Resolve.

It's been an odd year, I guess. If I say that every year, then what does a normal year consist of? I just read through my whole blogging year and although it didn't take me very long, due to a shameful lack of posts, I think it was pretty good. I did a little travel, a little car buying (get it? little?) and had some good times at work.
Having reviewed last years 'end of the year' post I have concluded that I should read that post sometime in June. That way I can remember my 'resolutions' and maybe be inspired to tackle one or two of them.
I did accomplish, finally, a throw back resolution and bought a super expensive fancy smallish flashlight for work. It is obnoxiously bright and I have already used it at work. Result! Also, I bought it at the Bean, so if it ever goes wrong, I'll get a new one for free.

The Bible, the Torah, the Quran, and for fun, let's say the book of Mormon are all still unread.

I went on only one first date and it was mediocre. It was pretty good on the day, but I am still waiting for him to call me for a second date.

Really, should I stop resolving to write more? The desire to waxes and wanes and that's just it. Without a real direction and with almost no discipline there is little hope for a finished novel this year. But, maybe inspiration will strike hard and last a long time.

I love and hate the new year.  I am annually annoyed by my renewed efforts to find a boyfriend and to get in shape.  After a few months I remember that I've already resigned to being a spinster and have adopted the firm belief that I was not made to be skinny.  This is all bullshit of course, but it is the cycle of my new year.

But, perhaps even temporary inspiration would be good.  Especially as I look in the mirror, say 'I should really get back to the gym.' and then carry on as usual.

Resolutions are hard, mostly because I have no resolve.  I can think of all these wonderful changes I can make to my charachter, then I kind of forget half way through.  So. I'll set a reminder in June to look back and see that I wanted to be more nice, patient, and understanding.  That I wanted to be more outgoing, fit, and social.  Then, maybe I'll feel bad, as I should, and start fresh.  

Anyway, happy new year.  And I mean it this time as I've concluded that there's nothing wrong with planting a little hope for change in the middle of winter.

I am still learning

It's good in this biz to get a patient with something you've never seen before. It keeps you on your toes, reminds you to be humble, and gets you to dust off those old textbooks. I had a guy who very late in the day had a few too many beers to drink. He stumbled backwards off of his porch (I'd guess a couple of feet, though I never saw the porch) and got a pain in his back. But, he managed to brush himself off, sit back down on the porch and crack open another cold one. Less than an hour later, though, he started to feel short of breath.
This is the part where I come in, finding him wandering through the back of his property nowhere near a house. (hence how I never even saw what he fell off of). He looked peculiar to say the least. Stumbling in the dark, he was caught by our headlights by chance. For a moment I thought I was in a zombie movie as we watched him grope for a hand hold that wasn't there while moaning between unintelligible words. We walked him to the ambulance and tried to get his story straight.
In a well lit setting he looked like he had been stung by bees. His face was swollen beyond recognition, red and angry. His eyes were all but swollen shut. He managed to tell us about his beers and his fall of the porch, but that didn't add up for me. He hadn't eaten anything else for hours and it seemed unlikely that he would have stirred up bees at that wee hour.
With mild wheezing (but moving air) and all other normal vital signs, he got a neb and a transport. Though I can assure you my worried brow was furrowed the entire transport. He didn't appear to be getting worse, but certainly wasn't getting better. Now, the astute medical practitioners may already know the moral of this story, but I, for the life of me, was vexed and worried.
In the ER, we did attract attention. People that look like they're face might explode tend to do that. He was put in a gown when it appeared the swelling had made it down to his chest. How odd, thought I, as I instinctively reached out to touch him. His skin was like weak popping paper and my diagnosing lighbulb finally got a little power.
 'He has sub-q air.' said the nurse, and then they were off. The patient was not well by a long shot, but still not horrible in the sense that his vitals were normal and he wasn't struggling terribly to breathe. But now he had earned the trauma treatment, and I will try to explain why.
When he fell of his porch, his back hurt because he broke a rib. Said rib poked through into his lung. He kept breathing, of course, and air that should have stayed in the lung, moved into the space between the lung and this outside. (under the skin) This air traveled through this space and because of gravity ended up in his face and head. As he continued to breathe, the air continued to fill in the wrong spaces, traveling south as the space filled up. This is called subcutaneous emphysema. Eventually, this leaking air screwed up the pressure system that makes breathing possible and collapsed a small part of his lung. Therefore, he was full of air and won himself a chest tube. I really, really hope that I've explained this correctly and in an understandable way. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

So, there's that. Something I hadn't seen in real life. This is not a common occurrence and my colleagues could only think of one other time they'd seen it. (the medic then had treated the patient for an allergic reaction). Don't drink alone and fall of your porch in the middle of the night. Do assess your whole patient and try to piece it together as best you can. Do fulfill the function of taking patients to the hospital. Do be happy you didn't freak out and treat him for anaphylaxis which would have been so, so wrong. Do be totally grossed out about how sub-q air feels like popping paper. Gross.

Racecar

This is a picture of my father, mild mannered historical nerd, pipe smoking type, driving a real NASCAR car. Stock car.  Race car.  Whatever you call it.  You know I don't know. For his landmark birthday, my mother bought him this racing experience.  I got to come along as staff photographer.
It was really cool as we all got to hang out at the infield of the track and let our minds wrap around what it might feel like if all of those thousands of seats had fans in them.  Everyone doing the experience was very keen on nascar racing and my mother may have admitted too loudly that we had not actually ever seen a nascar race ever.  I, at least, have never watched more than a minutes worth of it.  I'm sorry, but I just don't get it.  I knew then, but even more so now, that there is more to stock car racing than turning left.  There's turning left and driving really fast in between.  And sitting in a really uncomfortable position for several hours.  I wonder now if professional drivers have weirdly shaped arm muscles from constantly fighting with the cars to go straight.  (They're engineered to turn left, so keeping them straight is more of a challenge).  I digress. Shocking.
But, for being surprised, Dad took it really well- donning his fireproof overalls and giant helmet and climbing through the window of the car.  The experience is really awesome.  And he loved it.  He even had the doors of his regular car welded shut and always goes through the window.  Doors that open are so common!
He didn't go as fast as a race car driver could, but he did have a thrill.  We all still don't 'get' nascar racing, but respect it that much more after this experience.
I wonder if there's a formula 1 experience somewhere out there.  Now that's racing.

Husbands

I’ve been giving some thought to an aspect of my life recently that I really should appreciate more. As a single woman with many married friends, I feel like I get to borrow husbands. There may be no way to introduce this topic without looking needy and weird, but in all sincerity, I am blessed to have married friends and husbands I can borrow who will take care of me.
Without sounding like a polygamist, I have different (brother?) husbands who fix my car, chop wood, play video games, fix random stuff, and even a work husband who looks after me there. In a way it is sort of like borrowing other peoples’ kids and giving them back when they get cranky or smelly.
It is a luxury in my life to have these men who work as worthy place holders for my future possible husband. Of course, they are spoiling me in a way that will make it more impossible to find an actual husband, but oh well.
And of course, I can still kill my own spiders, change light bulbs, and trim trees, but it is nice when I don’t have to. Yes, I am a feminist. I now know the value of having a man in my life and it is a privilege to see all of the strong relationships my friends have. This also helps me to focus my drive to find a partner away from the ‘manly’ things he can do for me, and to extract the true needs a spouse can fulfill.
So, thanks to all of my married friends; for helping me to keep the standards from slipping. That being said, which one of you knows how to weld?

What hole?

Okay so, I was fording a river on an Austrailian outback expedition and Half Pint and I took on a bit too much water.  We were being chased by angry dingos at the time, so there was a bit of a rush to get back on the road.  The engine was running fine, of course, but I had to use an outback technique and shoot a hole in my floorboard so that the water would quickly drain out and we could continue to make our daring getaway.  Luckily, we next went by a winery who sold novelty sized bottles of wine so I was able to negotiate an extra large cork from them to fill the bullet hole.  We had time to stop there, as dingos are famous for their dislike of wine.  We sought refuge in that winery for several months, in fact, and I have become a vintner and can speak perfect Austrailian.  I digress. 
I've been considering fixing the hole, but I'd really rather keep it as a reminder of our great adventure.  I still have the extra large cork anyway.

