Friday, April 27, 2007

Penis Fish

Okay the official title of last night's GA episode was Desire. I think Penis Fish would have been more catchy, but since all the GA eps are named after songs, that might be why the producers didn't call it that.

And, yes, they did get that right—there is an Amazonian Penis Fish. Really. We learned about it in med school, don't ask me why, I think the male textbook writers are just morbidly fascinated with the idea of a fish that swims up their urine stream, crawls inside and starts to eat them from the inside out.

You know how guys are about peeing in the woods, something they always hold over us womenfolk's heads as proof of their natural superiority. Guess maybe they'll think twice about doing that anywhere near the Amazon now.

For me, other than the penis fish laughs, this episode was a bit rocky. Mainly because the good parts were all muffled by that damn wedding cake. I kept turning the volume up, but no, Burke's sweet dialogue about his love for Cristina—buried by cake. George and Izzy, trying hard to be "just friends" and failing—buried by cake.

Also, I was disappointed to see Alex and Addi finally do it. I loved the sexual tension between them and she was the last attending (other than the Chief) to actually not sacrifice every ounce of integrity she had and sleep with an intern she is supervising.

I know, I know, GA exists in a world with no sexual harassment laws, no Resident Review Committee, no Medical Board with ethical standards of practice, etc, etc. And of course all the attendings look so damn young that a regular viewer forgets the fact that they are all old enough to be the fathers and mothers of the interns they are sleeping with—a big yuck factor for me to over come.

Yes, all the interns at Seattle Grace have mommy and daddy complexes. And yes, all the attendings act like children. Whiny and pouty, even when they get what they want. Like Derrick confessing to Mer that she's just wearing him out, his needing to breathe for her…and then he lets her walk away!! This is his idea of communicating?

I've had better conversations with toddlers in the midst of throwing a tantrum.

Anyway, I totally understand why the writers need a show like last nights, they have to move all the characters from Point A to Point B before the season ends. Okay, okay.

But could we please have some real character development and a little less cake?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Truth is a slippery thing...

When I first heard this morning that Kenneth Hinson was acquitted of kidnapping, rape and attempted murder charges, I was shocked.

This was the so-called South Carolina "dungeon" rapist—he allegedly kidnapped two teenaged girls who were sleeping together in one bed, took them one at a time to a secret "bunker", really a big hole in the ground covered by a concrete slab, tied them up and raped them over the course of several days.

He left them to die (according to prosecutors) but the girls escaped, trekked through the woods and managed to contact 911.

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? Two traumatized victims, wrists still swollen from being tied up, Hinson with a record of raping a 12 year old girl in the past, drugs, guns, a secret dungeon….the stuff of movies and a slam dunk conviction, one would think.

Apparently, according to the foreman of the jury who acquitted Hinson, it wasn't quite that simple.

Here are a few of the discrepancies the jury found in the evidence presented as reported by The State:

~ Sleeping through a kidnapping. The girls testified they both were asleep in a small bed when Hinson entered their trailer and grabbed one of them, threatening to kill her if she made a noise. The other girl said she did not wake up until Hinson returned for her.

~ Not noticing the bunker. The girls testified they had not seen the chamber before Hinson raised the table hiding the entrance hole. Hinson said the girls knew of it, but his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s teenage son did not; the jurors thought everyone would have known about the bunker.

~ Drugs. One of the girls testified she bought “drugs” last summer from someone a defense witness said sold crack. “We all know people who smoke crack will do just about anything to smoke crack again,” Williams said.

~ Socks. A pair worn by one of the girls was dirty but had no wear marks, pine-needle fragments or tears some jurors expected to see from running about a mile through the woods after escaping the bunker.

~ Feet. The other girl said she ran barefoot. “But the pictures showed no scratches, no abrasions,” Lewis said.

~ Duct tape. The girls said one bit through the other’s tape binding her wrists. “We went over all of the duct tape and couldn’t find any chew marks,” Lewis said. And Hinson's fingerprints were not on the tape.

