Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

KITTEN TAILS, PART II

With regard to the three kittens, Momma Kitty, and their transition from feral cats to indoor cats, well, as you may expect, it was a bit of a tale. TDW-Mark II had determined that the kittens were in another of our window wells, and, judging that they had been weaned, figured that we ought to bring them in, before Momma Kitty drove them off to seek their own fortunes, elsewhere. So, my wife removed the window from one of the window wells, reached out and grabbed Kitten Number One, and placed this kitten into a pet carrier that she had staged nearby.

She reached for Kitten Number Two, and placed that cat into the carrier as well.

So far, so good.

It wasn’t until she reached Kitten Number Three, that it all went wrong. This cat developed into an avatar of Shiva, Destroyer Of Worlds: Bantamweight Division. Exploding into a whirlwind of fangs and claws, Number Three escaped TDW’s clutches, and caromed, cue ball like, about the basement.

And, it was on! TDW attempted to corner the kitten, only to discover that in some kitten academy they teach moves only seen in Kung-Fu movies. Number Three levitated, twirled, and spun away, !!JUST!! out of reach, only to come to rest (relatively speaking) beneath some appliance or another. Once, she had figured out how to access the kitten, she (the kitten) would bolt away, leaping, gazelle like, over another appliance, and then jet around like some furry bottle rocket.

Fortunately, kittens do not have tremendous stores of energy, and therefore, after more swearing and running around (on everybody’s part), Number Three slowed down, just enough, for TDW to throw a towel over her, and wrestle her (the cat) into the carrier.

We settled the kittens into the upstairs bathroom. We figured that accustoming the kittens to our presence would Do Good Things such as reduce the furry superball impressions that they enacted for our benefit, each time we attempted to handle them.

THAT took some time to show any effect. One of the kittens, subsequently named Olivia (due to her peaceful- think olive branch-disposition), rather quickly noticed the humans=food correlation, and even would purr when cuddled, and petted, in TDW-Mark II’s lap. Her twin, named Henrietta (after the chickenhawk character in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons), soon followed suit, purring up a storm when she was petted and cradled in TDW’s (or my) lap. This, in keeping with her namesake, followed Henrietta’s looking at us, and emitting a kittenish snarl, as if to remind us, “I’m Bad!”

The third kitten, due to her exploding into a whirlwind of fangs and claws whenever one of us approached her, was named “Dynamite”. Dynamite slowly warmed up to us, even, eventually, sleeping on our bed.

That, however, followed our gradually introducing the kittens to the rest of the Cat Farm. We would place them in a wire travel crate, and then settle the crate (and kittens) into one corner of the dining room, where TDW-Mark II and I commonly spend our time. There, we could supervise and, occasionally, referee, the developing acquaintance of the kittens with the rest of the menagerie.

One of the older cats decided that he would wander over to say hello (or whatever cats say in such circumstances). He plopped his large self down near the wire, and spent time looking at the kittens, occasionally reaching in their direction with one paw.

Henrietta, true to her namesake, remonstrated with him, snarling with all the kittenish gravitas that she could muster. Which is to say, nearly silently, and not so very intimidating.

After several days of this, we opened the door of the crate, allowing them (the kittens) to wander. The older cat, Max, appeared to take upon himself the role of mentor/uncle, as, for example, Henrietta would burst into loud purring whenever she had the opportunity to curl up next to Max. He (Max) would play with the kittens, occasionally cuffing them as if to underscore his point of, say, “you are playing too rough!”

Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Snippets, again

@@ Please, do NOT tell me that Bonine is 125 (or 12.5: she was not speaking clearly) milligrams, over the counter. I happen to know that OTC Bonine is Meclizine 25 mg, the same strength anti vertigo medication I prescribe as Antivert, and I know this for reasons. These reasons include (a) I kinda went to school for this stuff, (b) I prescribe Antivert/Meclizine several times a week, (c) TDW and I enjoy taking cruises, and she is somewhat susceptible to seasickness. Therefore, I am familiar with Bonine in it’s seasickness/motion sickness indication. Therefore I purchase it, OTC. Ya know, like last week. (d) When I acquire a medication, I (pay attention now! This one weird trick will help you manage your medicines!) RTFL. (Read The Freaking Label). (e) I have a functioning memory, not blown out by continuous applications of high serum levels of cannabinoids. Therefore I can remember this stuff, along with other stuff I find useful.

