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30th December 2007
On life and death...
Working in the ICU, it's kind of a given that periodically, you will have a patient code - or try to code - on you. It sucks, but it's part of the deal. About all you can do is be aware and catch the signs of impending disaster and get help quickly. :
However, tonight I managed to take things to a whole new level. I had two critical cats - one with kidney failure who'd also had a seizure that afternoon, and another with severe anemia, feline leukemia positive status, kidney disease, a recent limb amputation, and probable cancer - and they both decided to try to die AT THE SAME TIME.
Basically, the first cat, Tiger, developed a significant heart arrhythmia and while the doctor was evaluating her, she started breathing agonally - the gasping breaths that mean death is pretty much imminent.
So we got her out of her cage and on the table, get her intubated, and started drugs. Her heart was still beating, however irregularly, and generating pulses in her limbs. She responded to the drugs and eventually started breathing on her own.
While we had Tiger on the table, before she was breathing on her own, the other cat, Precious, started vomiting. She somehow ended up heaving with her face pressed to the floor in the back corner of her cage. I asked someone who was nearby to check on her and she was blue with a ridiculously low heart rate and blood coming out of her mouth.
Before we were able to do much of anything, she started breathing on her own and her heart rate came back up. The theory was that she may have had a vagal response, essentially the same thing that made President Bush pass out when he choked on that pretzel a few years back. The blood was from where she bit her own tongue.
And into this mess, with two of my patients laid out on the table in mid-resuscitation, one of my coworkers comes back from his lunch break and exclaims "Margo, what did you do?!?" I'm laughing about it now (we're good friends, it's not like he meant anything bad by it), but at the moment...well...not so funny.
It's really unusual to be able to get a patient back to relative stability after they've tried to die, especially when they have severe underlying disease. About the only time it works reliably is when a basically healthy animal has severe complications from anesthesia. So as much as the whole thing sucked and amounted to pretty much the most stressful 30 minutes I've had in about as long as I can remember, I am really pleased and mildly shocked that we were able to stabilize both of them.
In these cases, it's not really about saving lives. Both are still ridiculously sick little kitties with underlying problems that are impossible to resolve. To be perfectly honest, I don't expect either one of them to be alive when I get in for my shift tomorrow afternoon. But when I left, they were both comfortable and still alive several hours after almost dying. It means their families have time to visit with them one last time. That's about the most that could have been accomplished, and I'm incredibly grateful for it.
So I got home, completely exhausted, and logged into my work email - to find an email from one of the doctors, to the whole staff, thanking me personally for my work in catching these things while there was still something that could be done.
After everything I've been through in these past few years, it's hard to put into words just how much something like that means. Life really is good.
8th December 2007
My tushie hurts...
because I wiped out down a Metro escalator (for the second time in my life), and now I have a huge bruise on my butt. :
I know, I know. Too much information.
Well, other highlights of my day included the following:
One coworker to another (human): "Careful, there's poo next to your right front foot."
A Lab puppy who got himself stuck halfway down a laundry chute, and me trying to convince his humans that considering that when he got here he was unresponsive and had a temperature of 107, they really should do what the doctor suggested and keep him in the hospital overnight for observation. Doesn't matter that he does actually look fine now and he's actually really freaking loud and annoying and we are as eager to get him out of here as you are!
Not too exciting overall.
15th August 2007
What a night. Normally, I actually enjoy toxicoses. I like making dogs puke, even if I don't like sifting through the vomit to find the offending substance. But I don't love it so much when it's one after another and the dogs are big ding-dongs that flail all over the place when you try to do anything to them! :
In the space of an hour, we had two dogs who ate a bunch of Rimadyl (an NSAID drug that comes in chewable form so it actually tastes good to them), one who ate rat poison, and another who decided to munch on a bottle of lighter fluid. That one was great - apparently lighter fluid causes horrible GI toxic signs. So he's probably still puking and having nasty diarrhea blow-outs. Lighter fluid was a new one for me and I think that dog just might be a candidate for the "dummy of the year" award! I mean, really - it couldn't have tasted good!
