Real, real, real

At work we had a ‘big old disaster drill’ at a local nursing home. It was actually a lot of fun (which was surprising to me). They had planned for an unreasonable amount of things to be going on at once, including but not limited to: a chlorine spill, an apartment fire, a terrorist threat, a tornado, an overturned canoe in a lake that no one is allowed to boat in, another fire, people lost in the woods, an earthquake, a bus accident full of children and elderly people, a hurricane, and a collapsed building.
We were summoned to the 4th floor of an assisted living facility to assess some fake patients. Firemen were all around, running patients up and down the stairs. The event coordinators had actually convinced a large number of jolly elderly people to participate in the drill as victims. Everyone I encountered seemed generally bemused about what was going on and were all fun to talk to. All of the victims had cards around their necks stating their demographics and injuries. One lady asked me if she was going to get to go to the hospital. I looked at her tag and said “Sadly, no, it appears that you’ve been crushed by a dresser and you have no blood pressure. But this also says you’re 31 years old, so that’s something.” She laughed and happily played dead.
The elderly victims made it more realistic, but this meant that many of them actually couldn’t get down the stairs unassisted, leaving the firefighters to carry them down four flights.
So we got upstairs, donning our high-vis vests, laden with equipment we didn’t plan on actually using when I literally ran into a young firefighter sagging against a wall, pale as a sheet of paper, and breathing hard. One of his partners also realized he wasn’t doing so well and we both started stripping his SCBA and turn-out gear off of him.
Clearly dehydrated and overheated we let him sit for a few minutes. I gave him the usual challenge; if he could stand up unassisted, then I would let him refuse transport. So we tried him out and, well, off we went to the hospital. I was thrilled to have something real to do. The hospital was in full on disaster mode and I spent minutes explaining to everyone “This is a real patient, this is a real patient, this is a real patient.” Really? Yes!
By the time I got back, most of the fake patients had been transported so I got my free lunch and headed back to normal operations.

So by saying it was “fun” I really mean that I had a good time taking care of my one real patient, missing out on most of the silliness, and watching everyone else freak out.

A vacation like normal people

Last week I was thrown up on, stung by a bee, and chased by a dog, but other than that, I had a very relaxing visit with some old friends.
My college roommate had a baby last month, so two my girlfriends and I went down to her house for a week, basically so we could all stand around and adore her baby.
It was just like college, only with a baby. We watched movies, played video games, cooked together, and made a lot of junk food; brownies, rice krispy treats, ice cream, cake, and topped it all off with deep fried pickles. My friends’ husband had been promising me these for two years, and they were very strange, but worth the wait. The mars bar is still the best deep fried thing I’ve ever had to eat, but the pickles are a strong second.

My first day there we were enjoying the southern weather when a bee randomly stung me, unprovoked. I mean, I wasn’t even making fun of it or anything; it just landed on my leg and stung me. I did get a little panicked as I’m not sure if I’d ever been stung before (I think my previous sting experience is actually a false childhood memory) and I definitely didn’t know if I were allergic. Also we were kind of in the middle of nowhere at the time. But, it turns out that I’m very much not allergic. A little ice and Benadryl cream sorted me out.

Of course, the baby was the one who threw up on me, so that’s forgivable. She’s the only one who can break into the “no puke zone,” and if she hadn’t been so damn cute, she probably couldn’t have gotten away with it either.

I wasn’t able to bring my bike, so I borrowed one there. As a full suspension bike with an adorable pink basket on the front, it was not exactly built for road riding, but it was a lovely and super hilly ride, full of rolling farm lands and big, tree covered mountains. It took me an hour to do an eight mile loop and I decided to go just a little further. Of course, as I flew down a hill, I looked up to see a big dog standing in the middle of the road, looking not too nice. That was my cue to turn around and race back up the stupid hill. I did, remembering that this bike was not equipped with my pepper spray, and as I pedaled frantically up the hill, I peeked back to see that the dog was indeed, running after me. Happily, by the time I crested the hill, the dog had given up.

Other than that I got honked at in standstill traffic, drank tea that was so sweet I could have put it over pancakes, and visited wal-mart only once.

Not the desired effect

My partner today was telling me a recent conversation she overheard at the hospital. A patient had a broken arm and they were going to "consciously sedate" her to set it. Conscious sedation involves giving one lovely drugs that make the fact that there is an extra joint in your arm a completely forgettable or hilarious situation. The nurse prepared to give the patient propofol, which is a brilliant drug for such things. (as an aside, the drug itself is white, so it is commonly referred to as "Milk of amnesia" Good stuff)

So the conversation was as follows:

Pt: (justifiably full of trepidation) "So, what are you going to give me?"
Nurse: "The same stuff they gave to Michael Jackson."
Pt: (not wanting to die of a broken arm) "Oh, my God, what?!"

Now she's nice and relaxed for the procedure.


In recent days I have found myself standing in my apartment staring at various items, quietely considering them. Do I need this item now, will I need it next year, will I need it in the future? These battles with myself can last for up to half an hour as I slowly fade into insanity while I consider whether or not to pack a shirt that I haven't worn in the last year and a half. The pile of stuff for goodwill grows by the minute. Don't worry, it's not filled with anything of monitary or sentimental value. Mostly it's things that I question why I've held onto them for this long. Things like a hat from the job that I hated that still has the tags on it.

