Friday, October 21, 2011

Is prayer worth it?

A month ago today, I was crying.

Crying is not even the word for what I was doing.  I was Bewailing. Blubbering. Bawling.

Was there a death in the family? Was a close friend no longer with us? Was I terribly injured?

No to all of the above.

So what was it all about?

A kitten.

A little, black 11 ounce kitten.

Here is his story.

Friday, September 16th began as Friday's ordinarily did. Work at 7:30 am, answer calls, act friendly. One call though got the whole day in motion.

"Place where I work, this is Sarah"

"Sarah, this is Carolyn." (She's the woman in charge of animal adoptions)

"There's an elderly man bringing in a kitten he found; we'll take care of all the charges."

Moments later, in walks a man, carrying a small closed box, no bigger than 2" by 4". He hands it to me, and thinking perhaps there is a dead creature inside, I open it and inside is an incredibly small kitten. I thank the man, and whisk the kitten away to the back to display him to the veterinarians. After checking him out, the estimated age was 3-4 weeks.

I spent the rest of the day with him and subsequently offered to take him home to foster him.

Friday night:  his first seizure.

Though at that point, I wasn't sure what it was. I mean, here he is, needing to be bottle fed, have his privates wiped down because he was too young to eliminate on his own and all he really wanted to do was sleep. I thought maybe he had been woken out of a deep sleep and was having a...moment.

But the seizures continued, increasing in duration. Otherwise, he appeared perfectly normal. Eager to eat every two hours, grasping at his bottle and syringe to eat whenever it was placed near his mouth.

Sunday, he had a seizure.
Then another one.
And another one a few hours later.

His pupils would dilate, his claws would outstretch, he would screech, he would meow, he would twitch uncontrollably. And then just like that, they'd stop. He'd then appear dazed, confused, and within fifteen minutes was back to sleeping or roaming the room.

However, Sunday evening, his seizure woke him out of a deep slumber, and the sounds he was making indicated to me that this was not normal. I timed his seizure. 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds. Still continuing. After 60 seconds it stopped.

I called the veterinarian and she said she'd like to observe him overnight at her house to see if he was having true seizures.

The next day, she brought him into work with the grim news. He was indeed having seizures and the causes of seizures in such a young animal was likely congenital. That, or he had gotten into a toxin that was slowly killing him. Or perhaps, he had feline distemper; a terrible virus causing severe illness and possible death.

Additionally, he had developed an upper respiratory infection and was terribly congested and having difficulty breathing.

He was hospitalized all day Monday and every few hours I'd hear him screaming from a seizure. At one point it was so terrible, I saw the head veterinarian run out of his office to see what was going on. In my line of work, seeing a doctor run out of their office means trouble.

A woman from a business next to the clinic stopped by and told me I need to euthanize the kitten, that I was causing him to suffer.

However, mid-afternoon, it was discovered that the kitten was running a fever and in a hopeful moment, I thought perhaps this could be the cause of his seizures, similar to febrile seizures in human infants.

The next day, Tuesday, he went a full 24 hours without a seizure.

But Wednesday at 2:30 am, he seized. And again at 7:45 Wednesday morning. And again in the parking lot of the veterinarian clinic where I was taking him because he seemed to be having difficulty breathing.

I rushed him into the clinic where he began repeatedly seizing. One after another after another. The veterinarian gave him Valium to stop the seizures and though it helped, it also knocked him almost unconscious.

After the full effect of the drug wore off, he began seizing again. The seizures were lasting longer than ever before. And being all of 11.8 ounces now, it was quickly taxing his system.

The call: Wednesday, September 21

I missed the phone call. I didn't listen to the voicemail. When I got the text stating "CALL ME" from one of the vet techs, well, you can imagine what I was feeling.

"We think he's suffering, Sarah. He's been having repeated seizures, he's not wanting to eat anymore. We all think it's time to put him down".

She then named off things she thought could be wrong with him including a nasal tumor and cuterebras (fly larvae) in his brain.

I flashed to preparing his kitten milk replacement, giving him three cc's at a time since that's all his stomach could hold. Feeding him every few hours, even in the middle of the night. Him grabbing the syringe, eager to eat every time. I thought about him wanting to sleep on my chest, cuddled in a tight ball. I recalled wrapping him in a blanket since he was too small to conserve his own body heat. He was so small, he easily fit into the palm of my hands.

And thinking about this and now the fact that I was losing him, I began to cry. There's no other graceful way to write it.

I drove to the vet clinic.

Inside his cage was my kitten, still recovering from his last seizure, disoriented, soiled, some drool on his little face.

I picked him up and wrapped him in a blanket. I carried him around, pacing, and crying. Co-workers kept coming up, hugging me, telling me that I had done so much for him.

The vet tech who had called me earlier kept asking if I was ready to say goodbye.

I was not.

Besides, the method by which they'd have to euthanize him wouldn't exactly be in the most humane manner. His veins were too small to easily hit for the sedation to be given intravenously.

I asked if I could spend some time alone with him and they let me go into the operating room. We sat there and I wept over him.

As we sat there for the next hour, he slept. He was so out of it. According to my co-workers, he was dying, and all they could say to me was "I'm so sorry".

