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transitional poop
hit me again
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd have to give today a 1/4, just because I'm feeling generous and all that. Viva vacation eve! Got me some Journey and Mattea helping me work it out in the background, all this shit stuff. The baggage. By most folks' standards, it's light. No sexual abuse or wire hanger drama. Mama tried her best to be everything to everybody while Daddy worked his ass off. Kind of like The Cleavers , only Eddie Haskell was named Jim Bob or something southern sounding and he favored four wheelers over Chevys.

The ex told me that I think too much, which is probably true. I reckon it's all that lab training which tends to keep things inside the box and quality controlled, all checked off by the appropriate people with records to prove it, by damn. We paid good money for that degree too! I'm not built that way at all, which could explain why it's been such a struggle to hang in there. Much more of a dreamer, I tend to see the big picture...what COULD be. If there are lemons or rotten bananas, by God we'll make some lemonade or banana nut bread. There are starving people in Africa our country who need to be fed and led. Nothin' like living in a box to make you think outside of it :)

I am seriously considering my career options. I figure if all else fails I'll make it as a karaoke singer, even though nobody ever clicks their Bic for my rendition of "Get Over It." Plan B is writer/farmer/cook/bartender. And smartass. I think that gene has dominated my genteel southern lady recessive side. Shhh...don't tell Mama!

Morgan and her Mom came to visit Meanie at work today during our breakfast break. She was still in her jammies eating sausage and drinking chocolate milk in mama's lap. The breaks after that were staggered to keep us horses fed and the semi-sick people serviced. Such is the rural hospital with a pack ER on a weekend. When a real disaster shows up you have to shove the drug seekers and hypochondriacs into the closet to make room for CPR and blood transfusions. Shit.

I understand the CYA philosophy of emergency medicine. Everybody's all lawyered up waiting to kick your ass for making a mistake when, hell. Everybody makes them, especially when there is no rhyme or reason to the whole thing. Who the hell is in charge here anyway? Last time I looked it was Wall Street.

Anybody checked on Alan lately?

i will survive
A funny thing happened when I opened my eyes this morning. The realization slowly dawned on my foggy minded smartass self that, indeed, I was going to make it through the dove flu. Exactly twelve days after the first symptoms made their nasty entrance into my throat as a sort of heaviness, I could feel some improvement from the misery that followed. Like most women, I tend to soldier on through illness and do my personal best at anything and everything, including the day job. Yeah..I am woman, hear me roar. And cough. And sneeze. Anyway, thanks be to my good friend Martha who loaned me her kid's nebulizer the tightness in the chest has loosened a bit and the cough is now a bit more productive. I imagine I'll be hacking my way through this one for another week, minimum.

The day job beckons at 6AM tomorrow for a mere two day run before I'm ON FREAKIN' VACATION. Am I excited? You betcha. Do I need it? Damn skippy. What will I do with seven days off? Anything I feel like doing. It will be Pamper Poopie week from start to finish. For a brief insane moment a few days ago, I toyed around with umm..you know...the list. Ya' know how when you have a block of free time your anal retentive inner child wants to make a LIST of things to accomplish during that unstructured period? There are no less than twenty pressing tasks that could go on that list, the very first being mowing takin' a bushhog to the yard.
Back in the day, I would have had the list made and posted on the refrigerator so I wouldn't miss a single chore. But now? I'm past all that. No list. No agenda. Go with the flow. Ain't life grand?

See y'all on the flip side.

the future of the beginning of the end

I know as well as Elisabeth Kubler Ross taught it, that acceptance is the first step in grieving a loss. I mean, gah. If there's not REALLY a loss, then there's nothing to grieve, right? As a student of that particular realm of thought I have made my way through a lot of them..losses, that is. There was childhood, regrettably. Sometimes beloved and often times not-yet-met family members and pets. I moved several times, with each packing expedition aimed at holding fiercely onto what really matters to my heart amidst the piles and piles of stuff that fifty two years and a few days of living bring to a girl's domain. Baggage.

The first time I was really forced to face that fact, I hated the woman who drilled the truth into me like an arrow in the dang head. The way we met was quite by accident, with she pinch hitting for her very pregnant partner who saw right off that I was a long term job and she would be busy changing diapers. My 160 mile trips to cry my eyes out were the center of my life for a year and Bev knew that. The old girl whipped me like a bad dog makin' me spill my guts about everthing I ever remembered or even THOUGHT about thinking. I paid money for the spanking, because I wanted to understand who I was in the context of where me and the rest of the family had been. I still continue to find out things that make me go "ah-hah!" Our very first session consisted of me drawing on a piece of paper crude pictures of things that make me happy. There was a musical note, Christmas tree, very poorly drawn water! Flowers, of course. Years later when BG and friends were all wonked out being 15, I gave them some art supplies and told them to do the very same thing. It wasn't a Hallmark moment by any means, but at least I knew what was up ;) Natty light my ass.

