Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Mountain and the Molehill

We do deliveries of medications on the half hours every night (i.e. 12:30, 1:30, etc.). Tuesday night, a child who was in the pediatric hospital died. There were some meds for the kid waiting to be delivered at around 5:45 that morning. They had just missed the 5:30 delivery. When I took them on the 6:30 delivery, I was told to take them back to the pharmacy as the child did not need them anymore. That really got to me. I don't believe in a miracle pill or miracle elixir or anything, but it did make me wonder what difference that one med would have made had the order made it to the pharmacy 15 minutes earlier.

Tonight, we had another pediatric patient to code. I literally ran the bolus over as quickly as my out of shape twenty-five year old arthritically kneed legs could carry me. I can barely run without wheezing as is and peds is all the way across the hospital (approximately a whole fucking shitload of feet away). I only quit smoking again on Tuesday. Twelve years of damage couldn't even be partially repaired in that little time afterall.

I made it to PICU, somewhat slightly winded, and looked for the action. There were doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists and gawkers and sodium bicarb and epinephrine and needles and notes and two beds tucked away in the back corner of the PICU. I jogged to the baby's bedside just outside the tornado of people and drugs and told them I had his/her medication. No one heard me, so I said it a little louder. Still nothing. I was about to grab a nurse and hand off the bag, when another nurse peeked her head up through the crowd long enough to say, "That's for him," with a nod before being sucked back under. It was then that I noticed the morbidly obese teen in the next bed. I had not realized that both were coding. I knew there was a lot of motion swirling around the two children, but they had only announced one code. I assumed the extra people were all there to watch the whole spectacle. I thought the teen, who I had not even payed attention to at first, was just catching the gawker runoff. The two beds beside one another at the farthest end of the pediatric intensive care unit both had children coding in them, a first for me after seven years in the hospital.

I found it bizarrely surreal watching them work on the two. The tiniest handful of a baby and the gargantuan teen. A million thoughts flashed through my head in the 1.5 seconds it took for me to toss the i.v. bag across the teenager to his nurse. Is this a test? Is it because I lost one earlier this week? How loud am I wheezing right now? Is that his scrotum? What's wrong with him? What's wrong with the baby? Why are so many people up here? Why is that nurse laughing? Are the couple I ran past in the waiting area the parents? Did my earrings fall out of my back pocket? Was it the epinephrine or the ativan drawer that he said would not open? My lungs seem to have cleared up a little after that run. I've never seen two codes happen simultaneously and side by side like this. Do I smell like sweat now? Are they going to make it? That nurse is still laughing.

I briskly walked out of the PICU and thru the waiting area trying to avoid eye contact. As soon as I was out of view of the families, I began to run again. Past surgery. Past the ATMs. Past the lab, the ICU waiting room, and the old gift shop. Down the stairwell. Past the restrooms. Down the corridor. Back into pharmacy.

"Here's the second bag," said one of my pharmacists, handing it off to me as I ran back out the doors. Up the corridor. Past the restrooms. Up the stairwell. Past the old gift shop, the ICU waiting room, and the lab. Past the ATMs. Past surgery. Up to the corner of the PICU waiting area where I slowed to a huffing, puffing, wheezing brisk walk. I made my way back to the mountain and the molehill and handed off the next bag of fluid.

"Call pharmacy and tell them...oh, Preston, good. We're out of bicarb and epi push," called one of the teen's nurses.

"Rie...," I breathed in response before heading back out. This time as I passed thru the waiting family members, I noticed that I was being watched by them all. I knew I was starting to sweat. I know that I sweat buckets. I knew that they could not be that stupid as to not realize that something is going on. Yet, I still waited to get around the corner, out of eyeshot, before breaking into my sprint. This time as I ran, my mind began again to wander. Is my back sweating? God, my shins are killing me. Would it be faster to cut thru surgery? I hope they make it. ATMs. How much money do I make? God, my lungs hurt. Lab. Bicarb. Waiting room. Epinephrine. Old gift shop. Push. Down the stairwell. Almost there. Restrooms. God, my ankles hurt. Down the corridor. Where's my name badge? Back into pharmacy.

