Sep 24, 2012


This last weekend was our resident retreat. Last year, when I heard we were going on retreat, I imagined a quiet weekend with my co-residents, in a nice location and fun activities, with time for introspection and deep conversation.

I was wrong.

The resident retreat was a wild party, an overnight trip filled with more alcohol than id ever seen in one place other than Costco. The drinking started early, during our team building activities. Which were very stupid, i.e. working as a group to pick up a bowling ball with ropes, working as a group to create a pipeline and fill a bucket, working as a group to put together a giant wooden puzzle while blindfolded.   We decompensated a little at at the end, with someone yelling "who has the corner?  Who the fuck has the motherfucking corner?", and us throwing the puzzle pieces at each other.  But i think we did well overall.

There is a party the night of the retreat, where each class comes in costume, and presents a skit. One classes' costumes this year were all the names for a vagina. We had a pussy cat, an orchid flower, a muff diver (wetsuit with English muffins taped on), a box (girl had cut a hole in a box and wore around her waist sans pants and with a t-shirt up top saying "party all night."), and so on. You get the idea.  Box girl has not worn pants for three years running.   The attending oncologist-who treats every major GYN cancer in a hundreds of miles radius-  is walking around with a blow up doll strapped to his waist.  It's that kind of party.

The skits start.  Ours is wildly racially insensitive, involving a response-type song where the girls sang "empuje!  No puedo!" and the boys employed a baseline of "all in the bottom now, push all in the bottom now."

After the skits, the karaoke machine is turned on. And I can't tell you what glee comes with watching your attending perinatologist- who has literally written the book on critical care in pregnancy- sing "when I think about you, I touch myself" into the microphone.  Off key.

Outside, the pregnant girl and the Mormon residents are hanging out.  Drinking Sprite.  The Mormons are okay with this, but the pregnant girl  takes a sip of my wine.  Her drunk friend (also her obstetrician) comes and sits on her lap.  She taps the pregnant belly and slurs,  "I'm gonna reach up in your cervix and say hey, little baby, come on out.  Come out now baby."

The night ends with the game "two truths and a lie", where you say two things about you that are true and one that isn't, and everyone else has to guess which is which. And it's amazing what's true.  Arrests. Menage a tois.  My "I've played the violin since I was five" is not an impressive Truth. 

The next morning, we are ready. There are bottles of ibuprofen and Zofran for each class. IVs are standing by.  We go outside for breakfast and our final activity, the breaking of the wooden boards. Our director thinks it symbolizes breaking through negative self assumptions and doubt. Each chief takes an intern and shows them how to do it, and we line up, with applause after each board broken. I watch as thirty two surgeon's hands- and one surgeon's head- breaks through the board, this a good idea?

And then it's over. We drive back home, with five lucky people returning to the hospital to stay overnight on call (I was one of the Chosen). Life goes on. We don't put a lot of pictures up, for liability reasons, but tease each other about our Truths, start planning our costumes for next year, and refill the Zofran. 

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