230) In Which Joseph the Hulk Sticks Me

March 29, 2008

El Milagro:
I call in to find out what time I can come in and Ron the Nurse says, 2:30 so here I am at about 2:45, finding my chair on the back wall. Today it seems like the place is short-staffed, there are three nurses I can see and two techs. The guy who is in charge of cleaning the re-usable dialyzers, known as the ‘reuse technician’* is working the floor as a tech! He c
omes up and takes my BP and is setting up the machine and I think that he will do all that and then call Gladys’s the Tech over to stick me. But no, he plans to do it himself… and he looms over me and asks in a quiet yet formidable voice, “Is is okay if I stick you?” with a little grin.

Now, let me tell you a little about Joseph the Reuse Tech. Joseph is about 6’8” tall and probably weighs about 240. He is tall and thick like a tree, or a linebacker. He is Hispanic with short cropped hair and a tough look, with sometimes a sinister grin. He always wears black t-shirts and when he has his clear plastic apron and surgical gloves on he reminds me of a Frankensteinish figure of imposing magnitude. I don’t know if he actually has tattoos, but he could have them. He drives a dark metallic green late model Mercury sedan painted and tricked out like a moderate low rider with spike wheels and when he drives out of the parking lot late at nite it is an ominous site… such are my hallucinations about Joseph.

So when he says with that little grin, “Okay if I stick you?” I gulp and respond “Have you ever stuck anyone before?”. “Lots.”, and I choose not to question that at all. He is a slow poker, going from step to step in a laborious way that causes me to hallucinate that either he doesn’t know what he is doing or he is very careful to proceed with each step in a self-conscious and thoughtful way. Throughout the process, as he goes back and forth to the machine, he continually asks Jo the Nurse questions about the settings, so even if he does know sticking, he seemingly knows the machine less well.
I ask Joseph, “So, is sticking people a move up?” and he just looks back without letting me know anything about if he even understood that question. He makes a non-informative grunt or maybe it is an affirmation… or, maybe a shrug… it is hard to read… and we go on.

I note that although Jo the Nurse is coaching Joseph on the machine, neither she nor any other nurse comes by today to do a nursing eval.

Joseph sticks me with the power of a 240 lb man with Blutoish arms… the needle POPS into my vein with none of the normal resistance my scared veins put up. Pop! In goes one needle. Pop! In goes the second. Done. He deftly tapes ‘em up and I say, “Good job” and he grumbles, “Thanks”. Whew. That’s over and Joseph the Hulk moves off to loom over another patient down the line.

Ah Saturday:
I don’t feel like reading the book I have been bringing every session, which I am supposedly reading in prep for my Fall class on SF Therapy. The book is Dennis Saleebey’s, The Strengths Perspective in Social Work Practice and today it lays in the bottom of my bag untouched. I draft this post and then I surf the channels and end up watching one of the History Channel's shows on How the Earth was Made, about the clash of continents and the upheaval of mountains, etc.

From there I go to the clash of March Madness Basketball teams; specifically North Carolina and Louisville… the white headed wonder (Roy Williams) chesting up against our brylcreem boy, Rick Patino. A good game and yet we all know in our hearts that NC can’t really be beat this year… at least not yet. So I keep cheering for Louisville to come back, even though they spend most of the game 7 points down. And, of course, on my brackets I have NC at this level… but it is more fun to cheer on Patino’s boys.

I finish my blood cleansing session before the game is over and rush home to watch the final few minutes. And so it goes, Kokomos.

In at 77.1 and out at 74.4 Kgs.

*What is a reuse technician? Retrieved from Davita online, at //www.davita.com/UploadedImages/ReUse
16&hl=en&start =11&um=1&tbnid=YtG6is1zJugywM:&tbnh=104&tbnw=104&prev=
/images%3Fq%3Ddialyzer%26um %3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DX
New Readers:
For an INDEX, click January 2008 on the Sidebar and page down to post # 207.


229) What's your name? Is it Mary or Sue?

March 27, 2008

El Milagro: I arrive and weigh in before my chair is ready so I hand out the El Milagro News that they have finally copied for us. I notice as I hand it out that people seem to be ready and excited to see it… I think it is catching on. Now if only folks would submit things for the next issue. I am thinking I want to send one over to the doctor’s office too and argue with myself about whether I should send a hard copy or a PDF.

Carrie the Tech sticks me today and it is a milestone: for the first time ever I don’t feel the first poke at all! I mention that to her and she says that sometimes people say that… and “thanks”. I am amazed at the experience but before I can celebrate too much the second poke comes and I do feel it’s prick of pain and I am brought back to reality… wondering how that first stick happened… is it the case that we have places where there are absolutely no nerve cells?

