Tuesday, August 28, 2007


...chatting online, late at night, with a friend in Kyrgyzstan, while she enjoys the sunshine of tomorrow.

Weird and wonderful, this day and age's extensive technology!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

So Many Stories...

Question: So why haven't I posted any?

Number One,
My roommate and I still don't have internet, and the few times during the week I go to Colin's house (where there IS internet), it's because we plan to eat dinner there (which means I have to organize and then carry a load of ingredients, some cooking dishes, and sometimes some pages of recipes over to his house).

I don't go to his house until I've cooled off from my bikeride home from work and taken a shower. Then the cooking itself takes some time--usually he walks in his door around the time it's ready, between 9 and 9:30pm. After we eat, I generally take a nap on his futon, or check through my blogroll to see what's happening with friends and family members.

When he is done with his nightly "bug patrol" --literally, he goes outside with his flashlight and camera to check out the critters that have gathered around his outdoor lantern, his plants, and his cement wall-- he wakes me up and I am ready to go home. And ready to crash there. Because I have to wake up at 6am and bike to work for 7am.

Number Two,
My stories are probably going to need a lot of background information. There are always stories, everyday, from working with my patients that I think may really be the "you had to be there" or "you have to understand the context" events. ...And because I've spoken the language for the past three years, and now have gradually become comfortable with how things work and what is expected of me, I don't even know how much background information is too much--and how much can just get picked up by the reader along the way.

Some examples of my situational tidbits...
...The really sweet little man in his 70's with the chest tube due to a collapsed lung and a broken leg in a full cast who cannot tolerate "walking" more than 12 feet total with a rolling walker, tells his nurse that he thinks crutches would be better. "I just want to hop around," he tells her. That in itself is kind of funny.
...But then the fact that when his nurse pages me, she and I decide to actually toss him the bone, just because it will motivate him to get up one more time that day--I show up with crutches, try to tell him it takes MORE balance and energy to use them than it takes to use the rolling walker, but he is adamant. So I grab his nurse, and she and I practically have to carry him while he "uses" them for about 6 feet before he decides to give in and "forget these crutches!"
The lengths to which we will go to get people up and moving...

...The man who gets admitted because of "altered mental status" (AMS) who asks me what color I think everything in the room is, asks me if I see the bubbles going up and down the wall, then shows me his hospital bracelet and says it's made of lamb's wool. Then he says that his doctor told him earlier that when the patient sees me, that means he's "passed on." After I try to console him by telling him that he is in the hospital and that we're taking care of him and that he's getting better, I decide that maybe I'm upsetting him and this is how it's being manifested. As I exit the room, the phlebotomist enters, and smirks as she whispers to me, "See you later, angel!"
...The patient's nurse is concerned that the man is starting to talk about more than just colors and bubbles, so she notifies the primary physician. Who fails to understand why talking about death may be of more concern than talking about bubbles....

...Praising people for coughing up sputum is one of the most difficult aspects of my job. Especially now that I'll be rotating to the "pulmonary" sub-team of my "Neuro-Cardio-Pulmonary" team this week, where coughing up sputum is generally a primary goal! I don't mind a lot of things that I thought I would mind. But when that junk comes out--whether I hear it gurgling in the throat or see it shooting out of a tracheostomy--I have to really control myself to avoid visibly cringing.
"Great!" I coo with dramatic enthusiasm. "Better out than in!" or "Keep it up!" or "Nice job!"
Almost as bad is asking them to describe the color, thickness, and amount they coughed up when I wasn't there to see it. My imagination is a little too vivid.

...Sometimes it's hard for people to feel comfortable when they hear me say that I'm going to be the one to help them get out of bed. I'm often challenged with skeptical responses: "You?" or "You sure you can handle it by yourself?" or "I think it may take more than one person." It's great to show them that my technique--not my strength--plus whatever they can contribute themselves, is effective for the job at hand. I'm learning how to gain their trust sooner, though, with statements such as "one thing at a time," and "we'll sit at the edge of the bed first and see how you feel," and "we won't do anything until both of us are ready," etc.
One larger patient's husband got a kick out of me helping his wife into the chair a few different times. On one occasion, her nurse paged me because she and another nurse were having a difficult time helping this woman back into bed. So I went back to the room to give the nurses some tips as well as some physical assistance, and was greeted by the patient's husband, "Here comes the little crane for the big load!"

Another patient looked at me in wonderment after I helped him stand a few times near the edge of his bed. He said,"Wow, little lady! You're strong for bein' so small! You must work out or somethin'!"

I try to tell these patients that they do more than they think, that it's my body position and the gait belt I use that makes it possible, ...but it's a fun part of my job, nonetheless.

So these are the kinds of stories that fill my days. I suspect that this at least gives a flavor of the environment I'm in all the time.

When I get internet at my house, I may be able to post them more regularly. That is, on the days that I cook dinner in my own kitchen!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Baggage Delivered!

Having my bag again means, of course, that I have my pictures from the wedding!
The first thing I noticed about Miranda (this is the first time I actually met her) was her big, beautiful smile. It flashed across her face continuously, and brightened everything around her.

Please notice the color of Brian's tie... :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A post of numbered items...

Happy news:

#1. My car is fixed, the problems being not-so-serious. I know this because the car mechanic paged me at work and when I called him back, he told me what the problems were:
"[amidst car mechanic language]-blah-blah new gas cap blah-blah new plugs blah-blah new wires..." and then he stopped.

So I responded, "All that doesn't sound too serious to me--or am I just very naive?" To which he replied, "No, it's really not serious."

So I said, "Please proceed and fix my car."

