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

The Bat Story

It must have been around 3 years ago: the animals are now due for their rabies booster.

So, TINS©, TDW-Mark II and I were lolling around in the living room, she was watching some program or other, I was reading. She nudged me, at one point, and directed me, “You ought to see what it is that has your fat cat running! You know that he never runs!”

She was referencing one of my two cats, that I had acquired as kittens, brothers, and had attached themselves to me. They would, of an evening, begin to direct me that it was time to go to bed, by sitting in the middle of the doorway to the bedroom, and yowling. If that failed to direct my attention where they wanted it, one or the other would sit on my lap, and head butt me, meowing plaintively. The one, Laurel, was, well, “calorically enhanced”, let us term it, and not the most active feline in the neighborhood. His brother, Hardy, well, he would direct me that it was time to play “fetch” wherein I would toss a yarn ball off a ways, he would retrieve it, dropping it at my feet, and then sit as if waiting for me to toss it again.

The night in question, once my Darling Wife had directed my attention from my book and towards my environment, I did, indeed, note the heavy galumphing footsteps of Laurel. She was right, he rarely ran for any reason. I got up, and found him and Hardy settled in, as if pointing, with their attention directed at a small brown furry thing huddled in a corner of our bedroom. Once it moved a bit, I saw the wings, and realized that we had a bat in our house.

I had been an ED nurse for decades at this point, and had the opportunity to administer RIG (Rabies Immune Globulin: an antibody rich solution, to arrest the ability of the rabies virus to infect you), as well as Rabavert (the vaccine, which allowed your own immune system to produce antibodies to prevent developing the disease. The protection provided by RIG is short term, only). I was familiar with the experiences of the patient receiving these medications. In most cases, an unprovoked attack by a dog “that was acting strangely” was the precipitating event. The rest were folks who had handled, been bit by, or had been asleep/intoxicated/helpless in the room with a bat.

Therefore, there was no way I was going to handle any bat for any reason. I left to retrieve my shop vac.

Upon my return, both the bat and my cats, now joined by TDW’s dogs, were collected in a different corner of the bedroom, with TDW providing over watch. I realized that KNOWING where the bat was, would considerably enhance our efforts at containing him, and so I retrieved my inspection camera. This is a camera on the end of a fiber optic stalk, such that you can twist it into a corner not readily visible, to see what is there. I had previously employed it to find, and avoid, wiring and pipes in the wall I was fixing to hammer a nail into. Now, it was my (sorry…) Bat Scope!

The animals appeared to be congregating around one end of our baseboard hot water heating radiator, so I peeked in there. With the scope. Yep, there he was! I handed the scope to TDW, and attempted to entrain him in the air the vacuum was sucking up, but no joy (for me…). I suggested that she poke him with the stalk, to see if he’d move, lose his grip on whatever he was clinging to, and wind up in the vacuum.

Well, once she did, he snarled.

THAT was unexpected!

She was ready to draw down on him, and send him to Bat Heaven on a 9 mm carriage, but I wondered if exchanging an intact (and possibly rabid) bat, for a haz mat scene of scattered bat bodily fluids, each droplet potentially rabid, was really any sort of improvement, at all.

She did not think so, either, after a moment’s reflection.

So, she poked the bat, again.

Of course, he snarled, again, but, this time, he was dislodged, and sucked into the vacuum.

Realizing that this was a good thing, I unplugged the vacuum, sealed the end of the hose with a baggie and duct tape, and secured our unwelcome guest out on the porch. In December. In The Un-Named Flyover State. Where it was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The next morning, I was off, and we took the critters (the ones we wanted to keep, that is!) to the vet. He listened to the story, and agreed that updating rabies vaccination was a good thing. He asked, “You did not handle the bat, at all, did you?”


“You certain?”

“Yep, damned certain.” Then I regaled him with ED nursing experience on this very topic, and my lack of enthusiasm for recreating it in my own household.

“Do you have the bat?”

“At an undisclosed location, yes.”

“Can you bring it to me, for testing?”

“Yep. See you in an hour!”

One hour later, he returned from his back office, and regaled me with his assessment of things. “It’s a good thing you sealed the end of the hose, because I found him, frozen, about halfway up the hose, as if he was trying to escape.”

The bat was sent off to whatever lab The Un-Named Flyover State employs for this sort of testing, and, shortly thereafter, Things Got Interesting.

I received an anxious phone call from TDW, on the office line (because I shut off my cell phone at work), relating the fact that she had been the recipient of NUMEROUS phone calls from the state Dept of Agriculture, the state Health Department, the Local Veterinary University, our county health department, and those were simply the ones that she had written down the number for.

