Changes are Coming

My wife’s job is moving. She will be working about 30 minutes farther away from the house than she is now. She wants to move closer to her new work location. I have been working on changing hospitals. If I want to do that, it would be easier if we move. If we move about 30 minutes south of where we are now, it would put us closer to my wife’s work and would make it easier for me to find a new hospital.

So we have been looking at houses. We had a few must haves, and some wants.

  • We want a one story house.
  • We need at least three bedrooms and three baths. This is so we have room to care for an aging parent if it comes to that, plus room for a guest.
  • I would like natural gas service
  • We would like a pool.
  • We need more storage space. Either a bonus room, a large garage, or room to build a storage structure on the property.

So we began looking.

The first community we looked at wanted $400k for a 2000 square foot house. Hidden costs included a $45,000 bond. A bond is an invention here in Florida that requires each owner of a residential property to pay for roads, fire stations, and other infrastructure costs that are not part of the property. In other words, it is a cost of building a neighborhood that is passed on from the builder to the buyers of the homes. This raised the cost of the house to $455k, or about $225 a square foot.

The second and third builders did not have houses and floor plans that we liked. We went to a late lunch out in the country. While we were there, I happened to see a nearby community that looked interesting, so we headed out there. They had 2950 square foot home plan that they think we can get built with custom options for $525k, and no bond. That brings the cost to $178 a square foot. Admittedly, it’s at the upper limit of what we wanted to spend, but it’s a really nice house with a large kitchen. The best part is that it is within a 30 minute drive of 5 different hospitals, which gives me a lot of flexibility in changing hospitals. It’s one of those small Florida towns that only have a population of about 2,000 people, but still have stuff nearby.

The only real catch is the current lead time for construction is 12 months, meaning that we will be in late 2023 or early 2024 before we can move. We are looking at all of the numbers and facts, but we will likely be paying earnest money within a week or two. That means when the school year starts next fall, my wife will have to commute a bit. It also means that I can start looking for new work, expecting to start somewhere in July or August. There is a hospital that is only 15 minutes from the house we are looking at that is a good place to work and is offering a $10,000 bonus to work there. By all reports, the pay is good and I hear lots of good things about them. There are other hospitals that offer larger bonuses, but there is a reason for that.

So change is coming. It will be easier working where I am, knowing that my days there are numbered.

Hobbies

Speaking of expensive hobbies. One of the things that I do to stay busy is work on making my house a smart house. It all began about 8 years ago, when I installed a SmartThings hub. Our house is automated. I use our cell phones as presence sensors, and the house changes modes when we leave, come home, and go to bed.

My wife was very understanding, and has now come to love the automated features of the house. When we go to bed, the thermostat changes to make the house cooler, the lights turn off, and the smart locks on the doors all lock themselves. The landscaping lights change colors depending on the season. There is purple, gold, and green for Mardi Gras; Red, white and blue for Independence Day, that sort of thing. The hot water heater turns off when we go to bed or leave the house. It’s geeky, fun to do, and pretty bad ass.

But 8 years has gone by, and technology is evolving. I have always been bothered by the fact that SmartThings is a cloud based processor. I want local processing, and now that we are thinking about moving next fall, I have a chance to try it.

I am thinking of switching to Home Assistant. I just bought an Odroid N2+ processor and a 128 GB eMMC card to use as a server. Now I am going to learn how to program it and integrate it with all of the devices I am planning on using. So I will spend the next few months playing with it. I am planning on using smart switches that can control scenes as well as individual lights.

It’s good to have a tolerant wife.

More Work Weirdness

Oddly enough, I posted the other day that I am thinking of changing to a different hospital and that same afternoon, I got two emails. The first was from my job, spelling out that all employees need to be aware that, should we decide to wear a shirt under our scrub top, it has to be white. We also have to wear white socks that cover our ankles. If we choose to wear a sweater or coat, it must be the same color as our assigned scrub color. This seems odd to me, since they can’t find shift coverage and are back to offering shift bonuses most days and are still understaffed.

We are a 50 bed ED, and we had 123 patients the other day. All of the rooms were filled, plus we had 50 patients on beds in the hallway and another 23 patients being treated in the waiting room. But our administration is worried about what color tshirt I wear under my scrubs.

The second email that I got was from a competing hospital chain. They are inviting a bunch of nurses to a free meal where cocktails will be served and we get the opportunity to meet the leadership team and learn about the advantages of coming to work for them.

Dude. Looks like I at least get a free meal out of the deal. I told my wife that I am not working that day, so I think I am going to go and at least hear the pitch.

Work

I worked yesterday. The theme of the day was insane people with mental problems and intoxicant day.

