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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cat Fishing

My cat, Kidde (like the fire extinguisher--cute right?), never gets a lot of blog-time. He is normally pretty low-key and doesn't stir up much drama that is blog worthy. Until last night.... Last night just before heading to bed I heard Shawn in the other room. "Get over here!" he yelled as I saw him reach for the cat who had feet of fishing line dragging behind him. I didn't realize what had happened at first until I saw the cat close up. 'Dear God' I thought as I saw blood in the cats mouth with fishing line hanging out. "The cat's been hooked!" He had apparently decided to play with and then attempt to eat the hook on one of Shawn's ice-fishing tip-ups that he had accidentally left enticingly dangling like a cat toy.

I picked up the cat, who was understandably a little wild, and wrapped him in a towel so he wouldn't claw me or keep trying to paw at his face. After inspection I was relieved to see that he hadn't swallowed the hook, rather it was lodged in his tongue. Unfortunately the hook was deep in his tongue and the barb wasn't all the way through. With it firmly embedded we knew that the cat had to make an emergency trip to the vet. Two hundred dollars later and at two in the morning we returned home with a sedated and hook free cat. He has two stitches, but other than that is completely fine.

At least this catch was a keeper.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snow Squalls. That is All.

After a week of massive snow melt, spring like temperatures, and unseasonable ice-jams winter returned...forcefully. The sun was shining one minute and the next... this!

It was snowing torrentially, as if fluffy little flakes could torrentially fall from the sky (as if that was even a word). Thank goodness I wasn't driving because snow squalls, which are basically intense and sudden burst of extreme snowfall, come out of nowhere and produce whiteout conditions. All my friend's facebook status simultaneously changed to some derivative of "OMG Snow!" and I went outside with my camera... of course.

It was impossible to document the ferocity of the snow. My camera lens was saturated with snowflakes and I was quickly covered in an inch of snow. The temperature dropped about twenty degrees as the wind direction changed from south to north. I was outside only about three minutes. That was all I could stand.

I just wish I remembered a hat...

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Elephant Never Forgets, but I Do.

I can't stand it when the most beautiful sunrises and scenes appear when I DON'T have my camera. Its been weeks since I have had the time and cooperation of the weather to go out and take photos (but I did finally have time to update my website with photos I took a couple weeks ago). Usually my camera is close by at all times. I'm very impromptu usually when it comes to taking photos. If a spare hour pops up and the light is just right down the back roads I go...

The other morning there was quite an unusual weather phenomenon coupled with an incredible sunrise, while I was working and while I did not have my camera - left behind at home. Double Ouch. Rime, which usually occurs high up on mountain tops, had accumulated overnight down in town. Low lying clouds had created the perfect canvas for the reflection of the low light of the sunrise. I saw it coming... a beautiful scene. No camera. Stuck at work. I did the only logical thing I could think of.... went back into the bunk room, where it was pitch black, with no window to the outside, and fell asleep. When I awoke I had missed the sunrise, but it still looked beautiful. I felt I had to do the morning justice and somehow capture it with the only camera I had in my possession, my iPhone.

Oddly I really like this photo... The abstract lines of tall weeds covered in rime with the sun framed between branches far in the background. If only I had a camera that produced larger photos. I had the same problem when I was at the Main Street Fire in St. Johnsbury a few months ago. Once in a lifetime shots captured with a cellphone just aren't the same. Sometimes you do need all those bells and whistles that a fancy, expensive camera provides. And what I really need is to work on REMEMBERING my camera from now on...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

OR or Bust

This semester of nursing school so far has been pretty extreme. The classes, clincals, and readings all mush together into one giant tedious ball. All of them except for one experience... my rotation in the Operating Room.

It was like nothing else I've yet experienced in nursing school, or anywhere else. As soon as I arrived in the OR suite early in the morning I was nervous and lost. There were nurses milling around in the hallways and they all greeted me brightly and ushered me into the locker room where I was to change into special scrubs that only OR personnel wear, complete with booties, mask, and a hairnet. The look would be silly in any other situation, but I was full of excitement and anticipation as I looked myself over in the mirror.

When I emerged from the locker room I was led straight into the OR where the procedure I was assigned to observe, a cesarean section!!, was taking place. The scrub nurse and circulating nurse were already in the room beginning their responsibilities for the procedure. I really had no idea what to expect, but had a completely open mind. For every experience in nursing school I try hard to take it all in and evaluate it as if I were doing that job every day. Could I do this every day? Could this be my job? ...I was about to learn that in the OR.

The room before the patient entered.

