Tuesday, February 14, 2012

File Under "Stuff You Just Can't Make Up"

 I found the sign below on a public trail last week while walking my dog, Tina.  Today I found the same sign, in fact several, attached to trees on another hiking trail about 4 miles from the first location in the next town over.

OK, I am sorry for anyone who loses a pet since I like animals.  But seriously?  Look at that cat. It does not look like a back-packing kind of feline. And who takes a cat hiking?  I am also thinking that Lucky is  not a good name for a cat since it seems to be tempting fate.  No cat should be named Lucky before it has used up at least 5 of its 9 lives. 

On the subject of bad names for cats, one of my neighbors had a cat named Trevor.  Yes, Trevor.  I am preparing a post on stupid pet names, but that is for another day.  Trevor's parents went away for a few days and Trevor escaped in their absence, perhaps lonely or merely pissed off that he had been left alone.  Cats are like that.

Being an indoor cat and most likely lacking survival skills Trevor, predictably, remained at large for days in spite of his owners attempts to locate him.  Desperate, they contacted an animal communicator who somehow, remotely, intuited that Trevor was alive,  but "in a dark place".  That will be $75, payable by Mastercard or Visa.  Dark place = dead cat.  There are lots of predators in my neck of the woods and Trevor has never returned home, nor has he called or written.  He is likely living on the street with a $100/day catnip habit. After a few months the neighbors gave up and adopted a new Trevor. 

I was thinking that the owners of the lost Hiking Cat might want to consult a cat psychic as well for some input as to the whereabouts of their lost pet.  Perhaps it went trekking in the Catskills.

For a hysterical read on a lost cat, you should check this out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

...and the winner is....

Number 1!  If you picked 2 or 3, don't feel bad; at least parts of their story are plausible.  I, however,  have a strict policy that injuries sustained in a multi-tiered and complicated fashion are automatically suspect if they involve animals.  I try not to be sucked in by smoke and mirrors, drama, weeping and wailing, and drama.  Did I mention drama?

And just to put your mind at ease, no animals were harmed in the fabrication of the injuries of numbers 2 and 3. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

On Picking a Winner

The more elaborate the story, the more I think the patient is full of shit.  After 35 years, I think I have developed a pretty good sense of what is and what is not complete bollocks.  You just know that a knee injury that occurred after "tripping over the cat while carrying laundry and answering the phone while simultaneously  doing a crossword puzzle and reciting the Gettysburg Address" is overkill.  But then, you never know.  Mostly if it's yellow, has webbed feet and quacks, you'd probably think duck and not chicken.

OK.  The following are three examples of injuries that presented themselves to the ER.  Let's see if you can figure out which one I thought was absolutely real. 

1. 52 year old woman with a facial laceration and a black eye.  She had slipped on some ice in the parking lot at work, skidded, fell over a snowbank, slid down an embankment and came to rest on the frozen river.  She complained of headache since she had banged her head on a tree on the way down.

2.  55 year old male complained of severe back pain and laceration.  He had been rough housing with grandchildren and had fallen off the bed, landing on a Lego Empire State Building under which the cat was slumbering.  The cat scratched his arm because the lamp landed on it.

3.  32 year old female with complaint of dislocated shoulder.  She had slipped on maybe some juice on the floor of  her kitchen while carrying a case of water, went on to trip over the dog and had fallen, landing on her shoulder on top of  the open dishwasher as the case of water flew into the air and landed on her leg. 

Two out of the three are frequent visitors to the ER with uncanny propensity for freak accidents which result in minimal physical finding but always a request for narcotic analgesia. 

What do you think?  Answer on Monday.  Class dismissed.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fun and Games

Lee from xray had invited me to the local health club 4 or 5 months ago in an effort to entice me join.  I played a game called Walleyball, a sort of volleyball hybrid played with a kid's bouncy ball; in this case, it was a Spiderman ball.  Anyway, I had loads of fun and wanted to join, but it took some doing to convince Mr. EDNurseasauras that it might be good for us.  We walk the dog all the time, and he hikes, but since I've stopped skating I needed something else to do.  With lots of group exercise classes, the pool, and some new fun and games it seemed like a good move.  I signed the two of us up the first part of the month.

I have yet to step into the pool, but there are some aqua classes I want to try. There's tennis, yoga, Zumba, something called Body Combat that sounds dangerous, and lots of other stuff that should keep me out of trouble.  I have been enjoying Walleyball, Pickleball (a tennis/ping pong type of game with a scoring system that only an MIT graduate could learn), and a couple of group classes. 

I should mention that the Walleyball is for the over-50 crowd only, and they play about four mornings per week.  Whereas the co-ed walleyball game I played several months ago was fun, light and with a range of player abilities, there had apparently been an influx of serious ex-athletes out for blood. They are all men whom I call "The Fermented Jockstraps".