I am a huge fan of "I Love Lucy."  In one episode, through a series of very silly events, Lucy and Ethel found themselves changing a tire while a potential serial killer was asleep in the back seat.  They bravely found the jack and the spare and believed they were making real progress.  That was, until the top of the jack started to protrude through the front fender.  Horrified, they abandoned their attempt and I don't remember what happened, but they weren't murdered and the moral of the story was to never lie to your husband about losing train tickets.  Or something like that.  

After checking the oil level in the mini (Half Pint) and finding it to be looking quite dirty, I got a little over ambitious and decided to change the oil by myself.  Armed with the Haynes guide, a bunch of appropriate oil, brand new jack stands and a bottle jack, I got to it.  Things seemed to be going pretty well.  I figured out how to make the jack work, and had found what I thought was the right place to put it under the car.  Low and behold, it was lifting the car.  Result!  My celebrations ended abruptly though, when the car returned back to earth as the jack punched a perfectly round hole through the floorboard.  Turns out, I was completely wrong as to where to put the jack.  Absolutely horrified, I struggled to get the jack unstuck, covered the hole with the carpet, and packed up all my oil changing supplies. 

I don't really know why I'm relaying this story as it is quite embarrassing.  But, I knew you would like the story.  Please make fun of me.  I deserve it.

Antietam

Among the millions of things I've been meaning to do, I have been meaning to post about when my good friend came to visit from far away and we got to take a day trip starring the civil war and a classic mini cooper.  The mini is a perpetual scene stealer, though we learned that not everyone would like to have a picture of it (even when you accidentially/kind of knowingly drove in front of them while they're taking a picture)  We probably should have shouted 'You're welcome!' to the guy I made really mad, as his picture was probably much improved by having half pint in it.  The car brings sunshine and happiness where 'ere it goes (except for that one guy).  (Besides, everyone shoots in digital and he was taking a picture of a statue that wasn't going anwhere.  Okay, I'm finished feeling guilty.)


Anyway, we drove out to Antietam national battlefield mere days before the 150th anniversary celebration.  Well, celebration is not right.  I'll just leave it at anniversary.  The story of Antietam is really incredible, and plays out like it was written for the screen.  It seems like it was the perfect storm of Civil War battles, and after becoming acquainted with the details, I find it unbelievable (and unbearable) that the war raged for nearly three more years after it was over.  Ultimately a draw, or a Union victory, or a Confederate victory (depending on whom you ask) Antietam is most famous for incurring more casualties in a single day than in the War of 1812, the Mexican war, and the Spanish-American war combined.

I really mean it when I say unbearable.  Something to take solace in is that the battlefield exists. Unlike Stamford Bridge, there are no sortage of memorials and information and shared historical lessons at Antietam.  I am a firm believer in the value of history.  Not just in knowing that trivial pursuit question, but, of course, in learning the lessons of humans.  Far too many are forgotten, lost, or changed for the convenience of the winner.  But at Antietam, despite its role in laying the foundation for the Emancipation Proclimation and making Sharpsburg into a town people visit, I think I can be agreed that it was a true American tragedy.

That's plenty of wartime reflection for me.  Catch the sister post here and to cheer you up, check out my new favorite website, http://youarenotaphotographer.com/

Love Rollercoaster

I am a week behind in the blogging once a week plan, but no one noticed probably. Moving on! This has been an exciting and unprecedented (pun intended) week. Last Tuesday I voted for all winners. Initially I was quite disappointed that my Tuesday improv class was still a go on election night. Therefore, to have an election party I would have to sacrifice class. Needless to say, I didn't have an election party. Well, I guess I did have quite a small one, after I got home, by myself whooping at the TV for a minute before going to bed. Not quite as good as the George Bush piƱata from last time, but I'll take it for a good result.

That was certainly the highlight of my two weeks, even trumping making my first pumpkin pie entirely from scratch. That was an amazing experience that took almost the entire day and most of my sanity. The result though, was scrumptious, I must say.

So, I will tell you of my recent first foray into the world of roller coaster riding. My childhood vacations were filled with museums, historical houses, and cemeteries (for real). Despite the massive boredom I felt at times, these vacations hold a special place in my heart and still impact my traveling habits of today. (aka made me a huge nerd whom now enjoys said museums and historical houses). On these family vacations at least one day would be set aside for a typical vacation day at a beach or an amusement park. These days were the highlight for the younger me, of course. Despite this, I had never ridden an upsidedowny roller coaster before this year. Yes, I am 29. I'd been on wooden ones but never taken the 0.0002 second plunge into invertedness. (Yes, that's a word, as is upsidedowny). I guess this is because I am a huge nerd and a huge pansy. I was the happy coat and purse holder, maintaining a safe distance from the potential falling debris and puke zones of these monster coasters.

But last month, while visiting friends in Tennessee, we went to Dollywood. I loved this park, it is full on Americana and isn't too huge and has trees, and I just really liked it. Not to mention the company. The only drawback I found was that everywhere we went there was an opportunity to have your picture taken and then sold to you. Literally it is taken when you enter the park, then you can buy it on a key chain. Stand in front of this train, then get it on a t-shirt. And of course, ride this terrifying ride and buy your ridiculous face on a mug.

Something really possessed me there in Dollywood. Without too much encouragement, I got on my first, second, and third upsidedowny rollercoasters. Influenced by trustworthy friends, extremely short lines and the unfailing desire to get my money's worth out of things, I went blindly forth into the invertedness. I must say, those rides are awesome! So fast and so smooth, you don't even know what horrors await you until they're already over (most of the time). My friend did coerced me into get on the eagle ride there. This is upsidedowny and feet-dangly and I wasn't totally convinced of it at all. But, I waited in line and finally we got in the seats. I did enjoy how secure I felt, and that the seatbelt configuration actually tightened more if you breathed out too much. We were just settled in and ready to go when everything stopped and my friend said 'Hmm, someone up there is wearing medical gloves.' 'Oh, it looks like someone got sick.' 'Oh, they did! Just now!' We watched over the heads in front of us as some poor kid was escorted away after throwing up all over his seat before we even went anywhere. I was horrified to say the least. What if he had held on another minute? We could have been splattered! And what about those people waiting to get in the seat that just got covered in puke? Ew!

There must have been some kind of protocol for it, as it took 20 minutes to clean up. Then again, my only experience is at the fair when the carnies just hose the seat down, run the ride a couple of times, and it's good to go. The ride was great, even though I rode the whole way with my legs tucked under me as if none of the designers had measured the average human leg length and mine would be the exact length to take out a tree somewhere.
I'd ride it again, now that I am a proper, card holding upsidedowy rollercoaster rider.

Homeownership

There are a few things that stereotypically define adulthood. One of those, other than drinking soda whenever you want is owning a home. Here you become responsible for 30 years of debt as well as maintaining what is really a big space with tons of working parts that no single person could understand. From roof to basement, front yard to back, a house is needy. Mine is 93, so sometimes it needs a little extra love as well as help across the street.

Back in September, I had my first house guests of the year. Two separate parties coming within a week of each other. On the eve of the firsts arrival, I decided to double check on the guest room (which I hadn't seen in some time, keeping the door shut for temperature efficiency). I opened the door and found the most hellacious mess where part of the plaster ceiling had fallen in. In a most sitcomesque fashion, I shut the door immediately and sent up a little prayer. But, when I reopened the door, the mess was still there. Literally in my pajamas with my toothbrush in my mouth, I stood, staring at the mess without a clue as to what to do.
I collected myself, finished my teeth and got my kitchen trash can. It was then I learned that plaster is quite heavy. As I thew large pieces in the can, it became clear this clean up required a bit more planning. I have yet to mention the plastery dust that was covering the entire room, and that my niece and nephews had left quite a town of playmobil out, waiting for them to return. Needless to say, playmbil FEMA were called and took care of the situation.

