In Summation...

...I find that I am not yet sated.

But then, that's to be expected, me being me.  (and, as you may recall, I did expect it)

Let's see, when did I last check in?  Oh yes, Monday.  And I didn't write anything on Tuesday night because I didn't get home until after 2300, because we were in the middle of "nowhere", doing our Night Rescue Scenario, which was pretty damn great, actually.  The idea is that once the Scenario started, we were to stay In Character until one or the other of the Instructors came and retrieved us.
On my way to some Nighttime Wilderness Shenanigans

My little team of three ("Team Awesome" aka "Team More Awesome" aka "The Jokers") started our hike into darkness, all the while griping about being "lost", and less than three minutes in heard cries for help- so unexpected!  So we hustled our butts over and discovered one of our classmates- er, I mean a total stranger- with a nasty looking open fracture of the right tibia.  Into action mode we went!

What made the Scenario especially exciting to me is that we were limited to what we normally carry on a day hike- which in my case is not much at all.  Fortunately for us, one of my team-mates is ex-Marine Corps (and an EMT to boot) and thus hauls around quite a bit more.  And our patient, stars love her, actually carries a camping chair with her when she hikes, so you bet your sweet ass that came in handy when we had to splint her leg.

It was a pretty intense experience, playing pretend or no.  I'm actually glad I'm writing this now and not that night, because I was in a pretty dark place afterwards, for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I'd already been slipping down the emotional slope (my dreams were awful), and a conversation had got me thinking a lot about death, specifically my loved ones who are dead.  And of course Jerk Brain was flaring up and telling me how useless I'd been, since all I'd done was keep the patient calm and distracted from what my team mates were doing to her leg, and occasionally taken some vitals.  Intellectually, of course, I know that keeping a patient calm and distracted is actually a pretty important part of the puzzle, but Jerk Brain don't care about logic.  Effin' Jerk Brain.  Jerk Brain also went on to tell me how no one in the class actually likes me, that they were only tolerating me because they're nice people and it's rude to be mean to the nerdy girl, and that even if they thought they did like me, it was just because I was a big phony and they didn't know the real me.

(Yeah, Jerk Brain is called Jerk Brain for a reason.)

Anyway, not a good place, so I'm pretty glad to be out of it and able to look back at the night with nothing but pleasure.  Eventually we got "rescued" and that was pretty great, because our patient's leg was in a lot of pain from having her "bone" splinted so tightly against her skin (I had the same problem with my wrists on Saturday, so I was feeling some serious empathy).
But not so much that I didn't make her pose for a photo before releasing her!

Wednesday we went over Mental Health Issues, which was supremely fitting for the levels that Jerk Brain was rampaging at, but also did a good job of helping me remember how far I've really come in terms of healthier behavior.  I didn't write anything that night because I was too busy failing-at-studying for yesterday's tests.

I was the second to finish the test, which had the bizarre result of causing my inner Competitive Academic to flare up while simultaneously freaking me out that I only finished so quickly because I knew nothing. But I passed (with a grade that said Nerd part of my brain keeps insisting was an A even tho' it's only a P/F scenario), so obviously I knew more than nothing.

And then it was time for the Practical!  Which I also passed!  No thanks to my tendency to second-guess myself!  Long story short, I need to get the hell over my desire not to make the other person think that I think they're stupid (which I don't), and just ask those redundancy questions.

After class we all (well, mostly we all) went out to Base Camp and socialized like whoa.  And I was lead to believe that people probably liked me just as much as I liked them (suck it, Jerk Brain) and was just the happiest (/wistful) little O you could imagine.  I was sad to have to take my leave (but that was tempered by getting to hang out with a friend from out of town) and I really do hope I get to see them again.

