Fun And Games Off Duty

“Damn that George Bush!”

So, one summer, well before The Plaintiff revealed herself to be The Plaintiff, my younger sons were scouts, and summer camp beckoned. Off we went, and since I could swap days, and work weekends, well, I was one of the dads accompanying the boys to camp.

Everybody got up at around the ass crack of dawn, and the boys prepared breakfast, can cleaned up thereafter. Of they went to merit badge classes, or swimming, or other activities, and the adults either tagged along, or lolled around the campsite.

At the end of the day, one designated patrol prepared dinner, and another patrol was cleanup detail. Then the boys were free to run around, or do more scout stuff, before the evening assembly and announcements for the itinerary for the morrow. Then, clean up and off to bed. The adults typically sat up, chatting around the campfire.

Now, this was during the reign of Bush 43, AKA Bush The Younger. Mr. Bush was the recipient of considerable, let us say, “counsel” from the enemedia. Indeed, it appeared that he could do nothing correctly. From the insight that Hurricane Katrina “was Bush’s fault!”, to other revelations of how BushHitler was single-handedly careening the metaphorical American Ship of State onto the Rocks DuJour, well, dude couldn’t catch a break.

So, one evening, one of the scout leaders was reflecting on his previous weekend. “I washed my car. We live out in the country, so you all know it took a lot of washing!”

Murmurs of assent, all around.

“Then, I waxed it. Spent the entire afternoon getting it just right! Gleaming, shiny, clean! Hasn’t looked so good since it left the showroom!”

Again, murmurs of encouragement.

“Then a bird crapped on it!”. He paused, shaking his head. “Damn that George Bush!”

Guy next to him, joined in. “I finally got an afternoon free, and cut my yard. I swept up all the clippings, trimmed along the fence, weeded the garden. Got it looking like something out of House Beautiful! I was so proud!” He, too, paused. “Got up the next morning, and the freaking crabgrass was overgrown! Freaking Bush! That bastard!”

Next guy contemplatively contributed, “My wife guilted me into washing the dishes the other day. I shut up and did it, since she seemed happy I was in the kitchen, cleaning up. I was almost done, when this glass I was washing, broke in my hand, cut the crap out of me, I bled everywhere, and she wound up running me into ER for seven stitches! She cleaned up the broken glass, and all the blood, but, sheesh! That asshole, Bush! What was he thinking?”

Thankfully, NOTHING like that is happening, in current affairs America, Amirite?

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

Ham radio at Fort Custer State Park.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©…well, Ok, I wasn’t, really. TDW-Mark 1, our kids, and I were away on vacation, camping in Custer State Park, in South Dakota. TDW-Mark 1 had planned on a drive across the northern tier of states, culminating in a visit to Mount Rushmore, The Crazy Horse Memorial, and generally seeing the sights of Not The Un-Named Flyover State. So, there we were, cleaning up after dinner, and the air got surprisingly still, and felt, well, “heavier”. There had been thunderstorm warnings earlier in the afternoon on the broadcast radio, and I figured that a little visit to Ham Radioland was in order.

I turned the car on, powered on the amateur radio, and set the radio to one of the several Ham Radio repeaters in the area of the park. TDW-Mark 1 wandered over to see what her husband was up to.

What I was up to, was taking notes on the “weather net” in progress. There were reports of rotation on the observed thunderstorms, and occasional reports of funnel clouds. TDW-Mark 1 decided that it would be clever to get all the clean up done, and everything put away. She corralled the kids, and set them to work.

One of the other campers wandered over, likely thinking that I had found “The Game” on the radio, and appeared surprised that I did NOT have the broadcast radio on, in my vehicle.

“Whatcha listening to ?”

“The local radio amateurs are weather spotting, and calling their reports. Some of them have seen funnel clouds, others have seen rotation in some of the thunderstorms that they have seen.”

“What’s that mean?”

“That it is very likely that one of these storms may touch down, and the folks near there will have a tornado to call their very own!”

“That sounds like it could be bad!”