All these folks were evidently quite concerned that our friend, The Bat, had turned out to be, indeed, rabid, and every one of these folks asked, multiple times, if we had had any sort of contact whatsoever with said bat. TDW had explained multiple times that, no, we had not touched the fracking thing in any way, and elaborated my clinical experience with folks who had not acted from that sort of plan.

That was all cool. What got her wound up, was one soul who had stated that her cat, the one that she had inherited when her father had died, would have to be euthanized and examined for rabies, because she, TDW, did not have vaccination records at hand for this cat.

TDW explained that this cat was NOT going to be euthanized. The caller then directed that the cat would have to be quarantined for six months (or some such). We could do that, keeping the cat indoors (no problem, she was an indoor cat in any event, not going outside at all).

Nope, said TDW’s correspondent, said cat would have to be quarantined at the vet’s office. That meant boarding the cat, for six months. Lessee: that’s six months, at, say, 30 days each, leading to 180 days of boarding. Boarding a cat costs $30/day in our neck of the woods, so that would mean spending (lessee: carry the ‘nought, ‘nought goes into ‘nought, square root of eleventeen…) !!5 thousand, four hundred dollars!!

Holy stool! I suggested to TDW that contacting the vet her father had frequented might be a pretty good idea, long about RIGHT FREAKING NOW!, and seeing if vaccination records could be forthcoming.

She got right on it.

The Patron Saint Of Inherited Cats smiled upon us, as not only did TDW find her dad’s vet, said vet had vaccination records, and said records included vaccination for (Ta-DA!) rabies. Our vet received the records, The Inherited Cat got updated rabies vaccination, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

I subsequently called a Bat Guy, seeking extermination (er, I mean, REMOVAL!) of all bats from my domicile. When I explained the urgency of the query (ie, RABIES!), I was told that “bats never pass rabies from one to the other.”

Rreeeaaalllyyy? So, bats do not groom each other? (uh, they do) Leaving behind spit? (uh, how would they avoid doing so?) And, saliva does not carry the rabies virus? (uh, THAT would be how humans acquire rabies from bats, ya know! Bat saliva into an open wound of any sort.) Therefore, he wasn’t worried about it.

Nice. That would be one of us, not him, developing rabies.

So, nobody developed rabies, animal or human. No further bats have been seen hereabouts.


Fun And Games · Fun With Suits!

The Boiling City Ballet, and Gaps In My Classical Arts Education.

This one time, I was nursing on nights in a Rural ED. TDW-Mark I and our little family were living “Up North” in a small town, outside of a little town outside of a middling sized town that served as the commercial center for that corner of the state. Our small town, let’s call it “Boiling City”, had a bar, a short distance from our no-stop-light town center, and their claim to fame was serving as the region’s titty bar. We locals called it “The Boiling City Ballet”, as a snide reference to the exotic dancers that were it’s main draw.

At this point, I had something like a 15 years of nursing experience, as an ED nurse, ICU nurse, nursing supervisor, all on top of my years on EMS in Da City. I was kind of proud of my “been there- done that” self image.

Remember that thought. As well as the ancient aphorism that “pride goeth before a fall”.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and registration let me know that there was a patient with a knee injury. I meandered up front, collected the chart, summoned the patient, and invited her to join me in the back. I asked her what had prompted her visit to ER.

“Well, I was doing a pole trick, and landed wrong, and fucked up my knee.”

I goggled at her. “Uh, what?”

She giggled. “I was dancing, I did a pole trick, I landed wrong, and my knee gave out on me!”

BTDT fail on my part. “Uh, what is a ‘pole trick’?”

She filled that gap in my life experience. “I dance at the Roadhouse, out side of Boiling City.”

Ahhh! The formal name for the “Boiling City Ballet”!

“And?” I prompted.

“So, a pole trick is where I do something on the pole, like spin around, and this time I just landed with my foot placed wrong, and my knee started to hurt!”

“Uh, OK. Here, here’s a gown, and I’d get the doc so we can get you examined and x-rayed and everything.”

She was having fun with my norminess. “So, you **DO** know what I do for a living, right?”

“Uh, kind of…”

“So, why do I need a gown? I’ll just whip my pants off, right here and now, just like this…”

I backed out of the room, and shut the door. “No, that’s alright! Just put on the gown, and I’ll get the doc…”

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

“The Gun Show Loophole!”

