Tuesday, August 29, 2006

blog niblets

1) Annual physical today. It was fun to be able to talk to the med student, knowing I'll be in that exact spot before long. Plus it allowed the student to be able to say stuff like "okay, so I'll talk to Dr. Joe, and see if he wants to throw some pills at you or anything."

For the record, I lost about 10 pounds since last year's physical, and my blood pressure is slightly high. We'll check cholesterol sometime soon. And Dr. Joe still looooooves the ol' hernia check. Damn his iron grip on my gonads. I have no hernia, okay? Gawd!

2) You know how while I was at school I was always going on about some band or another? Yeah, that was not a school-related thing. I have the new Snow Patrol, and it's the best thing since thin-sliced black-pepper smoked turkey. For serious.

3) My car is falling apart. The mufler is finally rusting out so the V6 sounds like a Harley now. The passenger side mirror fell off. The rearview mirror remains floppy on its stalk like some sad injured insect. The driver door handle has stopped working entirely, so one needs to open the window a bit and reach in. Hell of a theft deterrent, though. I guess I need to call the garage down the block and see what they charge for de-FUBAR-ification.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Late nights and antibiotics

I've been quiet lately, because I've been having issues with my giant, swollen, reddened pinna.

That's the outside part of my ear, you degenerates. It's just a matter of time before exposure to MRSA and GRSA and whatever-else-RSA fells us ER warriors. Happens a few times a year, maybe. Usually it's a cold; no big deal. I have an immune system just a tetch less powerful than Wolverine's anyhow. But this time, I must have touched my ear with some bug hitching a ride. Stoopid itchy ears. Tuesday after work I spiked a mild fever, and Wednesday I actually called in sick, with all-over aches and a craving for fistfuls of ibuprofen. By yesterday I was mending but not yet better, so I got the Urgent Care experience.

This will be another topic for another post; it was cool that they recognized me there, and I totally got the VIP version. Land speed record for managed care. But anyway, I have Augmentin tablets that are large enough to kill stuff just by running into it, and I'm back to work. Huzzah.

And, in grad school news, I submitted my app. Funny enough, I thought of the line from the first good Star Wars movie, where Luke talks about "transmitting (his) application to the Academy." That's pretty much what you do. So, the deadlines and the editing? The worrying and fine-tuning? Over with. Now it's out of my hands.

I'll enjoy it, when the flesh-eating bacteria gets out of my system and both my ears are the same size again.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Tao of the Who

Odd story tonight: I pretty much did a real-life interpretive vignette of the first verse of the Who's "Who Are You."

For those of you not Who-conversant, first of all shame on you, and next, here's what I'm talking about...

I woke up in a Soho doorway,

A policeman knew my name.

He said,

You can go sleep at home tonight,

If you can get up and walk away...

Basically, I came home from Teslagrl's place at 1:30 or 1:45, and because I live where I do, I had to park around the corner. So I walked down 9th street, and prepared to turn left; I can go ahead past the row of "fancy brownstones" that is just like where the Huxtables live, or I can turn left and walk past the complex of buildings that became merged when city redevelopment money turned a cracked-out, condemned brick building into the place I would eventually live. I crossed the street, and decided to stick to the right and go by Chez Huxtable, on account of there being a guy passed out on the sidewalk there.

He was half in the street. A parked car shielded this dude's creased black trousers and shiny loafers from being run over; the upper half of him, clad in a short-sleeved, combed-cotton polo shirt, was up on the sidewalk, and he had his neck sort of cricked at an angle to accomodate the parking meter. Way classy.

He didn't look dead, which was nice. Dead people, mind you, have a look. It's tough to describe; basically if you see a movie and you think, "that dead body is obviously fake; it doesn't look real," then you're probably right, but then again maybe it looks perfect. Actual dead bodies don't look entirely real either. Or they look too real, to be metaphysical about it. Anyway, this guy looked alive. No pools of blood under him, no smears of blood on him. No foamy mouth, no stink of incontinence. Just a guy sleeping under the stars, not a care in the world. Except for being passed out in the middle of the city.

