Friday Entry

by Jinryu

tIME: 12:45 AM
bATTERIES: 80% (all systems nominal)

At work again.

tIME: 2:17AM
Batteries: 65% (not bad)
Morale: Decent
Injuries: None
Hungry: Slightly

Man, I totally intended to start writing something at 12:45 but then things got busy and haven’t gotten un-busy until now.

It seems, thankfully, that I’ve finally gotten all my damned ducks in a row.  I was looking back at some posts from just one week ago, when I was still kinda new at the overnight shifts. At the time, it seemed like it could be a really really easy job, which also means that it could be sinfully boring.  In this line of business, no news is good news.

Maybe not for sanity though.  Thankfully, things tonight seem to be at a good pace.  It’s not like a couple of days ago when working at triage was like defending the Alamo from a zombie invasion. Today/tonight, it’s just a nice level of busy to make the time pass, and the problems that I’m running into tonight are interesting.

As I mentioned previously, we’re usually two clerks at night.  I’m the N1, which is the person who mans the pre-triage/registration fort, while the N2 is the internal department coordinator.  I’ve found that how much fun I have in an evening is based on just how well I can work together with my fellow N-clerk.

Tonight, it’s [D].  I’ve come to appreciate that she’s got a wealth of experience, and she doesn’t back down when parents get in her face.  She’s got some of that Casius Clay Confidence that makes people back off.

On the other hand, as a coworker, she’s simply not that approachable.  It’s difficult to ask her questions because every one of her answers comes as a snide response, which just totally turns me off.  She’s kind of a Bastard Operator From Hell kinda person– in terms of the team as a whole, it’s usefull to fight off the undead, but as far as me wingmanning for her, it’s a tedious endeavor.

So, tonight, I’ve had a few of interesting cases.  Not interesting to in the sense that somebody was vomitting blood like yesterday or anything graphic like that, I mean interesting in a technical way that you’d only appreciate if you were doing my job.  To anyone else, they’d just say “Uh… that’s it?”

So, I’ll spare you, and myself when I read this in the future, the deatils.  Suffice it to say that there were several tasks that came up today that I wasn’t really trained for but which I managed to find solutions by flipping through department made training manuals written back in the 90s, and reverse engineering papwerwork based on things I could find in the filing folders.  Basically, I went through all the trouble to just not ask [D] for help and figure things out on my own.  In the morning, when Margaret comes in (she calls me Mr. Johnson) I’ll double check my methods with her and see if I deserve a treat or not.

-=-=-=-

2:33AM

I should tell the story of why, in the Admissions department, I’m known as Mr. Johnson.

First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever revealed my real name on this blog, nor do I ever intend to, but I should point out that I am Chinese, and I do have a Chinese name.

Anyway, one day, while I was working as Coordinator, I was taking care of some sorta Chernobyl sized disaster during the first wave of Swing Flu panic (notice I say panic, and not pandemic).  It’s not that it was a disaster because of the deadliness of the flu– it was a disaster on an organizational, technical level.  I’d never worked in admissions before, nor is it necessary for one do do their job as a coordinator.  But, the coordinator does have to work with the admissions department because among other things, the coord’s job is to receive ambulances with critical patients.

Because critical patients, that is to say, patients of triage code 2 (patients with less than 10% HP and suffering status ailments such as Doom, Poison, or other) or code 1 (dead, and requiring some pheonix down) status are critical, they skip past registration and triage.  They go straight into the Treatment room, or the Crash room, to be serviced immediately.

When that happens, the coord has to find out as much information about the patient as possible.  A name is a start.  Since we don’t take anyone above 18 years old, and a lot of admissions are actually brought in by ambulances from schools or daycares, finding out from the patient isn’t always easy.  The coord has to gather information on the client from whoever knows anything, and bring that gathered info to Admissions so that the patient can be registered.

Without registration, it’s very difficult to coordinate healthcare for a patient because the automation that comes with your hospital ID number just floats around.  Once you have an ID number, then any blood tests, x-rays, CTs, consultations, etc. all get consolidated into your electronic dossier.  Without registration, things fall apart because a doctor can never find the information he needs to decide what to do next.