One year, my (very successful) brother rented a house in Some Blue Hive State, so his family could summer there. I received an invitation, that should I wrangle the time off of work, and my own transportation, I’d have a spot to stay and join in the merriment.

TDW was interested, and so I arranged vacation, and purchased plane tickets. One car rental later, and we were off!

My brother is an alumnus of an Eastern Sophisticated University, and, therefore, all of his college buddies are, as well. That trends towards them also being of the Blue Hive Borg, where, evidently, “assimilation is Mandatory!”

All these fellows are attorneys, and, generally, pretty smart. No surprise there, right? So, one evening, after consumption of Tax Stamped Beverages, well, one guy (let’s call him Bob, “not-his-real-name”) overheard The Darling Wife regaling me with her recent visit to an Unnamed Flyover State Gun Show, wherein she had purchased an AR pattern rifle, in 6.8 Rem Special. Good News: She was very excited at her selection, describing her new rifle as “Pretty!”. Bad news: Have you PRICED 6.8 Rem Spl ammo lately? Holy Stool, that is expensive ammunition. Not as pricey as H & H .375, or .416 Rigby, I’ll grant you, but pretty spendy against sixty-cent-a-round .223 ammo.

So, Bob told us what his thoughts about that were. That is, if you could characterize him as “thinking” on that subject. “Man, they ought outlaw gun shows! That gun show loophole is awful!”

I know a thing or two about guns, as does The Darling Wife. She had, after all, just the preceding month gone to a gun show, and purchased a rifle. Indeed, in terms of contemporaneous experience based knowledge, she might qualify, within the confines of that house, as a subject matter expert.

Therefore, I asked Bob, “Oh, really? What is the ‘gun show loophole’, and what is the most objectionable part of it, in your view?”

He apparently was not one to let ignorance of the subject get in the way of a good opportunity to let his “woke” flag fly. “Why, it shouldn’t be allowed that simply anyone can just walk right in to a gun show, and just buy any sort of gun that they want, and then just walk right out!”

“Say what?”

He was gonna repeat himself. “Any sort of drunken lout, or mental defective, or terrorist, or mass shooter, can just walk into any gun show, buy any sort of mass murder machine that they want, and waltz out! No background check, no permit, no nothing!”

I turned to My Darling Bride, and said, “Honey, didn’t you just buy a rifle at a gun show a couple of weeks ago? Why don’t you tell Bob, here, how that worked?”

She smiled sweetly at me, and turned to Bob. “Well, I paid my admission, I walked the aisles until I found that rifle. It looked so pretty, I thought that it ought to be my first AR. I negotiated a rice with the seller. He then needed my picture ID, as well as my concealed carry license. He called the National Instant Check System with my information, and got an approval. He recorded the approval serial number, and then I had to complete a form 4473 before we could complete the sale.”

I invited her to be more detailed in her tutorial for Bob. “So, Honey, what’s a ‘Form 4473’?”

“Well, it is a sworn statement, under penalties of both perjury as well as violation of the federal Gun Control Act, that I’m not a felon, fugitive from justice, mentally ill, an illegal alien, have never been convicted of a crime of domestic violence. There’s a couple of other reasons that I could be disqualified, but they are all listed right there on the form. No sale can move forward without that form.”

Bob could not contain his superior expertise any longer. “That’s just wrong! None of that is required!”

I turned to him. “Really? Why don’t you tell us how it went, the last time YOU purchased a gun at a gun show?”

He looked at me, surprised. “I have never bought any sort of gun, ever! I do not own a gun!”

I feigned surprise. “Really? So, just how did you come by your expertise regarding how things really happen in a gun show, such as to contradict my wife’s recent, personal experience in a gun show? Buying a gun, no less?”

“I read it in the New York Times! They said that’s how it works!”

I looked at my wife, and she at me. I continued. “So, let me see if I heard you correctly. You have never bought any gun, ever, anywhere. You read some bullshit in the New York Times, and that is canonical, for some reason. Based on some perhaps third, maybe fourth hand story, that you think you remember reading, in that noted journal of all things firearms, The New York Times, you are in a solid position to tell my adult wife, sitting right here, that things that she, in fact, and in her own direct testimony actually, really, and recently experienced, did not actually experience. Now, that means that you are either telling me my wife will lie, smiling all the while, to your face, or she is so stupid or mentally defective that she cannot tell what she actually did, at a gun show, buying a gun. Now, mind you, she successfully passed the training to qualify for, and the background check to be issued, a license to carry a concealed handgun from The Un-Named Flyover State. So, pray tell, on what basis does your superior intellect and greater knowledge in All Things Gun, lead you to accuse my wife of imbecility, or lying to your face? Please, go slowly, and show your work!”

