poured out before bed
I went to bed feeling like the queen of the mega-code, but this morning her majesty is wicked tired from all the studying and angst that comes from completing physician ACLS/ATLS certification courses. I drag myself out of bed, feeling the wee hour necessary to make the drive to a computer training center far across town, sigh to find that my hair is an absolute frizzy mess. The radio news mumbling in the background as I crunch my Life cereal and work on one of those ridiculous “enhancing communication” modules online mentions the certainty of severe thunderstorms by midmorning – the perfect background for my general blah. I brush my teeth, run my fingers through my mop of wavy madness in a last ditch effort to tame, then nab my umbrella and head for the garage.
After a long drive in nearly standstill traffic, gray clouds furrowed menacingly over the parking lot that is the highway, I take a seat in a freezing cold computer room and prepare myself for a mind-numbing day of electronic medical record and dictation system training. A shy medicine intern from the west coast sits to my left, an outgoing OB/Gyn resident from the midwest on my right, and together we and 100 other new residents click and type and talk our way through the first two hours.
As we begin what will be another three hour block of training, a crash of thunder peals directly over head, so close that the whole building trembles. I notice the medicine interns’ eyes have become quite wide, his thin hands a bit more tremulous than usual. As I sign a fake order for a steroid taper, I wonder if he has mistakenly left his car windows open.
Again thunder sounds, this time seemingly closer still, and the walls and ceiling reverberate with it’s power.
Without a word, the young man to my left disappears under the computer table.
At first, I think nothing of it, assuming he’s dropped something.
Thirty seconds pass.
I follow the droning instructor’s command to click on a lab result alert message and, curious, lean slightly forward to catch a glimpse of my colleague.
He is crouching on the floor, looking out, up at the ceiling.
“Are you alright, Joe?” I whisper quietly, trying not to draw attention.
He stares at me incredulously.
“Um, earthquake,” he rasps and points to the space next to him under the table.
“Oh…. Joe, that’s just thunder.”
“It’s not an earthquake. It’s thunder.”
“Yep, just a thunderstorm.”
“Oh God…”he says, his face crimson.
“Is there a question back there?” the instructor, her thick, droll voice now annoyed – actually, a nice change from the nasal monotone we’ve endured previously – stares at me.
“Oh, no – renegade pen – sorry about that,” I say.
Joe climbs back onto his chair as some slimy creature carefully exiting it’s cave lair and stares at something invisible in his lap for a long moment. But as the instructor continues, a soft smile touches the corners of his thin, pouty mouth, and I follow his lead as he rests his head in his hands, and – in the first non-anxious, borderline rebellious utterance he’s made all day – giggles.