Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “postaday”

Leftovers Sandwich: Never Discuss Religion…*

I must be a heathen. I’m sure that’s what my neighbors say, behind my back. I have committed the cardinal sin. I live in a state where not attending church arouses suspicions of, say, communism, or bodies buried in the back yard, or satanism, or worse, possibly believing in equality for all members of society. Actually, going to church is not good enough. It has to be a Southern Baptist church. There is literally one Jewish family in my “city” of roughly 70,000. I’m not really sure why they would want to stay here.

We were unacceptable weirdos when we first moved to the south. My parents were, until they retired, both university professors, which put them on the edge of society, to say the least. Mom was a practicing Catholic when she was younger, but she and my dad really weren’t going to church by the time I was old enough to remember. She said they went to Catholic church where I was born in LA (Los Angeles, NOT Lower Alabama, as our locals might believe), because the churches were cool and funky and had guitar music and actually seemed to be run by educated people. Mom said they tried to go to church when they moved down here, but that the clergy all seemed poorly educated, judgmental and inflexible. I am reasonably sure she is right. But where I grew up, even being Catholic was considered weird. There were a handful of Catholic families in my WSB (White Southern Baptist) school, and even they were viewed with some narrow-eyed suspicion.

I really only remember going to church when Mom’s relatives were in town, plus maybe Easter and Christmas Eve. Holiday Catholics. Catholic Lite – one third less guilt. The Catholic ritual made me nervous as I was never taught it, and all the crossing, dipping, genuflecting and eating of suspect germy crackers and drinking of stale grape juice made me nervous. I never knew when to stand or when to sit, so I just popped up and down like a cork and tried to copy the people around me. The rosary blew my mind. I felt anxious in church; it was a game whose rules were never explained to me. I never took communion, because I was never confirmed. Actually, I don’t believe I was even baptised. So I guess I am going to hell. But why do I find it so hard to believe that a merciful God would damn someone to hell for failing to practice a ritual that is only one of a million rituals performed by many, many religions and their variants? How could He allow there to be only one correct religion, and the rest of the people on the planet not be in on the joke? And why the hell do we always refer to God as male? I personally doubt that our Higher Power has any gender at all. Blasphemy! Gasp!

In the deep South, being Baptist isn’t even sufficient. Each church is deeply suspicious of the others: the Church of Christ, The First Bible Church, Pentecostals, Church of God, the footwashers, the revivalists, the snake handlers. They all believe that they are the one true church, and that everyone else is confused at best and damned at worst. Catholics are pedophiles, Episcopals are too wild, Methodists too wishy-washy. The Unitarians are considered atheist whack jobs. The word agnostic is neither known nor used, nor acceptable. You either is or you ain’t. And if you ain’t, then you don’t belong.

My husband and I actually tried to choose a church when we moved to our new town, both because we wanted to fit in, and have a social network, and practice religion, and because we planned to have a child whom we wanted to have educated in religion, because educated persons should interest themselves in religion. It is both a form of history, literature and art, and a good way to understand human behavior. When we first moved to my town, we had some discussion about what church we might choose. My husband was raised Southern Baptist, and was even baptised twice, once even on purpose, but he did not desire to attend Baptist church. His experience had been one of ignorance and intolerance. I wasn’t particularly into the idea of Catholic church, because of all the ritual, and also because as a human being and a physician who takes care of women (and other human beings), I believe the widespread oversight of pedophile priests who were shuffled from parish to parish is inconscionable, and the prohibition of contraception is just diabolically and willfully ignorant, given the overpopulation of the planet and the plight of the poor families and women with too many children to care for or feed. That rule was made in a day when many children died, many women died in childbirth, and many children were needed to run a self-sufficient village or farm. To maintain that law now is obscene and ridiculous. It is maintained for only one true purpose: to maintain power for the Catholic church by producing the maximum possible number of Catholics. I was also extremely pissed at the Vatican’s anti-endorsement of condoms for gay men – since they would not serve as contraception, surely the merciful thing for a church to do would be to recommend condom use to protect these men. But no. Basically their stance seems to be that gays are immoral and the more that get sick and die the better. Makes me enraged. So no Catholic church. (I will add as an aside that I think the new Pope is awesomesauce!)

