Thursday, December 28, 2006

Please don't feed the residents

Back at work with a bang. I knew that I would be called out first, because the last call period for my team I took some ETO time. That means I'm "fresh". I don't feel fresh...Laughing Baby, aka Skootch, has been sick since Christmas night. Even with LM staying up with her during the wee hours, I still feel like I haven't slept in a week. Last night was really bad, the poor wee one had a bad case of the snots and couldn't nurse and breathe at the same time, leading to much unhappiness. The 5am wake up call was very early. I knew I'd be out all day, so I did something I don't do much-I had a cup of coffee. A whole cup where normally I drink decaf. I'm still jittery. And yet, desperate for another cup.

I have a donor, middle aged woman who had a heart attack from a probably accidental overdose(I know, no such thing, you cynics). Her mom is so sweet, she's staying until we go to the OR, which is set at 0300. Please don't even get me started on the surgeon who really could have been here at midnight. The OR was hit with a bunch of level I cases and couldn't take us at midnight anyway, but I'm still sore about it. Do you have any idea how punchy I am at 3am? Even with a good night's sleep? I'm trying to think about my happy place and hope I don't get into a screaming match with him. Please pray for me.

On a happier note, I did inherit a very unstable pt this morning when I arrived. In 12 short( or long) hours, I have gotten her sodium down from 178 to 148, her chloride from 139 to 119, her pH from 7.19 to 7.38 and she is almost off the 800 pressors she was on this morning. Well, with help from the great nurses and my medical director. But, still. Happy, stable donor(knock wood), just like I like 'em.

Anyhoo, the punchiness is beginning, because I'm starting to fuck with the residents. No, seriously, I was waiting for the down elevator and this tall, handsome resident hits the up button. He smiles at me and nods and I think, "Holy, shit! I think he's checking me out" He says, "Hi, you medicine?" I look at him cooly and say, "No, transplant." I get on my elevator and leave him standing there. Ha. It's the second time today I've been mistaken for a doc, but I think that only means I look nerdy.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What I want for Solstice

I recently wrote this for a newsletter I write for monthly. I thought I'd include it here.

What I want for Solstice

My family

Beck-the new one
Sting-the new one
Hiromi(Japanese Jazz Pianist)-Brain

Tix to a Chorus Line on B’way

Ayun Halliday’s –Mamalamadingdong

Book on CD-anything by Wayne Dyer but especially The Power of Intention

This started out as a wish list. A new baby sling. The latest in organic, ecologically-sound, pesticide free woolen baby jammies made by indigenous orphans. That sort of thing. I start to berate myself. “Sure,” I tell myself, “you can wrap it up in an alternative package, but you’re still selling consumerism for the holidays.” That’s no way to celebrate. Especially when I really love this time of year. I like when it starts to get cold and you have to bundle under the covers again. I like Solstice. Having depression, the longest night of the year is very symbolic for me and I like to do a little Solstice magick. I even like Christmas Eve, lapsed Catholic that I am, because when I was little, Christmas Eve seemed like the one night when anything was possible. Improbably, that feeling has managed to stay with me.

Love Monkey and I discuss (read: argue) what, if any Christmas traditions we’ll follow and whether or not we’ll perpetuate the Santa myth. It gets heated at times. Meanwhile, the little one is agog at the displays that are going up. Late last night we made an emergency cranberry sauce and eggnog run. As I was busy rushing around the aisles and trying to avoid the other frantic shoppers, I noticed her looking up. On top of every aisle they had those enormous, lawn displays. You know, the big obnoxious ones that require a generator and a team of elves to set up. The whole horror show. She was delighted. I tried looking at them from her perspective. Bright, garish, full of movement and noise. She doesn’t know a reindeer from a rooftop, but she knows fun when she sees it. Suddenly, this tacky display turned into yet another amazing thing that the world has to offer. We walked around for awhile with our heads up in the air, taking in the sights and forgetting the cranberry sauce altogether. She made the other shoppers laugh and then I’d catch their eye and we’d smile at each other. A miracle of the season-holiday shoppers being nice to, instead of trampling, each other. All brought to you by a little child. Maybe those wise men were on to something.

So whatever you’re celebrating-have a happy Kwanzaa, a joyous Diwali, a bright Hanukah, a meaningful Eid-al-Adha, a merry Christmas, a jammin’ Junkanoo, a beautiful Bodhi day, a shining Solstice and most of all peace, love and happiness in the New Year.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

I am off for 8 lovely days over the holidays. Last night, we went to Mom's for the Feast of the 7 Fishes. It's an Italian thing, but it's not really the same since my Grandma died 2 years ago. Tonight, we're cocooning and staying in. I'm playing domestic Goddess and cooking, which normally Love Monkey would do and does better than me. It's always "Alton, this" and "Alton, that". But I digress.

