Friday, March 31, 2023

The Aftermath

     When my Mom warned me about tornadoes last night I looked online and was like Meh? Not us. It's never us. Usually not. I was the teenager that drove around during tornado warnings thinking I was completely immune. Jeep top down. Ignorant as bliss. Dumb as shit. Not so much in my almost 50.

    I looked last night at the weather and it seemed to not be going to Pulaski County. I woke up at 4:00, anxious about finishing my stupid American Board of Pathology questions before the deadline. 18 of them. I always push it to the last minute. Melody, not so much, she does them right away. Different personalities. Me, peaking at the deadline, her, the ever loving amazing schoolgirl getting it all done up front.

    I was at work so early I finished my cases at 1:00. Started looking at the storm news and freaked out. It was like Hurricane Michael, which destroyed my parent's house. It went from 0-100 in a few hours. I don't like driving in storms these days. Jack called and said he was headed to NLR for an appointment and I said hell no go straight home postpone that. I called S and asked him to come to the hospital - I was covering frozens until Shaver finished a meeting and an errand.

    He thought I was being an alarmist, but I never usually am. Still, blood pressure was mounting and I took a Hydroxyzine (fancy Benadryl) to calm my chest pain. When at 2:30 Shaver finally returned to let me go he told S don't leave right now. I had already heard the secretaries talking about touch down in Chenal and the Rodney Parham Kroger. Let's just wait this out for a bit, I said.

    We decided to go to the gift shop to waste time but that was a bad idea. I had already heard they were evacuating patients at ACH (Jan's kid works there) and the front of the hospital, usually teeming with visitors, was empty. Med Towers 2 was completely in the dark (Tornado protocol? Generator failure ? No clue). I was scared walking in front of the windows, and the creepy vibe of the visitors and patients in the Med Towers huddling in the dark scrunched down in the hallway from the windows made my anxiety shoot through the roof.

    After the danger passed I just wanted to go home. But the traffic, holy hell! 430 was completely at a standstill. I know a way through Shackleford, I said. but it was completely impassable. Tried to get through Bowman to Mara Lynn to Green Mountain but it seemed like every time we got to a place to get free a shitload of cops blocked the intersection. WTF? They are making this worse, I thought, seeing cars blown into buildings at ridiculous angles. Cartoonish people making poor decisions at the defunct stoplights. Clogging up the intersections. 

    There were miracles, too, just like in the movies and TV shows. After the cops blocked up all the intersections, clownishly, forcing us into a never ending circle. Chenal was the only route home. Still agonizingly slow, but there were two adorable youngish girls directing traffic, think long neon braided hair and fancy dresses, helping us poor tired motorists at the last bottleneck in middle Chenal. I wanted to hug them.

    Lots of pics shared, in group texts. Foxcroft looks destroyed, Pavilion in the Park looks like the victim of a monsoon. Middle Chenal had trees downed everywhere. One of my micro techs, who lives near Rodney Parham has significant damage to her house. So funny how it skips things, I wondered in the traffic. Like Crohn's disease. One block intact, one part of the intestine intact, the other part annihilated. 

    So far everyone I know and love is accounted for. But the pics on FB! I hope there weren't too many casualties. What a storm. Rivercrest looks untouched. Planning long needed lazy weekend and my only work day next week is Monday. ZERO plans for Tuesday through Friday. Maybe a massage. Book reading. Speaking of, I read Demon Copperhead last week and I've read most of Kingsolver's body of work but this was definitely one of my faves. Happy Friday, much love, Elizabeth


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Low Hanging Fish

     Rage, is what I'm feeling. Past 48 hours. Full of it. Finally knocking the wind out of my sails. Can't really discuss why, sometimes you have to reign it in instead of airing your dirty laundry for the whole world (at least my 22 or so hits a post) to see. Writing is like activating the steam valve. Like S's riding of bikes. We joke, he's riding, I'm writing. Or like singing, for me anyway. It helps stem the urge to curse the shit out of anyone and everyone.

    I ran out of my blood pressure meds on Sunday and yesterday, well it went by way of the water and yogurt and berries in my stomach that cut my day way short. Luckily I hit the trash can. But embarrassing. It's like the Exorcist girl, for all the office with the thin walls to hear. Today when I came in to see my work was taken care of I cried to the secretary in relief and gratitude. Shaver came in this morning and gave me a loving lecture, much needed. We are family. We need to depend on each other. You aren't the only one who gets sick. I didn't even know you went home.

