• Tuesday's Thoughts: Realistic Expectations

    I’ve started writing this week’s “Tuesday’s Thoughts” early Monday morning. So early that many of you are still nestled in the Sandman’s arms and have been coaxed into the dream realm (hopefully it was a good journey). It’s a little after three in the morning and you’d think that people with such minor issues as a stuffy nose would avoid waking up and braving the cold in order to come to the emergency department. Then again this place never shuts down and I’ve seen stranger things make their way…

  • Tuesday’s Thoughts: It’s More Than A Habit

    My intention is to not elicit an emotional response or seek pity, but the story below is presented with the purpose of shedding light on the issue of addiction. Let me begin by clarifying that addiction doesn’t just pertain to the dependence on a substance like alcohol, heroin or meth. It can also refer to such acts like binge eating or compulsive shopping, too. . Many years ago I had a friend with an addiction to gambling. I never knew the extent of his obsession until it was too late. As his a…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: A Completed Novel

    I recently came across this quote, “Not everyone will understand your journey, but that’s okay. They need to understand their own, not yours.” . If you know me, you’ll understand that my greatest desire, the very thing that makes me tick, is my need to be creative. Whether it be through the visual arts (painting, sculpting) or the written word, the creative process defines a large part of my personal journey. . With that being said, I’m excited to announce that I’ve finally finished my most rece…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: All In A Routine

    I have a routine while I’m driving into work. It’s nothing complicated, but nonetheless it sets the mental groundwork for how I approach my shift. If I mess it up, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll be off my game for several hours. . You have to realize that there is no easing into a shift in the emergency department, especially the night shift. It’s kind of like the baseball bat of awakening being smashed across your face. You walk into pandemonium, jump in feet first and start frantically …

  • Tuesday’s Thoughts: A Short Story

    The man grunted with irritation as he stomped across the sidewalk on his way to work. His frustration only ballooned when he thought about the argument with his wife, his son’s computer crashing, daughter’s below average math grade, the leaky faucet, the car’s battery needing a jump and now he was running late. He scrolled through his phone as a way to occupy his mind or maybe it was to divert his thoughts from the stress waiting for him at the office. The headlines slid by with a swipe of his t…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: All In Due Time

    I’m sure you’ve seen those attention grabbing videos featuring a pet doing some entertaining, funny or more often than not “the darnedest things.” Yet, working in emergency medicine I’d have to say that it’s humans who stand atop the ladder and do the…well, you know what I’m about to say next. Most of the time it’s these behaviors, together with the lack of mental foresight, that are influenced by humanity's popular friend, alcohol. . There appears to exist a relationship between a person's acti…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: Are You Absolutely Certain?

    I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "Nothing can be certain, except death and taxes." I suppose you could fall off the grid and for the most part elude taxes. However, death, while I'm not one to dwell on the topic, is something that can't be avoided. . And while death, and more or less taxes, can be considered absolutes, most things in life, especially medicine, can't be defined in this way. In essence there's a lot of gray. If you're a linear thinker, or someone who sees the world in …

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: What's In Your Wallet Or Garage or Cabinet Or Home?

    Without overstating the obvious, one of my functions as a paramedic, and of all EMTs for that matter, is the need to step into someone’s house, apartment, condo, mobile home, or simply put, their abode. I’m amazed, well let me rephrase that because the years of being on the job has blunted the shock; what I’m trying to say is that most homes, and it doesn’t matter if they’re big or small, are a mess. . By mess I mean the clutter, the excessive trinkets, the papers, bottles, cans, bags, clothes, …

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: Happy Emergency Nurses Week

    “Wondering Amongst Imagination’s Headstones” is a book of short stories I published back in November, 2019. I bring this up not because of the time of year, even though Halloween is my favorite holiday that’s not a holiday. But rather, something a coworker got me thinking about that I haven’t thought about in a long time; that being the two dates that are separated, by what is known as an en dash, on a gravestone. . Those dates are something we—that being you, me and every person on this planet—…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: From Somewhere On The Horizon

    Here in Michigan, I would describe this past week as having the perfect Fall weather. Calm, cool and well, you know, the type that was just right for a long sleeve shirt. On one of these evenings I took my dog for a walk and thoroughly immersed myself in the stillness, the mild temp and the quiet. It was late night, and as someone who loves the nighttime, I also had the luxury of feeling safe. . Surrounded by this nocturnal bliss, I couldn’t help but count my blessings or a better way of saying …

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: Is It Time For A Tune Up?

