i had my first pre-internship dream (nightmare?) last night. it was my first day, and i think i was supposed to be working on one of the main hospital wards. i met my team of seasoned veterans (they were all male . . . not a very realistic scenario in pediatrics!), and within the first few minutes, one resident’s pager went off. he read it, then turned to the other resident and asked, “there’s some baby in the NICU* with distended abdomen and we need to take care of it. can i send the intern?”. the senior said, “sure! that’s what she’s there for!” and proceeded to give me a list of orders to write, including a bunch of labs i had never heard of (in my dream they were weird letter/number combinations like BRX7 and J13M). i was frantically scribbling them and as in real life, terrified, because i hate the NICU, filled with alien-like preemies in their fishbowl incubators and nurses who will get anxious if you get close to touching one of the aliens without taking first taking a shower in bleach and industrial-strength antiseptics.
anyway, i headed down there, carrying my pager (which was, for some unknown reason, absolutely ENORMOUS, complete with typewriter-style keypad) and trying to juggle that with a clipboard and stethoscope and all sorts of other things i would never be dragging around the hospital. of course, despite 5 years at the same hospital, i couldn’t find the NICU (maybe it moved?) and trying to get there with all the stuff i was carrying was torture. i finally arrived and was told that a nurse had to show me how to scrub to get into the NICU.
we went though this elaborate procedure, and then at the end there was a ‘test for cleanliness’ with some agent you put on your hand. if it was purple, you were clean and could go through. mine turned red, and she said i had to scrub again. i think at that point i started to cry. it seemed like ages since the intitial resident told me to go down and write these orders and see this baby, and i hadn’t even made it through the door yet! finally, my resident appeared out of nowhere and barked, “i’ve been paging you! what happened to you?”. i hadn’t gotten the pages because he had the number wrong.
and then i woke up. being the queen of extremely transparent and obvious dreams, i realized exactly how scared i am of being an intern. and i don’t even start for real for 8 weeks, so this could get REALLY old.
* neonatal intensive care unit