Working in healthcare is a daily series of losses...patients and their families who come to you for help and healing and are often times met with over-worked-under-led individuals who actually studied for the privilege to be there. Patients get diagnosed, born, treated and eventually die surrounded by people who were raised up knowing them. That's the beauty of rural hospitals. Everywhere you turn, you see somebody's mama'n'them. Within one hour the other day a young lady lost her valiant fight against spina bifida and a middle aged man died of a heart attack. Mr. Bob, the suave half of Willis Electrical never failed to make me laugh when they came to work on my ancient and ailing blood refrigerator. He crashed his vehicle into a house last week, presumably from a heart attack, and was buried yesterday after a week on life support. During a co-worker's baby shower, one of our girls saw her first dead child in the ER and had to excuse herself from the festivities to bawl her eyes out. It's hard stuff, keeping your perspective when you try to meet somebody where they're at, but retain a professional distance in order to give proper care, all the while playin' by the rules and regs handed down by politicians who don't know a bandage from a stethoscope. Puleeeez.

Peaceful is kinda' how I would describe the place I'm at right now. Tired, yes..no uh, weary. This dove flu or whatever it is has managed to kick my Poopie butt. But I am most definitely hopeful that persistence and faith will lead to whatever Big Ernie has planned for me, equipped with the tools. Thanks to my good friends Deb and Tob, I now have a skillsaw in the collection :)

Now...y'all go on to bed or do some laundry or something. Kiss the dog. I've got a date with Dr. House. Dirty Mike stood me up so it's the idiot or nothing tonight.

Keep the faith. ^j^
silver lining

It has been a mighty hot September here in West Tennessee, and for most of the Southeastern US. I reckon that's your global warming in action. Al Gore was born and raised in Tennessee..around Carthage. How do I know that? Because I went to inspect their hospital lab and there was a faded metal sign right at the city limits proclaiming it for all the world to see. It's funny how we learn history these days.

The war on terror goes on and on. Pollsters say that the majority of us are against the whole deal yet nobody is listening to what we say. Ain't that America, you and me? At this point, I'm skeptical to even hope for someone with much more sense than Bush. In a pre-election year, it's all about promises with little solid evidence of hope for change for us measly little peons who keep the faith. If Hillary stands up , Monica will surely be her running mate. Obama gets hit left and right with racial slurs. The GOP has a lot of hotheads seeking power as they always tend to do. What's a voter to do?

This great country is about much more than mud slinging and blame placing. We are a big huge mish-mash of family tradition, tolerance, love thy neighbor and kick his ass when he or she dares to tread on us. Let's cut out the dead weight in the government and take it back as ours. * shoutout to the secret service*...Poops is most definitely NOT a terrorist. She's just a peaceful little old gal who minds her own business and wants to see others do the same. Loves family and finds a friend everywhere she goes.

Back in the day many great people sacrificed their lives our country. Recently, the death toll has climbed due to a knee jerk reaction to 9/11. The hawks say that it's not a significant number, considering the amount of time that we've been in Iraq and Afghanistan. Compared to Vietnam, that's true.

I reckon it's all relative, huh?

hard labor

Twenty three years ago today, two days of erratic contractions sent me packin' to the day job to deliver BabyGirl into this world. I remember about halfway through the whole deal thinking that I changed my mind about being a Mama. Somehow it didn't seem worth all the pain and suffering. I had been having contractions for several days prior, and as it turned out she was in distress in-utero. Meconium and all that jazz. Blood culture and CBC normal.

When I marched my big fat pregnant self up the steps to the hospital, it was hot as hades, especially so for late September. Somewhere after the epidural and delivery a cool front came through and her entrance into the outside world was quite pleasant, requiring light cover to keep those baby buns warm on the way down Tickle Street to home. There was a Mom and Dad tending after her, and it was all good for many many years.

I'm so proud of that kid I could just bust a gut. She is a unique product of every person she has ever met and bonded with, especially family and friends. She works hard and plays hard. She loves to learn, most especially when one of Big Ernie's creatures stands to gain from her knowledge and insight.

