Oct 28, 2011

I'm proud of us as a species...

Last night, I feel like I watched human accomplishment summed up neatly into a three hour window.

You see, RockStar and I decided to watch a horror movie, being all close to Halloween and everything. Since Netflix inexplicably didn't have access to the Ring, despite it turning nine years old this year, we watched Night of the Living Dead.

Then we watched the first episode of the Walking Dead.

Evolution in action people. It's not like Night of the Living Dead just has bad special effects. I feel that's an unfair accusation to lodge against the past. Just everything about zombie culture has improved so significantly. Even our fictional media response. In Night of the Living Dead, we get "The murderers... they seem to be feasting on their victims... more on this as it unfolds", and despite my unfavorable view of our current media, I feel fairly confident that after one morgue attendant got dragged screaming to his death, the first headline would be "HOLY CRAP, ZOMBIES. F'ING RUN. IT'S TOTALLY ZOMBIES. HEADSHOTS KILL THEM"

I object to sequences such as the following:

Useless woman watches nearly equally useless sibling get murdered by zombie while pathologically not helping. Woman eventually runs and trips over high heels, because... chicks, am I right?

Time elapses. Woman is on ground. Woman is not getting up. More time elapses. Woman is screaming and kind of shuffling around. You're like "Aw, that's sad, she must have broken her tibia." Eventually woman gets up and runs like a deer. The directing required to fix this oft repeated scene seems like it would be easily repaired by going "Okay, now fall and then start running again. Like maybe as fast as someone who was out for a casual jog would if she tripped and got up."

Then someone chucked a molotov cocktail about a foot from a car they were using. This is why the younger generation thinks people from the "past" are dumb. This is our resource for behavioral studies on people from the 60s and 70s. Not a good legacy.

I feel like this is a better source for remastering than say... adding a big "NO" to Star Wars. Just saying.

So then Walking Dead... which is frigging awesome. Good cinematography, good acting, still enough human stupidity to be believable. Zombie-win. And it's a network show too, which blows me away. I've been watching a ton of movie channel shows lately and have forgotten what's allowable on network tv so naturally when a small girl holding a stuffed animal gets shot in the forehead in the first five minutes of the first episode, I was like "Hmm, HBO or Showtime?" Nope. I'd just forgotten how much violence we're willing to tolerate at the expense of frontal nudity. But I watch Dexter, so I'm okay with it.

Speaking of zombies, I may have mentioned this, but I've come to grips with the fact that if there is a zombie uprising, I'm dead. Like first 15 seconds of the movie dead. I'm the one in the white coat mucking around the hospital morgue that's like "What's that soun... ARRRGHHHHHHHH!!!!"

When I'm a zombie though, I'm going to totally bite our dog. Because you know what's cooler than a zombie? A zombie with a zombie rottweiler.

ANYway, I'm still in blood bank. Hooray! Blood bank is giving me some interesting "You learn things by teaching" moments. Many of the principles behind what the blood bank does are confusing. Extremely confusing. I'm learning them now as part of the whole rotation, and I have a great instructor and lots of packets to aid my learning.

As the first year resident, when I have the pager, I'm the first one people talk to. I'm not the *last* one people talk to, thank goodness, but I'm the gatekeeper, only *I* get asked the riddles. I'm the anti-sphinx.

In clinical medicine, you largely talk to patients. This is a mixed blessing because the level of patient understanding ranges from not knowing what a liver is and why drinking antifreeze should not be a cost effective alternative to vodka, to being experimental pharmacologists that realize my puny knowledge of antibiotics is inadequate. But *most* patient interactions involve de-med-schoolizing your knowledge to an audience that didn't attend medical school while med-schoolizing their symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis and management plan.

In blood bank, I talk to doctors that almost exclusively are higher on the food chain than I am, and techs that should be. When I'm asked questions, it is almost exclusively stuff I either flat out don't know, or think I know until I start trying to explain it to someone with a medical degree.


