Monday, August 17, 2009

The Double Life

The other day my neighbor saw me biking home at 8:00 AM. It wasn't that I'd been up all night working a shift a the Yale emergency department. I'd actually forgotten my lunch. Wednesdays are when the formal teaching in my residency occurs. We have 5 hours of lectures starting at 8:30 AM. Sometimes they are all in the same cavernous lecture hall at the Yale Medical School. Last week, we split up into small groups and did some simulation cases before two hours of standard lectures. (In the sim session, I resuscitated an 83 year old woman who was toxic on her digoxin heart medicine and who also had a gastrointestinal bleed. My feedback consisted of, "You have the best bedside manner I've ever seen for a plastic mannequin.") But I digress.

My point is that residents' schedules are known to be strange. It was natural for my neighbor to ask me yesterday if I was coming off a shift when he saw me biking in spandex and toting a full backpack away from the hospital. He was on a morning walk with his wife and young son. In fact, Wednesday was the only day that had a semblance of 9-5 for me. The rest of the week, I worked 4PM to 2AM. The carrots and hummus on my kitchen counter would be no good staving off the hypoglycemia (low sugar) antecedent to nodding off during the lectures. I did worry I'd be late for the first session when I turned around. Fortunately (for me AND everyone else in the program), I had plenty of time to change out of my spandex for the first small group. Emergency physicians are intent on being on time at shift change, but organizing a large group of night-owls at 8:30 AM takes more than coffee...

The same neighbor was washing his car while I was turning up sod for a new garden. We chatted about work hours, the economy and generally of making lemonade out of lemons. (He gets to prepare for his classes and spend time with his son more than he did when business was booming; I always have interesting patients to see in the ED.) We've only lived in New Haven for two months, and have not met many people, but it's nice how often we see those who we have met. We see them when we work in the garden, or when they are walking dogs, or commuting, or on evening strolls... it's nice to live in a neighborhood. I'm not intent on figuring out how to reside in it during normal hours. But even an off-hours resident can connect without that much work.

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