Thursday, August 26, 2010

Internship

I'm now a nearly two months into internship and what a ride it's been so far. My program is better than most when it comes to hours, but my longest shift thus far was 33 hours. We have a night float system, but we still do 24 hour calls occasionally. The ACGME rules allow for the extra 6 hours for transfer of patient care, bringing the total to 24 + 6 (or 30) but my program supposedly abides by a 24 + 3 rule. In other words- 27. It's like they think we won't realize we're working more than 24 hours if instead of saying that the shifts are 27 or 30 hours, they say "24+3" or "24 + 6." Managing my medication on long calls is tough, and I have to make sure I don't flip into hypomania so I HAVE to take my evening dose of Seroquel, even if I'm going to be staying up all night. I take less of a dose, and make sure I get sleep when I return home. So far, so good. No hypomania. Just exhaustion- like all the other interns.

I keep my illness a secret from other people- sneaking pills from inside my Coach wristlet- and I don't think anyone I work with now would ever guess in a million years that I'm hiding something. If you met me now, you'd have no idea. It's nice to be out of medical school because my hospitalization is now a nearly three years in the past. I just tell my peers that I did a research year if it comes up that I was in medical school for 5 years. Of course when I was interviewing, I didn't lie- when asked I said I was on medical leave and then did research. But now, there's no reason to discuss this with my new friends. I just say research year, leave it at that, and I don't have to answer uncomfortable questions anymore.

It's great- sure I do struggle- but I'm so happy to have made it. Sure, there are sucky parts of internship. I had a 24 hour call last night and a nurse called me at 2:30 am to say the BP was 180/80 when it had been that way all day. But, despite these annoyances, I don't regret going to medical school.

7 comments:

Kalico said...

Hi Emily... Congratulations on making it this far. I know how you feel in some respects. I, too, am bipolar (type II), in residency and having to manage taking my meds with a mix of daytime hours, night float, and 30-hr calls. On calls, I hit a wall at midnight or so because my meds are sedating about 3-4 hours after I take them. On night float, I got smart and started saving the most sedating one until the daytime right before I slept. It's tough.

Also residency is hard in general, but to balance it with a mental illness is even more difficult, so I commend you. I wish you all the best!

Anonymous said...

hi :)
congrats on graduating!
im currently a 3rd yr med stud. im also bipolar and am having a pretty rough time survivng.
i was on lamotrigine for a while but stopped because it annoyed me so im doing my best without medication now.
i was wondering if u have any advice for me or helpful pointers on how to get through the years with the highs and lows?

Anonymous said...

Like you I've had issues with hiding my diagnosis from schools, colleagues, etc.

I found this article about a preeminent neurologist at Mass General who is very open about having bipolar disorder and even attributes some of her success to it.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/science/17prof.html

What do you think your colleagues reaction would be if you explained your situation and how it is under control but must be dealt with.

amardeep said...

i am a med student from india. got bipolar at 17 yrs just 3 months into medical college. topped everything in my life, was the youngest kid in my batch but since that 1st episode i am like a zombie, literally a dead man walking. i hate everything. i was and still am an egoistic megalomaniac so i cannot TOLERATE my inaptitude at things i used to consider trivial and below my lofty stantards. life is like a emasculated sterile pig. irony is when i get fed up i leave my lithium/valproate carbamazepine and suddenly i feel ALIVE! hey but guess what u r branded a selfish maniac and u endure sedation and life as a vegetable again. as they say life is a bitter sweet symphony, i would rather its a humilating debitilating cacophony. very hard especially when u know how blissful it was pre bipolar.

CJ said...

Hi Emily, thanks for your wonderful blog. It gives me hope knowing that someone else with bipolar disorder has been able to get through med school intact. I was wondering if you ever knew of anyone else in school that was bipolar as well? I sometimes think that I am the only person in my school that has mental illness or bipolar disorder (I was certainly the only person that had to repeat their first semester because of it). I hope that your internship is going well.

CJ said...

Hi Emily, thanks for your wonderful blog. It gives me hope knowing that someone else with bipolar disorder has been able to get through med school intact. I was wondering if you ever knew of anyone else in school that was bipolar as well? I sometimes think that I am the only person in my school that has mental illness or bipolar disorder (I was certainly the only person that had to repeat their first semester because of it). I hope that your internship is going well.

Anonymous said...

that's awesome. i'm really glad it's going well for you. gives me a lot of hope, as i'm going into med school with BPD. good luck!