At the rural hospital where I moonlight, sometimes if the stars are in alignment, the room slows down to a … well … stop. As in “no” patients. Other times there is only one patient that needs to have a CT done and between the contrast dye and receiving the report, it can be a couple of hours of down time.
During those lulls in activity, there is a couch in the doctor’s lounge that has become our old friend. Sometimes the docs will take a short nap in the psych room, but more often than not, the psych room is usually taken at night.
The stars aligned a few nights ago and I was actually in the position where there were no patients. I went into the doctor’s lounge, sat back on the couch, put the phone on the floor next to the couch and closed my eyes.
When things are on my mind, my dreams usually revolve around the things on my mind (for example, see today’s post by Cranky Prof). After my surgery, I was having dreams about the surgery for at least a week. It isn’t uncommon that when I get to take a nap in the ED at night … if I get the chance to dream … those dreams are often about patients. More often I get into REM sleep for a few minutes and then get jolted awake with a phone call saying “don’t bother – there’s another patient registering.”
I nodded off a few nights ago and was soon dreaming about fixing up a flexor tendon on someone who had cut his hand on a knife. I was grabbing at the end of the tendon with forceps in my dream when suddenly the phone scared the crap out of me and I jumped off the couch.
With my heart still pounding, I put the receiver up to my ear. “There’s a patient out here that cut a couple of her fingers on a knife. She’s going to need some stitches.”
I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and walked out to see the patient.
I didn’t put two and two together until I picked up the chart and saw that the patient had cut two of her fingers in a knife fight and had no flexion in her fifth finger. I would never go trying to fix a flexor tendon, but I nearly shat myself. I was like a male version of Allison DuBois on Medium. No. I was the Amazing Kreskin reincarnated.
I went up to the nurse and said “You aren’t going to believe this. I just had a dream about fixing up a patient’s hand after a knife fight. Then a patient shows up with a hand injury from a knife fight.”
The nurse just smiled and nodded her head. She didn’t say a word. She always does that when something ain’t right.
Then I looked at the time the patient arrived — 45 minutes prior.
“That was the second time you called me in the doctor’s lounge about that patient, wasn’t it?”
“Wasn’t going to say anything about it, doc … sorry to burst your bubble.”