Saturday, December 20, 2008

My exciting night at work

Some days I hate my job - mostly on the days when it gets exciting or interesting.

I still remember the time when my parents flew me back to the Twin Cities to spend the weekend in my grandmother's hospital room before she died. They couldn't really afford it, but they did it anyway -- for her and for me. This was during my clinical year so, on the flight there, I was reading one of my text books and my seat mate, a nice older (to me at the time) man asked me what I was studying. I told him it was my hematology textbook. And then I said, " You know, the worst thing about it is, the work only gets interesting when someone gets sick." And I still find that true more than twenty years later. Even more so now, with so many things automated, I don't even have to approve some of the results before they are released to a patient's chart. So, when everything is normal there is very little to do.

Tonight was one of those nights. I was doing a manual differential - when we looked at a stained blood smear to determine the different types and percentages of white blood cells -- and I wasn't liking what I saw. I really did not like what I saw. A phone call to the ER Doc confirmed the 69 year old patient had Chronic Lymphocytic leukemia. But what I was seeing was an acute transformation of that leukemia. Not good.

Then in rapid succession, I had a second tech agree with my results, I called the Doc back to let him know we would "hold" the differential until a pathologist could confirm our findings on Monday -- THEN we had an overhead page announcing that a "Plan D" was in effect. This means there has been a disaster of some sort and no one gets to go home until we know what the situation is and everything is under control. Tonight's disaster was an airliner at DIA skidding off the runway and catching fire. We were told to expect casualties.

I guess it's not so much my job I hate but the evil of disease and calamity in this fallen world.

UPDATE: It is now being reported that there was only 1 serious injury but that 38 passengers were transported to area hospitals. The injuries seem to be mostly bumps, bruises and a few broken bones. That's good.

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