Finally, please, Please, PLEASE! Consider the possibility that I, indeed, am trying to both help you, as well as make your life easier.

The above is my internal monologue, which is considerably lengthier than my first pass response, also stifled, of “Hmm. Weird. Ok, then, don’t take it. Good talk. Have a nice day! Buh-bye, now!”

@@ So, TINS, TIWFDASL, as an ED nurse, long ago and far away. It came to pass that my manager invited me to join her in her office, where she told me that several of my colleagues had come to her, concerned with what they esteemed to be my taking overly long to triage patients.

For those in the studio audience who do not know, “triage”, in the ED setting, is the process wherein a nurse interviews the patient to elicit chief complaint (“What motivated you to come to ER tonight?”), history of present illness (“How long have you been ill? What have you done to address it? How did that work for you?”), allergies/medications/history, and vital signs. In the course of that conversation, the goal is to identify unstable folks, and truck them right back to care, and differentiate them from stable folks (like a broken limb with intact downstream circulation), and invite those folks to be patient.

I asked my manager how long I was taking, on average, to triage? This information ought to be readily available from our electronic medical record system.

“I don’t know.” was her reply.

I asked how my triage times compared to the average of my peers.

“I don’t know.”

I asked if the acuity of the patients I triaged was similar, greater, or less than the average of my peers.

“I don’t know.”

I asked if the complexity of the patients I triaged differed in any identifiable way from my peers (think psych requiring lots of redirection).

“I don’t know.”

I contemplated this for a second. “Wouldn’t it be a lot easier for me to improve, if I understood the manner in which I am falling behind my peers? I had thought that one of the advantages of an EMR was the ease with which just this sort of information could be abstracted.”

@@ In my clinic, folks who are currently afflicted with covid, or who fail the screening interview/temperature taking, get seen as “covid + other” patients. They are invited to wait for their turn in their vehicles (or, in nice weather, outside), rather than in our waiting room. Inasmuch as we are a walk in clinic, there are no appointments, and, if you are at the shag end of “The Wave”, well, you face a lengthy wait.

Some of these individuals drive off, thinking (not altogether wrongly) that a lengthy wait=an opportunity to get other stuff done.

The problem with this plan, is that, should a number of the other folks in line ahead of you, either spontaneously cure themselves, or decide, in essence, “F&@k this, I’m not all that sick”, and depart, your turn may arrive earlier than your errands anticipated. So, when the MA calls you on the phone number you provided today at registration, (a) it might be useful if you answered it, as well as (b) if the phone in question was actually in service.

Among the souls who successfully pass these two tests, there are those who respond, when told that their turn was at hand, and we (the MA) had some questions for them preparatory to actually seeing them in the office, “I can be there in 25 minutes!”

Well, that is kind of a fail. The MA will then tell them, “Sorry, we’ll call the next person on the list, who is here now. You will be at the bottom of the list, since leaving the line loses you your place in line.”

Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Z-Pack! Arrgh!

Those of you who have suffered along, reading my scribblings (uh, I mean…) been frequent visitors to this blog, likely know that, in addition to spending years in The Sick People Business, I am, well, conservative. This works out both politically, as well as with regard to my life choices. I have heard that everybody is conservative about things that they know best. Firefighting is renowned with the deliberate pace of accepting new innovations, probably due to the fact that if the innovation tanks, firefighters (and civilians) die. The military once was very conservative, for similar reasons.

So, TINS, TIW, driving my happy, fuzzy, disease fighting ass home after another fun filled, exciting day of Beating Back The Scourge of Zithropenia (Azithromycin+/penia=Zithropenia. (n) The state or condition of having a pathologically low blood level of azithromycin. (fictional malady)). I was listening to a talk radio host, and this worthy declaimed that they “Know my own body. I get this same bronchitis every year about this time of year, and I always get the Z Pack!”.

Let’s pause, and “bookmark” that statement. There are three things that I want to address therein. Once I unclench my teeth, that is.

This soul continued: “So, I went to a doctor, just like last year, because I had this bronchitis, just like last year. I mentioned that I wanted the Z Pack, just like last year, because I got better after taking it. I guess that was the wrong thing to say, because he prescribed something else, which took longer, and didn’t work as well”.

Another bookmark, please. Generally, this commentator makes sense, and I agree with their perspectives. They typically make valid points, in my view, and their analysis of events makes sense: they appear generally internally consistent. HOWEVER, I need to contemplate whether there becomes a variety of what I will call a “reverse Halo effect”, for lack of the precise term. That means, if this commentator can so badly err in this regard, perhaps I ought to view their perspectives with greater skepticism.

Now, about those “bookmarks”. Let us begin with (1) “I know my body”. Let us agree, “know my my own body”, and “know whereof I speak in matters medical” is not a circle in the Venn diagram of facts. Generally, the soul with whom I am interacting (placing myself in this person’s clinician’s place), is not a physician of any stripe, commonly not an RN, and likely does not know the manner in which antibiotics (for azithromycin-The Z Pack-is an antibiotic, of the macrolide class thereof) function. In some regards, this is similar to presenting to your mechanic, and asserting, “I know my car, and I need a new framistan!”

Perhaps, should your mechanic pull the OBE codes he/she might have some insight into the, oh, I dunno, correct analysis of why your vehicle is making that funny noise, that, just maybe, you ought to listen to.

On that same topic, the imp in my head often suggests that, in response to that conversational gambit, that I ask, “Indeed? What is your opinion of the role your amygdala is playing in your illness?”, or, “Are you certain the the Z Pack will be strong enough? Shouldn’t you take imiprimine for your cough-worse-at-night, or sniffles?”

I rarely listen to the imp’s advice.

Secondly, “I get this same bronchitis every year around this time”. While I am by no means a microbiologist, nor do I play one on TV, and the last Holiday Inn Express that I stayed in was in 2016,

in my Nursing studies, and in my midlevel studies, I do not recall a single instance of our instructors informing us that microbes possessed awareness of the seasons, let alone calendars. My assessment, assuming that my examination does not provide contrary evidence, is that the seasonal nature of the malady likely reflects seasonal changes in the environment. Here, in The Un-Named Northern Fly Over State, that likely means, in the fall, that you finally became cold enough to turn on your furnace, and, generally, that means a forced air furnace. Said furnace has been dormant for 4-7 months, allowing all the dreck suspended in the air to settle out in your heating ducts, and, once you get chilly again, and the furnace is activated, which means the the blower is energized, air begins to move through your ductwork, and all that dreck, quiescent for lo, these many months, is aerosolized once again, and you again breathe it all in.

Since, in the interval, your mucosa has grown UNACCUSTOMED to these irritants, you, once again, have irritated sinuses, which swell (“my head is plugged” and/or “I cannot breathe….through my nose”), and, in the manner in which your mucous membranes respond to irritation, they pour out mucous. Since it takes a while for you immune system to again achieve equilibrium, the delay until you go to the clinic + the delay before you fill your prescription + the delay until you complete the course of azithromycin of which you speak so highly, roughly equals the time frame required for your immune system (read: mucous membranes) to adapt to the new, dust laden, environment your autumnal activation of your heating system elicits.

Rinse, repeat, for spring “bronchitis”, likely elicited by mold finally being unburied from the snow that we enjoy months at a time. Ibid, spring pollen release, similarly, summer lawn clippings, or whatever.

Finally, “I always get prescribed the Z-Pack” (implied is “and it always fixes me”.) Please contemplate the logical fallacy of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” (“this follows that, therefore that caused this”). To illustrate, I purchased a new pickup truck in the summer of 2020. Therefore, absent my truck purchase, Mr. Biden would not presently be in The White House. Right? See above regarding seasonal irritants to your sinuses, and their effects, along with the timeline described two paragraphs above.

There is an additional factor, segueing into the next point, wherein azithromycin interacts with other medications (betcha they didn’t know THAT, eh?), as well as particular medical conditions (go internet search “black box warning”. I’ll wait here while you do so.) To translate the medicalese into english, “QT prolongation” refers to an alteration of the heart conduction system, which, occasionally, can produce alterations of the heart rhythm that can be lethal.

We generally consider that to be a bad thing.

So, these are prominent among the reasons that I am considered “the Z-Pack Nazi” by my co workers.

With reference to the assertion that “…he prescribed something else, which took longer and did not work as well”. Please refer to the timeline outlined above, consider the drug-drug interactions, as well as drug-medical history interactions cited above. Now consider the possibility that Doxycycline, over ten days, was every bit as effective as azithromycin (which is to say, not), and perhaps the speaker went to the clinic earlier in their course than historically.

All that is with absolutely no knowledge of this radio person’s medication list, allergy list, past medical history, review of systems at the time of the office visit, nor of the physical exam findings. Simply, it elicits teeth grinding, and reminiscences of actual patient encounters that I personally have had.

Thanks for riding along.

Duty · Fun And Games · guns · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

SNIPPETS

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and one of the registrars walked back, and informed us, “They say that there is a man out there with a gun!”

My response was to ask, “Is there any reason that you are NOT telling the police this, rather than telling me?”

“Oh, should I call the police?”

“Ah-yep! Right freaking now would be very nice!”

@@@

If you have COPD (emphysema), it is likely not so very helpful to smoke marijuana.

@@@

Me: “So, you’re here for your cough. When is your cough worse?”

Them: “When I cough.”

@@@

Please, after I have explained my plan of care for your cough, which is caused by the irritation caused to your throat by the mucus in your throat, mucus originating in your sinuses, Please do not correct me with the observation that “My mucus is in my throat”.

It is very likely that, when I illuminated and inspected your throat, I DID notice, and, indeed, did comment upon, the tsunami of snot therein. Further, it is likely that every child of Ghawd that I have seen today has, also, snot streams running down their posterior pharynx: their throat.

So, when I explained to you that that mucus is irritating to your throat, since your throat is not well designed to tolerate that event, and that irritation manifests as a sore throat, or a tickle and a cough, or both, did you consider the possibility that the mucus originated, oh, gosh, I don’t know, IN YOUR SINUSES, AS I, INDEED, MENTIONED IN MY DETAILED EXPLANATION OF YOUR MALADY AND MY PLAN TO MANAGE SAME?

So, the nasal steroid that I recommended to you, over the counter, will suppress the inflammation (that I mentioned was the root cause of your woe), and thereby suppress the outpouring of snot which is the proximate cause of your cough, and, therefore, end (or really, really suppress) your cough, which was the ostensible purpose of your visit in the first place.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

Kitten Tails

So, TINS, TIW, NOT FDASL, at home. As it turns out, I am a cat lover. Indeed, my Darling Daughter has wondered out loud “…Dad? Are we going to have to arrange an intervention?” We had three cats, early in the spring. Then a stray, known around our house as Momma Kitty, decided that our window well would be a nice place to deliver, and nurture, her litter. I learned this as she was in the midst of moving her litter from one window well to another, and appeared to have left one kitten behind.

I came to this realization as I heard plaintive meowing from the window well. I investigated and found one forlorn NOT weaned little kitten, and no mother in evidence. I scooped this furball up, and contacted our vet, he of the “Wrecks” story .

Once Furball had been examined, our vet advised that this kitten, well shy of being weaned, needed to be fostered, and likely our local Humane Society could hook us up.

We contacted them, they accepted the kitten, and promised to let us know once he was weaned and adoptable.

Weeks later, Momma Kitty wandered up on our porch, in company of three other kittens. TDW-Mark II noted that they appeared to hole up beneath our porch, and her observations suggested that they were accessible. She, as well, had observed the kittens eating from the dry food we had been placing for Momma Kitty, suggesting that they were weaned, or nearly so.

After an adventure that I might describe later, TDW-Mark II had retrieved all three kittens, although Momma Kitty escaped our clutches.

We had the kittens vaccinated, and quarantined them for a while, both to he;lp assure that they would not transmit unknown Dread Cat Disease to out three incumbent cats, as well as provide an opportunity to try to socialize them to life as housecats.

As they matured, we arranged for two of them to be neutered, and have their front claws removed. It seems that TDW-Mark II does not like her furniture shredded. Well, to be honest, neither do I.

We brought our two post op cats home, and observed them carefully. A couple of days later, one of the cats appeared to be bleeding. Closer inspection appeared to show that one of her paws had a skin flap, and this appeared to be the source of the sluggish bleeding.

Out came the medic bag, and I attempted to dress and bandage the wound.

It turns out that your average cat is not a fan of the entire wound cleaning/dressing/bandaging thing. Bad News: the entire experience is reminiscent of wrestling with a tiny fur coat full of razor blades. Good News: Olivia The Cat (for it was Olivia who was bleeding post operatively) is a very, very placid cat. Yeah, she let me know that she had hind claws and fangs, but she never once broke my skin. She would occasionally take my hand or fingers in her mouth, teeth resting on me, but hardly any pressure. Her hind feet, claws extended, would contact my other hand, and push me away, but with a gentle pressure, not with a rapid or forceful motion.

With the able assistance of TDW-Mark II, Olivia was dressed and bandaged, and I carried her to our bed, laying on top of the covers, cat cradled beside me, holding the bleeding limb elevated somewhat. She began to purr, and lay with me for nearly 40 minutes before she had Cat! Things! To! Do!, and got up, galumping around the house.

Me? I had work in the morning, and went to bed. TDW-Mark II informed me the next morning that Olivia had untangled her bandage, and slipped the entire mess down her leg, just like a sock balling up around your instep in boots on a wet, cold wintry day. So, TDW-Mark II re dressed the wound, and rebandaged it, this time using veterinary Co-Ban.

This was a much more satisfactory arrangement (well, for us at least….), and lasted until our vet could unravel things and provide some expert analysis of affairs.

A day later, Olivia returned home, and we all lived happily ever after. (well, THAT’S my story, and I’m sticking to it!)

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

“So, I just have to deal with my pain!”

So, TINS©, TISFDASL©, and was in the midst of winding up my plan of care tutorial for the patient du jour. This soul had been experiencing their pain for several weeks. They had not, of course, contacted their primary care. (To be fair, it is not uncommon for a walk in patient to respond affirmatively to my query regarding attempts to meet with their primary care, and to note that they indeed HAD an appointment, several weeks from our conversation.)

In any event, I had elaborated on management of their problem, featuring rest, ice, elevation, and ibuprofen. I observed that it was likely that their physician would consider things like physical therapy, or maybe a referral to orthopedics. Given how insurance reimbursement works, if I, NOT the primary care, order these things, it is entirely likely that the insurance company will NOT subsidize them, and an initial visit with a specialist, like an orthopedist, can easily run around $500, before the insurance company pays their share.

Personally, I would be happier if the insurance company chipped in.

This soul replied, “Well, I guess that I will just have to deal with my pain!”

I replied, smiling, “Well, that is certainly an option. Alternatively, you might consider the measures that I have just outlined, and those that your doctor might order, which might moderate or eliminate your pain. You could do that, instead!”

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Fighting Disease, And Saving Lives

Gather ’round, boys and girls, and let Uncle Stretcher Ape regale you with another tale of FDASL.

So, the other week, I meandered into work, safely early (or so I thought). I was just about to drop my lunch, backpack, and coat, when the overhead page alerted: “Code Alert to walk in!”

Well, that was odd. I grabbed my stethoscope, and walked out of the office, simply to be certain that I was, indeed, in the walk in. Yep, I certainly was.

One of the MAs, looking excited, directed me to the room adjacent to where I was standing.

I entered to find a flaccid child, eyes literally rolled up into her head, as the MA at the bedside was busily obtaining vital signs. She gave me hurried report: child had arrived looking unsteady, reception had twigged, promptly to my FAVORITE “vital sign”: (“Dude Don’t Look Right”), summoned the MA staff, and, well, then things got exciting.

The child, as soon as she had been laid down, had gone unresponsive, per the report I got. I auscultated, verifying presence of air movement and heart beat. Finding a radial pulse, I went to the registrar, and asked, “Where is my bus?”

She smiled, knowing how I think, and replied, “I’ve called the ambulance already”

“Outstanding!” was my reply, and I returned to the room.

As I turned around, I noticed my physician supervisor, as well as my pediatric supervisor. I gave them a brief synopsis of what I knew, and what my plan was (“get her off to ED, as soon as humanly possible”, if I recall correctly).

Soon, EMS arrived. I gave them report, as best I could, and they packed her up and skedaddled (No, that is not strictly speaking a medical term. But, it worked for me!)

I subsequently spoke with the registrar who had first contacted mom and child. She had determined, indeed, that this child very much did not look right, and had promptly summoned assistance.

The first MA to respond, had promptly identified that this was way, Way, WAY beyond our level of care, and had initiated calling EMS, RFN (Right Freaking Now), as well as the “Code Alert”.

Good call.

So, a couple of days later, my physician supervisor, along with the administrator, passed through for a weekly review of our quality indicators. Winding up their pitch, they asked if we had anything to call to their attention. Yep, I did.

I praised the registrar who correctly, and promptly made the triage call. I praised the MA who had responded, and initiated the “Code Alert”, as well as the EMS call, properly, promptly, and effectively. I wound up by stating that they deserved praise for responding appropriately and calmly in a crisis.

This is to illustrate, again, quiet people who, taking pride in what they do, strive to improve, attend to duty, and take care of business. As Heinlein said, “Take a look around you. There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work. From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their bones.” (https://thisibelieve.org/essay/16630/)

I work with these folks. I rely on their intelligence, their judgment, their engagement with what they do. As Eaton Rapids Joe noted, “You get more of what you recognize”.

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

SURPRISE!

So, there I was, fighting disease and saving lives, and my MA came to me, regarding somebody who had arrived for a subsequent Covid inoculation. This soul had informed my MA, AFTER THE INJECTION HAD BEEN ADMINISTERED, that she, the patient, had had a reaction to her first inoculation. She described this reaction as swelling, itching, and feeling ill. This had developed in a couple of hours after the injection.

It turned out that, today, this patient had, indeed, developed swelling, runny nose, cough, and whole body itching within FREAKING MINUTES after her injection. (those of my studio audience who have some sick people experience might recognize these indications as harbingers of anaphylaxis)

Weellll, we administered some IM Benadryl, some IM steroids, a breathing treatment, and close attention from my MA. Several repetitions of vital signs and reassessments later, this lady had seen her breathing improve, her itching subside, her swelling tapered, and the cough and runny nose reduced.

So, pro tip: If you swell up after the first dose of whatever the frack you are being injected with, tell a motherfucker, ya know, like, BEFORE you get the next injection. Personally, my geezerly ass will very, very much appreciate it.

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Your View, Is *NOT* The Entirety of The World

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, alone as my midlevel walk in clinic shift started. We were supposed to have two of us from opening, but, well, some of us are renowned for strolling in something on the order of 30 minutes late. In addition, there was a third provider slated to come in around 2 hours after opening, and work til close.

