After working at Trauma all day...

I have decided that I am in desperate need of a deflective bubble to keep me safe from everything in life that could potentially physically harm me.

I have diagrammed for you my feelings of necessity and the things in life that scare me :

(click image for closer view of the terror)


Just a forwarning...

If you ever happen to find yourself at 10:00 at night in Orlando, Florida with a sleepy little boy and an even sleepier man after a day in Disney World, do not stay here at America's Best Value Roach Motel Inn:

It is a non-descriptive no chain travel place dipped in hell.



I still remember the day I first met her. I was in high school back in 1996 and my family decided it was time to add another new family member to the group. We piled into the minivan and drove to a little shop called "Le petit chien".

We didn't really have in mind what we were looking for, but instead were waiting for her to find us. The owner went into the back and brought out two tiny silvery gray miniature schnauzers for us to hold. Little Chloe decided that we were the family for her and chose to come home with us.

None of us had had the pleasure of living with a puppy - we had only the memory of our old mutt Muffy and she was already well into her adulthood when us kids came along. To have a teeny puppy to train and love was just such a novelty. We adapted quickly.

Chloe was the most docile sweet dog you would ever want to meet. If you could overlook her stank poop breath (it is well understood that she liked to 'snack' on her own body's producings) and her constantly wet muzzle from her rather nasty habit of licking whatever was near her, (ie - carpet, clothes, furniture, people) that was harder to break than a heroin addiction, you would have just as easily fallen in love with her too. Chloe flourished in our home where she was dressed up like a baby (mom), showered with treats (dad), cuddled in bed every night (Fush, Cesaro, myself), taken to 'Stupid Dog Trick' training camp and groomed every month. Chloe loved it when you noticed her new haircut and fancy bandana and would put her little chin up on your chair for a good rub down.

When Chloe was about 4 years old, we turned her stable and loving world upside down by thrusting a neurotic little 2 lb. black mini schnauzer named Pepper into it. To see a puppy not even 6 inches long launch an attack on our full grown Chloe was astonishing and amusing. Chloe hid out beneath an end table for months, lamenting the perils of her new existence. Eventually though, the two pups became inseperable and could often be found at the end of a long day lying on their bellies facing each other, kissing.

In my humble opinion, dogs are family members, albeit much cuter, sweeter, less annoying family members. When you share your life with one of these creatures for 12 or more years, you tend to grow a bond so tight even you aren't quite aware of it until your little pal is taken away from you.

Chloe was never big on exercise, and had been known to down 3 bowls of dog food in one sitting as well as being caught after stealing and finishing off a 1 lb. chocolate bar. It is a wonder she never ended up on Jenny Craig with her own commercial alongside Kirstie Alley talking of all of the weight she lost after realizing that her eating was not out of hunger but out of emotional necessity, and then going on the Oprah show to talk about her screwed up puppyhood complete with crossdressing as a human and dealing with an annoying and neurotic little sister after which she would inevitably don a bikini and show off her svelte new figure.

Alas our little pup went the other direction and ended up with a terrible heart condition. We first noticed it when my parents took her on a springtime walk and she collapsed from the exhertion. (We thought she was just being melodramatic but turns out she wasn't kidding). Several months later we found out she had congestive heart failure. We put her on meds that would give her a greater quality of life but would only delay the inevitable. Chloe seemed to have her old pre-Pepper puppy spark back and we thought we were out of the woods for a while.

Then on March 22, 2009 Chloe decided enough was enough and left us.

Dear Chloe,

Today marks nearly two weeks since you decided to go bounding across that great rainbow bridge in the sky toward an afterlife filled with endless bowls of meat chunks, licking parties and bark-fests. I never fathomed that this day would ever come. I have tried to write this letter to you many times over the past weeks but find that even though I thought I was getting over it all, it all comes rushing back in a wave of emotion complete with tears, snotty noses and several bowls of peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream.

I often find myself looking for you in your little bed whenever I come downstairs at night. Every so often I go up to dad's office where he put your collar on your favorite Garfield toy and jingle it just to remember you. I always tried to shush your incessant barking whenever I (or anyone else) walked through the front door, but I now find myself longing for your head jarring voice. Pepper and Lucy wait by the outside door everytime we let them out to play, looking for you, not sure when you are going to be coming back from wherever you went. The first few days after you left us, whenever we mentioned your name they would run around the house trying to sniff you out. Knowing that those two pups were grieving your loss breaks my heart.