"They... need... bicarb... and... epi... ... push..."

"They don't have any?"

"They just... said that... they ran... ... out..."

One pharmacist ran to the bulk medication stock room. The other ran to the crash cart restock shelves. I stood in the middle catching my breath for a moment.

"How can we not have bicarb and epi on the cart shelves?!"

I ran to the bulk room. The pharmacist stood in the i.v. row of shelves looking around anxiously like a cat following a laser pointer.

"Epi and bicarb," I said as I grabbed the two. He glanced to make sure they were correct before I headed for the door. I stopped and asked, "Is there anything else that needs to go over there right now while I am going." It is not that I would have refused to make another trip, but I wasn't sure how much longer I could last at that pace. Very sad, but very true. Another bag of iv fluid was thrown on top of the boxes of epinephrine and out I went.

Corridor. Forehead sweat. Restrooms. Tight calves. Stairwell. Snapped thighs. Gift shop. Pinched forearm. Waiting room. Burning lungs. Lab. Screaming ankles. ATMs. Watery eyes. Surgery. Almost there. Waiting area. Just keep running. PICU. Wait, I'm coming.

"He... ... ... bic... ... ... ep... ..."

"Hang on. That's his mother," whispered one of the gawkers to me. She tapped a man I assumed was the teenager's doctor. "Where should he put this?"

He turned to look at me, drenched with sweat and gasping for air, looked down at the boxes I was carrying and sighed, "Just leave them there."

I did not realize it then, but the mother was called in to say goodbye. They knew he wasn't going to make it and were, at this point, keeping him going long enough for her to see him one last time technically alive. Then, he died.

I was told later that the baby had not made it either, but found out that it was a mistake. There was another code in PICU earlier in the evening that did not survive. My little baby at least lived.

So what is the point of this whole thing? Well, I guess I just remembered tonight that I am dealing with actual human life. I mean yea, I know that in a hospital there are people who need help, but working in the pharmacy in the middle of the night in the basement away from most human contact, it is easy to forget. My point is, I am ready to be a nurse now more than ever. If there were any doubts about whether I would be able to actually do it or want to do it, those have been laid to rest. I rarely get a chance to do anything even remotely hands on as far as patient care. While running back and forth across a hospital is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, it was at least something. The nurses and doctors thanked me later that night for getting their stuff to them so quickly while they dealt with the actual codes. I want to thank them for solidifying my decision about school. So, while I doubt any of them will ever be reading this, thank you all.

Later Consuela.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda
A Tale from the Bottom of the Bottle

*Overlook poor grammar as this has not yet been proofread. Preston, head in the game, bud.*

I am not really actively persuing anyone at the moment. I am interested in a few people right now. Well, I am legitimately interested in one guy for something real, henceforth known as Woulda. Another is a guy who is officially straight, dubbed Coulda. The last is a girl that I am pretty good friends with, of course named Shoulda.

Woulda is a really awesome guy. He is a guy that I have been admiring from a distance in a nonstalker fashion for at least the past two years. I say that because I knew him vaguely from a few years ago at which time I was also interested, but he was unavailable. He is down to earth for the moment. He shares similar interests with me. Though, I will admit, I believe that my very eclectic interests make it difficult for me to find people with whom I do not share several common interests. He actually thinks. He has that really cute pseudo nerdy wit that I love. After my last dating blurb, that would be a nice trait to see in someone I am dating. Physically, he is gorgeous. I let him know I think so too, which I am sure was a big mistake. It does not change the fact. I need to learn when to shut up, I know. I am not going to go thru every individual positive and negative quality he has. Firstly, I would not be able to accurately list them all as of yet. Secondly, what is the point? At the end of the day, Woulda is the one I woulda had if the timing had been different for him.

