Graduation went as expected. In the morning we had our departmental precommencement which was nice, as it was a little more intimate than actual commencement with 1300 other people we don’t know. As for graduation, thankfully, we got a parking place downtown, and Mom and Dad found the perfect seats.
Other than that the afternoon was filled with mixed emotions and classic activities: crossing the stage in a haze, shaking hands of people I don’t know, adding “BS” to the end of my name, and moving the tassel from right to left. Afterwards, we had a great dinner in little Italy, and moved the first of the boxes out of my room. In the evening, a few people came over to enjoy refreshment and each others’ company.

Today has been a leisurely day of packing and stripping the walls. I have a feeling this moving thing will get harder before it gets easier.

Now that it’s come to an end, I made a list of ‘UMBC in review’. It grew as I gave it more thought, remembering all of the things that will make the last three years of my life very special. Countless stories, ups and downs that I would never trade.
UMBC in 100 words.

living on the floor
five more minutes…
blood drive and blood donating
snowy search weekend
D-hall, yum?
X-box and Halo
crack rummy
paramedic classes
walker avenue
Lord of the Rings
gargantuan book of death
riding bikes and becoming pilots
pre-class videos
drugs can kill people, and so can I
too old to trick-or-treat?
the semester from hell
oh, the puns!
field trips
Chinese food and ER night
peanut-butter burritos
Baltimore city
cadaver labs
flying with MSP
high performance Thursdays!
sleepy search weekend
oral boards?
hair donating
NREMT reprise
cookie cakes

“The gigs have been champion, the laughs have been from deep within the belly, the sleep has been less than usual.” Exactly as it should be. Most importantly, friends who remind me every day that I am truly blessed.

Registry: again or for the first time

I am overjoyed to report that I am one huge step closer to being a paramedic. Today was the practical exam, and I can hardly believe that it’s over. I was so stressed this morning, I don’t remember ever being that freaked out. But all was fine. I never have to face the bane of my existence, Trauma Assessment, ever again, and in fact, I never have to do any of it ever again.
Now, only the results of my written stand between me and the disco patch.

Let the merriment begin, and maybe the consumption of a particular class of drink (who am I kidding?) Bring on the blender and the pina colada mix!

Paid to do...

Work last weekend was the greatest. 20+ hours and only 2 patients, beautiful. On Saturday I was unwillingly sent to our sister company, based out of a local hospital. I don’t like it there. I have to get my narcs out of a pyxis, run calls with people I don’t know, hang out in a cramped team room, use equipment I’m not familiar with, and socialize with people who don’t like outsiders. But all was not lost. I knew my partner, who is awesome, and soon after our arrival we were detailed to standby for a lacrosse game. Nothing happened there, and one of my dad’s alma maters won the game. When we returned to our hospital base, we had one long, uneventful call that brought us to the end of the day.

The next day, I was indoctrinated into becoming a driver as my partner for the day was not old enough to drive, and there was no one else. It ended up that my partner never showed up and I was sent again to our sister company to help them out. So, I drove there, got my drugs out, did one call, put my drugs back, drove back, did nothing, drove to school, ate brunch, drove back, did nothing, clocked out a couple hours later. A seriously amazing day. Ellie running amok in an ambulance in downtown Baltimore. Getting paid to drive said ambulance to school and eat a lovely brunch. Having no partner all day and no hope of ever getting a one, what bliss.

Monday we had “oral boards.” They were originally to involve answering two ridiculously detailed questions involving cellular levels and such. It evolved into talking through a scenario and answering one of the aforementioned questions in a half-assed manner. What a waste of time.
Example questions:
-Discuss pathophysiology of shock from point of impact until exsanguinations and death from the cellular level to the organ and organism demise.
-Discuss the classes of prescription medications to treat hypertension. Explain the physiological effects of each medication, and how each may work to affect blood pressure.
-Epistemology is concerned with what knowledge is, how we acquire knowledge, and what it is to have good reasons for a belief. Does knowledge require certainty? If so, can we ever really be certain of anything, or is it always possible that we have somehow made a mistake? Epistemology also deals with the philosophy of science, what makes an explanation scientific and when is a scientific explanation sufficient?

Not kidding. Okay, so maybe that last one wasn’t on the list, but you get the idea.

