Hallway Four

In my hospital, Hallway Four is where the crazy people go. This is a glimpse of their lives and mine.

“You will be angry and bitter and hostile today…”

Posted by Amy on March 9, 2007

As I’m walking in to the hospital before every shift, I try to psych myself up.  I give myself words of encouragement.  I whisper helpful little mantras like, “Today, you’re going to be smart. You’re going to be compassionate.  You’re going to be fast and make only good decisions.  Today is going to be a good shift”.  The guys watching the hidden cameras in the back stairwells probably think I’m nuts. 

Some days, I’m a good doctor and some days I’m a nice doctor and some days I’m both.  Some days I’m neither.  I think today I might have been neither.  I definitely wasn’t both.  The following things irritated me today (and continue to irritate me, even though I’m at home now, sipping a glass of wine and wearing my favorite blue jeans)….

  • My third patient had just been seen and discharged hours before by the overnight doctor.  Why are you back? You’re fine.  Go home. Stop coming here.
  • Nurse Nancy kept calling me and pausing for long periods of time before getting to the point, “Doctor…. (long pause), you know that guy in room 10 …..(pause)…. well he’s wanting some Tylenol….. (pause)……”. 
    Nancy, please, just speak fast.  And concise.  And give the man some Tylenol already.
  • My bladder stayed full all day.  One 20 ounce coffee.  Two 32 ounce diet sodas.  One bladder.  No urine.  For 10 hours.  Why?  Because Mr.  So-and-So needs a work note and Mrs. So-and-So doesn’t look so good, and Mr.45-year-old So-and-So’s mother is on the phone and wants to know why her son’s not getting antibiotics for his virus.  Etc. etc. etc. 
  • My patients would not leave.  I kept dispo’ing them and they would not leave.  AND they’d want to talk to me again about why they would not leave.  Note to patient:  When I stop by your room and ask if you’re feeling better and you say “yes” and I say that you get to go home now and then I ask if you have any more questions and you say “no” then you cannot decide two minutes later that you do indeed “need to talk to the doctor”.  We already did that.  You’re already leaving.  I’m busy.  Please leave. 
  • My consultants wouldn’t call me back.  Mr. Surgeon, I know you’re busy (like me) but please call me back.  I’m not stalking you because it’s fun.  I’m not calling to ask about your family vacation or see how your golf game is going – I actually need to talk to you.  If you are on call, then you are supposed to keep that little pager-thingy on you at all times and when it goes off, you answer it.  Easy Shmeasy.
  • Everybody has the flu.  EVERYBODY.  It’s ubiquitous in this town right now.  Do you feel achy, feverish, and nauseated with a sore throat, cough, diarrhea and possibly headache?  You have the flu.  You did not get your flu shot.  Perhaps next year you will.
  • Mr. Spot reminded me of one of my least favorite patient-isms after I told him that I would be giving him a prescription for pain medication for this 10/10 (it’s always 10/10 pain, isn’t it?) pinky finger pain he got after punching a wall…”Doc, let me tell you about my situation….” which invariably leads to a sob-story about having no money to fill the prescription pain medications that I’m about to give him.  Fine.  Don’t fill it.  Be in pain.  OR, pawn your cell phone and your wife’s iPod and cut down on the smokes and you can afford a $5 prescription for Vicodin. 
  • Upon greeting him in Fast-Track (sort of an urgent care where we see quicker-to-disposition type patients), Mr. Dot’s first question to me was “Let me ask you something, Doc, what do you mean when you say ‘Fast-Track’ because I’ve been here for two hours?”.   Well, Mr. Dot, maybe you should take your “rash for a week” and go see your PCP.
  • I didn’t get to eat anything all day.  Missed breakfast.  Missed lunch.  Missed snack time.    The patients just kept on coming and the last thread of my good work ethic made me keep pounding away, seeing each one, solving the world’s problems one runny nose at a time.  Man, I’m hungry. 
  • Which leads to me to my latest problem – somebody ate my pizza.  It was in the refrigerator (at home – we’re at home now, try to keep up) and I was going to eat it after my shift and now it’s gone.  Kitty, was that you?  Great, now I have to go back out again.  Boy, did I want that pizza.