Ishie studies material and periodically checks the internet. Pager goes off.
Ishie: "S***" (checks pager. Sees blood bank number)
Ishie: "Whew." Dials.
Blood bank tech: "This is what needs to be done but someone with different letters after their name has to say it needs to be done. Do it."
Ishie: "No problem!" (does it, calls back blood bank)
Ishie: "I did it! They say it's cool."
Blood bank tech: "Good girl. You get a cookie."
Ishie: (wags tail happily)


Ishie studies material and periodically checks the internet. Pager goes off.
Ishie: "S***" (checks pager. Sees foreign number.)
Ishie: "Double S***" (dials)
Senior resident/fellow/attending in other specialty: "Yes, this is Dr. ScaryName. We have an extremely sick patient named Joe PleaseDontDie, medical record number IHopeYoureHoldingAPenInYourHand and we've already done all the stuff that you learned about in medical school and most of the stuff you've learned about in blood bank, but now we need to know if we need really hard-to-get blood products, or if we can use this type of blood product that you read about a little while ago, but it involved a lot of letters and numbers and while you feel kind of okay about it, you definitely don't feel qualified-to-give-expert-advice okay about it?"
Ishie: "..."
Dr. ScaryName: "Hello?"
Ishie: "Uh... so what is the patient's relevant blood value?" (starts hastily flipping through stacks of papers and pulling up patient history and labs)
Dr. ScaryName: "DangerouslyLowNumber"
Ishie: "Oh! Yeah, that's pretty bad."
Dr. ScaryName: "So... what should we do?"
Ishie: "Vasovagal syncope is mediated by the autonomic nervous system"
Dr. ScaryName: "Did you see that on Scrubs?"
Ishie: "... yes."
Ishie: "Umm... I think you should... let me clear this with my attending first. Are you going to be at this number for a minute?"
Dr. ScaryName: "No. I have to go see sick people."
Ishie: "Ah... well... let me page you in a minute." (hangs up, dials attending)
Attending: "Hello?"
Ishie: "Daddydaddydaddydaddy, this really smart doctor called me and asked me a bunch of questions and I don't want to accidentally kill anyone and then I scraped my knee and the neighbor boy made fun of me."
Attending: "There there. Do this thing. You see, this antibody is causing the problem, but we will need to talk to the Red Cross and they will find a donor and patient will be far less likely to die."
Ishie: "Cool! Thanks!" (confidently gets back in touch with Dr. ScaryName)
Ishie: "Do this thing! You see, this antibody is causing the problem, but we will need to talk to the Red Cross and they will find a donor and patient will be far less likely to die."
Dr. ScaryName: "Okay, thank you. That is very helpful. One question, just in passing... How would that antibody arise when patient was negative for it last time, but we don't have a record of previous transfusions?"
Ishie: "Well what happens is when a patient..." (knowledge decay)
Dr. ScaryName: "Hello?"
Ishie: "Dammit!"

Then I get home from work. This gives me another opportunity to learn by teaching smart people because my roommate will be all "how was your day" and I'm like "incredible (blood bank on a bad day is less exhausting than surge path on a good day) though I had a rough call towards the end of the day" and she'll ask me what happened and then it starts over again, but now I'm explaining the situation to an intelligent layman, so then I realize how incredibly convoluted the entire thing sounds. Blood involves a lot of really difficult concepts to grasp so I found myself at the end of the evening struggling to remember what blood group antigens typically do since most of them have some nebulous function beyond being your body's self destruct button if someone with different blood attempts to help you.

For example... did you know there are different blood groups? Of course you did! You guys are hardcore. ABO, no problem. You may know what blood type you are. You rock stars even know about Rh stuff I bet. Did you know the whole Rh positive negative thing consists of several different genes closely linked, any of which can be different and create conflict? Neither did I. Duffy blood group? MNS? Lutheran? Lewis? Kell? Some are IgG. Some are IgM. Some are IgMs that act like IgGs. Some aren't important. Some *usually* aren't important until they become important. Some bacteria like to temporarily screw around with your minor blood groups because bacteria are bastards, have been here longer than you have, and resent you because your DNA is all locked up in a nice looking nucleus acting like it's better than they are.

Fortunately, I'm surrounded by awesome people that don't make me feel as dumb as I possibly am AND I don't have to take too many calls per day because everyone's pretty good at this stuff and the hard stuff doesn't come up *that* much. But it's still some serious brain strain. Either that, or I'm already a zombie.


Spice Island Queen said...

awesome. i have to admit, i started reading but you lead with zombies, and i really don't care about them, so i almost stopped. but then i skimmed ahead and you are an amazing writer. i loved your blood bank day recap with all the scrubs references and everything else. keep doing what you do! happy halloween to you, zombies and all!

Ishie said...

Thank you! Happy Halloween to you as well.

heyroth said...

How can you not love zombies? Best.Post.Ever.