This week seemed to be about re-discovering small hidden things–mostly related to old habits when I was in training and on staff at the University of Missouri. Now, that’s a long time ago–I left there in June 2000. But as I was walking down the hall, all of a sudden I realized I was at least 4 steps ahead of our group. In a 245 bed hospital, I had picked “the walk” back up. The walk where I had some place to go, and I simply plowed on ahead at a fast clip and zig-zagged past people walking in the main corridor. I felt a little sheepish when I realized what I had done.
There were other things. I remembered what the red line around the trauma bay in the ER meant–only the trauma team beyond this point. The person from the chaplain’s office stands outside the red line, but has a job in major traumas. Sometimes it is looking up the patient to see if they have an advance directive. Sometimes it is running interference with the family. Sometimes it is talking to EMS to see what they know. It’s actually an improvement from when I was a medical student. They actually LIKE you being there. When I was a medical student, they just wanted you to get the hell out of the way.
There’s another place where I have actually gained status compared to my training days…it’s with nurses, and particularly OB nurses. The nurses here actually like the chaplain staff. Additionally, the OB nurses here are a little superstitious. When something bad’s happened, they like someone to anoint the doorway of the room where it happened. As one of the nurses told me, “We know we’re superstitious, but don’t be surprised if we call with strange requests.” Now and then, when a baby is having a hard time, the parents want an emergency baptism.
The place, though, where I still have some major adjusting to do, though, is that there is a piece of me that is hard wired to finish a task (particularly if it involves charting or paperwork) but that gets interrupted. Duh. Of course people come before paperwork. At one level, particularly when it involves an in-hospital death, I totally get it. Yet at another level, there is an old, old habit in me that starts charting and I am OCD enough that it’s hard to stop in the middle of that. I’ll get there eventually. This Sunday I am on call for the first time–it’s not solo call but shadow call–and I hope to learn more about how the staff chaplains here juggle this. The chaplain’s office attends all in-hospital deaths, and initiates the paperwork, as well as calls the funeral home. They are also the person who contacts the local organ bank.
But the part that really is taking time for me to adjust is the spontaneity at which we pray. We pray at the end of morning report. We pray in the middle of didactics when the mood seems to hit. We pray out loud, a lot…and my colleagues are much more facile at this than me. More than once I have joked that I had to take “Spontaneous praying 101” from our Priest Associate, who grew up Baptist. But sooner or later it rolls around to be my turn to pray about something. Frankly, compared to my colleagues, I suck at it! Mine are shorter, slower cadence, and honestly, I steal from the Book of Common Prayer a lot. I figure the good news is that my colleagues don’t realize I’m stealing from the BCP. I really do hope I get better at this.
I was so tired last night when I got back to where I was staying, I fell asleep without eating. I woke up about 11 p.m. and finally ate something. This takes a LOT of focus. I enjoy it, but the level of fatigue I felt at the end of Monday was startling.
Even though it’s weird, I’m still feeling I am where I need to be. 27 weeks to go.