    What does a crack pipe, a cell phone, a finger and a pair of socks have in common? If you’re thinking a murder scene in a detective novel or something from a real life television crime show, well, that’s not it. . This past week, I polled my coworkers with the following question: what are some of the strangest things patients have left behind after they’ve been discharged? I know what you’re thinking; how the heck does someone leave a finger? Although I’m fairly certain you used a stronger word …

  • Tuesday’s Thoughts: You’ve Gotta Have Art

    What is art? At first glance this appears to be a fairly straight forward question. You most likely thought of a famous painting or quite possibly a well known sculpture. Yet, when you contemplate it some more you may come up with a popular photograph, a unique building or maybe even a renowned film. . ​This list grows even further when we add things like the art of writing, the art of cooking, the art of dance, the art of…well, I think by now you get the point. As you can see the list seems end…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    The other day while sprucing up my yard, my neighbor happened to walk by with his dog. Pleasantries were predictably exchanged and knowing that I worked in healthcare he kind of leaned forward, changed his tone to be more personable and asked me for the real scoop regarding the pandemic. . Judging by his behavior, I guessed that he didn’t believe it really existed or maybe he deemed it had been blown out of proportion. Regardless of how he felt, I became flabbergasted when he said something abou…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: In The Words of Bob Seger, "They Were Long And Low And Sleek And Fast."

    The other day I was out for a run and lo and behold there she was. I’ve seen her before, but on this day she was stretched out across a driveway. Skin glowing under the warm sun. Her sensuous curves beckoning my hand to caress them. She made my heart thump with excitement. Practically stole my breath even more so than what the run was doing. . There was something else about her that caught my eye. I couldn’t believe it, but it was there. A “for sale” sign in the window. Was she really being sold…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: Up A Creek Without A Paddle.

    We found ourselves under a thick canopy of leaves. Fallen limbs, branches and stumps were partially submerged in the murky soil. Somehow my wife and I had veered off the poorly marked trail. Up ahead, no more than thirty yards away, was a tarp strung between two trees. There were also blankets, a lopsided lawn chair, a couple of pots and several signs that read, “Keep Out.” . Not only were we lost, but we had stumbled upon someone’s home, probably a “woodsman;” homeless men that chose to live in…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts. When Is Silence Needed?

    I don’t know what triggered it, could’ve been the overly dramatic patient I had to deal with the other day, but one of my most influential art teachers sprang from the files of my memory. More particularly it was the story he had told me about being interviewed for a show at a prominent art gallery. The gallery owner had acknowledged that my teacher’s work was amazing and deserved recognition. However, the owner looked my teacher in the eye and asked him what made him controversial. . My teacher…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts. At Least The Dog Didn't Eat It.

    It was the approaching the darker side of dawn when I heard yelling from my neighbor's driveway. . "How did this happen?" a mother questioned sternly. "I don’t know," the teen daughter replied. "You're lying." "I'm not." "So you didn't run into a mailbox?" The mother gestured toward a car. "Then where'd this dent come from?" "It was already there. I...I think someone else ran into it." "Someone else? So you're saying you had nothing to do with it? That mailbox just happened to fall over on its o…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From Inside The Quotation Marks

    We've all seen them, read them and even shared them. When they're presented to us at just the right time we, undoubtedly, have been inspired by them. What I'm talking about is the ever popular motivational quote. . They seem to be popping up everywhere. Not only have I spotted them on the Internet, but also on shirts, decorative wood plaques, bumper stickers, water bottles and even an occasional billboard. Things like, “Keep calm and...” “Don't wait...” “Don't quit...” “Just before sunrise...” “…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From Space: The Final Frontier

