Friday, October 30, 2009


ER 4

I thought of her again today. It’s been 10 months, three seasons, lots of life changes since I saw her. But… I thought of her again today.

Her mom brought her into the Emergency Room. They’d driven for 45 minutes, braving the snow, the icy roads, the darkening sky. And it was “rush hour” when they arrived—the waiting room crammed, beds full, almost shift change.

They waited over an hour in the waiting room. And then another 20 minutes in Room #9.

The nurse told me they were ready. And so, in usual routine, I grabbed the chart & headed toward the hanging curtain covering the mystery inside Room #9.

I prepped myself for the worst, as I always do in the ER. A bloody laceration? Motor Vehicle Accident? Head contusion? Compound fracture? Drug intoxication? Anaphylaxis?

With a pitter in my heart & a patter to my step, I walked toward the curtain. Anxious at what awesome medical mystery might behold m e…

And then I heard it.

Just three steps shy of the hanging divider, my hopes of awesomeness fell & shattered on the tile floor.

The squeal was unmistakable: a giggly child.

I pulled back the curtain, let out a silent, “hurumph!!” of exasperation & started my exam.

Temperature 99.1
Lungs clear. No cough.
Neuro exam normal.
Bowel sounds present.
Nontender abdomen.
Patent eardrums.

Reddened throat.

As so I told them something I probably shouldn’t have. Which is really why I thought of them today as I walked past the full waiting room outside the ER. The waiting room filled with a echoes of coughs, a handful of grunts, faces covered in masks, and one smiling woman with, you guessed it: a giggling little girl.

ER 3

The words just came. Uncontrollably, almost.

And 10 months ago on a snowy December night in the ER, I told her to please not come back. To not come back, especially with her little girl; her barely sick, still eating, sleeping, & giggling little girl. I told her about the man around the corner with pneumonia, about the woman with the five MRSA abscesses we’d just drained in the room next door. I told her about the dying woman who couldn’t breathe, & the coughing man with end-stage emphysema.

And I told her this was an EMERGENCY ROOM. An ER where people died, where we saw blood & stool & vomit on a daily basis. An ER where we sewed fingers back on, where we sent 360 Joules of electricity through people’s bodies to bring their hearts back to life, where we dealt with trauma & tragedy.

An ER where she didn’t need to be.

She tried to smile.
I tried to smile back.

And then I walked out. A code blue was coming via ambulance and I wanted to see some real medicine, medicine that actually belonged in the ER.

That squealing little girl and her waiting Mommy visited the ER 10 months ago. They were getting ready to visit again today. And that same little girl & her Mommy will show their faces, voice their concerns, & expect to be cared for at every ER across the country later tonight, tomorrow morning, next week, three months from now…

ER 2

Along with the H1N1’s, the cardiac arrests, broken bones, respiratory failures, lacerations, the giggly red throat will join the herd & trudge to the ER for medical care.

I’ve heard other stories, too. Stories of brand new parents calling the ambulance in eight inches of new-fallen snow from a far-away location because their two-week-old baby had a runny nose. Stories of elderly women wearing nightgowns & curlers visiting in the early morning for a toenail trim. And even stories of farmers with belly aches because of the salsa they had for dinner.

ER 1

We are blessed here in America. Blessed to have vaccinations, clean water, sterile needles, & ambulances available when we need them. We’re lucky to have hospitals, contact precautions, & operating rooms stocked with modern technology & highly trained physicians. And most of us are fortunate enough to have a slew of specialists at our fingertips: cardiologists, radiologists, gynecologists, gastroenterologists, urologists, neurologists…the list goes on.

In all our great fortune, our luck, our blessedness; in the midst of those shiny surgical instruments & new hospital blueprints, I want to believe that we’ve lost something.

Our perspective, perhaps?
Our gratitude, maybe?
Even our selflessness.

The night that red-throat giggly came in we had TWO code blue’s. BOTH patients died. The rooms were packed with people needing real medical attention—and needing it FAST. Emergencies truly did walk through the door that night…as they do every night.

But that red throat didn’t need 360 Joules of electricity sent through her body. She didn’t need a shot of epinephrine to open a closing airway or a set of sutures to stitch an open wound. Her visit didn’t require antibiotics or imaging, not even overnight hospital observation.

