A short list of things my kids got me to agree to in a post call haze: candy for dinner, riding without a seatbelt (in my defense, it was for one block…in our neighborhood), a puppy, ice cream at the fancy “pay by weight” place, opening Christmas presents early….
When I get home from a night on call, the kids know to ask, “How was your night?” This is their way of testing the waters…if I slept some, they know my will power is stronger and they can save their breath asking for things. If I say, “It was brutal”, they know it’s game on for new pets, bicycles, vacations and cash.
My kids are smart enough to capitalize on my weakness. I’d like to think I am teaching them good skills for their futures in car and home buying…you know, seizing on the weakness of the seller to their advantage. Oh…ok, maybe not.
But sometimes the reason for my weariness post call lies not in how many hours (or minutes, on some nights) that I was able to sleep, rather in the emotional and mental fatigue that I experienced in the past 24 hours. I could be laying in the call room, but the guy in the ICU who is so very sick beckons me to come back to the ICU to check on him. Again. The CT scan that looks a little odd, the labs that aren’t quite right, the decision to do a resection and anastomosis instead of a colostomy in the OR. It’s the decision-making that plays over and over again in my head. It’s the family I had to talk to after I pronounced their love one dead. That’s what makes me weary.
So my kids let me sleep. They make their own lunch. They go to the pool or the zoo or the park so that the house is quiet and I can rest. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. We all work through the weariness, so that we have the strength to get up and do it over again tomorrow.