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

GRATITUDE

My mother died last month. She had passed her 100th birthday, and was living in the house she had occupied for something like 40 years. The immediate trigger to her death was liver failure, occasioned, most likely, by an adverse interaction between anesthetics and a century old liver. She had fallen, a couple of days prior, and fractured her hip. The surgery, fortunately, was for this sort of thing, uncomplicated, and she evidently tolerated the surgery side of the affair pretty well.

That is to set up the following deliberation. Gratitude. My mother was able to spend her last months in her house, because my youngest brother pretty much dropped everything, and moved in with her. The woman who has been his family’s housekeeper for something like a generation (from well before The Plaintiff became The Plaintiff, in fact!), also dropped her comfortable daily routine, and became my mother’s de facto practical nurse. Wordy as I am, I am unable to adequately describe my gratitude to my brother, and (let us call er…) Angelica. I thanked them both, even though my brother sloughed it off, “You would have done the same, if you had been able. Hell, you *did* do the same, for Dad.” Angelica simply smiled, sniffled a bit, and turned away.

Mom was able to live pretty independently in the two years prior to that, due to my middle brother, and his wife, let us call her “Donna”. Due to Donna’s efforts, in particular, Mom was able to live in her own apartment, have her dog with her, and, generally, run her own life. Donna made certain Mom got to her doctor appointments, got and took her medications, had her clothing laundered, had food in her frig, and that the dog got walked. All this on top of running her, Donna’s, own household, and helping her husband, my brother, run his business. Thank you.

Prior to that, well, there are, and were, neighbors who looked in on Mom. Then, there is The Car Service Guy. https://wordpress.com/post/musingsofastretcherape.wordpress.com/431 During one power failure (different from The Car Service Guy story), her neighbors physically took her in, where she stayed at their house, warm due to their generator, eating their hot food, and remained until the power was restored. Without these folks, not a one of whom was any sort of kin to my mother, she could not have lived in the house that she loved, for as long as she did, as nearly independently as she did. Thank you. God Bless you.

Police officers in her town, on a couple of occasions, looked in on her at my, and my brother’s request, and reported back that she had been fine. Thank you.

Several of my youngest brother’s friends, living “only” one state over, would drop in on her a couple of times a year, helping make sure that she was getting on alright, and providing an “eyes on” report to my brother. Thank you, as well.

I have to say, the shriveled vestigial organ where my heart may have once resided, is warmed by the good example of these folks. Not for them the bullshit “You voted for Trump! Demon!, or “You voted for Biden! Traitor!”, pejoratives that seem to pass for political discourse. Simply, good people, watching for their neighbors, and living the admonition, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Good people, good examples. Thank you.

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

Phone calls that make you go”WTAF??!!”

So, TINS, TIWFDASL as a nursing supervisor in a small hospital in Da City. I had checked our afternoon staffing, and accounted for all the staff. I had wandered around, meeting and greeting my staff, and made arrangements such that everybody could eat. I checked in with security, and, as usual, there was nothing happening.

I was back in the nursing office, completing some paperwork or other, and received a call from the switchboard. The operator informed me that Channel 69 news was calling, asking about some patient who had fallen out of a window at our facility. I told the operator to send the call to me, and stat call the security supervisor to meet me in my office, RFN.

The call was odd. (Now THAT is a surprise, idn’t it?) The caller identified herself as a reporter for one of the local stations, and that they had received a report that a patient had fallen from a window, and landed on a roof of part of our building. I responded that this was inaccurate. I knew this to be inaccurate because, in the event that such a thing had occurred, the staff would call me immediately, no such call had been placed, therefore no such thing had happened.

We concluded our conversation, and I turned to my friend the security supervisor. I asked him to immediately inspect our roofs, either in person or with one of his officers doing so in person, and ascertain the absence of anybody (or, any body) on any of our roofs. He hopped right to it.

Next I called each of my charge nurses, and ordered them to immediately, with no delay, personally lay their eyes on each and every one of their patients. They were ordered to immediately call the switchboard to report that they had indeed personally laid eyes on every one of their patients, or stat page me overhead in the event that any patient was not physically on their unit.

One charge nurse protested that she was too busy to perform this task. I noted that this was what we termed “a work order” in our employee handbook, and her options were to get to it, right now, or prepare their soliloquy for 0900 the following morning, wherein they would have the opportunity to convince the director of nursing that they should, indeed, continue their employment at our hospital. Because ANY other response other than “Let me go, so I can get to this”, would result in their being clocked out and escorted from the building, right about now.

Surprisingly, that elicited compliance.