Toward the end of the night we had a horrible situation where a dog came in DOA after jumping out of a moving car into traffic. The client was understandably hysterical. Those situations are the worst to me. I can handle bagging a mangled body but I still identify way too closely with the client in these situations. I don't think it really does me any good to imagine how the situation might have happened and imagine myself in their place.
Thank goodness it's Tuesday and I have the next two days (mostly) off. I could use a break.
4th August 2007
Once again, life has changed. I've moved from a tiny vet practice to the biggest one in DC. It's definitely been a great move for me - more money, benefits, shorter hours, and swing shift. And it's been a great experience to get back into emergency and critical care medicine, which to my surprise I've discovered I really love. :
Right now I'm mostly assigned to the dreaded "B ward". That's the intermediate care zone for patients who, well, don't really need to be hospitalized. Mostly it's routine post-ops (things like spays, neuters, and lumpectomies), post-dentals, drop-off appointments, elective hospitalizations (what most places call "medical boarding"), and boarding for employee pets. Patients range from those who are recovered from surgery and just waiting to go home to elective hospitalizations that are really very debilitated - such as the Boxer with megaesophagus who has to be held vertical for 15 minutes after eating or drinking anything so she doesn't aspirate and develop pneumonia on top of everything else.
At this point my biggest challenge is figuring out how to juggle everything when everything seems to be happening at once - treatments that need to be completed on schedule, clients who are here to pick up their pets, the dog who just pooped in his cage and needs to be cleaned, clients calling to check on their pets after surgery...it's a lot to juggle and I admit I'm not all that good at it yet. Skill-wise, it's less demanding than what I'm used to, but it's forcing me to find ways to work as efficiently as possible and that's definitely a good thing.
Once I've passed a couple more tests I'll be ready to work in the ICU, which essentially means fewer but much sicker patients. This is something I'm really looking forward to - I love critical care nursing and can't wait to learn new technical skills.
The emergency end of things is fun too. Obviously it's sometimes heartbreaking, but it can also be really rewarding and sometimes highly entertaining. Toxicoses are really fun. You'd be amazed at the stuff dogs can eat - and at what it looks and smells like when we make them puke it up! Chocolate has been the preferred doggy snack this week, but some dogs seem to prefer things like underwear, socks, or human medicines.
It's also funny how we seem to run "specials" - times when we have lots of the same sort of emergency. For instance, yesterday was a pretty slow day in emergency but we had four dogs come in for seizures. A few days ago, the "special" was dogs who'd eaten rat poison. And one day last week, the "special" was DOA's - that one wasn't very much fun.
So all in all I'm definitely enjoying my new job - it's a great opportunity and every day I laugh and learn something new. To me, those are the two biggest components of a great day!
4th December 2006
Kennedy Center Honors
It's the first Sunday in December - which means tonight was the Kennedy Center Honors. :
We sang in the Steven Spielberg tribute, under the baton of John Williams. That was very, very cool. Steven Spielberg just seemed so overwhelmed by all the adulation he was receiving. It's always neat to do something for someone who really, really appreciates it - and that was definitely the case tonight. I've done Honors several times before and that's probably the biggest thing that keeps me coming back.
Some of the highlights of the weekend:
-Hanging out by the door while we were waiting to rehearse, which meant we got to watch the stars coming and going. Reese Witherspoon is so tiny, so cute, and so sweet! Reba McIntire and Vince Gill seemed to be having so much fun. Allison Krauss is about the most ho-hum person you'll ever see when she isn't performing - she rehearsed in jeans and a t-shirt and no makeup at all. It's kind of refreshing up against the airbrushed Hollywood stuff.
-"Hi, my name is Kenny Rogers and I can no longer blink." Seriously, the man needs to fire his plastic surgeon.
-Jessica Simpson's "wardrobe malfunction". I am not kidding - she stopped in the middle of the song and ran offstage because her dress was falling off!
-Oh, and being in the same room with Andrew Lloyd Webber and the folks like Sarah Brightman and Betty Buckley. My high school friends would be so envious. We were crazily obsessed with all things Webber back in the day.
So despite all the "hurry up and wait" that comes with TV gigs, it was a very fun weekend and well worth all the work. Be sure to watch on December 26 on your local CBS station!
10th November 2006
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Inland North
You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."
|What American accent do you have?|
Take More Quizzes
Interesting. FWIW, I'm not from the Midwest and carbonated beverages are "soda". ;-)
25th January 2006
Life is best handled with a sense of humor...
During the first week of classes I managed to: :
1. completely forget to attend a class
2. show up for a class I was not supposed to attend (right class, wrong section)
3. set a fire in the toaster in the campus convenience store.
One week down, 14 to go. This may be a long semester.
7th October 2005
So...anyone want a cute, cuddly kitten or a sweet and friendly cat?
29th August 2005
I got the job!!!!!! :
I've been in the process of interviewing at an emergency clinic in Annapolis for literally a month now. And today I got the call - I have the job!!!!!
This is so amazing. The hospital is considered to be the best veterinary emergency/critical care facility in the region, with facilities that are just shy of university caliber and a team of vets who are almost all board certified emergency/critical care specialists.
There is, quite simply, no other small animal facility in the area where I will have a remotely comparable chance to learn from experiencing some of the toughest and most off-the-wall cases, or to learn from doctors who are this expert.
I think I just might be the luckiest person in the world.
This is where I'm going to be working:
Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic/Chesapeake Veterinary Referral Center
28th August 2005
Dear Lhasa Lady, :
Your dogs are so hairy that they can neither see nor take a dump without assistance. Please do not return with them until this situation is rectified.
1st August 2005
Please send prayers and good thoughts this way if you get a chance. I have two job interviews today. Yikes!
29th July 2005
At the very last minute, circumstances conspired against my trip to South America. :
I'm really more relieved than anything else. This trip long ago changed from something fun and exciting to just one more thing that was happening *to* me. And with things spiraling further and further out of control, I was just too tired to fight anymore. There are too many other things I need to do.
For now, I'm just glad that I've been able to take back a little control over my life.
18th July 2005
Talk about frighteningly accurate. :
You are elegant, withdrawn, and brilliant.
Your mind is a weapon, able to solve any puzzle.
You are also great at poking holes in arguments and common beliefs.
For you, comfort and calm are very important.
You tend to thrive on your own and shrug off most affection.
You prefer to protect your emotions and stay strong.
10th June 2005
Sing it out loud, we're pro-life and proud!
9th June 2005
Every day, it seems I'm torn between a desire to save the world and a desire for a normal life. :
And every day, it seems God alternates between pushing me toward one world and pulling me toward another.
I guess that's all part of the game.
Look what I found on Tuesday, at a gas station in a rather unsavory part of town:
Aside from fly strikes and flea dermatitis, she's in basically good shape - and she's the sweetest thing in the entire world! I've had quite a bit of fun watching people's expressions when I tell them she's either pure pit bull or a pit mix.
Actually, I prefer to think of her as a New Yorkie. I know NYCACC's attempt to call pit bulls "New Yorkies" kind of flopped, but I personally loved it.
And the best part is that I think I have a home for her!
2nd May 2005
Pretty close, for something totally random
Your Birthdate: March 3
Being born on the 3rd day of the month is likely to add a good bit of vitality to your life.
The energy of 3 allows you bounce back rapidly from setbacks, physical or mental.
There is a restlessness in your nature, but you seem to be able to portray an easygoing, "couldn't care less" attitude.
You have a natural ability to express yourself in public, and you always make a very good impression.
Good with words, you excel in writing, speaking, and possibly singing.
You are energetic and always a good conversationalist.
You have a keen imagination, but you tend to scatter your energies and become involved with too may superficial matters.
You are affectionate and loving, but sometimes too sensitive.
You are subject to rapid ups and downs.
I'll take "No Surprises Here" for $500, Alex...
Your Linguistic Profile:
60% General American English
15% Upper Midwestern
23rd April 2005
Doesn't take much to turn me into a puddle
In German town, Benedict XVI known for love of cats, conversation By Matthew Schofield, Knight Ridder Newspapers :
Thu Apr 21, 6:20 PM ET
REGENSBURG, Germany - When he was a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI often delivered sermons at the German-language church in Campasanto Teutonico near St. Peter's Basilica, but his most heartfelt talks may have been the ones he gave after celebrating Mass.
