Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ho Ho Ho!

7:59 a.m.

Well, today was my official Christmas seeing as I'm working from 10am to midnight at the MEO tomorrow.

Bah, humbug!

In the meantime, Santa was pretty good to me this year.

I got a jug of egg nog. Although I kinda wish he'd stuck it in the fridge instead of under the tree because now it's kinda chunky. Not that I'm complaining, Santa...chunky nog is better than no nog at all.

I got a hairbrush and some deodorant in my stocking. Huh. Santa must be trying to tell me something. I lift my arm and sniff into the pit of my Christmas jammies. My eyes start to water and my sinuses miraculously clear. I crinkle my brow in puzzlement. No worse than usual. I shrug and move on.

I got a fruit cake which I am currently using as target practice. I mount it atop an upside-down vase against the back wall of my closet. (I would prefer to use live ammo or a compound bow, but I guess I'll have to settle for darts...or maybe steak knives if I'm really having a bad day.) I walk back to my desk, sit in my office chair, swivel, and take aim. I send a dart deep into the belly of the beast. Candied fruit bleeds out in festive chunks. I smile. That was a kill shot if I ever saw one and I have three darts left! Damn, I'm good!

I aim higher on the wall at a picture of the Great Satan (that would be my boss) that I stapled to the dart board as an afterthought. The dart bounces off the board and ricochets into a line of clothes hanging along the wall. I smirk. No matter, old man. Your time will come. I turn back to the computer screen with a contented sigh and take a swig of chunky nog.

This is a hell of a lot more satisfying than squeezing a stress ball.

Oh, and peace on Earth, good will t'ward men and all that...

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


10:29 p.m.

Lunch at the MEO was fun. I brought chocolate for everybody because, after all, nothin' says lovin' like a giant Hershey's Kiss. Although I didn't anticipate Pippie using hers as an accessory nipple under her shirt. (Keep in mind that we're all a bunch of women and the only guy there was about 90 thousand years old. I think that when Pippie started EATING hers, well... the poor guy high-tailed it out of there as fast as his lil' old legs would take him.)

Pippie is as cool chick. We spent a big portion of the afternoon exploring the scary parts of the building that neither of us were brave enough to venture into on our own. We were joined by Igor, the autopsy technician. I know it sounds cliche and you will probably think I'm exaggerating, but trust me...the man is a pale zombie that is one hump shy of a bell tower. Igor is sweet and quiet and provided sufficient testosteroney support so that Pippie and I were fairly certain he would stand between us and whatever disturbed elderly nursing home spirit might still be gumming the halls of our building.


8:49 p.m.

Contract negociation. Oh, boy. Come the first of the year Hell, Inc. is going to offer me some rediculously low sum of money to supervise 30 states (and one US territory). I have decided that if they don't meet my specifications on salary, I'm gonna tell them to kiss my purdy little arse.

I can always be a cocktail waitress in a stip joint and make more money than I make now, right Mom?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


8:29 a.m.

I spent much of last night trying to put out fires.

Only the fires are in Texas and my supervisor there, Jose, seems to be a pyromaniac.

My radio goes off at about 9pm. "Polly! Are you there?"

I am right in the middle of eating a late dinner...a bag of chocolate chips and a cup of chamomile. I stare at my radio for a minute and debate whether to answer. "Technically" I am off the clock after nine.

"Polly, I gotta problem with this Smoot case. I know you can hear me."

Oh, hell.

I pick up my radio. "Hi, Jose. Que paso?"

" looks like the guy that my investigator was following for the past couple of days is actually the FATHER of the guy we're supposed to be following. And it turns out that first address we were given on the intake sheet really IS Subject's residence."

I sigh heavily and pinch the bridge of my nose. When I read the report that was submitted last night it indicated that the investigator did his own "research" when he got to town. He said he found a new address and phone number for the Subject. He didn't even bother to set up at the address we were given, but went straight to the new one...which, it turned out, belonged to Subject's father.

"Jose, how is it that your investigator mistook a 70-year-old man for a 27-year-old?"

"I dunno, man. He said he looked old for his age."

I sigh again. I have been making a huge effort to keep Jose from being fired. He tends to forget important things, has no common sense, and just generally is disorganized to the point that he is constantly reactive to stuff that has gone wrong.

He's a decent enough guy. A big, Mexican teddy bear. And I mean big. He's probably near 400 lbs and 5'8" tall. He goes far beyond what I, or any other half-way savvy individual would do to gain the loyalty of his investigators. He lends them money and covers their asses when they screw something up really bad. He's kind and innocent and I suppose that is why even though he is a lot of work, I am trying to help him succeed.

Yesterday morning Jose called me with a shaky voice and told me frankly that he didn't think he was very good at being a supervisor. This after a scathing piece of hate-mail sent down from the corporate powers-that-be telling him he sucks at reviewing cases.

Which he does.

I told him it's just a matter of being more organized and learning how to review cases better. We talked for 45 minutes on strategies he can utilize to improve his performance and when I hung up the phone I really felt we'd made some progress.

So when I get the call tonight indicating that we followed the wrong guy around for two days and it's our own damn fault, I am fearing for Jose.

"Okay. Damage control. Luckily the update from yesterday was so bad that they sent it back for you to review. I still haven't turned in the one you submitted tonight. Take them both and do what you can to make it prettier without lying."

What do I mean by that? Well, often it's not what you say, but how you say it. For example, I lose a guy in mobile surveillance because I'm following too far back and I get stuck behind a truck. Damn. I really goofed that one up, right?

When I write my report, however, I say something to the tune of:
"Investigator began running a loose surveillance in order to protect the integrity of the investigation. After several minutes, view of Subject vehicle was obstructed by a large 18-wheeler tractor trailor. Efforts to re-establish contact were unsuccessful."

Now doesn't that sound better? Dude, I know I lost him, but it was in an effort to protect the integrity of the investigation, for Pete's sake!

Another example... I get a new phone number for my Subject by calling 411:
"Extensive internal search efforts revealed new contact information for Subject as follows..."

Anyway, we'll see what happens today. I did what I could, but I think that Jose has hit the ol' brick wall. He has reached his level of incompetence. It's the Peter Principle in action.

In other news, we're having a Christmas luncheon at the ME's office tomorrow. I was supposed to bring in my $10 for Dr. Frank's gift sometime earlier in the week but I wrote Joy and Nancy an email today asking if I can just give it to them tomorrow, saying, "I suppose I COULD bring it in today, but that would mean I have to take a shower and I am in the process of breaking a personal filth record."

