Like a theme park, except with more agonizing pain

For whatever reason, emergency shifts tend to have an overriding theme. Perhaps I'm just overlaying that onto my day, perhaps I'm subtly biasing myself when I pick through the charts, but I swear I can pick out a common thread to most days spent in the ER.

Yesterday, for instance, was an orthopedics day, specifically the Day That Everyone Broke Their Damn Foot. Ortho days are fun because the people are otherwise healthy and you get to knock them out and move bones back into place.

Today, by contrast, was Chronic Pain Disorder day. People with weird-ass conditions that specialists don't understand come in expecting me to help them. Fun! Some of them are well-versed in their condition, explaining what's been ruled out and what helps in the voice of someone tired of explaining to idiot medical students that no, they don't know why their bowel hurts so much, and that this dose of morphine is what they usually have. Some of them are just big old balls of crazy.

Sunday's theme was People With Disturbingly High Blood Alcohol Levels, but every day is like that at the Royal Alex, heh. We had one guy come in with a level of 99 mg/dl - by comparison, the legal limit on that scale is, uh, 17. Fortunately, he'd been drinking mouthwash, so at least he smelled minty-fresh. It almost, but not quite, masked the rancid urine odour which tends to permeate the Alex on Sunday mornings.

In non-medical news: Electric Six put on the best damn show I've seen in a while. They got indie-rock nerds dancing in the aisles, man. It was wicked. I also flirted with a cute industrial designer, who by utter coincidence was designing surgical tools for one doctor I worked with. Wish I'd got her number, but the show started unexpectedly early.

And the opening act covered Iron Maiden - and covered them well - which is always fun. I have an unironic, unashamed love for speed metal, and you do too. You're just too scared to admit it.


Three words

Foreign. Body. Rectal.

Hey, did you know that if you lose a vibrator inside yourself, and it's still on, it'll run until the batteries die?

Did you know that that takes, like, a DAY?


How do I afford my rock and roll lifestyle?

Obstetrics and Gyn(a)ecology is over, thank Christ. The only thing miraculous about birth is that something that large comes out of something that small. Also, to all the ladies in the crowd: GET THE EPIDURAL. PLEASE.

Emergency medicine is what I'm on now, two weeks of elective followed by four weeks of rotation. I love emergency, really; I've decided beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's what I must do. I spent most of third year wondering what I'd wind up doing; hell, I thought I'd be a psychiatrist becauase it was the only thing I hadn't hated. Well, that and you work like six hours a day for a quarter-million dollars a year.

But in the middle of my first ER rotation, I had one shift where we had two people who'd been shot by the cops while fleeing in a stolen car, one woman who'd had her face smashed in with a stereo speaker, three heart attacks, and one guy who tried to kill himself with pills and, when that failed, a very woozily-applied razor. So as I was stitching this guy's arm up - the wounds were a little weavy - I felt that hammer come down and smash me on the forehead. The sky opened up, beams of light shot down, and a voice said "THIS IS WHAT YOU MUST DO WITH YOUR LIFE."

And then the security guard gave me advice on stitching, because he used to be a surgeon in Russia. It was a weird day.

Now, one of the great things about emergency is that you only work 4 shifts a week; four eight-hour shifts. Compared to the 70-90 hours I was working on O&G, this is luxurious. Granted, the shifts are at odd hours, and your sleep schedule can get fucked up; f'r instance, I have to wake up in four hours, and I'm still wide awake because I woke up at noon today because I've been working weekends. Tomorrow's gonna suck... But the upside of all this is that I have time for the rest of my life. Time to study, time to update my blog, time to go to concerts.

In the next week, I'm planning on seeing three, possibly four concerts: local indie rockers The Mark Birtles Project on Saturday (they have a cowbell!), Metric on Sunday, Electric Six - my favourite dance-punk band - on Tuesday, and possibly Audioslave from the nosebleeds on the next Saturday. I haven't been to this many concerts since fourth year undergrad when I lived with the guy who booked all the bands. Now, I can do this through the magic of emergency.

Given the cost of tickets these days, I can also do this through the magic of debt. But that's why I get the high-income job in the future, right? So I can enjoy myself now? Racking up 20 large in debt a year isn't bad, right? Right?

Maybe I should start