Dec 28, 2011

The Twelve Doors of Christmas

I worked every day this Christmas holiday, 7am-7pm, sometimes longer. It was the first time I'd been away from my family during Christmas, and my first Christmas as a doctor. Here are twelve of the doors I walked into this Christmas Day.

Starting the holiday in the OR, ready to c-section twins in my Christmas scrub hat!

Door 1: The Intern Call Room (A Sad Resident)

I open the door to my call room to change and find my fellow intern sitting on the bed, crying. I asked her what was wrong? She said she had cried all the way into work, because her two small children didn't understand why she had to leave Christmas eve, why she wouldn't be there to watch for Santa and see them open stockings in the morning. I was so sad for her. It's hard to want to be with other people's babies, she explained, when you just want to be with your own.

Door 2: The Gift Shop (Good Sam)

I open the door to the gift shop. Christmas Eve, the hospital gift shop is advertising all holiday merchandise 50% off! I buy myself an ornament, to mark this first Christmas working as a doctor,. The first of many, I'm sure. I named him Sam, after Good Samaritan hospital.

Sam the Snowman

Door 3: Triage (The Reluctant Partygoer)

I open the curtain to the triage room. There is a woman I just can't get rid of. You're not in labor, I explain. You're rarely contracting, your cervix hasn't changed. She refuses to leave, insisting that she's in labor and will just come right back if I discharge her. I wonder why anyone would want to sit in triage on Christmas Day if they didn't absolutely have to. I ask her if she wants to go home, since she doesn't have to stay here? She replies that she has a large family party at her house to go to, and just really doesn't want to she has presented for preterm labor. I ask her when the party ends, and discharge her home afterwards.

Door 4: The Resident Room (My Family)

We all walk into the resident room. It's a small lull in the day, so all five residents crowd into the shared resident room and turn on a tiny TV and make popcorn. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is on, and we share an hour and a half of watching it together, laughing, occassionally interrupting to return pages, and just enjoy being together. We are all away from our families this Christmas Day, and are grateful to enjoy our residency family.

Door 5: The Resident Room, later (Her Family)

One of the resident's kids come to visit. They have on their new Christmas PJs (see next photo), and have come for Mom to give them a hug before they get tucked into bed to wait for Santa.

Door 6: Triage, later (Santa Surgeons)

We all put on Santa hats and open the door to triage to take a picture in the emergency birth room. John, one of the second years, later tried to keep wearing it and pass off the hat as a scrub hat. Turns out Santa is not allowed in the operating room. HO HO NO.

Christmas Call Team!

Door 7: The Intern Call Room, later (My Other Family)

I open the door to my call room and open my iPad. My family has woken up in California, and are opening gifts. I have them wait until I am between deliveries, and then get on iChat with them and watch them open presents. My husband even opens a gift for me, with me "holding" it up via the screen. It was fun to feel like I was a part of it even though I was here.

Ryan and me "holding up" my new sweater!

Door 8: An Antepartum Room (Christmas Dinner)

I'm taking care of a girl that has been admitted for weeks for preterm labor. She'll likely be here until delivery, and would not be home this Christmas. I open the door to her room to round on her, and find about twenty-five people in that room, along with a Christmas tree, gifts, and even a crock pot plugged in with something delicious-smelling inside! This girl's entire family has come and brought their Christmas party to her room. I almost fall over with happiness when they invite me to sit down and eat with them.

Door 9: A Delivery Room (The Manger)

I walk through the door after being paged for delivery. I am delivering a nice Hispanic woman, Maria. She names her baby boy Jesus. I love it. How many people get to deliver Jesus on Christmas Day?
The hospital's special holiday newborn outfits, on the delivery table

Door 10: Another Antepartum Room (My Kiss)

I go into another long-term patient's room. She's been admitted with preeclampsia, and staying until she is delivered, which might be a couple more weeks. She has a few family and friends over, and they have a table full of yummy-looking sweets, and a glass jar full of Hershey's kisses. I talk to her for awhile about her baby, the plan of delivery, and ask if she has questions. She says no. I say, "well, I have a question." I point to the jar and smile. "Can I have a Kiss?" One of the guys in the back calls "So THIS is the kind of doctors we have working here. Come back here, sweetheart. I'll give you a kiss!"
I want to die. And definitely not round on her for the next few weeks!

Door 11: Another Delivery Room (Sixteen)

I walk through the door of another delivery room as a baby's heart rate drops. We put the mother her on her side, give her oxygen, and the baby's heart rate comes back up. I'm not ready to leave though. I sit in the rocking chair in her room, watching the heart rate tracing, rocking as she falls asleep. She is sixteen, and here in labor with her first baby. I rock, and think about the Christmas that I was sixteen, eleven years ago. I fell asleep excited Christmas Eve, in anticipation of my stocking. I wanted, and received, things most teenage girls would like- a new pair of cool shoes, some clothes, bubble bath, fuzzy slippers. This girl's stocking would maybe have things for her baby, or maybe no stocking at all, as she labored here Christmas Eve. I rocked and rocked, and watched her and her baby for a long time, until my pager finally pulled me away.

Door 12: Home (At Noor's)

We push the door open to the apartment. I'm staying with my dear friend and fellow intern Noor, who is working the same long Christmas days as me. She lives much closer to the hospital than I do, and offered to let me stay at her house. I am so tired. We share a piece of leftover chocolate cake, and stretch out on the couch with HGTV and a bottle of wine. I fall asleep that night, happy that I've survived my first working Christmas, and happy that it's over.

Me and Noor

1 comment:

  1. Annie...this one of my all-time favorites. You have indeed been given a great gift. Merry Christmas, Lil Doc!