Immediately the circulating nurse and scrub nurse went to work. Both paying diligent attention to their tasks at hand and explaining every detail to me along the way. They began counting and recording instruments and materials needed for the c-section, clamps, sissors, guaze, each with their own special name that I didn't comprehend.

Counting all the instruments and recording the numbers.

Others quickly filled the room. Obstetrician, Pediatrician, Obstetric nurse, surgical assistant, anesthesia, and other nurses. There were two teams in the OR, one for the baby and one for the mother. So many people were running around with important tasks at hand and I was just trying hard to stay out of the way. A lot was going on and it was hard to take it all in, but the OR team were constantly keeping me up to speed and making sure I could see every little part of the procedure... the epidural, the initial incision, opening the uterus, and the awesome birth of the little baby. The excitement and enjoyment in the room was overflowing, especially as they all exclaimed "Happy Birthday" and little squeals were audible as the baby took its first breath. Both teams were at work then. One with the baby, who was pink and lively, and the other with the mother, delivering the afterbirth and then beginning the process of closing the incision. It was amazing.

Every person in that room was incredible. From doctor and surgeon to nurses and anesthetist. Their attitudes were so friendly and positive. They were all excited to be there and every bit professional. No drama like I have seen in other departments. No cut throat attitudes and lax patient care. Every one is extremely intelligent and everyday you get different cases ranging from orthopedic to gynecological and everything in between. I knew it right then... THIS is what I want to do.

I want to be in the OR.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eating on the Road

Its not easy... with obligations every single day taking me farther and farther away from my kitchen I find hunger to be a problem. When my stomach growls it is oh so tempting to grab a bag of Doritos with a Mountain Dew and call it good enough, but I know full well that my butt and thighs will wage war on my psyche later. Eating has literally become a strategy...

McDonalds has salads. Subway has their healthy choice subs. But gas stations are the real challenge and that is often where I end up making my food choices. Combining fueling my car and fueling my body seem to be a smart economical time choice. I've become a sort of aficionado at healthy gas station eating, as if that is a good thing, or something that is even possible...

So if I MUST eat at a gas station there are a couple of things I look for when making a choice:
  • Fresh fruit! Sometimes I get lucky enough and find fresh fruit at a gas station. Usually bananas. Fruit is easy to eat while driving AND cheap. Unfortunately many gas stations don't have fresh fruit. Those fruit cups those aren't the same as fresh fruit, but are a good choice. I try and drain out most of the excess syrup before eating.
  • Drink of Choice: Milk (low fat!) Obviously avoid the soda for many reasons. Juices are just as bad as soda without the carbonation and both have the unpleasantness of a sugar induced high followed by the unavoidable crash while driving. Ugh. Milk is filling so I end up eating less, and gain some protein, calcium, and vitamins too!
  • Local products: Things that are made locally, like homemade cookies or granola, often are less processed and contain fewer ingredients than their commercialized counterparts.
  • Granola or Nuts: Filling and a good source of saturated fat.
  • Read the Labels: Like that annoying "turn the tub around" commercial, I try to make sure to read labels and see exactly what I'm planning to eat or how small a serving size is. While on the road its really easy to eat multiple serving sizes and rack up the calories without even noticing.
  • Gum: Not only does it boost metabolism by producing saliva (which contains amylase and aids in digestion and GI motility) it also quenches that "need to eat feel" and tides me over until I can get some real food.
You know... they call them convenience stores, but it really a complicated process to make decisions about food...that is, unless you give in to your impulses and just buy those Doritos and that Mountain Dew.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

At least they Caught My Good Side.

I've been in the paper many times. Usually its high profiled emergent situations. It always seems that by the time the newspaper photographer arrives we are packaging the patient and about to put them in the ambulance. All the cool action and extrication is over. Not only that, but there is one other thing I've noticed over the years....

Every picture of me in the paper is of my backside!

That's a recent photo of a crowd of us securing a patient on the stretcher. I am the one bent over with my butt towards the camera.

This is a photo that was in the paper TWICE. The first time was reporting the actually accident and the second time this photo was used as a stock photo when we received service of the year. Again.. my butt towards the camera. My hair is also atrocious.... but we won't discuss that.

These were the only examples laying around the station, but I assure you that I have yet to have an emergency scene newspaper photo of anything other than my butt. At least they are catching my good side!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vermont Traffic Jam

Congestion is a rarity in Northern Vermont. There usually isn't much hindrance to driving besides animals or ice and snow. But thanks to geography there really aren't many roads that go to and from town. In fact, for me to go to work or school there is only one, long, winding, thirty mile road. The problem with that are the variables. A little bit of bad weather or a slow flatlander can mean the difference of being early or very late.

