Recalling A Bad Month

The last post I put up was not quite one year ago. To be honest, it has been difficult to find time to write. Even more than that, I haven’t had the desire to write about anything. Life, to be honest, has just been too busy. Most of the activity has been normal life stuff, but there have been some things that I should have written about. Because life has a strange way of throwing curve balls at any of us…

An example of this centers around our changing domicile. My wife and I had to pack up and move this past November. It was not a voluntary move; the property management company that owned the house decided they were going to turn the property into a laundromat.

A laundromat. Kind of a strange use for a single story house. But there it is. At the time of this writing, over five months later, no work has been done with that house. I find that interesting just by itself.

We were given 30 days to move. This was at the beginning of October. Not a lot of time to find another place to live, pack up an entire household, and find movers to bring our stuff from house to house. Surprisingly, however, we.were able to do just that. We were able to locate a house for rent on the east side of Manchester. A two story home with a detached garage and a full unfinished basement on a double corner lot. More expensive than what we were paying, to be sure, but you get what you pay for. It has been, and continues to be, a good place to live.

So we packed up our belongings, which took a considerable amount of time, and we prepared the new place, in terms of cleaning, painting, and general stuff that needed to be done. Plus we had to clean the place we were leaving, which admittedly wasn’t to hard to do.

(The living room of the old house, empty)
(The living room of the new house, two weeks after moving in)

So the day of the move came. We had hired movers and my wife was supervising their movements. I had to work that day, and she had said to me that this would be okay. She also told me not to worry about the move and to concentrate on working, or words to that effect. And I believed her; she has always had talent for making things go smoothly.

Those were famous last words. Little did I know how badly things were going to go off of the rails.

I had been busy on shift the day of the move. It was a cloudy, damp day; in hindsight, these were perfect conditions in which things could go wrong. At about 11:30 that morning my cell phone rang. It was my wife calling. When I answered and she started talking, I knew something was wrong. I don’t know why I knew that, but it was apparent after about 10 seconds that there was big trouble. In the transit from house to house something happened where she blacked out or had fallen asleep behind the steering wheel of her car; we don’t know which. When that happened she drifted across the road into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a large truck. Her airbags had deployed, our dog (who was in the back seat) got thrown around pretty violently, and a bunch of stuff in the cargo area of her car got damaged or destroyed as a result. And the car was totaled.

In her telling me what happened she sounded pretty disoriented. My level of worry and anxiety had bubbled over the top of the container at that point, and I told her to go to the hospital to get evaluated and to find either our daughter or son-in-law to get the dog. She originally was going to refuse care and hope deal with the movers but I convinced her that this was not a good idea. She reluctantly agreed. After I hung up the phone I explained to my manager what had happened and that I needed to go. He cut me loose without a second thought.

When I got on the road I have no doubt I broke many, many traffic laws getting to Manchester from Haverhill. I got to my (new) house to find my son-in-law and moving truck parked in the driveway. He had his children and my dog in his truck. We got the house opened and the movers started unloading and bringing stuff inside. That was a bit of a challenge as the movers spoke limited English. While they were working I got an opportunity to check out my dog. She was listless and her gums were pale, both bad signs. I had no idea what was going on with her. My daughter and wife got to the house later on. She had a concussion and a broken wrist, plus she had bruises all over her chest. Bad enough, but it could have been much worse. She walked away from it, a minor miracle in itself. As for the dog, we were worried enough that we brought her to the veterinarian where we learned she had a laceration on her spleen and was bleeding internally. She ended up staying for a couple of days to be treated and observed.

It sucked. And there were more hits to follow.

Two weeks later I got a phone call in the middle of the night from one of my nephews. He told me that his mother – my sister – had suffered from a massive head bleed about 12 hours before. Turns out she had a brain aneurysm, which she knew she had and chose to not have intervened with, that ruptured. There was nothing that could be done as brain herniation had occurred. She was put on comfort measures and died 18 hours later. I did get to see her a couple of hours before she died. More importantly, I got to check in with members of my family who were there with her. Just the same, it was difficult. Her health had been pretty tenuous over the previous year, and there was a lot wrong that I knew nothing about. We weren’t incredibly close, but I’ve felt badly because I think I could have done a better job being a good brother. There are a lot of reasons I wasn’t, none of them especially good. But I’ve made sure to keep the door open as far as her children are concerned.