After you've spent time in the veterinarian field, the death of an animal doesn't sting as much. Well, as long as it's not your animal.

But as I held him, counting his breathes, one every ten seconds, I prayed for wisdom. I also prayed that I wouldn't have to make the decision to end his life. I prayed that he would just slip away in his sleep.

And then, just like that, I knew it wasn't his time. Typically, my gut instinct is off. Like, way off. I don't often trust it. But this time, I did.

After making my decision that it was not his time to go, at least here in the clinic, I opted to take him home in the hopes that he could pass away there in a warm, loving environment.

Everyone told me that at the very least, I had provided him five days of love and that he would pass away warm and not afraid.

Some comfort.

Driving home, I had honestly never cried so hard nor had I ever prayed so earnestly before.

Once we got home, I laid him in the sunlight, praying once more for a peaceful passing in his sleep. And yet, he continued to breathe.

He seized twice more, the latter one lasting for one minute and thirty seconds. He then fell into a deep sleep on my chest for hours. I studied for school and intermittently prayed. My prayers were sort of a non stop "Heal him or let him die with me" plead.

At one point, starved, I got something to eat and he apparently smelt my food and actually lifted his head to see what I was eating, seemingly if you will, waking up from the trance that he had been in, the spell that had been making him so sick.

He got up. He walked around. He ate. He started acting like a kitten, but he had done that to me in the past, so I wasn't confident that he was miraculously better.

But as the days and weeks have passed, his seizures have stopped. His viral and bacterial infections began to clear. His nose became unclogged, his gait more steady. He began to play. He learned how to use the litter box (no easy feat training him). He figured out how to run, how to hiss, how to properly bathe, how to act according to his feline nature.

He got his first vaccines yesterday and was given a total clean bill of health, heralded as the miracle kitten. Oh, and he weighs a whopping two pounds now; right on track for his age.

So was it prayer? Does God heal animals from their afflictions?

You, of course, will come to your own conclusion, but let this be said:
  • He was very ill, with no hope of improving.
  • He had an overabundance of prayers said on his behalf.
  • He stopped seizing, with literally no explanation "why". I worked with four veterinarians on this case.
I introduce to you:

Jack Lazarus Spitz (he has an affinity for spitting at animate and inanimate objects, true to his feral nature).

Praise the Lord.

James 5:16 "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Code blue

I watched a man die tonight.

In a way, I feel partially responsible. While I know this is completely untrue and irrational, the guilt remains.

From the time I first learned CPR at the age of 17 to present day, I've wanted to be a part of the resuscitative efforts of a patient.

A few weeks ago, I participated in final practicals for EMT students and part of their practical exam was that midway through the "call" the patient goes into cardiac arrest and out comes the CPR dummy. Being the assistant to the student being tested, I performed fake CPR multiple times, thinking that in the two years I've been healthcare provider CPR certified, this is the closest I'd get to actual cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

As my summer has progressed working in the emergency department, I admit, I'd always day-dream about the opportunity for a real live CPR in progress case. Whenever a cardiac patient would present, I'd think to myself "Is this it? Is this person going to code?"

Today, I didn't want to work. I don't like working weekends and I was not in the mood to spend the whole day indoors. Strangely enough, I found myself taking mental notes throughout the day; what I'd blog about if something emergent actually happened. We had the routine emergency visits; lacerations, back pain, nausea, motor vehicle accidents, but nothing to really get the long desired adrenaline rush.

This afternoon during my downtime, I went through the stacks of paper held inside one of the desks in the emergency department. The first paper to catch my eye was the Organ Donor Authorization form. As I scanned through it, marveling at the morbidity of getting to choose eyes, various organs, and tissues, I admit: I thought to myself there was no chance I'd ever actually see that form being filled out.

And then the call.

Dispatch paged EMS to a local hotel, stating "CPR in progress".

Initially, I thought I misunderstood. CPR? Watching EMS rush out the door though, I knew that this would be the call.

Setting the trauma room up, I asked the nurse what to expect, what a code is like. She explained how it would be chaotic and oftentimes there would be more help than needed. Pulling out the bag valve mask, we discussed protocol and then, we waited.

Over the radio, EMS stated they were on their way, the patient was bradycardic, but that CPR was in progress. They said to expect them in four minutes.

It was a long four minutes.

The ambulance finally pulling into the bay, I hear the patients wife screaming "Baby, come back! You can do this, I love you so much. Come back baby, we need you".

One paramedic is on the side of the stretcher, doing CPR.

The patient is unresponsive, skin tone is gray.

A rush of staff; on hand we have lab, x-ray, multiple nurses, EMS staff and of course, the doctor. The scene of a code is maddening; people yelling, IV's being started, CPR being done, drugs being injected into the patient and the cardiac monitor screaming, seemingly more amplified than ever.

The patient is quickly hooked up to what is called an AutoPulse, a machine that in basic terms, wraps around the patient's chest, compresses, inflates and does CPR. Next to the patient, a bag valve mask is hooked up and every six seconds, we breathe for the patient.

