Friday, March 15, 2013

Pet Mold and Other Such Things

So, when I was a kid, we used to drink a lot of apple cider.  You know, the old-fashioned stuff that came in the giant glass jug.  One day, as I was about to pour a glass, my Dad noticed a speck of something floating in the cider.  This speck, it turned out, was the tiniest little bit of mold.  As something of an experiment, we decided to keep the mold rather than wash it down the kitchen sink.

The mold, which was soon dubbed "Marty," thrived.  In fact, it wasn't long before Marty had slurped his joyous way through all the remaining cider.   It was at that moment our little experiment took a rather sickening turn.  When asked whether or not we were okay with letting Marty starve, my sister and I adamantly rose to Marty's defense.

No!  No, Marty  must be fed!  Anything less would be positively cruel!

Not Marty, but quite possibly a relative

And so the weekly feedings commenced.  My mother, of course, wasn't so happy about this new addition to the family.  In fact, she was downright horrified.  She would storm from the room at feeding time.  Small wonder--when Marty's bottle was opened, the deep sucking, hissing noise was immediately followed by a smell.

A stench.

We would all laugh (except for my Mom, who, as I said, would rush away) and shove in pieces of bread and dribblings of juice (and once, notably, a scoop of ice cream), then seal Marty up again to slowly but inexorably devour his culinary delights.  I don't recall how long this went on--months, probably.  I was only eight or so, so my grasp of elapsed time isn't so great.  What I do remember?

How it ended.

It ended with Marty's bottle cracking.  My Dad told us that Marty had gotten too big and too muscular for his home.  I believed it then, believed Marty had cracked the jar in an attempt to break free.  Looking back, I think it more likely that my mother, who was forever "accidentally" breaking things and slamming things about when angry, gave Marty a good kick in hopes of busting him up and winding him up in the trash.

When the crack was discovered, my Dad proposed taking Marty, cracked bottle and all, out to the dump and "setting him free."  My Dad went on and on about how happy Marty was going to be, how he was going to have the whole dump's worth of tasty treats at his . . . sporetips.

It's a fun memory.  Most folks would probably be horrified, I know.


I want to take a moment to talk about "Hospitalists."  It's a relatively new term to me, I guess maybe I'd have called them "Internists" or "Staff Physicians" in the way-back,  but now they are called "Hospitalists."  And I haven't got a lick of use for them.

I've had three experiences with "Hospitalists," and each one has, to be blunt, sucked.

My first?  I was admitted to St. Ben's (or Ogden Regional, as it's been known for years now) complaining of chest pains.  Now, I get a lot of chest pains, but this one was new and different.  I hit the ER, and the ER physician (Dr. Joan B., a wonderfully skilled practitioner) smacked me with more baby aspirin and hooked me up with a 12 lead EKG.  They found nothing in the ER, but admitted me and ordered a Cardiolite Stress Test, which comes with TWO fancy 64 slice CT scans for my enjoyment and future increased cancer risk.  Before sending me down for the stress test, a "Hospitalist" came into my room and, looking at my chart, said (in a rather unpleasant, accusatory tone), "I see on your EKG clear evidence of a previous heart attack."

BAM!  If that doesn't wake you up, huh?

I told him I'd had no heart attacks, but he told me that "EKGs don't lie."  Told me that, just because I didn't think I'd had one didn't mean I hadn't.  He was, overall, amazingly unpleasant and had that "omnipotent physician" thing going on.  You know the one--where he knows everything, including everything about you, and you're just stupid and slow and dull and maybe, just maybe, a liar, to boot?

This was seriously unsettling.  A heart attack?  I was 43!  When had I had a heart attack?

A while later, down in the "nuclear medicine" department, I allowed them to hook me up with a 15 or so pound harness with about a Brazillion (you know the joke--how many is a Brazilian?) leads.  They started the nasty IV that left me slogging on that treadmill like I was trying to jog through cement.  Afterwards, I asked the Cardiologist who was looking at my feeds, about the "clear evidence of a previous heart attack."  He said, "What?" and really rooted around, examining every inch of feed.  He looked up and said, "I see clear evidence of an irregular heartbeat, which we already knew about--who said you'd had a heart attack?"  I told him.

He rolled his eyes.  He practically sneered.  And then he said, "Perhaps the 'Hospitalists' should do whatever it is they do and leave the Cardiology to the Cardiologists."

I've since discovered that irregular heartbeats often trigger the "previous heart attack" flag in automated software meant to interpret EKG results.  It's not a mistake a Cardiologist would make.

