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.


Penny Mitchell said...

Thank GOODNESS. I was going into damn withdrawl, already.
Friend Pens

gorochan said...

Ya'll don't have language line?

Jo said...

We do, but it's for quick, spur-of-the-moment things. And besides, nobody spoke Qxstlphmbpt on LL either. *sigh*

shrimplate said...

Despite its rather formidible spelling "Qxstlphmbpt" is pronounced simply as something like "kiss-him."

But it doesn't mean "kiss him." It means "the divinely inspired word-forms of the long-tongue-lizard god given as a gift to Rptjkm the first man for the gracious acceptence he showed when presented with his wife, the first woman, Gkipllmn, on the eve of the third day of creation when they feasted on coconuts and fish and then made love until dawn when the sea-birds came to deliver a heavenly spirit child."

My god, didn't you people pay attention to those "Gilligan's Island" reruns?!

You all should know these things.

GingerJar said...

Missed ya, glad you're back. Thought you had blogg burnout...or had died. Glad it was the 1st and not the 2nd.