Thursday, June 16, 2011

happy birthday, eileen. I wish you were still here.

I don't even know what to write. My coworker and friend, Eileen, with whom I shared crappy hours and a very small office for almost two years, passed away unexpectedly last Thursday night. Today she would have turned 34.

To make a long story short, Eileen had medical issues, the most significant being multiple sclerosis. But sickeningly, what actually took her away were complications (two blood clots in the lung and three more in her leg) of routine knee surgery. The technical term is Pulmonary Embolism, and it happens extremely quickly. She was complaining of severe pain, called her doctor and got her checkup appointment moved up from two weeks after the surgery to one. Then her husband went to the bathroom, and when he returned she wasn't breathing. CPR did not help.

I'm still trying to make sense of this. Every time someone opens the door to the office and just stands there without making an announcement, I turn around thinking she's ready for the day with her purple water bottle in one hand and her Disney lunch bag in the other. We spent a lot of time together in that office, and got to know each other very well.

* The smell of hard-boiled eggs/egg salad makes her gag.
* She's the only person I know who uses the word "boob" in a non-anatomical sense--to describe her husband when he forgets to do something.
* If there's ever an option to choose a color, she always picks purple, no hesitation.
* She loves Dave Matthews Band as much as my brother; they were often at the same concerts.
* She is a wonderful stepmom--it's a shame she never got to have a child who could live with her for more than a few weeks at a time.
* She puts ketchup on everything; the whole year I've been waiting for her birthday to give her a huge bottle to keep in the office fridge. Now it's just too late.
* She always remembers when something was going on with your family and asked how they were doing the next time she saw you.
* She'd been working on a puzzle of Cinderella's castle and it was driving her crazy.
* Last fall, she'd wanted to see the comedian Brian Regan but her friend got tickets for something else. She recently got to see him, at a show that Jon and Madelyn were also attending.
* Every time I went to California, she'd ask me to take pictures of palm trees to show her. She got married in the Bahamas and wore a jeweled palm tree necklace that her husband gave her every day.
* She is a really good friend, and suffered a lot when her best friends were going through tough times.
* She is so great with the patients, especially the really young and the really old.

Eileen loved flowers. She made the bouquets for her own wedding and we were looking forward to downtime in the office for her to help me with mine this summer. This past mother's day, her husband/stepdaughter got her a bouquet of "rainbow roses." I'm still unclear on how people get each petal to be a different color, but it looks stunning. One bud from the bouquet just snapped off, so Eileen brought it into the office so we all could enjoy it. Her husband sure wasn't a "boob" that day.

I was going to take a picture of it every day, but unfortunately it didn't even last a week. Eileen kept pulling the dying petals off.

I tacked them onto my bulletin board, next to the postcard from Madelyn and a picture of Jon. And my phone list. I look at them a thousand times every day.

Unfortunately, now I have a mass card pinned up next to it, with a picture of the sun setting over the ocean. Rest in peace, Eileen.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

scrubs scrubs scrubs

So for the last two years, I've been working at the hospital. For the last 15 years or so, I have worn scrubs as lounging-around-the-house-wear/pajamas. So if you do the math, these days I'm pretty much wearing scrubs 350 days a year. I get home from work, take off the official navy scrubs and put on the unofficial, washed-so-often-they're-satiny-soft not-navy scrubs and go about my day.

I don't have a problem with this.


When you wear scrubs all the time and 99% of your scrubs are a) way too big, b) kept on your body via drawstring or c) a combination of both, then it's easy to overlook where all that junk food and sweets have been accumulating all this time. And realizing the dire necessity to visit the gym frequently and intensely comes as somewhat of a punch in the rather soft gut.

So yeah, this summer I'm going to have to find something other than scrubs to work out in.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

be careful what you tell people at a bar

So I'm taking a break from freelancing. Also trying to keep from freaking out over how much wedding crap I have YET to do (staring at this pile of to-do stuff is making me want to jump off the balcony, and frankly the last thing I need is a broken leg--we only live on the second floor). It's the perfect time to procrastinate.

Two weeks ago, my brother and his friends drove to Augusta, GA for the wedding of a good friend. The night before the nuptials, the wedding party and close friends gathered at the bar for a few last rounds. During the evening, a random guy wandered over to the group and started chatting up one of the bridesmaids.

After a few minutes, this guy proved to be in big trouble because a) he was wearing a wedding ring and b) he claimed to be a cardiologist who studied/is studying at [university program I can't quite remember, but let's just call it UPenn as a placeholder].

As you might imagine, the second he overheard the word "cardiologist," my brother was instantly inclined to get involved in the conversation. After hearing a little of the garbage this guy was spouting, my bro decided to take him down a notch or two. But first, he did a little research. My brother sought out the husband of another bridesmaid who is currently studying to be a physician. He and threw his very lengthy and one-in-a-million *official* diagnosis at the guy. The med student was able to decipher it for the most part.

Satisfied, he made his way into the original conversation and casually asked the offending "cardiologist" more about his specialty. Right away, the guy started throwing out credentials that fall flat. Apparently the school where he claimed to study cardiology doesn't even have a cardiology program. Then my brother started asking specific questions any med student should be able to answer even if s/he were completely wasted. Dude did not pass.

Let me take a break here to say that the Monday after this weekend, my brother called my mom up at work and told her he'd gotten into a fight. He routinely gets her to believe the most ridiculous things, and even worry over them. I can't believe she bought the bit about how there were two hits: my brother hitting the guy, and the guy hitting the floor. My poor mom fell for that cheezeball line and came to me, worrying about how hurt my brother must be after a fistfight (he is most certainly not a large man by any means). He was delighted to hear this.


Anyway, so my brother was trying to get this pretend cardiologist to trip up. And even after it had become evident that he was a fraud AND married, the guy continued to maintain his lame story. Finally my brother (who had had several drinks by now) had enough. He untucked his shirt, lifted it up to show the entire establishment the long white scar running from his breastbone to his navel, the two U-shaped scars curving under his armpits and the various other reminders of having been opened up for 11 open-heart surgeries. And he says, "Diagnose THIS, bitch." Everyone at the bar turned and stared. The guy had no other choice but to give up his game and leave.

I have never heard of my brother showing his scars to anyone. He even goes to the pool with a t-shirt on. That guy must really have been a sleaze.