It was weird to get up this morning and put on a dress and doc martens instead of mud stained jeans and hiking shoes.  I put on perfume for the first time in two weeks, and all my rings, and I went to work and did the job I do so well, and deepened relationships with my clients, which sounds so hokey, but is true.  And through it all I did a lot of thinking.  I'm still thinking.  Trying to figure out What Next.  But the truth is, I can't figure out What Next until I figure out what the end-goal is.  Because like I said- I'm not sated.  I want to learn more.  I feel like I barely even scratched the surface!  But it gets pretty difficult to justify spending the time and money on school for something I'm not going to make money on- especially when I'm not even sure what it is I want more of.  Is it medicine in general?  Emergency medicine in specific?  Improvised wilderness medicine in specific-specific?  And is it just that I want the knowledge, or that I also crave the application?  Because it would be a hell of a lot cheaper just to read text books and watch YouTube videos, if it's only the learning I want...
Kink approves of New Smells

But there's nothing that says I have to figure anything out in the next few hours, or even the next few days, weeks, months, or years.  Realistically it's time to turn my energies toward the next Grand Adventure, which is heading back to Scotland.  Maybe just let all this simmer for a while.

In the meantime, if you're feeling accident-prone and in need of some wilderness, maybe bring me along just in case, eh?  I'm certified.


A Day of Rest, and Mistakes Never to Be Repeated

Yesterday was a glorious day of sleeping in and doing laundry and watching Agent Carter and studying and reading a hand-written letter and reading a magazine and two hours of climbing and still more studying and a few episodes of Friends over dinner.  So, basically everything I set out to accomplish on my rest day.  (especially reading that magazine- I have a growing stack by my bed that clearly requires more free time...)

But today was back in the WFR saddle!  I felt amazingly refreshed, which was wasted in a way, as we spent most of today going over CPR.  It was all very casual, because 28/29ths of us were all previously certified, and this was just sort of a refresher.  My screaming skills were not needed in any way, shape, or form, and in fact I played the Rescuer three times today, and royally effed it up twice!  Share in my shame!

The first screw up I realized literally as I was putting the pill under the tongue, but by then it was too late- my "patient" keeled over.  Which is why I will never, ever forget to make certain that my patient is not on ED drugs before I give them their nitroglycerin.  Fortunately the instructors were basically expecting us to screw that up, so we got to "reset" and continue the Scenario.

The next Scenario I did pretty damn well in- but then, I live with someone who used to go into respiratory distress on a regular basis, so I've got plenty of practice with it.  And then I got to feel particularly useful to the class (and instructors) when I told them that, in the absence of an inhaler, they can use eucalyptus oil in steam to help open the airways.

But then- oh then- I just made a plain bone headed mistake.  I had an unresponsive "patient" and could not for the life of me figure out what was wrong with her, until I happened to overhear one of the instructors coaching someone else to look for medical alert jewelry.  Well, I'd already done that- but I did it again, and discovered to my absolute mortification that the nylon "watch band" I had handled not once but twice was actually a diabetes alert when I flipped it around.  I was so pissed at myself.  But I was also incredibly grateful that they ran that scenario, because it taught me not to assume.  I was looking for metal, because I've only ever seen metal alerts- but that was a potentially deadly mistake, and I'm bloody well glad I made it during practice.  I get cold when I think what would have happened if she'd had a metal bracelet, or a necklace, like I was looking for- sure, I'd have passed the Scenario in record time, but I wouldn't have learned.

Yay mistakes!


The Distraction

My throat hurts.

My throat hurts because I spent probably a full half hour screaming my damn fool head off.

I screamed and screamed and screamed because I am committed to the art of acting (especially after being told I was part of a group "tapped specifically for [our] acting skills"), and I was playing the role of "Double Open Fracture".

You can't really tell from these angles but yes, my "bones" were popped up and out of my "skin".
Let's have a closer look, shall we?

The setting was a multiple casualty incident, and my goal was to be The Distraction.  My wounds were gory and horrifying and I was screaming and crying, but the reality is that others had far more life-threatening "wounds" that needed to be dealt with.  But I did not make it easy for those rescuers to leave me, no sir I did not.  After class I was talking to the guy whose role had been "Commander" (commanders are supposed to oversee everything and not get involved with any one patient), and complimenting him on the way he stayed removed (I was working him hard: crying and sobbing, "Why won't you help me?" over and over).  He admitted that it was actually quite difficult, emotionally, not to go to me, and complimented me on my acting skills.  So I'm feeling pretty gratified about that, in spite of my somewhat raw throat.

