Saturday, February 28, 2004

party, pizza party

Do you remember that board game from the 80s? The object was to fill up your slice of pizza with fillings. The jingle continues, "You could lose if you have to switch, so you'd better be sharp, you'd better be swift!" Even then, I realized that Pizza Party truly was a game for morons. Hungry Hungry Hippos, though...

So SPEAKING of Hungry Hungry Hippos, we just had a party at our place. People just left a little while ago after I started pointedly cleaning stuff up. These medicine party animals. They wear lampshades on their heads, they do. The genius of our party is that it was potluck, so now we have wine, cheese and cracker contributions enough to feed us into the next century. Also, some beer and day old donuts. (Some dastardly partygoers already ate all the choice selections with chocolate and/or sprinkles, though. There is a high density of crullers in what remains.) Beer and donuts: our house is a frat boy's dream! But, from the wine and cheese perspective, we are also a pretentious bacchanal's dream! Except maybe not so pretentious--some of the wine is in box form. Have you ever opened up the box of box wine? There's, like, a plastic wine udder in there. A wine bladder. Isn't that what people used to carry around their wine in during biblical times? Do you think if I went to see that new "The Gory Death of Jesus" movie, they would feature wines in sheep bladders?

I'm not even drunk, I swear.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

viral badness

After working both Saturday and Sunday in the ER, seeing seemingly hundreds and hundreds of children all with the same chief complaint (I was like that old Johnny Carson act, where he puts the envelope up to his forehead: "Fever, vomiting, diarrhea...") I had picked up a touch of the stomach uglies myself and spend much of Monday stumbling around, my face a kind of interesting chartreuse color. Have you tried Thera-Flu? That stuff is good! And not as nasty tasting as you might think, if you drink it very hot. Kinda like lemonade. Lemonade with little Motrins, Sudafeds and Benadryls dissolved in it. The ultimate party drink!

And now I'm back to normal. As illnesses go, not too bad. I don't know how I avoided getting sick up until now, and how I managed to get off with just a micro-illness this time around. Working in the ER during flu season, on the wards during bronchiolitis season and a rotavirus outbreak, even just generally being around kids 24/7. Walking germ factories, they are. My immune system must be working overtime.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


ATA has caved and conceded, in addition to refunding the cost of our (cancelled) flight, two round trip tickets to anywhere they fly. I figure the way for us to get the most bang for our buck is to go to Hawaii. I mean, we have to at least approach a $500 round-trip ticket in order to approximate compensation, so I figure we best use them for the farthest/most expensive possible destination. (ATA doesn't fly to Europe or Asia, apparently. Cheap bastards.) So I guess it all worked out in the end. All we had to do is threaten them with a letter from our legal representation.

Now if only we had some vacation time to use our free tickets.
phone triage

Nothing beats a slice of cold pizza for breakfast. Nothing except eating that slice of pizza at 8:30 in the morning because you missed Chief of Service Rounds this morning secondary to an alarm clock misfire, and are now able to enjoy an unprescedented site: sunshine through my window. Honestly, probably the worst thing about intern year (or residency in general, I guess) is never getting to see the sun. Dark when you leave for work, dark when you get home. Sure, there are windows in the hospital, big ones even, but they're all in the patient's rooms. And who ever goes in there? (Ha. I kid. I kid because I love. Love KIDS, that is.)

Yesterday night I was on phone triage for my clinic. What this means is that any calls from anxious parents in the middle of the night would get forwarded from the clinic answering service to my home phone. I was on pins and needles all night, clutching my pager in one hand and phone in the other, waiting for these horrible calls. "My kid is having seizures!" "My kid is turning blue!" "My kid just impaled her sister with an ice pick!" Well, actually, I guess those would be easy ones--I could just tell them to call an ambulance and see them in the hospital in the morning. But it's the subtle ones that I was worried about. How should I decide if a kid's vomiting and dehydration sounded bad enough to send them to the hospital, versus telling them to stay home and follow up in clinic tomorrow? How could I tell the bad kids from the OK-for-tonight kids if I couldn't see them? What if I told them that their kid would be fine until morning and they weren't? I mean, I know people in Washington Heights seem to have a low threshold for bringing their kids to the ER ("Papercut? Call an ambulance!") but watch me get that one parent who actually listened to me to have the kid stay home, and then watch me be wrong.

