Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The stone

So here I am - stuck at the hospital on a lovely day with not much to do.  I'm on cover.  "Cover" means you're stuck here all day on a weekend dealing with whatever random stuff the regular doctors forgot to do or didn't foresee or simply couldn't be bothered doing.  Today is bizarrely un-busy for me.  Hence the flurry of blobbing activity, which I've cunningly scheduled to be published daily over the next week or so.

All that is by way of getting to what I want to talk about which is superstition.  When I'm on cover I get hugely superstitious.  All of my superstitions are aimed at avoiding having my pager go off.  Over the last year I've developed a decent set of tips for avoiding being paged.
  1. Do not go onto the ward, through the ward, or near the ward unless you absolutely have to.  If they see you there or smell you out, they will page you.
  2. Do not read a book.  Opening a book is a sign that you're getting comfortable, and they will notice and page you.
  3. Do not watch TV.  Watching TV is practically begging someone to page you.
  4. Do not sit down into a comfortable soft chair and wriggle back and forth a bit then curl your feet up underneath yourself.  They will page you.
  5. Do not attempt to eat any food which gets substantially grosser if you try to re-heat it later on, such as cheese on toast.  As soon as you've got it ready to eat, you'll be paged.
  6. Do not ever send anyone a text message saying, "Today is AWESOME!  There's NOTHING to do!" - you know how this ends.
  7. Do not attempt to do any of your own work, such as chewing through your backlog of discharge summaries or doing MMSEs on your own patients.  This will generate a singularity in the pager continuum that will suck you in for the rest of your shift.
  8. Don't arrange to catch up with someone you know and love for lunch or coffee.  Your pager will go off so often that you may not even see them except as a rapidly receding silhouette in the sunset.
"But PTR", I hear you ask, "What can I do when I'm on cover and want to avoid making the pager gods angry?"  A good question, mosquito.  The answer is to be found in nature.  You must be like the stone, which weathers all that the world can throw against it.  The stone does not read books, or sit in comfy chairs, or meet up with friends for coffee.  The stone does not try to catch up on discharge summaries or eat a delicious lunch. 

No.  You must be like the stone.  You must lie low, very still, in the dirt.  Let the ants crawl over your face.  Let the rain run into your shoes.  Let the frost rime your beard.

Do this and you will be like the stone, whose pager never, ever goes off.  Be like the stone.

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