~ An odd comment. A logbook kept by the 911 dispatcher shows one of the girls noted in her 911 call that Hinson was on a sexual offender registry, which Williams said was an “odd” comment for someone who had just been raped.

But the bottom line was that the jury felt they couldn't believe any of the stories presented in court: neither the victims' or the defendant's.

“Every one of these little things adds up to reasonable doubt,” the jury foreman said. “We couldn’t believe him. We couldn’t believe them.
“We wanted to convict, but the evidence was just not there.”
Sigh…one of the lessons learned from my years in the ER is that everyone lies.

It's worrisome to think that these two girls could be lying, even more frightening to imagine the consequences if they were telling the truth and Hinson was mistakenly set free.

He is now in federal custody facing weapons charges and may still face life in prison if convicted. But I can't help but wonder what about those two girls?

What do you think? Would you have ruled differently if you had been on the jury?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm not Elaine Viets, but...

I'm not Elaine Viets, but…

I'd like you all to consider buying her book. No this isn't some viral campaign or pyramid scheme.

It's about giving back to a generous author. For those of you who haven't heard, the tremendously talented and vivacious Elaine suffered a stroke earlier this month. She's recovering, but won't be able to tour for her upcoming release, MURDER WITH RESERVATIONS.

I've met Elaine several times. She's an elegant, witty, and generous person—in fact the last time I saw her, at Sleuthfest, she appointed herself my chauffeur and drove me to several places, all the while offering invaluable advice for this newcomer to the publishing world.

That's one of the best things about the writing community. Generosity abounds here, whether it's helping someone with advice, an endorsement, or in Elaine's case, helping her sell her books when she can't do it herself.

Even if you don't buy Elaine's book, consider mentioning it to friends. You can learn more about it at her website:

And please keep Elaine and her family in your thoughts. There aren't enough good people in this world that we can afford to lose Elaine.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

CJ's Thursday Thought: On Grief

In light of the events here and elsewhere this week, this seemed appropriate:

Grief is the price we pay for love.
~Queen Elizabeth II

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Six Degrees

I just learned that I actually knew one of the VT victims. Not just him, but his family.

It's been awhile, and I knew them professionally, but of course my first reaction was pure emotion. My heart goes out to them all—putting faces and voices to the tragedy makes it all the more painful.

My first response was, I should send them something. Then I turned on the TV and saw the morning shows all featuring tributes to the fallen. Interviews with their friends, family, loved ones, acquaintances, neighbors…

And I shuddered. See, I've been caught up in a high profile case once, years ago. I know what it's like to be forced to mourn in public, to share your grief with total strangers.

With our culture's obsession of right here, right now, instant communication I think we've forgotten that some things aren't just meant to be private, they need to be private.

Yes, one could argue that grief is lightened by sharing. But that is only if the person in mourning chooses to share. Isn't forced to standing blinking in the spotlight, recounting memories of their loved ones.

Worse, having their way of mourning judged alongside others. As if grief knew rules, had an expiration date, or carefully choreographed steps that we all follow leading us to a defined end where we grieve no more.

Sorry, Dr. Kubler-Ross, but it just ain't so. Yes, we all share similar emotions, but how we act on those feelings is an individual process that can't be forced into a checklist: Denial—done, Anger—got it, Bargaining….

We all like to feel part of the story—connected to events that are the center of a media storm. We all like to feel lucky, whew, missed that one. We all like to dissect and play Monday morning quarterback.

Let's just make sure that our desire to see more of this story, to hear all the little details, isn't overshadowing the needs of the people who will be living it for the rest of their lives.

A little prayer, kindness and understanding wouldn't hurt either.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VT: From the First Responders

From EMS Responder:

BLACKSBURG, Va.-- As an advanced EMT with Virginia Tech Rescue Squad, Matthew Lewis knows to expect the unexpected.

And, that's just what he encountered Monday morning when he walked into the Ambler Johnston dorm room on the VT campus.