Thump, thump, thump. CPR in progress. Everyone is talking over each other, orders being shouted left and right. "Get the piggy back tubing!" "Get the coflex!" "Got an arterial stick over here!" "It's been two minutes, check his pulse".

Checking both carotid and radial pulse, there was nothing. CPR was resumed.

Stepping out of the room to grab something, his wife grabs me, screaming "Please! Tell me if he has a pulse! I need to know! I can handle it if he doesn't have one. If I were in that room, I'd bring him back to life". I tell her we're doing all we can, well knowing that this man is pulseless. She starts screaming, pacing, crying out to God that this can't be happening.

I enter the room again, and nothing has changed. Glancing up at the monitor, I see that he has a "pulse" but this is only due to the CPR being performed. His rate changes from tachycardic to asystolic. Every two minutes, he's re-evaluated for a pulse, every time I expect to feel something, but there is nothing.

His skin remaining gray, I look at his face. In between the tubes, the suctioning, the bag valve mask, I see a man who is no longer there; his blue eyes non-responsive. He is intubated, but no matter what is done, no matter what drug is infused into him, there is no pulse.

His wife enters the room, CPR efforts still in full progress. She is instructed to stand in the corner and an EMT hands over the bag valve mask to me, instructing me to breathe for the patient. And every six seconds, I squeeze that bag, hoping that at some point, he will return, that at some point, his heart will beat for him, that his respirations will resume.

The doctor tells his wife that his pupils are unresponsive, thus indicating no brain activity. She rushes to her husband's side, kissing his face, telling him that he needs to live, he can do this, they have grandchildren, that God has too many wonderful plans for him on this earth and that he can't leave her, not now, not yet. She cries "You can't leave me baby, you didn't say goodbye to me. You can't leave me!"

I squeeze the bag. His wife jumps up and yells "He's breathing! I felt it!" But it was me who was breathing for him.

Moments later, the wife announces "This is a dream, this isn't happening".

And then, the code is called.

CPR is stopped.

I stop ventilation.

The machines are turned off.

Staff quickly exits the room.

And suddenly, it's the wife, her now truly deceased husband, the doctor, the nurse and me. The wife announces that she needs her family to come in, to say goodbye.

In a truly heart wrenching moment, family members stream in, crying, yelling, pouring over this man, mourning his untimely loss.

In the following moments, the police arrive, victims advocate comes to meet with the family, the coroner is called.

I help prepare his body for organ donation.

I continually check his chest, feel his arm, squeeze his hand, hoping that maybe he'll come back. Maybe he'll be one of those crazy ER stories of "the guy who came back to life" after dying.

But he's gray. And he's cold. Rigor mortis is apparent.

Closing his eyes and placing a wet gauze over them for possible donation, I say goodbye to a man I never knew.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thirty years and two hundred pounds on me

I've been traumatized.

I'm never going to be okay again, ever.

I also now know what kind of man I attract.


There I was, having a nice day at the vet clinic.

A couple hours earlier, I had a conversation with what you'd call an eccentric man. May I give you a description of this man? Unfortunately, the description I give won't even touch the surface. Just picture someone you find to be incredibly unattractive and then times that by oh, a trillion.

  • 50+ years old.
  • Overweight. Beer gut.
  • Straggly, greasy, greying hair.
  • Wearing a felt hat with a feather attached.
  • Beard. You know the kind of beard he had, if you're following my description.
He's wearing a sleeveless shirt, and on his left upper arm is an orange bear, in mid roar, looking as threatening as only an orange bear can.

He approaches me and asks how long I've worked at the vet clinic, and then asks if I'm planning on becoming a veterinarian. I recite my script (because I'm asked this question weekly) and go into my story about how yes, I work at a vet clinic, but I'm actually an EMT planning on becoming a nurse, etc etc.

He tells me about his days as a cop and mentions an ex-girlfriend who couldn't stand the sight of blood. He also mentions how he rescued a woman's life once by holding pressure on an artery after she'd been in a horrible wreck.

I was so impressed.

So, he leaves and I think nothing of our meeting.

He returns, hours later, breezes in the door and asks "did you miss me?"

I jokingly said yes.

And thus, my downhill journey.

He begins by telling me that I should come down to his farm in Berthoud and "help take care" of his animals.

I was in an honest mood today, and told him no, that's too far away.

He tries to entice me to come to his farm, telling me he even has a "two story house". 

Be still, oh beating heart of mine!

I again reply no thanks.

So then he asks, "are you single?"

I give him the truth. Cursed honesty!

He then says "Hey so am I!"

Oh gee!!!!

Let's stop here and see what thoughts are going through my mind:
"Oh please no. Please God, anything but this. Let this be a joke, a silly bet, ANYTHING."

But no. This was no joke. He then says, "I should get your number. Let's go out to dinner"

Hint: hillbilly's are not my type.

Time stops. The world comes to an end.

Or so I wished.

Dinner? DINNER?!? Dude! LOOK AT YOU! You're ancient! You have a hat with a feather sticking out of it! You've got an orange bear on your arm!  

(As one co-worker said afterwards: "Sarah, he's got thirty years and two hundred pounds on you.")

I quickly decline this oh so wonderful dinner invitation.

