Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nurse Jo Presents: The Top Ten Incredibly Stupid Ways To Fail Utterly To Kill Yourself.

Number Ten: Getting into a car with a soppy-drunk driver.

Drunk drivers rarely (sadly) die. They're usually too relaxed. The same can be said for their passengers, but only because the passengers are injured in ways too interesting for the surgeons to let go. 

Number Nine: Tylenol overdose.

Number Eight: Picking a fight with that aggressive guy at the bar.

Closed-head injuries are never fun. Closed-head injuries sustained because somebody whanged you head-first into the bar multiple times are even less fun.

Number Seven: Car surfing.

Number Six: Setting yourself on fire. More than once.

Look: You wanna die? Ask me. I can give you plenty of great, fool-proof tips. You wanna torture your loved ones? There are better ways of doing that than dousing yourself in some inflammable liquid and lighting a match. The general rule of killing yourself is as follows: If you can do it more than once, you're not doing it right.

Number Five: Falling (or diving) off a high place (or into shallow water) head-first.

At best, you'll end up a paraplegic with a lot of hardware in your spine. The paraplegic part is totally manageable; the hardware part less so, as that stuff eventually ends up working its way out of your spine and through your skin. Plus, given the time you'll spend in the hospital, you'll end up with lots of fun drug-resistant infections and cool bruises and scars. And then there's the whole "not walk again" or "not walk, *plus* not use your hands again" thing, which really kind of sucks.

Number Four: Popping wheelies on a busy highway on a rice-rocket when you're an inexperienced rider.

Number Three: Cocaine or heroin or whatever underdose.

If you're really serious, try something there's no cure for, like polonium or arsenic. Wanna end up in diapers with the mentation of a toddler and a fondness for cuss words? Heroin/coke/whatever is the way to go. If you want to really punish the people who love you, go 'head and have another line/syringeful/whatever.

Number Two: Have a poor understanding of trajectories and ballistics.

And the number one incredibly stupid way to fail utterly to kill yourself?

Stick your head in a combine.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Proof that I look nothing like my mother's side of the family.

My mom's mother on her wedding day.

Product Reviews: Stuff That Works edition!

Everything I'm reviewing this time actually works as advertised. Amazing!

Dirt Devil Corded Hand-Vac:

It's big. It's loud. It has two speeds; if you plan on using it on "high", invest in some good earplugs. It has a spinning brush and a clever way of storing the crevice tool. It has an immensely long cord. And it took all the damn dog hair off my car seats yesterday with no fuss whatsoever.

I briefly considered going as high-toned as one o' them $150 Dyson cordless hand-vacs, but the customer reviews convinced me otherwise. The charge on a Dyson lasts five minutes; every review I read said, "If you need to be vacuuming longer than five minutes, you need to get out the full-sized vacuum." Bah, humbug. For $30 at Target, you can get a hand vac--corded, it's true, but with such a long cord that it hardly matters--that works better than the upright I own.

Verdict: A+--but don't use it around your Chihuahua. The suction is quite strong.

Oster Classic Beehive Blender:

Another Target purchase, this time because my generic six-speed blender had started to complain and smoke every time I tried to make gazpacho. The Oster has two speeds: On and Not On. It also has a Pulse feature, which is On on Steroids. 

The base of the thing is shiny metal, and the top is very thick, confidence-inducing glass. When you put it together, everything fits in to everything else with nice solid clicks. The single toggle switch on the front moves up and down with a good, positive snap. And when you turn this sucker on, it has 600 watts of power (which I think is more than the local public radio station) and really works. You know you've got a blender when you use this.

Verdict: A+--but leave those earplugs in. It's noisy.

M.A.C. Loud Lash Mascara in Brown:

Beloved Sis sent me many tubes of mascara to play with. This is my so-far favorite.

M.A.C. is one of those cosmetic companies that cause people to develop lifelong obsessions. Their color range goes from the sweetly neo-punk to the outright drag-queeny, but everything tends to stick like the Devil and not wear off. This is true of this particular mascara: it does not come off.

Better than that, though, is the fact that it doesn't clump. You can put four coats on (which I do, liking a nice drag-queeny set of top lashes) with nary a problem, though a quick comb-through is never a bad idea. The formula dries stiff and rather shellac-y, but that's a small price to pay for something that works even better than Rimmel, my previous go-to mascara. 

I have no clue whatsoever what this costs in the real world. Whatever you spend on it, though, plan to invest another five bucks on makeup remover, or you'll walk around for days with huge drag-queen lashes on an otherwise bare face.

