Post Call Postmortem

I think it’s fair to say that post call days in the medical world aren’t all they are cracked up to be.  After a 24 hour shift, regardless of how many “naps” someone got in, you will never convince me that person is fully functional.  Mr. Dr. used to look forward to post call days because it’s time in the daylight that he isn’t in the hospital which is a nice, strange phenomenon.  Turns out, the grass isn’t greener on the other side.  I used to not believe Mr. Dr. on the days he would come home and say he didn’t sleep a wink during the whole shift.  How could he really go that long without sleep?  Then I noticed his behavior over the next 24-48 hours following the shift and I realized what he said had to be true.  It’s hard to describe unless you live with someone who works these kinds of crazy hours but it’s like they turn into a different person…or rather a different being.  They are in a fog almost.  They take a seat for the first time in hours and the eyes are shut within seconds.  They wake up after a few hours of napping on what the hospital calls “their day off” when it’s really supposed to be the equivalent of their night time sleep.  It never is.  They sleep for a few hours and wake up in a delirium.  If anyone else is like my Mr. Dr. he never wants to waste a day so rather than really catch up on the rest, he only naps and then carries on with the rest of the day as if he is superman.  Then that evening he crashes yet again after some crankiness which is unrecognizable to him of course, and voila I lose him early to the zzz’s.  This is why I feel like post call days are ineffective.  Sure they are nice for the times he can suck it up and muscle through it to enjoy the “day off” but if that happens, the next day is spent in even more delirium because it’s essentially two days of no sleep.  That third day is deadly.  And if he can’t suck it up because he reaches the point of total exhaustion he ends up sleeping the entire day, waking up for a quick dinner and then back to bed, only to get up at 5am to go back to work.  It is a vicious cycle that can’t seem to get broken when he is on a rotation that requires 24 hour call.

This is why come March 2014, I am very much looking forward to him never having to be in-house for it again.  Ever.  That doesn’t mean he might not get called in and be there for almost the same amount of time.  It’s just nice to know it won’t be a staple in the schedule.

And of course…linking up with for November Medical Monday.

9 thoughts on “Post Call Postmortem

  1. I hear you! I do think it got much better once he was allowed to take home call. They just don’t sleep at the hospital. I remember one rotation where there were no call rooms, so Jeff tried to sleep on 2 chairs pushed together in a waiting room! Speaking of post-call, Jeff was on call all weekend and I woke up to the iron still on! Thank goodness it has an automatic shut off.

  2. Doc H and his partners take call the entire weekend (this allows them to only take weekend call once every 5th or 6th weekend). Every now and then, the moon turns, the werewolves howl, and Doc H is up working all weekend… AWAKE three nights in a row. It’s terrible. Awful. It ruins the entire week. :(
    So happy you linked up for Medical Monday! Thanks!

  3. I used to hate post call aka zombie days! It’s been 3 years since my husband had to take in house call and the only thing I miss is having the bed all to myself ha. I feel bad now that when he’s had a bad night of call he still has to work the next day because he wasn’t “in house” but such is a fellows life. Fantastic blog I look forward to reading more!

  4. I totally know what you mean. I just went back to work part time which means night shifts and that’s exactly how I describe the feeling, as if you’re in a fog. I told my husband that they day after my night shift, don’t expect anything from me. I’m completely exhausted and feel like I’m in a perpetual haze. Glad to know that things will be ending for you both.

    Dont’ forget to stop by tomorrow and link up to my weekly tres-chic fashion thursday link up.


  5. Thanks for the perspective :)

    I love post call days because its the only time I can go home, lock the door, turn off my pager, and eat/pee without worrying someone is going to interrupt me.

    A friend’s partner once described her as turning into an angry bear post call because all she does is growl and forage for food between naps. I think this is also a fairly accurate description of post call.

  6. Mmm! Not even there, but having just ran a gauntlet of 3 finals in one week, I can attest to the fog that medical school brings. Sometimes I wonder if it is the medical culture or the nature of the task and job that requires late nights?

    Time is short and people are precious–I’ve been trying to pray more about how I do spend the little leftover time after tests and studying. Hopefully practice for life and residency and everything to come!

  7. agreed about the call thing. i guess i’ve been a little too harsh on my boyfriend (he’s in his first year of residency) because i really didn’t understand how he could possibly function on zero sleep overnight. he basically sleeps for the rest of his ‘day off’ so it doesn’t seem like much of a day off (to me anyway). but i understand that he needs his sleep. also, i’m glad to know i’m not alone in noticing the post-call-nap crankiness, haha, it drives me crazy especially because my boyfriend does not realize when he is being moody.

    the secondhand stress of dating a resident seems overwhelming at times. like… call and post-call (and even my boyfriend being a grouch the night before call). but i’m also in the midst of looking for jobs, and i hope that pursuing my passions might help defray some of the tension in my relationship…sigh.

    thanks for this post (and for letting me vent here)!

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