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Gaming Isn't Brain Surgery

Rich Retractor | 29 Dec 2009 12:06
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Although it is not his actual name, Rich Retractor, M.D., Ph.D., is a surgical resident at a large U.S. academic medical center. Descriptions of clinical events are fictionalized and meant to represent typical events that occur; any resemblance to actual patients is coincidental.

I wonder what Tulon Ethabathel the Dwarf is doing right now.

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It's 4:15 a.m., and I'm hitting the snooze button one more time before I finally get out of bed at 4:30. Last night I managed to play through about 15 minutes of Dwarf Fortress after I prepared my cases for the next day, worked on my presentation for next week's grand rounds and read the latest journal articles, all of which took me hours to complete. But I wasn't about to go to sleep until I played through the goblin invasion, because I knew it was coming for the past month - call it a special occasion.

Pre-rounds are at 5:30, radiology rounds at 6:00 and by 6:20 walk rounds are starting. We need to have seen the entire service by 7:25 so we can start our first OR cases at 7:30. I have a short case this morning for which I prepared last night, and then I'll take the on-call pager. Number of times I've thought about gaming since I got to work: zero.

That's not to say I don't ever think about gaming. I spend a lot of free time reminiscing about old games I used to play. Heroes of Might & Magic. The Imperialism series. The Railroad Tycoon series. I love the Warhammer 40K universe and was looking for my old copy of Chaos Gate the other day, because I really can't think of anything more worth a few hours of leisure than a turn-based Space Marine game. I sometimes even wonder what Grunty and Carlos are up to in Jagged Alliance. But there's a time and place for that, and it isn't now.

The first consult after I get out of the OR at 10 a.m. is a motor vehicle trauma with both spine and closed-head injuries. The trauma surgery team is taking the unstable patient to the OR immediately to control abdominal bleeding, so our involvement will be limited for now. Meanwhile, the neurology service asks for our input on a stroke patient who may need a decompressive surgery if her condition continues to deteriorate. The ICU pages me continually with updates and management questions, all of which I answer within minutes. The Emergency department has another patient, this time with a possible aneurysm that I need to see immediately.

There isn't any time for breakfast.

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