Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Planning Ahead

A patient came to the ED this afternoon with severe shortness of breath and a pulse ox reading of 84%. Of course we got him straight back to a room and hooked up to some supplemental oxygen. He said he had stage 3 COPD, normally uses O2 at home, and started having trouble when his portable tank ran out.

Me: "How far from home were you when that happened?"

Mr. Gasp: "Well we're on the way to visit my in-laws, and we live in Distantville, so I guess about five hours. And we got another two hours to drive before dinner, so I hope you guys can get me out of here soon."

Me: "Okay, and how long does your portable tank normally last?"

Mr. Gasp: "About four hours."

Me: "...Right. So how many tanks did you take with you?"

Mr. Gasp: "Just one, why?"

People, if your life and health depend on medical supplies, remember to bring them along when you travel, and please make sure you've packed enough. Perhaps consult a local third-grader to help you with the arithmetic.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


At about 2 this afternoon, a guy wandered into my ED waiting room and shouted:

"Jesus Heironeous flapjacking motherfuck, it's hot out there!"

It's impossible to argue with a statement like that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You Know

You know you're a nurse when you can diagnose a GI bleed from fifteen feet away, without needing an endoscope, without running a single test, and without ever laying eyes on the patient. Nurses learn to have very discriminating noses.

You know you're a nurse when you knock on the stall door and inform a surprised stranger that he needs to see his doctor. Nurses learn to have very little shame.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Heat Wave

The temperature around these parts is hovering well up in the 100s. Severe heat warnings are announced for whole weeks at at time, not even letting up at night. This is the kind of weather that can hurt people.

What's weird is that we aren't seeing many heat-related injuries in the ER. We have had a few, but not nearly as many as were expected from such a big heat wave. And all of the ones I've seen have been guys who work outdoors, who don't have the option of getting out of the heat.

I think might be hot enough that people are realizing the danger.

When it's 95 degrees out, you know it's hot, but it doesn't seem threatening. That's when people go and do yard work, thinking they'll be fine as long as they hurry. Or they decide to go up and clean the gutters, because it's sunny out and he won't get rained on. Next thing you know, Dad got dizzy and fell off the ladder, and Grandma is passed out in the peonies. Those days, the ER is busy.

But when the official temperature is one-hundred-and-ass degrees, and peeking out into the sunlight makes your hair burst into flame, I guess even the most lawn-obsessed suburbanite is going to retreat into the a/c and leave his mower in the garage. They stay home, I have an easy day at work, and everybody wins.

People might really be acting intelligently. Maybe there's hope for the species yet.