“Yep. That could be very bad.”

Right around this point in the tutorial on Weather Spotting In America, And Amateur Radio’s Role Therein, TDW-Mark 1 returned, both to inform me that our campsite had been battened down (or, as battened down as a pop-up camper was going to get, anyhow), and inquire as to what was my brilliant contingency plan in the event that all our little family was to be offered a trip to Oz, by Thor himself.

I had noticed, upon our arrival, that the bathrooms appeared to be very substantially built. Fine brick structures seemed well suited, in my estimation, to the task of sheltering my family from the storm. I so instructed TDW-Mark 1. “If it appears that we are going to get heavy weather, we will hit the showers, select a toilet in the middle of the building, and call it home for as long as necessary.”

“Any sign that things are heading our way?”

“Presently all the funnels, and all the rotation are to our east, and northeast, so we are unlikely to catch any of it. If they close the weather net in the next several hours, we ought to be clear.”

The other camper, overhearing all this, began to turn his head, just like at a tennis match, goggle eyed at our seemingly tranquil acceptance of the potential of holing up in a toilet against some tornado or other. “Aren’t you guys scared at all by this?”

TDW-Mark 1 had his answer. “What good would that do? He’s a medic and ER nurse, I’m an ER nurse, he’s keeping an ear on the weather for us. Tell you what: keep an eye on our campsite. If you see us scurrying to the bathrooms, gather your family and join us, because it is unlikely that we all will catch the trots simultaneously!”

The look on his face was nearly priceless.

Even better? The fact that we heard the Skywarn Net stand down, around a hour later.

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?”

“Nope!”

“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 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.

Yet.

Fun And Games · Fun With Suits!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I goggled at her. “Uh, what?”

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

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

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

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

“And?” I prompted.

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

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

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

“Uh, kind of…”

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

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

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

SPOUSAL ADVICE

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.”

She nodded.

“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.

Please, stop!”

Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

“First World Problems, Dad!”

TDW-Mark 2, Second Son Charlie, and his wife and I were out to dinner one night. Charlie had asked me how work was going, and I fell into my reflexive recitation of complaints about my employer. Yada, yada, yada, bitch, moan, and complain.

After a couple of minutes, I stopped to take a breath. Charlie looked at me, contemplatively, and asked me, “Dad? Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure. Lay it on me!”

“Do you suppose that, say, Cuban refugees, having entrusted their families, and their own, lives to rafts made, oh, out of a pickup truck and old water bottles, stagger onto the Florida shore, join hands, and ask each other, ‘Doesn’t McFee’s life really suck?’”

I considered my son’s question. “Really, I doubt that they spend an entire second on that concern.”

He smiled upon me, as if a Jedi Master upon a Paduan. “Yep, Dad. First World problems!”

Proud Papa moment, right there!

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pre Planning Your Scene · Protect and Serve · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Transfer To Florida

A long, long time ago, in a county very far away, I was a nursing supervisor. I had migrated into supervision after several years as an ER nurse.

One afternoon I arrived at work, and the offgoing supervisor reported that a gentleman had been brought in and admitted for his heart attack. Now, in these far away days, there were no angioplasties, no stents. There was no TPA, no other thrombolytics (“clot busters”). Indeed, the state of the art, outside of referral hospitals, was oxygen, hydration, rest, aspirin, and pain control. We had THAT, in abundance!

So, a couple of days later, one of the CCU nurses took me aside, and informed me that this guy was, to employ her own professional and finely tuned appraisal, “acting kinda squirrely”.

It developed that the attending physician determined that this soul was both having/recovering from a MI (heart attack), but, in addition, was a florid alcoholic, and was entering into DTs. Like, classic, textbook, tachycardic, hallucinating, writhing, pre-seizure tremulous, DTs.

Simply to make everything just nice, the internal med doc that the cardiologist consulted did not believe in using benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal. (that would be medications like Valium or Librium, useful both for the sedating effects, as well as their efficacy in protecting the patient from convulsions that might be lethal.) No, he insisted in using antipsychotics, which weren’t altogether effective in addressing his twitching nor his restlessness. Shit.

