Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Birthday

It's my son Jack's fifteenth birthday today! A quinceanera, if he was a Mesoamerican female, which he is decidedly not - he's a tall, handsome dude, but still. It's a big deal. I was reliving his birth in the shower this morning - premature membrane breakage on the early morning treadmill walk, the long stay in the hospital with that terrible medicine that stops labor - mag. I could not read or watch TV it wrecks your concentration and blurs your vision. I did get a pedicure, that was nice. Labor and delivery were easy, when it finally was time, after the surfactant. His physicality today flies in the face of his tiny birth weight. Miracles are real.

I wanted to name him Jack, but my husband at the time thought that was a nickname, so we named him John and call him Jack, after my maternal grandfather. I think it's funny that his name is John Schneider, considering I was in love with Bo Duke as a preteen. One of my first crushes. I remember listening to his cassette tape over and over one summer at the beach on the top bunk in our rental house. It wasn't really that good, but I was infatuated. I may have told you all this before, but if history repeats itself (pandemic! protests!) then so can I.

Yesterday I learned that our head transcriptionist - a magician really - her name is Tina, is having her tenth grandchild today. Which is crazy, because she could pass for someone my age. I excitedly popped out of my office and asked if they had a name. "Yes, it's a boy, he's going to be a junior. Darius. I'm calling him D.J."

Tina's husband also works at Baptist. He always smiles real big when he sees me in the hallway and greets me - he calls me doc. It's impossible not to smile back. About five years ago, I learned there was a Martin Luther King celebration at Baptist in the afternoon of that holiday. I wandered in. It was a little disheartening to see how few white people were in the room, so I vowed to attend annually if I was at work that day. Tina was there. A white reverend was the headliner, which was also disheartening, but that has been remedied in years since. I was so surprised when Tina's husband got up to sing - he has an incredible voice. She later told me that her son was one of the one's playing a musical instrument, I forget which one. But I remember him. His sheer height and bulk and pleasing visage make it impossible to forget him.  Don't tell Tina I said that, it's kind of embarrassing. But he's really cute.

I started call this week, for the first time since April, and Monday was super frozen heavy - I had eight before nine. I was bragging to one of my partners that they were all easy and karma hit me in the head when I had a really hard one at the end of the day. I was also trying to sign out my cases and my keyboard stopped working. The bluetooth light came on when I toggled the switch on the back so I thought it couldn't be the battery and kept waiting for it to connect. When it didn't I banged my hands on the keyboard in frustration.

I walked out in the transcription area when I was called for another frozen. Tina was there with one of the other transcriptionists, she had been working on a computer problem with her for over an hour. Which made me reluctant to bother her but I needed help. If this frozen was as hard as the other one, I was going to have a meltdown. After the frozen, of course. I interrupted, apologized, and explained my problem. I asked her how could she be so calm dealing with this issue for over an hour when I was banging on my keyboard after only ten minutes. She smiled and promised to look at it while I went to the gross room.

Luckily, the frozen was pretty easy. Then I got back and my keyboard was fixed. She told me it was the batteries. Of course.

Tonight after work my ex's wife is making Jack's favorite meal at her house - fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. When I asked her what I could bring she said only wine, what a relief. I wrapped some presents last night and I can't wait to go over there and give him a big birthday hug - I have to look up to him now it's the weirdest sensation on the planet. I'm so excited. Hope you have a fantastic Wednesday too. Much love, E



Thursday, May 21, 2020

Ascension Day

So I went to the Dr. Lounge for lunch. Their pizza is sooo good. I just discovered it last week. Already had sausage, sausage and veggie, and veggie. Their veggies are fresh and amazing. My brother Michael told me it was because all of the restaurants are so slow coming out of shutdown that mass servers, like hospital cafeterias, are getting the best produce around.

Today was cheese. I sat down next to Ali, an excellent and very friendly GI interventionalist. He told me about a girl he once worked with from India who was a strict vegetarian. She told him thank goodness for pepperoni pizza, it was what she lived on. He kind of did a double take, wondered if he should inform her of her error, and decided to tell her that pepperoni WAS meat. She thought it was sliced peppers or something? I wondered whether she was sad about all the meat she had eaten and he told me she was more sad about not getting to eat pepperoni pizza anymore.