    If you were given the opportunity to go to sleep and wake up two hundred years from now, would you do it? What about four hundred? Given the chance, there’s a part of me that would be more than willing. Why, you ask? Mainly because I want to see how far humanity has technologically advanced, but more importantly how these advancements relate to space and space travel. . It’s only obvious that working as a night shifter I have an attraction to the nighttime. Sometimes I’ll go outside at one or tw…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Box Spring In The Bed of My Truck

    Normally I have an outline of "Tuesday's Thoughts" completed by Saturday and a first draft finished by Sunday. Yet, this past week has been overly busy and I'm attempting to write it on Monday evening. Why, you ask? The answer is that I've been moving. Well, not me exactly, but rather my wife. Its a bit complicated to explain, but here it is in a nutshell. . Her two children attend school in a city an hour or so northwest from where I live. So she has a place in that city and I have my home clos…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Valley Of Wrinkles

    “What a drag it is getting old.” If you’re old enough or possibly a classic rock fan, than you’re familiar with these lyrics that start off the Rolling Stones tune, “Mother’s Little Helper”. I’m sure most of us can attest to those inevitable issues associated with ageing. The aches and pains that refuse to go away, that restaurant menu or fine print that has become difficult to read, the frequent trips to the bathroom or maybe it’s that extra weight that insists on clinging to your gut. . And if…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts: It's All A Matter Of Opinion

    “Opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one.” I’m sure we can all agree that this quote has several layers of meaning. I’ve heard it quite a few times over my lifetime and yes, I’ve toned down the more explicit form. Kind of made it PG-13 and I’m sure you can easily guess what that vulgar word is and what part of this sentence it can replace. . There are a few reasons why I chose to start with this quote the first being that I felt I’ve been inundated with an endless stream of opinions over t…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Circuit Of A Cell Phone

    Birds sang and sent their voices echoing through the woods. Wings fluttered. A brook babbled. Two deer looked up and then stooped to eat more grass. The canopy of leaves blocked the bright sun and cast a shadow over the trail. It was hot, but even more so humid. My shirt, especially beneath my backpack, was drenched. The excessive heat slowly eroded my attempt to find some kind of mindful serenity. In no way was it helping quiet the chatter in my mind. However, there were a couple of other thing…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From Atop A Ladder

    A falling object accelerates at a rate of thirty-two feet per second. Terminal velocity is reached somewhere around one hundred twenty miles per hour. I know there’s a formula for acceleration and falling, but it’s lost in the archives of my memory. At the moment it doesn’t matter, because if I fall I’m screwed. And even though I work in an emergency room, I have zero desire to be a patient in one let alone try and explain what I was doing. . I’m standing on top a step ladder. You know that step…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    “I’ll be back.” Ah yes, that catchphrase made famous in the movie “The Terminator”. If you’ve been following the news, then you realize the phrase kind of fits with the reemergence of the pandemic. Then again, covid-19 never completely went away. And because it’s been lingering, it felt the need to deliver a gut punch to our department. . I’ve often been asked what it’s like to work in the emergency room or on the ambulance for that matter. I realize that people are really looking for those juic…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Front Edge Of A Penny

    “A penny saved is a penny earned,” or so goes the quote by Benjamin Franklin. Oh sure, if you don’t have anything, than a penny is something. But, is it something worth having? For my dad it was because, as it turns out, it was one of the things he collected. . There were jars of them tucked away in the basement. Most were shiny, almost like they had been newly minted. I think that’s why he had saved them. Nothing like the intrigue of a shimmering coin; almost like discovering a treasure even th…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines Of My Aging Mind

    “Ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange Ch-ch-changes Just gonna have to be a different man Time may change me But I can’t trace time…” . If you’re a David Bowie fan, then I’m sure you’re familiar with these lyrics to his song, “Changes”. While not my favorite Bowie tune, I do believe that it’s a pretty good fit for everything that’s been taking place over the past couple of months. . Years ago I remember someone facetiously say that death and taxes are the only guarantees in life. I suppose yo…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts (Covid is not on the frontlines this week)

