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Posted Nov 29th, 2019


"On-call" A dreaded term meaning my husband is required to complete a 24 hour shift at the hospital. This day, as do the majority of his days, start around 5:30 am.  I am usually half asleep when I feel a faint kiss from my husband, his way of saying goodbye and trying not to wake me at the same time.  For his night "on call" means that I too will have a night on call.  In no way do I have the same responsibilities that he will have to uphold for the evening.  He will need to take care and maintain the health of every sick patient on his service. He will also be required to attend to the needs of any new patient that may be admitted to the hospital who will require surgery. He will work tirelessly throughout the day and into the night.  He will grab a bite to eat when he can and most often miss a meal or two.  Although, he is required to take breaks for meals, he cannot stop performing a surgery part-way through because its his lunch break and the surgery is running longer than expected.  He cannot sit down to eat or call home to let us know he is doing OK, if a patient is starting to take a turn for the worse.  There is a lot of patience that comes with being his wife. 

 For myself, 'On call' has another set of meanings.  While my husband's entire focus, and should be, the care of his patient's, I have my own little patient's to attend to.  I am the only go-to person for all things related to this family, at least for the next 24 hours. I am the finance department, health department, chauffeur, etc.  I am a single mom, who has a partner, but I can't really rely on him.  There are so many things that I want to share with him when he is at work. Too many things, that by the time I am able to have a brief call with him, it's only the most important stuff that I can run by him and the rest will have to wait until he gets home.  There are plenty of times when the kids and I need him, but I can't bother him at work. How can I call my husband when our son strike's out at his baseball game?  Do I tell the nurse that answer's the phone, " Um... Hi, ma'am. Is there any way you can pull my husband away from performing that life- saving surgery because our son is in tears that he struck out at his final at bat and I can't control him at this point." When he finally returns home,  I don't want to share all of the bad with him and I don't want to bore him with the mundane things either.  He is only home for such a short period of time.  Shouldn't I make it a happy experience for him?  Unfortunately, no matter how much it means to you, you have to put yourself and the kids last and you do this willingly knowing that your significant other is saving the life of another human being.  You just hope that the multiple pics you send during the day, manage to bring a smile on your husband's face without his coworkers wondering if he is being distracted by the outside world. Yet, you can still hear the slight pang of sadness in his voice when he realized he missed out on a moment in his own child's life.  One that he will never get back.

So the next time you run into a physician, I hope that you may be able to give him or her a little slack. They are just human too. I know how frustrating it can be to be a patient and the anxiety that comes along with being sick.  Just know that he or she is placing your health or the health of someone you love first and that they have loved ones too that are missing them at that very moment.

It's now 9am the following day and he still isn't home and and we are both still 'on call.'

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