Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yet Another Brazilliant Move

I absolutely cannot stand when people conduct cell phone conversations in a public bathroom stall. It’s rude—I feel like the sounds I might be making in the bathroom will be transmitted over the phone line to the other end, so it’s like having an even larger audience in the restroom. Plus, it’s just strange to hear someone talking to themselves in a stall and not know whether they’re on the phone or just weird.

Last week or so, I misplaced my cell phone. I looked through my backpack, my purse, my jacket, my car, and my office, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Calling the thing went straight to my voice mail. Soon thereafter, I checked my bill online, and someone was calling Mexico with my phone. I contacted my wireless provider, cancelled the phone, and purchased a new, gorgeous PDA phone (which I’ve wanted for a while—I had a RAZR previously and it was a piece of junk). The problem continued, though, that I had no phone numbers, since my old phone was stolen. My old PDA has most of my numbers in it, but it’s in a box somewhere and I haven’t unpacked it yet.

I’m a bit of a paranoid person, so if I see a person calling me at an unusual time, I’ll answer the phone, because I get worried. “Oh, no, why did Dad call me in the middle of the afternoon? Is my grandmother okay? Did someone die?” You get the picture. Well, now that my phone had no contacts listed, every phone number calling was an unknown. I had no idea who was calling me at any time.

So it came to pass that one afternoon I went to the bathroom at work and had just seated myself when my phone rang. I looked at the screen hopefully but it was a number I didn’t recognize, with a Dallas area code. I made a split second decision to answer it, since I didn’t know who was calling or if it might be an emergency.

It turned out to be my insurance agent with an important question. She needed me to fax her a document, and I had nowhere to write a fax number, as I was still in the bathroom. Now, I made a second split second decision: finish my business and get out of there quickly, so I could run to my office and write down what I needed.

Why didn’t I just call her back? I wasn’t sure the phone number displayed on my phone was the one I’d need to call her at, and I didn’t have anything with which to write a different number if I had to go through multiple extensions. Again, a split second decision.

I stood up and covered the mouthpiece so she wouldn’t hear the toilet flush, then quickly pulled up my scrubs and exited the stall, cell phone tucked between ear and shoulder. As I walked toward the sink, my attending walked in the door.

It could not have been more obvious that I’d just come out of a stall on my cell phone, and there was nothing I could do about it. At all. I just had to go to the sink to quickly wash my hands and attempt to race out of there before anyone else came in.

Trust me, it was awesome.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day, Texas!

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a federal court has overturned a Texas law banning the sale of "novelty sex toys", aka vibrators. Enjoy your Valentine's celebrations!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Little M.E. Humor

*****Rated SG for "slightly gory". May not be suitable for children under 13 or for pets.*****

While out on a scene with a forensic investigator, we were all discussing food and how hungry we were after leaving the decendent. The investigator said she always gets hungry while photographing burn victims (ew). Then, she told us about the tricks she likes to play on rookie police officers on their first death scenes. Act 1: rookie officer is at scene of really gory "decomp", or a body that is being returned to the elements by bacteria. He is turning somewhat green (the rookie), so the investigator starts discussing what food she is going to go consume ravenously after leaving the scene. Act 2: another rookie, another scene. Acting in cue with the senior detective, she asks the rookie to collect a sample from the body. A sample of #2, if you will. As he got more and more upset, the detective told him "the ME said you have to, you better do it."


The other day, while discussing yet another "decomp" case to be autopsied, one ME teased another about how stinky she was going to be after doing the case. The ME assigned the decomp shook her head and said "If I'm going to be stinky, I'd just as soon stink to high heaven!"

********This last comment is REALLY GORY, rated RG, read at your own risk!***********

Forensic investigator said she's always wanted to take a photograph of decomposing skin to a paint store and ask if she could get paint in "decomp green" just to see what they'd do.

********RG alert is over*********

Just another day in the ME's office.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Where Have I Been?

No, I didn't fall into a hole in a corner of the morgue, or become one of my own patients, or accidentally get zipped into a body bag. What has been happening in my life?

It all started with my husband getting a job last year. Suddenly, our household income increased from $nothing to $something. At the same time, we grew tired of constantly saying to each other, "I wish we had a house." We'd gone house-hunting several times, and had narrowed down to a general region where we might want to purchase a home. Still, we would need to wait for me to have a residency match with a proof of salary in order for us to buy a house, right?

Well, we found out almost by accident that we could purchase a house now by doing exactly that. We closed on our house in late January and since then my life has been a whirlwind of painting, buying furniture, picking curtains, painting, fixing the backyard fence (our dog has already escaped once--fortunately he came in the front door), trying to save our grass (who plants sod in January?), and painting. Painting took forever. Notice that I did NOT include "packing" in that list. That's because we have 5 boxes packed at this point, and we're moving this Saturday. Yes, I'm freaking out (but who expected anything different, honestly?).

That's where I've been, and that's what I'll be doing all week--packing and moving. I didn't even check my email all weekend (gasp!) because we were so busy, and yet I feel like we didn't get half of what we needed done.

I hate moving. At least I love my house.

Friday, February 01, 2008

My Patients Can't Talk to Me

This month, just for a little change of pace, I'm working in the medical examiner's office. This morning I watched my first autopsy. I haven't decided how I'm going to write about this experience, because I'm bound ethically and legally in several ways. One, they made me sign a form stating that I wouldn't reveal personal information about any of the "decedents". Two, it might be easy to inadvertently reveal information that might seem harmless. For example (and I made this up entirely out of my own head), if I were to examine a male who died in a car accident, and I were to say "oh, his tox was positive for alcohol and cocaine", and someone astute went and looked at newspapers and found an accident that seemed similar, well then I've just leaked information about an ongoing investigation. Again, I made that example up. I just wonder about my ability to distort the facts well enough to be HIPAA friendly and ethical, so I probably won't put any autopsy stories on here (or at least, not about the findings).

Also, a friend of mine begged me not to gross her out. Please, she said, don't describe the smell, because I just don't want to know. That got me to thinking, how does one talk about autopsies without being disgusting? Around here, we look at photos of crime scenes, dead bodies, and such right after breakfast, then go work on dead bodies. The view of what is or isn't disgusting is necessarily skewed around here. You may notice that I'm trying to be very tactful here; I don't want to really offend anyone. So, whenever possible this month, I'll have my very squeamish husband read my posts before they go up, or I'll warn you if it gets gory for some reason.

I do want this to be a good month. I'm hoping to go to crime scenes and to court as often as possible. This should hopefully quench any desire I may have had to play Nancy Drew, or Sara Sidle in today's lingo. For this month, I'm doing something I will never, ever do again. I think that is really cool. Albeit kind of disgusting. I predict a LOT of showers this month. I may have to invest in lotion and heavy conditioner from all the washing.

PS: I got my Step 2 CK and CS scores back, and I passed everything, so I just have to pass jurisprudence and in the words of a friend, "not screw up" for 4 months and them I'm DONE!