We did actually attend a Baptist church for a bit, mainly because everyone that worked in my office seemed to go there. We never felt welcomed and it was a megachurch. Also, their literature suggested that those who did not accept their specific teaching and who were not “saved” by participating in immersion baptism would never be truly welcomed as members of the church.

We attended an Episcopal church as a compromise, and despite personally meeting with their priest to express interest, our attendance was greeted with complete indifference, all this despite the fact that it was a fairly small congregation. We tried, but…

We agreed that we would really like to attend Unitarian church, but the nearest one was in a bigger city about 30 minutes away. We agreed that we were unlikely to attend with any regularity, particularly due to the fact that my job requires me to remain within 20 minutes of the hospital when on call.

For some weird reason in a redneck southern town, we had Mormons. I actually looked into them, and met with a couple members of their congregation, but had real trouble with the suggestion that Christ migrated over to Utah, and rescued the settlers from a plague of grasshoppers with magic seagulls (although in retrospect, this claim is no more wild than any of those put forth by most other major religions).

Long story short, we gave up on church. My daughter actually attended a Catholic school for K-3 and K-4, mainly because it was one of the few full day nursery schools available in town, and I was pleased that she got some religious instruction, and they were very kind to her. But we don’t go to church. Since I was never raised to have church as a part of my life, I don’t feel the lack. You don’t feel emptiness where there is no hole.

My feelings on world religions are summed up by a brilliant parallel drawn by my father. He likens the relations of humans and their various religions to the parable of the blind men and the elephant. There were three blind men who encountered an elephant. One felt the ear and pronounced that this was a banana plant. One felt a leg and proclaimed the object to be a tree. One felt the trunk and was sure this was a snake. They began arguing and fell to blows about which of them was correct. Their perceptions were adequate based on the information available to them, but their conclusion that their view was the only correct answer was ignorant and narrow-sighted, and they failed to perceive the truth: that all their impressions formed just a part of the whole. In other words, all world religions are legitimate, each just describes a different part of the elephant, and humans, in their narrow and elitist manner, haughtily assume that their perceptions are the only true perceptions, and their piece of the puzzle is the only piece.

As a physician and a scientist, I also deeply resent the assertion of organized religion (looking at YOU, creationists) that science is ungodly and detracts from religious belief. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the Bible is at odds with our fossil record. Who says a day in God’s life is a day on earth? It almost certainly is not; believing that God’s day is an earth day is tantamount to believing that the sun must orbit around the earth. A day for God could be eons and eons for us. Also, why is evolution supposed to contradict the existence of a higher power? I would think any divine being worth their salt would create evolution, because, like a self-winding watch, a system was created that didn’t have to have a constant babysitter – evolution modifies the ecosystem without God having to hover – after all, He has other planets to watch, doesn’t He?

I must also say that I have more deeply felt a belief in God when studying science than at any other time. If these anti-science folks ever took a look in a microscope, they would understand the mindblowing, beautiful amazing things that are just out of our sight. Did these cells, with their powerhouses, and nuclei, and diverse functions really just happen at random? I don’t think so. I majored in biochemistry – all those lock and key enzymes and tiny machines at the molecular level – stunning. Mindblowing. Accidental? Hard to think it could be. Ever looked at an SEM of a bacteriophage? Seen how it works? Sometimes tears of awe come in to my eyes when I study these things. And for a gynecologist, there is the knowledge that there are millions of things that may come together wrong during the growth of an embryo, but yet, most babies are born perfect. Statistically, how could that be?

Bacteriophage:  this was no random accident.

I admit, my religious beliefs are more than a little unorthodox. I believe that at their foundations, all world religions have relevance, and if you look at their tenets, their laws are typically custom designed for the region of the world where they arose. Pork is verboten in religions that sprang up in hot regions where uncooked pork could kill you quickly. Washing rituals are different in regions in areas where water is more or less scarce. And most, when interpreted by nonzealots, are gentle and well-meaning at heart. Yes, even Islam.

I understand that people need organized religion to provide societal laws, norms, cohesion, and a belief that it isn’t over when it’s over – it hurts to think that the beauty that goes on in your mind and soul just comes to a stop and rots when the body stops. Where does it go? No one knows, but man clings to religion because they don’t want life to be for nothing. My daughter asks me, so many times, why we are born if we are just going to die. There are so many answers to that question, so many of them meaningful and hopeful, but she is only nine. So hard to explain. So hard to understand.

I am going to say something shocking. So shocking that I hope than none of my neighbors stumble onto this blog. I don’t think that I am a Christian. Did Christ exist? I really, really hope so, because he was an amazing man. Did he deserve to start a religion? If he lived the way they say he did, he really does. Was he a prophet? Maybe. Who am I to deny one of the parts of the elephant? It is not for me to decide. Did God create a son in the image of man and send him down to save us? I don’t really believe so – in the grand scheme of things, human beings are just not that important. Sorry. But I still can’t believe that a caring God would damn someone to hell for asking questions. The truth does not fear questions. Gandhi was an amazing man. Perhaps one day there will be a religion based on him. That would be cool. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing man. Why do white southerners hate him so much? Is it sheer bigotry, or maybe a fear that the man was, well, maybe Christlike? Flawed, but so strong and so full of belief. The Dalai Lama is amazing. Another great, great man. Mohammad too. Why would we resent and distrust the possibility that there could be more than one holy man? Why should the existence of one amazing person be threatened by the existence of another? We need all the amazing humans we can find.

Over years, I have given a lot of thought to my religious beliefs. They are a work in progress. I distrust organized religion, because more evil has been perpetrated in its name than in any other concept. Wars break out constantly over wealth, and power and greed, and the need for food and water, but the worst horrors have been perpetrated in the name of organized religion. How could you pervert a belief in a loving, caring deity into an attack on other humans so intolerant, so cruel and so vile?

I am a Pantheist. I believe that God is in and of everything. God is the existence of life itself. God is all energy, and all matter, and all ebb and flow and every molecule in the universe. I believe that the law of conservation of energy is all the answer to an afterlife we need. When our bodies die, our energy must continue to exist in some form, because it is conserved. I believe that we have the honor of having our atoms and molecules and energy flow back into the universe, because these things are all part and parcel of God. God does not have a gender. God was not, and should not, be created in man’s image. Physicists tell us that we all contain the atoms of ancient stars. Isn’t that enough?

*This post was originally written about a year ago.  I was too afraid to post it, for fear the neighbors would find my blog and ride me on a rail, tarred and feathered, out of town, or throw me in a lake and burn me as a witch when I failed to drown.  I now say fuck them.

<a href=”http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/leftovers-sandwich/”>Leftovers Sandwich</a>


Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above 2

I got this shot of my daughter in her clubhouse while she was having a sleepover with some friends:

Look Out Below!

Look Out Below!

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above


Since I am away from home, staying in a hotel, and I don’t have my camera but have my cell phone, I was feeling a bit silly and photographed my bracelets FROM ABOVE, in the bathtub.  I did make all the bracelets, so there was SOME creativity involved.  Hope this picture actually focused – I can’t tell from the size it is now.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

Costa Rican dancers 2

Costa Rican dancers 2

Costa Rican Dancers 1

Costa Rican Dancers 1


Softball And The Game Of Life

My daughter is playing softball for her third year in a row.  She started when she was four.  Her father has been working hard with her, even in the winter when they throw in the house.  We haven’t broken any windows yet.  This year, they have had the 7-9 year old girls group start pitching, which has been fairly pointless.  Basically, there are three automatic walks and then the coach starts pitching with the bases loaded.  The girls aren’t too accurate yet.

This year she started on a pretty bad team.  She was out of town for the tryouts, so no one got to see how good she is.  She is easily the best catcher on the team.  Her usual spot is first base, which is pretty darn effective, because she can catch just about anything she is thrown.  Unfortunately, they’ve had her on the pitcher’s mound for the first 3 at bats each inning, and she’s not a very good pitcher because she’s only been practicing it for about 3 weeks.  She expects to be good at it right away because she forgets that she has been practicing throwing and catching and batting for 3 whole years.  I think she does more good on first base and they should keep her there.

