28 November 2007

The Job

I’ve finally put a post together about the new job. Unfortunately, it does not yet replace my current job at “The Crappiest Ambulance Company on Earth” but now in my time off, I am a part time hospital based 911 chase car.

I cannot express how happy I am to have a 911 job again, even if it is part time. I don’t care. When I step up into the ambulance I can hear “Back in the Saddle Again” playing in a loop. I love it.

There are a lot of weird things about being hospital based. Firstly: nowhere to nap. We hang out in the ER when we’re not on a call, we basically surf the net and talk. One problem with hanging in the ER is that there is always food in the break room. Out of nowhere a cake, tray of cookies, bag of candy or other random delicious temptation will crop up. Evil, evil ER nurses providing a veritable buffet all the time.
I’m not quite over the fact that a lot of times, the ER is busy and we are not, therefore, I feel lazy when I'm sitting at the computer updating my blog. But the truth is, there's nothing for me to do otherwise unless a nurse asks me to put in an IV or do a 12 lead.

I would have to say that best part of my new job is the excessively large truck and the incredibly, ridiculously loud siren. Well, I should say sirens. And an honest to God air horn. And by air horn, I mean a horn loud enough to scare the pants off of people within a six block radius. They don’t even know what hit them. I literally drive down the street with a huge smile on my face, basking in the destruction of the quiet town atmosphere and tympanic membranes of it’s fine citizens.
I must look like a jerk, as people cover their ears in a vain attempt to block out the noise, look toward the truck and see a beaming Ellie behind the wheel maniacally laughing as I set my siren from stun to kill.

True to form, I have been a bit of a white cloud, but I’ve had enough calls to be a lot better with those stupid spring loaded IV catheters.

26 November 2007

Why I don’t watch Scary Movies

When I tell people that I don’t watch horror movies, I most often get looks like I am a freak of nature. Who doesn’t watch horror movies?!

Firstly, I am single and my only protection at home is a cat and a dead bolt lock. Every random noise I hear at home is blamed on the cat, even if she is asleep on my lap.

Also, I take scary movies way to seriously. The Blair Witch Project for example. Everyone said ‘That movie was so dumb!’ while I was the one sitting up all night with my back to the wall, my room lit up like a landing strip and a shotgun across my lap. Even if the movie is completely ridiculous, unlikely, and stupidly funny, I’ll laugh my way through it, and still be nervous when I go to bed.

Why don’t I want to watch Hostel? Because I like hostels.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?” The answer is in the question.
“The Hills Have Eyes?” No they don’t.
“The Ring?” I don’t want to be anymore afraid of a ring than I already am.
“The Grudge?” It’s scary enough to have one, I don’t need to see it on film.

Lastly, I don’t want to watch horror movies for the same reason I don’t watch the news. I have seen horrific things in real life. I have met unsavory characters, been down dark alleys, dealt with crazy people. I’ve seen things I’d rather forget. I have plenty of real things to be afraid of, I don't need any more.

14 November 2007

The world is my Oyster

It was deceivingly cold as we headed into open water on one of the few remaining skipjacks in the Chesapeake. So cold, in fact, I was questioning my decision to leave my long underwear behind. But, we soon arrived at our dredging plateau. The motor of the dredge winch rumbled to life and all ambient noise (or lack thereof) was drowned out. Within minutes, the real oystermen aboard had pulled up the first dredge full of oysters, shells, mud and mussels, and dumped it onto the deck. The rest of us watched in frank fascination and soon found ourselves strangely enthusiastic about sifting through the pot with our gloved hands, kneeling in mud and sorting out the oysters of acceptable size. We happily ripped mussels off of the oyster shells and threw them overboard. Even as amateurs, we developed a real system quickly. Like a not so well oiled machine we would deploy the dredge, pull it up, dump it out, sort out the oysters, and send the dredge back down. While we waited, we’d clean and measure the oysters and put them in baskets.

I felt like I was in an episode of dirty jobs as I looked down at my wellies covered in mud, my jeans with mussel guts wiped on them, and my jacket splotched with rust and ocean floor. For a while I actually felt like I belonged, unafraid of getting dirty, smelly or injured, I just did the job.

Lunch finally came and the answer to the question that we had wondered all day was revealed: oyster stew. That was our lunch, of course. It was with much trepidation I took my hot cup of soup and eyed it skeptically. I felt momentarily squeamish as I stirred up a large oyster from my cup and really felt the skipjack swaying with the ocean.
The ideal of ‘when in Rome…’ was the absolute only thing that made me eat it. Well, that and the surprisingly large appetite I had worked up. Oysters are definitely gross to me, cooked or raw. Biting into it's gooey texture and looking on at our bushels of freshly dredged oysters, it was like when I was eating reindeer sausage while admiring a caribou grazing in its natural habitat, but I didn't feel nearly as guilty.