    I should have told you, I said. I was just feeling helpless and weak. To ask for help? Unthinkable. More sign of already weakness. We were happy to plug in. You know that breast cancer case (I had done half of my work but couldn't stay around bc I was running hot and cold and felt like I was going to blow off to histology, them bringing cases too slow to get me out of there). I did ask Staggs to cover my afternoon frozens, I said. But thank you for recognizing and absorbing. There was a micromet in the lymph node that you half worked up. You didn't see it, I didn't either, on the H&E. I told him that's why I always tell the gross room cytokeratins are important, on these breast sentinel nodes. Order in advance. I've seen two of those, since January. You cannot be too careful.

    I went to get my metoprolol about 6 hours after I turned in the slip to the pharmacy. Usually you text me a lot sooner than this? She spent an excruciating ten minutes looking through the drawers. It's not here. An agonizingly slow consult with the pharmacist revealed that I cannot pick them up until April 1. You picked it up last January 23. But that's not until Saturday, I said, my blood pressure rising ironically. Do you want me to wait until Saturday to control my blood pressure? Thinking, they are acting like I'm begging for Vicodin or something. 

    Well, she finally said, under pressure and the state of my duress, we can get you some but you have to pay for it. Fine! I said. How much can it cost? Um 10 dollars and 49 cents. That's well worth my while to get it, I told her. And you will have extra! She said. What the fresh hell is this? New insurance rules? I've never been denied the one med I have needed over the past few years.

    My financial advisor came for a regular update today. Things are looking good. He's smart, I learn a lot by listening to him but this is not my area of expertise, like physics, so I sometimes get lost in my head. We were discussing ways to save money. How about running one of those audits on our checking account? To get rid of those miscellaneous charges. I've seen it advertised on TV, I asked. Or is that just a low hanging fish. Drumbeat. Fruit I meant, and we LOLOL'd. He said I was thinking catfish maybe? Or flounder! I quipped. Absolutely not a low hanging fruit. Give me a year's statement, I'll get James on that ASAP.

    So then we got onto the subject of our upcoming vacation in May for two weeks. I've never done two weeks in a row - years ago Maria told me it was the best, you really get to unwind. My first European trip was a few years ago with S and his Mom to the small town she grew up in, Bad Herzfeld. It was nice, scenery beautiful, but no one spoke English. No menus in English. S's mom can speak fluent German, but doesn't have a lot of reading capacity. I'd order something on a menu and it would come out like a fish head floating in jelly, something completely unedible. S said this was not the case before the Wall fell. Everyone spoke English. Like the rest of the world, people are getting more territorial.

    So I was super claustrophobic planning this trip. Katherine Lu was recommended by Scott Marotti and Laura Sanders. Needed a change from at least in my recent experience overpriced and incompetent Poe. You will be fine, my brother told me. There is Google translate now. Katherine created a super personal 16 page itinerary. I know that this sounds like a lot, but it is very detailed. 

    I want a terrace or balcony every place we stay. Check. S needs access to a bike. Check. We don't want that experience of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, we need built in free time. Check. We want English speaking tour guides, and when we go to a wine tasting in Bordeaux, we want someone to transport us there that speaks English. Gotcha, in a Mercedes SUV. Ah bliss.

    When I was in Chicago last week Mike and Effie took us to a restaurant. In Chinatown, we went to a hot-pot - new to me. Three amazing bubbling broths in the middle of the table to dip a million things in that was staged. Watermelon slush so yummy I ordered an extra pitcher. Kimuki? Maybe? Which I splurged on the 22 bc it was Michael's bday. 35 dollar cocktails, more than the small plates. I had the smoothest Japanese whiskey on the planet. Effie and Mike told me they were world-known for their cocktails (and I can't spell renouned so we will leave it at that).

    So I'm excited for food in Spain and France and not feeling like I'm hemmed in by not knowing the language. Thank goddess I'm not on call this week. Too much else is going on. Happy Tuesday, much love, Elizabeth

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Strange Conversations

     Ugh I have to go in Monday to finish a lung cancer case bc of course most of our over 200 blocks (that's a busy day) came after noon so immunostain turnaround same day got fucked. I've lost all hope in getting communication about these mishaps. They always seem to happen on Friday. Thank god my plane to Chicago doesn't leave until Wednesday.

