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


This looks like it’s going to be a lengthy spiel. Hope y’all are ready!

Perhaps, in previous ramblings, I have touched on the assertion, I credit it to Ragnar Benson, relating that, if one were to consider the deaths and illnesses attributable to contaminated water supplies, it is not unrealistic to consider that it is entirely likely that plumbers, and assurance of safe water that is their stock-in-trade, have preserved more lives, and done more to alleviate human illness and suffering, than all the physicians ever born.

I remember this thought every time that I am credited with saving lives, or some such stuff. I am as good as I am, in large part due to the folks with whom I work.

And, then there is the lay-of-the-land aspects that can accompany cordial relations with your co-workers.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© in a walk in clinic in Da Nawth Country. It had been somewhat tumultuous , negotiating with my locums company, as they had contracted that I start on “Date A”, yet, 4 or 5 days prior to “Date A”, had informed me that things were not organized as needed, and some aspect of my credentialing was awry, and therefore I was not going to start on “Date A”. Therefore, I was not going to be getting paid, starting on “Date A”.

I acknowledged this tidbit. I asked when they anticipated my starting work, and starting receiving pay.

My recruiter could not tell me.

I noted that I had a contract stating that I would be working for The Locums Company, starting on “Date A”, and I anticipated starting to receive pay from The Locums Company, beginning on “Date A”.

The recruiter protested that, since I was not fully credentialed, I could not work, and therefore I would not be getting paid until all these wonderful things came together, and I was, indeed, working.

I set a limit. A hard limit. “Well, simply so that you understand how things will work, *SOMEBODY* is going to be paying me, starting on “Date A”. Your input into this conversation, is will it be The Locums Company, or will it be somebody else. And, just to make everything even plainer, whoever is paying me on “Date A”, will have my loyalty. That means that, if you folks are *NOT* the ones paying me, and you abruptly get your shit together, and invite me to start working at your client’s clinic, well, I am not about to pimp the folks who are providing me with a paycheck, simply because your organization is so grabasstic that you cannot get your credentialing in a group, by the date that *YOU* specified.”

He sputtered, “We have a contract! You have committed to work for us!”

I had read that contract. “Yep. You committed to pay me for my clinical services starting, oh, next Monday. Now come you, to inform me that you are not planning to pay me, starting next Monday. Now, I am not a lawyer, I do not play a lawyer on TV, and I did not stay in a Holiday Inn last night, but it certainly appears that you are proposing to breach one of the foundational elements of your contract, and thereby nullify the entire thing. If you are paying me, then my time is yours. If you have breached that contract by not paying me, then you can go piss up a rope.”

He continued to sputter. “I cannot simply approve paying you for not working.”

“Cool story. Howzabout you speak to somebody who can, indeed, authorize you to abide by the terms of your contract, and let me know how that turns out? As for me, I’m looking for work. If you get your shit together before I find other work, perhaps we can move forward in a mutually profitable way. If not, well, toodle-oo!”

The call terminated. I placed a call to Another Locums Company, with whom I had worked, and who had demonstrated that their stool was, indeed, in a pool. That recruiter and I had a cheery chat, and she promised to see what they had available, and call me back as soon as possible.

The next day, The Locums Company recruiter, who triggered this rant, called me back, breathlessly informing me that they *WOULD* pay me, as if I was working 40 hours, 9-5. In return, I would be on a 24 hour alert to report to the client clinic, upon The Locums Company’s notification that all had been ironed out. His tone was consistent with “…and don’t you try to weasel your way out of it!”

My response was, “Well, if you are paying me, then my time is yours, and I will be available to report for work as soon as is reasonable. 24 hours sounds reasonable.”

So, I hung around, puttering around, and after a couple of days, received The Call, shortly followed by a call from The Client Clinic. These worthies articulated concern. “Uh, you know we are up north, right?”

“Yep. I kind of had figured that out, in the course of the interactions with The Northern State Licensing Authorities. Those conversations led me to assume that this placement would be in The Northern State.”

“So”, they continued, “It’s January, and, well, we get snow here.”

“I had assumed that snow had something to do with your state’s reputation as a skiing destination.”

“So, have you ever driven in snow?”

This was surprising. If somebody had read, oh, the FIRST 6 INCHES of my FREAKING RESUME, it is exceedingly likely that this reader could figure out that I had spent considerable time in A Northern Fly Over State, wherein, every year, there was an abundance of snow on the ground for, oh, heck, 5 or 6 months of the year. My response did not, however, convey this surprise. “Uh, yeah, some.”

