I spent Valentine's Day alone and President's Day in the hospital, covering someone's shift even though I had the day off. I was a summer camp counselor a whole bunch of summers ago and we each had a few nights a week we were "off" and allowed to go into the nearest town twenty-five miles away and drink beer and eat pizza for three hours until the shuttle came back to pick us up-- everyone looked forward to their nights off, an escape from the camp, from sitting on the bunk porch waiting for kids who couldn't fall asleep to come bother you. But I liked being at camp, I didn't mind covering people on my nights off, and it was easier to stay in and go to sleep early than to go out, pretend I liked my fellow counselors, and be tired the next morning. There are times I think I'm a very different person from who I was back in high school and college, and then there are times I realize I'm exactly the same. I'm still the guy who's happy to cover other people's shifts, who's content to be at work when the alternative means I have to try and meet new people or miss a few hours of sleep. The analogy isn't perfect-- the alternative to covering a shift wasn't hanging out at a bar with people I didn't like (although I guess it could have been), and I could have just stayed home and slept-- but in my head it's kind of the same. If I can use work as an excuse not to push myself to find something social to do-- if I can pretend I'm busy by covering other people's shifts so that I don't have to be alone or find strangers to hang out with-- I will. And that's why I spent Valentine's Day alone, and why I spent President's Day in the hospital, and why I'll probably spend this weekend covering someone else's shift-- she's begging on our internal message board for someone to cover so she can go to a wedding, and why not? What else am I doing? It's a good thing, right? It makes me a nice guy, a good resident? And keeps me from having to dwell on the truth that there is nothing else in my life besides this job.
I had a patient in clinic today ask me way too many personal questions. We're trained to deflect personal questions. They're patients, not friends. It's about them, not us. But it's hard not to feel rude if they ask something direct and you try to evade. "Where do you live?" "Not too far." "Do you have a girlfriend?" "We're here to talk about your problems, not mine." "But I have a granddaughter...." "Does she have diabetes too? Because that's really what we should focus on. Your diabetes."
I had a 296-pound 21-year-old guy come in because he's having foot pain. He didn't seem to understand that the pain will go away if he loses weight. "You should try and lose two pounds a week," I said. "I don't have a scale." "You should buy one." "I don't have any money." "Then you should save some money you spend on food, and use it to buy a scale." Okay, I didn't say that, but I wanted to. I seem to see three kinds of problems in clinic. Genital problems, drug and alcohol problems, and problems caused by obesity. I don't know which ones are my favorite. They're all pretty terrible. I guess obesity-related problems are my favorite, because at least I have some answers and usually there's a way to help, or at least hope to help. And I hate looking at diseased genitals, I really do.