Halloween Tales From The Radiology Residency Crypt
In honor of the up and coming Halloween holiday, here is a collection of two of my own homemade nightmarish radiology residency stories. (written expressly for your amusement!!!) Beware of ghouls, ghosts, and program directors!
Story 1 – End Of Days
The noise of the resident’s footsteps battles the endless quiet of the hospital corridor but to no avail. A faint silent breeze blows through the hallway with a subtle smell of disinfectants, used to mask the horrid smells of sick patients that have rolled through the hallway. Doorways to physician offices and patient rooms are already locked and closed as the resident’s digital watch approaches 5 o’clock on Halloween, the hospital witching hour when everyone seems to leave. But, there is one door 30 feet down the hallway that is slightly ajar with light peeking through. It is his final destination.
He thinks about how it was only just an hour ago when the hospital was active and buzzing. The program director took him aside to tell him to meet at 5 o’clock, speaking curtly. Yet, it almost felt like an eternity. No sign of anything he could have wanted. But the time has now almost arrived. He is almost here.
Turning his attention back to the slightly ajar door, his stomach begins to knot up. Heart paces more quickly. Thump, thump, thump… he can hear and feel his chest almost explode. Barely can he muster the energy to knock on the door. But, he does. And, he hears the faint serious tone of the program director’s deep voice, “Come in…”
As he peers into the office, ancient films line the edges of the walls with glowing light panels underneath them. Diseased skull images, x-rays of horribly broken bones, and bizarre abdominal series with a variety of different foreign bodies all sit tucked into their appropriate places on these walls. Perhaps, the program director found them amusing. Nonetheless, they are entirely inappropriate and bone-chilling. And there, behind a large messy wooden desk sits the program director watching and waiting for him to sit down…
Resident: Gulp… “Uh, sir, why I am here?”
Program Director: “Well… I spoke to the technologists and they said great things about you. I wanted to relay the information that you had done a great job with your patients in interventional radiology.”
Resident: “That’s good news, right? Well then, I will get out of your hair”
Rapidly, the resident gets up out of the hard seat and makes a beeline for the cold door. But, he stops short just before arriving there.
Program Director: “Well, there is one more thing I need to tell you.” He clears his throat with a loud, “Ahem…”
Turning back toward the director, he notices his eyes become a bit glossy and sees a lump form at the back of his throat. He endlessly waits for another word to leave from his mouth, but it doesn’t seem to come.
Resident: “OK… What is it?”
His eyes point to a box across from his door that he must have missed when he entered the room, so nervous for this encounter. The resident looks closely at the side of the box and notices his own name. Pictures line the edges of the box. They look familiar. He notices they are pictures of him and his family. Wait a second… They were just on his desk in the resident room yesterday. At the base of his box lies a thick binder. His learning portfolio.
Resident: “Uh sir. What does this mean? Why is all my stuff from my desk in this box?”
Progam Director: “Well, I guess I didn’t tell you. I thought you knew. The hospital ran out of money for your residency spot. You were chosen out of a hat. We have to let you go. You have to find a residency slot somewhere else.”
Story 2: The Halloween Reading Room Of Hell
It’s 5:00 PM on Halloween evening and the resident begins his shift. He remembers hearing how the other residents say they were “killed” by the number of cases on call on Halloween night. Even so, like many other nights, he enters the reading room.
Although the room only contains a few PACS monitors, a cramped desk, and a hard wooden chair, his reading room is so small that there is barely any space to move about and there is no wired phone. The walls and door are thick and lead lined. All these factors together, make physicians that enter the room feel like the walls are about to cave in. The walls rapidly muffle the voices from within. Noise from outside the door does not penetrate through the heavy doors and walls to allow the radiologist to dictate cases uninterrupted.
The room begins to bustle with activity as clinical attendings and residents walk in and out viewing CT scans of a group of Halloween pranksters caught by the police with altered mental status after their pursuers beat them silly. And, others were interested to see the scans of some kids with stomach aches from eating too much treats/candy, of course, to rule out appendicitis.
The workload is nonstop. His cell phone rings off the hook. And, clinicians stop into the cramped room by the dozens. Hours go by.
It’s now about 10 pm during the heart of Halloween eve. Clinicians continue to bombard the poor resident throughout the evening. A final large bolus of clinicians stops by to see another imaging study. They finally leave. After all this activity, the resident didn’t have a moment to himself to dictate any of the cases on the PACS system.
Now that everyone left the room, he thinks he has the time he needs to get all the dictations out for the morning’s attending. He can’t take another interruption. Suddenly, with frustration peaking, he slams the door and yells, “I can’t take it anymore!” There are a loud bang and a click. The room falls silent.
Rushing through the next ten CT scans in the cramped room, he notices something unusual. No one comes in or out the door. He dismisses the issue and continues to run through the next ten CT scans. Still not a peep. It’s just his voice and the computer dictaphone.
Exhausted from dictating so many CT scans, he rises from his chair to stretch his legs. He realizes that he wants a breath of fresh air. Slowly, he attempts to turn the doorknob and pull the door. Nothing happens. He tries again. No movement.
No big deal. He decides to get out his cell phone to call security to get him out of the reading room. As he attempts to turn the iPhone on with his fingerprint, nothing happens. The battery must have run out after being in his pocket for all these hours in a lead-lined room and all the phone calls he had to make.
Now he begins to furiously bang on the door. No response. Nothing. How can anyone hear him in this lead-lined tiny room?
He begins to feel hot as the air is stagnant. There is no temperature control. Now sweating like a banshee, beads drip onto the floor from his forehead. Claustrophobia sets in. Feels like a coffin. He can’t breathe. Eyes roll to the back of his head as he slumps down in the seat. Everything appears blurry. The room is moving back and forth. He finally settles down, now unconscious.
Floating upward, he is looking at his body slumped in his seat not breathing. The rest of the night’s CT scans not dictated. Clock on the wall says 8 AM. The door is finally jiggling. A security guard opens the door, not even taken aback by the ghastly sight of the dead resident. He begins to wrap up the body in a plastic bag and thinks Another resident killed by Halloween call. No one will know the difference. Just like the other residents always say- residents are “killed” on call. It happens every year!