I was carrying a basket with assorted cleaning supplies, stuff I'd left at T-grl's when I was out east, and which she still had two of. I also had a paper bag with a six of Leinie Red and a bottle of Shiraz, but the irony of this was not yet clear.

I said, in that clear, neutral, calm EMT voice, "hey." Then a pause, looking for a fluttering of the eyelids or a movement of an extremity. "Hey, buddy. Are you okay? You're lying on the sidewalk, man." Nuthin.' Not wanting to poke the guy with the toe of my shoe -- a little dignity is important -- I set down my stuff and knelt over him. I gave him the ol' shoulder shake. Then the chest-poke. When you're doing the chest-poke, you're skating on the edge between concerned citizen and EMT.

"Hey, guy. You're lying on the sidewalk. What's going on?"

He opened up glassy, drunk eyes. Slight odor of alcohol, but c'mon, you know where I work. No way was he over 0.09. He slurred some type of "leave me alone, I'm fine, who are you and why do you care?" -type blather at me. I explained that a guy lying on the sidewalk at 2am is noteworthy, and said I was concerned about him being okay. I took his pulse. Steady, strong, 80 or 85.

I love the way you can just reach out and grab someone's wrist to feel their pulse, and if you do it right, not only do you learn some helpful information, you also reinforce the notion that you are there to help and you know what you're doing. I've written here before about the theater of medical care, and it's totally applicable on the street.

Along with mild alcohol only, there was no odor of ketones. That was the other first thing I thought of: diabetic who drank a little much and put himself into DKA, or induced a diabetic seizure or syncope. That sounds smart and all, but basically, here's how the medical thing works: when you see a guy lying on the sidewalk, there are many questions. Who is he? How did he get here? Where was he earlier, and who was he with? How come they left him here? How long has he been here?

The only question you actually care about, however, is this one: what caused this guy to be lying here, now? The answer is probably "because he's drunk, and this seemed like a good spot." But it could be lots of stuff. He has a seizure disorder, or diabetes. He hit his head. Someone hit his head for him. He fell just now, from a low-flying and very quiet zeppelin. Things on the list get less and less likely as you go down it.

So he's coming around a little, and he's taking his time doing it, but I explain to him that if I don't see him at least sit up, I'm going to call an ambulance. He sits up. He starts asking questions I can't answer, questions like, "what happened?" I explain that all I know is, I walk along and here he is. He expresses skepticism. I acknowledge that it's weird, but hey, here we are.

We talk a little more. I get some yes/no answers to relevant medical questions. I tell him I work at the hospital, and I can get an ambulance here quickly. (Never mind that anyone with a phone can do the same thing; I'm maintaining control of the scene, dammit.) By now it's pretty clear he's merely drunk, but he's not moving, and I'm not going to just leave him here. I explain that I'm worried about him being hit by a car. Or robbed. Or hauled in to Detox. He tells me he lives a block away, in the swanky high-rise condo building I see out my window. But it starts to look like he can't stand well, much less walk, so I push the button and dial 911. By the time the dispatcher is talking to me, Drunk Guy has done some mental calculus and has sucked it up to an impressive degree.

I talk with the dispatcher for a minute. I explain, in hospital-speak, what's up. I give our location. I report that he's looking able to walk, and says he lives a block away, so we're good. Okay, says the dispatcher, call back if things go otherwise. Drunk Guy has heard my half of this 30-second conversation, and gets the picture -- it's not okay to be asleep on the sidewalk -- and repeats that he lives a block away, and he'll be fine. At which point, we do our little Who Theatre bit; I tell him I'm going in the direction of his building, and I'll walk with him. Let's go.

And we do. He's crap at walking right now, but he's uninjured. He's making sense, in that drunk-guy way. He hasn't had a stroke, or a seizure, or a heart attack. And he's really lucky, because he still has his watch and presumably his wallet. The people he was with presumably had the wrong condo building, and ditched him at the sidewalk. He probably told them he was fine.

And as we're walking, he says to me that the funny thing is, he has a $300,000 condo and a $70,000 car, and he needs me to walk him home. Yep, that's funny. I tell him what's funny to me is that I have this night off in a string of overnight shifts, and here I get me a patient.