To start off with, I had a 5 pack of kids. Well behaved kids (Thanks be to Crom!), but, five at a time nonetheless. All in one room, so, of course, it appeared to whoever else had decided to start their day with a visit to the walk in clinic that I was taking something over an hour with one patient.

One such soul opened her exam room door, around 40 minutes after we had opened our doors for the day, and while I was on Number 3 of 5 in the 5 pack, and asked “how much longer?”

I was charting, and replied, “20-30 minutes”.

She asked, “How come?”, and the MA explained “there are 5 in front of you.”

The questioning patient was surprised. “How can that be? There was nobody here when I arrived!”

The MA answered “I had already roomed them when you had arrived”.

“That’s crazy!” observed the impatient patient.

I was kind of busy. My response was “Yep.”

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Protect and Serve

HALLOWEEN

A long, long time ago, in a county very far away, I was an ER nurse working nights. Indeed, this was so very long ago, that The Plaintiff had not, yet, become The Plaintiff.

It so happened that one Halloween I found myself working. At that time, in that county, we had a dispatch radio in the nurses’ station. After all, in a small hospital, in a very rural county, if you have advance notice of ill tidings, well, sometimes you can gather your selves, and more effectively address the particular ill tidings that are brought to your door.

My shift started at 1900 hours, and day shift had hardly departed when the tones went off dispatching the firefighters, rescue, and sheriff’s department from a couple of townships over. The nature of the call chilled my blood: child pedestrian, pedestrian vs auto on one of the local two lane state highways.

In rural The Un Named Flyover State, traffic on our state highways commonly travels at around 60 mph. Now, KE=1/2 MV2. That means that a, oh, say, 3000 pound vehicle at 60 mph runs around 361,040 foot pounds of energy. (By comparison, a 30-06 bullet runs around 3,133 foot pounds, and will kill any large game animal on the North American continent). When this strikes a, say, 80 pound child who abruptly darts out from between parked cars, well, it is catastrophic.

And, it was, indeed, catastrophic. Responding to the call, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, sons, daughters: the entirety of the emergency response apparatus in that corner of our county: hell, from couple of surrounding counties, as well: responded, praying, hoping, that somehow they could mitigate this disaster.

It seemed as though the medics spent seconds on the scene. It likely seemed like hours to the horrified family. One second, this child was running along, gleeful and excited at Halloween, eagerly anticipating All! The Candy! that would soon be spread out on the living room floor, and a second later, he was unconscious, broken, in the road.

The county and State Police ran interference, shutting down the expressway to speed the ambulance along it’s way. Our local city cops closed the cross streets, and the medics screamed into our parking lot, where we waited, alerted by the phone call from dispatch.

There were an amazing number of personnel in and about our ER that night. Every floor in the hospital detailed someone to either help, or stand by to see how they could help. The lab was there, cardiopulmonary, and that is not to mention the firefighters from our town, and our cops, in the parking lot, waiting to see if they, too, could help.

The ER doc was not about to half step, and employed every tool at his disposal. But, sometimes Death wins, and we can do nothing to forestall His victory.

We nurses cleaned the child up as best we could, tucking him in with clean linens, and a clean fresh gown. We tried our best to make him appear simply asleep.

The family came into the resuscitation room, and wailed their grief. In that setting, there is really nothing that you can do, nothing of any substance. We stood by, silent witnesses to their heartbreak.

Eventually, they had wept themselves dry. Neighbors assisted the parents from the room, to drive them back home. Later, they would have to plan his funeral, put away his toys, clothing, and things, and come to terms with the forever loss of their little boy.

Halloween would never ever be the same for that family.

A couple of hours later, TDW-Mark I (subsequently The Plaintiff) stopped by. She had taken our two kids then aged 6 and 3, Trick-or-Treating, and they were so darned cute, it finished me. I swept them up into a hug, and likely puzzled them by weeping. Truth be told, I suspect that TDW was surprised, herself. Until one of my partners told her the story of earlier in the night.