Anyway, I didn't get any calls at all last night. So either my pager was broken, no kids were sick, or all the sick kids went into the ER straight away without bothering to call. I hope for the latter two scenarios.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

more LA woes

So not only did we have to wake up at 3:30 in the AM the day after the wedding, and not only is LAX the worst airport ever in terms of destination and arrival information (not that there weren't TV screens in the terminals for displaying such information, it's just that they all were broken), but about half an hour before our flight, we were told that it was cancelled due to equipment failure. No apology. No information about later flights. Not even a ticket agent at the booth. They even used the wrong flight number when announcing the cancellation, so, lacking anyone live human to ask for clarification, we had to call the airline's 1-800 number to confirm that it was really our flight that got grounded. Damn ATA. What the hell kind of airline is that anyway? Some third world prop plane corps? (Actually, it stands for America Trans Air or something equally generic. They should rename their airline something catchy. FlightCom! AirCorp! ZoomCo! Hey, maybe I should start my own airline. I would probably run it better than ATA.)

So by the time we figured out what the hell was going on and made it back down to the ticketing counter, the desk was swamped, with a line of disgruntled customers (80% fresh from the past weekend's hip-hop convention) literally out the door and into the parking lot shuttle pickup area. Joe and I did some quick calculations and figured out that if we stood on that line and waited for ATA to rebook us (their next scheduled flight to New York was leaving at 11:30pm) we would still be in LA to celebrate our golden anniversary. And we were both due back at work the following morning. So we took matters into our own hands and booked another flight ourselves, figuring that we could square things away with ATA after we got back home.

24 hours later, ATA has agreed to refund us the cost of our cancelled flight (how generous) and offered us two round trip tickets in the contiguous 48 states to compensate for the $500 each that we paid to United for our flight back to New York. You read that right. A THOUSAND DOLLARS we had to spend because our flight got cancelled. ATA argues that yes, we were probably right that had we waited in line like good little sheep, they probably wouldn't have gotten a flight out that day anyway (remember, this was the Monday of a three-day weekend), "but you didn't give us a that chance." What, we didn't give you guys the chance to GET US FIRED? We don't have jobs where we can just show up late or call in sick. We needed to get back to New York and we simply didn't trust them to be able to do that for us.

Free plan tickets is one thing, but limited to the contiguous 48 states? Have you seen where ATA flies in the US? Dayton, Ohio. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Frigging Moline Illinois. In other words, no place we would ever be interested in flying. Come on guys, why so cheap? You give out free tickets all the time whenever you overbook, to destinations "anywhere that ATA flies," including international locales. Why can't you help a sister out? Let us at least fly to Guadelajara, for chrissake. Or even Hawaii, that's not technically international. You broke your damn plane in the first place. And it's bad enough that your compensation package forces us to have to fly with your craptastic airline again. Some come on guys. Fly us to Montego Bay?

The weekend we spent in LA was also the weekend that a big NBA convention was in town. Actually, it was unclear if it was a hip-hop convention superimposed upon an NBA convention, since there seemed to be many hip-hop artists and wannabes in town for the weekend as well. Maybe it was a convention to celebrate baseketball stars who also rap. (Hello, Shaquille O'Neal. I loved you in "Kazaam.")

Overheard in the lobby of our hotel, HQ to a fringe element of convention goers: "Yeah dawg. Got new rims for my car. Sheeee-it."

Monday, February 16, 2004

underwear drawer, the return

Hello, the three remaining people who still check this page. As you may have noticed, I've been Guy Incognito since Thanksgiving. But I guess that's what two weeks in the ER, and month on Oncology and a month on the wards during bronchiolitis season will do to you. I'd hit my intern year nadir sometime in there, around the end of January, which consisted of ruing my daily existence and searching the want ads in the times for any other job on earth besides the one I had. How about this job: Most Overqualified Babysitter EVER. You would hire me, right?

That was last month. But now things are starting to pick back up.

Joe and I just got back from the wedding of two friends out in LA. (The two friends were marrying each other, not that we went to two separate weddings.) We managed to get the long weekend off together since both he and I are on easier rotations this month (Radiology elective and Outpatient, respectively), so we actually got to spend some meaningful time together for the first time in a long while. I was even all excited at the prospect of getting to take the flight together, as it meant that we would get to sit next to each other for six hours straight and watch an inflight movie together. Intern year, starts to sound like a fairly rockin' date with your spouse. But then I ended up sleeping through the whole flight anyway, so there you go. (A sleep date--also not atypical in the two-inten household.)

Well, anyway, now that my time is a little more my own again, I'll try to update more frequently. Thanks for sticking around.