"I went with him once," said Konrad Baumgartner, the head of the theology department at Regensburg University. "Afterwards, he went into the old cemetery behind the church.
"It was full of cats, and when he went out, they all ran to him. They knew him and loved him. He stood there, petting some and talking to them, for quite a long time. He visited the cats whenever he visited the church. His love for cats is quite famous."
Although his public image is that of a stern enforcer of church doctrine, in Regensburg, where the 78-year-old pope came into his own as a theologian, those who know the man known as "God's Rottweiler" say his soft, human side has been ignored.
The pope loves cats, can't resist Christmas cookies and, three months ago, waxed on about how he dreamed of retiring from the hectic life at the Vatican to enjoy his last years reading, writing and talking with friends.
His brother Georg still lives in Regensburg and is Benedict's strongest connection to the town he left for Munich when he became archbishop. Georg Ratzinger, also ordained in the church, spent decades as the musical director of the famous Regensburger Domspatzen boys' choir. He lives down a twisting cobbled street from the towering Gothic Regensburg Cathedral.
"The totally wrong picture is painted of my brother," he said Thursday in a dining room decorated with iconic art and photos and letters from Pope John Paul II. "He's a cheerful man, friendly. But he does have principles that he will stand for."
In fact, Ratzinger believes that instead of being divisive, Benedict will build bridges - "though there are limits."
He bridled at how some members of the English press have treated his brother. One paper ran a headline saying "From Hitler Youth to Papa Ratzi," but Ratzinger said all boys were forced to join the Hitler Youth and that his brother was never a Nazi.
"In our family, we were taught they were evil," he said.
His brother's interests included music, Ratzinger said. "He played the organ quite well, but he hasn't played for years now."
When he was younger, Benedict XVI hiked in the Tyrol mountains to relax. As he grew older and had less time and energy, he tended the magnolia tree outside his house, cleaned the fountain under the statue of Mary and thinned out the ivy.
Agnes Heindl has been Georg Ratzinger's housekeeper for 10 years, and she's come to know the new pope well.
She said she often drove then-Cardinal Ratzinger to his house after the brothers had shared Sunday dinner. His favorite foods were Weisswurst - the traditional white Bavarian sausage - and anything sweet. She said he's known for trying every type of Christmas cookie at a party.
"Oh, he could just talk about anything, really," she said. "He liked to talk about friends and how people he knew were doing. He's a very pleasant man to have a conversation with."
She clutched 16 Benedict roses, white, as she talked.
"Maybe if I can't get the flowers to him, someone will take a picture of them, and he'll see that we're thinking of him," she said.
She spoke with him again this week. He called on Wednesday morning, after getting busy signals at his brother's house Tuesday night. When she answered, a well-known voice said: "Can I please speak to my brother."
"The Holy Father called, and all I could do was stammer, `So how do I address you now?' He laughed," she said.
She said she's glad she heard him laugh. His new job isn't easy, and he'll need to laugh. She said that when he was relaxing, there was never a mystery about what would make him laugh.
"Oh, cats," she said. " He loves them."
She pointed up a staircase to a wall full of painted plates, each depicting a different cat. The brothers collected the plates together, she said.
"When we were on vacation, a cat, a little kitten, would come by, and he'd be giddy, almost giggling with joy," she said." Cats love him; they always go to him straight away. And he loves them back."
He doesn't have a cat, however. Heindl doesn't think he can have one living in the Vatican.
"He was always content to play with the street cats," she said. "I don't know much about Rome, but I know there's no shortage of cats there."
Benedict still owns the house he bought on the edge of Regensburg in 1970, but he visits only a couple times a year. The city adjusted his deed this week: It now lists the owner as "Holy Father."
On Thursday afternoon, Chico the cat - perhaps the closest thing there is to The Pope's Cat, strolled from the shaded arch between the pope's front door and his garage. Chico belongs to Rupert Hofbauer, who looks after Benedict's garden and home.
"Chico is his friend, though he scratched him over Christmas because he didn't want to go outside, all day or night, and the cardinal tried to put him out," Hofbauer said. "They usually get along well, though."