Yesterday was the written for our national registry paramedic exam. Last year after my “I” test I felt like crap, so when I felt like crap this year I took it as a good sign. Instead of sulking in this let-down of a day watching movies and eating ice cream, I went kayaking instead. Much more constructive. We had a nice little run, benefiting from the rain we’ve had over the last few days. Afterwards, several of us went to cracker barrel and enjoyed some down home cooking.

Suicide is such a harsh word

I hate long posts, (short attention span) so, here’s some more to give the illusion of a short read.
Work was interesting, we had two what we call “superstats” which are the 911 calls of critical care ambulances. They are the only time we get to go lights and sirens, justifiably so, as the person is usually suffering from an acute heart attack or some other serious ailment. I usually like these calls, as I can use some of my critical care skills, have a patient who is suffering from something that is pretty interesting, and well, the lights and siren thing. The problem was that were in an upgraded BLS van and squeezing all the necessary equipment and people in there was difficult.

Yesterday Ewing and I went on a little kayaking trip to celebrate his purchase of a fine new paddle, and my purchase of his old one. To try out our recent acquisitions we went to a section where we could park one car and paddle around freely. Just up the river from this area is a section that the local paddlers call ‘suicide.’ Don’t let the name fool you, wait, I mean, take it seriously, as at certain times of the year, I am certain that doing this section would in fact be suicide. It is at anytime class II whitewater, and at high water, easily class III/IV. In addition, it is on a relatively steep grade, and peppered with large, protuberant rocks that constantly threaten to capsize any paddler stupid enough to cross their path.

We first discovered suicide last summer, when the water was ridiculously low and we foolishly went through the section. We both survived somehow, but man was that dumb! The last time we saw it, the water was about six inches higher, and upon examination, we both easily agreed ‘no way.’ But yesterday the water was at a reasonable height and after about an hour of scouting and carefully choosing a good line, we decided to run it again. Ewing did the whole section while I stood on the rocky shore, waiting for him to die. Although, he didn’t die, he survived quite well, until the very end when a hydraulic caught and capsized his boat. I decided to do just the lower half, which after a little psyching up was a pretty fun ride. It was the first time I had to paddle very conservatively and follow a very careful plan. I had to plan at least three large rocks in advance, like climbing down a steep hill. Having learned from Ewing’s run, I knew I had to employ precision, especially at the end. I am happy to tell you that I didn’t get an impromptu swimming lesson, much to Ewing’s chagrin.

I also learned that real life is scary and inevitable, but kayaking, cheap beer, good friends, and ice cream can cure all ills.

Suspended is such a harsh word

Last week, because I have completed a certain amount of clinical hours and competencies, I was suspended from clinicals and forced to give the rest up to other students. “Okay,” I said to this, “I’ll just go anyway.” but I decided to be a good student and clarify the consequences (if any). When I inquired, the department resorted to threatening us with a failing grade or pulling our national registry application. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty bored recently, and mad.

Although, my suspension has given me more time to participate in some fun activities, kayak more than usual, freak out about entering the real world, hang out and do absolutely nothing, and go to work.

My last clinical, which will serve as my last clinical ever, aside from the ambulance getting hit by a train and having a drunk fall on me, I got looked up on a police “Should I be afraid of the person I’ve pulled over?” computer. While we were hanging out with some local cops, my preceptor commandeered one of their cars and started looking up everyone she could think of on their little computer. I can now happily report that I have no traffic violations or outstanding warrants, what a relief! I guess no one noticed that 15M mysteriously transferred to my Swiss bank account…

The high point of last week was donating about 8 inches of my hair to Locks of Love. It was an interesting experience, as they were doing it right here at school. Most everyone donating was really apprehensive, except for the girl who ended up sitting behind me. She proudly proclaimed that she couldn’t wait to get rid of her hair, that was, until the hair cutter waved a 10”+ long lock of her former hair in front of her.

