So there I was at the hospital today, minding my own business, trying to get my work done. I realized that with one patient, we were getting nowhere with our workup of his baffling neurological symptoms, and it was time to consult neurology. (I’d already discussed this possible plan of action with the attending yesterday.)
I called the answering service of the neurologist on call, and within fifteen minutes the neurologist paged me. I was in the ICU, so I promptly picked up a phone and dialed. I’m in a habit of deleting pages as soon as possible so that my pager nearly always displays the wonderful message, “No new messages,” and today was no exception. As the phone rang, I deleted the call-back number, thinking it would be a quick conversation.
“Hello? …Hello?” the neurologist said. I answered back, but he continued, “Hello? Is anyone there?” Obviously he couldn’t hear me and soon hung up. Having no way to redial him, I went through the answering service again, which took a few minutes. “Sorry, I had deleted your number before I realized you could hear me. Could you please page me again?” Within five minutes, I’d received a second page with his number.
When I dialed the number, however, I got an error message, “This is not a working number.” He’d typed in his number wrong. So I called the answering service back, taking a couple minutes to navigate through the computerized options, and left a message saying the number left on my pager was not a working. A few minutes later, I was paged yet again, but this time with a partial phone number.
As I sat there, trying to figure out what to do next, I received a fourth page, this time with a full ten-digit number. I dialed it…at last, it rang! And even though I used a different phone in the ICU, still the neurogist couldn’t hear me on his cell phone. “Hello? Hello?” he said. Exasperated, his angry voice exclaimed, “Don’t you know how to use a phone?!?”
I decided to go to a different nurse station and try to call back yet again. Finally, he answered AND he could hear me! But by this time, the conversation was off to a bad start, and I felt like he took every opportunity to point out how inadequate and insufficient our work-up had been of this patient. “Get an MRI-head, and if it’s negative, then do a lumbar puncture, and THEN if you can’t figure things out, give me a call and I’ll come see the patient.”
*sigh* Days like this make me tire of internal medicine. At least in a mere ten months I’ll be doing anesthesiology!