cats · Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

KITTEN TAILS PART VI

So, TINS, TIWFDASL….we, uh, no, I was NOT Fighting Disease And Saving Lives, rather, I was at home while TDW-Mark II recovered from surgery. (Thankfully, minor. Well, “Minor” from my perspective. I’m pretty cure that, for whoever goes under anesthesia and awakens with sutures and re-arranged body parts, ain’t no such thing as “minor” surgery!)

In any event, on my multiple rounds on TDW, I noted that there appeared to be two, or three, cats perched upon the bed. Should one depart, one would take station. The others would eat, play, loll about: typical cat stuff. The two, or three, “on watch” all appeared to gaze upon her, that is, if they were not snuggled up against her. Just as if they were, indeed, “on watch”.

Olivia appeared to be the one constant watch-stander. She was perched upon TDW’s pillow, and did not seem to move. Others would appear to rotate in and out, but Olivia was pretty constantly there.

When she (TDW) was up and about the next day, she commented about it. “Every time I opened my eyes, one or more of the cats was there, looking at me. I felt as if I had a couple of private duty, furry little nurses!”

Then she reminisced. “remember that time you had your GI bleed? The two dogs, and all three cats (at one time, my cat crazy was under better control….) were settled in all around you! They would only leave to eat, drink, and go. Then, they were right back.”

At that time, we developed the McFee Critter Triage System: if one animal is sleeping with you, that’s normal stuff.

If two of them, well, likely normal, perhaps not.

If three of them, The Spouse needs to take a closer look at things: it ain’t raht!

Four? When is your doctor appointment?

Both dogs, and all three cats? Call dispatch. It might take some explaining (“Ma’am? Did you just tell me that your emergency is that all five animals are sleeping on the bed with your husband? I…I..don’t understand..?”), but Bad Things are at hand. Do Not Dally.

Fortunately, TDW-Mark II recovered uneventfully.

Duty · Fun With Suits! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Going Solo

There I was, Fighting Disease And Saving Lives, one weekend day, and I was soloing. Generally, our agency’s practice is to have two providers on duty at a time. On this particular day, I was “It!”, with no partner. The floor staff was sympathetic. I was all “Meh?” about things.

I was reminded of an old joke. It seems this fellow had had his fill of driving a lengthy distance, and elected to stop for the night. He stopped at one hotel, and was told that there were no vacancies.

He stopped at another, and yet another, only to be told, again and again, that there were no vacancies.

Finally, in response, he asked, “If the president of The United States was standing here, telling you that he needed a room for the night, are you telling me that you would turn him away?”

The desk clerk declaimed, “Of course not! Of course, we would make accommodations for The President!”

The traveler squinted at the clerk. “Well, I just read in The Daily Tattler that The President is in Bagwanistan this week. Since he will not be arriving, I’ll take his room!”

The application to my situation was to ask administration if there was anybody else working with me on that day. Of course, as reflected in the fact that there was, you know, nobody else there with me to fight disease and save lives, they would tell me that, no, there was nobody else to work with me that day.

In this imaginary conversation, I would next ask, “Suppose I got hit by a bus on the way in to work today? What would you do, then?”

The reply likely would be that “In that event, we would do (xyz)!”

Which, of course, would elicit the response, “Surprise! I did NOT get hit by a bus! Hey, howzabout (do xyz), and get me some freaking help, eh?”

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Partners. Or, Not.

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and it was approaching the end of my shift. The other midlevel was a locum (think: rent-a-clinician), and since I was busy with my side, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to her.

One of my patients was pretty sick. As in, “Where is my ambulance”, sick. I also had a couple of other folks, who had to wait while I dealt with Mr.-or-Mrs.-pretty-sick.

Once the ambulance had departed, I tended to my other patients, and noted that the floor staff appeared pretty, well, relaxed. I asked them, “Doesn’t Little Mary Sunshine have any patients left?”

They looked at me. “Uh, no. She beat feet out the door while you were in with your emergency. Oh, and one of her patients did not get their antibiotic. The pharmacy called, and would like you to fix that.”

I did a literal double take. “Say what?”

The MA repeated herself. There was still 10 minutes in the shift.

They tell me, several months later, that I got very, very quiet at that. Concerningly quiet.

Duty · Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · Gratitude · Life in Da City!

Snippets Part III

I have a flexible spending account at work, so as to be able to pay my copays, deductibles, and suchlike with pre tax dollars. Late last year, I noticed that the card by which such expenditures were paid for, was getting declined. I assumed that I had spent all the money and thought no further of it.

Then, I began to get messages from the administrators of the account. Finally rousing myself to speak to them, I learned that the card had been frozen, because, I was informed, they required hard copy receipts for 3 or 4 of my expenditures. This included purchases from my optometrist for, oh, gosh, GLASSES, as well as at the podiatrist, for TDW-Mark II’s ingrown toenail.

