Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “cynicism”

Why Is It…

I have been accused by many of being a cynic.  I can’t imagine why this is.  My question for you is:  Is it cynicism if it’s true?  I have heard cynics described as “failed romantics”, and if that is the case, I guess I am a cynic.  I tried to deny it during a visit to my shrink, and he reminded me of a statement I made on one of my worst days.  When asked if the glass were half full or half empty, I replied that someone had stolen my damn glass.  Now that I would refer to as bitterness, but who am I to argue?

My cynicism, if it exists, began in junior high, but was firmly seeded when I started medical school.  The summer before I went to med school, several people told me that I needed to read Samuel Shem’s “The House of God”, which everyone agreed “told it like it is” and I would know what to expect when I started that July.  Let me say that it is an excellent book, but you should not read it prior to starting medical school.   It will set the stage for bitterness beyond repair, because all of the things in that book ARE true, and they are a horrible sad reality.  My husband has questioned the source of my somewhat bitter outlook, and among those sources are that book.  I have urged him to read it, so that he may better understand, but he has not read it yet.  He will probably not, unless I maybe read it to him.  He is very busy, and mostly reads technical journals.

I have made many observations, which I insist are realism and not cynicism.  Maybe you will agree with me, or maybe you won’t.  I suspect these random thoughts may ring some very familiar bells, which likely cannot be unrung.

Why is it that when you are terribly late, that you will hit every light on the way to your destination, but if you are early and hoping to delay your arrival, all your lights will be green and there is smooth sailing?  This also happens when you really need a stop light to quickly check a text, which may be crucial to your outings that day.  My husband would claim (I sometimes refer to him as Mr. Spock) that these occurrences are mere coincidence, and that our mind only registers the outcomes that we (bitterly) expect.  I don’t know.

Why is it that my husband always calls me when I am running between airplane terminals, on the toilet, sleeping, or otherwise engaged in an activity that makes it virtually impossible to answer the phone with any convenience at all? He indignantly denies this, and tells me if I don’t stop complaining, he won’t call me at all.  It would be churlish and counterproductive to suggest that this is a desirable suggestion.  It certainly would not make for good marriage relations.

This may not be a problem for most of you, but why is it that when you have been up all night delivering a baby, and desperately need to go home and shower and rest, that just as you walk triumphantly out of the delivery room, there is another woman sitting there in a wheelchair who has just come up in labor?  This seems unnaturally cruel.  It is a lot more unlikely to happen if you are well rested.  It is most likely to happen at 4 in the morning.  Studies actually bear this out.  Human cortisol cycles dictate that more deaths and births occur around 4 in the morning than at any other time.  The baby I delivered this morning came at 4:17 AM.  I rest my case.  When I got the delivery done, there was another woman being admitted in labor.  Really?  Uncool, universe, uncool.

Why is it that when you are in a rush to pick your daughter up from school, she will be covered in paint, in the middle of a project, and her backpack completely unpacked?  If you have plenty of time, she is packed, homework done, and ready to go home.

Why is it that the hotel WiFi always cuts out when I am actively doing something, like Skyping with my family?  It never does it while I am asleep.  Then I get accused of deliberately cutting off the connection.

Why is it that when I am finally getting some sleep, (and of course have not put up the Do Not Disturb sign at the hotel, because I think that there is no possible way that housekeeping will come around that early) that they come banging at my fricking door at 8:45 in the morning?  However, when I am at work at the hospital, and hoping that they will have come already, when I return at noon, they still haven’t come and start banging at my door wanting to know if I want service?  Why is it then, after they have already come and gone (and tried to weasel out of various services because I am sitting there, and they can ask me if I “really need my bed made”) that just after I have gotten rid of them and locked up the door, the head of housekeeping will show up, bang on the door yet again, just to ask if I have gotten my room cleaned.  Why is it that no matter how loud I yell, “COMING” in a tiny hotel room, that they NEVER hear me, even though I yell it twice, they still jam their keys in and pull at the door?  It’s one room.  I have a loud voice.  Have they all been deafened by their vacuum cleaners?

Why is it that there is always massive, dense frost that must be scraped if I am in a hurry or running late, but the windows are always pristine if I have plenty of time?

Why does the damn hospital always call when I am in the shower?

Why is it that they only show the episodes of Law and Order, NCIS and SVU that I have never seen RIGHT when my husband calls and wants to Skype.  Why does he blather on until the whole show is over?  Why can’t he ever call in the middle of the multitude of episodes that I could recite verbatim and am sick to death of?

Why is it that the patients that wake you up in the middle of the night are always the ones that you don’t know, that belong to another doctor or hospital, that have no prenatal care, and who are unbelievable pains in the butt? 

