Mean girls. Chances are good that you have suffered their evil at least once in your life. If you’re shaking your head no and saying, “Ellen, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” then look in the mirror because perhaps YOU are that mean girl. Or you have a penis.
We’ve all seen the movies where the mean girls receive their comeuppance - Heathers is the classic example. For all of you too young to know, Heathers is the deranged stepmother of Mean Girls, but with some wicked croquet thrown in. Also notable is the big hair and even bigger shoulder pads. It was 1988 after all.
“Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?”
But who actually ever gets to witness their nemesis get plowed over by the Karma bus? This girl, that’s who. If you’ve never had the chance to bury your own hatchet, by all means, live vicariously through me. It’ll make you feel good.
My tale of triumph took place during my time as an intern on Labor and Delivery. To be more specific, it was 2 am and I was on call at the private hospital where we did rotations. Working in the private hospital was a little different than when we were at the University. Here, very few patients were “ours”. They mostly had private doctors whom they had lovingly and thoroughly researched, interviewed, and selected. With extreme commitment. Over the course of 3 months. All of this research was frequently laminated and saved in binders nestled beside their 25 page birth plans.
Unfortunately for them, and really me, these ladies often had not read the fine print.
Your doctor has a sweet deal at a teaching hospital. This means he has residents as his scut monkeys to do the majority of his, ahem, labor. The resident’s job is to stay up for ungodly stretches of time caring for you while absorbing your ire. Your physician will glide in just minutes before your baby is about to crown. He is NOT coming in to triage or supervise your labor because let’s be honest, he’s just not that into you.
Yeah, no one was ever pleased by that harsh reality and I thought my next preterm labor triage patient was just having this typical run of the mill angst when I went in to see her. Triage was where I reigned as judge and jury deciding who got to stay and who had to tuck her tail between her legs and get out. Staying was a good thing when you wanted that alien, er, bundle of joy out yesterday, not so good when you were preterm.
As I strode into the room, the patient jerked up in bed and I swear her eyes popped out of her head. She was 27 weeks pregnant, so preterm labor was a scary situation. My eyes flew to the fetal monitor, but no contractions were registering. In the blink of an eye, I introduced myself, asked the patient if she was in pain, and moved to adjust the monitor on her belly.
“Are you having contractions?” I asked as I moved the monitor around, reassured to see the strong and responsive fetal heart rate.
“No,” she squeaked.
I was scanning her chart to see if she was a preterm labor risk, but her strangled response tore my eyes away from the chart.
“You seem to be in a lot of distress. What’s going on?” I asked.
“Do you feel any contractions now?”
“No,” she stammered.
“Well that is excellent, but I’m going to need to do an exam with the speculum to see if you are dilated or have any rupturing of your membranes.”
“Where is my doctor!?!!” The squeak was now two octaves higher.
I replied, “It is standard procedure here for a resident to exam you and report to your doctor what is going on. Using this information he will make decisions about your care.”
But in my head I was snarking, “It’s not my fault that you did not understand the deal with your doctor. On a side note, I would not piss me off because I will have my hand up your vagina in about 5 minutes.”
“But won’t he come in for me?”
Poor delusional thing. “No, Sweetie, I’m sorry. And besides, we need to know now if your cervix is changing for the safety of the baby. We can’t wait for him to drive in.”
“You don’t remember me do you?”
Mental Rolodex starts flipping in my head. I am abysmal at remembering people on a good day. I had been working for 20 hours, so I had no hope .
“We were in the same suite in college,” she whispered.
Insert screeching brakes and a twelve car pile up in my head. This was the girl who had joined in to make my life miserable for 4 months of my junior year. Sleep deprivation was not the culprit here. My brain was functioning under the protection of the age old duo of denial and repression.
At my college, getting into the fabulous upper class men suites was an exercise in back room politics. It was all about who you knew. People already living in the suites got to pull other people in. At housing lottery time, the schemes, bribery and treachery flew around like glitter during a pole dance.
After countless hours of wheelin’ and dealin’, I thought I got pulled into the Nirvana of all suites. It was two stories with 5 bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. I pulled a friend into my room with me. We even had our own bath.
Well, to put it simply, someone porked the porridge and we ended up in this suite with 4 rooms of the cliquiest Mean Girls whom we enraged with our very existence. We had blocked the final members of their Axis of Evil from moving in and they were bent on making us pay. They were pros at tormenting us. Some of their attacks were blitzkreig-esque like when they threw our pots and pans away or when they dumped our possessions out into the stairwell. Sometimes the torture had more of a POW flavor where they would place speakers up against our door or they would jack up the thermostat. We counted ourselves lucky when they were just calling us names.
My friend and I lived like hermits behind our locked bedroom door until we could be liberated at the end of the semester. We tried to have as little contact as possible with the other girls.
But here SHE was, about to have a lot of contact with me.
I treated her professionally and thank goodness she was not in preterm labor. But in those wee hours of the morning, as I wielded my speculum, I like to think that I drove the karma bus with style and that a Mean Girl learned her lesson. Big. Time.
By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski