Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why My Mom Didn't Know About My Stitches Until the Rest of the Internet

I'll keep this short. I was in an awkward position at the top of a ladder, I cut a zip-tie and the knife continued through and grazed, GRAZED, my knuckle. I put a bandaid on it, it was fine, continued with my day for a couple hours but my swampy hands wouldnt allow a bandaid to stay on for long and i had to go to the nurse to get some tape. I tried to get the tape without showing her the cut, but my boss happened to be in the nurses office when i walked in. So she saw it, and she freaked out. This 20 year old nurse was freaking out like my finger was about to fall off and insisted I go to the ER, and my boss had to agree with her. She started filling out paperwork, recording that the cut was 1/4 inch deep... a security guard that was in there who was an EMS corrected her estimation, he said 1 mm, that was more like it. A paper cut. I protested as much as i could, insisting i would sign any paperwork to absolve them of responsibility, asking if I could wait till tomorrow to see how it looks... just really trying not to make my supervisor drive me to the ER at 8 pm. It didnt work. So I went, all of it workers comp of course, got the stupid stitches in my paper cut, and that was that. Then when it came time to get them out, all of the nurses at the boardwalk either said that they legally couldnt, or had never seen stitches like that and didnt know how to take them out, and I couldnt find on google how to properly take them out, so I made the mistake of going back to the ER, and you know what happened then.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dominican Hospital Disappointment

I am pissed. It is 1 am, I just got back from the hospital, Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, CA, where I went for the minor procedure of getting 3 stitches removed, it was the worst experience I have ever had in a hospital. I died in one once. This was worse.

I showed up about 11:30, I went late to avoid the more crowded daytime hours thinking the wait would be minimal, it wasnt, though I cannot hold that against Dominican, thats just how it happens in the ER. I give my basic info to the first receptionist and was almost immediately called to receptionist number 2, "wow, that was fast" I said with a look of hope on my face "Oh," says receptionist #1 "Dont let that fool you, we are really slow here." Awesome. After receptionist number 2 I take my seat in the waiting room and inhale the stale hospital scent mixed with the stagnant aroma of multiple cups of old coffee left on the table next to me. As I sit amongst fellow patients and the friends and family of those who have already been admitted, I am inevitably drawn to the television. Dominicans waiting room television policy: think of the kind of television that would be least appropriate for a hospital waiting room, turn that on and turn the volume up. We are watching a show based on hurting people, how funny it is, and being rewarded for it, MTV's Silent Library. In the hospital waiting room. My head is buried in my hands, the only man more miserable than me is being rolled by on a stretcher, a punk kid fights to stay quiet as he gets whipped by a jumprope in the whirling hands of a boxer, I have been here for 12 minutes.

The wait continues in a similar fashion, the occasional stretcher, the moments of hope when a receptionist starts calling names, the fat man with nipple clamps attached to RC cars. I try to zone out, slip away from the waiting room. "Jackass up next." You've got to be kidding me. Back to back episodes opening with Johnny Knoxville getting kicked in the balls by kindergartners. An hour goes by. Finally the moment of hope turns into actual progress as my name is called. I get up, walk with the nurse and I swear I did this, she asked me how I was, and, im serious, I smiled. I looked into her eyes, smiled and said I was doin alright. Somebody saint me. Get the pope. Damnit St. Brendon is already taken.

So I am finally getting somewhere as I follow the doughy figure adorned in urban camo scrubs to my room. She gets her suture removal kit and starts poking at my stitches, apparently the doctor put them in very tight and she will have to do some digging to get under the stitch. Great, fine, please, I told her "dig to your hearts desire, I can handle it". So she starts digging, and no, no iodine, no alcohol, not a single sterile wipe or even a request to wash my straight-from-work hands. I had three of these funky stitches that are only showing the knot on one side, as my skin had grown over the tight loop on the other side. She successfully got her snips under the knot, a quick snip and... wait, no I dont think you quite got it, you just snipped the ends of the knot off, I can see the knot still there in my skin, you see there are only two tiny pieces of the suture in the tray, oh you are moving on to the second one, okay. She snipped the second one successfully and to my surprise it pulled all the way around the other side with no trouble. On to stitch three and she snips it fine, just has to pull the remaining piece, and... she cuts it right off, leaving every bit of suture in my skin that was already in there. She continued to suggest that she had taken out the sutures and I would question her every time. When I point at the black knot still clearly in my skin on the first stitch she said it often will look black at first. When I ask if it is okay that some of the suture is left inside, she tells me she thinks we are lookin great. She is wearing urban camo scrubs. I am confused and full of suture bits. Nobody is looking great. She leaves to get the doctor, telling him "Room 20 needs a final look, I just took his sutures out."