Well, there was this particular day where a kid was brought in by her mom, who was totally panicking.  The mother was so freaked out that she almost fainted, and when she was providing me with the information for her child, she actually gave me the information of her OTHER son.  She was that confused.

So when I brought the data to the admissions department, we were looking at it and couldn’t figure out how that kid in the crash room, who looked like he was about 7 years old, could possibly be 12 years old like the electronic file said he was.  Turns out we had all the wrong info, and that the doctor had already started requesting tests under the wrong patient’s file as a result of the mother’s error.

At that point Margaret was saying, “You know, everytime some information gets fubared liked this, we need to fill out an incident report.  Someone has to put their name on the paper to accept responsibility.”

I was still new in the department and I hadn’t often had to work with Admissions yet, so they didn’t know my name, so she asked what it was.

“[Jinryu] Johnson,” I said.

The two admission clerks started cracking up, because I’m about the most Chinese person in the department.

Henceforth, my nickname in Admissions has been “Mr. Johnson.”

-=-=-=-

tIME: 4:39AM
Batteries: 40% (not bad)
Morale: Good (Rediscovering Oasis MP3s)
Hungry: Full (Just ate 11$ worth of smoke meat poutine)

So, to unpause the rant that I began yesterday,,,

spending a year away from home, I noticed upon my return how many of my friends drifted apart.  I think it caught me as a shock when I got back, so the first thing I did was try to get everyone together to do things.  Sometimes, it worked, but everyone would note how it’d been so long since they’d last seen eachother.  Other times, it didn’t work at all, because people were reluctant to meet up with eachother due to whatever rifts had formed.

I’ve discussed this before and my conclusion was that it was natural.  I bring it back to Neitsche and the footbridge– a theory that I believe both works and fails, depending on how you look at it.

Imagine yourself going to your friend’s house.  Upon stepping upon the footbridge that leads up to his house, you see your friend– but he doesn’t wave back.  On the contrary, he tells you to fuck off and get lost.  You turn away in disdain, not understanding why this happened.

In theory, you’re supposed to walk away and wonder “What did I do?” and in so wondering, discover just what about it about yourself that need improovement.  Then, you can make yourself a better person, and come back to that friend again some day.

On the other hand, that seldom happens– more often than not, especially as we get older, it becomes a lot easier to destroy things than to build things, so if this scenario happeend to you you’d just as likely say “Fuck you right back, asshat!” and storm off without a second thought.

Of course, it’s not so black and white… the reasons why a lot of my friends don’t get along or hang out much with eachother nowadays isn’t necessarily so dramatic, it could be as simple as an insuffisance of free time.  It happens– friends drift apart.

I hadn’t noticed it much at first, it started off as a creeping feeling, but the same thing has been happening to my family.  I guess I didn’t notice it as much because extended family gatherings are few and far between compared to the amount of time I spend with friends.  My grandfather’s recent hospitalization and discharge though really highlight all the politics of things going on.

The situation’s changed too, and this is the part that kinda has me a bit scared– because I’m getting older, and as this happens, I’m assuming more and more responsibility in the family.  I used to be just a peacekeeper in the family– when I was younger, I’d be the one who just wanted everyone to get along because for whatever reasons, I liked everyone in my family at least to a certain degree.

Nowadays?  Now, as I take on more responsibilities for the care of the grandparents of the family among other things, I guess I’m finally taking on that role as the last son in the family to carry on the clan’s name.  It’s really a silly thing, isn’t it?

With all the infighting in the last week, carrying on my family’s name is the least of my concerns– it seems like a pretty lousy thing to carry on because our extended family is built on duty, not on love, and if this is my family’s legacy, why would I want to have anything to do with it?  It’s not that there can be no love where there is duty, but to put it bluntly, duty does not love a prerequisite have.

My aunts and uncles and my parents don’t help my Grandparents out of any love for them that they can remember at this point.  At this point, it’s only duty that keeps them going.  We’re so disciplined at it though that it comes naturally.  Maybe this is some Eastern rendition of a four letter word that means something completely different here in the West, I don’t know.

