28 August 2007

Do you have a receipt for that?

On Saturday, for some reason (what I lovingly refer to as) the 'Crappiest ambulance company on Earth' was really busy. I hate when that happens. Well, I don't usually mind, but weekends are usually slow. Calls were apparently stacked up from here to kingdom come and everyone was freaking out. Everyone, except for me. They make their own bed, so I won't lose sleep over them scheduling 5 calls when they only have 3 trucks available. But, ironically, I did lose actual sleep over it. Oh well.

My regular partner was shipped over to our sister company because they were understaffed as well. So, my partner for the evening was a CRT (I) who is a nice guy, but is partially deaf, and also a mumbler. Basically I couldn't understand a damn thing he was saying, and he couldn't understand a damn thing I was saying. I hated asking him to repeat himself, because I didn't want him to think I was making fun of him, so there were a lot of hanging questions, random polite laughter, and odd silences.

We were sent to a call, and when we got there, they paged us to a call we could do right after. Ooh, that makes me mad. We hadn't even made patient contact, and they're sending me another call.
We got to the next call, which was taking someone from hospital to nursing home; a simple discharge.
When we arrived at the nursing home, we were told that they don't accept new admissions that late in the day (11pm). Um, this is ludicrous, says I, the patient is right here, just take him! They refused, and I was unwilling to get into it with them. We called our already overwhelmed dispatcher who called the sending hospital. They agreed to take the patient back. Uh! I couldn't believe the idiocy! So, we drove all the way back, had to check into the ER briefly (where the charge nurse said "We can't take him back!") and brought him back to his room. Full circle.

This has never happened to me before, and if it happens again, I'm afraid that I will freak right out.

Future posts: adventures in kayaking and biking. Evil hills and rescuing canoeists. Oh, and glamour shots of the bike, once I get them online.

26 August 2007

An unexpected post.

Caution: theology ahead.

I was finally kayaking again. With the truck back, and the weather cooperating, I was back on the water, and it felt great. I went to a lake that is relatively new to me. It’s pretty big, with plenty to explore, and tons of great flora and fauna. My trip took an oddly philosophical turn.

I was in the middle of the lake, paddling along, and I was suddenly struck with emotion. I felt so full of sorrow, and unexpectedly, I found myself asking God for help. Help for everything; to be unafraid, to move on, to be the person I want to be, to trust again.
I poured out my fears to Him. I asked for forgiveness for the first time in my life. Forgiveness for being such a fool, forgiveness for all the mistakes I’ve made, for not fulfilling my potential. I was paddling, and crying, and praying. Frankly, activities I rarely combine. Even though most of what I was feeling was remorse and sadness, there was hope too. I could feel it.

What is odd, is that I don’t even believe in divine intervention, but I couldn’t help feeling very close to Him, closer to God than I ever have in church. At the very least, I felt like someone was listening.

Of course, I don’t know why this happened. Maybe because kayaking has always been a bit of a spiritual activity for me. One with nature and all that. But I also think that kayaking and I have so many good memories. And when I was out on the water, I could feel bitterness mixed with those good memories, and that realization overwhelmed me with sadness. I was (and am) so afraid that the bitter feeling would linger, that it led me ask for help.
Now that I write it down, it makes a lot of sense. I don’t want to lose the things that make me, me. And I won’t.

I continued to paddle on blindly and when I finally stopped, breathing hard from exertion, I looked up. There, where the water met land, stood a deer and her twin fawns drinking from the lake. I stopped and watched them intently for long minutes, lost in Gods gifts. I was so thankful to be alive in that moment, observing these creatures who unbeknownst to them, were giving me such great comfort.

I will still feel the pang of what might have been, but I think, thanks to this trip, I’ve turned a corner of sorts. My heart feels lighter.
I’m ready for more kayaking.

