You know that cartoon where the guy paddles out into the ocean, catches a wave, stands up and surfs....only to find a shark behind him, taking huge bites out of his surfboard?
That would be my day yesterday. Fridays are always a little on the wacko side, but yesterday was four days rolled into one.
It started on the highway, when I had to slam on my brakes as the guy ahead of me slammed on his brakes. It soon became apparent that there was a mile-long backup on the highway just south of a suicidal merge between the road I was on and another four-lane highway.
After I counted three firetrucks, four MICUs, two helicopters, and eight cop cars going past, I decided that EMS was simply having a little teaparty in the middle of the road ahead.
Good call. The car had apparently tried to merge underneath a flatbed eighteen-wheeler. Its top was torn off, the airbag had deployed, and the highway was covered with patches of what looked a whole lot like blood. No question of what was covering the airbag, the inside of the car, and the emergency workers. I drove past, shaking a bit (I really don't like trauma scenes) and arrived at work only ten minutes late.
To find, to my dismay, that Spleen Guy (see below) was having a stroke. That's a real bummer, don't you know. Add to that his anxiety levels, which are becoming high enough to both constitute something that need a psych referral and are also interfering with his treatment. That lovely nursing-school canard about "contracting" with your patients? Where you tell them you'll be in their room at the top of the hour for ten minutes, and don't call you in between? That only works on sane people, and it's the crazies who need it.
The folks that work in MRI and CT really hate me now. I had to stat both, and they had to deal with a person who was alternately yelling, praying, crying, and generally making their lives difficult.
So I called the chaplain to come talk to Spleen Guy. When he arrived, he mentioned in an off-hand, oh-by-the-by tone that one of our colleagues had been found dead at home the previous morning, having apparently just dropped over and kicked off without warning. A healthy person of 43. Lovely.
Something else happened after that, but I don't remember what it was. Maybe it was lunch, as it was past two o'clock by that time.
Then my encounter with Arrogant Attending. Then home. During the drive I saw nothing, thank God, that would require a closed-casket funeral.
I will say this about my job: difficult it might be, but there's rarely a time when I have to return all recoverable bits of a patient in something the size of a shoebox.
All information, all the time
Seems some of you fine folks are wondering who I am and where I live. In an attempt to answer all email questions at once, here's a list (in descending order of recent-ness):
1. No, I don't work at Parkland in Dallas.
2. A medium-sized city on a major Southern bird-migration route. That's all the more I'm sayin'.
3. No, I probably didn't take care of your brother Bob after his pancreatic resection. I do brains, remember?
4. Yes, the red hair is real.
5. No, I don't make this stuff up. (I feel a bit like Belle de Jour here; next thing you know, somebody's going to be accusing me of being the Valerie Plame leak.) You *can't* make this stuff up.
6. No, sorry, I don't give medical advice over email.
7. Yes, I have an Amazon want list, but I'm not making it public. And no, I don't accept donations (hence the lack of the PayPal button), but thank you anyhow.
8. Yes, I do get paid for hosting Ivo's ad. The money he sends goes straight into either animal rescue or Planned Parenthood. After all, hosting his ad is no skin off my schnozz.
9. An ADN, two-year program. And sorry, but I can't recommend a good program in your state.
10. Yes, you may have that gazpacho recipe. I'll post it later. Unless I've already posted it; I have to go back and check.