Since I decided to go to med school, I’ve kinda lived in fear of the time when I would have to be a functional human being after being awake for >24 hours. I’ve certainly experienced sleep deprivation before, prior to and during med school, but it was more of the only-got-4-hours-of-sleep-the-past-couple-of-nights kind of deal.
I went to round on hospitalized patients after the clinic day was over on Thursday evening, and one of the nurse midwives from my clinic was there with an induction. I asked if I could hang out for the delivery, and she said yes. Kid didn’t end up being born until 4am, and I had to round again after that and be back in clinic at 8am on Friday. I tried to nap a couple of times at the hospital and failed (being good at napping should be a prerequisite for med school, in which case I would not have gotten in). I ended up being awake for roughly 35 hours.
The afternoon with Dr. OBnoxious started to get pretty entertaining, because he was almost as sleep-deprived as I was. I was afraid of how that was going to go, but it was actually ok. I didn’t complain about being tired, but at some point he asked if I had slept and I told him I hadn’t, so he knew what was up. I think he respected my effort to keep going with a smile on my face, even as the quality of my work deteriorated precipitously.
Which it did, I’m afraid. My last appointment of the second day was an annual exam on an elderly woman with a complicated history who was difficult to interview, and…yeah, nobody involved got very much of value out of that visit. Her chief complaint was shoulder pain, and after she left I realized that I never actually looked at her shoulder. Whoopsie.
I had tickets to a show that evening. I told myself I was going to the damn show come hell or high water. Fell into bed, set an alarm for 2 hours later…I guess I turned it off and went back to sleep, because I woke up this morning with no memory of the show. Work-life balance fail.
So, yeah. Now I know what that’s like. Sucks, not good for patients, but…I can do it!