Which reminds me, I need to buy some more fly paper.

Monday, December 19, 2005


1:17 a.m.

Boy, is it good to be home. I've spent the last couple of hours catching up on work...wrapped up in my polar fleece robe and sipping a cup of tea.

Boston was fun. I was flown out for the annual Christmas party that my PI firm throws for the managment they haven't yet fired. And since they encouraged us to bring guests, I invited LHM to come out from California for the party.

I had to spend the first day working in the hotel room. That was no fun and I felt bad for LHM because he was stuck watching television instead of touring Boston. The second day the Regional Supervisors met in the morning so that we could go over the same crap that we went over two months ago. That afternoon, the supervisors joined us and we went over the same stuff that we'd gone over that morning. That's about when I fell asleep and Dennis, the Regional sitting next to me, put an orange slice down my pants. I yelp.

"Yes, Polly? Is there a problem?" I look up at the CEO and then scan the room. Everyone is staring at me. I glare at Dennis, who is covering his mouth and trying very hard not to laugh.

"I... uh..." I suddenly remember that one scene in The Sound of Music. You know...the one when Maria sat on the pinecone her first night at dinner with the Captain and the children? The Captain asked her what the matter was and she patted her butt and said, "Rheumatism."


"I...hemorroids," I say. There is laughter around the room and I can't help but add, "Hemorroids aren't funny, you know. Just wait until you get them." Somebody says something about being the 'butt' of jokes and the conversation spirals downward for a blessed few minutes before we get back to the topic at hand...which I don't recall because I stopped listening two hours ago. I tune out again but decide falling asleep would be inadvisable with jackass Dennis sitting next to me. I might wake up with a mustach drawn on my face. Instead, I get online and almost finish up my Christmas shopping by the time meetings let out at 4:30.

I grab my stuff and head up to my room. When I get inside, I call over to LHM's room, but he's not there. I call his cell. When he answers, he tells me he's shopping for clothes for us for the Christmas party tonight. Huh. My heart gets all gooey and melty. "Aw. That's so sweet of you! You don't have to do that." He assures me he wants to and I hang up the phone with a smile on my face. But then begin to worry about what he might have bought for me to wear. I hope it's not some hideous granny cardigan with Christmas stockings and Santa heads embroidered all over it...

LHM knocks on the door several minutes later and presents me with a long black skirt, a tastful, red sparkly sweater, and a sparkly silver earring and necklace set. He got himself some black dress pants and a red button-down shirt.

LHM leaves my room and as I start getting dressed I realize that we are going to be the annoying dress-alike couple with our red tops and black bottoms. I sigh and shrug. It could be worse. We could be wearing matching t-shirts that have arrows pointing to the other saying, "I'm with stupid."

In a nutshell, the Christmas party was a chance to see a bunch of my coworkers get wasted in a social setting. I had a nice time mingling and getting to know people better. Right before we left, we said goodbye to the CEO. He asked how long we'd be in Boston and I said a couple of days as we were going to do a bit of sightseeing over the weekend. He joked that I'd better spend my days working. LHM, who realizes how hard I work because he was with me for nearly a month, took that as an opportunity to mention that I put in at least 14 hour days and don't get paid nearly enough for my efforts.

Silence. CEO's eyes narrow. LHM stares back at him without blinking...his face expressionless. I am waiting for one of them to expose himself so we can see who's the bigger man once-and-for-all.

After several tortuous seconds of that, I grab LHM's arm. "Um...thanks for the party! G'night!" I pull LHM toward the door, looking over my shoulder once we get there. CEO is still glaring at our backs.

We are silent for a few minutes as we walk through the cold night air. "Well, that was fun!" I say with no small amount of sarcasm.

LHM immediately apologizes but adds, "I just hate that they take advantage of you. Somebody had to tell them how hard you work."

Men. I vascilate between wanting to clock LHM or hug him. So I do both.

Friday, December 16, 2005


6:53 a.m.

I'm about to head down to the lobby for my crappy bagel breakfast. Yes. I'm back in Boston. We just had the Christmas party last night and today I get to sit through yet another day of boring meetings listening to Charlie Brown's teacher "wah wah wah wah" for several hours.

I think that I shall slit my wrists.

I'll be back to give you a full update this evening. Lots going on in the PI world.

Of note, Fish got fired for not showing up to a case that the client sent its OWN investigators out to audit.

Somebody put an orange slice down my pants in the middle of the meeting yesterday when he noticed I was falling asleep. I will have to kill him later. Luckily I know how to perform the perfect homicide...

LHM told my boss that I'm overworked and underpaid. I will have to kill him later, too.

So, anyway, now that I've planned a double murder/suicide, I guess I'll go down and get my breakfast.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


11:04 a.m. I am currently waiting to testify as an expert witness outside of a courtroom in La Crosse, WI. The client in one of my cases way back when decided to press charges. I guess it irritated them a little to make disability payments to a blind guy that drives his kids to school every morning.

It was bitterly cold and snowing when I left my house at 3am. Just like the good old days. I take a sip of Mt. Dew and then place the cold can to my cheek to keep me awake. I'll have to pull over soon if I can't get over this tired. I watch as flimy whisps of blowing snow curl across the pavement in front of me. I am currently feeling very smug about buying a truck with seat warmers. I take a sip of Mt. Dew. I will need it. It's a 5 hour drive to La Crosse.

Anyway, I've been sitting here since 9am and at this point I am so ticked off that I'm tempted to blow the case for them.

More later... They just called me in.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


10:33 a.m.   Now where was I?

Oh, yeah.  Straddling Dead Guy taking pictures.  

I gingerly tip toe back to the bathroom entrance, careful not to step in anything wet and oozy.  The cops are all watching me.  Officer Wink takes my hand as I balance on one foot and then hop to the safety of the bedroom carpeting.

“Okay.  I’m fairly certain this is a natural death, but we need to turn the body to be sure there isn’t a knife or a bullet hole anywhere.  Who’ll volunteer to help me?”

They all look at each other.  Huh.  No takers.  They start arguing and finally decide that it’s Officer Reflo’s turn to get dirty.  As yet he’s avoided moving a body in his 6 years on the force.  Reflo’s eyes go a little wild as he glances down at Dead Guy.  I decide to bide him a little time to prepare.

