-Do me a favor, kid, and pass me that box of tissue. This cold weather’s got my nose all snotty.
-Here you go, Verna.
-Thanks, toots. Christ I’m falling apart.
-It’s been a while. How’ve you been?
-Well I’m sick as shit, I’m old as hell and I’m back in this shit hole ER again, so not so good. I tell ya, the asshole that called these years golden was high on some good shit.
-Well let’s see if we can get you feeling better and back home.
-Well let’s see if we can get you feeling better…. I’m sick of it. You know what you guys are like?
-Shitty mechanics. Yeah, I said it. You’re shitty mechanics.
-What the hell are you talking about, Verna?
-I’m like and old ass car, with a old ass engine, and I keep coming into your shop here and you guys keep sending home with patch jobs that only hold up for a month or two then I get busted down again and I’m back in for more repairs.
-It’s not the same thing, Verna. It’s not like we can order you a new heart from the parts shop and swap it out. This isn’t the movies.
-Jesus Christ, I know that, kid. It’s just a… a…Damn it, what do you call it?
-Yes, analogy. I’m trying to make a point here, kiddo. And that point is I’m sick of your shitty patch jobs.
-Well how about this? As your mechanic, I have to tell you that it’s not worth putting anymore money and time into your old ass car. The engine is failing and the transmission is leaking fluid. It’d probably be better off if we put it out of its misery and drop it off at the junk yard and scrap it for parts.
-I’d probably say I want a second opinion.
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Fuck, why do I always wait to the last minute to study? Had all day yesterday to learn this shit and I’m doing it an hour before class on the damn L…. Run through it again: Deoxygenated blood enters into the right atrium from the superior and inferior vana cava, through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle where it is then pushed past the pulmonary valve and into the pulmonary artery, then….
“Excuse me. Excuse me, y’all. Can a poor old lady get y’alls attention for a momentary?”
Christ what the hell does this freak want? Asshole, you threw me off my train of thought.
“I just would like to ask y’all if you wouldn’t mind signing my petition to state that I hate Bruce Rauner. Why do I hate Bruce Rauner? Well, cause he’s fucking up our Medicaid. Fucking it right up. I think that he should….
Ok, well this one isn’t shutting up so block her out and focus. …into the pulmonary artery where it is then carried to the lungs to be oxygenated, where it then is returned to the left atrium via the left pulmonary veins…
“Excuse me sir. Excuse me.”
Fuck she standing right in front of me. Don’t look up. You have your headphones on, just ignore her.
“Sir don’t be rude, I know you hear me. Can I have a momentary of your time, is all I’m asking?”
Fuck me I just want to study. Ah fuck it, she’s not going to go away.
“Yes, mam. What can I do for you?”
“Well thank ya for ya time, I appreciate it. I would like to know if you’d sign my petition against Bruce Rauner. You know he’s fucking up our Medicaid, right?”
“I hear he’s trying to change a bunch of things.”
“But especially our Medicaid. And we can’t let him do that. So will you sign?”
“Can I see the petition?”
“Yes you can.”
What the fuck? The damn thing just says “I hate Bruce Rauner” across the top in black marker and “He’s fucking up Medicaid” under that in red marker. And there’s two signatures with the same hand writing.
“I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t a petition. It’s your personal opinion. And you don’t mention anything about what you want changed or to be done.”
“I want for him not to fuck up Medicaid. Ain’t that clear?”
“Alright, mam, I have to get back to studying here. I’m not got to sign that.”
“What you studying…”
“Mam, hey, don’t touch my book…”
“Why you got all those pictures of hearts in that book? You studying to be a doctor?”
“No. I’m not.”
“Lord oh lord, this world is surely coming to an end. A brown doctor man that don’t care about poor black folks that need they Medicaid. Mhm, mhm, mhm, this brown boy studying to be doctor and he don’t care a lick. Well you know what, brown doctor man? I hate you too.”
…It goes down past the mitral valve into the left ventricle and is pushed up past the aortic valve into the aorta and through the rest of the body….
