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Heroic Measures

I'm reading The Geography of Bliss, a nonfiction account of a curious and somewhat discontented journalist who decides to hunt out who the most happy people are and why. On his search, he visits Bhutan and meets a man who runs the country's think tank, appropriately named Karma. Karma advises the author, "You need to think about death for five minutes every day. It will cure you, sanitize you....It is this thing, this fear of death, this fear of dying before we have accomplished what we want or seen our children grow. This is what is troubling you....Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist."

But I touch dead bodies, handle fresh wounds (both physical and mental), and rotten things. I, and my fellow emergency department coworkers bear the brunt and weight of the rancid realities of life and death and what happens in betw…
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Where will it send me?

In the year + that has passed since my last entry, I've developed a new fascination. I'm having a difficult time focusing on real life or ordinary details, especially when driving due to my new interest. Everywhere I go, I see them. Sidewalks, grocery stores, malls, and of course, the ER.

I've become obsessed with Hoverounds. Also known as motorized wheelchairs, these modes of transport fill my thoughts. Multiple times, I've come close to crashing my car just because I couldn't take my eyes off one.

They make me smile, laugh, and without fail, start singing the Hoveround theme song in my head. It's played during such quality daytime programming as The Price is Right. If you're not familiar with this jingle, do me (and yourself) a favor and google "Hoveround Song." You won't be disappointed. The main lyrics are: "Hoveround takes me where I wanna go. Where will it send me?" Oh, I, too, have been pondering this question.

It implies that…

Through the Looking Glass....or Bong

It's been over a year since I posted anything, and not for lack of material. Stories pile themselves in my head, and it's time to type some of them out.

"Laverne" was brought back to my open room, and right from the get-go, a strong crazy vibe was palpable. I always say that there are a few trademarks of the insane:
1. Untamed female facial hair
2. Wearing a puffy coat (especially old-school Seahawks or Raiders) on a hot day
3. Insisting on representing oneself in court
4. Painstakingly reading every word of every document before signing, especially the privacy statements or discharge papers.

Laverne met #1 and #2. Probably #3, too, but I was not privy to that information.

Her chief complaint was that her husband was trying to kill her. She thought he was putting Drano in her cereal in the mornings. "Why not just stop eating food he gives you?" one might ask. And one might ask to no avail. Please see aforementioned list.

I introduced myself as usual, and st…

Walking the Line

Today I took care of a patient who used to be an ER nurse. She's married to a man who used to be an ER nurse. After years of diverting and shooting up Dilaudid and other drugs, both she and her husband lost their nursing licenses, their jobs, and their health. She checked in today because she's detoxing off of methadone and alcohol. In order to function, she has to drink alcohol every half hour. Even during the night, she wakes up every 30 minutes to take a drink.

This woman brought her 10 year old son to the ER with her. He sat in the corner and drowned out reality by playing his hand-held video game. She has other children, too.

Her veins are scars, and her limbs are pock-marked with scars from shooting up for so many years. She laughs at everything, but the smile didn't reach her eyes.

She terrified me.

In nursing school, I remember learning about a shocking percentage of nurses that end up abusing drugs and stealing medications from work, or even using at work. It seems li…

Opportunities for Regret

During this last work rotation, I met a few people that have not left my mind. I've actually prayed for them each, several times. This is unusual since often, I have forgotten yesterday's work entirely as I rush into today's workload.

The first was Margaret, a woman who had had multiple miscarriages. She was angry, and crying in a wheelchair in the ER waiting room, and I apologized for the wait (about 2 hours) as I rolled her back to one of my rooms. Hallway, actually. As soon as I could, I got her into a room, and heard her story. She was about 10 weeks along, had just stopped taking Prometrium, and had had a sudden onset of bleeding while at work. She was scared, panicked, anxious, and upset. Instead of telling her "we won't really be able to do anything except an ultrasound since you're so early in this pregnancy," I just listened. Blood work was sent off, a pelvic exam was done, and off she went to ultrasound. Her husband waited in the room. Hours late…


Although I started this blog with the intention of MUCH more frequent postings, it's turned out that I'm not a diligent blogger. Big surprise. It's just an electronic version of my pile of half -empty journals that intermittently chronicle three decades of life.

Part of it is that I don't want to be a chronic whiner. Especially about work, which is so difficult even with a positive attitude. I'm also unsure at this point what I really want to share publicly about my life.

Another aspect is the fake Hollywoodish stuff where Meg Ryan sends out her emails "into the void" or Julie writes to the scores of "servantless American cooks" or Sarah Jessica Parker sums it all up in one question. I don't necessarily want to be like them.

Deep down, I'm just insecure enough to want validation from friends, or even strangers online. But my pride keeps me from writing from the real depths of myself.

One of my life goals is to write a book. Whether fiction o…

Totally Unnatural

My friend and fellow nurse, Elise, asked me to come into one of the patient rooms with her to help prepare her patient's eyes for cornea donation (actually, the word used is "harvesting" but that just seems too grotesque and industrial).

"She died from thyroid cancer with mets," Elise explained as we entered the dimly lit room. The family had said their goodbyes and gone home. Unthinkingly, my hand flitted to my own thyroid. Although her body was already cold, the woman didn't really look dead. I kept waiting for her chest to rise. It didn't.

I asked what the woman's name was, and Elise told me. Even though we knew somewhere deep down that she couldn't hear us, we still explained what we were about to do. Holding her eyelids open gently, I watched as Elise instilled saline in the woman's already cloudy eyes, and then I taped the eyelids closed. I fought the temptation to wipe what looked like salty tears from her cheeks.

"Should we put ano…