“Are you comfortable driving in snow?”

Another aside: it occurred to me that this particular line of inquiry might have been useful, say, during the freaking phone interview. Not the goddamned day before I was to drive my clinical ass up to start work. Again, my response was milder than my thoughts. “Yeah, I’m Ok with driving in snow.”

But, they were not going to let this go. “Are you sure? We really get a lot of snow, you know!”

I was over this line of conversation. “Look, I grew up in A Northern Fly Over State, we get assloads of snow every winter. If you have seen my resume, you will realize that, not only did I learn to drive in that state, I worked my way through Nursing school working for EMS in Da City in that very state. My children were born there, and every one of *them* learned to drive in the winter, in the snow. Since this is not Fairbanks Regional Medical Center, I am pretty sure that I have seen me some snow, and that I can handle it.”

I packed up my stuff, and set out for The Client Clinic.

I got oriented, and was introduced to the EMR. On my first day in clinic, I introduced myself to the registration staff, and the floor staff. Between patients, we swapped stories. This MA was prepping for Nursing school, that one was in undergrad for business. This other one was a survivalist, and prepping for The Zombie Apocalypse. (Kindred spirit, right there!)

A couple of weeks into the contract, things were tranquil. My MA asked me if I knew why my predecessor had quit, abruptly.

I allowed that I did not know all that much about it, simply that this soul had departed with inadequate notice.

Her eyes lit up. “Ahh! You need ‘The Rest Of The Story’!” She informed me that my predecessor had discovered that he, the clinician, had not been accredited with two of the most common third party payors in that area, and, since they were something like 70-80% of the payor mix, not receiving payment for care of those patients would present a cash flow problem of significant proportions.

It seemed that the clinic had elected to have this clinician’s visits billed as if another, credentialed, provider had in fact seen, interviewed, evaluated, diagnosed, and treated those patients. Since this was not exactly accurate, it potentially could get ugly. Very, very ugly.

When it appeared that this clinician would not see that situation remedied, right stat like, that clinician elected to remove himself from that particular pot of stew, immediately. Hence, the opportunity which featured me fighting disease and saving lives.

I spoke with my recruiter at once, and observed that, he either would provide satisfactory evidence that I was, in fact, credentialed with these payors, or I would unass that scene so fast that The Flash would ask, “What the fuck was that, that streaked right past me?” And, he did not have a lot of time to convince me that this was actually so.

An hour later, he not only effusively professed my actual credential-hood, he e mailed me copies of supporting documents, such that my black heart was grudgingly convinced that it was truff! (pronounced “True-ff”)

And that, boys and girls, is one reason that I treat my floor staff, and other co workers, nicely. That, and it is simply good manners.

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

Phone Company Follies

I had moved from Da City, to a more rural corner of the state. I accepted a job there, as a nursing supervisor. Since my medic license was active, I planned to volunteer with the local rescue.

In the course of securing housing, I arranged for utilities: electricity, propane delivery, and phone. Given the very rural nature of this county, and the presence, here and there throughout the state, of party lines, I inquired about same. Indeed, my question to the person taking my phone order was, “Since I am going to be a nurse for the local hospital, as well as a volunteer with the local rescue, having a private line will be very important. Will I have a private line?”

Her reply, verbatim, was “Private line? No problem!”

I subsequently learned that in Bugtussle, or wherever this particular numbnut was, the meaning of the phrase, “no problem!” was altogether different from the meaning I had become accustomed to.

I learned this when my phone rang (and, differential ringing was whole ‘nother mystery, that I did not understand at that point in time!), I picked up the handset, and found somebody-indeed, two different, and stranger to me somebodies, at that!- greeting each other.

I inquired of my colleagues at work, they being wise in the ways of rural living inasmuch as they were, well, already doing it. I learned that there was such a thing as differential ringing, that in my corner of the county there were, indeed, party lines and that it certainly appeared to be the case that I was the proud subscriber to one!

Against my will.

With this insight in mind, I telephoned the local office of the telephone company, and asked about my “private line”. I learned that the plans called for me to get a private line sometime after the year 2000. This, in a conversation taking place in 1989.

I was not (favorably) impressed.

I next called the regional office, and spoke to the Schmoe In Charge Of Taking Calls From Disgruntled Customers. This schmoe informed me that the new millennium could be celebrated, likely, by me placing calls on my new, and private, telephone line.