The incident had been more or less taken care of. More in that the plaster was cleaned up, less in that there is still a hole in the ceiling.

I haven't fixed that, but I did put a fan in my bathroom. I felt really accomplished, like I had done something wonderful for the house. Or, at least done some essential preventative maintenance.

Then, this hurricane came through. I came home from a very long night shift to find that half of my front window had blown out. Now, this is a big window, probably a 4x3 foot hole was now in my house and it was still raining, and cold, and my power was out, and I was really tired. I managed to get a tarp over the window, and later put cardboard on the inside. I went to start a fire in the wood stove, only to find that the tarp had blown off my wood and it was all soaking wet. I eventually got one started and warmed up the place a bit. Miraculously, despite the lack of window and hurricane winds, my front room was dry and leaf free. Maybe it was protected by the blinds, I don't know, but thank goodness. Then I had an amazing nap and spent the day at a friends house.

This incident has been more or less taken care of too. More in that it will be fixed, less in that it won't be fixed for two days.

I guess the lesson is don't forget to budget for 'shit happens.'

Ah Ha!

I bet that you thought I forgot to blog today. Well, I didn't.  I purposefully waited until 9pm so as to keep you guessing.  I have not neglected any social media today.  In fact, it is a momentous day as it is the day I added pics to facebook, wrote a blog post, and joined twitter.  I know, I know.  Don't give in to the man!  Twitter?  Isn't that yesterdays myspace?  Isn't that for aging actors to connect with the young folk?  Isn't that just another way for everyone to annoy all of their acquaintances with superfluous updates about their mundane lives?  Yes to all! 
Well, mostly all.  I was inspired by an improv peep to get on over and tweet like a bird of some sort.  I am going to reserve my 140 characters for charming and amusing insights into my every day life.  I know no one cares, but having amassed a whopping 5 followers in my first 24 hours, I am inspired.  I will be publishing a book of my clever tweets in T minus 4 years.  Yeah, take that, Steve Martin who was already famous and profoundly more amusing.

Oh, and because you're all wondering, here it is.  https://twitter.com/resqellie  (quick click to enjoy my first 9 tweets)  I don't even know what I'm saying.  I feel old.

Whew! 

As for the last week.  I've gone through some old crap and am donating three boxes of non sacred items next week.  I booked a tour of a local brewery.  Yes, 3 months in advance.  I got a clean bill of oral health from the dentist.  Though, I think my new filling has left me with an excessively sharp molar.  Will keep touching it with my tongue until it is sore.   

I had a great crafting weekend in perfect autumnal weather.  It was my most successful two day show by an enormous margin.  In addition, one of my photos has been chosen to be in a proper photography show at the local museum.  I am quite proud of this and am stoked to see it on a wall that isn't in my house. 

I've given a lot of thought to 'the salt and pepper shaker condrum' which basically means that much of my 145 pair eccentric collection is boxed up and yearning to see the sunshine.  I have been inspired by a recent visit to the worlds only salt and pepper shaker museum.  Yes, this 20,000 pair collection is as exciting as it sounds and no I'm not being facetious.  I have an unnatural interest in silly and clever S'nP's and made this pilgrimage on purpose.  It is quite amazing and overwhelming.  A mere fraction are pictured above. 
Displaying a collection is difficult as it eats up precious wall space and room space, but maybe I am over thinking it.  That is usually the case.    

I will continue keep you up to date on three social platforms but will remain neglectful of tumblr, reddit, and that other one that neglects formerly necessary vowels.  Up with vowels!

This week

Good Lord, it is October 17th.  This is a date of no personal significance, but it is important to note that I am blogging, and the last time that happened was September 2nd.  And I call myself a blogger!  The shame. 

Anywho, to the things! 

I'll stick to this past week, vow to make up for the last five by blogging every week until I am caught up on all of my nonsense news.  Yes, let's make it Wednesdays.  Deadlines!  Expectations! Motivation! Plus, having a weekly thing sets me up for weekly reflection and maybe I'll stop forgetting things.  I'm afraid this post is already too random, but I will promise more cohesion in future.  And maybe even a point. 

Last week, some of the fam and I went to see Wicked to celebrate a couple of birthdays.  It is an awesome show.  I am not a fan of frou-frou musicals, but this one is great.  I've seen it three times now and it is magic.  Unfortunately, the songs have been stuck in my head for almost a week.
My 10 year old niece joined us and I think for the first time ever, I saw her filled with wonder (I think).  Perhaps she will find a love of theatre or begin a lifelong appreciation for the arts.  That, or, she'll want to be a witch for Halloween.  Either way, I'm thrilled. 

I've been improvin' every tuesday night.  It's a good class, big, and with a lot of energy.  Brilliant moments from me few and far between, but that's what class is for.  Still great fun!

Other than that, I was canceled five times in a row at work; basically I just did a lot of driving and then driving back.  Also, I wore two different socks that day and didn't know until I got home, 24 hours later.  Maybe I should stop getting dressed in the dark. 

Faith in Humanity

This job can sometimes wear on a person. The heart the soul, and the sleep schedule are all at risk. This is a job where I often find myself in a situation where I can be helpful, make a bit of a difference in someones day, and then get paid to nap: ideal. But sometimes, after a string of drunk, silly, completely healthy, poor decision making patients I can be sick of it all. When I feel this building up, it is usually disipated with a great call where I felt very useful and all of those doubtful feelings go away.

Recently, feeling my job tolerance running low, we were flagged down by two boys. The concern and worry in their faces made my skepticism fly out the window. I hopped out and they both started relaying their experiences simulaneously.
Kid 1: "There are these bunnies running around and we can't find their mom and we don't know how to catch them and they're going to be hit by a car or something and how will they eat and they're under the cars! Can you help us?!"
Kid 2: "We found these baby bunnies and their mom is somewhere and we don't know what to do, they're under the cars and in the street, and they might need water and we need to do something but we can't catch them! Can you help us?!"

I was momentarily dumbfounded by their story and their sincerity. After spilling their stories, the boys ran back into the street and resumed their attempts to herd two baby bunnies from under a car. My partner and I joined the chase.
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait." I advised, and they all stopped. "Just slow down and wait a second and let's try not to scare them." The boys noded vigorously in agreement and crept around the first bunny. One suddenly and deftly grabed it from behind and before I knew it, handed it to me. Now, in these situations, when presented with a possibly orphaned baby bunny that is probably the cutest thing in the history of cute things, I had, at first, the most insane thought possible. "Oh my GOD! I think I will keep it!" But in the next second, rational thought returned and I did not take the bunny home.

Sadly though, as the hastily appointed authority, they boys looked to me as for what to do next. It turned out they had stumbled on the hole these adorable creatures had popped out of and I decided to shove them back in there.
The bunnies were caught and returned 'home,' it was high fives all around. The kids were again, touchingly grateful that we were there and had helped them. We got back in the ambulance and I was absolutley filled with joy. I had a feeling usually reserved for those amazing calls where everything goes right and something great happens. Although I can't explain it, helping these kids really pushed me out of my work rut. I guess it was just nice to do something that was good, and to help someone who really needed it (despite that we had no idea what we were doing.)

Unwelcome Complication

His wife managed to pull the car to a stop in the nearest yard. He had insisted on driving, though he wasn't feeling well. She let him, as it was her last bargaining chip to go to the hospital in the first place. But now that he was slumped over the wheel, it was up to her to get help.
She called 911, and after trying to get him out of the car, she reluctantly took the dispatchers advice to leave him and run to a neighbor. She climbed the short hill to the house, shouting for help, when she was surprised by a little dog, unfriendly and defensive. It clamped down on her leg and refused to let go. Her cries for help were compounded now and her only comfort came in the distant whine of sirens.
Relieved but still attempting to kick the dog off, she made her way back to her husband. The dog gave up, leaving blood running into her sock from an angry wound. Two EMT's grabbed her husband and layed him onto a stretcher. They started CPR and she couldn't watch. She was guided to the front seat of the ambulance to wait. She doesn't know what happened behind her, busying herself with calling their daughter. She wasn't sure if she should have, as she is a three hour flight away, but she didn't know what else to do.
Her husband was intubated, cannulated, and given drugs and cpr. By the time they reached the hospital, he was breathing on his own again. In fact, he pulled his breathing tube out within 10 minutes of their arrival. She was led to another room, though, for stitiches and a rabies shot and to give her story to police.
How complicated things had gotten. Her daughter was heading to the airport, her husband to the cath lab. She got to say goodbye as he was transfered, and would later get to tell him the story of how she saved his life. Perhaps he will let her drive them home.

