It had been a long day: a book chapter due, tons of consults, too little sleep, procedures. So when I had a minute to grab a little respite from the chaos while nature called, I took it. I sat on the throne to ponder the day. I needn’t go into gory details. But when I stood up, I heard a “plunck.”
And I turned around and saw it. My pager. In the toilet.
Now one must make some serious decisions quickly in this situation.
Like, “do I get it or flush it?” Hmmm.
Oh, hell, I’m a doctor. So I grabbed it quickly.
Then rinsed it. And I washed and washed my hands, mind you. No Purell for me! Nope, I don’t trust that crummy residue it leaves on your hands. Lots and lots of soap and water. Then chlorhexidine just to be careful.
But then I realized I had not checked the patient.
“Pager, pager are you alright?”
“Quick, call 911!”
Thinking quickly, I removed the battery cover and extracted the battery. I shook it dry. Still no response.
Then I couldn’t remember – is it 15 button pushes to two hard breaths or 5 button pushes to 1 hard breath? Feeling that hypoxia and drowning were the most likely cause of sudden death, I chose the latter. Do I push the buttons half an inch or a quarter of an inch? Oh hell, I don't know. How old was she? I should have probably used epinephrine, atropine, or isoproterenol, but felt this might be one patient where a “quick code” might be in everyone’s best interest. After all, I had had her for about 6 years, and someone had her before me. It was time.
So I called the code. Time of death: 07:12 AM.
But as an electrophysiologist, I decided that water might have induced electronic hypothermia, so I gave one more thing a try...
... I slowly rewarmed the patient by placing her above an incandescent bulb while saying her last rights. "Rest easy," I said and borrowed another pager.
Later that night, I returned to the patient to check on her. I replaced the battery, inspected for a pulse and “viola',” tones chirped from her underbelly! A successful resuscitation at last!