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I was sitting at work, a day like any other, when Beth, a nurse, walked up to me and said: “Hey, Ro, can you help me clean and change room 22?”
“Yeah, no problem,” I said as we walked over to the room.
“It’s this cute little old black lady,” Beth said as we walked. “She’s 98-years-old.”
“Alright,” I said.
We got to the room and Beth opened up the door and we both walked in.
“Ms. Smith,” Beth said, “We’re going to clean you up and change you.”
“Ok,” Ms. Smith replied. “Oh, lord, who is this man right there? Handsome devil.”
“This is my friend, Ro,” Beth said as she giggled.
“Hi, Ms. Smith,” I said. “I’m going to help Beth change and clean you. We just have to take off these blankets and your depends.”
“For what, so you can get ready to come over here and lay on me?” she asked with a smirk on her face.
Beth’s nearly inaudible giggle turned to a full out laugh.
“No, Ms. Smith,” I said. “No one is going to be laying on anyone around here.”
“Well it’s a damn shame, I tell you, cause I’m ready.”
Beth and I both started laughing. We couldn’t help it. Was I really being propositioned by a 98-year-old lady for a booty call?
“Well I tell you what, when you ready to come get you some, you come see me,” she said as she began winking at me and blowing me kisses.
I guess that’s exactly what was happening.
“Ms. Smith, you’re going to get me in trouble. Beth here knows my girlfriend.”
“I don’t care. I got something for your girlfriend,” she said as she balled up fists in a boxing stance and starting throwing punches. “Pew, pew, pew, POW!”
At that point, Beth and I were practically in tears. Here’s this little old lady, old enough to be my great grandmother, and she was as feisty as could be.
Not only was she trying to “get some” but she was also willing to whip my girlfriend’s ass to get it.
We finished cleaning her up and I told her I was leaving.
To which she replied: “You know I’m just talking crazy.”
“I know Ms. Smith, it’s good to have a sense of humor. I’ll check on you later.”
“Ok, Big Daddy,” she said as I left the room with that same smirk on her face.
Time flew by, we got busy as hell, and I almost forgot about Ms. Smith. That is, until, Beth walked up to me with her own smirk on her face and asked: “Hey, do you want to take your girlfriend in 22 up to her room?”
“Why the hell not?”
I walked back to her room, opened the door and announced: “Ms. Smith, I’m here to take you up to your room.”
“Let’s go, daddy,” she said, smirking again. “You think we’ll have some alone time up there.”
“Probably not, but we’ll at least have the trip up together.”
“Fine by me.”
I packed her stuff on the cart and off we went. I turned left at the main hallway that connects our ER to the main hospital. It was mid afternoon so the hallway was packed with traffic. People going back-and-forth to the various parts of the hospital. No one really paying attention me or the little ball of energy that sat on the cart.
To be honest, I was surprised at how well she was behaving. I thought for sure she would act out in front of anyone who could be a potential audience for her nutty antics.
We got to the staff elevators and a few people were waiting to go up. Then she started again.
“Hey, mam,” she said to a young female transporter. “Ain’t he pretty? Tell me he ain’t pretty with that beard and that face.”
The poor woman, she had no idea what to say. I could tell she didn’t want to offend me or the old lady, so she said: “Yes. Yes he is pretty. With that beard and that face.”
Luckily the elevator arrived at the first floor and I got her in it as quickly as I could.
As we made our way up to the fourth floor of the hospital. Ms. Smith turned to me, smiled and said: “Baby, you know I’m just talking crazy, right? I’m old, and I don’t got much. No family, no friends. All I got me is some talking crazy to keep me from going crazy. Smile before I cry. You know what I’m telling you?”
“I get it, Ms. Smith,” I said. “I’ll take a laugh over a cry any day.”
Just then the doors opened and I pushed her out into the busy hallway.
“Lord or lord, I hope there’s some pretty men up here. Not that one, he’s too fat. But that one, yes, that one’ll do.”
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It’s common knowledge around the ER that I work in that I’m a damn good looking man.
I mean, I really have that “wow” factor going on. Some of the nurses have even taken to calling me “Eye Candy” or “E.C.” for short.
