. Read blogs, check Facebook, check e-mail, check weather. Try to read. Check Facebook.

11:34 am: Trauma pager goes off. Activation. Self-inflicted gunshot wound. Go to ER Trauma Bay. Get on lead, gowns, face shields, gloves. Hear helicopter land on roof. Team ready when patient rolls in. Patient intubated. Take report from AirTeam. Listen to mid-level resident call out primary and secondary survey. Enter orders. Call CT. Call Neurosurgery. CT calls back, ready for patient. Neurosurgery comes, says injury is non-survivable. Transfer patient to SICU to wait for family to arrive. Contact social work. Go to SICU to talk to SICU resident. Write trauma note. Feel numb.

12:45 pm: Grab bag from locker room. Eat apple, drink Coke Zero. Wish I could finally lose the weight. Team members eating pizza, hamburgers.

1:00 pm: Answer more pages. Feel exhausted. Day only half over.

1:40 pm: Trauma pager goes off. Alert. Fall from roof. Go to ER Trauma Bay. Get on lead, gowns, gloves. No face shields this time. Ambulance team rolls patient in. Patient awake, talking, groaning from pain. Order fentanyl. Order labs, xrays. Go with patient to CT scanner. Sit in reading room while patient's scan comes up. Lumbar burst fracture. Call Neurosurgery again. Admit patient. Neurosurgery will operate tomorrow.

2:00 pm: Go back to team room. Finish trauma note. Answer more pages.

2:15 pm: Code pager goes off. Code Blue on Neurosurgery Floor. Run up stairs. Think about how I should exercise while I run up stairs. Get to room. Room full, chest compressions already going. Senior resident asks for rhythm check. Monitor shows asystole. Chest compressions restarted. Mid-level resident places femoral line. I do nothing. There are so many people in the room. Feel numb.

2:30 pm: Return to team room. Text Hubster. Feel tired. Try to read. Blog instead. Return a few more pages. Wonder why I can't pull my life together like other people seem to have.

3:00 pm: Go to surgical skills lab. Play MarioCart on Wii. Lose every race. Still have fun. Pause game to answer pages.

5:45 pm: Head to SICU to sign out to night team. Let them know the SICU is going to withdraw care on gunshot patient later tonigh.

6:00 pm: Go to locker room, change out of scrubs, grab coat.

6:15 pm: Catch shuttle back to parking lot. Drive home.

6:30 pm: Pull into garage, door opens. See boys waving and smiling at me. Help with dinner, start laundry. Sit around table as a family every night I am home. Ask about school for boys and Hubster. Feel tired.

7:30 pm: Bath boys. Give them their Advent calander chocolate. They never forget. Help them brush teeth. Hubster studies for test in morning.

8:00 pm: Read to Monkey. Tuck him in bed.

8:30 pm: Read to Bug. Give him piggy back to bed.

9:00 pm: Fold some laundry. Watch whatever is on DVR: The Office, Survivor, Chopped, Mythbusters.

10:30 pm: Turn off Christmas lights. Unplug Christmas tree. Plug in cell phone. Shower. Standing in shower, feel sad for the first time today. Sad for what happened at the hospital. Sad for only seeing my family for 2 hours a day. Sad for missing so much. Sad for myself sometimes.

10:50 pm: Kiss sleeping boys goodnight. Every night I am home I do this.

11:00 pm: Fall into bed exhausted. Asleep before I know it.

This is my everyday. The pager goes off at different times. The traumas are different people, different stories. But one day feels much like the same. Until next month.


  1. Gosh. I thought my job was tough! I work in tech support so no two days are alike for me, either...but that keeps life interesting, I guess.

  2. Wow, impressive. You've accomplished so much.
    Sorry you are having sad thoughts, hope they don't last long.

  3. Oh my goodness. You are my new heroine. Honest to goodness, no matter how hard I tried, I could never ever do your job. What a difference you are making in people's lives, including your boys, even when it may not feel like you are doing enough.