Schrodinger’s Patient

So I got a patient on my service yesterday morning who (a) should not have been admitted onto my service and (b) probably shouldn’t have been admitted to the hospital at all.

So, after working him up and determining that yes, there really WAS nothing wrong with him, I wrote a discharge summary and put in a discharge for him.

When I talked to him about it, he assured me that oh yes, doc, I’ll call my wife and she will come pick me up after work! No problem!

And I’m thinking, great! The rock-star social worker on my team will have one less transportation arrangement to make, and will have more time to concentrate on the rest of the patients on our unbelievably long census.

And then, I got a call from said rock-star social worker. Upon further questioning, my patient has no way of getting in contact with his wife, and only THINKS she’ll show up after work. Which ends at 8.

Through great, desperate effort, I left the hospital at 7 last night.

So.

Will I come back to an extra patient on my census this morning, or an empty bed?

And will it become one or the other only at the moment I observe it?

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Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 3:21 am  Comments (8)  

Stories From Residency: Olfactory Diagnosis

So I get on a train.

And too late, I see everyone in the car genteel-ly trying to hold their noses in creative quasi-unassuming ways.

And the doors close behind me.

And it hits me like a wall.

And I know immediately that someone on the train has a necrotizing perirectal abscess that really, REALLY, REALLY needs draining.

And I realize that I am likely the only one on the train who is thinking about that horrific stench in quite that way.

And I switch cars at the next stop.

And I feel sorry for the doctor that will eventually have to handle this situation.

To think I even considered working in an emergency room at one point!

IN OTHER NEWS:

I’m starting to get interviews rolling in from the Codex Blog Tour! I’ll start scheduling posts as they come in. I plan on encouraging the authors to stick around for a couple days after their interview and join in any discussion that pops up. Hopefully at least a few will be up for that.

Stay tuned!

Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm  Comments (1)  

I Just Had An Extremely Bad Day.

Tell me a funny story?

Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 10:42 pm  Comments (16)  

Really?

Wow.

Over 1400 visits to the last post, at least as logged by WordPress….

And only two questions.

That’s……

Kinda disappointing………..

I was kinda looking forward to seeing what you guys would come up with.

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm  Comments (7)  

Announcement!

I am happy to announce that I have been invited to be a host blogger for the Codex Authors’ Blog Tour 2011!

Hey, that’s great!

Um……

What the heck is that?

Well, funny you should ask!

Codex is an online writers’ group for neo-pro speculative fiction writers. It’s a group of really high-class authors, who are all at the start of their careers. Think Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, China Mieville. . . . right as they’re getting published for the first time.

These are the people who we get to talk to.

How cool is that!

Yeah, I thought you would be excited!

Okay, so here’s the deal. I’ve invited a bunch of them to guest-post interviews. And I have a couple of questions that I think it would be fun and interesting to ask.

But, you know, I’m not the one reading this blog.

So I was wondering: do you have any burning questions YOU would like to hear answered by some really awesome authors?

Be creative! Be as silly or serious as you want! I’ll give the authors a list of questions to choose from, and we’ll go from there!

The possibilities are endless!

Ask them in the comments section, and I’ll pass them along.

Published in: on January 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm  Comments (9)  

An Observation

You know, male doctors don’t have to deal with their patients grabbing their asses as much as female doctors do.

Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm  Comments (10)  

Cross-Training: The Babysitter

Listen to this song before I start blabbing, because it’s really, really worth it to hear it without dissection.

I think Dar Williams is one of the best flash-fiction authors writing today.

Flash-fiction author?! She’s a lyricist. A singer-songwriter. That hardly counts.

Yeah, but think about it. There are three hundred seventy-six words in the song we just listened to. And that’s not even taking out the repeated lines.

Three hundred seventy-six. And a lot of them had to rhyme.

Granted, it’s a pretty simple story. A guy makes a girl choose between him and college. The girl, heartbroken, chooses college.

But did you notice how emotionally charged Dar Williams managed to make it? Watch the video again….notice that the audience is all set up for laughing and giggling for the whole song. And of course they are; the voice is funny, and charming, and mind-bendingly adorable. They can’t help but laugh…..until she kicks them in the teeth with the point of the story. It brings the room to silence, where all you can hear are the soft sounds of silverware against plates. Even when the same cute voice breaks through at the end, a few people try to giggle, but it’s a half-hearted effort at best.

It’s a powerful thing, to be able to manipulate the emotions of an audience like that. As writers, we have to figure out how to tap into that kind of power for our own stories.

There are a lot of tools we can use for something like this, and “The Babysitter’s Here” highlights one of them that can be overwhelmingly effective when it’s done right.

Of course, I’m talking about the choice of your point-of-view character.

Take a minute and think about how most singer-songwriters would tell a story like this. The most likely perspective? The girl, obviously. She’d tell all about her love for the guy, and how she feels betrayed by his demand, etc, etc, etc.

But we’ve all heard a million, billion songs like that. It would most likely fade into the background noise of girls and guys whining about their feelings and how hard relationships are.

But Williams didn’t take the most obvious choice. Instead, she made her story unique and surprising by choosing the point of view of the kid that the girl babysits for.

This little girl is completely innocent, and she clearly idolizes her babysitter, who is amazing and is everything she’s ever wanted to be and can do no wrong. And she only has a limited understanding of what’s going on in the story.

But we as the audience hear much, much more.

This is the power that choosing the right point-of-view character can bring.

Every person is actually an amalgam of tens to hundreds of different people over the course of a single day, depending on who they’re interacting with at any one time. The title character of this song is no different. Anyone could have told this story: she herself could have, or her father, or one of her classmates, or even her boyfriend. And it would be a slightly different story each time, depending on whose eyes the writer chooses to see through.

But Williams chooses the little girl. And we experience the story through her simple understanding. And how overwhelmingly powerful it becomes!

So bring this to your own work. If you’re stuck on how to tell a story, take a step back. Whose perspective are you using? Is he the most effective choice? Who else is in the main characters’ life who could tell the story differently, or possibly even better?

When you’re thinking about it, don’t get blinded by sticking with the main characters’ contemporaries. There are people of all ages in his life, and any one of them could tell an effective story. The possibilities are endless!

Even if you stick with your initial point-of-view choice, I imagine you’ll find that he has become far more nuanced and real, now that you’ve considered all of the different people that your character can be on any given day.

And if you pick a new, unexpected, surprising point of view….then you can silence a room with the power of your story.

With only three hundred seventy-six words.

Published in: on January 10, 2011 at 5:07 am  Comments (7)  

I’ve Joined The Future.

Just got myself an i-touch to help me practice medicine.

Yay for creatinine clearance calculators!!!!

Now you can stop mocking me for being such a troglodyte. Yes, you. You know who you are.

Published in: on January 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm  Comments (3)  

Must To Share Awesome Paraphrased Writing-Related Quote.

“Rules are made to be transcended.”

–Luc Reid

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm  Comments (3)  

Oh, yeah….

Happy New Year to everyone!

(Can’t pull up WordPress at the hospital.)

Thought this might be interesting to point out: I have now been writing this blog for a year.

Weird, huh?

Weird.

Anyway.

Health and happiness and awesome stories to you all!

Published in: on January 2, 2011 at 9:29 pm  Comments (3)