Tuesday, June 12, 2007

some phone calls you never expect

When I started working at the hospital, one of the things that I had to get used to (other than actually being up in the middle of the night) was the phone calls that came in the middle of the night. The phone ringing at 4 am stopped carrying the worry of someone close to you being in an accident, and became something that went with the turf on OB...although the right words said on the other end still had the ability to get your adrenaline going in the blink of an eye.

And after I got used to being up at night and fielding phone calls from work, I got used to phone calls from friends. Because when you work at night, it means that sometimes you are awake at night even when you don't have to work. And, in case you have never done it, there isn't always a lot to do - or people to keep you company - at that time of night. And so I have gotten my fair share of phone calls from people who 'just want to chat'...because sometimes chats happen pre-dawn.

My middle of the night phone calls are fewer now - I have traded in my night schedule for a daytime routine, and most of the time I am sleeping. I have even perfected the ability to answer the phone without completely letting go of my thin veil of sleep....a few mumbles, and the back to dreamland I go, with a promise to call back later. And so my night went last night...until the deadpan silence on the other end ripped me out of my light sleep faster than a child tears into christmas presants on christmas morning. And when the voice started to speak, it was slow...and deliberate...and within the first breath I knew that something was very, very wrong. Just in case you forgot - silence is deafening.

Everyone immediately jumps to the worst possible senario...an accident. But accidents, while they leave pain and devistation in their wake, are quick. But this is different...this is cancer. Something that is rarely quick, and leaves devistation in its wake long before it takes someone away. Colon cancer, at the very least, although there is something in me that tells me that it's more than that. Colon cancer is what affects people on the news, or friends of your grandparents. It is not, however, what you hear about your friends...those who are not yet even close enough to tap on the shoulder of the 'old' age of 30.

My midnight phone call carried more than sad news. It brought with it the reminder of what it means to be grown up -the demand to shed the cloak of invicibility to that we once held so closely. And it replaced it with reality, where some people aren't invincible after all.

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