The challenges have slowed to a trickle, and they are much easier overall. But there are still days where life is just plain tough. All we can do is deal one challenge at a time. I do the best I can.

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Recalling A Bad Month

Spring

I haven’t posted anything here in a really long time. But I discovered that an Android app exists, so I loaded it on my phone. This will make it easier for me to actually get back into the swing of writing again. I’m hopeful it will make me not have excuses to express myself.

Today is April 24. We are a month into Spring and it appears to have finally shown up. As I write this it is 65 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The sun is shining. And while I am still working today, I am in a T-shirt; my uniform shirt is waiting to be put on. Plus I’m in no hurry to put it on.

New England weather is a funny thing, especially at change of season. We recently had a stretch after March 21 (the Vernal Equinox) where there were multiple episodes of snowfall. Nobody was happy about it or expected to see it. But it seems to hopefully have dissipated. And with the departure of Winter comes allergy season.

It is always a gamble. Sometimes people have no issues. Most of the time, however, they do.

I encounter people often, professionally or otherwise, who have symptoms consistent with pollen allergies. They include a cough, congestion, sneezing, and generally feeling miserable. There really isn’t much to be done to treat the symptoms, but the standard stuff – over the counter cold remedies, chicken soup, etc. – seems to work most of the time. Sometimes the symptoms evolve into an infection, however. At those times more generally has to be done to manage it. Usually this involves antibiotic therapy. Sometimes steroids. Often ibuprofen for discomfort. And it helps.

So if you are in a place where you can enjoy the weather, do so. I’ll hope it is sunny, mild, and dry where you are.

Spring

The Queen of Heaven

On this Monday after Easter, sung at Compline in many religious communities and monasteries under the auspices of the Catholic Church…

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Regina cæli, lætare, alleluia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia, 
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
Gaude et lætare, Virgo Maria, alleluia. 
Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus.
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi,
mundum lætificare dignatus es:
præsta, quæsumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam,
perpetuæ capiamus gaudia vitæ.
Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen

In English:
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as He said, alleluia.Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray.
O God, who through the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
gave rejoicing to the world,
grant, we pray, that through his Mother, the Virgin Mary,
we may obtain the joy of everlasting life.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Queen of Heaven

Snow In March

Late March, at that.

The first day of spring, officially, was yesterday. You wouldn’t know it by today’s weather, though. Last night and early this morning the area where I live received probably three inches of snow. While that by itself isn’t a big deal, apparently there was a short tremor near me with the epicenter near Hopkinton, New Hampshire. I wasn’t aware of it until a few minutes before I started writing this, and apparently it lasted for 20-30 seconds.

Considering we’re talking about New England weather, this isn’t terribly aberrant. Just the same, it is a little bit annoying.

I was actually intending to go to work early today so that I could attend clinical rounds. Just as I was leaving my house, notification arrived by email that rounds were being cancelled. When this happens, the level of frustration is a little bit high. But it happens. So we wait for the next one. And we hope that the next one isn’t cancelled.

I am out of some of my prescription medications. The refills are waiting to be picked up, but I have to have time to get them. Lately, because of my work schedule, I haven’t had time to do much of anything. As a result, I’m starting to withdraw from one medication in particular, and I am starting to feel it. Not like opiate withdrawal; I can’t even imagine that. But I am dealing with increased fatigue and a headache that no amount of caffeine or ibuprofen will knock down. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick them up tonight. We’ll see.

This was the view from my yard this morning.

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With luck, it will melt over the next couple of days. I am definitely ready for spring to set in.

Snow In March

A Vicious Cycle

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santyana

The violence this past Friday night in Chicago underscores how nasty this political cycle has become. It also shows, pretty blatantly, I think, how out of control things are.

This morning, Donald Trump accused Bernie Sanders of being responsible for the protesters starting trouble at the site where the debate was to be held. Frankly, I thought that was pretty absurd;  like much of what Trump says, his words are not based on anything factual. Rather, as usual, he says things that are intended to cause people to not think, but to act in ways that are contrary to any logic.

I can’t help but compare what is happening now to what happened in Germany in the late 1920’s and 1930’s. And I hate to make this comparison, but instinctively it is the only one that makes any sense.

Adolf Hitler had the ability to generate a similar sort of feeling among people. He had a sort of cult of personality that grew rapidly. His ability to get others to buy into his vision of what turned into barbarism at its worst, which led to the deaths of so many innocent victims of that most heinous type of brutality.

