That Is ‘Pretty’ Awesome

, , , , , , , | Healthy Related Right | August 15, 2017

(I am a photographer running a studio in the inner city. We are well known for our children’s portraits, and we range from high-end portraits for modelling jobs to fun sibling photos and birth announcements. We do a bit of everything; as such, we are extremely busy, and it states on our website that we do not accept walk-ins. We are usually booked up six months in advance. One day, ten minutes before closing, a mum walks in with a young girl around six or seven behind her. I internally groan.)

Mother: “Hello. I know you’re closing soon, but I have a special favour to ask.”

(At this point the little girl peeks around her mother’s legs and I’m lost for words. Under her thick winter coat and hat, she is skeletally thin with huge dark circles under her eyes. From what I can tell, she has no hair, and a tube taped to her cheek that feeds into her nose. It is immediately clear this kid is very, very sick.)

Mother: *near tears* “My daughter saw one of your photos taped to the wall at the hospital. She REALLY loves unicorns and the photo had a girl photo-shopped onto a horse. I know you’re booked up, and it’s months before the next appointment, but…”

(At this point she actually starts crying. I realise that our next available appointment is probably way too far away for this particular kid. The little girl squeezes her mother’s hand. I am a very big dude, covered in tattoos and a beard, but I’m not ashamed to say I needed a minute before I spoke.)

Me: “Aww, that’s just for regular customers! I’ve been waiting all day to take a photo of someone as beautiful as you! What’s your name, sweetheart?”

(I lock the front door and spend the next three hours taking photos of this kid in every princess costume I have in my closet. She is the sweetest, most well-behaved kid I have ever worked with. Once we’re done she curls up on the couch in my office and falls asleep while I load up the photos for her mum to see and choose the ones she likes best, and ask her what kind of retouching she’d like done. She’s adamant that I leave her daughter as is — apparently the little girl has been worried for the past month that she is no longer “pretty.”)

Me: “All right, so we’ve settled on these. I can have them edited and all finished in two days. If you give me your email I can send you the link to the website and the password to download them when they’re ready.”

(The mother thanks me over and over and comes up front, carrying her sleeping daughter, and holds out her credit card.)

Me: “Nope. No way.”

Mother: “Please, I insist. You stayed open so late and your shoots are listed for [amount] online. Please at least charge me that.

Me: “Absolutely not. I am not taking money for this. No way in h***.”

(A few days later I send the link through and hear nothing. I see she’s downloaded the photos and I think nothing of it, hoping my sweet little friend loved her photos. Almost six months later I’m once again closing up when a very familiar face pops up at my window, grinning and waving frantically.)

Me: *throwing open the door* “Hey, you!”

Little Girl: “Hi! I’m better! Look, I’m better!”

(Sure enough, she’d put on some weight, was flushed and pink, and had a fine fuzz of hair over her head. Her mother was a few steps behind her, grinning. She once again tried to force an envelope full of money into my hand, and again I refused. She got frustrated and eventually in her exasperation said, “at least let us take you to dinner!” which I happily accepted. Seven years later that photo of a sick little girl astride a giant pink unicorn is in a frame in my lounge room. My now-step-daughter groans every time I point it out to the friends she brings home!)

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Getting Hysterectical

, , , , | Healthy | June 25, 2017

(I got a hysterectomy because I hate my period and never want to have children. When I wake up from the anaesthetic, there’s a nurse standing over my bed.)

Nurse: “Don’t you ever want kids?”

(That was literally the first thing she said. I thought of so many responses later, but at the time I was too stunned and groggy to say anything. Also: period-free life is awesome. 10/10 highly recommend.)

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The Importance Of Life-Saving Sandwiches

, , | Healthy Working | April 27, 2017

I work at a large mine in an isolated area. As a member of our Technical Rescue Team, I have been called many times to assist the local sheriff’s Search and Rescue.

One day in late May, when wildfires less than 20 miles away are suffusing the air with smoke, we receive a page to proceed to a canyon near the state line. This canyon has a highway carved into a steep rock wall, with the debris pushed down into the chasm. In the past, our team had been called to the area to remove the remains of drivers who crashed through the guardrails, so we are ready for the worst.

When we arrive, the SO officers tell us a father and his three sons have “hiked” to the bottom of the canyon and are stranded. They actually scrambled down approximately 600 feet of broken rock, and then found that climbing back up was impossible. It is after 5:00 pm when we arrive.