And what do you do in moments when you've been shot down? You make it even MORE awkward!!!!!!

What does my gracious asker-outer say?

"Oh you're cold. You're cold. You are cooooooold".

Silence ensues. I mean really, what in the world can I say?

Me and Andy
Enter: Andy! The one, true love of my life.

Andy and I have been friends since I first met him almost five years ago. He's been with me through thick and thin.

So, Andy comes along, and in his usual treat begging fashion, comes alongside me and stares at this man who is making things worse with every passing second.

This man, seizing on the opportunity, says that Andy would want me to go out with him.

No. No he would not!!!

As he's making Andy go nuts, and continues to give me a hard time for saying no, I then decide to cut my losses and walk away.

Actually, more like run away.

A woman told me last week she'd set me up with her son, but after discovering my age, she changed her mind and said "You're too old."

I finally understand what she meant!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dead bodies

I was warned that seeing cadavers would affect me in ways unthought of. Surprisingly, it wasn't their exposed muscles, their organs that were passed around, or their faces seemingly frozen from those final moments before death.

You know what got to me?

Their hands. 

The skin had not been dissected from the cadavers. The first person I examined was a ninety-one year old woman who had perfect long manicured nails. Her skin was dotted with age spots, and her hands, oh her hands looked as fresh as the day she died, pardon the morbidity. 

The second cadaver, a seventy-something man also had hands that strangely enough evoked emotion. On his right index finger was a band-aid; he had died with it on and it was never taken off of him. That band-aid strangely made me think of who he was when he was alive. How did he cut his finger? On the day that he died did he happen to place that band-aid on his finger, unaware that his demise was quickly coming?

My professor told us to be respectful of the bodies we were about to see, re-named "Kate" and "Paul". Being respectful entails not making jokes they'd be"horrified" to hear if they could indeed still hear and only saying things that they'd approve of. (How am I supposed to know what perfect strangers would/would not approve of?) 

Very somber, my classmates enter the cadaver lab. Somehow I get a spot right next to our first cadaver, Kate. Her body is wrapped in towels, each section covered. Her chest is first revealed. Her first layer of skin is carefully peeled back, revealing the very thin layers of skin. Beneath that, her adipose tissue is removed. Kate had spent her life taking care of herself and her innards clearly display this. As her ribcage is removed, we see her lungs and her heart. Her heart is quite enlarged. Cause of death: congestive heart failure. 

Next comes her organs: stomach, liver, gallbladder, large and small intestines. We pass around her liver, and random fact: the liver is a pretty huge organ. 

Out comes her small intestines, and we stretch them around the length of the room, approximately twenty feet. 

We examine her uterus and ovaries; apparently it's pretty impressive that she still had them at the age of 91 though it is speculated that she never had children. 

Kate also had a hip replacement, but it looked more bionic than anything else.

Her brain is later passed around and there is evidence that she had a small brain tumor that she likely never even knew about.

Paul is next. He was a large man both in height and in weight. All I knew about him was that he was a man who did not take care of his body, and his innards truly did not lie. As we peeled back the skin from his still hairy chest, the first thing I saw were his lungs. They were black. Non-smokers will have some black tinge to their lungs from everyday pollution exposure, but this man's lungs were solid black; it is unknown how long he was a dedicated smoker.

Paul also had many broken ribs and the bruises and burns on his chest were indicative of CPR and defibrillator efforts.

As Paul's heart was passed around, I finally got a chance to hold his heart in my hands. It was surreal. It also gave that phrase a new meaning.

As we progressed through his body, there was evidence of fatty liver disease, cysts on his kidneys, and more surprisingly, the size of his stomach. Text book stomach measurements are eight inches in diameter. Paul's stomach was more like a foot and a half long. Also, his intestines were madly disproportionate--the large intestines were huge, the small intestines too small and short.

As we went back and forth between Paul and Kate, I couldn't help but wonder what sort of life they had lived. Why they decided to donate their body to science. What it was like for them to die.

All too soon though, cadaver lab was over. We pieced the cadavers back together putting organs, ribs, and skin back in their respective places. 

Dead bodies are weird. Especially their hands.

"You are a person and then you cease to be a person, and a cadaver takes your place." 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Timing is everything

My day started off fun. I got a jolly email from my bank saying "You got charged a fee!" then another email stating again "You got charged (another) fee!" Okay, so I've been pretty poor lately. After almost dying from influenza back in April and then taking some time off for my brother's wedding, my bank account was never the same.

I promptly called the bank and all my not-so-friendly customer service guy would tell me is that I need to consider getting over-draft service (gee thanks buck-o) and that he'd "work with me" on the charges, because, well, it wasn't entirely all my fault. When I inquired how I could get the charges taken off (this was after all, my first time ever getting back to back charges for insufficient funds) he said not so kindly, "I just told you I'd work with you" So I guess that means.....?

After that dandy start, I went to school. It was pretty dulls-ville. I dissected a cat for the millionth time, took a look at my classmates' dissected cats, and took my lab-partner's blood pressure (the guy who isn't happy about anything. Seriously.)

Today though, I had an important meeting to attend after class.