I got him to the right side of the street, half a block from the entrance to his complex. It's well-lit, and security-patrolled, and I figured he'd be welcome to pass out on the grass verge there if he likes. Could be a character-builder. And then I went home. I'm looking out my window right now at the complex in question, and all is calm.

I've always liked the common-sense approach of the cop in that song. It's a diagnostic test and a treatment all in one. It's an "if/then" algorithm. So long as Roger Daltrey's character isn't asleep in that doorway for some more serious reason, it's a win-win situation.

This guy had not spent eleven hours in the tin-pan. But lord, there's got to be another way.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Moo hoo, ha ha

Thursday (and the day before, and several of the days before that) were practice tests. I was being cute about revealing the scores on those, because not only were those scores... not bad, but not awesome, but moreover there was a chance that the actual, real GRE test scores would be similar, or worse. So I didn't want to be blabbing about my 540 on the math part and my 650 on the verbal part, because wow would I look like a dork if the scores I'd actually be using turned out lower.

I did the real test yesterday, on Friday. Not to worry. It turned out very well. Thank you to all who helped, supported, or just wished me well and put up with my weird schedule and lack of availability.

You know, now that I am apparently a high achiever, I'll need to re-think my jaded, hipster disregard for people who succeed at stuff. Actually, all I need to do is refine it a little: here's what I've actually been talking about all this time, when I say snotty things about "straight A students" or "those damn pre-meds."

What I hate is an obvious sense of entitlement. When people crow about their awesome GPAs and their stellar experiences and how their dad the cardiothoracic surgeon set them up with a great guy who happens to be the 3rd most blah blah blah. They make us workin'-class kids think we are in danger of being shut out, because we had to work full-time and pay our own way, and that may have eclipsed some of what might make us amazing applicants in our own right. How could an admissions committee possibly know that a 3.3 for us might be more difficult, and more meaningful?

So if my own crowing becomes annoying, please call me on it. And also, please know that I mean it in the spirit of enthusiastic and grateful good-wishes to everyone who helped me get this far. I can't believe my good fortune, and yes I suppose I do feel like I earned it, but it's still a gift. I don't mean to be obnoxious to anyone, except maybe those dillweeds I mentioned earlier. As rare as they are, and seriously I have met very few, they're toxic. People who behave as though it's the most normal thing in the world to be fortunate, and anything less is a character flaw, are a danger to fortune and to character. And I hope to never be one of those people. I know you'll help me make sure of that.

So, are you ready, then? Here goes: I got--

Awwwww; a day later, and now I'm shy about it. I've re-edited this post. Let's just say I got a math score that's much higher than I had expected, based on the practice tests. In Verbal, meanwhile, I figured I'd do well, but I did well enough that I blew away a little goal I'd set for myself, which had seemed possible but not likely.

The combined score is high; the mean of the two scores is high; the difference between the two is actually not horrible. Based on some Web searching, I'm in great shape. That's the thing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hello, lamp-post. Whatcha knowin'?

Good evening, Internet. It's a balmy summer night here in the big city. Welcome... to 'Febrifuge After Dark.'

Tonight, we have a lovely skyline view, from here at Studio Dudeio's big window. We have a screwdriver, with good vodka, fresh OJ, and just a splash of pomegranite juice (and incedentally, we're refusing to give this delightful little drink a nasty name; there will be no "bloody screw" or "hematuria" here, thank you very much; in fact, "sunrise screw" is over the limit, that's just how classy we are around here tonight).

We have no particular plan, because today's tasks are accomplished. Shocking, I know, but true.

I also had the day off work, which is nice, because it's been good 'n' weird, down at the ol' ER. I emailed my sis a bit ago, and I think I said something like "it seems anytime some poor guy gets a limb sheared off, or a small child falls three stories, they come to my workplace." Which is true, of course. And that's good, in the sense that the care my workplace offers is bar none the best around, and folks in need get excellent attention. It's also gratifying to be even a small part of that, and humbling to be allowed a place in the ongoing battle between order and chaos.

But dang, a day off from that is a pretty sweet thing. I'll assume you understand.

