I was twenty-nine years old when the world changed.
It began as any other morning. Tapping the snooze once too often, taking extra long in the shower, changing my mind about what to wear to work, hitting every red light between home and the hospital. I should know better.
My first day as a fully fledged physician, I walked into the ER for my surgical rotation. I’m not one of the all-stars, I’m a general surgeon. You won’t see me at the helm of a fabulous neurosurgery, or slicing my way through a valve replacement. Gall bladders, hernia repairs, and the like, that’s my line. I don’t care. I live to cut.
I want to say that the sun was shining, the birds singing, a warm wind rustling the tree branches. The truth is, it was cloudy and overcast. A typical winter day in Florida. Which meant it was about 56, with 100 percent humidity. Rain wasn’t forecast, but that means nothing. Like most Florida residents, I don’t own a raincoat, and I rarely have an umbrella. The one I have is beaten up and tattered. I keep it in my car, in hopes its mere presence will keep the rain away. That works zero percent of the time.
The ER was bustling, as it often is on a Friday. So many doctors close their offices for a long weekend, we get their overflow. Why these folks never heard of an Urgent Care, I dunno. I clocked in and went to do rounds with my interns. New batch, green and stupid. I don’t know how any of us ever get past the first day. They aren’t any worse than I was my first year, some are better. Some want to be rock stars, others have more level heads. This is my first year as an attending, and I’m really nervous. Can’t let the students see that. They can smell fear.
As a resident, I made it my goal to make them terrified of me. Dr. Lorelei Ward, also fondly known as Medusa. Might have something to do with my wildly curly hair. Who cares? I tell them to jump, they jump, and change direction mid-hop, if I want them to. My friend got me a t-shirt that says Fear Me in big, shiny red letters on a black background. I make sure to wear it often.
© ©2019 Dellani Oakes