Christmas menu: Veggie platter with dip
Roast chicken with gravy
Yukon Gold mashed potatoes
Corn bread pudding
Various Christmas cookies

If you want to stop by, we've got plenty. But bring something to drink. Now I've gotta go make the gravy.

Happy Christmas and a Joyous New Year!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why I hate email

I get a lot of chain email and I hate it. Even the nice ones. Even the ones that bring a tear to my eye. Here’s a recent email I received (in yellow):

The story goes that some time ago a mother punished her five year old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and she became even more upset when the child used the gold paper to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

I mean, how expensive was this paper? $3.99? $5.99? $10? $20? Was it made out of solid, freakin' gold? Even at twenty dollars, is it worth screaming at your kid? If times were so hard, why did the mom have this fancy-schmancy paper? Why didn’t she use the funny papers or plain paper that she stenciled or had her daughter draw on or something?

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift box to her mother the next morning and then said, "This is for you, Momma." The mother was embarrassed by her earlier over reaction, but her anger flared again when she opened the box and found it was empty. She spoke to her daughter in a harsh manner. "Don't you know, young lady, when you give someone a present there's supposed to be something inside the package?"

Again, is this worth your anger “flaring”? And if the little girl didn’t know that presents should contain something, well who did she learn that from? To berate her on Christmas morning, for God’s sake. Ok, maybe she had a good reason to be cranky. Maybe she’s a single mom, and she’s stressed from working nights and trying to keep it together for Christmas and daddy hasn’t paid the child support in 3 weeks and she was up all night putting toys together and she hasn’t had coffee yet. Maybe she had just explained for the three hundredth time that she doesn’t know what time Daddy’s showing up and that even if he could afford a pony, ponies can’t live in apartments. Hey, I’ve been there.

She had tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Momma, it's not empty! I blew kisses into it until it was full."

Ok, here’s the payoff, the reason you read these sappy things and then wipe your eyes when no one’s looking. A lesson for us all.

The mother was crushed. She fell on her knees and put her arms around her little girl, and she begged her Forgiveness for her thoughtless anger.

Oh, don’t worry. The lesson’s not over yet.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later, and it is told that the mother kept that gold box by her bed for all the years of her life. Whenever she was discouraged or faced difficult problems she would open the box and take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

See, why can’t we just have the box full of kisses? No, instead we have to be beaten over the head with the message-Cherish What You Have. Don’t Take Your Loved Ones For Granted. And, of course, Kisses are Worth More Than Gold. Do you notice that someone dies in a LOT of these stories? Maybe she died because her bad mother didn’t deserve her anyway. Or she had to pay off some of her mother’s karmic debt, which, frankly she’s been racking up by the bucket loads. But most of all, she died to teach us a lesson.

I get it already.

In a very real sense, each of us, as human beings, have been given a Golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and GOD. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

Well, I don’t know about you, but the love I get, as well as the love I give, is pretty damn conditional. Because that’s what you get from other, imperfect humans. Maybe God gives unconditional love, but you wouldn’t know it from a lot of religions out there.

You now have two choices: 1. Pass this on to your friends, or2. Delete it and act like it didn't touch your heart. As you can see, I took choice No. 1. Friends are like angels who lift us to our feet, when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly. If you receive this more than once in return just know that your friends have also thought of you!

If you’ve read this far, you probably think I’m a total scrooge and maybe a cynical bitch, to boot. Here’s why I really hate these things. It’s because it gives us a false sense of closeness. I call it the “Aw, shucks” factor. We read something like this and it satisfies our need for several things: wisdom, easy answers to complicated questions and a feeling of closeness to others. But it’s the spiritual equivalent of a Snickers Bar. They’re nice once in a while, but your spiritual nutrition shouldn’t depend on them. And that’s just what so many people I know do: they’re feeding their soul with Snickers Bars and nothing else. They get their moment of “Aw, shucks” and then go back to being the same shallow, disconnected people they were 30 seconds ago. So, my secret’s out-I hate these things. I think they are worse than meaningless, I think they’re harmful to our psyches.

I like to read inspirational stuff, I really do. But I want the five-course meal, not a candy bar. Chew on this:

When God wants an important thing done in the world or a wrong righted, He goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn’t release thunderbolts or stir up earthquakes, God simply has a tiny baby born, perhaps to a very humble home, perhaps of a very humble mother. And God puts the idea or purpose into the mother’s heart. And she puts it into the baby’s heart, and then…God waits.

The great events of the world are not battles and elections and earthquakes and thunderbolts. The great events are babies, for each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become incarnate in each human life.

