I walk out of the inborn ward, through the outborn ward and change my crocs. I walk into the call room with another pair of flip flops. I’ll change them again and wear my regular shoes, once I leave the Newborn Special Care Unit completely. I’m slightly exhausted and half-asleep from yesterday. I worked well beyond my shift. Still, I had to stay for the consultant rounds. After that I would go to tidy up some paperwork at the administrative block. Too much red tape, paperwork and bureaucracy here. Appointment letters, acceptance letters, going through my credentials, surfing through my references, contacting my referees, signing a gazillion pages- all what I had to do, one year ago plus, when I just started at this facility. Fast-forward to real-time and I have to go through the dreaded paper trail again, as I’m about to round off my internship year. The only difference is I have to do all this in between alternate day 24 hour shifts- in reality, it’s always more like a 30 hour shift. At least, I’m grateful that it’s a shift. Not like your typical call, where you have to continue with your usual duties at the end of the call. There are 18 hours at least to try to rest- four of which I’d spend trying to sort out my stuff with the hospital management, another one hour for the commute, less if traffic is helpful, one hour apiece, trying to fall asleep and trying to wake up at the end of it, respectively.
When you’ve spent 24 hours on your feet, you don’t feel sleepy actually. The feeling isn’t exhausted either. Most body functions are already automated, so you can’t really claim to be awake- the swing of your arms, the lift and drag of tired feet, the wide yawns… None of that is under your control. So, let’s say you need to take some drugs from the medicine cabinet in the fridge. You don’t remember how you got there or how you you got back to the patient’s bedside, but the actual cognitive function of calculating how much of the drug this tiny person needs, sort of drags you up from the fugue and you realize the ampoule and syringe are already in your hands.
I am not really tired. That happened around 23 hours ago. I have already gotten used to the feeling. Worn out is more like it.
Somehow, I finish what I can for the day at the admin office and drive home, without incident. Thank God this is a minivan. My things are strewn all over the back. So, if I needed to sleep over unexpectedly, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Toilet paper, small towels, a small blanket, spare clothes, slippers, soap, a cup and spoons, deodorant, razors, and practically everything is back there- somewhere. I drag myself out into the house. The living room looks like a feral cat just went through it. But who has the strength to put anything together? There is a healthy layer of dust on almost every surface. That too is ignored.
What’s that smell? It seems to be coming from the kitchen. Oh my! Yesterday’s dinner has gone bad. Oh there are some fruits and vegetables in the fridge. One look inside and I know there hasn’t been any electricity since I left- nearly 2 whole days ago. The fruits are soggy, the veggies squishy. I had the foresight to buy some food from the canteen today at least. There’s a growing pile of Styrofoam containers spilling out from the trashcan- a shrine to street food, right there in the kitchen.
So much for wanting a nice kitchen.
I manage to throw the rancid remnants of yesterday’s meal into the trash, wash my hands and walk into my bedroom. I flop onto the bed and close my eyes. My back is aching, my head hurts and there’s a noise in my ears and flashing lights beneath my eyelids. I wish for sleep to wash over me, but I’m perhaps too tired for her. The torture is too much. I open my eyes. They roam around the room and finally settle on the clock. I watch the second hand ticking away-carefree and unaware. I listen to the tick-tock and it lulls me to sleep with its periodic persistence.
After what seems like an hour, I’m jolted awake by slits of sunlight on my face. A whooping eight hours has gone. I should be starting my next shift in another two hours.
Who needs two full hours to get ready? I’ll go back to bed.
“Oh my goodness, I’m gonna be late” I’m thinking as I jolt upright from the bed. It seems like I’ve already slept for another day. I look at the clock. It’s been five minutes. This torture continues for another hour and half. I can’t take it anymore. I drag myself up from bed and to the bathroom.