At this point, Bob had the wit to stammer, and not answer my questions. My brother, wisely, diverted my attention with some query of firearms law esoterica.

So, therefore, I did not break a stein over Bob’s head.

Although, I still wonder if it might have improved either his manners, or his intellect. Or, perhaps, both.

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



I had seen a soul for some malady or another, and had prescribed an antibiotic. In keeping with our usual practice, I had e-prescribed this medication, sending it off to the pharmacy the patient had identified as his preference.

An hour or so later, the receptionist received a phone call FROM THE PATIENT, asserting that the medication was not covered by his insurance.

I receive these calls frequently. Simply so that you know, the mere fact that any particular medication had been covered by one or another of the hundreds and hundreds of different health insurance plans that are out there, by no means establishes that this medication will be subsidized, today. In addition, each individual health insurance plan has it’s own “formulary”, or list of what medications it will subsidize, and to what extent. These formularies differ from Medicare (and among different medicare plans, as well), to Medicaid (and, again, among various flavors of Medicaid), to assorted flavors of private health insurance. Again, formularies vary from one private insurance plan (say, one particular form of Humana insurance), to another (like, one of the insurance products from Blue Cross).

Therefore, it is not uncommon for these calls to come in. Generally, they are from the pharmacist. Then, the pharmacist, who has access to the insurance company’s formulary, can suggest another similar medication that will be subsidized. I will request it, and we all go on about out lives.

When they originate from the patient, it becomes somewhat of a time sink. What, am I gonna tell the patient what the new medication will be, and the dosing regimen, how many doses to dispense, and so forth, so that the patient can communicate this to the pharmacist? (anybody ever hear about, ya know, PRESCRIPTIONS?)

Occasionally, when I have some sort of wild hair up my ass, I am tempted, briefly, to do just that. “Why, thank you for the call, Mr. X! Please tell the pharmacist that I am changing your prescription from Amoxicillin, and instead I will prescribe Mofeen, one pound, and you are to take ad lib and prn until the heat death of the universe! And, you have a nice day!”

My filter has,thus far, worked without fail. I have never told anybody that…out loud.

Instead, what I do, indeed, say, out loud, is “Please invite the pharmacist to phone me, and he and I can discuss it.”

The Second:

I had occasion to phone another physician’s office, in order to have my patient seen that very day. I generally make this sort of call myself, when I need a same day appointment for my patient, because I can either explain all the particulars of the scenario to my MA, who can then repeat it to the other office’s MA, and then have her seek me out when, inevitably, there is some question that I have failed to explain in sufficient detail, or I can do it myself, explaining things once.

I vote for “Once!”

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and on hold/ignore. Eventually, the other office’s scheduler came on the line, and we had our lovely little conversation about my patient’s malady, and why I felt the burning need that this soul be seen TODAY!

Everything proceeded swimmingly, and I noted the time and address of the particular office my patient was to report to. The scheduler asked my name.

“Reltney McFee, PA.”

“How do you spell that?”

“R-E-L-T-N-E-Y, M-C-F-E-E.”

She read back her note: “R-I-A-L-D-M-A-I, M-A-K-A-S-E-E?”

I had not really slept all that well the previous night, and had several people in the waiting room, eagerly awaiting (DYSWIDT?) my attention, so that they could get on with their own days. I quickly calculated that I could get this chucklehead to properly spell my name on the scrap of paper that she would soon discard, or get this patient the hell out of my department, and on to Higher Level Of Care, sooner.

I (unsurprisingly, I wager) went with option “B”.

“Nailed it!”

The Third Random Thought:

My home state, The UnNamed Flyover State, legalized marijuana last year, for recreational purposes. I have spoken, previously, about my rapture at this development. While I have not, completely, cataloged every single way in which I think that this is a fail of epic proportions, perhaps I have revealed just a little bit of my lack of enthusiasm for this development.

A couple of times.

I have noticed in recent months the phenomenon of idiots (er, I MEAN, children of God) evidently wandering through the world stoned. I reached this conclusion because of the numerous folks who stop by my clinic reeking of reefer fumes.

I do not mean, “Hey! If I pay attention, I can detect a waft of a smell, as if of marijuana, somewhere about this person!” Nay, I mean “Dude! Are Cheech and Chong shooting another movie hereabouts?”, or, perhaps, “Is there some sort of Rastafarian festival in town?”

Indeed, occasionally the smoke is eye wateringly intense, yet the purveyors of the fumes appear unaware of the air quality hazard that they present.

