Friday, February 17, 2012

Stories from Internship Part One

First day. Duty day. Admitting team day. Not six hours into today, I get my first patient, a case of encephalopathy of multiple etiologies transferred from another hospital. The resident from that hospital leaves with a smile and a sigh of relief because she's got the patient off her hands and conveniently delivered it into mine.  The patient is placed in SD Bed 3, the infamous bed that holds patients who mostly die in the hospital.  (An SD bed is reserved for cases that should have been in the intensive care unit but cannot be accommodated there due to lack of space or the patient's inability to afford the expense.)  It's an ominous start to my internship.  The beautiful thing is the patient does not feel the repeated needle pricks for the numerous laboratory examinations my resident has ordered; those are repeated needle pricks from my inexperienced hands, as I've never done venipunctures prior as a clinical clerk in a private hospital.  This day has me on a steep learning curve of where the laboratory is, how to extract the right amount of blood per examination depending on the tube that the patient bought, how to get a result even if it isn't printed out officially, how to schedule an x-ray and push the stretcher there (all the while ambubagging the patient and hoping he doesn't go into cardiorespiratory arrest right in front of me), how to refer to the myriad of other services in the hospital who would become part of the massive team who will manage the patient, and how to endorse to the ward team who will be my duty mates but off the admitting team.  Eighteen hours into this day and I'm ready to throw in the towel and run back to a private hospital, so I try to bargain with my mom so I can transfer to another hospital for training, I whine to my fellow PGI that I'm ready to quit, and I text a UP CM co-intern that I don't think I'm ready to become an intern in the national university hospital.  All three tell me to stick it out for just another day to try it out and assure me that I'm having a brief reactive psychotic episode from the massive adjustment I have to make, but I'm not even sure that I could stand another minute.  After finishing my monitoring schedule and completing the last of the errands, I lie on the thin mattress covered by a musty decades-old sheet in the call room and try to force myself to take a short nap.  Worrying that my patient would go anytime has me staring wide eyed at the upper bunk of the bed, its thin wood stamped with the names of interns and clerks past.  I swat at the mosquitoes buzzing in my ear for another three hours before I plead for a hygiene break at 4 AM and cross the street to the dark dorm that has become my home.  I'm greeted by ice cold water from the faucet and start thinking of how miserable my life has become in less than 24 hours.  For a full minute I'm just letting the water go over my head and seriously thinking about not returning to the hospital across the street.  It's my hospital coat that has me trudging back across to the hospital, this time minding the huge buses and trucks speeding past the red light.  On the white coat it is my name, appended by M.D. crowning the embroidered patch representing the hospital that I willingly chose several months prior to train in.