Well, he survived all this excitement, and, eventually (like, 4-6 weeks worth of eventually) was ready to go home.

Our discharge planner discovered that our new friend was a resident of Florida which we, in The Unamed Flyover State, were not anywhere near. He had wrecked his vehicle in the initial confusion, and therefore had no vehicle to get him home. In any event, what with his MI, and his lengthy stay in Thorazine Land, was in no sort of shape to (a) drive home to Florida, nor (b) master the intellectual challenges inherent in navigating the interstate home, even if he was strong enough to physically do so, Which he was not.

Her investigations revealed that none of his family was in any sort of position to happily drive up here and retrieve him (which of course begs the question of what was he doing here, with his pleasantly confused self, something like 1200 miles from home? And alone?)

So, once the dust settled, he was still our problem, and The Suits determined that springing for a flight home would end the financial drain that he represented, since no insurance company in the Western World would pay for him to reside at the Grand Hotel De Our Little Hospital, once his medical need had resolved. I did mention that he was squirrely, right? Well, our discharge planner hypothesized that his heart attack, and DTs, had trampled his previously marginally sufficient coping mechanisms, and he was, now, fully senile. Therefore, putting him up, unsupervised, in a hotel, would not work out at all well.

So the plan was laid. Our discharge planner purchased a plane ticket. He had specifically purchased a ticket on a nonstop flight, determining that there would be fewer opportunities for him to wander off, and get lost Ghawd Alone knew where. Then, she dumped it in my lap. I called A Competing Ambulance Service, and spoke to a supervisor.

“I have this guy, and we are going to fly him home. He is not altogether there, and so he needs both supervision, and a chain of custody. The flight is at 5 pm, so I want him at the gate at 4 pm sharp. I want your crew to physically deliver him to the boarding gate, physically observe him belted into his seat, and obtain a signature as a receipt from the flight attendant who seats him. Can you do all that?”

“Sure. You just have to set it up with the airline. OK?”

“Outstanding! I’ll set it up, and call you back.”

So, I called the airline. I spoke with a supervisor, and laid out my problem, and my view of the solution. “Sure, no problem. We can do that. Anything else?”

“Yep. Can you get a receipt for my guy, from the folks who pick him up, and then call me with the fact of safe arrival, please? Then, mailing us the receipt would be wonderful!”

“Sure, can do. Gimme your name and mailing address!”

I called the Competing Ambulance Service back, and brought the supervisor up to speed. “Oh”, I added, “One more thing. We’ll hand the plane ticket to your medic, and also hand him or her the chart. That HAS to go with him, and is part of the chain of custody business. OK?”

“OK!”, was the response.

So, on the appointed day, I was at the nurses station awaiting The Competing Ambulance Service crew. Once they arrived, I reviewed all the foregoing. Both medics nodded, and one opined, “Yeah, that’s all according the the briefing we got from the supervisor. Where’s the chart, and the ticket?”

The charge nurse handed both items over. The medic made a show of placing the ticked into the inside pocket of his jacket, turning so both his partner as well as the nurse and I could see it settled deeply into it. His partner tucked the chart beneath the pillow, and they were off!

Around 1630, I got paged to pick up a phone call. “Mcfee!” was my greeting.

“Mr. Mcfee, this is Bob from The Competing Ambulance Service. My crew just radioed me to let me know that your patient is on the flight, seatbelt secured, and they have a signature form one of the flight attendants. So far, so good. That attendant has you phone number, and will phone you once he has been handed over to family at the other end.”

And, as promised, around 1930, the crew from The Competing Ambulance Service arrived, hunted me down, and handed me a copy of their trip sheet, prominently featuring the name, signature, and employee ID number of the flight attendant accepting Mr. Man for his flight.

To frost my cake of WIN!, the next day the night shift supervisor relayed via days, that our patient had successfully, and uneventfully, been handed off to his family at his destination.

Hallelujah!