I reviewed the “Private line? No problem!” statement of the employee, the fact that I did not, in fact, have a private line, and that due to work and volunteer considerations, this was, and would remain, unsatisfactory.

While it was not phrased that way, the resulting communication could be summarized as “Tough luck!”.

I next uncovered, and called, the number for the Midwest Schmoe In Charge Of Taking Calls From Disgruntled Customers. I learned that the the construction plans for this telephone company did NOT include building out private lines in my corner of the state until after 1999, ten years hence. I reviewed my previous conversation with the order taker, and suggested this was inconsistent with what that worthy had stated would be fact.

Again, while it was not phrased in these words, I was told that that would be my tough luck.

So, I called my Un-Named Midwestern Fly Over State Public Utilities Commission, and was connected with the gentleman charged with fielding complaints regarding, among other things, the telephone companies.

He introduced himself. “Nikolai Tesla. What can I do for you?”

I suggested the position was ironic, given his name, and he agreed. I began my plaint. I reviewed the “Private line, no problem!” misdirection, and my unsatisfactory climb up the chain of command, seeking redress from the phone company. I interjected, “You know, it is ironic that I am calling you in the first place. I tend to be small government, minimal regulation, best government is least government sort of guy.”

He paused, then asked, “Do you mind if I savor that irony, for just a minute?”

“By all means, savor away!”

We resumed our conversation, and Mr. Tesla took my contact information, and promised that he would keep me posted on new developments.

I next called my representative in The Un-Named Flyover State, State Legislature. I spoke with a legislative assistant, and reviewed the material, presented above. I told this soul that my desired outcome was that my representative’s office would hound the PSC over my complaint about the phone company, and that I would be invited to any hearing, the next time the shitweasal telephone company wanted any sort of rate increase. The aid promised me that they would make a few calls, and look into things.

I spent the next couple of weeks fighting disease, and saving lives. (Bet you wondered if I was gonna work that in, somehow! Well, wonder no more!) Since I was working 3-11, I tended to rattle around my residence for several hours after work, before going to bed, awakening generally at the crack of noon. So, I was surprised one morning around 0800 to be awakened by the noise of a barely muffled engine, seeming to arise from the end of my driveway.

I dressed, and walked to the street, asking the workmen there what it was that they were doing?

“We’re putting in a private line. You did want a private line, didn’t you?”

“Sure did! Thank you, gentlemen! Carry on!”

I was tempted to ask him if I had overslept, and it was 1999 already?

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

“Show Me Some Teeth!”

One afternoon, I came in to my shift as a nursing supervisor, and the director of nursing had, it appears, JUST finished receiving a phone call asserting that somehow, the hospital staff had lost some patient’s dentures. Of course, I was the High Value Target in that particular free fire zone, and I caught the assignment. “McFee! You find out what happened to this patient’s dentures! Do not rest until you find them!”

I promised my best efforts, and was reprimanded. “I do not want your best efforts! I want you to show me some teeth!”

Uh, Ok. Yes ma’am!

I inspected the patient room, freshly cleaned by housekeeping. No dentures. I went to billing, the keeper of the valuables, and searched for property that had remained unclaimed. No dentures.

I interviewed our laundry folks, and inquired regarding foreign objects in the washer or drier. No dentures.

I inspected the patient intake form, cataloging the patient’s property at arrival. Of course, there was indeed a notation that the patient had brought her dentures with her to the hospital.

I took a break, and visited the security supervisor. We chatted for a bit, until he asked why I had not been wandering around, and had not been in evidence that shift.

I told him the Story Of The Missing Teeth, and my efforts to transition that tale into a dental retelling of The Prodigal Dentures: “Rejoice! My teeth, that have been lost, have been found! Kill the fatted calf, prepare the feast!”

Along with my, thus far, horrible fail in accomplishing it.

He sat back, and a thoughtful look crossed his face. “So, Reltney, do you need to find THE teeth, or just any teeth?”

I observed that the patient in question might feel a little, well, odd, wearing somebody else’s teeth.

My friend the security supervisor opened his safe, and extracted some ancient dentures. He then clarified things for me. “See these green teeth, here? Now suppose they were inadvertently dropped outside the door here, in the driveway, and some inattentive security officer, like, say, me, were to accidentally run them over, like, six or eight times? I doubt that anybody would put the shards into their mouth, you could show your boss teeth, albeit broken teeth, and so she would be happy, the complaining patient would get new dentures, so they would be happy, and your boss would stop breathing down your neck, and so you would be happy. How many opportunities do you think you will get to make that many people happy, all at once?”

