29 December 2005

Polishing Spoons and an Obit.

Christmas was lovely; we did all of the traditional things. Including, Chinese food on Christmas Eve, earning the right to get downstairs on Christmas morning, a stocking for the pets, lasagna, cranberry blush, completely overwhelming the children, and baking cookies, of course.
One of my favorite things from Santa this year (among others) is a set of silver spoons that belonged to my great-grandparents. They’re engraved with the initials of their last name (also my middle name) and once I polished them up, they’re shiny and beautiful. Seems a bit silly, I mean, they are just spoons, but it's nice to have something special from that side of the family.
But, don’t think that spoons are a sad choice for a favorite gift. It’s not like I chose to highlight the spoons out of an array of unusually mundane gifts, having to think to myself: “Well, what can I say was my favorite? The empty box, the spoons, the pack of lined paper, the sock, or the extension cord.” I received normal things too, well, aside from an unusual amount of toys for a 22 year old.

Sadly, one of my mice, Pepper, died yesterday. Salt and I had a small wake and burial this morning. Zoƫ the cat came too, although she wanted to eat both Salt and Pepper. An excerpt from the obituary:

Disgusted by the intolerance he experienced and that of his kin in such establishments as houses, apartment complexes and shopping malls, he headed the Baltimore chapter of SAFM (Society for the Advancement of Fancy Mice) and served as president. He was appalled at the fact that he and his brother, Salt, have been forced to live in secrecy and disguise, and decided to unite his mouse brethren, and encourage them to fight for their universal acceptance. He made several public appearances including at the first annual SAFM conference at the 1st Mariner Arena, where he gave his famed “Are we men or are we mice?” speech.

Pepper also met with celebrities such as Stewart Little, Fievel Mousekewitz, Jerry, and Mighty Mouse to discuss and gain their support of eliminating mouse intolerance. Also, utilizing his exercise ball, Pepper risked his own life as he ventured out into public places to perform research for his cause. Pepper also supported SPEW (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare) serving as the only mouse member. His valiant efforts will not be ignored. Salt has already taken Peppers’ place on the SAFM board of directors, and plans to continue the fight for oppressed mice everywhere.

Pepper, you will be missed.

21 December 2005

Ah, Sleep!

Oh, how I’ve missed you these last few weeks. You; the curer of many ills, the bringer of needed energy, the generator of dreams, the decision-maker.
Don’t get me wrong, naps are great now and then, but are no substitute for long, uninterrupted bouts of sleep. Many times I’ve found myself warm and cuddly wrapped in blankets, only to be brought out of sleep abruptly, unbidden. Alarm clock #1 shouts at me, alarm clock #2 tells me to get up, while I shout expletives at both of them.
It seemed that this semester, it was only on the bright, sunny mornings that I didn’t have to get up early, causing sleep to elude me again.
No matter, I have made up for it over the last few days. It’s been awesome! It’s all been very relaxing until I realize that I haven’t bought half of the Christmas presents that I need to. Yikes! Come to think of it, I still haven’t done that. Oh well, I’m easily distracted when it comes to these sorts of things…look! something shiny!

I have also finally posted the first batch of photos from my helicopter shift. They didn’t scan in very well, but it gives you a good idea of what I saw. Link here: MSP Pics

Search term of the week: “Baltimore MTA bus sounds” Um... 'vroom, vroom, squeak, ka chunk, pshhhhh, ka chunk, vrooooom.' Something to that effect.

14 December 2005

STEMI

I survived my first day at work as a cleared ALS provider. It was a little weird, but felt great. We had 6 calls in 12 hours, two were BLS. I had my first ‘superstat’ which means that it’s a critical patient that needs to be transferred ASAP. It’s pretty much the only time we get to go lights and sirens in the private ambo service. Our patient was having severe chest pain and was on several drip medications. Once we got her packaged and loaded it only took us 4 min to get to the receiving hospital. In that time the patient gained 1.5 cm of ST elevation in lead 1. We took her straight into a cardiac cath lab where they discovered she had nearly 100% occlusion of the left main, wow! (basically, the patient was having "the big one" (a bad heart attack) and was within minutes of being beyond help.)
Everything happened so quickly that the patient wasn’t even registered at the hospital before her cath was underway. When we went back out to the ambulance we were accosted by her daughter, who I think would have thrashed us if we hadn’t told her what was going on.

Also, yesterday I had a group presentation and had my final final, making the semester officially over! I’m going to try to get another state police clinical, but I already have the grade for the class, so it’s mostly an exercise in taking advantage of my situation.

Search term of the week (now that I have site meter, I can find all of the funny things that people googled that lead them to this blog):
“Glucagon Jokes” (because glucagon is possibly the funniest drug on the market. It does stand up for all of the insulin stores in the liver (wow, I made my own nerdar go off with that one.))

11 December 2005

What's keeping us up here, exactly?

