Can a text message change your life?
|I haven't always been jumpy. But now, when my phone rings, I just, well, here's my story.
Last Monday evening, I was taking medical call for the hospitalist service at Western Valley. I cover 30 of the beds in the step down unit. This unit is for patients who are not quite ill enough to be in the ICU, or, more often these days, for ICU overflow. So, I got this text message (yeah, we're modern, no beepers) "Jones 2A 213 CTB 2230 PE; call back". Damn! I liked Amy Jones. She was a feisty 82 year old woman, admitted earlier that day with shortness of breath. We all thought she had pneumonia. Who would have guessed pulmonary embolus, a blood clot in her lungs! I wonder how the nurses figured that one out? Perhaps the ER doctor attending her during the Code Blue made the diagnosis.
I called the floor. The ward clerk answered.
"Hey Maggie. Its Dr. B. I got your text. When did Jones cease to breathe?"
"Amy Jones is dead? I didn't know. I'll get you her nurse. She must have been the one to text you."
You know, I really hate it when one hand doesn't know what the other one is doing. Maggie should have known what was going on. I decide to cut her a break, as she usually is really on top of things. It must be a busy night.
"Hi, doc. This is Sally, Mrs. Jones' nurse. Can I help you?"
"Sally, I got your text message to call you back about her."
"I didn't text you."
"Someone did. Do you need someone to come in and pronounce her?"
"Do you need the death certificate completed?"
"She's not dead."
"Listen. I just got a text that says she died at 2230."
"There must be some mistake. She is alive. And, check your watch."
I looked at my watch. 9:30 PM. 2130.
"How is she doing?"
"For someone with pneumonia, she is actually doing quite well. She is resting quietly."
I got this really weird feeling.
"Listen, Sally. Get a chest CT STAT! Start her on heparin. And move her to the ICU. I'll be right in."
The next day, after rounding on my patients, including a very grateful Mrs. Jones, I checked with At&T. They can track when and where text messages come from. They claim that text message originated from my own phone. Two years from now.
There have been other messages since then. First, a date with a sequence of 6 numbers. Then, the instructions what to do with the money. And, some warnings. Not enough to figure out what is about to happen, but enough to really scare me. I think that sometime soon, I will trust myself enough to tell me what is going to happen. I get the feeling that I may actually be somehow changing the future, as the messages seem a little disjointed, but perhaps it is my imagination. I wonder if I should do what they say or not. What if it isn't me sending these messages? What would you do?