So it doesn’t come as a surprise that some of our lady patients have the hots for me too.
I get comments like “aren’t you a handsome man” or “you’re so big and strong” or, even, “you look like a Greek God, a perfectly brown, Puerto Rican, Greek God” all the time.
I mean, all the time….
Ok, ok, so most of them are pushing north of 80-years-old and, yes, a few may have a touch of dementia/are old and crazy, but I was always told to take a compliment when you get one.
Now, I’m not going to say that they’re entirely right, but I’m also not going to say that they got it all wrong.
Who am I to question their judgement? They’re just calling it like they see it. And it makes them happy, which makes the nurses and doctors happy and in turn keeps all the techs happy.
It’s a win-win situation. Everybody’s happy. I, of course, have to deal with the crushing burden and long list of responsibilities that come with being the department EC, but I’ll leave that for another time.
For now, I’ll just keep fulfilling my duties and be comforted by the fact that sometimes all you need is a little eye candy to make things better.
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My girlfriend and I decided a couple years back that we would take a trip somewhere warm every winter to help break the monotony of winter life in Chicago (although if I’m being honest this winter so far hasn’t been bad. So far).
Now I love to travel, especially to some tropical location in the middle of the winter, but there are a few things about traveling out of the country that cause me some anxiety.
Ok, there are exactly four things that make me anxious–and I’ll admit to one of them being completely stupid and only in my head.
Three of those things I think are rational fears and are shared by many: I don’t like taking off, turbulence and landing. Flying I’m ok with. Those other things I’m not.
But the one thing that always wrecks my nerves? I hate clearing security checks. I always have this fear that I’m going to get caught carrying something I shouldn’t.
And not like a bottle of water or non-regulation sized toiletries. The type of thing they just make you chuck in the garbage and send you on your way.
I’m talking like a kilo of blow tucked away in one of the pockets of my carry-on I didn’t know about or a firearm. Some serious felony shit.
Which couldn’t be more ridiculous because I’ve never been in possession of anything close to that, let alone forget to take it out of my travel bags before flying.
But, still, the fear is there, irrational, yes, but still there.
Take for example my recent trip to Mexico.
I get to security and my nerves get going.
“Sir please empty your pockets, take off your shoes and belt and place everything in a bin.”
Immediately my mind is like: Fuck, did I check all the pockets of my bag? Did I check the insides of my shoes–like I wouldn’t have been able to tell just by walking in them the previous hour?–shit that TSA agent by the metal detector looks pissed.
I walk up to the detector. He motions me to come through. I walk through expecting it to beep and nothing.
Relief. Almost there.
I walk up to the end of the conveyor belt and wait for the bin with my stuff.
At this point I’m thinking:I hope they don’t find anything. I just want to go on vacation.
My bag hits the scanner. I can see the guy look at it. I hope he’s not going to a call a code whatever and I’ll be surrounded by security personnel and hear that most dreaded of phrases: “Sir, come with us.”
Then end up being hauled behind closed doors into that room in the airport that has no cameras, only to be probed and prodded until I confess to a crime I didn’t know I had committed.
I know, I know, it’s crazy talk. If I didn’t put anything illegal in my bags or left them unattended for some nut job to plant something, then I have nothing to worry about.
But still. There’s always that “What if?” going on through my head every time I go through security at the airport. So far I haven’t experienced anything to back up that fear, but you never know, right?
I guess I kind of do know, but you know what I mean.
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When Benny Jay and Milo called me to tell me the news that they were sending me and one guest down to Mexico on the company’s dime for a job well done, well, let’s just say I was a little skeptical.
I was at home, clacking away at my keyboard, hard at work, when Benny Jay and Milo called.
“Hey, Fuck Face, it’s Benny. I got Milo on the line, too. Whatcha doing?”
“Hey, Benny, just hard at work banging out this week’s copy,” I said. “What’s up?”
“Nothing. Me and Milo been talking and we decided it’d be good if you got out of the country for a little while.”