McEdmond Donald

At least the email isn’t extorting me to pass it on to 10 people in 10 seconds or risk certain death. For that, I’m thankful.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I am IS's worst nightmare

My job gives me a laptop(an IBM thinkpad, which I love), a pager and a blackberry. I am not completely computer illiterate, but it's close. I'm also hard on shoes, if you know what I mean. Really, I'm hard on everything, which is why we have no nice glasses in my house. Needless to say, I really should not be entrusted with a thousand dollars worth of technical equipment. When they asked what type of new laptops we should buy, I immediately thought of this. You know, for my busy lifestyle. My busy, klutzy, lifestyle. Florence King had a word for women like me, a slew foot. As near as I can figure, it's a sort of female Mr. Magoo.

Anyway, now whenever the IS guy sees me, he gives me that look. The look that says, "So, what have you broken today." And here's the thing, I had broken something. Or maybe my daughter did, but that's still my responsibility and now I have to 'fess up. My power cord won't fit snuggly into the damn laptop and it won't charge unless I hold the cord in an awkward position and then stay like that for 8 hours until it recharges. All right, that's not too bad, you say. Except that it's now the second time this has happened with two different computers and I try and tell him that I don't pull on it and I generally treat the cord nicely, and now he's giving me that look again.

I am on my second laptop because I learned the hard way that diaper bags are not meant to hold computers. I went to swing it onto my shoulder, the top was secured(I mean, it just closes with a little tab of velcro, sheesh) and as my bag hit apogee the laptop came flying, nay, soaring out of the bag. In slow motion, it seemed, it flew in an arc. I thought I could hear the sound effects from the Six Million Dollar Man when he used to throw something really far. "Nnnuuun, na, na, na." Then it hit the driveway like a ton of bricks. A small shower of black pieces flew up and it might have left a crater, but I was too afraid to look. Now, here's the amazing still worked. It didn't look great. But I was happy with it. However, when Mr. IS saw it, he said he had another he could give me and now, here I am with a NEW laptop and a power cord that won't fit in the little hole and recharge. Really, I think they should just give me safety scissors and fat crayons to play with. Sigh.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why won't they say yes?

I just got finished reading this post at The Wait and the Wonder. (Spoiler alert at the end.) And I'm already fried from 36 hours on triage and a grueling holiday call period last week. I think it really started 2 weeks ago, when I had to deal with some serious crazy family dynamics. Think: lovely, peripheral family, divorced spouse, over protective big brother and a crazy daughter. Now, I almost never say that someone's grief is dysfuntional. Get angry, scream at me, fall out on the floor and pull your hair out, whatever-I understand. But this girl was UPSET. She spent most of the 12 hours I was onsite IN BED with her mother. In the hospital bed with the patient, her mother, who was brain dead and intubated. I can only imagine what the funeral was like. Anyway, she did not consent, even though her mother had indicated on her license that she wanted to be an organ donor. And in my state, that's first person consent, all legal-like, if we chose to pursue, which we did not. She said, "if my mother knew how it would upset me, she would have changed her mind." Mmmm. I think that when you finally meet your mom in heaven, you might have some 'splainin' to do.

Did a case on Turkey Day. Which went great, except that I'm still craving a real Thanksgiving Dinner and if anyone wants to come and cook me a belated one, I'm all for it. Love Monkey and the Teenager did make a to-die-for corn bread pudding with cranberry sauce a la Alton Brown that was amazing. And sweet potatoe pie. But I'm still craving some turkey and gravy. Oh, well, at least I'm off for Christmas, so I'll quit bitching.

This weekend I get to be the person sending the coordinators hither and yon. I was all psyched, thinking that I'd still get to go to the office party, all cool-like, what with wearing my Bluetooth and all, and just triage while boogying down. Unfortunately, the case that was in progress hit several snags, not the least of which was a) no one at the hospital wanted to do the actual pronouncement and b) I had no recovering surgeon. While we did manage to cross those bridges, by the time I got done with all the phone tag it was too late and I was too pooped to party. I heard the food was mediocre and the booze watered down, but still.

Two more no consents this weekend. One woman who died actually had a mom who was an organ donor and told her husband that she never wanted that done to her. So, wishes known, no consent. A young girl also died today, her mom didn't want her cut up, no consent.

I feel like I may be becoming too desensitized to dead people. We were watching CSI Thursday night, the one where the dead people talk, and Grissom is teaching a class of(I guess) new CSI's and I realized that I have been around a lot of dead people. I asked Love Monkey, (also a nurse) "How many dead people have you been around?" He thought for a moment. "I don't know, several dozen." Take my word for it, when you start hanging around with corpses, you realize that they have as much to do with the living person as a tin can has to its contents.

So, (and here's the spoiler) I read about Jackson's death from biliary atresia and I just think: why don't people donate? I just want to say to people, look-your body is going to turn into a puddle of goop whether you like it or not. Embalmed-still goop, just later rather than sooner. I realize it's a gruesome thought no one wants to think about, but it's still true. So please, please donate your organs. Don't let the gift go to the grave.