"We were called for someone who had fallen out of their loft," Lewis said. "Instead, we found two patients with gunshot wounds. We started treatment and called for a second unit."

Both patients, a male and a female, were transported to Montgomery Regional Hospital. Lewis would not say whether or not they were in cardiac arrest.

VT Chief of Police Wendell Flinchum said witnesses told officers they believed the dorm shooting was domestic related. A "person of interest" was located off-campus, and was being interviewed when the second shooting occurred.

At 9:45 a.m., callers to 9-1-1 reported shots being fired in Norris Hall. Officers arrived to find the doors chained from the inside. They forced the doors, and as they reached the second-floor the shooting stopped.

They found the gunman dead inside a classroom where other slain and wounded people were located, Flinchum said.

"It's the worst I've seen in my life," the chief said, describing the bloody crime scene.

When Virginia Tech Rescue received the call for Norris Hall, it was for "multiple patients with traumatic injuries."

Realizing they would need assistance, they immediately requested mutual aid from nearby companies. "We had practiced for MCI (mass casualty incidents). We were ready," said Matt Green, an EMT. "The training paid off today."

Lt. Matt Johnson established command, and requested Montgomery County respond with its trailer of extra medical supplies such as backboards, straps and collars.

Since the scene was not secure, the ambulances staged away from the scene. Personnel were assigned triage, treatment and transportation duties.

They also had to warn other students about the incident. "People would say they had a class in Norris," said Lt. Sarah Walker, of Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. "They hadn't heard what was going on. There was no panic. Some just didn't get it when we told them to go home."

Police officers carried some injured patients to the ambulances, while others walked to the treatment areas.

Some of the victims had been shot multiple times. Medevac helicopters were grounded by high winds. The most serious patients were taken to the trauma center in Roanoke.

Walker praised the cooperation of the EMS companies involved. Communications worked well also.

Exactly a year ago, the crews participated in a MCI drill. "Little did we know," Walker said.

A Blacksburg EMT was injured when the ambulance door slammed shut on his fingers. "It was awful. I couldn't get that door open. He finally managed to get them free. Despite his pain, he drove the ambulance to the hospital."

D.J. Robinson eventually sought treatment, and suffered no fractures.

Green also said things went smoothly because his squad trains with others. "Everyone knows what's expected. We believe you can't train too much."

Lewis said the crews approached the incident as they would any other, working feverishly to save their patients.

Tragedy in Blacksburg

My heart and prayers go out to all involved in the tragic events at Virginia Tech yesterday.

Many will be discussing the shooter, campus security, and the official response to this incident for days to come. But one thing that I've not heard covered in the news is the fantastic response of the EMS and medical community.

I have driven through that area of Virginia many times as a college and then a medical student returning home to Pennsylvania. It's beautiful country, but, much like my home town, its rural location can often make it vulnerable to the weather. And, if you're a surgeon or ER doc working in a hospital in an area like Roanoke, you pay particular attention to the weather.

Weather can turn what usually would be a short helicopter ride to transport a critically injured patient to a trauma center into a prolonged ambulance ride, or in the case of an unstable patient, trap them in your community hospital where you try your best with limited resources to give them the best care possible.

This is what the hospitals surrounding Blacksburg were facing yesterday. Gusting winds, snow flurries, and a late season storm had downed the helicopters. All they had were ground transportation.

I can only imagine the frustration the EMS guys must have felt. Trapped, waiting in their ambulances until the scene was secured.

You need to understand that the first question EMT students must ask in any training scenario—and the only question guaranteed to fail someone if they forget to ask it—is: Is the scene safe?

Medics want to go in, they're trained to run into danger while everyone else is escaping to safety. But, they also realize that adding themselves to the list of victims does no one any good—least of all the people they're there to save.

And so, in a situation like yesterday, they're forced to wait until the scene is secured by the tactical operators: police, ATF, SWAT—all those men with guns and bullet proof vests.

Yet, despite all these limitations, the men and women of the EMS squads, the physicians and nurses in the hospitals suddenly deluged with casualties, they all performed admirably and with little accolade as the media and public's attention is concentrated elsewhere.

