Although I was glad to be able to finish residency, it was not easy. There were days when the pain in my knees would be so bad I would be limping from room to room. The fatigue had gotten better with the high dose of steroids sending me into a state of jittery high, but after I had spent all my energy, I would crash hard.
I remember one overnight call, where it was an especially busy night. I was stuck in the ER doing admissions. The floors were also busy with critical patients, and nonstop codes. Perhaps it was a full moon. I kept finishing one task, hoping to be able to sneak off to the call room , eat something, and take my meds, but only to have another urgent task awaiting me. I watched the clock, 10 o’clock, 11:30, midnight.
I eventually caught fifteen minutes to eat, but after that it was back to the grind. The work seemed endless, my body ached, and I could barely keep my eyes open. I remember finishing up my admissions, and as I was walking out the ER at 4 AM, the ER attending tells me he’ll have another patient ready for admission in another hour. I went to lay down for the hour, and prayed that would be the last one before sign out.
There was also the time when my left eye vision became blurry. I was in the middle of interviewing a patient in the ER, and I didn’t want the patient to feel I was incompetent, so I finished the interview, squinting to write my notes. Twenty minutes later, after I finished the admission, I ran to the clinic to speak with my attending. She didn’t know what was wrong, and told me to call my rheumatologist.
I went to the ER at a different hospital, and after a neurology consult and MRI, it was determined that I was having migraine auras. It turns out the constant lack of sleep and stress was causing me to have these painless migraines. I left grateful that it wasn’t any serious problems with the blood vessels in my eyes, which is what my rheumatologist had feared.
There were several other incidents here and there, and sometimes I had to be seen in the ER I worked at. Many times, I’d lay in that ER bed, embarrassed as my colleagues and other attendings would walk past, catch a glimpse of me in a hospital gown, then ask what was wrong. I never looked sick, and I always feared they would think I was just trying to get out of work.
It was a tough journey, but I made it through with lots of prayers and the support of loved ones.