BOSTON, MA – In a rare occurrence, last documented in 1987, a neurophysiology fellow came into the line of sight of an actual conscious patient.
At first, the fellow, Dr. Squiggly Lines, tried to pretend that it didn’t happen. “It was just pure denial at first. My heart raced– how am I supposed to deal with this?!”
Thinking back, Dr. Lines’ path to subspecializing in epilepsy began during his neurology residency, when he curiously began receiving the same feedback from each of his attendings that his “talents would be wasted seeing patients.” One by one, they remarked that he would be best suited in a subspecialty that “lets you stay in the reading room and never, ever leave.”
“It’s like they just all knew how good I am at reading EEGs,” said Dr. Lines, when asked about his subspecialty choice. “Everyone was giving me the same advice!”
He couldn’t reminisce for long, though; while Dr. Lines was still in the hallway, deciding how to break eye contact with the patient, the unthinkable happened.
The patient began speaking. In his direction.
“Hey doc, you over there! My chest hurts! You gotta help me!”
Somewhere from the depths of his memories of taking Step 3, there was a vague recollection of chest pain constituting an emergency. “Sweet Jesus, I still have several 24-hour EEGs with generalized slowing to report on. I simply don’t have time to remember what to do with this!”
In a skillful maneuver, Dr. Lines managed to tiptoe into the patient’s room, spot a red button on the wall labelled “Code Blue,” then use the patient’s cane to press the red button before running out of the room and to the safety of the EEG reading room.
“It was such a close call, but I survived! Who knew the hospital could be such a scary place!”