Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Every day I have Google Alerts send me articles on organ donation and transplant. Today, my own article was forwarded to ME. With byline. Nice.

I feel like a real author.

I finally have a day off. Last Friday and Saturday I was on call. Friday was quiet, but I spent all day Saturday with the nicest family who said no. I think that's going to be my next post: Even the Nicest Families Say No. Sunday, although I was off, I offered to go back in and spend some more time with the family, because I knew our reverend would be in church and they didn't know the TC who relieved me. Monday and Tuesday I did triage, where I answer the phones and send other TCs hither and yon. Tuesday into Wednesday I got called at 2230, 0030, 0100, 0200, 0530 and then at 0700 I had to give report to the oncoming triage person. I did manage to have a little nap with the baby later in the day and let me say this, naps are extremely underrated. I may have to continually have small fries around so I have an excuse to nap when this one is bigger. At least until I get to that age when I have to turn up the sound on the TV, then I can nap with impunity. Oh, wait. I have to turn up the TV now. Crap.

Grand Rounds is up at Wandering Visitor. I'm working on a cold, but if I get stuck in bed, guess what I'll be reading. I especially like Susan's post at Rickety Contrivances about, as WV says, the love that exists among us.

It's been blistering hot in Jersey, temperature in the 90's, humidity in the 90's. I hear there are states where, when the humidity hits 30%, it rains. Not NJ. Oh, no. We've got a climate would would make the natives of Mumbai weep and gnash their teeth. But there's a thunderstorm on the horizon and the wind is whipping up, making the first breeze of the week. I don't think I could live in a place without thunderstorms and if I have to stand the humidity, so be it.

No more call til Monday. Sweet.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Oh my heart!" land

Someone pass me the nitroglycerin, please. I'm having a little angina. Ok, first, let me say that I have not watched an entire episode of Heartland yet. (who can sit for an hour with a toddler on the loose?) So I'm going to be a hypocrite and give my opinion on something that I haven't really given a fair chance, I suppose.

First of all, where do these shows find their medical consultants? Could someone please call me to consult on these shows? The transplant coordinator, Kate, asks the mom about donation IN THE HALLWAY for God's sake! Then, when mom says "no, I don't want him cut up" (and yes, many people do say that), she goes into this stilted, "but a little girl needs his heart." Hell, I would have kicked her out of the room too. Then there's the mom of the girl who needs a tranplant looking through an enormous picture window directly into the OR. Who would let a mom watch her daughter's heart surgery. You know, they take the hearts out of those patients-would you want to see that? In one scene, I even saw that the donor wasn't intubated-but I think it was a mistake, because in the next scene she was. The best, though, was when the donor's heart stopped and they had a moment of silence before resuming the operation. Um, the patient is dead already. And yes, it is weird seeing the heart go into asystole and not do anything about it, but at that point the surgeons are busy flushing the organs and putting ice in the chest to really notice. Would you like a better idea of what happens at asystole? Go here.

And the mom who's going to kill herself so the daughter can get her heart? Oy. Pass me some oxygen, too.

On a personal note, are there really TC's that attractive? Seriously, that girl belongs in hospital development. TC's don't clip clop around in heels. The drag their asses around in day old, wrinkly scrubs and snarl at people from severe sleep deprivation. (Not me, of course, I'm always perky and pretty, but that's what I hear). And did you see the house she lives in? She was married to a heart transplant surgeon. Now, I know tranplant surgeons whose significant others work as RECIPIENT coordinators. Those folks keep decent hours. But an ORC? Please. If Treat Williams was paying my alimony, the only thing I'd be working on is my tan.

Anyhoo, I will keep watching, if only so I can bitch about it.

I'm sorry, little girl, next time we'll have a better episode

Monday, June 25, 2007

Comment Whore

I really like getting comments, especially the nice ones, but even the occasional inane one as well. At least I know folks are reading. The best, though, are from the recipients. Then I know that however hard my week may have been, it's worth it.

We're all sick in my house, the place is a mess, I've been on 4.5 of the last 5 days and the dog is acting strange. So getting a nice comment, like the one from Steve at really makes my day. Sometime in the next 24 hours I have to write 2 columns, be on triage and, maybe, shovel out the house. But at least I'm feeling a little revived now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

7 Things

I've been seeing "7 Things" on everyone's blogs recently, so I figured I'd give it a go. Actually, I thought that after 4 days away and 4 days to recuperate, I'd have a really good post to write, but I've got nuthin'. So here goes.