Hofbauer and many others in Regensburg, where the new pope remains on the faculty rolls, shared mixed emotions, pride and sorrow, when they heard the news. Georg Ratzinger said he almost feels as if he's lost his brother, knowing that it won't be easy to see him now.
"I thought he'd retire soon, and we would finally have a lot of time to finish all the talks we've started through the years. We talked about that, just this Christmas when he was home," Hofbauer said.
"He thought it sounded nice, to retire, to take it easy. That's not how it worked out though, is it?"
8th April 2005
I did it! I finally figured out what to name the new foster cat. :
First, background - I found him last Thursday, in a housing project in the NE, dirty and with fight wounds in various stages of healing and so skinny I could feel practically every bone in his body.
Despite all that, he's just about the sweetest guy ever.
So anyhow, I wanted to name him in honor of the Holy Father. But he also had to be given a proper cat name (e.g. one that still sounds reasonably dignified when it's said in a high-pitched, cooing cat voice). And the name couldn't be too obviously associated with the Pope, because I didn't want to unnecessarily alienate potential adopters who would either be turned off by anything associated with the Pope or who would find it insulting that I named a cat after the Supreme Pontiff.
Well, thanks to Dr. Lowe and Anti-Mike, New Guy now has a name.
Where did that come from, you ask?
Flash back six years, to Dr. Lowe's Christology class. We're discussing the Resurrection, and Dr. Lowe is reading from 1 Corinthians 15, which is the earliest written record of the event.
Anti-Mike raises his hand and says "Who's Cephas?".
and Dr. Lowe replies "St. Peter. Also known as Rocky.".
Rocky. Perfect. After St. Peter, in honor of his most recent vicar - but no one will know unless I tell them!
4th April 2005
Here's another question to add to my List of Things to Ask God Someday: :
If I jaywalk across a major artery during rush hour because I'm running late for Mass, does my guardian angel work overtime to get me to Mass safely, or does he hang back and chill because I'm an idiot for jaywalking in the first place?
Somehow very timely...
This image resonates especially strongly for me now...as Mary cradled the body of He who was both her son and her Lord, so in these days we, the Church, do the same for the man who was a once the Church's most beloved son and the pastoral father of all her people.
Yet, reflecting on this is just another reminder of the magnificent love and mercy of God, our Creator and Lord who chose to make each of us to be His child, and all of us His bride.
"See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
- 1 John 3:1-2
3rd April 2005
Things I'm grateful for
There is no doubt that this has been one of the saddest times I can remember. As Archbishop Sandri put it, we all feel like orphans tonight. But there is also so much to celebrate tonight. Here's my list. I hope you'll leave a comment with your own. :
-First and foremost, I thank God for giving us such a holy shepherd for the past 26+ years.
-Our Papa has finally gone to his eternal home. This very moment, we have every reason to believe that he is in the full presence of God.
-The Holy Father went home to God on exactly the right day: the Saturday (Our Lady's day) in the octave of Easter, on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday.
-After so much talk (mostly by the media) about whether the Holy Father would resign or what would happen if his mental faculties diminished, he was able to remained fully lucid until very shortly before his death.
-I'm grateful for the technology that allows us to see and communicate with our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world and know that today we are all bound by a common joy and a common sorrow. I'm particularly grateful for the gift of the LJ Catholic community.
-Now that our Holy Father is no longer bound by his infirm body, it is possible (at least for me) to watch video clips of the earlier days of his papacy without being saddened by the knowledge of how much he is suffering in body and spirit for his inability to do the things he once could do. He is free now, and so I am able to see him as a younger, active man and simply rejoice in the energetic, charismatic Pope that he was.
-And I'm grateful for the final words that His Holiness communicated to his flock: "I am happy, and you should be as well. Let us pray together with joy.", and finally to the young people gathered in St. Peter's Square, "I have sought you. Now you have come to me, and I thank you."
18th February 2005
Parents who bring squalling brats to R-rated movies
Circle I Limbo
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow
Circle IV Rolling Weights
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled
Circle VI Buried for Eternity
Circle VII Burning Sands
Qusay Hussein, Uday Hussein, Saddam Hussein
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement
Osama bin Laden
Circle IX Frozen in Ice
Design your own hell