Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Is there a physicist in the house?

You remember, I'm sure, the high school physics demonstration of the space/time continuum and how gravity affects both space and time. It's the one that uses a rubber sheet and balls of varying sizes and weights.

Your teacher (or the guy on the public-access cable channel who had sticky-up white hair and a bad lab coat) stretched the rubber sheet tight to illustrate space/time. Then she (or he) dropped a marble or a tennis ball or a bowling ball into the middle of it, and the sheet bent around the ball. Right? You with me so far? After that first object was dumped into the sheet, everything that came after gravitated toward the heaviest thing on the sheet, remember?

So here's my theory: a patient arriving from post-op or directly from admissions has the same effect on the space/time continuum as that bowling ball did when dropped on the rubber sheet. Every other patient you have will proceed to call, fall, bawl, or maul the lab tech, even if they've all been quiet and happy all day long. 

Here's what got me thinking about this, and I wish I were making this up: a patient arrives post-op. I settle them in and take vitals. As I'm doing this, I get paged that another patient has arrived from the admissions department. I settle that person in, return to the post-op patient to tie up some loose ends, and get paged that a doctor wants to see me. On the way to the desk, my phone rings with the news that another patient needs pain medication. As I'm talking to the doc at the desk, six people--and Lord, do I wish that were an exaggeration--come up to me within two minutes to let me know that *another* patient has a headache. Meanwhile, my final patient has fallen in the bathroom after an entire day of walking independently and having been discharged by physical therapy.

Ten minutes before the first patient arrived from the post-op unit, I had finished my rounds and made sure everybody was comfy.

I need a physicist to confirm that post-op patients and outside admissions bend the fabric of space/time, please. Anybody?

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