Friday, July 31, 2009

Vay-cay-shunz. I has them.

Today, in the spirit of doing nothing, I sat down on the couch with the Sierra Trading Post and Title Nine catalogs.

I woke up five hours later with a pair of cats on top of me.

I think I needed the sleep.

Now I have almost three full weeks stretching out in front of me, and plans on how to use it. Faithful Correspondent and Lotion Slut Pens is coming to visit in a couple of weeks, so before then, I'd like to:

1. Re-do my bedroom. I pulled the strangely-placed chair-rail down off of the awful panelled walls a couple of weeks ago and have done nothing since. Except buy paint. The bedroom gets painted, and I might even try to score a rug or two for the floor.

2. Paint the hallway, then paper it with ads from the sixteen tons of old magazines Beloved Sister sent. If anybody has any ideas on how to stick up a gazillion old, crumbly magazine ads, please leave them in the comments. I don't want to use frames and I'm not crazy about map pins, but it might come to that.

3. Glue the kitchen ceiling back into place. Don't ask.

4. Make a pilgrimage to IKEA. I've only been to IKEA once before, and practically needed a Xanax-and-cheddar casserole when I got out of there. I've learned that touring the show rooms is a bad idea; you end up with a million ideas for great things that you'll have no energy to look for in the flat-pack section. I'm going, this time, with a specific list of things to get: plastic boxes, wooden boxes, a round mirror, magazine holders, a rug, perhaps some fabric if it doesn't suck.

5. Defrost the damn refrigerator. I've been half-assing it for too long. That will involve borrowing a cooler or some freezer space from a neighbor, but that's okay; she's had my vacuum for two weeks now. She owes me.

6. Do something creative with the storage/laundry/workout room.

7. Finally, for once and for all, refinish my dresser. It's going to be white with green glass knobs from Anthropologie (don't hate me; they were on sale). It's bare wood now, and I hate it. I'll still hate it when it's done, but I'll hate it less, and the alternative that I love (a tall, narrow, six-drawer chest in natural elm) is $1,425 on sale.

In other news, eternal questions

Is every single psychiatry resident in the world weirder than a snake's suspenders, or am I seeing a nonrepresentative sample? I mean, I know Dr. Dink is strange; he's doing okay for just recently having emigrated to this planet, but I wasn't expecting the level of bizarre I get from the psych residents I'm seeing now. (They all have to do a neurosurgery and neurology round before they finish.)

These folks are *weird*. And I say that as one of the weirdest people I know. I popped off with a goofy quip to one of them the other day and was rewarded by nothing more than a subtle lip twitch and a sudden interest in the floor. Even the neurosurgeons, not the most well-adjusted bunch in the world, would've laughed.

As for what I'm doing once Pens gets here

If she hasn't seen an IKEA, I'll wait until she gets here to go. Otherwise, we'll either hit Barton Springs (pros: close, pleasant. Cons: lots of sorority girls in mid-August) or Turner Falls (pros: uncrowded in the middle of the week. Cons: I hear banjos. Paddle faster!), my pal Annama's shop that's full of gorgeous jewelry and fabrics from Lands Beyond, and a little gift shop in town that has the distinction of being the only place around you can find Anne Taintor magnets. We'll also be drinking rose on the deck and eating basil and mozzarella.

Speaking of rose

Faithful Correspondent Rockenheimer reveals that he's going to Montreal one of these fine days. I am sick, SICK with envy. Pal Joey is out of the city at the moment, or else I'd be showing up unnanounced on her doorstep, begging a place to sleep and braving her boyfriend's irritation. I love Montreal with an illogical passion; something about a city where old cathedrals are turned into apartment buildings really charms me. I love going to the Italian quarter and not being able to communicate with anybody in any of the four languages I speak badly.

Plus, it's still soft-fruit season there, while the heat here has killed everything useful or beautiful.

And, finally

I will be sitting around in the evenings, soaking my feet in the kiddie pool out back. That is what vacations are for.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Vacation Starts Now.

And I just gotta say:

Dude. Look at the President. Just look at that shit. That's some thinkin', ponderin', beer-drinkin', wife's-ear-nibblin' SHIT.

THAT is some SHIT, right there.

Just look at him. Just look.

Plus, his wife will drink. your. halfcaff. latte.

And kick your ass into the bargain.

It is a good, good time to be alive, and to have three whole weeks off.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wednesay Whining: Has moved!

