This has probably been the longest short week of my life. Starting the week out with a stillbirth delivery has a way of affecting time in that way.
In my undergraduate program, I had to take a total bullshit class called "Time and Space." It was interdisciplinary -- jointly taught by an art professor and a physics professor. Roughly four years later, I'm still not sure exactly what the point of the class was other than to deprive me of time and money (it probably should have been called "Time and Money" rather than "Time and Space") but one of the themes to which the two professors seemed to keep coming back was that sixty seconds in one setting or under one set of circumstances is not necessarily equal in length to sixty seconds in another. Again, it was all bullshit. Obviously, time spent in agony is going to seem to pass more slowly than is time spent in bliss, but the clock is still ticking at exactly the same speed. It's obviously all a matter of perception. Still, my perception is that this week is totally dragging.
I will finish this rotation with a swing shift tomorrow (which is technically already today). I would probably get more action in a graveyard shift, as a whole lot of babies are born in the early morning. One of my supervising OBGYNs said it's because labor often begins once a woman has finished what she needs to finish and begins to relax or to actually retire for the evening. How quickly labor proceeds depends upon a whole lot of things, but in general, a mother's first baby will take a bit longer, while labor for subsequent babies may move along a bit more quickly. Obviously this is a generalization. Regardless, the heavy traffic time for actual births tends to be between 4:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Any given baby may choose to time things differently, and one of the wild cards impacting mean delivery times and such is the reality that many deliveries are pre-scheduled because of non-emergency c-sections. Inductions figure into this equation as well, though the length of labor can still vary widely.
Other than my stillbirth delivery, all of the births in which I have participated have gone smoothly [which is easy enough for me to say as I'm not the one enduring contractions and pushing babies out] or at least the outcome has been good. I'll hope that tomorrow's shift produces the same results. I can't think of anything much uglier than having something unexpectedly go very wrong during a delivery. I've heard horror stories from both professors and from my colleagues. My brother was present for a labor and delivery with a placental rupture in which both the mother and baby both came really close to not making it through. In the end, both seem to be fine, but it was more stress than I'd care to deal with even occasionally. For all the good people who choose obstetrics as specialties, my hat is off to you. I, on the other hand, will do something else with my life. I cannot avoid occasionally making a diving catch of a baby in an E.R. or parking lot, but that and whatever I get stuck with in my intern year are the limits of my involvement in the world of OBGYN. Meanwhile, I'll cross my fingers and say a quick prayer that nothing out of the ordinary happens in my final shift of this rotation tomorrow [today].
Next week I'll begin a neurology rotation. Neurology is interesting enough but not my particular cup of tea. I've neither been eagerly anticipating not dreading this rotation. I've done most of the reading that I will need to do for the four weeks already, so it's a matter of putting in my time and getting the hands-on experience. I spend entirely too much time investigating where the person who especially dislikes me, otherwise known as the c*nt, will be stationed. She will be off-duty for the next three weeks, so I don't even need to worry about her until the final week. I hope she spends her time off studying. My worst nightmare is that she could need to spend a fifth year completing her studies, giving me another academic year to be exposed to her venom.
The school actually recommends that most of us devote an extra year to our studies, but few of us choose to take on an extra year of tuition and fees if we can make it through in four years. I've been told by more than one professor that even though I'm excelling academically, because of my age and maturity level, it would be in my best interest to spend a fifth year in medical school. I don't have ego issues with the prospect, as my grades speak for themselves, but I'm not throwing away another $40, 000 + dollars just because I'm young and not terribly mature.
It is tempting in some ways, because if a candidate has completed the requirements, he or she can choose what to study in the fifth year. If the school offered to foot the bill (which they're NOT going to do) I would probably take them up on the offer. A year of relatively low stress, studying specialties that would prepare one well for a residency, isn't the most daunting idea on the planet, especially considering that there's usually generous vacation time in the fifth year unless the candidate is struggling academically. However tempting it may sound to postpone Hell Year #2 (the year of internship; Hell Year #1 is this year) I can and will complete this program in four years, then get through my internship and get on with my life.