29 May 2006

Band-aids for everyone!

I've been paid to watch two baseball games in two days for the ambulance company, rough life, no? The first game was in a small stadium where I was the sole first aid provider and I saved the day with multiple band-aids and two ice packs for a woman who took a graze on the ear from a foul ball. Band-aids were mostly for children and women who were getting blisters from their first day in sandals. One of the dispatchers for the ambulance came by after shift and kept me company. Kind of interesting to have a social conversation with someone I've only talked to on the radio and to have a face to go with the voice.

The second game was a bigger stadium, AA major league team game. There are supposed to be 2 people working it, but one of them called out the day before and nobody was available, so D and I got sent over to hold down the fort with the paramedic. We were there for about half the game and handed out one ice pack to a kid who hit his elbow after slipping on the stairs. Hard work I tell you. Actually, both games were somewhat painful to watch as the home teams were ahead for quite a while and ended up losing in the end, but there's a reason these guys aren't major leaguers.

Other than that, things are about typical on the ambulance, getting people to rehabilitation, back to long-term care facilities, or to psychiatric care. D's new romance seems to be going well for him, despite the 10 year age difference, her 10-year old son, and the disapproval of his mother. Wednesday is our last day together as full-time partners, and the majority of my June shifts are scheduled on a different truck. I have mixed feelings about it as I'm glad to be cutting back, glad to have some variety, but I will miss hanging out with him as we usually have a good time.

Being a holiday today, I'm getting double-time and there is absolutely nothing going on. I'm pretty sure I managed a sunburn on my arms and face from hanging outside this morning devouring a paperback, but oh well. Even the regular 911 ambulances are pretty slow today, but I'm guessing things might pick up in the evening as the out-of-staters head home and the locals continue to imbibe.

25 May 2006

Chickens? Heads?

Okay, briefly updating that I have managed to over-busy myself again (surprise, surprise).

Class has started and I'm already behind on my reading but our first section is airway management, including learning to intubate people. For those who don't know, intubation is where you stick a breathing tube down someone's windpipe and then you squeeze a bag that pushes air into the patient. We saw a cool video on Wednesday night of intubations in progress where you could actually see from the provider's point of view to see the anatomy and the proper procedure. Yes, I'm weird for really enjoying something like that, but someone's gotta do it!

Time on the van-bulance has been going pretty well. Today was toasty though. The weather finally warmed up, and our usual truck was MIA this morning. Apparently, it was sent somewhere for a radio update. So the powers that be told us to take truck 19, then truck 18, then wait until truck 6 got back and take that one. We cleaned and checked 3 trucks (all real box-style ambulances) today before they let us stay in one. When we got our first patient, we found something neither of us thought to check though. The A/C was broken. Not good. Even at lunch time, it was so hot in the back of the ambulance that I was drenched in sweat and the patient was complaining about the temperature.

I got a look at the rough-draft schedule for June, when I'm supposed to be part-time. I have 32, 40, 42, and 16 (because 1/2 the week is July) hours across the weeks of June. I'm going to have to talk to the scheduling supervisor about cutting at least one shift each week that is 40+ because otherwise I'm going to go insane. I also got my official end-of-probation review today, and even though the supervisor on duty told me it was a waste of paperwork since I'm "quitting", apparently everything is good, he said nobody had complained about me. Woohoo, four months and I'm complaint-free, party time!

22 May 2006

Making a difference

Yesterday actually involved a transfer that felt like we were really making a difference in someone's life. We took a young child to Boston for a kidney transplant. Apparently they'd gotten the call for an available matched organ, so off we went lights and sirens. The family spoke hardly any english, so my few words of spanish were actually helpful. The staff on the unit were so excited to see the kid and the family, it really left a good feeling for the rest of the day.

18 May 2006

Getting smarter-er every day

First night of EMT-I class was last night, it was supposed to start Monday but with all the flooding, they cancelled. I spent the whole time feeling exactly like I did in my basic class - entirely out of place, too old and too young/inexperienced at the same time, and how in the heck am I ever going to sit through this many weeks of class with these people? Until I moved down here, I never realized how male-dominated EMS really was. Most of my co-workers are men, and there are only 4 women in my class of 28. I feel a little awkward about the whole thing because the mere presence of women usually makes men look over their shoulders before talking, especially since EMS has more than it's fair share of locker-room humor. I guess in the end that is more their problem than mine though.

Also going on last night was an open bar at a local establishment, hosted by our medical director as part of EMS appreciation week. Free alcohol was from 5:30 - 8:30, so I definitely missed that as my shift doesn't end until 6 and class is from 6-10, but earlier in the day I was considering going over after class to enjoy the scene. Several of the folks known to make fools of themselves when free liquor is involved were going, so it was probably entertaining, but by the time I worked from home in the morning, busted my butt on the ambulance all day, then sat in class for several hours, I was too wiped out to care. Last night was the first in several that I actually slept clean through the night and woke up feeling reasonably rested, so I think I made the right decision. I am looking forward to the stories of drunken bacchanalia today though.

