Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring. Sprang. Sprung.

This is the time of year when it's hard to go to work. The weather is beautiful, the birds are singing (did you know male mockingbirds will sing all night long in search of a mate? They will. Especially the ones in my back yard), Max is wanting belly-rubs, there are music festivals and art shows outside in the sun, and I'm stuck inside with patients with disseminated vasculitis and brain stem tumors and stupid, stupid families.

The past few weeks have been a sojurn in the Land of the Tiny-Brained.

For instance, if you have a family member with a fistula that communicates between esophagus and trachea, and that person is unable to swallow in the first place, and has a tracheostomy to make it possible for them to breathe without choking, and the nurse has said six times in the last three hours that you are NOT to FEED that person, why on earth would you try to make them eat oatmeal?

I spent ten minutes deep-suctioning oatmeal out of the guy's lung.

Likewise, if you have the nastiest chest wound in the history of ever, and you're going for your fifth surgery to debride it, and you've been told over and over not to eat or drink anything preparatory to surgery, why would you tell the anesthesiology resident who comes to consent you that, by damn, you *are* going to drink this Dr. Pepper, and he's not going to be around if and when you get aspiration pneumonia, so he shouldn't worry his pretty head?

 Just because you had an LPN license for six months twenty-five years ago does not mean you necessarily know more about anesthesia than the guy who does it for a living.

And, finally, if you have the nastiest stomach wound in the history of ever, one so bad that you had to stuff washcloths in it to keep the pus from pouring out and getting all over your clothing, why would you undo the work of two surgeons, a wound-care nurse, and an hour of OR time to undo your wound-vac dressing and stuff the wound with washcloths again?

"It needs air to heal" is not an acceptable explanation.

I'm not even going to tell you about the disseminated vasculitis patient who screamed. Constantly. And cried and whined and hollered. Not their fault; vasculitis in the brain makes you completely crazy. But still, it's difficult (note ironic use of understatement!) to deal with a screaming, crying, whining, abusive patient for twelve hours straight when the other three people you're caring for hit the call bell Every. Twenty. Minutes. Without. Fail. All. Shift. Long.

And this was, comparatively, a good assignment. The other patients on the floor were worse.

Nobody wants to go to the hospital. No sane person wants to spend any more time than necessary indoors during the six weeks of the year when the weather here isn't actively trying to kill you. That, unfortunately, means that the only people in the hospital right now are both very, very sick and completely nuts. And, according to a newly-delineated Universal Law, the amount of shit you get from a family is inversely proportional to the total number of teeth in the room.

I was considering throwing up my hands and becoming a bank robber yesterday. Or a train robber. On a pink Vespa scooter. With pink leathers and a white full-coverage Bell helmet with a reflective faceplate. And saddlebags with fringes. 

The pharmacist on call looked at me thoughtfully and said, "I'm a little concerned that you seem to have thought this out so thoroughly."

Well, yeah. The one thing that's stopping me is the knowledge that if you get caught robbing trains, your time inside doesn't end at 7 pm. 


bek said...

Despite the fact that I read this while eating my breakfast, and am a little green around the gills because of it, this post was hilarious!

"the amount of shit you get from a family is inversely proportional to the total number of teeth in the room"...PRICELESS!

And I can SO envision you robbing banks on your pink Vespa! Go ahead...we'll bail you out!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jo, it's all so true - and that's why I'm laughing to the point of tears.
While it's true that stupidity = job security for me in the ER, I'm thankful each day for the fact that I don't have to deal with its harbingers for more than a portion of a shift. Bless you. (And I like your Pink Bandit plan, too.)

Neumed said...

Darn, somebody already quoted my favorite line...

"...the amount of shit you get from a family is inversely proportional to the total number of teeth in the room."

I was chuckling all the way through this post until I read that line and I literally lost it at that point. It's a good thing I didn't just take a drink because I would have blown it all over the screen.

You are just too funny.

Anonymous said...

LOL!!! "Universal Law, the amount of shit you get from a family is inversely proportional to the total number of teeth in the room."