Enjoy the Wednesday Whine, now at its own dedicated site!

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's a weird job.

Fears. Everybody has them.

My pals at work and I agree: if somebody has an aneurysm blow right there on the floor, we're not coding that person. We'll simply step over them and complain about being short-staffed again. If I'm unlucky enough to be "saved" when whatever I have in my brain goes kaplooey, then there're a couple of sympathetic MDs I work with who'll be up to the plate with morphine, potassium, benzos, and insulin--and a score of sympathetic RNs lined up behind 'em with pillows in case that doesn't work.

We do not kid about this. I am deadly serious about wanting to go toward the light when my time comes, and the friends I have through work are deadly serious about it, too. We see enough people who are kept alive after something catastrophic happens, only to die of something infinitely worse, like bedsores or pneumonia or just plain boredom.

The one fear I do have, even after all this time, is a glioma. I guess it's not as bad when you're going through it, since by the time you know you have one, it's pretty much too late. Your brain just sort of...goes, and eventually you quit caring, or even knowing that you ever cared about what's happening to you. I still am scared shitless of glioma, though, to the point that I have nightmares about people I love getting them, and I'm unable to take care of them.

Jokes. Everybody makes 'em.

We joke about everything. It's a running gag on the unit that anybody who tastes my cooking will immediately get in line to marry* (or at least discreetly support) me; I am the Butter Whore. It's also expected that somebody will crack a joke in the wake of a failed code ("What's green and fuzzy..."). The jokes mostly have to do with sex or addiction or a combination of the two. If a resident asks how I'm doing as I walk on the floor of a morning, the answer is always "Drunk. What do you think?" If we don't have the correct size gloves for a particular procedure, the gag is that the nurse is hung-over... ... ...AGAIN.

And, when one resident complemented me on having the entire setup for an emergency skull-drilling set up the first time out, he phrased it as, "Gosh! It's always so easy with you, Jo." To which I replied, not being a slouch, "You're not the first man who's said that."

Probably would've gone over better had his attending not been in the room, but whatever.

It's a weird combination of mid-twenties residents and perimenopausal nurses that sets up this dynamic. It's also something you won't find in most other hospitals; from the stories other nurses tell me, any given interaction between a resident and a nurse at our facility would result in a lawsuit at any other. The only rule is No Touching, and even that is broken when a patient codes unexpectedly and you need a hug.

Complexes: we nurture them.

I work with an incredible bunch of people. Everyone is at least very, very smart; the people who are geniuses outnumber those of us who are simply brilliant by at least three to one. Yet, in all the people I've worked with over the years, I've only come across one case of Insurmountable Ego, and that wasn't a neurosurgery resident.

As a result, we foster complexes among ourselves. Am I good enough? Am I fast enough? Can I get faster? Can I get smarter? What am I missing?

If you're the nurse for a patient on whom any service is rounding, be it otolaryngology, neurosurgery, or general surg, you'd better have every single bit of trivia about that patient on the tip of your tongue. Not just the potassium levels and hematocrits from the last two days, but everything from the last week needs to be on your mind: "This patient's sodium was 119 on Thursday, but with a fluid restriction of 1 liter and a free water restriction of 300 cc's, we've gotten him to 133 as of this morning at 0500."

Outstanding work: We reward it.

The most outstanding work you do on our unit won't be compensated with a raise (in these tough economic times) or a TEAM PLAYA pin (since that went the way of all flesh); rather, you'll hear an attending say, when he's not aware you're just outside the room, "I have no worries about you when Jo is taking care of you. She's one of the best nurses I've ever worked with."

My own complexes lead me to dispute that, but it was nice to hear anyhow.

And it's also nice that the surgeons see us as people, and we them, and not just as professionals. When Kim's wedding invitation went up on the bulletin board in the locker room, we all gathered 'round to jibe her about how we were going to caravan to New Mexico in hippie vans and crash her reception. When BoBo's mom died, far too early of something we ought to have been able to fix, we all rallied 'round with casseroles, cards, and a money tree. (That last is a Southern thing.) It's because we work together well, without ego or bullshit, that we can do that.

It's marvelous beyond expression when the patient we helped heal from something awful remembers us every year on the anniversary of his discharge and sends us flowers (one bunch for every nurse on the floor, zut alors!) and a tray of deli meats and cheeses. It's equally amazing when a former patient sends us the birth announcement of the child we all doubted would ever be born.