    Crazy story Tina got a call (Wed? Thurs? I've lost track) from a patient that was so angry that her HPV test turned up positive. She was in her sixties, hubs was in his seventies, and they'd only had sex four times in their marriage (yikes). Tina has the patience of Job. Anyway, the OB had told her to call pathology and Pam, head of cytology, had turfed her to Tina of all people. Pam is over the HPV DNA testing. 

    Tina said she was yelling on the phone. I'm having this test repeated and if it is still positive I'm going to come up there with my husband because this makes no sense!! Apparently she also shared with Tina that he had a penile implant. Kimberley quipped she's answering her own questions! He's obviously not using it on her! And we all LOLOL'd. I'm taking that day off, Tina said, and I told her I didn't blame her. You've already done enough.

    I was getting some cheddar scones at Boulevard on Friday and I was telling the story to Scottish Brian and he said I've been getting these really weird texts? I told him my unknown texts have been increasing too. He said let me show you! He proceeded to show me a series of crazy texts. Um, mine aren't like that, I said. That is creepy as fuck. There were girls draped across countertops begging him to text them back. Some were asking how come you don't text me anymore? Where have you disappeared to? Um, mine are just strange stores asking me to reply yes or no to get on the text list. Yours are next level.

    C has been around all weekend we took Senel (I don't know how to spell it it's pronounced Chanel Jack chided me for screwing it up in a text message) from UK out Friday night for Mexican and she's lovely, a theater major - C plans to spend half of the summer with her. This morning I woke up to the laughter of Jack and C and a new friend to me Evelyn. She rooms with Annie West - Kandi's daughter (the one who bought Wordsworth) and is also a theater major.

    I asked her about Cabe. Paul Guthrie, my college bf, was theater. I told her I did a lot of backstage production assistance, it was really fun. Cabe is still around, she said. I told her Mary Ruth Stewart teaches English at UCA and has a feminist theater production in Conway, I just found out about it and started following it on Instagram last week. It is such a small world. 

Oh! Evelyn and C told me they are starting a band. Amygdala (my suggestion) Darlings. I asked Evelyn what do you play? Nothing, she said. I just sing. C too. Me too, I said. Like The Secret Sisters? I asked. She had never heard of them, but loves Gregory Askimov I was impressed with her musical knowledge her parents did well. Happy Sunday, much love, Elizabeth

Monday, March 13, 2023

Manic Monday

     Goodness Saturday call sucked. I had a big stack of surgicals and about 9:30 Van brought me a big stack of cytologies he screened. Any of them cancer? I asked. All of them, he said. Ugh. Lots of stains ordered and I worked longer than I have in a while - 4-5 hours maybe if I'm not exaggerating. I told Melody today I haven't had as hard a call Saturday as when I got 13 bone marrows back when I did CP. She visibly shuddered (they most they get is 4-5 these days lucky young ones). Luckily I'm more efficient than I was back then - that was a 12 hour day. But the volume still takes a lot out of you. I slept three hours in the afternoon and left Kim's bday early at Sullivan's after drinks and apps. 

    So this morning when my alarm went off at 5:30 I spent a half hour in existential dread of cleaning up the weekend. Was a little stomach sideways this morning so skipped coffee but the adrenaline of the day supplanted caffeine. Paul Williams called me about a case and I was confused? Thinking in my head I'm on call not cytology. Then I looked at the schedule and saw I was on EV today. On top of over a hundred surgicals and everything else. 

    I went to a bronch at around nine - Cydney. He told me the hx and said he had two more. Normally on call we cover morning frozens and guess what? I was also getting called for frozens running around like a chicken with my head cut off. At around 10 I called Shaver in NLR. Did you mean to have me cover all this? NO! I'm so sorry Michelle took off at the last minute and I am covering her there and I didn't fix the schedule. All good, I said. Get Melody or Quinn to cover frozens, he said. I will if I need to. I'm feeling like Superwoman. 

    When I was placed on my third bronch standby at 11:30 and they called me for more frozens I said Melody. Help. I'm officially in over my head. Of course, she said. You are covering for me, actually. I thought I could got it alone but there was just an add on bronch at 12:30 and I'm swimming/drowing in cancer. I can't do it anymore. 