All of those things

I've been on an accidental hiatus.  From blogging, from biking, from caring, from life.  I don't know why.  That's the problem with these things. They sneak up on me and then suddenly I find myself on the couch for the 30th day in a row (I exaggerate, but only a bit).  This type of thing usually only happens in winter, the old SAD, but, for me, not even perfect summer days could lift my spirits.
But, then things got better.  That's the solution with these things, happiness sneaks back in and plants itself right back into my little brain.  And now, every day, I feel like I am waking up from a long sickness.  I guess that's a good thing.  

Sometimes I can't help but take on the problems of the world.  I can't help but find my job unfufilling, my life lonely, and television depressingly bad.  Then, I realize that I am trying so hard to find my inspiration, direction, and purpose that I am forgetting to live.  I know that sounds painfully trite, but I think it's true.

In these times the blog suffers, the fashion suffers, the waistline suffers, and the bike is truly a beautiful sculpture; only for looking. Okay, if you have to dust your bike, that really should be alarming.

But, if Richard Simmons can cry on the Ellen show, then certainly we are all entitled to a little time in the blue.

The one thing that pulls us back from the brink, in any form it can be found, is hope.  And, I've got a little.  

Hero Car

Top Gear advise never to meet your hero car.  Of course, they're talking about the Ferrari California, Butatti Veyrons and Pugani Zondas.  Despite their warning, I bought my hero car without even seeing it in person.  Here is my Top Gear style review.
Just because it needed tons of bulbs, a new spare tire, lug nuts, new shocks, brake cylinders, ball joints, a front headlight, a radiator, and rear brakes, and just because it had a wobbly steering wheel, wing mirror, and muffler, and just because it has no air conditioning, radio, or automatic windows, and just because it has a few bumps and scratches, and a couple of rust spots doesn't mean that it isn't the most awesome car I've ever seen. Oh, and the interior light is falling out, and in a slight 40 year design flaw, the ignition coil is in the very front of the car, exposed to rain and susceptable to shorting.
It is beautiful in its simplicity.  When a car is 10x5x4 it can't be complicated.   It has just a speedo, temperature, and gas guage, it tells you everything you need to know.  Well, except for the gas guage, which is not exactly reliable.
It may be small but it doesn't need to be babied (despite the car cover) and it is getting a napoleonic complex because everyone underestimates it and pulls out in front of us.

Minis won rally races (and still do) not based on power and performance but on keen turning and a short wheel base.  And a Mini isn't fun to drive because it has loads of power and performance, but because you can make turns in 3rd gear and hug winding roads like nobody's business.   It's zero to 60 performance is acceptable at 38 seconds (I exaggerate).  And, thank God for new shocks.

What I'm trying to say is that if there is (an imperciptable) dip in post posting, it's because I'm out taking my Sunday drive. Er, sorry.  I'll be out motoring.    

Friends with Kids

To my friends with kids (and that's just about all of you now):
I miss you.  I'm inexplicably proud of you and excited for all the positive changes in your lives. I haven't been there for you like I thought I would.  But life, in many forms, gets in the way.  I know we're on different planes of life now and it's selfish to ask; but don't forget me.  It scares me when I see us getting so far apart.  I know you often don't know what to do with me, and that's okay.  I don't know what to do with me either.  I don't want to lose touch for the next 18 years and then catch up when they leave for college.  I want to know your kids.  I want to be in their lives.  It's been an honor to see you all become parents and I want to be there to see you all become great ones.  Maybe one day, you can pass your wisdom on to me. 
I want to see if they get your sense of humor, or your beauty, or your creativity, and I don't want to see it on facebook.  Most importantly, I want to be there for you, and I don't want you to think for a second that I don't.


So, a humble request from your single friend:  I don't want to force myself upon you or cramp your style, but let's hang out sometime that's not a birthday party or special occasion.
That's it.
Oh, and by the way, I can change a mean diaper. 

One Second

This afternoon on the way to work, I was tailgaited on the highway.  The kind where he was so close I couldn't even tell if he was flicking his lights at me, though I am sure he was.  I was already going 10mph over (which is plenty) and I was passing someone.  But, the more I could see him getting angry, and the closer he got to me, the longer I lingered in the fast lane.  Yes, this is dangerous, and playing into his hands, and lowering myself to his level, but if he thought for one second that tailgaiting me would get me to go faster, he was wrong, and I wanted him to know.
I did eventually move, gave him the two finger salute, and was left in his dust, pondering how silly the whole thing was.
It is people like that whom I would love to have a little chat with.  A chat about how one second can change your life, or, I'll say at the risk of being dramatic, take it.
One second of inattentiveness, anger, aggression, and, yes, passive aggression can make all the difference. On top of that, one message, one playlist, one mile per hour can really change your day.

Of course, I've been late, in a rush, frustrated by sunday afternoon drivers, lost, and distracted.  I've done unsafe things. (Just today, in fact.) But I feel what qualifies me to share my thoughts on the subject, is my job.  I've seen the worst case scenario of that one second of bad driving.  I know where the driving while tired, the driving while texting, the driving with four teenage friends scenarios go.  And they don't go well.
At the end of the day, it should be easy to decide how to react to an aggressive drive like the one I encountered.  Is 'making a point' worth it?  Is getting to your destination five minutes sooner worth it?  Is that message worth it?   While I fear becoming a preachy paramedic, I find this of immense importance.  Otherwise, I wouldn't bother sharing it with you.

I will try to drive more sanely and maybe one day, one glorious day, that asshole who tailgates me will be pulled over just miles ahead and I can gloat, gloat, gloat.  

British Dentistry (reprise)

Back in August 2010, I had my most recently dental emergency, outlined in this post.  It turned out to be no big deal, and for about 75 bucks they cleaned, xray, and fixed my broken tooth.  They also filled another one. 
It took less than two years for that filling to break and I had a similar panic when I realized it.  Feeling the hole in my tooth was shocking and concerning (and gross as it meant that I swallowed the filling).  I, of course, as a responsible adult, have put off finding a new dentist for almost two years.  After carrying my insurance card for six months in order to find a dentist, yesterday I couldn't find it. 
So, I had to call work to get the name of the insurance company.  Then call the insurance company, get my numbers, then find a dentist.  This sounds easy, but when faced with a list of faceless dentists, how does one choose?  Luckily, my sisters dentist was on the list and I am now left to wait with my holy tooth until Monday. 

Beeees!

There are two situations in which you can see me acting a fool.  1.  improv class  2.  in the presence of insects.

I went up to my attic this evening, I forget the reason now, as when I got there, I discovered a small but growing bees nest in the corner of the old skylight.  Cue my first panic dance.  I took stock.  The window opens, reluctantly, when you push on the end in which they are currently habitating.  My attic has dressses, luggage, skis and a bow and arrows.

It wasn't until I was attempting to push the window open with a ski pole and shoo the bees out with an arrow that I remembered that I had some bee spray in the kitchen.  Forget about it!  This will totally work!  I reiterated to myself.  I got the window open and attempt to push the hive out of it when it broke off and just fell on the floor.  Cue the panic dance and run away shouting.  I abandoned my weapons and ran downstairs to retrieve the spray (as I should have in the first place).

