Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day in the Life of a Single Mother Pathologist On Call

5:10 a.m. Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

5:20 a.m. Alarm goes off again. Get up and run.

6:45 a.m. Dressed and ready to wake kids.

7:00 a.m. Prepare breakfast - eggs, cheese toast, waffles - while kids get dressed.

7:30 a.m. Drop kids off at school and head to main hospital.

8:00 a.m. Sip morning coffee and pay bills.

8:45 a.m. Triage first few cases. I should have known it was going to be a day in the trenches when my first three cases were "scrotal mass," "hemorrhoid donut," and "sacral and ischial pressure ulcer." Hemorrhoid donut? I've heard of colon donuts - they are the margins created by the auto anastamosis thingy during surgery - but hemorrhoid donut? Not something I really want to contemplate over my morning coffee.

9:15 a.m. Get text from histo tech at GI site - "I'll have slides ready at 10:00." All 90 blocks. Big day.

9:45 a.m. Head over to GI clinic to sign out cases. Frustratedly troubleshoot computer issues I've been having all week with our drop down diagnosis, web-based sign out which is normally a dream - saves having to dictate - but is causing problems currently. Try not to take out frustrations on the extremely nice and eager new histo tech that I already love. Resolve to surrender to computer and wait until my partner comes back on Monday to help me on the relatively few problem cases.

12:00 p.m. Hit a lull in cases and decide to run to Sears to tackle the tire pressure issue that elicited a warning light I had to look up in my car manual before I walked into work - it's been on all week and I had no idea what it meant.

12:20 p.m. Deliver divorce decree to financial adviser who is splitting my residency retirement $$.

12:45 p.m. Head back to GI clinic and wolf down frozen burger with corn nuts, Planter's chipotle cashews (Yum! Their skinless olive oil and sea salt almonds are also amazing!), and a Coke Zero.

1:00 p.m. Continue GI cases.

3:00 p.m. Run to Barnes & Noble to get a few books in a series Sicily has been begging for.

3:20 p.m. Head back to main hospital to tackle rest of cases there. Learn from partner that he successfully deflected a possible apheresis procedure. I joke with him later in the evening that he jinxed me.

5:00 p.m. Finish cases and start to leave hospital. As I am walking out the door, receive a phone call from a frantic oncologist who warns me of a critically ill transfer that will probably need apheresis. Call hematology and tell them to page me when they get blood work so I can review peripheral smear. Luckily there is a Quinton in place so I don't have to call radiology.

5:15 p.m. Run to house, get Jack's prescription bottle, and call in asthma meds. Rush to pharmacy to pick up asthma meds.

6:00 p.m. Empty dishwasher. Stuff down dinner - microwave nachos with beans and Rotel. Pager goes off halfway through eating.

6:15 p.m. Head back to hospital. Call mom to see if she can meet my kids when their dad drops them off at 7:30 and get them to bed.

6:45 p.m. Shake my head in disbelief as I look at smear. Definitely a procedure tonight. Go to ICU to meet with oncologist, see patient, then back to office to perform calculations necessary for plasma exchange. Call blood bank and dialysis nurse on call. Go back to ICU to complete consult in chart and write orders.

7:45 p.m. Lull. Waiting for blood bank to thaw necessary products for procedure. What to do? Catch up on journals? Nah. Read news. No. Head back to Barnes & Noble to buy mom gift for helping out tonight, knowing I won't be home until late. I really need to buy stock. It's my fourth trip to book stores this week - other two were Wordsworth.

8:30 p.m. Back in blood bank with techs watching dejectedly as some of the FFP busts after thaw (this is common). Jokingly blame tech I have known for many years. Go over to histology to chat with night crew. Call apheresis nurse to ensure that she has completed her dialysis procedure and is getting the apheresis machine ready. Take a picture of blood bank Halloween decorations.

9:30 p.m. Walk first bag of plasma over to the ICU so the procedure can start. She greets me with a wide grin. "Now that's what I call service!"

10:00 p.m. Head home to relieve mom. Check on kids, who are thankfully sleeping, and give kisses. Thank mom for going over spelling bee words with Sicily. Quickly memorize the four words out of dozens she fumbled so we can go over them on the way to school in the morning. "Stopped." "Barefoot." "Steep." "Without."

10:15 p.m. Troubleshoot start-up procedure problems with apheresis nurse.

10:45 p.m Check back in with apheresis nurse to make sure everything is going OK.

10:50 p.m. Settle in to blog/read and stay awake until procedure is over (in a couple of hours).

TGI almost F. Except it's a call weekend. Ugghh.

Yes, it's fun to complain. But I really love my job. Nights like this are pretty exciting, considering they don't happen all that often in the pathology world. We get emergency apheresis procedures maybe every other call. Once I was unlucky enough to have three in one week - but that was pretty strange. We pathologists like our predominantly solitary microscope lives, laced with rare moments of excitement.


The Mother said...

Yes, we pathologists like our quiet corners with our microscopes and slides (and dread the "where's my report?" interruptions).

In the same vein, I'm an Amazon girl. I don't run to the store for my kids' needs. I click. From my cave. Love it.

Gizabeth Shyder said...

I'm a big clicker too but will invent any excuse on the planet to go to the bookstore. I'm going to own one someday, mark my words.

I need to write a blog on the "where's my report" interruptions. I swear, the more people that get involved and demand to rush a specimen, the more likely it is to get all screwed up. Sometimes it is like watching an episode of "The Three Stooges." Patience, people. We have it all under control. There is an art to this.

At the same time, we don't want to lose accounts, so that is why we spend all day Saturday at work when we are on call.

rlbates said...

Just saying hello!

Gizabeth Shyder said...

Hello to you Ramona! Good luck in Race for the Cure with Meenakshi and your friend from Memphis this weekend. Wish I could be there.

Ginger said...

Who doesn't like doughnuts with their coffee???

And, how the hell can you eat a FROZEN burger, much less on a GI day? I ate one once. As a kid. On New Years Eve. It was a frozen White Castle, microwaved. I STILL remember the soggy texture and nasty taste and STILL remember puking all the next day because of it! Blech!

Loved the window into the on-call world of a Pathologist. So ya actually leave the lab-OR triangle, who knew?

Gizabeth Shyder said...

It's a frozen veggie burger. Spicy black bean. NO! Again. I am not a vegetarian. I do like burgers medium rare. Never tried one that had been frozen, so you've got one up on me.

Yes, I venture out into the patient world every now and again. All the other hospital staff point and giggle as I whirl my head around in confusion in the ICU looking for my one patient a month. Invariably I realize I am in the wrong ICU, after I have to stop and ask for help. Just kidding. Not. Yes I am. No I'm not.

Kyla said...

I enjoyed this! I love hearing what people's days are really like.

I love those spicy black bean burgers. It is weird because I'm definitely not a vegetarian either and I don't even particularly like most veggies, but those are tasty!