The other end

IT IS already 9 PM. I admit a patient for an elective coronary angiogram procedure, a short diagnostic test that maps the vessels supplying the heart and identifies where the clogs are. I phone the Cath Lab to inform the anesthesiologist that the patient is now ready for preoperative evaluation.

"Good evening, this is Dr. Catedral."

"Good evening po," says a shy sounding woman at the other end.


"Yes, we are referring patient Neriza Marzo*. She is at Ward 1. Her scheduled angiogram is tomorrow, 7 AM."

"Ano po ang procedure?"

"Coronary angiogram po—at 7 AM. I already informed Cardiology of this admission. I understand that this schedule has been confirmed made weeks ago pa." I use my CNN reporter ultra-serious, no-nonsense voice, which usually works when I do referrals.

"Ah, ganoon po ba . . . Pwede po ba akong lumabas?"

"May I know who I am speaking to? This is Doctor . . . ?"

"Ah, si Norma po ito. Sa sixth floor. Pasyente po."

And it occurs to me: I dialed the wrong number. So Nineties.

Ah, the Nineties: when phones were not mobile, and phonebooks were still made of paper.

* * *

Not her real name.

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