I crept back up the stairs all of my senses focused on not encountering a bee.  It wasn't until I was climbing the attic stairs that I thought I should probably have shoes on.  Forget about it!  Who needs shoes!  I reiterated to myself.  I made it to the scene and sprayed at the confused bees who had conveniently not scattered.  I grabbed my ski pole and brandished it like it was actually an effective weapon against bees.

Once the danger passed (I threw a box on the last struggling bee), I felt victorious.  Only now I realize that my attic is now strewn with bee carcases, ski supplies, and arrows.  Not to mention a fair puddle of poision that I will get to clean up tomorrow.

Oh, my simple life! 

Mini WAP

Back in October I eluded to a 'new' 'commuter car' that never came to fruition.  Some of you may know that I have lusted after a classic mini cooper for some time now.  I have spent years trolling ebay and minimania.com looking for one in a reasonable radius at a reasonable price.  I stumbled upon one very near to my house and almost bought it.  That was, until it was hit by a state snow plow.
So, the search continued.  A passive hobby, every once in a while scanning the sites until one popped up in Rhode Island.  That's not too far, and after my years of research, I know what the going rate is, and this one was cheap.  So, sight unseen (save some bad pictures) I decided to buy it.
Last week I drove up there, and before I knew it I was sitting in the most adorable car ever produced by man.  I was very happy to see that it did in fact exist, was drivable, and that the seller was really selling it and not planning to murder me at all.  Every wild ass plan comes with moments of clarity and terror, sometimes simultanously.  Sitting in his driveway behind the wheel of a car I could barely drive was that moment.  It is the mark of a good wild ass plan to think to yourself, "How in the hell did I get into this situation?"

Before I got there, I had driven a manual car four times and I guess we can safely say I am much better at it now than I was a week ago.  I asked the seller not to think less of me when he saw me drive by his house 22 times before I actually left.  He laughed, but then I actually did.

I drove it from his house to NH that evening and it was an adventure.  I had some highway time, some back roads time, some stopped in traffic time and it was a success.  Now, I can't pretend that I know anything about cars, so any noise or smell I experienced while driving filled me with terror.  Also, the gas gauge is broken, and the seller wasn't clear on how big the tank was, so, in 100 miles I stopped for gas three times because not knowing made me very nervous.  And yes, that was three times too many, and yes, it does feel stupid to buy one gallon of gas.

After a long and sordid story, my parents escorted me home.  It was nice to have them behind me as they gave me a wide birth on hill starts and if anything happened it was comforting to know that they were right there.  And whether he admits it or nor, Dad knows a lot more about cars than I do.
In many, many miles of non-highway driving we had only one overheating incident and other than that the mini performed admirably for a car of its age and lineage. 

I've now had it vetted by a professional and the results were as expected:  it needs a little work.  But not as much as one might think.  I ordered the parts and the immediate problems will be addressed as soon as they come in.  It has been fun trying to find basic things like light bulbs and lug nuts.  Overly helpful auto parts stores insist on attempting to find the bulb numbers in the computer.  The problem is they start by looking under BMW.  I try to explain that this is a 'real' British mini and if it were there it would be under Morris, British Leyland, British Motor Company, Rover, or Austin.  "Oh,  yeah, check under Austin Martin." one guy suggested.  I just smiled and nodded.

POTD 2012

I know that all three of you will be relieved to see that I've all but sorted out the picture of the day project for this year.  What a relief!  But the most astute of you will see that I still owe you a day for the 30th of May.  All I did that day was drive, have a meltdown with the mini, and go to sleep.  Trust me, it wasn't that interesting.  Though, I did see a number of Amish in horse carts, ate some chocolate, and traveled down the first concrete mile in New Jersey (exciting, I know!).  But, I'm back and sorted, and the whole mini wild ass plan will soon be detailed. 

25 May

I wasn't sure that todays picture was up to snuff (below), so I included a better one from yesterday too.

24 May

Avalanche falls at The Flume in the White mountains














The mini enjoyed the Kangamangus highway immensely.

23 May

Yeah, I know, another flower. You'd rather see the mini, right?

22 May

Today was take your Ellie to work day, so I found myself running calls with Andy in Maine. T'was good times. Sadly, I didn't get to ride in this 1940's Jeep.

19 May


Two pictures today to make up for yesterday. 

Helpful Honking

I didn't post a picture yesterday, but I was too busy stalling my mother's car 10 times in a row in the middle of a four lane road to take a picture. It wouldn't have been an pretty one anyway. Mostly it would have looked like us trying really hard not to shout at eachother, me cursing loudly, and strangers honking at us and while trying not to kill us all.

Why is it that when your car becomes disabled either through user error or poorly timed mechanical failure, that people feel the need to honk at you? Do they think that I didn't notice that I was blocking two lanes of traffic and being a general pain in everyone's ass? "Oh, thank you for honking. I didn't notice that I was in the middle of the street. This is inconvenient? People want to get by? Thank you for letting me know."

In reality, there was nothing I wanted more than to move the car 20 feet. Every fiber of my being was willing that car to go, but I still managed to stall over and over again. But, considering it was my 4th time ever driving a stick, and my first time in any real traffic, I guess I did okay.

I am practicing for the newest wild ass plan. If the plan comes to fruition, those of you who follow the picture a day project will have no doubt of its success.

17 May

Work is cool when I come home smelling like aircraft fuel.

Plant Update

Thanks to reader, Anne for helping me to figure out the mystery plant from the 15th.  She wins $100,000 and an RV!!

The plant is nighshade.  So I guess that I should stop eating it.

(ps. Anne was close with a shooting star.  Though the bloom is similar, mine is a vine, so I googled 'shooting star vine' and a pictue of the plant came up!)

16 May

Night shots.  I really need to remember when I've put the manual focus on.  So that I turn it back to auto. 

Self Checkout

Something that boggles me, though I use anyway, is the self checkout at the grocery store.  Firstly, why am I doing more work while someone is standing ten feet away who will do it for me?  I'm not getting paid by the store to check myself out.  I'm not even getting a discount.
I've used the self check out even when regular check outs are available.  Why?  Probably because my reclusive tendencies are increasing and it's one less human I have to interact with.  But, at the same time, I hate that check out robot.  Hate her.
All of the things I hate about her make me look crazy. Probably because recently I have have found myself talking back to her.
"Thank you for using self check out.  Please scan your member card."  She starts already.
"Why are you shouting at me.  Can't you see I'm digging my card out of my wallet?  And don't thank me.  Pay me instead."
Just as I fish the card out, she repeats "Please scan your member card."
"Look, bitch..."
I scan the card and she starts talking again.
"Indicate if you are using your own bags."
"Indicate this!" I shout back. I continue to wonder outloud "Why do you make me furious?  You're just a recording."
Despite my feeble attempts to rationalize, she continues to enrage me.  "Scan items one at a time then place them gently in the bag."
"Gently?!  I defy you, ice queen of Wegmans!"
That's how I end up with broken eggs, bruised apples, and squashed bread.
"Please remove all items from scanning area."
"What the?  I didn't even touch it you stupid thing!"
As I continue scanning, she gets confused.  Probably because I try to scan so fast that she does get confused.   
"Unexpected item in the bagging area." 
"I'll give you an unexpected item!"  I literally shake my fist at the screen. "And stop talking so loudly.  People can hear you.  I'm standing right here." 
If I buy any fruit or veg, it takes me 10 minutes to find where it is on the list.  "Oh, there's the effing corn!  I should have known it would be under 'S' for sweet corn.  You know, to differentiate it from the sour corn."
"Scan all coupons, then insert them into the slot near the blinking light."
"What?  You think I'm some kind of moron?"
And the damn thing never takes coupons correctly.  I end up having to call over an employee anyway, so really I could have avoided the whole thing if I had checked out the traditional way.
"Yeah, I will scan my card and follow the directions on the pin pad!"
"Thank you for shopping at Wegmans."
"Stop making conversation, robot!"
"Don't forget to take your receipt."
"I'll take it if I want to take it!  Boom, left receipt!  What d'you think about that?! Ellie out."

On second thought, I might be insane. 