My second "Hospitalist" disaster (Hospitalistsaster?) came that same hospital stay, though it was a different practitioner.  The woman wanted to put me on a particular medication for my arrhythmia. I refused, told her I was concerned about the possibility of inspiring a secondary, competing arrhythmia.  She told me that she was bound to inform my insurance company that I had refused recommended treatment, and that I faced the possibility of my insurance refusing to cover my expenses as a result.  She then told me that I was foolish to worry about such a thing, that the situation I feared was only a risk in folks with both PVCs and PACs (that's premature ventricular contractions AND premature atrial contractions).  Which is EXACTLY what I have going on.

I lost all cohesion.  I asked her if there was any particular purpose to that file in her hands?  Was it just a PROP, did she even know how to read?  Because if she DID know how to read and she HAD used my medical file for more than just set dressing, she'd know that I DID, in fact, suffer from both PVCs and PACs,.

Oddly, my insurance was never told that I had "refused recommended treatment."

Stupid, lazy people.

I will give my third "Hospitalist" credit.  While the same "automated EKG interpretation" hung us up again (this time immediately pre-surgery last spring), he DID listen when I said, "Ah, yeah--we've been through this, it's a thing that happens when the software meets my arrhythmia."  While he didn't believe that his precious software could be wrong, he did accept that I was aware and had discussed the issue with a Cardiologist.  Not the best of responses, and not the most encouraging (I like my medical folks to be open to new information and willing to learn/research an issue), but certainly better than what I got from the other two.


One last thing?  I just want to say a little something to my former teacher turned Congressman.  Hey, pal?  Don't do that--don't call people and chew them out for asking you why the House can't get its act together on the sequester.  Don't be that ass.  That young man wrote to you because YOU are HIS REPRESENTATIVE.  I know, that concept is likely far beyond you (representing a common person?  I know, right!), but that's the fact of it.  Do NOT tell him that he should call Harry Reid (who is NOT his representative) and chew him out, don't tell him that he needs to write you again and be polite.  He was polite--you were the one lacking in manners there.  And hey?  Repeating, over and over, "Don't rag on me" is NEVER the appropriate response when a constituent asks you for an explanation of your behavior.  You owe an apology.  Heck, you likely owe thousands of them, but if you're still the same smug, self-aggrandizing prig you were when I knew you in school (and you are, I see the interviews, I read the news), you'll never apologize.  I can only hope that you're right and I'm wrong on the whole afterlife thing.  


And now?  I know, it's not bad paneling, but it just SO caught my eye, it's SO awful, I had to share!

Enjoy (?)

Do not reprint without permission. © KAQ


  1. I thinkyou should start doing bad wall paper.

  2. I think I'm going to liven up the paneling with wallpaper. I mean, there's a LOT of really awful paper out there!

  3. I didn't have a pet mold, but when I was a teen, I did leave food out for my "pet" mouse that I'd seen hanging around my bedroom. Within a week we had a major rodent infestation, and I had to vacate my room for a few days while multiple traps were deployed, killing DOZENS of mice.
    I'm picturing your mom standing over Marty's cracked bottle saying, "I don't know what happened, I was watering my plants..." and then being accused of using up all of the glue on purpose!
    I admire you for looking after your own health and telling the doctors when you think they are wrong. I tend to accept their "advice" and then never fill the prescription if I don't agree with them. Then the next time I see them, they ask if I've been taking it and I tell them no, and why I don't want to, and they get annoyed. I do research all of my medications, and I know more than the average person when it comes to health care - I've had a few physiology classes, for example. Of course I'm not as educated as a doctor or even a nurse, but they often overlook things. They are shockingly negligent when it comes to looking at what you're already taking and knowing about possible drug interactions. Maybe in the past it was the pharmacist's job to catch that, but these days? Pharmacists offer counseling and advice, but
    what if the problem is with your medical history, not a medicine you're taking? The pharmacist doesn't know your diagnoses, he only knows what drugs he's selling you. The doctors have to pay more attention and not be offended if you ask them to take a closer look at your chart.
    I like the bad wallpaper. We lived in a rented house when I was little, with the WORST wallpaper I've ever seen, in all of the bedrooms. I had pink striped paper with huge bouquets of cabbage roses. My brothers' room had the most garish cartoon pirate ships you've ever seen. But at the last house I lived in, in Brigham City, only one room had wallpaper, it was the upstairs bathroom. It had a very cool 60s era foil paper, in silver with blue designs on it. Pity about the shag carpeting though. Yes, shag carpeting in the bathroom.