Sunday, March 29, 2020

Now It's Time to Say Goodbye....

to Blogger...

Here's my first post after the demise of OMG has it been that long!!

Monday, August 6, 2007...

For the last 12 years I have been writing on Blogger, and now, as I plan a move across the country, a change in jobs, who knows how many new adventures (although because of this virus thing going around a lot of plans are up in the air), and whatever life throws my way, I'll be writing about it and sharing it on a new platform...

I hope you'll stick around for the journey... I plan to start using that platform on April 1st to kick off the start of the annual A to Z Challenge... 

I also am going to be adding art and photography as I delve more into the finer arts... or perhaps even deeper into the finer arts...

so, come on... let's go...!!

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Final Day

Bring it...

And so it begins....

0340 - I'm up, turning off my alarm for what probably will the last time at this unGodly hour for a while... I've always been a morning person... I prefer sunrises to sunsets... maybe I will enjoy living on the east coast for a while... watching the sun rise on each new day.... hmm....

0505 - "If you're not 10 minutes early, you're 15 minutes late..." So today I was a bit late... distracted at home... futzed around for a while... plus I collected a bag of pens to bring back to the ED... so, yeah, I'm the reason you can't find a pen in this place... btw - Temp 97.3, still good...

0544 - My scribe just sneezed next to me, and after having her wash her hands and her sleeve with hand sanitizer, I realized we were not maintaining social distancing, and I immediately reached for my thermometer... it's like my talisman against the evil humors... maybe I should make her take her temperature... and spray Lysol around her and me...

0555 - The first ambulance comes in with what was described as a "chair throwing, hallucinating, psychotic patient that might be going through alcohol withdrawal..." ok, so let's see how well those blood draws and medication administrations are going to go... the patient seems calm... for the moment...

0630 - This I will not miss... breakfast at the hospital. The most excited I can get about breakfast are the days they have a country fried (I think it's) chicken patty... of course, the last time they had that, it was on a Friday... during lent... yeah

0645 -  The calm psychotic patient no longer is calm... here's to hoping they don't go psychotic

0710 - Called to the ICU to intubate a patient that's not breathing very well. Medications drawn, RT's in order, tube goes in, and it's back down to the ED where...

0727 - The psychotic patient has gone totally psychotic in my absence... so now they're being put in restraints and given medications to put them to sleep...

0730 - I take a bite of my now-cold breakfast and am told that I patient with a chainsaw injury that I spent almost an hour sewing back together has come back. The wound looks like it's starting to heal as expected. I am pleased with the result, as hopefully is the patient...

0800 - I'm trying to eat breakfast again

0810 - Complete pandemonium has commenced and all of the psych patients are now in 4 points and receiving medications... hoping the din in the ED diminishes... someone's going out for coffee... we're girding our loins people...

0830 - I attempted to eat my completely cold breakfast. That did not go as planned as I was being constantly interrupted for psychotic patients, triaging who gets tested for COVID based on symptoms and travel history, signing EKG's... the usual ED work stuff...

0850 - Temp 97.8 - still good

0916 - Have completely given up the idea of eating my icy cold breakfast and am instead going to test the limits of my diabetes medication by feasting on some of the apple fritters and donuts one of the PA's brought in honor of my last day... and the coffee finally arrived!

0935 - Finally got a patient out of here after reassuring them that there was nothing wrong within their belly... buh bye....

1002 - The sugar high is starting to kick in... either that or the caffeine in the Dutch Brothers coffee has gone straight to my head because I am buzzing around a department where I really don't have a lot of patients at the moment.... so I keep circling, and talking fast, and taking way too long to explain things...

blood sugar rising...

1035 - I'm discharging a very sweet senior who fell two days ago and is still having pain. They feel much better after the pain medications I gave them. They asked my name and if I was a traveler. When I said I wasn't, they told me "It's great that we have a fantastic doctor in the area" I almost choked up. "Well there are lots of us. Thank you."