I have wondered about that. I suspect one of two things is in operation here. Either they are so stupid, either at baseline, or due to the deleterious effects of marijuana upon their mentation, (maybe, I should embrace the power of “and!”?) that they simply cannot realize what they are spreading in their wake, or else it is some sort of pheromone, at least in their minds, that attracts The Opposite Sex.

Although, to be honest, anybody who would be attracted by the olfactory cues these folks present, I would not romance with your johnston!

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

Insurance Companies and Purgatory

So, over the holidays, we were at a family gathering when TDW-Mark II’s niece (an adult) departed to go home.

Shortly thereafter she returned to inform us that, due to the poor lighting and TDW-Mark II’s petite vehicle, she, the niece, had inadvertently struck my wife’s vehicle, leaving a dent.

BFD, bent metal, no bent people, all good.

So, we went to our insurance company in order to get the bent sheet metal, unbent. We could, indeed, have our insurance pay for it, since our vehicle was parked, BUT!, we’d have a chargeable accident and likely would see our insurance premiums rise. From the currently affordable, reasonable, “Give us all the money and nobody has to get hurt!” levels we currently enjoy, that is.

THAT sounds attractive!

Or, our niece’s insurance company could foot the bill.

The niece made her report to her insurer, and shortly thereafter I had a conversation with one of their genius, script reading (Thanks, Beans on June 3 ’19), slack jawed, pompous personnel.

It seems that, let us call it “County Garden Auto Insurance”, requires that you take your broken vehicle to one of their adjusters for an estimate. In this area, the freaking capitol of the freaking Un-Named Midwestern State, the (insert pejorative here) adjuster only works freaking Wednesdays, and, into the bargain, Young Ms. Mensa informed me that, since mine is the name on the title, well, I would have to show my happy hairy ass up with the bent vehicle for the estimate.

Well, ya know, I work Wednesdays. 12 hours. Days. I told Ms. Mensa as much. “Ma’am, I will not be attending this estimate. I’m working, my wife will be there acting as my agent.”

“Reltney”, she replied (and, as an aside, I had been previously unaware that she and I were quite that chummy), “You have to be there, since the vehicle in titled in your name.”

“Well, Ma’am, I’ll be working, and so my wife will be there with the vehicle.”

“Reltney, you have to be there!”

“Ma’am, I will not be there. My wife will be acting as my agent.”

“Reltney, you have to be there for the estimate!”

“Ma’am, perhaps you should write this down. My wife will be there, I will not. She will act as my agent, and I will be working.”

“Reltney, if you are going to be hostile, I cannot continue to talk to you. I’m simply trying to tell you how this process goes.”

“That’s fine. So, tell me my options.”

“Sir, it you are going to be hostile, you will have to talk to another agent!”

(My thought, at that point, was along the lines of, “Sugar, if you think that I have been hostile, you really, really have a severe poverty of life experience, that, should you desire, I can remedy!” A thought that went unspoken.)

“Ma’am, I thought you were going to tell me what my options would be? I’m waiting for that information.”

“Please hold!”

(lengthy hold)

“Reltney, your wife can meet with our estimator, but we cannot hand her the check. Can we mail it to you, or to your selected body shop?”

“That will be satisfactory. Mail it to the shop.”

“So, Reltney, what arrangements would you like to make for a rental?”

“Ma’am, we have made satisfactory arrangements for a loaner with our body shop. I suggest that you phone them, and have that conversation with them.”

“I do not understand what you just said, Reltney.”

“Call my shop, you have the name. Talk to Bob. Tell him what you just told me about a rental. Make whatever arrangements you wish with Bob about a rental. Bob will fill me in. “

“Reltney, I do not understand that, but I will notate it in our file.”

(Correctly, I hope, but do not trust…)

“Outstanding. Anything else?”

“No, Reltney, have a nice day.”

And the call ended.

Perhaps, the anticipated cluster…er, hug (HUG! Yeah, THAT’S the ticket!) will provide fodder for a subsequent blog post.

My take home lesson, here, is that there are jobs for the dull witted, and I am fated to spend my time corresponding with them.

Damn it!

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

Accident Letter

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and responding to some sort of emergency or other. It was my day to drive, and I was merrily coding along. Approaching The Major North Bound Thoroughfare as I headed west bound, light and siren flashing and a-wailing, I slowed and observed cross traffic (who had the green light), stop on the rain slicked street.

