I know I've said this before, but this time I really really mean it. I just don't see how the Call Gods can make up anything new. Surely they are reaching into the very depths of their imaginations now, scraping the absolute bottom of their creative barrels, and they must be completely out of ideas.
But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. My apologies. I'll start from the beginning.
I get some bizarre phone calls at 1 AM. Nothing good ever happens in the middle of the night, and surely the emergency physicians know this. In an attempt to soften the blow, they almost always start out the conversation with "Hey Doc (not your real name©), I'm sorry to bother you, but . . ." Sometimes with difficult cases they know the blow can't be softened, so they begin with something more like "Hey, sorry but I got a complicated case for you." That's never a good sign either. But when they lead off with this:
So, uh, I have a weird question for you. . .That is Guaranteed Not Good©. Very very not good. Whatever it is will be so not good that I am tempted to retire on the spot, just so I don't have to hear the end of that sentence and then deal with whatever catastrophe they're about to drop in my lap.
As I'm sure you've guessed already, I got just such a call recently. And you've probably also surmised that I didn't give into early retirement. There's no good way to summarise the conversation, so I'll simply present it exactly as it happened with as little paraphrasing as possible.
Emergency physician: "So, uh, I have a weird question for you."
Me (under my breath): Oh, fuck.
EP: What was that?
Me: I said 'What can I do for you?'
EP: Right. Must be a bad connection. So anyway, I have this young lady here who, uh . . . she, uh . . . I don't know exactly how to say this.
Me: . . .
EP: She, well, uh . . . she swallowed her glasses.
Me: . . .
Me: . . .
EP: You there?
Me: Yeah. I'm sorry, I thought you said she swallowed her glasses, but that must have just been the peppers I had for dinner, right? Right?
EP (laughs): No, that's exactly what I said.
Me: Ok, she swallowed . . . did you say her glasses?
EP: Well not the whole pair of glasses.
Me: Of course not.
EP: Just the arm.
Me: Well of course.
If I wasn't awake before, I certainly was then. I paused and thought about it for a few seconds, trying to figure out A) how the fuck that was even possible, and B) what the hell I was going to do about it. Once something is in the stomach, there are only three ways to get it out: 1) Make an incision in the stomach and remove it directly, 2) get it out the way it went in, or 3) wait until it comes out the other end.
I told the emergency doc that if I had swallowed some glasses, I would want a gastroenterologist to try to remove it non-surgically (with an endoscope) before a surgeon cut me open. If I had swallowed glasses. If I had . . .
I couldn't believe I had actually just said those words in that particular order.
First thing the next morning after I woke up and had my cappuccino (yes, I spent 4 minutes making and enjoying a cappuccino. I do love my morning cappuccino), I went straight to her room to check on her. Her nurse informed me that she was already in the endoscopy suite with the gastroenterologist. PERFECT! I walked down one floor to endoscopy and ran right into my friend and colleague Dr. Ken (not his real name©) just as he was leaving the procedure room.
"Hey Ken, did you get it out?" I asked him.
Without a word (and with a big grin) he held a specimen bag right up to my face. I expected to see one of those glasses arm covers in it:
"But . . . but . . . how?"
Ken affixed me with a look that clearly said, "Don't ask questions to which you don't want to know the answers."
And so I didn't. I shook his hand, turned around, and left without another word. But as I walked away, thankful that I wouldn't have to operate on this young lady, I realised I did have one more question:
Ok Call Gods, what the fuck is next?