Carrie and I talk about my work day and I share that it was okay… a meeting with the state folks where we tried to get their blessings on a research project… and, of course, they can’t really do much… blah blah… However, we did plant the seed and they did say they would write a letter supporting the project, so I guess that is the most one can ever expect with the kinds of constraints they always must work under.

When Carrie is done, the new nurse whose name escapes me right now comes up and does my nursing evaluation. What is her name? She makes it worse by saying, “So, Jack, how are you feeling today?” while I’m staring back at her blankly, thinking, Zelda?, Marian?, Christy?… trying each of these monikers on with her face. No help. I do know a way to meet someone and immediately remember their name and I search my memory for if I did that strategy when I met her… nope. I never come up with her name and she is now gone on to serve some other customer.

The strategy? Well, as you meet someone for the first time, look at their face, say their name aloud, imagine it written in magic marker on their forehead, and simultaneously ghost write it on your thigh. This works pretty well because it uses all your rep systems to anchor the name. Of course, you have to remember to do it.

I turn on the TV and watch the ESPN Sports-center, with Bobby Knight talking about March Madness, and then flip to the first game tonight, North Carolina and Washington State… well, you can guess how that one is going… and pretty soon we are flipped over to the most exciting game of the evening; Xavier and West Virginia. Even though I have Xavier winning on this level (on my brackets), I am cheering for WVU and their young-looking boy, Alexander. Great game which goes into overtime.

As it finishes I finish with the blood cleaning operation and am going home happy cause I love watching college basketball. Life is Good.

Notes: In at 78.2 and out at 74.9 Kgs.
New Readers: For an INDEX, click January 2008 on the Sidebar and page down to post # 207.


228) The Pascal Moon & March Madness

March 22, 2008

El Milagro:
I call in the morning and Jason the Tech checks and says, “When do you want to come in?” and we agree on 12:30. The parking lot is empty when I arrive.

So, here I am @ 12:30 and Rosie happily sticks me (and is seemingly from her smiles and laughter in a very good considering she had planned to be out of town visiting her sister today instead of working) and reports that it’s the holiday weekend that makes everyone want to get out of here early. Rosie and I are yakking away and she puts my tempo-dot ultra-modern paper temperature taker thingy in backwards and I sit there for awhile mum while she pokes me… and then she checks the reading and there is none. Her eyes widen! I’m DEAD! “Oh yeah” she laughs… “I put it in backwards…” and we start the process over.

Jo the Nurse comes by to do my nursing eval and asks me if we are getting ready for Passover, since Easter is this weekend… and I report to her what I’ve heard about Easter on the radio, and conclude, “Passover (“...is celebrated on a specific date which is the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan. Since Christians used the Roman custom of measuring days from midnight to midnight, the date is the 14th, but for Jews, who measure a day from sunset to sunset, the Passover, which begins after sundown, the date is the 15th day of the month of Nisan”*) starts April 19th this year, and Easter is earlier than normal, based on the Pascal Moon”. I continue to tell her what I have heard about the date of Easter being connected to the date of the Pascal moon. “So, this year, instead of Easter and Passover being close, Easter is close to Purim***, which was celebrated last night at our congregation”. Jo’s response was surprise… “I didn’t know that! That’s blasphemous!” she cried… clarifying that the church changed the date from one based on Passover to one based on a moon. Neither of us know how, when and why that happened and we agreed it would be a good reason to hit the internet. Well… here ya go, answer-o… “At the Council of Nicaea, called by the Emperor Constantine in 325, it was formally decreed that all (Christian) Churches would celebrate Easter on the same Sunday and that the Sunday would be the Sunday that followed the fourteenth day of the Pascal Moon.”*

James the Nurse comes by and stands thoughtfully, watching the basketball previews on my TV… finally turning to comment on the games so far. We discuss the Big 12’s standings with KSU, KU, UT, Okla, and A&M still in the throw. Only BU is gone so far. Today we have the W. Virginia / Duke game and I share with James that I almost picked WVU but in the end went with Dukies. Mike Krzyzewski’s going for his 70th tourney win today, the highest number of wins of any playing coach!

So I settle back to watch some March Madness and notice that my neighbor chair’s guy toss his Sprite can in the trash. This could be another job for PAC People! I note that I should bring up the idea of a recycling program at El Milagro at our next meeting.

