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A Doctor’s Hauntings

2:30AM: The beeper sounds. “Please call the ER x2222.” Why are they calling me? I’m not on call. A flash then a clap of thunder outside. “Your patient from a few days ago is here in the ER.”

The mind races. You remember the case clearly. No problem at all. What could be going on? You ask 20 questions, you get 20 answers. All of the bases have been covered. “Doin’ better now,” you’re told. “We’ll just admit ’em and you can see ‘em in the morning.” Hesitantly you return to bed, mind racing. 

The lump of blankets next to you rolls over to ask, ”Everything okay?” “Yeah,” you lie. “Sorry, honey. Go back to sleep.”

The head meets the pillow but the brain does not. There are differentials to review. Seemingly infinite differentials. But it couldn’t be that — they checked for that. What did I miss? Over and over again.

The thunder outside claps in unison with your mind. You wonder if maybe you should go in — what if they missed something?

The horror. The horror. Over and over again. The maybes. The doubting. The thunder.

Thirteen years into my trade and the hauntings, I’ve learned, are part of the job. Every doctor knows about the 800-pound gorilla that watches us each day. Sleep is his easy victim.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*


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