Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · School Fun And Games

Hazards of Immobility







So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, working full time and going to Nursing school full time when not in the firehouse. Oh, and sleeping. When I could.

As you may have surmised from the foregoing, I was acutely-on-chronically sleep deprived pretty much entirely through school. I have previously revealed what the director of the program thought of my first pass resolution of that problem, wherein I skipped lectures and slept in, however briefly. (Review: NOT MUCH!)

Therefore, I showed my happy academic ass up for every lecture, and attempted to take notes and generally avid snoring and/or drooling. In order to assist with my camouflage, I typically sat around 2/3 of the way back in the lecture hall, and about 40 degrees off axis from the lecturer’s line of sight. One particular failure of my strategy still stands out in my mind.

The subject was “Hazards of Immobility”. Unfortunately, one of the hazards of immobility, that the instructor did not enumerate and then explain in PAINFULLY elaborate detail, is somnolence. For those sleep deprived, as I was very much so in those days, sitting still was nearly a death sentence. I was wedged into my seat, and getting more comfortable, and more comfortable, and finally felt my pen slip from my fingers. I woke up at that, and retrieved my pen, again settling myself into my wedged-upright position.

I shook myself kinda sorta more awake, and resumed taking notes. Sleep crept up on me, again, until I heard our instructor asking, “Perhaps Mr. McFee can tell us about calcium and immobility. Mr. McFee? Won’t you join us?”

Without opening my eyes, without moving, I responded, “Well, patients who are immobile long enough, began to mobilize calcium from their bones, and excrete it via their kidneys. This places them at risk of both renal lithiasis, as well as pathological fractures.”

I heard the pause. She sounded surprised. “Mr. McFee, I was convinced that you were completely asleep!”

Still eyes closed, still unmoving, I cleared things up for her. “Ma’am, I understand how you might think so. In contrast, I find myself in an advanced state of relaxed alertness. Ma’am.”

I managed to stay awake enough to take notes for the balance of that hour.


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

Child Rearing Tales

So, TINS, TIWFDASL….well, OK, really, this is another child rearing tale. Our oldest son, Adam, was approaching middle teen years, and, in The Unnamed Flyover State (TUFS), that meant anticipating driver’s education, preparatory to acquiring a driver’s license. At that time, the child in question had to be around 15 years of age, so, shortly after Adam’s fourteenth birthday, I sat him down for a little chat.

“So, Adam, you starting to get excited about taking driver’s ed?”

“Yep! I really can hardly wait!”

“Outstanding! Now, you do realize that, here in TUFS, you aren’t required to get my signature in order to take driver’s ed, or to get your license, right?”

He responded with a blank look. “Huh? All the kids in my class say that your parents have to sign for you to take driver’s ed, or to drive!”

“Well, they are mistaken. You do not require my signature in order to drive, or in order to take driver’s ed!”

He reflected upon this for a moment, and his face brightened. “Oh, yeah, right! I’ll just get Mom to sign!”

I sat back. “Say, I have an idea! How about you go talk to your mother, and ask her about that idea! Let’s say, for some reason, that I refuse to sign for driver’s ed, or for you to drive, ask her what her next move might be! Come on right back, and let me know what she says, OK?”

He scampered off. From another part of th house, I overheard low pitched murmurs, as of distant conversation. The murmurs ceased, and Adam made his reappearance.

“So, tell me about that ‘no signature’ thing, please, Dad.”

That told me how his conversation with his mother had gone. He had said something along the lines of “Mom, if Dad won’t sign for me to take driver’s ed or to drive, will you?” Her response had likely gone along the lines of “Have you lost your fucking mind? What makes you think your dad and I would not be on the same page regarding something like that?”

So, I answered him. “Well, Adam, in the Great and Sovereign State of TUFS, you do not require a parent’s signature in order to take driver’s ed, nor in order to drive!”

“Dad, that can’t be right! All the kids in my grade tell me that you need a signature!”