Landing gear down, heat is off, 365 off, door off…wait. Aviation is so fascinating to me, yet I don’t understand it one bit. I feel accomplished just operating my headset and flipping the radio channel switches. Looking in the cockpit, I have no idea what all those gauges, switches, and pedals are for, but I’m glad somebody does.
Yesterday I rode the helicopter again. We had two calls, neither of which I would have fathomed calling the helicopter for, but okay. The first was for a guy who fell in the bathroom, and the other was for a kid who had a little too much fun sledding, caught some air, and landed on his back. He was great, totally calm, adorable, and not even complaining that he was uncomfortable.
“Can you squeeze my fingers?”
“Okay.” (squeezes weakly)
“Squeeze them as hard as you can.”
(incredulously) “As hard as I can?” (as if to say: “Are you sure, because I don’t want to hurt you with my super-human strength.”)
“Yeah”
“Well, okay” (squeezes hard)
“Ooh, That’s great! You’re strong!”
…I love kids

Even though we had calls that weren’t overly ‘interesting’ I was glad just to go on calls at all. It was a beautiful day, things look different covered in snow. At one point I went from sleeping to flying in about 7 minutes; that doesn’t happen every day.

09 December 2005

Chasing Ambulances

Being on an ALS chase car is interesting and sometimes frustrating. We’d get a call, and then be cancelled on the way, another one, and be cancelled on scene. Get another call (but don’t get your hopes up) as we’re cancelled again. While we’re en route I’m thinking about treatment plans and drug dosages for the supposed condition, and then…well, nevermind.
Chase cars are fun too, we got to meet different BLS crews and ride in some wacky ambulances. We had a patient; 9 months pregnant with contractions 3 minutes apart, and we were in probably the tiniest ambulance I had ever seen. I had to put my feet up on the seat just to switch places with my preceptor. Starting an IV was hard enough, thank God she didn’t start having the baby, I don’t know where we would have put it.

We also had a diabetic, dehydration, CHF, and oh yeah, a moped accident involving kids 5, 2, and 20 months. How could three children be on a moped on a blustery winter day? Well, it involves a little neglect, alcohol, and well, a moped, of course. None of the kids were seriously injured, but the 20 month old gave us a little scare when he started to nod off in the ambulance. Not unusual probably for the time of day, and the excitement he’d been through, but it’s a little off to fall asleep while in an ambulance going lights and sirens; not even I can nap like that! So, that earned him the ALS treatment; he woke right up when my preceptor went for the IV. We got to take him to their trauma room, where no less than 20 people were awaiting his arrival. All three children were held for observation, and okay.
All in all, it was a nice day even though we were cancelled about 50% of the time, it was better than taking an uncomfortable nap like last time.

06 December 2005

Ah, Baltimore

Yesterday my parents came down and we had a very Baltimorean day. We visited the American Dime Museum which features ‘memorabilia of the exotic and novelty acts of old” such as a mummified giant, shrunken heads, paintings done by monkeys, a two headed cow, a sea monster from the patapsco river and much, much more. (deciding what is real and what's not exactly real is up to you and half the fun!) It's called the 'dime' museum because these novelties were serious entertainment back in the day, and cost a dime to see. Unfortunately, the museum be closing at the end of the month. I suggest you go see this piece of American history while you still can (it’s worth every dime.)

Afterwards, I was glad that we stumbled upon the mayor’s Christmas parade going down 36th street or “The Avenue”; it was great. The marching bands were playing Christmas carols, the drum corps were awesome, and Santa was there too! I enjoyed it immensely in spite of myself.
We had dinner in Hampden and then visited the famed 34th street. On one block of the street, all of the houses are decorated for the holidays like crazy. Lights are strung across the street, every window is outlined in lights, there's a Christmas tree made of hub caps, plastic Santas adorn the rooftops, and inflatable lawn ornaments abound. It’s hilarious!

Right now, the snow is beginning to stick on the street, so fingers crossed for some school delays tomorrow!

05 December 2005

Lucky

For two nights last week, I was in the city on what I think is the 3rd busiest medic. We were pretty busy and I couldn’t hear the radio at all from the back, so we’d be returning to the station and all of a sudden, we’re going to a mystery location, lights and sirens, like “surprise! we have a call!” Whatever, I like surprises.
The calls I went on the first night sounded better as they were dispatched rather than what they actually were. For example, “Shot in the eye with a BB gun.” On the way out of the station, everyone was taunting: “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Little did they know, it wasn’t actually in the eye, but on the eye, therefore making it not so interesting. Also: “Pedestrian struck by vehicle.” True, she was hit by a car, but with no blood, no deformity, no crepitus, strong distal pulses, and no LOC PTA, in other words, very lucky.
The second night, I almost missed CHF, forgot charcoal existed, and missed 2 IVs, but, I got to give charcoal (gross!), morphine, and nitro. It’s good to be reminded of what mistakes are there for.
I also had my first encounter with a roach infested house. The call was for domestic abuse (no pun intended) and the police were already there. When we entered the house, one cop looked at us and made a significant face as he pointed to the walls. There, as you can imagine was a sight to behold. Having heard stories, I knew not to kneel to assess the patient, not to put the bag down, and not to lean on the walls. Also, the ‘cockroach shuffle’ is a handy tool, which basically reminds you not to stand still for too long. As we left the house I was advised to stomp a few times to ensure that well...I’m sure you can figure that out. I’m getting the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.