The security supervisor paged me, requesting that I meet him in the cafeteria, that being about the center of the hospital. I arrived and he briefed me: his officers had inspected the roofs, and noticed nothing awry. A couple of his officers had shanghaied the maintenance man, and secured a ladder. They were going to climb up and re-inspect the accessible roofs, to verify what their preliminary survey had suggested. And, nobody/no body had been found.

I physically went to each nursing unit, spoke with each charge nurse, and had them show me their census, along with a report of their actions to inspect each patient. No missing persons. Hallelujah!

I phoned my immediate supervisor, and gave her the short form report. Of course, the long report, in five part harmony, with full orchestration, with circles and arrows and illustrations to fully communicate the entirety of the affair, was waiting on her desk for the morning.

Duty · guns · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene

Self Defense Cost Benefit Analysis

TINS, TIWFDASL, I had caught the detail, and the happy go lucky soul with whom I was working that particular night on Da City’s EMS, decided it was time to ask me about my ballistic vest. Now, it was not any sort of secret among members of the department that I wore a kevlar vest. After all, in Those Days, Da City was known as “The Murder City”, and not without some justification. We chatted about the threat profile we confronted (although, the chat went along the lines of “What? Do you expect to be shot?” My response was “Nope. I wear this for those scenes on which I do NOT anticipate being shot. On those on which I anticipate being shot, I will simply refuse the run until the police have secured the scene!”)

This guy, no doubt thinking himself clever, pronounced, “Well, if the scene goes to shit, I’ll run out, and you follow me! That way, your vest will protect both of us!”

My rejoinder was, “In that case, you had best be certain that you do not slow down, lest you have my bootprints all up your back, as I run you over!”

Later, my partner and I discussed the vest and EMS. He asked, non-snarkily, how I had come to the conclusion that the vest was the way to go.

I noted that the vest cost me about as much as a Colt Government Model in .45 acp.

It was not a felony to wear the vest concealed, in contrast to the Colt.

It was not a black letter violation of department regulations, in contrast to the Colt (or any other firearm).

The vest would not inadvertently discharge, in contrast to the Colt, where that was a potential problem.

The vest was not going to drop out of my pocket, on the floor of the ED, in front of Ghawd and Everybody, in contrast to a handgun which another of our peers had won the opportunity to explain.

I would not in any circumstance hesitate to use the vest, in contrast to the Colt.

Finally, I was interested in meeting the soul who could relieve me of the vest, and hurt me with it, again, in contrast to the Colt.

So, I wore a vest. Others, or so I was told, elected to wear a firearm.

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

Vehicular Extrication

Long ago and far away, I spent my salad days as a street medic in Da City’s EMS. I know, right? Startlement abounds, amirite? Anyhow, this one time, we caught a run. We arrived to find an intoxicated gentleman seated in the rear seat of a four door sedan. Interestingly enough, he was seated upon the floor thereof, with his legs extended beneath the front seat.

We figured that extricating him from the vehicle would facilitate assessment (eg, WTF was his primary malfunction, and what, if any, would be our role in addressing it?). Therefore we started to attempt to move his legs so that he could return to being seated upon the rear seat, and exit the vehicle from there. No joy.

It tuns out that highly intoxicated folks, like our friend here, were not so very good at listening to and following directions. Our entreaties that he fold one leg, and remove it from beneath the seat, seemed overly complex, as he did not successfully implement step one of our process.

So, we tried to move the seat forward, thinking that this would afford our patient enough maneuvering room so as to fold leg “A”, move it laterally, extend it, and repeat the process with leg “B”, and thereby achieve freedom.

Nope. As the seat moved, he shrieked as if we were removing the leg, likely anticipating reattachment on the sidewalk. So, that avenue of approach was foreclosed.

Doug and I consulted with the vehicle’s owner, who had been pacing about, intent that we not damage his baby. Or the patient, I suppose. Doug and I were fresh out of ideas, and figured that our friends in the firefighting division, with halligan bars, K-12 gasoline powered saws with metal cutting blades, hydraulic extrication tools, and similar toys for fun and games, likely could devise several new plans to remove this gentleman from the floor of the back seat.

I shared this thought with dispatch, noting that our patient appeared in no immediate life threat, and perhaps a “Code Three” (aka “Priority Three”, or no red lights no siren) response might be appropriate.

Dispatch acknowledged our request, told us that a squad would be on the way, and “Firefighters never respond ‘Code Three’, always ‘Code One’”.

Alrighty, then.

The vehicle owner overheard all this, and appeared to become considerably more excited. “You called the mother-f*@$ing firemen! They will f*@$ up my car!”

