Life Comes At You Fast

Whoa.

I only have less than two weeks left of my OB/Gyn rotation.

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How did that happen?? It really wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t even know there were different stages of labor, and I sure as hell couldn’t have described each stage for you. Orientation for this rotation doesn’t feel like it happened that long ago…because in reality, it didn’t. August 14th, the date we started this rotation, was less than a month ago. That just goes to show how rapid the turnaround of these rotations are, especially after the massive 12-week rotation of Internal Medicine; the rotation that literally ate up most of my summer. It’s almost absurd as to how much new information I’ve learned in these past four weeks, and it just as ridiculous as to how much I still need to cover before my shelf exam next Friday. Fortunately for me, I’ve been making the time to get some major studying done, especially after this past week where I worked one full day and three half-days at a nearby free clinic! But then I started my 4-day stretch of OB night shifts on Saturday night. Yeeaaah, life comes at you fast.

Let’s start with my time in the free clinic though. During my week there, I must’ve seen about 50 patients…it was so freakin’ busy man. But with that said, I was able to see and do a lot of different things in addition to interviewing the many patients that I came across. The vast majority of my patient interactions consisted of prenatal visits; a TON of prenatal visits. So I ended up getting a lot of experience in using the Doppler ultrasound to listen to the heartbeats of fetuses and in measuring the fundal height of the uterus to see how big they were. In addition to playing a part in the prenatal care of patients, I was also able to participate in some pelvic and breast exams, assist in contraception counseling, observe both IUD and Nexplanon placements and removals, watch how Pap smears are performed, and help patients view their babies via ultrasound. As you can see, it’s easy to imagine how awkward things can potentially get if you aren’t prepared for what you’re going to see in an OB/Gyn clinic. Thankfully, my ability to ward off awkwardness in a clinical setting has vastly improved over the years right along with my ability to stay comfortable in uncomfortable situations. There’s always room for improvement though!

With the free time I was afforded this past week, I was able to not only get a lot of studying done, but to also work on making the multiple responsibilites that I have as a student-leader flow smoothly with one another. At first glance, it looks like I have so much to do that it seems like I’ve unnecessarily overburdened myself. But once I took some time to simply list out and organize the things that I had to do, all of my seemingly looming tasks became much more easier to digest and carry out. I’m relieved that I took the time to do that when I had the chance, because my free time practically vanished as soon as my first night shift started. After having to labor through the process of completely flipping my sleep schedule, I began my first night shift strong. I ended up getting some pleasant surprises when I realized that some of the patients I saw earlier in the week in clinic were in labor at the hospital! Those families were actually happier to see me than I would have expected them to be, and one of the mothers even told me that she had just been telling her whole family about me the previous day! Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised as well as honored about the fact that I was memorable enough to elicit praises from them. All I had really done was check those patients up during their prenatal visits, but based on their families’ reactions after seeing me, you would have thought that I was one of their beloved cousins that they hadn’t seen in years. It was pretty wild and awesome at the same time! Talk about continuity of care!

There was a good amount of excitement as well as some mild lulls during my first night shift. It was harder than I thought it would be to keep myself awake and alert the whole time, even with the huge amount of sleep I was able to enjoy before I ventured off to the hospital. (God bless the residents I worked with who were working 24-hour shifts.) I don’t know what it is about the night shift, but it just feels vastly different from the day shift, even though the hours are similar in length. Maybe it’s the fact that I automatically find myself wondering why the hell I’m still awake after seeing something like 3:16 AM when I look at the clock to check the time lol. I found myself eventually drinking a cup of coffee to keep myself going throughout the night and when I wasn’t actively triaging patients, checking on my assigned patients or following interns/residents around, I was working on answering questions from a question bank. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that it was a successful shift overall!

After trucking through the end of my shift, I returned home and started typing out the first paragraph of this post before my body decided to crash on me at around 8:00 AM. I then woke up around 1:30 PM still pretty tired but unable to go back to sleep, so I got up and chatted with my roommate and girlfriend before attempting to finish this post. I got to about half of the post before I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish it before going back to the hospital for my second night shift, which started at 5:00 PM (I felt like I had literally JUST left the hospital). So I made my way back to the hospital and spent my evening checking in on my assigned patients, helping triage patients and shadowing a nurse for a few hours. While shadowing the nurse, I assisted with the birth of a newborn by coaching a first-time mother in labor for a couple of hours. The birth was simply beautiful and the emotions of the new parents after laying eyes on their new addition to the family was unforgettable. Their eyes were filled with a dazzling mix of joy, excitement, disbelief and love as they caressed their newborn. Having the privilege to be a part of that wonderful moment was amazing. Now I’m sitting here FINALLY finishing this post during a lull in my current shift. I can’t believe that it literally took me all day to write this…but that’s what happens when your sleep schedule gets flipped-turned-upside down.

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Make your week a marvelous one! And I sincerely hope and pray that those of you affected by both Hurricanes Irma and Harvey are safe and sound. Sadly, the rebuilding process will be incredibly hard for some of you…but with assistance, strength and an incredible amount of perseverance, the job will get done.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

– Black Man, M.D.

P.S. – 9/11. Never Forget.

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