taking my own radiographs, with peanut gallery:

I had this patient the other day who needed abdominal radiographs, and since the radiology technician was at lunch, I decided to take them myself.

That was silly. Here is how it went:

First I found a technician assistant (TA) and a visiting student to help me. I asked the TA if she knew how to set up the system (she did), so while that was happening the student and I got the dog on the table and on his back. He was a big fellow, and he wasn't very keen on being on his back.

I tape the dog's hind legs to the table, get dressed in lead, and hold his front end still.

The machine whirrs and makes a funny sound.

Okay, so I start setting up the system again while the student holds the dog. A passing technician sees how this is going (not well), and comes over to help. The dog escapes and starts vomiting. We clean up, regroup, and get the dog back on the table.

I re-tape his hind legs, get dressed in lead, and hold his front end still (again). The dog wriggles. The radiologist (Dr. Nell, who has apparently been watching this whole thing) snickers. This conversation happens:

Dr. Nell: "ALACRITY!"

Alacrity: "WHAT."

Dr. Nell: "USE BONDAGE!"

Alacrity: "I AM using bondage!"

Radiology technician returns from lunch at this point, assesses the situation, and joins in:

Radiology technician: "Did you have to hold the dog in the worst way possible?"

Alacrity: "Come on, man! I'm wearing lead and everything!"

RT: "Yes, but did you have to sprawl across the table so you're spraying your entire body with radiation?"

It was basically awesome. But I got diagnostic films!

things I have consumed today:

1. Banana
2.Vega Sport Performance Protein chocolate shake
3. Carrots and hummus
4. Two mini chocolate bars
5. Three handfuls of oyster crackers
6. One handful of Raisin Bran (without the raisins)
7. Five spearmint breath mints
8. A small handful of Cadbury mini eggs
9. Chia crisps and hummus
10. Seven chocolate covered graham crackers
11. A handful of pretzel crackers
12. Five house-shaped cookies
13. Water
14. Apple cider with whiskey

female emergency doctor, to the electronic medical record system:

"I don't have time for this shit. 'Automated Error", you can suck my balls!"


have you heard hope whisper through this hospital?

it ghosts along corridors and seeps under doors
one clear morning, it swirled around four grey fetlocks
trembling in the stocks of the treatment room.

would you go to surgery, doctor? if he were yours?
well, i wouldn’t have the money.
say you did?
if i had fifteen thousand dollars to light on fire?
i guess i’d try.

twenty percent.

the thing about hope is,
it has no regard for odds.
six pairs of eyes lowered as we rolled to surgery
heads shook
and hope stayed.
it curled up next to a plush grey muzzle
and went to sleep.

the operating room hummed quietly
as the anesthesiologist’s nimble fingers
dosed out sleep
pressors, pain control, postive inotropes,
a careful finger on a pulse point, a grave expression.

i held his intestines as surgeons measured, cut and sutured.
and watched the dark coils brighten to pink.
it is surprising how slow the surgeons’ swift hands can seem
when each breath is a victory.

we left bloody footprints down the hall
spots and drizzles to recovery
the big grey horse soaked with red
stood up
and stayed standing
and the surgeon’s eyes danced.

fifty percent, maybe.

hope crept along as he stumbled to the ICU
dizzy with discomfort and residual drugs.
it melted into the warm bags of plasma
and brightened each golden and expensive drop

but he shivered in his ice boots
and his guts stayed sick and slow.
i watched the lazy loops on the ultrasound screen
and poured buckets of reflux away.

we weren’t sleeping.

i asked my stethoscope for anything but silence
a quiet query for the warm rumble of digestion
then i sat on the textured rubber floor
and watched him breathe.

i was filling a bucket of ice, maybe
when the resident came to his stall.
he said my big grey horse was dying
and i told him he was wrong.

see, though his bloodwork’s in the toilet
and you’d think he’s getting worse
hope is twirled through his forelock
and humming in his heart.
and he will be better tomorrow.

i said the words like ice chips
crisp and cold and tingly
just like that, they felt true.
and they were.

he dragged me across the pavement
two days later, or maybe it was three
so eager for the succulent grass
that he forgot his manners

you know, once –
in a dizzy day after a night in the OR
I heard an exasperated resident ask the air:
why do we even do colic surgery?

some days the horse dies on the trailer
or exsanguinates on the table
or expires after a septic stint in the ICU
but sometimes hope catches up
and hope is powerful.

it can carry a horse over and nudge him forward
get him on the trailer and send him home.

have you seen a grey horse gallop joyfully
with just a shadow of a surgical clip on his belly?
i have.