Saturday, August 27, 2016

Future Doctors Being Denied the Benefits of Terms of the Geneva Convention in Order to Be Warned of the Evils of Pharmaceauticals

Colorful pills falling into open palms - Stock Image I'm not sleeping well, which is a pity, as I could use the sleep. Three mornings this week I had to report for work derangedly early, as in by 3:30 a.m. at the very latest. Two nights I was stuck at the hospital until 7:15 p.m.. Another night I couldn't leave until 7:46. Another night was the enchanting dinner party obligation about which I wrote. While it was very nice of the people to have invited us into their home for the evening, all things considered, I would have been more relaxed in a room full of rabid Mormon missionaries and rattlesnakes. That night I didn't get home until after 9:30.  

This morning my cohort has a mandatory meeting. It's scheduled for 7:30 a.m., which would feel almost like sleeping in (it's not true sleeping in if one has to turn on an alarm clock to be assured of not missing a mandatory meeting) except that I cannot sleep anyway. Along with other various and sundry reminders about our miscellaneous dereliction of duties and general slothfulness, we'll get to have The Drug Lecture once again. They seem to hit us with it about once a year. I don't think it's a random thing. I suspect we'll hear it again at least once before we graduate, and possibly an additional time for good measure. And I'm certain we'll all, no matter where we end up for our internships, hear it once more in a very big way just before we reach that milestone in which we become licensed practitioners and have the legal authority to write prescriptions.

The rationale for hitting us all over the head with this information is not lost on me. I understand what a monumental societal problem prescription drugs have become.  I get that we, once we become licensed doctors, will have within us the power to make the problem even worse. We will have the means both to turn ourselves into massive drug abusers or, even worse, to become part of the problem by writing frivolous prescriptions for attention meds, opiates, benzos, and possibly even medical marijuana for friends and relatives, or, even worse, to supplement our incomes. Statistically, one of the lecturers told us today, at least two of us will fall into each of those three categories of self-abusers, frivolous writers of prescriptions, or de facto dealers.  Maybe we actually will, or perhaps we will not. It' highly doubtful, however, that the lectures they're forcing on us will change the outcome for any of us. And I'm not suggesting that the drug talks be eliminated entirely. It seems, however, do be overdone ever so slightly.
Raptor Jesus suggested that they show us Reefer Madness so we could at least be entertained throughout the scare tactic process.

My complaint with their system is that  by robbing me of a morning of sleeping in and forcing me to attend five hours of lectures and meetings during a week when they already forced me to work 81.5 hours (counting the forced dinner frivolity, which was, by the time all was said and done,  more stressful than actual work) between Monday and Friday, they caused me to need the drugs they're cautioning us not take far more than I would otherwise ever have needed them. It's almost the equivalent to force-feeding someone a steady diet of nothing but sugary foods and saturated fats until the person becomes obese and his or her arteries become clogged to the point of needing Drano, then berating the person for flirting with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease, and colon cancer.  It's like they're giving us a lecture on the evils and dangers of guns, then sending us into battle without any weapons because everyone knows guns are dangerous.

My week may have been a bit worse than what the average cohort member went through, but by and large it evens out, and we're all dealing with the same nonsense. Most of us deal with it by consuming insane amounts of coffee. I cannot drink coffee. It [literally] makes holes in my colon. I've already had two segments of my colon removed. While coffee was not the culprit in the loss of my two sections of colon, were I to start drinking it, it would most certainly cause a loss of a third segment. I need all the calories my intestines can absorb. My body  cannot afford to give up many more chunks of bowel. Coffee is out of the picture as a solution. Even strong cocoa (as in the stuff Starbucks sells) has a similar effect. (I can handle the stuff that comes in Swiss Mix or Nestle packets if I dilute it with milk.) Beyond that, caffeine doesn't work quite as it should for me. It's somewhat slow-to-reverse-acting. I drag throughout the day after consuming it, then have extreme difficulty sleeping fifteen hours after I've taken it. An occasional Pepsi or Dr. Pepper as a treat doesn't cause major effects, but anything beyond that is more than my body can handle, particularly with the tachycardic effects ( increased heart rate) of my mildly elevated thyroid.

I shouldn't complain. One member of my cohort has lupus. House said it's never lupus, but in at least one case it is.  Another person has rheumatoid arthritis. Another member as hepatitis C, which, in addition to zapping his energy, will disqualify him from some residency positions. (A few people claim fibromyalgia, but I'm a bit skeptical where that particular diagnosis is concerned; I'll buy into it when it hits me, which, in true Karmic form, it probably will.) All I have is a colon that likes to develop holes and a tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with insufficient inertia to provide adequate resistance when someone else comes barreling into me and knocks me down flights of steps or otherwise encroaches upon my course of motion. I will live through this. I'm not sure about the rest of them.

I just think it's silly of our protectors to repeatedly warn us about the evils of drugs while causing us to need those drugs about which they're warning us in ways that we never would have imagined would be necessary were it not through the regime that they're putting us. They went through it, so we, too, must run the gauntlet.

P.S. I've always known where my dad kept his prescription pad, and I can do his signature better than he can do it himself. Had I been truly interested in obtaining a supply of contraband either for my own use, for that of my friends, or for financial gain, I likely could have pulled it off successfully a long time ago. I do not deserve to be required to sit through any more of the drug lectures.

Innovative, huh?


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  3. I think sleep deprivation is one of the toughest classes in medical school. It is a tradition that might be good to get rid of.

    1. I'm not sure who is benefitting from it. Ultimately not even the hospitals are benefitting that greatly from the slave labor. Morale tends to be so low among those forced to work through hours when they should be sleeping, and of course there are the ever-present sleep-deprivation-induced-errors. We're essentially covered now as students, snce someone else is supposed to be checking up on anything we do, but even physical errors ar more likely to be made due to fatigue, and once someone's fingers slip holding a clamp, they've slipped; no amount of checking up after the fact changes anything.

      I know it used to be even more barbaric and even mmore patients died because of the ridiculous regime, but what they've doe is akin to taking half of the arsenic out of the water supply of a city they're trying to poison. Just because the previous doctors had o endure it doesn't mean all future doctors should as well. We should work hard. There would be nothing wrong with 12-hour shifts five days a week, with LOTS of studying during the two days off. What I hear is that we have it much easier than students at many schools do.

      It's possible that I'll be in a financial position tht I will not have to work a great deal in order to live well once I've finished all of my training. I may decide to become an activist for further change in the conditions under which med students and interns are expected to work. I know the current generation in power thinks that the changes that have already taken place are so broad that there's no room for more change, but until not one patient dies because of systemic physician-in-training fatigue, there is room for improvement.

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  4. Trader Joe's has 3 stores in the San Francisco area. They have their own brand of organic yerba mate tea bags. It has gourmet foods at low prices. It is smaller than a supermarket & always have some samples. They sell spaghetti sauce with no salt & pomegranate seeds. They have incredible little salads.