One woman came in with a complaint of constipation. She said that her anal sphincter was too tight, and wanted us to loosen it for her. I told the charge nurse that we should send her to the local bar with a couple of coupons for free drinks, and I am sure one of the patrons of the bar would help her out. The charge nurse actually snorted.

Then I was given a Baker Act. She was being Baker acted for the third time for threatening to kill herself. This time, threatened to get a gun and come back to kill us all after she was discharged. Then she told me that she would look for me when she got out, so she could “fuck me up.” She also said that she would follow me home one night so she could kill my family. I had to get a female staff member to escort the patient to the bathroom. Once they were in there, the patient attacked the female. After that, I couldn’t get a single female to take over my patient. They were all afraid of either being attacked and injured, or being attacked and getting suspended. Since I already was suspended recently, I insisted that my manager call the local cops and filed a police report. My amanger wasn’t happy about that, but I don’t care. I am not going to put up with crazy bitches threatening me. The cops wouldn’t arrest her, but at least it creates a record in the event that I see her near my house. Other than taking reports, cops are largely useless. I don’t know if the threats and her appearing in my neighborhood would be reasonable fear or not, but it can’t hurt. I am pretty sure that, should I see her in my neighborhood, I will call the cops and probably hold her at gunpoint.

Name another job that requires its employees to be physically attacked and put up with threats of being murdered.

Speaking of that, one of my former druggie dirtbag patients decided to perform a home invasion, and got ventilated by the homeowner. He is now fully rehabilitated. I love happy endings.

Then I had to spend the day in recertification classes, doing my recertifications in Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support, and Pediatric Life Support.

2023 Wish List?

So many bloggers did a 2022 in review post that it was boring. That’s why I didn’t do one. Instead, I thought it would be more fun to do a 2023 prospectus post. List what I would like to accomplish this year.

My wife doesn’t like SCUBA diving, my son no longer dives with me, and I haven’t heard from my other dive buddy in years. As a result, I can count the number of times I have been diving in the past 5 years on one hand. I have about $10k in SCUBA gear that sits unused in storage. The vast majority of my fun money goes into shooting now, and that is a huge change from ten years ago. I think shooting is where most of my wish list is going to go.

I have enough guns that the wife complains and says I have so many that I don’t shoot most of them now. I will grant her that. I have a few favorites, and aside from project guns like the skirmish rifle, I only shoot my favorites. Still, it’s fun to buy something new or at least different. My in-laws think I am nuts for owning as many as I do. Compared to my gun shooting friends, I don’t think I have all that many guns. Owning a lot of guns is a relative term.

Starting in 2020, I began making my own guns from 80 percent lowers. That’s been taken from me as a hobby. If I am going to be a manufacturer, I might as well pay the SOT and start making machine guns. I would do that, but I don’t want my house getting inspected and raided by the assholes from ATF.

I own pump actions, semi-autos, break opens, lever actions, and revolvers. Shotguns, rifles, PDWs, rifle caliber handguns, and all sorts of other handguns. I don’t want any more long guns for the time being, simply because it’s more of a pain in the ass to shoot them than it is a handgun.

So a handgun it is. I currently have, or have had, handguns from Beretta, Glock, Smith and Wesson, Sig, Taurus, Ruger, and more. Been there, done that. There are two noticeable holes in my current collection: I would like to own a .44 caliber revolver. I have been thinking of buying a Smith and Wesson Model 629 in .44 Magnum. I already own a 629 686 in .357 Magnum, and it’s fun to shoot. Having one in .44 Magnum would also allow me to shoot .44 Special. So there is that.

The other thing I have been thinking about is a gun I already owned four examples of, and found them wanting. The 1911 didn’t work well for me when I had them before, but I confess that I am drawn to the 1911, purely because I find them to be aesthetically pleasing. They are just beautiful guns.

I want to give the 1911 platform another chance. Perhaps I just need a really good one. I am thinking that it would be cool to have a custom Ed Brown Kobra Carry. Sure, it’s a $3,700 handgun and I know that I was against buying them in the past, but I have every other handgun I want (except that .44). It’s a beautiful handgun, and Ed Brown has a stellar reputation. It’s just a hefty price tag.

The problem is that I don’t want to put down that kind of scratch until I can get a reliable 1911 for less and make sure that I am not wasting my money. So perhaps I can start with another Kimber. If so, I would try a Kimber Ultra CDP. They “only” cost around $1200 and would let me try out another 1911 without laying down two weeks’ pay to get it.

The other possibility is a Suppressor for the Skirmish rifle. I am thinking a Dead Air Sandman.

So that’s my list. I don’t know if I will get them all, but it looks fun.

