We’ve Heard Of Child Soldiers, But That’s Ridiculous

, , , , | Healthy | March 3, 2020

(It’s circa 2009 and there is a blood drive going on at our school. I am sitting with a worker, doing the health screening questionnaire to rule out anything that would disqualify my blood. There are some questions that definitely shouldn’t apply, such as whether or not I’ve been in various parts of the world a decade before I was born, but I understand they need to be asked. Then, we get here:)

Worker: “Between 1988 and 1995, were you in the military or the dependent of someone in the military?”

Me: “Yes.”

(There’s a long pause.)

Worker: “So… you were a dependent?”

Me: *pause* “Yes.”

(Granted, I could have been more specific. But given that this blood drive was being held at a college, primarily with young adults who had only reached the age of conscription in the last five years, AND given that she had my birthdate of 1990 right in front of her on my paperwork… I didn’t think I needed to!)

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That’s The Spirit?

, , , | Healthy | March 2, 2020

(I work for a vet. The phone rings.)

Me: “[Clinic], this is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Client: “Hi. I got a card in the mail that my cat is due for a checkup, so I’d like to schedule that.”

Me: “Certainly. May I have your last name?”

Client: “It’s [Last Name].”

Me: “Okay, and is this for [Cat]?”

Client: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, according to our records, it looks like [Cat] is overdue for her upper respiratory and distemper vaccine. Would you like to have that boosted?”

Client: “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll have to talk to my husband about that. Can I let you know when I come in for the appointment?”

Me: “Of course.”

Client: “We’ll have to pray about it and dowse to decide.”

(As far as I know, dowsing refers to holding sticks to try and find groundwater. I have no idea how the client intends to use it to decide whether to vaccinate her cat.)

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One Catty Pharmacist

, , , , , , | Healthy | March 2, 2020

I work as a veterinary assistant at a cat clinic and know basic information about feline pharmacology. My friend’s cat takes 5 mg of a medication every day to control stress-mediated urinary crystals. His prescription is for 45 of the 10 mg tablets, with directions to give half a tablet each day.

My friend went to pick up the cat’s prescription from a large corporate pharmacy after work and did not think to check the prescription until she got home. What the pharmacy gave her was 90 of the 10 mg capsules, which cannot be cut in half, with instructions to give one capsule each day, which would be a double dose. The margin for error in many cat medications is pretty small, and a double dose could well cause serious harm. They also charged her about three times what that particular drug should cost from that pharmacy.

My friend called the pharmacy to complain and was put on with the pharmacy manager, who angrily insisted she had called the vet, the vet had changed the prescription, and the pharmacy had filled it according to the vet’s instructions. My friend knew this was nonsense but couldn’t prove it at that time because the vet clinic had closed for the evening.

The next day, my friend called the vet, whose receptionists confirmed that the prescription hadn’t changed and the pharmacy had never called them. My friend went back to the pharmacy after work with the information from the vet clinic, and they refunded her money and filled the correct prescription so fast she didn’t even get to ask for a manager. Another friend and I are encouraging her to make a formal complaint with corporate, as the mistake of instructing a patient to take a double dose could get the patient killed if the drug was, say, heart medication or a sedative.

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These Trainees Will Have You In Stitches

, , , , , | Healthy | February 27, 2020

The first time I have to have stitches is during annual training for the military. My unit is required to participate in an exercise across the country. However, there is a prep period of about a week to two weeks depending on the size of the unit for this particular exercise, where we are required to be present and mostly do checks of equipment.

During this time, I am messing with my knife while by my bunk. I go to close the blade and nick my finger pretty bad, about half an inch deep on the tip of my index finger, right to the side of the nail to about the middle of the finger pad. I immediately go to my first aid kit to get gauze, thinking I’ll be able to stop the bleeding with direct pressure. I manage to reduce the amount of blood pouring from my finger a little, but after about an hour it hasn’t stopped so I am escorted to the aid station.

It isn’t during sick call hours, so it’s pretty slow and I’m admitted quickly. Despite reserving non-sick call hours for life, limb, and eyesight situations, they agree to see me. The major who is the equivalent of a surgeon or doctor comes in and analyzes the wound. It’s still bleeding and the flesh is separated, so he determines that I’ll need three sutures to keep the wound closed. I’m asked the question that would lead to me having the worst pain I have experienced in my life.

