Monday, July 19, 2010

Shameless capitalizing on TWILIGHT

My hits are down a little, probably due to the fact that I never update. Therefore, today's entry is brought to you by pop culture vampires and a shameless ploy for search engine hits. (Hell, just to make things interesting, all the desperate ploy bits will be in blood dripping red.)

So. My first aid assignment for the day was to figure out how to treat a neck wound with "severe arterial hemorrhage." Not that wimpy, mild arterial hemorrhage. We're going all the way on this one, dudes. Clearly enough, this is not the kind of thing I could find a volunteer for too easily. Not, that is, unless I was on the set of steamy vampire romance True Blood (which, I'll have you know, I don't watch. But I see the ads on the train all the time). The first step, clearly, was to figure out what exactly arterial hemorrhage was and how it differed from regular old bleeding. The answer? Arterial hemorrhage is way grosser and more cinematic. You can tell the difference because one happens when you get a papercut and the other happens when bright red blood is spurting out at regular, pulse-like intervals.

The biggest challenge with bleeding of any kind is just to get it under control -- an adult can lose 1 pint of blood to little effect, but make that 2 pints (or a delicious snack for Twilight's Edward!), and things start to move towards shock. More than that, and we're getting into the dying part. (Or the undead? Eh, that one was kind of grasping at straws.)

The major neck artery is the carotid, which you know from being smart and I know from trashy television shows. (Like The Vampire Diaries? Or is this getting silly?) Now, while we'd usually fight arterial bleeding with direct pressure, tourniquets on the extremeties, things like that. The problem arises from the fact that we're talking about the neck here. The body part that you get all "gah!"-ish if your scarf is too tight. So pressure is not exactly the ideal situation here. Unless you're a sexy sexy vampire. Instead, we need to get a little more creative.

The first thing you want to do is to avoid touching things as much as possible -- you might dislodge some sort of beginning-of-a-clot, which would make things even worse. Well, that's really the second thing you want to do. The first is to call a hospital, because things are going to get real bad real quick -- things will get so bad that the internet seems to be pretty much telling me that the only solution is to have a really good doctor use a balloon catheter to stop the bleeding and conduct unpleasant surgeries. If your patient lives that long. (Also, tonight, I have seen more bleeding necks on the internet than I even know what to do with. There are so many reasons I am not a doctor.)

Anyway. If you've called a hospital and not mucked around inside the wound too much, you can also -- very very very carefully -- apply pressure below the wound to the carotid artery. You know where it is. Find your pulse in your neck. Yeah. Right there. Find a spot below the spurting blood and press. Don't press on both sides of the neck at the same time and try not to compress the windpipe, but give it a shot.

Hey, look at you. You saved someone's life.

And you thought you just got here to see the entire cast of Twilight naked. Psh.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Now I'm just taking advantage of the internet

Tomorrow will be a return to the first aid badge, but right now I have a question. See, I bought a dress, and I think I like it. But my mom thinks it looks suspiciously like a beach cover-up. What do you think, buddies? I mean, I wore it out to dinner last night, but that just may mean that everyone around me thought I was wearing it out to dinner after a lovely day at the beach. Which is maybe not the worst thing, but still.

(Also, I'm watching the SyFy original "Infestation," which is gorier than I expected. I think a dude just got a big, big insect egg injected into his spine. Ew.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Order of the Arrow

So, this didn't exist in 1911, but my grandfather was still surprised I wasn't familiar with it. Then again, he's familiar with everything having to do with the Scouts. Seriously. He was an Eagle Scout, Silver Beaver, you name it.

So over the past few days, I spent a little time filming my grandfather talking about a few things related to his time in the Scouts in the mid-30s. (He stayed involved with the Boy Scout Council until the 80s, and his store sold scouting equipment until, um, until today, really -- my uncle's taken over the store and Grandpa, in the tradition of retirees everywhere, moved to Florida, but still.) Today's clip (there'll be more as summer wears on) relates to his initiation into the Order of the Arrow, a particularly survivalist kind of scouting honor society, in 1936.

