John The Handsome General Surgical Intern
February 25, 2021
It’s 2AM and technically a new day. I had fallen asleep early as I was curled up in a ball, processing some work decisions I had to make. Medicine is hard. I’ve had to make some tough calls morally, and I made the right one. But I had to go to sleep as sleep is restorative. My daughter asked to read something to me, and I just did not have anything left. It had been a long day at clinic as well, supposed to end at 2pm but for me stretched to 5pm after calling local authorities to do a wellfare check. I hardly ever turn away from my children especially the youngest who was born so early, but I had nothing left yesterday. She quietly left and closed the door after I turned her away, and her father followed her to help her with her question. The handsome college junior , my college sweetheart Mr. Plastic Picker came back later and hugged me and told me to go to sleep. We are on the same career track and he has similar situations at work, so he understood my moral fatigue. We are a good team.
There are moments in medicine when we as doctors or nurses meet moments of moral crisis. As this particular situation I am in plays out, I am reminded of a handsome classmate John in medical school. I was already married to my own handsome Mr. Plastic Picker, but as a lover of romance novels and things that are beautiful – I could appreciate this other handsome classmate from afar. John was funny, good-looking and a really nice guy. I think he was from the mid-west somewhere and mid-west boys especially those that ended up at Crimson Medical School always stood out. He had freckles and brown hair, and was charming and funny. He dated one of our other classmates who went into pediatrics, who was thin and a bit uptight. They broke up before residency. I don’t really remember much about him other than that. The cute mid-west boy John broke up with his uptight girlfriend, and he matched in General Surgery and had aspiratiosn to be a transplant surgeon.
By the time I thought about John again, Mr. Plastic Picker and I were in our second year of training. John was actually a general surgical resident also at Mans Greatest Hospital. Our training hospital was so large that unless the general surgical residents were rotating on the pediatric surgical service, we did not interact. Sometimes you’d run into them in the basement hospital cafeteria at 9pm, which was called the 9 oclock meal. Everyone who was on call that night would grab a bite to eat, and the still hormonal trainees sitting with their various teams would eye eachother. As firmly married in a monogamous relationship with my own Vulcan, I could admire this dance from afar. I think I might have even been heavily pregnant at the time, which only made me think more of other people’s romances. I too wanted them to be happily married and starting their families.
I think I was pregnant when I ran into John again. He knew who I was, and I knew who he was. Indeed, probably Mr. Plastic Picker remembers him better because as a radiology resident, my husband interacted with the surgical residents more. When I ran into John again was when I was working overnights in the pediatric side of the ED, and John was the junior surgical resident on. I remember being very pregnant wearing a red Old Navy Maternity top and I liked that top quite a bit. You don’t get paid too much as a resident and buying that new maternity top had been a stretch and it made me feel pretty while I was very pregnant. I think I was a pretty pregnant resident? I’m not sure if anyone noticed, those times were such a blur. But the next time I saw my classmates John I was pregnant and thinking about my little patients and myself and looking at the ED board, and trying to figure out which medical student or intern was going to see which patient. John kind of burst into my narrow Pediatic Junior Resident domain like a whirlwind. For someone I had never spoken to more than a few sentences, he sat down and started chatting and chatting with slightly pressured speach.
He rolled around on the chair next to me, chatting and logging into the computer. He chatted while he checked the surgical ED board and where his patients were, and was deciding who he was going to assign to see which patients. He asked how Mr. Plastic Picker was doing, and I told him we had bought a small condo. He asked how I was feeling with the pregnancy. As we were exchanging pleasantries back and forth, I was reminded about the fellow classsmate that used to date him, and I wondered where she was in life. John then rolled over to the bulletin board behind me and peered at the picture roster of all the pediatric residents who were women and asked if anyone was available. We playfully went through the classmates and he asked me if I could set him up. “Marrying a pediatrician is a good idea, ” joked John playfully. This is why I’m sure so many girls thought he was adorable. Pregnant pediatrician me who was beginning to understand what motherhood meant just looked at John.
And then he started to cry.
I must have been a safe place. Pregnant me sitting managing the ear infections and the fever workups of little people. I was a classmates and married to another former classmate. He cried. He explained briefly his moral dilemna that was happening that night over in the trauma bay. He cried, and I just listened. The handsome surgical resident from the mid-west wiped his tears away, and his freckles stood out. And then he looked at me, and I just saw a little boy that was lost and did not know what to do. I wanted to ask him what his mother’s phone number was, so that I could call them to help their son. I think at that moment he really needed his mom.
Before I could even say anything to comfort him, his pager went off. He glanced down at his pager and another crisis was at hand. Likely another trauma was in it’s way in. He stood up and even when we were seemingly invincible in our 20s, looked tired and probably needed to sleep and maybe a vegetable. He left, but did glance back at me and charmed me once more. “Any cute new interns, let me know okay?”
Its 256AM now and thinking about that moment decades ago. I just checked as you can Ecosia search anyone these days, and John is a transplant surgeon. We were all so young back then. And I reminded after writing that this little dilemna I have is not a big dilemna. It kind of pales in comparison to the moral dilemna that John was in that night. I wonder if he found a cute pediatrician to marry? He looks happy and now middle-aged cute. There is just something so charming about a really smart boy.