Time wounds all heels.
Well not quite. But since Aesop's pearls of wisdom have been popping up a lot lately, I thought I might throw in one of my own.
Unfortunately, it's not my heels that are wounded...but my psyche is a little battered. I'm having one of those 12 hour shift weeks, which I've been reminded by some of my more jaded coworkers is my own damn fault. And while it's true that I volunteered, and it's equally true that it's pretty exhausting, I feel good about being able to do something that'll make a big difference in someone else's life.
One of my coworkers was planning to go home to the Philippines this week, and then we came up a tech short. I volunteered to cover half of her shifts so she can see her husband and her family. I consider it an investment. If she gets to make this trip once a year, she's happy. And if she's happy, she'll stick around and won't be shorthanded, and then I'll be happy.
And those cranky old naysayers can say nay all they want, but it sounds like a good long-term outcome for a short period of discomfort to me.
However, that also means I'm tired and more likely to do something dumb. So yesterday I spiked my hand with a dirty needle while loading the blood gas analyzer. Obviously, we have a protocol for needle sticks. For one thing, they're fairly common, and for another, we have a protocol on everything, up to and including how to use the flashlights in a power outage.
So the protocol swung into action. I went to the ER, filled out a stack of forms, and had my blood drawn for HIV and hepatitis testing. Although the process is tedious and the needle stick is stressful, the highlight was the nurses in ER asking me about the source blood.
Newborn babies don't have naturally occurring antibodies for the first 6-ish weeks of their lives. They count on the residual immunity from the shared mother's blood in utero. So baby's blood tends to be "cleaner" than mama's, although there's a risk that if mom is carrying infectious diseases, they can be passed to the baby. But it's not a foregone conclusion.
So...the nurses were asking about the source blood in terms of it's infection potential.
"It's from a(n umbilical) cord blood.", I said.
"Well...is that mom's blood or baby's blood?", asks Nurse.
"Yes", says I, helpfully.
The nurses and I puzzled that one around for a while, and finally decided it doesn't matter. Whatever mama's got, baby's carrying. Baby may be able to shed it, whatever it is, but in the first few weeks of life, baby and mama are immunologically pretty much the same.
So mama and I had out Rapid HIV tests and conveniently we were both negative. I'll do it again three more times in a year before being declared disease free.
Since needle sticks are fairly common in this line of work, almost everyone has a personal story to tell. One of my coworkers was telling me about his only needle stick; it happened when he was trying to draw blood on a drunken homeless guy in the ER.
Of course it did.
That's the way it always seems to go. Drunks are the most combative AND the most risky. They makes every day at work a potential adventure. So if you ever find yourself planning a night of hard drinking, please make an effort to stop before you end up in the ER, pissing yourself, screaming incoherently, and hitting my phlebotomists. Thank you.
So that was my night last night. I'm figuring that tonight is bound to be better since I've got nowhere to go but up from that. I've got a few more 2 a.m. shifts, and then Lori and I can relax this weekend. We're planning to go to the State Fair and eat food on a stick, see the record-sized vegetables and the prize-winning livestock, and get our free flyswatters from the political booths. And THERE'S a metaphor if I've ever seen one.
Wish me luck for tonight.