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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Most Difficult Calls


I stopped chopping an onion yesterday when the phone rang. A young man at the Airport Hilton had been vomiting all day.This was a difficult call.

For a hotel doctor, a difficult call refers not to an illness but to traffic conditions. It was four o’clock, so I would drive eight miles both ways during the freeway rush hour, returning hungry and with no dinner prepared. I delay some visits but not for acutely miserable symptoms, vomiting most often.

Before I left, the phone rang again. I yearned to hear that it was another airport hotel, but the guest was downtown, fifteen miles in the opposite direction. Worse, she had a migraine, so I couldn’t delay.

Delivering medical care is sometimes challenging. Always challenging and the mark of a seasoned hotel doctor is the ability to remain serene in gridlock.

Certain rules apply. Unless lanes are blocked, leaving the freeway for city streets is a bad idea.

Another rule is that blocking a lane at any hour stops traffic cold. Steady movement, however slow, is simply a sign of congestion.

“I wonder if there’s an accident,” I thought a dozen times after several minutes of immobility, but I never saw one. So much for rules.

Two housecalls which normally take two hours took four and a half, but I maintained my serenity, sucking on the hard candy I keep handy to dull my hunger and listening to a novel on my CD.

Returning home, I made a meal of dried fruit and nuts which I also keep handy for evenings with no supper.

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