Angel of Mercy


I have been on call all week.

Before you offer me sympathy, let me confess that until about 30 minutes ago, I had not received any pages. All week!

Actually, this is an anomalous, aberrant occurrence. Hell is probably freezing over at this very moment.

I should just relax and be happy, right? Except that with each passing minute, more and more angst builds. I know it is going to happen, the only question is when! With each passing minute, the likelihood that I will receive a call in the next minute increases. I don’t care if this is true or not in actuality (I am talking to YOU math geeks) because in practicality it feels true.

Doctors, as I have mentioned before, are a superstitious lot. We have our rituals, our good luck charms, our prayers, our superior beings that we must appease so that they can manipulate fate on our behalf.

I stopped wearing my lucky earrings on Wednesday…

At any rate, the dam has now been broken, the deluge will likely drown me by Monday morning at 7AM.

Maybe I should go ahead and change underwear…


37 thoughts on “Angel of Mercy

  1. LOL! I cannot stand to be on call. It’s like a perpetual Monday. It’s a form of torture, really. You start living in dread. We’re just self employed, not doctors, but most of our work involves waiting for that shoe to drop. You know it’s going to, you just don’t know when.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I remember those days well. Tethered to a pager for a week of call at a time, I was. And the first several years of practice we didn’t have nurse triage for them. I took all the parent calls for five different practices. Good times, good times. That’s one thing I don’t miss about stepping away from clinical practice.


      • And residents think their life will be better after residency. Oftentimes it isn’t, especially now with the resident work-hour restrictions. They might end up getting less sleep in the real world!


      • That is so true! I was a third year resident when the work hours thing went into effect. I did an old school internship on for days at a time and then essentially had to do it all over again so as not to overwork the incoming interns. There have definitely been times in private practice that were way worse than even my own residency experience.


      • I agree. There’s something about staying with a new patient for 36 hours straight that really helps a resident learn and understand a disease. And learning to work with inadequate sleep and stress is an important skill to have. Interestingly, the studies coming out are showing that cutting resident hours doesn’t cut the number of errors. But it does put more stress on the attendings because they have to do more.


      • Probably not. It will be interesting to see what the long term studies show. I don’t have a link to the article offhand, but I remember reading it in my peds journal not too long ago.


  3. I used to be tethered to a pager – all day, every day, and every fourth weekend as coverage for all of Northern Virginia in my profession. It was, shall we say . . . torture. I know how you feel – except no lives were on the line in what I did, which is a BIG difference. I took a sledgehammer to that pager when I left that career, and it felt good 🙂 Peace to you, and gratitude that you are there for those in need.


  4. Did you just utter the word ‘quiet’?!?!??!??!? On Wednesday, I walked into clinic and my preceptor said “Looks like it’s going to be a quiet day for us.” I put my head down on my desk. It was not quiet. And my 4:30 with “just a cough” was not just a cough.


  5. I’m doing surgery nursing now and for me, oddly, not getting paged to come in feels like the weekend was wasted. I mean…couldn’t go to the beach, had to decline social gatherings with alcohol involved ( you feel like you stick out).
    Don’t do much of anything when it’s my turn on call.
    But then, there’s the perk of being a nurse – it’s only one weekend a month.


  6. There’s something to this, Yes? You are the trained professional. Surely something happens to us when our “time away” is not really time off. And, the time in limbo is not the same as time on duty, so the whole system doesn’t know what to make of things. Anyway, good luck without the lucky earrings.


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