Monday, January 24, 2011

Taking a Powder

Gastron’s friends were very busy Thursday night. One, Allan "Al" R. Jee, had a critical asthma attack, another, Ursula Tureen, had severe abdominal distress of unknown origin, but she was going into shock, and yet another, O. Jennifer Beum, was….well, we’ll get to that.

Through each of the scenarios, our teacher felt that we were being too hesitant to put our hands on our patients. Perhaps that was because we were being too hesitant to put our hands on our patients. Only one team (not mine) even visually examined U. Tureen's abdomen. The rest of us assumed it was a medical problem, instead of verifying for ourselves that she didn't have a pencil sticking out or something.

The cure for too little touching is more touching...lots of it. The teacher gloved us up, paired us off into two-person teams, and stood over us with a container of baby powder and a fierce expression. "You are going to do head-to-toe examinations on each other. When you are finished, they had better have baby powder from head to toe, too."

Under those eagle eyes, we dared not hesitate. Beginning with enough hair powdering to re-create an 18th century throne room, we worked our way up, down, and sideways, replenishing our handfuls every few seconds. The results were pretty spectacular, let me tell you. Our doctor's husband had one ear that had clearly been examined more closely than any other ear in history.

With powder drifting behind me at every step, I wafted my way to my last scenario. "Is the scene safe?" I asked Ursula, who was now guarding a door instead of her abdomen. Her cryptic reply, "You'll have to be the judge," should have tipped me off.

Across the office, O. Jennifer Beum, or Oksa-Jen as she preferred to be called, sat next to her tank, a nasal canula already in place. She was holding a cigarette.

I walked in and set my things down next to her, trying to introduce myself, but very distracted by the ash drooping from the coffin nail between her fingers. "Hi. Um."

"Did ya say who ya were?" Oksa-Jen snapped.

"I'm, um, Noni," I gulped. Cigarette. Oksa-Jen. Oxygen. I may have actually leaned over her shoulder at that point, squinting at the end to see if it was really smoking. "Um, um..." It sure looked like it was smoking. "Can I ask you to put that out before you blow up the whole room?" I finally asked.

"No you can NOT," Oksa-Jen exploded. "I've been smoking all day long, and nothing's blown up yet."

Galvanized at last into action, I abandoned my bags of equipment, calling over my hastily retreating shoulder, "You just let me know when you're finished, and I'll come back."

I fully expected her to put out her cigarette so I could complete my examination, but no. "That was it," the now-jovial Oksa-Jen laughed. "You're done."

Yeah, I'm done all right, especially if I peer myopically over the shoulders of any real patients smoking while on oxygen. It only marginally cheered me to learn that the cigarette I had so closely examined there by the oxygen tank, was a special magic cigarette from a magic store in Las Vegas.

Obviously I'm going to have to work on scene safety a little more. Almost always before I've had other, more experienced people to go into a scene first, and if they were there, it was safe. Time to become a bit more independent. There's not always going to be someone else there to point out the danger of the Oksa-Jen Beums of the world.

Thus for our homework assignment of writing our own scenario, I'm thinking a focus on scene safety would be good. Don't tell my classmates.

Sheepishly and explosively,

Noni Beth

The Ends

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