We were on one end of a table full of hospitalists. One was telling a story about a husband and wife across the hall from each other who had COVID - he was taking care of them. The wife went home earlier, the husband had not yet been discharged. He walked in one morning and the husband was dressed up in a tie and jacket and was in the middle of a Zoom meeting for work. He didn't have time to talk to the doctor during the meeting. Needless to say, he was discharged that day.

Then my other good friend Eric, also a hospitalist - he and his kids live in the house that Mike and I lived in on North Spruce street years ago - told another story. He was taking care of a woman 90 years old who slipped in the tub when her 60 year old daughter giving her a bath left the room for a minute. He ended up getting into good relationship with the daughter, who was preparing for her upcoming wedding at the Capitol Hotel and enjoyed describing her wedding dress. He asked who she was marrying - she said, "Well, you know him." Eric wondered how. "He's Squidward." Turns out the voice actor who is Squidward graduated from Central High School and has made tons of money throughout his lifetime doing lots of voice acting. How cool is that? Eric pulled out his phone and showed me a picture of the wedding, you of course know the theme - the cake had a pineapple on the top and a video he showed me played the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song. Everyone was dressed formal and nice. I even caught a glimpse of the famous groom.

Ascension day is celebrated the 40th day after Easter Sunday, so it varies from year to year. It commemorates Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven according to Christian belief. Most people aren't aware of this day, I've found - I polled quite a few. The Bible says that Jesus promised the disciples that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit, and asked them to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit had come. I just copied that from Google.

Despite some snafus, we are doing relatively well with testing - I'll save some entertainment in that arena for another day. Numbers are still good at Baptist. As of yesterday (5/20/20 - I just love those days where the day matches the year - it's thrilling to write) we had 16 inpatient positives, and 2 patients on the vent. I'm sure the Arkansas data is easy to find somewhere so I won't repeat those numbers. I'm headed to my favorite place on Earth, Eureka Springs, for the long holiday weekend with my husband. New place - a cabin on Beaver Lake. I can't wait. I think I'll have a bonfire. With lots of accompanying food and drinks, of course. Happy Thursday. Much love, E


Monday, May 11, 2020

Covid-19 has Ushered in a New Era of Fashion More Suited to Ladies on the Go

I'll admit I was crushed when, the day before I was due to get my every 6-8 week highlight job, they closed the hair salons. How long would it be, I wondered, before I could get my touch up? I bought an at home bridge dye kit from my beloved hair stylist and still haven't taken the time to learn how to use it. I watched my beautifully manicured toes slowly deteriorate. Now all that's left is a couple of spots on my big toes - the rest are au naturel with my distinctly bad hurried nail clip job. I had stopped drying my hair a couple of months earlier and was reminded of how much time this saves me and my curls come out when I am not violently taming them with my Dyson hair dryer. I thought of Linda Hamilton. Not from the first Terminator, the one I saw in the theater with my Dad when it came out but the new, aged, experienced version of Linda - the one where she is in her 60's and her roots are grey and she is beset with substance abuse issues from her traumatic past but is still a righteous badass.

Would that version of me give a crap if my toes looked like they do? If my brown roots are nearing two inches, rendering my dirty blond hair much dirtier? Hell no. All those random bruises and cuts I get from bumping into things - I'm a klutz - suddenly took on a new, cooler significance. I imagined them being battle scars from fighting the evil empire over all this Covid testing - keeping the false Gods with their promise of accuracy hiding their lies and desires to make money off of this pandemic at bay. I started to show them off, be less insecure about having them. Abandoned the desire to get those roots touched up with my at home kit. Also the desire to do my own pedicure - that can wait, shouldn't be too much longer now.

I scheduled a hair appointment today for June 11 - first available that works for both myself and Deidre. I cannot wait to see her - our relationship spans about 17 years and we have become almost like armchair therapists to each other over the years. In the meantime, I'm going to embrace those roots - even Deidre texted me that roots are actually in now. I'm not going to worry about that strange piece of white that is on the cherry red polish left on my left big toe. I have wondered what it is (White out? Caulk? - None of those make sense really) and tried to pick it off to no avail. It no longer seems important, thank goodness. I see a future full of scrubs and roots and not perfect pedi's looking actually much cooler than someone who is perfectly coiffed (although it is fun to dress up sometimes and I will continue to do so if it works for me). Back to 90's grunge, with a lot more experience and know how.

