PSA: USAA Phishing

Just a warning to my friends out there who have USAA…

I woke up to a very good phishing email this morning. If I’d been just slightly less (or more?) caffeinated when I read it, I might’ve done something stupid.

It read something about needing to update my profile, so please click on the link.

I’ve gotten those from USAA before.

It had the Security Zone, but it didn’t look quite right. And the graphics were just a wee bit (and I do mean wee bit) fuzzy. The address at the bottom of the email also wasn’t the traditional San Antonio, TX address.

That’s it. Those are the only things that clued me in that it wasn’t right and proper.

I’ve sent it along to USAA. I trust that they’ll get it shut down. But in the meantime, do be careful, and spread the word.

Categories: Around Town, Home, Work | Tags: , | Leave a comment

In Search Of…


I’m a confirmed and long-standing adrenaline junkie. I’ve known this for years. My hobbies reflect this; I learned to surf in high school. I ski. I shoot. I ride horses. I’ve gone white-water rafting on rivers nearby and far (even up in Alaska).

And my job was perfect for someone who needed a regular dose of adrenaline. Sure, lots of nights were dull and boring, the routine…just sniffles, colds, ankle sprains, and the like, but when it all hit the fan, that’s when the ER shines. That’s why I loved what I did. That’s when we made a real difference.

Now I just have to find my adrenaline in more…mundane ways. I’ll survive. And maybe find some new hobbies in the doing.

Categories: Bucket List, Long-term Goals, Wonderings, Work | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Looking Forward

Today, I’m putting on my big girl pants and moving on. There’ll still be days when I may cry for what I’ve lost; I’d not be human if I didn’t miss what I had, but it’s time to look forward now.

I got new hearing aids yesterday. AND THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT!!! Yes, they pair with my phone, and I can control just about every aspect of how they function with an app. (And I will hurt y’all who are already plotting to hack my hearing aids. Just sayin’. *giggles*) It’s amazing how loud the world is, though. I’d forgotten that snow squeaks when you walk on it. Traffic makes noise when it goes by in the road. The turn signal in my truck makes noise. I can even stream music to my hearing aids!

I’m also starting to get things ready for starting school in the fall. I’m getting my home office set up as a cozy study zone, cleaning out everything I don’t need and bringing in everything I want and will use. I’ve started a study course that will brush up my study skills between now and then, because it’s been 20-*mumble* years since I was in school, and studying for the occasional exam since then doesn’t count. I am planning on doing a self-study course in basic statistics so that I won’t start out behind the 8-ball for my biostats course in the fall.

I’ve also got a busy few months ahead. I’ll be spending some time down with family. Looking forward to going to NRA in Nashville. Heading to Alaska for 2 weeks at one point. More family is coming to town (one nephew is baseball crazy and the All-Star game is on the schedule!). A friend is marrying off two daughters and I’m her general dogsbody for both weddings. And somewhere in there, I’ve got new guns to shoot! It’s all gonna be a lot of fun.

Categories: Health, Long-term Goals, Vacation, Work | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Life Is What Happens…

…while you are making plans for what you wanted to do. And somehow, the plans don’t match what actually rolls down the pike.

Today is the day I say farewell to the best job I’ve ever had, the one that I thought I’d have until my working days were done. Today is the day I close the door on the career that I worked 14 years to get to the point of starting, and then only spent 10 years actually doing. Today is the day I walk away from working with some of the best friends I’ve ever had the chance to work with, some of the best physicians and nurses I’ve had the honor to work alongside.

Today is the day I start rewriting my life. With tears in my eyes and rolling down my cheeks.

For the past 18 months, I’ve been battling some wicked crazy symptoms, including losing most of my hearing, a rash that resulted in my hands and feet peeling so deep I lost my fingerprints and all of my calluses, worsening arthritis, and vertigo that randomly comes and goes almost daily. I’ve been on high-dose steroids for most of a year. I’ve been on chemo. I’ll probably remain on immunosuppressants for the rest of my life. And because of all of this, I can no longer safely treat the patients I spent so many years learning to take care of.

I have plans. I’ve been working out where my feet will lead me in the next few months and years. I’m excited about the possibilities. But today is for mourning what I’ve lost.

Categories: Health, Long-term Goals, Work | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments


A few years ago, I was at a conference in Boston. The conference was at one of the swanky downtown high-rise hotels. It was really nice…until I got on the elevator one night. There was just one other girl on there with me, so it wasn’t crowded. We were going down from about the 30th floor, heading for the lobby. The elevator went into free-fall for about 15 floors, stopping between floors about halfway down. We were trapped for well over an hour before they could get us out. Since then, I’ve been a bit leery of elevators.

Fast forward to last week.

Last week, I picked up a few (ok, more than a few…almost double my usual weekly total) extra hours moonlighting at one of our other ERs. It’s been a few years since I’ve worked out at this hospital, but I still remembered the code to get in the ambulance bay door, so I figured I was good to go.

About 3am, one of the nurses and I decided to wander up to the floor. On the way up, we had to badge through a couple of doors. At one of them, I tapped my badge, and the reader blinked green, but the door didn’t open. J tapped hers, and the doors opened, but we didn’t think anything of it.

A bit later, I went to head back to the ER. I got onto the elevator and tapped my badge, then pressed the button for “1”. It didn’t light up.

The doors closed.

I tapped my badge again. The reader blinked red. I pressed the button for “1” despite that and nothing happened. I tapped my badge a few more times, getting a red light each time. I realized that the elevator was going nowhere.

I pressed the “door open” button.

Nothing happened. Because my badge wouldn’t turn the reader green.

I was trapped in the elevator. It wouldn’t go anywhere. The doors wouldn’t open.

I pressed the alarm button and got Security to come let me out, but it took about 10 minutes for them to get there from the other end of the hospital. I had about worn a hole in the floor by then, pacing around that little car.

First thing I did when I got out? Straight to Security and made them reset my badge to work so it wouldn’t happen again!

Categories: Health, Work | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Electricity is Not Your Friend

Last night at work came within a hair’s breadth of getting far more interesting than usual.

I was paged overhead to the resuscitation room. As I ran down the hallway, as I got closer to the room, the air carried a very strong scent of something burning. This is never a good thing in the middle of the night in the ER.

I came around the corner and into the resus room to find a little one with difficulty breathing. The smell of burning was even stronger in the room than in the hallway outside, so one of my first thoughts was “house fire?” but the family only looked confused when asked and denied that they’d been anywhere near anything burning. It’s been far too cold to be at a bonfire, so I crossed that off my list, but the smell still worried me, and it certainly wasn’t helping with the little one’s breathing problems.

Finally one of our security guards came by the room and beckoned to me. He was trying to track down the smell, and it has been narrowed down to this small hallway. I told him that my patient had not been in a house fire, so he went into the other rooms on the hallway.

He immediately came back from the next room over.

Our medication fridge had been arcing from the element on its back and throwing sparks. “Arcing from the element TO WHAT?” “Oh…to the oxygen tank that was leaning up against it. It’s unplugged now, and I moved the oxygen tank to the other side of the room.”

I had just about the entire staff of the ED in that resuscitation at that moment. If that oxygen tank had blown… Talk about “living in interesting times”.

Categories: Work | Tags: | 2 Comments

Why I Don’t Work Days

So I had to head in to work today during the daylight hours. Shocking, I know. I try to avoid doing so whenever possible because it always ends badly.

Today involved a 10 minute meeting, but it had already been rescheduled 3 times, and I couldn’t skip it, so I made the 25 mile drive in. At night, this takes 30 minutes at most. In the middle of the afternoon, it can take close to an hour, so I have to leave plenty early. I was 30 minutes early for the meeting.

This gave one fellow the chance to find me and ask for my help with an upcoming project. I’ve become the go-to editor for all of the department’s technical writings, as I seem to be the best at making coherent English out of medical-ese and technical jargon. So after my surgery, I have 40-50 pages of writing to fix up.

Then during the meeting, another fellow reported that his research project has greatly (and suddenly) unexpectedly increased in size…by a factor of about 5. So his simple data collection, planned to take about 6 weeks, has turned into a mammoth undertaking. I now have my second project to be done while I’m off work and recovering from shoulder surgery…pulling the data from about 4000 patient charts and entering it into a custom database.

And then my boss found me. She needed a small favor. To cover until she can get here in the morning, and so another of the docs doesn’t have to get here early either, she asked that I stay 30 or so minutes late after my shift ends, just to provide attending coverage while one of the fellows runs the ED.

As I said, being at work during daylight hours always ends badly. 2 new projects plus staying late in the morning.

Categories: Work | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

TGIF (for me)!

With my schedule and how my shifts are stacked, every other Tuesday night is my “Friday”, leading to my weekend. I’m off from now until midnight Monday night. And after these past few shifts, it’ll be a needed break.

Somewhere between the end of my shift Saturday morning and heading back in at midnight 16 hours later, the amount of patients through the ED went nuts. Wednesday? No problem. Friday? No problem. Saturday? Sunday? Tuesday? INSANE! Literally, in some cases. Adult emergency physicians usually see patients at a rate of about 2 patients/hour over the long haul. Pediatric emergency physicians usually see the kids a bit faster than that, given the overall slightly lesser acuity. EDs which are staffed with plentiful residents help to increase that number somewhat, but there’s still an upper limit. Seeing 6 patients/hour, hour after hour, shift after shift, is verging on the unsafe (if not pushing well into that region). No matter how good the nurses are (and they ARE), or how quick and agile the residents are (and some of them are just that good), it’s still on me in the end. It’ll be good to have a few days off.

