Dumb ED Stories

There has been a distinct lack of posting here for the past few days. Counting the commute, I’ve been doing 15 hour days lately. So enjoy some stories from the ED.

Back when I was a street medic, I had a 911 call that involved a woman who was concerned that her 4 year old daughter had been eating ants. I reassured her that people all over the world eat insects, and doing so would not harm the child, unless she was somehow allergic to them. I then spend the next little bit explaining what an allergic reaction looked like.

The mother then looked at me, with this relieved look on her face, and said: “Oh good. I was so worried that I gave her a teaspoon of ant poison.”

Say what? “Uh, we have to take your daughter to the hospital, right away.”

“I thought you said ants wouldn’t hurt her,” she says.

“Yes, but you gave your daughter POISON,” I said. She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and replied, “Duh. Didn’t you hear me? It’s ANT poison.”

So as I said, it’s been a busy few days. For every COVID patient, we are getting 3 or 4 flu patients. This flu season is pretty nasty. Just today I had fifteen patients:

  • 1 COVID patient
  • 2 Stroke Alerts
  • 2 Community Acquired Pneumonia
  • 4 Septic Influenza Patients
  • 1 chemotaxic eye
  • 1 Seizure patient
  • 1 Choleocystitis
  • and…

There was a guy who had 4 toes that looked necrotic. He was a diabetic with a fasting blood sugar of 325. His A1C was 11. I asked him what he had for breakfast, and his reply was “biscuits and gravy.” Then he asked me when he was getting lunch. It was only 9:30 in the morning.

Then there was the guy who came in complaining of abdominal pain in the right upper quadrant that woke him from a sound sleep. For those of you who don’t know, that’s where your liver is located. The whites of his eyes were turning yellow, and he admitted to me that he drank 4 to 5 beers every day. At 10:30 in the morning, and he told me that he had already had two beers that morning.

A 30 year old black woman who makes $18,000 a year, but has 3 kids. She came in complaining of a headache. She is so broke that she had to apply for financial assistance in order to cover her bill. While I was in the room giving her the medicine, I had to listen to the video that was playing on her phone. It was a guy saying that “You are being taken advantage of by the white man. They are trying to keep you down and you are being used as slaves, and you know why.”

They BELIEVE this. They hate you. Remember that.

I’m So Old

My Dad was an engineer for Hewlett Packard. He worked in a division that did a lot of classified instrumentation work for government contractors. That’s how we wound up in Central Florida- he supported all sorts of secret missile technology over at Cape Canaveral and Martin Marietta’s Orlando test range. I never knew what he did- but he did bring home all sorts of cool pictures. I had one of an F-4 Phantom launching a missile, and another of a missile being launched by a submarine. My dad would bring my brother and I to work. We got to go to the space center and saw space launches firsthand. I watched history. I was there when the Apollo-Soyuz mission launched.

The first computer I ever had in my house was an HP-150– my dad brought it home from work. The fact that it had a touchscreen was amazing to me.

I had a Commodore 64 that I got as a Christmas gift after asking my parents for one in 1983. Unlike its competitor, the Tandy TRS-80, I thought that thing was amazing with its 64 kilobits of memory. When I got it, I also got a data storage device that looked like this:

A 60 minute cassette (30 minutes per side) would hold about 200kb of data. It would take a long time to load anything, because the stream rate from the device was around 3kb per minute.

My mighty C64. I once spent a weekend typing a word processor into it by hand. The program had been published in Hexadecimal in some computing magazine or another. Having it allowed me to type documents on a daisy wheel printer that my Dad gave me for my birthday. Man, that printer was loud.

I spent a lot of time learning how to program that computer. It ate up uncountable hours of my time, as I learned how to use sprites and other cool but relatively tame (by today’s standards) program features.

I eventually got a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk disk drive. It wasn’t long before I discovered that I could use a hole punch to make my floppies double sided and save a lot of money. I remember my Dad telling me that no one would ever need more than 10 megabytes of storage for personal use. He said, “Do you have any idea just how much data that is? The entire library of Congress can fit in 100 megabytes or so of memory.”