That was, by far, the highlight of today's class (the low point was going over scorpions: I have an irrational hatred of those arachnids, and just want to crush them whenever I see one.  Bleh.)  Other interesting points included a discussion over how much Hollywood skews our concept of treating injuries (it's almost never as dramatic as you might subconsciously believe), and also the moment that a girl turned around to see my seatmate making a sort of lascivious double-handed squeezing/thumping motion at me, in response to me saying, "My head is not so meaty, nor my haunches."  It's hard to tell whose face was more horrified- hers or his.  We quickly explained we'd been talking about why we give affection to our dogs when they want it, but they don't return the favor, and that his motion had been demonstrating giving good dog-affection.

My class is fantastic.

That being said, I'm looking forward to my day off tomorrow.  Going to get caught up on sleep and laundry and maybe even some climbing.  Woo!  (And, of course, some studying...)

All better!


Bloody Good Fun

So you may have noticed the lack of post yesterday- this was due to the fact that I was in class from 0800-2100, got home at 2130, spent an hour doing my homework, and then collapsed into an exhausted stupor.

Mental exertion, my friends: it burns a crap-ton of calories.

Plus also actual physical exertion!  One of the best parts of yesterday was getting to use some of my climbing gear in a Scenario:
Slings, cord, and a daisy chain!

...and the coup d'etat, my stick-clip! (everyone was fascinated by my stick-clip)
I think yesterday's Revelation of the Day was just how lucky I am that I'm at a point in my life where I can be doing this.  I have a job I can take time off from, the money to pay for the class (and to afford me taking that unpaid leave), no kids, a supportive spouse, and supportive friends who aren't bitching at me for not socializing.  I am way more focused and dedicated to Doing What Needs to Be Done than I was in college (which is not to paint this picture of me as an irresponsible student- I was definitely a goody-two-shoes-nerd, but I also simply didn't know myself as well as I do now.  And I often felt a lot more conflicted over my priorities, even if I did keep them straight.) (I think having a lifemate already in place takes a lot of the pressure off...)


I woke up this morning with a good 7.5 hours of sleep under my belt and it was not. enough.  Who got on I5 North this morning instead of I5 South?  Yeah, this girl.  ::sigh::  But I made it on time to class, so no harm, no foul.

I got to be a "patient" not once but twice today, and I got to wear makeup for one of the Scenarios:
Contusion Buddies*
I was to show signs and symptoms of a mild head injury, which included "vomiting" (and "choking" on it) when my rescuers reached me.  Our instructor had a cup of watery oatmeal we could use "if anyone wants to", and every single last one of us was like, "GIMME!", which she was not expecting.  I friggin' love my group.

The other Point of Interest today was the final Scenario, in which we were "rescuing" a patient with moderate-to-severe hypothermia.  There was incredible room for improvement within my group (yes yes, most decidedly including me), but the main thing it got me thinking about was how important it is to designate a leader and then bloody well stick to it.  I have a tendency to step into leadership positions, but age and experience has tempered me to the point where I can bite my tongue when someone else is in charge, and not try to take over- because that just makes it confusing and bad for the others who might trend more naturally towards following.  Unfortunately, there was a younger person in my group who has not reached that point in their personal development.  And I totally get the desire to step up and be The One In Charge, especially in a high-stakes situation (it's basically embedded in my DNA)- I empathize and sympathize and all that jazz- but for real, you have to let others lead sometimes, or people will get hurt.

::steps off soapbox::

Good thing we're going over Leadership and Teamwork tomorrow!

*I texted a very similar photo to Nathan because I thought he'd find it interesting, totally forgetting that he has no clue our Scenarios are so realistic.  His response was understandably panicked, until I reassured him it was just makeup (and laughed hysterically through my guilt)


Recognizing (and Improving) My Strengths

Day Two of WFR, and I honestly feel like it's not too soon to say that this may well have been one of the best decisions of my life.  In the Top Ten, minimum.  I'm just so excited and energized by all of it! (here's hoping that enthusiasm stays peaked for the next eight days)
What's especially interesting is just how comfortable and right I feel with everything I'm learning, in spite of the areas where I'm still ignorant or awkward (I sound like something of a stuttering idiot trying to give my formatted reports- a new and unpleasant experience for me).  By which I mean, yeah I'm stumbling over my new vocabulary, but I have a bone-deep conviction that it's merely lack of practice, and that the floundering will pass swiftly.  And to balance out the verbal flailing, there's the fact that my strengths are really, really highlighted by this class: I understand and learn the ideas quickly; I stay calm and take command; and people listen and do what I say.  It's a heady mix.

