Sunday, March 30, 2008

On Call Blues

Ok, I'm still consumed by this six word memoir concept. Here are some I came up with (among others that were not so nice) in the wee hours this morning after being awakened from deep slumber at 1:35 AM.......

"Care giving endlessly, day and night"

"Pissed, outraged, unforgiving; doctor in trouble"

"Hiding my anger; steaming and stewing"

What was going on last night? When I'm on call, my pager sleeps with me, turned to vibrate mode and clips either to the pants of my pajamas or to the top of the nightgown, depending on the situation. I could keep it on my night table but when it goes off on the hardwood, it makes a horrible jangling sound that startles me into alertness. This choice of mine to wear the pager to bed is less disruptive, but only slightly. No one likes to be awakened in the night.

At 1:35 AM comes the text page: Please call Mr. "xyz", transplant patient lost meds at airport, needs them urgently.

What insanity is this?

He: "Oh doctor, thanks for calling. How are you?" (asking me how I am at this time of day is one of the dumbest questions in the universe and is also my opportunity to be honest; after all, he asked, didn't he?)

Me: "Well, Mr. "xyz", I was sleeping."

He: "Oh, sorry doctor......(but not really). The situation is that I'm in the Miami airport, little spring break trip with the family and the airline lost my luggage. I had my meds in there and now I don't have them and they don't know where my bag is; could be anywhere from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville. I wasn't sure if I could go that long without them. What should I do? I'm sure it'll be hard to find an all night pharmacy around here...."

I'm thinking....what is rule #1? Never, EVER, put your medications in your luggage! I thought everyone knew this. Not. And you, a transplant recipient, what are you thinking????

Me: "Well, it's not the end of the world. You can actually miss a few doses without anything serious happening. We don't advertise that fact but it's true. Mr. "xyz", please call me by noon today if you haven't received your luggage and we'll work on finding a pharmacy in Miami on a Sunday that stocks these specialty meds." (This can be a tall order; they are not your everyday drugs but hey, Miami is a big city.)

This is the short version. He was long winded and had lots of questions. I was professional and reassuring. I wanted to bite his head off. There is often a huge disconnect between what I think and what I say in these settings. Bury it, Kate; bury it.

And then I hang up and start to stew. I toss, turn, and rail against the insanities. I think I've heard every midnight phone call under the sun until I hear the next one; there will always be a new variation out there to challenge my patience and good nature.

In case you think I'm a total turd, most late night and early morning calls are legitimate; perhaps they could have been made sooner or perhaps they could wait until first light of day but usually they don't cause me this much angst. This one got me though and good. Cost me at least 90 minutes of slumber before I talked myself back to sleep.

What will it be tonight? I'm carrying this pager for another few days. One never, ever knows and that's what makes this as unpredictable as a rabid dog in heat.

1 comment:

  1. I'm angry just reading your blog (you should be downright furious). The patient clearly was/is oblivious that you have a life. You must not have anything to do and that you're "living the life" with no aging parents, no children, no spouse - you're there for him. Maybe call him one night at 2am to check in on how he is feeling. =) Of we both know that you (nor would I) ever do such a thing... that you rise to the high road and be more than patient with the patient. Much love.


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