Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Week Off

That's where I've been this week. With the exception of Tuesday night I have been taking some well-deserved time off and I will be resuming my work schedule this coming Monday. Even though I've been not working, it's been busy nonetheless.

My son had his wisdom teeth removed this past Monday. He had 4, and the oral surgeon took them all at once. That said, he's been doing surprisingly well, although when I asked him this morning if he was up to eating steak, he told me no.... No big surprise there, I suppose. But I am impressed with his recovery up to this point. Further, my daughter is having hers removed right before Memorial Day weekend (she doesn't want it to interfere with her ability to go to the prom, which is coming up in a week and a half or so), and my stepdaughter is having her tonsils removed after the school year ends. That's happening because she has had recurring episodes of tonsillitis over the past 6-7 months with no relief. So they will be taken out to stop this. I suspect she won't like the 4-5 days of recovery afterward, but she'll survive.

In my own doings, I've had medical catch-up done on myself over the past week. On Monday I had to have a stress echocardiogram done. Okay, it was only supposed to be a stress test, but when it was ordered, it was done so as a stress echo. The reason for it was because of the occupational health physical I had last week. The doctor who did the exam cleared me to work only if I got the test done or else he would have the folks at Goffstown Fire pull me off of their schedule. Funny - my full-time employer doesn't require any of us to do this. I wonder why?..... So I got that done. They used the full Bruce protocol - incremental increase in speed and upward angle every three minutes. I got near the end of stage 4 when my knees didn't want to cooperate any more. My heart rate got up to 196 beats/minute, but there were no ST segment changes and the echo looked great. The cardiologist was extremely impressed - he told me that someone of my size and weight wasn't expected to go as far as I did. My response to him was, "well, Doc, I'm not a sloth, after all..." He laughed.

Tuesday I had to have a glucose tolerance test performed. That is nasty - I had a blood sample drawn, then I had to drink a 10 ounce bottle of orange soda - it tasted like awfully sweet Orange Crush - that contained 70 grams of glucose. Bear in mind that when we treat a diabetic in the field for hypoglycemia we only give them 25 grams at a maximum at one time. So this was a little much. It was also a fasting test, so I hadn't eaten for 14 hours prior to this, and I had to wait 2 hours for them to check my blood sugar levels again. Since I don't know what any of the levels were, I am awaiting test results. In addition to this, I had to have other blood work done: a rheumatoid factor and a sedimentary, or "sed" rate. Sed rates are check to determine if the body has a higher than normal level of inflammation. This is caused by any number of things, including auto-immune disorders (lupus comes to mind), rheumatoid arthritis, abnormal liver function, or cancer. I had these done because my primary care doc wants to rule out whether or not I am dealing with the beginnings of type 2 diabetes (for the GTT) and if there is any possibility I may have any auto-immune problems. I've had changes in my hands; my knuckles are larger than normal in 6 of my 10 fingers, and we think I am developing arthritis in those joints. Considering how much I use and abuse my hands, I'm not terribly surprised. I'll talk about this all when I get test results back.

Yesterday I took the Massachusetts EMT-Paramedic exam down in Boston. I passed it with an 80%. Looking back, I'm sure I could have done better than that, but I didn't study for it. I figured that if I didn't know my job and the details of doing it, I shouldn't take the exam. Besides, I've started studying for the Flight Paramedic exam in earnest as I want to take it sometime between now and early summer. As I continue to lose weight (and I do - I'm down nearly 25 lbs. since the beginning of the year, and counting) I want to be able to get down to where I am light enough to not be a hindrance on a helicopter or a fixed wing aircraft. My goal is 200 lbs.

I took the Massachusetts exam as there are job opportunities down there, and I want to be able to pursue them. As much as I like working in Manchester (and I would likely continue to do so, hopefully Per Diem) I feel like I'm limited in some of what I can do. And I want to have the opportunity to do some things that are more in line with my training up to this point. I want to work on a Critical Care truck or an aircraft, and I want to be challenged by people who are really sick. I want to be able to work at the level I'm trained at, and I can't fully do that in New Hampshire. Paramedics' protocols are actually really broad up here, and NH EMS doesn't recognized the CCEMT-P; because it's not a standard certification, they won't utilize it. That's part of the reason I want to take the flight medic exam; it is a standard, international certification, and I want it to be recognized.

As for today, I have an appointment this afternoon to talk with the Employee Assistance Program counselor about the suicide I dealt with a couple of weeks ago. It is still hanging out there, and I want to deal with it in the most straight-forward way I can. This was what was recommended to me by the Nurse Practitioner I see, so I will try going down this road. If it helps, great. If not, I'll be back in touch with my therapist soon.

Enjoy the beautiful weather.

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