It’s not to say that Trump and Hitler are similar people; I can’t make that comparison. But the feelings that his rhetoric generates among people is staggering. And the way his supporters act looks suspiciously similar to how Hitler’s followers acted nearly ninety years ago.

Just the same, I’m not scared yet. That won’t happen unless his followers start to wear brown shirts and sing rowdy songs.

A Vicious Cycle

Venues

Working in different places can be unsettling, especially if you are in a place for the first time and aren’t used to the lay of the land. For the next few hours, at least, I am finding myself in that place.

My employer – the one I work for full-time – in addition to covering a number of communities in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts, also covers six towns in southeastern New Hampshire. By virtue of being licensed in New Hampshire as well as carrying certification in Massachusetts, I have the opportunity to work in both coverage areas. As I write this I am posted at the Hampstead Fire Department’s quarters. Hampstead is located in southeastern New Hampshire, roughly halfway between the towns of Salem and Exeter. In addition to Hampstead, we also cover Atkinson, Danville, Newton, Plaistow, and Sandown. There is a second ambulance up here located in Plaistow. Between the two trucks the area is reasonably well covered. If it gets out of control, one of the two free range trucks out of Haverhill, Massachusetts, will post on the state line until everyone is back in service.

I am usually always on one of those Haverhill trucks.

Like yesterday. I took care of a patient who needed to be brought into Boston. Increasing difficulty breathing. Came from one of the hospitals in our area. This was a pretty tough guy; his history included multiple organ transplants. Performed in the same surgery. He was sent to Boston because he is followed by the transplant team there. Plus he had some indicators that required him to be brought there. A low hemoglobin level, which in itself isn’t a necessarily alarming issue, but he additionally had an elevated D-Dimer level.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, it is defined as follows:

D-dimer: A fragment produced during the degradation of a clot. The D here stands for domain. Dimer indicates two identical units, in this case two identical domains. D-dimer result from complete breakdown of the clot. Monoclonal antibody to the D-dimer fragment provide the basis for the main methods of detecting it. The presence of D-dimers in the blood is a reliable clue that clotting has begun. Sometimes used as a clinical marker for pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) or deep venous thrombosis (DVT) (blood clot in the leg) Sometimes written d-dimer or D-Dimer

(Source: http://www.medicinenet.com)

Considering his history, it made sense to send him down. Plus, he knew the routine as he had done this multiple times in the past. And he was an easy patient, which made a big difference.

For now, I sit and wait. Trying to relax is key, but more often than not it is a challenge to do because you never know what’s going to happen. And in a few hours I will be heading to Haverhill from here as I am covering for the Paramedic normally on this truck at this time.

Here is to sitting and thinking.

Venues

Eavesdropping

Sitting in the room that functions as a library listening to the chatter in the room. It is actually pretty interesting and a little freaky; there were multiple conversations going on but now there is only one, and the topic keeps changing. It’s like listening to a room full of people who all have Attention Deficit Disorder.

Almost funny, but not quite.

Right now the thread is related to the busy nature of Friday overnights, the hair stylings of one of our supervisors, and the different vehicles that the Massachusetts State Police utilizes for operations statewide. Now two of the folks working are playing with a tape measure. They want to see how far they can extend it before it snaps.

Utter silliness. It is a great way to relieve stress.

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This is the view of the door. I didn’t want to show the whole room because there are people in the room who I don’t want to offend or violate their privacy. The conversation is continuing while I write. Now the topic is registering automobiles in Massachusetts. I am not contributing to the conversation because it keeps changing; now the topic is ECG’s and cardiac rhythms. And Social Security. And criminal background checks…..

It is a hallmark of being an EMS provider. Being able to sort out multiple threads of conversation is important to some people. To others, being able to concentrate on one thread is critical.  I am inclined to think that this is more important, even though I have the ability to separate threads.

Today I transported a person from an area rehab center to a facility just outside of Portland, Maine. A gentleman who had fallen down a flight of stairs and broke numerous bones, including his neck. He is a quadriplegic as a result. In spite of his injuries he has a good attitude. That said, I don’t know what his quality of life will be. In addition to the neck, he has a number of other fractures, most of which were repaired surgically.

One of the things that is a problem with people who have neurological injuries is that regulating body temperature is a problem. This was no different. The heat in the patient compartment went on and off multiple times. Aside from that, he was actually an easy patient to take care of. And he was a really nice person.

I hope things work out for him.

Eavesdropping