This past weekend was the weekend of family affairs. We had the 1st family wedding in many years. I was the ‘guestbook girl’ and took my duties seriously. On Friday I had to go and eat a lovely Italian rehearsal dinner. I also did a little rehearsing myself: “Would you care to sign the guestbook?” “Here’s a pen for you.” “Let me turn the page first.” All the rehearsing paid off as I think everyone signed the guest book, and if they didn’t want to, I stamped their hand with a large ‘X’ so that they couldn’t get drinks from the open bar. That was my primary duty. Later my duties consisted of enjoying the buffet, drinking a piƱa colada, and socializing, phew!
On Sunday we had a surprise birthday party for my grandmother. It was a good surprise, and a lovely event, although I didn’t stay long, as I went to the opera here in Baltimore with my Godfather. After a beautiful opera, I returned home to reap the benefits of said birthday party in the form of leftover food and drink, and spending time with the niece and nephews. Then I ended the family event weekend by driving back to school again as I had to work on Monday.
Today is my niece and nephews’ 4th birthday (twins), although they can’t read yet, I’ll use this forum to inform the world and wish them a happy birthday!

Work can be fun!

At my last clinical we had what I will call the “light rail incident.” It started out with a call that went out as “unconscious in a wheelchair.” We decided to find out what this meant exactly and squirreled the call. The patient was on the sidewalk, indeed in a wheelchair, wide awake, and the first thing she said to us was something to the effect of “You ain’t givin’ me any of that (expletive) Narcan!” That’s fine, but you may want to consider going to the hospital anyway. Mid conversation, the light rail train came down the road we were parked on, and all of a sudden we were all distracted by a loud scraping noise as the train tried to pass the ambulance. A well meaning firefighter then climbed in the passenger side and attempted to move the ambulance, but actually made it worse, as more scraping noises ensued, and the pieces of a light fell to the ground. Meanwhile, the patient wheeled away why we were watching this literal train wreck that we couldn’t tear ourselves away from. The patient was seen later nodding off in the middle of a crosswalk. Luckily, they suddenly regained consciousness, and we never saw them again. Although this was a hilarious turn of events we ended up out of service for about 3 hours doing paperwork, how boring.

Other than that, we had hyperglycemia in a clinic who received 7000ml of saline before we got there (which way to the bathroom?), a hypoglycemia who perked right up, a 5 year old trouble breathing, and I had a staring contest with a drunk, that was fun.

On Thursday, Ewing and I went kayaking again. At one point some people spotted us on the water, giving us some real spectators for a few minutes as if we were in some sort of professional competition, maybe we can get some sponsors to buy us gear. Amazingly, the water was already down a couple of inches from last week, forcing me to curse a few rocks to hell. Despite the water level, we had an excellent run, and no one fell in.

For the last two days, and today as well, I’ve been working. My first day in, I had a partner who was talkative to almost a homicide inducing level, but I forgot my shillelagh at home.
Yesterday was an interesting day. During the day I worked on an ALS truck, although we ended up only doing BLS calls. I learned one thing you don’t want to hear as your heading to the elevator with a patient: “Is he breathing?” followed by my partner staring at the patients chest intently before giving me a vigorous ‘yes.’ The patient actually was quite ill and I fear was on the way to wherever it is where you go when you die. The patient was a DNR and I fear more, would not have liked to be on the way to the ER, but the family insisted, and we obliged them.
Prior to our arrival the patient apparently seized, and was given some Ativan. On the way to the hospital while reading the chart, I discovered the patient was allergic to lorazepam. “Lorazepam,” I thought to myself, “isn’t that the same thing as Ativan? Holy crap!” I quickly reassessed the patient and flipped through the chart, but found nothing else useful, and when we got to the ER the family assured me that it was a misprint. Phew!

Later, I had the greatest moment in private ambulance history when I got paid to wash the truck, not just the ambulance, silly, my truck! What a brilliant move on my part when I threw the keys at Ewing, who covertly drove it up next to the ambo. Awesome!

In the evening, I did standby for the Lacrosse game here at school with my classmate Pat. The game was uneventful, but we actually won so,
“UMBC: were not just fun and board games.”

What’s better than getting paid to wash your personal vehicle? Perhaps getting paid to study, enjoy nature, and work on my tan, as I was today. We only had three calls, and I had a genuinely good time hanging out with my crew.

Google (well not Google, but a reasonable facsimile) search term of the week: “cardboard construction camper shell truck.” I can’t even begin to fathom what this person was trying to find, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my blog.