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.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


An Emirate Airline flight attendant was suffering severe back pain.

Emirate crew stay the Hilton in Costa Mesa, 46 miles away in Orange County. There is an Orange country doctor, but she had not responded. It was 2:40 a.m.

I didn’t complain. Freeway traffic is light. I have no office hours, so I can go back to bed if I want. I earn extra for long drives and late hours. The Orange County doctor enjoys a rich social life, so she’s often unavailable. I made 42 housecalls to her territory in 2014.

I dressed and drove off. Before I reached the freeway my phone rang. The visit was cancelled. The Orange County doctor had checked in and reported that she was on her way.

I pointed out that once the airline’s agency assigns a doctor, he or she should take priority. The dispatcher agreed and promised that it would not happen again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Another Celebrity Injection

A VIP entertainer was flying in from San Francisco. He was under the weather and needed a shot before the night’s performance.

Someone else has the Los Angeles franchise on celebrity injections, but I handle the occasional request.

There were the usual inconveniences. I was told to be at the hotel at 2 p.m. but his flight was delayed. The new time was 3 p.m. I waited at home. It was 3:20 when a phone call announced that he was on his way, so I drove off.

He was a singer but not an A-list. You haven’t heard his name. I met him in a suite at an upscale hotel on the Sunset Strip accompanied by only three assistants. Unlike international stars, he shook my hand, thanked me for coming, and allowed me to ask about his illness and examine him. Major celebrities nod a greeting and then resume communing with their entourage, pausing momentarily for the injection.

He had a cough, and his doctor had recommended cortisone. Unlike B12, the traditional celebrity injection, cortisone works but probably not by the time of his performance in a few hours.