I got assigned my first night shift of the year, on Jan 1st as the HDU (High Dependency Unit) and ICU (Intensive Care Unit) intern. I was mentally preparing myself this time before going in to hold myself together and do the best I can. Being in Pediatric ICU just a few months back really opened my eyes into the suffering not only the patients go through but also their parents.At the beginning of internship I looked at myself less as a doctor and more as a student until I realized that I’ve already being thrown out of my cocoon; I was no longer a caterpillar and it was time to fly. I was in awe of my seniors and professors who were fighting the disease just as hard as it was fighting back. Of course we have our lost battles but its a battle which never ends.
12 critical patients with three on ventilators, conditions varying from road traffic accident to CKD/Renal failure was the scenario. My senior briefed me on the work I had to do. Since he hadn’t had food and sleep since the past 30 hrs he requested if I could manage for a few hours while he rested in the duty room, to which I agreed. I had to send ABG (Arterial blood gas) samples at 10 pm and at 3 am. It was my first time drawing an ABG, I drew blood from the femoral artery and got it in the first go. I was so proud of myself.
Drawing blood for critical patients is very difficult since the veins are more or less collapsed most of the time. You have to stick the needle in a few times until you get enough blood for all the investigations. Out of 12 patients, 10 of them were either drowsy or disoriented. Some were under strong sedation. For some reason, whether the patients were sedated or not I always preferred talking to the patients and letting them know what I’m doing. It’s a habit which I cannot shake off and it helps me too in some way. Every few hours my senior goes and updates the patient condition to the family members. The 3 am sample drawing was really hectic as it had to be sent before 4 but I was able to pull it off with some help from my colleagues working in the casualty. It was indeed a team effort. I was super tired by the end of the shift and realized I still had to be in the hospital for a few more hours to finish off some ward work. Total 20 hours in the hospital was more than enough to put me in a deep slumber as I got back home.
The life of a medical intern is always full of surprises. You never know when you are asked to do something which you’ve never done before and when that time comes anyone is hardly ready. But my advice is if you get an opportunity to do a procedure whether great or small, do not disregard it. The more you learn and practice the more your mind, body and soul will get accustomed to the life you’ve chosen. That’s where the mastery lies.
P.S It’s 2 am and I have to be at the hospital at 6:30 am. Night shift equals to a messed up sleep cycle. 🙂