Well, that’s it.  No words of wisdom.  No heart-warming stories about how fabulous I am or how fantastic my sweet patients are.  Not today.  It was a crap day full of nonsense and idiocracy and bad moods.  I think I better try a little harder with my morning mantra-talking tomorrow.   

16 Responses to ““You will be angry and bitter and hostile today…””

  1. I really enjoyed this post – got here from Grunt Doc. I’ll keep following your blog. It’s hard working in the ED all the time (I started out in EM and switched to PM&R… I think you know why! Yeah, Walter Reed’s not much of a greener pasture, though!) You might enjoy this true story of an ER physician who was totally tortured by a “VIP” patient:

  2. Thanks for stopping by Val Jones. I’ll definitely check out the torture story – I love knowing that everybody has a bad day now and again.

  3. Hannah said

    Absolutely awesome post. (AND I’m glad that you’re writing again!) But you should have ordered in. ;)

    I think it’s the snarky running commentary that I keep in my head that keeps me from going insane.

  4. Graham said

    Love your writing and attitude. So funny and true. Just wish you’d write more often!

  5. Gina said

    I think we all have those days. In fact most of my nights on call make me feel that way. Is it bad to go over 10 hours without eating or peeing?

    And I love that bag!

  6. Charity_Doc said

    Been there, sister! Too many times. Just last night, in fact. My only advice, since this gets worse even after residency, enjoy the wine with someone you love.

    “Illegitimi non carborundum”

    Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

  7. 911doc said

    Awesome. Awesome. I think I had the same day like every day for the past two years. Linking your blog to mine. Have a better shift next time. Oh, and Val Jones… PM&R huh? Good move for you?

  8. shadowfax said

    Ah, days like that make you want to go home and kick the dog. Been there.

  9. You are all wonderful and I appreciate the kind words/”I’ve been there”‘s/good advice. Today was a better day than yesterday and I was smart enough to pick up my dinner BEFORE I got home. No starving for me tonight!

  10. Jo said

    I am so glad it’s not just nurses who have these days.

    I’m opening another bottle of beer in your honor, Doc.

  11. Jo, If you’re drinking in my honor, feel free to have two or three!

  12. 911 doc – yeah, can you believe I switched residency from EM to PM&R? Talk about a 180. There’s much to be said for both – though at the end of my training I opted to join a revolution (i.e. Revolution Health) because the system is so bad. We’re trying to offload the EDs and PCP offices through IT (making it possible for people to become ePatients unless they REALLY really need to see someone in person). Wouldn’t that be nice? At least we’re trying!

  13. Sorry about the pizza. The cats said it was okay.

  14. Celena said

    Poor poor Kyle picked the wrong day to be hungry…

  15. MedStudent in AB said

    It’s nice to know that someone else experiences this frustration in the ED. Case in point:

    Pt: “Doctor I’ve had a headache on the L side of my head for five months, everyday but it goes away on its own, chest pain everyday for a month but it goes away on its own, and pins and needles all over my body everyday for months”

    Doctor: “have you talked to your PCP about this?”

    Pt: “No. Do you think I have diabetes?”

    Doctor: “It’s a possibility. But not an emergency. We can’t find anything wrong with you today. You are not having a heart attack and your exam is normal. You should see your PCP about all this”

    Pt: “My wife has polymyalgia rheumatica and got prednisone, she’s much better. Can I get some prednisone?”

    Doctor: “No. See your PCP they can follow up on your concerns. And please leave the ED now!”

  16. Rossweisse said

    I have long suggested my need for a t-shirt that says “What’s a girl gotta do to pee around here?!”. You have my sympathy on that point alone.

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