Happy birthday Lauren Elizabeth. Keep the faith ^j^
doggie style

Honest to goodness, I don't know what I'd do if all of a sudden I woke up one day and my dawgs were all gone like in Left Behind. I didn't really worry too much when the kittens went to "live in the dairy barn" drinking milk all day because there was wayyyyyyyy too many of 'em. Never pick up a stray in the parking lot unless you've got cash for a spay in hand. Some vet somewhere is counting on you to pay his child support.

Me and the canines enjoyed the cooler temps this afternoon and walked the yard and such. Faith had turned into an old maid until Sammy D showed up and taught her how to play again. BG's BF trained her well as a pup, but he's been absent and I've ignored her whils't out searching for SugarDaddy. Sam is all puppy....wagging his tail non-stop and looking for a game of tugs or chase. Butterbean has a nervous condition that tends to make her stick to herself and do her own thing. She don't play.

They all like to ride in the Camry with the windows down, so we did just that as the sun was setting over Pecan Lane. We drove over to the golf course and waved at all those folks over there doin' bogies and eagles. If I'm not mistaken, there was a girl team kickin' somebody's ass all the way from the back 9 to the clubhouse and doin' high fives. Could be wrong, but it sure makes a good story.
another one bites the dust
Weekend, that is. Is it just me or are those days shorter than M-F? Had the place to myself as BG went out of town with BF to visit old friends. So what did I do? Hmmm. Cleaned. A lot. It was painfully obvious by the amount of dust and dog hair floatin' around that I've been having too much fun at the kudzu bar and not enough quality time with the mop and broom. Let's just say I managed to knock the dust off which is no small thing when you live right smack in the middle of a farm.

I did make it up there for the first half of a terribly depressing UT Vols game. Florida and Alabama are the two big 'uns for us and this one went south early on *sigh*

The weather has been nice and pleasant but the skeeters have come out with a vengeance. Suckers have been laying low all summer due to the drought so they jumped on the three inches of rain we got and came alive! Said rain also caused the grass to grow and my riding mower is officially dead. The plan is to keep a push-mower in good working order and pay somebody to do the rest. I may not be real bright, but I know when I'm through with something that a professional should be doing. Maybe I can trade out blood draws for yard mowin'?

This is prime time for autumn clematis around Pecan Lane. My parents gave me one in a pot for my birthday a few years ago and I can honestly say that it's the one vine that outdoes kudzu around my house. See exhibit A climbing all over the propane tank.

Lookin' forward to being off for a week and having time to do stuff to this old house. There's rotten shit everywhere bare wooden floors that I've finally managed to get clean enough to do something with. The attic is, for the most part, emptied and organized into piles. Pictures are in boxes and albums. Mom's cookbook is coming along, with she taking out a bunch and each of us adding to the recipes.

I'm not there yet, but I'm a helluva lot closer than I was before.

Keep the faith. ^j^
I didn't realize how bad I hated the heat, exactly, until this summer. So it was a huge treat to me to be able to just sit on the porch and be still instead of moppin' sweat. * warning * (ramble ahead)

It must be age catching up with me since I passed another milestone that is Poopie's life. It's been a very difficult year both physically and emotionally. Work has been slammed. There have been BG and BF breakups and makeups and so forth. In my house, literally. Mom has had to concentrate on her walking and Daddy went plum nuts for about three weeks. Bubba leased his club which really killed my aspirations to be a groupie ;) That's probably not a bad thing because I was likin' the night life a bit much!

Anyways....back to the porch. It's amazing how quick shit stuff will green up when you get a good steady rain. I've made it through a low-mow summer with a 20 year old John Deere rider for the last season. Sittin' out there, the sounds are quite different from the inside noise. I heard a couple of planes go over, probably crop flyers doing surveillance prior to cotton and bean picking. Sometimes I hear the hospital choppers passing over on the way to the day job. They're always in a hurry but the military ones just take their time practicing around the airports. It's right on the other side of the golf course. Both of 'em city properties. One time an evil alderman tried to do the domain thang and condemn where we live to enlarge the golf course so as to attract industry and all. So far his biggest legacy is a street that leads to his former employer..dont'cha just hate it when happens?

My boss is on vacation and I walked in her shoes today for a couple of hours. Girlfriend can have THAT job anytime because frankly...I'm too old and tired to deal with egotistical people climbing the corporate ladder. This morning's meeting consisted of two hours of juvenile finger pointing. I sincerely hope she knows how much I respect her grown-up self :)

There was a breeze earlier, rustling through the redbuds. The dead cornfield across the lane is a natural magnet for blackbirds caw-caw-cawing their parasite selves around and around. They lit in the pecan grove for a few minutes then moved onto somewhere with a slew of bradford pears to roost in. Crickets sang. Then cicadas. The doves aren't cooing much lately due to periodic bursts of gunfire. If you know what season it is, you win a four-wheeler ride around the farm, sans weapon.

