Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

This is actually a day early, as my time off ends tomorrow. *sigh*

My Mom will be seventy years old tomorrow, July 16th. Hooray!

People who lived to be 70:

1. Methuselah (969)
2. Benjamin Franklin (84)
3. Helen Keller (88)
4. Florence Nightengale (90)
5. George Burns (100)

People who did not live to be 70:

1. Jesus (33?)
2. Mozart (35)
3. Eva (Uncle Tom's Cabin, age 6?)
4. Rumwold (Anglo-Saxon saint, aged 3 days in 662)
5. Amelia Earhart (42)

Things that happened in July, 1938:

1. Steam locomotive "Mallard" (Hi, Dad!) sets land speed record of 126 mph.
2. Wrong Way Corrigan takes off on the 18th, heading (he thinks) for California. Later, he lands in Ireland. Wups.
3. Mauthausen concentration camp built (eesh.)
4. Two barns were destroyed by fire near Sheboygan.
5. Brian Dennehy was born (actor).

If you search "70 Things" on Google, you're likely to come up with:

1. "70 things you need to know about future employees"
2. "70 things to expect in a disaster" (My favorite: "Things will get better only after they get considerably worse.")
3. ""70 things to always remember" 
4. "Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen's head?" (article from The Guardian)
5. "70 Things To Do In Iceland" (too easy.)

If you search "70 year old mother" on Google, you're likely to come up with:

1. "70-year-old gives birth to twins ('I did this for women everywhere,' says mum)"
2. "A mother reveals 70-year-old secret"
3. "Turkey with my 70-year-old mother" (recipe help or travelogue? You decide.)
4. "Thief jailed after 20-mile chase with 70-year-old mother dozing in seat next to him"
5. "Seattle Native is Mother Of 70-Year-Old Sal D'Amato's Baby"

And finally, Rob Brezsny says:

I really do feel that you're here with me as I create these horoscopes. In a sense, you're my assistant. Our telepathic connection is utterly palpable and practical. The hopes and questions you project my way stream into my higher mind, coloring my psychic environment and enriching my desire to give you exactly what you need. Now, in accordance with the astrological omens, I'm asking you to give our collaboration more conscious intention. It's time for you to be aggressive about seeking help and inspiration -- not just from me, but from everyone. Try this for starters: Once a day for five minutes, visualize that you and I are sitting face-to-face and discussing the issues that feed your longing to be brave and free and authentic and smart and loving and creative. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different....

or, That Didn't Work At All.

Some time ago, right after I moved in here, I bought some great midcentury modern wallpaper to put in the kitchen. The kitchen project was stalled until this week, when I had a few extra days off work.

So down came the horrible masonite on the walls. I taped and mudded and sanded and primed and put up the first wall's worth of paper.

The Kitchen said, "What the hell do you think you're doing?

I replied, "Putting up wallpaper. What does it look like I'm doing?"

The Kitchen snapped, "I hate that stuff. Take it down right the hell now."

ME: Buuuhhh...buuuhhh....I like this wallpaper!

KITCHEN: *I* don't. I'm not Midcentury Modern, you idiot; I'm Postwar Cute!

ME: Uh...there's a difference?

KITCHEN: Well, duuuuhhh. Yeah.

ME: So what's Postwar Cute?

KITCHEN: Take a look at me, Bozo! I've got glass-fronted cabinets and wide woodwork and high ceilings! Lots of cute cabinets! I need small-figured wallpaper with a chair rail and white paint, not this uber-modern faux Fifties crap!

ME: Um......

KITCHEN: Take. It. Down. Now. Or you'll never cook in this town again.

So I took it down. We eventually compromised: white walls with stencilled, multicolored polka dots in cascade, painted in Fiestaware colors.

Which means the kitchen won't be done before Wednesday, when my time off ends. Dammit. 

You know, I used to be sure my mom was crazy when she told me that every room in the house told her what color to paint it. I'm not so sure now.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Can we just print this out, post it on the fridge, and be done with it?

You know it's going to be a bad day when you walk in and somebody immediately calls a code.

Except this one wasn't a code. It was, technically, a "Rapid Response Team" situation, but given that the patient ended up intubated and 100% ventilated, it was a code. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

A lot of families hate the idea of signing a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) on Grandpa or Grandmother. They think that a DNR means "Do Not Treat" or "Ignore" or "Hasten the Death Of" rather than what it actually means.

To wit: Grandpa was not in the best of shape when he came to us X days ago. He'd had two major ischesmic (clotting) strokes and a large, horrible bleed in his brain and was breathing irregularly and gaspingly when he was delivered to us by a relieved ambulance crew. Grandpa hadn't moved on his own or responded to anything short of pretty intense pain for days. Grandpa was a full-code, or a "Do anything and everything to save this person's life" when he came to us.

Let me be totally clear here: Grandpa was in no way, shape, or form, ever going to get better. The best neurologists and neurosurgeons in the country had already determined that. Okay? Okay. You got it. Grandpa's gonna die; the only question left is how.

So I wander in to work, already tired and strung out from the sort of weekend nobody wants to have. After I'd been there not three minutes, somebody hollers out of Grandpa's room to call the RRT...so I did. Despite not being on the clock and not officially there yet, I called RRT. (My compassion continues to overwhelm me, as I'm sure it does you.) Then I wheeled myself and the code cart into the room and took a good look at what was going on.

What I saw was an 87-year-old man in the last stages of life. Agonal breathing, cold extremities, you name it--this guy had a bus to catch and was running after it as fast as he could. Family, being in the room, was flipping out and demanding we "do everything".

