Sunday, June 24, 2012


I've been thinking more about my previous words regarding virtual days versus real days.  I think the real nub of my gist is that any given day has only one paltry actual identity whereas it can have a multitude of virtual identities. 

For example, let's say I go in to work on an actual Wednesday.  Yawn.  How dull.

But what if that Wednesday was just a single day after a break, with a four day break afterwards?  Then that Wednesday is a virtual Monday, because it's the first day back.  But it's also virtual Friday, because it's the last day before a break.  And in fact it's virtual Maundy Thursday because it's the day before virtual Good Friday which will fall on actual Thursday.  That's three virtual days in one.

3 > 1, ergo virtual days are very physiological.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You're only a day away

The days of the week are, of course, illusions.  We usually aren't aware of this though because they are so ubiquitously subscribed to.  Somehow, somewhen, someone bullied everyone else into agreeing that this day, so indistinguishable from every other day, was in fact special and different, and should have a name.  And, weirdly enough, it would come back again in another seven days, just the same.  Think about it, it's a freak show.

No, I am not stoned.

It's just that working shifts for the first time in my life has torn the veil from my eyes, swept back the hoary eyebrows of familiarity, and shown me the truth.  It's made of people!!!!  Or something like that.

In my last position I was working a lot of Saturdays.  And on the Saturdays I wasn't working, I was working Sunday.  So Sunday kind of ceased to exist for me.  My week would start conventionally enough on a Monday, then go Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, then one extra day of work.  The Day That Dares Not Speak Its Name.

Being a programmer in the past, I was tempted to call it Friday++.  But that doesn't convey the full blackness of having to work that sixth day.  So instead I call it Double Scorpion.  Then the day after, that everyone else is calling Sunday, is my virtual Saturday.  If I had to work then too it would be Triple Scorpion.  This is when things get crazy, because the Monday after would be actually be Quadruple Scorpion for me, escalating all the way to Octuple Scorpion by your Friday and then Nonuple Scorpion when it should simply be my Double Scorpion on your Saturday.  That's only happened to me once, and it wasn't really that bad because the first Double Scorpion was only two hours work in the morning.  But that's the situation when you work a lot of overtime.

Shift work is different.  I'm now on my fifth consecutive day of work today, so it's virtual Friday.  (Not actually at work right now because my day starts at 11pm, but it's rostered for today.)  And this is my longest stretch of consecutive days for the next 2 months.  So this will be my only virtual Friday, and there will be not a single Double Scorpion for me.  Whoo!

Because my working week is broken up into little 3 or 4 day chunks, it means I'm frequently resetting the clock back to virtual Saturday, totally out of sync with the rest of the world.  When I started this placement it was (actual) Wednesday, but I had two days off, so for me it was virtual Saturday/Sunday.  Then I had three days of work, so it was virtual Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday.

Then I had four days off.  The first two days were virtual Saturday/Sunday.  But then the next two - what were they?  What happened is that at 11:59pm on virtual Sunday, the previous day was retconned to virtual Good Friday, and things proceeded from there to virtual Holy Saturday, virtual Easter, and virtual Easter Monday.  It was incredible! 

The practical effect of this is that for the next little while almost all my days are virtual Saturday/Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, with a few virtual Good Fridays and virtual Wednesdays thrown in.  A couple of virtual Thursdays, no more virtual Fridays.  It's amazing!  The only disadvantage is that my Smaller Half is also doing shift work but on a totally different schedule to me.  So right now I'm virtual Friday, she's virtual Tuesday, which coincidentally is also actual Tuesday.  But on Wednsday we're both on virtual Saturday which will be nice, although I'll be asleep for most of it, having worked all night, so it'll be more like virtual Friday night for me.

Still, it was worse beforehand.  The one time I had a Triple Scorpion, she was on her 5th day off because she was only working 2.5 days per week.  I don't even know what the 5th day off is.  It's unprecedented in my experience.  I guess if you went to a Twelve Days Of Christmas naming scheme you could call it Gold Rings.  I like the sound of that. 

Of course, this all goes out the window in August when I start a 7-on, 7-off roster.  So it'll be virtual Monday on Wednesday through to Triple Scorpion on Tuesday, then virtual Good Friday right through to Swans-a-swimming, then back to virtual Monday again.

I think it could catch on and be the next big thing.

Seine, Paris, France

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Adding value

Hello, what's happening?

Man with moustache
Hi, this woman is having plasmapheresis and she's reported some peri-oral tingling.  Her ionised calcium before we started was 1.3 so I started with the standard citrate flow, but since she's gotten these symptoms I've turned it down 40% because I'm worried that she might be getting a citrate induced hypocalcaemia.