Happy Monday! It's been a while. As I teach my kids, sometimes you have to put on your own oxygen mask first in order to be your best self to others. And if that best self can look shabby on the outside, it doesn't matter, because she shines on the inside. Much love, E

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

That Cartoon - Re-Learning my technical skills here

Smart and funny! Just like I like them. Keep it coming. Love, E

WHEW

Happy Friday (mine anyway). I made it. We all made it. I'm off the next 5 days, but will be coming in to get updates from Amy and to finish of some cases. Attack that admin pile. Dust.

I asked Tina to put in a work order for Don - I'd seen him in the hall this morning while I was running to a needle in CT 4. It's the last to do decorate wise except to find a sweeping large piece of art to put in front of me in the left. That will be fun to look for. So anyway, Don, a handyman with much raw and emotional intelligence, we've known each other for six years and he did projects in my other office. He was worrying about his younger wife needing surgery - luckily not anything dire or life threatening just aging necessitates that things sag and droop. Especially on women who carry a lot of babies - they get uterine prolapse sooner. Don suggested something I hadn't thought to do - put the diplomas in chronological order of my time as an SP Fellow, AP/CP resident tenures, Chief Resident cert. and finally a fellow in cytopath. A square of four rectangles. A small sum of my past, my climb to get here.

At the end of the day I went downstairs to get more snacks and drinks from the Dr. Lounge - I'm sharing a bit with the admin assistants we made a little basket in the main area so they don't have to bug me to get a treat. Hopefully the camera that is installed to watch the doctors (I saw the Eye) and curb bad behavior will think, WOW. That girl is working out so much she can eat anything she wants and needs more to sustain her these days.There weren't enough barbecue chips left (homemade in a bowl with tongs) so I looked over at the hot food that was currently being broken down for the 3:00 lockdown. Chicken Fried Chicken. I hadn't eaten that since I was still dating my husband. I got some honey mustard sauce and put it in a styrofoam container (sorry, I'll reuse the next one). Forgetting utensils and being too hungry to wait, I ate it joyfully with my hands while releasing cases. Taking care to prevent the keyboard from getting grease on it.

Writing this blog is like an after dinner cigarette, like the ones I so brazenly enjoyed in front of everyone when I was in college and dating my first husband. We were both young and foolish then. When I started medical school I cut way back on that, and tried not to use it unless I really needed it. I try not to fault the close ones in my life their oral fixation blankets anymore either. My husband chews gum all day but oh god his breath always smells so good. I used to chew a lot of gum but after my jaw broke that didn't feel the same anymore. So now I'm addicted to altoids. And I just got some new Coconut Lime Velamints that are like a Pina Colada on a hot summer's day. That doesn't sound so good with the Cherry Coke Zero, so I'll wait until I'm done with that.

See, we are all perfect, and not so perfect in different areas of our lives so we need to cut each other all a little slack. Give ourselves grace, a pat on the back for a job well done, in parenting and in our work and our creative pursuit. Signing off with much love, E

Monday, April 27, 2020

Coming Out of the Dark

Happy Monday - it's my Thursday I'm so excited. And I'm about done with this day.

Weekend was kind of crazy but talking to my husband and Alyssa helped me get through it. And I'm glad because I've got to support another friend this afternoon and evening. 

So last Friday we were working  on some alternate means of testing. We didn't know we were getting 42 test kits and the clinicians will want to get back to doing surgeries ASAP. So we ran a couple of courier routes to a lab in Joplin and a lab in Memphis - American Esoteric Laboratories (What a great name!). Now we are no longer using Viracor - we are using AEL. We can get more than one courier up there to decrease the turn around time, and like that we are bringing the work more locally.

Friday at lunch I was commiserating about something going on with me all day - hot flashes. I asked a group of women "Do you think it could be menopause?" One micro tech said it sounded like what she experienced, another said that if you go to a male OB they will offer an antidepressant. "Oh that's freaking rich! I cannot believe it, but I can. Not that there is anything wrong with antidepressants, but to give a blanket offer, ugh." I wondered if prostate docs offered antidepressants with their prostate checks. Probably not.

