At a barbecue on the Fourth of July in 1986, I passed out. It wasn’t the heat or the beer or a bad batch of potato salad. I dropped from exhaustion.
Four days earlier, I’d started my medical internship. I showed up at 8 a.m. on the morning of July 1 in a crisp white coat and skirt, my pockets bulging with flashlights, reflex hammers, and cards crammed with all the information I feared I’d already forgotten since receiving my MD a few weeks earlier. On call that first night, I worked 34 hours without sleep — until 6 p.m. the following evening. I worked about 10 hours for each of the next two days and then, on the evening of the Fourth, went to my in-laws for a backyard feast.