This weekend I went camping with some friends old, new, and in between. It was good fun. The last time I camped at Shenandoah National Park I was lost in the woods and nearly froze to death. This time was quiet the opposite, as the weather was pleasant and I got to retrace my steps somewhat and see the park in the sun, instead of the snow.
We took a nice hike, saw a few deer and drove past a black bear. Sweet. The last black bear I saw was up in a tree, but this one was just walking along the road oblivious to all of his excited human followers snapping their cameras like maniacs.
I also got to do some serious butterfly stalking, they were everywhere! Pictures to follow, I haven't yet put them on my photo site.
Despite the fact that the campsite was nearly full by Saturday, it was very relaxing to just sit in front of our ludicrously hot fire and read. I really aught to camp more often.

The Tube

The tube is held in such high regard; the defining skill of a paramedic. In school it is drilled and practiced over and over. It is the benchmark of our professional success; how we measure our overall proficiency.

At each opportunity, methodical steps are followed, materials assembled and checked, anatomical landmarks found. But patients don’t read the textbook; sometimes we miss.

So much rides on its success that when we fail, it is like the airway becomes our enemy, it haunts us, it ruins our day. Regardless of the outcome of the call, the tube is what we remember. If I had gotten it sooner, gotten it faster, gotten it at all. Would the outcome have been different?

But algorithms are followed, responsibility is passed, egos stand aside; it just might not be our day.
Deep down we know it is okay, but it is hard to let it go.


I spent yesterday doing standby for a golf tournament. It was about as exciting as I thought it would be. I brought two books. I did end up learning a lot about golf. Way more than I ever really wanted to learn, but maybe it will come in handy some day to know that a bogey is not just something that comes out of your nose.

My partner seemed pretty into it so I couldn't spend the whole day making fun of golf. But it was still fun. I even did do a bit of EMS, I gave out two bandaids. . .to the same person.

We had a couple run ins with the 'golf nazi' (as we took to calling her) We were out in our cart watching golf, trying not to be bored to tears or get in the way, when she came up to us and basically asked us to kindly stop exploring the course. I don't know why, as we weren't disturbing anything, I didn't even let my pager go off while we were near the greens. We left since I got the vibe that if we actually disturbed anything she would cut us.

People kept coming up to me and asking questions that I had no clue about. It was like they were speaking a different language. More than once, I had to say "I don't know what you're talking about" like an idiot. Or, I'd just give them a blank stare and then ask "I'm sorry, are you hurt?" I mean the stethoscope 'round the neck apparently isn't a dead giveaway that I don't actually work for the golf place.

I love Scotland and well done them for inventing golf, but if I'm going to watch a Scottish sport, I'd rather watch people throwing telephone poles.

In the end I did get a lot of free food, a golf tee, and drove a golf cart. What more can I ask for?

Problem Solved.

"I can't breathe, my right foot is swollen, my sugar is high, and my neck feels weird." The patient announced as we entered her door.

For these reasons she called 911 and got an emergency ambulance.

I went down the list of complaints with her.

I listened to her clear lungs, I put her on the pulse ox, I took her blood pressure.

I examined her foot, determined there was no trauma, strong pulses, good sensation, no swelling at all.

I took her blood sugar and discovered that she was due for her insulin shot which would put it back to normal.

I palpated her neck, I counted her pulse, I listened for bruits, I felt nothing.

We talked, I joked, she laughed.

I wondered why I was there appeasing a classic time waster.

After all this, she still wanted to go to the ER.

I walked her to the cot and on the way out she asked if she could take a bag of sugar free candy with her.

I punched her in the face.

One legitimate patient

We were called for a headache. 98% of headache calls are migraines, or just plain complainers. I was skeptical as we entered the narrow house and found a guy holding his head. He had no history of migraines, and had taken some aspirin without relief. The headache came on suddenly and was crippling. I was skeptical until we took his pressure which was over 190 systolic. He stood and walked across the room to the cot and had a severely ataxic gait. Then he threw up a few times. My concern grew and we just went to the hospital. We didn't waste any time because what he needed, we couldn't give him in the ambulance.
He almost immediately got a head CT and he was having a massive hemorrhagic stroke. He was quickly flown to a hospital with neurosurgery capabilities.

I can't tell you what happened to him, but I can hope that he will be able to be there to raise his young children, to teach them, to hold them, to talk to them. His full recovery is the scenario that I must believe in.

This is green living.

I am totally on the 'green' bandwagon. I switched to those coil light bulbs, I recycle like a fiend, and I have taken to riding my bike to everywhere except for work. I am getting these sweet grocery bag panniers for the bike but they are on back order (probably because I am not alone in riding the green bandwagon.)
So, I needed a couple things from the grocery store, and although I don't have the bags yet, I do have a shiny new rack that is quite useful. So, I biked up there and as I walked into the store I was greeted by coke 12 packs were on sale for a ludicrously low price. Such that I couldn't pass them up. Without hesitation I stacked a few in my cart and spent the rest of the shopping trip considering my options.
1. park the cart and get my car.
2. attempt to stack four, twelve packs on a bike rack.
3. steal a grocery cart (temporarily)

It felt absolutely stupid to go and get my car to drive the short distance to the store just to get some sodas. 12 packs on a bike rack simply do not work, all I could see in my mind were 48 soda cans rolling down the street as I futilely attempted to round them up. I decided that stealing the cart would look far less stupid in the long run. So, at great personal risk of either being chased after by the store cart wrangler or developing a great look for my future career as a crazy cat lady, I stole the cart. I left my bike as collateral, not that the store knew that, but it worked out okay.
All in the name of saving energy.
As you can see from the picture, other than the cokes, I was getting some supremely important supplies.

Short hiatus

My computer is being upgraded at the moment, hence the lack of updates. (and thanks to nothing terribly interesting happening at work) I have a few posts in the works ('the works' here being notes scribbled on bits of paper) but nowhere to type them. How is Ellie typing this update then? One could wonder. I am at our public library simply to check messages and read magazines for free. It's a nice place to ride the bike to, and I think the only place in town that has a proper bike rack. I smell a letter to the editor brewing...

Hopefully I'll have the computer back sometime in the coming week, and then I will be too busy marveling in it's lightning fastness to write an update. "Is a 160 gig hard drive big enough you think?" asks my computer guru. "Um...yeah." Considering that that is more than four times the size of my current hard drive, I'd say that's large enough for at least another five years or so. But, I fear, like an empty room in a house, it will fill up, and with hundreds of 10 megapixel pictures already waiting to be put on the computer, I hope it will last me.

I wasn't going to take any

Again, after hours of uploading, pretty much all of the pictures of Italy 2008 are online.
In Rome, I had free internet in the hotel which was awesome considering that one could pay upwards of 3 euros (5 dollars) for half an hour elsewhere. Those updates were hasty but pretty much cover everything else we did. I've improved their spelling and added a little info where it was needed.
I've also added a few posts to better explain what I was doing in Italy in the first place, and what we did on those long internetless days. I hope you find it interesting/entertaining.

Italy 2008

Italian Ambulances