We were short one staff this week, and only 3 people to cover 45 patients, some more active than others, we had to take on twice as many. At about around Wednesday I started getting a sore throat, fatigue and weakness.
I’m on week 5 of 6 of my internal medicine rotation. We usually take on a max of 2 or 3 “active patients”, and however many patients who don’t have as many critical issues. Being as enthusiastic a learner as I wanted to be, I never said “no” to my attending. I took on as much as I could, worked as hard as I could, because I knew that I had to take advantage of every learning opportunity I could. As much as I impressed my attending, it seemed to come at a price. I showed up Thursday morning, sharp stabbing pains down my throat, dizziness, fatigue despite a full night’s sleep – and I just did not feel right. I spent 3 hours trying really hard to work through the day, but I had been assigned 11 patients, 8 were active and 3 were not – and I had only 4 hours to get through them all as opposed to 8 due to a half academic day. I kept telling myself “5 hours left, 5 hours left”. But when the NP I worked with came and asked how I was doing, my first response, “I don’t feel so hot“. My attending checked my throat, and temperature (so my supervisor apparently was a GP before becoming an internist) and told me to go home.
To be honest, a sore throat would be something I would have stayed at work at anyway. I was going the entire week 2-3 times harder than my usual norm, maybe it was burn out too. I felt so emotionally depleted, and I felt guilty about going home. As SM told me, “If you’re sick and continue working, this will impact your health, and the health of your patients!”. I was finally convinced.
I had hot teas, soups, plenty of rest. Unfortunately I had to cancel on a friend’s birthday on Saturday. I spent Friday completely away from work and with SM. Today, I slept, a LOT, I read leisurely, and I also spent some quality time with SM. The throat is still sore, but I am feeling much better emotionally, and feel as if I have the strength to take on as many responsibilities as I need to. I’m lucky to have someone as nice as SM to look out for me.