Today is my Grandmother’s 98th birthday. I’d point her out in the photograph, but I’ll bet you can do that without my prompting. With her are two of my (three) sons, Ryan to her immediate right and then Matthew, and to the left is my sister Karen. I sure wish I could have been there. Grandma is just the sweetest woman you would ever want to meet, and the best Grandma one could ever have. I have so many great memories of our times together (almost 55 years of them), but I’ll share one of my fondest. I was in college (Claremont McKenna now, Claremont Men’s back then) and we were playing in a water polo tournament in Newport Beach. My grandparents lived in Laguna Beach at the time, just twenty minutes away, so I invited a few of the guys to meet my grandparents. I think there were four or five of us who descended (unannounced, I assume, since there were no cell phones then) upon my grandparents home. They, of course, welcomed us inside, and being who they were quickly offered us something to eat. It was around meal time, if I remember correctly (meal time for a water polo player is anytime you are awake) and we all enthusiastically answered that we’d love something to eat. My grandparents had one of those ‘extra’ freezers that probably many of our parents (and maybe some us?) had to store extra food. Poor Grandma. She just kept bring out more, and more, food….and we just kept eating. I think after the third trip back to the freezer, she said, “My, you boys can sure eat!” But she said in a happy way, like there was nothing better than to see young men with a hearty appetite. Then, we started in on the ice cream…. Bless them.
In any health care setting, if you are employed and have exposure in some fashion to patients, you will be required to have blood tests, vaccines and possibly a chest X-ray or two. It’s done to ensure you’re healthy, and that you don’t spread anything to patients. Makes sense, even if it’s a little bit inconvenient at times. Where I worked in California (for a large organization that starts with a “K” and ends with izer) was no different; we needed to ensure we were immune to hepatitis B, had negative TB tests, etc, etc. When I came to Nz, the hospital here requested (as they should have) my medical records to ensure these things were all up to date. They were, except they wanted to give me a tetanus booster (I did need one) and since they didn’t read my PPD test themselves (the skin test for tuberculosis, or TB), they wanted to me to get a special blood test for TB, and then since their test for hepatitis B is reported as a number (and not as it is back home, ‘positive’ or ‘negative’) they wanted me to get another blood test for hepatitis. I’ve learned a few things in the last twenty years: don’t argue, don’t try to make sense of someone else’s guidelines, just shut up and do it. So, I went to the lab and had my blood drawn (four tubes for two blood tests……just go with it….), and then back up to get my tetanus booster. I took off my shirt and readied myself, and then watched the needle plunge into my deltoid. Wait a minute, I thought, you didn’t use an alcohol wipe on my skin before you put the needle in! I casually mentioned to the nurse, “Oh, no alcohol wipes today?” and her answer was, “No, we don’t do that here!” Well, at least I won’t get tetanus, I thought. I strolled out of the station and went to the nearest computer and did a literature search….and guess what, lots of places don’t use an alcohol wipe before IM (intramuscular) injections. In fact, the WHO doesn’t even recommend it. (and you’re saying, well, they are a bunch of old drugged out rock and roll musicians, why would they? But in this case WHO is the World Health Organization). Fascinating. You learn something everyday.