15 May

Cash and prizes if anyone can name this tiny flower from my yard.  

9 May

Thank you, nail, for causing me to jump off the bike in the middle of the intersection like an idiot.  For causing me to look like a fool, cursing on the side of the road.  For causing me to walk it (thankfully) three blocks to the bike shop, and then have to pay them to use pliers to get you out.
Thank you, nail,  for punching all inch and a half of yourself into my brand new tire and tube.
Thank you, nail, for being in the street.  Don't you have some boards to hold together or something? 

6 May

Crafting today, ftw!  Tough luck placed in front of a dumpster. 

2 May

The grievance board.  My favorite place in the newly renovated ER. 

1 May

A weird start this year at the Laboring Sons Memorial Ground in my hometown.  This was an African American cemetery way back in 1837.  In a very silly move after it fell into disrepair, it was made a whites only playground.  Obviously, this didn't last, but it wasn't properly memorialized until 2003, after much lobbying. 

It's that time of year again

I'm off to the usual roaring start to the (5th annual!) picture a day project. I took a picture today, but had a busy evening and now I'm in bed so it will have to be posted tomorrow. If you happen to be a new reader of the blog, every May I attempt to post a picture of the day for the whole month, with mild success. So, here's hoping that this May will be full of interesting subjects and moving images. Time will tell.
Check out past May photo projects in the archives. 2010 was a good year.

2008
2009
2010
2011

Clean Undies

One of the myths of EMS is that clean underwear is required before calling. 'Be sure to put on clean underwear in case you're in an accident!' your mother may advise. But, to be fair, I am not the least bit interested in the contents or quality of your underwear. That said, we do appreciate the presence of underwear, as opposed to none at all. And yeah, I've seen plenty of underwear, and most of it is extremely forgettable.

But, I did hear a good story lately.

They were called to a motorcycle accident. The patient had stopped short and layed the bike over. Annoyingly, the weight of the bike had snapped his leg. They arrived to find him sprawled on the ground cursing between clenched teeth, clearly trying to master his pain with careful breathing.
After assessing the patient and getting the backboard ready, it was time to cut his pants off to get a good look at the leg and likely set it with a traction splint. The crew were met with loud objections from the patient. This was unsurprising as most motorcyclists covet their expensive chaps and don't want them to be cut off.
"No, no no. You can't cut them off! You just can't!" He repeated.
"Yes, sir, I know these are expensive, but they've got to come off sooner or later."
"I don't care. You're not taking them off!"
"But if you let us take them off, we'll splint your leg properly and I promise you will be more comfortable."
"I don't care."
"The drugs will only do so much and we've got a little ride to the hospital. I just don't want you to suffer more than you have to."
"I can take it."
"It's your choice."
There was a long pause as the patient thought. "There's no way of avoiding this, is there?"
"Not really. We'll take them off and splint you up, or the hospital will. It's your choice. But if it were me, I'd rather have the splint now."
"Okay then, dammit, I'll just take them off." he said with fresh determination.
"Okay." The EMT stepped back to watch. The patient struggled for a few painful minutes to wiggle out of his pants. He soon gave up and gave in.
"I can't get the goddamn things off! Just cut them then!"
"Great.  Listen, I'll cut along the seam so maybe they can be fixed."
"That doesn't even matter!" The patient groaned his resignation, and laid back, closing his eyes.

The EMT carefully cut up the side of the pants, his partner cutting the other leg.  They met at the waist where they were met with a surprise.  Under the patients black leather pants and black jeans were a pair of women's lacy, hot pink panties.  It was quite a shock for both of them, but they adhered to the unspoken EMS rule of 'no eye contact in the presence of something amusing and inappropriate.'  They swiftly removed his pants, covered him with a sheet, then deftly applied the traction splint, alleviating the pressure on his broken leg.

"Does your leg feel a bit better now?"
The patient, clearly wishing he were anywhere else was slow to answer a quiet "Yes."
They got through the whole rest of the call, transport, transfer, and paperwork and were back in the ambulance before simultaneously bursting into a fit of hysterical laughter that lasted the rest of the shift. 

House Guest

In this job we come into people lives when they least expect it, and trust me, no one bothers to tidy up before we get there. It is a fascinating privilege to be invited into patients' houses. We are seeing them not only at their most vulnerable and sick, but we are seeing them in their own private spaces. I've picked people out of every room in a house, including and quite often, the bathroom.

What prompted my thoughts on this subject was a recent call, of course. I hate to be fooled, especially by a house. I went to a call in a pretty nice neighborhood and as I was finding the house, I remarked to myself how glad I was to be in this particular area. How nice it will be to go into one of these houses. Undoubtedly it will be clean and bright and well kept. But one might think I would have learned by now that every time I think this, I'm wrong. I should probably stop counting my unsmelly and well-lit eggs before they hatch.

The last time I assumed tidiness, I was met with the most horrible stale smokey house I've ever encountered. I think I acquired asthma, dirty teeth, and my hair turned brown just from being in the living room. This time, it was the perennial foe of EMS: cats. Well, any pets can be a problem, but this house was clearly full of cats. Or at least, I think we could have created one from all of the hair around the house. Now, I probably shouldn't be telling tales about houses, but they are too much of an interesting part of the job to ignore.

I think you can tell a lot about a person by their house.  From the barren and unkempt drug addicts' house, to the house that has clearly been loved for decades. When I was a student in the city I learned in which houses to deploy the roach shuffle so that we didn't leave with anything we didn't come with. 
I also learned what a beautiful dichotomy it is to go from the most squalid rented room on one call and then step into a high society million dollar house on the next.

Some houses I want to stay in all day.  I want to know these people, get a tour, and hear their stories, because I know they'll be interesting. If the patient isn't too sick, I'll ask about some things. It shows I'm paying attention and am interested in them.  Besides, I enjoy non sequitur conversation starters. "How did you come by that cigar store indian, anyway?"

Though it is getting rare, I am still surprised by houses and their owners.  Usually, it's a bad surprise, when I expect greatness and find something horrible.  But sometimes, it's a good surprise, and like all good surprises in this job, they slowly work to restore my faith in humanity. 

Timing

Sometimes in this work, things are timed perfectly. Too often people wait too long to call. I can't blame them, no one really wants to see us. Also too often, people call too early.  I mean, they probably shouldn't call at all, but that's a different post.

Recently I had a perfectly timed call. I arrived after the ambulance and peeked in the door, I was advised to set up in the truck while they got the patient out of the house. Sweet. As I was pulling cords out of the monitor and opening an IV start kit, I saw someone running out of the corner of my eye. The back doors were suddenly flung open and they pushed the now unconscious patient right in front of me.
"He just went unconscious when we got outside." the EMT hurriedly told me. Well, shit. But how convenient to go unconscious just as you are being loaded into an ambulance where a paramedic is standing with EKG cables in her hand. So, I threw him on the monitor and he was v-fib (a lethal but treatable heart rhythm). Sweet, light him up! Or, give him some 'edison medicine' as my medical director puts it.
So, we shocked him, and he got a pulse back and it was high fives all around. But within minutes, he was back at it, so we shocked him again, and again, and this happened six times before I had time to get an IV in him to give him some medicine.  I hadn't shocked someone that much in a very long time.  And I've never had someone all but come back to total life after a shock. This poor guy would come back enough to groan and confuse us, as I guess his heart couldn't decide what to do. At one point, I thought we'd lit him on fire.  I'm sure it was a good feeling to look up after being violently dragged back from the bright light in a post-shock haze and hear your paramedic say "Is something on fire?!" (Nothing was on fire, of course, but a few singed hairs never hurt anyone.)  His heart finally submitted to working thanks to the amiodarone.

The patient was talking (but not too chatty) by the time we got to the hospital and was swiftly transferred out and then it really was high fives all around. I'd never had a patient actually come back from a cardiac arrest and to be honest it really was a really amazing feeling. He's the one patient who mattered in a sea of recent mediocre calls.  A bright spot in my day, my month, my year, my career.  Most importantly, he is a reminder of why I do this strange job, and of just how strange it is.  He is all of these wonderful things to me, and yet, a stranger.  I wouldn't recognize him if he fell down dead in front of me (again).  And weirdly, that's okay.  I don't need a better ending than the one I already have.    