For the most part people are fairly gracious; "nice shot", "good try", "almost, you'll get it next time", and "you are doing really well for just learning the game", but there is always someone who has to turn every game into the 1980 USA-Russia Olympic hockey game, with a  tendency to ruin it for everyone else.  Especially when the men outnumber the women 2:1.  They are LOADED with helpful hints.
"Play back"
"Play closer to the net"
"Play away from the wall when she serves"
"Play his serves off the wall"
"Her serves are virtually impossible to hit when she's on"
"Let it hit the back wall; it's out of play"
I pretty much stopped listening and tried to just play the ball as best I could.  It really wasn't as much fun as I remembered it thanks to Art.  His helpful hints go something like this:
"Shoulda had that"
"Shoulda let that go"
"That was yours"
"Try to get it over the net"
"Be aggressive"

Aggressive? I am competitive, but it is just a game.  A fun game.  Y'all are mostly retired but I have still have to make a living. You really don't want to tell me to be aggressive, but...ok.

Next time I went right for the ball since Art was going for every ball including some that should have rightfully been mine.  I'll show you aggressive.

I connected with the ball and his hand but drew  blood.  I gave him a raised eyebrow in challenge but didn't apologize.

And that just about covers Walleyball, much more fun now that Art has gone to Florida for a month.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Life and Death

She looked about 8 years older than I am, yet she was two years younger.  She was distraught, talking a mile a minute, and it was difficult to understand why she had come other than "my knee hurts".  She was about 5 feet tall and very, very overweight.

As it happens, her knee had been hurt a week ago in a fall; she had had a chest xray a week ago, and an injection in her knee by her primary care two days ago. It took awhile to pry out of her the details of her injury.

"I fell down. Then my son picked me up under the arms and threw me back down. I think he kicked me".

No, she didn't want to report it to the police.  "A mother's love".  There were other circumstances, no he's never done it before.  Yes, I feel safe; he doesn't live with us.

The only medication she was on was ibuprofen.  Her only  medical problem was fibromyalgia.

The extenuating circumstances?  Her husband had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had less than 3 months to live, she cried.  And cried.  And cried.  The son had "overreacted" when they had told him about his dad's diagnosis.  Perhaps the wife had "exaggerated" a bit about what actually went down said the husband with a sidelong glance at me.


The husband looked pale, and none too healthy himself.  Yet it was clear that he loved her and had probably done most of the physical and emotional lugging and tugging for most of their marriage.  She was not a small woman.  She was demanding and dependent.  He knew everything right down to the color of her last bowel movement.  He was a one-man band; caretaker, cheerleader, enabler.

I took her back to a treatment room and settled her into a bed where she was seen by Henrietta. Shortly thereafter I overheard her on the cell phone, "Yes, unless I can walk and get around they are going to admit me".  What?  She had walked in.  I shot a quizzical look at Henrietta; were we on the same page, here?  "No, I never said that", Henrietta whispered, "they seem to have a lot going on right now".

The patient seemed to have no difficulty walking to the bathroom, although the husband was never more than an arm's length from her side tucking in the blankets, fluffing the pillows,dialing her cell phone.  Between phone calls, she wept.

She did not have a fracture.  Henrietta ordered a knee immobilizer but the widest one we have is 29 inches at the top; this lady measured about 9 inches larger than that around the thigh.  Crutches were just not going to work at all.  The only thing I could offer was a couple of large ace  bandages which were nothing more than a band aid, but it seemed to make her happy. That, a Percocet and some Ativan.

As I was going over her follow-up instructions, she suddenly burst into a fresh wash of tears.  "What am I going to do?", she wailed to the husband.  "You only have two months to live, then what will happen to me?"

I was....stunned.  So was the husband, who was now a whiter shade of pale.

"Well....I HOPE I have more time than that.  We never know, we never know.  The doctors aren't always right on the money about these things".

"I know, I just feel so....ALONE", she blubbered.

I have never felt worse for another living human being then I did for that husband.  He had trained her to be so dependent on him that now his death had become solely about her.  My first instinct was a desire to slap her, and it embarrasses me to say that.  But it really wasn't her fault completely.  He had created it and now was helpless to fix it.  I put my arm around his shoulders and said, "Sounds like you need some help", but I included the wife with a glance.

As I mentally ran through my social contact options, community resources, pastoral care, etc, the husband said that they had just talked to their pastor.  Their church was very giving and kind, and they had lots and lots of resources. They just needed to get the ball rolling and plugged in.  I asked if there was anything I could do for them at the moment, or help them in some other way.  They declined, with thanks. The wife wiped her eyes and off they rode into the sunset; he to a death sentence, she to cope with her anticipated loss and grief. As for the son....I can only imagine.

Sometimes the complaint has nothing at all to do with why they are here, we know that.  These people were simply overwhelmed.