When the Doctor is Sick

We are halfway through Memorial Day weekend right now and I just finished my last shift: today is the first of four days off in a row. Why do I feel so exhausted?

Emergency work is hard. Doctors and support staff work long days, often several in a row. We put our best in because our patients need us to be there. But sometimes we can’t tough it out and push ourselves any harder.

Last night’s shift was the last of three in a row, which by itself isn’t so bad. But I had gone into those shifts after working five in a row with only two days off afterwards. Those two days off might have been enough to recharge, except I spent all my free time catching up on medical records from the last two weeks. Add in routine home things like grocery shopping, sleep, and laundry, and it certainly didn’t feel like I had a break.

The cases last night weren’t that bad and I saw a lot of easy and quick ones. But then with about two hours left, I started to feel queasy.

There are only three general reasons why I won’t come to work: fever, vomiting, or not being able to stand up (from injury to legs/back/etc.). So when my stomach didn’t feel right, I was worried I was coming down with the dreaded stomach flu.

Chocolate vomit

I finished my cases and asked the front desk to refer any others to the next closest ER. We did have to turn away one dog that still showed up that had ingested chocolate. So I left about 35 minutes early and couldn’t help but feel a little guilty about it.

I never did vomit, but I still don’t feel 100% today. Fortunately I’m not back to work for a while and can get some much needed rest.

How sick do you have to be to call out of work or leave early? Let me know in the comments.

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