I am allergic to ragweed and mold which makes living here somewhat of a watery proposition about six months out of the year. When there's nobody around to assist with gutter cleaning chores, it just gets damp in the basement, I'm sayin'. BF better come get his shit before it rots.

One of my friends gave me a giftcard to Lowe's for my birthday and it didn't take long for me to purchase a circular saw. I've got some work to do on this old house and my birthday resolution is to get 'er done. I don't care anymore whether I own it....there's a lot of potential and history here and I intend to make it girl friendly.

BG's BF hauled me in some cottonseed hull and rock to work on my flower beds back in early summer. It didn't take long for the temps to heat up way past my comfort level,so there's still some work to be done during the fall gardening season. During the first week of October, don't bother to call. If it's life of death, just text me and I'll get back to 'ya. Or knock on the freakin' door and come on in.

By the way, Sam won the tug'o'war with Faith. He's younger and quicker on his paws. They fought it out against a backdrop of dirt and grass with Pecan Lane in all her glory,dripping Virginia creeper that nearly touched the asphalt. The hornworms ate the last of my 'maters so we're out of luck until we open the freezer and haul out some homegrown frozen from my three little faithfully planted vines.

Back in the day I hated being a farm kid all separated from the rest of Beaver Cleaver's neighborhood. As I sat on the porch this evening I realized that my heart has always been here, and most certainly will remain until I meet Big Ernie face to face. I forgot to tell ya'll about all the pregnant people, so forgive me. There's Lori, Abbey and Kimo..all my girls. Anna and Jill beat 'em to the punch on giving birth at a young age.

I was 29 when I walked into this OPS room on the wing above our lab and literally threw up on a patient. After two years without birth control, it seemed impossible that I could be knocked up because I wasn't ovulating. Sucker will be 23 later this month. Don't tell me God doesn't work in mysterious ways. She and BFgave me the most beautiful necklace for my birthday. It's a cascade of stones that trickle down against my chest in a sexy little way. Go girl :)

Not to worry...it's all good. I've shifted gears into peri-vacation. If it goes about the way menopause did, I'm covered for the next five years. There will be pictures.

Where were you when our comfy little world went to hell in a handbasket six years ago? I was at the hospital doin' what I do when Miss Anita told me the news. Me and the little general moved into the doctor's lounge to watch the drama unfold on TV. Lots of explosives and burning shit. What kind of hatred fuels that sort of evil? I can only imagine.

I'm sittin' here typing in my t-shirt with the date on it, thinking about where we've been since then, as a country. We watched as ground zero got cleaned up and the victims were memorialized, but most of us didn't make any sort of change in lifestyle or political choice in response to what happened on that day. As a matter of fact, we fed the monster with partisan jabs and upwards of 3500 US lives. God bless America, land that we love.

For every US soldier who hugs an Iraqi child and makes his day, there are ten others dying on the roadside due to a lack of proper equipment and armour at the hand of a misguided government. Ten star generals preach about keepin' the war going on because that's what they do in their little war rooms where the people are made of wood and they move them around like men on a chess board.

Generally, when the Dems are in office more money goes to social programs with an unusually proportionate tilt towards entitlement and abuse of taxpayer dollars. The GOP just wants to take up the cause and sub-contract so they can support their spoiled rotten families. The whole thing makes me sick.

Enough is enough, umkay? Let's get the hell outta there and bring the troops home. When Bin Laden dares to taunt us with a beard dyed black from a cave somewhere in bumfuck Khansakistan, the evil is too much to fight. Let's tighten up homeland security and get back to basics.

And keep the faith.

funny shit
Sometimes, you just gotta laugh and the best ones are full force snickers that turn into a big old from the belly kind. While some might think it's irreverant, I still chuckle over some of the things I've seen at work. As with most clusterf**ks, they get funnier as time passes. Like the coke bottle guy.

Way before HIPPA was ever invented we used to trade stories about what was going on in the ER just to keep our laugh muscles in shape. We would never EVER do that now for fear of retribution from the federal nazis. Now...mind you, if somebody's in real trouble and needs their life saved we're all about the job at hand but usually around our place it's piddly shit. Back when we had a urologist on staff, he got called in one evening to rescue a young gentleman who had been making love to a plastic three liter coke bottle and got stuck...kinda like dogs do, I reckon. As the story goes, said physician showed up to find an African American dong jammed into the plastic vise. I can only guess that he probably tried to fix it his ownself before he ended up in the freakin' EMERGENCY ROOM for treatment. Not to worry dude. Snip..snip and you're good to go. With all that swelling maybe you can find a girlfriend, ya think?

