Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And they're off.....

They all just left to be doctors for the first time in their lives.

Nate.

Alisa.

Shirley.

Justin.

And the 11 others who do not live in our apartment complex.

Justin used to get so nervous before swim meets that he'd throw up.

He's more nervous today.

Last night we had an impromptu BBQ for all of us since they got home around noon. They efficiently navigated the system to get blood drawn and TB tests done, all the other details to wrap up before starting work at County, and then left behind the interns from other departments--one woman had been their since 7 a.m. (they got there at 10).

If the surf had been good there would have been an outlet for Alisa and Justin, but it was choppy, so they came back and she napped while he and Nate went to the grocery store. Shirley and I baked--well, I watched the cookies cool and she baked--and were calm.

We started the grill, I marinated the fish.

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!

"What is that?" I thought the smoke from the grill maybe set the fire alarm off, but it's a gas grill and there wasn't really any smoke.

Nate, Justin and I were looking around.

"Oh My God. It's your beeper."

Justin grabbed it and made it stop, meanwhile Shirley was on her way over because she thought the smoke alarm was beeping.

"I am officially a disgruntled doctor's wife," I complained to Nate. My heart was heavy and my stomach sunk. "I mean, I know I'll get used to this, but it's not supposed to start until tomorrow."

Then, Justin started asking around, "How do you return a page? What number do you call? What's the hospital number?" All you get is the last four; the first four are universal. Thank God we live in the virtual intern dorms.

It didn't work, and he got a longer one with a message about what time to get to the hospital tomorrow.

As we ate, the tension mounted; this normally jovial group of people sitting with glazed over looks and just commenting occasionally on the food. Afterward, we considered going into the ocean, it was only 6:30, but we were so heavy with the day that even going to look at the waves took cajoling on my part. (Justin was checking the swell on line. We live two blocks from the ocean and couldn't be bothered to walk there.)

When we finally did go, the surfers decided they were not motivated enough to surf since it was still pretty choppy--even though there were some good rights coming in!--and the rest of us were too lazy to take a walk. We sat on the curb like dejected teenagers on the last day of summer and then finally gave in to the chores we had to do before morning. Alisa returned to a voice mail detailing her five patients and we sat in the deepening reality of what was to come.

Reluctantly parting each other's company, Justin and Nate left the girls so they could study and get together all their little cheat sheets for procedures and medications. I said a prayer that no one in Los Angeles would get sick on their first day. I don't think that's going to work out. Around 9, we decided it was a relatively decent time for adults to go to sleep and Nate's family called to do their on the phone good nights. They'll be moving up here at the end of the month, but until then he's commuting and staying with us during the week. His daughter was crying, "I miss you Daddy!"

"That must be hard to hear."

"It is, but I'm so tired right now it isn't bothering me too much. I try just not to think about it for too long."

We finally went to sleep--Ambien for Justin and me--"I've got to take one of these or I won't sleep at all. I have a feeling this will be the last time I'll need one though."

In eight minutes he starts his first shift, on call until tomorrow--his birthday.

34.

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