But it’s good to know that my brain was working towards the end of my shift this morning. As I was finishing with one family, I asked if there were any questions. One of the adults in the room looked at me and said, “Yes. I have a question.” He looked very serious, very concerned, so I stopped and focused all of my attention on him. (By this point, my sense of humor had long since left the building…much like Elvis.) With a perfectly straight face, the gentleman asked, “Why don’t sheep shrink when they get wet, like my wool sweater does?”

Without even thinking, I snapped back, “Because you don’t put sheep in the dryer.”

He said, “Oh. Very good answer. I’ll have to think more on this,” and I walked out of the room to let the nurse finish the discharge.

I’m snickering over this now, several hours later. But at the time? Both he and I were completely straight-faced. I’m still not sure if he meant it as a serious question or not.

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It’s Been a Week

A relatively rough one at that, and it’s time for the weekend to start. Nothing overly huge and devastating, when I look back at it, but each little thing just kept piling up until the break point was almost reached.

I’m now a one-hamster family. I know that the little critters don’t have a forever-long lifespan, but a year is a bit young for one to just up and drop without warning. She was running full-speed on the wheel one night with her sister, but then a day or two later, I realized that I hadn’t seen the two of them at the same time for a couple of days. I went to investigate and found what I didn’t want to know. So ThingOne is getting more petting and a few more treats, even if her little pea-sized brain doesn’t make the connection as to why.

It’s been a bad few days at work for everyone this week. There have been some communication breakdowns at work lately that are getting more and more egregious, and they’re to the point where people are going to start getting hurt, if they haven’t already. We’re too tight-staffed to be sloppy or to let things slide, so when things happen, feelings get bruised and are difficult to soothe (and they should be…we feel strongly for our patients and are willing to fight for them).

Doing what I do, there is no easy way to deal with bad news. Not for us (be it the doctors, the nurses, or others on the staff) and most definitely not for the families whose lives are turned upside down. Parents seem to know as soon as one of us walks into the room with bad news just what it is that we have to tell them. There’s something in the way we walk, the expression on our faces, or the way we hold ourselves in preparation for delivering news of this sort that alerts them to it. Sometimes the tears come before we can even get a word out and half of the discussion comes in trying to calm a parent enough to hear what it is that needs to be said. Other times, the parents refuse to hear the words, to listen, or to engage in the discussion at all. It’s as though their worries and fears have deafened them, made them unable to cope with the news, even for the sake of their child.

In some ways though, having a conversation with the parents of a child with a known chronic illness can be more difficult, especially if they’re not prepared for their child to have taken a sudden turn for the worse. Children are very resilient and can live with many debilitating illnesses for years without ever giving it a second thought, but at some point, they decompensate and end up in my treatment room in extremis. There comes a point where we have to ask how far a parent wants for us to go in resuscitating their child, and if they’ve never been asked that question before, it’s a shock. If, as for many families in our area, there is a religious concern with “life support”, it becomes an even bigger issue, especially when the question is raised emergently. It’s not a decision to be made lightly or under pressure, so I cannot think of a worse time and place to be trying to make it (especially if you haven’t ever been told to think about it before) than with a doctor standing there in front of you saying, “Your child is very sick, close to dying. If we have to put him on life support, to take over breathing for him with a machine, do you want us to do that?” And let me tell you…being that doctor, asking that question…to see the fear, the terror in the parents’ eyes as they realize what I’m asking, it kills a little part of me each time.

Sorta’ puts my hamster into perspective…but I think a little glass of whisky may be in order tonight.

Categories: Wildlife, Wonderings, Work | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Summer Lazy

It’s been a few days since I wrote anything, but summer is settling in to a pattern.

Work is somewhat miserable right now. It’s July, so there’s a whole new crop of residents. You know the joke that says don’t get sick in July? Yeah, no joke. But we also have a new computer system as of a month ago. It seemed to work fine at first, but the deeper into it we get, the more small things there are to trip over, and everyone is on everyone else’s last nerve because nothing meshes quite right.

The weather hasn’t helped, either. A string of days with highs well over 90, some approaching 100…to the point that low-80s is considered a cold snap just isn’t much fun. Luckily, the big storms mostly missed this part of the state, so no big power outages.

And there are definitely some good things to this summer. Lots of range time. Just about every week, if not more than once in some weeks! Yesterday, for example. I was just running through my head trying to figure out how many rounds I’d gone through (and figure at least as much again for my shooting buddy).
— 100 rounds through the HK.40 (I really had forgotten how much fun that thing is to shoot)
— 60 rounds through the M&P.22
— 200 rounds through the Walther.22 (first time with enough magazines to make shooting this one worthwhile, and it’s awesome! Definitely worth having waited for the 5″ barrel, too.)
— 100 rounds through the M&P 15-22

And yesterday was just Monday. After tonight, I’m off the rest of this week, so I can’t imagine not getting to the range at least once more.

I’m enjoying summer this year.

Categories: Firearms, Work | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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