Friday, August 08, 2008

Panic: Ur doin' it wrong.

I know this sounds impossible, but our hospital has been on Disaster OMGWTF Footing for the last month.

Yes, fiends and neighbors, the last month.

Disaster is usually reserved for, you know, actual disasters. Like plane crashes. And hurricanes. And, I dunno, maybe huge leaks of refrigerant, or bioactive compounds from some horrible lab somewhere that're turning everybody into bunny-hopping happy zombies with bad 80's hair.

Or the air conditioning going out. That's also a disaster. But anyway. We've been on Disaster Footing, with Code Whatevers that Signify An Internal Disaster, daily except for weekends.

Why, you ask? Because of a computer glitch. 

Scheduling is all fucked up, is the short answer. Somebody somewhere has been transitioning to some wonderful computer system that's going to be all ice-cream bars and puppies in the long run, but in the short run...eesh. All the operating rooms are triple-booked, which must be fun. Can you imagine? Close your eyes....


Opening: MORNING in the OPERATING ROOM, wide-angle

TECH #1: What are you doing here? I'm supposed to be setting this room up for a left pharyngeal troponetic farumulunectomy!

TECH #2: Huh? I'm here to set it up for a transverse myelopical zummulation ablation!

TECH #3: Both you guys are high. I've got a complete radical sympathomimetic wangulation scheduled here for 0800.

NURSES: We don't CARE what you're here for! Just set up for SOMETHING!!

Meanwhile, in recovery, things are going badly as well. And on the acute care floors, we're having conversations with Manglement that defy belief:

MANGLER: You need to get six patients out, double up four, and send three to rehab. Who've you got that can move?

NURSE IN NOMINAL CHARGE: Uh...well, these two spines could go to rehab, and we could double up the cranis, but we have eight patients in isolation and another five that are total-care. Six is the most I can give you right now.

MANGLER: What about that one? (Stabs finger at bed-board) That one looks pretty good. Why can't you send *him* home?

NINC: Uh...'cause he had a kidney removed about two hours ago?

MANGLER: Tell him to MAN UP!!

So. It's been a fun month.

I am so, so very glad that I am not officially in charge of anything. Disaster gives me a chance to spend time with my patients, believe it or not, because nobody's coming in or going out. Everybody is so incredibly critically ill that we don't have time to deal with the folks who are merely very, very sick. If you can ignore the people in positions of power who are running around with their collective hands in the air, you can actually get quite a lot of edumacatin' and patient care done.

This week I had a dude who'd been burned in a fire on a floating oil rig. You could look down the hole in his neck, where things had failed to heal, and see his first rib. Also a patient with something we haven't been able to diagnose yet but which is probably going to be fatal, and a patient with metastatic melanoma, and one with a glioma the size of my hand, and a couple of people who'd had bits removed that you normally leave in place so the person can live.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Meanwhile, Strider removed a cable-TV cable from where it was stapled on to the outside back wall of the house. The thing was covered in so many layers of paint that I didn't even know it was there, so I don't quite know how he determined it existed. Anyway, he carefully nibbled off all the paint in a spot about the size of his schnozz, then pulled the cable off and laid it gently on the ground in a pile. I think this means he approves of my decision not to have a television.

Max is, by contrast, even more polite and well-behaved than usual. He's renewed his love affair with the pug next door and comes to give me updates on how lovely she is and how her eyes are limpid pools of melted chocolate.

I want to be my dogs.

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