Thursday, June 30, 2005

I closed a car door on my head.

(tetanus Shot and Second Hepatitis A and B Shot)

I closed a car door on my head. My head! I couldn't believe it.

I drove to work and parked under a low-hanging branch. When I slammed the door, and I mean slammed the door, I ducked to miss the branch. I don't know why I did that, but the corner of the door caught me in the center of my forehead just below the hairline. It made a small corner tear in my face.

The injury didn't bleed much, but I figured I should maybe get a tetanus shot. I don't like being stuck with needles (although you'd never know it by all the blood bank and immunization visits I've done in the past year).

More than not liking to be stuck with needles, however, I'm not crazy about the idea of a forced diet because my jaws have 'locked' shut.

The day after the head vs. door event, I looked in the mirror and saw a deep, dark bruise just behind my left arm. My arm must have slowed the speed of that car door. Otherwise, I'd probably have had a rip across my forehead or a cracked bone! I'm lucky that arm was in the way.

I got the shots in both arms, Hep A+B in the left arm, tetanus in the right arm. Fortunately, the RN who gave the shots was really good at it. She shot me faster than a gunslinger in an old TV western. Then it was done.

As is my way these days, I asked where she went to school and how she liked their program. (Well, first I had to do my "are you sure that was a new needle?" routine. I don't know why I do that. I guess it just reassures me to have someone tell me, "Yes, I just broke the cover off of it. We don't reuse needles." And, fortunately she was nice about it.)

This RN, who gives immunization shots to people who walk in and take a number, told me her goal - Masters in Public Health and "eventually a PhD". She said she's found the place where she fits. She said, "this is where I belong." What a good feeling that must be. I do feel some of that with what I am learning, but I don't have that sense of certainty that she expressed.

New OK Driver's License ... complete with fingerprints.

I got a new Oklahoma driver's license a few days ago ... complete with a digital strip that can be used to search a database filled with (the information from) scanned fingerprints.

It's amazing that I've lived here long enough not only to have an OK driver's license, but to need to renew my license. When I think about it, I ask myself, "Why?" Why am I still here? Hmmmm.

I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to have to be fingerprinted in order to get my driver's license renewed. It feels like such an invasion of privacy, such an intrusion. But, if I were to refuse to give up my fingerprints for their digital file, I would not have been able to get my license renewed. And, where would that lead?

I think it's disturbing, because it feels like another step along the road to national identity cards and implanted chips with personal information on them. Where will it stop? (I'm thinking it won't.)

At least there are not cameras in our homes yet (as far as we know, right? lol). But, our movements are easily tracked through phone call records, credit card purchases, prepaid toll road devices, and cameras at intersections (that one is a stretch, I realize, at least at this time, but they ARE there so someone can watch us).

In the past two years, I've had to have OSBI (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) background checks run on me at least four times (once for a job and three times for school). There is no privacy in this world. That's part of why I'm even doing this blog. I am finally coming to terms with the reality that it's futile to even imagine there is such a thing as privacy in this world. So, I might as well just put things out there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Yield to Lights and Sirens

Yield to lights and sirens. Not only will it assist the emergency workers in getting to the scene faster. It might save your life.

Emergency vehicles are BIG and HEAVY. They can cause incredible damage when smashing into your car and your body. It's just not worth it to think you can do one more move before one hits you. It's like crossing the train track when the train is almost there just because you (think you) can.

Years ago, I knew of a man back home who was permanently brain damaged because he pulled out in front of a fire truck. I don't know whose 'fault' the collision was, I heard he failed to yield, but it doesn't really matter. His life was forever changed, and his body and mind were damaged in ways that could never be undone.

I understand how hard it is to hear the sirens. I really do. The other day, I was driving with the windows down. In the mirror, I saw behind me an ambulance, with lights flashing, approaching at a high speed. It was not until it was almost to me that I could hear the sirens. (Then, it almost deafened me with the volume as it passed my car.)

What concerns me even more are people who pull out into traffic from a side street directly into the path of an emergency vehicle traveling 50 to 80 miles per hour. It isn't just their lives they are endangering. They are also putting at risk everyone who is close enough to be hit by flying debris. And, they are endangering the lives of their passengers and the occupants of the emergency vehicle.

It has amazed me to watch the traffic up ahead, when the ambulance speedometer reads 60 mph, 70 mph, 80 mph. Some drivers up ahead, instead of pulling over to the right, will simply come to a dead stop directly in front of the ambulance in the same lane.