  • Smith and Wesson 629 in .44 Magnum ~ $900
  • Kimber Ultra Carry II in .45 ACP ~$1,200
  • Ed Brown Kobra Carry in .45 ACP ~ $3,700
  • Dead Air Sandman ~$900

So what do all of you think?

Rearranging Titanic Deck Chairs

The hospital where I work has all sorts of issues. There is a nursing shortage, there are problems with long waits, patients holding in the ED waiting for space on the floor that isn’t available due to a shortage of nurses. Turnover has been enough of an issue that they can’t keep staff.

There have been multiple administrators that have come and gone, and each of them has addressed it in a different way. One way was hiring contract nurses at $200 or more an hour. That was too expensive. Another administrator tried paying large bonuses to get nurses to work more days per week. Still another tried bringing in foreign workers.

One thing that all of them have had in common was the dumbest, least effective action. They changed the colors of the scrubs everyone wears. When I was hired, you could wear any color except black, denim, camouflage, or pediatric prints. Six months later, the colors changed. Since then, we have cycled through at least four different colors. In less than two years, I have bought at least five different collections of scrubs.

Effective tonight at midnight, we all have to wear a new scrub color. These scrubs have to be embroidered with the logo of the hospital and your job title “Nurse,” or “Doctor,” or what have you. We have to buy them from one approved vendor. That vendor is owned by the wife of one of the administrators. I am not sure how that is legal, but there it is.

So I had to buy two sets of scrubs in the new color, complete with the logo of the hospital affixed to it. I’ve learned not to buy more than that, because we will just have to buy a new color within a few months anyway.

The managers are mostly assholes and treat staff rather poorly, although I can say that I like the ones in charge of the ED. They are mostly cool, and I don’t blame them for my recent suspension. That came from risk management, and wasn’t their decision. Still, this place has begun getting on my nerves.

I am giving serious thought to switching hospitals. I’ve been here for two years now, and one of the nice things about this profession is the ease of finding a job. I know one nurse who shows up to interviews in casual clothes and says something to the effect of “Here is my license. We both know that you need nurses badly enough that you are going to offer me this job. So let’s cut to the chase- what are you willing to offer me? Don’t waste my time with useless back and forth, give me your best offer,” and they present her with her options.

Maybe it’s time for a change of scenery. There are a couple of options:

  • I can go back to being full time. There are a couple of places that are offering $10k bonuses and more per hour than I currently make for full time, which is three shifts a week. The downside is I am on a fixed schedule, and I hate begging someone for time off.
  • There is also an offer of $7500 bonuses at a couple of places. The downside is that I have to work two shifts a week, and still have to beg for time off.
  • I can also take what’s called a seasonal position, which pays $65 to $85 an hour, depending on what unit you wind up in. The downside is that you get you no bonuses, no benefits, no shift differential, and have to work every holiday. You sign a contract that has to be renewed every six months, so you can take a few weeks off (without pay) between contracts.
  • Or I can look and see what PRN contracts there are and at what pay level. These allow the most freedom- you generally have to work 4 days per month, but can work as much and whenever you like. The only benefits you get are shift differential, shift bonuses (which most hospitals have done away with), and the freedom to work whenever, as little, or as much as you want.
  • The last option is travel. A recruiter just contacted me about working in Boston. Ten weeks, $3400 a week for three days per week. They pay the cost of your hotel. That works out to about $90 an hour. It costs $200 round trip to fly between Boston and Orlando, so I would be making $3200 a week for ten weeks but would have to pay Massachusetts taxes, plus would have to actually go to Massachusetts. I don’t think that’s in the cards for me.

I think I am looking at leaving this place in June or so, when my wife’s school year ends. I don’t need benefits, because I get health insurance from my wife’s job. Maybe I will take a month or so off, then look at my options.

Work Ends 2022

Christmas day saw me work 13 hours in the emergency department. It was a fairly quiet day. Then came the 26th. Things were pretty quiet until 3 in the afternoon or so, then all hell broke loose. We had drunks and crazies galore.

One guy came in as a Baker Act*. He was screaming that he was a CIA trained assassin and said he was going to kill (pointing at four of us, me included) those guys as soon as EMS let him off the stretcher. My manager was standing next to me. The same manager that had to tell me that I had been suspended for the last time I had to wrestle a patient. Next to that manager were two of our doctors.

Sotto voce (so the patient couldn’t hear) I said, “How good of an assassin could you be? Killing yourself even seemed to be beyond your capabilities.” Coffee immediately shot out of the doctor’s nose. My manager said, so let’s let him off the stretcher and see what happens. I said, “Do you really want to do that? Last time that shit happened, you suspended me for a week.” The manager even laughed. We gave him some Haldol and some Benadryl, which did wonders for his attitude. After an hour or so, he was telling me that I was the smartest man he had ever met. Love that Haldol.

