What to do if the patient you are visiting is not in his room? Does Muhammad go to the Mountain? Or does Muhammad wait for the Mountain to get wheeled back up from radiology?
Such was the dilemma that Doctor Bean and I faced when he somehow talked me into making rounds with him at General Hospital on Sunday.
Doctor Bean was a disciple of the school of thought that said, "Oh well. We'll come back later."
But me? I learned from the school of hard knocks. Knock hard on the door. No answer? Knock harder. We didn't 'come back later' in The South Bronx. No sir. Coming back later could get you killed! Would you cross town through a volley of gunfire just because a patient was off somewhere getting a barium enema? Of course not. So I was determined to show him how we did things where I came from.
"No, seriously PT, we'll come back later."
"What are you, a sissy, Doctor?"
"We're gonna find that patient, and we're gonna examine him, and then by golly we're gonna bill him! Is that clear?"
"It's really no big deal--"
"WE LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND, BEAN!"
"--I live 5 minutes from here..."
"Get to the nursing station and find out where that AWOL patient is!!"
We soon found out that Mr. Goodstein, 87 years old with a bad hip and a badder ticker, was down in XRAY getting his pelvis irradiated.
"OK Bean. Let's ride."
"But I don't know where Radiology is. I've never even been down there."
"You call yourself an Attending Physician? You're the sorriest excuse for a doctor I've ever seen. Now get to that stairwell and give me 20..steps!"
"Actually, it would be better if we took the elevator."
And so we did. As we rode down that metal chariot to the unknown hell that lay beneath us, Doctor Bean took those last few moments of sanctuary to go over information about the patient. Information, that might prove vital to the very survival of our missing man.
We exited the elevator and soon approached the gateway to the unknown.
"I really don't know where this goes."
"No time for cowardice now, Bean. There's no turning back."
"Why not? We can still come back lat--"
"NO GUTS NO GLORY, BEANHEAD!! Now get through those doors or I'll fill you with gastrograffin!"
Reluctantly, Doctor Bean pushed forwards. And then to the right. And then to the right again. And twice to the left. A door was open. We peered inside.
Nothing. Nothing but the empty shell of a once vital and operating CT scanner.
"I don't know what kind of Armageddon happened down here, Bean, but WE'LL FIND YOUR MAN!"
"Really, I don't know where they do the hip XRAYs."
"We'll search this labyrinth room by room if necessary!"
"But that could take hours!"
"Then we'd better get started."
"But our wives, they're waiting for us and they'll get mad if we're late!"
"Uhh...yeah....um...right. Good thinking.