It was Trevor’s first weekend to relax since moving to Seattle. He was out in a park walking Bailey, his year old lab, when his pager unexpectedly beeped. He called in to the operating room office, where the frantic head nurse told him he had to come in. The scheduled anesthesiologist was very ill with the flu, and no one else was available. He had to come in for at least two cases, perhaps more.
Trevor pleaded, “Can’t you find anyone else, it’s my first weekend off, and I doubt if I can find anyone to watch Bailey.”
“Sorry, we need you – now!”, came the curt reply.
Trevor called his only friend so far but got no reply. He hadn’t had much contact with neighbors yet, so didn’t think he could ask them to take care of Bailey. So having no other choice, he packed Bailey along with water and dog food into his Subaru hoping that Bailey wouldn’t mind hanging out in the car.
Bailey barked annoyingly as Trevor parked the car in the shade, cracked the windows a bit, and headed for the OR. The case was easy and lasted about an hour. Trevor headed quickly out to the car finding Bailey trying to dismantle it. There were scratch marks on the door and a tear in the seat cover. This just wasn’t working.
So Trevor walked Bailey, now happy around to the back of the hospital, entered the service entrance and took the back service elevator which came up just outside the anesthesia call room. He stayed with Bailey making sure he had water and food and a comfortable pillow, then was called in for the next case. Bailey seemed content to wait for him.
The case was an appendectomy. The patient was anesthetized in the usual fashion and Trevor settled in to watch the monitors and patient while the surgeon went to work. Strangely he felt pressure and a cold wet sensation on his left leg. Looking down with dread he saw Bailey looking up with a happy face and wagging tail. The OR nurse screeched, “Where in the hell did that dog come from? Get him out of here.”
The surgeon didn’t miss a beat, “At least give him a mask and dog booties.”
The patient, of course, was peacefully oblivious.
The dog was watched by security, who cared for him until Trevor could leave, red faced and worried about repercussions. I’m happy to report that the unsuspecting patient did well, Trevor kept his job, and that Bailey probably wondered what the fuss was all about.
Of course the hospital administrators had their fur ruffled, but were happy that no one leaked the story to the press.
Jim deMaine is a pulmonary physician who blogs at End of Life – thoughts from an MD.