“Well, they are all wrong. Indeed, here in TUFS, you can get your driver’s license, you can take driver’s ed, without my signature, or you mother’s. Why, once you are eighteen, it is all very simple! You simply sign for yourself!”

He looked thoughtful for a moment. “But, Dad, why would I want to wait until I was eighteen to drive?”

Now, I looked thoughtful, for a second. “Adam, that is an excellent question! I am confident that your behavior between now and then will demonstrate the answer you came up with!”

So, fast forward several years. I had had this same conversation with Betty, Number Two child. She had taken, and passed driver’s ed, and acquired her license. She was driving whenever she could wheedle the loan of a car from her mother or me. She was also, as an adolescent girl, not entirely meeting behavioral standards.

Her mother TDW-Mark 1, and I, considered her transgressions, and intervened when needful. When behavior did not improve, we physically took her license, and secured it. After the “license grounding” had elapsed, she, again, could drive. More misbehavior, more license grounding.

Finally, she had demonstrated sufficient lack of grasp of acceptable behavioral standards, that we were done grounding her from driving. TDW-Mark 1 and I held a conference, featuring Betty. I reviewed past interventions.

“Betty, you did (whatever), and had been told not to. We took your license for a week, and told you that another violation would result in us taking your license for two weeks. You violated (whatever the rule in question was), again, and so we took your license for two weeks, and told you that the next time would be a month. Again, you violated (rule), and we took your license, and told you that the next time, we would simply yank your license and stop screwing around with this stuff. Well, last night you did, again, violate (rule), and so, now, your mother, and I, and you, are going to the motor vehicle office, and you are going to lose your license.”

She responded, “Well, I will just go there tomorrow, and get it back!”

I smiled at the sixteen year old. “I do not think that it works that way, Honey!”

She looked at me, and brought me up to speed (or, so she thought). “All the kids at school tell me that I can, and I just will!”

I produced her license from my pocket. “See this name here, at the bottom? Where it says Director of Department of Motor Vehicles? Read that name, please, Honey. The print is a little small for my old eyes!”

She read, “’Alyssa, M. Snodgrass’ Why do I care about that?”

“So, sweetie, which one of your classes is she in with you?”

“Huh? Nobody in any of my classes has a name like that!”

I looked at TDW Mark 1, and she looked at me. We then turned our gaze to our darling daughter. The TDW Mark 1 carried the ball. “Well, Betty, that is indeed a surprise! Since Ms. Snodgrass is the director of the department of motor vehicles, and is charged with writing, and enforcing, the rules for who gets, and who loses, a license to drive, perhaps she knows just a teensy, weensy, little bit more about how all that stuff works, than your illiterate, self absorbed, ignorant, prideful, and arrogant classmates. Doncha think?”

Betty gaped at her. Her mother smiled, serenely. “So, honey? Get your shoes, and let’s go. Now, Honey, now!”

With that, our little gaggle promenaded into the DMV office. Once our number had been called, we strolled up to the desk, and the civil servant asked, “What can I do for you?”

I smiled, my best won the jackpot smile, and proclaimed, “We are here to have this child,” and my sweeping wave indicated the glowering Betty beside me, “officially credentialed by the Great and Sovereign State of TUFS, as a pedestrian!”

The poor woman, only trying to get through her workday, looked at me blankly. After a second, she asked, “What?”

TDW Mark 1 clarified it for her. “We are here to yank this child’s license.”

“Oh, right. Please may I have the child’s license?”

I produce it. “And, your ID, please?”

We produced it.

Tap, tap, tap went the keyboard. Our new friend, the DMV Lady, then snipped off one of the corners of Betty’s license, and, looking up, asked, “Do you want this back?”

I looked at TDW Mark 1, and Betty. TDW Mark 1 looked back at me, and smiled at the DMV Lady. “Oh, yes, indeed, we want it back!” she exclaimed. “We’re gonna frame that bad boy, and hang it in the hallway, where all of us can admire it every day!”