Last night, as I was studying the veins and arteries in the body (thrill a minute, let me tell you), I got a phone call.

The phone call was from the director of the Emergency Department. She wanted to know if I was still interested in doing seasonal EMT work for them. After my botched interview in April, I had begun to think that all the time I had spent pouring over my studies to become an EMT were perhaps in vain, and that my next best chance at getting to work in the medical field would be after I had become a nurse (about 2.5 million years from now).

So as my non-interview finally transpired, I was simply asked if I want to be an ER tech. DO I WANT TO BE AN ER TECH?!? I have dreamed of this since before I became a certified EMT!

Even more important:
Did I actually not botch my job interview?

And so, I have accepted the job. I was informed that in addition to taking vitals and getting a medical history, I will also be starting IV's, doing blood draws, and.....doing CPR when necessary!

Of course, then I realized that the hospital actually trusts me with people's lives and then admittedly, I got a little nervous realizing how important my job will be. But, this is what I have been waiting for.

So, if you feel like you're dying, head on over my way.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I'm not superstitious. But today, Friday the 13th, has been a day from h-e double hockey sticks.

Here's a glimpse at my day:

Work. Always fun.

My first few calls of the day were frantic pet owners calling because today was the day to put down their pets. It's always so hard distinguishing what is being said in between the sobs. I schedule one euthanasia in between appointments--a huge no no because of the typical chaos, but this was a bit of an emergent situation.

She comes in right before the tidal wave of calamity hits.

While her cat is being euthanized, everyone in the world comes in to the clinic. Lest you be fooled, the reception area is not large enough to hold the entire world's population.

One woman comes in with her dog and does not like the placement of the chairs, so she does the most logical thing: she drags a chair clear across the floor, with the chair screeching along, similar to the sound of nails on a chalk board.

Enter: the family with four large dogs. A wild time is had by all.

While the front reception area is filling up, the door to the exam rooms is closed because of the eternal euthanasia that is taking place behind closed doors. As a result, we're re-directing people back into the animal treatment area.

Meanwhile, my phone is ringing off the hook. People are staring at me. There is complete chaos everywhere. Typical phone conversations today go like this:

"Um yeah, hi. Iiiiiiii neeeeeeeeeed toooooooooo briiiiing innnn myyy doooooggggg......."
"Ok, what do we need to see them for?"
"uhhhhhhh....Iiiiiiiii thiiiink heeeeeeee haaaaaaasssss ________" and then they go into some wild story about something that I really have no idea what they're talking about that certainly has nothing to do with the problem in question. Trying to steer them back in the general direction of normality is a long forgotten thought.

Finally, the door that leads to the exam rooms is opened, but the owner of the cat has opted to stay in the room with their deceased pet. For four hours. Literally. That means unknowingly, people are walking by a woman and her dead cat to enter the second exam room.

Things calm down. In walks dapper young man. When he had called to make his appointment today, I said I was looking forward to seeing his puppy again and he said "Likewise. I mean, uh, you too, uh, yeah. See you"

So he's got the cutest chocolate lab puppy, and all things considered, he's a pretty nice guy. Except I found out recently that he threatened to beat my brother up many years ago, so it's pretty swell having this piece of secret information on him. I'm not going to tell him I know about his sordid past. Besides, he treats me great. Way to make things awkward by saying "Hey! Remember when you were a punk, back in the day?"

As he's checking out, he begins to test out the waters, first by saying that I can help the people behind him because he's got some things to ask me. 

My response: ?!?

Most every time I talk to an attractive young man, I feel like a buck tooth hillbilly with no ability to impress what-so-ever. I start thinking "Do I have food on my face? Are there things stuck in my teeth? Why did I wear this outfit today?" I'm very self conscious, contrary to popular belief.

He doesn't ask me, but tells me that we should go hiking sometime. I've noticed guys are very unique in their approach towards woman: some straight out ask, some hint, some are direct, some are indirect. It's all a jumbled mess. (And yes, I know: females do the same). As he's leaving, he tells me that he'll stop by in a few weeks to discuss hiking. You're going to do what? 

Guys, I've noticed, like to leave as little room as possible for girls to say no. Boys. So tricky.
After he leaves, I check in on the woman sitting with her deceased cat. I walk into the room, hand her a water bottle and proceed to talk to her about life in general. It struck me though as odd, (and slightly creepy) when we're both petting her cat who is lying quite dead on the table. She tells me "This is the longest I've ever been able to pet her! In the past, she would always bite me. This is nice" Yeah, I love petting dead cats, too. Favorite past time.  I kept expecting the cat to move. But what am I to do? There is no easy exit here. So we chat for an hour about death. Utterly uplifting.

She left with her cat, but hours later, another family member came back, dead cat in tow to shave off some of her fur for a keepsake. Did I mention they laid her body on the front counter? Excuse me ma'am; please don't put your purse down on this here counter. We had a dead cat here earlier getting a haircut. 