“What? Why? Has Milo been using my name to place his bets at the bookies again…”
“Hey, asshole, that was once and you only had to spend a couple weeks in the wonderful and always pleasant, Gary, IN until I sorted things out for you,” Milo interrupted.
“Oh, yeah. I remember. Thanks for that, Milo.”
“No, no, nothing like that you ungrateful bastard,” Benny Jay said. “We’re talking about sending down to Mexico for a few days cause you been doing some solid work for us.”
“Are you serious? You’re not fucking with me, are you?”
“Nope. And bring that nice girlfriend of yours,” Milo added.
“Yeah,” Benny Jay said. “You know, the one that is way too good looking for you and obviously out of your league…”
“Ok, Benny. I know who you’re talking about. And I happen to think we’re evenly matched.”
“Whatever you say kid, you’re both going to Mexico,” Benny said. “The company car will be by to pick you up this Thursday to take you to the airport. We’ll call you with details about your return trip in a couple of days’”
“Well, shit, guys. Thanks.”
I called my girlfriend to tell her the news and she, like me, met it with skepticism. But, hell, a free trip to Mexico? Who’s going to turn that down?
The next thing we know we’re on a plane and then we’re in Mexico.
I’m talking sunny skies with warm weather and beautiful beaches.
And everything is great, only our trip is nearly over now and we haven’t heard from Benny or Milo. I’m not too worried about it. I know how the guys can be sometimes.
My girlfriend isn’t haven’t it, though. She’s knows how the guys can be, too.
“What’s going on with those motherfuckers?” She’s asks me one morning as we lounged on the beach. “Not that I’m complaining about my current situation, but this feels a lot like the time Milo used your name to place bets at the bookies and we had to stay in that shithole Gary for two weeks.”
“I don’t know if you looked around, babe, but this isn’t Gary.”
Secretly I had a feeling she was right but I didn’t want to admit it until I got word from Milo or Benny. Two days later Milo finally called: “Hey, bud, how ya doing down in sunny Mexico?”
I already knew where it was headed…
“So why don’t you and that lovely lady stay down there a couple more weeks…”
Damn it, Milo.
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Let me start this post off by saying, fuck cancer. It’s a miserable disease that often times takes those that don’t deserve to go, certainly not in the horrible manner that it plays its self out; With months, if not years, of suffering.
Let me follow up by saying that the folks in the ER I work in have lost one of the kindest, most compassionate, human beings we have known: Mary Margret Fisher.
She was our boss. The little lady with the white hair in charge. A lovely woman. One of the kindest souls I’ve ever met.
She would put her own personal problems behind to tend to ours. Never mind that she had just been through a shit storm of a chemo session, you had a personal problem? Come see her.
She would leave her office door open, an extended invitation for anyone to come in and off load their own bull shit, no matter how insignificant it was in comparison to her problems.
She cared. She cared.
She cared about her staff. She knew we were under constant stress, dealing with, but not always getting full support for the situations we were in.
She was, herself, a nurse. An ER nurse. She was our boss, but never went into the dark side of administration–that place where some go where they forget what it is to be on the front lines, the trenches.
And above all, she had our sense of humor.
I remember one of our first evaluations. It’s those things where the company mandates that its managers evaluates its employees on a yearly basis.
In most situations, it’s a serious thing. You were pulled into the office and forced to account for the previous year. What you did good, what you did bad.
I sat in her office. She had recently been promoted to ED manager. And, I, of course, was in a mood to test her, see if I could make her uncomfortable. (It’s a thing that I do, I like to make people squirm.)
You can’t fire me for being a smart ass, right?
So we go through the regular questions: What are my goals, what are my strengths and weaknesses, how do I plan to improve.
“So what would you say is one of the things that would be your strong suit,” she said as she looked at my file.
With out any hesitation, and with the intent to throw her off, I said: “My good looks. I believe my good looks and boyish charm is what I bring to the table. I’m a fine looking man and the nurses appreciate that.”
To which she replied: “Yeah, I don’t see it. You’re going to have to work on that. And, I’m a nurse, and you’re just an alright looking man.”
How can you not love that?
Rest in peace MMF.