Friday, October 9, 2015

Getting Help, Part 2

My relations with other Los Angeles housecall doctors are civilized but not close. As a result, when I leave town there’s only one colleague I trust to cover. Mostly this works out. I schedule my trips so they don’t conflict with his.

When I’m in town I’m always available. That includes after bedtime, in the movies and restaurants, and during social events. It includes concerts and live theater, but I sit on the aisle, so I can hurry to the lobby when my phone buzzes. None of this bothers me greatly (my wife is another matter).  

One event causes problems: baseball games. One of my brothers has Dodger season tickets, and we attend a dozen times during the season. We go to a restaurant and then the game: almost the only time we get together; I love it and don’t want to be interrupted. I’m out of commission only about six hours, and occasionally my colleague can’t cover.

I could continue to answer the phone, but crowd noise in the stadium makes conversation difficult. It also reveals that I’m having fun, and patients hate disturbing a doctor during his leisure time. My solution is to change my phone message to announce that I’m unavailable until (whatever time the game ends) and then turn off the phone. Genuine emergencies are very rare in a hotel doctor’s practice, and so far it’s turned out all right. But I’m always looking for help.

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