Salt & Pepper

On Friday I had another clinical at the cath lab. This was pretty good. The nurse I was paired with was a little scary at times. But she was a good preceptor and let me do everything. I got my 1st IV (attempt and success) in 5 months which was pretty exciting. I think I was just as nervous starting that one as I was when starting my first one ever. It had been almost too long. I figured that out when I realized that my hands were shaking slightly when I’d finished.

That night I went to a Halloween party at my friends house. I went as a crazy cat lady, which consisted of wearing pajamas, putting my hair in haphazard curlers, and safety pinning numerous stuffed cats to my clothes. I tied for best costume with Andy, who kind of cheated because he looks so creepily like napoleon dynamite, it didn’t take much to complete his costume.

Last night I was kidnapped by CJ and Ewing. They made me ride in the car blindfolded to go to a mysterious location. They even had me walk into a store like that! “I hear cars, I hear lots of cars, I’m scared! I hear a door, are we in a store?! I hear birds, was that a dog? What the..?” Which leads me to Salt and Pepper. Pre-Christmas Christmas presents, and the two newest additions to my unique UMBC family. You may call them mice. You might see them as rodents. Both of which they certainly are not. Especially as I don’t break the rules of my apartment lease. So, regardless of how much Salt and Pepper look like mice, they are not.
But, if they were mice, they’d be totally adorable!
No, that is not the sound of a mouse wheel coming out of my closet.

Lift this!

I have been officially offered and accepted a job. It should be cool. I had a clinical for school with the same company and the unit I was on only got three jobs in 12 hours. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like putting in clinical time with a company you are about work for. It’s a little more difficult as all you can think is “In about a week, I could be getting paid for this!” Oh, well.
On Friday I had my required physical and lift test. I had to go back to the same creepy clinic where I got my drug test. Every room I went into seemed to be a storage/exam room with stacks of miscellaneous boxes marked with ‘to be filed’ ‘pregnancy tests’ ‘private patient information’ ‘we’re not sure what this is’ and ‘looks important.’
For the lift test I had to lift a 60 pound box onto a shelf a little higher than my waist 10 times, put that same box on a shelf almost as tall as me, then walk around the room with the box (my new best friend) and walk up stairs with it. Of course, I had to be on my best lifting behavior, never using my back like a good EMSer. As a result, my quads hurt like crazy! I even stretched right after and still I’ve had a hard time going down stairs, going up stairs, sitting down, getting up, etc.

I will admit here that my class has been getting screwed out of clinical time this semester (hence lack of interesting blog entries). Many complaints have been made; outnumbered by the number of excuses we’ve received.
Now that we’re all in panic mode about it, the clinicals are adding up. Predictably, November is going to be crazy for me and everyone else. Right now I am nearly tripling my clinical time in one month. Things will get even more interesting when I put in some night shifts, this is going to be fun!


This morning started with an interesting phone call. It didn’t come up as anyone in my phone book which usually stops me from picking it up. But I looked at the number and it was local from my hometown so I decided to answer.

Me: “Hello?”
Other end: “Hi, this is officer ____from the Maryland State Police.”
My brain: “Holy crap! What did we do?”
My heart: “I'm going to start racing now!”
Me: “Hi…”
Other end: “I’m your preceptor for your MSP aviation ride-alongs.”
My brain: “Whew!…wait…Holy crap!”
My heart: “I'm going to keep racing!”
Me: “Great!”

Needless to say I’ve worked out the details of my first cough-helicopter-ahem ride. (don’t tell my parents I’ll be riding a helicopter, and definitely don’t tell me.) I won’t disclose the date yet. But as I’m riding on the trooper in my hometown, it will be hard for my parents to not notice me come home and then go missing for 12 hours.

Today I discovered that my trucks' gas gauge is broken. I watched with horror as the gauge went from nearly empty to completely empty right before my eyes, and I wasn’t even driving. So, I looked for a big puddle of gas on the pavement where someone might have drilled a hole in my tank, but found none. I decided to chance it and made it to my destination without having to be towed or pushed anywhere. I went to the nearest gas station and filled it up. Not even 8 or 9 gallons of gas would make the gauge move off of ‘E.’ I really need to start working now that I have to stop at every gas station I go past for fear of running out of gas. This will be almost as fun as driving at night with no dash lights (I think I’m going the speed limit.) (I guess I have enough gas to get home.) How convenient.

I am also now the proud owner of light bulb shaped salt and pepper shakers. A seemingly random item, but they will go nicely with my collection. This set probably makes my collection about 90ish pairs. (I know, I know, but I already have that t-shirt that says “NERD” so I’m just keeping up my status.) Procuring these reminded me of how fun it is to buy stuff from online auctions.
Wait as long as your nerves allow you to before bidding, decide on a reasonable maximum bid, and the fun begins. But, when you get outbid, you automatically detest the person who did it, even though you don’t know them. So, just raise your maximum bid and, damn! outbid again. This means war. Winning the auction then becomes an insatiable passion, you must win! You rationalize raising your max bid somehow and then wait, refreshing the page a million times in a five minute span until you are declared the winner. You celebrate with a little happy dance, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Or something like that.

You can do stuff...for money?!

I’ve applied for a job. Yes, a job, me. Hard to believe, I know, but a little petty cash never hurt anyone. I’ll be working for a private ambo transport service (snore!) but I only have to work 12 hours every two weeks, so it’s not so bad.
I’ve learned so far that the pre-hire process is really annoying. My last job interview was about 5 years ago and for that job; I applied, was interviewed on the spot, my label maker name tag was printed out, and two days later I was happily greeting customers at my first real job.
If only it were that easy for this job. I applied and was interviewed the next day (which was nice, giving me less time to back out of it.) Then I’m told they need a pre-hire drug test, a copy of my passport, a picture of me in a zebra costume, a valid blockbuster video card, a physical, and various other things.