Fun And Games Off Duty

Backpacking Changes your Perspective

So, when I was younger, I enjoyed backpacking. In the Midwest, unless you are going to travel several, several hundred miles east (Appalachian Trail), or west (Rockies, or their foothills), or north (Northern reaches of any of the Canadian provinces), Isle Royale is pretty much a zenith destination.

Two other medics and I shared this enthusiasm, and we planned on a trip along the Greenstone Trail, after a detour south along the Feldtman Ridge Trail. Traveling from west to east, we planned to wind up at Rock Harbor, where we could shower, get a room at the lodge there, and catch the ferry back to Michigan.

Our first day called for 8 or nine miles of hiking. (remember, we were all south of 30, and pretty much in peak shape. I would bicycle 50 to 100 miles a day, a couple of weekends a month, for amusement, for example). We anticipated the daily mileage would be a challenge, but no tremendous thing.

We read, voraciously, trail guides, commentaries, and articles in the various outdoor magazines regarding Isle Royale. The consensus was that we ought to cut ounces, as over time ounces add up to ponds, and pounds add up to pain. So we turned to freeze dried foods.

After much prep work, and detailed planning, we arrived on Isle Royale, starting our trip at the western end of the island, at Windigo. After registering, we set out, arriving at out campsite after around 8 miles, at Feldtman Lake. We set up camp, washed up with filtered water, and prepared supper.

Our consensus was that the freeze dried meal was superior to not eating, but not by much. One of my partners summarized things: “This mess tastes like salty cardboard!”

In the morning, we set out again after eating and packing up. After another day of up hill and down slope, we arrived at Siskiwit Bay Campground having made around 10 miles on the trail. We set up camp, washed up, filtered water for dinner and the next day, and ate.

We reviewed dinner, afterwards. “This mess still tastes like salty cardboard!”

The next morning, awakened, packed up, headed out. If you are familiar with backpacking, the daily routine is, well, pretty routine. The payoff can be found in multiple areas. There is the being outdoors aspect, very attractive to those (such as me) who find being outdoors to be attractive. There is the scenery to be found as you stroll through nearly pristine wilderness. There is the enjoyment found in physical activity.

So, we walked our next day away, again arrived at our camp, set up camp, filtered more water, cooked supper, and appraised it. “This shit tastes like salty cardboard. You gonna finish all that?”

Again, slept the sleep of the righteous, awakened, breakfasted, and headed out, once we had packed up.

Another day, more beautiful vistas from the Greenstone Ridge Trail, Reaching our campsite, we again set up, filtered water, cooked dinner. For our last night on the trail, we provided another gastronomic review: “This shit tastes like salty cardboard! And, the portions! They’re so small!”

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pre Planning Your Scene

Car Fire

So, before Mallory and I had begun to live together, I had one of my ex partners, let’s call him Adam, as my room mate. Mallory would come over from time to time, and the three of us would chat, or share dinner, or simply hangout.

One day, she came into the house, and asked us to hurry out and see what was wrong with her car. Now, this was her baby, one she had purchased because, as she termed it, “I look so good driving that car!” It had been her very first new vehicle, ever.

So, Adam and I threw on some shoes, and trotted out to see what was the matter. She had told us that it was smoking, and once we got outside, it became clear why. The smell of burning plastic emanating from beneath the hood told the tale.

Mallory was starting to get excited, hopping around and beseeching us, “Can’t you guys do something?”

Adam looked the vehicle over, and asked her, “Do you REALLY want us to do something? If we let it burn, or call the fire department, then it will be totaled, and you can get a brand new one. If we extinguish the fire, you are gonna have to get all that burned shit replaced, and it may never be altogether right, again.”

Mallory was nigh unto break dancing by now, and simply couldn’t bear to see “her baby” burn up. Adam asked her again, simply to be certain, “Are you REALLY REALLY sure you want us to do something?Again, she pleaded with us to act. Adam looked at me, I looked at him, and we charged the garden hose, donned work gloves, and sprayed it down through the grill as well as we could. Once it had dampened down, I opened the hood, and stood aside, while he blasted it (or, at least, “blasted it” as much as one is likely to be able to, with a garden hose!). It was evidently sufficient to the task, for soon the smoke stopped, the smell abated, and we were unable to identify any further burning stuff after diligent search.

