Is there a Doctor on the Plane?

Is there a Doctor on the Plane?

Here we go. Another transpacific flight. Sitting in a seat for 13 hours is going to be sooooooo fun. To the right of me is an elderly Chinese couple that keeps looking at me and smiling. I guess there won’t be much chit chat given that I don’t speak a lick of Mandarin. I guess xièxiè will have to suffice.

The flight takes off and I am starting to settle into my seat and get comfortable. Coke in hand I am getting sucked into the movie that is playing on my economy seat television screen. An hour has passed… damn only an hour. This is going to be a long flight.

The movie Creed is really starting to pick up when suddenly the audio and screen turn off. This is probably going to be some annoying announcement about asking people to stay in their seats or what is on the dinner menu. After a brief pause a voice comes on. First it is in Mandarin. Then they repeat the message in English. “If there is a medical professional on the plane please ring your call button.”

I pause for a second. Thoughts start flying through my head. What if this is a person who is in cardiac arrest? What if it’s an iffy case of chest pain and I have to make the call as to whether or not to land the plane? That would seriously screw all the people on the plane and could cost the airline thousands of dollars. Maybe another doctor on the plane has already responded. As all of these thoughts crowd into my brain, I  break into a small sweat. Fuck it. I hit the call button. What feels like minutes go by before a flight attendant rolls up. I tell her I am a doctor. She tells me that everything has already been taken care of. Awesome. I swirl my coke and sink back into my seat.

Five minutes go by. Creed is a damn good movie. All of a sudden the flight attendant comes back. She informs me that they actually want me to go see the person that requested the medical consult. “OH crap” I think to myself. This must be bad. She leads me to the front of the plane. We pass through premium economy. We pass by a young healthy woman waiting for the bathroom. The aisle is narrow so we snake our way around. As we pass her, the flight attendant in broken English tells me that is the woman who requested the medical consult. She must be confused because this lady looks totally healthy. We walk to the area between premium economy and first class and she asks me to wait.

One minute later that same young, healthy woman is escorted by the flight attendant to the seat next to me. Awesome. Her airway is intact, she’s breathing, and she obviously has a pulse.  With a translator they begin to tell me how she has burning pain when she urinates, and feels like she has to urinate a bunch. Wait a minute did she describe the symptoms of a UTI. Easy peasy. I check her out a little bit more, record her blood pressure and the rest of her vital signs. I tell them to grab her a couple cans of cranberry juice and some motrin. The woman is happy with the service. I pack up the stuff and am going to head back to my lovely economy seat when the flight attendant stops me and says, “you can take this first class seat that way you can reassess the young woman if needed during the flight.”

I start thinking to myself, “why would I need to reassess her she just has a UTI?” Another voice in my head suddenly shouts, “SHUUUUUT UP DUMB DUMB. They are going to hook you up with a first class seat.” I awkwardly look at the flight attendant and she smiles. She also knows that the woman does not need to be monitored. I tell her okay and stare at the first class seat. Given that I am not a baller this part of the plane looks totally ridiculous to me. The seat looks like a pod from one of those sci fi channel movies. Where do I plug in my headphones?

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LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!

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