If you live in Los Angeles you are really lucky. Not because the sun shines incessantly or because you may bump into a celebrity while shopping for groceries, getting your latte or settling in for a mani-pedi, but because you have the House Call Doctor.
Yup, in the year 2013 someone decided to come up with the idea of making house calls!
I grew up in a place where doctors made house calls all the time. It wasn't a perk, as I recall, it was part of the work of being a care-giver. Late at night, or on a holiday weekend, I don't remember my mother fretting about where she would get help or how she would get us to the hospital. I recall her picking up that old analog phone that came in a black box and dialed, literally dialed with a round plastic number contraption, our pediatrician. He would show up not long after with his Doctor's bag -- yes, a black leather top opening doctor's bag -- a stethoscope around his neck and glasses out of which he would peer kindly, and plop himself down next to us with a smile on his face ready to cure our ills.
I loved that man. That he gave my mother peace of mind I think was my favorite attribute of his, but that he was always pleasant -- never rushed, always calm -- never worried, incessantly attentive and never dismissive also endeared him to me. In fact, as kids we called him Uncle Doctor.
Fast forward 30-something years and now living here in West L.A., I have three young children of my own -- and boy do I worry. Somehow, it seems the gods of pediatric illness have mandated that children work-up a mind boggling fever only in the wee hours of the night or morning -- and never on the heels of a weekday...
I am one who appears at the ER nearby more often than should be legal. I suspect the trustees of the local hospital will soon table the proposal that they name one of the ER rooms after my children. But until then, I may have found a new answer to my ER runs -- the Housecall Doctor of L.A. -- Dr. Farzam.
Last Friday night (yes nearing the wee hours and not on the heels of a week day) my youngest went from 98 to 105 in an hour. Translated into car acceleration time, that might beat a Ferrari Enzo. I called my absolutely fantastic and all knowing pediatrician, Sonya Gohill, and in the time it took her to call me back I lost my nerve. I called the House Call Doctor whose number I had taken down from his car panel in the streets a few months earlier. I just needed a knowing set of eyes and ears on my little kid who was burning up even with Tylenol, and lethargic beyond what a five-year-old should ever be. By the time Dr. Sonya called me to reassure me in her own omniscient way that all would be fine if I waited till the morning, Dr. Farzam was on his way.
In he walked with his white coat, his black leather doctor's bag, his stethoscope around his neck and his spectacles. He sauntered into our home with a smile, and plopped next to my kid, "the little patient." As he began to make appropriate five-year-old conversation, all was already well, I thought.