Just a few years later, I had a calculator that held 10 megabytes.

I didn’t just use it for programming and other geek stuff. My favorite game at the time was Raid On Bungeling Bay. It was designed by the same guy who would go on to develop Sim City, a game I learned to love on PC while I was in the military.

That’s how I grew up- my engineer dad and I doing stuff that, at times, was blatantly illegal. I remember spending weekends in the mid 70s using the company’s WYSIWYG editor (BRUNO) to copy Atari and Intellivision software cartridges and then burning our own ROM chips. (BRUNO is crunching, nom, nom, nom) I think that makes me one of the very first software pirates. Seriously, we used expensive mainframe computers during the weekends in the late 70s to play games. I remember playing text based drag racing games, text based games like Star Trek, Oregon Trail, and others. I remember working with some of the engineers at my dad’s workplace to build our own video games using our burned ROM chips.

I actually have pictures of me (as a child) with Bill Gates, David Packard, Bill Hewlett. I remember that my Dad didn’t like Bill Gates, calling him a “long haired hippy.” He didn’t particularly like MS-DOS (kids, ask your parents) when it came out, either.

I (as most of you have) seen things come about like Microwave ovens, pagers, car phones, bag phones, cell phones, then came texting, and finally smart phones. I saw the development of personal computing. I had a ringside seat to all of it.

I grew up in a world where so many things were being invented, and I was fortunate to meet the people who were doing it, and to play with million dollar machines that were changing the world.

My dad would be 82 years old this coming week, if he were still alive. He’s been gone for almost 20 years, and I still miss him every day. He was only 63 when he died. His father (my grandfather) died at the age of 54. My great-grandfather died at 47, and his mother died at 48. My family history, it seems, isn’t conducive to a long lifespan. My own health issues tell me that I a take after that side of the family.

As I get closer to the age of the deaths of the four generations before me, I admit that I spend more time thinking about that. I can trace my family back to the early 1700s. I wonder what changes they saw…

Minnie the Moocher

I have this love of brass from my upbringing in New Orleans, I guess. I have always loved NOLA style jazz. In keeping with our musical journey of brass, we will take a look this week at the Swing Ninjas with the Speakeasy Three. This is a sound my mom used to call “dirty jazz.”-

For Big Ruckus D

You say you haven’t heard a good Saxophone Solo in a long time. Not all of the following are Sax work, but being originally from New Orleans, I do appreciate some good horn work. One of the great things about New Orleans is street performances:

Another great piece from that same band is this one:

Growing up in New Orleans means that you learn to appreciate music of all kinds. I still have a special kind of love for all sorts of brass instrumentals. Maybe I will feature more of them in the future, as a reminder that this nation has a lot that is worth saving. There are a lot of talented people out there that we never hear from because the big labels don’t think it’s marketable.

SWAT team dance

Sung to the tune of “Safety Dance” with apologies to Men Without Hats:

S-s-s-s, W-w-w-w, A-a-a-a, T-t-t-t
SWAT, SWAT, dance!

We can search if we want to
We can inspect your friends’ behind
‘Cause your friends don’t bow and if they don’t scrape,
Well they’re no friends of mine

Say, we can go where we want to
A warrant you’ll never find
And we can rewrite the Constitution
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance

We can go when we want to
The night is young and so am I
And we can dress real neat from our helmets to our feet
And surprise ’em with the no-knock cry

Say, we can act if we want to
Question us, nobody will
And we can shoot some dude, he’s totally screwed
And I can act like an imbecile

We can dance, we can dance
Totally out of control
We can dance, we can dance
We’re doing it from wall to wall
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody put up your hands
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody takin’ the cha-a-a-ance

We can search if we want to
We have auth-or-i-ty
As long as we abuse it, never gonna lose it
Everything’ll work out right
I say, we can search if we want to
We’re protected by a thin blue line
‘Cause your friends ain’t cops, and if they ain’t cops,
Well they’re no friends of mine