 Among other things that happened on this gem of a day:
  • Somehow, my debit card "floated out" of my pocket while on my lunch break and some men who were cleaning the sidewalk (who cleans sidewalks?) found it and returned it to me in a completely mysterious fashion.
  • A woman with a full blown goatee came into the clinic to buy some dog food.
  • A woman with many missing teeth came in to schedule her dog for a dental because dental care is "vital" 
  • I called a woman to remind her of her dog's upcoming surgery and she told me she couldn't, just couldn't talk to me or take a message. Then she disconnected. Mind you, she was an elderly lady.

 That's Friday the 13th for you. No men in hockey masks, but my goodness. I should have stayed home today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm disgusting

Everyone does it. 

I know I'm not alone.

Have you ever purposefully avoided someone? Pretended you didn't see them or worse yet, seen someone you really didn't want to see and ran away from them, fast as your little legs can carry you? Twice in the last thirty days, an individual (whom I considered myself friends with) has ran for the hills upon realizing that I was in the same room as them. What I have done to them, I cannot fathom. It's awkward. I mean, what do you do about that? "Hey pal! Where ya headed off to?"

But, what goes around, comes around. 

Grinning FaceThere are two extremes that you ought to know about me. The first is, if I see you, and I really want to talk to you, I will turn into something akin to this picture on your right.

However, if I really don't want to see you, this is what will happen:

The above is an example of what I tried to accomplish this morning. I saw someone today that admittedly, I didn't really feel like talking to. So, I made a joke out of it, largely because that's how I handle awkward moments. I laughed, they laughed, and we all went on our way, laughing. No harm done. Right?


An hour later, I get a text from the person in question. 
The following is verbatim, spelling errors and all.

"Si for now, u pretty much said I'm disgusting uh?"

I thought he was joking, really I did. So I texted back:

"Unfortunately. Sad day." 
Okay, so in hindsight, this was not an intelligent response. Shoot me.

You ready for his response?

"Well, in that case u maybe the one disgusting, but ur not able to see it, and u think that other people is, I think you need to see ur doctor"


Moving on with my day, I see my old African friend. (read this if you are confused) . After telling me how much he appreciates that I am always happy amidst all the unhappy people that he interacts with, he tells me, solemnly:

"You deserve everything you want. I'm serious. You'll get it."

You hear that, guys? I'm going to get everything I want! I'm making my list now

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Interviews and Gonorrhea

Does anyone like job interviews?

Has anyone noticed that primarily what job interviews are is puffing yourself up in the presence of a potential employer to show them that not only are you great, you're also the best in your field (or have the potential), you love everything about life, and pretty much, you have absolutely no faults. At all. I once told an interviewer when asked "what is your biggest weakness?" "My biggest weakness is that I care too much".


So I had a job interview today that I'm pretty sure that I will not be getting the position.

I walked into the Emergency Department, and while I am still currently employed there, I haven't worked there since November. I tell admitting who I am and then I take a seat, and I get those "I want to run away/hurl/vanish" feelings because little known secret: I get nervous really pretty easily. And when I get nervous, I turn into a foreign version of myself.

For example:

  • My hands shake like a well advanced Parkinson's patient
  • My heart beats about 1,000,000 beats per minute. Maybe more.
  • That thing called "butterflies" in your stomach? I must have a butterfly infestation that threatens my life.
  • I can't stop talking. I become this chatty Kathy, and start spewing off random information that no one cares about.
  • If you think I smile a lot normally, you should see me when I'm dying from nervousness. It's like my facial muscles lose connection with my brain. Muscle spasms galore. 
  • I laugh a lot more, even at things that really aren't all that hilarious. I'll catch myself and be like "SARAH! GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF!"
It's really quite terrible. And it's not just in job interviews that this happens; no. This happens whenever I meet with someone I don't really know. I know the party in question leaves wondering how such a demented person could make it so far along in life.

But I digress.

So the interview progresses and the first question is:

"Tell us about yourself. Is that a question you're comfortable answering?"

I blab on for decades about who I am before I realize these people don't care who I am; they merely want to see if I am qualified for the job. 

Then: "If you were going to advertise yourself in the newspaper, what three words about you would be in bold?"
I would never advertise myself in the paper. Why the heck would I ever do that?

So I say, after much thought, with my two interviewers staring at me, "Honest....compassionate...dependable"

"If you absolutely had to choose between working in the ambulance and working in the Emergency room, which would you pick?"

This is where I blow it. I say, "Emergency room". I am asked why. I say some sort of nonsense about liking the environment and everyone working together in unison. 

Have I mentioned which position I was applying for? 

It's a job on an AMBULANCE. Not in the emergency room which has, in the past, bored the living daylights out of me. 

I was then asked, if I've spent any time in the back of an ambulance. I flash back to one of my clinical's back in EMT school when I spent almost the entire day sitting in one, chatting with a paramedic. 

After some more awkward "why I am so great" questions and answers, I am then asked to come down to the ambulance director's office for an "activity".

The activity? Starting an IV and doing a blood draw on a fake hand. It's been over a year since I started an IV. My first thought? 

I can't do this! What's a needle? What's an IV? What's a vain?!?

I take a moment, and then, just go with it. I had learned in anatomy that it takes a person a couple hundred times of repetition to get an action down so that they don't have to think about what they're doing. The action is solidified if you go over the steps in your mind. Lord knows last year I went over how to start an IV about a billion times for a moment such as this one.

