When you are on home call--that is to say, call wherein you are carrying a pager (or in my case, two cell phones--one is a backup in case AT&T's notoriously patchy service drops a call on my iPhone) but not necessarily physically in the hospital, all you can think about is that your phone could ring at any time. AT ANY TIME. At any moment, you could get a call from the nursing supervisor telling you to get into the hospital now, there's some old guy with an aortic dissection, or some lady with a small bowel obstruction, or some kid with appendicitis who needs to go to the OR, so get your ass back here in the next twenty minutes.
I'm sure after a couple more decades of taking home call, I'll be inured to the catecholamine surge that accompanies every phone call, every text message, every twinge that indicates that someone somewhere might be trying to reach me, but...I'm not at that point yet. I'm just being totally honest with you: carrying a pager at home stresses me out more than carrying a pager at work. It just feels like the stakes are higher, or more invasive, like the hospital is bleeding into your home somehow. And having been on the receiving end of some pretty bad call weekends, I am admittedly a little bit...sensitive about things.
Now, these are some things not to say to someone who is on call:
"So...are you going to get called in?"
"You're probably not going to get called in, right?"
"Can I run to the supermarket real fast and leave you with the kids? What? Why not?"
"You're probably safe now, right? I mean, what are the odds you're going to get called in now?"
"What do you mean you're backup call overnight? But just backup, right? They won't need you, right? I mean, what are the odds?"
"WHY ARE YOU SO ANNOYED AT ME?"
This is why Joe and I are having a little time-out right now.