Wednesday, February 09, 2005

7:51 AM

Sitting in the conference room, sipping my coffee. Note to self: next time insomnia strikes, think about funny nicknames for this conference room instead of moping about you-know-who. Oh yes, sleep rating: C-

Rounds are over and we're having a working breakfast: they're working, and I'm eating breakfast, working on watching them work. Look at them, their busy minds humming away (well, scratch that, Chase just started staring off into space with an expression that's unusually vacant even for him. Okay, he's back at the books now.) I'm just a natural teacher, aren't I?

That was weak payback, even for Cuddy. Where in the world did she get the idea that I, of all people, would be irritated by med students? Particularly comely ones who missed the memo about appropriate professional dress, and who make such adorable oh-girl-he-did-NOT-say-that! faces? Am I not the very model of a modern doctor-teacher-type? I love med students. I've been working with them for twenty years. They amuse me.

And yet everyone thinks I terrorize med students!

I got my first batch of scut monkeys when I was a second-year resident, and the only thing more fun than mistreating them was hearing about their attempts at coming up with evil nicknames for me, mostly terribly obvious variations on my last name. "House of Pain" was a particular favorite.

And I wasn't all that cruel. Yes, I was a little given to endless scavenger hunts, but I did have some kind of point to them. For example, when your patient's going south in a hurry and you need a drug that's not on the cart, it's really helpful to know where the pharmacy is -- and to know which pharmacy is open when. Well, that and it was just really funny to watch them sigh and look put-upon.

That and calling on them in rounds -- for some reason, they hated that, particularly when I was doing it to show up my first-year residents. The insulting comments about their hair, GPA's, and hometowns seemed to rub them the wrong way too. So of course that just egged me on.

That's why I was licking my lips with anticipation after having met Kopp's little girlfriend. I'd had a good day off -- I'd gotten caught up on sleep and had made it to the gym -- so I was feeling strong, rested, and limber of both mind and body. As I walked to the hospital on that dark February morning, I mentally rehearsed the menu of grief I was going to serve up to my scut monkey. Perhaps I'd start off with some basic schoolyard teasing ("Davey's got a GIRL-FRIEND!") followed by hinting that she'd talked about him and implying that I'd taken her out on a date. Once I'd gotten him good and embarrassed, and had gotten a chuckle out of the other residents, I'd spring the tidbit about her age.

I took the steps two at a time -- I was so ready for rounds that morning -- and burst into the little closet they gave us for a conference room. I was very early. Only Patel was already there, looking haggard; he was just coming off of call. He grunted a hello as I came in and turned back to staring at the coffee machine, willing it to hurry up with the brew cycle already. I turned to hang up my coat -- and who was sitting at the table but David Kopp?

"Good morning, Dr House," he said cautiously.

"Morning, Kopp. You're awfully early."

He shrugged. "Did you have a nice day off?"

"Very nice, thank you."

He looked over at Patel. Patel was about to fall asleep on his feet, so Kopp squirmed a little and took the plunge. "I hear you met Eileen."

"Yes I did. Small world, isn't it? She's a very nice girl. So, when's the wedding?"

Shut up, his eyes said. "We haven't been dating that long." He pulled a little brown bag from his pocket. "Here, she sent you this."

I peeked inside. There was a little note on the top.

Dear Doctor House:
Thank you again for a great practice session. Your secret is safe with me, for as long as you wish it to remain secret.

Sincerely yours,
Eileen Abney.

I lifted the note out. The little bag was filled with tiny heart-shaped marshmallows.

I looked up at Kopp and he shrugged. "She said you'd understand."

I shook my head in amused chagrin. All right, little diva, I'll leave your boyfriend alone. "Yeah, I get it. Tell her thanks for me, will you?" I popped a couple of marshmallows and stuffed the bag in my pocket.

Kopp looked up. The rest of the team was trickling in. The coffee started flowing, and someone started a second pot. Kopp's classmate arrived; they exchanged knowing looks and started to snicker. They pulled themselves together quickly when they saw my expression.

Finally our attending, Dr Ball, arrived. "Ladies, gentlemen, are we ready? Let's begin, then. Dr Patel, let's hear your report...."

After report, we trudged over to the floor, loaded the charts onto the rack, and started rounding on the patients. As we approached the first room, Dr Ball stopped and looked at me for a moment. "Dr House, are you feeling all right?"

"Never felt better, Dr Ball."

He started walking again. "That's what I was afraid of. If you were to cough, I do believe we would see yellow feathers flying out of your mouth this morning. "

I grinned and followed him to the first room. I behaved myself as long as we could until we got to the case in room 5, an unfortunate woman with a failing liver. Patel was groggily explaining that we would have to draw her bloodwork that morning and noted her poor H&H. (In other words, her veins were shot and she had anemia.) Our R-1 observed that she really could use a unit or two of packed red cells. But Mrs Blaine was also a Jehovah's Witness and would not accept a transfusion. What to do?

Dr Ball was able to lead our dense little band to the conclusion that perhaps it would be in Mrs Blaine's best interest for us to conserve what blood she had. It fell to me to spell out that this meant we would have to draw as little blood as possible for her lab work, which meant that we would need special blood tubes to collect the samples. "Now, where to find these tubes?"

Kopp and his cohort looked blank. I leaned on the cart. "You can get these special tubes from the lab, but it's much quicker to just pick a few up here from a particular unit. What kind of patients never have much blood available for sampling?" I smiled at Kopp. "Mr Kopp, where might one find such tiny tubes?"

"Pediatrics," he muttered.

"I'm sorry, a little louder, please?"

"Pediatrics." Jerk, his eyes added.

"You are correct! Please go to the Pediatrics floor and bring back some tubes -- red-tops, purple, and blue. Get some extras. When you get back, we'll get Mrs Blaine's labs."

I smiled as I watched him go. At least I'd gotten one lick in. And if I kept the pressure on -- I dug in my pocket -- I might be able to get more marshmallows out of it.


Post a Comment

<< Home