We also worked four codes, some other kidney and blood sugar problems, half a dozen sepsis alerts, and a stroke alert or two. We are also seeing a lot of flu and COVID. We actually had our first COVID death in quite a while. It was legit. He came in complaining of shortness of breath and had an O2 saturation of 65% and a blood pressure of 70/40. We did all we could, and even managed to get his O2 up into the 90’s with some BIPAP, but even Levophed couldn’t keep his BP up. He died about an hour after we sent him upstairs to the ICU.

Yesterday was no better. We had all sorts of craziness. A homeless woman who wanted to fight, three codes, and a dislocated hip. Conscious sedation, one nurse leaning on his pelvis, me pushing on the hip joint, and the doctor up on the bed with the patient’s knee on his shoulder, pulling. We pulled several times, then a loud pop. Nope, didn’t realign. Instead, the hip fractured. So now he’s off to ortho for surgery. Another patient had been prescribed Januvia and Novolog and the combination meant that we couldn’t keep her blood sugar up without a constant D10 drip.

Thus ends my work year for 2022. Now I don’t work again until a few days into 2023. I worked 38 hours in three days, which is why there hasn’t been any posting here to speak of.


A Baker Act is a law in Florida that says a person can be held under involuntary psychiatric observation for up to 72 hours, if a Law Enforcement Officer or Physician feels that the person presents an immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm to themselves or others. It’s generally used when a person either attempts or threatens suicide. Every state in the US has a similar law.

Merry Christmas

Although I confess that I am an atheist, I have much in common with those of the Christian religion. Nearly all of the values that are prized by those of faith: honesty, family, forgiveness, duty, honor, I share with you. Each of those values are ideals that we can hang on to during the times that are here, and through the tougher times that are coming. It is through our love of each other that we will be able to get through the times to come.

It is during this, the holiest of the holidays of the Christian faith, that we pause to reflect on our lives and the things that we hold dear. We need to be with family and cherish those who are most important to us. I have spent time this Christmas with my wife, my daughter, and my grandchildren. My life is going well, financially, romantically, and otherwise. I have much to be thankful for, and I am in a better position that the vast majority of humanity. I have a wife who loves me, a roof over my head, and I am not worried about whether or not I will be able to eat today. For just those simple things, I am better off than the majority of humanity.

Here is my hope to all of you that you find yourselves just as blessed, just as happy. Spend today with your families and enjoy the time that you have together, for there will come a time when that is no longer the case. Love those close to you. Spend time. Make memories.

Most of all, have a Merry Christmas. Even if you aren’t a Christian. Take a day off from worrying about the state of the world, our country, and just worry about yourself and your family. The world of worry will still be there waiting tomorrow. Until then, let’s hope for at least one more day of peace on Earth and goodwill towards our fellow man.

Investigation

I was originally going to take a few days off, but felt the need to report this. Until this morning, I was the subject of a criminal and work related investigation. I have been suspended without pay for the past week. I got the call this morning and have been cleared of all wrongdoing, just in time to return to work on Christmas Day.

I was at work a week and a half ago. Another nurse asked me to accompany her and a female technician into a patient’s room because he had been giving her some problems. I went into the room behind them, and the patient began referring to the technician as his wife. Then he accused the EMS personnel of laughing at him while they were trying to initiate an affair with his wife. Standing at his bedside, I told him that no one was making fun of him. He yelled, “You all are!” then tried getting out of bed. I touched his arm and told him to calm down. That’s when he grabbed me and tried pulling my arm to his mouth in order to bite me.

I put him in a wrist lock with one hand, then pressed on his parotid gland with the other, which forced his face into the pillow. He started kicking me and calling me a “punk ass bitch” and saying that he was a retired NYC police officer, and that he would find me on the street and “fucking kill” me.

He later contacted my employer and the police and attempted to file charges against me for battery.

The investigations took 9 days. My employer has suggested that I file counter charges, but since he was delusional, the police said any such charges would go nowhere. My employer told me that they were worried that since he was a retired cop that the local cops would take his side. I explained to him that the local cops don’t like NY cops because they constantly come down here and call the local cops a bunch of hicks and tell them how much better NYPD is.

At any rate, I can now return to work, just in time for Christmas day. At least I will get time and a half plus critical shortage bonus. ( Remember the critical needs bonuses that they cancelled back in September? They reinstated them three weeks ago, because they can’t get anyone to come to work without them.)