Tuesday, October 09, 2012

beeturia, and other important matters


I would estimate that, on average, about 20% of my workday involves actual patient contact. The rest of it is documenting everything that happens and different protocols and parameters and blah blah blah and looking up orders and paging doctors to get things ordered and giving and getting Report and charging cell phones (patients aren't allowed to have their chargers because, you know, cords) and other little administrative-y type stuff. Today it took me two hours to obtain the appropriate container in which to put a urine specimen for a gonorrhea/chlamydia test.

It went something like this: print label through complicated label printing/scanning process--do not recognize type of specimen container specified on said label--ask coworker if she knows, coworker does not know know--call lab, go through automated system to get ahold of someone in microbiology--explain situation--get told that the particular container needs to be ordered from Central Stores; the various urine specimen containers on The Unit are not sufficient--call Central Stores, get placed on hold for 10 minutes--get sent container via tube system like those at drive-through ATMs--use critical thinking skills to recognize that "URETHRAL SWAB KIT" is wrong container for patient-provided urine sample--call Central Stores again--explain situation--get sent a second "URETHRAL SWAB KIT"--call Central Stores again--get sent correct container, finally--return two incorrect containers so that Unit is not billed for them--transfer urine specimen to correct container via pipette--get overhead-paged while in Treatment Room transferring urine via pipette--yell out into nurses' station: "I AM TRANSFERRING URINE IN A PIPETTE! PLEASE TAKE A MESSAGE!"--put specimen in a bag and into the drive-through-ATM-like tube system to send off to the lab--fin.

Also, I just have to say, I love the word "specimen."


And speaking of words--I learned a new one last week. "Beeturia," according to Wikipedia, "is passing of pink or red urine after eating beets." [Also, passing of pink or red poop.] I came across this term while looking up another one, hematechezia, which I'd seen in a patient's chart. (Feel free to look up that one yourself.) I had no idea that having pink or red urine after eating beets was a real, medical thing. I thought it was something that just happened to everyone, like when your pee smells like coffee or asparagus after you consume coffee or asparagus. (Please tell me all your pee smells like coffee or asparagus after consuming those things.) But it turns out beeturia only happens to 11-14% of the population. And it is related to iron deficiency. So based on my informal reader poll which showed that 62% of you (including myself) suffer this affliction, I'd say we all need to eat more beef, beans, and spinach.


The other day, a coworker--a sweet older lady not from this country--asked me, "Have you ever been drunk?" I laughed. Then I Tweeted about it. Then I got to thinking...

I have been drinking alcoholic beverages for almost exactly 13 years--since the start of college in the fall of 1999. So let's say I've gotten drunk once per week, on average, considering that many weeks I did not get drunk at all, some weeks I got drunk more than once, and some weeks I got drunk much much more than once helloooo 2006. This means that I have been drunk approximately 676 times. So, yes, dear innocent coworker. I have indeed been drunk. Can I hug you?


Here are some things I have enjoyed on the internet recently:

You know I love a good advice column, and I have just found a new one! It is called Turning the Screw and it's about existential issues and it's written by Heather Havrilesky who is a real live writer who's sold books and stuff. Here is an excerpt, from a column entitled, "I'm About To Have A Baby And I'm Freaking Out":
You know what's awesome, though? As petulant and unforgiving as they are, babies have a pretty singular way of distracting you from the brutal impact of your slow, sickening decline for a long, long time. They don't just distract, in fact, they create the illusion that you're building something important, rather than just decomposing in slow motion. This illusion of growth/importance is exactly what makes most parents so fucking insufferable. But it also keeps them from murdering themselves and each other. Most of the time.

What's funny about the eve of child-birthing is that you believe yourself to be teetering on the brink of a terrible new life, whereas those who've been there recognize that you're about to be handed a free pass from justifying your existence for the next decade. No one really thinks you're doing something good for the world by bringing another lazy, entitled future film student into the world, mind you. But your hormones are going to feed you that fairy tale, so lean into that shit and savor the hell out of it.
I also used to love Nerve.com and it hasn't been so great lately, but the new feature/hopefully-regular-column called "My Parents Grade My Exes" made me chuckle/wish I had the writer's parents.
Abby (2008-2009) 
Dad: When I think of her, I think of going to a carnival, going to the cotton-candy booth, and getting a white cone with no cotton candy on it.
Mom: Extremely bland. In the world of food, she'd be a big bowl of plain mashed potatoes. No salt. No pepper. No seasoning of any kind. Every once in a while, I wanted to poke her with a stick to see if she was still alive.

Emma (2011) 
Mom: I liked her a lot. What can I say? Too bad you gave her scabies. You guys were like a comedy team. She was very beautiful and she ate like a horse. I really admire that in a girl.
And lastly, a Jezebel.com article entitled, "The Silliest Pink Crap Money Can Buy, None of Which Will Cure Breast Cancer." This made me happy because I've long had a negative gut reaction whenever I see pink breast cancer "awareness" stuff for sale and I've never quite been able to pinpoint why. It's great that there is now widespread knowledge of this disease, but the way we've gone about creating that just seems tacky and disingenuous. And also, there are so many other diseases that could use having people guilt tripped into buying kitschy junk in order to make money for their treatment research.

But then again, maybe awareness regardless of the means is better than no awareness? Also, there is this product:
Like every busy mom, corporate hot shot, and college student, Poo~Pourri is learning how to multitask. They're keeping bathrooms odor free and creating more hostesses with the mostesses, all while raising awareness for breast cancer and aiding in the research for a cure.

I'm sold.


Andrew DF said...

Heh. Fall '99 drunk Gina. Epic.

Nick said...

Thanks for scouring the Internet so that the rest of us don't have to.