I am sitting there looking at my hand that still had the majority of the stitches left in it when the doctor comes in, a red headed dude with a mustache, he looks like the MAD magazine kid 30 years later. A quick glance at the job and he turns into a fountain of "It looks like we are going to be fine." About three of those and he heads for the door, it was no longer than 10 seconds he was in the room before he starts to leave. I ask him to wait, ask him whether some of the suture could stay in, show him the knot still in my skin, show him the few bits of suture in the tray, tell him that only one came out. The fountain starts again, 7 more "It looks like we are going to be fine." Though apparently I am convincing enough for a second look and after taking an actual look at me, he does see the knot still in my skin! After acknowledging that I was right, he wants to just leave it in, but I insist he could do whatever it would take to get it. Camo pops around the corner "He has been so brave!" With little effort Dr MAD fishes it out, cuts it and pulls it through, painless, simple. Again he tries to leave. Again I stop him. There is still another stitch, the third one. He takes a look. "It looks like we are going to be fine." The stitch is in there, just like the first one was. Is that okay? "It looks like we are going to be fine." I sit, mouth gaped, as he walks out the door. Camo nurse comes back in and I continue my protest with her, and I start to get an attitude. I never ever get to that point with people, especially strangers, I was being totally dismissed and it was getting to me. I ask her how it was okay to leave the stitch in there, which she insists was normal. Why did I have to come in to get it removed if you were just going to leave it in? I thought you would clean it and take all the stitches out, how am I done here? I ask her all of this in an uncharacteristically rude tone and she dismisses it all. I sign some pink piece of paper in a huff, though I shouldnt have, and storm out the door.

I don't know what I can do about it, but I feel like I should do something. I know that removing sutures is not the most important thing on the doctors plate, but to address my concerns like they did, and for the nurse to insist that she had completed a procedure that she clearly hadnt, the doctor to completely fail in his faux check up if not for my insistence that he do something, it was horrifying, degrading, seemingly unsterile, and definitely a waste of my time, I am 100% certain that I could have treated myself better at home with a swiss army knife, with just the scissors.

What can I do?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Navi Boobs

When I watched Avatar for the first time I was amazed, along with the rest of the audience, by the fantastical world that was created on the screen. I saw it twice, and both times after the show I said something about how ridiculously far fetched it was for life to come about in a way so similar to our own, most notably I laughed out loud when the first navi woman came on screen and she had breasts, wearing a bra. But when I expressed my amusement at this fact afterward, both times I saw the movie, I got the same response- "Well of course they would have boobs, why wouldnt they?" Well why would they? Breasts are for mammals, they are mammary glands, so you are telling me that life formed totally separate from ours, evolution followed the same path through random mutations to the genetic code and ended up with virtually the same creature, only blue, that feeds its young through 2 mammary glands on its chest. Well of course, right? Evolution creates the perfect organism through its workings, so ending up like a human is the only way to go, humans are the pinnacle of evolutionary perfection right? Right? NO WAY! Evolution is far far far from perfect, and I dont think I am disagreeing with anyone when I say that humans are also quite far from perfect (except the millions who believe that we are created in the image of god and we are actually what perfection looks like... what a disappointment). Evolution does not always give you the best possible outcome, it can only do so much to make progress. One good example is a nerve in the giraffe, the laryngeal which travels from the brain, all the way down its neck to the heart, around an artery, and then all the way back up the neck to connect to the larynx, without serving a single function anywhere besides the start in the brain and the end at the larynx. This pathway works perfectly fine for our distant ancestors, but the wasted energy and space that the mammalian neck, especially the giraffe, exhibits is an astounding example of the imperfection of evolution. For the record I tried to see if James Cameron, the director of Avatar, had anything to say on the subject, and when he was asked why the Navi had boobs, he said it was because it will be humans that are watching the movie and thats what humans want to see. I am so glad he didnt try to justify it any further than that.

Now I dont want to go on too long about that, I think everyone knows that Avatar was far fetched, I wont even get into the fact that they were relying on the DNA of the Navi to be of the same construction as our own, you know, our inefficient system of ATGC, all coding the same proteins through the same mechanisms... just ridiculous... so ya, I wont get into that. But this did lead me into a more interesting train of thought. When contemplating the imperfection/incompletion of human evolution, I tried to think of a way that the human population was still evolving. My brother said that he thought there was much evolution to still occur, that we will soon overpopulate the planet and bring ourselves to a point where we will be competing for resources and there will actually be a fitness curve for various traits allowing success in such a society. I disagree, first I think that humans posses the intelligence to keep ourselves from getting to that point, and even if we were to reach that point, I think that genetic traits would have nothing to do with our ability to survive. With human politics and such advanced social networks, it is the situation that one is born into that often has the most to do with how their life is lived. Just because one boy is born in a third world country and another is born to an upper class family, does not mean that the genetics of the upper class boy are more "fit" but he will have a better chance at survival.

