Monday, September 10, 2007

Katrina stories, 8

The other thing we noticed was that our pagers didn't work.

Unfortunately, this realization came when I ran into an exasperated nurse as I was wandering around after a delicious breakfast of PB&J.

Nurse: [exasperated] We've been paging you for hours!

Me: Huh? What? [Checking my pager] It never went off...

Nurse and Me: [simultaneously realizing the pager towers are out] Ohhh.....

Initially we thought "Yay! No more annoying pages!" But then we realized this meant we were going to practice medicine like it was 1955. No more luxury of being able to flip open a cell phone and answer the pager from any remote area. Now we were confined to either the hospital itself and the overhead paging system, or we had to let the hospital operator know exactly where we were going, how long we expected to be there, and the phone number to that location. Needless to say, the hospital operators knew the number for that Dairy Queen by heart. We'd drive over to Dairy Queen for a meal, and the lady working the counter often had a phone message for us from the hospital regarding something going on with a patient.

Being tethered to the hospital and having to check in by phone where ever we went (like some parolee) wasn't all that bad. What really caused major concern was that we were simply not reachable when we were in our cars, or if we were simply outside the hospital trying to get a breath of fresh air. It made everybody totally uneasy. If we had working pagers, we could have the freedom to go anyplace, and when the pager goes off, go find a phone and return a call. Just like people did in the late 80's. But instead, we were tethered like dogs on a leash.

I don't remember how long it took for the pagers to work again. It must have been a couple weeks at least. But I never thought I would ever be so happy to hear my pager go off.