31 December 2010

Before you go, 2010

Just a quick note to finish off a wonderful and strange year. Here's to more of them! 2010 was remarkable indeed for many reasons, but that doesn't mean I should stop looking toward the future. Though I temporarily lost my ability to think very far ahead, it's back and I firmly believe life needs wild ass plans. So, I intend to pursue the next one on my list. I think I've come up with a name for my little photography biz, but I'll have to confirm it with the board of directors. Ha! Agonizing over a name will probably be the least of my problems, as I have yet to sort out taxes, licenses, and other kind of important legal type stuff. All in good time.

Other than WAP#2, I have in general, resolved to hang out with the people who matter more. A year away made me appreciate the important people in my life. And although more than ever are at a distance, and making time for them is difficult in any life, I'm going to try to be a better communicator. The world is not so big that those who are far away should be neglected. As for those who are close, it should never feel like they are distant.

Exhilaration is always on my list, and in 2010 it was not in short supply. Maybe fewer scary crowds, but hopefully no fewer new experiences will come my way.

I also want to be as endeared to my home town, area, state, and country as I am to England. Domestic travel, participating in local events, and just plain going out are high on my list. I'm pretty stoked that some of that will combine resolutions which is just plain efficient.

The Bible, alas, has been neglected for another year and the good flashlight just got new batteries.

Also, I very tritely joined a gym last month, hope to finally read all those books I should have in high school, will write more, and I will try to stop ignoring calls from Austin. But, let's keep it tangible.

27 December 2010

Repeat Customers

Last week we arrived to a dark house with no sign of occupants. Dispatch decided to give us the code for the door after we started searching for a loose window or a weak door jam. The patient couldn't come to the door of course, mostly because she was behind two more doors and up steep stairs. Oh, and her lungs were full of fluid.
My partner and I carried her down the stairs and outside in time for more hands to arrive. She really had me worried for a second there. But, we got her on the good old CPAP and off we went to the hospital.
My next shift, I met her again, when I came up to our CCU to transfer her to another hospital for a heart cath. She was bright and had color and didn't remember me at all.
I said, "Well, you look much better than when I last saw you."
"Oh," she replied, putting her hand on her head, "well, I have my hair on today."
Although I meant she didn't look like she about to die, I loved how spry she was. We packed her up and she gave me a tour through the county as we headed to a fancy hospital who hopefully fixed her right up.

Later in the shift we went for a guy who had thrown up one time and his over excited wife had called us amidst his constant dissenting. He rightly refused to go and I agreed.
A few hours later, a call went out to the same address. In the exact same scenario, the patient resigned to going to the hospital, and off they went. I quietly celebrated that I didn't go the second time.

I did take the call the second time we were called to a very wee patient who was short of breath. The parents had refused transport in the afternoon, and called again at 3am. This time, I didn't let them refuse as one look at the patient made me pretty nervous. Very tiny airways, strange disease processes, retractions, mottling and a pulse ox in the gutter will do that to me.
We headed up to the local hospital for more hands, bright lights, and well...more hands. The patient was flown to a bigger hospital an hour later.

I love and hate to see patients twice.

23 December 2010

New Post

I was reminded yesterday by my one regular reader that I hadn't updated in a while. She expressed her disinterest in my feeble change in title picture.
Well. I should update as I've had some good days at work. Busy, anyway. All of the good calls come late at night. Like the young person who walked out to the ambulance at midnight, declared they had a UTI and then before saying hello, asked if we could arrange to take them home after their ER visit. Um...no.
The other morning at 3, we went to see a 19 year old who had chest pain. That's all I have to say about that.
Or, the patient who texted their significant other at 1am to tell them they had overdosed, when in fact, they hadn't taken anything at all. That was totally worth going to.
Okay, okay. This post is not following with my new world view of every call is worthwhile and interesting no matter what hour we are called. Something happened in their lives to prompt them to call an ambulance. Some circumstance out of their control or forethought lead them to be my patient. And even if it is for a few minutes, they'll get as many warm blankets as I can find.
And this whining certainly doesn't adhere to my resolution to not be negative about work. It is a sweet job and I am thrilled that I have nothing but pointless things to complain about. Well, and little things like nursing homes not having patient histories or not applying AEDs when wildly appropriate.

16 December 2010

Work

One year later I find myself again thrown into their weirdness of this job. We were called to a factory and half way to the patient, I looked down at my boots, wondering what I was stepping in. He had gotten his arm caught in a machine, and, although freed, one of his colleagues had agreed to show me the machine. Dodging puddles of ground meat and blood, he lead me to an industrial meat mixer which grabbed our patients fingers and twisted his arm until it broke. I felt bad for him as we took 10 minutes to carefully cut his many pairs of gloves he had on to protect him from the cold and meat to see just what we were dealing with. I used up all my Spanish and we had an easy ride to the hospital.
It was a wicked x-ray.