“Since it isn’t a life-threatening wound, would you mind if we let a few trainees inject the novocaine apply the stitches?”

Ever so ignorant, I agree; besides, my mistake can be another person’s learning opportunity, so why not? I agree and I meet the two trainees who are my rank, and a nurse who is a non-commissioned officer walks in to supervise as well as the major.

As a boy, whenever I got nervous or fearful around needles and the like, my father taught me to overcome these fears by looking at the procedure and concentrating on the pain level and how the fear never really justified how much it actually hurt.

As they prepared the numbing agent and stuck me once, I felt nothing; the major concluded that they’d missed and had them do another dose. My finger felt numb at the base but the tip where they would be working still had full feeling. After triple the normal dose and six different tries, my finger was now swollen from the local anesthetic and I could still feel my fingertip. I could not receive any more medication, so they decided to continue anyway. 

I’ve dealt with needles. They didn’t hurt too much except that the trainees weren’t smooth on the exit and tore a bit while removing the needle. That’s not too bad; I give blood regularly and I’ve experienced it before. However, I saw the hook that was about to be sent through my body three times and I shuddered. These trainees had likely never done this before on a live subject. Granted, it wasn’t that bad of a wound, but it was still in one of the most nerve-rich centers on the body.

I tried to look at the procedure as the hook was pushed in for the first time and I nearly teared up from the pain. The NCO saw this and went into what I later learned was trauma nurse practices of distraction and breathing exercises. We talked about family and other subjects and when the pain got worse, she had to remind me to breathe. Twice more, they put the string through the skin while I forced myself to hold my hand as still as possible. The first two were done by the trainees and the last by the major. The major had experience so it wasn’t as terrible and took considerably less time.

When I was done, they wrapped it up and sent me back to my tent with no meds or painkillers —  which I sort of understand — just with training, gauze, and other medical supplies to change the bandages every 24 hours. 

I still had to go through the week-long exercise, and my bandages were removed in the field with a pair of scissors a week later. I still have the scar from the uneven stitching and I shudder whenever I think about having inexperienced medical staff perform stitches without effective anesthetic. To this day, I don’t trust local anesthetic by anyone, and I had to be put under general when I had my wisdom teeth removed about two months later.

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This Story Will Take Your Breath Away

, , , | Healthy | February 23, 2020

(I work in an inbound 24/7 call centre while studying. We take calls for over 150 different companies and can rarely do more than take their details and have them be called back, but we are not supposed to let the callers know that. On one of my last Saturday night shifts, my coworker receives a call from an elderly man for a company that sells and waits on equipment for patient care, including oxygen tanks for private use. Extra note: on weekends we rarely get any calls, so there are only two people in the office at a time.)

Coworker: “This is [Company]; how can I help you?”

Old Man: “My oxygen tank isn’t working. Please send someone to help me.”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, but we are already closed. I can make a note for support to call you back, but they will only see it on Monday. Do you require the oxygen supply constantly?”

Old Man: “I need my oxygen tank and it isn’t working. Please help me.”

Coworker: “I am really sorry, but there is nothing I can do until Monday. Please hang up and call emergency services; they will be able to help you until we can get your oxygen tank fixed.”

Old Man: “No! These are your oxygen tanks! You have to help me! Please help me!”

(They keep going in circles like this for almost 15 minutes, with the man repeating the phrase “please help me” until he hangs up on my coworker, but not before she has convinced him to tell her his name and address.)

Coworker: “I don’t know what to do. I don’t think he’s going to call an ambulance. What if something happens to him?”

Me: “Maybe we should call an ambulance for him to be sure? You got his address, right? Lack of oxygen can make people very confused, I think.”

(My coworker called our supervisor, because we are not technically allowed to make external calls. He said he didn’t know, either. We could call emergency services if we wanted to, but if the man decided to sue for breach of privacy, it would be on us. I decided to call the non-emergency line instead of my coworker, since they couldn’t fire me, anyway. The operator seemed more than a little weirded out by me calling an ambulance for a stranger I had never seen or spoken to but had an address and a name for, but he thanked me and my coworker for the effort. I never found out what happened to the old man, but I hope he was okay, whether he needed that ambulance or not. Emergency services are completely free here, by the way, for you concerned US citizens out there. PSA: At least around here, if you suspect someone’s life is in danger, you are totally allowed to disregard any data protection slips your workplace had you sign.)

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