I'd like to acknowledge them for a job well done in the face of what is an over-whelming tragedy for this community. Thank you and God Bless you all!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What's in a Name?

What's in a Name?
Okay, so I needed to change a character's name--thank goodness for search and replace! It was Ben but I already had a Jerry, and since the book isn't about ice cream....
Anyway, so I decided on Mark. The character is a doctor, head of Pittsburgh's Angels of Mercy's ER.
Then I got to thinking, there are a lot of Mark's out there in fictional medical land, aren't there?
There's McSteamy from Grey's Anatomy, aka: Dr. Mark Sloan...

I'm guessing the GA writers were paying homage to the original Dr. Mark Sloan from Diagnosis Murder:
And there's Dr. Mark Greene from ER:

And, of course, the grand-daddy of all TV docs, Marcus Welby, MD
Okay, given that pedigree, guess I'm gonna keep my guy a Mark as well!! How could I go wrong?

Letter to Shonda Rhimes

Letter to Shonda Rhimes

Dear Shonda,

I love, love, love Grey's Anatomy—did I mention I love it? But…let's get real here, you guys need an ER doc.

I mean, there's Meredith, dead—DEAD!—from cold water immersion and the only person who comes up with the right treatment is your OB-Gyn/pediatric surgeon/neonatologist/perinatal maternal-child-health specialist??? And then everyone ignores her?

I love that you focus on how people save people, not medicine. Believe me, I agree, in fact, that's the theme behind all of my own medical suspense novels.

But as a pediatric ER doc, I have to protest. Yes, the cast needs trimmed. No, Addison really can not be all those things (and I think one show mentioned she also has a PhD in nutrition or the like?)—she'd be 100 years old before she finished her training!

If you want a generalist, get an ER doc on board. We're just as smart as the surgeons, have lots of cutting wit (from hanging out with cops and firefighters and paramedics all day), excellent multi-tasking skills—able to go from comforting a pregnant lady to suturing a screaming toddler to saving a stroke patient to being command doc in a major trauma without blinking an eye!

I know you want to stay in the OR with your beloved surgeons (and I love them all, as well!) but please, you're starting to strain credibility here. You need a jack of all trades, and the best bang for your buck will be an ER doc—or at least an Emergency Medicine resident doing their surgical rotations.

And, of course, if you ever want to chat about it, need a writer, heck, need a gopher! feel free to call me—anytime!!

Best wishes,
CJ Lyons, pediatric ER doc, medical suspense writer, and Grey's Anatomy fan

Who is CJ?

Who is CJ?

CJ Lyons has lived most of her life on the edge. Trained in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, she has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.

These skills have proved useful during CJ's adventures both in the US and abroad. She participated in an archeological expedition in the Outback of Australia sponsored by the Kuku Djugan tribe and was one of few people allowed access to explore the Hell's Gate Wilderness Preserve in Kenya on foot during an environmental impact survey of the Lake Navisha region. She has also traveled extensively in the US, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the Caribbean. She holds an orange belt in Kempo and enjoys hiking, white water rafting, and outdoor photography when she is not writing or practicing medicine.

CJ has been a story-teller all her life, always creating stories about people discovering the courage to make a difference. This drove her into writing thrillers with strong relationships and led her to coin the term: Thrillers with Heart.

A member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and Kiss of Death, CJ's work has appeared in CrimeSpree Magazine, Romantic Times Book Review, WebMystery Magazine and SpineTingler.

She has presented workshops to the MWA, RWA, Romantic Times and ITW among others and was the conference chairperson for the highly successful inaugural ThrillerFest. A finalist for RWA' prestigious Golden Heart and winner of the Golden Gateway award, CJ has received numerous accolades for her writing. #1 New York Times Bestseller Sandra Brown called CJ's work "a perfect blend of romance and suspense".

Watch for her debut medical suspense novel coming from Berkley in 2008! Contact her at: