I was miserable.
The blaring of the alarm clock radio startled me from my sleep. It’s 4:30 am already, and this is the 7th straight day in a row of waking up early to go into the hospital. It’s Sunday morning, and I don’t get a day off until this upcoming Saturday. Like a ritual with witchcraft and candles, I do my daily countdown until my next day off.
Usually we round a little bit later on the weekends, but today is special. We have a heavier patient load than usual. I don’t get to look forward to knocking off at noon, either. Today is our “long call” day, so I’ll be working until 7 pm. The dead of the morning is deafening. Through the silence my cat meows to let me know it’s inappropriate to be up at this hour. He knows more about this charade than he lets on.
I look over and my wife is fast asleep. If only I could continue to lie there with her. She looks so peaceful. I fight the temptation to lie back down and jump in the shower.
With fresh scrubs on, I walk out the door and to the car. Damn it, I forgot to warm the car up. It’s freezing outside, so I take out my drivers license and scrape the ice from the windshield. “What have I gotten myself into?” I think to myself.
“Ahh, fuck it.”
I see the Sunday newspapers lying in the driveways of the houses in my neighborhood. I know that in a few hours, most of my neighbors will be waking up. They’ll dash outside to retrieve the paper and then sit reading it while drinking coffee. Later on, they’ll spend some quality time with their significant other. Perhaps they’ll watch a movie together or go out for brunch. God, how I miss those days.
I won’t be doing any of those things, though. Fetching vitals, dealing with old people who just want to die, and the scent of hospital food is what my day has set out for me. Sundays make me want to puke. If only I could be a normal person again. I would do anything for that.
In a few hours my wife will also be waking up. One of two days of the week where we can spend significant time together, and I’m stuck at the hospital all day. I curse myself for ever going to medical school in the first place, and then I curse my wife for talking me out of quitting school. She doesn’t really know what it’s like. She thinks it’s just a regular job with long hours, but I know different.
On my drive to the hospital, I note that there’s no traffic out at this time of the morning. I know that this is going to be the highlight of my day. No people, only the stray white of headlights glaring in my sleep deprived eyes. It’s not human, and I am relieved. Humanism makes me sick, the way they force it on you. It’s always about the patient. What about us? Where do we come in? I spend my days feeling ill.
I arrive at the hospital. The walls are made up of little green tiles. It reminds me of the bathroom in my Grandma’s house. The fluorescent lights shining on the green tiles in contrast to the dark of the morning is depressing. They are extensions of these depressing halls. Little green extensions.
There is one other student on this rotation, and she’s already there as I arrive. She’s there every day before I am. Am I a slacker? Probably so. I wait until the last minute to come into this hell hole every day. She’s enthusiastic, and seems to love what this mess is all about. Just like every day, I take a minute to ponder why she loves this shit so much. I never ask. I guess I don’t really care that much. I take that minute to put off starting my pre-rounds.
I do my work and watch the clock at the same time. Nobody really talks to me much, outside of the normal medical babble. They know I hate this, they can see the depression in my face. I hate the very thing that they do to put food on the table. I think they resent me for that. I don’t care, though. At this time of the day I would rather not talk.
I laugh to myself as I think about what my Grandma will be having for lunch today. The whole family will be there just like every Sunday. As I check my pockets to make sure I have enough change for a pack of crackers and a Coke from the vending machine, I think about the green tiles in my Grandma’s bathroom.
I always hated Sundays the most.
Note: The following post was a recollection of the thoughts and feelings going through my mind as a junior medical student on my internal medicine rotation on one cold Sunday morning in January. I still remember them like it was yesterday. As you can probably tell, it was a rather dark time of my life. I no longer feel like this since I am thoroughly happy with the outcome of my decisions not to enter medicine. I never passed those feelings down to this blog while I was feeling them at the time.
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What I’m listening to: Jeckyll and Hyde: Freefall (Extended Mix)