Why is it that after many days of clear skin, on the one day you will see someone whose opinion of your appearance matters to you, will you wake up with an enormous zit?  Why is it always the one that has roots in your damn tonsils, the kind that you can’t hide no matter what, and the kind that takes days (if not weeks) to clear up?

Why is it that if you are late for your plane, the parking lot will always be super full and you will have to park 8 miles away and run? Why, when you are early, will it be totally empty and you have your choice of spots?

Why is it that when you are about to miss your flight connection, your gate will be 6 concourses away, always in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, where you have to run most of the way and the tram will take you about 5 inches.  When you are early, your gate will be directly next to the one where you have disembarked.

Why is it that if you decide to go home because a patient’s labor may be awhile, that they will either develop conditions that necessitate multiple phone calls and the need to go back in to the hospital, or they will dump the baby out in the bed before you can get there, but if you decide to wait at the hospital, everything will go smoothly and will take forever, while you are trapped there with nothing to do?

Why is it that in winter, the beautiful sunny days are always horribly cold, and the ones at a temperature where you might actually want to venture out, are always gray, depressing, and raining.  Actually, there is a known reason for this, having to do with weather patterns.  I disapprove.

Why is it that when your call ends at 7 AM, you will get called in for an emergency delivery at 6 AM, which will necessitate you working over your call time, especially on the day that you have to be returning to the airport?  Why is your call replacement always late getting into town?

Why does Walmart never have enough fricking lines open, even during times that are known to be busy? 

Why is it that yogurt, toothpaste, coffee, and other staining items always splorp out on your work or travel clothes, but never on your t-shirt and yoga pants, even if you are being very careful?

Why, when you drop something small, expensive and important, will it always take a bounce that defies the laws of physics, and land in the one place that you believe it was physically impossible for it to go?  Why, if it is unimportant or messy, will it always land right in front of you, or splat on your clothes?

Why is it that the piece of luggage you drop always contains your computer?

Why, within months of the time that my GI doctor told me that I should not drink coffee, were not 1, not 2, but 3 Starbucks erected in my previously Starbucks-less town? 

Why do you always miss the flight when you are headed somewhere of tantamount importance or great desire, but never when you are going somewhere where you couldn’t give a shit if you get there?

Why are the totally cutest clothes and shoes marked down to a totally awesome price only available in someone else’s size?

Why is it that you always have some weird muscular spasm and ram your freshly manicured toenail smack into the underside of the drying table when you are getting up to leave from your pedicure?

Why does your car wait to go off waranty before it totally falls apart?  Why does this happen one day after it expires?

Why is it that the drier always beeps when you are in the middle of dinner, or a shower, and it is always the load that must be hung up immediately?  It is never towels.

Why is it only the glass ornaments that fall off the tree?

Why do you always have to poop right after your shower?

Why is it that you always get horribly sick on vacation, and not when you could totally use a break from work?  Why does your kid only get sick when you are about to leave on vacation?

Why is it that packages that must be signed for only come when you are not home?  Why does the mailman come at 2 PM when it doesn’t matter, and at 9:30 AM when you are struggling to get bills out on time?

Why does your phone lock up while you are trying to pull up your boarding pass to get on a plane?

Why is your plane seatmate always the last to board?

Why is it something different that sets off the TSA metal detector every time, when you always pack the exact same things in the exact same way?

Why is the person ahead of you in line at the grocery store always trying to pay in Euros, or trying to use their debit card to bring down the entire US banking system as we know it?  Why must their items always be price checked?  Why do they have 80 coupons?  Why is their credit card always denied?  Why is it that the line you pick is always the one that comes to a smack halt, when all the other ones are moving smoothly?

Why do travel opportunites, parties and visits with friends only come available when you have already made other, unbreakable commitments?

Why do your coat, backpack straps, purse straps and other items always get hung up on doors and handles so intensely that you must back up and untangle them?  Would this ever happen if you needed this to to save you from falling off a cliff?  Hell no.

How can an enormous ice scraper disappear out of a rental car that only you use, that you always keep locked, and that is so big that if it fell out, you would totally hear and feel it falling on the ground?  Why does this only happen on the day that the most ice forms all over your windows?

Why is it always someone else that wins the damn lottery?

Why is there always a crisis when you desperately need to be doing something else?

Why, if a cabinet door is opened for a minute, will you smash your head into the corner of it so hard that your ears ring and there is a bloody flap on your scalp?

Why does one earring always come out and get thrown away with the scrub cap?