1056 - One of our local police officers just brought us a dozen donuts... adding to the six boxes of donuts we already have... Thanks for thinking of us! Hmm... sugar rising according to my CGM... but maybe I need another one....

1130 - Where did the time go...? Temp is 97.8 and I just had to go back into the tent... full precautions... another person screened... so far no positive tests but we'll be getting results over the next several days. I think it's time for another half a donut...

1225 - "I just used a little bit" Yeah... that's why your blood sugar is over 500, you have ketones in your blood, I'm giving you tons of fluid and insulin... and it's not like it's your first time... #MethBeBad

1245 - The nurses are frantically texting and making phone calls to make my every EMS photo dream come true... they secured a fire truck, maybe an ambulance, some police contacts, and one of them, seriously girl, called to see if we could get a helicopter... would have honestly open mouthed French kissed all of them if that had happened...

1302 - Fire truck came and had to leave on a call almost as soon as it got to the back entrance... ambulance crew showed up and we shot a photo with them...

1325 - I checked out all my patients to the oncoming doc... I emptied out my mailbox and packed up my lab coat... Thank you, all, it has been my honor to work with all of you all of these years.

Dr. Bonales, signing off, Humboldt... stay safe out there...

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Final Countdown - Day 4 of 5

I'm Dr. B, and welcome to my world.

So, the challenge continued. In just about a week's time, I've gone from fun-loving, cool ED doc to expected specialist in epidemiology, infection control, risk stratifier, and it's gotten to the point I've actually started keeping up with the medical literature on a daily basis just so I can have the latest information about this whole thing... it's becoming very stressful, and I am so glad that I only have one more day of this before I take a long six week hiatus. Hopefully, on the other end of that, this will have been a true learning experience for all of us.

You don't think about illness much when you become a doctor. I mean in terms of what can happen to you. Sure, you're careful to avoid needle sticks. Work place violence has become more prominent. You know when cold and flu season starts, you'll inevitably get coughed on by that 2 year old just as you lean in to listen to their heart, and BAM! about a week later you're coughing with a runny nose... or worse, what we used to call in residency "the pedi flu" which you'd always get during that first week of your rotation back at Children's Hospital and which had you running to the bathroom for one thing or another. That was the worse.

But in terms of being scared about something, I don't think we are. At least, I can't think of anyone on my staff that would back down in the face of an epidemic, or pandemic, or whatever is before us at the time. We come to work, we gown up, and get to moving. We help each other. We support each other. We work together.

And, that was always the draw for me when it came to Emergency Medicine. While I loved the challenge and instant gratification of surgery, it felt more like a soloist instead of a chorus. We may squawk and balk at each other from time to time, but when there's a code, when there's a patient in need, when there's a catastrophe of any kind, the team pulls together to make things happen.

One of the best compliments I ever got from an RN was that they would "always be glad to follow me over any hill." You always think about the doctor sort of running the show, but there's a difference between a director and a leader. The director tells you what to do, while the leader shows you what to do by their example. My codes are generally calm and not chaotic. I listen when the nurses tell me their concerns about their patients because they're the ones spending more time with them. I take the time to teach whenever I can so that we always know and understand what we're doing together...

Like today... I electrocardioverted (shocked) someone out of an irregular rhythm. I diagnosed two people with abscesses and infections (one got to go home, the other had to stay for a more serious infection), I saw my meth patient back again for a dressing change and antibiotics (they actually looked like they'd showered and had done a bit of grooming), I saw and worked up and discharged two chest pains, I dealt with a patient who seemed to want to have something wrong with them (they stated they'd been having abdominal pains for "years" and had just seen their doctor 2 days ago after which they went to the another ED where they got a full work-up and evaluation, then came to my ED because they wanted a "second opinion, I reviewed everything from the prior ED, went over their results, and every time they brought up a new complaint - abdominal pain became chest pain became "are you sure I don't have a tumor" which I reassured them they didn't because the CT scan would have shown it, and I had worked up their chest pain because that had been their initial complaint at triage even though they told me they'd come in for abdominal pain, I referred them back to their PCP and to GI for evaluation of their multiple complaints), I had the drunk that had to sober up,  I had the drunk that was sobering up and going into DT's, I had the singing psychotic decide suddenly that clothing was optional and wanted to run around the department showing this to everyone, and I had a couple of patients that required me to put on my new body armor and go into the big scary tent... now I have to check my temperature every couple of hours, but I'll still be back to work tomorrow for that last day at this hospital... then I'll self quarantine, sort of, for the next several weeks... 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Final Countdown - Day 3 of 5