24 August 2007

Refusal

We had a call to take a patient from a nursing home to the ER for "abdominal issues." We went through the typical motions; go upstairs, get the story from the nurse, ensure that paperwork is in order, ensure that the nurse called the ER, and go to get the patient. We were sharply interrupted from this routine when we entered the patients room and she began to shout "I'm not going! I'm not going! I'm not going!"
The story was that she had a colostomy recently, and when the wound was checked that day, it appeared that it was opening, and about to become an abdominal evisceration. (basically when your insides get on the outside...which, obvious to normal humans; is not good)

We greeted her politely, and I asked her where she was, what day it was, etc. And to me, she was of sound mind. I told the nurse that if she continued to refuse, we could not take her. The nurse said "OH, she'll go!" At one point, there were at least six staffers in her room trying to convince her to go. She was still vehement about not going. Once they gave up, I went into the room and sat down.
"So, how have you been?" I started. I figured that if I could get her to say anything other than 'I'm not going!' that I could maybe convince her to go. I learned she'd been married for 32 years, had two cats, where she used to work, what her husband did for a living, and that they told her she would probably go home in October. Rapport building is good stuff. I asked her why she didn't want to go to the ER. She admitted that she got dizzy when she was moved. I assured her that we would do all we could to prevent that.
I told her, which usually works, that if I were her, I would go to the hospital. "I know you're afraid of getting admitted, and not getting back home when you want to, but if you don't address this now, your recovery will be seriously delayed. If this doesn't get fixed, you will get a horrible infection that could kill you."
When sugar coating things doesn't work, I try frankness. But this lady wasn't buying any of it. "I feel fine." she insisted. "Yes, you may feel fine now, but you are not fine." I insisted back.

Meanwhile, staff were appearing out of nowhere: nurses, doctors, administrators. I told them I had done all I could, not listening to reason did not make her incapable of making decisions and refusing. I could not legally take her. One nurse said that she always refuses stuff, like dressing changes, "But we do them anyway." Dressing changes and taking someone to a different hospital are two totally different things, I assure her. I can tell they are getting irritated, but after that moronic statement, I am too. I told them we could give ten more minutes to get her to say 'yes.'
"Until she says 'yes' to transport, I cannot take her."

For the next ten minutes, they ran around making phone calls to various people. I told my dispatch what was going on, and then I went back to the patients’ room. We had another nice chat that unfortunately yielded nothing. She still refused completely. I was hoping that the nursing home could find somebody she trusted to tell her that she should go. A doctor, a nurse she liked, the surgeon, her husband, anybody. Alas, all of their phone calls led to nothing.
She happily signed my refusal, although, I told her that just because we were leaving, didn’t mean that the nursing home was giving up on her.

We left with the facility reeling, and the patient happily watching TV while slowly developing a deadly infection.

20 August 2007

Fixed! (reprise)

Today the truck returned to me and was given a clean bill of health. Well, except that the tires are dry rotted, and there is still that damn ding in the windshield. To celebrate, we went out and got new tires. The ding, I’ll have to address tomorrow.
This whole stupid accident only took 22 days and 48+ hours of labor to resolve. I’m here to issue a public apology to the truck for causing it to have such a long hospital stay. I am shamed.

But we are now reunited…cut to flashback of Ellie running across the parking lot. Cut to the truck sitting in its parking space. Cut to Ellie running across the parking lot, arms wide. Cut to the truck sitting in its parking space. Cut to Ellie running across the parking lot, eyes welling with tears. Cut to the truck sitting in its parking space. Cut to Ellie lovingly embracing the hood of the truck. Cut to the truck sitting in its parking space while Ellie hugs it. (the embrace becomes uncomfortably long) Cut to Ellie slowly realizing that she has attracted a crowd. She backs away from the truck.
“I, uh,” she stammers, “I really like this truck.” She whispers in an attempt to justifiy her actions; more to herself than anyone else. So happy to see it restored to its former glory.

It went something like that. Now the kayak season can resume.
May the truck take me on many more of this life’s adventures.

19 August 2007

An eventful day

Last shift, amazingly I had an interesting day at work. We started the day out with a NICU transport. This wasn’t really a big deal, as the baby was being transferred to a hospital closer to its parents because it was getting better. Wait. This was actually a happy story! We got the baby there and all was well, but on the way back, we broke down. The truck started to idle like a Harley and was pouring out black exhaust. It was decided for us to stop and get towed. After a series of ridiculous events, including the always morale boosting sight of our ambulance on a tow truck, we found ourselves stranded briefly in a parking lot. This would have been fine if it hadn’t been 95 degrees out and we didn’t have a cot full of several thousands of dollars worth of equipment on it. What I liked the most about being broken down was that this particular truck was on its first day back after about 5k worth of work to the engine and a month of being out of service. We were rescued and got back to real work.