I can't honestly say you are in a better place because I know how much you loved your life with us. We loved you so very much. You weren't hurting or in pain when you went in Mom's arms, thank goodness. I just wish we had a little bit more time with you.

I thought I was doing good until your vet sent us your very last paw print with "Chloe 3/1996 - 3/2009". It all seemed so permanent.

Enjoy your romps through fields of dog biscuits and the occasional turd. Be sure to wait for us at the pearly gates when we get there.




Like a delicate flower...

Every so often here at work we have run-in's with some rather unkind characters. In order to make ourselves feel better about the nasty folk we have to interact with, we do things like this :

This woman in particular can not stand any one of us in research. I have compiled a list of her evil qualities in an easy to read picture format so that the average person can be made aware if someone they know and can't stand begins to exhibit these same unflattering qualities, including (but not limited to) the evil bone chilling glare, the affection for any man in uniform, and the thought that she is a hot mama and her patients will be over the moon to have her as the person in charge of their life.

And one cannot forget the frizz inducing hair bleach.

Please. Don't let yourself become a victim of Carmen Hostility Syndrome.


I had a weird dream last night...

I hate that phrase. I cringe when someone walks up to me with the statement "Oh man, did I have a weird dream last night!". I don't care, it really didn't happen, and it is going to be boring. They then go on to tell you an elaborate story complete with large hairy dogs, pink unicorns and their deceased Uncle Boo Boo come back to bring them a message regarding how hippo blubber can turn back the evil grip that time has on your face.

They go on like this for almost 10 minutes. Ten minutes you could have spent doing something else. Like not listening to them tell you about something that didn't really happen.

And then some of folks get mad at you because of their dream. Like the time they caught you cheating on a math test while wearing those nasty UGG boots in their dream.

I mean, do you really think I would wear UGG boots in real life?


A Munchkin after my own heart

Last week Mr. Hot Pilot, Munchkin and I spent our spring break down in sunny Florida visiting Mr. HP's family and torturing ourselves with the blinding sunshine, happy times of Disney World and the God-awful white sandy beaches of Tampa Florida. While down there with my two favorite guys I got to know my little Munchkin on a whole new level : I realized that at least three-quarters of his brain is filled with jokes about butts, poop and farts. If it weren't for the fact that I have neither the stretch marks nor the petrified fear of enduring childbirth, I would most certainly be convinced that this is my biological child. (Doesn't really matter if he is or isn't, he is still my Munchkin)

He is never shy about releasing his piquant bodily odors and our being in Disney World made this fact no different. It didn't matter that we were crowded shoulder to shoulder with about 10,000 other Disney freaks to watch the evening parade. While sitting on the shoulders of the man I love, he let loose his deadly gases. I didn't know quite what was going on behind me when I heard Mr. HP begin yelling "Dude, what the heck?" until the warm fragrance of doom overtook me and the man next to me gave me an evil glare and shuffled away from me. After a moment of appropriate shaming, I noticed something new about my little Munchkin - embarrassment. It used to be that we could joke around with Munchkin about things but this time was different. Instead we heard the exasperated sigh of a 7 year old who couldn't take the chiding of his super immature parents. "Dad-day! Car-ray!" was all he said in a rather valley girl-esque manner and sulked back to the car with us. Coming from the boy who is proud of his accomplishments and adores the smell of skunk (I swear) we were a bit taken aback by this new emotional development.

The next day he was back to his normal gross little boy ways of attempting to rub dead bugs and nose goblins on us. Instead of scolding him, I knelt down and kindly reminded him that due to his shorter stature, he is at perfect butt level of all of the other adults in queue and that he would be the first to suffer the effects if a butt-splosion were to occur.

Munchkins face contorted into a half grin/half look of fear.

This parenting thing? Totally rocks.


Lowery Park Zoo - Tampa

Pics from our family's spring break holiday. Lucky for us Mr. Hot Pilot hails from sunny Tampa Florida so visiting family is always a beach vacation.

A lesson in napping

I make weird faces while I fly.