That appeared encouraging. I began to accelerate through the intersection, when, lo and behold!, I beheld a driver swing into the center lane, pass all the stopped traffic, and proceed to strike the ambulance aft of the driver side dual rear wheels.

He had built up to fair clip, because he rocked the modular ambulance pretty good. Indeed, given my own momentum, the aft of the rig slewed to the right, and we entered a skid.

I corrected, steering into the skid, and noted in passing a pedestrian on the northwest corner determine that he did NOT want to remain standing where it appeared I was going to roll over, and so he started stepping lively toward the south.

Remember that “I corrected my skid” thing? Yeah, about that. It turns out that correcting a skid, in a, oh, let’s guess 5 ton truck, is not a fact, it is a process. So, when I had corrected our slewing-sideways-towards-the-northeast skid, we NOW had a slewing-sideways-towards-the-west-southwest skid. Less off axis, so there was that as an improvement, but our friend the pedestrian (remember him?), last seen high stepping to the south, did not think much of this as it portended his own immediate future. He demonstrated this understanding, as well as outstanding situational awareness, as he skidded to his own stop, about faced, and accelerated north.

I had noticed that we were skidding kinda sideways, in a west-southwesterly direction, and so, once again, I corrected, steering into the skid. Once that had been accomplished, we were merely proceeding catty-wampus, in a more or less northwesterly direction, and, it appeared, tracking our poor increasingly frazzled pedestrian friend as if we were a pedestrian seeking missile. With target lock.

Fortunately on several levels, all these gyrations had bled off considerable speed, and I was able to come to a complete, and rather abrupt, stop, short of squashing the pedestrian.

My partners were uninjured, as we had vicariously experienced many, many motor vehicle collisions, and had scant desire to recreate the experimental results we had witnessed. We were all buckled up.

While I was attempting to determine if my SVT (supraventricular tachycardia: an accelerated heart rate running around 150-200 beats per minute) was self limiting, or my new normal, Doug figured that (a) we were not completing this run, and (b) this might be a nice thing to share with dispatch. He did so.

We checked the other driver (who was fine), and awaited the police, city wrecker, and the inevitable chat with The Lieutenant. Fun times ahead, indeed.

The officer taking the report only had about 7,000 questions, and, once he was done, dropped us off at apparatus. There, we got to switch from our rig, into a back up rig. Back up rigs were too rickety to be in front line service, but not so obviously rattletraps that they could not serve as interim ambulances until our rig was repaired. Which in our case was likely to be sometime around the heat death of the universe.

We returned to quarters (with Doug driving!), where we awaited Lt. Evans. Once he had arrived, he directed me to write a letter (standard practice) detailing the events that had led up to our nice new truck getting bent up.

At this point I was the union’s chief steward, and was familiar with the contract. One of the provisions thereof was that any member, facing potential discipline, had the right to consult with a steward prior to making any official statement. I figured that, hashing this out with another steward might allow me to avoid talking myself into (harsher) charges (than I already faced for the collision).

Another peculiarity of Da City’s system, was that it appeared that the algorithm for assessing fault ran as follows. (each yes answer advanced you one more round) “Were you driving?” (Y/N) “Were you driving a city vehicle?” (Y/N) “Was that vehicle involved in a collision of any sort?” (Y/N)


No shit: on one call, I had parked the ambulance in the street, four way flashers flashing, beacons in operation, I and my partner were IN THE REAR OF THE AMBULANCE, when some jackhole decided that, as IMPORTANT as he obviously was, he could not wait for us to roll off, and had to depart NOW! In the course of snaking his way out of the parking spot right next to us, he nudged the ambulance bumper, causing the vehicle to rock on it’s springs.

Like a dummy, I reported it. To my astonishment, it took the Accident Review Board SIX FREAKING WEEKS to ascertain that I was NOT at fault.

So, with these lessons in mind, I was reluctant to make any sort of official statement without at least having another steward tell me I was doing it wrong. I said so the Lt. Evans, and said, “So, sir, I officially request that I be allowed to speak with a steward prior to making an official statement, as guaranteed in our contract.”

He gave me the stink eye. “You’re the chief steward, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, go chat with yourself , and write my damned letter. Now would be good.”

“Uh, sir…?” I began.

“Mr. McFee, I am making that an order. Do so, at once!”

“Yes, sir!”

I therefore drew up a piece of Fire Department letterhead, and composed the following letter:

“TO: Superintendent of EMS

From: Reltney McFee, EMT

Subject: Collision involving Medic 23 this date

Date (date)

Sir: Lt. Evans ordered me to write a letter regarding Medic 23’s collision this date. I requested the opportunity to speak with a union steward prior to making any official statement, and Lt. Evans ordered me to write you a letter at once.