7 Things you probably don't know about me:

1. I love hot rods. My high school boyfriend had a '71 Chevelle, forest green with 2 fat racing stripes. Hearst shifter, ladder bars, headers, dual exhaust(of course), hood scoop. The whole megilla. We used to spend time at Englishtown-Raceway Park, especially for the swap meets. I didn't date him just for the car. But it didn't hurt his cause. Years later I had a white, 4 door Impala. That thing could cruise. And everybody, I mean everybody, got out of my way. Sweet.

2. I can change my own oil. And tires. And spark plugs. I can damn near do a complete tuneup. Just don't tell my husband.

3. I'm almost always happiest by myself. I think it's because my siblings are so much older, that I was practically an only child. I'm never bored, I can spend an afternoon reading or drawing or going to a movie-by myself. My husband thought I was completely odd for going to movies alone, but really, what's the point of going with someone? Well, except to pick apart the movie afterwards-but you really need the right person for that.

I do sometimes crave company, which leads to #4. I am totally shy. No, really. I'm good at talking to people when I'm in some "authority" position: nurse, preceptor, mom, etc. But small talk, meeting new people-I'm totally at a loss. I'm a little better now that I'm, well, older. But in my teens and 20's-forget it. And the worst part about being shy is that people think you're aloof or stand-offish. Once I had my picture taken for work and I looked so mad. I showed my dad and he said, "you always look like that."

5. I have a water phobia. And a varsity letter in swimming.

6. I am very contrary. See #5.

7. I love to do 8 million things at once. Back when I was single, my bed would be covered in crafts projects, books, writing tablets, my phone, snacks, and a cat or two. It's no coincidence I worked in the ER. Give me an abdominal pain, a renal colic, a shortness of breath and two vomiting children and I'm good to go. Maybe that's why I like being a coordinator. You're either at a standstill or you're doing everything at the same time.

Come back soon and maybe I'll have some real writing done. Or not.

In lieu of quality content, I offer you a cute photo:

Look Mama, while you were away, we made fudgicles!

What happens in Dallas....

I'm back from the Big D. Without my computer. Thursday night I dropped it(don't ask) and now it can't find the operating system. I think I'm f*#ked. And in internet withdrawal. I can't even look up my schedule. It's amazing how much of my life is on that thing. I once told my CEO that I'd work here just for the laptop. Well, I'm taking it into the IT wizard tomorrow. Does anyone know who the patron saint of computer technology is?

Catching up on my reading, Grand Rounds is hosted today by Geena, at Code Blog: Tales of a Nurse. Geena is my "Blog Mother". From her I found out about the whole, wide world of blogging. Thanks, Geena. Because of you my house has dust bunnies the size of Great Danes. Come to think of it, I didn't clean before I started blogging, either, but it's nice to blame SOMEONE.

Last Thursday, Change of Shift turned one year old. Awww. Mother Jones does a great job of hosting the birthday bash.

And let us not forget the NJO blog. New posts, everyday of the week!

I have spent the last several days catching up on sleep, detoxifying, and generally getting to know my family again. The baby has been attached at my hip since I returned(and elsewhere. Let's just say she didn't wean during the separation.)

Dallas was a lot of fun. I learned lots, ran into folks I've only emailed or talked to on the phone. I got lots of free swag from the exhibitors. I networked. What I DEFINITELY did not do:

Eat amazing food, drink too much, shop, see where Kennedy was shot,
(with or without actual reenactments)
ride a mechanical bull, eat and drink still more,
make it to the semi-finals of the limbo contest
Anyone with evidence of the above activities can email me for a bribe, er, cash reimbursement.
And don't party with people from finance. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Grand Rounds is up!

At Dr. Val and the Voice of Reason. Enjoy. And, of course, don't forget to visit this week's NJO blog postings.