I wonder if it's necessary to keep CDs of pictures that I already have one physical copy and two seperate sets of digital copies of. So I will muse: Well, the CDs are a form of back up. A form of back up that I don't even get for any of my newer pictures. They take up space, but I did pay for them. Probably two dollars. So that adds up. But they're not actually worth two dollars. I took this picture five years ago. This back and forth will stop me in my tracks for long minutes until I decide that if I have to think that long about it, I might as well keep them. Similarly, how many t-shirts from my old job do I need to hold on to? Why keep the on that has paint stains on it? Should I keep this towel that I used in pottery class that's now stained with clay? I haven't watched this DVD in two years, do I really need it? Oh, and while I'm thinking of things, is it more efficient to roll my clothes or fold them? Will I have a closet? Should I bring some hangers?

It is utter insanity.

Most things I don't question at all. Three boxes of salt and pepper shakers, a few sacred tattered t-shirts, an unusual number of toy ambulances. Without question, these will be stored and I won't think twice about them. I know the sentimental from the pointless.

I've never packed with such limited space for such a span of time. I am all but comitted to taking two suitcases and paying the extra 50 dollars, as well as carrying my backpack and lappy shoulder bag. But trying to chose what sweaters and long sleeved shirts to take while it's 100 degress outside is pretty tricky. In August, I can't even remember what cold feels like.

I'm trying to be as reasonable as possible. One of my goals is to go to a big hippy muddy music festival. So, of course I wonder if I should bring a sleeping bag and my wellies. At some point, reason overtakes me, and I say no, of couse I shouldn't. Surely I will find someone who also wants to go to big hippy muddy music festivals and will allow me to borrow their big hippy muddy music festival acessories.

I looked back on the post where I last mused about packing, when I came home from college and orgainzed all the stuff in my childhood bedroom. I really hated it then. But it hasn't felt like a chore to pack for England, because it is more like prioritizing than packing. I do think it is a little more stressful than regular moving. In regular moving, if the house is empty, than you have packed it all. In my current situation, I have these insane arguments with myself about how many jackets I need to live, how I should probably take the mirror for a bike I don't own yet, and will seriously consider bringing the lappy docking station because I don't want to get there and find that I need that one thing that the UK doesn't produce.

BPA Free

Yesterday I traded in the last of my way too many Nalgene bottles for BPA free versions. Months ago, Nalgene stated that there was no evidence to believe that BPA was dangerous for humans, and then the next day announced that they were changing all of their bottles to BPA free. Guilty. Doing that is like denying that you committed a crime and skipping town the next day. Just admit it!
So after a few months of forgetting them every time I went to the store, I finally traded in the last three for some fancy new ones. I was holding out for a better color than the basic blue and yellow, and I'm really happy with these. Yeah, remember what I said about being a nerd in the last post.
Now I just have to break them in, and by break them in, I mean throw them down the driveway into oncoming traffic.

Can you spell Wenckebach?

We were called for a diabetic problem. We fixed him right up but my partner became concerned when his initial heart rate was 38. That could be a problem. We printed out about a mile of EKG strip to figure out that he was in a second degree atrioventricular heart block type 1, aka Mobitz 1, aka a Wenckebach. (my parents love when I throw down the big words) Turned out that this was completely normal for him, but I explained that we didn't see this everyday which might explain our excitement and fascination. In fact when I did a 12 lead I think I said it was only to satisfy my own curiosity, as his was after all, a diabetic problem. He didn't mind and he was happily asymptomatic, as are most of these patients, but it looks cool anyway. Well, to nerds.
Unsurprisingly, the LP 12 interpretation was wrong.

Proud Moments

My submission (thanks to my friend paul) was selected for a post on Cake Wrecks, one of the funniest blogs in blog world. ( Paul had the three mile island cake made. Why? I really don't know. Either way, it's a proud moment for me.


Some things we can't fix.

“Your patient died.” my partner announced as I entered the room.
“Yeah, she died.” it was strangely casual. It made me more sad.

As I looked back I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was. When we arrived an EMT was crammed into the back of the twisted car, the front of it barely recognizable. He was making his best efforts to protect the patients’ spine from further injury. But the patient was so altered that she was not even able to rationalize her actions, pulling off the collar and oxygen, and kicking her free leg. One look at the pale, sweaty, tachypnic patient and I said “This one goes first.” The fire department continued to carefully cut the mangled car away from the patient.

I didn’t even get a blood pressure before the receiving helicopter crew arrived. We intubated her on the street while the helicopter blades droned, waiting in the background. I watched as they took off, satisfied at the speed of the call, barely ten minutes had past since I arrived. The combined efforts of the fire department and EMS had given this patient the best chance she had. I am not a surgeon, and the back of an ambulance is not an operating suite. Still, I didn't expect her to die.

It’s one of those calls I’ve reevaluated many times. But with no access, and no time, there wasn’t much I could have changed.
That doesn’t stop me from wishing I could have.