Saturday, July 3, 2010

No calls, please

It's apparently been a while since I spewed some bile all over this blog. Fact of the matter is, I hadn't had the time or energy to even consider putting anything here. However, I think it's time yet again to tackle a subject that, much like the 1,000-pound elephant in the living room, can't be ignored and must be talked about repeatedly until it goes away.

Yes, that subject is being on call.

I can hear most of you now. You may be saying it in your head, or screaming it at your monitor. Just screaming, "It's only about one week a month, you big pussy, man up and just get it over with! What's the big fucking deal, anyway?"

I'll tell you what the big fucking deal is.

Picture yourself working twenty-four hours straight. Stretch that our over the course of seven days. Seven days without the chance to unwind, not really able to get anything done on a personal level, always shackled to your telephone which could ring at ANY MINUTE, any time of the day, forcing you to leave your home, your bed, whatever, and go do something that might be either a true assistance call or some non-essential bullshit that you STILL HAVE TO DO.

That's why I hate it so.

There's no time to relax. I usually end up getting up early each Saturday and Sunday that I have call, because I know there's a call coming but I don't know precisely when it's going to start. It's kind of like squirting a whole tube of Astro-Glide into your rectum, knowing you're about to be anally raped, but unsure of the exact moment it will happen. Best to just bend over, spread wide, grease up, and brace yourself.

I'm also turned off by the number of "abnormal" calls I get when I have the duty. I've never heard of anyone else getting calls from other home medical companies looking to see if we can give them the supplies they don't have so they can set up their own patients, nor does anyone else really get called to do a suction setup in the most far-flung reaches of the area.

Oh, and if you're reading this, and you work at a major medical facility looking to procure home medical equipment for one of your patients? Remember this little gem of advice: Just because we occupy the same major city as you, it doesn't mean that my branch services your area. So, I would greatly appreciate it if you wouldn't get snippy with me over the phone when I tell you that no, you need to call the branch that actually takes care of your area.

On a related note, major medical facilities: Don't get all snarly at me just because I won't drop everything I'm doing at the moment you call, like setting up oxygen for another one of your patients, to hustle my ass all the way across town to drop off a commode or a walker to a patient you want to discharge right this very moment. Your call will be handled, but there are other things that take priority. Oxygen and other respiratory equipment? High priority, be it a set-up or a troubleshoot call. Commodes, walkers, or other durable medical equipment? Way down the list, but will be handled as quickly as I am able. Helping someone breathe better is of more importance than helping them shit.

I also wonder how much stuff is just being dumped on me for no real reason. It seems that each time I have to take call, there will inevitably be a liquid oxygen setup waiting. Once is a coincidence, twice is a conspiracy, and three times is fucking absurd. I'm waiting for number three to happen within the next few weeks.

Let's look at things. Besides me, there is another liquid-trained driver that can drive the liquid oxygen truck and do the set-up. Does he get an after-hours liquid set-up? No. Of the remaining three, any one of them could ask us to pre-fill a liquid oxygen vessel so they could bring it to the patient's home, a process commonly called "milk-canning." Do any of them get a liquid oxygen set-up after hours? No.

But me? You fuckin' betcha.

There's also the problem of running personal errands. I need clean clothes, which entails a trip to the laundromat each week. I normally go early on Saturday because the place is empty and I can get in and out of there quickly. When I'm on call, however, I'm constantly watching the timers on the washer, then on the dryer, hoping that the accursed phone won't ring, necessitating me to go somewhere right in the middle of the laundry cycle. Forget grocery shopping -- if I lived alone, I'd be eating out all week long with no food in the house and no time to cook anyway.

Those, my dear readers, are the reasons I hate being on call. My only hope is to find another job that has no such thing, and to find it quickly, so I can release myself from the hell I've been sent to.

PS -- I only took this job because I had to. Living under a bridge had no real appeal to me.