In the second half of the day the novelty of dredging was wearing off. I felt as proficient as a seasoned oysterman, and my respect for them grew with every passing moment. The heat that the winch was putting off was keeping me warm, and I was confident in my sea legs; I really had the hang of it. Although, I admittedly was using a little less discretion when deciding which oysters to keep and which to throw back as my energy for the task waned.

By the end of the day the whole group of us felt very accomplished with our maybe, 7 bushels of oysters. That was until the captain informed us that typical skipjacks can bring in 150 bushels a day! Our trip back to the marina was lovely as the clouds moved away and all we had were blue skies and a warming sun.

Oystering Pictures

08 November 2007

Big Stick

Random thought of the day:
When I was in London, I heard them say ‘sharp scratch’ before they stuck someone with a needle. I thought to myself, that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, if getting an IV felt at all like being scratched by a cat, maybe it would make sense. If getting an IV involved merely scraping the needle against a persons skin, rather than sticking it in, I could justify using the phrase.

Then, I thought about what I say before starting an IV which is usually “big stick.” Upon further evaluation, I have decided that this doesn’t make any sense either. If it was like, ‘look out, there is a big stick about to fall on your head!’ then maybe it would make sense. If IV catheters were anywhere close to being the size of a big stick, rather than barely the diameter of a small twig, I could justify using the phrase.
I think a more appropriate use would be shouting “Big Stick!” right before whacking you on the head with my cudgel.
Thanks to wikipedia, I have learned that Teddy Roosevelt used what he called ‘big stick diplomacy’ as a campaign platform. By this he meant that America could be more, um, forceful with foreign policy and more often enlighten our neighbors to the wonders of democracy. This he developed from the saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Again, almost no connection at all to needles.

I digress.

If anyone reads this, I’m curious as to what you tell your patients right before stabbing them with a 16 gauge (and where you’re from, as maybe this influences things somehow). Thanks.

04 November 2007

One Armed...

I haven’t exactly been a neglectful blogger as of late, but more of a busy one. In the last week every time it came down to choosing between sleep or any other activity, sleep won (except when the bike won). This was mostly because I worked 76 hours last week. Only eight of that was overtime, the rest was the start of my second job. As they say, I’ve been ‘busier than a one armed paper hanger’ but thankfully not actually hanging wallpaper.

My first few days have been typical really. I was lost, confused, and nervous. With this job it is more important that I know the ins and outs very well as when I am cleared, I will be cleared as a single provider. Which means that most times I’ll be acting as the only ALS provider on any given scene. This is enough to make me nervous as I will not have anyone else’s opinion to fall back on. Let alone the fact that I am very unfamiliar with the area, and don’t know any of the ambulance crews yet.
Overall, I am very excited about it. All of my coworkers seem like really cool people and have been very nice to me. It seems like a very laid back place, and yet very aggressive in terms of patient care, which is great.

On Halloween, I went trick or treating with the niece and nephews. I think that the whole concept of getting free stuff from strangers for doing nothing more than uttering three words, is completely mind blowing to them. As it should be.

On Saturday I learned how not to win at slots. Now, of course that wasn’t my initial goal. We tried lots of things to win. First we talked nice to them. “Big money, big money! Oh yeah!” “What a great machine you are, don’t you want to give us some money?!”
Well, when that didn’t work (and asking a penny slot machine for ‘big money’ is a little silly anyway) we started to be not so nice. “What is wrong with you? Why don’t you give us some money! You’re a sorry excuse for a slot machine!”
In conclusion, neither morale boosting nor berating won us much. It was still good fun, and we got to do some good people watching. First of all, I couldn’t believe the number of a. slots, and b. people playing them. Hundreds! What I didn't know was that slots go from betting one cent to five dollars, so it can add up quickly. What a racket! From just the four of us, the state probably made enough money to pave a few feet of highway or buy a few new magazine subscriptions for the local library.
You could tell that some people there were hard core into the slots. Dangerously so. We passed by several people who commanded at least two machines in a row and were wildly pressing the ‘repeat bet’ button.
Oh yeah, most of the slots are straight video, you don’t even have to pull the arm of the one armed bandit. I tried to stick to the traditional slots as I received great satisfaction from pulling the arm. Also, they all operate on vouchers. When you win, there is no great sight of money pouring from the machine. It adds it all up for you on the screen and then you can print out the voucher to get your money. This was weird and a little disappointing to me. I have made it my new goal to gamble with real coins somewhere and then fill the center console of my car with hundreds of quarters.

Other than that, I've been kayaking, rode the bike in the rain, beat Halo 3, and baked dessert.