Shimoniac Jones

I didn't lose my mind – it fled in terror.

Archive for the tag “humor”

Hospital-ity

At about 1500 this past Saturday, I whacked my elbow on the corner of a wall whilst lurching about ever so gracelessly at home. The impact itself didn’t register on the Richter scale, but it was harder than my usual clumsiness. I spoke a few choice four letter words, rubbed the elbow and staggered away.

Since I work the midnight shift, I was actually headed for bed, which might have contributed to my ungainliness; this time, at least. Six hours later I woke up for some food and social interaction with my family. My elbow was more than a little stiff and sore at this point, so in addition to food, I ate a painkiller. It was naproxen to be precise.

As the rest of the evening wore on, in spite of the painkiller taken, my elbow got more and more painful and was stiffening up considerably. I crowded the next dose of naproxen and iced the elbow; nothing doing, the arm kept on hurting worse and worse, while the range of motion grew more limited.

Finally at about 0630 Sunday, I was pacing the floor sweating and swearing with the pain. I made the decision to go to the local Emergency Department. Dressing to be able to leave the house without getting arrested was an exercise in interpretive dance and putting on my jacket was a teeth-gritting experience I don’t want to have again.

I arrived at the hospital about 0700. Now the local procedure at this hospital is for patients to rub their hands down with sanitizer, then click a mouse key to print out a full-sheet form asking if you have a new or worsening cough, or if you have travelled to any designated areas in the past year. If no, `x’ the box and don’t read any further. Since I didn’t have a cough, and haven’t travelled to the areas I quickly `x’ed the box and went to the triage nurse.

The first thing the triage nurse asked me for was the form and my Health Card. The Health Card is a form of I.D. that tells them I’m allowed to access their services. So, next she asks me what brought me in this morning. I manfully bite back my knee-jerk response of “Taxi”, and tell her my elbow really hurts, and what I think caused it. She asked me if the accident happened at work, this time I couldn’t resist and replied, “No, I can be clumsy at home, too.” To be fair, if this had happened at work they would have had to open a WSIB file, and double the paperwork.

Before she had a chance to ask, I pulled a piece of paper from my wallet and told her that it was a list of the medications I’m currently taking. Pro-tip, if you’re taking prescribed medication, supplements, birth control, or something like that, write down the list and carry it with you at all times. Your intake nurse will appreciate knowing this and being able to note it in your file, it can prevent unfortunate drug interactions which might lead to suboptimal patient results like a slight case of death.

Now she asked me to take off my jacket.

Ordinarily this isn’t a big deal. Today my arm hurt. Taking off the jacket only wrung one whimper and a gasp of pain from my manly machismo. Then she had me do a range of motion test with the sore wing. When she asked me to straighten it out I said, “No.” She asked me if it wouldn’t straighten, or if it was too painful to straighten. I told her it was too painful. Done with me, she sent me on to the next station of my medical adventure: Admitting.

I had to walk around to the other side of the desk which was a good ten yards away to have my Health Card returned and receive, if not a dead tree, then certainly a major load-bearing branch. I got my card back watched the Admitting Nurse affix stickers here, there, and everywhere. Including on my hospital I.D. bracelet, which was colour-coded red. When I asked for purple, she told me that was for Psychiatric patients. I said, “Well…” “No” was the firm reply. I was then directed back past the triage station, down the hall, on the left, to Ambulatory Care. That just means people who came in under their own power, not on a gurney.

So I show up in Ambulatory Care and hand my half-inch of paper to a receiving nurse, who receives it and offers me an only slightly uncomfortable seat in this waiting area. I cast an eye over my fellow sufferers. On the left is a stooped little old lady in a push chair; on the right is a twenty-something male with an ice bag on his right thigh, squirming like a little kid who has to go to the washroom. Then there’s me, a particularly lumpen and hairy member of malehood.

I considered my choices and decided to take a chair where I could watch the both of them, the nurse’ station, and the television. When I came in the TV was playing the fireplace channel, the taller of the two nurses decided to change the channel (boo) and we wound up watching what, at first, I thought was a different fireplace channel, turns out it was CNN covering the California Wildfire Season. The on-scene reporter’s barely concealed glee at the suffering and destruction was too much for me, so I tuned it out in favour of watching what was happening in the room.