“I’m going to go in and talk to the family for a few minutes.  Then I’ll go out and get the cot.  Do any of you need some extra gloves or a mask or anything?”  They all nod.

I walk out into the other room.  The family is gathered where I left them.  I ask them again how long it’s been since anybody saw Dead Guy.  The daughter, who is on the couch being comforted by her boyfriend, answers.  “I saw him on Friday afternoon.  I spend a lot of time at my boyfriends’ house and I didn’t come home again until today.”  I feel for the girl.  She looks scared to death.  

“Well,” I say to her gently, “do you know if he picked up the mail on Saturday?”  I know full well he didn’t.  The man had been dead probably since Friday night to have turned to that extent.

The mail is sitting on the coffee table.  She tells me that it was in the box when she got here this afternoon.

I try to explain that it’s been a couple of days and that cleanup will be messy.  I give them a list of bio-hazard cleanup services in the area.

The sister speaks up from the other end of the sectional couch.  “So do you think he can have an open casket then?”  I think of the black, bloated face I’d just taken photo of.  

“No.  I’m sorry.”  My words fall like a weight on the people in the room and it’s suddenly very quiet.  “I’m sure you can smell it.”  I say quietly.  “It’s just been too long and the natural process of decomposition is already well underway.”  I shut up because now I’m not sure if I’m helping or hurting the situation.

I get the brother to fill out an identification form so that we don’t have to go through the headache of matching dentition or taking prints. (This would be an excellent opportunity to practice the gloving technique of fingerprint procurement, though).

I walk out the van and pull out a heavy-duty body bag, a homicide drop sheet, and several sets of gloves.   I pile it all on top of the cot and then drag the whole lot back to the house.  There is snow on the ground and it keeps the wheels of the cot from working.  Finally I struggle the whole mess into the garage and Officer Wink assists me in lifting it up the step and through the kitchen to the master bathroom.

We all glove up and I open the body bag.  Holy mother of pearl.  It’s enormous.  You could fit a family into this thing.  Officer Reflo and I unzip the bag and then roll it up on one side.  The goal is to roll Dead Guy from his back onto the bag.  The problem is that the room is tiny.  It’s a half bath no bigger than a linen closet.

Now, let me just stop for a moment and say that I am totally improvising here.  I have never had to transport a decomp or even move one before.  If you’ll recall, we had a transport service when I was an investigator in Florida.  So I am trying to make it seem like I am cool and calm and know what the hell I’m doing for the benefit of these poor cops.  I glance at Reflo, still standing outside the entrance to the bathroom.  He’s as skittish as a virgin in a whore house.  (Sorry Mom.)

We work the bag in and tuck up under the body as much as we can.  I am at the head and trying to maneuver the edge under the head without much success.  Dead guy is slippery and I can’t get a grip on anything.  Officer Wink is watching me and, being the big, tough cop, decides to help.  Before I can say anything, he moves into the bathroom and tries to grab a handful of Dead Guy’s hair so he can lift the head.  He pulls and I say, “No…you’re going to…”  Oops.  “…tear the scalp.”  Now even Wink is looking green.  He looks at me and says with feeling, “For as long as I live I will never be able to get that out of my mind.  I ripped his hair out.”  Poor guy.  He walks out of the room, careful not to touch anything with his dirty gloves.

“Okay,” I say, “Reflo?”  Reflo peeks back around the corner.  I look him in the eye to try and get him to focus. “We’ve got the bag situated as far below the body as we can.  Now we need to roll him over into the pouch.  You grab his legs and I’ll take the torso.  Do you think you can do that?”  He nods his head.

I get into position and grab the left arm.  Roflo has the ankles.  “Ready?  GO!”  I push the arm as hard as I can, but the body is very slippery and only succeeds in sliding across the linoleum toward the wall.  Reflo starts gagging and walks out of the room.  I am afraid he’s going to barf all over the room.  Wink is comforting him in the bedroom, telling him it’s okay and to pull it together.  He tells Reflo he’ll take over.  “Go ahead, buddy.  Take your gloves off.  It’s okay.”

I look down at the legs.  Oh.  I see why Reflo grossed out so badly.  The skin is slipping and when you grasp it, it pulls away from the body.  He removed a large portion of the skin off Dead Guy’s legs trying to roll him.  

I sit on the toilet and sigh.  This sucks.  I’m in a bathroom with a rotting person and the girls in the other room are making this take way longer than it should.  I look down at my favorite shoes and sigh again.  Ruined.  

I won’t bother you with more details.  I think that’s more than enough and you probably get the basic drift of the situation.  Suffice it to say we finally got him in the bag and out to the truck.

Officers Reflo and Wink are standing outside the truck with me.  “You’re taking him to that big back door at the ME’s office, right?” Wink asks.  “Yeah,”  I answer as I jump into the driver’s seat.  “Okay.  We’ll meet you there and help you get him inside.”  

Good cops.  Nice cops.  Helpful cops.  

They meet me there and we transfer Dead Guy to a tray.  I open the bag and take a couple more pictures.  So does Reflo since he neglected to take any when we finally turned the body.

The cops ask me if I want to go with them to their local hang out after I finish here. I thank them, but decline.  I need to go take a shower.  Or maybe three.



8:16 a.m.  

It’s early evening and I am just sitting down to a bowl of Chunky Firehouse Chili when my beeper goes off.   My shift started about 25 minutes ago.  I sigh.  Well, at least I had the forethought to take a shower this time.  

Dispatch informs me there is a DOA at a residence about 10 minutes from my house. The decedent was a 50-year-old white male.  That’s all they can give me for details.  I ask for the name of the officer on scene and his/her phone number.  Officer Reflo.  I call him and he informs me, “He was found in the bathroom, unconscious not breathing.”   That’s it.  Okay, I think, that means that the family was probably all gathered around the television, he went to the bathroom, they heard a thump, and that’s the end of it.  Should be open and shut.

I ask Reflo to interview the family regarding medical history, doctors, medications he might have been taking, etc...  I’m hoping he has an extensive enough hx so that I can have a doctor sign him out instead of me having to brave -4 below weather on a cold Wisconsin night.  

Reflo calls back a few minutes later with the name of a heart doctor and an oncologist.  The guy had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer two weeks ago.  