And truly, red-throat could have waited another 10 hours for the clinician’s office to open. She probably could have waited another 48 hours, 5 days, 2 weeks to see if the redness went away on its own.

But red-throat visited that night.
And she visited today, too.
And she’ll probably visit again tomorrow.

Not because Mommy was overly concerned. Not because she realized the gravity of bringing her eating, sleeping, giggling child into the petre dish of germs that floated in the air of the hospital halls. Not because it was anything but a routine virus that affects almost every child during every winter season.

But because it was convenient.

So I ask YOU: what have you lost in the battle of the newest, shiniest, most specialized treatment available? Perspective? Selflessness? Patience? Reassurance that your body can largely heal itself?

**This is NOT written as medical advice. Personal discretion should be used in individual situations where a visit to your Physician or local Emergency Room may be necessary. The author is not responsible for any consequences that may occur as a result of not visiting the ER.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

project 365: 10.19-25.09

{10.19.09: Monday} beth asked me to just take some pictures of life when justin was home for R&R. so the week's pictures were not of me...but of another family entirely. i had fun laughing at the hilarity of this 21-month old.


{10.20.09: Tuesday} i found her first laying in my bed (just lounging) & then returned to find her playing with my credit cards with my sunglasses on. i think she'll give 'em a run for their money....


{10.21.09: Wednesday} little lucy didn't want to cooperate. and after the only semi-successful photo shoots with two babies now, i'm convinced that Anne Geddes drugs the babies she photographs. there is just no other way....


{10.22.09: Thursday} jon called via webcam to talk to justin (& i guess me too). joelle caught a glimpse of herself in the camera & hysterically laughed for at least 4 minutes. she had us all laughing, too.


{10.23.09: Friday} we took a walk to burn off some of that pent-up energy. and i decided i needed to be in at least one picture during the week. little did i know that i'd turn out looking like Andre the Giant....


{10.24.09: Saturday} beth's friend(s) threw her a baby shower at a local coffee shop. aside from the shower being adorably decorated, i was quite pleased with their soy chai latte's. so pleased, in fact, that i might have consumed mine in 5 minutes....


{10.25.09: Sunday} i read on the flight(s) back to WA. and i also cried at least 4 times while reading. and subsequently felt ridiculous. the new book i'm reading is challenging me to the core. i can't wait for jon to read it.


project 365: 10.12-18.09

{10.12.09: Monday} jon sent me a "tea rug" from the sandbox. and i used it as an excuse to have (another) chai. [i'm not so sure he meant it to be an excuse for an increase in my chai consumption...]


{10.13.09: Tuesday} i was missing jon a bit more than usual. and so i wrote him a message. kind of clever, those antique letters, don't 'cha think?!


{10.14.09: Wednesday} autumn was fallen. fall has fallen. whatever: the leaves are changing. and i am loving all the colors (although i will say they were much prettier in west virginia!!)


{10.15.09: Thursday} a little teaching from my amazing preceptor--reviewing cranial anatomy, movement of cranial bones, & cranial rhythmic impulse. i was so honored to be his student. at 50+ years of practice & age 72, i can only hope to live the osteopathic philosophy as a ministry like he has. so cool.


{10.16.09: Friday} and my mom caught on to the antique letter messages too...this time a little reminder for ME :) thanks mom.


{10.17.09: Saturday} we drove to the "Starliner Supper Club"--a 1940's gala honoring the Osteopathic school about an hour away. this is a horrible picture of us, taken at the end of the night where my 1940's pin curls turned into a frizz ball of 80's-hair-gone-bad. conclusion: use more hairspray...& keep a better stock of generational costumes on hand :)


{10.18.09: Sunday} i flew up to alaska to visit family...& "help" (in quotations because they really probably didn't need my assistance) out with their kids. it was a LONG day in the airports, sitting next to oversized people who invaded my personal space bubble. but i made it.


project 365: 10.05-11.09

{10.05.09: Monday} started a new OMT rotation with what could be the most talented osteopathic physician i've ever met. i also started working with this new table, made in 1929. to say they just don't make things like they used to is an understatement...


{10.06.09: Tuesday} i quickly discovered the beauty of "old fashioned" medicine reaches far deeper than modern medicine ever will be able to--something about working with your hands, working with the patient, working to HEAL instead of INTERVENE...i've got a lot to learn!