Verdict: A+, but best get some cold cream.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It was just another day until I got stuck in the elevator.

I had to wait the other day to get lunch. And I mean *wait*--the person to whom I felt comfortable handing off the guy who wasn't clotting and the other one with the weird tubes going everywhere was dillydallying and shillyshallying around about getting through *her* lunch.

So, by the time it was time for me to chow down, the cafeteria had closed. I figured a quick trip down the street to Holy Kamole was in order--their cafeteria stays open all day and usually has pretty good food. Out, then, I went, into the big world.

In order to get to Holy Kamole, you have to pass a McDonald's adjacent to a lot where every homeless person in town hangs out. There are also a number of aggressive and persistent pigeons. As a result, the city has put up signs saying not to feed either group.

There are regulars at the lot. One of them is That Guy Who Moves Things. He's got something seriously wrong with his worldview, and the way he deals with it is by moving things. Not much, just a few inches to the right or left or forward or backwards, depending on what the voices are saying. He's been there for years, he's harmless, we all know him. He's as much a part of the cityscape as the pigeons.

I discovered as I cut through the lot that That Guy Who Moves Things had become That Guy Who Moves Things, Then Without Warning Lunges At You And Screams. Between him and the toothless old dude feeding the pigeons, it was an adventure getting to Holy Kamole. I was dodging Lunging Screaming Guy and aggressive pigeons the whole way.

When I got to HK, I stood in line for a minute. I asked the person serving for a plate of delicious whatever-it-was and some what-the-hell as a side. She stared at me as though I'd grown three heads, and then rounded on the person behind her (who was just trying to refill the bins of food on the steamer table) and began screaming obscenities. The other woman responded, and pretty soon we had a full-fledged Ladies In Hairnets shoving match going on. 

The weirdest thing about it was that the other people in the serving line simply continued on with their work as though two of their coworkers going at it hammer-and-tongs was not a new thing. I eventually got my Delicious Something and Sides and headed for the cash register.
Where, apparently, I resembled a particularly fascinating space alien. It took me waving money in front of the guy behind the register to get him to quit staring openmouthed and charge me for my food. Not sure what was going on there.

Back, then, across the lot, past the Newly Lunging And Screaming Guy, through the cloud of increasingly pissed-off and freaky birds, dance across the street in front of oncoming traffic, and back to La Schwankienne, where I boarded the elevator.

Which creaked its way to the third floor, grunted, and died.

I blinked. I hit the buttons. I tapped my foot. I gave up, resigned myself to my fate, and decided that at least I could have a nice quiet lunch on my own, there in the broken elevator. I opened the box of food.

And the elevator juddered into life and took me to my floor.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


You know you haven't blogged in a while when Your Mom sends you an email asking if everything is okay, or if you've grown tired of Teh Blog, or if you've just up and quit. 

Aside from having to call security when a confused, belligerent patient left the floor and tried to take a swing at me as I was stopping him from leaving the hospital entirely; and having to retrieve another confused patient from the cafeteria at Holy Kamole down the street; and dealing with Obtuse Russian Pathologists; and having a patient nearly tank because of low blood levels of calcium; and going hither and yon all over La Schwankienne Hospital and Holy Kamole, because everybody's out sick, it's been a quiet couple of weeks.

Probably the most interesting assignment I've had recently was taking care of a guy with air in his head--pneumocephalus--resulting from a fall in which he cracked his skull. Normally it wouldn't be a big deal to handle a patient with that, as symptoms are typically mild and resolve in a couple of weeks. 

Trouble was, he didn't speak much English. And he came from somewhere so far back of beyond that we didn't have a translator--not *one*--that spoke whatever it was he spoke. Considering that Translation maintains a stable of people who speak everything from Spanish and Mandarin to Romany and sixteen or so different Indian dialects, that's quite an accomplishment. There was one person (out of the six in the room) who spoke passable English, so she translated the sticky technical terms for me. The rest of my interactions with the entire family were conducted in slowly spoken, simple English with plenty of quick sketches on a sketch pad and lots of hand gestures and facial expressions.

Which, honestly, is one of my favorite parts of the job. If you want to get a taste of different cultures and lifeways but world travel isn't for you, by all means become a nurse. I've had encounters with Kurds, hill people from Vietnam, Lakota tribal leaders, Russian businessmen (scary; that guy had his own security force with him, with bumps in their coats where a gun ought to be), state legislators, national legislators of this and other countries, and people from places so remote that a skyscraper was a big deal. It's a little like the Peace Corps, but with more hot water and fewer body lice.