We took a very pleasant veteran to rehab after he had broken is foot. He was very spry and nice to talk to. I have high hopes for his recovery. On our transport though, we did have an episode of ‘runaway cot’. The cot is supposed to be locked into the ambulance before we transport. Unfortunately, this time it was not properly secured, and the first turn we took sent the cot rolling into me. I deftly grabbed the cot and in one swift motion slammed it into its holder and sat back down as if nothing had happened. The patient took it very well. One other time this happened to me, I nearly broke my leg trying to save myself from the rolling cot.

Next we went to do a typical BLS run, taking a person from the hospital back to their nursing home. We arrived and the patient was ambulatory, usually a good omen for such calls, as this makes it much easier, usually. I got the paperwork and my partner went to get the patient.
When I got into the room, the patient and his nurse were having an argument. Good omens gone. There was a random Frankenstein size orthopedic shoe that the patient was insisting was his. This is an easy fix, I thought, as I asked him to put on the shoe. He obliged, and slipped on the shoe that was easily 4 sizes too large, and began to walk around. I think that he believed this was proving to us that it was a good fit, which it was not. He took the shoe off, still convinced it was his, and resumed arguing with the nurse about where all his stuff was (neatly packed in a patient belongings bag). He was vexing me big time. He challenged all of my negotiation skills; reason, bargaining, and force. I asked the nurse what he was in the hospital for, she said confusion. Oh, I’m glad you cleared that up.

At one point the hospital staff manhandled him onto the cot and buckled the straps. They thought they were very accomplished and looked to my partner and me for approval. My partner said, ‘uh, we’re not taking him’, as the patient began to wriggle out of the seatbelts. I asked the nurse to get us orders for restraints or drugs, or we would have to leave without him. Just as that was happening, the patient suddenly was totally compliant. I was surprised and more than a little skeptical, but off we went. He didn’t say another word, and I was, for once, happy to have a quiet patient.

While this was going on, one of the other ambulances was broken into. They were parked right next to us at an ER downtown in plain view of the doors, in broad daylight. Apparently, a thief had smashed the drivers window, jumped in, and stole a GPS navigation system that was suction cupped to their windshield. The door wasn’t even unlocked.
I don’t know why I’m still surprised by crime sometimes. But really, stealing from an ambulance?!

Google search term of the day: ‘photos of old people working in grocery store’ Sorry, fresh out.

15 August 2007

Fixed!

The prodigal bike has returned! I brought it into the bike shop yesterday, and after a little assessment the bike guy said: "You want to know how many times I've seen this? Never."
I'm not sure if that makes me feel better or worse. Turns out that the broken part was not exactly what he thought it would be. A rear derailleur can break, if abused, and usually at this one particular spot. It's usually pretty detrimental to the bike as it can bend into the wheel and cause damage to the rim as well. And it's about a $40 part. As my derailleur broke at the bolt, it was very strange, apparently, and we decided it was a factory defect.

So, he replaced the whole thing, and expanded my knowledge of bike maintenance by about 500%. That afternoon I took it for a nice long ride, and everything was working great.

Also, I started a part time job, made headway into finding a new full time job, ran into an old friend, and made and old cat happy.

13 August 2007

Blogged too soon

Mere hours after my last post, I went to take the bike out, planning to visit my brother. I hopped off of one curb. A standard sized curb, nothing out of the ordinary, it didn’t have spikes, or sharp edges, or, um, anything that could be thought to be detrimental to the common human powered bicycle. The back tire came off the curb, and immediately something was wrong. The chain was hanging languidly from the gears. Damn! I thought, the chain fell off, I’ll never get it back on!
Closer inspection revealed that something was far more amiss than the chain falling off. What I now know to be the rear derailleur, had broken completely off. Literally, the bolt holding it to the frame, snapped. I looked around, and found pieces of the bike that had fallen off and were strewn in the road.

