Wednesday, April 13, 2005


We had a disaster drill at the hospital today. A disaster drill is just what it sounds like--sort of analogous to a fire drill in elementary school, only more disaster-y. There's this whole tightly orchestrated hospital-wide game plan that's supposed to kick into play when disaster strikes. I don't know that game plan, but I trust that if some meteor lands in Times Square, there will at least be an overhead announcement that tells me where to go and what to do.

The disaster drill scenario today was that there was a chemical spill on the George Washington Bridge. And man, when they drill, they really act out the whole thing. There was a little decontamination unit out in the ambulance bay, hazmat suits everywhere, patients being transferred, the whole deal. My disaster team got called over to the adult ER to lend and extra set of hands, where I was promptly outfitted with a neon orange traffic vest with a sign taped to it that said "PEDS MD". Which, you know, was cute and all, but I was less than thrilled at being forced away from the Peds ER to act out some fake-ass emergency when I had a real live kid with fever, neutropenia, and hypotension on whom I was in the middle of ordering up dopa. I finally weasled my way out of the drill (it turns out they only needed one Pediatrician on the adult side, and the attending volunteered to stay), but I was kind of annoyed at getting pulled away in the first place. Because as much as I recognize the importance of drilling, I don't see how all patient care in the hospital can shut down just so that we can pretend to be in "The Day After Tomorrow".

Later during the drill, someone wheeled this a 35-year old Asian man in a bright yellow jumpsuit into the Peds ER. "Uh, I was in the accident on the bridge?" He said, trying to read upside down off the triage card pinned to his chest. "I think I, like, have a cut on my head? And I'm bleeding and stuff. Also, I'm ten years old." We stuck him in the corner of the asthma room between a wheezing baby and a puking teenager. He looked horrified.

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So I finally broke down and ordered this sleep mask. After working nights all last week and gamely assuring myself that I could get a solid night's sleep during the daylight hours, no problem, I finally understand now why Al Pacino started to go insane in that movie "Insomnia." (I mean, aside from being HAUNTED BY THE GHOSTS OF HIS TROUBLED PAST and all.) It is very nearly impossible to sleep deeply and well when the sun is shining in your face. I rebelled against getting a sleep mask all last week (I was still mad at myself for not thinking ahead and just keeping the free ones that they gave out on British Airways), but was eventually resorting to either sleeping with a pillow over my head--not so good for the old breathing--or fashioning a ghetto sleep mask out of a sweatsock and an old elastic headband. Don't picture this, it's not pretty. Anyway, I'm back to the night shift next week, and I don't think I can afford yet another week of stumbling around in a daze. So I ordered the sleep mask, which promises "100% light blockage." It was either that, or sleep in the bathroom.

* * *

With respect to that last post about those chisling dentists, my mom seems to have some sort of strategy to deal with getting at least partially reimbursed. I'm not sure I exactly understand all the intricacies of said plan, but I have to trust that she at least somewhat knows what she's talking about, being a doctor enrolled in an HMO herself. So either this plan works, or I'll be selling one of my kidneys. Any takers?

Currently reading: "Epileptic." Also paging through the New Yorker Travel Issue. Is it just me, or is every new piece by David Sedaris about his partner Hugh and how great he is?

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