Since I am now doing the travel doctor stuff, I have 2 or 3 weeks at a time at home now to spend time with my family.  I have been going to all the softball games and practices.  My husband and I have matching Ladybugs t-shirts that say “Bean’s Mom” and “Bean’s Dad” on the back.  We went to the grocery store after a game all decked out and several people commented on what a cute little family we were.  A looks super cute in her Ladybugs uniform:  red ladybug T-shirt, black pants, and red and black socks with ladybugs on them.  She also has a red Cardinals hat and a ladybug hair ribbon that she can’t wear because her bobbed hair is too short.

I was at the first game that they won and I took pictures of the whole thing.  I got some great pics of her making some plays at first and batting.  Of course you will now have to suffer through these pictures because I am so proud of her!  She is a bit discouraged that her team doesn’t win too much but they are getting better and they actually won again last night!  It got cold this week after a storm and we were all bundled up at the game yesterday.

So here are some pictures of Miss A. on her team playing softball:

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Maybe the weather will be warmer for the next game.

Mount Rushmore And A Bogus Return To Reality

Well, I had a very dichotomous day the day before yesterday.  The doc I’m working for gave me the day off until 3 PM so I could leave Rapid City and go see Mount Rushmore and some of the other many attractions in the area.  He recommended I see the Crazy Horse memorial also.  I happily packed up my camera and Traveling Guck and put on some thermal underwear and went off to explore the beautiful Black Hills.

Mount Rushmore is about 25 minutes out from Rapid City and the view is very pretty.  I stopped first to take some pictures of a mountain pass.

Rapid City SD 009

Mountain Pass 1

Mountain Pass 2

Mountain Pass 2

Then I drove on beautiful windy mountain roads, up and down until I got to Mount Rushmore.  To get close to the monument you had to walk through a hall of flags.

Flags at Mount Rushmoret

Flags at Mount Rushmoret

Under the flags, and there they were, those four big heads chopped out of the mountain!

Hall of Flags at Mount Rushmore

Hall of Flags at Mount Rushmore

And here were just the heads:

The Presidential Heads of Mount Rushmore

The Presidential Heads of Mount Rushmore

They were a little bit more time worn than I remember as a kid.  Those gray stains were definitely not there.  We know not even mountains last forever.

A nice lady took a picture of me with Guck so I could send it to my daughter.

Me and Guck at Mount Rushmore

Me and Guck at Mount Rushmore

Here is a profile view as I left Mount Rushmore and headed to the Crazy Horse memorial, a gargantuan carving, that when finished, will be bigger than Mount Rushmore.

Profile of George Washington

Profile of George Washington

Here is a beautiful lake Guck and I encountered on the way to Crazy Horse:

Beautiful Lake on the Way to Crazy Horse Monument

Beautiful Lake on the Way to Crazy Horse Monument

Guck of course had to have his picture taken.

Guck at the Mountain Lake

Guck at the Mountain Lake

Here is a side view of the Crazy Horse Monument in profile.  I thought it didn’t look like they’d gotten very much done, but Mom said they’ve made a ton of progress since she was last there.

Crazy Horse in Progress

Crazy Horse in Progress

Closer view of Crazy Horse’s profile:

Crazy Horse Profile

Crazy Horse Profile

The white sculpture behind Guck and me is what the Crazy Horse Monument is supposed to look like when it is finished.  You can see the full sized work in progress in the background.  Of course Guck insisted on this photo opportunity.

Two Crazy Horses, Me and the Guck

Two Crazy Horses, Me and the Guck

Guck found another photo opportunity in the Crazy Horse museum.  I find he makes a lovely addition to the sculpture.

Guck in Sculpture

Guck in Sculpture

On the way home, we saw a beautiful overpass.  I never thought I’d say an overpass was beautiful, but there’s a first time for everything.

Black Hills Overpass

Black Hills Overpass

I returned from my photography and sight-seeing trip feeling very relaxed and peaceful.  Alas, at 3:00 when the nice doctor handed the call duty back to me, I was promptly slammed with patients and had to spend the night in the damn hospital, which was kind of a downer to my otherwise lovely day.  But the trip was a great one, and maybe next time I’ll get to have my husband and daughter in tow.

Orientation Fun


Rapid City Regional Hospital Credit: Flickr Creative Commons – Emilio


I started a new locums travel doc adventure in Rapid City, South Dakota yesterday.  I was to report to the hospital for my “orientation”, a word to those in the know as “soul shattering meaningless tedium”.  My schedule was as follows:

0645 – 0701:  Lean up against the wall opposite the Medical Staff Office where I was supposed to report at 0700.  Watched 3 (count them, 3) employees come up, unlock the office and ignore me totally, despite the fact that I was obviously the new doctor who was getting processed (much like the beaks and assholes that go into luncheon meat) and that I was holding up a wall in the hall out of sheer sleepiness and boredom.  I did manage to get a picture of Traveling Guck sitting under the Med Staff Office sign, post it on Facebook, and email it to my daughter.

0701:  They actually stick their heads out and open the door for me.  Apparently they take the 0700 start time very seriously.

0701 – 0707:  Introduction to the 3 dickheads who left me standing in the hall.

0707 – 0720:  Taken to get a photo badge processed.  When I asked them if they needed ID verifying my identity, they said no.  Apparently they don’t mind issuing medical staff badges to random strangers.  I was of course lined up against a blue wall without opportunity to inspect my hair, and allowed one deer-in-the-headlights shot with no Mulligan.  I was told to go do something else; the badge was processing.

0720 – 0735:  Taken to IT to get computer passwords and immediately change them.  Since they wouldn’t tell me the criteria for the passwords (I swear, they didn’t know whether I needed capitals, lower case, special characters or numbers), I had several do-overs until I found a password that the freaking computer would accept.

0735 – 0740:  Back to pick up ugly badge. Future spoiler:  they set it up wrong and it didn’t open any of the doors that I needed it to.

0740 – 0815:  The ultimate in mind boggling tedium.  This is the same standardized spiel you are given at every single hospital that you work in:  it is dictated by OSHA and JCAHO and a few other acronyms.  Therefore I have heard this 3 times in the past 3 months.  It involves:  Hospital Mission – a retch-inducing phrase or two about Service, Teaching, Health Promotion and Other Grandiose Bullshit, Fire Procedures – seriously, who doesn’t know about RACE and PASS?, Infection Control – a list of all the nasty bugs floating around in the hospital and the special antibiotics used to treat them, if you are lucky and they can be treated at all  (Flesh-eating bacteria included), HIPAA – letters stand for “you’d better not give anyone any information about any of your patients and it we find out you did, we will fine you, fire you and set fire to you”, Code of Conduct – they now must produce a written list about how not to be an asshole (official name:  disruptive physician) because people apparently don’t have the sense not to be assholes and must be given a specific list of asshole things not to do,  Peer Review – we will be watching you, new doctor, and auditing your charts because you are probably incompetent, and Software Use and Access – the passwords never work.

0815 – 0830:  Ridiculously long-winded talk from the head pharmacist, who has a way overdeveloped sense of importance, and who gave me 8 (yes, 8) business cards of pharmacists who I would probably not encounter were I to work at the hospital for 10 years.

0830 – 0930:  Computer training.  This seems to follow a basic pattern – taken to a dark room where a pasty antisocial individual is hunkered down,  sat in front of a computer and given a mouse to click on various things without explanation.  This is all punctuated by, “oh, I don’t know why that’s not working – it usually works”, from the IT person who seems to have no idea about real-life applications of the material they are teaching.  An hour of, “Oh, let’s back up, oh, no, no, no, we didn’t want to go there, OK, try clicking on that” where really, I would have done just as well playing with the damn program myself.

0930 – 1000:  “Do we have anything else for her to do?  I’m not sure, do we?  Did she see the pharmacist?  Oh, I guess we should try to show you the hospital.”  Remember that I must see Medical Records for instructions for record dictation.  Meet with sourpuss from Medical Records.  Receive incomprehensible instructions and dictation cards.

1000:  Phone call from the doctor who is already turning call over to you, explaining that you already have a labor patient to take care of, despite the fact that you haven’t even seen Labor and Delivery yet.