{10.07.09: Wednesday} i got to talk to jon. a late night phone (disconnected at least 5 times)...but i'll take it. :)


{10.08.09: Thursday} i finally broke down & paid $10 to have my car washed & vaccummed. it was totally worth it.


{10.09.09: Friday} my parents picked up sushi. YUMMMMMMMM. more please...


{10.10.09: Saturday} an incredible woman from our church taught about one of the seven feasts of Israel: Sukkah & the coming of Christ. i think i'm going to make jon build a sukkah (fort) for me next fun.


{10.11.09: Sunday} hello amazing sunset. thanks for visiting us today....


project 365: 09.28-10.04.09

{09.28.09: Monday} on call...AGAIN. an abnormally mellow night of call--only a couple of deliveries & i even got to take a nap in the middle of the day. unreal.


{09.29.09: Tuesday} i've been sick. and being sick in dry weather for me means nose bleeds. this was the THIRD one in 3 days & happened when Gay & I were shopping. LOVELY. she was kind enough to beg the lady @ the gas station for a bag of ice so i could ice my sinuses. [tip: do NOT tip your head back...use ice, a pinching pressure, & give it a little time!]


{09.30.09: Wednesday} H1N1 (thank you swine flu) has officially invaded the hospitals. and for some reason, they decided that "duck masks" would be appropriate for a flu that came from pigs. surprisingly enough, these masks are SO COMFORTABLE. i stole a couple for future use.


{10.01.09: Thursday} greg & kerry's (very yummy!) rehearsal dinner. it was SO WONDERFUL to see old friends...and i was SO BUMMED jon missed it :)


{10.02.09: Friday} annndddd....they are MARRIED! woohoo! congrats greg & kerry for being the awesomest, funniest couple we know!!


{10.03.09: Saturday} my sisters drove into town...& we all made the 30-minute treck to the "Valley Mall" just for Forever 21. as chance would have it, we ran into these decked-out characters on our trip...weirdo's.


{10.04.09: Sunday} i drove back home. tayte slept. and snored. kind of a nice combination, huh?


project 365: 09.21-27.09

{09.21.09: monday} an early (5:30am) morning leaving Rusty & Gay's house for the hospital. i *thought* i was becoming a morning person...not so much.


{09.22.09: tuesday} the call room on the OB service. i was on call tuesday night (about 30 hours total) & was lucky enough to sleep almost through the entire night. it was a quiet night on the floor--quiet for me, at least!


{09.23.09: Wednesday} sunrise in the city--a view from the OB floor window. after a long night of sleep (with perspective--about 4 hours), i was ready to get back to the house & away from the hospital. not to mention the fact that i smelled. BAD.


{09.24.09: Thursday} i downloaded a new iphone app to edit photos. and i kind of love it. self-portrait (obviously).


(09.25.09: Friday} on call AGAIN on the OB service. a little less sleep...a few deliveries...and a donut in the morning. not too shabby, i'd say...


{09.26.09: Saturday} the "prairie", as Rusty & Gay refer to it. a sunny day in autumn...& harvested wheat fields. photo taken on my way back from a night of call @ the hospital.


{09.27.09: Sunday} they took me to Greenbluff :) YUM. and bought me a Huckleberry milkshake. double-YUM. and we picked pumpkins & rode a tractor & i realized: IT IS FALL already!


Friday, October 23, 2009

thrifty: the transformed carry-on.

i've been looking for a Caboodle...remember those?

and well, since i'm cheap, i wasn't about to spend the $18.99 it would take to get a new one. the truth is that i'd rather spend those $18 on coffee & ice cream. just sayin'.

so on a recent i-need-to-find-photo-props thrift store adventure, i came across this little guy.


for $1.60.

a bit less than $18.99, wouldn't you say?

the only problem was that this little guy was ugly.
and stained.
and had a gross sticker-covered-smells-like-a-moth-ball inside.

and so...i ripped the insides out.
{please don't mistake that statement with Halloween gore...this is clean, Internet}.

and i found some bright fabric in my stash...cut it to size...slimed the case with Decoupage glue...


and VOILA!!!


a cute! cheap! faux-Caboodle!

far, far from perfect...but it will do :)

it will find its home in the back of my car...storing water bottles, Tampax, granola bars, & know, just in case.

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