Mallory called her insurance company, they sent a wrecker, and she got a loaner.

Several weeks later, her car was returned to her. She subsequently had repeated complaints about this, that, or the other thing not performing properly. Soon, she turned to Adam, and admitted, “If I had listened to you, and let it burn, I’d be driving a new car by now!”

Fun And Games Off Duty · Protect and Serve

Christmas Eve MVA

Christmas Eve MVA

This one time, at Band camp….no, wait: that doesn’t seem quite right….

Oh, yeah: TINS©, TIWFDASL©…(no, not altogether correct, either…). Well, I was NOT FDASL, rather I was visiting The Momette, in The Un-Named Maternal State, and, it being Christmas Season, I was shopping for Christmas presents for the family. Indeed, it was Christmas Eve (for am I not well prepared, and forward thinking? Well, no, not so much) when my brother, The Attorney, and I were attempting to find an open store for the Christmas Shopping, that I had not yet accomplished.

So, there I was, motoring down the highway, and my brother, a veritable fountain of trivia (as is his brother, come to think of it), observed, “They call this stretch of highway the Death Mile, because it narrows from 4 lanes to two, just ahead here, and there are a bunch of collisions right along here.”

How interesting. Just about that moment, I noted beacons in my rear view mirror, and moved to the right to allow a Maternal State Police Trooper to zoom past us at flank speed, siren wailing and beacons flashing. The Attorney commented, “He sure seems like he is in a hurry! Wonder why?”

A few seconds later, ANOTHER Maternal State Police Trooper zipped past us, at about Warp 8, similarly beaconing and sirening, and sped around the upcoming corner and off into the distance.

As we, ourselves, rounded the curve, I noted chaos, as one would normally find at the scene of a high speed collision. Indeed, it certainly appeared that there had been such a collision, with three cars scattered across several lanes, and the shoulders, of the roadway. I parked on the shoulder, clear of the debris, and alighted. Approaching one of the troopers, I introduced myself. “I’m an off duty medic from Da City, Can I help?”

The trooper looked over my shoulder, and pointed. “Yep. Talk to those guys, right there.”

I turned to see an ambulance stopping. I approached one of the medics, and repeated my spiel. He nodded toward one of the vehicles. “You take that car, my partner and I will take the other two.”

I whistled to get my brother’s attention, and directed him, “Get the medic bag in the back of my truck. It’s got that Medical Star on it. I’ll be over here.”

I approached the car, my brother running over and handing me my jump bag. I noted an adult male seated in the passenger seat, another adult male laid over, sideways from the driver’s seat, his head in the passenger seat occupant’s lap. He, the laid out guy, was not speaking. I saw the head sized divot in the windshield over the steering wheel, and supposed that might have something to do with that.

The guy seated in the passenger seat stated, “I don’t think he’s breathing!” I invited the passenger seat guy to move out of the vehicle, and assessed things myself. Yep, he was not breathing. Didn’t have a carotid pulse, either. I asked the recently moved passenger seat guy, “Do you know CPR?”

Yep”

Good. Get on his chest, I’ll ventilate him.”

My new friend set to chest compressing, and I dug my BVM (manual resuscitator) out of my bag, and began to ventilate our patient.

We resuscitated along for a good little while, until the arrival of a second ambulance heralded our relief. We continued CPR until the medics had cut off our patient’s coat (feathers everywhere!), initiated an IV, and began cardiac monitoring (VF, about as I had expected). Once all the technology was in place, we all four of us moved the patient onto their cot, and they took over from there.

I walked back to the truck, set my medic bag in the back, and approached one of the officers.

Officer, do you need my contact information?”

He squinted at me. “Who are you?”

I’m the medic from Da City, who worked that guy over there.”