1000 – 1020:  Taken at a gallop past the OR, doctor’s lounge, ER, radiology, and finally, Labor and Delivery where you are kindly intercepted by the chief MD of the Ob/Gyn department, who gives you an actually civivlized and useful tour of the area.  You are introduced to at least 25 people, none of whose names you will remember.

1020 – 1030:  Shown where the locker rooms, scrubs and break rooms are.  Both the MD call rooms are occupied, so no place to sit there.  Insructed to throw backpack on the floor in the nurse’s lounge.

1030 – 1040:  Locate and change your scrubs to their scrubs, because the ones you have on (although perfectly functional) do not belong to this hospital and are thus assumed to harbor awful bacteria.

1040 – 1500:  Sit around on Labor and Delivery because the patient in labor is having her third baby and it should come fast.  It does not come fast.  Chat with nurses (who are too busy to chat) and a Family Practice resident who is waiting to do a delivery and who is hoping you will let him do yours.  You don’t want to let him do your delivery, because you don’t like how anyone does deliveries except for the way you do them, but you have to be a good sport, because that was how you learned back in the day, and people have to learn, don’t they?

1500 – 1530;  Actual delivery of the baby.  You let the resident do it.  He does OK except for the suturing part, which is so slow and fumbling and incompetent that you want to kill yourself.  You would have finished 20 minutes ago.  The nurse is uncertain whether the stitching job is adequate.  It is adequate and you politely tell her to bugger off.

1530 – 1600:  Attempt to take care of strange paperwork and computer work, none of which functions the way you were shown by the creepy IT person in the basement.  Swear under breath.  Repeat.

1600 – 1615:  Use Google Maps (which totally rocks, by the way, and it’s free) to find your way out to Bumfuck where the Ob/Gyn clinic is located.

1615 – 1700:  Meet the doc you are working for and her office manager husband, who regale you with how awful and unfair the politics at the hospital are, and how they hope they will not make you suffer too much.  Yippee.

1700-1715:  Find way back from Bumfuck to the hotel using Google Maps, which by now has used up the battery on your phone.  Pray that you get to the hotel before the phone dies and you are stranded forever.

1715:  Collapse on the bed with the stuffed duck and eat an Atkins bar.  Plan TV watching.  Sulk because tomorrow the patient that delivered wants her tubes tied, a procedure you hate doing and you will have to get up early to do it.

The Doctor Is The Patient

CT scanner, from aestheticdoctorsingapore

I became a patient instead of a doctor last night.  The day before yesterday, I flew home from North Dakota for a few days at home before going on a trip to South Dakota.  Yesterday, I experienced sudden left calf pain for no reason at all.  I hadn’t had a cramp, nor had I injured the leg in any way.  Sudden unexplained calf pain can be a sign of a DVT, or a deep venous thrombosis, which is quite dangerous as that blood clot can be thrown into the lung, which in severe cases can result in instant death.  Travelers are at high risk for a DVT because sitting for long periods of time can impede blood return from the legs to the heart, and with the blood pooling in dependent areas, it can set up as a clot.  I am also over forty years old and am on estrogen in the form of birth control, which increases my risk for DVT even more.

I considered the pain for a while, and I could think of no plausible reason for it to be there.  And knowing I had another plane trip in two days, it would seem very foolhardy to hop back on a plane and risk throwing a clot at 30,000 feet up, where there is no medical care available.  So I made the decision to take myself to the ER, as they would need to perform a number of tests, most of which are not available at an outpatient clinic.

I arrived at the ER, in my own hospital where I have worked for ten years, and signed in.  I was recognized immediately and was signed in.  Membership does have its privileges.  They instantly brought me back to triage, before an entire waiting crowd of people, had my vitals done and they whisked me directly to a bed.

They immediately drew bloodwork pertinent to the diagnosis of a DVT.  Everyone who came into the room recognized me and chatted with me.  The lab tech came in and said she’d drawn bloodwork a million times with my name on the order slip, but had never drawn blood on me.  She confessed she was a little intimidated.  I told her not to be; I have amazingly beautiful veins and I told her she would have no trouble accessing one.  Indeed, I was an easy stick.  While we were chatting, she told me she was pregnant, and that her doctor was my former partner, who is a great person, so I told her I was happy for her.

