Saturday, April 11, 2020

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

I alluded to the weird temp checks yesterday. I am usually over 97, but often under, and as Hays claimed, sometimes incompatible with life. Someone in the gross room told me they were doing it wrong. They hold the thermometer up to our foreheads, not touching it, just shy of it, measuring. I hear it is more accurate if they do it around the ear - preauricular. Someone told me in another county they are placing the wand in the ear - that sounds much more accurate. Nevertheless, my hospital has impressed me. We are on top of it.

Everyday, I walk to the doctor's screening station near day surgery. Prior to getting temp screened, I am required to hand sanitize. Then I answer the questions as they look up my name and fill out my temp and answers in a large notebook. After this is done, I am allotted a surgical mask and a pair of gloves. I've been hoarding them in a drawer at work - and recently brought home four masks for my family for excursions to the grocery store. Yesterday Cecelia's car battery died, and we instructed her to go to Goodyear up the hill to get it fixed. I texted her "Wear a mask, when you walk into the store. It makes everybody feel more comfortable, these days."

I"m in a group text with seven gals - most of whom I only met a few weeks ago when the Cher concert we planned on attending was canceled so we gathered instead to drink and sing and play Cards Against Humanity. That night seems like a year ago. If anything intangible can be called lifesaving I would claim this group text. These gals are nothing short of massively supportive and overall hilarious. With their support, sharing memes and suggestions of where to buy toilet paper and what to cook for dinner - I sail through my day. We've been sharing selfies of ourselves in masks for our rare forays out in the community to support our families. We plan to gather when all this is over, our party plans involve food and drinks and arts and crafts and we will continue to plan for the entire quarantine which ensures the most well prepared potluck of the decade.

My ex has been pretty stressed out as an anesthesiologist. I feel it is my job to support him for my kids, and hell we were married for 13 years so I still worry for him and his new family. I mentioned he joined a team of docs and is cross training in the ICU for our peak. Four of his partners were furloughed. He proudly sent me a pic of himself the other night in full on N97.7. I laughed out loud. He looked like an astronaut!! Double gloved, face shield incorporated into the outfit, swathed in protective baby blue hazmat suit. Smiling behind the face shield. It's the first time I've seen him smile in two weeks. He proclaimed in text that his specialty is the only one in the hospital that get's N97.7, and that he is the envy of the pulmonologists. My biggest concern was comfort. I texted - "Is that hot??!!" He reassured me that there was a blower and a fan incorporated in the suit and one of them blew directly on the back of his head.

My hospital issued a hospital wide dictum over e-mail at the end of the day on Wednesday recommending PPE eyewear in addition to the masks. I was a holdout on the masks, just going to frozens this week, but relented when I started getting, as one of the girls in the gross room aptly put it, dirty looks in the hallway. I still start off going down the hallway mask free - remember, and then run back to my office to grab it. Another learning curve. I like the ones that tuck in behind your ears more than the ones with ties - they take too long. I often rip it off my ear with a sigh of relief to call the results of the frozen to the surgeon. I wondered the other day where to get PPE eyewear. They recommended it even if you wear glasses.

As I walked into Baptist hospital near the day surgery entrance to get screened yesterday morning I was pleasantly surprised to be issued, in addition to my mask and gloves, protective eyewear. Daily masks, N97.7s for vulnerable anesthetists, -- I could rail all day long against admin but extend my kudos because they are doing an AMAZING job here. In my doc mom group text I learned that hospital administrations all over the country are shaming their doctors and nurses for wearing masks and striking down screenings in fear of losing patient business. This is absolutely insane to me. Yes, our hospital is bleeding by the millions like everyone else all over the world but I feel supported, more so than I have ever felt. It's nice.

Gotta go in for call Saturday in a couple of hours. My turn to bring donuts for staff - Melody and I have shared call for two weeks in a row and she brought them last weekend. I'm hoping it is slow but last weekend was crazy so it's hard to tell. And I'm having lots of those record rare cases that seem to creep up and attack you during stressful times in your life - cool when you see them once in a decade but a little angsty when they cluster daily in a week.

Yesterday I walked in the gross room and saw a hand. I've only seen hands one other time in my career - at Children's - bilateral there and something to do with electric shock. This was necrotizing fasciitis, and as the gross room supervisor peeled back the bandage to reveal the damage I steeled myself. We see so much here that nothing fazes me - legs, lungs, breasts, etc. all day long. But there is something about a hand that is different - it is more humanizing and the loss feels especially dire. An unfamiliar wave of low level nausea passed through my system and was thankfully quelled as I visualized the specimen.

Protect yourselves out there, the small handful of people that are actually reading this LOL. I'm no longer worrying about talking too much. It's just a freaking essay, maybe a pseudo-essay, it's not like I'm asking anyone out there to read a whole book or anything. And it's helping me. The propulsion that blindingly urged me here a few days ago is morphing into desire and calm. So for the foreseeable future, your can count on me as a regular. Happy weekend:)

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