It puzzled me, Visa, nor Mastercard never had such issues. I assumed that, just like the commercial banks, that the electronic billing that led to the vendor of, say, my gasoline, getting paid, had all the information required, kind of like a grocery store receipt.

Perhaps I was wrong. Or, perhaps, somewhere in this favoured land, folks go to their podiatrist, or their optometrist, when they feel the need for hookers and blow. (I wouldn’t know, myself, and Hunter Biden was not available to comment on that possibility) So, I guess, I will have to remain puzzled.

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Occasionally, I am humbled. Just the other day, I had such an opportunity. The lady bringing the pre school aged children in for whatever their complaint that day, was approximately my age (and, I am by no means of child rearing age. Hell, my youngest grandchild is already in primary school!) She reported, in the course of the conversation, that “My husband and I both got them when they were very, very young.”

Just, matter of fact. No inflection, dry fact.

As I was charting later, I noted that the parent was identified as the grandparent.

So, let’s contemplate that. Some of us are anticipating retirement, with few responsibilities, plenty of free time, and no pressing concerns.

Others, around us, are raising a SECOND family, at our ages, and not flinching.

Some of us are facing demands of duty, and stepping up to those demands, and in doing so are protecting, and nurturing, the most vulnerable among us.

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So This Is No Shit (TINS), There I was Fighting Disease And Saving Lives (FDASL), long, long ago and far, far away.

Well, okay. REEEAAALLLLYYYY!, I was shopping in Farmer Jack, in Da City, on one of my off duty from EMS days. I was pushing my shopping cart down one aisle or another, occasionally consulting my shopping list, and a fellow approached me.

He greeted me. “Hey! I know you!”

I did not just recently develop my aversion to Humanity. I spent years perfecting it. “Uh, no, you don’t, sir.”

He, on the other hand, was undeterred. “No, I know you! You work for the fire department!”

“You have the wrong guy!”

“No, really! I remember you  You saved my brother’s life!”

“Yep! That’s me! That’s how I spend my days! How is your brother?”

Duty · Fun And Games Off Duty

A New Episode, Wherein I Get The Rona

So, This Happened: Overnight, the other night, I awakened feeling overheated. My go-to assessment in that sort of scenario is that The Darling Wife had turned the thermostat up, and so, of course, I arose to investigate this possibility. I noted that the thermostat remained where it had been the previous day, which pushed that explanation way, way down my differential of why I felt hot.

I returned to bed, awakened, and went through my usual pre fighting disease and saving lives routine. I then drove my happy self to work, completing the pre work checklist which “screens” us for (shudder!) Da Rona!.

On this day, I acknowledged that I had felt sort of feverish the preceding night, and had a worsening of my baseline, Live in The Un Named Fly Over State In Winter, cough. Being a diligent doobie, I phoned my supervising physician, and appraised her of these data points.

Reasonably, I next was the object of a rapid coronavirus test.

Now, y’all get where I work, right? So, it is no surprise that I have, indeed, been exposed to Da Rona, every working day of my life, since Rona first began to get “popular”. Therefore, it was not a surprise that the test read positive for Da Rona. The only surprising element was how trivially ill I felt.

My explanation of THAT , was that either I had already contracted Da Rona, and my residual immunity served to attenuate the effects of the virus upon me, or that the solitary shot I received of the J & J vax, protected me from getting more ill than I otherwise might have gotten, or that I contracted the omicron variant (or, whatever greek letter presently is up-to-bat) and that, not to put too professional a point on it, it ain’t shit.

Or, some combination of the above. Who knows?

Bad news? I missed two days of work, burning up 2 days of PTO. Good news? TDW-Mark II and I spent a lovely week bonding together. Kind of a dry run for retirement. Bad News, Part II? Staying home is not particularly central to my vision of retirement. Yeah, that’s nice and all that, but, once retired, I anticipate more camping and less screen time than this past week featured.

Good News, Part II? I was about as ill as any other cold that I have had, with more “Ermagerd! Der Roner!” as seasoning.

Never lost my taste (jokes about my plebeian penchant in, well, everything aside…), fever was a kinda-sorta-maybe, nothing fever. No breathlessness, not really much of anything. So, my assessment, 6 days in, is a resounding “Meh?”.

May you all have a similarly underwhelming experience, yourselves!

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.

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”.

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.

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

If You Take Care Of Your People, Your People Will Take Care Of Business

A long, long time ago, in a city so very far away, I was an afternoon shift nursing house supervisor. In the course of my shifts, I would receive call offs from midnights, and attempt to discern that point at which nights would be short, and I would have to attempt to backfill their staffing.

