Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Night mares

Image from here

...or maybe they should be called night terrors. I have discovered that I am inexplicably prone to them. It got to a point where I would sit up in bed and start screaming... until Darling would manage to wake me up and quieten me down by reminding me that I was home in bed and not in the ward... and this has happened more than a dozen times.

There was the time I was with a patient in the ICU when the lights went out. I remember thinking, "thank goodness there is backup power and the machines still work" when the heart monitor started beeping and showed a flat trace... I rushed to the patient's side... and woke up. In front of me was a blank screen and beside me, a motionless body. I immediately reached for the carotid pulse and would have started CPR on Darling if he hadn't been woken up by my frantic checkings for signs of life. The blank screen turned out to be the laptop on powersaving mode.

Then there was the time I got out of bed and searched for the file of a patient who was desperately ill. I searched high and low, on my chest of drawers, on the dressing table and on the floor... muttering how treatment delays could kill. About 10 minutes of this and I realised that I was actually at home and not on call.

The there was the time where I was on call during a casualty. My ward at that time had no room for doctors. I didn't want to leave the ward at all, even to go to quarters. So the nurses screened off a tiny part of the corridor for me, I brought a folding bed from home and camped out*. And then my senior came to me, talked about an ill patient and outlined exactly how she was to be manged during the next 6 hours. I got out of my camp bed and went to the nurses station, inquiring about the patient. It was 2.40am.

Nurse : (blank look) there is no such patient...

Me : of course there is, I have to start specific treatment, which bed is she in?

Nurse : Dr. you have seen all the patients, there are no new admissions.

Me : (impatiently) look, Dr. R just told me about the patient, she is such and such a person, having this condition...

Nurse : Dr. are you ok? I promise you there is no one like that in the ward...

I spent the next 10 minutes or so, going to each and every one of the beds, looking at the patients, checking pulses and reading tickets before I satisfied myself that there was indeed no such patient and that I had been dreaming. By that time I had a splitting headache, and couldn't get back to sleep.

Then there was the time I was actually awake, and in a non-ward setting. A phone nearby was off the hook and started emiting a beeping noise. I swear, it was the same sound a cardiac monitor makes during ventricular fibrillation#. I had a mini panic attack... my entire body tensing to the adrenaline rush as I looked around for a cardiac monitor hooked to a dying patient. it took me sometime to realise that I was in an office, and that people were looking at me strangely. At least I was lucid enough to figure out what had happened.

And these are just a few examples...

My seniors were getting most concerned. Apart from the fact that I was, possibly, clinically depressed... there was also a risk (however slight) that I would in a semi-dreaming state order wrong medication / treatment**. I was asked to speak to a counselor. I did, not that it helped much, but the depression lifted gradually and without resorting to pills. I guess I will never learn to leave work at work... possibly because these are people we are talking about here.

So yeah... I sometimes kick myself when I remember that I voluntarily joined this field.


*During those few months I had my pillow case stolen twice, and bedsheets once.

#Also known as the rhythm of the dying heart, v'fib usually precedes cardiac arrest.

** It never happened.


Me-shak said...

OMG, it must be crazy :O I had this dream once and I was really freaked out. I hope it will be all right soon. Take care.


~ lo$t $oul ~ said...

Dammmm thats actually scary..!! glad your not in tht scene anymore.. :)

*loooking blank at the screen*

PseudoRandom said...

I think there are two words that might help solve your problem: meditation and holiday.

Assuming that you and I are of a similar age and that you studied Buddhism in you remember the chapter in the Buddhism textbook that talked about the benefits of Maitri bhavana? Restful sleep was definitely one of them (I think there were eleven*). Wikipedia agrees (kind of).

Also, you clearly need a break. Our minds need rest, the same way our bodies do. Try and book a short holiday with the hubby and just relax.

And most importantly...*hugs*

*No, I have no idea why I remember that either.

Azrael said...

Wow, must be driving you nuts.

Yep, have agree with PR, you definitely need a big break, and fast. If you go on like this, you are the one who will have to be warded, so pack your bags and go on a holiday and relax.


Lady divine said...

That is scary!

I hope everything will be ok....

I'm really concerned.. there must be something really bothering you...

This post made me remember, I do take my work home with my in my mind... I tend to dream of ideas, I think of work in my sleep... I remember things in my sleep.. and they stay fresh in my mind when I wake up in the morning..

clearly this post tells me it's not a good thing...

take care..

Angel said...

Me Shak : you've only had one dream??

Lo$t : I know... I scare myself a lot like this

PR : you are an angel... you really are. Yes i do meditate... and have been doing so sporadically since I was 16. However i think whatever benefits of maithree bhavana are overridden by my streak of innate nastiness :S

Azreal : nut?? I am like a fruitcake...

LD : you take care too... it's not healthy if you cannot switch off (ok, I'm a hypocrite, but still.....)

Gehan said...

wow, this was really scary.. i can imagine ur concern as well as ur seniors. i guess there are some aspects of ourselves that perhaps we will not fully understand..

T said...

that's really scary. i'd say you need to clear your mind before you sleep. mediation or even just imagining urself on a deserted island (that's what i do!). Or just some good, old fashioned sexual activity to tire you out :)

Gadgetgirl said...

just head to the pristine beach or the cream couch. :D

Suri said...

I admire you for doing what you're doing, but yea I have to agree with the others, you should take a well deserved holiday :) Hugs!

Cadence said...

Wow. Agree with almost all the methods that the others have mentioned here to get ur mind off things.

I know how work can effect your mental state negatively. Even to the point of being on holiday but thinking and planning out work. What works for me (a recently acquired skill) is to "switch off" and to consciously make myself not think about work. But then again, we're in the field of commercialism,goods and services etc and switching off probably can be done. Human life is a different story and I understand how mentally draining it must be.

You are admired Doc, and we want to see u well! So go on that holiday or whatever works for you. But most importantly figure the remedy out soon :)

Chavie said...

I really admire you. Hope you find a way to deal with the stress, but it's easier said than done, no?