By the time we manage to get rescuers to the bottom and formulate an extraction plan, darkness has set in. I am the first down, making contact and bringing water and flashlights. Other team members follow close behind, and we move the group (father with sons 6, 7, and 9 years old) to the raise point. One of the team members brought a backpack with sandwiches, granola bars, and water. The boys agree to wait for the sandwiches until we reach the top and gobble up the granola bars (I’ll admit, the one I had was the best ever).

The trip back up the fractured rock pile takes nearly two hours, most of the time at least partially suspended on the main-line rope. There are several small incidents (lost cell phones and tennis shoes, rolling rocks, etc.) on the way up, but topping out and disconnecting was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. The family is rushed to a waiting ambulance for evaluation, and my team leader and incident commander examine the other rescuers and me carefully before allowing us to stow our gear and get ready to leave.

I remembered that I had the sunglasses of one of the children in my pack, so I went to the back of the ambulance and opened the door to return them. That’s when the youngest asked, in one of the smallest, most plaintive voices I’ve ever heard, “But what about our sandwiches?”

When we drove away into the dawn, the father and three boys were standing in front of the ambulance eating sandwiches.

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The Store Employs Manual Labor

, | Healthy | April 26, 2017

(I’m standing in line with a few items to purchase from a well-known clothing store. The store has its music quite loud, so I can’t really hear anything said between the employees at the front of the line. One dashes past me, almost knocking over a rack of clothes, and grabs the manager by the arm. She says something, the manager turns pale, and tells the other girl on the register something, who looks confused and starts checking people out at lightning speed. All the other employees in the store run full pelt to the changing rooms. I manage to catch some of what the manager says into her phone as she runs past, but all I hear is “I need an ambulance!” I step out of line and drop my clothes to follow her. As I reach the changing rooms an employee stops me from entering.)

Employee: “I’m sorry, miss, but the changing rooms are closed right now. I’ll be able to help you soon.”

Me: “What’s going on? I’m—”

(Mid-sentence I am cut off by a shriek I know VERY well. I unzip my jacket, showing my hospital ID still clipped to my shirt pocket. The employee shoves me through the curtain.)

Manager: “[Employee]! I told you not to let anyone back here!”

Me: “Trust me; you NEED me! I’m a midwife!”

(And that was the day I delivered a healthy baby girl in the changing room at a clothing store!)

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The Patient Isn’t The Only One With Patience

, , , | Healthy Working | March 25, 2017

The hospital I work for lets patients leave comments about something good that happened to them during their stay. Once a month, the best stories are picked and shared with everyone. This story really stuck with me.

A patient who was doing an extended stay at the hospital came running out of her room in tears, screaming for help. [Nurse #1] happened to be nearby and ran to the patient’s side checking for injuries; she seems to be okay, but she is begging the nurse for help. The patient explains that she’s just gotten off the phone with her sister and it is her sister that needs help. Her sister had been having a rough go at life recently and could no longer take it; she had called to say goodbye. [Nurse #1] immediately calls for another nurse for help as she helps the patient back her her room. She briefly explains the situation to the second nurse who pulls out his phone and dials 911 as the patient attempt to get her sister back on the line.

For the next 20-30 minutes the two nurses never leave the patient’s side. [Nurse #1] is keeping a close look at the patient’s health while giving her suggestions on things to say to keep her sister on the line, as it would mean more coming from a loved one rather than a stranger. Meanwhile, [Nurse #2] is on the phone covertly getting the sister’s information from the patient and passing it along to the dispatcher.

Unfortunately, it seems that the sister catches on and swallows a handful of pills before hanging up the phone… mere minutes before the paramedics pull into her drive. Since [Nurse #2] is still on the phone with dispatch, he is able to convey to them exactly what had happened inside the house — they even know what kind of pills she’d taken! The paramedics rush the sister to the emergency room where they are able to save her life. The paramedics and dispatch are in constant contact with [Nurse #2], relaying information through him to our patient, up until the point when the sister is admitted.

The nurses went above and beyond for the patient. They could have simply called 911 and reported the situation, but they stayed by the patient’s side and treated her sister, who lives in a completely different city. A huge thank you also has to go out to the paramedics and 911 dispatcher who kept the patient informed through the entire ordeal.

I am happy to report that at the time of me writing this, both sisters are doing well.

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