Why, when you have to do a delivery so fast that you don’t have time to change out of your street clothes, or put on your tall hipwader boots, does the amniotic fluid explode all over you, the blood sprays all over and out of the cord, and the placenta flies out with a plop and a splat on to your feet, but when you have on your protective gear, the delivery is unbelievably tidy, and nothing gets on anything?

Why do you always get a paper cut right before you have to cover your hands with alcohol solution to do surgery?  Owwww.

I could go on.  Really.  Endlessly.  This is but a random smattering of my questions for the universe.  My husband would state that all of these occurences are random, and have nothing to do with the circumstances at hand, but I just don’t agree.  Somebody stole my damn glass.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Glass Is Half Empty (And There’s Cholera In The Water)

I am examining myself and trying to figure out why I am such a pessimistic person. The immediate answer would, of course, be that I have been a depressed person for most of my life, and we are quite prone to pessimism. The slightly less immediate answer would be that I am basically a born cynic, have been since a young age, and believe that some cynical thoughts don’t count as cynical if they are true.

The longer answer is, I am a physician, and physicians are by nature a VERY pessimistic bunch. It’s ground into us early. Before medical school, it’s all about the frantic studying, and a lot of people get culled out applying for medical schools. So you’re not ever sure that you’ll get to go at all, and you have to steel yourself for that possibility.

Before you even START medical school, the pessimists get ahold of you. You are told to read House of God, by Samuel Shem, and this book tells you more than you ever wanted to know about the attitude you’re going to have. I read that book the summer before med school and cried. It’s a must read if you want to understand what your doctor is truly probably thinking, and what they’ve been through.

Then the skull fuckers get a hold of you in med school. Sub-par students try to terrify you into believing you’ll fail. You’re not sure who’s sub-par and who’s not, but once you figure it out you realize that they are the skull fuckers. They approach you before tests, regaling you with tales of how much material they’ve studied and how much territory they’ve covered. This is to trick you and frighten you into believing that you are underprepared. And if they take a test a section ahead of you, they’ll tell you horror stories about how impossible the test was, how you’d might as well give up, so you’ll be so nervous going in that you’ll do much worse. Nothing increases your view of other human beings like these moronic pieces of shit. It goes on constantly.

Once you get into the hospital, as a third year med student, you realize you are the lowest of the low. You are given jobs that not even the nurses or the orderlies will touch. At the VA, if labs were ordered, WE had to go draw them. We had to do our own EKGs and read them. We had to clean out disgusting bedsores and shotgun wounds that nobody else wanted to touch. We were woken up to do a history and physical on a patient (after the residents and the attending had already done one) who was too batshit crazy to communicate orally, and too combative to touch. The residents just laughed when they woke us up.

About this time, you start with the pessimistic magical thinking. This is the polar opposite of magical thinking where you hope for a good outcome. Around this time, you’ve learned that the worst possible thing that can happen probably will. And you’re trained to think that way. You’re paid not to miss the bad things. So you have to look for them everywhere, and expect that the patient will have the worst possible disease, the worst possible complication so that you can quickly detect and treat it when it happens. When it doesn’t happen, so much the better, but you never unlearn that negative point of view. It persistes all the way into private practice.

When you’re on call, you expect the worst. You’re all alone in the middle of the night; it is just the right time for a five hundred pound woman to come in needing an emergency c-section, which you will have to do all by yourself. You lie there in the call room and stare at the ceiling, unable to sleep because you KNOW somewhere out there is that woman with her name on you. You NEVER make plans when you are on call; the simple purchase of a movie ticket will cause a ruptured ectopic pregnancy to show up in the ER before you even get in through the theater doors. Yes, it happened to me. Fortunately they gave us our money back on the tickets. As you get older and older, and less and less optomistic, and have seen some of the truly horrible disasters that can happen in your profession, you just become more and more nervous. Every woman who comes through the door in labor – will this be the baby that dies? That one in over a hundred thousand MOMS that die on you? Every one could be the one. This haunts you so much you begin to lose all perspective.

And things like today can happen to you. The person on call (who is NOT me today – I’m on some time next week) is in charge of all the delivered patients and all the laboring patients, and all the unattached Gyn patients that come through the door. If you’re not on call, you should be immune from having your day yanked out from under you by a wayward patient. But the group across town that we’ve just joined has a rule – we take care of our own Gyn patients EVEN IF WE’RE NOT ON CALL if we’ve operated on them or if they just show up in the ER and say that they are our patient. And that’s what happened to me this morning. My husband and I made dinner plans with friends, which I never ever have time to do (not to mention, I don’t have any friends since I’ve been on call all the time for years) and which I felt perfectly safe doing, because I am not on call. But at 8:15 this morning, the OB/Gyn on call from last night called me and announced that a patient had come in through the ER, with a possible cyst or pelvic infection, she might need surgery, and because she said I was her doctor, she was all mine for the day. WTF? I had to call the nurse taking care of her. I had to order things over the phone. And I had to spend my whole lunch hour over there seeing her. The worst part was, my morning was RUINED. I was CERTAIN that the patient would need surgery this afternoon, because that would be the worst possible outcome for my day. I was CERTAIN I would be missing my dinner fun. Of course, when I went over there to see her at lunch, she wasn’t sick at all and I was able to let her go home. But the morning was spent CERTAIN that my night was ruined. And I was furious. And I still didn’t get any lunch.