One Saturday night while I was sleeping soundly fitfully on the cot in the on-call room, the damn phone rang for me to get my ass up and draw some blood. When I got around there the orders were to draw some blood from a dead guy's heart for a blood alcohol. Ummm...right. Not only do I not do feet, I don't do hearts. Being a young 'un I tiptoed into the room just to see what the whole deal was about. Dude had been in an MVA down at Deadman's Curve and laid in a ditch during the fun part of party night until somebody found his body. First thing I noticed when I snuck in was that his socks didn't match. I know...I KNOW. I tried to draw his blood, I swear! Dead people's blood quits flowing about the time that the heart stops pumping it and he was pretty dead. Like already cold. Sooo...I'm not sure that anybody knew exactly how drunk he was because there was no way I was sticking a dang needle into his heart for a specimen. Not in my job description, y'all.

Folks bring specimens in all the time, usually blood and urine from home health agencies. Before we stopped the insanity, our staff did sperm analysis for fertility studies for those among us pining away for a child. I don't know about the girl readers, but guys can surely relate to the humiliation of wandering into a lab with your most recent ejaculate in hand to see if your boys are man enough to get to that elusive egg. They would come, usually with a paper bag held somewhere close to the body to keep that specimen nice and warm, into the waiting room that has ALWAYS been manned with a woman sitting behind the desk asking somewhat testily " Can I help you sir?" *mumble, fumble* "Doc sent me over with this." "Do you have orders?" "Have you been through the admissions department yet?" They brought the family jewels in plastic cups, pickle jars and...my personal favorite. The guy whose paper sack contained a rubber that was coated with spermicide as a receptacle for his fertility testing specimen. As Bill Engvall would say, here's your sign. Sometimes it's best not to reproduce.

The worst ass whooping I ever got was from a scrawny little 101 year old lady who was on a stretcher headed to x-ray. Those kinds of things tend to take awhile and I was anxious to get my blood and get'er done before I headed back to the cot so I stopped the radiology folks out in the hall and asked for permission to just "get a little blood right quick." This woman grabbed my lab coat with both fists like she was the bride of Dracula when I approached her with a tourniquet. Bitch wouldn't let go for nothing. That was one time I came back to the lab empty handed and said to hell with it. Old people know what they want and she definitely didn't want me messing with her at that moment in time. Maybe the x-ray tech got a decent film, I dunno. I went back to sleep. Bride of Dracula is probably still alive 25 years later kickin' somebody's butt like she did mine that night.

I think it's kinda funny that I'm gonna be 52 tomorrow. I mean sure...I've got aches and pains like in my feet when I stand on 'em all day and get bitched out by co-workers who don't have a clue what's up. But you know what?

I'm still kickin'.

show me the money
I always got paid in cash for my teenage jobs like baby-sittin' and lifeguarding so it was a big shock to gaze at the first paystub I received from the county hospital that hired me. $4.92 an hour for a brand new college grad home again in the 'burg. Actually, I had accepted a job in the "big city" because that's where my longtime boyfriend lived. After Daddy and the crew had the U-Haul loaded to the max, I confessed that fact to him and cried and said I wanna stay here. He didn't argue any.

This was when there were decent raises awarded to those who went above and beyond. Doctors still made housecalls like Marcus Welby and stuff. We all marveled over the tenacity of the ones who had managed to attain the ten or fifteen year mark serving mankind. We played jokes on each other at the worst possible moments and sat as silent witness to a river of tears. Some joyous, many sad and painful. The first joyful passing over that I remember was that of my paternal grandmother Lottie. A colon cancer patient, she had not been diagnosed until it was too late...probably due to her own stubborn nature. Lottie was used to "acting as if" as a way of surviving the hard years of the Great Depression married to a poor Southern sharecropper named Wilmer. I wandered down the 2Main section of the building until I round my way to her room. Ginner and Sister were there, and Dr. Fred. MeMama lay still on the bed. This particular vigil was a short one for me because she was pronounced shortly thereafter. Dead, that is. Daddy was at work or something, and I called him with the news he was expecting.

Next was Bill, Mama's and Nancy's younger brother. Our ICU consisted of a single room with four curtained beds scrunched together like sardines in a shiny can. I had seen him off and on the year before he ended up there...always gray and haggard looking. He was 36 and dead both inside and out. Gaga was out of pocket so it was Poops on the phone, once again callin' in the family. A mental picture of his two young daughters standing in the October breeze at the cemetary is burned onto my brain forever. Sad, sad stuff.