In the light of a clear, new day

Once again I’m reminded of how much I hate getting up in the morning. Today I rose at 5am to catch an 8:30 flight. Completely in keeping with my contrary nature, however, I love early morning, just before dawn when the sky is starting to get light. It must be the years of working the midnight shift. My first job out of nursing school was on a telemetry floor, 11pm to 7:30am, five nights a week. Driving home was a hair-raising affair. I’d keep the window rolled down and would occasionally pour cold water on my neck to stay awake. One morning, the last thing I remembered was driving through an intersection. The next thing I know, I’m going over train tracks, 20 yards down the road. I found another job soon after.

If you’ve ever worked nights, you know the feeling: 3am comes and your circadian rhythm wants to drag you back under to the sweet darkness of sleep. In the ER, this was always our slowest hour. People would usually pour in until after midnight, then a lull until 5 or 6am, when the flow would pick up again. Then you’d start to look busy, so the day shift wouldn’t think you’d been sitting around eating and gossiping all night. My friend Charlie, who had just had knee surgery, would sometimes lead a group of us out to the ambulance bay to do exercises with him, in between cigarettes. Somewhere in all of this, imperceptible, the sky would go from black, to navy, to purple, to the faintest pale inside-a-seashell pink.

I had a moment like this recently. I had gone out on a Wednesday to a hospital for a referral, was there until 10 o’clock at night, left and returned again on Thursday morning. We got consent and I wound up staying the night, leaving at 7am the next morning. As the OR time approached, I glanced out the window, amazed to see the sun coming up. Was it dawn already? I had spent the night sharing the organs, taking the donor to the cath lab, trying hard to share his heart then working with respiratory to increase his oxygenation. Around 2am I inhaled a couple slices of pizza and a coffee. I felt drained.

Northern New Jersey is dotted with industrial, 19th century, mill towns. Places you wouldn’t normally associate with beauty. More likely they are the butt of jokes, along with the Turnpike, the Jersey attitude and the air quality (or lack thereof). Witnessing one of these towns at dawn is like looking back on another century. Passaic, Paterson, Hoboken, Jersey City. Traveling South through Newark, Elizabeth, Rahway down to New Brunswick. Go far enough South and you’ll eventually come to Trenton, then Camden. Cities made of brick, fired from local clay, giving each its own distinct glow in the morning sun. Row houses and hospitals, court houses and schools, all come alive again with a rosy light. Look out the corner of your eye and instead of morning traffic, you’ll swear you see a guy delivering ice with a team of Clydesdales. I expect it’s similar in cities throughout the Northeast.

By the time I leave the OR it’s gone. Walking outside I’m confronted again by the graffiti and litter and the sounds of morning rush hour traffic. For a moment, though, I was someplace else, and that is enough to get me home.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yee Haw!

I'm on my way to Dallas, Texas for the AOPO convention. Four whole days on my own. Well, and a lot of coworkers. No cats, no kids, no call. As some of you may know, after you have a baby, you measure your free time in minutes, not days.

Love Monkey is already laying down the guilt. "The baby will miss you, the dog will miss you. How will we survive?" Don't feel too bad for him-he went to Las Vegas two years ago for A WEEK when I was 11 months pregnant. Boo Hoo.

I totally expect a phone call, maybe Wednesday night:

"Hi, honey. How'r things?"

"Good, and you?"

-Glug, glug, glug-

"What'r doing?"

"Oh nothing. Just drinking a cup OF YOUR BABY'S TEARS!"


Seriously, he's not a guiltmonger, but sometimes he likes to exploit my Catholic roots. It won't work this time, my friend. I'll be dipping my tootsies poolside, drinking tequila and flirting with the cowboys. Yee Haa! See ya there!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sad News

The University of Michigan has confirmed there are no survivors from a plane that crashed into Lake Michigan. Aboard were 2 cardiothoracic transplant surgeons, 2 transplant specialists and 2 crew members. My thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends and colleagues. Also keep in your prayers the patient who was to receive the organ, who is still in critical condition.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Tuesday reading

I just finished editing my new post for the NJO blog with help from my esteemed colleague in Arizona. You can check out a new post everyday from Kim, Terry, Labor Nurse and Moi.

Hopefully there are no typos. I also had help from a cute 20 month old. I bet Virginia Woolf didn't have this problem. Of course, she lined her pockets with stones and went for a swim.

BTW-it's not a temper tantrum. She's having a "toddler moment."

Oh, and for more reading, Grand Rounds is up at Inside Surgery.