A quote by Emerson states: "To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is Wisdom."

As many of you know, I'm probably at my happiest when I'm traveling. Just the thought of that next voyage or road trip keeps my mind wandering to what next adventure am I going to have? Will I be going someplace familiar, or will I be going someplace new to explore?  Who will I meet along the way? What new places will I find to eat, and how many photos am I going to take? 

Alas, with the new travel restrictions, I really don't have a travel plan until I start working my new job somewhere in the Mid West. To be honest, I'm not quite sure where actually since licensing is up in the air. And, travel for work really isn't a journey. It's more like commuting. Don't get me wrong, I love to fly. I love to check out new places. But it loses some of its luster when it's for work, because, well, you're going to work. Still, I love to sit and people watch at the airport. I create scenarios for some of the people I see. Mostly I can't wait to get to the end of the trip just to be done with the getting there. Certainly not as exciting as heading out for vacation, but for the time being it will have to do.

Anyway, today was a crazy day. It's not like I saw a lot of patients because, even though there were a lot of patients, we can't bring people back to a room when there aren't any because the rooms are full of other people... 

 - people like my meth addict who came back again but this time stayed long enough for me to actually evaluate their wound, give them antibiotics and actually ask them to come back again so that we can try to get social work to help get them the resources they need to keep their foot from getting so infected it would have to be amputated.

 - people like my really bad pneumonia that had to be intubated. Once, again, please have the discussion with your family members about your final wishes. And, while I appreciated that they had a Living Will, it wasn't very clear about CPR versus no CPR, or being on a ventilator. Sure I can say I think it's possible they might come off the vent once the pneumonia is clear, but I can't guarantee it. I wasn't not hopeful for this patient, but I can't promise that they won't need to be on it long term. We'll see how they do.

 - people like my 60-something, meth'd up patient who dislocated their hip... again... somehow "in their sleep..." my back and hip are feeling the effects of yorking on that leg "Captain Morgan style" and getting it back into place. That actually was a "yeah for me" kind of moment because initially a colleague attempted to reduce it and didn't... and I did... yeah, that's right, I did it, 5ft 1in me who had to practically climb on the bed... pat on the back for me.

- people like the transfer from the smaller hospital that needed hemodialysis which they don't do in the smaller hospital, the three psych patients who are in the midst of their varied psychoses and either suicidal, severely depressed, or floridly psychotic... at least I was entertained by their Cardi B impression... they received a clap for that...

And, speaking of entertainment, we had two police take downs this morning. One was drunk and decided that they weren't going to cooperate with a legal blood draw. The second was another of our repeat customers who decided they were bored of sitting in the waiting room and did some kind of substance then proceeded to act crazily which then required three police officers to take them down and away to jail. Funny thing: this patient has a pretty serious heart infection from their IV drug use but keeps leaving the hospital to... shoot up drugs... then returns because somewhere in their brain they know they need IV antibiotics... but the last time they were successfully treated was while they were in jail because they actually got their full course of antibiotics. Fancy that.

- I had the usual chest pains, the falling down, the miscarriage, and, I'm sure a couple I'm forgetting... probably because my head is thinking I should be thinking about the Pacific Ocean and sipping a piña colada on the deck of a ship... 