Coulda is another awesome fella. His official story is that he is straight. He is a guy that I have been admiring from a distance in a nonstalker fashion for at least the past three years. I say that because he and I have worked in the same place for the entire three years I have been here (it is a big hospital so good luck narrowing it down). He is down to earth. He shares similar interests with me and is Woulda's polar opposite for the most part. This helps to prove my eclectic interests theory. He also actually thinks. He is very sarcastic and funny. Physically, he is handsome and works out quite a bit. I have not let him know I think so, as I am sure that could be a big mistake. I need my job. It does not change the fact, though. I need to learn how to imply, I know. I coulda gone out with him a few times now had I not chickened out of going alone. Again, need the job. I am not going to go thru every individual positive and negative quality he has. Firstly, I would not be able to accurately list them all as of yet. Secondly, what is the point? At the end of the day, Coulda is the one I coulda had if the situation had been different, and I were not such a chicken shit.

Shoulda is an amazing straight female friend. She is a girlie I have been admiring from a distance in a nonstalker fashion for at least the past year or so of the two and a half I have known her. I say that because she and I worked in the same place in the past and are now pretty good friends (it is a big hospital so good luck narrowing her down). She, like the others, is down to earth. She shares similar interests with me and is Woulda and Coulda's lovechild basically. Eclectic interests theory. She is one of the most intelligent people I know. She has a dry, quick, schtick, sarcastic wit that keeps me laughing and plays perfectly off of my own. Physically, she's just a beautiful chicka, and she knows I think so. I tell her every single time I am in contact with her. I shoulda asked her out way back when we were still getting to know one another. Now, we have become too close as friends to risk losing it. Still, she is the girl/guy I say I would easily get married to if I found the "right girl/guy". She's wifey material. Like with Woulda and Coulda, I am not going to go thru every individual positive and negative quality she has. Firstly, I would not be able to accurately list them all due to time constraints. Secondly, what is the point? At the end of the day, Shoulda is the one I shoulda dated had the situation been different, had timing been different, had my gay friends been different, had a ton of things been different.

So that's what has been on my mind lately. Three very different people who are all very much the same. Three different people that I would, could, or should be with for their own individual qualities. Three people I would, could, or should be able to be happy with were it not for certain forces that are outside of my control. It is irritating, but such is life I suppose. I'll eventually find that best friend/soulmate/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/whatever that is out there. I suppose I will. I may not. But really, at this point, I guess it doesn't exactly matter. I mean, seriously, I've been fine thusfar with the status quo. It'd just be kind of nice I guess. I mean I have been single since Eeyore and I broke up which was just before I began writing in this thing. It is time to get back on that horse, well, donkey. Not that I am trying to get back with Eeyore. I just want to start dating again. I think I have forgotten how one goes on a date. Almost. Woulda and I had a pleasant one recently. I almost feel like I am back at square one. Back where I was in February of 2004 at Consuela's beginning. Actually, that predates Consuela. Back then, it was just "blog" (I really hate that word.) Actually, I think I did a Bette Midler Hocus Pocus yell of, "BoooooOOOOOOK!" No comments thanks. Alright moving on.

Recently I was talking to this lesbian couple I know who enjoy the sauce a bit, imagine that. We were exchanging old drinking stories, so I pulled out one of the if not the worst one from my past. It is disgusting if not at least mildly entertaining. As I am a humiliation whore apparently, here ya go. Though I am fairly certain that I am the only one who actually reads this anymore which kind of makes it even better. At any rate, here is what happened on

The Night of the Deadly Mudslides

In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most my days. Wait that is someone else's story. Many moons ago I spent a lot of my time in a place known as "high school." On weekends, most of my days were spent with my Italian friend Cenzo. We would spend our evenings and weekends smoking the devil weed and drinking the nectar of our Russo brethren. It was also the time in my life that I began saying, I don't remember last night, so I know I had a good time. Eat your heart out Spicoli.