Hmmm—this’ll be a snap, I think.  I call the oncologist and he tells me that, sure, the guy had cancer, but it was a very treatable case and he is truly SHOCKED that Dead Guy died.  Errg.  I mention the heart medication that Dead Guy was on and the oncologist waffles again.  “I don’t know about that.  I don’t feel comfortable signing a death certificate in this case.”  

So, I call the cardiologist.  Same thing.  Sure, he had really unfavorable stress tests last time he was in, but she is still completely blown out of the water by this man’s passing.  She would feel better reviewing the chart on Monday and then telling me if she’ll sign the death certificate at that time.

“All right.  Thank you, doctor, for your help.  I’m sure you’ll hear from our office in the morning.” I flip the bird to the telephone before hanging up.  

Sometimes doctors really piss me off.  Unless the guy has no medical history at all, unless he was stabbed, shot, or bludgeoned…unless he was hit by car, damage, or otherwise mangled in some way…this is not a medical examiner’s case.  Many doctors are skittish about signing a DC because they are afraid of liability if the family dislikes their final judgment on cause of death.  They’d much rather leave that nasty business to an ME.

So, here I am…stuck bringing the body in because it will take more than a couple of hours to argue with these physicians and, in the meantime, there is a family with a dead guy in their bathroom that would probably like him removed.  Well, I think as I pull a stocking cap down on my head and don my mittens, at least he’s not a decomp.

I drive to the MEO and switch out my truck for the van.  The lock is frozen and it takes me a minute to loosen it up, so by the time I get in, my fingers are stiff with cold.  I breathe on them and then turn the key in the ignition.  It starts up with a groan and the breaks squeak as I drive away.  

Twenty minutes later I come up to the house.  It is a middleclass residential neighborhood with modest, ranch-style homes built in the ‘60s.  There are four cop cars parked along the road.  Must be a slow night.  They all like to come out and loiter around death scenes if there’s nothing better to do.

I am greeted at the van door by a tall officer, Officer Wink, with dark blond hair.  He’s got an easy smile and immediately begins joking around with me.  ‘This guy’s daughter last saw him on Friday.  She came in this afternoon with her boyfriend and they ordered pizza.  Polly, it smells to high heaven in there.  I can’t believe they didn’t notice it when they walked in.  I think the daughter is kind of slow.”  He points to his head and makes a ‘coo-coo’ gesture.

Uh oh.  “Smells?  How long did you say since the daughter last saw him?”   I ask as we walk toward the door.  We aren’t even inside yet and I can already smell it.  

“Friday.”  He holds the door open for me.

“Yeah. That’s what I thought you said.”  

I walk into a room full of people.  There are candles burning and the windows are open despite the frigid weather.  I introduce myself and give my card to the decedent’s brother.  I explain that I’ll be examining the body and then transporting to the MEO.  I tell them that based on the results of the investigation, there may or may not be an autopsy.

Officer Wink leads me down the hallway toward the master bedroom.  As we walk, the odor of decomp gets stronger and stronger.  I begin breathing through my mouth as I turn into the room.  There are two more officers there.  I greet Officer Reflo and say, “Yeah.  Would have been nice to get a heads up on the state of our DOA, here.  I would have dressed a bit differently.”  (I am currently wearing my favorite jeans, my favorite old sneakers, and a long-sleeved t-shirt with the MEO insignia on it.)  Reflo looks sheepish.  Good.

While the cops discuss what to do with the stash of marijuana in the bottom drawer of Dead Guy’s bureau, I walk to the doorway of the master bathroom.  The man is lying on his stomach.  His BVDs are around his ankles.  Looks like he was in the process of seeing a man about a horse when he collapsed.  The skin on his legs, arms, and face has already turned blue/green with decomposition and you can see what looks like blue/green “marbling” working its way up his torso from his extremities.  He is bloated and there is bloody purge pooling around his mouth.

“Hey!” It’s Officer Wink.  “Let’s order some pizza!”

I turn and roll my eyes at him.  I am currently straddling the torso so I can get a better look at Dead Guy’s face and take photographs.  His head in no way resembles the man he used to be.  It is black and swollen.  The lips are huge and the tongue is fat and protruding from the mouth.  His eyes are bugging out as the tissues swell and the optic nerve loosens its grip on the eyeballs.  There are huge blisters of fluid under the skin that are full of clear decomp fluid.  His skin is slipping badly.

My eyes and nose start to water.  I am currently breathing through my mouth to combat the smell, but it is almost worse since I can fairly taste the decomp, it is so strong.

Well, at least there are no bugs.

More later…

Monday, December 05, 2005


9:21 a.m. I see a light move across the wall in front of me and when I look out the window a white van is passing and heading around back to the receiving area. Ah. There they are. I take my report and head back to the autopsy suite, turning off lights and locking doors as I go. I swipe my keycard and the garage door opens. There are four people, three women and a man, standing there. They've got enormous amounts of "baggage" with them. Several cardboard boxes and hard-sided carriers that I assume contain their equipment. They are a friendly, cheerful bunch and I feel at ease immediately.

There is a lot of chatter as they get things ready for the harvesting. A "prep" table is set up using an empty tray from the cooler. They cover it with a clean paper cloth and put several culture tubes on it. Apparently, they test every piece of tissue they take to make sure it's sterile. A large clear plastic bag is also on the table and it contains gauzy "cuffs" that the tissues will be placed in before they are wrapped in plastic and deposited in a very large styrofoam lined shipping box.

Tissue donation includes things such as tendons, valves, blood vessels, skin, and bones. In this case, the body has a lot of glass adhering to it from the accident, so they will not be taking skin. I've watched skin be harvested before, though, and can explain the process a bit. After they make sure the skin is clean and sterile, they run a device that looks kind of like a cheese slicer along the epidermis. It shaves off long, papery thin strips all along the back and torso. Shiver.

Blood vessels and valves will not be taken, either, because the body was left unrefrigerated too long. I guess I'll have to wait for some other time to watch that.

One nurse is set up behind the makeshift prep table. She will catalogue and pack each tissue that is taken. The other three spend several minutes washing the body with disinfectant and iodine. They make sure that every surface it touches is sterile. Then they use a substance that reminds me of plastic wrap only stickier and cover the skin of the entire body with it.

After the body is completely prepped, one nurse begins cutting a long, straight line through the skin of the upper right arm all the way down to the wrist. The other two do the same on each leg, cutting through the skin and flaying it back as they go.