Grabbing the fake hand, I start reciting the steps, announcing too, that above all else, I'd be wearing gloves. (Thanks EMT school. BSI forever).

And then, I go. I get my materials ready, I clean the area, pull traction, insert my needle (with hands shaking),  and.....nothing. There's supposed to be a flash of blood, but all this fake hand has is deadness. I'm assured that this is okay, and to pretend that Mr. Hand has had quite a nice flash. I extract the needle and then proceed to draw fake blood that doesn't actually come out. Finally, I flush out the area and proceed to tape the IV, but....there's no tape. This is probably the worst fake IV and blood draw ever.

Have I also mentioned that during this test there is a steady flow of EMS personnel filtering through the incredibly small office staring at me? 

Quite soon though, I am on my way with promises that they'll "be in touch" 



Before I end, I do have one more small tidbit of a story to share.

My microbiology class had an awkward lab to do today.

Titled "How did I catch THAT???" My classmates and I each had to carry around a beaker filled with what was pretend body fluid. We had to randomly choose three people in which to....erhm...."sleep with" and exchange body fluids. 

Unfortunately, one person was, unknowingly, "positive" for gonorrhea and so by sharing their beaker of fluids with their three partners and so on, good ol' gonorrhea would be spread around, because in this instance, everyone was, well, you know....

Turns out, with the addition of the additive Phenolphthalein, we could readily test the beakers of fake body fluids and see who got gonorrhea because the fluids would turn bright pink. In turn, it would also (hopefully) be able to be traced back to the original carrier.

All my "partners" tested positive, which means, they spread it to their successive partners, which means that yours truly was the secret carrier of this STD. 




Higher education. Always edifying.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rock on

The mountain man/hippie type:



Beard. Big beard.

Hair. Long hair.

- - -
Work started out wild today. In between a tail amputation and a woman almost going ballistic because she was sick of caring for her allergy prone dog, my favorite co-worker, Kim, on a whimsical moment, handed me a fake diamond ring to wear when most needed.

Tucking it into my pocket, I soon forgot about it, lost in the hectic Monday.

Mountain Man!

He is a relatively kind fellow, who loves [adores!] his wolf mix dog. However, she is getting up in her years, and he has decided of late that he wants to adopt a malamute puppy.

I try to be generic and converse with him but our initial conversation goes like this: (me in purple, he in blue)

"Hi! How are... good are you? you?
"I'm great! How is... How is work? ...your dog?"

As you can see, completely jumbled. And awkward. I don't like having mixed up conversations.

Cautiously avoiding his ever longing gaze (trust me, I know what I'm talking about here) he hands me his business card saying that he wants me to call him should I ever get the low down on a malamute puppy for sale.

Then, slipping it into the same sentence, he tells me to hey, just give him a call if I ever get:
A) Lonely
B) Bored
C) Hungry

He'll "entertain me".

Immediately, visions of a creepy cabin in the woods enters my mind.

A silence ensues. I stare at his beard. His long hair. His beard again.

I decide, facial hair is weird.

Then I do the most logic thing; I change the subject back to puppies. I wish, in this moment that I was wearing my faux diamond ring.

If ever questioned, (as I often am to my relationship status), I could quip:
"Yes, my non existent boyfriend gave it to me"

It would work charms! Wonders!

But alas. We talked about puppies. We talked about finding puppies on craigslist. We talked about exchanging a puppy for blown glass. (He's a glass blower).

Upon leaving, Mountain Man asks my name. I tell him and he says:

"Rock on"

Indeed, friends.

Rock. On.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the brink

So there I was, tra-la-la-ing along, entering a commonly known store. A day like any other, I had just successfully completed my first microbiology exam, and had finished a rather pleasant meeting with a friend.

The sun was shining, the weather was warm, I was happy.

As I'm entering the store, intent on getting a few items, an employee approaches me, waving and smiling.


Now this man has occasionally tried to converse with me, and sometimes I've gotten the impression that he thinks we know each other. We do not.

I try to go on my way, but he blocks me, and grabs my hand. He doesn't let go readily. I had to pry my digits away from this insane man.

Going from bad to worse, he hugs me.


I try, oh I try to pull away. But this guy isn't letting go anytime soon. So, I pull back, stepping back. I'm trying to run away, trying to move. but he won't let me.

HELP! 911! Axe murderer!

He starts talking, asking how I've been. I tell him I'm great, busy with school.

Meanwhile, my mind is racing, thinking of ways I can run away.

Suddenly, I get a text! He starts laughing and says "Ghost Buster's theme? I like it!"

....except that I don't have a Ghost Buster themed text message sound on my phone.

I keep ending the conversation, trying to walk away, but he's literally trying to keep me there, even introducing himself to me, and shaking and not letting go of my hand.

Literally pulling away from his grasp I turn in a last ditch effort to get away from him, I start walking. He meanwhile says it was "great seeing me". Speed walking away (running would look too frantic, but in hindsight, perhaps I should have), I quickly breeze through the store, thoroughly disgusted, grossed out, and creeped out (among many, MANY other things) and buy hand sanitizer. I put so much on that I actually rubbed some on my face just to kill any microbes from Mister Creeper.