So that doctor pessimism has ruined me. It has permeated every aspect of my life. I don’t know how to turn it off. And the magical thinking persists. I feel like, if I don’t think of all the possible bad outcomes, one of them will happen. And if I don’t expect to get my plans ruined – well- that’s when they will be. So this is why I’m taking some time off. I’m going to work as a travel doctor two weeks out of every month, and be off two weeks out of every month, so I can spend some time with the family and break the cycle of constant terror that something awful is going to happen. Not to say I won’t feel that way the two weeks I’m working. But at least I get two weeks free of the terror. And maybe that will be enough for me to turn some things around.

Is It Cynicism?

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m struggling with a blog post.  I would love to share my New Year’s resolutions, but they are utterly pedestrian, and they are all the same as the ones I failed to follow last year.  New Year’s is a difficult time for me.  It is really a young person’s holiday, with the drinking and the partying and the staying up well into the night.  Those are all part of a lifestyle I’ve given up in the interest of family and being a functional adult.  I’m not wondering who’ll kiss me at midnight.  With any luck, I won’t be up at midnight.  If I am, I will have been called into work.

Of all the holidays, I like New Year’s the least.  It’s at the end of Christmas; at the end of all the holidays that make the winter bearable.  There is nothing but cold and resignation afterward.  We make resolutions; we don’t keep them.  We know we aren’t going to keep them when we make them.  We didn’t keep them last year.  There are the fireworks (here in the South they are legal, and we enjoy them mainly on July 4 and New Year’s Eve).  The catch is, it’s so dang cold on New Year’s usually.  It hardly makes going outside bearable, fun explosions or not.  And this year it is supposed to rain, all night.  That puts a, well, damper on the firework thing.

I remember when I was a kid my folks went to bed about ten o’clock on New Year’s Eve.  I never understood why, but I do now.  What was going to be any different in two hours?  Staying up until midnight was pointless.  We didn’t even have a TV.  No ball dropping for us.  What is the point of watching a ball drop in a city where you are not anyway?  It’s like being allowed to peek in the door of a party you weren’t invited to.

My favorite New Year’s was Y2K.  There was truly the possiblility of a Zombie Apocalypse, or some similar event (what is the obsession over Zombie Apocalypses, anyway?).  People had stocked up on flashlights and filled their bathtubs with water.  I thought the whole thing was ridiculous.  I prepared for nothing.  I woke up in the morning and the world was still there.  I was on call that year too.  The only thing that happened of note on that New Year’s Day was that I got somebody pregnant.  Literally.  I had an artificial insemination to do in the office on New Year’s because the nice lady was ovulating.  It later turned out she got pregnant.

One year when I lived in New Orleans we went out partying.  We went down to the river to see the fireworks at midnight.  The fireworks never came.  Mounted police came by on their horses to tell us there would be no fireworks and cleared us out.  It turned out the fireworks had exploded earlier in the day, on the barge, killing one man and horribly burning another.  How festive.

Another New Year’s, I went out with a boyfriend to see Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown play at a local club.  I was all excited because I was finally going to have somebody to kiss me at midnight.  The boyfriend was totally antiromantic and was in a cluster of people when the witching hour came.  I got no kiss.  At least he wasn’t kissing someone else.

So as far as I’m concerned, New Year’s is a total wash.  A total non-event.  I won’t be making any resolutions.  I probably won’t be keeping any.  And once again, I’m on call.  Mainly because I don’t mind.  Of course, my patients are giving me all kinds of trouble.  The nurses are blowing up my phone.  I have one in particular who has every kind of problem it is possible to have, at least it seems that way.  I have three different doctors consulting on her.  I am sure they are enthralled to be called out on New Year’s Eve.

So there you have it.  A total nothing.  I’ll sit here by the fire until I go to bed around 10.  Providing I don’t get called in.  Feeling sorry for myself?  Probably.  I excel at that.  Being realistic?  Also probably.  Here is my New Year’s question for you:  is it cynicism if it’s true?

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