Our day began as everybody showed up around seven and divided stacks for pick-up. We were equally responsible, techs and phlebs alike, for drawing blood on pateints that the docs had ordered the day or night before when they made rounds. STAT meant somebody's dying...all the rest of it would wait. I was only about 22 then so I managed nights on end of call which started at 11pm, in addition to the day job. Somebody always went out to get breakfast at Burger Queen, rain or shine..off the clock. The cafeteria was only open for lunch in a little bitty basement room that is now filled with old x-rays. The food was free.

My wake-up call came when the bidding was between the two "not-for-profit" hospital systems that wanted our place real bad. We were a logical dot on the map for Hospital B because they operated every other one on the highway from Memphis to Obion County. The other Memphis sytem, M Hospital was seeking to take over the West Tennessee market and funnel the patients south as well. After much public woohoo and a lot of hard feelings the big M won the battle for about ten million over market value for the physical property. Before it was over they owned seven of us in West Tennessee. It was a twenty year love hate relationship for me as a member of the church that hospital M used on their logo. When their "mission" changed, we all got sold, again.

Next was Uncle Leland, aka Bud. At one time he was chief of police but in his later years he moved into a position as traffic man over truckin' at the local rubber plant. His wishes were specifically not to be hooked up to a ventilator but it happened anyway. Daddy went up there in the ICU and sat with him for hours on end. After a day or so Bud ripped the tubes out and, thankfully, there was a compassionate doc on call who said no more and refused to re-intubate. His funeral was the first one I had ever attended with a military presence. Fairview cemetary sits right next to what used to be the Dyer County Fairgrounds, and it just so happened that it was fair week. The ferris wheel was lit up all gaudy like, turning around and around with carnival music blaring in the background. The shooters took positions and fired with precision. The horn player took his place and played taps with everything he had. All of them were dressed in the uniforms of US servicemen.

Jimbo was my favorite uncle, hands down. He was a music man from way back when and worked as a band and stage director until he died. Twenty something of those years were right here at Dyersburg High School but he got tired of the political emphasis on sports and such and moved over to Obion County where they adored him for his talent on the football field with the marching band. He and Aunt Nancy gifted me with my love for music, beginning with piano lessons at an early age. His diagnosis with cancer of the prostate came only after it had moved into his bones and shot his alk phos off the chart. Prostate cancer begins down low and moves into the bones, squeezing out the blood making capabilities of the marrow. The last six months of his life, he was dependent on transfusions of blood and platelets to stay alive. After several units of platlets, he started to severe reactions to the HLA antigens....fever, chills and shakin'. I made housecalls to Newbern to draw blood and check his platelet count and H&H. On his deathbed, Jimbo was makin' platelets in his sleep.

I was Gaga's oldest grandchild of, ummm...about seven. Her hub died at the age of 45 with the riches of his empire at her fingertips. I reckon she had a good time spending all that money on trips and stuff after he passed. I have a mental picture of Papa laying in bed up in the front room of the house on College Street....a vigil of sorts. There were three bedrooms and a bath on the right side of the house with a living room, dining room, breakfast room and cool kitchen on the left. Upstairs there were more rooms and an attic stuffed with memories and cool stuff. She built a new house and moved a few blocks over leaving the homestead for her son and his wife. As the years flew by, the money that my Papa had worked so hard to earn went by the wayside as well as all of the real estate. Gaga ended up first in a rented duplex and then an assisted living facility, penniless. We always had some kind of special bond, partly because I was the oldest grandchild and partly because she too worked at the hospital until hospital M forced her to retire from the emergency room at the age of 70.

She was 83 when they found that she had a mass in her colon. It was removed via colon resection and she went to the nursing home next door to recover for a few weeks before returning to assisted living. Due to the large size of her belly the re-section evidently pulled loose, and she developed peritonitis. Her surgeon had just left on vacation, so his partner was in charge of the proceedings from this point. He took her BACK to the OR to perform an emergency colonostomy but by then her insides were eaten up with the infection. After surgery, she went to intensive care on a ventilator, as many COPD pateints do post-op. When it was removed a few days later, her oxygen levels began to drop and that's when the drama started. I think I've told this story before, but it's something that I've had a hard time letting go of so it bears telling again. After a consult with the anesthesiologist, Mom and her sister decided not to re-intubate. Her belly was laced open instead of stiched to allow drainage of the massive infection. She was heavily medicated with morphine to control the pain, which was also supressing respirations. It was a losing battle and they knew it.

