Why would anyone start a blog about kooks, cookies and creations made with trauma straps? First the kooks. I am a middle-aged emergency physician. I first started hanging around the emergency department when I was in medical school. I found the pace, kind of patient encounters and intellectual process of providing emergency care exciting and it fit nicely with my task-oriented personality.
I went on to train in emergency medicine and became a certified emergency physician in 1987. I have been working in various emergency departments since then and have been working in the same busy county emergency department for the last twenty-four years.
Practicing emergency medicine is a challenging but rewarding and fascinating way to make a living. Doing this in the kind of hospital where I practice is, I believe, even more so. It is just a great job. I hope by sharing some of my stories I can get others to taste a bit of what makes my professional life so full and fun.
Next: cookies. I make cookies. I have always liked to cook but baking fits my personality and cookies are a very practical thing to bake. Over the years, I have been a Boy Scout leader and taught little kids in Sunday school. I found that treats were a good way to positively motivate behavior so I started taking cookies as rewards. I also sing in the choir at church where I take cookies for a treat each week. For years I have taken freshly baked cookies to church almost every Sunday.
I also take cookies to work most every week. When I pull out the bag, I usually hear something like, “Oh! It’s Thursday! Dr. Tad’s cookies!” So, over the years, between church, work and home, I have made hundreds of batches of cookies. I read in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell that you have to do something for 10,000 hours before you are expert. I don’t suppose I have baked that many batches of cookies but I’m on my way.
In addition to baking many more cookies than most emergency physicians have, I like to bake different kinds of cookies so I am always out for trying a new recipe. I am loose about doing something different with existing recipes to just see how they turn out. Sometimes they are a bust but another good thing about baking cookies is they are pretty forgiving. They will always be appreciated and eaten by doctors, nurses, residents, paramedics, clerks, radiology techs and respiratory therapists.
Years ago, I found a recipe called “World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.” Of course, I was unable to resist. It was good but I think I have made it better with some tweaks. It is also a great recipe for experimentation. You can adjust and add and take away and it seems to come out great: Tad’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.
Last: trauma strap creations. When trauma patients come in from the ambulance, they are usually strapped down to a board to keep them from moving until it is clear they don’t have a spinal injury. There are various systems to keep the patient from moving and attached to the board. In our county, they use three nine-foot-long nylon straps. In keeping with our throwaway society, a few years ago they went to single-use, disposable straps.
The first time I removed the new straps and realized they were going into the garbage with absolutely nothing wrong with them, I was really bothered. So, I took it upon myself to keep as many of them out of the land fill as possible. I put a recycle bin in the trauma room. At the end of my shift, I take any straps that have accumulated, roll them up and put them in another bin in the paramedic room so they can reuse them. For this I have been both ridiculed and praised by medics when they find out who is behind it.
On occasion, the straps are cut in order to quickly release the patient from spine board incarceration. As I considered these straps, my mind went to what I might do with them and it landed on the idea of making bags. My first vision was to make reusable grocery bags.
I am not a particularly creative person but the motivation of using disposable straps to make bags that would keep you from disposing of grocery bags really rang true to me so I started cutting and sewing. I have made many different sizes and shapes of bags over the years as I have refined my sewing techniques and designs. I have given hundreds of bags away to anyone who expresses interest in getting one. I have made huge ones and small, simple and intricate. If you watch our ED staff coming and going, you will see many of them carrying their orange, yellow, blue and black bags thrown over their shoulders.
It has been a satisfying and rewarding creative experience. Sometimes I feel like I would rather go sew a bag than do about anything else. I have never been a person of passion so it is interesting to have developed a passion and see it fit into my life.
Several people who would never steer me in the wrong direction have encouraged me to share kooks, cookies and my creations. This blog is an effort to do just that.