On call the night before christmas

Ashleigh Frayne is a Family Medicine (R1) at the University of British Columbia.

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and I was on call,

When I felt rather strange as I entered St. Paul’s.

It was tough to tell, and it was hard to say,

What thing might have stirred up my senses that day.

But then Mrs. Mac—from room twenty-four B,

Stood still in her doorway and whispered to me:

“Dr. V— come inside, you must see what I’ve found,

There’s a trapdoor in my room, right here in the ground.”

My eyebrows shot up, to the peak of my hair,

And I thought to myself, good God man, beware.

But I took a deep breath, and I entered with haste.

Oh my heart, it misfired, oh my pulse, how it raced.

For there in the floor lay an oddly shaped hole,

And there was A bed, dragging his IV pole.

“Come see here young doctor,” he said with surprise,

And I looked and I looked with my widening eyes.

For there in the peeling linoleum floor,

Sat a small passage with a fiberglass door.

It was bolstered with splints from our old Emerg,

And red and blue sat probes did decorate the verge.

I looked here, I looked there, like an eager med student,

And I leaned in much further than would have been prudent.

Then a silk suture brushed my face like a feather,

And I reached through the archway to grasp that tether.

It tugged me, it pulled me, down stairways of charts,

When I saw a railway of medical carts.

Onto a meal tray, I did leap with great speed,

The whooshing, the whipping, it sparked my intrigue.

We went leftwards and right, we went upwards and down,

Pulled by a guide dog in a hospital gown.

We stopped at a station, festive iodine red,

And snowflakes of haemostat landed softly on my head.

There were small and tall homes, all jostled, all near,

Constructed quite oddly from old OR gear.

Windows cut from plaster with surgical drapes,

But they were all quite pleasing in their strange shapes.

Then along the road there arose such a sound,

A great boom of laughter from a belly round.

He was large, he was jolly (his BMI wrong).

He wore cherry red scrub pants and his beard long.

“Come in son, come in!” He bellowed right down the lane,

But his goodwill was clear, and his cheer was quite plain.

I ducked in his home which was roofed with white tape,

And I swapped out my lab coat for a green cape.

“We’ve been waiting all year,” he said with a sigh,

“For a young resident to stop in and say hi.

See Estrace my elf and Teste my trainee,

Have since been at work for an intern’s small fee,

Making sure your package is ready and neat,

And inside – oh you’ll see – was no easy feat.”

He then drew aside with a big bow and small sweep,

So that I could appreciate the large bundled heap.

“But no…” I stammered, what to say to this man?

“I’m too new and green to partake in your plan!

Our orientation said nothing at all,

About a winter wonderland being just down the hall!

“Dear boy! You are perfect to take on this task,

You’re ready, I know it, or I wouldn’t ask.

You must always remember, when you’re in a pinch,

That you’re human – no really – please do not flinch.”

“Attendings make mistakes and surgeons forget,

A dose here, a fact there, so please do not fret.

In truth it’s humanity that heals in the end,

Most patients need comfort, a loved-one or friend.

This parcel is filled with compassion and care,

Take it to the unit, distribute it there.”

I felt my face flush with the truth of it all,

For I could be gloomy and grim when on call.

Without a delay I picked up his big sack,

I jumped on a linen cart and got right on track.

A few minutes later, I was back at my job,

And the spring in my step had the nurses agog.

I thought, I’ll be cheery, I thought, I’ll be gay.

Tomorrow will be a Very Merry Christmas Day!

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