Simply kidding, but…. Miguel at Gun Free Zone blog has some empathy for the poor, poor pets, who have to suffer through quarantine with their hoomanz.
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?”
“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 than 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.
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…”
A few years ago, I was working a locums gig Up North. TDW-Mark II and I had lived our entire lives in The Un-Named Flyover State, and one recurrent feature of the winter news coverage was the seeming obligatory photograph of the snowy expanse of the northern part of the state. Now, I had grown up in Da City, largest in the state, nestled among the northern tier of states, and figured that I knew me some snow.
Well, it turns out, at least from the photographs of nigh unto 12 foot walls of snow adjacent to the roadways, featured in these photos, I did not know squat. So, when the opportunity arose to work on the shores of Lake Superior, and with this gig an opportunity to see, for reals, these selfsame walls of snow, well, off we went!
When you work 12 hour shifts, you get 4 days off every week. My placement was accommodating, bunching my days into a 3 on/4 off arrangement. That TDW and I plenty of chances to tour the area.
Unfortunately for our intended snow tourism, the winter had been mild, and that snow which had fallen, was paltry. To be honest, we had more snow downstate, than in The Great White North.
Whatever. There was still abundant history and scenery to take in, and we set out to do so. One of our tours took us to the norther edge of the state, to a lakefront town. It was pretty, although, surprisingly, with all the tourists gone, nothing was open.
So, this episode of our curiosity sated, we headed back to our hotel. Cleverly, I suggested that we return along the lakeshore road, which ran along a bluff and overlooked, you guessed it, the lake.
Remember that this was late December, and in Da Nawth, in winter, sunset blasts past you, and night drops upon you like a net. Or, so we experienced.
Simply to make everything nice, it had begun to sleet-mixed-with-snow. Let us review the scene, now: Night? (Check!) Snow/sleet? (Check!) Unplowed Up North roads? (Check!) Slush accumulating on the roads? (Check) And, certainly not least, Anxious Wife overlooking the drop off onto the icy, rocky shore of The Lake?(Why, yes, CHECK!)
So TINS ©, There I Was, Driving Along and Making Time towards our hotel, when I splashed through some accumulation of slush. Our vehicle jogged, just a little, and TDW emitted a shriek.
I suggested that, since it was black outside as a politician’s heart (should such a thing really exist), and I generally had this under control, perhaps declamations of impending doom, absent clear indications of said doom, might distract me from successfully managing to move forward, while maintaining our position on the pavement. Some might consider failure to accomplish this to be A Bad Thing.
She apologized, and I returned to navigating and aviating (so to speak).
A little while later, a county road commission salt truck/plow overtook us (and, yes I WAS driving that slowly!), passed up, and in doing so sent a moderate sized spray of slush and whatnot onto our windshield.
TDW shrieked, again.
I slowed even more, came to a stop on our nearly deserted stretch of icy snowy roadway, and turned to my bride.
“Honey”, I began, “I realize that you have concerns about the wisdom of driving on this road, under these conditions, tonight. However, since we are something like 30 miles from our hotel, and I am unwilling to spend the night sleeping in this car, driving to the hotel is out only reasonable alternative.”
“In addition, you DO recall, that I have driven in snow, for something approaching 50 years, right? And, therefore, know just a little bit about driving in these sorts of conditions, right?”
Again, she nodded.
“While I realize that you want to do your part to help our drive be safe, efficient, and trouble free, I want you to realize that, whatever you may think, it is really not particularly helpful, and nowhere near as helpful as you appear to think it is, when you scream at seemingly random intervals, while I’m driving unfamiliar roads, in pitch black night, in snow and sleet, along a cliff face.
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.
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.
Once I had departed the employ of Da City, I worked as a RN in one of the little ERs dotting Da City. At that point in time, there were perhaps 18, maybe 20 hospitals big or small serving Da City. I worked at one of the middling sized ones, at that time around 300 beds.
Working midnights in ER, well, you commonly find yourself spending time with folks who make poor life choices. Those of you who have worked nights, or do presently, bear with me. Alcohol is a commonly abused drug. Shocker, right? Moreover, those who use alcohol to excess, commonly also do other, similarly, stupid shit. Said stupid shit, typified by the admonition, “Hold my beer, and watch this!”, places the stupid shit performer at significantly higher risk of ER visitation eliciting injury.
In retrospect, that all makes sense. Well, those of our neighbors who fail to contemplate consequences, readily foreseeable consequences at that, PROSPECTIVELY, well, those folks are why my children slept indoors, ate every day, and got suitable shoes regularly. Thanks for the business, my friend!
Later in the night/early in the morning, the flow of sick/injured tends to slack off. When all the stuff that needed doing, had been done, we got to thinking. From those deliberations arose the night shift game of The Ethanol Is Right!
The goal is to appraise a given patient, without any lab work reported as of the time of the prediction, and then write down your vote for the patient’s blood alcohol level. The vote closest to the lab reported value, but not over, “won”.