Electroconvulsive therapy began at 08:30 this morning. I spent some time in admitting today and enjoyed talking with the patients. I loved telling them I was visiting from California. The elderly lady with no teeth smiled wide, "California, huh? I love it there." The very young patient close by looked over and her face lit up. I was with her during her treatment and post-operatively two days before. I didn't think I would have eye contact with her this week she is that masked. I wondered what she thought of when she heard I was from the Golden State...perhaps, Hollywood, the beach, or Disneyland? It was a good conversation starter and I really enjoyed my time with them...learning about them, and learning about how long missing teeth had been coming. "Duke saved my life," she said.
We went to lunch around noon and were told to meet at the Dodson conference room for "Grand Rounds." I had no idea what to expect. I pictured walking with the crisp white coats from room to room talking about various diagnosis...would we be carrying clipboards? Of course, I knew the pictures swirling in my head were far from what was going to unfold, but curiosity didn't stop.
And so, another journey began. We were off to the "white zone." My head instantly spun. It was nursing school all over again...looking lost. For the last couple days I battled floor numbers and color coded elevators...there are zones too?!?!
We traveled through some breezeways, down a red elevator, up a flight of stairs, and through some hallways.
Nurse A (for annoying...sorry just had to say it...please don't ever read my blog) says, "Well, this looks like the 'white zone,' all of the walls are white."
Most of the hospital is white.
I couldn't even comment. I just kept walking.
We continued on our journey to Dodson, and feared we were lost. I stopped and asked a gal sitting at an admitting desk, "Excuse me, do you happen to know if we're close to the white zone?"
Nurse A chimes in, "Yes, do you know where the Dodson conference room is?"
Blank stare from admitting gal. Her face read, "Do I look like I know where a conference room is? I make just above minimum wage." She gives me some vague directions.
I thank her, and decide to walk faster in hopes of losing nurse A. She's beginning to make us look even more pathetic.
I decide to forget about the zone and just follow the numbers on the doors.
Enter The Dodson Room!
There is one young gentleman sitting at the large oak and oval conference table. We are surrounded by shelves of books from all walks of psychology, and there are chairs all over the room and around the table.
I pick a seat next to nurse B (for bright and beautiful). I opted to not sit around the oval table and allow the residents and attendings the space...I understand my position in the pecking order.
Nurse A proceeds to sit at the oval table and hound the young resident as he eats his lunch...the first class in nursing school should be "Social Skills 101," and since you can't teach it she would have never graduated.
Okay, I'm being harsh...am I?
The 4th year resident and I strike up a conversation, and I ask him where he sees himself working. He hasn't decided and sounds adventurous, and so I jokingly and not-so-jokingly begin to recruit him.
He explains his interests utilizing ECT in addition to psychotherapy.
Nurse A rudely interrupts, "What is psychotherapy" (she is important at her hospital too...charge psych nurse whatever and on the board of something)?
The resident and I are both taken back and look at her. He explains and I take a deep breath and think of the beaches in Bora Bora.
The 'Grand Rounds' were very grand. We talked about patients. The patients currently in the index trial of ECT (have just begun treatment), the maintenance patients, and the potential patients. Attendings and residents gave their reports, and the room discussed their progress or candidacy for ECT. The humorous physicians and the "Ive-read-my-med-books-cover-to-cover-three-times" type of residents captured my attention. I hung on to every word.
These patients have no idea a room filled with 20 people are talking about them, and ultimately caring about them and their progress. The dramatic impact ECT has had on so many different people. A catatonic patient now engaging in conversation, an emaciated patient who now wants to eat. It's heart warming and feels heroic. I want to stand up and clap.
It was a very long day, yet I felt full of energy and motivated.
I change clothes and run to the football stadium, run down the 50 some odd stairs, and around the track.
I run back up the stairs and pass the volleyball gym. They are practicing for their big rival game this Friday night. Being the volleyball lover that I am I, of course, have to go in. I watch for a bit and then on my way out I find myself next to an unoccupied volleyball net. Before I can stop myself, I jump up toward the height of the net. This 5 foot 4 inch white girl can still get her fingers over that net.
I smile and feel strong...then of course my knee hurts and I'm humble again.
I jog to the Chapel and walk in. It is getting dark and the lights are lit. The sign in front of me says, "rehearsal in progress," and I take a seat in a pew. The chapel holds up to 1,500 people, has 50 bells, over 12,000 organ pipes, approximately 100 choir members...and they are practicing some hymns and Handel's Messiah!
I was the only spectator.
I closed my eyes and cherished the moment. Anyone who feels passionately about classical music knows how intense and mesmerizing those moments were.
The perfect end to another great day.