Now that I have become what I call a "travel-only girlfriend" I have become quite accustomed to the friendly skies. I have logged more hours flying to and from wherever Mr. Hot Pilot is than I have actually spent in one on one time with him. (Ok, maybe and over-exageration but this long distance thing is beginning to really bug me...can you tell?) So in becoming a connoisseur of the mile-high traveling status one would think that I would have figured out a proper way to take a restful nap without all of the embarassing jerking, head lolling and grimmaces that tend to render me a scary seat mate.

I haven't.

I often awake to the realization that my face is somehow contorting into a serious downward frown, one that would scare any timid flier into never setting foot on a jet-liner again. I've always heard that it takes more energy and muscle to frown so does the fact that I am doing this in my sleep mean I just might be burning extra calories? (One can wish). I even look around at my slumbering flight mates to see how they handle an in flight nap and they all tend to do so without so much as a finger twitch. HOW DO THEY DO IT??

Oh yeah, and that "Ding" of the illuminated seatbelt sign? Scares the living crap out of me. It jars into my deepest dreams and causes me to jump about 3 feet into the air.

Sigh. If only Mr. Hot Pilot would get down on one knee, I might not have to rack up so many frequent flier miles any longer. I am beginning to think he may never actually do it. What that means for us in the future? Still unknown...


Right when you think you've lost it

In my line of work it is rare to feel any sort of a connection with any of the patients considering the pace at which we are constantly going from either screening a new patient being wheeled in, to catching up on labs from those already admitted, to hunting down family in order to enroll that perfect patient who fits all criteria for which we are looking for.

I work only three days a week, 13.5 hour shifts, so I often feel as though I am going on autopilot. In the rare downtime I am often looking up different medical terminology (aka 'The Greek language of docs') in order to constantly fill my head with useful information. (No worries though, I always save room for useless crap as well. There is always room for useless crap).

This past Saturday was shaping up to be like any other Saturday complete with lots of car crashes and falls. Nothing too spectacular. While in the beginning of my working at the trauma center this would have been endlessly fascinating, I have come to be what some may consider "de-sensitized". I really hate that wording though. I have always fancied myself to be a considerably sensitive person, and to think that now faced with people that are potentially in dire need I might be 'de-sensitized' horrifies me.

It wasn't until later on that day we got a somewhat interesting call about a person sustaining multiple stab wounds.

Now your typical stab victim is usually either a) coming from a corrections facility, b) drunk off their rocker, c) in some sort of nasty street fight or d) involved in illegal activities. Needless to say you often know the backstory of the victim before they ever even arrive. This person was somehow different.

Our victim came in without a name or any other sort of identifying items. The only thing that was known was that there was a name for the bad guy. Whether our victim was a bad guy too was still unknown. I remember the paramedic telling the officer rather un-apologetically that the reason he didn't get a definitive name was that he was trying to keep the victim awake by reciting ABC's on the way in and really was more focused on that than anything.

My co-worker and I stayed around a bit to gather blood pressure information and when it seemed all in control, went off to do our nightly fluid collections on our other research patients.

It wasn't until later on when I was alone, having come from a somewhat emotional trip to the TBI floor (either you do remarkably well, or you just don't) I came down to check on my stab victim. Turns out they were a perfect candidate for one of our studies.

I ran to the attending doc to get permission to approach the family and then off I went to find them.

I often wonder how it is that I can gather enough courage to approach a family or loved one about a research study when they are feeling every fearful and terrible emotion possible at that moment. This coming from a girl who could barely pick up a phone to sell a stupid band sub in her high school days. This coming from a girl who would rather go to the doctor for a booster shot and blood draw than go door to door selling Girl Scout cookies as a grade schooler. I'm still trying to figure of that out.

I find my family and escort them into the quiet room. I see their faces and can tell they have every question in the book on their minds right now. Do I have any promising new information for them? Am I bringing them terrible news? (Considering we wear the same white coats as the docs, it isn't rare for us to have eager eyes staring us down when we pass by the waiting area thinking we are docs coming with information.)

