Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why aren't you writing about your job?

Because no one really wants to know what happens while they're asleep.

That's why they asked me to put them to sleep. There are many surgeries for which they could probably be wide awake and numb from the (insert surgical site here) down. But, they'd really rather not be. As it turns out, ignorance is, in fact, bliss.

I'd really rather they be asleep, too. I still like to talk to people...before and after. But during, I prefer them in peaceful slumber. Trust me when I say, I'm awake enough for the both of us.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The friends

It occurred to me the other day that if you don't have any good friends, it may be my fault. I may have them all. I was talking to Graci at the time, telling her that I think of her every time the pathology resident comes to the OR to tell the surgeons that the tumor is not a tumor. Then, the surgeons tells her she's an idiot and to send in her attending. She rolls her eyes and walks away.

A few minutes later, a little, old Asian man comes in and says, "Is not a tuma. Is a chicken egg. Your patient chicken?"

And the surgeon says, "How the hell should I know? I didn't examine him. But I KNOW this a tumor."

And the pathologist says, "Listen, we put zee tuma stain on dis and we poke it wit a stick and it say, I am not a tuma. We put zee chicken egg stain on dis and we poke it wit a stick and it say, I AM A CHICKEN EGG!"

The surgeon retorts, "But radiology said it was a tumor."

"Padology better dan radiology. I say dis all zee time." Then, the little old man crosses his hands behind his back and walks away.

Replace the words chicken egg with cystic adenoma and that's a true story. If you're ever telling Graci a true story, you should replace the words cystic adenoma with chicken egg. She has no interest in the true pathology of a pathology tale but will laugh her fool ass off if you sprinkle in a little poultry.

This brings me back to my original point, which is that I have the very best of the friends. By best, in this case, I mean most easily entertained. It is never a struggle to make that girl laugh...and I love her for it.

Blake and Evan are in London right now. Rhee (their pup) and I are holding down the fort in their absence. We miss them terribly and, if we weren't such Iron Girls, would certainly sulk these two weeks away. But, we are, in fact, Iron Girls. And as such, we are making the best of it. We have found that cheese and napping help us keep up our strength in these trying times.

Last weekend, before the boys left, we all watched Fried Green Tomatoes. I start crying some time during the opening credits of this movie and stop some time two days later. Graci, Evan, and Blake are the only three people on the planet who can resist the urge to mock me for this. Although, to be honest, two of them don't really have any room to mock. Graci was the most impressive crier I'd ever known...until I met Evan.

As I learned earlier this same day as we watched Rick Steves' tour London, Evan is particularly moved by the Rosetta Stone. "I don't know what it is about this," he said, his voice cracking, his bottom lip all a quiver, "but it gets me every time." I looked over to find him taking off his glasses to wipe his eyes. I looked back at the screen to see if maybe I was missing something. Perhaps an innocent animal had been crushed under the stone, or a small child had just lost his mother in the mass of tourists?

But no, it was just the rock with those translated hieroglyphics. I started to ask him what it is about this that gets him, but, as he'd just said, he doesn't know. Crying at the Rosetta Stone is sort of like having a crush on Hillary Clinton. You can see how anyone might appreciate the brilliance...but you can't logically explain that depth of feeling. It just is what it is. (That said, if Evan ever confesses that he has the hots for Hillary, I'm going to have some follow up questions.)

All of that is to say, Blake resisted the urge to mock my crying all the way through Fried Green Tomatoes. The other two can't mock. Crying fools, the both of em.

When the movie ended, I wiped my eyes (for the 57th time) and slipped on my shoes to go. I don’t often leave late on a Saturday night. (The boys call the guest bedroom T's room for a reason.) But, we hadn’t had much at all to drink, and I had a few things to get done the next morning at home.

Fried Green Tomatoes made me miss Graci. It made the boys miss the South. As I stood to go, they began to reminisce. Evan started telling a story. "My older cousin used to try to scare me and my younger cousin. One time, he told us the woods behind the house were full of Indians who would scalp us..."

I sat back down to hear the rest of this. Evan tells a tale beautifully. He whispers the quiet parts and sprinkles in pitch perfect dialogue. His boyhood stories are like Stand By Me...with just a touch of flair. And no one can end a story quite like he can.

In this one, he and his younger cousin ventured into the scalping jungle and crept around a small shack. "Are there Indians in there?" Evan's cousin asked. (Blake and I were on the edge of our seats.)

"I don't know," Evan said, wide eyed and dead serious..."but if there are, they drive a Monte Carlo."

We laughed like idiots.

Blake's childhood stories are more like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. As he tells them, part of me wants to snort laugh. The other part wants to hold him and stroke his hair and assure him that in spite of all that, just in case he forgot, he grew into a (mostly) normal and very good man who moved far away from the nut jobs and only has to see them on holidays.

Speaking of which, we then somehow got onto the subject of our most recent Thanksgiving. Blake's mom and brother came to visit. I spent the whole weekend asking Evan, "Who are these people, and where did your boyfriend come from?"

"This year was nothing," Blake said. "You should have been there when my grandma tried to shoot my mom." He then launched into a story about the year his mother and his paranoid delusional Alzheimer's afflicted grandmother wrestled over a loaded handgun on Thanksgiving morning. (So much for watching the parade.)

"My mom yelled at me to go for help," Blake said. "I still remember hurting my bare feet as I ran across my grandma's gravel driveway to get to the neighbors'."

This is where he got me. I used to spend summer months playing outside barefoot. I remember the stinging in my feet as I ran across gravel drives in summer's early warm days, before my heels had a chance to grow calloused and tough. I swallowed hard as I pictured the boy from Blake's childhood photos running barefoot and scared.

As with all of his childhood stories, though, this didn't end with the tragic and scary. It ended with the utterly ridiculous.

The police came, disarmed Grandma, and tied her ass to a chair. And then they left. As if that's what you do with crazy old people. Tie 'em to the furniture. Problem solved.

Blake's mom found a psych unit to take his grandma for a few days. But then, they had to get her there. They carried her out of the house, chair and all, turned it and her on its side - it was the only way it would fit - and loaded her into the back seat of the car. She road to the psych ward that way.

Picturing this, I laughed so hard I pulled an abdominal muscle. Exhausted from all that laughing, I kicked off my shoes and headed down the hall to my room.

The best of the best friends. An embarrassment of riches, to be sure. I assure you I am sufficiently humiliated...but I'm not letting them go anytime soon.

And I'm not beyond tying them to the furniture to keep them.

Monday, August 2, 2010

God bless the edentulous

This job really makes you appreciate people without teeth. In fact, when my patient has a mouth full of 'em, I can't help but think, "Well shit, now I have to work around these damn things."