Apply Yourself: The Code Pager

I had to laugh a bit this morning.

I am on call covering a variety of internal medicine units today.  And this includes carrying the first year resident code pager.

Bum bum bummmm… (*clearly, that is ominous music)

I had a wee bit of a struggle this morning.

No, nobody coded.  And everything so far from the medical end of things is stable.

I was nice and collected the pager from the resident on last night at 8:45, so he could get the heck out of here.  I took it and walked away and then realized that the pager he gave me was one of the new ones.  Not like the older clunkier version I have.

The best part about it is that there is supposed to be this thing called volume control and a vibrate function.  The worst thing about it is that I don’t know how it works.  The most stable factor is that I hate pagers!!

So, I wandered away assuring myself I could figure it out.

I looked at it and realized it wasn’t showing the time.  I worried it wasn’t on.  So, I started hitting buttons.   There are only two buttons… How complicated can it be?

Probably not my brightest moment.

It turned off.

I managed to turn it back on.

I flipped the screen right side up and upside down.   Multiple times.  And then I figured out how that function worked.

Somehow  I got to a volume menu.  I turned it up, I turned it down.  I couldn’t get out of the menu.  And I still didn’t know if I was actually connected to the paging network because the time wasn’t showing up.

My pager shows the time once it turns on.  Why wasn’t this one?

So, I started panicking.  I mean, I got the screen to say “Code Blue” once.  Does that mean I am currently standing in the middle of the hall hitting random buttons on my pager all the while I am missing out on the joys (or lack thereof) of resuscitation?

Then, I started catastrophizing.  I was going to fail my rotation.  Because I didn’t show up to a code.  Because my code pager hates me.  And clearly because the stupid PGY-1 doesn’t show up, the patient will die.  Because my quality chest compressions can’t be replaced.


But then, I re-grouped.

It must be a pager problem, I said to myself.

I went to the library, went online and found pager instructions for the hospital.

I followed them… And I still couldn’t get the time to appear.  But, I did manage to inadvertently mute the pager.


I tried to follow the directions to un-mute the pager.

But, I found the volume button again.

Turns out, you can change the volume even while the pager is muted.

Or was it still muted?  It is actually hard to tell, because despite the setting saying mute when I hit the buttons, it still beeps every time I hit a button.

Yes, indeed it was.  A big “M” for mute sat beside my flashing blank clock.

I followed the directions again.

I made it to vibrate.  At least it was progress.  But the screen inverted again.

Somehow, after multiple attempts, I got the pager to beep again.

But, I still didn’t know if it worked.

So, I paged myself (bright moment here… I am still in the library).  It beeped.  Loudly and obnoxiously.

Now, how did I get to the volume thing again?

I got it all sorted out.  But, how did I really know it would work in a code?  And where is the time!?!

So, I hiked over to where the communications office is.  I have patients in that building that I am covering , so I figured it would be a two-fold trip… One to figure out where the frig my patients all are and the other to resolve my pager battle once and for all.

I found the patients.

I found the paging office.

The sent a test page.  It worked.  They couldn’t explain the absence of time.  And couldn’t fix it either.  But, in the process, they changed my pager setting to vibrate (ARGHHH) so their tinkering wouldn’t disturb the others in the office.

So, they sent me on my way.  And I fought (and tripped twice) the whole walk back to the main hospital while trying to get my pager to beep again (I hate the beep of pagers, so it is bizarre that I would be so determined to have this happen).

I succeeded.  In significantly less time than before.

It is progress, but it is a struggle.

Now, later in the day, I sat down to do some blogging while I wait for pages and I see that the daily prompt from the daily post is entitled, “apply yourself” in which it asks for a description of a time when you attempted to learn something that didn’t come easily to you.  The pager catastrophe of this morning definitely fits this criteria.  Working pagers never comes easily to me.  And this one was a particular challenge.

9 thoughts on “Apply Yourself: The Code Pager

  1. Indeed! Our pagers are ancient: large, awkward albatrosses with beeps so loud they have earned the title of “end times pager” or at least mine has. I commiserate with you. Missed you at GJ: B will be sending you and fhff a .pdf.

  2. Bless your heart! How frustrating. Pagers are totally annoying. I enjoyed your story of the woes of trying to figure out how to use the pager… Is it bad to take pleasure in your obvious misery? I meant that I enjoyed this in the nicest way. 😀

    Many blessings to you & happy paging,

    • Well, in some ways I wrote about it because I knew others might enjoy reading a out my pager woes. That and I was actually pretty frustrated.
      Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. What an ordeal! To think that I look forward to one day carting around my own plastic, irrational, demanding overlord. /performs psychiatric exam on self

    • It is funny how once you have that little plastic, irrational, demanding overlord, you realize how much your days of dreaming about it were better. Although I wouldn’t trade my job for anything, I would trade the pager (if it wouldn’t then result in big trouble) for as little as a cup of coffee (though, I argue coffee is never really little).

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