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Water Difference That Makes

, , , , | Healthy | February 13, 2018

(I am a medical lab scientist. I receive a urine sample from the ER to test only for drugs, marked as belonging to a fifteen-year-old boy. The sample is quite clear — if someone is really hydrated that can happen — and it’s cold. We usually receive urine still warm, but sometimes it sits while they decide if they want to test it for anything. It’s negative for all the street drugs we test for. I release the results and then, a bit later, I get a call from a nurse.)

Nurse: “Hi. I was just wondering about the drug screen for [Patient].”

Me: “Sure. What do you need?”

Nurse: “Well, it was cold when he gave it to me, and I just don’t quite believe it’s negative. Is there anything you could do to find out if it was water?”

(I think for a moment and come up with a few fast things that I could do to find out whether or not it is water.)

Me: “Yeah, let me grab it and try something.”

(I do a really quick test and come up with something you would not expect for pee.)

Me: “Either this kid is in very severe kidney failure, or this is water.”

Nurse: “Thank you. I just graduated and passed my boards, so I’m still learning knowledge-versus-wisdom. Now I know when I feel like the urine feels cold, I should do something about it.”

Me: “Did you want me to credit those charges?”

Nurse: “Yes. We will be recollecting. And there will be a male care tech going in that bathroom with him.”

Me: *laughing* “I would imagine.”

(Once I get off the phone, I do some more chemical testing and learn that this sample has none of the chemical properties of urine. This kid didn’t even think to try the one where you dilute your actual pee with water — which we can also catch — or even to just put WARM water in the cup. It was straight, cold, tap-water. I walk across the lab to tell this one to the other lab scientists, one of whom is known for being extremely cynical about everything.)

Cynical Coworker: “That nurse is way too nice. I’d catheterize the kid. Teach him to never do that one again.”

(We then started a prizeless pool, guessing what the kid was on that he was trying to hide. In the end, the actual urine arrived, and it was positive for marijuana.)

A (Gentle) Giant Difference Between Them

, , , , , , | Healthy | February 8, 2018

(My younger sister and brother are due to get their polio vaccinations. Despite being two years younger than her, my brother is several inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than our sister. But, as she’s older, she gets to go first.)

Mom: “She has a fear of shots, just to warn you.”

Nurse: “Oh, that’s no problem. I know nobody likes shots.” *turns to my sister* “Now, I’m just going to clean the skin on your leg for the shot.”

Sister: “It’s cold!”

Nurse: “Yes, it is. But it will warm up again in a minute. Now, you’re just going to feel a pinch…”

(My sister sees the needle and flips out, screaming, crying, and flailing. She even manages to kick the nurse in the face before my mom is able to hold her down.)

Nurse: *finally gets the shot in* “I’m sorry, sweetie. I know that hurt. I promise, if you relax, shots don’t hurt so much. Would you like a sucker?”

(My sister won’t stop crying; she’s in full panic mode.)

Me: “Mom, if you want, I can take [Brother] to another room and help him get his shot.”

Mom: *still trying to control my sister* “Please, do.”

(I gather up my hefty little brother and follow the nurse to the exam room next door.)

Nurse: “Go ahead and put him on the table, please.”

Me: “Sure thing. Here you go, buddy! You doing okay?”

Brother: “Yeah.” *with the implication of “why shouldn’t I be?”*

(The nurse looks him over, and then leaves without a word. A few minutes later, she comes back in with not one, but three orderlies, all strong-looking men, to hold my brother down. One orderly stands behind him and holds his arms around my brother’s arms and torso, while the other two each secure a leg.)

Me: “He’s not going to go crazy like [Sister] did. He’s our gentle giant, I swear.”

(The nurse ignores me, cleans his leg, and then counts to three for his shot.)

Brother: *frowns* “Ow.”

Nurse: *stunned* “Ow?”

Brother: “That hurt. Can I have a sucker, now?”

(He didn’t so much as twitch, and he accepted his treat with a smile. [Sister] was still crying a river, and didn’t stop until we were halfway home.)

Time To Retire Her File

, , , | Healthy | February 6, 2018

(I am in the retirement home where my mother has spent her last years, doing some paperwork with the clerk. A nurse comes into the office, and the clerk introduces me:)

Clerk: “Meet Mrs. [My Name]’s daughter.”

Nurse: *very cheerily* “Oh, yes! Mrs. [My Name] is doing great; no problems!”

Me: “No doubt about it! She was cremated yesterday.”

(The nurse slunk away silently.)

I Never Meant To Cause You Trouble

, , | Healthy | February 4, 2018

(Due to some weird allergic reactions, I’ve been sent to have a blood test done. As I enter the phlebotomist’s room, Coldplay’s “Yellow” is playing on a small radio.)

Nurse: “Now, how are you with needles?”

Me: “They’re not my favourite thing, but I’m okay with them. Never had any problems before.”

(They get me set up with the needle in my arm, and everything’s okay at first, but after about a minute I start to feel woozy, nauseated, and sweaty, and my hearing fades out. “Yellow” has been replaced with a staticky noise. I try to communicate this to the nurse, but something gets lost on the way to my mouth.)

Me: *flaps hand at nurse* “Chris Martin went grey! Gonna blarf…”

(I vomit in my lap and then faint. When I wake up, I’m wearing a blood pressure cuff and someone’s fetched my mum from the waiting area.)

Nurse: “Wow, I’ve had people freak out before, but you’re the first one who’s fainted! By the way, who’s Chris Martin?”

Me: “Huh?”

Nurse: “You were talking about him, said he went grey or something? It seemed pretty urgent.”

Me: “No idea.”

(Chris Martin is the lead singer of Coldplay, a band which I’m fairly ambivalent about. Apparently, my brain is better at remembering music trivia when starved of oxygen and shutting down!)

Cardiac Arrested Development

, , , , | Healthy | February 3, 2018

(I am on the evening shift at a specialized cancer ward. I come out from a room and bump into one of my colleagues. This woman is older than I am and, I assume, far more experienced than I am, although I have racked up a fair amount of experience myself at this point. My colleague looks decidedly puzzled.)

Me: “Is something wrong?”

Colleague: “It’s so strange. The patient in [Room] is so unresponsive. And I don’t know what to do about this. She was turning blue and seemed to have trouble breathing!”

(This was delivered almost frustratingly slow. She started to describe just HOW the patient was using her whole torso to draw air into her lungs, but I ran past her into the patient’s room. She’d had a cardiac arrest! I pressed the alarm and, miracle of miracles, we managed to resuscitate her through sheer stubbornness and hard work. We were overjoyed with the resuscitation, but we all had some choice words with the head nurse about our colleague! I never saw her working there again after that.)