Monday, May 12, 2014

Near Misses of Great Magnitude

The air has warmed but the breezes are cooler still, the flowers are blooming. The air is saturated with voices of little people and their bigger counterparts. Spring has finally arrived and brought out the families. The fathers are out catching ball with their children amid the squeals of near misses and laughter of greater magnitude. And I look at the time gone by.

I remember a day like today when we as a family had decided on a picnic. As we headed out, the infernal beep of the beeper interrupted our plans. We would have to all bundle up in the car and go to the hospital for me to see a patient before heading to the park. There were groans and moans from the children who had heard of this before. But I insisted this time it would be a short interruption. “It is only a minor issue. It won’t take me more than a minute,” I said, as I hustled out the car. An hour later as I emerged the quiet that I had left my wife with was filled with taciturn children, crying and carrying on. I walked back to the car and said, “Okay are we ready!” in as jovial a voice as I could muster. Only grumpy groans emerged. The enthusiasm had long since vanished.

We drove to the park and the infernal beeper beeped again calling me back to the vicissitudes of life; illness. Someone else needed help. I deposited my family at the park and promised, I’d be only a short while to the restrained anger and glare of my wife and the protesting children.

After what seemed a short 20 minutes which turned into another hour gone by, I arrived back at the park and found my children happily playing catch with a stranger. Someone had taken pity on the two lonely little souls and decided they needed some parenting. My wife was quietly reading a book with one eye on the kids and the other within the pages.  After the introduction to the stranger, who it turned out was a remote neighbor of ours, I thanked him and took over the ball. By now my children, it seemed had had enough and they retired to the shelter of their mother’s arms.

The rest of the evening was a blur between beeps and phone calls. The sly disgust on my children’s faces and the resigned look on my wife’s face completed the day at the park.

As a physician, I know about near misses that have great consequences. As a father I know that the near misses that interrupt a physician’s life have a far greater magnitude effect on a family.

And they call us providers? 

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