On a return to the clinical grind (or the beginning of Inpatient Medicine)

Monday

My brain forgot how to think clinically, my hands forgot how to palpate, and my mouth forgot how to ask relevant medical history.

For my first day back in the hospital, my residents assigned me two patients, both of which weren’t the conversational types: one an elderly fellow with advanced dementia, the other a younger man with moderate intellectual disability. When presenting my patient, I lost my train of thought and easily flustered under simple questioning.

After rounds and a short lunch, I asked my chief resident if I could go home, the third year bluster of trying to impress for evaluations gone. He granted my request and I left in a hurry.

Arriving home to a snoozing family, I quickly disrobed myself of professional attire. I felt as if I shed a skin, one which separated me from the True Eugene, the one that makes faces at his son and changes diapers with ease.

A few months ago, when I began paternity leave, Professional Eugene felt like the True Eugene. I could ask questions and direct conversations to the hard subjects. The professional attire suited me like a cape and mask, allowing me to access awareness not normally available to me.

Now I feel that the Eugene bouncing Joonsu is the True Eugene. When he smiles at me, I am drawn into the present moment. I love attending to his needs, even if I cannot meet them and he continues to cry. This makes the quiet moments of joy so much more valuable.

A part of Eugene will be Professional Eugene. Just not the dominant part.


Tuesday

Less rusty today. Remembering the groove of medicine. Writing this while I am waiting to get dismissed.

The weather has been sunny and warm today. I enjoyed a walk during lunch wishing that I could be at home with my family, sunbathing like a pack of lazy dogs.


Saturday

Today I have loved the opportunity to wake up with my family. A week ago, it was the norm. Now, I savor the ability to wake with the rising sun sandwiched between the dog and my partner.

Returning to clinic has felt good. Less painful than learning the first time around, more like slipping back into a role I have long forgotten. I am more comfortable with my knowledge gaps.

During third year, I feel like I would always sweat and fear the call-out. Now, I know how ridiculously large the pool of medical knowledge and how likely it is that I do not know something. I want to ameliorate these gaps. I just don’t feel so ashamed of having gaps.

Part of that is a firmer identity, one rooted in being a future psychiatry resident versus a current medical student. I can contribute to the team in my own way. I am comfortable speaking with a patient’s daughter to relay treatment information. I like speaking up about an errant lab value that warrants a test to rule out serious causes.

There will be so much to learn about running a floor, but I can save much of those phone calls and pages for July and beyond. For now, I think putting my butt in the seat during rounds is good enough.


Sunday

I sincerely do not want to go back to the hospital tomorrow.

Maybe it is waking up extra early, around 5a, to ensure that I help Mackenzi take care of what needs attention: a diaper change, letting the dog out, grabbing some firewood, and some quality time with Joonsu. The sun is rising earlier and earlier, but still not quite illuminating my wake-ups. I am glad that the sun barely peeks above the horizon when I arrive at the hospital.

I can handle one week of rotations, that is no big deal. One month requires some dedication, squeezing in household chores during the weekends and putting out fires during the week.

Just three more weeks. Then I will trade with Mackenzi: I become the stay-at-home father while Mackenzi leaves the home for her first rotation since Joonsu. There’s a lot to look forward to, between Match and graduation, and there’s a lot to enjoy right now.

Time to enjoy.


Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

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