Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy

23Oct/09Off

Trapped and Free

4:55 AM, and I was dragging. My 12th day straight in the hospital, leaving a string of three call nights behind me with one left to go. Twenty patients to see before grand rounds at 7AM.

My knee has been hurting. I suspect it's from the miles and miles I've been putting on my body 14 hours a day, 90 hours a week, running around the hospital. I've been taking the stairs everywhere in an attempt to remain in better shape, but this morning it was too much. No coffee yet and too little sleep. I gave in and took the elevator from the 3rd to the 11th floor.

I leaned back in exhaustion against the side of the elevator, eyes closed. It whirred into life, and I let the tug of gravity pull me to the ground. The elevator reached the top floor and *dinged* quietly. I stirred, mentally preparing to start rounds.

And then, the door made a few feeble attempts to open, and quit. Servos whined to a halt. I was stuck in the elevator.

Funny, how things can change. Any other time I would immediately panic. What if I have to go to the bathroom? What if the cable breaks? What if the call button doesn't work? What if I can never get out?

Instead, pure, unabashed relief washed over me. I couldn't work while trapped in the elevator.

Zac, why haven't you finished rounds yet? The situation played out in my mind, There's so much to do today! We have to get on it!

Sorry sir, I quietly replied, I'm physically trapped in the elevator on the 11th floor, there's really not much I can do from here.

Well, I suppose you've got an excuse then. Take the day off.

I sat there for a few minutes, relishing the solitude. I planned out my entire day of rest, mapping out every delicious hour I would spend in each corner. Perhaps I'd take a nap right in the middle of the floor. I smiled. It was going to be a good day.

Then the elevator *dinged* softly again, and my hopes sank as I traveled back down. The door opened on the third floor. A tech stared at me in surprise, papers stuffed in my pockets, hair askew, sitting on the floor of the elevator.

"You alright, man?" he asked.

"Not really", I responded. I stood up, knee hurting, as I limped off towards the stairs.

Comments (7) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Oh Zac, that’s really sad! You’re almost done surgery at least though right? The things I have to look forward to…

  2. Right there with ya my friend.

  3. God, I can imagine how you must feel just by reading this. It makes me want to vomit. Nice writing!

    Take heart. You will be done soon.

  4. Very nice style.
    Get well soon!

  5. Wow, I totally know the feeling. Sleep is so precious.

    I remember when doing my first clerkship rotation – internal medicine – and how it was so taxing mentally and physically. I would have given anything and everything to get trapped in an elevator! Instead, it was where I (for a brief minute) managed to hide in order to choke back the tears somewhere in the middle of a 36 hour shift with a migraine.

    I’ve been complaining lately, but my residency program is actually quite nice. I pity the poor R3s and 4s in neurosurgery who haven’t yet (but will) realize they would be insane to continue in that stream.

  6. Oh dear. I could TOTALLY see myself thinking all of this. Great post.


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