I then tell them that I am from research and that because of the injuries sustained by their loved one, they (their loved one) are eligible for a study. I go on to explain the study, at the same time reading the faces of those gathered around me. The father who doesn't quite seem to understand what happened and keeps questioning me about the status of his family member. The mother who looks so tired and scared for her baby. The brother who just looks as though he is about to be sick, all the while wondering who did this to his sibling. The sister-in-law with her sweet presence that seems to make me feel more at ease. And then of course the 'out for blood' family member who rakes the mother over the coals for even considering allowing the patient to participate in a research study because "you know all the government wants to do is experiment on us". After the conspiracy theorist go slamming out of the quiet room, I look over to the mother and gently remind her that this is all voluntary and if she feels at all uncomfortable with anything she can decline.

She accepted, hoping this will help others one day.

From there it was a fast scurry to move forward with the procedures of the project. All the while I found myself constantly concerned for the welfare of not only the patient but for the patient's family as well. I was incessantly curious about how the patient was doing. Had the patient not pulled through despite to our amazing surgeons, I would have felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and loss for the family. When I went up to check on the patient later on in the wee hours of the morning (and 4 hours after my shift had officially ended) I just wanted to be sure they were ok. To be sure that they were being treated with the utmost care and concern by their nurses. They were more than just another person rolling through the double doors.

Does this mean I haven't lost the sensitivity? I suppose that isn't such a bad thing.


Give me half of your bitterest pill

Have you ever thought how you might describe yourself if given the opportunity? I suppose that I would consider myself to be a great sceptic (except when it comes to aliens from outerspace - those suckers are out there and fixated on their next booty probe). While this is not a very positive description of myself (talented, world changing, looks darn good in a 40's old hollywood glam get-up all seem much nicer) I have to be honest with myself.

As you may or may not know, I was interviewed by an AP reporter who tracked me down via my wide-spread and rampant tweets regarding the furlough of State of Maryland employees.

If you know me, you know I am rather opinionated, often to a fault. I have no problem risking being on the receiving end of a bullet launched from a concealed weapon if it means I can right the horrifying driving behaviors of just about every other loon on the road. It tears me to bits to hear about those that I love having to endure injustice of any sort.

When I was approached by AP reporter Ellen Simon, I of course agreed to answer some of her questions. I feel that with Maryland raising sales tax, charging us a ridiculous amount to register our vehicles every two years and yet they STILL are unable to balance the budget, I should not be held responsible. Yet I am to be forced into taking days off without pay. And I sounded off about it on twitter, which apparently caught the attention of others.

So, the article came out and had to be corrected due to the reporter naming the hospital as my employer when in fact it is a bit more complicated than that. Many who work for the hospital are not state employees. I however do something very different from many working at the hospital and am considered a State of Maryland employee. Confusing? Yes. I still don't quite know how to describe how I work there yet am a different type of employee. Of course this error caused a ruckus amongst those who worked for the hospital and were unaware that they were going to be furloughed (they aren't) and forced to take unpaid leave (they won't).

So while I was pouring over my budget and realizing that I need to pony up just under $700 per month to cover student loans lest I risk my already degenerating kneecaps to Mario and Luigi from Citibank, I got even more upset about the whole matter. It wasn't until I was in line today at Walmart that I had a few things put into perspective.

I was in line behind a very nice young woman and her adorable little 14 month old. She had a rather large order, and was going to be paying with food stamp checks. Her large order was split up (being that I don't know how food stamps work, I am assuming they only give you a certain amount per check?) and she was very apologetic over how long it was taking. Normally my sceptical self would have seen the New Balance shoes on her baby and thought "yeah right, like you really need food stamps. Maybe I should go out and get them too!". Something was different here though. This lady was very sweet and talkative and very forthcoming with information (she was a single mom and her baby's dad wanted nothing to do with him) and the more I talked with her, the more I chided myself for being such a jerk. Such a quick to jump to conclusions and read a book by it's cover jerk.

Sure I am ticked that I could possibly lose up to $800 in pay due to Maryland's inability to plan for their financial future (might Dave Ramsey be of assistance?) but what do I really lose? The occasional jaunt to H&M to buy something that most likely will sit in my closet never to be worn? The unnecessary trip to Target? (Ok, I take that back, all trips to Target are VERY necessary). I may have to budget every penny and nickel in order to make my bills? All it really takes is a bit of discipline on my part really. I don't have to worry about how I am going to feed my cherub cheeked little munchkin. I have an education and a rockin' awesome job where I can pretty much make my way anywhere. I have it pretty good.

Martin O'Malley, you aren't off the hook though. Punk.