If you're a new nurse, or an old, bitter nurse in a crappy situation, look at how the people interact when you visit a possible employer. Notice if they say hello and ask when you might start. See if they look happy. Ponder how they address each other.

In ten million lifetimes, I could not have wished for a better work environment. Even with the cliquish, crappy behavior of some of my coworkers, even with Manglement screwing up our best-laid plans, it is still the best. place. ever. to work.

Now, if I can just net me a bottle of vodka and an empty elevator shaft, with that cute new guy from Orthotics... ... ...

(*line forms to the left. No pushing, please. And the first spot is already reserved.)

I'm outnumbered.

Yes, I have no face on purpose.

Lazy Monday Link-O-Rama

The old-leather and cigars edition!

I want one of these bags. I would also like to rewrite the website so every product description isn't about how cool the owner of the company is, but I'd settle for a bag. One of the light ones, you know, like a pouch or a satchel. Except I already own a pouch from Scandia, and I love it.

This is one of the better websites for just-plain-browsing-around that I've come across.

Jezebel has a hilarious takedown of one of those dumb articles from Men's Health.

Pull up a club chair, get yourself a martini, and check out the best-named blog ever.

Or, if you don't like martinis, check out this guide to single malts.

And, finally:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday night musings

"The thing you must remember," (said my friend Paul the Pastor the other day) "is that David danced naked before the Ark of the Covenant."

Workplace bullies tend not to be bullies if a) you call 'em on it; or b) you just look at them with wide eyes and then laugh in their faces.

If you feel like you're about to start crying at work (see above), go work out some tricky drug dosage calculations and you'll feel better.

Cats are annoying. That is, they're annoying until they start doing something incredibly sweet without reservation. At which point they become adorable and you have to snorgle their bellies.

Always read the concentration on the Narcan vial. The two different concentrations are packaged in ampules that look exactly the same.

There is always time for freshly-picked home-grown tomatoes, blueberries, good Swiss muesli, or coffee.

The look on your dog's face when he realizes he's going on a WALK is the best thing ever.

If it's a full-body rash with blistering, five gets you ten it's a Dilantin rash, no matter what the dermatology consult says.

Bamboo cannot be killed. Don't even try. Find a way to incorporate it into your landscaping.

And, for God's sake, don't plant wisteria where it can pull down large limbs from old pecan trees. The neighbors and I have had this problem lately.

Hummingbirds occasionally perch. If you're lucky, they'll perch on the arm of the chair next to yours on the deck. Breathe quietly.

Seeing ants crawling over the walls of the hospital room is, usually, a reaction to narcotics.

If in doubt, change the Foley. If in doubt, change the peripheral IV. If in doubt, administer oxygen and fluids.

But, for the love of Mike, don't touch the Quinton.

I was driving down the street, coming back from Home Despot the other day, when I saw a navy-blue Chrysler New Yorker zipping along. Following it was an orange International Harvester truck. I was suddenly thrown back into the past, when You Could Do Anything In A Chrysler. Getting older is like that; the oddest things trigger memories.

Nothing is ever lost, only changed. That's both the first law of thermodynamics and faith.

Friday Furballs.

Why is Max lying on the floor in the hallway, rather than on his nice squooshy bed? And why does he look so sad?

Oh. That's why.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Thursday tranquility: Scenes from my refrigerator door.

Slightly blurry, but that's the coffee talking. Le Pied De Cochon's business card has a place of honor on the door of the Shrine To Pork.

The Anne Taintor magnets are gifts from my Beloved Sister.

The slightly diseased-looking monkey is a gift from Dad.

Notamus, looking uncharacteristically nondestructive, on the back of the futon. No, I don't know where those stripes came from.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Whining: Bing-Bang, Walla-Walla Ding Dang Edition

My back is going "Ooo, eee, ooo, ah-ah".

Somehow, I wrenched my lower back on the treadmill. The damn *treadmill*.

So. Walking is difficult, sitting is uncomfortable, treadmilling is impossible, and lifting is out of the question, at least for the next few days.

Meanwhile, though, I've done pretty well food-wise. I'm discouraged by the fact that I can't twist or lean without significant pain, but I'm not taking it out on donuts.

More later, when sitting again becomes comfy.

The lunatic is in the hall. And, sadly, the break room.

One of the things that happens when the management of a place starts to break down is that the weirdos come out of the woodwork.

It doesn't happen immediately. Sometimes it takes a while, as the nice, normal, everyday people in the place get replaced by nutjobs. Eventually, though, when things get weird enough, the weird (as H.S.T. said) turn pro. And, oh my children, it has been the Masters' Tour of Wack on the unit lately.

The ontorexics and tanorexics I can handle. The woman with sixteen fluffy little dogs (I exaggerate; it's really only something like four) is no problem. The nurse who wears what is probably the entire stock of Sephora and jumps like a startled rabbit every time you speak to her doesn't bother me a bit. The golf-obsessed? I don't turn a hair. The Cultist, though, really threw me for a loop.

He doesn't wear white robes and Nike sneakers, at least not at work. I've never caught him offering any sort of sugary drink to anyone else. And, for a while, I thought he was okay, if a bit overbearing and loud. Well, and self-righteous. And strange. Until, that is, he started talking about religion.

(Rhetorical question: What *is* it about religion and politics? I mean, I get weird too, if I start talking politics. Anyway.)

We had a run of people who had just been diagnosed with HIV the other week. Two things about the epidemic are really fucking depressing: the fact that AIDS is the leading cause of death for African women, and the fact that HIV infection is beginning to increase again in the very young and the older-than-40. We were seeing a few of all of those groups. It's a shock to be transported back to the bad old days of the late 1980's when you see a 20-year-old who's just been diagnosed with full-blown AIDS and had no idea he's positive. It's depressing to have the second immigrant woman in a week come in who contracted HIV from her husband. And it's difficult to have to talk to a guy in his 60's about how, exactly, he managed to get this infection that "only" young/gay/Black/whatever people get.

So we're talking about this over lunch (because we know how to have fun) and The Cultist pipes up that HIV is a reason he's glad *his* wife was a virgin when they got married.

Pause for contemplation on the part of the rest of the crew.

Sweet Loretta asked, carefully, if he thought that lack of virginity was the issue with the two positive women on the floor. Well, of *course* it was, silly! Because everybody knows that only nasty, dirty strumpets (and, I guess, Godless pervs) end up with nasty, dirty diseases.

Longer pause as we all digested this.

The Cultist took the longer, more aghast silence as an invitation to explain why and how this was a fact, and how it was supported by Biblical texts, and how the truth of the matter (about the nasty, dirty strumpets, I mean) had been covered up for years by a secret cabal involving the Pope, the government, and the WHO.

It was like a combination of Monday morning at the health department and "The DaVinci Code". I think the Illuminati actually got mentioned once; I wasn't paying that much attention. I was too busy checking to make sure that the world was still on its axis and gravity was still working.

I'm still not sure how we all got out of there. By some miracle, beepers started going off and people started remembering meds they had to pass; within about five minutes, only The Cultist was left, eating his sandwich and muttering about the Four Horsemen. I've never been so grateful for patients who call every ten minutes, let me tell you.

That was, of course, before I walked 'round the corner and smack into The Bully....but that's a different post.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I got nothin'.

The blogging gods are angry with me.

There has been exactly nothing that's been crazy, out-of-line, or nutso that's happened this week at Sunnydale General. Everybody's been well-behaved, the pharmacy has gotten us meds on time, nobody's brought in livestock or tried to steal a TV. There haven't even been any Resident Follies to speak of.

I hate weeks like this. It does not bode well for the next month or so that nothing tremendous has gone wrong. Any day now I expect the power will go out, the generators will fail, the cafeteria will catch fire (okay; that wouldn't be so bad), the director of nursing will finally completely lose it and run naked and screaming down the halls, and six patients will have seizures at the exact same moment.

This week has been the hospital equivalent of that scene in a horror movie during which one character turns to another and says, "Gosh, I'm glad that's over" or "We've seen the last of them!" Next week, I'll probably have plenty of fodder. But for now, I'm going back to bed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

44-38-44; Or, Jo Has A HOLY SHIT Moment

Welcome to the inaugural Wednesday Whine here at Head Nurse.

I bought a swimsuit the other day. Not just any swimsuit, but the swimsuit I've dreamed of for years: A very modest tank top (black, with red seaming, but you can't have everything), shorts that come midway down my thighs (solid black), a keypocket in the shorts (closes with Velcro!); in short, the only thing I could wear that covers nearly as much as a swim burqa without looking like an idiot. (I should mention here emphatically that swim burqas are the bomb. The only reason I would look like an idiot is that I am Not Muslim. It would be like me dressing up in, oh, a kimono. Or a hula skirt. I would not be workin' it.)