But, for a while I'm not sure what I'll be imagining other than I've got two more shifts then six weeks to contemplate... and plan... because I never stop planning for that next big adventure... 

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Final Countdown - Day 2 of 5

And, so it's come to this...
A tent just outside of the ED to help contain the flood of
sick, maybe sick and worried well.

And, just when I thought I just had to make it through
3 more shifts and escape from all this craziness...

So, now I have a whole month off to sit and ponder my future.
Well, according to my DH, not actually sit, but pack
and start getting ready for a cross country move a little sooner than expected.
Without any massages or facials or body wraps... sigh... 

Hey, at least, all of our suitcases were packed.
Now we can just load those up and be ready to go...

But, for the next three days, it'll just be more of:
- known drunk comes back in... drumroll... drunk; seriously, I just saw you yesterday

- known infection comes back in with infection after leaving the hospital to go do meth;
surprisingly, not the same one as yesterday, although the one from yesterday did come back too,
they just left because they weren't being see fast enough
and that's because my nurses, in full hazard gear, were swabbing noses and throats
out in people's cars... the ones that met criteria... there were a lot that didn't...


- saw a kid with a viral infection
- saw another kid with pink eye
- saw an elderly person that's been on chronic pain meds and switched over to suboxone by their primary care doc and wasn't handling the switch very well
- there was a pneumonia
- there was a stroke
- there was a mystery diagnosis solved by one of my internal medicine colleagues because 
they see stuff we never see
- there was an allergic reaction that came in covered in hives

- and there was the patient that was seen a couple of days prior, had a negative
work-up, came back because they left before they were given discharge instructions 
and were actually feeling better but still wanted to know what was wrong with them
because Google told them that they might have a "blood clot" that "migrated from between their shoulder blades to their pectoralis muscle" and made them cough... I tried to explain to them that
yeah, that's not how that works... and they told me I didn't understand because I hadn't heard the "whole story" at which point I heard every small detail of their life from sleeping on the floor,
to taking their kids to school, to having something to eat, then taking a nap, then the "blood clots" migration from back to front and now gone, and how they were sure it was a "heart attack" because they felt their heart "exploding into pieces" that one time they were in a meth-induced haze
and how they've had many "undiagnosed heart attacks" because they felt that way 
several times... that was when my head exploded...
when I walked out of the room I was imagining myself on a long ocean cruise... 
which is now not to be... sigh...

Let's all pray together as we wash our hands that soon "this too shall pass"

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Final Countdown - Day 1 of 5

So about 9 years, 5 months and a week ago I started as an attending
at a small hospital in Northern California.

Today I started the last of 5 shifts that I will be working
at the slightly bigger sister hospital.
This is how today went:

cardiac arrest came in, after about 30 minutes of CPR and putting in a breathing tube
we got back pulses... then I had to stop the ventilator because we found out the patient had a DNR (do not resuscitate) and the family member let us know that they had wished to not have anything done,
so that was a little frustrating

during that time, a patient came in with a really low blood pressure and fast heart beat,
hung some IVF and some pressor medications and got them under control,
admission to the ICU

then I had to clean up the mass of patients that had come in while I was working on the cardiac arrest and patient with low heart beat
they included:
  - a chronic drunk who was drunk again and needed a room to sleep it off
 - poison oak allergic reaction
 - patient with shingles
 - patient with problem with their ostomy
 - a chronic meth user that left the hospital to smoke meth and was now returning
because their infected foot somehow did not magically get better without 
antibiotics and wound care, not to mention running on it barefoot in the woods
while high on meth
 - an elderly couple both with dementia that went on a joy ride and ended up driving down
an embankment
- a patient who passed out and hit their head and who could now not move their leg
I had to manage the patients signed out to me by my colleague in the morning
which included:
- an appy
 - a pregnant appy
- a car crash victim with abnormal vitals
and a couple of people who didn't like their lives any more
so needed psychiatric help 

in the midst of all this a code was called on the hospital floor
and I had to run upstairs and put a breathing tube in that patient
while they were doing CPR...

