When the alarm went off at 4 am. Michael barely rolled out of bed.He had been at Bellevue for six months in his residency, and was completely exhausted. The last twenty four hours he had six phone calls, and saw patients with various surgical complications. The most serious was a seventy year old woman whose incision was draining blood which indicated internal bleeding.Almost immediately he called the attending surgeon and she was rushed into surgery.Later in the evening the surgeon stopped by his room and said”good call tonight kid.She is stabilized and you probably saved her life.”
Washing his face he quickly shaved and began to make the rounds of the patients on his clipboard. As he entered one of the wards he proceeded to the bedside of Donald Ward a fifty eight year old man who used Bellevue as his primary hotel.Still wet from his last alcoholic binge, he was always hostile and treated every staff member with complete disdain. He was not remotely interested in a twelve step approach to sobriety, but ever the optimist Michael attempted to belief that even Donald was capable of positive change,
“Good Morning Donald are you feeling better?”Donald barely looked up at Michael and said in a hateful voice”Eat me shithead.”Michael smiled having accustomed himself to the various loving ways in which a good portion of his patients responded to ordinary civil greetings.Unmoved by the poetic use of foul language that followed Michael examined Donald and momentarily thought about addressing the consequences of continued drinking, but decided to move on to the next patient.
Walking down the hall Michael recalled the words of Dr Fornier in his initial interview. “You will be cursed at,struck, have vomit on your shoes, and treat many who may totally disrespect you.. However you will make a difference and truly will become a doctor that fills the gaps for those who have nowhere else to go.”The last part of that counsel was made vivid in the next part of his rounds.Mildred was a twenty year old woman who was dying from aggressive breast cancer. Michael had seen her two days before and spent twenty minutes chatting with her. That amount of time was a luxury but she like everyone he treated was not just a series of information on his clipboard. He had been counseled both in med school and here not to be emotionally involved with his patients ,but though he respected that wisdom h,e rejected it.Evelyn was clearly dying, and at her bedside were her parents and younger brother.They rose to greet him ,and he smiled and sat on Evelyn’s bed. Gently holding her hand he spoke to her by whispering in her ear. Hearing is the last thing that goes in the death process, and he wished to let her know that she was surrounded by loved ones.He then spent a few minutes speaking with her family before going to the cafeteria for a quick cup of coffee and a bagel.
Glancing at his watch he was unaware that one of his favorite persons in the hospital had sat down next to him.Nurse Janice Brewngton was an outstanding OR nurse who made it her task to assist the new residents into the culture and rules of Bellevue.”Good morning Doctor Michael how are you?”She was aware that he had been on call for approximately thirty hours.Michael took a long gulp of coffee hoping the caffeine would sustain him for the rest of his shift.” I am on the downside of my shift so I guess I am ok.””I noticed that you had the wonderful experience of being Dr. Skeffington’s whipping boy at conference two days ago.”Michael grimaced at the memory of his being humiliated in front of his peers.” I think that he does not believe that I belong here.”Nurse Janice smiled and said”Get that out of your head. Every year he picks out the most intelligent and caring new resident and tries to completely
embarrass him. You are this year’s winning contestant. But let me tell you something.I believe he is jealous of someone like you.He has zero bedside manner, and is a compete egotist. His idea of the perfect home would be ten thousand feet of mirror. Don’t let him get to you.” Michael burst into laughter at the last comment. ,thanked nurse Janice and went back to the next few on his clip board.