My solution? I just pass people. Nothing much has changed about my driving habits since high school, where I used to regale my first period friends with stories of my epic speeding tickets and written warnings. There just isn't the same cop to citizen ratio up here. I still drive fast and have every passing spot memorized (and if anyone from Geico is reading this I just made that last part up.) Often, on my way to or from work/school, I pass several cars. I do try and not violate road etiquette, such as passing people I know or passing someone when they will end up being right behind me. Usually I am able to pass someone and zoom off over the mountains, far and away, never to be seen again. Usually... that is... until you get behind this..

That my friends is a log truck and it is moving about fifteen miles an hour. It is a logistical driving nightmare to end up behind one of these as it heads up the heights (steep pass up and over the mountains). All that hard work to pass the slow vehicles, to have clear roads ahead, is squashed. And to add insult to injury, at this point in the drive there is nowhere to pass until you get all the way to town. So you just have to settle in and accept the fact that its going to take you twice as long to get where you are going, because really... nothing goes slower than a loaded log truck.

Oh wait... something does...

Flatlanders that can't drive in the snow. Not one, but two. Somehow people from out of state manage to drive slower than a loaded log truck. That's impressive. And then, after going several miles at the speed of smell, it happens...

All the people I passed miles ago end up right behind me. An epic breach of road etiquette. You'll have that....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quick Thinking

It is inevitable... You are hungry. You have been running calls back to back. Lunch never happened and dinner is right around the corner. Finally, as if it was some sort of miracle, the pager is silent and you have a moment to get to the store.

You're belly is grumbling. And there is NOTHING worse than shopping with your belly grumbling... you always spend way too much money on way too much food.

As you stuff your basket with the most essential items first, milk and cereal, the pager comes to live. That evil musical sound of your tone. Another call. Of course... but there is a conundrum. You're basket is half full of groceries! Some that must be kept cold. What are you to do? You can't just abandon your basket of groceries in an aisle unattended where the milk would go bad. There were no employees around either. Scrambling, you see something... aha! The freezers!

One of the pizza freezers was completely empty. Just enough room for my basket and no I did not take the time to take a photo before responding to a call. It was still in there, just as I had left it, an hour later when we made it back to the store. The best part? When you leave chocolate milk in a freezer for about an hour it turns into a consistency exactly like a Wendy's Frosty. Its magical and you must try it, although I am not responsible for any conflicts that may arise with your local grocer.

Here's to thinking on your toes!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Road We Travel.

A new year. A new decade even. 2010 is poised at a crossroads and for many the year could go either way. I hope that whichever way it goes, despite the bumps and curves, the ups and downs, that we all have a chance to breath and find something beautiful about the road we have taken.

Even on the iciest, coldest of roads there is beauty. Don't miss it.

Happy 2010!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

This is What Happens when Men Don't Listen.

Men never seem to listen. Its something deeply en-grained into their brains, right next to their ability to completely believe that it is not their fault when not listening causes things to go badly.

When a men asks you a question its not really a question... because your answer is insignificant unless it is the answer that he would have also chosen. Remember that ladies and your marriage will be wonderful... ok, maybe that's not completely true...

But picture this:
A snow covered and icy farm road in a tanker at the scene of a structure fire. The driver and I were the only crew with the tanker and we had to turn around at the end of the road in order to come back to the fire scene facing a certain direction to drop off the water. I'm the passenger in the tanker with a man who is a twenty-plus year veteran of the department. The following conversation ensues as we approach the farm house where we must turn around....

Driver: "Where do you think I should turn around?"

Me: "How about up by the house. There are a bunch of tire tracks up there. It looks like that's where everyone else has turned around."

Driver: "I'm going to turn around right here." As he turned hard left and nosed up to a barn door near a ledge that dropped into a pasture.

Me: "...but...uhh... ok." Who am I to argue?

He then attempted to put it in reverse. We spin and we're into a snow drift. He goes forward and only gets us stuck more. After attempting to gain some traction by putting some fire hose under the rear wheels, and pounding the tanker in reverse over and over again the farmer finally shows up.

Farmer: "Why the heck did ya turn'round heaah? Ya shoulda went upta house and done it like everyone else."

Driver: "Its the tires. They're really bad and this ice on the road doesn't help. I just don't have traction. Its not really stuck. Just no traction."

Me: rolls eyes.

Farmer: "Let me hook on my tractor and get ya pulled out." He said half laughing.

And hook on he did....

(note that half of the front wheel is buried in snow....)

Getting toned to a structure fire: Pretty cool
Being one of the two people that get to go to the call: Exciting
Watching your tanker get pulled out of a snowdrift because your advice was ignored: Hilarious.