02 December 2010

Transitions

From Essouria, we headed North up the coast stopping in Casablanca to see the worlds tallest miranet on the worlds's third largest mosque.  This was pretty cool, and is the only mosque non Islamics can visit, but we arrived too late in the day.  The next day we continued to an overnight in Moulay Bousalhem where we took a fishing boat out to search for wild flamingos in the lagoon by our campsite.  We did find some although, because the tide was going out we saw them from about half a mile away.  Still, I guess they were flamingos (I can't be sure).  It was great anyway, to be out on the water in this beautiful and tranquil area. 
From there we traveled to Cap Spartel, home of 'Hercules cave' a cave where Hercules allegedly hung out to rest after carving the Mediterranean sea.  There is a cool formation here that is almost the exact shape of the continent of Africa.  We also walked to the beach and enjoyed our last afternoon there.  In the evening we had a Moroccan barbecue and an enormous bonfire that probably endangered everything around us.  It was an awesome party and a great way to end the trip. 
Sadly, I had to get up really early to catch the ferry back to Spain.  I was very glad that one guy in our group decided to take the same one and escort me back.  The port was just as crazy on the way out, but I was still a little sad to leave such an amazing, colorful, and culture filled place. 
We arrived back to Tarifa in the rain and here I learned the advantages of traveling with an older person.  I would have trudged to the bus station, but he suggested a taxi and after about a second of consideration we agreed to split it.  It was a dreary day, but as I reached Algercias to catch the train, things were looking up.  It was a long ride to Grenada and I was very happy to find my hostel for the night.  Here is where I appreciated flush toilets, hot water, hassle free shopping, and internet.


I really enjoyed my day in Grenada, starting with a walking tour that pointed out some of the highlights and complicated history of the city.  I didn't get into the Alhambra, as you have to book in advance and it's pretty expensive, but saw it from the outside, and enjoyed shopping, eating local food, and visiting smaller sights just as much.  In the evening I took an overnight train to Barcelona.  Now, the plan I had to get home seemed good on paper, in practice though, it was not so smart.  I took the train to Barcelona which ended up being in a non-reclining seat which really bummed me out.  I arrived early in Barcelona and headed straight to Park Guell, an awesome place, but after a restless night and and walking there with my increasingly heavy backpack, I didn't find the tourists and annoying souvenir vendors charming at all. 
I was desperate for a place to leave my bag, so I headed to the museum of Catalonia, hoping to check the bag and enjoy the museum.  I finally arrived after walking ages and taking the metro, only to discover that it was a Monday, and every museum in the city was closed.  I was super bummed about this and ended up sitting in the park, as it was a beautiful day, and people watching and reading my book.  Not really a bad way to pass a day. 

That evening, I went to the train station to take my overnight to Paris.  I had waited all trip for this one, my first time in a proper sleeper car.  Unfortunately, French transport were on strike and my train was canceled.  Instead of a bottom bunk, romantically chugging through France, I found myself on a charter bus surrounded by kids and angry parents.  Mood not improved. 
It really wasn't as bad as it could have been with generous stops and a seat to myself.  I arrived in Paris and decided to walk along the Seine to take in the sights.  I stopped a few times on my way to the Grand Palaise where I wanted to see the temporaty Monet exhibit.  I arrived around 1:15, very ready to see it and check my bag, and the guard informed me that that day only the museum would be closing at 2:00.  Overcome with tiredness and disappointment, I didn't know what to do next.  I sat down and collected my thoughts.
I ended up walking across the way to the Petit Palace where at least I could change my clothes and check my stupid, hateful, painful backpack which at that point I hated and wanted to light on fire.  I was so tired by then that I went into on of their exhibits where they were showing a video, sat on the floor, and took a nap.  I felt a real hobo by then. 
In the evening I had dinner and then made my way to the train station to catch the Eurostar (which was running without delay, thank God) to get back to London.  The border agency gave me some crap about not carrying my flight ticket out of the UK constantly on my person, but allowed me in anyway.  Jerk.
When I arrived back in England, it felt as good as coming home, after a month of travel and uncertainty, it was so, so good to be back.

01 December 2010

This story is going nowhere

 Many apologies to anyone who may be trying to make sense of the end of my trip. For reasons unknown I have been little inspired to finish writing it. Rather, I have had the best of intentions, but have been as easily distracted as if I were writing a coursework. Alas, I worry the magic of it all has been lost in sporatic storytelling. And even I can't remember if I've caught up to the getting home bit, it's become so long and sordid.

That aside, Essouria, Morocco is a very cool place. After leaving Marrakech, it was a relief to be camped out by the seaside within walking distance of a small port town full not of tourists, but real Moroccans. Wandering the streets here was actually calm and orderly and we were not constantly hounded to buy things. Except when some of us went to get freshly caught seafood and ran a literal gauntlet of vendors to pick the least annoying one to buy from.

Essouria is on the Moroccan Atlantic coast and is a working port town with a beautiful medina full of friendly people and shopkeepers. We also visited the port where you can buy fish straight out of the fishing boats. All varieties are displayed right on the slips, preserved with a constant sprinkling of seasalt. It is easy to find the port by following the horads of seagulls vying for an opportunity to relieve the fishermen of a fish or two. Locals are there haggling for fresh fish and carrying them home on bikes and donkeys.

We had the best meal at of the trip at a vegan/veggie resaraunt which initially worried me, given how I had avoided the water and fresh veggies, but it was awesome. It was good just to take the day to meander, finish shopping, eat crepes on the street, and relax. That's pretty much what we did the whole rest of the trip really.