Monday, September 27, 2021

ER Memories (#4)


Most of my time in the ER was spent fulfilling the orders of the harried staff … ordering labs, xrays, calls to specialists, etc. Since our ER was often overloaded it was a challenge to keep ahead of it all and I thrived on it. I was older than most of the nurses and even many of the doctors; however, this didn’t seem to matter. I was good at what I did and they appreciated that.

Over the years I took on kind of a mother figure there. They knew that I was of the generation that finds the “F” word shocking and they rarely used it in my presence. I appreciated their consideration. I was also sure that they would never hear that word from my lips. I will never forget the day that this came to an end !

The nurses did very well with the ER Docs but as soon as a staff Dr. showed up the whole atmosphere would change. These doctors were very demanding and expected the nurses to drop everything (no matter what was going on with the other ER patients) and to be at their beck and call. This particular day it was exceptionally busy. All 18 rooms were full, 3 staff doctors had arrived at the same time and none of the ordered lab results had come back. When I called the lab they explained that a technician was out sick and they were doing the best they could.

I relayed this info but the staff doctors wouldn’t accept it. They had the poor nurses almost in tears and I couldn’t believe the words that were being yelled at them, the patient charts that were being banged down and the overall disruption of the ER. Of course this ultimately came down upon my head, the messenger of the bad news. I knew that none of the patients were critical and could see no reason for all the turmoil. I was completely fed up and had as much as I could take so I stood up and yelled …“Everyone just F__king shut up.”

This brought on absolute dead silence and it seemed to stay that way forever until a nurse broke the ice by saying, in a timid voice: “Oooh, that’s just as if my mother said that.” That did it. We all broke up laughing, the staff doctors stormed off and we went back to business as usual.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

ER Memories (#3)

In 1985 my little town of Vass, NC, played host to a small-time circus to raise money for a local charity. The draw for the opening night was Tiny Tim who some of you will remember for his unforgettable rendition of “Tiptoe though the Tulips.” 

I saw part of his show but had to be up very early the next day to get to my job in the ER of  our local hospital. Imagine my surprise upon arriving there the next morning to see a familiar looking figure dressed in a long black coat at the front desk. It was Tiny Tim. 

He had a small paper bag with him and was pleading with the head nurse to have the ER Dr. see him immediately and in private. She finally determined that he was carrying a urine sample that he swore he had obtained from a girl in Vass (!) She, according to Tiny Tim, was accusing him of getting her pregnant and he wanted the Dr. to prove her wrong. This whole scene was getting more and more bizarre. The nursing supervisor tried to tell him that it was way too early to determine anything but Tiny Tim just became more agitated and obnoxious.

He started yelling about “my rights as a citizen” and “people taking advantage of me because I’m a star”, and it was at this point that the news photographers arrived. In retrospect we could clearly see that we’d been conned. He managed to get a front page spread in the local newspaper, as well as mentions in the Raleigh and Fayetteville ones also.

The un-named girl from Vass “conveniently” disappeared and Tiny Tim, with a big 

                                                               GOTCHA !   

smile on his face, tiptoed quietly out of our lives.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

ER Memories (#2)

Looking back
to the late 70's I am amazed at how casual it was in the ER where I worked. Almost everyone smoked and the medical personnel would often be exhaling smoke as they entered a patient’s room. We even had one doctor who loved his cigars and you always knew when he was nearby because the smell of those cigars followed him everywhere.

It was around the mid 80’s when one of the MD’s (who specializes in pulmonary diseases) started to complain. At first he was laughed at (especially when he warned us of second-hand smoke) but he kept at it ruthlessly. The first things to go were the ash trays in the ER ! Then, little by little, the powers to be started to rally behind him and by the mid 90’s all smoking was banned inside the hospital, including in the cafeteria. 

However, when I retired in 2001 they still had designated smoking areas outside at perhaps 20 different locations. Now, fast forward to 2010 when I visited a sick friend and saw this sign for the first time:


          HURRAY… the entire hospital, inside and out, is now smoke-free!

                                            THANKS, DR. COLLINS.