15 May 2006

Finding the obvious

Our government money hard at work, from wire reports, an article titled:
"Young men in rural areas who drive pickups often don't buckle seat belts"

p.s. K is still at work today, running on 2 hrs sleep and continuing to sand bag and protect our town. National guard has been called in to help out, so they are now actually stacking full sand bags for people. The shift that started working on 5/13 was finally sent home at noon today, so K may get to come home sometime tomorrow. My ambulance shift went fine, nothing out of the ordinary except some extra detours around flooded areas. Also, this is EMS Appreciation week - so don't forget to appreciate your local providers!

Splish splash

Okay, I was wrong, the worst story I heard from a 911 truck yesterday was not about waiting in the rain for someone being pulled from a wreck - it was waiting in the rain for the FD to pull some moron out of his pontoon boat in the raging river that was just shy of flood stage. The paramedic asked him if he was married, he said yes, and the paramedic commented, "Your wife is going to kill you." I think we should save the poor woman the trouble and let the river do it, but it sounded like the FD had a good time fishing him out and I'd hate to take away their fun.

D went puddle jumping and then complained that his "waterproof" boots weren't as waterproof as he thought and his feet were wet. I'm amazed he still believes everything the manufacturer writes on tags, I don't remember the age I grew out of that, but I suspect it was earlier than 22. I re-treated my boots last night in the hopes that I'd continue to stay reasonably dry - but I'm not jumping in any puddles to test it out, I step in enough by virtue of not paying attention.

K was on shift yesterday (and expects to be held over this morning) and spent most of the day riding around pumping out wet basements. The FD has 4 pumps, there are at least 20,000 people in town, so I think you can have some idea how many calls they're fielding for their pumps. The FD also delivered over 5000 sandbags yesterday, and took probably 500 complaints because they were bringing bags and directions to the sand pile rather than placing full bags of sand wherever the homeowners requested. Again, a matter of resources, there were plenty of people driving way too fast and rolling over their cars, do we really want the FD tied up with building little sand bag walls around each house in town?

Many roads are flooded out, a few others have large sinkholes, and the big river in town isn't supposed to crest until tomorrow, so I imagine it will be another long day for the FD. Road problems make responding to emergencies more difficult, and they have actually evacuated one section of town that went from being Island Drive to an honest island. K called last night and asked how the water in our garage was doing, so I gave him the update and mentioned how I was thinking of putting our sand bags (previously owned and already full of sand) in front of the door to keep the water from running in. He went into a detailed discussion of exactly how I should use the bags, a tarp, some duct tape, an old key, the blade from a broken ceiling fan and other MacGuyver items to fully protect the home front. I gave up and told him he'd just have to come home and do it himself. So when they finally got a lull in the evening, he came home and diverted the water in less than 10 minutes. I guess I just needed to give him the idea.

14 May 2006

Blame it on the rain

It has now been absolutely pouring for two days and drizzle/rain/mist for five others before that, and it isn't supposed to quit in the near future. I was very glad not to be out on the streets yesterday, but today I'm not so lucky. Keeping patients dry for the walk between the hospital and the ambulance is challenging sometimes, and they all complain when they get wet. These are days that it is nice to be on a transfer truck instead of a 911 truck though, because I know I won't be spending 20 minutes out on the side of the freeway waiting for the fire department to get my patient out of his wrecked vehicle.

Rain also means people commenting about Seattle, once they know I'm from that area. On my extra shift on Friday, I rode with a woman who is moving out there at the end of the summer and we had a nice conversation about how silly it is that everyone comments on Seattle weather any time it rains here for more than two days. But if you check right now, the forecast in Seattle is for sun and temperatures around 75-85 for the next week - and here, rain, rain, and more rain.

Today is back to the regular schedule though, no more vacation, and class starts tomorrow, so I'll soon be seeing K for only a couple hours a week instead of all this time he's had me around in the last three weeks.

12 May 2006


Yesterday morning I was trying to be all positive about being friendly and going out and meeting new people and all that. And yesterday afternoon I was reminded why it generally doesn't take me long to retreat to the happy, safe place known as the couch. Because nobody makes fun of my shoes on the couch - I don't even wear shoes on the couch! It just requires so much energy to give a crap what people see and think when I leave the house. I thought I'd done pretty well, I'd showered, put on some decent casual clothes, even a spot of cosmetics here and there, and then I grabbed my comfy happy hiking boots on the way out the door. Stupid east coast people and their shoe obsessions...I don't care if you think that a bar does not require boots. They are comfortable, they keep my feet dry and it was pouring! I don't do grown-up "girl" things like care about my hair, wear makeup every day, wear long fingernails in multiple colors, and own 7 billion pairs of shoes. I feel like I finally conquered office casual (although I didn't care every day I could get it right when I needed to), and ambulance uniform is a piece of cake because I don't have any free will, but bar clothes are evidently still beyond my grasp. I try to be a nice person, be friendly and welcoming, not hideous to look at, and to smell nice - but apparently if I don't get it right all the way to my shoes, that is all people are going to notice.