(We also went to the beach, over the course of which I was totally shamed by being way more buffeted by the waves than he was, but the man can swim, I'll tell you that. Clearly, the Order of the Arrow isn't for wusses.)

I've been out of town

Video update coming this evening.

In the meantime, can anyone tell me why there are no hobby shops in all of New York, it seems? All I need are a few propellers!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sometimes, the Handbook wants to kill you

I still haven't left my apartment during the daytime with any kind of eagerness or, really, unless I was going to DIE. It's improving, though, I swear. Or so they say.

(By the way. All I want to listen to lately is Bruce Springsteen's "Live in Dublin." I'm not even a huge Bruce fan (despite living 5 years in Jersey). But I can't get enough of it. Can not. Thanks, dude.)

Anyway, I'm nearing a point of being able to leave the house and get back to things, and I'm even feeling pretty good about finishing up some badges I'd started and stopped and started again (I'm looking at you, aviation and business. Speaking of business, there's something about that coming in the next few days. So you know.) But still, really, I'm thinking about heat. Earlier this week, I started thinking about green leaves and wound up dealing with racism a hundred years ago. Today may be more of the same.

See, I continued on into the Handbook's thoughts on what to do if you just couldn't keep cool -- and remember, since air conditioning units weren't commercially available until after the Handbook was written. Prior to about 1914 (when the first air conditioned home was built in, of all places, Minneapolis (buh? really, Atlanta?)), home cooling was largely accomplished via ridiculous setups involving fans blowing across bricks of ice. Useful if you have an iceman and a LOT of ice, but still. Beside the point. Window units weren't available for purchase until after World War 2, and remember, while both of my grandfathers fought in WW2, neither was even born when the Handbook came out. So there was a whole lot of time between those two events.

Clearly, then, it was time to research the Handbook and heatstroke. Full disclosure: I had heat exhaustion once, and it was miserable. I worked at Mystic Seaport on the Sabino, a tiny steamboat that legend has it James Taylor once worked on. While I was supposed to be a deckhand, my duties were a little more expansive -- each morning, I loaded off the previous day's ashes from the boiler, then loaded on 1/2 ton of coal (with a wheelbarrow! I briefly had superdeveloped shoulder muscles, you'd best believe) and wood to make a fire. The captain, a fellow named Stu who lived on his sailboat (in the East River during the year, but for this particular summer in the Mystic River), showed me how to pilot, and the engineer (whose preternatural sense for when an attractive lady walked by taught me more about how many adult men work than, well, being an adult woman has) showed me how to build the fire and shovel the coal.

One night, I managed to sweet talk the engineer into letting me shovel for the duration of a trip down the river. It was a hot summer day (kind of like today, really), and I think a wedding was going on. I wanted to show how tough I was, and I was all suited up in long pants and a workshirt, and I was pretending not to mind that it was 140 degrees in the engine room. And was pretending not to have had a big bowl of hot clam chowder for dinner. I made it down to the first big bend in the river, maybe 20 minutes out, and I was doing a pretty solid job until I started to puke. Oh man. I've been sick since, but it was a bad one. I spent the rest of the trip lying on the top deck, in front of the wheelhouse. (I don't think the wedding guests noticed. I hope. Sorry, guys!) Anyway, it was just a shuddery feeling, the kind of weakness you feel after you're starting to get better from the flu but before you're ready to get up from the couch, or after you get off the roller coaster but before you want to get on another one.

John picked me up from the dock and got me home (I threw up in his car) and into an old-style cold water bath. That's not me in the picture, and I don't actually know who it is, but the internet is great. Besides, that guy has a way better beard than I do. Regardless, he dosed me up with a bathtub, Epsom salt, and Gatorade. (The Epsom salt arrived again later that summer when I nearly impaled my hand on sharp wood, but that's all there is to that story. I'm just real klutzy.)