... the patient later coded again in the ICU and didn't make it...

not to mention a lot of phone calls where we had to triage and decide
which patients actually needed COVID testing... OMG

The one bright spot in my day was a visit from a patient
who'd had a serious brain infection which had to be transferred down to 
the big city children's hospital where they underwent
brain, eye and sinus surgery,
IV antibiotics,
physical therapy to help them be able to walk and move
their right side again
and here they are a month later looking
bright and a lot healthier than the day I saw them...
this is them:

I hope he does amazing things... 

*photo posted with permission*

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Eleventh Monthiversary

Most days, it's so hard to believe that in one month it will have been
a year since my mother died.
Some days, the pain is just so raw, it's almost as if it just
happened yesterday.
Other days, I find myself not even thinking about her...
How is that possible??

How can life just continue on that way without a thought
about the woman who was the central figure in my life
for, well, my whole life...??

But, life does go on...
Through all the death and the pain and the loss...
life goes on...

And, I guess the best place to see that is on a farm...

These are two of the six lambs born this year...
We'll raise them up to sell, and next year, someone else will
have new lambs... or lamb at Easter...
or like the little white lamb, a new pet to enjoy...

Daffodils grow wild on our property..,
Every year they suddenly appear dotting our fields in yellow...
After a few weeks they're gone, but I know they will be back next year,
even if we're in a new home and won't see them...

Life goes on...
Our time here is brief, and sometimes all we'll carry with us
are the memories of the life we've lived...

Let's make it a good one, 
so that we have wonderful memories
to look back on, always...

I was blessed to be able to have so many memories
with my mother which I'll carry with me always...
Until I join her one day in Heaven...

Friday, February 21, 2020

A Flood of Memories

So, I just spent the last weekend in Florida attending the Daytona 500. I also went for a job interview, and I got the job! So, we will soon be moving to Florida and starting a new chapter in our lives. But, I will talk about that more in future posts.

What I wanted to talk about was the flood of memories I was having all weekend. Driving to the airport, I started thinking about my mother and how much she would have enjoyed traveling then *BAM* I'm back in the room with her on the day she died, and I'm watching her take her last breath. I manage to hold it together and continue some banter with my husband as we're going down the road.

I'm better once we get to the airport and onto the plane. We land in Los Angeles and get to our next gate. Soon we're on the plane now headed east when once again, out of nowhere *BAM* the memory of holding my mother's hand as I told her how much I loved her and how I was going to do all the trips and travels we planned to do before she fell. And, again, there she was taking her last breath. And, the tears started all over.

This happened to me at least three more times during the weekend. Once, even, if you can believe it while sitting at the race track waiting for the race to start. I mean, seriously, what was wrong with me? One second I'm sitting there listening to the pre-race announcements, and the next I'm thinking about what a beautiful day it was, which lead to wondering how Momma would have liked living in Florida, and there was that memory again. Luckily, sunglasses and a quick swipe at my eyes helped mask the tears that had started to fall.

I know in part it's probably because of the thought of moving and leaving California. She's on my mind as I start to pack up her room and make decisions about what's staying in her home in SoCal and what's going across the country for me to keep in her memory. Like this bunny... I bought it for her around the 1st of April not knowing that a week later she would be dead. I liked that it had a purple bow, because she liked purple. And, she always enjoyed fun things like this to decorate her room for the season.

I guess I'm just really missing talking to my mom about decisions I have to make. About seeking her counsel on choices I am making about the house. About not having her here by my side traveling and seeing all these new places. About her death anniversary. About how I am still not sure how I am supposed to do things without her in my life. About how I don't feel her around me, and I'm not sure if there really is a Heaven despite her faith and my religion.

And, I think that's the worse part...

