Thursday, January 04, 2007

In the middle of the night

"Am I boring?"

"Am I boring".... I heard it again, and wasn't sure if he was repeating it or was it just the resonance of his voice in my head. I opened my eyes and thought if it was just a dream. NO! He's sitting here in front of me, smiling, and asked again , "Am I boring?"

I realized it was not a dream. I looked at my watch and it was 1.40 AM, good it was only 2 or 3 minutes. That was the first time , and only time so far, that I fell asleep while talking to a patient.

The patient could have kicked my ass, he could have filed a complaint or even sued me but instead he apologized for being boring, he thought that made me sleep. I told him it was OK and kept talking as if nothing happened.

It's ironic how I move from one bed to another while at work but cannot crash on one bed of these to take a short nap during a long night of work.
I remembered how a medical resident in another hospital got sued by a lady because he fell asleep on her chest during a physical exam.
After 30 hours of continuous work, don't expect me to be awake.

The disaster is driving back home after those 30-36 hours of nonstop work. Sometimes I take a short nap in my car before I drive, but I realized that made me more sleepy. Sometimes I play Hakeem or Heavy Metal in my car to keep me up but this music just causes me severe diarrhea. I haven't crashed my car yet, but I once missed the turn to house and kept driving straight in the street because I was.... sleeping. Two residents with me had serious nonfatal car accidents because of DUILOS (Driving under the influence because of lack of sleep)- I made up this term.

It happens with me all the time. My barber had to wake me up a couple of times after finishing the haircut because he had other customers waiting. I would order something to take-away at a restaurant, go back to my car take a ten-minute nap which would last an hour and a half only to come back to find a new person at the counter who doesn't know what the hell happened with my order.

But what sucks, what truly sucks, is when I come back home wearing my clean shirt and tie with a big meal to eat, turn on TV, start eating and suddenly fall asleep. I would wake next morning, with ketchup on my shirt, the TV still on, and I got paged by my intern because it's 7 am and I'm already late.

I'm not complaining. This is a job that I chose and I was expecting this, but in case you were driving in the street and saw someone crossing 2 red lights and terrorising pedestrians, or if you were sleeping in the hospital and I come over and take a nap in your lap, or I smell like baked potatoes with ketchup drooling from my hair.... I hope you'll understand.


hamede said...

I understand.

Qwaider قويدر said...

I think you should have your sleep. A single mistake means people's lives. And possibly your own.
There should be rules and regulations for how long you may work. And then you should have mandatory rest
If you feel that you're not fit to drive, then don't. Sleep wherever you are, and then leave. Just don't risk it.

Lubna said...

offf... that's sooo sad. That's why you found your underwears under the sofa. that's why your mom wants to find you a wife:(
I'm sorry you can't find the time to rest. it sure sounds harsh. Even when you sleep here n there, it's not like having this real comfy nap on your own big clean bed after a one good meal, and a heck of a tired body.
I just hope you'd get to at least eat, then push yourself to ur own bed. Don't sleep on the couch on tv, you'll wake up waaay too tired and messd up:( try to force yourself to get up. 7aram

Anonymous said...

I guess we should be thankful that the rules have changed from 120 hours/week to 80 hours/week for residents!

Hareega said...

hamede, shokran!

Qwaider... there's nothing like amndatory rest, all residents go thru this. You can't sleep if you're the only one in the hospital, and if you ask someone else to cover for you s/he'll also stay for 30 hours nonstop and feel like crap at the end. That's the case all over america ! You really don't want to be the patient a doctor sees in his 30th hour of work. Good luck!

Lubna... don't worry about eating I can never miss that, but other stuff yeah it sucks.

Bo, yes thank God it would have been worse, however many residency programs in the US are not very adherent to the 80-hour rule. My program does its best to enforce it but it still doesn't work, I can't leave a crashing patient to be taken care by another doctor before I make sure he's stablized, besides the work load sometimes is too much to handle in 80 hours/week. There's one week in the VA where I spent 116 hours at work. Some surgery residents spend 60 continuous hours in the hospital, some work 130 hours a week. We need more residents all over America!

Anonymous said...

Yikes! OSHA wouldn't be happy!
My best friend is a resident in Omaha and her program is pretty strict about her hours. Of course, taking call can add more time, too.

zaid m said...

thanks for letting us know hareega. no more hospitales for me, any (3a6ar) will do the job :)

Firas said...

Taking a nap would make you more sleepy!
Try to stay awake no matter what, and I really suggest that you take public transportation if available.

Don't worry it will soon be over and you'll move back to Jordan to charge me JD35 for a 7min check up to tell me it's allergy,live with it.

Mala2e6 said...


how could they let you work so many hours?

i think there should be a limit to working hours specialy for doctors,mechanics can take a nap on the hood of a wont complain..

ya3teek il 3afeyeh hareega..

Amer said...

Ya zalameh, take a couple days off, and see what happens when you come back lol

Hareega said...

Firas... abeesh public transportation, and the visit will be only 4 minutes long :D

mala2e6 it used to be much worse in the past, medical residents used to almost LIVE in the hospital, they were on-call every 3 days , they really worked 120 hours a week for 3 years.

amer... yeah the days off are awesome, a chance to sleep till 3 pm