Duty · Fun With Suits!


One day, not so very long ago, I arrived at work, and went to log into the electronic medical record (EMR). Generally, there is no drama. I power up the computer, click through the labyrinth of password prompts, web pages, and suchlike preparatory to actually accessing the charts of the patients that I would see that day.

On this day, I could not access the EMR. Since I am somewhat geezerly, computers are NOT in my wheelhouse. I assumed that I had mis keyed my password, and checked it, and re entered it. No joy. I re checked it, and re-re entered it. Again no joy. The computer steadfastly ignored me.

I finally determined that I was not going to be able to cajole the computer into opening up and allowing me entry into the charts. Therefore, I called tech support. Of course, I was electronically placed into the queue, and serenaded by somebody’s version of soothing music.

Since I try to arrive early, so as to allow me to still be on time should traffic be screwed up in my commute, I placed my call around 10 minutes prior to my start time.

Something like 40 minutes later, I spoke to a human being, who took my information, placed me on hold (again!), and soon returned. She informed me, “Oh! You cannot log in, because we changed your login name!”

Now, let us consider this. If you or I were to, oh, let’s say, figure that for some reason we needed to change somebody’s log in name, you, or I, for that matter, might wonder if it would be a good idea to, oh, gosh, lemme see….. TELL A SUMBITCH WE HAD CHANGED HIS FREAKING LOG IN!

Maybe, even, before his next duty shift, perhaps?

I shared this with the young lady. “Wouldn’t that have been useful information to share with me?”

She had no reply.

I thanked her for her time. I turned to the floor staff, and announced that I was, at last, logged in. I observed to my colleagues, “If only, if only, I had provided my personal e-mail, so somebody could change my log in, and, gosh, let me know!”

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

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome!

TINS, TIWFDASL at Medic 13, and we caught a run. Initial dispatch information suggested that this was a heart attack.

We arrived on the East Side of Da City, at the stated address, and discovered out patient was awaiting us, upstairs. The folks who were encouraging us to step right up and set to business, were pretty excited. As we arrived and entered the bedroom wherein our patient awaited us, well, we could see why.

Our initial patient survey was, to be charitable, not encouraging. The bedroom was nearly entirely filled by a double bed, and that bed was nearly entirely filled by an unbreathing human being. Unable to detect a carotid (big ass neck artery) pulse, we concluded that this soul was in cardiac arrest. Doug and I knew that there was NO WAY we were going to move this person, let alone move them down the stairs, into our ambulance, continue a resuscitation en route, and offload same at DBTCIDC.

While I started CPR, as best as I could on the bed, Doug called dispatch on the handi talkie, and brought them up to speed. “Dispatch, we need an engine company, or two, for manpower. We have a active cardiac arrest, on a patient estimated weight of 800-1000 pounds. That is a stat call.”

Dispatch acknowledged our call, and responded, “We will send you help”.

Doug and I both set to resuscitating this soul, until our help, a second MEDIC UNIT, arrived. This crew, Mariel and Don, while welcome, came nowhere near the lifting power we anticipated in ten firefighters. Doug relieved me, and I shared this insight with dispatch. “Dispatch, we need at least one full engine company, perhaps two, and we need them several minutes ago! This is a working cardiac arrest, and there is no way we can move, let alone lift, this 800-1000 pound patient!”

Dispatch informed us that that would be a chief level decision, and I was happy to buy into their decision making process. “Very good dispatch. We need our superintendent on this scene, stat. This is a patient safety issue, and our patient is in full cardiac arrest.”

The field supervisor, a captain in our division, jumped in. “Dispatch, this is shift captain (insert name here). I am on the way to Medic 13’s scene code one. They need an engine company. Please dispatch one immediately.”

Soon, a DCPD scout car arrived, disgorging two of the single tiniest female officers I had ever seen.

Right behind them came our captain. He (the captain) edged his way through the crowd of civilians (who were, helpfully enough, insisting that we simply “snatch him on up, and carry him on down to the hospital!” (while NOT climbing the stairs to lend a hand!)

Our captain surveyed the four rescuer CPR taking place, and retired to his vehicle to have a chat with dispatch.

Mariel had removed our cot from our ambulance, securing it in their rig, wisely determining that our patient, upon the floor, would fill the entire module. As she returned up the stairs, bringing every backboard strap that she could find, the first engine company arrived.