Before I left for Korea, I had all my things in order.  Family life was going well.  I mentioned this to people while I was in Korea– a lot of people who become foreign teachers do so because they are running away from their lives back home.  I might’ve been running, but it wasn’t from family so much as boredom.  Family life was going well when I left.

And when I came back?  I found that so much had changed with my family.  Was I really such a huge part of the family?  I don’t think so.  But there was one thing that I did that nobody else would do, when I was here– it was to try and please everyone.  That’s who I was.

I had a history, in my family, you see.  I was the liar.  Nobody knew it, nobody ever found out except my parents, but I would tell lies all the time so that people would hear what they wanted to hear.  I’m don’t mean this in the way that people tell lies to escape the truth– I mean, I used to tell lies so that people would be happy.  No matter how big or black, they’d be white lies, at least, I thought so.

Just what do you consider lying?  Agreeing with an aunt about why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry?  Telling an uncle that when you have more money, you’ll use him as your investment broker?  Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound bad… but lets not get into the bigger lies.

I might’ve done it because I was actually trying to escape the truth– that we were a dysfunctional clan that couldn’t get along, and the only glue I could put in between all those broken pieces was me, doing the micromanagement, building profiles for everyone in the family so that I’d know what they liked to hear.  I didn’t have the balls to tell them that it was any different from what they’d expected.  I was a coward, because little white lies and big black ones were so much easier.

But you know what? In a certain way, I’m not ashamed of what I did, because it kept the family going.

That’s the next question: Is it important to keep a family going?  Why?

Is it that duty thing again, just sorta burnt into me by my upbringing?

I’ve changed in some ways since then.  See, the way it is with friends, I really do go with the whole Neitzche thing– if someone is pissing me off, I hold them responsible for it, I just stop associating with them after a few warnings, and if it’s a bad enough case, I might just tell them to fuck off.  It’s an exercise in aggravation management– I don’t have the patience, the time or the heart to put up with people who are going to let me down with no signs of improovement from our relationship.  If that’s the case?  I’m going to have to let you go.

A small number of friends have crossed a line in which they are an exception to this sort of rule, in which case, I call them “family” as well.

But is that what “family” means to me?

Does it just mean that, out of history alone, you put up with the bickering, the fighting, the heartache, where it would be so easy to just say goodbye?

Because that’s what’s going on with the family now.  Everyone’s just fighting.  My own household is more or less working properly, but external relations aren’t going good with any of the other houses.  And that bothers me.  Yet, I cling to the notion of family.

-=-=-=-

I hope that one day, I’ll find the one, and we’ll raise our kids with more duty and love.  And I hope my sister does the same.  One day, I’ll be the best goddamn husband, father and uncle in the world, and all I’ll have to do to get there is to be a nice guy.  Not a pushover.  But someone patient, someone who doesn’t start shit in those 50 50 situations where someone could start shit, someone who wonders what the other person is thinking.

-=-=-=-=-

As to hospital work, it reminds me lately a lot of teaching.  The thing about teaching is that the more you care, the more it can hurt you.  It’s very much like love.  The more you hope for great things, your expectations, the more letdown you can be.   Yet, without hope and expectations, no matter how you want to play the semantecs, the fact is that you can’t get anywhere.  There’d be no ambition.

So you take risks, you keep going, blindly, on faith alone.  You just believe. In something or another.And you take a beating while doing it, just because somewhere along the line you decided that this was the way you wanted to do things, this is what you want to go for.

But I’m not talking about myself and my work in the hospital, this time around.

My mom is the one who got me into the healthcare field.  She’s been working as a nurse since a few years after I was born and she’s paid her dues.  Whenever someone in my family gets sick, they go to the General Hospital, and she pulls strings that she’s tied around here and there, and makes sure that people in my family are taken care of.

And she takes a lot of shit for it.

The thing is, public healthcare in Canada isn’t always stellar.  I’m sure you’ve heard that before.  Sure, we have our success stories, but like any business, we also have those stories that we don’t want to talk about, and like any government services, usually the ones we don’t want to talk about outweigh the ones that we do.