Monday, September 13, 2021

ER Memories (#1)

In 1982 I was working in the emergency department of our local hospital. That's me on the right with one of the nurses and Dr. J., the Director of the ER. I think this was some sort of promotion photo.

As I looked at this picture recently it reminded me of a particular day in the early 80's that I worked in the ER while my husband was a patient upstairs in the hospital. This was not unusual. He was a very brittle type I diabetic and was often admitted for observation. I had checked on him before going to work and he was doing well.

I didn't realize that it was Valentine's Day until one of the Doctors brought in a large box of candy for us. “Darn”, I thought, “I should have bought a card for Dick.” Then it occurred to me that I could make him one. Luckily we were not busy and I decided to craft a Valentine's card from stuff in the ER. I gathered old magazines, colored markers, scissors, etc. and got to work.

I was sitting next to Dr. J. but didn't know that he was watching me. When I looked up and noticed his quizzical expression I proudly held up the card which I had created. He shook his head and said “Wow. That is so ...” and I was sure he was going to say “...creative and loving” or something to that effect. Instead he said “Wow. That is so cheap. Why not buy the poor guy a card?”

I was crushed but if the ER teaches you anything its resilience so I just smiled and turned my back on him. After all he was just a doctor and what do they know???

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

ER Memories


1977 was a tough year for anyone in the Real Estate business in or around Poughkeepsie, NY. IBM relocated to North Carolina and that left thousands of houses to sell and no one to buy. My husband closed down our small real estate business and followed IBM. He had been offered a job as General Manager for a building contractor and decided to take that (the one and only time in his life that he worked for anyone else) while I stayed put and tried to sell our house.

Fast forward to 1978 and you'll see that our house has sold (practically given away) and the children and I have joined my husband in North Carolina. I started desperately looking for work but everywhere I went I came up against the same “problem”. I was 45, a “yankee” and when asked to give my qualifications I would proudly state that for the past 15 years I had worked along side my husband. He had attained his Real Estate license and we had opened a small “mom and pop” Real Estate agency where I worked as his general manager and salesperson. I soon found out that this answer ALWAYS got the same reaction from these sweet talking Southern belles ...  "Awww. how sweet.  You worked for your hubby.  Sorry, no place for you here !"

Luckily my husband had made friends with some of the locals and even joined their Rescue Squad. They nicknamed him the “Southern Yankee” and he told them how he and I and two other couples had started a Rescue Squad in our county up north. (They were amazed that females were part of it but it came to be the factor that got me a job). One Saturday he and I were at a barbecue when one of the wives arrived late and exhausted. She was a nurse in the ER of the large hospital where we lived and said that one of the secretaries had quit in mid shift and they were overwhelmed. Evidently Dr. J., the head doc in the ER had put out the word to find someone to replace her … “AND DO IT NOW!”

As you can imagine I was thrilled and, sure enough, one call to Dr. J. and all the restraints were lifted. I started the next morning and not only did it give us the medical insurance that we needed but it gave me a treasure trove of memories from that day until July of 2001 when I retired. I plan to share those memories with you and start with this very short one …

On my first day the head nurse in the ER showed me where the large styrofoam cups were stored. She explained that they were for the staff and we needed to put our initials on the cup with a permanent marker so that no one else would use that cup. I thought it a great idea and I can proudly say that no one EVER touched my cup.    My initials are VD !

Friday, September 03, 2021


 I have found an amazing place on the Internet that I now visit every morning. You may enjoy doing that too. It is …

Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive 2015

This is from NASA and it takes you all the way back to 2015. (actually you can go back even further to their first entry on June 1995 if you choose to.) Their introductory explanation states ...“Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.”

For instance their entry for 2021 August 26 is titled, A Blue Hour Full Moon with the Image Credit & Copyright credited to Giorgia Hofer. It then shows her amazing photo and tells where and when she took the picture and her written explanation of what you are seeing.

Now, to whet your appetite here is her photo: “A Blue Hour Full Moon”

I think it's OK that I posted this photo because I write that Giorgia Hofer has the credit & copyright. Her complete explanatory write-up and the picture are featured on August 26 of the archive.  I have to admit that I don't always understand the technical stuff but I love being introduced to outer space.