Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Push Deeper and Slower"

Never thought I'd hear a man say that to me.

Don't get me wrong, he's a good-looking guy, but hey, I'm married and have kids (like any Republican senator), but that's besides the point.

Well, okay, he wasn't telling me to push him deeper and harder; he was telling me to push the other guy deeper and harder.  I'll explain in a minute, but first I need to step up onto the soap box:

There was alcohol involved. 

Hard liquor.

Fire water.

Here's the deal:  in this great land of ours' we are not supposed to state publicly that we consume alcohol.  Go ahead, and post a picture of yourself on Facebook with a drink in your hand.  Good luck finding a job, after that.  Despite the fact that you can't drive a freeway without flying past a billboard with a picture of a young blonde woman in a bikini holding a can of beer, we are all supposed to deny that we consume alcohol.  The erroneous assumption is that if you state publicly that you enjoy an occasional drink, then you're actually a no holds-barred raging alcoholic.


So, now I will tell you that aproximately every other Friday or Saturday night* instead of watching bad TV, I put a chair outside the front door (after I finaly find the cigar cutter), and park outside the house with the following items:

1) a large glass of cold water
2) a 2 ounce shot glass with 2 ounces of whiskey or brandy
3) a lighter (optional)
4) an imported cigar (optional)
5) the stars in the night sky
6) the moon

In a good year, I smoke around 10 cigars.  Typically, my wife buys me a pack of 10 high-quality cigars, each October for my birthday, and I finish them by next October.

Each year from this Christmas to the next, I consume one bottle of whiskey or brandy.  It takes me a year to go through a bottle of the good stuff.  And I do drink the good stuff.  If it's Scottish, it's single malt.  If it's American, it's single barrel.  Either way, it's at least 12 years old.

Not so in the case of the guy I was pushing too fast and too hard.

For the Fourth of July I performed my patriotic duty by working the day shift in the Emergency Room.  I was taking a breather after spending a couple hours on my feet in the O.R. wearing a lead apron, thyroid shield, and leaded glasses while operating the C-arm, when the overhead speaker announced, "RESPIRATORY THERAPY, E.R., STAT.  RESPIRATORY THERAPY, E.R., STAT." 

Uh, oh.

I got up, and dragged myself over to the E.R., where everybody was standing around Bed One.  In any ER, Bed One is the bed where they take care of people who have serious problems.  If you take somebody that you love to the hospital, and they put them into Bed One, that's not good.  I turned on the portable x-ray machine, made sure I have couple of 14X17s in the cassette holder, set it for a chest technique, and parked it really close to the ER door (We're not supposed to do that, but when there's a code blue going on, I defy decorum because when they intubate somebody or suspect a pneumothorax, I wanna shoot that cxr ASAP.)

I ask, "What's going on?"

Nurse says, "Full arrest.  Forty year old."


So we're all standing around, staring at the ER side door, where ambulances arrive.


"Five minutes."

Okay, I'm just gonna wait right here.

Finally, 12 minutes later the firemen show up, doing chest compressions on a guy in a gurney, while they wheel him in.  Their leader, the tallest, youngest fireman I've ever seen (seriously; this guy is NBA material), gives report to the ER Doc.  He rattles off how many milligrams of atropine, epinephrine, etc. he has given the guy, while I'm staring up at his retro-70s Neil Young sideburns, and nerd glasses. 

Apparently our friend here vomited blood, twice, the product of esophegeal varices, then crashed.  Esopha-what?  Well, you know your mom's varicose veins on her legs?  This guy had varicose veins of the esophagus, induced by years of drinking copious amounts of hard liquor.

Now, I like Jack Daniel, and George Dickel (despite the fact that they hated each other**), but here's how I like my whiskey: 




Alone, except that one night a year at Cathy Jacob's house, when we read bad Scottish poetry, while drinking good Scottish Whisky with no "e".  On that, I enjoy the company of others who appreciate a good drink, and a good cigar.