So two options here:

I'm getting a body guard
I'm moving to the middle of no where and never leaving my home. Ever. Ever.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Just in time for Valentines day!!!

The semester is off to a rip-roaring start.

My lab partner in microbiology has a bit of what you would call an attitude and spends most of our lab days arguing with the instructor and getting annoyed at the world of microscopic entities. In addition, she admits she's a "terrible lab partner" because of her "impatience", but that's beside the point. I'm used to her yelling at me, and then asking if we can hang out sometime. She also told me last week that she "has a lot of hate in her heart", but don't worry folks, we've discovered that she does much better if she steps out and smokes as I set up the experiment on our bi-weekly lab days. No biggie.

But the biggest--and best event thus far of the semester is the addition of my newest friend, a short in stature somewhat pudgy man directly from Africa. His accent is so thick I scarcely can understand a word that he is saying, and I oftentimes find myself mindlessly nodding to whatever he says to give the impression that I am pleasantly polite. But it's getting better.

By now, if you've read some of my adventures, you should know that I often find myself in unique and strange situations. Never once have I initiated contact with this man, but wouldn't you know; I think I've got a new admirer.

It began with a whole lot of staring. I'm lucky because this man is in all my classes, so I get the opportunity to get stared at a lot by him. It's like a set routine: wake up, drive to school, go to class, get stared at, drive home.


But one day as I entered my micro classroom early, so early there was only two other people including my African pal, he says to me:
"How is she?!?"

I look around. She?

I ask him to repeat himself, and he gestures towards me and says "how is she?!?"

Aah. She. Me. Of course. I respond that I am well, and then sit down directly two rows and diagonal to where he sits. Plenty of time to have the back of my head studied!

Shortly before class begins, a hand taps my shoulder. I turn around, slightly spooked because well, I don't really like people touching me when I don't expect it.

Anyhow, it's my new pal, telling me that I've dropped my scarf, but that's he retrieved it for me.

Be still my beating heart.

A few days later, there we are in class, my "heart full of hate" lab partner in full fledged fury because the bacteria we had tried to grow was a complete and utter failure.

I make way to the back of the classroom to wash my hands, and am stopped by my comrade who asks me how the bacterial growth experiment is going. I explain that it is not so good; no microbes were able to be viewed.

He then tells me that:

"I am so pure" that if we as a class were to do a buccal swab (cheek swab) that there would be absolutely nothing to be seen under the microscope. You see friends, I am apparently without germs. Without cells. Without.....anything but purity.

Dot, dot, dot.

I mean really, what do you say to that? "Gee thanks!" or "glad you think so!"

The weekend passes, and here I am, back in school today on an arctic cold, snowy day.

Side note and random Sarah fact: When I get super cold, my lips turn blue. Yes, blue. No lie. It's really attractive looking.

But anyhow, my micro teacher lectures for a million hours about the electron transport chain and then at long last, we get a ten minute break. Seizing the opportunity, I step out into the hall to get a drink of my fantastic ice tea.

No bueno. Old cohort is there, looking at the window. Right next to my bottle. Can I drink it real quick without him noticing me? Should I turn the other direction?

Alas, my thinking was not quick enough.

He asks me if I am warm. I reply "no, I am cold", easily seen through my blue lips and crossed arms, trying desperately to maintain body heat. It is a battle I am always losing.

He tells me that I live in the wrong area. A chuckle is shared. He tells me that I would "really like Africa" and proceeds to tell me how in Africa, you can be "warm and hot at the same time" and just continually pour out sweat from every area of the body that is capable of sweating.

I stare blankly at him. He gathers that sweating profusely is not my idea of paradise. He then asks me, what weather do I crave? I reply simply that the weather I like is one where I can wear a short sleeve shirt without being cold. I'm not asking for the world here.

He asks where I live. I tell him. He then proceeds to tell me how he would really like to visit my town.

Another moment of silence ensues.

He asks how to pronounce my name. Is it pronounced "Sar-ha or "Sar-ah" ? I tell him how I typically pronounce my name, but tell him that how other's pronounce my name is completely up to them. He tells me that he will make sure to pronounce my name correctly and will be sure to always remember it.

As our conversation goes on, (bet you didn't know that ten minutes could go on so long) another girl joins our conversation. I want to hug her.

He asks, looking pointedly at me, how we study. The girl who has joined the conversation says she only studies alone because group studying is only for people who are slacking off in class and whom are looking for all the answers without any of the work. I'm somewhat inclined to agree, and pipe in how I really don't enjoy the people who, ten minutes before the exam, ask for deep and complex subjects to be explained in total and complete detail.

This makes him laugh. And laugh and laugh and then he tells me how funny I am. True. I am pretty hilarious.


Making our way back into the classroom, we sit for another thirty hours as it's explained how to identify the bacteria of the family enterobacteriaceae. In case you're dying to know what that is: (

At long last, we set up for the experiment, and in a moment of pure love, he hands me the distilled water we'll need for the experiment. I say "for me?" and he tells me "Of course. Who else?"

I think I'm the luckiest woman possibly ever.

Try not to be jealous.