Wednesday: I learn first aid
I got an opportunity this week to take a two-day first aid certification course. I’ve always wanted to do this, mostly because of my fascination with the Heimlich maneuver, and an almost compulsive desire to perform it on someone, or at least perform it CORRECTLY. It was a course set up exclusively for my workplace, so on Wednesday morning, I went to a nearby hotel to learn all about CPR, bandaging wounds, what to do if you’re hit by lightning, and field surgery. I think my expectations were a little high, especially around the surgery part, because we were only being certified as Level C “first aiders” and not actual medical doctors (I DID learn about being hit by lightning. If it happens, you’re probably toast—pardon the pun). I had (and still have) a wicked case of laryngitis, so the introductory part of the session, where we all had to say our names and our first aid background was even more awkward for me than normal. I sounded like a cell phone that was dropping out—luckily, I was sitting with some very nice colleagues who filled in the gaps for me. The instructor—let’s call him Dave— was a very interesting and well-experienced former fire captain, who had some amazing stories to tell about traumatic situations and injuries, the vast majority of which seemed to have happened to his own family and friends. And himself most of all. By the second day, we’d heard all about how his wife had been in a car accident and permanently crushed her foot, his daughter had broken her femur, his grandson had almost choked to death on an Arrowroot cookie, his son came close to dying in an avalanche, and he himself had almost bled to death after being sliced open by a broken bottle during yet another car accident. I think my favourite story was how he stabbed a steak knife completely through his palm getting it out of the dishwasher. After that, we moved on to his in-laws, and their various concussions, broken limbs, and wounds. Then, at one point, he started with “We went to Punta Cana last year with another couple…” and my co-worker and I turned to each other and said simultaneously, “Oh god, no!” Sure enough, there was not only an incident involving three broken ribs and a catamaran, he also performed CPR on some random surfer who was pulled out of the ocean. Dave was like serious injury karma, and I was convinced that at least one of our group was NOT going to make it to the weekend. Still, they were useful stories which served to illustrate the many ways that humans can actually damage themselves, and how we “first aiders” can help them. It was certainly a crazy two days—here are some of the highlights.
1) On each table, there was a CPR mannequin consisting of a head and torso. Their mouths were wide open, and I kept picturing them lined up like some sort of bizarre choir. We decided to name ours “Phil”. Phil was a good sport and let us merrily pound away on his chest, yelling “Come back to us, Phil! You can do it! Phil, you’re alive!! We saved him!!”, and high-fiving each other.
2) I realized that I had some colleagues with obvious drama backgrounds, as we had to roleplay various incidents, like one of us had to collapse suddenly and the rest of the group had to save him or her. At any given moment, someone would fall to the floor gasping and writhing, and someone else would shriek “Oh dear—Mary seems unresponsive!” and we would all proceed with the steps we’d been taught:
Person 1: Wait—don’t go near her until we’ve determined there’s no danger!
Person 2: It’s safe. Mary! Mary! No, she’s definitely not breathing. You call 911 and I’ll start CPR!
Person 3: 911—we have an unresponsive female in her….twenties, haha!
Person 4: I’ll get the Automated Electric Defibrillator!
For our “practice exam”, my group was given the scenario that one of us was lying “supine” on the floor, having slipped and fallen down the stairs, and couldn’t feel her legs. It seemed really straightforward at first, but then the scenario said, “Suddenly she begins to vomit. What do you do?” We were given a chance to practice, then we had to perform it in front of the whole class, which made me super anxious because I’m a terrible actor and get really self-conscious. Things were going quite well—we were doing everything according to the book and had just gotten her into “recovery position” when one of my colleagues got a little carried away by the drama and yelled, “Oh no—she’s stopped breathing!” We all paused and stared at her, including our hapless victim. I was like, “That’s NOT in our scenario! We just saved her! No more acting!” but Dave was like, “That’s great—keep going!” I was worried we’d end up killing her and fail the course, but I have to admit that our improv was pretty good, and she survived.