Later: well the Dukies lost it. What a great game! Well worth watching even though WVU’s win makes my 5th loss in my brackets. As the KSU / Wisconsin game gets under way I get unhooked and ready to go home and watch some basketball. So it throws.

Notes: In at 76.2 and out at 74.0 Kgs.
*Chuck (nd) Why the date of Easter changes each year. Retrieved online March 2008 from HubPages,
**Passover: Festival of freedom (nd) Retrieved online March 2008 from the Chabad.org website,
***Rich, T.R. (2007) Purim Retrieved online March 2008 from the Judaism 101 website,
New Readers: For an INDEX, click January 2008 on the Sidebar and page down to post # 207.


227) Spring Has Sprung & I Am Late

March 20, 2008

El Milagro
: How late can I come to dialysis? Well, today I am an hour late! Rosie asks, “Why are you so late?” and I reply, “I have no idea. I checked the time sometime earlier at work and then things started happening and all of a sudden I looked at the clock and it was 4:40! So, I called here and got Suzanne on the phone and told her I was on my way and to apologize to you all.” Then, of course, the traffic was bumper to bumper pre-bunny all the way across town.

“Oh. You lost track of time” she replied. Her reply bushwhacked my little brain a little… I lost track of time?… that would’ve been an easy thing to say… why didn’t I think of it? Then she added, “so, I guess we won’t let you off til 8:30…” to which I responded, “how about only 3 hours since I only gained 2 pounds or so?” She snickered and only much later did I get it: she was suggesting 3 hours.

Today is the first day of Spring and Zilker Park was full of people, reminding me of Les Grande Jatte by Suerat… in the way of perfection being reminiscent of a clear day with sparkling color and bright hues splashing around, which also slowed me down. In Sureat’s painting I always hallucinate that these folks have left work early to go to the park, although I believe he mostly painted Sunday strollers. Anytime the weather and colors are striking, I immediately jump in my mind to this painting; perfect reflection of light and color.

As Rosie is poking me and setting me up, Ron the Nurse comes by to do my nursing evaluation and I ask them for feedback about the recent St. Patricks’ Day snacks. Rosie replies that staff loved my cookies ("they’re not too sweet; just right") and Ron added that the staff have really had a good week, food wise. There were cupcakes, my cookies, and a cake brought by someone today. I mentioned that perhaps the idea is catching on for bringing snacks. I added that I would love to bring a big hotel tray of enchiladas except we on dialysis can’t eat them… and that somehow tangented into my describing our chile rellenos to Rosie. She likes 'em with cheese and carne... we from El Paso, only with the anaheim chile and the white cheese.

They move on and I settle in to watching ABC News: we have thousands of troops coming home with traumatic brain injuries and Bob Woodward interviews them over and over and it is a sad report on the war and the government’s putting effort into the war but not so much on caring for the kids afterwards.

I am awaiting Survivor but to no avail… Duh. March Maddness has taken over CBS: which is okay… so I watch A&M beat BYU. Later I click back and forth from basketball to LOST and somehow I get lost in the shuffle. I get unhooked and shoot home to see the end of lost… too late and now we are all lost.

So it goes.

Notes: In at 77.7 and out at 74.7 Kgs.

BTW: I know I haven't posted in awhile... have been busy with my ongoing life and in and out of town and even thinking about other ways to take this blog... and haven't really come up with anything... so I haven't been super motivated to write. (In case you wonder)
New Readers: For an INDEX, click January 2008 on the Sidebar and page down to post # 207.


226) A Visit from Liz

March 11, 2008

El Milagro: Today is a little strange cause Herman the Nurse is here filling in for someone AND Suzanne the Administrator is on the floor! The place has had some trouble with keeping up with the state requirements for staff on the floor, and is trying to hire techs and get them trained… for some reason today Suzanne and Herman are here helping out. It’s nice to see that the administration works the floor and I can tell that Suzanne will learn something that will help her as an administrator. I have always agreed with the concept of cross training and I can observe Suzanne’s mind working as the techs are showing her their tasks and regimens.

Today I get John the Reader’s chair as he is leaving. He says he is somewhat better and he looks better. Carol the Tech sticks me and I settle in to my session, listening to NPR in my ears and deciding to have brief doze first. Someone is gently jiggling my leg… it is Lizzie! She has dropped by to bring me some candy. She stays for awhile and I am temporarily one of those people who has someone there with them. Very Cool! I introduce her to Suzanne and Herman brings her a chair and we sit there and talk a bit and look at the TV. I get an idea of how devoted these people who come and sit by their loved ones are that I hadn’t had before. Anyway, it is a neat thing and then she leaves and I start watching something on TV…

Notes: In at 76.9 and out at 74.8 Kgs.
New Readers: For an INDEX, click January 2008 on the Sidebar and page down to post # 207.