From out of one of the treatment rooms came a tall, shinny emo-looking male(?), who asked one of the nurses if he could step out for a smoke. The nurse let him know that he wasn’t a prisoner and could go if he wanted, but that if the doctor came to see him in the mean time, he would lose his place in line and have to wait even longer to see a doctor. Emo-boy bounced, and I watched the nurse take a file from one slot, fairly high up, and put it in the bottom opening, one step above the circular file.

Little old lady asked a few times if she could have a drink of water, the nurses, not knowing why she was there were hesitant, but finally looked in her file and figured she could handle three ounces or so. Little old lady was overly grateful. Squirmy asked if he could get some more ice since his pack was water by now. The other nurse agreed, disappeared, was gone five minutes and came back with two coffees, and a tiny ice pack. The coffees were for the nurses, the three ice cubes were for Squirmy.

It’s now gone 0800, and the head nurse decides we’ve been good captives to this point, so she puts us into various treatment bays. I now can’t see or hear the TV, but I have a good view of the room across from me. The lights are low and someone in a chair is snuggled with the patient in the bed. I can barely hear that they’re murmuring to each other much less what they’re saying.  As a voyeur certified people-watcher I’m disappointed horrified by the lack of privacy these two have.

I pull out my e-book reader and try to concentrate on a story. Before too much longer, Dr. Young scurries in. First place he goes is the room across from me. Turns the lights on and starts talking to the patient, a woman who was suffering from a dog bite to the face. At this point I’m feeling not quite so bad.

She said that the fault was hers. Turns out the dog belonged to a friend, she got into the dog’s space, wouldn’t listen to the dog’s warnings, got bitten. I suspect alcohol, or stupidity, may have played a factor.  She got her wound sterilized, sutured and had gauze put on.  The sutures were the dissolving kind and would disappear on their own.  When the doctor was done, he snapped off his gloves and left the after care instruction to the nurse.

The next contestant was Emo-boy, who hadn’t returned from his nic flit. Nurse said he’s been MIA for an hour. Doc says keep the file for a couple more hours, and then return it to Admitting for disposition.  Or was that disposal?

Next was Little old lady, she turned her ankle and someone over-reacted. The doctor asked questions and probable palpated the joint. I didn’t get to see. Nothing broken or swollen, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, painkillers as necessary, if it gets worse, come back in. Listening to Little old lady I think she had a minor case of lonely too. Turn an ankle, go to the hospital, and talk to people. It happens.

Squirmy’s turn had arrived. He’s suffering, and I do mean it, from a constellation of first- and second-degree burns to his upper right thigh. Damn, compared to Dog-bite Lady and Squirmy, I feel like a fraud. Doctor Young debrides the wound, that means he takes a scour pad and scrubs Squirmy’s leg like a pot with crusted-on gunk. Having had that treatment before I can tell you it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds. He leaves the nurse to bandage the wounds and instruct about after treatment.

Now it’s my turn. Since I got here the arm got worse, then started getting better. Dr. Young palpates the joint, tests range of motion, and other stuff. Asking me about how I had done this to myself. The diagnosis: Impact Tendonitis.  The main tendon and muscle attachments to the lower arm are right where I smacked myself the previous day.  I didn’t hit the meat, I hit bone.

He asked if I wanted prescription naproxen. Prescription-level naproxen is 500 mg; over the counter (OTC) naproxen is around 375 mg. Prescription you take twice a day, he allowed that if I wanted to I could take OTC naproxen three times a day for a couple days, as needed. Ice the elbow if needed. If it doesn’t get better, if it gets worse, falls off, etc. I should see a doctor soonest. Have a wonderful day.

I only got a diagnosis. I didn’t get any treatment or medication, and I feel a whole lot better. My arm still hurts, but now I know why. Ignorance is scary. Scary makes pain worse. I was imagining bone chips, fractures, burst nerve sheaths, weird-ass stuff. Now I know and I feel better, relatively speaking.

Dr. Young left the booth; I gathered my stuff together and followed. I told them that I hoped not to see them any time soon and walked out. The whole visit only cost me a couple hours, and the price of a hot chocolate and donut from the hospital coffee shop.

