Monday, March 18, 2013

Malarkey: How to Put It Over Effectively.

For some reason which I have been, as yet, unable to discern, those members of the public who are most inclined to attempt malarkey at the hospital choose neurological afflictions as their mode de malarkification.

I am SO TIRED of people who insist--insist!--that there is indeed a brain tumor, right here (points to right temporal lobe), despite the evidence of repeated MRIs to the contrary. I am equally as tired of people who have trouble remembering on which side they ought to be weak. And I've had it up to my moustache with folk who think that squinting is a facial droop.

So, in the interest of having something actually fascinating to deal with, I've come up with a list of things that malingerers shouldn't try, because we've seen them all before.

Numero Uno: SQUINTING IS NOT FACIAL DROOP. Seriously. I have all these fun little tests that I can do to prove it to you, plus: I watch you when you think I'm not watching you. Oh, and I read the charting from your forty previous admissions, so I know what you're likely to try. How many times do I have to say this, anyway?

Number Two: If you're gonna have weakness, make sure it's not distractable.

Number Two, subsection A: If you're gonna fall over, do it on a hard surface once in a while. We have a name for what you're doing: it's astasia-abasia, and it means we know you're bullshitting.

Number Two, subsection B: The same goes for upper extremity weakness. If you pretend to pass out, seize, or otherwise suffer an alteration in your level of consciousness, you bet I'll hold your hand about a foot above your nose and then drop it. If it misses your nose, I know you're faking.

Number Three: Telling me that you're allergic to morphine and "all NSAIDS" will not get you the IV Dilaudid you want. I weep for you, the Walrus said, I deeply sympathize: Dilaudid is the best shit ever in the history of the universe, and I certainly understand why you want it. However, you won't get it. Nor will you get Phenergan IV, or any of the other cool drugs, like Stadol. Here; I'll help you fill out the AMA paperwork.

Numero Quatro: Threatening to sue me won't work. Don't try it. Besides being rude and laughable, it's out of character for your illness for you to be able to holler unslurred words at me.

Number Five: This might bust up the angel-at-the-bedside myth about nurses, but: We Judge By Appearances. If you have no teeth, a heavy backwoods accent, track marks on your neck, and smell like an ashtray, we're going to be very, very cautious about what you're reporting in terms of symptoms.

Number Five, Addendum One: Likewise, if we read in your chart that you're on your fourth revision of a gastric bypass, have recently gotten out of rehab for the third time, and are allergic to morphine and all NSAIDS (see above), we're gonna lock up the narcotics.

Number Five, Addendum Two: In the same vein (no pun intended), we automatically double or treble the amount of alcohol use you admit to. That's why you're getting Librium with your scrambled eggs.

Number Five, Addendum Three: Yes, I will search your bag, your bed, your closet, your pockets, and everyplace else you could hide a stash after your family visits. I know these rooms better than you do, so don't even try.

Thank you for your time. We at Consolidated Research and Healthcare, Inc. know that you have a choice in healthcare providers, and we thank you for choosing us. We hope, wherever your final destination may be, that you have a safe trip. We hope to see you again soon, perhaps even in a sober state.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

It's the Most Horrible Time of the year, and other observations. . .

The Festival That Cannot Be Pronounced has begun--well, technically is beginning--in Bigton. Littleton, where I live, is not unscathed by this yearly influx of techies, hipsters, and people who haven't seen soap in entirely too long. The traffic is horrible, my favorite beer store is out of my favorite beer, and the highways are full of people who, as they approach both downton Bigton and Sunnydale General, aren't quite sure where they're going. Hilarity, if you mean hilarity-in-a-natural-disaster-sense, often ensues.

Luckily, I've been flat on my back since Monday. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you:

This past weekend, I flew to Seattle to attend the Emerald City Comic-Con. With me there were Tashi of Learning to Hope, Mary from The Bright Optimist, Lara of Get Up Swinging, and Nikki, late of CatsNotCancer, who let us all crash at her pad.

Let it be recorded here that we, the group of women who if combined into one body, might make a fully functioning human being, had a hell of a time. We saw celebrities. We took pictures. Nikki and Tashi cosplayed and looked kickass doing it. I stretched my skillset by painting a tattoo on Tashi and fixing her wig. Lara became the human landing pad for a tiny kitten named Magda, who learned to kitty-parkour while we were there. The amazing Coyote, most patient man in the Universe, kept us supplied with donuts, fried chicken, and emergency telephone numbers. We played with makeup. We swapped war stories. We talked, ninety-nine percent of the time, about things having nothing to do with cancer (mostly Magda, who is at the Excruciatingly Cute stage). Der Alter Jo joined us one day, and it was all good.

Except that Lara brought some amazing East Coast Death Rhinovirus with her, and by day four, we were all down for the count.

The fun started on Friday night, when Lara damn near passed out during a midnight bathroom break, and yelled for Nurse Jo. By Saturday night, Nikki was feeling peaked, and by Monday, I was fully in the grip of the plague and on a plane home (sorry, seatmates).

I don't know what they do differently in Pittsburgh, but their upper respiratory infections are like nothing on this earth. In terms of body aches, it was right up there with the flu; the only difference was more snot and a lower fever.

Today I rose from my bed, looked around blearily, and ate some soup. Tonight I'll go to bed early and sleep through the night with any luck. Tomorrow it's back to work for me.

It was a hella fun time.

I love my friends.