I got this swimsuit in a size 16W.

I am not pleased by this.

Not at all.

Now, I'm fairly mobile. I'm short and stocky and still quite strong, despite not having seriously lifted (read: lifted at all) since Atilla moved off to the Big City. But I am Not Happy with wearing a size 16W.

I should mention here emphatically, and not at all parenthetically, that I am not fat hating. People come in different shapes and sizes, period. What is healthy for a woman who was born to be a 16W is much different from what is healthy for me, who has the bone structure and genetics to be a size six. I am not fit or healthy (look at that waist measurement: it speaks of increased risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes) at the size I am now.

So it's going to change. I thought about starting another blog to chronicle what I'm doing fitness-wise and diet-wise, but I got stumped by the title. "Fat, Flatulent, and Forty"? "Dammit, No, I'm Not A 16W"? "Holy Shit, That's A Lot of Beer"?

I decided to just do a weekly check-in here. According to SiteMeter, I get about 10,000 hits here a month (Hi, everybody!) and I am going to need every single last one of you to keep me accountable. Weight Watchers might be easier and more personal, but I am counting on the level of impeccable snark that you guys have displayed over the last five years to get me where I need to go.

Because not everybody wants to hear a blogger whine about how haaaard it is to do 3 miles in 44 minutes on the treadmill (Dammit! I used to be able to do it in 25!), I'm segregating the Wednesday Whining posts with a tag, with title, and sticking to one day a week. Y'all can scroll on by if you don't want to read about what I did with my treadmill during the past seven days.

It's scary to do this. I'm scared it's too personal. I'm scared I'll fail. I'm scared that there's some weird metabolic thing that has nothing to do with Cheetos or sedentary living or too much Mirror Pond going on, even though I know that that's highly unlikely. I'm frightened of putting this much of my not-anonymized life out on the Intarwebs, though you've read damn near everything else I've done in the last five years.

Join me. Bitch away in the comments about the cramp in your lats or how much you hate eating frigging vegetables in the morning.

One very important note: Anybody who posts fat-hating or attack-dog bullshit will be deleted. I don't care if it's about me or toward another commenter, it's going to go. Save your keystrokes for something else; you get a predetermined number in this life. (I wouldn't be this cranky about it, but I've been reading comments about Regina Benjamin and whether she's qualified to be Surgeon General because (*gasp*) she's fat!)

Next Wednesday: First week's schedule, goals, and comprehensive bitching about shinsplints.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How to tell if you live in Texas, and What I Do On My Day Off, part 2:

I opened the refrigerator this morning to get milk for my coffee. Something green and scaly, with nice big claws, handed me the milk carton. I'd said "Oh, thanks" and shut the door again before I realized that whatever's in the Tupperware in there probably shouldn't have opposable thumbs. Looks like I'm going to be cleaning out the fridge today.

On the upside, whatever it is is keeping Notamus from leaping into the fridge every time I open the door. So there's that.


1. An oh-six-hundred opening time for the garden center sounds like a plan.

2. You grocery shop when it's dark, to avoid having your milk sour in the car during the three-block ride home.

3. Sweat is an accessory.

4. You have a refrigerator full of noncaffeinated liquids and very little else.

5. Not only do you know what "raspas" are, you have a favorite flavor, and you know that raspas are essential to surviving July.

6. Instead of lotion, you use Benadryl cream on your legs, for the mosquito bites.

7. The TV weatherman stands in front of banners that say "COOL" when the high is supposed to be only 91*F.

8. You can tell the difference between 104* and 109* when you walk outside.

9. You have a kiddie pool in the backyard for your dog. And you fill it with ice.

10. A margarita on a hot day qualifies as dinner--and nobody thinks you're a lush.

Lest any Yankees think I'm joking about any of this, let me tell you a true story about the weekend of the Fourth:

I was at my neighbor's house, on their back deck. It was a nice day, only 101* for the high. The temperature, though, doesn't drop much when the sun goes down, so we were all sitting out on the deck, with:

Two fans
A couple of galvanized tanks full of ice across which the fans were blowing
Misters going overhead
Gallons of bug spray
A baby pool full of ice water in which to soak our feet.