This is that letter.

Respectfully, Reltney McFee EMT, Medic 23”

I pulled it out of the typewriter, placed my carbon copy in the desk, and handed it to Lt. Evans. “Here’s your letter, Lieutenant!”

He looked at it for a minute, and glared at me. “McFee, this is unsatisfactory. Write this letter, all over again, and this time do it right!”

“Yes, sir!”

I assembled another set of letterhead and carbon paper, and captioned the next letter as before.

My opening line was as above. I asked the Lieutenant, “Sir? What do you want me to write now?”

He said, “McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!”

I typed in, “Lt Evans told me to write, “ ‘McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!’ “

“What’s next, sir?”

“Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!”

My next line of text was, “ ‘Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!’ “

“Yes, sir? What is next?”

He glared at me. Again. “McFee, get up from that chair. Do not type another word!”

I stood. He asked me, “McFee, what do you think you are doing.”

“Well, sir, you ordered me to write a letter about an accident prior to my having the opportunity to speak to a steward about a matter that might result in my being disciplined. I complied with that order, and wrote a letter citing everything that I was willing to say at this moment. You did not find that satisfactory, and ordered me to re do it. I was rewriting it to your specification, when you abruptly stopped providing me directions. Sir.”

Again, with the glare. “It is now 1300 hours. You will have that letter, and I mean the letter that you KNOW you have to write, in my hands no later than 1700 hours today, without fail! Am I making my self clear?”

“Perfectly, sir!”

He stormed out.

I got his letter to him, after a phone consult with another steward.

Oh, yes, And I got a written reprimand for my role in the collision.

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

“Little Mary Sunshine is NOT a Force Multiplier!”

Once upon a time, long ago and far away, I was nursing in an ER in a medium sized city. For some reason, I was unable to evade being placed in charge.

Lord Knows that I tried! While I have established that I can be reasonably effective in a supervisory role, I really do not like it. For one thing, it places me in overly close proximity to Suits. I do not enjoy proximity to suits. Hell, my Suit Aversion Disorder led me to work midnights, in the first place! (well, that and shift differential, as well as seven-on-and-seven-off scheduling, to be honest.)

For another, I get subjected to all the bullshit from other departments, which, invariably, appears to consist of interacting with slothlike souls who manifest only one burning desire: skate through their shifts, while expending as little effort as is needed to maintain their receipt of a paycheck. Notice, I did not attribute to these chuckleheads the desire to actually do something resembling their jobs. That wuld be different.

Finally, when in charge, I get to cope with all the malignant and ill considered decisions regarding staffing the aforementioned cursed suits have enacted.

So at this point I was working in a relatively urbanized area, with a sixteen bed ED, in a town with three total Eds of various sizes. We had been short staffed for an extended time. This, of course, made me oh, so very happy. Or, not. I had been bitching, complaining, protesting and generally making known that not only was this sort of staffing insufficient, but, into the bargain, was considerably short of their own goddamned published staffing parameters, written by the goddamned suits themselves, and for which I would be written up should I let someone go home leading to staffing short of these parameters.

Well, as it developed, one of the Junior Suits (our assistant director) was compelled to show her smiling face up to work some of the short midnight shifts. She was, let us say, “entertaining”, to work with. She would “help out” by triaging. Well, when you triage someone, it is helpful if you (1) obtain and record vitals, (2) ascertain, and document allergies, medications, medical history, as well as (3) history of present illness, typically elicited by asking something along the lines of, “So, Mr./Ms/Xr X, what motivated you to come out in the dark of night to join our happy little party?”. You did notice how much fun I seemed to think it was, to, ya know, DOCUMENT, the aforementioned items, right? Sort of like that was, oh, I dunno, a GOOD THING, or something?

So, it develops that Little Mary Sunshine did not document (or even obtain; it was difficult to sort that one out) vials, allergy/med/history, or present complaint information, at least, not consistently. In addition, it seems that an ED physician with, say, a dozen patients, really, really gets petulant if these items are not there in the chart to be found. Slows him/her down, considerably.

Then, there is the part about both bedding the patient, as well as noting such fact on the greaseboard, as well as reporting off to the the nurse who would, oh, I don’t know, maybe BE CARING FOR THAT PATIENT.

Finally, it was established practice to start the needful IVs, collect the blood, and send it to the lab, along with a requisition for the bloodwork the physician was going to be desiring to see. None of which had penetrated Little Mary Sunshine’s cranial vault.