The muscle is a rich, dark red and full of blood and I watch in fascination as they disect out tendons from origin points on the foot, follow them up to where they merge into muscle, and then, several inches up the muscle, cut through a thick chunk of meat to release it from the leg. There are three tendons taken from the front of the legs in this manner. Each tendon is then brought to the catalogue nurse. She is told which tendon it is and which leg it is from before she swabs it, wraps it in plastic, labels the bag, and places it inside of a gauze cuff. She puts everything into a shipping box. I ask her where it goes and she says, "New Jersey where it is cleaned and processed."

I imagine what a dandy job those New Jersey guys have. Processing and cleaning human tissue. Shiver, again.

From there, they move to the bones. First they bend the knee and begin disecting out the tibia (biggest bone in the lower leg) at the knee joint. They are careful to keep as much of the surrounding tissue intact as they can, being mindful that these bones might be used to replace entire joints.

The tibia is released at the knee first and then separated from the foot bones. Same with the fibula, which is so thin and covered in muscle that it would be easy to miss if you weren't looking for it. The real trick is the femur, which is the largest bone in the body. It has a long ball joint that fits into the pelvis and it is very difficult to reach in there and release it. The nurses have to make large circles with the bone and I hear sucking noises as joint fluid sloshed around.

The process on the arms is similar, only not quite as much work as the bones are smaller and the shoulder joint is not as deep.

After they are finished harvesting the bones, they pull the saran wrap stuff off of the skin. It helped to keep the body from getting greasy and dirty. I look at what is left of the body. Basically, it is a torso with long bags of skin leading to feet and hands. Gag.

"Just wait until we've finished the reconstruction," one of the nurses says, "It'll be a lot better."

First, they use tie backs to mark the major blood vessels that the funeral home needs to penetrate in order to do a proper preservation blood for embalming fluid that has been tinted to make the dead person's skin look pink and alive again.

Then, they replace the leg and arm bones with white PVC pipe that is adjusted to just the right length. Huh. PVC pipe's not just for plumbing anymore.

Finally, they sew the skin back together with thick, wax-coated cord and wash the body one more time before closing the body bag and replacing it in the cooler.

Clean up is messy. There is, as you can imagine, a lot of blood and fat and muscle smeared everywhere. But they clean it up like troopers and leave the place looking better than when they came.

I know that is a very grotesque description, but it's the reality of tissue donation. And I would feel very bad if this blog entry discourages anybody from being a donor. It is a very good thing to do. You can help improve the lives of others and might even be able to save lives with your gift.

That said, I am an organ donor myself. But it'll be a cold day in hell when my long bones are replace with PVC pipes and my skin is shaved from my torso.

12/05/05 WARNING: (not quite) GRAPHIC/DISTURBING (yet)

7:26 a.m. I am waiting in the receiving area at the morgue. I pulled my truck in and am currently drinking from a mug of tea that I prepared before I left home. The harvest team should be here any minute.

I check my watch. They're 10 minutes late. I set my tea on the seat next to me and get out of the truck. The automatic door into the autopsy suite slides open and I walk down the ramp in the dark. I feel around the wall for the light. There is a skylight, but it's winter and even though it's only 4pm, it's already twilight outside. I flip the switch and the room is flooded with a bright flourescent glow.

It's chilly in here, so I keep my jacket on. Both of my cell phones, one for my PI job and one for my ME job, are in my pockets. I use my keycard to unlock the double doors and walk into the hall that leads to the main offices of the medical examiner. Maybe they thought they were supposed to meet me out front.

I walk down the dark hall and listen as the hiss from the boiler room gets louder. As I approach, I look down the side hall on my left and see a faint light. Someday I'll have to go down there exploring. Just not today. Or at night. I shiver and continue down the hall. I unlock another set of double doors, go through the vestibule, and then unlock the door to the main office.

I am greeted by the buzz of the fax machine. My police report! Excellent! I take about 10 pages off the machine, grab a handful of M&M's out of the jar on Joy's desk, and head down toward Nancy's office. I sit at her desk and begin to read.

The police report is unremarkable. A single vehicle, single occupant car accident. It occurred at 2am this morning. The driver was a 40-year-old woman. Scene reconstruction indicated that she ran off the shoulder, hit a tree, and rolled several times. She was ejected at some point during the accident...probably through the sunroof. A truck driver happened on the scene shortly after it happened and began CPR even though the decedent was not breathing and unresponsive. The trucker called 911. Police and rescue arrived. She was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead by the ER doctor.

No skid marks. No evasive action. No evidence that she'd tried to gain control the situation.

I got the call at about 6:30 a.m. It wasn't until I arrived at the hospital and spoke to the decedent's husband that I realized we might have something more than an accident on our hands. The man looked devastated and pale when I walked into what they call "the family room". I greeted him and told him I was sorry. Nothing more...just sorry. He nodded his head and his voice cracked as he said that he was, too. I gave him a minute and stalled a bit by asking of he wanted a drink or something to eat. He said no, but thank you. Then I began with my questioning.

The husband told me that his wife had called yesterday evening around 8pm to say she was stuck in traffic and would be home shortly. But she never came home. The husband couldn't explain why. He indicated that she had tried to commit suicide in a car years ago when she had a mental breakdown. She'd been hearing voices that told her to hurt herself. Her husband had brought a bag of medications that she'd been on and gave them to me along with the name and telephone number of her psychiatrist.

After the husband identified the body and I'd sent him home, I walked toward the ER room where the woman was being held. The ER nurse flagged me down in the hall and told me that the family had given consent for her to be a tissue donor and that I should expect a call from tissue bank soon. I thanked her and walked into the examining room, closing the door behind me.

The woman was blond and tan. She looked as if she'd taken good care of herself, physically. Her belly was very distended and she had some severe road rash on her left side that indicated to me she'd bled out severely into her abdomen. I was guessing her aorta may have burst or her spleen was crushed. There was blood and glass in her left ear and large matching abrasions on her shins.

After I'd finished charting all of the IV lines, tubes, EKG patches, etc.. that were on the body, I transported her to the MEO. Just as I pushed her into the cooler, I got a return call from her psychiatrist. I sat down at a table in the morgue and spoke to him about the decedent's mental health history.

