Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Carpet Makes All The Difference

So I'm on my third day of inpatient pediatrics, and the differences between this and my first rotation, surgery, are enormous. First and foremost being the CARPET. Yes, friends, the pedi floors at this hospital have carpet. And giant papier-mache trees. And the individual "wards" or nursing divisions on the floor are called "pods", and each pod has a corresponding shape, for example the 13th floor beige pod. The first time I came up here, I thought I'd left the hospital. The adult floors where I worked during trauma are actually in a different building, but it might as well be another world.

The reason the carpet matters is as follows. I had my first call night Monday night. On trauma, by about 11 pm, my legs would start to ache. Deep in my back, hips, and knees, the bones and joints would hurt so badly that I'd be doing yoga maneuvers in the corner to try to stretch my muscles or standing on one leg to rest the other. Up here, however, there is carpet to shield the joints. Ah, bliss. It was my first call night since my first call night where I didn't premedicate with ibuprofen so that I could remain standing. In addition to the carpet, peds residents don't seem to mind if you sit down to do your work. Talking to a parent? Have a seat! Writing a note? Typing a newborn into the computer? Go for it! One resident actually apologized to me because the room we were in didn't have enough chairs for all of us. Wow!

The differences go way beyond carpet. On the first day, the residents learned our names, asked what we want to do when we grow up, and even learned our nicknames. When the intern's father offered to bring dinner for the whole team, I was included! Not that surgery was totally hardcore rigid all the time, but there was definitely a stricter hierarchy in place that said "residents and students are not of the same species." Separate but equal, baby. At one point on surgery, due to some unknown infraction by a fellow student, the head of the department decreed that medical students were under no circumstances to be allowed to eat the free drug rep food should it be present. Don't feed the medical students! Bad!

There's also a prerequisite amount of oohing and aahing over the babies that is required of all peds residents. If you don't coo at the newborns or all walk in and say "you are so cute!" or bring stickers, you are not part of the club. Fortunately, I adore babies and most of our patients are pretty darn cute, so I can check that one off.

I think it'll be an okay month. I'm pretty sure I don't want to pursue peds as a career, however. That decision was cemented after holding a 1 day old infant still while the intern, then the resident both failed to obtain a lumbar puncture. I know it's necessary, but GEEZ. That baby screamed at the top of his tiny lungs, just screamed with pain and the injustice of it all, and the best I could do was try to free a hand and shove my (gloved) finger into his mouth for him to suck on. At least you can explain things to an adult (usually, and whether they understand you or care is another matter entirely), but there's no reasoning with a newborn baby. Good thing they are so dadgum CUTE. Even the one we had to grease up with Vaseline because her skin was so dry it cracked open and scabbed.

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