His eyes fluttered shut for a moment before he shook his head in alarm, trying his hardest to stay awake. He couldn't afford it, after all--the case report due next morn was still unfinished, the residents' writings in the medical record pages are still as illegible as they would ever be, and he could sense a headache coming. It's just--even if he'd tried not to let things stress him out, the threat of tension-type headache had decided to stay around. Couldn't let that happen, he's running out of painkillers.
It's nearing midnight, that much he realize, but the ER was still bustling in a cacophony of painful wails and monitor beeps and gurneys being wheeled away and grunts and chatters and he's exhausted. It was a long day, his performance on his mini-clinical examination a little bit underwhelming (for his standard, everyone knew he holds it high), so at the end of the day he just wanted to be home and sleep in his comfy bed to shoo the fatigue away from his tired body.
Something that wouldn't happen for at least eighteen more hours.
Sighing, knowing full well that he wouldn't get anything done in this state, he closed the lid of his laptop, letting it went to sleep mode. Sleep. The very thing he wanted. Good thing the pediatric department had zero patient at the moment, so he could have a poor excuse of rest in this too-cold room, in the form of slumping the upper half of his body atop the empty examination bed. His eyes refused to focus and the world around him started to spin, just a little, but he knew it's a sign--he'll see spots, soon, if he couldn't get his blood sugar level past sixty. And there's nothing he can do other than cursing himself for his dumb decision on skipping lunch earlier and mourning the pathetic growls from his stomach.
Maybe he could sneak to the pharmacy and ask for a small flask of dextrose. Chanyeol said they actually taste sweet. Or...
Abruptly, he sat up straight. A mistake because he had to hold onto the bed's railing to steady himself as hypotension kicked in together with the ongoing hypoglycemia. He blinked--once, twice--until the on duty resident's face came to focus through his grimy glasses. The nametag on his chest pocket gleamed a little. dr. Kang. He almost forgot his senior-on-duty's name.
"Er... yes?" he hesitated. The resident glanced at his phone, then his wristwatch, then at Kyungsoo's face. He stopped there. The student-doctor flinched. He never liked being scrutinized like that. He's supposed to be the one doing that scrutinizing thing, after all.
Deciding that Kyungsoo's not that worse for wear, the resident brought the papers he had been holding onto to his junior's line of sight. "A patient's coming--a 3-months-old baby--referred with biliary atresia. Please help us prepare the incubator, and can you fetch the medications I've ordered from the pharmacy, while you're at it, too?"
"Alright," he already got half of his mind to activate and work on autopilot, reaching out to put the warmer's power cord in an electric socket. "Is it an emergency?" he dared to ask, fingers working on the incubator's button to set the right temperature for the oncoming patient. Babies are the fussiest when they're uncomfortable. These past few weeks had taught him that. In a hard way.
"The baby isn't, but apparently difficult parents are." with his still illegible hand, dr. Kang filled the papers in a hurry. "Better get it done as fast as possible--I hate know-it-alls, you know? Some assessment here and off to the ward they go! Anyway, can you get the radiology form on your way to the pharmacy?"
"Will do, Sir." the dark blotches persisted at the periphery of his sight, but they're easy to ignore. At least for now.
With drugs collected and forms half-filled (with assessment template, they couldn't live without those templates), he went back to his station, a little bit of alertness on his mind. Looks like there won't be any hour left to catch up on some shut-eyes?
Oh. No wonder the hospital's name sounded familiar.
She bounded over to him, clearly excited though he could see faint dark circles under her eyes. Smiling despite the weariness in his posture, he tilted his head to a side, "What brought you here?"
"That baby," she answered, flipping through her pocket-sized notebook, "had severe jaundice since a week after his birth, the mother thought it was something normal at first but realized something was wrong when it refused to go away. Pale yellow poo. Poos? Anyway, we thought it's an obstruction, but turns out there were never a passage after all. At least, according to his ultrasound results. No resource for ERCP there."
"Sounds neat," a yawn nearly escaped through but he collected himself. "Er, well, actually, it isn't. So. That's all?"
"Yeah. Didn't know you were on duty. Busy?"
"Just tired," Kyungsoo rubbed his eyes, as if to make a point of his statement. "Wait. I need to take the baby's measurements first."