The doc told me that it was highly likely this was a suicide attempt. Then I told him that I'd counted out the decedent's pills and found that she'd missed several doses of her anti-psychotic medication...the one that helped quiet the voices. He was not surprised and reiterated that he and the family felt it was just a matter of time before she tried to kill herself again. Before I hung up, I asked to get medical records faxed to our office. The doctor was very cooperative and I thanked him for his help.

Tissue Bank called me a while later and we coordinated the harvesting. I asked them to refrain from taking the pelvic bones or any heart valves because we didn't want to disturb the chest cavity in any way before the autopsy. I asked if I could observe and they were really cool about it. Back several years ago I'd tried to sit through a tissue harvest but it was so disgusting and shocking to me that I had to leave. We'll see how I do this time.

More later...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I'm bored. I know!!! Let's hang out at the morgue at night! Here's the scary, dark corridor that leads to the autopsy suite (metal door at the end) from the main offices at the medical examiner's office. I'm about halfway down at this point. The metal doors you see on the left look like refrigerators, don't they? I haven't been brave enough to go exploring over there yet. Maybe next time. Tonight I want to check out the boiler room.  Posted by Picasa
And here is the side hallway on the right that leads to the boiler room. There are always loud hissing and popping sounds coming from down here as steam moves through the pipes. Hmmm... I wonder where that light is coming from? It's always on. Let's go exploring! Posted by Picasa
This is where the light is coming from in the boiler room. Umm....Can anybody tell me why there's a CHAIR back here with a cage light? And what is that SMELL? Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 03, 2005


2:06 p.m. Sorry I'm a bit late with the quiz results. I got called out at 6:25 this morning and I just got home from running three scenes. Ugh. Food would be good.

One of these cases, which looked at first like a textbook traffic, is turning into a probable suicide. I'll explain more later. Right now I have to hurry. The tissue bank is coming to harvest a guy in about an hour. Harvesting tissue is truly disgusting, though it does a lot of good and I would never discourage anybody from being a donor. I will give you a detailed summary of the process when I return.

QUIZ answers:

First, as a general rule, all manners of death that are not natural and/or unattended (i.e. the person dying had no medical history and, therefore, no doctor to sign their death certificate) come to the ME for autopsy. Suicides, homicides, accidents...they're all ME cases. With that in mind, here are the answers.

1) Deputy ME gets a call on a case from a local nursing home. They had a resident who passed away from pneumonia. Further inquiry revealed that the resident was a quadrapoligic. Seventeen years earlier a drunk driver hit him as he rode his bike down a country road. The decedent had been been wheelchair bound for years and was admitted to the nursing home two years ago when his health began to fail. He was bedridden most of his remaining life.

I would definitely bring this guy in right after I called the local homicide unit to inform them of the death and allow them to determine whether to charge the driver of the vehicle (if he's still alive) with vehicular homicide. Pneumonia and the car accident ARE related in that pneumonia is common in people that are bedridden and already not very healthy. Lying prone for days and days encourages fluid to build up in the lungs. And since the decedent wouldn't have been bedridden if he hadn't been hit by the drunk driver, his death can be directly attributed to the matter that it was 17 years ago. There is no statute of limitations on homicide.

The ME would rule the manner a homicide and the cause pneumonia due to complications resulting from injury.

2) Deputy ME gets a call from dispatch directing her to a home death scene. When she gets there, she notes that the 78-year-old man is lying on his bedroom floor near a nightstand. He has a moderate gash above his left eyebrow and a pool of blood around his head. The man was being cared for by his daughter. He had a significant medical hx of emphysema, hypertension, and diabetes that was so severe that he recently had several toes amputated off his right foot. According to the daughter, his health was failing precipitously for the past couple of months and he needed help getting out of bed to go to the bathroom because he couldn't walk without getting dizzy. The decedent was on 14 medications for his various conditions.

The investigator moved to the body and did a physical examination. The decedent was initially found face-down, but had been rolled on his back by rescue. There were EKG patches still adhered to his chest. His torso was warm and his extremities were cool. There was no evidence of lividity or rigor mortis. She noted a bandage around the foot that had recently been operated on. She noted a large yellow bruise along the midline of the torso. The investigator examined the head trauma. The blood was encrusted on the forehead and it made it difficult to determine the severity of the injury. The laceration appeared to be approximately 1/2 inch in length. The investigator examined the nightstand and noted a slight amount of blood smeared on the corner nearest the door. There was an empty water bottle lying on the floor.

I wouldn't bring this guy in. It's a bit tricky because he DOES have a head injury. Now, my job is to determine whether he died from that injury or whether that injury is secondary to his death. When I examined him, I determined that it was skull fractures or profuse bleeding. Therefore, the head trauma was not a factor in the decedent's death.

The family doctor would sign this death certificate, ruling it a natural manner of death. Cause would be ...take your pick. Probably complications of emphesyma or diabetes.

3) This case was called into the Deputy ME in the late afternoon from the emergency room of a local hospital. The decedent had been brought in unconsious with a brain bleed at the base of his skull. His blood pressure was skyhigh when he arrived and the ER staff was never able to bring it under control. The decedent was being treated by his primary care physician for alcoholism. He had cirrhosis of the liver, esphogeal ulcers, anemia, and alcohol-enduced anorexia. His doctor said he'd be willing to sign the death certificate if the ME refused the case.

This one is a bit tricky, too. The brain bleed is directly correlated to the decedent's alcoholism. And though you might say that alcoholism is a slow form of suicide, so is obesity and smoking. Yet we wouldn't rule those conditions suicide. Neither would we call death from complications of alcohol a suicide. Normally, people are not being treated for alcoholism. Alcoholics tend to deal with their condition privately and in shame. Because of that, a lot of times when they die they are brought into the MEO because nobody is aware of the condition or the resulting degenerative effects on the body. However, THIS guy had a doctor that knew of his health issues and his condition and I was able to release the body because he was able to sign the death certificate.

Manner of death, Natural. Cause of death, brain stem aneurysm due to complications of alcoholism.

Thanks for playing! That was fun. I'll write more later about the process of harvesting tissue from a cadaver and I'll also take pictures of the scary MEO.

Friday, December 02, 2005


9:51 a.m. Well, today I thought I'd give you all a bit of a quiz. (Sharpen your #2 pencils, kiddies.) And no cheating by looking stuff up online! (That means you, Higgy.) Oh, and I like trick questions.

