Late-Night Pages –Are they a Conspiracy?

A few thoughts while I’m still in a post-call daze:

One of my biggest gripes is that there must be a hidden camera in my bedroom.  Someone must monitor this camera whenever I am on call.  Because everytime, every single time it seems, someone calls me 15-20 minutes after I get in bed.  As soon as I get nice and cozy and start to doze off, it is a guarantee that I will get a page.  In addition, it is usually something that could have been called hours earlier.  Last night, at 11:22 pm, a nurse from the hospital called me to say that a 12 year old girl (who was well-nourished) had not been eating all evening and wanted to know if we should put in an NG tube.

Despite my antipathy for late-night calls, particularly some pointless ones, I try to always project a pleasant demeanor on the phone.  I might grumble after a call but not during.  There have been so many times when I have received timely information from nurses which have made important changes in a patient’s care.

Unwanted phone calls remind me of an anecdote that I heard in fellowship.  My mentor said he had received a pointless call from a family at 4 am about their young son.  So, he decided to set his alarm clock for 4 am the next morning and asked the parents how the son had been doing.  Later that morning, the family called the GI division to report the phone call.  They said, ‘When he called us at 4 am, we realized that he could not sleep because he was so worried about our child.  He is an amazing doctor.’

On another topic, can someone explain to me why it seems that whenever I am retrieving a foreign body that the forceps always line up parallel to the object rather than in the optimal perpendicular?

I sometimes tell colleagues that when I am post-call that I don’t realize how it has affected me.  Sometimes I am ‘punch-drunk’ and think everything is funny.  Sometimes I am irritable –but in my view –always justified.  The next day is sometimes like the difference portrayed in the snickers bar commercial where Betty White is transformed into a young adult.

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