I was working away when some angel of a student nurse came and found me and told me to go check on my grandmother. What I found was nothing like the sleeping peaceful old lady I had seen last. She had been given Narcan at the direction of the "surgeon on call" to neutralize the pain killing effects of the morphine and she now felt every bit of the pain that comes from having your belly split wide open. His reasoning? Since the plan was to not put her back on the vent, he was afraid she'd quit breathing on HIS watch. Now she lay writhing and screaming in pain and the Poopster went ballistic on everybody around. What.The.Hell!!!! I raised enough ruckus that she got her pain meds back and some non-invasive help with the breathing. She lasted about two more days, and died peacefully shortly after I held her hand and sang Amazing Grace into her ear. The moral of that story? Doctors are not always right....and sometimes you have to demand that the patient be treated with respect and dignity.

I learned that lesson the hard way one time with a particularly obnoxious and demanding surgeon who forced me to do something that I knew wasn't right simply because of his ego. The patient in question had an aortic aneurysm which tends to be quite a messy affair, blood wise. At the time, we gave whole blood vs the packed red cells that are routinely used now. The catch to using whole blood is that you have to consider not only the type of the patient but the type of the donor and what antibodies are contained in that donor plasma. This particular patient was A negative, and we had only about six or eight of them on hand when all hell broke loose. More A negative was ordered but it was going to be several hours for delivery so the logical step was to switch to O negative HOWEVER, it should be given as packed red cells to avoid reaction between the donor plasma and the patient's red cells. Basic blood bank training for anyone in the biz. That is what I proceeded to recommend when the nasty evil surgeon screamed over the phone that he WOULD NOT accept packed cells. He wanted whole blood by damn! I knew what this would do to the patient, but he wouldn't listen. The pathologist didn't back me up. We proceeded to switch this man's blood type from A negative to O negative and in the end the A neg that was on the way couldn't be given to him. Fifty something units later, plus multiple fresh frozen plasmas, he was transferred to the hospital in Memphis. I got a call from the Blood Bank there the next day wanting to know what the heck we had done with this guy and what was his original blood type. Sheesh. One of the high moments of my career. Moral to THAT story? Stick with your guns when you know a patient's best interest is being served.

Healthcare is huge business in this country, which is not a good thing in my opinion. Politicians with little or no healthcare background and insurance companies call the shots on everything. Doctors still want to wear the white hat and refuse to begin the conversation with their patients about options for end-of-life care. Most communities and hospitals have scarce or non-existant resources to provide education on palliative care and decision making when care is considered "futile." Ask Terri Schiavo's husband about that one.

My degree is a very specialized one which has limited my scope of practice to the clinical laboratory, but 30 years in a hospital and physician office setting have given me a broad view of the entire system, warts and all. It is terribly broken and, as a result, fewer and few young people choose healthcare as a vocation. The pay is not enough to deal with the stress and physical stamina involved. If you are not a doctor or a nurse, your role in the delivery of healthcare is not recognized by anyone. And most importantly, the fiscal restraints imposed by Medicare and private payors prohibit the delivery of good quality care. The number of un-insured persons in this country is astronomical and we who pay premiums for ours pay for theirs as well through our tax dollars. And the whole show is run by politicians who pander with lobbyists who represent those with a financial stake in the whole deal, like phamaceutical giants.

I see no answer to this dilemma, at least not in my lifetime. Until patients realize that doctors are NOT God and sometimes they need to be questioned, nothing will ever change. A healthcare consumer who plays an active part in his or her own care is a smart one, and a rare joy to deal with.

That, my friends, is why you might soon find me serving drinks on a beach somewhere.
At least waitresses get decent tips when they give good service.

if the dead could talk....chapter 1
I will never EVER forget the first autopsy that I witnessed. The old Cuban pathologist who was in charge of us back then had a sort of gentleman's agreement with the lab director. AP gave Sammy K the go-ahead to do the advance work with the saws and stuff so all he had to do was look at the gross afterwards. One day he invited all of us kids down to witness the dismembering of a very stiff old gentleman in the abyss of the basement known as the morgue. A few of us shuffled on down in our lab coats and made our way into the dark tiled room for a look-see.

This was about 28 years ago when it was big business to ascertain the cause of death, even if it was painfully obvious that old dude was elderly and had lived the hard life of a farmer, factory worker or other manual laborer all the while sustaining himself with meals cooked in lard and seasoned with bacon grease. Perhaps he or his family got too big a dose of the chemicals used to treat the crops or the rubber at the day job and cancer took over. Maybe one of 'em had histoplasmosis or the consumption. It was all about nailing down the cause of death and forwarding said information to the coroner so that the death certificate could be issued. Maybe the insurance would pay a little on the funeral and the survivors could eat for a year or so.