When an ME investigator gets a call, they often have to make a decision whether to bring a body in for an autopsy or not. I'm going to present you with a few different scenarios and you can tell me what the manner (natural, homicide, suicide, accidental) and cause-of-death are in each case and whether the body should be released or brought in for autopsy.

1) Deputy ME gets a call on a case from a local nursing home. They had a resident who passed away from pneumonia. Further inquiry revealed that the resident was a quadrapoligic. Seventeen years earlier a drunk driver hit him as he rode his bike down a country road. The decedent had been been wheelchair bound for years and was admitted to the nursing home two years ago when his health began to fail. He was bedridden most of his remaining life.

So what do you think? Should the ME bring him in? What other questions would you ask before making that decision? What do you think the manner and cause of death should be in this case?

2) Deputy ME gets a call from dispatch directing her to a home death scene. When she gets there, she notes that the 78-year-old man is lying on his bedroom floor near a nightstand. He has a moderate gash above his left eyebrow and a pool of blood around his head. The man was being cared for by his daughter. He had a significant medical hx of emphysema, hypertension, and diabetes that was so severe that he recently had several toes amputated off his right foot. According to the daughter, his health was failing precipitously for the past couple of months and he needed help getting out of bed to go to the bathroom because he couldn't walk without getting dizzy. The decedent was on 14 medications for his various conditions.

The investigator moved to the body and did a physical examination. The decedent was initially found face-down, but had been rolled on his back by rescue. There were EKG patches still adhered to his chest. His torso was warm and his extremities were cool. There was no evidence of lividity or rigor mortis. She noted a bandage around the foot that had recently been operated on. She noted a large yellow bruise along the midline of the torso. The investigator examined the head trauma. The blood was encrusted on the forehead and it made it difficult to determine the severity of the injury. The laceration appeared to be approximately 1/2 inch in length. The investigator examined the nightstand and noted a slight amount of blood smeared on the corner nearest the door. There was an empty water bottle lying on the floor.

Okay. What about this one? What further questions would you ask? Would you bring the body in? What manner and cause of death would you assign this case?

3) This case was called into the Deputy ME in the late afternoon from the emergency room of a local hospital. The decedent had been brought in unconsious with a brain bleed at the base of his skull. His blood pressure was skyhigh when he arrived and the ER staff was never able to bring it under control. The decedent was being treated by his primary care physician for alcoholism. He had cirrhosis of the liver, esphogeal ulcers, anemia, and alcohol-enduced anorexia. His doctor said he'd be willing to sign the death certificate if the ME refused the case.

Would you bring him in? What's the cause and manner of death in THIS circumstance?

Good luck!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


9:27 a.m. Well, I woke up this morning to an email from a new investigator in Nebraska who bailed on his first case, which was supposed to start at 6am.

I get LHM off to the airport and come home about an hour later. It's quiet. Too quiet. I put on my trusty Time-Life Christmas collection CDs and plug in the tree. Gene Autry starts singing, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. There. Festive. Happy.

I walk into the kitchen and find a mug of tea that LHM made for me this morning while I was in my office cursing in several languages at the investigator that bailed on me. I go to the cupboard, swallow a handful of vitamins and put water on the stove for some oatmeal. Sigh. I open the fridge. Ha! The blueberry cheesecake pie that I made for Thanksgiving. (Hey...I never said I couldn't cook. I just exercise the right not to.) Perfect! I dump a half can of whipped cream on top and take the whole thing into my office. I'll be feeling better in no time.

So, 30 minutes later I'm sitting in front of the computer polishing the pie tin with my tongue when suddenly I smell something burning. I sniff the air. Huh. I take one more lick and then head into the kitchen. Where I find my sauce pan just catching fire on the burner.

I rush over to the sink and turn on the water. Damn! I cup my hands and manage to get a ladelful of water in them. I run back to the stove and toss the water on the handle. It goes out. But it's still smoking. I grab the handle but quickly let go as I practically burn the skin off of my left hand. Curse words! All of them! I take a dishtowel off the rack, wrap it around the handle, and bring the pan to the sink where I douse it in cold water until it stops smoking.

I lean back against counter...breathing heavily. My hands are shaking from the adrenaline rush. Yikes. I almost set my house on fire and me with it. And I'm on call at the ME's office today, too. I smile to myself. How funny would that be if I ended up a shish-kabob and then the cops would page the ME and my beeper would go off? Wouldn't they be confused...

Well, I thought it was funny.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


8:44 a.m. Sorry I've been neglecting you, bloglit. I am finding that having a visitor from out of town for nearly a month can be somewhat distracting. But LHM is going home tomorrow and I can return to my virtual life.

A couple of things I'll be blogging about in the next few days...

LHM stood outside the Walmart for 14 hours in 21 degree weather to buy some random kids a new X-Box 360, a new television, and a few new video games. He is insane. Random kids think he's a god.

I got six ME cases two nights ago when I was on call. Didn't sleep. That sucked.

I hired Pippie, one of the other deputies at the MEO, to work for me part-time as PI. She starts Wednesday.

I ate a whole jar of Nutella the day after I got the six ME cases. I had to explain to LHM the correlation between chocolatey goodness and a woman's sense of well-being. Pretty sure he just thinks I'm a pig.

Being a regional supervisor sucks. I can feel myself turning into a corporate lackey... Suddenly I have this irrational belief that my supervisors and their investigators are all a bunch of idiots. Or maybe they really are.

I got feedback on my proposal. I need a plot. A case. Some common thread that my book can be based on. The problem is my life is plotless... It's just a random series of weird stories. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

More later...

Friday, November 18, 2005


3:00 a.m. I'm not sure why I'm awake so early in the morning when I don't have to be. Maybe I miss going out on surveillances. Maybe I miss my morning tea and the cozy seat warmers in my truck and ranchero breakfast wraps from the BP station.


I must be insane. I'm thinking of saving up a few cases and going on a roadtrip one of these weekends.

On the other hand, maybe I'll wait until spring so that I won't be freezing my moneymaker off in the back of my truck...

Several nights ago I had to pick up a police report off the fax and inspect a body at the morgue. It was late...almost midnight. Generally, I would wait until daytime, but I needed that information for my report that was due in the morning.

Now, I've told you before that the MEO is a rather foreboding place but I didn't actually describe it to you. You see, this office is a temporary facility. It used to be a nursing home.

