The worst part about being a doctor is taking call. Or maybe it’s having to stick your finger in people’s orifices. OK, they’re both pretty bad. But today’s post is not about sticking fingers in people’s nether regions, it’s about being on call.
Last week I was on call. I was sound asleep dreaming about fudge covered peanut butter filled Oreos (they don’t actually exist but, dammit, they should), when my delicious dream was rudely interrupted by this:
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
It was the horrible sound of my beeper.
Do beepers still exist?
Yes, beepers still exist.
Did someone fire up the DeLorean and send us back to 1990?
No, it’s not 1990. It’s 2010 and I still have a beeper. Please control your jealousy.
So my stupid beeper woke me up. I looked at the clock…12:30 AM.
Ugh! Any patient calling at
fucking 12:30 in the morning better have a damn good reason. Like chest pain, shortness of breath, or right lower quadrant pain. This patient better have an acute medical emergency.
Still half asleep, I phoned the patient. The reason for his call…his
fucking 12:30 in the morning call was not for chest pain, shortness of breath, or right lower quadrant pain.
He had swallowed a candy wrapper.
He had swallowed a candy wrapper 20 hours ago.
According to the patient, 20 hours ago, he ate a Starburst and apparently some of the Starburst wrapper as well. Since then, 20 hours ago, it felt like the wrapper was stuck in his throat. But he could eat, drink, talk and breath without difficulty. For the past 20 hours.
OK, what’s wrong with this picture? Well…
1. I was called because a grown man ate a candy wrapper.
2. I was called because a grown man ate a candy wrapper 20 HOURS AGO.
3. I was called because a grown man ate a candy wrapper 20 HOURS AGO and he decided to call me at
FUCKING 12:30 IN THE MORNING!
There wasn’t much I could do to help this patient from my house at
FUCKING 12:30 IN THE MORNING. I told him to call the office in eight hours, schedule an appointment with me and I would be more than happy to shove my hand down his throat and pull out the candy wrapper. Or maybe I didn’t say that. Like I said, I was still half-asleep. The patient seemed satisfied with my words of wisdom, so I hung up the phone and went back to sleep. Or I should say, I tried to go back to sleep. For some annoying reason, I was now wide awake. And not the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kind of wide awake. More like the evil-eyed, pissed off kind of wide awake. I tossed and turned, turned and tossed, shared my discontent on Twitter, tossed and turned some more and eventually went back to sleep.
Eight hours later, I was in the office and I was tired. Very tired. I checked my schedule – Candy Wrapper Boy wasn’t on it. How dare he not follow my somewhat coherent
FUCKING 12:30 IN THE MORNING advice! I had my nurse call him to check on his condition.
His symptoms had completely resolved and he was feeling great.
Of course he was.
The next time this patient eats a Starburst, I hope he removes the entire wrapper first. And if he doesn’t, I really, really hope that I’m not the doctor on call.