The Phone Call

Every month,  Pulse – voices from the heart of medicine,  a medical narrative forum, has a challenge to submit a short essay on a specific topic. The ones they accept are then published on their website. This past month the topic was “getting the news” and my submission was accepted :). This was my twist on the subject :

“Dr. Eisenberg, line 6, Dr. B,” I hear over the office intercom. What? The chairman calling me? And in that split second, as I braced for impact, my career flashed before my eyes. What did I do?  My mind could only fathom the worst.  Did a delivery go bad? I can’t think of any. Did I do a c-section that wasn’t indicated? Hmm, can’t recall any.. Is there a baby that didn’t do well? No one notified me. Is there a resident or nurse complaining about something I did? I have no recollection of a conflict. The questions keep coming, my heart is racing and I am starting to sweat. I looked at my patient, trying to mask the alarm on my face,  and said “please get dressed, I will be back in a moment.”

I was moving in slow motion, opening the exam room door, the cold air of the hallway brushing my face, walking out, closing the door, walking to the phone, looking around to see that no one could hear. The chairman has never personally called me. This has to be bad. I clicked on to line 6 and stammered “hello, this is Andrea Eisenberg.

In a gravelly voice, he says “Ah, Andrea, I have something delicate to, ah, tell you.” The phone nearly slips out of my hand. “ Ah, a few people in labor and delivery have complained about the, ah, perfume you wear. You know, ah, I had that happen once to me with a certain cologne….”

I stopped listening, hung up and have never been called by my chairman again.



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