Oct 23


Never underestimate the powers of self-talk.

Tuesday was my very first ER shift. I met my preceptor in the morning. He’s really nice, and takes time aside to teach me things and/or explain things to me and to answer any questions I have, and as explicitly stated that nothing I ask him will offend him, so I definitely really appreciate that. There are 4 different ER physicians where I’m doing my rotations, so I’m basically spending the equivalence of “1 week” with each of them. My shifts equate  to a total of 168 hours, so it’s really not that bad. (Says the girl who’s only had one of these 12 hr shifts thus far.)

Since he got called into an impromptu meeting early on, he had a lot of stuff to catch up on, he sent me to take the history for the first patient, who happened to have a “fairly superficial laceration.” (It looked pretty bad, but hadn’t cut into any important/deep structures.) Then we went to check on several other patients before getting back to her again.

Here’s a hint as to what happened?

Rachel rationalized it for me and I'm feel somewhat less pathetic. <3

Rachel rationalized it for me and I’m feeling somewhat less pathetic. <3 Somewhat.

…Alright, fine. I’ll cut to the chase.

I almost passed out.

There is only one other instance where this has ever almost occurred–when I was shadowing my cousin while she was finishing the last year of her OB/GYN residency. It was the first c-section I’d ever witnessed, and I was actually doing perfectly fine…until he cut open the uterus and started pulling the baby out. This is about the time where I turned somewhat pale and remarked that things were suddenly rather sparkly. My cousin got me to sit in a chair and I was fine by the next c-section, where the physician brought me about a foot away from the patient and started explaining things to me.

I am somewhat ashamed because this case wasn’t even that bad. I’ve watched a number of surgeries that were a hell of a lot more bloody, and while I wouldn’t have been surprised if this were OB-related (because let’s face it, I want nothing to do with childbirth), I really don’t know what it was that set me off.

I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that her screams while my preceptor was suturing the flap of skin back were extremely bloodcurdling.

My world turned all sorts of bright, sparkly and fuzzy. I could barely bring anything into focus, and my body felt hot and cold all over. I broke out into a cold sweat and everything. :[

For the record, what you should do if you’re about to pass out is…immediately leave and just sit down somewhere so you can calm down.

Did I do this though?

…Obviously not. (“Do as I say, not as I do…” Please don’t do what I did. I knew the standard protocol for almost-passing-out episodes, but I felt like I could perchance talk myself out of it, so that’s what I tried.)

My preceptor was also none other than the one who’ll be filling out my evaluation form at the end of these 4 weeks. …so here’s what I told myself:

  • Farrah, are you kidding me? You are not about to let yourself pass out on the very first case of your very first ER shift. He’s going to think you are complete weaksauce and you will get to do absolutely nothing for the rest of this rotation. That is a simple laceration. What is going on with you? Snap out of it!
  • If you flee now in this state, you will scare the crap out of the patient and her family members. They’re already worked up enough as it is. Please don’t add to that.
  • If you pass out, you’re just going to create extra work for him. He’s already behind today because he got stuck in that meeting. Are you really going to keel over right now and add to the amount of stuff he has to take care of? I think not. Get your shit together!

Granted, what I was actually thinking was a much more garbled version of the above, but I did not in fact hit the floor and actually managed to “watch” the whole procedure. I say “watched” because although I kept my eyes trained on his suturing, everything was so sparkly and fuzzy that I couldn’t actually see anything. The flip side is that he now thinks I have in fact seen one, and “See one, do one, teach one,” is the general philosophy on rotations.

Tis a good thing that I’ve practiced a lot on pigs’ feet and happen to have a different preceptor on Friday. 😡

It’s a wonder what talking to yourself can do, right?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/self-talk/


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  1. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    eek! passing out can be scary…glad you made it through. hope the rest of the rotation goes well!
    Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean recently posted…15 Healthy Recipes Using ApplesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! I hope so too! Next shift is tomorrow–I hope I don’t disappoint em’! 😡

  2. genevieve @ gratitude & greens

    Good luck on your next shift! And like you said, if you feel like you are about to pass out, go outside, sit down, take a deep breath, and have a sip of water. Sometimes something as simple as a deep breath can make me feel much better. I’m sure you did great regardless!
    genevieve @ gratitude & greens recently posted…Turmeric Spiced Crispy ChickpeasMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! <3 I'm definitely not gonna do what I did last time anymore. x_x Bad idea all around, but on the plus side, I was very, very alert for the next 11 hours? 😛 I'll definitely leave and come back if there is a next time.

  3. Susie @ SuzLyfe

    I have convos with myself when I run. Mostly, it is just circular chatter, and helps me find a rhythm and distraction, but it works. And the positive encouragement helps too.
    ER is hard. Being in the hospital is hard. It gets easier, chica.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Reasons for Racing (Spartan Race + Quest Bar Giveaway)My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Agreed! I talk to myself a lot in my head and it helps me get through a good number of things, so that’s a definite plus! :O

      My shift today went a whole lot better! Here’s to hoping it’s an upward trend from here on out, hehehe. :]

  4. Ariana

    I’m happy you managed to talk yourself out of it! I often give myself a little pep talk if I’m about to do something scary like public speaking, or when I’m in the middle of a tough workout. I find it really helps!
    Ariana recently posted…Fall Fitness Fridays Week 2 + Rock ‘n Roll Race Weekend is Here!!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! Public speaking is absolutely terrifying for me too! Pep talks definitely work wonders! I do em’ in my head and also record myself giving my speech until I feel vaguely comfortable about it.

  5. Autumn

    Love this post Farrah! See one, do one, teach one is an excellent philosphy! I like it so much I might have to steal it. Im inspired by your sparkly learning and staying upright whilst out of your comfort zone. Bravo and pat on the back. You rock girl!

    1. Farrah

      Hahaha, thanks so much, Autumn! It applies to my “fake it til you make it” philosophy too, hehehe. Hope you have an awesome day! <3

  6. Emily @ Out and About

    Congratulations on building up your experience – those are some extremely stressful situations and it takes a lot of fortitude to do what you do! I have tremendous, TREMENDOUS respect for all medical professionals. The more experience you get, the easier it will be – and the first times are always the hardest. It’s just going to keep getting easier from here on out. Big hugs and way to push through!!!
    Emily @ Out and About recently posted…Training week recap: May 2-8, 2016My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks, Emily! I’m super glad I didn’t end up passing out that time (and I’ve been trying to make it a priority to stay well-hydrated ever since! 😛 ). I’m actually graduating medical school in about 2.5 weeks!!! 😀 Supersuper excited!!!

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