The officer of that company trotted up the stairs, took one look, and about-faced, running down the stairs. Shortly, he returned with 5 firefighters, and a salvage cover. Everybody heaved, and the cover was stuffed ½ way beneath our patient. Everybody “Ho!’-d, and it was pulled out from beneath him. Now we had a carrying apparatus, and the firefighters set themselves at each corner, Doug in one middle, me in another, Don at the head, and Mariel at the feet, and we slowly maneuvered our patient down the stairs, and into our ambulance. Mariel and I climbed in the back, Don took off to meet us at the ER, and Doug set out.

I had the walkie talkie in my pocket, and I could hear his conversation with dispatch while Mariel and I CPR’d our little hearts out. Doug suggested that another engine company ought to meet us there, and that the ER ought to be notified of our patient’s girth. Initially, they seemed unenthusiastic, until our captain suggested that either they dispatch an engine company to the ER, or the Chief of the Firefighting Division, since he, the fire chief, would be the one explaining everything to the news media.

Engine 5 met us at the ER. TBTCIDC had lashed two cots together outrigger style, and everybody moved our patient onto the cot. Once he was in the ER, our part of the show was over.

We effusively thanked our captain, as well as the fire crew.

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

“Engendering Collectivity In Nursing”

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and I had been admitted into the BHSU College of Nursing. I had moved on from Da City’s EMF (“The ‘Mergency Muthafuggers!”, as we had been so colorfully denominated on so many occasions), and was nursing in the ED of one of the nearly dozen small (at that time, around 300 beds) hospitals dotting Da City. I went from being chief steward of the union representing the medics, to a staff peon working nights.

Another of the nurses working with me was also pursuing her BSN, and so we study buddied up. We both had been old schooled in The Wisdom Of The Student, as so found ourselves in the rear 1/3 of this cavernous several hundred seat lecture hall, where the Blue Hive State University held it’s class on “Transitions in Nursing”. This was aimed at those of us entering the BSN program. The instructor of this particular class appeared enamored of Florence Nightingale, the Victorian English woman whose work caring for wounded and ill British soldiers in The Crimean War laid the foundation of contemporary Nursing.

This infatuation was reflected as this instructor read to us all from a book of Nightingale’s life. Amusingly, from time to time, she (the instructor) would hold the book above her head, turned towards us so that we could “see” some illustration or another, and detail the citation accompanying the illustration. (“Did you bring your binoculars?”)

From our seats, some 50 or more meters away, this was not as informative as our instructor appeared to consider it.

Once she had exhausted her store of Florence Nightingale trivia, she (the instructor, not Ms. Nightingale) moved on to instruct us in the advantages to be found in group efforts to improve the workplace. She described these efforts as “engendering collectivity” (and, do we not all wonder if, forty years later, in The Enlightened Twenty First Century, if the Thought Police would allow any of us to speak in those terms?), and appeared to believe that this was an unmitigated Good! Thing!.

Let me follow a tangent, if you please, for a brief intermission. I had mentioned that I had been a steward for the union representing Da City’s EMS. Interestingly, my father in his own youthful years, had had a hand in the formation of the American Newspaper Guild, which was a union for (surprisingly) newspaper folks.

So, I kinda grew up steeped in old school, Democrat political world view (think Scoop Jackson and Jack Kennedy, Not Occasio Cortez or Gavin Newsome), including the value to be found in an organized workplace. In that world view was the “real politik” perspective of the cost paid by the organizers initially struggling to create that organization. Examples such as The Fight Of The Overpass as the UAW attempted to unionize the Ford Motor Rouge Plant, or the Homestead Steel Strike, and other struggles as folks attempted to start, and foster, unions, including organizers being blackballed, being intimidated or outright assaulted.

So, as the instructor droned about “engendering collectivity in the workplace”, I eventually let my boyish enthusiasm overcome my naturally shy nature.

I raised my hand, was called upon, and stood. “Ma’am, I was a steward for the union representing EMS in Da City. My father helped organize the American Newspaper Guild. In the professional labor circles with which I am acquainted, we have a technical term for those who seek to engender collectivity in a previously unorganized workplace. That term, is ‘unemployed’.”

I sat down. Oddly enough, I was never again called upon, for the balance of that semester!

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


As I had mentioned previously, I pursued, and earned, my BSN some time ago. Oddly enough, THAT is another occasion for one of my stories.