The other day I went to a bathroom down by the cafeteria - hadn't been there  in a while. It is a four staller. Went to the handicapped bathroom stall. This place was usually so full it was weird having it to myself. Mid stream the lights went out. It was terrifying, to be caught in the dark with my pants down. I calmed myself down quickly - these were probably on motion detectors and I could get out of my predicament if I just moved, so I did, and I was right. Little did I know it was a premonition, but we are coming out of the woods now.

Jack won an award today! He is so happy. The 8th graders take these state-wide exams - I remember C got number one on Spanish. I was so confused - "Number one at your school hon?" "No mom, the state." "Wow." Now Jack has won the mythology award, and he didn't even have to study. I told him, "That's how it is with your passion. You could be an academic and study mythology and teach." But mom, cooking is my other passion, and I still might want to be a doctor I'm not sure." "Well you could talk to Uncle Mike and Aunt Effie. And there is this cool series on Netflix that S and I watched a little while back about the chefs with Michelin Stars, and about their journeys that would be good for you to watch. What a great mash up - cooking and mythology. I'm outta here. Much love, E


Friday, April 24, 2020

Out of Alignment

Well that was another Marathon Day but at least I had a little more fortitude to weather it. Yesterday I felt like I really was Alice in Wonderland. That brought to mind a long ago gift. One that, as you can imagine, was smashed to smithereens prior to being deposited in the Baptist bathroom trash can (they are bottomless). Speaking of Baptist trash cans, a few months ago Baptist reduced our daily trash removal to weekly - only on Monday. I've heard it's been taken away for good from all offices in the hospital. I certainly don't mind taking out my own trash, we just take it across the hall and dump it in the bathroom, and there is less waste - the staff are variable and it's weird how a lot of them will try to change out the bag when there is one thing in it I have to stop them. It's just the principle, you know?


In micro I learned we are getting 42 test kits on Monday!! That's 420 tests. We got 12 test kits on our first shipment April 9, 6 on 4/10, 24 on 4/14, 12 on 4/21, and will get our biggest shipment, a projected 42 on 4/27 in time to test patients for pre-elective surgeries starting the following Monday. Shaver and the clinicians will be happy - they are all over his back.


There was something off in my scope this morning, a shadow. I can usually fiddle with it enough to fix it, but I decided to get Rex for help. "YOU want ME to come help you with your scope?" "Yup I'm outta tricks." I like Rex for his quick wit and his musical proclivities. As he sat down he proclaimed, "You really are out of alignment here." I couldn't have said it better myself. While nice this is all still a little unsettling, as you can imagine it would be for you. My easy command of ICD codes, billing codes, passwords, etc. is not quite so easy right now. The days are busy. I was pleased when it took him longer than a second for him to fix the scope (a few minutes actually).


Luckily I learned in huddle that there was no lab rep bringing lunch for lab week, as there had been all week. I quickly rushed to tell Rex so we could remedy the situation. I got the days confused. He laughed. "Well, yesterday was my Monday, so there ya go." Tina got on it and the 63 employees that are here right now got Papa John's. Talk about a time stamp. I hadn't had that since college I think. I got two sausage pieces, squirted the juice from that green pepper on the pizza then ate the pepper. Dipped the crust in  THAT GARLIC BUTTER. I had forgotten about that. Fun fact: My husband used to delivered pizza for Papa John's when he was living in Seattle. He once delivered a pizza to EDDIE VEDDER!!! Vedder forgot he ordered a pizza - it was a big compound - and he had to wait a half hour but Vedder was so apologetic and gave him a $50 tip. And he got to meet EDDIE VEDDER.


They are opening the Baptist hotel to start testing employees through Viracor today I heard. The handling of the testing in the community is being handled in part by a doctor named Amanda, AKA Mandy. She is a stunning blonde. When she agreed to be Baptist's infectious disease specialist a couple of years ago she had no idea what she was getting into. And she has like 5 kids I think some of them are adopted. She was going to start trying to test inpatients randomly and then it hit before we figured out the testing so that idea went out the window. She's doing a really good job.


Baptist e-mail platform is GroupWise, which sucks, as you probably know. It's hard to send even a PDF file and it can't handle many platforms. We migrate to Google today actually, in an hour or so it will Go Live. There have been countless e-mails about videos to watch and passwords to use when our mail migrates over but I will not watch these ever or wait around for this today I'm tired, and I want to try to do a little exercise it might be good for my head. Much love, E