Whatever the time or the space
The day of the week or the place
It won’t come as a shock
I’m always a doc,
And I could read the pain or her face.
Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I am back having adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. I spent the winter in Nome, Alaska, followed by assignments in rural Iowa. The summer and fall included a funeral, a bicycle tour in Michigan, cherry picking in Iowa, a medical conference in Denver, and working Urgent Care in suburban Pennsylvania. Right now I’m in Virginia for the holiday. Any patient information has been included with permission.
I travel with an expensive medication for my ankylosing spondylitis. Every 5 days I take a shot, and I have to keep the stuff refrigerated. I put a month’s supply into the smallest cooler in the house along with a gel cold pack, fully prepared to submit to TSA inspection.
With TSA Precheck, I didn’t have to take off my boots or show my computer at the airport in Omaha. I stood in line waiting for my carry on to finish in x-ray, and I watched the TSA personnel.
The youngest member of the staff sat by the x-ray monitor, and stopped the belt when my backpack came through. He summoned an older woman, either his supervisor or his trainer. They conferred while I watched. My medical training never stops, it’s who I am, and I saw pain on the face of the lightly built, blonde woman. She might have hidden it from her coworkers, but not from me. After a moment, I could see that her left hand spent more time hovering over her lower abdomen than anywhere else. I couldn’t make a diagnosis without a good history and a physical exam, but I could see her abdomen swelled more than normal for a person of her build. What could this be? I asked myself, What’s the differential?
The two TSA officials conferred, they went back and forth. After a minute, my backpack came down the belt, I picked it up and I walked on.
But I knew what had happened. Pain lowered the standards of the TSA security official. She had guessed, accurately, that I posed no threat. But we already knew the TSA hassles constitute more placebo than real security.
I like to show off my talent for sharpening knives. On arrival to Virginia, I volunteered to carve the turkey and immediately brought a shaving edge to the blade I would use.
Later that evening, one of the family members, chopping onions with that chef’s knife, cut the end of his ring finger, and the cut bled vigorously.
I have no license in this state, but, heck, anyone can apply first aid. And I learned plenty of basics this summer working Urgent Care; I can’t remember a shift when I didn’t see at least one fingertip injury. Mostly on the non-dominant hand (because the dominant hand holds the blade), and happened usually in a time of crisis or stress. Dominant hand lacerations happened almost always on the job.
So we sat together, I applied local pressure, squeezing the area vigorously for 5 minutes. The bleeding stopped, and I applied Superglue.