It struck us all that we were sitting in the midst of a whole lot of technology and ingenuity, all dedicated to keeping us cool enough after dark that we wouldn't get heatstroke.

And yet we did not go inside.

*That's* how you know you live in Texas.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What I do on my day off.

I woke up this morning, detached two cats from my chest, and swung my feet over the edge of the bed.

My feet landed on a combination of wood screws, rubber bands, the plastic pull-tabs from milk cartons, and twist-ties that the cats had brought, like inanimate sacrifices, and laid at the edge of the bed during the night. Max was unhappy; the constant close proximity of Dreadful CATS had made him nervous, so he'd slept in the living room. After putting my feet on all of that, I kind of wish I'd slept in the living room, too.

I do not know why my dog doesn't recognize the kittens he loved to nom as the cats who now inhabit the house. All I know is that they make him very nervous indeed.

I wandered into the kitchen, fixed two drawers and a shelf, and then decided to bolt the top two tiers of a stackable bookcase to the wall in the living room. Surprisingly, all of that went off without injury or inconvenience.

Then I did some laundry.

Then I made what's about the best omelette in the history of ever:

Jo's Four-Egg, Use-Yer-Leftovers Omelette

Five mini-portabello mushrooms (Or the usual button type; I just had the mini-bellas lying around)

A thumb-sized hunk of yellow onion

And sear in a nonstick frying pan without added fat. When the 'shrooms have got brown edges to them, remove from the pan and put in:

A handful of mixed shredded cooked chicken and ham (or whatever chopped meat you have. Taco meat or shredded pork chop would be acceptable, bacon would be fantastic; I'd have to draw the line at barbecue or roast beef.)

Some cayenne pepper

A small handful of chopped up zucchini (Or some other soft-ish veggie. Artichoke hearts would be good here)

And cook until the zucchini gets soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Remove the food from the pan, scrape it out, and spray with oil. Beat four eggs with a little water, and dump them into the pan.

Let the eggs sit in the pan, over medium heat, until they're mostly solid. If you can't leave food alone (I can't), you can pry up the edge of the set eggs and allow some of the unset eggs to run underneath.

When the eggs are mostly solid, add a little cheese. I like Muenster for this.

Then dump in the vegetables and meat. Allow the whole shebang to sit for a little longer, call it five minutes. By this time, the eggs should be smelling done and have bubbles in them.

Using a spatula and a rubber scraper, carefully fold or roll the omelette and flip it over. If the wind is setting right and all the stars are correctly aligned, you'll be able to do this first try. If not, you'll end up with a broken omelette, but that's okay: the cheese will melt out and toast and be extra-yummy.

You can eat half of this and save the other half to make your coworkers envious the next day.

If you're really, really expert at chopping, you can talk to your Brother In Beer while slicing mushrooms. I am not expert, and so hung up on him while attempting to hold the mushrooms with my fingers and cradle the phone between my shoulder and ear. I ended up holding the mushrooms steady with my elbow and slicing them that way. It wasn't as convenient, but I didn't hang up on him again.

In other news, Friend Suzie the Rat Wrangler starts her new job today as Sub-Chief Rat Wrangler for a Large Nonprofit Research Organization. Shout it out for Suz!

Now it's time for a nap. I might paint my toenails later.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Welcome, new residents!

He came out of the isolation room in full isolation gear, strode to the nurses' station, removed one glove, and began to return a page.

"Hey," I said, "Take off that gown and glove and wash your hands before you use the telephone."

"I don't have time for that" he said. "Besides, I took off this glove." He waved an ungloved hand at me.

"Dude. You're not Michael Jackson. Get that gown off, go wash your hands, and don't come out of an isolation room with gear on again" I said, feeling a little growly.

"They let me do this on the cardiac floor!" was his parting shot.

"You gotta be a grown-up over here!" was mine.

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

The neurosurgery residents aren't bad at all. Neither are most of the other residents. All of 'em have been on our unit before, because of the weird residency program we have. It doesn't matter what service you're with; you're going to round with psychiatry, neurology, neurosurgery, or internal med at some point, and that means you'll end up with us.

The two exceptions to that are urology, for some strange reason, and cardiology. And, given that the head of the urology department was a nurse before he was an MD, we don't have too many problems with those residents and things like respect and infection control and signing orders in a timely fashion.

Cardiology, though? Makes me want to tear my hair out.