She hummed, scrubbing her hands before going to assist him. "You can just ask me for the numbers?"
"I have your number already?"
If they weren't in a busy ER she must have laughed out loud but right there a chuckle was all she was allowed to let out. "His measurements, doofus. Wake up!"
The baby gurgled when Kyungsoo handled him and he was worried that a wail will resound any time soon, but the little boy just stared at him with his tired, icteric eyes. Good vital sign, no signs of dehydration. The baby yawned. She cooed at the small bundle, attempting to baby-talk to him while Kyungsoo took notes of his assessment.
"Okayyyyy, look after him for a while, won't you?" Kyungsoo asked. He needed to report his findings to his superior and by the looks of it, dr. Kang seemed like he needed a bail-out from the baby's parents' queries. She shooed him with her hand gesture, still making faces at the sleepy baby.
"Incoming report, dr. Kang," he tapped on the resident's shoulder. "Do I have to write it down or will a verbal report suffice?"
"Both, please. Has anyone came by and took his blood samples?"
Five minutes later and Kyungsoo's back at the baby's side with a wing needle, syringes, and test tubes. "Help me?" he said. She turned to face him, "Help you do what?"
"I've never taken a baby's blood sample before. They're just so... fragile."
Her expression looked like she's saying really, now? but still she took the equipments from his hands. "What will you do without me?"
"Asking for another person's help. Uh, I think I saw Baekhyun earlier over yonder."
"You trust Baekhyun? With kids?" she looked scandalized. He winced. Everyone would respond the exact way, somehow, when it comes to a particular Byun Baekhyun and kids. Heck, that boy may as well be one. Kyungsoo had had the thought of having him restrained or knocked down with a haloperidol shot multiple times.
He watched her put the tourniquet on the baby's small arms, prickled the vein with a wing needle, taking the needed sample, and dividing them into their respective tubes. The baby barely stirred. Then, "What can I do?"
"Maybe watch and learn." she bit back with no malice in her words. "Here. Send them to the labs. Now shoo."
When he came back, she had sat down on his chair, idly scrolling through his presentation file. He didn't remember leaving his laptop open. There were no residents or parents in view so he hopped onto the vacant bed next to the incubator.
"Why don't you rest for a while?" said her without sparing him any glance. "All that's left is to wait for the ward staffs to take him, right?"
"Mm," he let out a big yawn, covering his mouth with a hand. "Someone has to watch over the patient, though."
"Can't we just, I don't know, chat?"
"This is barely an ideal place for a date, Soo," she countered, typing something on the slide. Kyungsoo couldn't care less--he trusted her enough not to mess with his case report. "And I really question your coherence right now. Sleep."
Still, he watched her through half-lidded eyes. When was the last time he saw her? Was it last week? Two weeks ago? What was her last text about? Did she get enough sleep? Has she complained about anything?
"Have you had dinner?" he randomly asked. She shook her head, "I was going to eat earlier but this whole shenanigan happened. I'll eat after we come back, though. Have you?"
"Well, it's just... I got no time, and--"
A call of her name was all it takes to get her off the chair. She rummaged through her coat's pocket, filled to the brim with things. Just her other quirk of stuffing everything into her pockets.
"You look like you need some sugar. Hang on, and catch some rest if you can."
A pat on his head, a bottle of strawberry-flavoured milk (he knew she's obsessed with this particular brand, but he didn't expect her to always have them on the go) thrust to his hand, hurried steps, and she's gone like a whirlwind. But before she completely disappeared through the ER's automatic door, he chased after her and caught the end of her coat in a firm grasp.
"Uh," he stammered. She eyed him, half curious, half impatient. He could hear the ambulance's engine humming somewhere outside, but the nurse and pediatric resident who came with her earlier were still busy with the last of their paperworks, as if they're buying him some more time. Unintentionally, though.
"On your next day off... just tell me? Call, text, whatever. I'll pick you up?" and I missed you but I'm not going to say it out loud in the middle of this stupid place.
Her eyes crinkled in amusement. "Yeah, sure." It looked like she had something to say. He waited. It never came. Slowly she peeled his fingers away, touch lingering for a short while before she disappeared for good.
He took a deep breath. Maybe he could ask dr. Kang for some timeout after this baby has been taken care of.