Have you ever been labeled a white cloud or a black cloud by your friends and colleagues, and wondered what that meant?
A white cloud has an easy, painless, perhaps even fun shift or call. “Ahhh, what a good night!” a white cloud might say while stretching, smiling ear-to-ear, and appearing quite refreshed. A white cloud survives unscathed. A black cloud encounters hell and meets The Four Horsemen themselves. Sirens blaring. Nonstop pages. Chaos and dismay. A black cloud’s once-clean and neatly-pressed scrubs are tattered, bloodied, and shredded. Bags under the eyes. Arms sore from perpetual chest compressions. At the end of the shift, a black cloud merely shakes his or her head in disbelief, yearns for a hug, and desperately wants to go home. A white cloud always leaves work on a sunny day and can’t wait to go to the gym, go for a run.
A white cloud gets no new patients. Or if they get one, that patient is always a pleasant, straightforward, but interesting case. A white cloud gets a full night of undisturbed sleep on an unusually comfortable bed with freshly-washed linens. A black cloud sees anywhere from 30 to 30,000 patients, all of whom are best labeled as “train wrecks,” and they all happen to arrive at the same time, sometimes life-flighted and usually intubated. They are all poor historians.
A black cloud gets no more than eight minutes of sleep and it often takes place in an improvised spot: the empty bed of a recently deceased patient, the top of a conference room table, or on three swivel chairs of roughly the same height. If a black cloud happens to find a free call room bed, he or she will catch scabies. A black cloud’s few moments of rest are always interrupted by a patient’s acute change in medical condition.
A white cloud never deals with a crashing patient. But not a black cloud. A black cloud encounters at least three codes and is always the first one to arrive. Always. Even when a black cloud moves as slowly as possible and takes the longest path.
A white cloud pees clear urine since he or she can stay adequately hydrated. A black cloud hydrates only with prn caffeine, and suffers from either lack of urine output or formation of kidney stones. A white cloud eats a delicious and nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If lucky, a black cloud eats a graham cracker out of a hospital drawer.
A white cloud is caught up on paperwork. A black cloud is forever behind.
A white cloud makes new friends on call, and finds time to catch up on phone calls, emails, and Netflix shows; no drama. A black cloud unearths new mortal enemies and archnemeses; it’s all about the drama – drama, drama, drama. A black cloud loses contact with all friends and loved ones. A black cloud’s phone always dies in the middle of the night. A black cloud is lonely; everyone avoids black clouds.
If a white cloud were to stumble upon a box full of kittens, there would be nothing but fun, love, and cuteness. If a black cloud stumbled upon that same box of kittens, there would be both cat-scratch fever and toxoplasmosis.
If a white cloud cries, it is tears of joy. A black cloud always cries, needs a beer, and often benefits from psychotherapy.
If someone calls you a white cloud, you respond by saying, “Shhh, don’t jinx me!” But you’ll never be jinxed; that is the nature of being a white cloud. However, if someone calls you a black cloud, you’re a black cloud for eternity. Trouble will always find you. The sickest of the sick will always find you. And even if you’re lucky enough to have a few white-cloud nights, don’t be fooled: you will forever be a black cloud.
Now, do you know the difference between…
… a medical student and a deer in headlights?
… a medicine service and a garbage dump?
… arthropods & orthopods?
… medical students & residents?
… RICE & rice?