Rules of the Road

When I ride my bike on the road, I wear a high-vis vest, I have a blinking tailight, and I chose roads very carefully based on speed limit, shoulder width, and of course, hilliness. I ride in the road as that is what I am supposed to do. I obey traffic laws and signal my intent at intersections.

This morning, while riding along, minding my own business, I was honked at. Confused, I looked over and saw a woman in a van nobly gesturing to me and then forcefully pointing at the parallel sidewalk.  Her implication was clear that she wanted me to be on the sidewalk despite my shoulder riding and despite the fact that she had the width of two lanes in which to get around me.  I immediately went crazy, at least by my standards, and shouted at her.  I remember repeating "no" quite a bit, and then pointed to myself and shouting "I am a vehicle!"  I didn't even curse, which was surprising to me, and I didn't do any rude gestures in her direction.
Despite my anger, I didn't stop to lecture her further at the red light, but merely made a point of signaling and turned away, secretly hoping that she was also turning.  She didn't, thankfully.  I do wonder if she thought she was doing a public service and hoped that I would immediately stop and move to the sidewalk?  Did she think that I had arrived on the side of the road by accident?  I don't know, but I'm not sure she thought I would start flying off the handle. This thought amuses me.

So, I just want to have, for the blogging record, some biking ground rules written down.

Firstly, I am well within my rights as a cyclist to be in the road. I can take the whole lane if I want.

I am not within my rights as a cyclist to be on the sidewalk as this woman suggested. That is because the sidewalk is aptly named and is for walking. You would not suggest to a motorcyclist to ride on the sidewalk. That would be absurd.

It is more than a courtesy to give three feet of birth to a cyclist. In fact, in my state, it is a law. And, for the record, three feet is a whole yard stick. This is a tricky concept sometimes.

It is legal to slow down to pass me. It is also legal to wait until it is safe to pass me.

Now, this morning I found I was so angry that I was literally shouting "I am full of rage!" as I rode down the next road. Despite my mantra of not bearing her ignorance on my shoulders, I was having a hard time calming down. Then I briefly wished that I had stopped and had a chat with her at the red light. But, then I figured it would have been less public education and more me shouting at a stranger which would have been counterproductive to say the least. But I might have felt better! Damn conscience. No I wouldn't have, but thanks to the blog, I do feel better now.

Please respect cyclists.  We know we're a pain in the ass.

Behind every great paramedic...

...is an even better EMT. This, is largely true, and my thoughts on the subject have been brought on by some opinions shared with me by an EMT. He works for another jurisdiction with a very different delivery of EMS. His is a more traditional fire-based system with ambulances staffed with an EMT and a paramedic, while I am typically a chase care medic.
Tonight he suddenly began to rant that with a good EMT, a paramedic is pretty much obsolete. After all, in his system, he sets up IVs, breathing treatments, EKGs, etc and he supposes that paramedics are only good for starting IVs and intubating people. Wait. Hold the phone. I know that in class we joked that monkeys could do intubations. But intubations alone do not a paramedic make.

Obviously, I believe in the worth of paramedics. I also believe in the worth of EMTs. And if an EMT believes that paramedics are only good for starting IVs and intubating, then I am sorry for him, and question the quality of the paramedics he works with. On the other hand, I'm sure that what he's saying is true. For the most part, he sets up stuff for his paramedic, he knows exactly how the routine call are run and what the paramedic needs.

But, in a chase car system, I work with different EMTs on every call. Most I know, some I don't. Some I trust, some I don't. Sometimes, I don't get an EMT for some time while I am on scene by myself. So, don't tell me that I am only good for IVs and intubations.

Many times, with those EMTs whom I know and trust, some real magic happens where we work together flawlessly and the call just flows and everything is great. We bounce ideas off of eachother, creat a plan, and carry it out. Other times, the EMT I get holds their clipboard, asks unconscious people what their social security numbers are and I take care of everything else.
It varies every day. Sometimes, I need a good EMT, and I am the happiest person alive when I open the back doors and see a familiar face I know I can trust. And sometimes, an EMT needs a good paramedic. I try to do my best and be that person that when the back doors opened they are as glad to see me as I am to see them.

It's great when an EMT can set stuff up for me, but that's not what they're there for. They assess and treat the patients as much as I do. I just have cooler toys.

The Calm

In recent days I've had calls that tested my patience.  And not because of the patients, but because of their family.  It is important for a paramedic to be empathetic and patient, but I think that overly excited families forget that a paramedic is also an investigator and problem-solver.
I've had a rash of kids who had febrile seizures.  In these cases, the patients are largely fine. It's not an ideal situation, but, it happens.  I work hard as a non-mom to put myself in their positions of these parents.  I can see how it would be terrifying to see your kid have a seizure, but once someone arrived to help, I might think some of your stresses would be relieved.  But one mom I had to deal with recently I seriously wanted to vulcan death-grip her, just to knock her out and let her reset.  She was absolutely inconsolable, despite the fact that the baby in her arms was clearly fine by that time and left seriously wondering what it's mother was doing shouting like a crazy person.

Then I had a call where an elderly father had gone unconscious.  Two of his daughters were on scene. I arrived before the ambulance and was thusly alone there for a few minutes.  The panic had well set in by my arrival and the daughters couldn't tell me anything useful because they were too wrapped up in their own conclusions.  Berating me about what I could and couldn't do by myself, how gentle I needed to be with him and how he couldn't go even one second without oxygen wasn't helping me to fix the problem.  Calling their entire Rolodex while I was trying to figure out what was going on wasn't helping either.  I almost lost my temper with this call.  I had to ask one of them to leave as her phone call was drowning out what I needed to hear, and then I heard her complaining about it in the next room.  My requests for medical history, medications, and at the very least the story fell on deaf ears.  It was frustrating beyond belief. 

Anyway, I guess my point is that I am having trouble empathizing.  I am having trouble being patient at the times when I should be most patient.  It is easy to imagine the situation the frantic daughters were in, but it's just not in my demeanor to panic.  I worried that my calmness was actually winding them to a higher state of frenzy.  I could feel they were actually mad that I had arrived alone, didn't match their panic, and then didn't solve their problem within 60 seconds.  I've seen it in the ER quite a bit, when you don't match their level of concern, people get more mad instead of more calm. It doesn't really make sense.

On this call, my BLS partner assured me I wasn't mean, just to the point.  It didn't feel that way after I started to ignore their questions that I had already answered.  I suppose it's not bad that I was more concerned for the patient then their feelings. And frankly the patient was far more critical then appeasing their inquiries.  Despite that, I'm going to try to be the eye of the hurricane and make every attempt to convince everyone on scene to join me. 

Chew, then swallow.

I am a big fan of 'I Love Lucy' it is simply...great. In one episode, in an attempt to buy time, Lucy advises her three besties to chew their food 25 times before swallowing. Her time wasting was futile, of course, but the advice wasn't half bad.

We were called to a guy who was throwing up blood. We arrived, and he was right in the front room. He looked up from a small trash can and said, "I'm throwing up blood." and before I could inquire further, he proved it by spraying bright red blood all over the interior of the can. "Well, yes you are. Can you walk outside with us?"
He followed us to the ambulance where the plot thickened. He had been eating steak when suddenly he got a sharp pain in his chest and began throwing up bright red blood. Without any other associated symptoms or history, (allegedly not a drinker) I was puzzled.
So, we did what we do best and took him to the hospital.

I got a rare follow up on this patient. In the OR, they put a really fancy cam down his esophagus and just above the stomach they were met with a big hunk of steak that had taken a little rest stop. They couldn't get it to go in any logical direction, so they actually had to cut him open to remove the meat.

