Grollman was seized by the same feeling that had propelled him out of the OR about five years ago and left the room determined henceforth to be a theoretical dialyzer.  He spent the rest of the day trying to massage his pitiful numbers into something that would not disgrace him at his first research conference.

At 4:20 Milt arrived, still wearing his plus fours and spiked shoes.  Ten minutes later Walker followed his furrowed brow into the room.

“Whadda ya got,” he asked Bill Black..

“We’re still recruiting patients.”

Walker’s furrows furrowed.  “I think you need to infuse the calcium from midnight to 2 AM.”

Grollman, though he had no idea what Walker was talking about, was glad he was not a clinical fellow.  Then he panicked ; could his boss invent rat experiments that required nocturnal execution?  Black somehow maintained his composure.  Walker next looked at Washir who looked back at him without blinking.  After 30 seconds of locked looks Sinbad blinked and then started to babble.

“I have the 24 hour calcium excretion, but the phosphates got lost.  I did the urea balances and corrected for the creatinine excretions.  Tim has the samples for PTH measurement.”  Stuart was at the end of the table opposite from walker surreptitiously reading the Wall Street Journal.  He blinked, but didn’t look up at the mention of his name.  “I’m going to collect more samples for phosphate measurement.”

Grollman was as unenlightened about Sinbad’s work as he was about Black’s.  Everybody, except him seemed gainfully active.  He felt a controllable urge to call the Nome weather bureau.

Lance who sat just to Walker’s left opened his eyes for a moment, but left his hands clasped over his abdomen.  He looked at Sinbad and then at Walker.  The latter sensed his gaze and accordingly felt compelled to hold forth on phosphate metabolism.  He brilliantly described Fuller Albright’s major contributions to metabolism in general and phosphate in particular.  He also mentioned that Albright’s niece had been the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in figure skating in 1956 and that like her uncle she too had graduated from Harvard Medical School.  Then he focused on chronic renal failure and PTH release.

“Though PTH release is increased in renal failure, it still follows a diurnal rhythm.  It peaks at 12 AM, at least in the central time zone.  That’s why Billy has to infuse calcium precisely at the stroke of midnight.  That’s when we’ll see the biggest fall in urinary phosphate excretion.”