3) Continuing with the drama theme, we also had to perform CPR on a baby doll. After being instructed on how to do it, we each had to get up and demonstrate what we’d learned in front of the class. The first few people tried to determine responsiveness by calling “Baby, Baby! Wake up!”, so everyone else, including me, followed suit, until one of our male colleagues got up, frantically ran to the doll, and yelled, “Samantha! Samantha! Wake up! Oh no, my baby girl is unresponsive!”, and everyone after him called the baby something different. I was like WTF?! I didn’t know we were allowed to NAME the baby! Why didn’t someone tell us? I had the perfect name ready, and if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know it’s “Johnson”. See? It works for a boy OR a girl. Or a monkey butler.
Aside from the all the thespian-y stuff, I DID learn some pretty cool things, like when people stop breathing, they go very pale, and their nipples lose colour. We watched a video of a man in England being revived with CPR, and Dave pointed out that the English are a very pasty bunch even when they ARE breathing, so if you’re not sure, check their nipples. Yes, I just said the word “nipples” twice. Well, technically, three times. And I also learned the Heimlich manoeuvre, which came in really handy at dinner last night, when Ken started to choke.
Me: Are you OK? Do you need the Heimlich maneuver?!
Ken: No—cough—I just swallowed the wrong way.
Me: Stand up! Really, I’ve got this. Prepare to be Heimliched!
Ken: No! I’m fine—do I need to show you my nipples to prove it?
As a side note, let me just say that the night before training started, as I was leaving work, my manager said, “Have fun at first aid training,” and I responded with “It’s going to be great. I’ll be Heimliching EVERYONE by the time it’s over, just wait!” She smiled and said, “All right then.” Yep. Say “Heimliching” out loud. Not the way to impress your boss.
Thursday: I set up a new Twitter account
I used to have a Twitter account, but last year I shut it down because Twitter is kind of boring. Very few people post anything original anymore—it’s all just retweets of other people’s retweets. I tried following different comedians, but most of them are extremely unfunny in real life. For example, I followed John Cleese of Monty Python fame, thinking that he would be hilarious. But instead of humour, it was just things like “My daughter is coming for a visit” or “My dog died.” At first I thought the tweet about his dog was some kind of weird, dry British absurdism, but no—his dog actually had died, and then it was like hundreds of people tweeting condolences to him. I followed Ricky Gervais for a while, but instead of being funny, his tweets are all just rant-y and angry. But the main reason I quit Twitter was because I was being cyberstalked by someone. It sounds funny to say now, but at the time, it was very unsettling, especially since he was getting other people to let him look at my Facebook page and Twitter account:
Bob: On May 3rd, I posted on Facebook that I went to a party…
Me: We’re not friends on Facebook. How would I know that?
Bob: …and on May 6th, you tweeted about your cat and your fish. It was obviously about ME.
Me: First, I have you blocked on Twitter. Second, why would I tweet about you anyway?
Bob: I’m the fish! I’M THE FISH!! Stop tweeting about me!
Me: Oh my god, I can’t even.
Ultimately, I had to stay away from social media for a while—you can only block so many people, and if someone is determined to creep your Facebook because he “likes to see what you and your family are up to”, there’s really no escape. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about expanding mydangblog and reaching out to more people (I got the idea from one of my blog friends, BunKaryudo), so I decided to open a new Twitter account. It’s @mydangblog in case you want to follow me, but there’s not much there yet, mostly because I don’t have the time or resources to tweet twenty times a day. So it probably won’t amount to much. It’s so bare right now, in fact, that Twitter emailed me the other day to ask me if I knew “how to Tweet”. Yes, I know how to f*cking Tweet—it’s not rocket science. Stop hounding me, Twitter. I’ll get to you eventually.
By the way, I have a bunch of other blog friends, but I have NO idea how to set up a widget-y thing so that I can link them to my blog. So here are the other great people I currently follow, at least the ones who post regularly,and if anyone knows how to link them on my site, please tell me, because Youtube is useless. Also, if I missed you and you want to be linked, just let me know. I’ll add you as soon as I figure out how.
Freethinkers Anonymous at freethinkersanonymous.com
The Years of Living Non-judgmentally at annkoplow.wordpress.com
The Lonely Author at thelonelyauthorblog.wordpress.com