Even worse than that, people will stop and then turn left from the lane where the ambulance is about to overtake them. This is especially dangerous, since the ambulance WILL pass them on the left, and if they turn left, into the lane the ambulance is using, that could be the last time they ever make a left turn. I'm thinking 'Left Turn to Eternity'.

There is something good in all of this. I am amazed by all the people who follow the basic rule of driving that says you pull over to the right when lights and sirens are approaching.

When 3 or 30 or 50 cars all pull over to the right and stop, as if in a choreographed dance with cars and trucks and motorcycles, it is a moving sight. It touches me, because I think of it as people doing the right thing, working together to save the life of someone they don't even know.

A lot of training for emergency workers emphasizes safe driving skills and scene safety. But, the driving public is an integral part of keeping everyone safe.

You have a very important role in keeping everyone safe. Your actions are important in helping emergency workers get to the scene as quickly as possible (without injury or death to anyone on the way to the scene).

Help save lives. Yield to lights and sirens

Monday, June 20, 2005

Six for Five (gift set)

Fantastic 5 Spa Treatment

Pump up dehydrated skin with 5 fantastic products.

Set includes:

9oz shower gel,
Bunny Soap Saver,
20 oz Salt Scrub,
4oz Shea Butter in a tube,
Lotion Bar
and a free 4oz Shea Butter in a Jar.
The set comes in a drawstring tote.


Order online, or call 1-800-66BUNNY and tell them you are ordering from Rep # 7733.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My First Nursing School Disappointment

Today, I had my first nursing school disappointment. It really hit me hard. (I was surprised by how disappointed I felt.)

I went today to be tested on my CNA skills (Certified Nurse Assistant). You'd think I'd be good at those skills by now. In my paramedic clinicals in the hospital and on the ambulance, I've been putting on the electrodes for electrocardiograms (ECG/EKG). I can draw blood, start IVs, give medications and fluids, and check blood glucose levels. I check pulse and blood pressure as part of patient assessments.

Unfortunately, my confidence was minimal today. And, my apprehension was great when I needed to check a pulse and take a blood pressure in a testing situation.

I didn't trust myself. I was obviously nervous. I did not perform well. I pressed too tightly when I was checking the pulse, and my fingers were not in the best spot for the best feel of the pulse. And, I did not release the valve on the blood pressure cuff in a slow, smooth manner. So, it was impossible to get an accurate reading.

The result of all this? I now have to take a 12-hour class (for 1 hour of college credit). It will cost about $80. There is no alternative. If I don't take the class, I'll not be able to start nursing school in August.

It was mostly a blow to my ego. I'm not so upset with myself if I don't get every vein on the very first movement of the needle when I start an IV (although I WANT to get every vein with minimal stress to everyone involved), because even RNs and Paramedics have trouble finding the vein sometimes.

But, not being smooth in my release of the valve for the BP cuff and holding too tightly when checking a pulse ... that just wasn't okay. I was so critical of myself. I felt like I would cry. It really surprised me.

The RN who did the testing is obviously a sweetheart. She was SO nice. She was SO encouraging. She gave us every possible opportunity to do well. And, I STILL just couldn't get it together.

I was VERY disappointed in myself.

I'm glad she was the person who was doing the testing. I don't know what I would have done if someone harsh or insensitive had been doing the testing.

I didn't realize I was still so fragile.

I've been doing so well with all these new things I've been learning and seeing. I've seen people with 3rd degree burns on 80% of the body (in a burn unit). I've seen babies just hours away from death (in a pediatric intensive care unit). I've seen nurses struggle to keep someone stable immediately following open heart surgery (in a cardiac intensive care unit). I've found myself holding my breath on the way to a scene, not knowing if the person we'd find at an address or in a crashed automobile would be dead or beyond help.

So, I was really surprised that my lack of finesse with checking pulse and BP today, and my need for remediation (what I'm calling it), felt like such a blow. I guess I have a lot more ego involved in this than I thought. I guess it's just that checking vital signs is such a basic skill. For me not to do a basic skill well feels huge.

I must be tired! It's clear that I am. I work 40 hours at my job. I'm in school 24 hours. And, in the past two weeks, I've also done about 30 hours of clinicals each week on ambulances and in hospitals.

The silver lining is that it won't hurt me to go to that class. It can only help. The only harm is a bruise to my ego! And, that will clear up in a few days. (I'd say 'in a few hours', but a few hours have already passed, and it's still bothering me.)