Now I'm even more paranoid about hosting the BBQ here next month. Because I KNOW people judge things in your house and we haven't even unpacked much less hung anything on the walls or otherwise given a crap about "decorating". The yard is a mess, the deck needs to be washed, sanded, and restained, and at the rate it has been raining, none of that will be done by June. The food will be good, people will have fun, but I'm sure when people leave there will be "omg! did you see xx?" conversations because I will miss something. I will forget to close a door to a place I don't want to clean. I will forget to pick something up. And then that is all people will see and remember from having been here. Why even bother?

11 May 2006

In my grubby little hands

I've been thinking a lot lately about two patients I met on the van-bulance who recently died. The two recent deaths were the young paralyzed patient D and I spent an entire day with, and one of our regular dialysis patients who had held on for quite a while. Hearing about each affected me in a way I wasn't really expecting. Not simply because they died, and not because I was there or involved, but more the whole fragility of life, seize the day, you only get one go-around kind of thing. I work with a lot of elderly and/or end of life patients and if they're coherent at all they always comment on making the most of life.

The whole transition I'm going through right now is due to this type of thinking. What do I really want out of life? When I'm 80 and meet a young person, what do I want to be able to share with them? If I'm going to be senile and live in my past memories, what do I want them to be of? A job I didn't like? Countless times I didn't do something? Places I never went? So, yes, sometimes it sucks to not know where I'm going or what the heck I'm doing or how to make all the ends meet in the middle, but I believe that happiness is out there for the taking and that there is enough for everyone. I need to remain brave, step forward and be noticed.

p.s. Yes, this means I'm reaching out again to make friends and feel part of our new community. Class starts next week so I'll meet another new set of people, and hopefully another way to feel like I'm making the most of my time. I even actually went to a bar and consumed adult beverages last night for the first time in a very long, long time.

08 May 2006

Deep in the heart of Texas

Today's my last day for the visit with little Z and the rest of the family. He's upstairs having a nap, so I'm missing out on baby cuddling, but the kid's gotta sleep or he'll just be grumpy the rest of the day. Z's been a delight and quite happy despite the snot bubbles and the ear goop. Texas is still a weirdo place with psychotic drivers, oppressive heat, and people who never go outdoors - reminds me why I'm glad that I don't live here!

As always though, I miss my life. I'm really no good at vacation because it gives me time to think about everything I should be doing and everything I've screwed up recently. And this time, about when I'm going to get those stupid MCAT scores back so that I know what I might be doing with the rest of my life. I heard there's a water leak in the city line just in front of our house, so I'm not sure that being home will be enjoyable if there's no bathroom or clean laundry to be had, but oh well, I'll just settle for cuddling with a bigger boy.

03 May 2006

With great power...

...comes great responsibility.

Another day in the van-bulance, the kind with beautiful sunny weather that makes you wish that eating wasn't so important and expensive that you have to work. D and I have been going back and forth a couple of times this day (and for the couple of days prior) to an outlying hospital on a state highway. Unfortunately, it is only 1 lane each way and quite busy, so we've been going 40 mph behind slow cars all day. Thankfully, we entertain each other so there is much laughing, joking, and loud singing with the radio going on. I look at D about halfway back and ask, "Are we there yet?" His normal response is, "Yes, hop out," which he gives me as usual.

About this time, we're driving along an area where the town felt obligated to put up No Parking signs about every 100 yards, so I tell him that if I get out now he's going to have to stop and administer first aid because I would hit a sign. Which gets us giggling, because we both know that there isn't much in the van to really help anybody with. So he starts trying to time the signs, "How about..now .....now ....now?!" and pointing to each sign. Unexpectedly, the slow car in front of us puts on his indicator and pulls to the shoulder to let us pass. D and I are both stunned speechless and then burst out laughing as we realize that he thought we were trying to point him out of our way. I honestly laughed until I cried and told D he needed to make sure he only used the power of the point for good and not evil. Of course, the car in question was from Maine and maybe they don't have fancy lights and sirens there and everyone just points.

It is temptation enough to be in a vehicle with lights and sirens when traffic is annoying and/or slow, but now we have to be careful about pointing too lest someone assume we are signaling at them. Behold, the power of the finger!

01 May 2006

Today's laugh

From an article at Irascible Professor, "Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." quoted from Robert Heinlein. Why is this so funny? Because I do write in private, I prefer that no one be even in the room if I want to compose a coherent sentence or think of something to write about...and then I post it where anyone can find it and wash my hands of the whole ordeal.

To explain the lack of posting, there isn't much new or interesting going on right now. Yesterday was a typically slow Sunday on the ambulance, amounting to a single wheelchair run. I worked with a new employee who better tone down his giggling if he wants people to be willing to work with him on the 911 trucks. I got to hear all sorts of gossip yesterday while hanging around the station, which is good because it reminds me to keep my business to myself. The next week or so should be interesting as many of the shifts and partnerships are getting shuffled around, unfortunately that doesn't lead to much to write about.

3 days and counting until cuddling with little Z...