Saturday, April 23, 2016

And, of course, as a child of the 1980's. . . .

"She led off alone on the intro to 'When U Were Mine,' her guitar thin and high and lonely. Then the rest of the band swelled up under that, with Willy on his electric demon fiddle. Carla and Dan had come up with a bizarre percussive patch for one of the synthesizers, and hung it on the end of the fiddle's phrases. The effect was that of a succession of violins being bitten neatly in half.

Eddi found that the single-minded frenzy of the first set had passed. She still had the crackling energy, but she had a clear head to use it with as well. She tried to make every note glow; she felt the rest of the band respond to that and stretch like a racehorse seeking that one winning length. . . ."

Emma Bull, War For The Oaks

Do not be this person.

This week I wanted to die, in a sustained and sincere manner, rather than return to work after my first shift back from vacation.


Because I had a patient. Who weighed six hundred pounds. That's a BMI of 79.9 if you're counting, and not something that you want to aspire to. However, the trouble was not the patient. The trouble was one of her family members, the one Person You Should Never, Ever. Be.

This Person was, she claimed, a cousin-level relative of my patient and, she claimed, a neuro ICU nurse. The fact that she was a neuro ICU nurse at a hospital in the most far-flung district of the most distant, inbred county of Back Of Beyond that Texas can provide didn't matter; she was, by God, an ICU nurse who dealt with brains and That was It.

She questioned why we were doing her relative's transesophageal echo under general anesthetic with intubation rather than at the bedside. They do them all the time at the bedside in her ICU, after all. I was forced to point out that with an airway that doesn't even register on the Mallampati scale (graded from 1 to 4, with 4 being the most difficult to maintain), a BMI of nearly 80, and the need for continuous BiPAP while awake, her cousin was not the best candidate for living through bedside sedation.

Then she accosted our doctors, asking why we hadn't either given TPA or done a clot retrieval on her cousin. Her cousin presented to her small-town ED ten hours after her symptoms began, thus making her ineligible for clotbusters. And she'd had a watershed stroke, which means that there are a lot of itty-bitty clots along one pathway that one large artery follows, so nothing to retrieve.

In short, the Family Member You Should Never Be knew just enough to be dangerous. We had it out when I found her increasing the rate on the IV pump. My patient had congestive heart failure, and CHF patients can't take a lot of IV fluid, even if their kidneys are working well, which this woman's weren't.

We all fell suddenly and irrevocably in love with Dr. Hernandez, who took the brunt of her questioning. When her voice reached near-hysteria levels as she demanded, "Why didn't you do MORE?? You haven't done ANYTHING!" he responded, "Why didn't *you* do more before your cousin reached six hundred pounds?"

Because, People, this is the thing: nobody weighs five or six hundred pounds without somebody helping them out. At that point, it's difficult, if not impossible, for your average five-foot-four woman to get her own food. Extreme obesity is like heroin addiction, but with family support and enabling. It's harder to treat than heroin addiction, but just as deadly. And the families of these folks have often been the go-to people for high-calorie food in quantities that would blow your mind.

So yeah, that happened.

It was kind of a long week.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

What I did on my vacation.

The benefit of selling your soul and most of your waking hours to a corporation like Giganto Research and Healthcare, Inc. is that you, eventually, accrue almost enough vacation time to feel like a human being for part of the year.

I just took two and a half weeks of vacation time. Getting it was surprisingly easy; all I had to do was widen my eyes slightly and mutter about evisceration, and my various bosses gave in and signed off.

So: I had two and a half weeks off. What did I do?

I got a new bed. King-sized, which means Mongo and the cats and I can all sleep comfortably at the same time, and so can The Boyfiend, when he's here. It's amazing how much difference those few inches make. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to change the sheets, and yes, I'll have to go to the laundromat to wash the comforter, but believe me: TOTALLY WORTH IT.