So anyway, we take over, and after our in-house EMTdoes chest compressions on the guy for 5 minutes (she's half my age, and half my weight), I step up to the plate i.e. foot stool, and find myself doing compressions for an amazingly long period of time, while the ER Doc is hunting for our new friend's femoral artery, so that he can start a triple lumen on him. 

ER Doc says, "Hold compressions."

I say, "Holding compressions," take my hands off the guy's chest, and stand up straight.  My left latissimus dorsi complains vigorously, so I reach for the ceiling, giving my back muscles a well-deserved stretch.

ER Doc says, "Stretch."

Hands in the air, I answer, "Stretching!"

ER Doc runs the line into the guy's femoral artery and says, "Resume compression."


ER Doc says, "Push deeper, and slower."

"Deeper and slower."

I didn't want to break the guy's ribs.  I've done that, you know.  Budapest, 1987 I believe.  Or was it 89?  Any way, I kept guesstimating how deep an inch and a half is, when pushing down on Jack Daniel here, not wanting to reak his ribs.  He doesn't need a pneumopthorax on top of his stopped heart, and internal bleeding.

Eventually, I let Rich take over.  He's a foot taller than me and could do CPR on a Grizzly Bear.

Next morning I'm doing one of my favorite things: washing the dishes while listening to KPCC, and Larry Mantle is doing a live show--a town hall meeting--about the legalization of marijuana.  One of the guests was LA County Sheriff Leroy "Lee" Baca.  Baca made several claims that I find hard to believe, but he did say something that floored me:  He said  that people use illegal drugs like marijuana as "self-medication" for depression.


The conversation almost shifted into a debate about health insurance.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and rather than discussing drug abuse as a health issue, the conversation steered back to shooting illegal border crossers.

Made me proud to be an American.

Here's my take on legalizing pot in the US:  I have never smoked pot in my life.  Not once.  If they made it legal tomorrow, I would feel no desire to try it out. That's the least of it.  Here's the real point:  If they made it legal to buy, grow, and sell pot, the people who would go into business i.e. "go legit" are the ones who are already growing and selling it.  I don't hang out with people like that because they give me the willies.  I don't like druggies.  I know that this is a case of generalizing, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that all of the people who I have ever known who were into the drug culture were all people with very fuzzy moral boundaries.

*Actually, I don't think I drink that often.
**Yes, there really was a guy named Jack Daniel, and his competitor was a German immigrant named Georg (George) Dickel.


Anonymous said...

Great post Tom!! I presume Jack Daniel, here didn't make it. in any case, are you sure that Rick is not s German Soccer player?


Anonymous said...

I got a an email from a friend who has a graduate degree, and a good job. He pointed out that he smokes pot, and took umbrage at my generalization that pot smokers have fuzzy moral boundaries. Sorry, but he is the exception to the rule. The druggies that I knew, growing up in San Pedro were all shifty characters--20th Century Dickens characters.
Interestingly, he didn't post here, because he doesn't want the (federal) government going after him, even though he is an end-consumer, not a grower or seller.
I think he only honed in on the part that he saw as an insult, but missed the point that Lee Baca--a cop--admitted that drugs are consumed for mental health reasons. My friend did relate that he has a friend who didn't drink much, but stopped drinking altogether, because he realized that when he drinks, he becomes an angry person. Hell, yeah: I hate angry alcoholics. People who get drunk, and proceed to tell you what a worthless piece of *&^% you are. I'm the opposite type: if I have had too much to drink, I love you, can't stop giggling, and you're my best friend.

Anonymous said...

PS: I forgot to answer your question: No, Jack Daniel didn't make it.

Anonymous said...

Look, Tom, you know I'm in recovery. I don't really disagree with you about fuzzy moral boundaries and drug use. I just find it to be treading a fine line when talking about morality in general. Next thing you know you'll have invited others to subject you to unwanted scrutiny.