As I come off a 70hr work stretch – 62hrs of rural emergency followed by 8hrs of a 31-patient clinic – some things occur to me. This past weekend was a heavy weekend that saw many acute patients with pathologies of all flavors – acute coronary syndromes, respiratory failures, drug overdoses, drug-induced psychoses, partial finger amputations, dislocated joints, severe electrolyte imbalances and bowel obstructions, to name a few. Sometimes these patients would arrive in the ER at the same time. I was the only MD on; at one point this weekend, I was in ER from 1000-0430 because of the constant influx of patients. And as always, after weekends like these, I am appreciative of many things.

I am incredibly appreciative of the incredible team I worked with this weekend. The ER I was working in could have easily have been overwhelmed by the volume and acuity of the patients that we were experiencing (extremely out of the norm, I was told), but we were able to manage and care for each of these patients because of nurses, lab techs and EMS going above and beyond. At one point, lab went way above and beyond by taking on odd jobs such as calling poison control to free myself and the nurses up to manage our many sick patients. EMS stayed 2 hours beyond their arrival to offer an extra pair of hands. When I was fading at midnight, a nurse brought me coffee (<3!). When I was fading again at 0200, EMS brought me some cookies (<3!!). Teamwork doesn’t just make the dream work, as the cliche goes, good teamwork saves lives.

I am just as appreciative of the consulting physicians and surgeons who provided their opinions for management, regardless of the time of night. Rural medicine can definitely be a challenge, especially when it comes to resource management and access, but having access to specialists, even for simple telephone advice, makes me breathe easier when it comes to patient care, especially on weekends like these.

As inevitably happens with weekends like these, I am equally reminded of how incredibly precious good health, a stable home life, strong social supports and a decent socioeconomic standing are towards surviving and thriving in life. If you even have 1 or 2 of these, take the time to appreciate it. Not everyone has these.

On weekends like these, the littlest things make the biggest difference: every free second is a luxury to be used carefully and deliberately. The ability to sit down, eat, shower or grab a sip of water offer the same comfort as a premium spa would in other circumstances. Sleep becomes the ultimate prize, one that I very much look forward to indulging in very soon, as a matter of fact.

On weekends like these, you can’t help but be grateful for all the good things, the little things, the above-and-beyond-things, and, well – everything.