It's really got me wondering- what else can I do with this?  Where else can I go?  Because I'm starting to suspect that I may not be content with just a ten day course.  I am probably going to want more.  But can I really justify more schooling for something I'm not going to do professionally?  Because the reality of the situation is that maybe what I love really is just the learning, just the having-of-knowledge.   (That and the smooth running and completion of a capital-S Scenario.)  It may be that, faced with the day-after-day emotional impact of injured, ill, and un-saveable people, I might not love it so much.  It might be the theory and not the practice that holds me enthralled.

It's something to ponder.

In the meantime, I've also been re-inspired about my own physical fitness.  Watching the EMTs in class, and seeing how fit they are, has reminded me that if I'm serious about being able to help people who need it, I need to be physically up to the task- especially since, in the grand scheme of things, I'm not that large a person (compared to most outdoorsy people*): I need to make the most of what I've got.

*(today we lined up by height... I was near the tallest of the shortest 1/4, anyway...)  (::sigh::)


My Kind of People

So remember all that talk I was talking back in September about my interest in Emergency Medicine?  Well today was the day I started walking some walk, my friends, because today was the first day of my Wilderness First Responder course (aka WFR, affectionately pronounced "Woofer").
That is not my apple.  But I did eat some of it.

Said course required me to be down in Portland by 0745, which meant tackling rush hour traffic, which is always fun (she said, sarcastically).  But me being me, I left plenty early, and thus got there in plenty of time to sit in the car and freak out about various ridiculous things, including-but-not-limited-to a) being the only non-EMT in the class b) being the only one without a "greater purpose" to getting my WFR c) being the only girl (because all the other people I saw sitting in cars were dudes).

And then I drove around the block because I thought there was a parking lot I was missing, but no- I'd just driven around the block like a spaz for no reason whatsoever.  The upside to that, however, was that by the time I parked right back where I'd started from, the doors to the building were open and I could just go in.

I was not, of course, the only girl- in fact a good 40% of the class turned out to be female, which was just so incredibly heartening.  And I was not the only non-EMT: out of 30-odd participants, there were only three EMTs- although I did somehow managed to sit right in the middle of them, which was excellent because they were all really great about soothing my nervousness.  And, of course, I was not the only one there "just because".  We were a minority, but we were there!

The instructors warmed us up with one of the better "Getting to Know You" exercises I've ever participated in, the sort that leave you feeling comfortable rather than awkward, and furthermore resulted in the class compiling a list of book recommendations (and me discovering that my seat mate and I have almost identical tastes in books).  In that first hour I realized that there is a certain personality-type drawn to this sort of thing, and that it just so happens to be a personality-type that I get along exceptionally well with.  Which makes sense, I suppose, since it's my personality type.  So it was a room full of wisecracking outdoorsy people who were nevertheless quite serious about Getting Shit Done, and I was quite delighted by the experience.

All in all by the end of the day I was even more excited about being there than I had been at the beginning: I'm just so glad that I decided to take the plunge to do this, and I can't wait to go back tomorrow and learn more.

(In the meantime, my spouse, friends, friends' babies, and my dog have all been subjected to me poking and prodding them for homework.  That's true love, folks.)


About Some Books

I noticed that a lot of my friends, at the end of last year, had a count of how many books they'd read- apparently as a result of a resolution to read more that year.  Well, none of my resolutions include reading more (writing more, yes), but I thought it still might be interesting to keep track of all the books I finish in 2015.