Well, to be honest, both of my grandparents would already have been dead years ago if it weren’t for my mom’s help.  I don’t mean anything as direct as CPR, but I mean, she’s worked her ass off over the years making sure that their appointments are up to date, that their medication is reviewed on a monthly basis, and that doctors who normally have schedules too full always have time to see them.

She’s completely underappreciated by my family though.  My uncles and aunts find her bossy and cold.  That might be true– my mom does have a difficult personality at times, but that comes with the military efficiency required of a hospital worker.  Sure, we need to add a personal touch– but there are times when patients and patients’ families are being jackasses, in which case there’s no way to finesse a situation– you just have to be willing to tell them the way it is, and not be afraid of what people think of you.

My mom is one such person, who isn’t afraid of what people think of her, so as long as she’s going to get that reputation to serve a good cause.  The health of my grandparents, despite the fact that they don’t get along, has always been high on her list.

Over the past week of my grandfather’s hospitalization though, she’s been wondering why she goes through all that trouble.  My grandfather gets grouchy in hospitals– he’s really not a nice person to anyone but my sister and I– and makes my mom’s life as an assistant head nurse very difficult for her.  Some days, he’ll refuse blood tests and x-rays because he insists that he’s alright and fit to go home.  On the flipside, one of my aunts thinks that my mom constantly wants to send my grandfather home sooner than he should be sent home, and another of my aunts doesn’t trust my mom’s messages from the doctor.

To put it very simply, my unlces and aunts know jack shit about medical practice.  I don’t know that much, because my involvement in my job is mostly clerical, but I don know that a lot of the things that my uncles and aunts harass my mom for are not her job, her concern, or her fault.  They use her as a scapegoat and they make asses of themselves in public.  Simply, they need to shut the fuck up, because for all their harassment, it’s always my dad, my mom and I who end up taking care of my grandparents anyhow.

For the last week everyone’s been under a lot of stress, but I think that most of us have the nice escape of family life with work.  Not so for my mom, because my grandfather is in her unit at the General.  I’ve been eating dinner at home almost everyday this week, because I want to be there– my mom needs to rant, she needs to unwind and explain to someone just how frustrated she is with the way things are going.  She’s by no means a weak person– she’s in fact one of the toughest people I know and can put up with incredible amounts of mental abuse– so when she’s upset, it’s something serious.  My dad’s much more emotional and hair-triggered, so I have to be there to make sure that arguments where they’re actually agreeing don’t actually turn into a fight.  It’s really that strange and tense a situation with the entire family, and it affects even my household when we’re miles away from the problem.

So she wonders.  Why did she get into nursing? To help people?  TO help people who don’t want to be helped?  To help people who don’t want to be helped, and not only not be appreciated by the family of the person who you are helping, but to be constantly stressed out by them?  And that’d be one thing, if it were just any patient.

But this is family.

THIS IS FAMILY.

—–

I always tell stories about how I cross swords with patients’ parents.  I don’t do it often because I think that patients’ families have enough stress to deal with– I do it in self deffense.  Stress makes people do things that they don’t mean to do.  It’s a bit like alcohol for some– it amplifies your emotions, it takes off the limitors.  It makes can give you the Casius Clay Confidence as if you were the Greatest, but it can also make your worst fears seem that much larger.

There are what I consider lethal amounts of verbal agression– levels that, when attained, lead to the death of your ability to function mentally for the next little while.  Like my physical life, I will deffend my mental life with as much prejudice, because people depend on me.  So, when a parent starts crossing the line and trying to push me over, to try to belittle me, to cause me personal pain? I draw a line. I let them see it.  ANd if they want to cross it, then I will engage them until they give up.  If it’s the only language they understand, I will, within all the rulebooks, show you how wrong you are to even come near this line. In general, my tolerance, as well as that of my mom, is really pretty damn high.  What can I say? As much of a bitter cynic as I can be, I am also a nice guy, but I realize the paramount importance of a good game face to get things working the way you want.  My game face is perfect, until we get to that line, then we put on an avenger’s mask, and we go for the battle of attrition.  The only difference between a health care professional and a patient’s family member during an argument is that only one of them is trained and experienced in this kind of situation, so only one of the people coming to the duel reallyhas ammo.  Whenever a patient’s family decides to start and continue an argument with a health care professional who TRULY cares, they are doomed– they cannot win, because the terms of their victory are defined in ways that are generally impossible.  The argument is a result of the sifting of the

But what about my mom’s case?

