Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not just us anymore

I had planned to write about my first post baby overnight call which occurred a couple of weeks ago. Long story short, I survived, hubby survived and my little peanut survived. I felt good to be back in the hospital and thankfully it really was like riding a bike, everything came back to me (FYI - I actually can’t ride a bike, but that’s another story). I may still write about it later, because I did gain some nice insights, however, now as I get ready for my next overnight call and a potential procurement call, I decided to write about this new feeling of accountability.

I have one more year left in the lab and I just started taking overnight ICU call twice a month in order to keep my feet wet. Last week I was asked if I would like to to cover some organ procurement calls as well. Initially, I wanted to jump at the opportunity (I’m interested in transplant surgery). However, when thinking about the burden middle of the night procurement puts on my hubby (especially with one car), I decided to table it unless they were really in a bind. Then, I kept thinking about it. And suddenly I was paralyzed about the thought of getting on a random, unregulated jet in the middle of the night with a baby at home. I’ve flown on a number of procurements in the past and I love riding in the jet. I love the free meal we get on the ride over, the much needed nap on the way home, and the urgency of getting organs back to help save someone who has been desperately waiting for them. However, now all I could think of was the danger of these jet journeys. What if I crashed? How could I be so frivolous with my life and safety? Even while on call, I find myself being a LOT more diligent about wearing my PPE and more being careful when putting in lines. A fellow resident is currently suffering on antiretrovirals after being stuck with an open bore needle of an HIV patient - one of my biggest fears. Now, these fears which were sort of trivial, in the background, part of the job fears have moved promptly to the forefront of my mind. I now feel as if I’m not just taking risks for me and my grown adult husband. Now the risks affect my innocent child.

I don’t really know how to deal with this new feeling of accountability. Specific to the risks of being a transplant surgeon (flying and Hep C) I plan to follow one of my husband's suggestions of finding Pauline Chen and asking her! (Yes, he, the non-medical one, knew about Pauline Chen!) I enjoy my work and I fully understood that there were some occupational hazards when I signed up. However, in the meantime, I wonder how others feel about the things we expose ourselves to at work and how that affects our children.

4 comments:

  1. what a great and thoughtful post! i'm terrified to fly to conferences - so completely understand. At least the connection to really helping someone is immediate in your case. I think the only thing that helps is faith. I don't know about organ transport planes, but in general people always tell me planes are safer than driving my car. I've been stuck and taken hiv meds for a month - they do make you feel awful, but really reduce the incidence. None of these things are fun - but the way I think about these things is that someday my kids will understand that through my job i tried to help people, even if its not as exciting or obviously heroic as being a fireman (which they appreciate now!). I want my kids to learn that helping others is important. Its rare for people able to really help other people in need and have it be completely safe. So we can go for total safety, but I'm not sure we would be living our lives the way were meant to, and I'm also not sure I would be modeling the values I want my kids to have. but much to think about! Best wishes to you and your family. I think you are doing something really important, and you should go back when you are ready.

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  2. That is a great post. I remember when I started residency, before having kids, I cut my finger grossing in a gallbladder. I got a couple of stitches but ditched the infection testing because darn it - I was neglecting my duties as a resident, and even one hour made me feel guilty.

    Had all the testing done prior to becoming preggo - was negative.

    After having kids, I let those infectious organs float in formalin a whole lot longer. Autopsy patients with HIV and Hep C - I would soak the block in formalin for at least a week. We are much more conscientious when we are protecting ourselves as mothers than just ourselves.

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  3. It is normal to feel this way. do what you are doing. Extra caution. I would not vote for you to go around the country with erratic hours, and baby at home. I gravitate toward baies as first responsibility. But I am also still learning a skill to do so.

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  4. I want my kids to learn that helping others is important. Its rare for people able to really help other people in need and have it be completely safe. So we can go for total safety, but I'm not sure we would be living our lives the way were meant to, and I'm also not sure I would be modeling the values I want my kids to have. but much to think about! Best wishes to you and your family.

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