I feel the precipitous drop in my energy. My scrubs are scratchier, scalp too tight. Alone in the call room, I let down my hair, slip off my shoes. The fitted sheet slides over the plastic mattress. Petroleum byproducts assault my nose.
I long to open a window, let the tuberculosis and pneumonia and abscessed air escape. I breathe the recycled molecules in and out, in and out. Nitrogen. Oxygen. Argon. Carbon Dioxide.
Brushing teeth and splashing water on my face seem too normal, incongruous. Nothing is normal about this situation. I lay my head. The bleached polyester pillowcase scratches me and I can’t get perfectly comfortable.
The ventilation system breathes like a giant dragon, cavernous gasping breaths. Is it a hot exhale or a cold inhale? Will I be gobbled if I fall asleep?
My cortisol level drops, leaving faint nausea in its wake. If I can sleep for two hours, uninterrupted by the ironically cheerful chime of my pager, I might survive clinic.
The supreme stupidity of asking exhausted, hungry, stressed people to make critical medical decisions.
I made it through the night. And I didn’t kill anyone.