Clearly beyond my skills to heal, I went back upstairs and called the bike shop. This is where I learned that I don’t have much of a bike vocabulary at all. “The, um, thing connected to the gears, on the back wheel, is kind of, um, not connected anymore, and...it’s that thing, that has little gears on it...you see, there’s the wheel...” Thankfully, my bike guy knows his stuff, and diagnosed it from that horrible description.
Now, I didn’t go to a large retail store to get a new bike. “I’m going to get a brand name, made to last, with good parts, I’m not going to wimp out on this,” I said to myself. I went to the nice local bike shop, which I haven’t lost faith in. I am concerned, though, that my two week old bike has a broken part.
This also happened about 10 min before the bike shop closed. So, I’m headed there tomorrow morning. I ended up walking to see my brother. It took way longer, but it was my only replacement for the bike. I felt like Pee-Wee when his bike was stolen. Everyone I passed on my walk was riding a bike. Everyone! I refrained from shouting "Showoff!!" at all of them.

First I break my car, then I break my bike…my legs feel pretty good, but maybe they should be worried.

Let's go ride bikes!

For my birthday, I bought myself a new bike. I remember clearly my last birthday bike. It was white and pink, I was dead excited, and I rode the hell out of that thing. I think that I was eight.
My last bike was a no frills bike and it served me well, but it was time for something new. So, I went down to a local bike shop and they gave me the hook ups with an ’08 Specialized Myka. (pictured above, although, I can tell you, it looks a lot better with mud caked on it.)
I don’t really know much about bike brands, but it has front RockShox, and most of the other components are made by Shimano. I didn’t get disc brakes, because, well, they add almost $200 to the price. Maybe one day I’ll upgrade and get them installed.
Since my birthday, I’ve taken it out everyday that I haven’t worked. We've had a lot of bonding time as I only work once every four days. I’ve found lots of fun things to do with it around my house, some nice steep climbs and a little creek that is great fun to ride through. Otherwise, I’ve just been exploring and I've learned that riding in construction sites is as fun as I always thought it would be.
In the last couple weeks I have lost a lot of the trepidation I felt about going off road, which is a nice feeling. It’s also nice to feel a marked improvement in my endurance and skill. It takes a lot longer for me to go into SVT (and less time to recover).
Anyway, I’m very happy to have found a new activity. Especially one that can get me outside while I can’t take the kayak out. I think that doing something physical has been very therapeutic for me.

Oh yeah, I do find the irony in buying a bike right after wrecking my truck.

An unrelated side note: Thank you for all of the good vibes I’ve been feeling from my few regular readers. I am very touched and blessed. Slack, Jen, Maddog, Andy, Ichabod, Tara (via facebook), Kaydie, and Jamie, thank you! Anybody else, post a comment, I’d love to get to know you!

04 August 2007

Old Pictures

I'm a little behind in posting pictures, to say the least. Considering that the last time I added, it was February, and that most of the new NH pictures are wintry scenes. But, there are pictures of me be being totally BA and bustin' a cap w/my 9. Fo sho! I love that you can see the shell casing flying in this pic, sweet!

Also, I added some pics of kayak spots. Mostly pictures of Great Falls, VA. Okay, so calling this a 'kayak spot' is stretching it, but people do kayak it. Just not me. There are pictures of wild ponies on Assateague island taken from the Chincoteague bay. You can call them all Misty.

New Hampshire Winter

Kayak Spots

02 August 2007

Birthday Lessons

Things I’ve learned

Providing your children with everything they need is not always the best course.
Times of crisis help the important things show through.
To feel loved and cared for is truly all I need to survive.
Facing what you fear the most makes you a stronger person. I mean, it has to.
An inherent need for independence is essential.
Bitter people amuse me.
False people make me angry.
Sometimes you can give someone everything and it is still not enough. These people should not haunt you.
I am tired of crying.
Unconditional love is hard to come by; it should not be squandered.
It is easier to be angry than to be sad.
Kayaking is still the greatest activity known to man.
Fishing gear can be replaced.
Life is hard.
I love my family immensely. There are not proper words to tell it.
My insurance deductible is $250.
J.K. Rowling is a genius.
Getting flowers always feels nice.
Life is good.
It’s okay to feel confident and to feel afraid.
I can make dinner.
I am ready.

Things I have yet to learn


How to find a date.
Countless future lessons.
What to do now.