[to patient]
How are you feeling now?

A bit better I suppose.

[to man with moustache]
So what do you think?

Man with moustache
Well we're nearly finished and her symptoms have resolved somewhat.  I think we might as well continue on as we are.  She's due for another run tomorrow, so what I might do is leave a note for the home team asking them to give some calcium prior and start off the citrate at a lower flow rate as well.

Ok then, that sounds good.  Anything else I can help you with?

Man with moustache
No, that's all thanks.

It was nothing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A culinary proposal

Do any of you own a cafe or restaurant? Here's a tip: instead of having a cheese platter on the menu, have a “cheese splatter". It sounds much more hedonistic and indulgent.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First night last night

Last night I did my first night shift down in the Emergency Department.  It was also my first shift of any kind in the ED.  So I was a bit tense beforehand about a new environment as well as a bit tense about the whole "stay up all night and deal with stuff when there's only a skeleton crew on in the hospital" thing.

But you know what?  It was actually fine.

It's still a bit intimidating knowing that not only could literally anything walk (or be pushed) through your door, but also that the triage screen details sometimes bear only a tangential relationship to what's actually going on.  Like the guy last night who was noted to have haematemesis and malaena (ie: bleeding from both ends) who actually had neither.  Thankfully.  But the saving grace is that the staff who work there are all incredibly supportive and helpful.

Astonishingly, you are expected to function in accordance with your experience and training.  So if you're an intern like me, they keep an eye on you and give you lots of help.  And if you're new to the ED like me, they also are happy to explain the processes that you're unfamiliar with, without all the harrumphing and sighing and implied dissatisfaction that I have become accustomed to in some of my other rotations.

As you have probably guessed by now, this was a great revelation to me.  If only other parts of the hospital were as good, I would probably have been good deal less stressed for the past couple of years, and I would probably be a better doctor as well since people would actually have bothered to give me a headstart on what I needed to know and do, rather than lay guilt trips on me and stomp off into the distance.

On the other hand, the staying up all night thing is a bit pants.  I had a master plan to get myself into sync.  I stayed up late the night before, intending to sleep in and get as much rest as I could.  Instead, my Smaller Half got sick and had to sleep in instead, I had to get up early with the Hatchling, so I went into my stretch of night shifts even more tired than if I'd done nothing at all.

I got home at about 0900 today, was in bed by 10, crashed out and slept until 3.30pm.  So five and a half hours sleep.  I'm feeling a bit ragged but I've already got that seedy "too much coffee" feeling in my eyes so I guess I'll just be staggering through the night and hoping to catch up on sleep tomorrow.

By the way, the phrase "I'll sleep when I'm dead" really annoys me. No you won't, you'll be dead.  And you will have been really tired and shitty when you were alive because you weren't sleeping.  Just get some sleep while you can, moron.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Coffee tips

In a comment to my previous post, the boldly titled "Anonymous" questioned why I was calling a babycino a bubbacino.  Fair call.  To clarify, here are some similarly named coffee styles with explanatory notes.

Babycino: an espresso cup filled with frothed milk.

Bubbacino: an espresso cup filled with frothed milk served in a jail cell with a large, lonely, tattooed man.

Bobacino: an espresso cup filled with frothed milk served by a Mandalorian bounty hunter.

Babarcino: an espresso cup filled with frothed elephant milk.

Babayagacino: an espresso cup filled with frothed milk from a cannibalistic Russian witch.

Barbarinocino: an espresso cup filled with frothed milk served by a young John Travolta.

Bulbarcino: an espresso cup filled with frothed milk by a barista with a cranial nerve palsy.

Baabaacino: an espresso cup filled with frothed milk from a black sheep.

Not all of these are commonly available, at least not in Adelaide, but keep an eye out.  They're worth trying if you get the chance.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My bubba's too beveragalicious

Could I please have a cafe latte, a chai latte, a weak latte, and two bubbacinos?

Numbnut waiter
What's a bubbacino?

It's a little cup filled with milk froth.

Numbnut waiter
Oh, like a babycino?

And to save you the time making snide comments, I concede the following points:
  1. Yes, bubbacinos are an absurdly yuppyish thing to order.  But at this place they were free, and I'd rather order a free bubbacino than have my $3.50 coffee sabotaged by a lunging Hatchling.
  2. Yes, a weak latte is a girly thing to order.  Fortunately my Smaller Half is quite girly.
  3. Yes, a chai latte is also an absurdly yuppyish thing to order.  But it was for a friend we were meeting hence I take no responsibility for her choice of beverages.
Now those issues are cleared up, let's focus on what a numbnut the waiter is.