On one of these weekends of faux medicinal debauchery, Momma Cenzo took Cenzo and I to his cousin's house. His cousin will be...Steve...why not. We made it to Steve's house. Actually, he will be Stephen. No, just Ste. Okay so we went to Ste's house and began to have a few cocktails. By 'cocktails' I actually mean Mad Dog or something. I think that was the name. All I remember is it was in a big can with a dog on the front and tasted the same as I imagined the pictured dog's urine tasting. But I was young and it was alcohol.

Momma Cenzo didn't mind if I drank or smoked or got high or anything because, as she put it, "I'm not your mom. I can't tell you what to do." This doesn't actually make any sense to me now any more than it did then, but who's to argue.

So basically, I end up hammered off of the dog piss. We eventually leave Ste's house to go back to the Cenzo nest. The door was locked. I was drunk. They were tipsey. I was irritable. They were slow. I was impatient. They were fumbling. I was loud. They dropped the keys. I kicked in the front door. They were shocked. I was confused. They began to giggle. Good beginning for the evening.

So now it is around 10 pm roughly. We are waiting on Cenzo's lady friend to get off work and make it over. I begin on the gallon of Mudslide, my drink o'choice back in the proverbial day, using as much pacing as I do now. Actually, my pacing has gotten slightly better, but not by much. So Cenzette shows up around 1030 or 11. I am plastered. They are laughing at the drunken teenage house guest. I am dizzy. They are playing quarters. I am feeling suffocated. They are getting a little closer to drunk. I strip, run out the door, and head down the street in a staggered run. (I do not remember anything about this night so most of this is based on their joint account of the evenings events.)

It was around this time that Cenzo realized I had "gone streaking" and sent his mother and Cenzette after me. I, having been fueled by three quarters of a gallon of Mudslides on top of the festering dog urine, was able to somehow, magically outrun them while staring at the sky and repeating, The stars are so fucking beautiful, man.

When they caught up to me, about a mile up the road, I was lying down on my Pentecostal uncle's front lawn and staring at the stars, calling out their beauty, penis in the wind.

"Preston, get the hell up! Your uncle is gonna kill you then us!"

"The stars, man. They're BEAUTIFUL!"

Momma Cenzo and Cenzette grabbed me, tossed my boxer briefs at me, and started pulling me back toward their home, praying the whole way that no one had been awakened.

The next bit of the story is a little hazy. Most of the details match up in all three versions. The order of the events varies.

Between my uncle's home and the home of Momma Cenzo there lived a crazy old man with an arsenal. His name will be Old Man Smith. Old Man Smith was the man we were convinced was a retired, overzealous DEA agent who had snapped due to the pressures of the job, moved to the country, set up an unofficial sting operation across the street, and watched us constantly. Every day was our last. That is part of why we partied like it was 1999 in 1999. In retrospect, had we not been partying, he would not have been watching us if he were watching us which he wasn't watching us but we were paranoid...vicious cycle. Catch 22 maybe. Not sure. That term has always confused me. Back on track.

We are crossing Old Man Smith's front yard, I apparently wanted to feel the grass beneath my feet while looking at the fucking beautiful stars, when I stopped to get a better look at them. Momma Cenzo is quietly whispering/beckoning me out of the man's yard as we are all fucked up, he is crazy DEA guy, and I am still underage and nude. I told her that that was unacceptable and threw a handful of my pubic hair into her face and mouth. I did this a few more times as she staggered backwards clawing at her mouth and spitting. Old Man Smith walked outside to see what his dogs were barking at. I threw my hands into the air and ran away like ET followed closely by Momma Cenzo and Cenzette. I then threw more pubes in her face, put my clothes on outside, and came in to finish off the Mudslide. At some point after that, I began puking up all the alcohol and chocolate milk (Mudslide) under their television and passed out trying to swim in it. The next morning was a disgusting, Hills Have Eyes mess that I had the pleasure of cleaning.

The End

So yea. Not much I can say after sharing that gem, so I'll just quit.

Later Consuela.

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