I started re-reading the Outlander series last October, because a) the tv show came out and I wanted to be able to properly bitch about inaccuracies, and also b) the new book came out and I needed to refresh myself on What Came Before (hey, it's been five years).  I figured the series would keep me occupied until at least March, even if I only stick to the "main" books- although I may also re-read the John Grey books just for the hell of it.  I finished up the fourth book, Drums of Autumn, last week, and it pretty much confirmed what I remembered about the series- that while the first three books are worth re-reading again and again, the series takes a definite turn with Drums.  I'm about two-hundred pages into The Fiery Cross now, and I know that page number because, just like the first time I read it, I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that Gabaldon spent over two-hundred pages on one. single. day.

And that more or less sums up why I enjoy the first part of the series so much more than the latter part.  The first three books are very much adventure-oriented, and very fast-paced.  But this one?  Some people write an entire book in two-hundred pages.  It is perhaps literally the slowest-paced novel in the universe.  Like to the point where I found myself wondering if she'd made a bet with someone about whether or not she could do it, just to fuck with her readers.

Which is not to say it's not a good book- it is good- but to be honest I almost feel like it's a chore for me to finish re-reading this particular entry into the series (a sprightly 1400 pages!), rather than the can't-wait-to-get-back-to-it-pleasure that the first three were.  ::sigh::  Hopefully the next three (clocking in at over 3400 pages total!) will be more engaging than I remember.

Stay tuned!


Isis and the Very Quick Walks

Nathan is out of town this week (he comes home tomorrow- hooray!) which means that Isis, rather than being snuggled up next to him all day, is having to spend the days alone.  Which means that there is no one to let her out whenever she feels like it, and so in an attempt to prevent Unfortunate Accidents, I've been taking her for walks in the mornings and evenings, as well as dashing home on my lunch break to let her outside for a Pee Break.

I can probably guess what you're thinking- shouldn't we be taking our dog for walks every day, anyway?  Well,  yeah, if we were better human beings, we would 100% be taking her for walks three times a day, but as it is we have a back yard and can lazy.

And as it turns out, that's all for the best since, as evidenced by this past week, my little Princess Pig isn't all that interested in even twice-daily walks when it's cold outside.  Which it is: not freezing (or even close to it) but cold enough that she doesn't particularly want to get off the porch in the first place, and after the 1.5 blocks it takes to get her bowels moving (and voided) she is immediately All About Turning For Home.  Which, ironically, means that I'm not getting anywhere near the Health Benefits out of these walks that I thought I was.

Ah well- she's back on the couch now, curled up and satisfied with life.  As for me, I'm about to hop into the shower, since I went ahead and got my Health Benefits on the climbing wall this afternoon.  My shoulder is at about 99% now, and I'm pretty excited about that.  Satisfaction all around!


A Pretty Piece of Work in Progress

The title of this entry refers to both my upstairs bathroom, and my ongoing attempts to be More Adult-Like.  And the two are inexorably intertwined, because in my attempt to be MAL, I've decided that it's high time for me to start decorating things.  Our home decor is somewhat haphazard at the moment, since it's never really been a priority for either of us, but this is the year that we've committed to making things a little more purposeful.  And to keep from overwhelming myself, I'm working on one room at a time, with a fixed budget per month.  Which means it will take a while, but I also won't freak out and abandon it.  (hopefully)

So today I got crazy and ordered several things for the upstairs bathroom, whose theme will hopefully soon be actually recognizable as "birds in trees".  Yeah yeah, I know, I know- birds and Portland and Now It's Art blah blah blah.  But I have an actual reason behind my bird-bathroom-theme (a reason beyond aesthetics, which is admittedly reason enough).

Back when I was living in Birmingham, before Nathan and I got married, I had a tiny little studio apartment on the corner of the third floor of a 1920s building, and it was absolutely lovely.  And one of the very best things about it was that there was a window in the shower, and that window opened up into a tree, where flocks of birds would sit and twitter and chitter and sing to me, making my bathing rituals even more delightful than they ordinarily are.  So, in an attempt to recapture some of that feeling, my upstairs bath (which has a window that looks out not into a tree but rather onto a neighbor's roof ::sigh::) is being Coherently Decorated.  It is currently just a shower curtain (bought when we initially moved in), but soon there will also be hooks and shower caddies, and other hooks.  And eventually a new shower curtain rod, even.  Look out world- here comes an adult bathroom!