I got the mattress and box springs from Wink on the basis of reviews and their 101-day test period. The mattress is a hybrid--that means it has both memory foam (which I hate) and springs (which can be problematic in terms of motion transfer), combined in some highly-technological way.

My previous mattress was a Sealy Posturpedic metal-frame deal with a pillowtop. The only way in which that mattress was better than this one was in the sag when you sit on the edge. This mattress has some sort of plastic framing that allows you to use it with an adjustable foundation, but it sags a bit if you sit *right* on the edge.

Other than that, this mattress is TITS. I lie down, I turn over twice, I know nothing until the morning. They've somehow managed to combine springs so that it doesn't feel like memory foam and memory foam so the whole thing doesn't shake when Mongo turns over. Yes, it cost hinty-bazillion dollars, but every half-cent of those dollars was worth it.

I cleared two or three years' worth of weeds and dead shit and mulch and crappy low-end weedblocking cloth out of my front beds, then dug in several hundred pounds of composted manure, then re-weed-blocked it, planted things, and laid down mulch.

That alone took me two of those weeks. I have two beds, one 9 x 13 and one 9 x 11, and they hadn't had any attention in a couple of years. (Don't ask me what happened; I don't remember. All I know is I got a nastygram from the city about my weeds and kind of gave up after that.)

Now I have several dwarf yaupon hollies, something grey with purple flowers and the common Latin name "vomica," and a selection of other perennials growing in those beds. There are more plants coming, things like lavender and pentstemon and salvia and honeysuckle. I even planted a rose bush to balance the rose bush I planted when I moved in here. It's all very nice.

And I hung three dozen miniature mirrored disco balls in cascades on either side of my porch.

And I planted herbs in pots and then put tiny, brilliantly-colored plastic dinosaurs in the pots. (Did I mention that I spray-painted the pots' rims different colors? Well, I did, and it looks like Pinterest barfed on my porch.) Oh, and today I built a brick pad with antique bricks I dug out of the back yard so I'd have a dry, stable place to put the trash cans.

Gardening Fever has me by the throat now, so of course I have to build a TARDIS for the yard (a YARDIS) and hang mirrors off the trees and get a bird bath at some point.

Monday I go back to work. Apparently we have a new intern; she has a degree in English lit, which is good.

And I have two weeks off in July, which I will be spending in Seattle, which is better.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Half laughing, half gritting my teeth.

Years ago, I wrote briefly about the experience of being a synesthete and how I discovered synesthesia. I had kinda always figured that everybody saw the number eight as a nice, round, juicy blueberry color and that Katy Perry tasted like burned cheese and was burnt-orange. It took an NPR story and a conversation with my sister to prove me wrong.

And I had thought about it exactly zero times since. The way you experience the world is the way you experience the world; it's not something you consciously analyze unless something is brought to your attention. Thankfully, my synesthesia (and that of my sister) is not crippling; it's just an interesting party trick. It's utterly consistent and so completely a part of the way I move through the universe that I don't even notice it any more.

Until today. Today, when my pill case showed up from Amazon.

See, my NP got on my ass the last time I saw her (Tuesday) about not being consistent with vitamin D and fish oil and all that stuff. I really need to take certain things every day, I know, but for some reason my hand just floats over the big bottle of fish oil capsules every evening. So she yelled at me a little, and I went home and ordered a seven-day pill organizer. The box for each day has four little compartments, and each box is a different color.


And, dudes and dudettes, this is a problem. Tuesday is lavender when it should be acid green. Sunday is a soft magenta, which does not appear in this set of boxes. Monday is *not* supposed to be purple.

It's bad enough that I got all confused while I was sorting vitamins out. There are some things I'm only supposed to take three times a week, and those went into the wrong boxes. I put all the boxes back together in the holder in the wrong order. It was a physical effort to make the colors match the labels on the boxes.

I am a partial synesthete. I will soon be a partial synesthete with a label-maker, as I relabel all the boxes so that they match, or at least come close to, the days of the week.