Rx: Divine Intervention

The discharge paperwork was still warm from the printer when I arrived at the patient’s bedside. Her work-up was simple; something that easily could have been treated at her PCP’s. But she couldn’t go to her PCP, because she was new to the area, or she didn’t like her doctor, or she was between doctors, or she called them up and they couldn’t fit her in until April 2032…I forget. Something like that. I digress…

I began reading over the doctor’s notes, created using that new “speech-to-text” dictation program. Simple patient, simple assessment, simple treatment, simple discharge. Right?

“…if the infection does not improve over the next few days, please return and we will…” I paused. I stifled a giggle, bit my lip, and excused myself from the room. I scurried back to the nurses’ station, taking a seat next to the doctor and passing him his discharge notes.

“Really, Doc? Seems a little desperate, don’t you think?” I asked. He shot me a confused look. “Discharge notes, at the bottom. Read.”

“‘If the infection does not improve over the next few days, please return and we will…ask the Catholics’?? What? No! I said ‘Prescribe Keflex.’ Damn software…”

“I was gonna say, I didn’t think her infection was quite that bad yet.”

Dyspnea, Orthopnea, Eupnea

I had to take a Medical Terminology class to fulfill the requirements for my degree. I thought it was kind of silly and somewhat of a waste of time, but, hey, I can’t argue with an easy A.

My class was online. However, we had to call the instructor once per week to read medical words from a vocabulary list she’d emailed to us. When I called her for the first time, she went off on this huge tangent about how she has all this experience in the medical field, but she never specifically discussed what job(s) she held.

One day, I called her to complete this assignment. I was reading down the list, not thinking much of it.

“Hypoglycemia,” I’d announce.





“Um….try that again.”


I was kind of surprised. I didn’t think I’d mispronounced anything.

“Disp-nee-uh,” I tried a little slower.

“No. Minus 5 points. It’s pronounced dis-pee-nee-uh. You need to pronounce the ‘P’. Next.”


“Um…ok…orthopnea.” (Orth-op-nee-uh)

“Again, pronounce the ‘P’. Minus Five again. Orth-o-pee-nee-uh. Next.”


“Pronounce. The. P. Ee-you-pee-nya.”

“Interesting,” I said, carefully choosing my words. “I’ve never heard it pronounced like that before.”

“Well, when you’re in the business for a long time, you pick up on these things.”

“I see.”


Maybe I–and everyone I’ve ever worked with or been exposed to in the medical field–is wrong? But I’m willing to bet you all (y’all, yous guys, etc.) pronounce it the same as I do, despite the differences in our colloquialisms. That’s just me though. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Because she definitely did. 15 points worth of it, actually.

Doctors Say The Darnedest Things

Patient: “Oh! Look what we have here! Are you the good doctor?”

Doctor: “Well, I’m not the bad one…”

Awkward Report

P2P: Hey! So, this is Mr. So-and-so. He’s doing alright. Been hemodynamically stable for the whole trip.

Nurse Unsure: Good, good. How were his vital signs?

P2P: ….Yeah. Uh…yeah, those were good too.


So…there’s that.

An Eraser-Free Exam

Everyone takes tests differently, using different strategies and tactics. When I take an exam, I try not to change an answer after I put it down on paper, unless I realize I read the question wrong. In fact, I rarely go back and review my exam for this reason…I always psych myself out. And, usually, this strategy works out well for me.

One friend, however, does the exact opposite. She essentially takes the test twice. She goes back, reads through her answers, panics, and changes like half of them. When the tests are returned to us, she finds that her score would easily be 10 points higher if she hadn’t changed her answers.

“You’ve got to stop doing that. You know this stuff. Just trust that you do, finish your test, and turn it in. Be done with it,” I tell her.

“I know. I’m trying. I just get so panicked when I’m taking the test!” She says, nervously drumming her fingers on the desk.

Our teacher is going around, passing out exams to each of us. She also hands us a simple calculator and a pencil. She comes around to our row, and methodically sets down a paper exam on the desk. Then comes the calculator. Finally, she passes a pencil to my friend. And, without any warning, smoothly pulls out a pair of scissors and cuts the eraser clean off the top of it. She winks at my friend, and carries on as if nothing ever happened.

My friend and I exchanged glances, with wide eyes and shocked smiles. Did that really just happen?

But, hey, it worked out. My friend got a 90 on that exam.

Teachers can be pretty cool, even if their methods seem a little crazy at first.

“Wait…Did He Just Pull Over?”

I have one of those cars that the passengers always complain about. It rides much closer to the ground than most vehicles. I’m no statistician, but I’d say approximately 90.125% of my passengers, upon entering or exiting my vehicle, make some sort of negative muttered exclamation, some gasping or disgruntled puffing/sighing noise, and then loudly remark that my car was designed for children or mice or contortionists or something. This means that where my dash meets the windshield comes up to approximately bumper level on most of the vehicles in this area. (I’m only slightly exaggerating here.)