Can you believe that?! As interesting as it is to find a third exit for your steak, or as clever as it seems to save some for later like a hamster, I'd avoid this situation.
Lucy was right, chew at least 25 times before swallowing. It will save you an overnight stay in the hospital and the recounting of an embarrassing story. At least, more embarrassing than buying the wrong theater tickets.

Winter

I went recently on a call in the snow. The snow started around 10 pm. We got a trouble breathing call around 1130.
There was just enough snow by then to make things slippery and annoying. We parked at the end of a short but steep driveway.
I still haven’t figured out what is best in these situations: leave the cot, and fetch the patient, or take the cot and risk killing everyone on the way to the ambulance. Or, just give up completely. Either way, these calls are fraught with risk.

Anyway, we pushed the cot to the door, and even carried it into the house. There we found an incredibly sick guy, struggling for oxygen and looking within inches of death. “Oh, good god” I said aloud.
I threw a neb treatment on the guy and had already made the decision to get the hell out of there. “Sir, stand up.” I said firmly to him. He was so starved of oxygen, but he obeyed and we buckled him in.
There was cop on scene, thank God, and he and my partner took the cot and eased it out of the house. I stood at the top of the driveway and watched as they both slid half way down the with the patient on the cot between them. It was horrible to watch, but all made it down in one piece.  I then slid myself down the drive and found the patient was so hypoxic that he was in a panic.  I don't think he even realized that he was nearly dumped in the street.  He fought us as we put CPAP on his face, but after a few minutes he began to calm down and I was exponentially less nervous.
Later, I expressed my horrible feeling as they went down the driveway to my partner.
"I saw my career flash before my eyes, dude, and there was nothing I could do."
“I was sliding, but the cop had it.” he replied confidently.
“No, no he didn’t.  Nobody had it. It was the scariest moment of my life.”

If he had called an hour and a half earlier, life would have been easier for everyone, and there would have been less danger. Given the state of him, he had been feeling bad for at least an hour and a half. In inclement weather, just call! Well, call before the weather comes.

Improv

For the past few weeks, I've been taking an improv class.  I took it because, well, I like to subscribe to the adage of 'do something that scares you...every once in a while'.  It goes something like that.  Thanks to this class, I have done something that scares me at least once a week.  I have no background in 'the stage' nor have I recently undertaken any public speaking challenges or anything of that sort.  Further, I am not that funny.  So, taking an improv course seemed like a great idea!
It's a small class of nine, I think, and they are all wicked smart.  And quick.  The two characteristics that are the basis of impov.  Smart and quick.
But I'm not too bad.  I think probably because we have an audience of one.  We are supposed to do a 'show' at the end of the sememster for friends and family.  I worry that with an audience of any number greater than one, I will be as good as Michael Scott.
Outside of that future terror, this is the most fun I've had in a while.  I want to stay all day and play improv games with these people.  It's all so new, I find it endlessly amusing. I also find it an amazing human thing.  In the blink of an eye, you are essentially creating a story, characters and actions with another person, and they don't know what the first line will be.  It really is amazing that anything happens at all.  But in seconds the two (or more) of you can get on the same page.  What's more, you're on the same page, and it's funny!  Perfect storm!
I'm not saying were good, in fact, collectively, we really struggle with some things.  But it is a small group of people who are really trying.  Really, really trying.  It's a really fun hour and a half, and I feel it's good for my brain and my personality. 

Job Description

In the old days, EMS personnel were expected to drive the ambulance and then plan the funeral.  Life was seemingly simple.
But now, a paramedic's job description is never long enough.  It is far beyond showing up and bringing the hearse.  I joke that I am paid for 'readiness' as my excuse to earn money sleeping.  But readiness is a big part of the job.  In the station, I am chef, maid, and janitor.  I track supplies, check medications and restock.  On calls, a paramedic is driver, interviewer, negotiator, the calm of the storm.  A paramedic is the medicine giver, the airway guru, the IV ninja.  A paramedic is the authority, the decision-maker, the therapist, listener, and giver of advice.  We take care of every type of patient and yet have no specialty.

I'm not sure why I'm compelled to point this out.  I think that it is easy to forget how dynamic this job really is.  It is very easy to forget the expectations of this job.  One must be all of these things and do them all well, 100% of the time.  That is something a little unfair about medicine.  We hold ourselves very accountable and try to to the right thing every time.  The public holds us even more accountable and expects us to be perfect people as well as perfect practitioners.
I worry about that sometimes.  Well, a lot of times.  But at the end of the day a paramedic is a human. 

White Rose

There's no way to write about the anniversary of the deaths of Sophie and Hans Scholl, and Christoph Probst without going on an inane tangent.  This subject is clearly far from the usual blog fare, though I think I've pointed it out before.
It'se easiest just to point you to this link for a pretty good run down of the story.  I am rarely moved by, well, anything, but when I heard this story in Munich I found it to be extrodinary.   It deserves recounting, it certainly deserves remembering.  To me, it is a reminder to stand for what is right, and to remember the burdon of hate this world carries.
Temper your suffering with those who suffer most. 

Lessons

I've learned a few things from my patients in recent weeks.
Firstly, dreams can be intense.  At 4 in the morning, my patient had a dream that he was under attack.  His attackers had left for some reason, but were headed back at any time. The logical conclusion was for him to exit the building.  Through the window.  This was probably a great plan except that he was on the second floor.  No one told his dream self this and by the time he realized it, it was too late.  Wide awake, broken, and on the freezing sidewalk below, he had to crawl to a neighbors house, up the porch and knock on the door until they woke up.  So, the lesson here is any of the following: Tie yourself to your bed, sleep on the first floor, lock the windows, or carry a cell phone in your pajamas.

Secondly, and this one is a little more obvious, trees are tall.  Yes, and sometimes if you climb them, especially using big nails driven into the trunk as a ladder, you cal fall out of them.  Worse when you fall out of them, you are quite deep into the woods and not only are you hurt and in the middle of nowhere, no one knows it.  Then, when they do figure it out, they have to carry your rescuers to you in an ATV.  Subsequently, you get to ride in an ATV in a stokes basket out of the woods which I'm sure is not as fun as it sounds.  Lesson here is any of the following:  don't climb a tree, use a ladder instead, carry a cell phone, tell your friends where you're going, always have an ATV handy, or buy a rope and take climbing lessons.

Thirdly, dark is dark.  This poor guy was staying at a friends house.  Early in the morning, like many of us,  he needed the restroom.  It was still dark out and light can be intense at that hour, so he felt his way down the hall and into the bathroom.  Only it wasn't the bathroom.  I was the steps to the basement.  Then he unfortunately got put on a backboard, splinted and filled with lovely pain medicine on the way to the trauma center.  It is easy to say a bone is broken when it is visible from the outside.  Lesson here is any of the following:  Know the layout of the house your in, don't drink before bed, or turn on the hall light.

Leftovers

Tonight I went out to dinner.  Well, this afternoon I took the bike to the park for the first ride of the year.  It was marginally successful.  I need to work harder at the gym.  Anyway.  I got home later than I thought, ate some leftovers in a rush and went to a meeting.  It was some pretty good human interaction!  And could give me plenty of things to do in the future.  Anyway.  Afterwards, we went out to dinner.  I was still a little hungry from abbreviated dinner, so off I went.  'Why get something small, when I can get something to have now and take home for tomorrow?'  I said to myself.  It was a nice dinner with plenty left for another meal.  They kindly gave me a box, and a bag too.  I carefully scraped my plate into the box and put it in the bag and placed it right in front of me so I wouldn't forget to take it home.
Well, by now, we all know the end of this story.  It should be no surprise to any human that I don't have anything for lunch tomorrow.
How is it that I can make a calculated decision to get a bigger meal so that I can take the rest home, then eat the meal to ensure I have some to take home, get a box and fill it to take it home, and then forget the entire plan, just like that?!  How?!
I was too far away by the time I realized my oversight and I find it unbelievably irritating.  The poor little bag of rice and veg sitting there all alone.  Now, in the trash.
Brain, you are capable of amazing things.   So, stop being dumb!