Could we still be evolving? When looking at the evolutionary fitness of a human individual, ultimately it is the rate of reproduction which determines fitness. You only have to look at: can they have lots of babies. And tell me in todays society who cannot have babies... everyones doin it. I thought for a while trying to think of a trait that still could be evolving, its not like people who are taller reproduce more, or smarter, or better vision, or better athletes, or have better backs... We have all kinds of problems that seem like they would be selected against in a primal kind of society, but with the complex society that we have developed, well, everybody is having babies, we have reached what seems to be a self imposed evolutionary standstill.

There is one factor that I think may be acting on the human population today. Going as much as I can to the heart if the matter, I think there may be one trait that would lead to a better reproduction rate for humans, and that is the ability to reproduce later in life. The human population has extended its lifetime well beyond what we are made to live, like I said, evolutionary standstill, we were made to die in what we now call our middle aged years, and yet the life expectancy is on a constant rise. This changes the oh-so-important reproductive habits as well, as we are now educating ourselves and being taught abstinence and birth control all through high school and college, which, physically, are really our prime baby makin years. The social norm for having children has been climbing right along with the age expectancy as the human body's age of fertility stays relatively even. Now improved health definitely plays a factor in how old a man or woman maintain fertility, but there has got to be a genetic factor as well. This trait, I think, would be selected for in todays society. If one woman can have a child at 47 and the next at 48, it may be a small difference, but thats all it takes to change the presence of a trait in a population, and I think that is a conceivable possibility. So, I guess it doesnt look like anything is going to happen with our not quite fully evolved bipedal anatomy, male pattern baldness is not going anywhere, we are not evolving into a super intelligent race, and sadly the women of the world are not evolving into (i dont know where this idea just came from, but its awesome) a perfect blend of the Jessicas (You know-Alba, Simpson, Biel(,Rabbit?)), but hey, in the future, women could be popping babies out when they are 70 years old, so there is that to look forward to. You know, by that time we will probably be artificially altering the human genome so maybe all of those things can happen... and you know what that means- Jessicas everywhere.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Keepin California

The plan was to drive across the country with Kari, have my fun in the California sun, and then drive back with her, right now, in the end of June. It will come as no surprise that I have decided to stick around California for a bit longer than planned.

I landed a pretty awesome job at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and after the... less than awesome... temporary jobs I have been grappling with over the past year, I figured that staying in California to finish with a fun exciting job would be a good idea. I walked into the HR department at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as I spied it while biking by one day about a month ago, and the lady behind the counter told me I would be perfect for their tech services job, she wouldnt even let me apply for the other jobs. Well I applied, I interviewed, I second interviewed, and I was accepted. After learning the start date, I told my future boss that I would have to take a week and a half off to drive my girlfriend home, this after being told I would have a tough time getting more than 3 days off in a row, and to my surprise he said that would be fine. I started working 3 weeks ago and I have loved every minute of it.

The first 2 weeks of my employment were spent assembling the bandstand on the beach for the free concerts that we put on every friday during the summer, we have bands like Herman's Hermits, Blue Oyster Cult, Eddie Money, Spin Doctors, and I cant forget Cory Feldman's band, singing about global warming and saving the environment. I am not allowed to publish some stories I have on the internet, but be sure to ask me if you get the chance, good stuff. So, days are spent erecting trusses for all of our equipment, raising and positioning speakers, lights, cables, monitors. I spend almost all day playing in the sand, working on the beach, and climbing around 25 feet up in the trusses. All of this interspersed with calls into the tech services department about problems with various rides in the park, so I would have to stop playing in the sand and go flip a switch at one of our rides and then give it a couple test runs. I love my job.

I am currently fulfilling my duty to drive Kari back home to finish school, it has been a great adventure on the way back, taking the northerly route, through Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. I will post later about our experiences on the trip.

I have a personal little game I play sometimes, it is played at stoplights when there is someone behind you, the objective is to have the person behind you take their foot off the brake and scooch forward a little bit and you get higher points by making them move with the least movement yourself. You have to decide between moving quickly but not very far to give a sudden dramatic movement that will cause the driver behind you to take their foot off the brake, or making a slow lengthened movement that would travel about the same distance as the quick movement but take longer to do so, therefore giving more time to catch the attention of the driver behind you and getting the nudge forward. You may also then notice trends in car/personality types, equating type As with BMWs and the like, impatient, in a hurry, more likely to make the nudge. Motorcycles are resistant to the nudge. Vespas however are quite willing to nudge. Youll see.

Next time you make bacon, dont just make bacon, add some flavor. Maybe dump some brown sugar and ground red pepper into the frying pan... delicious. Then the next time, if you can resist the brown sugar again, pick out your favorite seasoning blend or a barbecue dry rub and sprinkle them on, the possibilities are endless and almost always turn out well.