fbpx

On Call with a Four-Year-Old

On Call with a Four-Year-Old

[Ann F. Beach MD shares what happens when you're on call and there's no one to keep your four-year-old.]

In spite of days of planning, all my complex backup plans had fallen through.

My husband was on a business trip.

My in-laws were on vacation.

My nanny was caring for her elderly mother overnight.

The sitter service had come up empty-handed.

No one on my pediatric team could trade call with me.

So here I was, on call and in charge of my four-year-old son. Nightmare!

 

So here I was, on call and in charge of my four-year-old son. Nightmare! Click To Tweet

 

I knew there was a 100% chance I would get called into the ER for an admission. Grrrrrr.

And, as I knew it would, the phone rang at 4 AM. I listened to the ER doctor on the other end, describing the asthmatic child who needed admission, and steeled myself for the inevitable. I needed to go see this new admission and get them tucked in.

I pulled on clothes, and padded silently into my son’s room, smiling as I watched him sleep for a minute.

Then, grimly, guiltily, I pulled him out of bed, as he protested, half-asleep.

I tugged him, Buzz Lightyear pajama-clad, into a winter coat, pushed fluffy elephant bedroom shoes onto his feet, trudged to the cold car and buckled him into his car seat. As I drove to the hospital, a litany of self-blame crowded my thoughts.

“What kind of mother can’t arrange coverage on a call night?”

“Why am I making my child suffer on a cold night to care for a stranger’s child?”

“Other people seem so much more organized.”

“Why does it have to be so hard?”

 

Halfway to the hospital, my son Harrison piped up in a happy little-boy voice. Not asleep after all.

“Know what? I’m not gonna be a fireman when I grow up. Gonna be a doctor!”

“Really?” I answered. “Why?”

“Dat way, we can stay up after our bedtime EVERY NIGHT!” he exclaimed gleefully.

We drove up to the ER entrance, parked, and entered the bright fluorescent busy night-time ER.

“Wow!” Breathed Harrison, “Still open! Cool!”

I found an empty seat for Harrison at the nurse’s station, armed him with crayons and paper, and threatened him with something serious if he didn’t stay RIGHT THERE. Finding the ER doctor responsible for my patient, I got an update, and went to see her, a four-year-old asthmatic, in the middle of her second hour of continuous nebulized albuterol.

I spoke with her worried parents, took a history, examined her, and then sat down to tell her parents what to expect after admission. Just then, Harrison appeared at the side of the stretcher. A severe asthmatic himself, he was unfazed by the nebulizer mist and medical equipment.

“Hey.” He waved crayons, “When you’re froo, I got crayons. We can color.” Everyone smiled and the tension in the room dissipated.

I scooted him back to his spot at the nurse’s station, finished admission orders, and returned to find him. He was contentedly eating crackers, watched by doting nurses. He was wide awake and enjoying watching all the bustle in the ER.

 

We celebrated sunrise by going to the hospital cafeteria for an early-morning breakfast, getting lots of smiles and hellos from hospital staff who knew me but had never met him.

We wandered to the lobby to check out the fish tank, while we waited for Nanny to come pick him up. It was morning and time for my next day of work, so there I stayed.

As Harrison left with Nanny, he hugged me and said, “Thanks Mom! I loved it! Can I stay up after my bedtime with you again?”

I’ve reflected on this event for many years. I saw only the deficiencies in myself and berated myself for poor planning. I felt the pressure of being the perfect doctor, perfect wife, and perfect mom. I was falling short and didn’t realize the goal was unattainable.

 

I’ve reflected on this event for many years. I saw only the deficiencies in myself and berated myself for poor planning. I felt the pressure of being the perfect doctor, perfect wife, and perfect mom. I was falling short and didn’t… Click To Tweet

 

My son is now grown and remembers this night fondly. He saw a nighttime adventure, a break from routine, a capable mom, and another child with asthma getting better. And pancakes for breakfast!

It’s all in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?

 

My son is now grown and remembers this night fondly. He saw a nighttime adventure, a break from routine, a capable mom, and another child with asthma getting better. And pancakes for breakfast! It’s all in the eye of the beholder, isn’t… Click To Tweet

 

So, let’s cut ourselves some slack. Let’s be kinder to ourselves. Let’s allow ourselves to fall short of perfection. Let’s have some “adventures” instead of shortcomings or failures or problems. This change in perspective made a big difference for me. Try it!

Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

Share

Earn CME

This learning experience is powered by CMEfy - a platform that brings relevant CMEs to busy clinicians, at the right place and right time. Using short learning nudges, clinicians can reflect and unlock AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Affiliate ad

Earn CME

This learning experience is powered by CMEfy - a platform that brings relevant CMEs to busy clinicians, at the right place and right time. Using short learning nudges, clinicians can reflect and unlock AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.

Tweet Me

More from SoMeDocs

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Nurturing Souls in a Season of Healing

Nurturing Souls in a Season of Healing

Grace Torres-Hodges, DPM, MBA explains why there is no pill or protocol (& sometimes it’s not even medical expertise), but demonstrating genuine concern for patients’ well-being and caring. 

Blog: Badge of Burnout

A physician’s personal account of battling burnout and mental health struggles, with lessons learned and aspirations to live a more joyful, fulfilling life.

The True Art of Medicine

The Crafting Doctors

Doctors do some incredible work outside of the exam room. Some even craft! Take a peek at some of our highlighted doctors, here, in this series.

David Norris, MD, MBA

Negotiate as a Physician and Win

Catch this 8-part series, hosted by physician & business consultant David Norris, MD, MBA & produced by Dana Corriel, MD. Learn to be a stronger negotiator with these important tactics.

My “Go To” Spices for Indian Food: Beginner’s Guide

The Doctor’s Food

In honor of our upcoming virtual Lifestyle Medicine conference, we thought it would be fun to share some of what doctors eat (and prepare!), released regularly. Bottoms’ up!

Bryce Bowers, DO

Bryce Bowers, DO

“We must first take care of ourselves in order to take care of the patient.”

Want More?

Be a part of the healthcare revolution.
Don't miss a thing SoMeDocs publishes!

Disclaimer: SoMeDocs assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, claims, or content of the individual experts' profiles, contributions and courses. Details within posts cannot be verified. This site does not represent medical advice and you should always consult with your private physician before taking on anything you read online. See SoMeDocs' Terms of Use for more information.

follow us

© 2023 SoMeDocs. All Rights Reserved.

Support A Platform that Celebrates Real Doctors

For just $10 a month, you can help keep this openly accessible site available to all & help us sponsor in more doctors.

Interested in the must-read, unique content from our magazine?

I acknowledge that this site is not to be used for medical advice.

Play Video
Our Founder Answers Your BURNING Question

SoMeDocs

“Why should I become a member of SoMeDocs if I already have my own space online?”

Site SoMeDocs Logo, square

WANT TO STAY IN THE LOOP?

DON'T MISS A SINGLE CONTENT PIECE.