He turned fully to me, and shook my hand. “Mister, gotta tell you, I’m really sorry I couldn’t talk to you before you left, because I really, really, want to tell you thank you for getting involved here, several states away from your home. Drive carefully, try to have a Merry Christmas!”

I was surprised, but said, “You’re welcome!”, and returned to my truck. I told my brother about my surprising conversation with the trooper. He looked at me, and finally asked, “You just don’t get it, do you?”

I had to admit that I didn’t.

He just did you a tremendous favor. You just gotta know that, with a likely dead person in this collision, there is gonna be a huge trial, right?”

Uh-huh.

And, you are a witness, right?”

Again, I “uh-huh’d” him.

So, being a witness, you would be subpoenaed to testify, and would be required to comply with such an order of the court. Which means you would have to travel your happy ass across the country, and find accommodations, and then miss work while you were here, to testify. At no small expense, both directly as well as in lost income. Said subpoena cannot be served on ‘Sumdood, Da City, usedtabeamedic’, right?”

Might be tough to serve.”

Yep. That cop just thanked you, in certain and unmistakable terms, for your service to his community.”

He paused, and then looked at me as if he had never seen me before. “I watched you out there. You really, really looked like you knew what you were doing. I would have been totally lost, but you just stepped right up, and started working away. Pretty impressive!”

I shrugged, just a little embarrassed. “Not like I haven’t done the same thing like, I dunno, a couple of thousand times before, right?”

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

My Cardiac Cath Story

I once heard the aphorism that “a man who is his own attorney has a fool for a client”. It turns out that legal matters is not the only arena in which that insight is applicable. Let me tell you a story about that.

So, several years ago, The Darling Wife and I were vacationing in Georgia. There are multiple sites, preserving locations where significant battles of The War Between The States/The War of Northern Aggression (depending upon when and where you learned of such things) occurred. I wanted to walk one of the battlefields (Chickamauga), both to stretch my legs as well as to get a feel for the closeness of the opposing forces.

I was winded by the time I finished my rambling over one section of battlefield, considerably more so than I had expected. I chalked it up to “bronchitis”. (remember that thought!) This persisted as I wandered from site to site, and paused to read the explanatory tablets set here and there.

We finished our vacation, and returned home. There, my “bronchitis” persisted, until, eventually, my Long Suffering Wife asked me about my illness. I admitted that it had not improved, which was curious since I had been having this “bronchitis” for about a month by then.

“How’s your fever?”, she asked.

I did not have a fever.

“Is that common when you see a patient who has had bronchitis for several weeks?”

No, I admitted, it was not.

“So, get your shoes.”

“Why?”

“Because, if you do not, your feet will become muddy”

“Why would they get muddy?”

“When you walk to the car.”

“Why would I be walking to the car?”

“Because I’m not going to carry you there.”

“Why do I need to go to the car anyhow?”

“Because it is too far to walk.”

“Where is too far to walk?”

“Your doctor appointment.”

“I don’t have a doctor appointment!”

“Oh, yes you do! Your wife made one for you!”

“Why did you do that?”

“Because she (my PCP) is not going to come here to see you, that is why.”

“Why do I need to see her?”

“A couple of reasons. First, to get you to stop asking dumb questions. Secondly, because you are sick some kind of way, and your plan is not working. You are going to talk to your doctor, and listen to her plan. And, then, act on it.”

I went to my doctor (actually a Nurse Practitioner, with whom I had ER nursed), who did an EKG, “because you are old and all.” “Well”, she told me, “This looks pretty OK, but, your story is concerning. I’m gonna schedule you for a stress test.”

Cool story. So, I arrived the next day in my running shoes and running shorts, and proceeded to tank the stress test. I mean, I did not even finish the first stage before the physician administering the test stopped me, repeatedly took my vitals, and called cardiology.

Next week, I’m sitting in the cardiology office, and the cardiologist is admiring my EKG, and enjoying my Tale Of The Failed Stress Test. He told me, “My partner will be waiting for you, to do a cardiac cath, at 3:30 (it was now about noon).”

