Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Good Old Days

Dr. Psychobabble is a new intern in New York and she's reading the manual on how to work her pager. Her pager? They don't just call/text housestaff on their cell phones, they still need hospital pagers? It got me thinking about my old pager back when I was an intern in New York.....

I saw my first cell phone when I was in medical school. It was in a suitcase. I didn't see another one for years, and I didn't get my own until 1996. My entire training occurred in the virtually pre-cell error. As an intern, I was given a pager. It beeped, then shouted out the number I was being paged to call. The owner of the pager had to listen, it was a auditory thing, not something you could read. In the bathroom, the voice of pag
er woman reverberated off the tile walls in an particularly intrusive tone. For months after I no longer carried the thing, I jumped when the microwave went off (post-traumatic pager disorder). Talk about an object to hate!

PCs showed up when I was in college, but few people had them. A research team I worked with did, and so I learned Volkswriter (? a predecessor of Word) fairly early. Mostly I remember the group panic when the computer lost an 80-page original research document. I did think it was fascinating that you could push one button and have the thing blast out 80 of the same letter addressed to different people. For my own papers, I still used a smith corona and I remember being up all night writing a paper my senior year on bulimia. Mostly I remember that the professor pointed out to me that I'd misspelled bulimia (and Roy says....sigh...and wishes I were obsessional and detail-oriented). I can't imagine what college would have been like for me with internet access. I may not have made it: Facebook might have diverted me from any goal-oriented behavior. How would I would have sat in class and texted my heart out. Oy. But all the professors I was too intimidated to speak to-- I would have emailed them my every thought and it might have been a richer experience...or not?

By med school, word processors were more widely available---there was a whole bank of computers in the library and the night before a paper was due, we'd all be there, keyboarding. No real Internet yet, and I never had much use for the computer beyond the word processing capability.

I did get an answering machine in medical school, something that truly freed society from sitting by the phone w
aiting for a boy, a job, a residency interview.

A few years after I finished residency, the Internet really caught on and I had no real idea. Clink of course, knew it all. I asked her to come show me, so she comes with a laptop and plugs it in to my phone line. She loaded a page and waited. And waited. This was not for me. I wanted to try email. One of her contacts was a mutual friend, a man who'd trained with us and then moved to Minnesota. I sent him an email. He wrote back: he and his wife and two small children were coming to visit, could they stay with my family (in my very small house, with our two small children) for a week? I wasn't so sure about this email stuff.

So now we have a blog, a sometimes podcast, I have a desktop, laptop, iTouch, husband has an iPad and blackberry, kids have laptops and iTouches, everyone has a cell with a zillion minutes and unlimited texting. TV with satellite and DVR and four remotes and a sound system. There's a bunch of digital cameras in the mix, two types of speaker docs for music, voicemails and emails. listservs, and things to check out the wazoo....we all have Facebook pages and some days we're friends and most days we're not. Twitter me this, send me the link to that, YouTube, MySpace, ITunes, oy. When's Roy gonna make a Shrink Rap iPhone app?

And now for announcements:

Happy Fourth of July weekend, Everybody!!!
Happy Birthday, David. I love you and you were great on TV this week.
Welcome home, DB, two delayed flights, days of travel and I'll be glad to have you home and out of Africa, can't wait to see your pics and I love you, too.
Roy? Has anyone seen Roy? Did he eat the beauty queen podcast???
And finally:
Congratulations, Clink and Victor!


rlbates said...

Pagers are suppose to work in areas where cell phone reception isn't reliable. Wishing reception would catch up so I only need to carry one. :)

Oh, and I too trained prior to the cell phone era.

Midwife with a Knife said...

Hm... As someone who trained in the cell phone era, I have to say, I worry that certain nurses might abuse my cell phone if they had the number. Also, I still haven't lost that immediate feeling of resentment/dread/annoyance/anxiety I feel when my pager goes off. I'd hate to have that when my cell phone goes off. I don't want to have to fight through that mess of "ugh" to answer my phone.

manchester fat acceptance said...

my family got our first computer when i was 10, in 1982. i had a couple of years of computer fun... playing text-based games and writing simple programs.

then i got this peculiar idea that computers were evil and were going to take over the world (i think i was convinced of impending nuclear doom around that age too). i refused to even take a computer class in school.

i rarely touched a computer again for nearly 15 years, except to play an occasional computer game.... finally in my late 20s my husband went to university and needed help typing up his papers (i couldn't type but nonetheless).

i got surfing the interwebs on a 13.3 kpbs modem as the web entered the public consciousness, and i was hooked (note we got a gigantic cell phone around the same time!). my kid was also entering school and wanted to use a computer, so i needed to crack my brain open.

when i went to university a couple of years later i was fully computer-literate, and i'm proud to say i've now become 'the techie' expert in some of my workplaces. funny how attitudes change.

Sarebear said...

Don't know who Victor is, but sounds like someone good for Clink!

Congratulations, you two!

Anonymous said...

The effects of being on-call for extended periods of time or permanently are often not discussed, at least in certain communities of pager carriers. It often changes on how one approaches life or reality. If nothing else, you always have to know where your pager is, make sure it's changed and on all the time, and try to suppress the startle response when a slightly similar noise sounds. Many people also start to become neurotic when their brains try to find patterns, rhyme, and reason to when the pager will go off, e.g. it always happens when I've just rubbed the shampoo in my hair or on a nice day when I want to go jogging or because there's always something bad on Tuesdays if the day is divisible by 9, etc.

I guess a lot of people are like this with their iPhones and Blackberries, though, too, so it's not just the mission-critical pager-carriers.