I’m the one that will stay back after my hours are over, because someone wants to hold my hands and make small talk for a little longer.
I’m the one that will look for intravenous access for the patient with very difficult veins, so that she can get her drugs, so that the next person on call duty doesn’t conveniently document that there is no access and move on to the next person.
I’m the one that will cajole that elderly patient,who does not see the point of orthodox medicine as a whole, to agree to take their drugs.
I’m the one that will help this former athlete deal with his fear of needles, so that I can get 5cc of blood to run basic chemistry, even if it takes all of 2 hours and my shift ended an hour before the entire hullaboo began.
I’m the one who will sit with the distraught niece and explain that the tumor is far too advanced to be resected and we cannot commence chemotherapy on her aunt because she is too frail, we will have to move her to palliative care. I will hold her hand while the hot tears ruin what little makeup she has on, and tell her that the truth is better than false hope.
I’m the one who, while waiting for a bus to go home after 4 consecutive days on call, will pick up a man from across the street and heft him all the way to the emergency room, all by my lonesome.
but then, who cares? About me, that is:
The other day I was in such a hurry to hitch a ride with my colleague and neighbor to work, that I forgot my phone at home. I only realized it about halfway to the hospital. It was already too late.
“I’ll have to work without my phone today” I decide. Of course, multiple times, I reach into my pocket to fish out the familiar weight of my phone, but only the silk of my pocket-linings greets my palms.
I’m actually proud of myself. How cool I was in the absence of what was fast becoming another appendage. How I didn’t experience any significant separation anxiety from my constant companion. At least it showed I wasn’t as immersed into technology and artificial, virtual companions as I’d feared I’d become.
However, on my way home I had a funny thought. How many people would have called me today? How many of these people would have called for reasons unrelated to work? Would there be anyone who had called just to find out how I was doing, if everything was alright with me?
When I got home, sure enough, my phone was siting there on the bed waiting for me. I had exactly 3 missed calls. 2 of them were from colleagues. The other one was from my telephone service provider.
I called them back. The first one had forgotten I told him that I left my phone at home, but never mind we had even met after the phone call and sorted out why he had called, while I was still at work. The second one was my neighbor who I’d gone to work with. He wasn’t going to be around and asked me to help him with his laundry. My service provider had called to inform me about a new tariff plan that I was of course, not interested in.
So, no one had actually called to ask after my welfare. I had feared as much.
No one has since then either.