What if the patient’s family is your family?

How do you prevent them from killing you mentally?  Sure, deffend yourself, but then what?  What kinds of self deffenses do you want to expose your own family to?

How does that ever end well?

It doesn’t, simply.

-=-=-=-

Time: 6:51 AM
Batteries: 35% (Surprisingly, I don’t feel like I’m getting much more tired, maybe because there’s so much going on)
Mood: Exceited (it’s almost time for me to go home!)

I’m looking forward to Numac tonight.

Terminator’s recently been going crazy with mitt work– I just found out that he’d taken an earlier suggestion of mine to start watching Hajime No Ippo, so it’s understandable that he’s gotten all punch drunk lovin.  It’s insane, but I never realized until last Friday how much power the man actually holds back when he’s sparring with us.  I mean, we all do, but his upper body strength is crazy, when you consider how there’s only about a 10 pound difference there is between our weight classes– when I’m holding the mits, his crosses and hooks are enough that I need to bend backwards or turn my waist with the force of his punches.  I wouldn’t want to be a head on the receiving end of him being serious.

SiB  has been coming to Numac a lot more consistently now and it’s great because I get to really work on my standup game with him.  Last week’s Numac, I actually did one thing different– I tried to mix in distinctly Jeet Kune Do handwork into my game.  You might disagree with what exactly JKD handwork is, but when I say that, I by no means am refering to some sorta universal JKD standard, I’m just refering to what WE (Vittek and I) learned in JKD those years ago.

I stopped using JKD techniques because I felt that with padding on (mostly boxing gloves) it’s very difficult to bend your wrist or to grab in the ways necessary to perform those JKD (Wing Chun-ish) hand-imobilization techniques.  Back in JKD, we always trained without gloves, so it was easy to grab someone’s wrist quickly or to roll your forarms with a block to immobilize an incoming hand that you’d tangled with.  With boxing gloves?  A bit tougher.

But now that we’re always using fingerlesss MMA gloves, the option is open again.  Also, because of the reduced padding, it’s possible to use a lead punch effectively as a stopper even in cramped quarters, so long as you can aim it at weaker targets to offbalance your opponent.

I tried it a lot of the old JKD hand techniques last Numac and I was surprised by the results.  Some of it worked, some of it didn’t, but I’ll need to do some further testing to really implement it into my current game, and I also want a way to use it effectively even with boxing gloves, now that I see them as realistic options.  I think it just took a few extra years to understand why we were learning what we were learning– it really wasn’t obvious back when we were 18 years old.

Another big difference last friday was that I forgot my mouthguard.  For the longest time, I’ve worn a double mouthguard (one that covers both the top and bottom rows of teeth) with a small vent in between.  It’s not a fancy custom made one, just your regular boil and bite variety.  The reason why I’ve always worn the double kind is because when sparring, either striking or grappling, my lips tend to get cut from rubbing against my lips.

At least, that used to be the case.

Although it’s not exactly recommended, I did take a few gloved punches in the teeth, as well as a lot of chokes on the face (that’s not how they’re supposed to be done, mind you, but it’s good to annoy your opponent) and whaddya know? No blood!  EIther the insides of my lips are getting tougher or, in my old age, my teeth are losing their razor sharpness.

Anyway, I wasn’t wearing a mouthguard last Numac because I couldn’t find it.  So that means I have to buy a new one.  Maybe I’ll buy a more expensive one this time, I’m curious as to how much better it actually feels.

One thing is certain though– I used no mouthguard last week and MAN.  It was as if my cardio went up by 400%.  I actually got cramps because I couldn’t pace myself anymore, and I was operating within what I would normally consider my “overdrive” range for wayyyy too long, just bceause without the mouthguard, I could breathe a lot better and operate at a much higher intensity.  The difference was astounding!

… on the other hand, I’m thinking maybe I should still get a double mouthguard, because that’s an added training tool…

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