According the Handbook, John messed up big time (sorry, dude).

He didn't give me any stimulants. I'm not sure what stimulants they're suggesting in the Handbook, but I'm idly curious. Cocaine? (I'm not kidding.) Caffeine? Tobacco? All of them at once, in the craziest cold water bath and drug festival in my own personal history? One can only hope. This is really, though, an example of when old time medical knowledge fails completely. See, stimulants, it turns out, can actually increase dehydration, and can increase the incidence of heat exhaustion. Oops.

Want to know why else I'm thinking about old medical advice that can kill you? Jon Clinch's Kings of the Earth came out last week, and aside from being the single most spectacular book I've read maybe ever (to the point where I have to stop every few paragraphs lest I become totally overwhelmed by it), it also features a hell of a lot of old timey medicine, involving salt pork, snowbanks, and tourniquets made of feed sacks. Yes, Jon's my dad (and WONDERFUL!), but I'm telling you that Kings is the real thing. The LA Times loves it! Oprah loves it! And so do I.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

it's really, really hot.

As in, 103 with a heat index of 113 in New York today. Compared to the chilly (relatively) temperatures in Vermont -- heck, I wore a sweatshirt out at dinner last week -- it's been a rough adjustment back to the city, and I could hardly bear to leave my apartment today.

It's not even sultry, steamy, Blanche DuBois hot. Or maybe I'm just not sultry enough. Regardless it's more of a sweaty, bags-under-eyes kind of hot. The kind of hot where we left our window unit running all night at 85 and it felt downright chilly compared to the rest of the house.

In honor of the heat, and in honor of my own return to the Handbook, I went back today to see how the scouts of 1911 would have coped. (Did I follow through with all these? No. Man, a scout in 1911 didn't have air conditioning, and despite my total stubbornness until this very summer, there is no way I'm going back.) I didn't get too far.

The Handbook starts out simple -- put green leaves inside your hat. In the days before the entire Patagonia catalog of wicking fabrics, this may have been valid. But this is also an artifact of the days when men wore hats, and when green leaves were (for everyone) easy to get one's hands on. For me, this was an interesting way of thinking, I guess, about who the Boy Scouts were intended for, at first, and about urbanization in general. See, in the 1920s, my maternal grandmother (and her family, my great-grandparents and various great-aunts and great-uncles) actually lived in the same neighborhood where I do these days. No trees. Also, very few Scouts -- honestly, the first scout troops were largely white (as in, African-American scouts were banned formally, until 1915 -- a topic for another day) and Protestant (as in, Catholics were banned until 1913, at which point a sort of separate-but-equal Catholic-only troop setup began, mirroring a similar Mormon-only troop structure a few years later).

Maybe it's not fair for me to think about green trees as being exclusionary, but that's where I am right now. Being up in Vermont and in way, way upstate NY until only yesterday has made me hyperaware, today, of just how remote my existence in Brooklyn is from the more rural scouting-ish lifestyle. It's the same issue that's present in a lot of educational equality discussions, the kind of inherent biases that some people think don't matter on standardized tests, things like that -- when you ask a city kid whether a slope of 90, 45, or 0 degrees would be better for cross-country skiing, you're putting that kid at a disadvantage, just by the very nature of your assumption that this city kid knows what these things are and how to deal with them. Am I calling the Boy Scouts inappropriately rural? Not by half. It would be like calling Neighborhood Watch too neighborhood-centric. Or like calling out the Hells Angels for a reluctance to pursue pony rides. It's the nature of the organization. But still, any organization will be easier for some people to join than for others, and we need to be aware of that.

Anyway. I'm disjointed, but it's hot. I'm going to eat me some ice cream, and we'll pick up this thread tomorrow. It's going to be 102 in Brooklyn, buddy, and I'll have a whole lot of time indoors.