Wet Read: It’s hot outside

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR
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Dr. Phillips is a Professor in the Departments of Radiology, Neurosurgery, and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and the Director of the Division of Neuroradiology in the Department of Radiology, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville, VA.He is also a member of the editorial board of this journal.

Summer in Virginia can be trying. Folks in the southeast can empathize. I guess I've been acclimatized, and now I'm used to the temperatures. Global warming is a well-understood concept in this region, where daytime can often stress a digital thermometer without a third digit in the display. My car has a thermometer that records the outside temperature, and I have grown accustomed to it registering a temperature that is more widely associated with medium-well-done beef when I return to it on a mid-August day, scorching hot in the middle of a parking facility. No, I was not thinking when I got black leather. Don't wear shorts if your car has a dark interior --unless you happen to like sticking to your auto. And, the humidity… There are lots of bad hair days here, that's for sure. Plenty of humidity here for everyone. I have always been interested in the fact that it doesn't rain when the humidity gets to 100%. Both the heat and the humidity combine to make you move like a bug in amber. They describe these summer days in terms of the "misery index," which is something like a deranged summer wind-chill factor. I loathe and despise the person that came up with that term.

This misery is another reason that I believe that it is great to be a radiologist! Working in the dark is a little odd, admittedly, and I have long endured comments about my proclivity to work in a melancholy environment. Who hasn't heard the "pasty-skin, vampire-like cave-dweller" comments? But, with all those computers, the X-ray equipment, and those expensive monitors that need to stay cool, voila! It might be 100° outside, baby, but it's 68° in here! We can wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts, and even keep our ties on, and remain cool and happy. If you dare to turn up that thermostat, you could be physically abused.

Occasionally, our AC goes on the fritz, and it is interesting to watch the response of people in one of the reading rooms. Make that call and get someone notified. "Stat page to Rampart," right? We have priority, obviously: ORs first, then Radiology. At first, everyone is concerned about the equipment. Powering down stuff, trying to make sure computers don't overheat and monitors are parked in a sleep mode. We save reports so our information system computers won't crush our work. Don't put a patient in a room, the system might go down when you could least afford it to. Okay, we're good for a while. Then, if blessed cold air doesn't start blowing in our faces right away, we start thinking about how miserable we are. And now, we have an excuse for those repetitive follow-up calls to the HVAC gods. "Hey, you've got to get this working. Our equipment is getting hot. We can't let this expensive stuff get ruined." Which really means, "I'm sweating in here, dude." In all honesty, this is a significant plus for us. We have an excuse to not work when it gets intemperate in our work area.

I remain convinced that I've got a great job. Tack this onto the bonus side.

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Wet Read: It’s hot outside.  Appl Radiol. 

July 06, 2007

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