In Canada we have socialized medical care, something which seems to terrify many Americans for no reason that I can determine. In actuality socialized medicine is like fire insurance, you pay a premium at set intervals and if your place burns down you get a settlement to help you pick up the pieces. Only in this case your premiums let you get to see a doctor, get a diagnosis, and get treatment, all without having to put a second mortgage on your first-born.

People complain about long wait times and what treatments are disallowed, or allowed. I guess I’ve been lucky; I’ve never really had anything to complain about regarding hospitals aside from the incredibly nasty food when I was an in-patient years ago.

Clue Who?

As part of my new job in Material Handling, I’m no longer tethered to a machine, or machines, as the case may be. As a result, I’ve been able to talk to my co-sufferers workers more than I was able to do before. This is not always, or even necessarily, a good thing. I sometimes write little notes to myself about the funny, or irritating, things that happen at work so that I can share them with family.

A recent note had the following on it, Supervisor In the warehouse With a pipe wrench. Now there is a small segment of the population that may recognize the format as belonging to the game Clue by toy maker Hasbro. In my case I was driving the fork lift through the warehouse, after dropping off a full bin and was returning to the floor when I met my supervisor walking through the warehouse in the opposite direction, he was carrying a pipe wrench and muttering quite loudly that, “Well the bitch won’t do that to me anymore.”

I momentarily wondered if I had driven up on something I shouldn’t have and maybe should just pull a U-turn and peel out. I would have too, but my fork lift is not nick-named “Shitty Shitty Bang Bang” for nothing.

Trepidatiously I asked, “Is there something I shouldn’t know?” He replied that I pipe wrench in question was merely an old one and the teeth had worn off, causing it to slip when he needed to tighten/loosen something; that slip often resulted in banged-up knuckles. He’d purchased a new wrench, which was unlikely to slip, and was consigning the old one to the scrap metal dumpster located outside the warehouse door.

“Ah.” I replied, “Good story, we’ll go with that one. I’ll be your alibi if necessary. A character witness, even.”

“Whaa?” Supervisor queried, taken seriously aback.

“Obviously someone found your discarded wrench, did the bitch in, and threw it away in the metal dumpster.”

He thought about what he’d said as I was rolling up on him. “You’re seriously disturbed.” He diagnosed.

“Ten years you’ve known me, and you’re just now figuring that out?” I returned.

He shook his head at me and walked along. I returned to work and shared that story with several people. It says something about me that no one was surprised about the direction I took that encounter; but I’m not sure what.

Promotion

It’s been more than a year since I last posted. It’s not that I haven’t had ideas; it’s that I’ve had crippling self-doubt about the relevance of my subject matter. I’ll start composing a post and I’ll be half-way through it, then go, “No one would want to read that rubbish.”, and I’ll cancel the document without saving and go to YouTube and binge-watch cute pet videos or something.

Recently, though, I’ve had an experience that just demanded to be shared with the class. Since my last post, I’ve been promoted(?) to the position of Material Handler. I’d become increasingly bored with being a Machine Operator over the last few years and had applied, unsuccessfully, a few times for the position. When the last opening occurred I didn’t even bother, thinking that I wouldn’t get the job anyhow.

That said, my supervisor went on vacation for a week and the Production Manager filled in for him. The second day the P/M was there, he asked if I was still interested in the Material Handler’s job, I said I was but hadn’t bothered since I was never chosen. He told me to fill out an application and put in on his desk `by the end of the week’. I had one done by break-time and on his desk before lunch.

Surprise! I was chosen to be the latest in a round of M/Hs who get hired, work for a few weeks, and then disappear. That was the first step; the next step was to be trained. I’d filled in for the M/H many times before this and was a pretty good half-trained monkey, but `nooo’, you’ve got to transfer to the Day Shift so that the M/H lead hand can go item by item through the, largely irrelevant, check-list. When that was done, I got to do some unpleasant donkey work that is the responsibility of the M/H Lead, but that, not surprisingly, he didn’t want to have to do.