225) Dancing Feet

March 8, 2008

El Milagro:
I called and am able to come in “…in 20 minutes…” so I rush around and am here at 1 o’clock today. Rosie is in a dog shirt, working the other side of the room… Debbie the Tech is here today, as is Gladys the Tech. Rita the Nurse cannulates me and does my nursing eval. She is evidently one of the nurses who doesn’t mind “lowering herself” to do the poking.

The other day in our PAC (Patient Advisory Committee) meeting one of the complaints of the patients to the administration was that some of the nurses won’t cannulate people because they feel it is below them. This was brought up while discussing the patient complaint that the center is way behind
on getting people on the machines on time, and some of the PAC members think that the scheduling could be better accomplished if certain techs weren’t sitting around B.S.ing with each other rather than working diligently to get all the patients on the machines. This is complicated, according to these folks, by nurses who see it as below their station to hook patients up on the machines. My comment: Do you really want a nurse who doesn’t want to hook people up, hooking you up?

So, anyway, Rita is a 'hookin-up nurse'… and she hooks me up deftly and quickly. I’m listening to KUT’s Folkways and they’ve playing a lot of pre-SXSW* people today. Maggie Walters (Midwestern Hurricaine), James McMurtry (Just Us Kids), Bo Bice, Joe Ely, Justice Townes Earl, etc.

I’m eating apple slices from home today… unusual for me to have anything to eat here aside from the hard candy rolling around in the bottom of my bag. Lizzie cut some apple and bagged some cookies for me to munch on, since I hadn’t eaten lunch before I left. I munch with Justin Townes Earl crooning about “…the good life from now on…”, and I am glad to have such a juicy snack. Lizzie is the BEST! Of course, e
veryone who knows her knows that… it is still surprising to me that she chose me to hang with, I say to myself smilingly.

I munch and listen and read the new Time about Hillary’s return to the race… seems like women put her back in it… I read and then doze…

The Bluerunners** are playing live when I come back around 2… Cajun band… good beat makes my feet dance out from under the red, Mexican blanket covering them. I look down
and watch them feets jumping around, almost as if they were independent of the rest of this body. It’s a weird sight and gives me that sense of the largeness of the body… like when you realize that this body is just an incredibly long line of cells joined together by some sort of mystical energy called life. When I look down that Levi and flannel covered collaboration of cells across the universe and see the maroon socks poking out from the end of the ragged blue jeans under the Mexican blanket… they seem to be light years away from these eyes in my head. They are dancing to the beat of the Bluerunners' rhythms in my earphones… so there must be a stimulus response thing going on that is devoid of conscious thought… I feel like Steve Martin*** when he has crazy feet… (You can't actually see Steve's feet in this pic, but I like the idea of cat ironing).

I watch these dancing feet of mine through the rest of the Bluerunners’ set and at some point notice that a diabetic amputee across the way seems to be watching my feet and I hallucinate that he is wishing he had dancing feet too. The slow impact is that somehow my brain of brains reconnects with my unconscious rhythm-meister and those feet slowly slow their jigs down to a calming stillness.

I decide to click off Folkways and turn up the TV, which has been silently showing various basketball games. I find a movie, then a music video of Bruce Robison****, and finally settle on the Discovery series, How’s It Made about making winter coats, stoves, and canisters for pre-formed potato chips I can’t eat. Oh well…

Another Saturday… Onward through the Fog…

In at 76.4 and out at 74.7 Kgs.
* South-by-Southwest - SXSW - online http://sxsw.com/

**Bluerunners online at http://www.bluerunners.com/home.html
*** Check out Steve Martin's website --> http://www.stevemartin.com/
****Bruce Robison online at http://www.brucerobison.com/
New Readers: For an INDEX, click January 2008 on the Sidebar and page down to post # 207.


224) Primary Day @ Dialysis

March 4, 2008

El Milagro: It’s primary day and I wonder how many of these folks here at the center have voted. I'm curious about patients and staff... are these voting people? I voted this morning, bright and early. As I’m asking around I find that Rosie the Tech hasn’t voted yet, but still plans to. Carol the Tech asks if we can still vote after today… she intended to vote in early voting but never did actually get there. I let her know it's almost too late, and I kid Rosie that if she doesn’t vote, my candidate will do better... and she re-commits to voting before 7.

