21 June 2010

altered mental status

although i owe the interwebz a decent post about my glorious month on the famed (and often infamous) tinsley harrison internal medicine service, today i will whet your appetite with an anecdote.

every patient who comes in to the hospital has recorded a "chief complaint" which is the reason for coming in his or her own words ("chest hurts" or "short of breath" etc). the best chief complaint from my personal annals: "this bitch just slapped me" (true story! courtesy of a psych patient). however, if the patient is unconscious or otherwise unable to give a CC, "altered mental status" is written.

enter: tonight's anecdote's patient. altered mental status, but doing much better. as we were rounding this past weekend, post call (read: having been awake for 30hrs straight) our attending entered the room and began questioning the patient with some typical orienting questions "what day is it? what's your name?" etc. the patient feigned sleep, rolled around in bed, then her eyes popped open.
"where are you?" my attending prodded.
"yoooou tuuuube." the patient drawled.
i smirked; bit my tongue hard. my attending unfazed.
"and what's your name?" she continued.
"charlotte," the patient started, seeming to collect herself. we all looked at our rounds papers to see if she had gotten the answer right.
"charlotte's web." the patient finished with a grin.
"oh, ok. get some rest." we quietly exited the room with our lips pressed together. the door shut behind us, and i lost it, totally rolling in hilarity. everyone was smiling.
she'll get better... but until then, her child-like confidence in her imaginary location and identity will help us get through the day. and on tinsley - that's all we can ask for.

16 June 2010

The Bird

i will update soon about this month on Tinsley for my acting internship! it's going great. but first, i have to talk about... The Bird.

as far as i'm involved, this all started a few weeks ago, although i've heard that The Bird has been around since last year in other locations.

so here's the set-up: everyday i park in my parking lot near children's hospital and walk the few blocks to university hospital (west pavilion). i created a schematic for reference (this is hardcore, people). the red arrows depict my walking route.

so one morning a few weeks ago, i was walking on the right side of the street and passed the first "X" on the map. i saw The Bird perched on one of the parking meters up ahead but didn't think much of it... until it started flying at me like a torpedo. WTF? i reacted reflexively and jumped to the side, only to feel something thump me on the head a few moments later. i walked a little quicker, and then i heard its awful call and saw it. it was chasing me! i squealed and started running. it flew into me about 2 more times before i lost it.

at this point, i was completely confused. i ducked into the psychiatry hospital (near the second "X" on the map). my conclusion: The Bird had a nest, and i must have gotten too close to it. the behavior still seemed incredibly violent, but animals can be pretty protective and territorial. plan: walk on opposite side of street.

after a few days of walking on the left side of the road, we met again at the second "X". same circumstances: i saw The Bird from a few yards off on a parking meter. although i suspected it would attack again, i stupidly continued on my way. the carnage? 3 times to my head. i tried to whack it with my bag, but it was not deterred.

it was about this time facebook statuses and twitter updates started rolling in: my classmates were also being attacked. what could be done? i started walking inside - there's an enclosed walkway through children's hospital to university. amazing how such a small, deranged creature can change our daily patterns.

so on one particular morning last week, about a week or so after i resolved to walk inside, i was coming in pretty early for call (around 6am). i decided to press my luck with walking outside, especially since The Bird had moved further down on my walk - i figured i could always duck into the psych hospital (how fitting) if i needed to. the chorus of early morning birdsong made me nervous, and i was watching the sky suspiciously, fully expecting every bird to swoop down and peck my eyes out. i probably looked like a lunatic. you bet i accounted for every parking meter. there were two people walking about 20-30yds in front of me, and i watched as they entered and exited the "danger zone" unscathed... and BOOM. back of the head. then, BOOM, BOOM. back of the head, arm. i started running, at this point too far past the psych hospital to duck in. (third "X")

needless to say, i have been walking inside the past week. i have been trying to explain to henry why bringing my tennis racquet with me would be a good tactic, but he keeps saying bird guts on the racquet would be suboptimal. i don't care, though. i think it's about time for bloodshed. i'm not usually a violent person, but this bird has waged three unprovoked battles against me and countless more against unsuspecting passers-by. i can watch the sidewalk from the indoor walkway, and yesterday i watched a guy hold a book over his head as a shield as he passed through. two of my fellow acting interns were both attacked walking in yesterday morning and today.

all of this to say...

if you are driving on 7th ave at UAB in the next few days, and you happen see someone in a white coat, stethoscope around the neck, hair flying everywhere as she uses a tennis racquet/umbrella/bag/book to impale with intent to kill a deranged mockingbird, please smile and continue on your way knowing that social justice is being done.