    Luckily the afternoon was a bit slower but not much there were personal emergency phone calls with friends with medical issues and this happened twice last week and now Monday and I'm happy to help!! Sit in the waiting room. Get cozy with the nurses in post op. Review CT's and path reports. It's my forte, and it makes me proud. But it's been a lot lately. 

    The Oscars finally got it right. Everything Everywhere all at Once, although I watched it a while back, was amazing. The mom daughter scene at the end made me cry. And WTF with the Fabelmans? I was so bored I quit before it was halfway over. And the Banshees of Inisheerin? The beginning was amazing and the acting was so good but it took a psychological turn for the worst that honestly felt abusive and made my stomach turn. 

    Got dinner with Melody and Padma and Laurie at Three Fold this weekend and then Spring Break (finally I need a break) and then a couple of days off bf Chicago. Need the time off. Happy Monday, Much love, Elizabeth

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Products of Conception

     This is a common thing. I don't mean to be triggering, but a lot of them result in a D&C. Meaning they don't come to fruition. Scientifically this is the norm. Mental health wise it's probably disturbing. Not a hard thing to read - immature placental villi and decidua, but still. Prayers to all the momma's with lost babies out there. Lots of POCs.

    I got a call from a genetcist last week. Really? I asked Jan. I'm path. I've never received this call. She really wants to talk to you. Ok, put her through.

    This doesn't happen very often, she said, but the testing reveals that the parents are related. This might be an abuse situation, so we have to report it. Well, this is Arkansas, I told her. But it's common practice in the Middle East, she said. There are shared chromosomes. She isn't a minor, but still. Goodness news to me.

    I gave her the OB's clinic and personal cell number. She said she would try the clinic first. I saw him this morning in the Dr. Lounge.

    Did she reach you? Yes. So bizarre. You need to follow up. I know, he said. They are from another country. Might be cousins? Hopefully, I said. Not an abuse situation, just common marital practice.

    God this world is so crazy. Luckily I found out yesterday I'm not on call until Friday through Thursday bc I was at the end of my ever fucking rope, GI wise. Today was better. Happy Virgo Full Moon. Clean and detoxify. Much love, Elizabeth


Friday, March 3, 2023

Index Finger

     I overslept today! First time in a while. No worries, I wasn't covering OR until noon to four, but still. Had a wonderful long shower and bfast alone. Went in at 11 was done by 3:30. Life is good.

    Had two index fingers this week - distal tip. I've said before legs are common as dirt, like tubular adenomas and hyperplastic polyps of the colon. But fingers? No. I had to look in the charts. Rubbernecking, as they say. One was a persistent infection after a dog bite, the other was a victim of Raynaud's. Such a zebra, the latter. A board question. Hers was so bad the distal finger got gangrenous. It's like a cancer, only not. You just get your circulation damning your extremities. 

    So much happening this weekend! Plans to have dinner with Christy and Jerry (her fiance lots to unpack here but I love him already) and maybe Jerry Sr. who they care for religiously (it's super endearing). If he's not sundowning. He sat next to me at Cocaine Bear last weekend and we shared popcorn - it was everything I wanted it to be and more thank you Elizabeth Banks. Allsop and Chappell rez tomorrow at 5. Then rez at Yaya's for 10 am brunch on Sunday with S and his mom. She had a bday a couple of weeks ago and I felt bad I missed it. She always sends wonderful cards to me on mine.

    Then, in true Pisces fashion, we are celebrating C's on Sunday night with blended fam dinner. What is Rach cooking? I asked C. Maybe fried chicken (hers is amazing) maybe something else not sure. Can you bring cookies and cream ice cream and a yummy dessert from Fresh Market? Easy Peasy.

    What are you doing for your bday? I asked. I'm on call next week/weekend. Mia's is on the 11. Mine is 10. We are planning a joint party in Fville. Can you send a little extra $$ for decorations? Of course, I told her. I swim with fishes. C, both brothers, S, I'm a lone lion amongst Pisces. Trynna ride the waves.

    Talked to a lot of fam this week. Everything is coming up roses. Cannot wait to see Mike and Effie over Spring Break. C and Mia and Harper are coming too. Blakely will be there with her family. Got them a double queen room at Windsor Park Hyatt to enjoy the city and not overwhelm Mike and Effie. A little hesitant based on the recent past to be happy? But cautiously optimistic. Happy Friday, much love, Elizabeth