A DEAD BODY IN MY FREEZER
16 July 2002
No, this is not a sequel to "suicidal squirrels."
I can't say my life isn't interesting. Today we had another "procedure" at
the office. Dr. G is determined to make a medical assistant out of me.
I wasn't really in a mood to work in the first place. Yesterday I had a bad cough and
when Haggie and I were standing by the aircraft carrier, Hornet, with the cold wind
blowing in from San Francisco, I said to her, "this probably isn't such a good
I continued to cough, off and on, throughout the daynot badly, but one of those
coughs I could feel in my throat and down into my lungs. Water helped calm the tickle, and
I drank a lot of water. I don't know how much I coughed through the night.
I got up around 4:30 a.m. ("slept in" this morning!) and got up to work and
had been diligently working for about 2 hours before Walt appeared to say good morning. I
looked up, went to answer him, and discovered I had no voice. I could barely croak
out a couple of words.
Well, this was just great for someone who answers the phone all day. To make matters
worse, Dr. G had been interviewed by the Sacramento newspaper about the hormone
replacement therapy brouhaha and so we had a slew of calls from women who wanted to make
an appointment with him. I had to start every call apologizing for my laryngitis.
It's so weird. I truly have no voice. I try to talk and what comes out is a
whisper and if I force it, I can get some sort of sound, but nothing "normal."
Unfortunately, I've had to talk all day and by now, my throat is really starting to feel
My plan was to go in for the one patient we had scheduled and then go home. But it
turned out another patient called for an appointment. We've been trying to get her in for
some time because of testing she needed due to irregularities found on her recent Pap
smear. We've been playing phone tag for weeks now, but today was finally the day.
This turned out to be my first complicated procedure. There was the other time when I
was pouring water into a woman's bladder (and wasn't that fun), but this involved vials
and swabs and binoculars (really) and cutting tissue samples. When he finished taking the
last sample, Dr. G handed me the tenaculum (the instrument used to take the sample) and a
needle and told me to make sure the sample got into the solution while he was busy sopping
up the blood in the patient.
Have I mentioned that I have lousy depth perception? It's at its best in bright light,
at its worse in low light, so here I was in low light, trying to poke a needle through a
tiny hole in this instrument and push the bit of bloody skin into the jar without (a)
knocking the jar over or (b) losing the bit of skin on the floor. Most of the time I
couldn't focus clearly enough to know if I even had the needle in the right location or
But it did all get done, the patient left, and Dr. G and I spoke of "red
bags." These are hazardous waste containers, into which you put bloody material. In
this particular office, we do so few procedures (this is the first one in the 8 months
I've been there), that it doesn't justify the cost of a regular hazardous waste pick up
service. But that means that when you DO have hazardous waste (I believe this is the first
in the history of this particular office), you have to figure out what to DO with it. You
can't just toss it in the garbage.
Dr. G got this bright idea that I should check with the vet office next door to see
what they do with hazardous waste and said maybe they'd let us toss our waste in
with theirs, since we almost never have any.
Well, it turns out that the vet office doesn't exactly have a hazardous waste pickup.
The receptionist told me that the only hazardous waste they ever have is if they have
removed some sort of tissue. "Then we put it in the freezer and the company that
picks up the dead bodies takes it along with them."
It struck me that this was a very odd conversation to be having about blood and tissue
and dead bodies. I'll bet they don't do that at McDonald's. (Though maybe, given the
nature of that business, they actually do.)
I've just come home from a production of Man of La Mancha, and must write a
review before I go to sleep (it's midnight as I write this). I also have to transcribe a
tape for Dr. G, who insists he must have it tomorrow morning. I may or may not get any
sleep tonight, which should do wonders for my laryngitis.
The sad thing tonight was that when I came home, Walt had put an article on my desk.
Seems the psychiatrist for whom I type had a heart attack while out jogging yesterday
(see? jogging isn't good for you!) and is in the hospital. I have no idea what his
condition is. I've worked for this man for 20 years or more and it saddens me to get this
Now to write the review--doing this journal entry was a warm-up to get my brain cells