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Tenth Monthiversary

It's still on the fridge.
I can't bring myself to throw it away.
It's not bothering anyone, 
and it's not in the way,
it's just there
as a reminder
of Momma's basic needs...

I wrote about how strange it was to walk into the grocery store
for the first time and not knowing where to start.
Shopping has changed now.
Hubby and I have actually started shopping together 
in the last several weeks.
Now I've gotten into the routine of thinking of what we need.

I still occasionally find myself going down an aisle and 
mentally checking off what Momma would have needed.
But we've made changes too:
we get a different kind of butter
we don't buy as much ice cream any more
we don't buy flavored creamer or Mocha Mix
and I haven't bought Diet Cranberry Juice for 10 months.

Even if the list eventually comes off the fridge
it won't matter.
Momma's list will always be ingrained in my brain...
things like that can't ever be forgotten...

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Letting Go a Piece at a Time

This is one of my favorite pictures of my mother.
It was taken in Skagway, Alaska as we got ready to re-board the ship
after a day of riding the train to White Pass, which is what you do in Skagway.

It shows her sitting in her walker/wheel-chair which significantly
changed her life and ability to travel when we bought it several years ago.
Now, hopefully, it's changing someone else's life and improving their mobility.

Momma had peripheral neuropathy which is one of the complications of diabetes.
What she didn't know, because maybe even her doctors didn't know then,
is that with simple B-complex vitamins she might have diminished that
side effect of Metformin which she took for years.
The walker helped her have confidence getting around when she
could no longer feel her feet.
That walker literally allowed her to travel the world.

But, I digress...
This week I took the step of donating her walker/wheelchair.

I had previously loaned it to a friend who's co-worker had broken their leg
and was completely immobile.
It allowed my friend, and her other friends, to push this lady
out and about town; get her out of the house for a while.
And, I didn't feel bad about loaning it to them, because I knew it was coming back.
It was one of those objects that meant so much to my mother,
that I knew it would be hard to let go...
Loaning it out first made it easier.

There's a social worker at the hospital where I work at who's received
the bulk of Momma's medical supplies from her final days.
She knows the need, and she distributes things to her many clients.

I told her to make sure that someone very special got the walker.
Even though all of her clients are special, this was one of those pieces
that meant a lot to me because it meant a lot to my Momma.

I hope someone's life is changed because of it.
I hope someone's life is made better because of it.
I hope whomever receives it really appreciates it.
And, I truly hope that walker will continue to travel,
because if it could share the adventures it's had...

And, weird as it may sound,
I hope that walker has a long life helping people
because it helped and sometimes carried the most important
person in my life once upon a time.

Momma under the Alaskan Pipeline on our
second trip to Alaska...

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Ninth Monthiversary

And just like that, it's a new year
and the ninth month without my mother.

The pain has decreased somewhat, 
but I find when the memories hit
they hit hard.

I'll go for days doing ok,
but then a memory will strike...
a scene will be replayed...
and, suddenly I am back to the moment that she died...
or back to the morning before she died...
or back to the week before she died...
and, I start to question myself over and over,
and the tears come
and the pain starts up again,
and I find myself wondering for the 100th time
if there was anything else I could have, should have, would have done...

A year ago she was leaving the hospital and starting rehab...
and I go back and replay the day she fell...
what could I have done differently...?
How should we have handled her rehab differently..?
What else...?
Always, what else...?

or... what if...?
Yeah, let's go down that rabbit hole one more time...

No matter the pathway, I end up back here,
trying to reassure myself I did everything I could,
I fulfilled all her wishes,
I made her last moments peaceful,
at least I pray I did...
because that causes the most doubt of all,
that I didn't do something right at the end...
when it really mattered...

btw, the little foot is an etching I noted where the new concrete was poured
in the back yard of my mother's home...
just her name and the date,
I don't know the significance of the foot...
I wish I did...

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The Mid 40's are in the Books

For some reason I never got around to writing about traveling to National Parks numbers 44, 45 and now 46...! Back at the end of June...