Monday, November 30, 2009

The Almighty Call Gods

Any one in medicine, or with a loved one in medicine already knows that we tend to be a superstitious bunch. Funny, since you would think that people, who are, in general, so scientifically minded, would scoff at silly ritual and the whims of fate. *Everybody* knows that you should never, ever say that you are having a "quiet" day or an "easy" case. And, what ever you do, you should not piss off the forces that are better known as the "call gods." When you are on call, especially in L&D, you never know what kind of call you are going to have. Some days and nights are smooth and easy, and some are absolute hell on earth. You can be certain, if you you are having the latter kind of call, that you have transgressioned against the call gods, and they are exacting their wrath upon you.

How exactly do you anger the call gods? I'm not entirely certain of all the ways one can anger them. One way is to plan to do something, anything at all, on the day/night/weekend on which you are on call. If you make plans other than sitting at the hospital on your call day, it tends to blow up in your face. Another way is to get too comfortable, especially at home. Woe betide the on-call physician who dares to try to change out of scrubs into pajamas, take a long bath, or, heaven forbid, take a nap, for the call gods will smite thee mightily. I think another thing that rouses the wrath of the call gods is becoming anything less than vigilant about scouting potential customers coming in through labor and delivery or the emergency room. Your radar must always be roving for potential impending disaster.

For whatever the reason, or, perhaps because they felt bad for destroying me over my last holiday call, a Labor Day weekend 13 delivery-palooza, the call gods were incredibly kind to me this past weekend. I started with a full census, delivered one baby at 3 pm on Friday, discharged every single patient from the census by Sunday, did one consult on Sunday, and delivered another baby at 2 am this morning. I slept in my own bed for 2.5 out of 3 total nights on call. It was the strangest, most unsettling feeling. I kept checking my pager and the computer. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but truly, it never did. That is, of course, until this morning, feeling safe from the call gods' collective hearing, I happened to post to fac.eboo.k that I had an eerily slow call weekend. Oh how my hubris was heard and met with a swift and mighty justice. Not 30 minutes later, I received a call from a sick colleague, requesting that I cover call tomorrow night in exchange for them covering my week-day call next week. Of course, I agreed. I am not looking forward to the kind of payback that the call gods have in mind for me.

14 comments:

~TH said...

Oh I love this post! I am on call right now! I just showered and flat ironed my hair because if I lay around in my pj's and enjoy my family and comforts of home just a bit too much... than BAM! I'll be hit and hit hard. Being in full work attire with perfect hair and makeup will ensure that I will sit at home with no phone call.

And seeings how I already delivered a multip nearly ten pound shoulder dystocia over Thanksgiving... with thick msf... and I'm only an RN... I think the call gods better be good to me tonight. I deserve it.

Samantha said...

I'm glad you posted again! I love your writing :)

Anonymous said...

OMGosh. SO FUNNY! And SO TRUE! I always am afraid to even whisper the wrong thing to anger the call Gods. It is comforting to know that we are ALL supersticious. Thanks for this post :)

Lisa Marie said...

LOL I can't help but laugh at this one.. I can only imagine how careful you must be with what you say!

I'd relate it to saying the same thing at school, somewhere along the lines of "Today has been great! My classes have all been so focused and quiet!" to just turn around and have your last period turn into little spawns.

Don't mess with the balance! ;)

Anonymous said...

Fear the call gods! I think I must have offended them (or somebody) because they were on me like white on rice this past weekend with 5 admissions, 12-14 patients any given day with one on the ventilator and 2 on BIPAP. Then there was the midnight crash and burn one of them did on Saturday or early Sunday. Of course, the call gods were aided and abetted by the nursing home, who tormented me with calls about one thing or another literally every 4 hours all. weekend. long. Aiee! Do you happen to know if there are any sacrifices that appease the call gods? (Maybe sacrifice a hospital administrator-please?)

Diana J. said...

Just found your blog! Looking forward to reading it!!

Anonymous said...

Oh the Call Gods are real....oh yes..they are....plus there are just those people who are white clouds and those who are dark clouds....it is what it is....

ER's Mom said...

I like the idea of sacrificing some hospital admins to the call gods.

The call gods were kind to me last weekend...but the OR gods have smited me but good today. :(

A few weekends ago, my hubby said OUTLOUD "You're having a quiet call." Not more than 10 minutes later, people starting arriving on L&D. I could have sacrificed him!

Anonymous said...

Maybe sacrificing JACHO inspectors would work. Or plaintiff attorneys? (Nah, too good for society in general).

K said...

I'd like to ask my favorite OB blogger a question.....
have you and your staff ever left the office and forgotten there was still a patient in an exam room waiting to be seen?
serious question. curious if my extreme anger with my OB office is displaced.

RH+ said...

Hilarious!!!

Ciarin said...

I'm really glad to read that the superstition of the call gods is not just a midwife or nurse thing but that docs get it too! I'm on call tomorrow after a 2 week hiatus for blowing out my knee. I'm praying that the call gods will take pity on me and my gimpy knee!

Anonymous said...

Hey I too am an L&D nurse and watch for all of the signs. Full moon, temperature change, storms. I feel like I work in a hospital that is equivalent to being on the front line in a war zone. We get all of the dumps! Esp. on Friday night. Lets pray these women dont fall on New Years Eve for the 23 hour obs. or smoke their crack pipe or shoot their Heroin. Happy New Year! P.S. Dont forget to bring a snack to share with the staff for the people working New Years Day!

Nicholas Fogelson, MD said...

The call gods are a false idol... random assortment of random events.....

that's what I tell my residents anyway. In reality, there do seem to be some people that offend the call gods and are always in the shit. The opposite people, the white clouds, seem to float above it, oblivious to the terror stricken on the disfavored.