They're nice people. Really. They're not the arrogant assholes portrayed on popular TV shows. There's not a prima donna in the bunch. They're very hardworking (almost as hardworking as the junior residents on neurosurgery), polite, knowlegeable, thoughtful folks. But they've been spoiled by the nurses on the cardiac unit, who don't care what you do as long as you keep the patient alive.

I, personally, care a whole lot what you do. I'm not going to go through every chart you've touched to make sure you didn't rack an order; I have better things to do, and besides, that's on your watch. And it doesn't make much sense to me to keep one patient in isolation alive if you're going to transfer bits of that isolated bug to other patients and the nurses' station. By the same token, I know a little about drug interactions, but it would probably be a fine idea to consult the pharmacy if you have questions. And, for God's sake, don't attack me because a patient's on a particular antibiotic for which you have a personal antipathy. (Not coincidentally, that was the same resident who didn't take off his isolation gown. Hmmm.)

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

Other than that one service, whom we thankfully don't see much of, things have gone smoothly. We have two new residents in surgery and two in neurology. The surgical residents look, as they all do, about twelve years old. One walks with his arms straight down by his side, peering short-sightedly through granny glasses, with his shoulders a little hunched. I want to feed him sandwiches and pinch his cheeks. The other has such an unfortunate surname that a nickname is superrogatory. That'll save us some time, at least.

The neurology residents may take some getting used to. The senior this time around is a brilliant woman--one of the smartest, most well-rounded people I've ever met--and a total bear to work with. Like a lot of geniuses, she's impatient with us normal folks and doesn't bother to try to hide it. The junior will be a whole lot more pleasant to work with once he gets over his shyness. Speak to him and he jumps. With the patients, though, he's great--he's careful, friendly, explains stuff in English, and never seems to be in a hurry. He's also trilingual in Spanish, Arabic, and English, which will be a huge help. He speaks a smattering of French, Farsi, German, and Russian as well. He's promised to teach me how to cuss in Farsi, which'll be my sixth obscene-word language.

So. All things considered, it's been a better week than I could've hoped for. Nobody's gotten horribly sick, my dehydrated patient with CHF didn't fill her lungs with fluid, and the number of racked orders hasn't been so large that we've had to mount a full-on offensive.

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In non-work-related news, it's one hundred and bloody four degrees here just now. The projected high for today is 106 to 107. The only things moving are the cicaidas' vocal apparatus. Max is sacked out on the kitchen floor, just in front of the air vent. For those of you without a good idea of what 104 feels like, I offer this: I just went outside and hung up a load of wash on the line. It was scrubs and jackets. After I finished hanging up the last pair of scrub pants, I went back to the first ones I'd hung up and took them down. They were bone-dry.

The kittens, apparently unaffected by the general heat-related malaise, have destroyed a makeup box, my CD player, two shelves full of books, a hot-pan-holder, a box of drill bits, and two stuffed animals (those last are theirs to destroy) in the last three days. I'm going to have to bolt the bookshelves that my grandfather built to the walls, as Notamus is such a fatass he's going to bring them down one of these days.

Friend Elizabeth has a 1949 stove to get rid of. Does anybody want it? It lacks a thermostat for the oven, but is otherwise in good shape. It weighs about three hundred pounds and is currently in Manhattan, Kansas. Anybody in the area from Wichita to KC who might want a vintage stove and oven, please let me know. We'll work something out.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Updated: Jo's Rules For Living.


1. Pick up after yourself.
2. Don't be an asshole.
3. Say "thank you."

On Work:

1. If you have to jack with it, it's wrong.
2. Every surface should be thought of as dirty until proven otherwise.
3. Have an extra pair of scrubs.
4. Always take extra supplies into the room with you.
5. Wear shoes you won't fall out of.

On Drinking and Eating:

1. If the ingredients list has words beginning with "para" or "quasi", don't eat it.
2. Cheese always helps.
3. Good bread is worth the money.
4. It's not worth getting drunk on fine wine; you won't remember how good it is, and your head will hurt just as much as with the cheap stuff.
5. Eat butter, not margarine or Promise.

On Partying:

1. If you drink, pace yourself.
2. Don't say it drunk if you wouldn't say it sober.
3. Remember: If you start something, *somebody* is going to have to finish it. It might not be you.
4. Always have an alternate plan in case your designated driver craps out on you.
5. No, that's not a good idea.

On Relationships:

1. Pick up after yourself.
2. Don't be an asshole.
3. Say "thank you."