It’s a Small World After All

It’s a small, small world…

(Don’t you just love me for getting that song stuck in your head?)

Seriously, though… it is. The other day at clinical one of my classmates said to me, “I think we used to play together when we were little.” I briefly wondered if she had had some sort of medication accident earlier in the day or something. She’s about four years younger than me, so even if we went to school together (and I already knew we didn’t because she went to elementary school with my high school best friend’s little sister in another town, which I thought was small world enough!) we wouldn’t have had contact with each other. Not to mention that I pride myself on my elephant-like memory. Usually I’m the one who remembers meeting people when they don’t remember me… and I would certainly remember someone I used to actually hang out with. Right?

“I think I used to live with one of your aunts… and we went to see The Nutcracker together once.” Slowly, the light dawned. No, wait, seriously, are you sure? You’re… oh my gosh, you ARE! When H’s mom had gotten divorced she and her kids shared an apartment with my aunt/godmother while she got back on her feet. So when I went over to see my aunt I would play with H and her older sister. We built snow forts together and everything. It’s kind of funny because since the beginning of the semester I’d been trying to place this girl… she looked familiar but I couldn’t figure out why. Eventually I decided that she sorta looked like my niece (if my niece was 15 years older), so that must be it. I remember her mentioning her brother by name one time and thinking, huh, that’s an unusual name, I remember my aunt’s roommate’s son was named that… but I didn’t put it together that, hey, isn’t that funny that there are two families with those sets of names? And I guess I never knew their last name.

Other than that…

After the monster snowstorm the other day we ended up with an unexpected snow day. Getting the word out turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Our clinical instructor’s power was out, so she couldn’t send an e-mail. She tried to call the student designated to start the call tree, but HER power was out so her phone wasn’t working (cordless phones are great up until the power fails), so the instructor ended up calling the hospital to get H’s phone number (luckily she and H also work together at our hospital), called her, H tried to send an e-mail, but couldn’t get into Blackboard, probably because the power was out on campus, realized she had everyone’s e-mail address on her personal e-mail account, sent the e-mail, but realized that anyone who was using a university e-mail address wouldn’t be able to get it, but she didn’t have phone numbers, then the student without power ended up calling her from her cell phone and gave her the list, so H started calling people with varying degrees of success. Sounds like it was a chaos-filled day for a lot of people, but luckily for me the extent of the excitement was dragging myself out of bed when the alarm went off, checking my e-mail, answering the phone call, and crawling back into bed for another five hours. Unfortunately for others there were downed power lines and trees to contend with yesterday. My clinical instructor apparently woke up around 4am thinking we would be good to go, then things started crashing down all around her house… power went out, skylight was cracked, later in the day right after her son had moved the cars a tree fell down where the cars had been and hit the corner of their house. Then as her family was heading to the university hotel her son drove over a rock that was sticking out of the driveway and ripped up the exhaust system on her car. Amazingly she was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. What can you really do, I suppose?

We made up for our day off today. I volunteered to try doing two patients… which would have been okay if I hadn’t also been assigned to do meds on the one with stuff due every hour. It was actually a really good learning experience since I got to give pills, injections, some sort of reconstituted icky looking stuff (which she didn’t drink… not that I can blame her!), IV piggybacks, line flushes, replaced her PCA (patient-controlled analgesia) vial, tested blood sugar, replaced a Tegaderm dressing, changed a transdermal patch, changed the caps on her central line. It seemed like anything there was to do I did. But my other patient only ended up seeing me twice all day. She was pretty self-sufficient, but still… the nurse ended up offering to take over the charting for that one because I really hadn’t seen enough of her to write anything down. The nurse didn’t seem to mind, though, since I had taken one of the heavier load patients off her plate.

I’ve ended up having to do a bunch of manual BPs the past few weeks, either because I’ve had patients with contact precautions, meaning we can’t take the electronic monitors in their rooms or, as happened today, because they wanted to make sure the reading was accurate (the electronic monitors are handy, but are not known for their accuracy… if you want it done right you have to do the stethoscope and manometer thing). I’m feeling a lot better about those. I felt like I couldn’t hear a darned thing in lab when we did it, but seems to work just fine in real life.

Oh, and I got to witness the pharmacy robot freak out today. That was kind of funny. The pharmacy sends some of the meds up to the floor in this machine that is programmed to ride the elevators and go to the different floors and stuff. And it’s got sensors to avoid people and objects in its way (though he’s cut it close a few times… yes, it’s a he, it actually talks and has a male voice). Well, today he started doing his own thing and started backing down the hall, slowly, but definitely going beyond his boundaries with an error message on his screen. The nurses were joking as his slowly rolled past the laundry area that maybe he thought the dryer was cute and wanted to visit her. We wondered if he was going to keep going until he got into a patient room. Luckily the pharmacist for the floor was able to come rescue him before he made it that far.

So I guess one of the lessons of the week is that technology is great until it isn’t… like cordless phones that die when the power goes out, electronic BP cuffs that may or may not give you an accurate reading, and robots that have breakdowns and start wandering aimlessly down hallways.

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