Tuesday, March 11, 2008


A significant part of my residency training was spent taking in-house call. That meant after a full day's work, I spent the night at the hospital to be the "go-to" man in case anything went wrong during the night.

Of course, being that the hospital was filled with sick and dying patients, something always went wrong. As the lone surgical MD in the hospital, the pager never stops beeping. When that pager goes off, you don't know if it's a nurse telling you that Mr. So-and-so is having a massive heart attack, or Mrs. This-and-that is bleeding profusely from her wounds, or asking you if Tylenol can be substituted for aspirin. The gamut of possibilities to expect when answering a page is mind boggling. The worst call is when two disasters happen simultaneously and you have to decide which dying patient you're going to save first.

Needless to say, the stress level remains astronomically high and the poor schmuck taking in-house call just gets run to the ground. By the time 6AM rolls around, they look like they've just gotten back from a horse ride through hell.

If nobody dies during your watch and everything is relatively stable come morning, nobody calls you to yell at you and you get to go work another full workday. Fun! Great career choice! I've got to remember to thank my high school guidance counselor.

After surviving an especially harrowing call night, I would often treat myself to the biggest frickin' donut in the hospital cafeteria. This was the apple fritter. It was a huge hunk of donut batter mixed with apples and cinnamon, fried, then covered with a blanket of glaze. It probably had about 4000 calories.

Although I no longer take in-house call, I occasionally get a fritter for old times sake. However, the other day I saw that the donut case was empty. After a brief inquiry, I found out that the hospital suits have decided that the cafeteria will no longer make any donuts because they are unhealthy. And selling donuts in the hospital cafeteria apparently is in violation of the healthy image that a healthcare facility should project.

Irritating, since I like donuts, but I can see the validity in such actions. But then, as I was wandering around the cafeteria, why do they still sell pints of ice cream? What about the ribs with macaroni and cheese they're serving for lunch? The mounds of chocolate chip cookies in the cookie case? The BLT with about 15 strips of bacon crammed into it? Chili cheese fries? This list of "non-healthy" food items available for purchase in the hospital goes on and on.

So are they going to phase these out too? The answer is no. Of all the unhealthy snacks and foods, they singled out and got rid of my favorite: donuts. Frickin' hypocrites!

That commercial on TV with the people freaking out because they can't get a Whopper at Burger King? Yeah, that was me when I found out I could no longer get my most favorite donut in the world.