Next the ER doctor came in, and he is one of my friends, which was great.  He’s also brilliant, by any standards, which is also great.  He’s also qute eccentric, which I enjoy.  He was always calling me when I was on call, and he always starts his explanation with “I’ve got this girl here…”.  Doesn’t matter if the girl is twenty or eighty.  So he came in and chatted with me about what the problem was, and he checked out my leg and checked pulses and all that good stuff.  Then he ordered leg dopplers and headed back out.

The doppler tech came in, and I know her too, so we started chatting about all the crazy things going on in the hospital, and about how everyone is so scared for their jobs, because they are slowly shutting the hospital down.  She scanned the leg, and everything turned out OK.  Several years ago, I had contacted the CEO regarding equipment that they needed for the vascular lab and weren’t getting.  I asked if she ever got the equipment.  She smiled and said she got it the next day.  It was good to see her.

The RN came in to see if I needed anything.  We chatted too, about the job situation.  She’s a former EMT and firefighter, and she has maintained her certification in both so she may have more options than some.  She adjusted the thermostat for me and got me tucked in to wait on lab results.

The doctor came back in the room.  My clotting labs had come back abnormal.  He wondered if I had already thrown a clot from my leg into my lung.  If it was a bad one, I would have died already, so I would likely be OK.  But the abnormal lab meant I needed a chest CT to make sure there was no clot in my lungs, because if there was, I was going to have to take blood thinning medication to get it to go away and prevent future ones from happening.  I knew the CT would be done with contrast.  I’ve had a CT before, so I knew how weird it feels when they push that stuff into your vein.  You get a massive hot flush from your head to your toes, and a cough reflex when it hits your lungs.  It’s not a lot of fun.

That means I needed an IV.  The RN came back into the room to start it.  She too confessed that it was a bit intimidating to start an IV on a doctor.  I told her number one, I am not at all intimidating, and number two, I have beautiful veins and she would have no trouble getting one.  As advertised, she nailed it on the first try.  I didn’t even feel it much.  She told me I would have to keep my arm straight as it was at the bend of my elbow.

They came to pick me up for my CT.  I was wheeled down the hall, and the CT tech informed me that this contrast would be twice and much, and pushed twice as fast as the contrast I had had for my previous abdominal CT.  Great.  He also told me that the chest CT was the equivalent of 300 chest x-rays.  Double great.  We laid me out on the table and he did one pass without the contrast dye.  Then he rolled me back in and BAM I felt that stuff hit my body, a mile a minute, head to toe.  I was in the breath holding phase of the scan and the urge to cough when the stuff hit my lungs was almost impossible to control.  But I made it through, and it wasn’t even as bad as I had remained.  It gave me a really weird afterglow feeling in my privates for a minute or two though.  Then I was wheeled back to my room to wait for results.

The results took about forty five minutes.  I laid on the bed and kept my left leg straight because it hurt, and the right arm straight because there was an IV in it.  Then the doctor came back into the room and told me there was no clot in the lung.  Thank God!  Now I could travel to my next assignment and not have to be stuck in the hospital.  There were some other weird findings on my chest film though.  There were some areas that looked like I might have had TB, which as far as I know I’ve never had, as I am tested for it every year since I started med school.  Another possibility was histoplasmosis, which is common in the South and many people carry it asymptomatically in their lungs.  It only reactivates if you are somehow immunosuppressed.  Hopefully that will not happen.  Also, my blood sugar was a little high, and my blood pressure was a lot high, which kind of worried me.  Now I will have to go see my primary care doctor and have all these things worked up.

I didn’t get home until after midnight.  Hubby and daughter were passed out in the bed.  I was very relieved I didn’t have a blood clot, as I leave for South Dakota for work tomorrow.  My husband wondered in the morning why I didn’t wake him to give him the news when I got home.  I reminded him that he has insomnia and if he was asleep, I wanted him to stay that way.  So when I get back, I’ll be following up with my regular doctor to explain all these adjunctive findings that we came up with while ruling out the DVT.

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