Kim the Nurse is working to cannulate me and set up my machine. She reports that she is registered to vote in Round Rock but now lives in Buda. She complains that “they” should let us vote wherever we are and there should be no precints or boundaries on our right to vote.

The Doc comes by for a “drive by” with Jennifer the Dietician and informs me that they are now doing things a bit differently; that they will concentrate on one part of the medical review each week. Today it is BP. My BP looks fine to him, so if there is nothing else, he’ll see me next week. So, this drive by was less than a minute.

While watching the news and seeing what they say about the exit polls, etc., I hear that UT is playing Nebraska tonight, so I find the game and settle back to enjoy the surprise of a basketball game I didn’t know was happening today. I watch the game and switch over to the news stations once in awhile to check on my favorite Democratic candidates throughout the game. The game and the primary are both close calls but the good guys win in the end.

Since UT and most of my candidates win tonight, it is a good night! I pack up my bag at the end and head home, satisfied with the day and happy to still be enjoying life.

Notes: In at 76.9 and out at 74.8 Kgs.
New Readers: For an INDEX, click January 2008 on the Sidebar and page down to post # 207.


223) Of Mammoths & Mishaps

March 1, 2008

El Milagro: Called in at 2 and Rosie the Tech said I can either come in at 2:30, “or forget it”. She has one ten minute opening and a chair, if I can get there by 2:30. I thank her, grab a sandwich, and ZOOM across town, arriving right at 2:30 on the dot… but forget my starting weight in the rush to make it to the chair on time. “So, that’s my fault?” Rosie quips. “No… I have an internal locus of control so I take full responsibility for all my mistakes and my Swiss cheese brain.” Rosie sets me up and pokes me. Kim the Nurse does my nursing eval. Today I am on the North wall, beside John the Reader. Jo the Nurse says “Hi” when she comes by to fiddle with the chair-side computer, as does Amanda the Tech.

I am waiting for the UT – Tech game to start at 3. Jo comes by to shoot my epogen into my blood circuit and I notice her sticking three syringes into the docking valve and ask “6600?” She replies, “9900” so it looks like I’m getting even more than I thought I was. Later Jo clarifies that they must’ve boosted me to 9900 on Thursday cause that’s when they adjust meds based on peoples lab reports.

I get my mind off epogen-related vein explosions and concentrate on the UT game… which goes down the tubes at the end and Tech ends up winning. DAMN! That about ruins my day, so I click over to Discovery Channel and half-heartedly watch “Raising the Mammoth”, which does take my mind off the loss to Tech... watching these guys spend a coupla years digging a big old mammoth out of the permafrost bog of Siberia. Chilly!

John the Reader is having some difficulty with his session today... chest pains that lead Kim the Nurse to bring over the oxygen machine... and then, somehow, his trocar gets pulled out and blood shoots all over the place and John yells out "OH NO!" and Rosie runs over to clamp off the geyser... and Kim runs to check the machines, and then things get back to normal. For a minute there are 4 staff hovering around John and wiping up the mess and making sure he is okay and comfortable. Watching them jump in this kind of emergency situation makes me confident that they can handle just about anything that comes up here. I sit beside John, watching my mammoth show while also checking on him outa the corner of my eye. He is resting with his eyes closed and seems to be doing alright. They stop his session and patch him up and he rests. When he is ready to get up and take a standing BP, I ask him how he is doing... and he shares that it has been a rough week. He looks tired. He continues that he had two mini heart attacks this past week, was hospitalized and they put two stints in and then one of them collapsed. So, they aren't going to repair that one and he has a doctor's appointment Monday where he'll challenge the doc about why they even did a stint where he thinks they didn't need to put one. I support him by encouraging him to be upfront and assertive with the docs.... remembering to ask what else they could have done (see post # 217; Groopman). I wish John good luck and watch him shuffle out of the big room, on his way to weigh several times and get an average weight.

Reminds me to ask Rosie the Tech if she completed the form to have the weighing machine checked, which she forgot... but then went and got a form right then and filled it out in front of me. Jo wonders why John's weight is always different and mine is always the same, and I reply... "So... thats why we're asking for the thing to be checked!" but I understand her confusion about the whole story.

By 7:30 I am ready to shoot outa here… and Rosie cheers me out by saying, “Try not to think of this place for awhile…” Onward through the bog.

Notes: In at 75.8 and out at 74.6 Kgs.
New Readers: For an INDEX, click January 2008 on the Sidebar and page down to post # 207.