Then I paid with my debit card, which was a happy moment, because there is money in my bank account :) :) :)

#2. Because of my set of four wheels, I can now travel the 6 miles to Colin's house, where my computer resides, and update my blog--without having to leave right after dinner in order to bike the 6 miles back to my house before I am completely exhausted!
(Actually, Colin has been making that trek since my car has been out of commission: he's been riding his bike to my place for dinner, then biking the 6 miles home--because he's always going to be in better shape than me, and also because he's just wonderful like that! Either way, my computer has not been accessible to me.)

So now I may give an update of the very recent West Coast Wedding experience I had.
Hereafter, I shall more easily give updates of life as a physical therapist in acute care--there are already, and will always be, stories in that vein!!

But now, for the wedding....

The ceremony took place in a beautiful spot, on a bluff overlooking a bay north of San Francisco within Point Reyes National Seashore. And the reception was fun--it was at a nearby Inn, where they had yummy food and swing-dancing :). I mingled with the best (worst?) of the Harvard / Yale / Berkley / Stanford crunchy people. Please be proud of me, for mingling is not my thing. But I was alone and decided to force myself to be a little more extroverted!
The nice thing about those peeps is that they're always so friendly and sincere. (It's the things that they're sincere about that make them a little wacky; things that are not-so-fundamentally-important to the good of society). It's funny to me how they intellectualize everything and take it all so seriously.... But anyway, I had fun. The best part was the swing dance that I had with Brian. And Portia's in-laws out there, with whom I stayed for the weekend, were exceptionally wonderful to me.
Otherwise, the entire affair might have been called a disaster...
1. The trip began Friday night, flying out of Raleigh, NC. I missed my connecting flight in Atlanta and spent the night in the airport. I can sleep anywhere, but with the airconditioning on and no one around, it was SO COLD! Every once in a while I would wake up shivering, so I'd walk around the airport a while and then find a bench (sometimes the same bench as before) that I thought might be far away from both the vents and the loud overhead televisions. At about 5:30am, when the airport started coming alive again, I got up and treated myself to a cup of Starbucks, partially just so that I could cradle it in my cold hands and press it to my chest!
2. So I got into San Francisco on Saturday morning. (At least I made it in time for the wedding, which was at 2pm!) But by the time I got my baggage and was driven to Portia's in-law's house, I had about 10 minutes before I had to leave to get to the site of the ceremony. (The baggage alone took about 30minutes to collect after I got off the airplane.) So ... no shower, after a full day of work on Friday and an night spend in Atlanta's airport!
***Here, insert Portia's brother-in-law and father-in-law kindly retrieving me from the airport, then her mother-in-law feeding me a sandwich and graciously driving me 40minutes to the wedding, because I "must be so tired," and so that I would be sure not to get lost along the way.
***Also here, insert beautiful wedding afternoon and evening, where I finally met the woman that Brian has been raving about for the past 10 years***
(despite the fact that their wedding website and invitation said "casual" since it was in the park, and I was almost the only woman there who was not in a cute dress... Oh, well. Brian didn't seem to care!)
3. The morning after the wedding, beginning at about 4:30am, I felt sick to my stomach. "Crazy," I thought. "I had 3 glasses of wine all night. Maybe I'm just super-dehydrated because of the airplane trip and everything." But after emptying said stomach's contents into the toilet bowl several times, my body continued to try to empty that-which-was-not-there until about 7:30am.
***Here, insert Portia's compassionate mother-in-law giving me a homeopathic remedy for my sickness, then going out early that Sunday morning to buy cans of gingerale and a box of saltines.***
***Also here, insert that I recovered, for the most part, by about 8:45am, so Portia's mother-in-law said that it was probably food poisoning. So much for "yummy food."...I hope more of the wedding party didn't get sick!
4. My already late-night connecting flight back to Raleigh from Atlanta was delayed, so that Colin had to come to the airport to pick me up at 1am instead of at midnight, late between Sunday and Monday!
5. Half of the delayed flight's passengers' baggage was not there when we arrived in Raleigh; the line into the Delta customer service closet was so long, it wound around the baggage claim belt. When I got to the front of the line, all they needed was my address, phone number, and bag tag number so that they could gie me a "file reference number." They said my bag would be delievered the next day. ...I arrived home around 3am.
6. It's now Wednesday, and I still do not have my bag. Mom is praying to St. Anthony (and so am I!) but it might be gone for a while... meaning, "forever"...
7. May I add that my bag is really small, and the only reason I didn't carry it on the plane was because I didn't have any plastic baggies to accommodate the "liquids" policy they have now. --I almost carried it on anyway, especially after waiting 30minutes in San Francisco for said bag to appear on the baggage belt on Saturday morning!!
But guess what I told Portia Sunday morning over the phone? "I don't want to risk carrying it on without any plastic baggies, and sending it through security, hoping they don't open my bag (something she suggested) because I don't want to risk having all of my make-up confiscated." Looks like a lot more than that is "confiscated" now!
Believe it or not, despite all of these mini-"adventures," it was worth the trip!
So that's my most recent story of what's happening here. The only other thing that I'm excited about these days is that I've been picking up evening shifts... Where I don't do anything except remain in the hospital building so that there's a therapist "supervisor" here while our techs do some evening treatments! I get comp time for this--which is time accrued for later use, ...meaning that I can take eventually take time from that bank to have some days off.
I literally sit at work, writing emails and taking care of business. (Last night I signed up for dental and vision benefits, then I ordered a thank-you gift for Portia's in-laws...). And I get comp time for doing this. I will never understand why my colleagues think I'm burning myself out, volunteering to fill the evening shift holes! They look at me with concern--"are you okay?"
I suppose I'd feel different if Colin didn't work until 9pm anyway. I certainly wouldn't like to do it if I had a family waiting at home for me. But for now, ...this is leisure compared to PT school!!

...Too bad Blogger is not one of the hospital-approved internet sites!