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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spice of Life

Till last year, the only time I came across residents getting emergency calls was when I was an intern. I distinctly remember an old ‘mama’ haggling around searching for that ever-so-frustrated resident to hand over the call. We didn’t have this spice phone system in medical colleges back home and were way primitive – so much so that we had to manage with pen and paper.

Things changed when I got into residency and was given the spice phone barely fifteen days after I joined. Along with the phone came strict instructions: ‘pick up every call, dare not miss any, answer and ask what the person needs from you’ by more than dozens of dominating seniors.

That bloody phone has achieved the record of ringing more frequently than the number of times I’ve had dinner at ODH. I like the sound of the woman screaming ‘welcum to… phooth phloor’ in the lift of ‘puraani’ PGI better than its ringtone. Not to mention the voice of people on the other side of the line.

The best part about the phone is that the person who’s calling you doesn’t know who you are. “Ophthal SR? JR? Consultant? On call? Today? Yesterday? Last Thursday?!”

Sometimes they call us ‘eye on call’. Like there exist ‘nose on call’ or ‘bum on call’ or maybe even ‘Douglas pouch on call’. One gynaecology resident (hard feelings meant) once called me ‘fundus on call’. I told her I’m ‘cornea on call.’ She didn’t appreciate the good joke; “huh?! But there is a fundus to be examined!”

“Ok, dilate her at 5.00pm!”

“But sir, she’s fully dilated and about to deliver!”

I didn’t appreciate the joke either.

As a part of ward duty, one thing I understood was most people spend a lot of time trying to prove that I shouldn’t have called for ‘such a flimsy reason’, instead of seeing the patient. “Sir, one patient has TB and pulmonary consultation has advised pleural tap.”

I get a reply, “So?”

I mean, what did he mean?

“Sir, how do we go about it?”

“Take a needle and do it!” – comes straight from New England Journal of Medicine.

Now, this was it. “Sir, from now on, why don’t you send patients to eye centre for chest tube and bronchoscopy to eye centre as well?” He got the message straight.

Moral of the story, just having spice doesn’t help. One must know how to use it as well.

Once, this doc from ESOPD calls, “Docsaab, yeh patient ke liye kal bhi call kiya tha, par koi aaya nahi ab tak!”

“Mein kal on call tha hi nahi, how am I supposed to know?!”

“Nahi nahi, mujhe nahi pata! You come here and sort out!”

“But I’m not even on call today!”

“Nahi nahi… I don’t know. Tum logon ko patient aakar dekhna padega. He needs urgent ENT consultation!”

“But I’m from eye!”

“Nahi nahi… blah blah…” Spice mobile has free outgoing, and he ensured full-vasooli.

Spice mobile has certain special uses too – for instance aiding in matrimonial alliances. And one fine day I found out how; “Sir, I’m calling from (some random department). Just wanted to ask, do you know this (random guy) from your department? Does he have any… you know… I mean… an affair or a girlfriend?”

Now tell me, that too on an emergency day, do you care a damn about how someone else derives entertainment in life?

All in all, Spice is a life saver for all those new guys who have just joined with us. So if any hard feelings, just consider it free with this magazine like those ‘PP – free’ messages.