Next, I got trained on how to drive a fork-lift. Driving a fork-lift is absolutely nothing like driving a car; it starts, stops, steers, and handles nothing like anything you’ve driven on the roads. Being trained on Fork Lift Operation took most of a week, two and a half days in class, half a day getting familiarized with a fork lift, and two days moving things with the fork lift, while being shadowed by a licensed operator. Thanks to warnings from others who’d undergone the same training I had, I passed the test the first time. I probably would have anyway; I’m a little paranoid while driving around pedestrians and obstacles.

So, the training that should have taken maybe two-three weeks, max, lasted six. They wanted to train another person on fork lift at the same time as me to maximize the cost-benefit ratio. That meant I was constantly chosen to do the fiddly, annoying jobs that were other people’s responsibility, sweep the parking lot, clean up the smoker’s area, sort boxes by content into their proper areas, rearrange the cardboard area, combine two, or more, half-empty bins into as few as possible, etc, ad nauseam.

Finally, they let me escape the illogical, regimented Hell that is Day Shift, back to the cool, calm insanity that is Nights. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, that’s French for same shit, different day.

That said, when the two-week long Plant Slowdown rolled around, the Plant Manager came up to me and asked which week I wanted to work.  When I said, “Neither?”, he told me that wasn’t the answer he was looking for.  Sigh.  I bit the bullet and worked the first week; four days, twelve hours each.

Barbeque

I’m a guy who likes to burn meat on an open flame. That’s at least three politically incorrect things right there: guy, meat, open flame. I love to barbeque; well, at least I like to do so.

This weekend we had chicken fajitas at the house. So, when it came time to cook the meat, I went out, fired up the old and reliable propane burner, and, when it got to temperature, burned the bird.

Actually Momma said that the bird was done perfectly.

I hear some of you saying, “So, what?”, out there.

“So, what.”, is that it was hovering at the freezing mark when I did it. Last week when I BBQ’d the back ribs, it was actually below freezing.  When I told people on Monday after the ribs that I had cooked them on my gas grill, the newer ones expressed disbelief. The co-workers who have been there longer just shrugged, they know me.

That’s right, I will actually barbeque when the temperature is on the wrong side of freezing. I’ve even cooked kabobs in February, in a snowstorm. When the folks out walking their dog looked at me through the horizontal snow, I grinned, waved my tongs at them, and said “Hi there, neighbour.” I’m pretty sure one said to the other, “Don’t look at him and walk faster.”

Of course, it helps that I live in Suburbia with an attached garage.  I pull the BBQ around the house in late fall after the first hard frost, and park it in the front, just behind the door.  When I need want to BBQ, I roll the door up, light the BBQ, and go.  If I didn’t have that garage, I think I’d cry.  While I shovelled a path to the grill and chipped the ice off of it.

If you want to BBQ in your garage there are two absolutely must-do safety tips.  First, open the door all the way while you’re heating and cooking on the barbeque.  Burning gas creates carbon monoxide which might seep into the house and hurt or kill people or pets.  Second, when you’re done cooking, turn the gas feed off at the propane cylinder, then turn off the burners when the flames die.  This prevents a gas leak which, if it meets a spark, could cause an explosion and fire, which could also hurt or kill people or pets.

I don’t use the barbeque as often as I would like, because doing it for one seems such a waste, and during the week my family and I are on different sleep/eat schedules. When I get home at 0730, I want a big meal; when I get up at 1900, I want caffeine and cold cereal.

Rejoice my readers; I have decided to share with you my recipe for an easy, all-purpose barbeque sauce. I use it on chicken or pork, I don’t use BBQ sauce on beef, so use at your own risk.  I like it because it’s hot enough to get your attention, but not so hot that it overpowers your taste buds.

Shimoniac’s Easy BBQ Sauce

1 Cup generic, red, tomato-based BBQ sauce
⅓ Cup genuine Maple syrup; dark is best, amber is acceptable, light is don’t bother
1 ¾ tsp. powdered chipotle chilies

Stir to blend. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature for flavours to meld. DON’T, I repeat, DO NOT substitute maple-flavoured breakfast syrup, that’s just water, sugar, artificial flavour, food colouring, and preservatives.

For Maple Syrup, the real stuff is expensive, but it is so worth it.

There, you’re done. This makes enough to coat meat for about four people. Results may vary. Adjust chilies to taste.

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