Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sometimes This is a Thankless Job


A one year-old at the Ramada was fussy and congested, but my exam was normal. She had a cold, I explained. It was not serious but might last a few days. Staying in bed wouldn’t make it go away quicker. The parents should encourage the child to drink, but it was OK if she didn’t eat. They were already giving Tylenol for the fever, and that was fine. They should try to enjoy themselves.

“So she doesn’t need anything,” said the father. I assured him she didn’t.

I gave them my phone number and promised to keep in touch. They thanked me effusively as I left, but I was not fooled.

Understand their point of view. They were in a strange city on an expensive vacation, and their child was sick. Naturally, all fun was cancelled and the doctor summoned fix things.

Had I written a prescription, I would be doing what a proper doctor does. They would have given the medicine and waited. Not giving “anything” meant that I considered the illness trivial. That was clearly wrong.

Mind you, obeying long and sad experience, I had carefully explained that the child might feel under the weather for several days. They had listened and nodded, but their yearning took priority.

I intended to call in 24 hours, but the following morning their travel insurer phoned to say the parents were requesting another visit. I explained that that wasn’t necessary. I would call.

“She’s the same. The fever hasn’t gone away,” said the mother.

I repeated that this was to be expected and that she should wait. She agreed and thanked me for calling.

No one answered when I phoned the next day. The insurance agency dispatcher explained that the mother had called earlier to demand another visit, so he had sent her to an urgent care clinic.

The child had barely swallowed the first spoonful of Amoxicillin when she began to improve. By evening she was fine, and the parents were congratulating themselves. Who knows what might have happened if they hadn’t found a competent doctor? 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Hotel Doctor Has His Car Serviced


I scheduled it for 8 a.m., hoping the car wouldn’t be out of commission for long because my wife was out of town. I cancelled the appointment when a hotel called at 7 a.m.

I delivered my car to the shop at 8 a.m. the following day. A hotel called at 10. The service manager said my car wouldn’t be available till the afternoon, but he would be happy to provide a loaner.

Auto shops pay little attention to loaners. Mine was a battered 1999 Volvo station wagon with 176,000 miles, the gas needle on empty, and an automatic transmission that paused for a few seconds before delivering power. Driving was a frightening experience compared to my tiny, nimble Honda.  

I bought gas and lumbered onto the freeway, praying that Swedish engineering deserved its reputation. VIP parking at a downtown hotel was out of the question because valets refused to believe that an important person would arrive in such a disreputable vehicle. But everything worked out.

No hotel doctor should live alone.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Caring for the King


The Airport Marriott is not a hotel that comes to mind at the mention of royalty, but that was where I saw the King of Tonga whose entourage took up the entire top floor.

Tonga is a group of Polynesian islands, an independent country and UN member. It contributed a few dozen troops to President Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing” that invaded Iraq in 2003. It’s also one of the few remaining hereditary monarchies, and the king is a person of influence and great wealth.

Everyone in the room wore Western clothes. The king himself was tall and fat but otherwise unremarkable, and he spoke English. Still, he was a royalty.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I'm Under a Doctor's Care


“I parked illegally, and they towed my car. It’s in an impound lot, and wouldn’t you know.….”

Tales of misfortune (as opposed to complaints of illness) at one a.m. are a routine tactic of drug abusers.

“…My prescriptions were in the glove compartment. I don’t know when I can get them. I’m under a doctor’s care for….”

I declined his request for Oxycontin. I have little trouble getting back to sleep after wake-up calls except for those that annoy me. This one kept me up for an hour.

The call had come from the desk clerk who immediately handed the phone to the guest. As a result, when I hung up, I knew the guest might inform him of his disappointment with the hotel doctor. 

Under those circumstances, I phone the clerk and explain that the guest has made a request that I cannot, in good conscience, grant. Remembering his manners, the clerk expressed sympathy, but you never know….

Friday, June 19, 2015

Why I Hate Appointments


“I need you to look at a rash,” said a Loews guest. “But I have meetings all day and dinner tonight. Could you be at my room at 9?”

He meant 9 p.m. His call arrived at 9 a.m. The answer was no, but I expressed it more tactfully.
“I’m always available, but we’re both busy people. Phone just before you get to your room, and I’ll come over.”

He phoned at 8 p.m. to say he’d be delayed till 10. I waited at home. He phoned at 9:30 to say he was on his way. I arrived at 10. No one answered when I knocked. He appeared at 10:20 with apologies.

Monday, June 15, 2015

As If I Didn't Need Reminding


She was a model, a guest at the Ritz-Carlton guest informed me. The previous week she had undergone half a dozen plastic surgery procedures on her buttocks and lower abdomen. Now she needed the sutures removed. After she asked for “an appointment,” I told her when I would arrive.

“Well… OK….” she said. I could sense her reluctance. She had assumed I’d see her in my office. If guests want an office visit, I know colleagues who will accommodate them, and I often take the hint. But I love visits for suture removals. They’re easy, and guests appreciate the convenience.

When the door opened, I saw a tall, slim, strikingly beautiful woman who nearly jumped with joy when she saw me.

“Oh, good!” she exclaimed with relief. “I’m glad you’re not one of those young doctors!”

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Another Bullet Dodged


The guest I had seen the previous day was found dead, I learned from the manager of the Figueroa hotel.

A hotel doctor’s worst nightmare is a patient dying in the room after he leaves. This has never happened to me although several died soon after I sent them to the hospital. Luckily, the Figueroa guest was not an example.

She was an elderly lady complaining of palpitations whom I had seen the night before. On my examination, her heart was beating too rapidly, so I sent her to an emergency room. After the usual delays, the emergency room doctor found her heart beating normally, so he sent her back to the hotel where she died.