I am in my third week of intern year, the toughest and least flexible year of residency, and my father in law passes away. I feel torn in so many directions. When we learned about Mr. Joe on Monday, I called my chief residents and told them I couldn't come in. They called in back up to cover my shift, not a big deal. I worked last night and I'm working tonight. The viewing is Thursday and the funeral is Friday, so I'm not going to be working tomorrow night and the chiefs have already arranged back-up.
I've always said family comes first, and here I am working. I really don't know what to feel. When I was at Joe's house with him and his mom, I felt there wasn't much I could do. I helped answer the phone, talk to visitors, and such, but a lot of the time I was sitting there. I know being there is very important, even if I'm not actively doing anything, and that's why I feel bad for being at work right now. I personally need to be busy to not think about Mr. Joe's passing. The drive from Baltimore to Wilmington yesterday was the worst. It was the first time I was alone since Mr. Joe's death. I held myself together to drive and all, but about 5 minutes into the trip it just hit me. Then I stopped by my parents to get a couple of things and my brother was there. I just hugged him and cried. Joe doesn't have any siblings and doesn't have anybody else to lean on during this difficult time. Robby and I both told each other how thankful we were for each other. And then I collected myself again and got back on the road.
And then there's the fact that I'm an intern. I have a responsibility to my program and the sick children. Unfortunately, residencies aren't like offices where we can call in a temp to cover our work. We have a back-up system in place for emergencies, like Monday night and tomorrow night, but I really couldn't bring myself to call in back up for the whole week. If I do that, it takes someone from another rotation everyday and leaves that team short. Hospitals run on the work of residents and as residents we have to meet so many requirements in such a short period of time. Pulling back-up has a ripple effect and effects so many teams and not just that person.
So here I am, a brand new intern trying to balance being a wife and daughter-in-law at the same time. Joe says he understands why I came back to work, but I'm constantly thinking about him and my mother-in-law. I'm focused on the patients and their care, but if there is down time between patients, my mind is constantly drifting to memories of Mr. Joe, or wondering how my Joe is doing. My mother-in-law is taking Mr. Joe's death extremely hard, which is to be expected, and Joe's main priority has been to support his mom during this time. That's what sons are for, but I want Joe to be able to grieve too. I am only an hour away, but I feel so distant. I'm doing what I can from here and Joe says even if I was physically there I wouldn't be able to do much more, but it just hurts so much that I'm not physically there with Joe and his mom.