Tuesday, January 12, 2010

first i don't update, then i start asking for favors

I started taking night call again, did I mention that? Well, I did. Since I started my job when we moved down here to Atlanta, I had been working what I thought was an ideal family job--namely one that was five days a week, Monday through Friday, no night call, no weekends, no holidays. And you know, it was OK. Certainly not having to work any weekends was sweet. And not having to negotiate night call, what with Joe on call all night, every night, seven days a week, 365 days a year (yes, it is true, I do not exaggerate--he is the only fellow in his division and as such he is always the last man standing at the end of the night) made things easier.

What I didn't anticipate, what any resident can't anticipate upon graduating from an intense training experience and taking a no-call job is that...call is actually good. I missed taking call. I kind of liked taking call. And I really liked having post-call days off. Without call, you never get that break in your schedule. That means no days to go to the doctor. No days you can run to the post office. No days you can go pop by and visit your kid's school, volunteer for a field trip, bake cookies to bring to the bake sale in the old church basement. Not that we go to church and not that I can bake, but, you know, the possibility exists. Anyway, working all day every single week day to most people just sounds like your run-of-the-mill normal job, but in medicine, having no days to break up the relentless march of days (as well as having a maternity leave early in the year consume most of your vacation time) can be...grueling. Or, as I have referred to it from the bottom of some of my more histrionic moments, "a pitiless and unceasing trudge to the grave."

Yes, well then. Anyway, I started taking night call again. Joe is pretty close to being done with his fellowship now (six months left, but who's counting? Me, for one. Joe, for another.) so we are actually able to swing it now that if I am on call, he is absolved of pager duty, thus being free to corral our children in the evening without fear that at any moment he will have to desert them because some patient just ran into a piece of hollow metal while walking his dog and now has a length of pipe sticking out of his eye socket. (Oh, I only wish I were kidding.) And I, I am able to work nights. It's win...win?

Last night was my first night on call since I started with the group, and it went OK. And since I was on call until 7:00am this morning, I am now free to do with this entire next day what I will, which basically entailed sleeping in until the late hour of 7:30am. I would, of course, have liked to sleep in later, but Mack had other plans involving his head, my head, and a high-velocity collision of the two accompanied by the sound of two coconuts bonking, all the while giggling maliciously like a Chuckie Doll. (He, not I.) Was the Chuckie Doll supposed to sound like a bad Jack Nicholson impression? Same question applies, by the way, for Christian Slater. Just something I have always wondered.

This is all train of thought, you know that, right? Take what you can, people, I have been very bad about updating this blog these past few months, and I am rusty.

So, the book. People have been e-mailing me (and Twitter messaging me--what do you call that, is there a name? I am like your mom now. "What is this Twitter, are you Tweeting me? Are you a Twit? What's a Twat?") asking me about the status of the book, and I think I can tell you now that yes, people, there will be a book, and all indications are that it will be coming out in March. Which is good, because, you know, March is soon. The gist of the book (and I will talk more about this as we get closer to the actual date, because you know, that will be exciting) is a non-fiction account of medical education and training, as well as the balance between a medical career and motherhood. It will be fun, I promise, and well worth your time and eyes and not to mention dollars. But here now, I need your help.

The original working title of the manuscript was "Scutmonkey," because--well, you know. I've been writing that "Scutmonkey" comic for years, and hell, I thought it was a good catchy name. But apparently it is not a good catchy name. Apparently "Scut" sounds like "Smut" and what the hell does "monkey" have to do with anything, and enough with your crazy medical slang already, speak English, we live in America. So...we need a new title for the book. And here's the part where you have great ideas and e-mail them to me. Good lord, if I knew how to get the comments section back up and running, I would, but apparently the service was beyond cure and had to be euthanized, so e-mail it is. (I guess you could Twitter me too, at @scutmonkey. Twit me. Twat me. What have you.) Here are my requirements for the title of the book.

  1. Should at least in some way convey what the book is about. (Medical training, juggling working with motherhood, growing up and becoming a real doctor, etcetera.)
  2. Please, for the love of God, not cutesy. ("MOMMY DOC!")
  3. Not self-aggrandizing, like, "YOU'RE IN THE HANDS OF GOD, AND BY GOD, I MEAN ME" because...barf.
  4. If you have a good idea that you pass on to me, that I would be allowed to use it, and that you won't sue me for it later like some kind of jerk. No, seriously, if you are inclined to sue me, just don't e-mail me, really. I have enough patients suing me already. (Just kidding! No patients suing me! Yet! They love me! For my caring clinical persona and judgement as well as my warm hands and clean smell.)

Here are some titles that we (meaning me, my agent, and me) have brainstormed so far, just to give you a sense:

CLINICAL PRACTICE (because see, practice, it has a double meaning! Aha! Ah...hmmm.)

So as you can see, between the three of us, we basically have nothing.

But...you guys are smart, right? Highest IQ readers in the blogosphere? I know it's hard to do this, because you haven't read the actual manuscript, but you probably have read at least some of this blog, so I think you have at least some sense of what this book is going to be about. (Not that the book is recycled blog entries, but what I mean is, you get the general flavor of the thing.) I knew I could count on you.

Additional evidence that I am just calling in favors left and right: photo credit for the picture I sent in for the book jacket? (c) 2009 Cal Walrath. But hey, he did a pretty good job, considering his lack of formal training, and the fact that he can't actually spell the word "camera."

Oh, and one more thing. I had written a bunch of new "Scutmonkey" comics for the book, which we ultimately decided not to include in the finished manuscript, because something something messed up the flow the the narrative etcetera. But since we're not going to include them with the book, I can do with them what I please. Therefore, I will start posting them here on the blog as we get closer to the publication date, and once configure the images to be a little smaller and low-resolution, so they don't take all freaking day to load on the page, damn.


  1. All I can say is "amen, sister!" to the idea of how oddly nice it is to take call. As bad as call can be, those pre-call and post-call days to get the rest of life taken care of are crucial.

  2. One more title idea - my husband suggested Doctomom. I sort of love it.