I saw my physician today for my yearly physical. I told her about all that's going on in my life and about my FAILURE today (how I feel about it), and about the REMEDIAL CLASS (how I feel about it) that I'll have to take. She was cool. She said what I know, but what I don't yet feel. "You can always learn something. And, look at it this way. It just means better patient care."

The other good thing is that the nurse who tested me, and who so very reluctantly didn't pass me, is the one who will be teaching the skills class. So, what I did not do well today, I WILL do well after twelve hours in her class. And, I will be grateful, by then, for the opportunity to hone my skills and increase my confidence.

I have to remind myself of something I heard somewhere. I think it's used by various 12-step groups. It's a very cool saying. "H.A.L.T. - Never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired." You are most prone to fall (or fail, or slip ... ) when you are TOO hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. HALT!

I am very hungry right now. And, I am very tired.

I'm going to dinner now. And, maybe tonight will be a good night to get to bed early.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Tuesday Miracle - The Firewalker

There are a lot of things I've been thinking about blogging while I've been on the ambulance for the past two days. But, this will have to be THE blog entry for tonight.

I thought I was going to see my first burned-beyond-recognition, dead-at-the-scene, traumatic-death patient tonight when we responded to the last call.

There was smoke before we reached the scene. There was a ball of fire with a car so far inside of it that it didn't even look like there was a car there.

I was preparing myself for what I would see after the firefighters put out the flames. It was a BIG fire. The smoke was thick. The fire was making sounds. I wanted to approach, but I slowed down because I was thinking 'what if it blows up?' and 'what if things fly out of it if it explodes?'.

The medic said, "Get him into the truck!" and turned over a young man to the EMT and me. He had been the only person in the car when it was struck. He was in the car when it began to burst into flames. He got out of the car and ran away seconds before it became a fireball.

At the hospital, I told him, "You can get a tattoo saying, 'I walked from the fire'." An emergency nurse said it better, "Firewalker."

Life is amazing and fragile. It can be gone in a flash.

So many things could have happened differently that would have resulted in that fireball being the scene of tragedy for that young man, and those who know him and love him, rather than a reminder of the miracle of life.

Fortunately for everyone, the Firewalker is still among us.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Happy Birthday, Baby !!!

The head just slipped right out!

I had seen it on TV before, and I've seen photos in textbooks. But, until my labor and delivery clinical the other night, I had never seen a baby born right there in front of me.

I wondered for the mother's modesty with me, a stranger, looking at that most intimate part of her body, watching for the new life to come pushing through. But, she did not even notice me until later. And, then she said, "Oh, I didn't see you over there. Hi!" as if I were her old, best friend who had come to witness the birth of her child.

I was surprised by how brief the actual birth process was. And, I was surprised by how pretty the baby was when it came out. I had always thought babies were mashed from being in the birth canal. But, this was not her first delivery, so the process was quick, and the baby slipped out as pretty as you please.

I tried to pay attention to all the things I will need to know if I am ever faced with an emergency delivery of a baby (if the mother is so close to delivery that she cannot be transported to the hospital before the baby comes out). I asked questions of the nurses afterwards about the delivery of the placenta and about the care of the newborn immediately following the delivery.

EMS protocols require the umbilical cord to be clamped and cut a little bit farther from the baby (farther than where they clamp it and cut it in the hospital). And, EMS protocols require delivery of the placenta and saving it in a plastic bag to take with the mother and the newborn, so that the doctors at the hospital can examine it.

I have heard some talk about people who cook the placenta and eat it after the birth of the baby. I do not personally know of anyone who has done that. Even if I were so inclined, I'd be thinking about things like Hep B and C and HIV. I don't think I could be one of the family and friends who gathered around to enjoy the afterbirth, although I'm sure it is an important ritual for some people.

What I saw at the hospital was that they put it into a bag, and they save it for a week, so that they will have it if it is needed for testing later (if some problems are discovered with the baby).

It really was neat seeing the head just come sliding out. Birth is amazing (if for no other reason, that something as big as a baby can come out of a woman*).

I wish all babies were wanted. I wish all children were loved and respected and treated with tenderness and affection.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I have known Adam since he was 8yo. EIGHT YEARS OLD. Now Adam is a grown man. He is 18 yo. EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD.

Adam graduated from high school this past Saturday. He asked me to come to his graduation. So, I flew from Tulsa, OK to North Carolina, and I attended his graduation this past Saturday morning. (We visited for a couple of hours on Friday evening, too.)

It was good to see him. I am so proud of him!!!