Okey-dokey! So, I went in to my cath, with The Darling Wife and her BFF waving me farewell.

When I awakened, it was like a family re-union. Darling Wife, her BFF, her niece, my second son, my third son, my daughter, and something like 4 or 5 other folks, family in one way or another, who I cannot recall off the top of my head. Once I had sobered up enough for The Darling Wife to brief me on the doctor’s report, her precis was sobering: “You had 95% of your main artery in your heart blocked, but they were able to open it with a balloon and a stent. The doctor said had you waited a few more days, you would have had a big, bad heart attack, and, where that blockage was located, you heart would have stopped. Missed it by That Much!”

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pre Planning Your Scene

The Great Chocolate Explosion Of 2018

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©…. Well, alright: I wasn’t FDASL© in this story, I was in my kitchen, fixing to cook some fudge.

The women in my office (where I was a mid-level in an urgent care) had been teasing me about my domestic abilities, and so I had threatened them with offered them home cooked fudge.

The recipe I selected required that I melt baker’s chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Of course, I did not have a double boiler. Instead, I selected two pans, poured some water onto the one, and settled the other into the first, and turned on the range. I noted, in passing, that the fit seemed a bit tight, but, whatthehell, I did not act on this insight.

Remember that thought.

So, I arrayed my ingredients on the counter, and then checked on the progress of my chocolate melting. Experimentally, I wiggled the top pot. At that point I noted a seemingly tight friction fit, and told my wife, washing dishes behind me, that I was starting to be a bit concerned about that. My words were, prophetically enough, “Boy! I sure hope that this top pot doesn’t suddenly loosen from where it is stuck, here! That could be messy!”

My wife came over, gave it an experimental wiggle herself, and concurred with my assessment. “Yep, might want to turn the heat off!”

Of course, I did not. Bright idea, right there!

I diddled around in the kitchen for a few minutes, and then went back to my double boiler/pressure cooker (without release valve). I was explaining to my wife how I planned to safely extricate the top pot from the lower, when my explanation was interrupted. By the top pot ABRUPTLY separating from the lower. At speed. With force. And, with a considerable “BANG!”

The next thing I knew, I was holding the handle of the top pot, with molten chocolate running down my face. I turned from the stove, depositing the pot into the sink, and noted that more liquid was running down my face. Wiping it, I discovered that it was blood. Nice. I returned to the stove, and my wife saw the blood herself.

Ohmigawd! You’re bleeding! You’re on blood thinners! We have to take you to ER!”

Let’s turn off the stove, first, ok?”

She was fixated on my bleeding. “You have to go to urgent care! You’re bleeding!”

I was still sorting out what had happened, and what ought to be done, first, and then next, etc. “Honey? I sort of do this for a living, right? Let’s sort out what’s happening, and then decide what we indeed have to do, first, okay?”

But, you’re bleeding!”

I’ve already figured that much out, thank you. Now, let me take a second to see how badly I’m bleeding, and what else, if anything, is going on, before we panic. Once we know what’s happening, THEN we can panic, Okay?”

She hustled me into the bathroom, and handed me a towel. I sponged off the majority of the blood and chocolate, and saw a superficial appearing wound in the center of my forehead, approx 2 cm long. The blood appeared to be sluggishly dripping from it, and I did not see any other injury. Palpating, I did not feel anything suggesting a depressed skull fracture. My vision was at baseline, I had no numbness or tingling. My ears were sort of ringing (some of that was not new, some of that was readily attributable to the explosion). Otherwise, aside from chocolate EVERYWHERE, I appeared to be unscathed.

I applied some direct pressure, and the bleeding stopped after a couple of minutes.

The Darling Wife and I re entered the kitchen, and set to cleaning up the largest chunks.

A day or two later, my wife and her daughter in law were detail cleaning the kitchen, and discovered a large chocolate chunk behind the stove, and another on the top of the refrigerator. How the heck did they wind up there?