Now, I don’t use crazy amounts of lights on my car. I have exactly one, small, removable light that I can stick on my dash. It has a grand total of three light bulbs in it. I really only have it because I live so far away from the station–and even so, I seldom use it. I never use it during the day, and only rarely use it at night–mainly because nobody sees it. I could grumble and say that nobody ever pulls over because they’re all mean, distracted, selfish jerks. But in truth, it’s probably because my light shines directly into their tailpipe, and they never realize I’m a responding vehicle.

One night, for whatever reason, I did use my light while responding. Maybe it was just so that I mentally felt like I was going to get to the station quicker…even though I wasn’t going any faster than the posted speed limit, and even though I know nobody ever pulls over or does anything helpful when I have my light on. Who knows. I saw a vehicle up ahead, and tapped my brakes, because I’m a good driver and want to give myself ample room to stop so I don’t rear-end him in case he decides to do something crazy and unexpected.

And, right on cue, he does something crazy and unexpected. He jams on the brakes and swerves to the side of the road. My first thought was, “WHOA! Looks like somebody’s a little intoxicated tonight, just swerving off the road for no apparent reason.” Briefly after that, I figured he must’ve stopped and swerved for a deer or something. So I came to a stop, watching the road carefully for any wildlife that happened to stumble into the street. After about 10 seconds, I saw nothing. I then realized…”Holy crap. I have my light on…and that guy actually pulled over for me??”  People pulling over for lights? Now that’s just unheard of.

Then I continued on my merry way, and probably saved a bus load of children from being attacked by a herd of vicious bear-sharks.

Quote of the Day

My professor during my maternity lecture:

“Let me just tell you now that I really don’t recommend Googling ‘nipple pinch test.’ I had a very specific result in mind…and it certainly wasn’t what came up.”

Kids Say The Darnedest Things

P2P: Do you go to school? What did you do in school today?

Kid: I decorated a cupcake.

P2P: Did you? Well that’s pretty cool.

Kid: I talked with her. We were friends.

P2P: With the cupcake?

Kid: Yep.

P2p: What’s her name?

Kid: Um…I don’t know.

P2P: What? Well, you’ll have to ask her.

Kid: But I ate her!

P2P: *gasp* But you said you were friends!

Kid: We were! She didn’t mind. She was a cupcake.

P2P: Well, are we friends?

Kid: Yes.

P2P: Are you going to eat me?

Kid: Are you a cupcake?

P2P: No…

Kid: Then no.

The Sunflower Seed Catastrophe

I play favorites. Meaning I have a favorite ambulance to drive. The brakes require the right amount of pressure for me to stop the truck comfortably. The steering isn’t too soft or too hard. It’s a decent size truck to work with, and I can easily back it in almost anywhere. She’s my favorite, but she’s not perfect.

One of her imperfections, for instance, is the profound lack of cup-holders. Just a suggestion to any ambulance manufacturers out there–CUP-HOLDERS ARE VERY IMPORTANT. At least to me. In place of a cup-holder, we have this small caddy thing that we managed to stick between the flashlight-holders on the center console of the truck. It’s not ideal, but we’ve gotten used to it, and we make do.

My partner and I were sent on a transfer to Far Far Away Medical Center towards the end of a busy shift, so obviously I took my favorite ambulance. It was one of those shifts where you didn’t have any time to eat. When my partner, the patient, and I were stuck in an elevator, my stomach decided it was a good time to let out this 30 second long growl that probably caused a minor earthquake in the region. The patient looked at me and asked, “Hey, you alright there? Do you want me to ask the nurses to get you a sammich?”

Once we started back home, my partner and I whole-heartedly agreed to stop somewhere to get food for the ride back. My options are pretty limited, what with the gluten free diet and all. So I wound up getting a bag of sunflower seed kernels. It’d at least be something to put in my stomach and survive the drive home. As we made our way our to the truck, I quickly scarfed down a couple of handfuls of sunflower seeds. Once back in the ambulance, I set  the open bag in the little caddy thing, and started driving back home.

My partner and I chatted, as partners tend to do. And my partner decided he wanted to eat my food….also as partners tend to do. He reached over and went to pick up the bag without asking. He didn’t look down at the caddy (and sunflower seeds), trying what I can only assume was an attempt to be stealthy. Just as I asked him what he thought he was doing, he knocked over the entire caddy, and spilled my seeds EVERYWHERE. All over the floor, all over the console…just, everywhere. There was not a single stupid seed left for consumption in the bag.

It’s a good thing I like the guy. Because hunger does strange things to a person. And when the relief of hunger is stripped away right before your eyes, it does even stranger things. Like briefly make it okay in your mind to kick the offender out of a moving ambulance at highway speed. Then turn around and run over him.

Like I said…good thing I like the guy. And the M&M’s he offered as an apology/replacement.

Overheard at the Station

Cop: Hey, how’s nursing school?

P2P: Good. To be honest, some days I’m sitting in class, staring at my pencil, and considering giving myself a lobotomy with it because that would be more fun and less painful…but, overall, no, it’s not too bad.

Cop: Yeesh. Well, I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Good luck to you.