If You’re Going To Faint, Do It In The ER

Oh Lord, have I got a ridiculously embarrassing story to share with you. See, I started volunteering at a hospital emergency room this week up in Seattle. As I’m applying to nursing fairly soon I wanted to get some actual experience in a medical setting and seeing the ER is packed with everyone from doctors to x-ray techs I figured that volunteering there would let me see how they all work together to take care of patients. Sounds like a good idea, right? Yeah, well, kind of.

My first shift was from eight to midnight this week, shadowing a guy who has been volunteering since forever ago. We were busy from the second I got there, making beds and making sure the rooms were stocked with supplies. An hour or so after I got there this lady came in with a monster cut on her hand that was going to need some stitches, and the doctor treating her invited me to observe the procedure. The patient was totally fine with me being there so I hovered behind the doc waiting for him to do his thing.

Let me pause here and fill you in on a little bit about moi. I really don’t have a problem when it comes to seeing blood. During college I was a bouncer at a super sketchy bar in Seattle and I saw way more than my fair share of bar-fight nastiness working there. One time, in the course of throwing an extremely unhappy drunk out of the bar I somehow managed to bend my finger back in such a way that the bone and ligament of my middle finger popped through the skin. It hurt like all get-out, but aside from that I was cool. I even stopped at Jack In the Box on the way to the hospital because, well, I was hungry, and we all know how long ER visits can last.

So anyways, back to the stitches. Everything is cool as I’m watching the doc clean the wound, taking mental notes on what he’s doing. But then, out comes the needle. Actually, it wasn’t really a needle. It looked more like a fish hook without the little barb on the end and some thread hanging off the back. He takes the needle, asks the lady if she’s ready, and then moves in for the first pass.

That’s when everything went black.

One second I’m watching this really cool procedure and the next I’m on my back staring into the eyes of a half dozen freaked-out nurses. Next thing I know I’m in a neck brace and I’ve gone from ER volunteer to ER patient. Take a guess at how awesome that feeling was.

From that point I half-expected the ER staff to take turns pointing and laughing at me, but things went quite a bit better than that. Over the next couple of hours just about every nurse, PA, and doctor stopped by my room to share their own when-I-passed-out stories. Hearing them share their experiences lessened the sting of my own shenanigans and made me feel like a little less of a baby-boy-biatch. They told me what to do when you feel a bit woozy, and suggested that next time I observed a procedure I might try to do it sitting down so as to make the fall considerably shorter if I did pass out.

So yeah, that’s the story of how a 6’6″, 250 pound man passed out when he saw a needle. Hopefully I won’t have another incident next week — because I am definitely going back next week — but if there is you’ll be the first to know.


In the Wake of Tragedy

This week I had a post about writing planned out, but in light of everything that’s been going on in Boston I feel like it might be worth saying a few things about what’s been going through my head. More than anything my thoughts have been centered around the victims and their families, of everything they’ve gone through so far and that they’ll have to endure in the future.

Here’s a link to Boston One Fund, a relief organization set up to help offset the financial burden of those most affected by the bombing. I also found a few companies that are selling their goods and giving 100% of the proceeds to Boston One Fund:

Boston Celtics:

Man Overboard (band):

Still Tees (a Norfolk t-shirt company)

Bridge Nine Records:

Boston Bruins:

Old Whaling Company:



I’m Glad I Didn’t Pick the Nazis

If you’ve ever taken the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) then you know about the super horrible writing portion where they hand you a pair of random topics and tell you to write a dazzling essay on one of them in thirty minutes or so. No biggie though, right? We’ve all written tons of essays, albeit none so important as that thirty minute ditty that can potentially to dump our graduate school hopes into the crapper.

The question difficulty is a bit challenging to predict as they seem to be as arbitrary as anything you can imagine. To illustrate: imagine a continuum difficulty for GRE essay topics from one to ten — one being something like “Write your own first name,” and ten being along the lines of “Compare and contrast the courting rituals of the western Byzantine Empire with those of communist Yugoslavia.” Of my two questions — “Was there anything morally upright about the German citizenry during the Third Reich?” and “Do people always have a choice?” — I chose the latter, mostly because everything I know about Nazi Germany is from History channel dramatizations of World War II battles. Plus, I figured I could take a religious angle to the question as I’d always been interested the paradox of free will. Well that, and I often forget that I’m not nearly as smart as I sometimes think.

I started my essay strong, writing about how everyone has a choice in everything they do. Sometimes we may not feel like there is a choice, but that’s only because the choices we have are equally unpalatable. After a few lines I realized that I wasn’t really expressing myself in the way I wanted so I deleted it and started over. I started again, but it was just as wrong as the first try so I deleted it. I started again and deleted again. And again. And again. And…I looked at the clock.

Holy bejesus. I’d burned up fifteen minutes doing absolutely nothing. I started to regret not going with the Nazis. At least that essay would have had a cool story about the Battle of the Bulge.

When the clock hit zero I’d written the sort of essay that might have earned me a spot in a VCR repair program. Thankfully I’d been in the testing center for five hours without so much as a cracker so I couldn’t puke on the keyboard. I stood up from the desk, my blood sugar level making a coma seem likely, and wobbled to my car where I could lament my dark future in private.

Since that day I’ve thought a lot about my non-Nazi essay question and how it applies to my life. Nowadays, whenever I start getting all woe-is-me about how stressful my life is I like to take a few moments to remind myself that every source of stress I have is self-imposed. See, sometimes I forget that I didn’t have to take the classes I’m taking. No one was twisting my arm when I registered for classes. It was me. My decision.

So yeah, maybe passing on the Nazis was the right choice after all.

Week One Went Smoooooothly

Ohmajesus, the first week of school is over and I actually followed through with my commitment to write one hour every day this week. Hooray for me!

It was real touch and go there for a minute though because by the time I had any moments to write I was totally pooped — all that math and science takes up a big old chunk of my day, you know? But I did it, and I’m stoked about it. One week down, and just the rest of my graduate career to go.

There’s kind of a bummer side of things though. Looking over my WIP made me realize that I’d sort of lost the momentum that had carried me through the project so far. When I went back and looked over the pages I didn’t get that little kick of excitement that always kept me plugging away at it in the past. It kind of felt like sitting down for coffee with an old friend but then after talking for a while I realized that we didn’t have all that much in common anymore. Not to say that we won’t be buddies again. Given time, we might start hanging out again, but for now I think we’re going to be on a break. Kind of like Ross and Rachel, but with less laugh tracks in the background.

That’s it for now. I’ve got some ideas for a new project but I’m a little hesitant to go blurting it out on the internet. I feel like telling everybody and their mom about the story will jinx it or something. Ridiculous, I know, but I’m sort of a weirdo when it comes to my writing. When the iron is in the fire then I’ll drop the knowledge bomb.