Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Let me eat!

I am the sort of person who gets super cranky if I don't eat when I'm hungry. I don't usually eat a lot in one sitting, so I'm sort of like a baby in that I need to eat more frequently. Usually by the time lunch rolls around, I'm really hungry and don't look kindly on things that keep me from eating.

While I was in residency, I had a clinic every Thursday morning that always, always ran late. Since the afternoon clinic started promptly at one, this was a source of major stress for me.

On one occasion, the Thursday clinic finished at about 12:45. I raced over to the cafeteria, got some lunch, and then raced back to clinic to eat. I figured bringing the food back to the clinic would give me a little more time to eat if the 1 o'clock patient was roomed late. Smart, right? Except not so much.

It was 12:55 and I just sat down to eat my lunch with a whopping five minutes to spare, when the nurse, who SAW me just bring my lunch into the resident room, came into the room bearing a chart.

"I know you just sat down to eat your food," she said, "but the one o'clock patient is here."

"OK, well, it's not one yet," I said. "I came back early. I shouldn't even be here now."

"Yes, but this patient came in a medical vehicle," she explained. "So if you don't see him right away, the vehicle is going to leave, and he'll have to call them to come back for him."

"The attending probably won't be back from lunch for another twenty or thirty minutes," I pointed out. "Plus the patient has a huge sore that we need to look at. This isn't going to be quick."

The nurse just stood there: "I know, but can you just see him now?"

"You know," I said, "even in prison, they're allowed to eat lunch."

(Yes, I really said that. And yes, I finished my lunch before seeing the patient.)

Anyway, as I was saying those words, I realized I had said something extremely profound. It's true. In prison, you're allowed to eat meals (of roughly the same quality as the cafeteria food, I suspect). As a resident, you're not. It was so profound and brilliant to me that I repeated that statement roughly half a dozen times over the next several weeks.

Also, I never again made the mistake of attempting to eat my lunch in the clinic.


  1. I start clinics in a few months and am already dreading the lack of time to eat as I also tend to get very cranky when I don't eat (which, let's face it, is no good for patients either). I am definitely holding that line in reserve to use when I need it!

  2. But Fizzy, doctors make so much money that they don't need to eat. (I've had that line delivered to me many times. Seriously? 1) I currently make less than a new nurse and 2) having money in a bank account (which I don't) doesn't fill my belly in any way.)

    My personal strategy has been energy bars and granola bars. Portable and can be eaten in the charting room between patients.

  3. New to your blog and enjoying it already. My friends and I call this phenomenon "hangry." I try to stave off the hangry by always having a baggie of almonds in my pocket. -Hannah (MS3)

  4. When I was doing my OB rotation the nurses who staffed the NSTs, etc. always made it a point to take their hour break for lunch to the point that we often couldn't find a single nurse between 11:30 and 12:30. We usually finished up our work and got a 15 minute break to eat around 12:30 and right when we were heading down to the cafeteria, the nurses would run out from their lunch break and insist on us seeing a patient immediately--often one who we had seen waiting around for 45 minutes because there was no nurse to get their NST started! It drove me crazy! I get super hypoglycemic and cranky if I don't eat and they never let us eat, but always made sure that they got an hour off for themselves.

  5. Prison does seem to have its pros and cons (pun intended). But for serious - did you hear about htat guy who robbed a bank for $1 to get in prison for free healthcare? I mean, look, I am a bue-blooded liberal, but if our prisoners are getting better treatment than law-abiding poor people (or residents! which I guess are the same thing...), that's screwed up. Just saying :)

  6. This is an awesome post. If you don't mind, I'm going to steal your "prison" line. It's too good to pass up, and I'm sure it'll serve me well in the future :)

  7. Dr. G: Feel free.

    Axl Rose: I was watching the episode of The Office last night where Michael has to convince his staff that it's better working at Dunder Mifflin than it is being in prison. I think prison very well might be worse than some residencies. Except for the sodomy, that is :)

  8. I keep granola bars in the back pocket of my scrubs. They can be lifesaving.

  9. At least you don't have lipid clinic right after lunch (which you missed 90% of the times). "So...tell us about your typical meal." Patient: "I have a giant In-n-out burger (or similar fatty yet oh so good food) every day."