Living in Da Blue Hive, I elected to attend Blue Hive State University, here in The Un Named Flyover State. They had a nursing school, and, indeed, I, myself was a nurse! How convenient! In addition, I lived a mile or three away from the campus.

I therefore hied myself to the admissions office, applied, got accepted (with none of that “we don’t allow our nursing students to work” idiocy), and picked up a copy of the prerequisite courses for starting my journey to BSN-dom. Easy-peasy, I signed up for a class.

Having completed that class, I signed up for the next on my list, secure in the “knowledge” that I was making progress towards my goal. Then I attended some meeting or other that was required for prospective BSN students.

Once there, I picked up a copy (another copy, or so I thought) of the prerequisite list. Idly perusing it as the speaker droned on about whatever, I noticed a course on the required list, that I did not recall being on that list previously.

Once home, I dug out my old list, and compared the two. Yep, sure enough, the list had changed. Indeed, one of the classes that previously (like, 4 months prior) had been required, was now elective.

Fast forward a year, another two classes in my repertoire, and another “prospective nursing student meeting”. To my disappointment, there was ANOTHER evolution in the required list, and, indeed, one of the classes that had been required, that I had indeed taken and passed, was not on the list at all, any longer.

I made an appointment with the dean of the Nursing school. The secretary inquired as to the topic I wished to discuss with the dean. “Career counseling” was my reply. “I’m considering earning my BSN, and I want to discuss it with her, please.”

Okey-dokey, appointment made.

I showed up at the appointed hour, introduced myself, and made my opening conversational gambit. “Ma’am, I’m presently a medic with Da City’s EMS. I’m considering earning a BSN, or else earning a bachelor’s in chemistry. I’d like you to help me make that choice, please.”

“What sort of things are driving you to one election or the other”, she inquired.

“Well, ma’am, I enjoy science, and like knowing how stuff works. On the other hand, I enjoy health care, and seem to pretty well at it.”

She asked, again. “So, what drives you to chemistry as a major?”

“Well, ma’am, one of the attractors is that it appears that chemistry pre-requisite course list is static, in contrast to the seemingly dynamic, changing-every-semester nature of the nursing pre-requisite list.”

She pulled a catalog or something off a shelf, flipped through it, and mused. “It appears that we have changed our list a couple of times in the past couple of years. How is that a problem for you, Mr. McFee?”

“Well, this past week I learned that one class that I took last year, as a required course for entry, is no longer required. Now, I don’t really care one way or the other about your pre-requisite list. What would be very helpful would be a static required course list. Maybe something like, ‘Here’s our required list. If you start on this date, and complete the list by that date, you will be held to this list, right here, for entry to our program’. Because, to tell you the truth, the next time you folks change the pre-requisite list, I’m going to become a chemist.”

I sooner or later completed the required coursework, with satisfactory grades, and completed the program at Blue Hive State University, being awarded my BSN, and living happily ever after, fighting disease and saving lives.

And our school cheer was “Buzzzzz!” Even before marijuana legalization.

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

Hulk Angry!

Years ago, I owned a 1998 Chevy van. It worked out well for our little family, able to seat all four children, TDW-Mk I, and I, along with whatever luggage seemed needful.

After a couple of years, the side doors did not seem to close properly. I took it to the shop, and their determination was that one of the hinges had cracked, allowing one side of the door to sag.

Chevrolet replaced the hinge, and the shop repaired it. Life went on.

Another couple of years, again the hinges failed and the door did not want to close properly. Chevy did not want to pay for this repair. I appealed this decision up the Chevy chain of command, and The Word came down: It had failed because, and I quote, “You had been too rough with it”.

Okay, let’s review. I run around 5 foot seven, and weigh in at around 180# It is NOT “all muscle”. Indeed, my first impression tends to run along the lines of elderly Walter Mitty. The hinge in question is made of around ¼ inch steel. I doubt that I could make an impression on such a piece of steel, if I were to pound on it with a large hammer.

I shared this skepticism with the customer service manager at the dealership. I added, “Why don’t you talk to the decision maker, again? Ask him just how angry he wants to make a guy who can crack ¼ inch steel with his bare hands, and how any such encounter with such a soul might end, should that sort of fellow be really, really pissed off?”

The dealership CSM chuckled. “I was wondering the same thing.”

Bottom line: Chevy customer service sucks, the dealership replaced the hinge at a hefty discount, and I did not go all “Ragnarok!” on Chevrolet’s Customer “Service” hierarchy.

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…”