She was no more helpful as a “floor” nurse, Which is to say, she would half ass do things, not tell anybody at what point she had grown disinterested and wandered of Ghawd alone knew where, let alone document anything that she, by some miracle of random happenstance, completed.

As my partner, Andy, opined, “Ya know, she is not really a very effective force multiplier!”

Much more nicely phrased than the tsunami of profanity that was boiling away, waiting for me to spew forth as my OWN opinion of her “efforts”!

So, visiting as she was from the warm climate of Daytime “Suitworld”, Little Mary Sunshine was chilly most of the time. (she might have been warmer, had she been moving about as briskly as the rest of us, but, then….) Andy, once again demonstrating the situational awareness that made him a fine nurse and great partner, noted this fact, and brought it to my attention one long, long night during a missing Mary moment.

He implemented a plan based upon this observation, and turned the department thermostat down to around 60, from the typically balmy 70 where it normally rested.

Well, time passed, Mary Sunshine wandered around, fucking things up, and soon the HVAC system equibrillated at the new set point. Mary zipped up her sweatshirt, and began to complain that it was cold.

Nice of her to notice.

Shortly thereafter, she loudly opined that “You guys seem to have things under control. I’m gonna go back into my office and do some paperwork. Call me if you need me!”

Once she was safely away down the hall towards her (independently heated) office, we returned the thermostat to the baseline setting.

The rest of the night passed as the typical clusterfuck of shortstaffed jackassery, fortunately not exacerbated by halfwit half assed managerial fumble fingering.

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

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts, Accumulated over a couple of weeks

(1) I know I have led a bad life (Ask The Plaintiff!). Therefore, I know that I’m going to Hell. If Dante Alighieri was correct, those of us going to Hell will experience our own personal, customized Hell.

Several times, it has occurred to me that, in my own personal Hell, I will be the clinician in Hell’s urgent care. There, I will spend endless shifts packed with trivially ill souls, who will take protractd periods of time to NOT answer my questions.

(2) I used to carry a can of CS teargas in my hip pocket, Back In The Day. Department regulations prohibited carriage of a firearm, so, what the heck, tear gas was First Runner Up in the self defense sweepstakes. So, one day I was in class, pursuing paramedic certification, and the top of the can, “safely” packed in my hip pocket, broke off. That left a puddle of corrosive tear gas in my seat. Curiously, there were no tears, which had, let us say, interesting implications for it’s efficacy as a self defense tool.

What there WERE, were sizable second degree burns on my asscheeks. That made for entertaining runs, as my ass slid to and fro while my partner drove our ambulance to emergency responses.

(3) This one time, I was working this one place (Hey! How about that RIVETING! Intro? Huh?) and they staffed the two provider clinic with two folks to work the floor, meaning they had to room patients, make appointments for followup, register and discharge patients, make referrals, answer the (incessantly ringing) phone, do procedures (breathing treatments, perform EKGs, take x rays, perform in house tests), and answer questions from random folks who walked in to ask questions about their bills or try to get their blood drawn (which happened at the lab, two doors down).

Kind of demanding, right? Well, somebody took a minute to call the office manager, suggesting that stuff either wouldn’t get done, or would get done incorrectly due to the pressure of multiple competing demands upon staff.

Her reply, as reported, was priceless. “Clinical medicine is like Zumba! You just have to keep up!”

Fun With Suits! · School Fun And Games

“School Daze, School Daze, Dear Auld Golden Rule Daze!”

My parents had moved from one of the suburbs of Da City, to Some Unnamed Eastern state. Once there, they met the neighbors. One of whom was married to a meteorologist on Da TeeWee.

He (the meteorologist) found himself, from time to time, changing jobs, and this generally involved moving to an altogether new city. Of course, once they had moved, the children would have to be registered in the new school system.

I have, previously, suggested that not every functionary associated with our public schools is, shall we say, the best and/or the brightest. Indeed, from time to time I have wondered if some of these folks are alumni of The Short Bus.

Mrs. Meteorologist told a tale that supported this theory.

It seems that, after one move, she was undergoing the interrogation customarily associated with registering one’s children at the public school. The clerk was presenting questions, and my mother’s friend was answering them.

“Name?” asked the clerk.

My mother’s friend responded with “Name (whatever)”


The response, “(Address)!”

“Telephone number?”

“(Telephone number)!”

“Mother’s occupation?”

“Home maker.”

“Father’s occupation?”


(Clerk, without missing a beat, steadily typing away:)“What hospital is he on staff at?”