Doug and I agreed with him, that likely there would be some damage once the firefighters had extricated Mr. Drunk And Boneless from his car.

Mr. Drunk And Boneless thereupon became the recipient of a loud, profane, creative, and enthusiastic exhortation that he remove himself from the vehicle so as to greet the firefighters while sanding upon his own two feet, on the sidewalk, rather than seated upon the floor of the exhortor’s car. (Paraphrased). This was accompanied by pulling, pushing, tugging and bending, as the narrator demonstrated the contortions that he believed would facilitate the exit of the drunk and boneless fellow from the narrator’s vehicle.

And it came to pass that, once the squad had arrived on our scene, Mr. Drunk And Boneless was seated, relatively happily and nearly uninjured, upon somebody’s lawn, rather than enmeshed in the seat of the vehicle that had held him securely within it’s embrace.

The squad looked the scene over, returned to service, and our patient told us to bugger off, as he simply wanted to sleep.

Well, bye!

Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Serendipity

One evening, I was eagerly anticipating the prospect of departing work on time. We had not turned a metaphorical wheel for something like 45 minutes, and the clock on “the clubhouse wall” promised us only 20 more minutes until we recreated a LeMans start, jetting off into the night.

So, of course, somebody wandered in. She got registered, and my MA roomed her, interviewed her, vitaled her, and got some pee to analyze for indicators of a urinary tract infection, as such were her reported symptoms.

I reviewed the vitals, allergies, meds, and past medical history, as the urinalysis machine deliberated, finally printing out it’s findings. Surprisingly, given Miss Lady’s report of frequent, urgent, uncomfortable urination, there were no white blood cells nor nitrate (indicators of bacterial source of her discomfort). What there was, was an abundance of glucose (sugar). Indeed, the machine indicated something like 1,000 mg of glucose per decaliter (100 ml, or 1/10 of a liter). That’s a lot of glucose. I requested a finger stick blood glucose test.

That read “High”, as in, too much glucose in the drop of blood tested, for the machine to measure it. The machine will register blood sugar levels as high as 600 mg/dl.

I entered the room, introduced myself, and asked, what prompted her visit tonight.

She recounted the urgency, frequency, and discomfort with urination. “I feel like I have a bladder infection!”, she declared.

“Well, ma’am, there are no indications of infection in your urine. There is, however, an abundance of sugar in your urine. This is present, as well, in your blood. Are you a diabetic?”

“No.”

“Well, ma’am, you have more sugar per ml of your blood, than is present in a similar volume of sugary soda pop. You are, indeed, a diabetic. You need to go to emergency right now, so that they can get you started on managing your diabetes. Give me a minute, and I will print out your chart so you can show the folks in ER what I have found.”

Fun And Games · guns · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Retail Pharmacy, So To Speak

A long, long time ago, in an ER very far away, I was a night shift ER nurse.

Surprise!

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, well, uh, not so much. I and the other nurses were capitalizing upon a slow moment and gabbing away at the nursing station, when one of our security officers ran in (literally!) and announced that “We got a shooting in the driveway!”

Having heard no loud noises, I was puzzled, but, these officers were not prone to overstatement, so I asked a couple of the other nurses to grab a cart, I grabbed some gloves, and off we went to the ambulance entrance.

Now, by way of background, this was in the early days of the crack cocaine epidemic (although, how one contracted “crack cocaine” from another person without active, willful action on one’s own part is unclear to me). A couple of blocks away was what might be considered to be an open air drug market. Folks (commonly suburbanites) would drive up, engage a soul in conversation and arrange a transaction, another confederate would be summoned and the exchange would take place, money from the buyer, drugs from the vendor.

We were told that in this particular transaction, the named patient, seated in the back seat of this two door vehicle, appeared to believe that he was the designated quality control inspector. Indeed, the tale appeared to paint this fellow as believing that he ought to remonstrate with the vendor regarding the unsatisfactory nature of the product that had been delivered.

As the History Of Present Illness unraveled, the vendor did not seem to have fully committed to a “Zero Product Defect”, nor a “Every Customer Fully Satisfied, Every-time” merchandising philosophy, as, when the shootee indicated that he, the shootee, intended to enforce his product quality complaint by with holding payment, he, the vendor, is reported to have produced a handgun, and shot the shootee.

Bad times ensued. The driver, unsurprisingly, panicked, and sped away. A few blocks later, he, the driver, noticed our bright “Emergency” sign, and pulled in, bellowing an incomprehensible narrative.

So, security cleared the car of the terrorized goslings, and I (and security, and my nursing partners) tried to extricate Mr. Beenshot’s inert form out of the rear seat of a coupe, indeed, a compact coupe.