    Sometimes I feel the emergency department, and the ambulance for that matter, is a beacon of light. Imagine if you will, a lighthouse with its beam reaching out into the world and guiding the way for those in need. Now, put a big Family Feud X across that image and fill your ears with that annoying buzzer. What I’m talking about is the light to a zapper; the kind that attracts bugs, or in this case, the strange, out of the ordinary humans. If you’re an old school rap fan, then you’re familiar wi…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    Have you started your day and realized that things weren’t going to turn out well? I can only describe it as a vague, almost imperceptible, feeling. Something like a disturbance in the force, or maybe a tingling of your “spidey sense” or possibly an alarm rattling your subconscious. Whatever the case, think of it as a storm cresting the horizon and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. . Something similar happened to me last week. This particular day started off amazingly well, but deep down I …

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    “Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” This is a long overdue shout out to my paramedic family, my comrades, my homies, my longtime friends. As you may have guessed from the above Oscar Wilde quote, this week’s thoughts are about experience. Why experience you ask? Well, first off it’s EMS week. Secondly, it sprang into my mind the other day while working on the ambulance. I found myself reflecting on the unusual situations I’ve been in…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    I’m fairly certain that over the last week Fate has been busy wielding her knitting needles, rocking in her chair and relentlessly chugging energy drinks. Feeling indecisive, she's chosen yarn from several piles all for the purpose of weaving an unusual somberness through the frontlines. I say this because there’s been a shift in the way our department is run. And from what I’ve read and heard, this same infliction has woven its way through many emergency rooms throughout the nation. For starter…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    Years ago I was given this advice, “Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” I’ve come to realize that this is a popular quote and its meaning has long been discussed and debated. What I believe that person was trying to say was that if you take care of the small finances, the bigger ones will take care of themselves. Basically, it’s a quote about the benefits of being thrifty. Which brings me to a second piece of advice that my uncle once gave me. “No matter how b…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    I’ve been lucky enough to have been born with strands of the handy man gene embedded into my DNA. I thank my dad for teaching me the basics when I was a kid as well as passing on his sense of craftsmanship. Trust me when I say this, I’m far from being perfect. I do possess a willingness to try and learn, and I don’t know about you, but I excel at making mistakes. Maybe I should say that I’m even better at learning the hard way. When I’m left with a decision I think about that Robert Frost poem “…

  • Tuesday's Thoughts From The Frontlines

    If you’ve never seen the nature sculptures and photography of Andrew Goldsworthy it’s worth a moment to delight your visual intellect. Years ago I watched a video of him stringing together one of his intricate ice sculptures. A few hours into the project the piece completely fell apart and in a most unemotional tone he simply said, “Oh well.” I don’t know about you, but if that happened to me I’d use every cuss word known to man. Case in point, with an accidental click of a button I recently los…

  • Tuesday’s Thoughts From the Frontlines

    Here’s a snippet of a cover song performed by the 80s hair band Tesla: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.” Or this one by Z.Z. Top: “But you did, but you did. And I thank you.” I’m using these lyrics as a way to express my gratitude for the outpouring of support you have given us frontline workers. From signs tapped in windows, drawn on sidewalks, propped in yards or assembled in front of the hospital; through the donations of food, hand sanitizer and safety glasses; to the cookies and cards that h…

  • Tuesday’s Thoughts From The Frontlines

    Deep in the mountains of Colorado, I had sat on the edge of my circle. Under the canopy of trees, a chill clung to the air despite the sun proudly shimmering like a medal pinned to the sky's crisp blue shirt. Directly across from me the shaman sat. His head bowed in contemplation. Silence flowed between us like a quiet forest brook. . The shaman eventually points to an object before his knee. A bright green sprout poking through a dead leaf. "Life always finds a way," he said. . The words were s…