One such evening, I had determined that nights would, indeed, be short. I started on the unit that was short, and called up. The first nurse I spoke with was the recipient of my stock spiel.

“Ms. Smith, golly, have I got an opportunity for you!”

She was amusedly skeptical. “Oh, you do? What sort of opportunity might that be, Mr. McFee?”

“Ma’am, I have the opportunity for you to make eight hours of time and a half, right this very night! What a deal!”

“What might I have to do, to earn this time and a half?”

“Why, simply keep your same assignment, and ride home in the morning glowing in the satisfaction that comes from a job well done!”

“Suppose I don’t have a ride home in the morning? I carpooled with Ms. Diaz, and she is completely uninterested in OT.”

I had an answer to that problem. “In that case, I’ll trot up there with a cab voucher for you!”

She was surprised. “Can you do that?”

“It certainly appears that I can, as I have the cab voucher right here in front of me!”

“But, I did not bring anything to eat later!”

“No problem. What would you like? We have KFC, pizza, Burger Biggie, and others not so far away.”

“But, I did not bring any money!”

“Who asked you for money? You’re working over, I will be sure that you eat, and have a way home. Any other concerns?”

“But, who is going to pay for the food?”

“Not you. Beyond that, not your problem!”

She sighed. “OK, let me call my husband. I’ll get to keep my assignment tonight?”

“Yep! I will so advise the night supervisor!”

“Thank you, Mr. McFee!”

“Ms. Smith, you are welcome. Thank you for being flexible!”

I caught up with the security supervisor, and asked him if one of his officers could make a chow run. I handed him a $20 dollar bill, asked for my change and the receipt, once Ms. Smith had her food.

The next day, I took my receipt to my boss, explained how I had negotiated coverage for night shift, and presented the receipt. She wrote out a petty cash voucher, and sent me to the cashier to get reimbursed.

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Protect and Serve · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Sometimes, The Pucker Could Squeeze Diamonds

So, TINS, TIWFDASL at an urgent care out in Flyover Country. It was a typical afternoon, featuring a parade of sniffles, coughs, and poison ivy. Our clinic was on the south side of the road, east of Middling Sized City, and the Big Time Big Deal Hospital And Trauma Center. In other words, to get the the BTBDHATC, one would exit our driveway, and turn west (that is, LEFT!)

Abruptly, the registrar summoned me. My MA and I walked over, to behold a limp toddler. Very Not Good!

The MA escorted the male carrying the child to an exam room, and began to collect vitals. I examined the child, discovering a heartbeat (Crom be Praised!) and spontaneous respirations. The registrar collected demographic information, and I asked the adult what had happened, prior to arrival.

“Well, he started shaking, and then he stopped. He just wouldn’t wake up, so I brought him here.”

Well, the “wouldn’t wake up” part was still descriptive of the child, and I noted that I would have to call an ambulance immediately, because this could have several causes, none of them good. Indeed, “floppy child” is right up there in my Triage Catalogue Of Very Bad Things.

The adult male paused at this. “I don’t want to send him by ambulance. I’ll take him myself!”

I was surprised. I noted, “So, you *DO* realize that several of the things that caused this, could reappear, and he could stop breathing or his heart could stop. EMS is trained and equipped to deal with those things, should they occur. You, while driving, are not, right?”

He persisted. “I’ll drive him myself”.

We directed him to go there immediately, with no delay nor detour. We explicitly directed him to exit our driveway, TURN FREAKING LEFT (that is, west), and not stop until at the ED.

He stated that he understood, and would do so.

He scooped the child up, and exited the building. I sat down to chart, as well as call BTBDHATC, in order to provide them with forewarning of the sick, sick, sick child coming their way. That is, until my registrar called me, excitedly, to report that this sunovabitch had turned EAST! (exactly away from the hospital) upon exiting our driveway.

WTAF!

I had the clerk print a face sheet, and called emergency dispatch. I related the above information to dispatch, along with my concern that a critically ill child was *NOT* being taken to the ED. I provided the street address we had received, as well as the contact information.

I next called the child protective services emergency number, to report the above. I was assigned a report number, which I charted, and my own name and contact information was taken.

Several hours later I received a telephone call, from a gentleman asserting he was from CPS. I asked him to confirm the report number, the child’s date of birth, name and address of our record. He did confirm all these details.

He queried me about the particulars of the child’s presentation. I supplied the requested information. I asked how the child was. The worker paused, and said, “Well, I am not allowed to provide information regarding an ongoing investigation, particularly one where the child in question has been hospitalized. I’m sorry. “

My response? “Yeah, it’s too bad you couldn’t tell me if the child had been hospitalized or anything. I understand. Thank you.”