SK was a heavy smoker at the time, and you never found him without one dangling out of the corner of his mouth, even in the morgue. This was about six years before we ever got called into a big emergency meeting to announce the discovery of HIV and other evil bloodborne pathogens. He took a scalpel and cut old dude's face from one side to the other, peeling back the flesh to expose his skull. Then came the powertools. The smell of the saw grinding bone into dust mixed with formaldehyde was nauseating. Plop...out came the brain onto the scales. Just another measurement post-mortem, noted on the hand-written and then hand-typed report. After SK got the innards opened up, it was time for a smoke.

SK located all the internal organs. Big liver... he must've liked the whiskey. Nasty looking appendix. It probably ruptured and scarred years before and old dude survived with the help of penicillin. The lungs were sliced up in sections along with the colon to search under the microscope for evidence of carcinoma. It was right about the time that Sam got to the heart that I noticed his cig had a long ash hanging off that was about to drop right off into old dude's wide open body cavity. Oops! I didn't see anything, did y'all???????

We scurried back upstairs to our boiling test tubes because, frankly, that was just gross. To this day, I can't stand the sight or smell of liver and onions. Autopsies these days are pretty much limited to untimely deaths with suspicion of foul play or congenital defects. We tend to spend more of our time in the lab focusing on diagnosis BEFORE dude is dead to treat disease and enhance quality of life.

I reckon things are looking better for us...and for y'all.
dirty jobs
My whiny post of Labor Day Eve was actually a milestone for Poop Happens....number 1000! Yay..can you tell who has no life outside of the keyboard :) What the hell. It's my party and I'll cry if I want to. Lori wanted to know when my birthday is so she can party on that day. This coming Sunday I'll be 52 and still (barely) kicking. I sure hope SugarDaddy likes older women with a good personality.

I'm a big Discovery Channel fan, with Mike Rowe being a particular favorite because...well, he's hot. And dirty. And I totally enjoy learning about how shit happens. So, in that spirit, I've decided to share a few stories here about the life and times of a smartass country gal who has paid the bills for thirty years gettin' spit on, slapped at, covered with poop and pee and blood and otherwise doing gross things just for the fun of it.

More on tomorrow's broadcast. Stay tuned.

famous last words
Five and one half years ago, the ex told me that I couldn't afford to live here on my own. He was pretty pissed that I gave up the ghost on the long term dead end marriage. Oh...the rent is reasonable and water is free, but the cost of staying cool or warm is prohibitive for a gal who is grossly underpaid and going it alone. In my heart of hearts, I've always known this to be the truth, yet I've negotiated with the landlord and the propane guy and the electricity people to keep the boat floating here on Pecan Lane. I give.

I'll be apartment and job shopping very soon...looking at my options to make a little more money and live a little bit cheaper. Maybe I'll have a buck or ten left over for something different to wear when I go out huntin' SugarDaddy. New tennis shoes are a priority right now. JC Penney had a sale going on but damn if I wasn't smooth out of money on the designated days.

Actually, it's a relief to let go of all of it. I see spoiled rotten kids and wives spending money like crazy every which way I turn. Most of it is corporate or government bucks paid to non-leaders who grandfathered into the organization. Big houses. Private schools. Designer shopping for clothes, vehicles and cellphones. It makes me sick to think about who we are as a country and what the priorities are.

And then I read this and it gave me hope. And faith.

Maybe Big Ernie has a plan after all.
sunset blues
shut up and rock
Y'all know what a musical whore I am so it shouldn't surprise you that I marched my little old groupie butt right up into the place known as the "club that killed my brother's establishment by locating right behind it." I had sworn when Bubba was still in business that I would never set foot in the place, but I made an exception to go enjoy the music of my friends The Remains. This group of guys has played off and on together for over 20 years and I can honestly say they have come across the perfect combination for a rock band. Drummer Gregg Rivers is a DJ at West Tennessee's hottest rock station and can wail AC/DC 'til you think his eyes are gonna pop out! Other band members include Rick Savage on guitar and vocals, Royce Wilson on guitar and vocals and Grant DuBrose on bass and vocals. Each of these talented guys contributes equally to a rock repertoire that begs to be danced to. And I damn sure did..by myself! That's the cool thing about getting older...you don't give a rat's butt what people think. It's all about the fun. One of the traditional things that this band does is get ladies from the audience to whack the cowbell during "Son of a Bitch". And so, I present to you.........my debut as a rock star.
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