Today I did more GRE prep. Math math math math. Math. Huzzah. It's to the point where I do verbal because I like looking at high scores for a change. I've become jaded on verbal. I know it's bad, but for now it's a coping mechanism and it's valuable.

For the "Feb About Town" part of today's festivities, I road-tripped down to the exurbs, to get an official transcript sent from the CC where I did my EMT class. Hey, I paid tuition; I got a grade; it was a good grade. Heck yeah, I'm sending that one. In reviewing the CASPA, I realized that all this time, I somehow left off the Vermonty grades. Heh heh heh. The transcript is in, and has been for a while, but CASPA has thus far had nothing to compare them to. Problem fixed. And by the by, this means my illustrious history involves more like 89 college courses. Um... yeah. Non-traditional student here. Hi.

I also did a complete practice GRE today. I will tell you the scores later, if by "later" you mean "once the real one is not only done, but I'm safely accepted into the Best School Evah(tm)." I'm not saying they're bad -- they're not -- but I hope to have scores that, as Eppie Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh said, "announce my presence with authority." These were more like "this is my first time taking this test in its real format." Thankfully, I know where the hand-holds are as I make my way back up the learning curve, so it'll be quick. This is why we practice, kids.

That's it from the professional and academic side. Now we turn to the social side, where the After Dark crowd likes it. Soon, I'll be over all this test silliness, and on to other things, like: hey, I live downtown. I can see n available parking spaces out my window right now, where n is a positive integer greater than or equal to 3. True, those spaces cost money until 10pm, but from that prime time until 8am, they are as free as sweaty hippie love, my friends.

And so, I'm putting you on notice, Internet. I'm putting out the call. I'm making it known. I live downtown, and I have a weird schedule. I have motive, means, and opportunity to have way more fun than I've been allowing myself, and soon I'll have a break between high-stakes, career-deciding moments. Let's catch up.

In a nutshell, it's like this: I have way more people I talk to on the phone, via email, or whom I see on the odd weekend than I do people who are ready, willing, and able to enjoy this swingin' downtown scene, and I'd like to remedy that somewhat. Because most of you are responsible adults with jobs and whatnot, I'm not going to roust you from your beds on a Wednesday at 11:30 and demand you hit the bars with me. I am a civilized brute, after all.

No, I'm going to issue a challenge. I'm going to throw down a gauntlet. I'm going to run up a flag and see who salutes. Come on downtown, and we'll hang sometime. Who's with me? ...Or are you going to make me bust out a St. Crispin's Day speech?

EDIT TO ADD: One reason for this desired change is that it's been wicked awesome to see my old friends M. Giant and Trash more frequently of late, since Trash is my GRE guru. Having a good excuse to hang with them has got me thinking: I can either come up with equally good reasons to see everyone, or I can just eliminate the need for an excuse altogether. So, to my friends with small children, naturally you need not come to me. I can be a bad influence on your kids just as well at your place.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Good news, and bad news

Today I took the little half-length practice GRE (minus essay-writing) that I bought when I bought the book. Smart, I would think, to actually use what one has paid for, right?

I got about 76% of all questions right. Not bad, actually. I see 76% and think, "C, maybe a C+ if the instructor gets me," but no, things don't work quite like that. Trash might be by to comment on just what sort of score that could translate into, but I'm assuming it's "decent, not spectacular."

The fun part is the breakdown of how that 76% comes about. Out of 41 questions in the Verbal and Quantitative sections, I got 31 correct. 10 wrong, in other words.

7 of the 10 were math questions. Things like, if I remembered that the circumference of a circle is two-pi-r, I would have recognized the correct answer. Probably. Maybe. Two of the last three were super-sneaky analogies using words that (gasp!) I didn't know that well, and the final one was a total bastard rip-off word trap contained in a reading comp question. Ha ha, you got me. Oh well.

So, strategically speaking, I should pretty much just practice essays and study math. And hey, it's not like a guy needs much math to practice medicine... right? Dude, I can add, and I can multiply. What else matters? Plus all the cool drugs are one, two, or ten milligrams per kilogram anyhow. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.