So we did. Those of you with relatives who are in the "do everything" camp might want to cut this bit out and show it to those relatives. Here's what we did:

We started three large-gauge IVs in the man's arms and legs. We called an anesthesiologist (who just happened to be wandering past) into the room to intubate, as Grandpa was not breathing well on his own and bagging him (ie, providing artificial respirations with a manual device) wasn't working. 

The anesthesiologist had to try four times to intubate Grandpa. His airway had been damaged by people suctioning it out in a ham-handed fashion. When I finally got a 16-French (read: small) bougie up, Anesthesiologist guy managed to get it down Grandpa's throat at the cost of a whole lot of blood being shed from those damaged throat and airway tissues. There was blood everywhere. 

At that point, Grandpa stopped breathing on his own, following the natural course of things, and we had to do chest compressions. You could hear the sound of his ribs breaking outside the room. I broke at least three of them myself, straddling this ancient man and counting "one-and two-and three-and...." and trying to get three inches depression with each push.

There were people bagging and cursing and blood flying everywhere as Grandpa's arms jerked with the compressions, ripping the needle that the respiratory guy was using to draw labs out of Grandpa's arm.

We pushed drugs you've never heard of more times than is interesting to tell about in an attempt to get a heartbeat, *any* heartbeat, on this man. You can't shock a flatline, and we didn't...but we didn't get much of anything out of him. IVs in his arms blew as we pushed drugs too fast, raising enormous discolored lumps on his arms. We replaced the IVs with ones in his legs and a central line in his groin, the only place we could find a vein that was engorged enough to poke.

Every time the doc who took over compressions from me pushed, more blood would squirt out of the various holes we'd made. This was not natural bleeding; this was artificial bleeding from a dead person that was caused by us forcing his heart to squeeze.

Finally, finally, with family in tears in the hallway, we managed to get a shockable heartbeat. And finally, finally, we put on external pacing pads that would deliver a mule-kick through the man's shattered chest every few seconds in an attempt to remind his heart to beat. And finally, finally, *finally*, with blood bubbling out of the breathing tube (from the broken ribs) and oozing out of the various holes I and my colleagues had made in him, we managed to get him stable enough to take him up to the ICU and put him on a ventilator to breathe for him and drugs and drips to keep his blood pressure stable.

That, my friends, is what a code is like. 

That is what you're wanting for your family member.

And this was a clean code. That's the horrible thing: we only coded this guy for a total of about five minutes; the rest was all pre-code intubating and sticking. 

If you come in with a DNR, I will bust my balls to save your life. If it comes to it, though, and you stop breathing on your own, I will not torture you in order to get a few extra minutes of fake "living" out of your cooling carcass.

If you come in as a full code, I'll bust my balls to save your life, even to the extent of breaking your freaking ribs in the process. I'll hate it, but I'll do it.

Talk to your families, people. Decide how you want to go. But please, please be aware of what you're asking when you ask for it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Product Reviews: Shit That Works Like It's Supposed To Edition

It's been a while since I've done one of these. Therefore, without further ado, Shit That Works Like It's Supposed To:

1. Cline Vineyards Viognier, 2007

I've only ever tasted Becker Vineyards' (just down the road! Try the lamb!) viognier before, and found it a little on the sweet side. Cline Vineyards is a California establishment that produces a semi-dry viognier with a nice, peachy aftertaste that also includes a little oak and some citrus. It's good for drinking when the temperature is, say, 102* for the fifth stinkin' day in a row.

2. MyChelle Fruit Fiesta Facial Peel

The blog on which I read the first review of this product mentioned "vat of acid" and "having my face used as a pinata at a school for wayward children". I didn't find it all that difficult to endure, but then, late-thirties acne has me inured to almost anything. My face, when I washed it off, was clean and smooth and well-moisturized, with nary a hint of redness. This is a keeper. It didn't even fade my freckles!

3. Sara Lee 45 Calories & Delightful 100% Multi-grain bread

Don't kill me. Friend Heather, who is a successful yoga teacher and Weight Watchers' devotee, swears by this stuff. I had been eating the Pepperidge Farms 15-Grain Shred Utility What The Hell Is This? Gristle? Bread for years in order to get my full RDA of grains. It made me sleepy. The Sara Lee stuff, though it's probably made with black magic, tastes just as good with peanut butter and fills me up without making me nap afterwards. 

4. M.A.C. Loud Lash mascara

I have one complaint with Loud Lash: It's not manufactured any more. If you can find some on eBay in an unopened package, grab it. This shit stays put through a twelve-hour day during which both the water and power go out, meaning no electricity, and it will. Not. Come. Off. You'll have to use straight oil to dissolve it. Which means you'll have to buy either an oil cleanser or plain olive or coconut oil, but it's worth it. 

5. Parachute (or any brand, really) Pure Coconut Oil

Speaking of oil, did you know that coconut oil is molecularly quite close to sebum?

That means that you can rub it on your face and leave it there for a couple seconds and it'll dissolve not only makeup, but blackheads. It'll condition your hair beautifully if you put it on said hair when said hair is dry and shampoo it out afterwards. It'll take care of nasty dry-skin rashes with no fuss.  Best of all, a huge bottle of it is $1.67 at Mida's All Indian All Asian Bazaar, Your One-Stop Shop For All Asian Needs, which means you'll have bank left over for some stick-on bindis for when you're feelin' fly.

6. And, last but not least, Le Vent Du Nord.

Just go buy a couple of albums, already. It's the best toe-tapping, dance-inciting, nasal-projected-singing music Quebec has to offer. And the guy on guitar is cute.