Thursday, July 17, 2008

The best call I ever made

I've been putting off posting in every way I can think of. Of course, my laptop is on the fritz, so that helps. It's so much harder to get on the family computer, what with the Counter Strike and the poker playing. At least the poker pays dividends. Then, when I do finally get a turn on the computer, I find endless, diverting stories on reddit or else I go shopping.

Mostly, though, I just haven't felt like putting myself out there. Work has been very stressful the last few weeks for reasons I don't think would be prudent to put on the internets. Let's just say I feel like an ant that some mean kid's been holding a magnifying glass over. And it rhymes with "EMS". Oops. Said too much.

Anyway, I am almost at the end of my 90 day probationary period. I have 10 more days to go back to the PICU, scot-free, no questions asked, according to our policy. And don't think I haven't thought about it. I'm used to a steep learning curve-I worked in a level I trauma center, for Christ's sake. But I am rather weary of asking people what I have to do in a given situation, being given vague instruction, asked for clarity, been told not to worry about it, and then being called on the carpet-sometimes from the same person I asked advice from-for messing it up. When I was younger, I'd just say to myself, "suck it up, buttercup" but I am too old for this crap. Then I start kicking myself, because at almost 40, I should be an expert, not a beginner again. I wanted an interesting life, and I've certainly got one, so there's no sense pouting about what I do and don't have.

"But what about the good bits?" I hear you ask. Well, I genuinely like the patients. About 98% of them, anyway. Over the 4th I was on call and we were pretty busy. I called a couple people for back up offers-meaning, someone was ahead of them on the list, but if it fell through for any reason, they'd get the kidney. So I called to make sure they were all healthy and available and whatnot. I mean, healthy aside from the kidney failure. You know what I mean-like I called one woman on her cell phone and she answered from her hospital bed. Not exactly up for major surgery. Anyway, I call this one guy for a backup offer and he gets all up in my grill. "What do you mean someone's ahead of me? I thought I was at the top of the list? What's going on?" I try and explain about how the list is really a pool and when certain tissue types match, a list is generated, but, if there's a perfect match somewhere in the country, they get first priority. I didn't get into paybacks and all that, please, I barely understand all that myself. Let's just say, thanks to the wonders of dialysis and insulin, that kidney and pancreas sharing is more complicated than with other organs. Remind me sometime, I'll explain in more detail.

Anyway, I calm this guy down, "listen, it's gonna happen, you're up there. I know it's frustrating to get called and then nothing happens, but hang in there and it's gonna happen."

A little while later I get another backup offer and I call another guy and he's pleased as punch, "a kidney, are you sure?" That offer turns into a primary offer and I call him back to tell him to not eat or drink and come into the hospital in a few hours. He can't believe it. Imagine, 3 1/2 years earlier you do all this stuff to get on the waiting list and then-you wait. Who knows when the call is gonna come? 3 1/2 years is a long time to hold your breath. So there he is, going about his daily business, doing whatever with the missus and BANG! Drop everything, pack your toothpaste and jammies-you're going to the hospital for a new kidney! And I get to be the person who tells him it's Christmas, your birthday and the 4th of July all rolled into one. It definitely makes up for the 4 people who I had to call back over the weekend and say, "sorry, not this time, but soon, I know it."

(As for Mr. In-my-grill, he got his kidney a few days later. The message-don't give up before the miracle happens.)


2ndHeartBeat said...

Hey TC ~ great post. A number of years ago I was in a similar position ... I was an expert in one area and got moved to another area and had to start over, with virtually no training or assistance. You will make the choice that's right for you, I'm sure. In my case I stuck it out and five years later I was an expert in 2 areas.

Just remember GOOD TC's are hard to find .... and, I have a feeling you are going to be a GREAT one.

Sadaf Trimarchi said...

I don't recall if I've posted before or not, but I've followed your site for a few months now. As the mother of a heart transplant baby (now three and a half), it's interesting seeing the perspective of one on the other side of the table, so to speak.

I'm the one who answered the phone when they told us they had a heart for him. After being told he only had a week or so to live (pre-transplant), I can tell you that phone call was the greatest one I've ever had the pleasure of receiving.

Since then, I've met the TC on our end of the equation, and learned a lot about what went on behind the scenes, so I have much respect for your work.

Best to you.


Pope Lizbet said...

WOW! How awesome for Mr. In-Your-Grill.

I'm reminding you to make the kidney/pancreas explaining post. One of my friends is waiting for both, and I don't really understand the deal and he pretty much refuses to discuss it since it depresses him. D: