Monday, September 10, 2012

Bad Call

DrH doesn't have weekend call very often, maybe once a month. But when he does it is bad. I couldn't figure out how it could be so miserable when they don't have emergency admits and they don't schedule surgery on the weekends. What could he possibly be doing for 12 hours straight each day? Well, there are a lot of sick patients.

During the week they have a resident who runs the floor and takes care of the consults. As a fellow he is operating during the week, not managing floors or post-op patients. Only on the weekends does he (we) feel the full brunt of what the poor residents have been doing. Residents work hard.

Saturday DrH went in at 7:00 am and made it home by 7:30 pm to say goodnight to the kids. At 8:30 he got the page.

The first thing I hear out of his mouth: "Gosh Darnit, freaking phone service". This is as close to swearing as DrH gets so I know he was mad. He doesn't get mad very often either. Yeah, we still have awful coverage in our house - this week I am going to do something about it.

I only get the privilege of hearing one side of the conversation. From my end it sounded like this:

DrH: What I need you to do is wake the patient up and have him squeeze your hand and wiggle his toes. If he is unable to do that call me back.

(5 minutes passes, phone rings)

DrH: I just saw that patient at 6:30 pm and he was able to squeeze my finger and wiggle his toes. Are you telling me that now, 2 hours later he cannot?


DrH: Did you wake him up?

DrH: What I want you to do is get another nurse and see if the patient will respond to a different voice. Listen, I've been at the hospital all day and I'd rather not have to come in right now. If you could please have someone else try to wake him up and see if he will squeeze your finger and wiggle his toes I would appreciate it. I am 30 minutes away. I will come in if I need to, but I would like to know that I am coming in for something. Please ask someone else to do it with you. I will call you back in 5 minutes.

(5 minutes passes, DrH calls)

DrH: I'm on my way.

Back on go the scrubs and on his way out I hear "If I get all the way down there and he squeezes my hand and wiggles his toes heads are going to roll." Someone is going to be in trouble.

Me: Please don't get a ticket.

(1 hour passes, he calls)

Me: How is your patient?

DrH: Well, he can't squeeze my finger or wiggle his toes so no heads rolling tonight. But they still don't have the CAT scan I ordered hours ago so I am waiting on that. If it doesn't come soon, I may just stay here and try to get my rounds done early. I'll either see you soon, or tomorrow some time.

Remember I said some weeks you win others you lose? I am thinking of my update to the day in the life post last week. This week we lost - BIG TIME.

So when did he show up?

27 hours later! Sunday evening at 11:00 pm. Total time at the hospital between Saturday morning and Sunday (so late it was almost Monday) equals 39 hours. Most people like to space that out over 5 days and call it a work week.

Which brings me to one of my pet peeves about medicine: You never know from week to week if it is going to be a 60 hour work week, an 80 hour work week, or the work week that theoretically is never supposed to happen. Try planning a life around that.

As a side note, he left this morning at 4:45 am so he could sign off with the resident coming on call and has a full day ahead of him.



  1. Wow sounds miserable! And residency hours were worse than that?? I can no longer complain about my 60 hour work weeks, at least I get to sleep in my own bed.

  2. hmmm.... i've been living in heaven these days. hubby's schedule is similar to what you can expect from fellow/attending lifestyle (the non stressful weeks). just reading this and not having heard from hubby all day is a nice reminder of how quickly that awesome 50/60 hour work week can turn into a disastrous 100+ hour work week that should NEVER happen. hang in there. and people wonder why some surgery wives don't work outside the home (when they have kids, pets and their own crap to attend to?!)

  3. I'm having issues with posting comments today, so I'm sorry if this doesn't work...but in case it does...wanted to echo your sentiment. I don't know how they do it. But I'm glad someone is. Just not when I'm the wife waiting on him at home.

    1. I suppose is it is testament to what the body/mind can endure over long periods of time. I have thought about mimicking DrH schedule at home so I could see how long I could survive, and then I thought better of it. My children still need me to smile and hug them. I wouldn't feel to cuddly after working a weekend like that!

  4. Oh my gosh! This is like me today/now in my job when I get paged. Now, we're going to double up. OUCH!!! When is retirement????

    1. I hope one day we are all able to retire, if working this hard doesn't kill us first!


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