Now, about this ‘pre-hire drug test.’ Luckily I read the paper that said that* I had to get it within 48 hours of my interview, or they would make me watch my favorite movie while they made fun of it.
So, I called the place where I could get the test to figure what the best time would be for me to come in. It’s been a busy weekend so I didn’t really have time to wait around.
“Oh, we’re open 24/7 except on Saturdays we close at noon and Sundays we’re not open at all.” Right. And all this time I thought that the ‘7’ in 24/7 referred to the number of days in a week. They’re actually open 24/5.5. Good to know. They assured me that I didn’t need an appointment, but I brought a book just in case.
I found the lab easily enough, when I got there I couldn’t help but feel a shady vibe. It looked like the kind of place in after-school specials where the misguided teen is getting a pregnancy test, on the outskirts of town, no chance of running into family friends. It's the kind of place where even the office staff wear scrubs, as if this means that these people know what they’re doing. Believe me, just because you have scrubs on does not imply that you know anything. I did see an employee with a stethoscope, and not a cheap one either, which comforted me.
I didn’t have to wait too long which was great and I think I had as much fun as anyone could have while taking a drug test.

I’ve also been to the cath lab clinical site. It was pretty cool as I got to watch a regular cath, balloon angioplasty, and a stent placement. I didn’t really do anything except help to move patients and take vitals.

Yesterday we had our ACLS ‘bridge’ class and exam. After being kindly informed* that if we didn’t perform well the junior class could start as many IVs on us as they wanted, we we’re all pretty freaked out about it. It turned out to be a pleasant day and we all passed. I also got to meet a squirrel that came into the room while I was being evaluated.
After that, Ewing and I went to check out the river we’ve kayaked as it’s been raining for 2 days straight here. The word ‘wow!’ encompasses my emotions. It was truly unbelievable, the amount of water that had accumulated in such a short time. You couldn’t pay me to go on the river as it is now. I believe that I would die, and by die I mean cease to exist. Even if I survived the rocks, strainers, undercurrent, eddies, and the extremely accelerated current, going over the now unavoidable dams would probably hurt a bit.
Now, my weekend can finally start. If only it weren’t for the test and paper on Tuesday. Such is life.

*blatantly threatened

No, I’m okay, thanks...

Yesterday marked the class’ second sojourn to the cadaver lab. Wow, I really forgot how much fun this is!
The weather is turning great here (high of 78 today, ooh that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside). Yesterday I was trying to gauge what to wear by looking at the people outside. The first person I saw was wearing capris and a sleeveless shirt. The person right behind her was wearing jeans and a jacket; both looking quite content. How am I supposed to decide what to wear when I see that?! I ended up wearing my scrubs with a sleeveless shirt underneath.

We entered the lab and all the memories of last time came rushing back to me. First, the fact that we have to wear a gown, shoe covers, surgical cap, gloves and the optional face mask. Second, the presence of two dead bodies. Well, it’s not so much that I forgot that, just that I forgot how unpleasant it is until you can get acclimated to the cadaver lab environment.
We got right into it, reviewing airways, intubation, and the like. Nothing about the cadaver lab really gets to me; the smells, the sights, the utter weirdness of what we’re doing, but yesterday something was getting to me: the heat. You’d think such a place would be cold, right? Dead bodies and all. But no, it’s hot.

I was watching my friend do a surgical airway when I realized that I was feeling…well, weird. I walked out and breathed semi-fresh air in the hallway and got a new pair of gloves. I came back in and someone told me that I nearly matched my white gown. Hmm, I thought, that’s interesting.
I continue to watch what was going on and suddenly realized that I felt dizzy and that I was standing in such a place that if I fell down, no one could catch me. I carefully walked back into the hallway and tore off all of my disposable clothing. I felt so weird, unequivocally hot. I thought about how I could get out of the area successfully; walking down the hall and pushing open a door looked like an impossible task. I felt nauseous. I began to see white blotches… Crap! Am I going to faint?! I have never fainted before, but that is what I imagine the ‘pre-faint’ to be like.
So, there I was breathing deeply with my hands on my knees, head down, when Ewing comes out and asks me how I am. I briefly come out of my misery to say, “I feel weird, but…I’m fine.” I don’t think he believed me as he stayed and told me I was pale. Then my teacher notices me there, and again I say “No, I’m okay, thanks.” Only to almost immediately go back to feeling decidedly not okay.
Thankfully, someone opened the freezer nearby. The cool washed over me and I felt a bit better. It's odd to be comforted by a freezer full of body parts. Someone else offered me a chair. I declined although she told me that I certainly wouldn’t want to fall on that floor. Another classmate came out and escorted me to the water fountain, a good idea as I felt much better after leaving that hallway. When we got back, the lab is almost over anyway but I came back in to do a needle decompression, feeling cured.

Which leads me to the question of the day. Why is it that when people ask you if you’re okay and you’re not, you say you are anyway, only to go back to feeling miserable? My roommate thinks it’s because you’re trying to convince yourself that you are fine. I think in my situation I subconsciously didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that I may not have been totally okay to a room full of paramedics. At what point would I have conceded to not feeling well and seek help? I'm not sure I could have felt any worse, so I guess I would have relied on implied consent after I hit the floor.

So, never a dull one. Wow, that was a long entry. More next week. Stay cool and try to avoid those syncopal episodes.