It only closely resembled a cluster fuck. For a while.

We maneuvered Mr. Beenshot into our code room, and commenced to resuscitating. Before things had progressed very far, our doc had determined that this guy had a “STAT!” transfer in his very near future, and so the nursing supervisor, who had come at a run upon our paging a Code Blue overhead, peeled off to arrange with our transfer ambulance service that they produce a crew and truck RFQ (Right F*%king Quick), and then phoned TBTCIDC to provide them a heads up.

We eventually got him stabilized (kind of, sort of), and the physician had a detailed chat with TBTCIDC senior physician. Off Mr. Beenshot went, and we sought out the entourage, intending to elicit more history, more circumstances leading up to the shooting, more pretty nearly anything, so we could provide that information to TBTCIDC, as well as, well, notify next of kin.

Alas, the posse had unassed our waiting room sometime while we were distracted, trying to save the life of their friend, I mean, co conspirator.

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

Tai Chi: You’re Doing It Wrong!

I recently purchased a new pickup truck. I had been pining for this truck for several years. It took me several years to drop the hammer, because I wanted to thin the herd of my indebtedness, as well as build up my “rainy day” fund again.

Having finally made my purchase, I had several accessories that I desired, and was not about to finance over 6 years. I wanted a “headache rack”, planning to mount antennae for my amateur radio (“HAM radio”), a CB, and other radios that TDW-Mark II and I employ when traveling, or weather spotting, and thereby avoid drilling holes in my shiny, new, truck. (I DID mention, I have a new truck, right?)

So, TINS, there we were, turning off Main Drag in Nearby Bigger City, preparatory to pulling into the lot of The Truck Accessory Place, when we (TDW and I) noticed a disheveled looking adult male approx age of mid twenties, standing in the second driveway of The Truck Accessory Place (hereinafter referred to as TTAP), swinging his arms, and having an animated conversation with person or persons unseen by us.

Nice.

We pulled up to TTAP, entered same (locking my truck in the process), and hailed the counterman. “So, has homeboy here been boxing with dragons very long?”

I received a puzzled look in response. “Huh?”

“See the guy out there, boxing with person or persons unseen by you and me? How long have the dragons in his mind been attacking him?”

He walked around the counter, gazed out of the window, and opined, “He doesn’t look like his mind is quite right.”

I concurred. TDW-Mark II stood nearby, hand concealed in her purse. Her purse wherein she had her sidearm. She stood so as to not obstruct my strong side draw, should that become A Thing.

Mr. Counter returned to his side of the counter, and dialed police dispatch. He described his observations, and asked for an officer to respond. I watched as the boxer bobbed, weaved, punched at unseen adversaries, moving himself toward the neighboring business.

Soon, he crossed the street (startling several drivers on that street, in the process!), and wandered off into the thicket there, not to be seen again.

It has been told that Colonel Jeff Cooper, of Gunsite and Modern Technique of The Pistol fame, was once asked, “Colonel Cooper, if you knew that you were going to a gunfight, what gun would you prefer?”

He is quoted as saying, “If I knew that I was going to a gunfight, I’d stay home!”

I like avoidance. I’m tickled that Mr Dragon Boxing, did not present a lethal force threat.

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.

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

Random Thoughts, Part V

Another day, fighting disease, and saving lives. Another opportunity to consider the fact that everybody brings sunshine into my life. Sometimes, that is when an individual enters my life…….

A long, long time ago, not so very far away, Doug and I had a run on a soul very much like our “O’BEAST!” friend. That reminded me that some folks have so much misery and unhappiness in their lives, that they have enough to share with everyone around them. Or, so they appear to think!

Regarding that: any particular miserable soul provides me the opportunity to be unhappy for a half hour, maybe an hour. On the other hand, they are wallowing in their sourness, unpleasantness, hour after hour, day and night, 24/7/365. Who is worse off?

Among THAT population, are folks who appear to lack an education in The Classics. This is manifested by their diction, their articulation, as well as their vocabulary. From time to time, “Back In The Day”, we in the ED would have one (or more) of these souls gracing us for an extended time, while their livers metabolized them towards freedom. (It takes a while to detox from a high level drunk!) Such a philosopher would feel compelled to share with us all his ruminations about Maternal-child relationships, and conjecture about our particular manifestation of those relationships. (generally running along Oedipal sorts of speculations) Along with thoughts about hygiene and the value to be found in regularity, and legitimacy of parentage (or something like that).

One physician characterized one individual’s declamations as reflecting a certain “Poverty of conversational themes”.