Light Haired Man is still visiting and drives me over since I am still on drugs from my kidney infection/stone and operating heavy machinery (or even light machinery such as a television remote or a microwave oven, for that matter) is not a good idea yet. He's never been to a morgue before and I try to prepare him because I'm going to have to go to the autopsy suite and get a wallet off my Dead Guy's body.

I pass my keycard through the security pad at the front entrance and the red light on the monitor turns green. I open the door and we walk into the dark vestibule.

"Did you notice that the van is gone?" My voice echoes off the marble walls and floor as I walk toward the locked double doors that lead to the offices. "Whoever is on call tonight is bringing in a body."

I turn my key in the lock and enter the office area with LHM close behind me. I flip on the light and look around. There is a stack of papers in Joy's inbox that has got to be a foot high with autopsy reports, faxes, and bureaucratic BS memos from the county government. I reach into the candy dish that is always full on her desk and grab a handful of M & M's before I turn the corner toward the fax machine. I note the inch thick stack of papers in the tray. Excellent. My police report. I take several minutes to leaf through it while LHM noses around a bit.

After I finish skimming the paperwork, I walk down the hall to find LHM in the process of photocopying his face on the office copy machine. I smile.

"Hey!", I scold, "That's government property you're tampering with!"

LHM looks up at me. "Oh...yeah. Well, I was just walking by and I fell and... Luckily I closed my eyes just in time or I could have gone blind!"

I laugh. "Well, at least I got here before you started getting too creative. Come on. Let's go to the autopsy suite so I can note this guy's ID info and we can get out of here."

We walk past Nancy and Dr. Frank's offices and through another set of locked doors. We head down a long corridor, a couple hundred feet in length. I hit the light and a series of fluorescent bulbs buzz on in the ceiling.

LHM looks around as we walk. This portion of the building has been gutted. You can tell there used to be resident rooms on either side of the hallway, but the doors and non-load-bearing walls have been demolished. Stacks of drywall and bricks on wooden palates fill dark corners to the left.

"This kind of reminds me of a horror flick," LHM says as we continue walking. We pass a side corridor on the right that T's off at the end. I look down it. A faint light is glowing from the left and I can hear the loud hissing of steam moving through pipes.

"That's the boiler room down there," I point. Is it my imagination or is the big, burly LHM trying not to freak out? I smile smugly to myself.

Yes...the MEO has its very own boiler room. As if being in the presence of dead people isn't creepy enough.

"Great," LHM mumbles softly. "You get to be the mighty heroine that defeats the evil devil spawn zombies and I'll end up playing the roll of the loyal side-kick guy that gets knocked off within the first 20 minutes of the movie. I hate that."

I giggle as I pass my keycard over another security pad and push through a final set of doors.

Suddenly, I hear a high-pitched scream and jump. LHM grabs my shoulders and pulls me with him out of range of...whatever evil might be occupying the autopsy suite.

"Oh, holy mother effing eff!" I know that voice. It's Pippy. She's another deputy ME. "You @$%#!"

I peek around the doorway and see a tall, 35-yr-old red-head with brown freckles peppering her face and hands. She is currently holding her heart like an old man with chest pains.

"Hi, Pip!" I wave and LHM and I come out from behind the door. "I'm just going to ignore the fact that you called me a nasty name and chalk that up to your angina. What's going on?"

Pip ignores my question. "What the hell are you doing here this late? You almost gave me a heart attack!"

"I can see that." I look behind her and note the body on the tray. The bag is open and a set of fingerprint cards is balanced on the Dead Guy's chest. It appears Pip was in the process of checking him in when we so rudely interrupted her.

I introduce LHM to my coworker and we chat for a few minutes as Pip finishes up the prints. As she talks, she is absentmindedly trying to shove Dead Guy's foot into the bag. The zipper keeps getting caught on his big toe, however, so she shoves again, harder, and bends the toe down as she continues to talk. I glance at LHM. He is watching with a somewhat bemused look on his face as Pippy struggles with the toe, bending it this way and that...contorting it in a manner that would make a living man cry out in pain.

I suddenly feel a sense of shame. LHM isn't part of this club of death workers and having him here is making me acutely aware of how irreverent our lot can sometimes be. It's like inviting your minister over for dinner and then having him stumble across your porn collection. Only instead of a minister it's my boyfriend and instead of a porn collection it's a dead guy with a rebellious toe... Umm... Yeah.

Anyway, I am coming to the disturbing realization that no matter how much I didn't want it to happen, I've lost a small piece of my humanity being exposed to death as much as I have. I've become numb to it. What is wrong with me that I can laugh when a body falls off a tray or gets put through the window at the bottom of the ramp?

I come out of my brief reverie and remember that I have a reason for being here in the middle of the night on a weekend. I walk into the cooler and find the body I'm looking for. The decedent's personal belongings are stacked on the tray with him in a paper sack. I reach inside and find the wallet, then turn back toward the doorway. LHM is standing just inside the entrance.

We've got a full house...a couple of fire victims...some decomposed traffic. There are so many bodies, in fact, that we ran out of trays and have had to start stacking them on the floor. LHM is taking it all in. I try to remember what it was like seeing this for the first time and I suddenly become distinctly aware of the stale smell of cold death that is nearly identical in all ME coolers...the smell that I've become so accustomed to that it rarely even registers in my conscious mind anymore.

"Come on," I say as I reach the door. LHM follows me back into the light and I close the cooler behind me.

Out in the check in area, I open the wallet. I leaf through it, noting about $400 in cash and several credit cards before I finally find the victim's ID. He was a 28-year-old white male. Motorcycle accident. I study the photograph. He was a nice looking guy, I think sadly. Now his head is crushed to the point that I don't think the casket will be open.

The really tragic part of this accident is that the victim probably would have lived had he been wearing his helmet. From witness accounts, he saw the van pull in front of him and hit the breaks. When he knew he couldn't stop in time he laid the bike down on it's side. As the bike continued to skid toward the van, he jumped and hit the pavement...hard...before rolling several feet into the middle of the intersection. That's when he sustained the fatal head trauma.

I finish documenting the info and several minutes later, LHM and I are back in my truck on our way home. It's quiet and I'm looking out the window. "All that money," he says, "It's nothing." I am not sure what he means at first. He goes on. "The credit cards. The cash. They seem to be our goal in life but when it comes down to it they mean nothing when you're dead at 28 and laid out in the morgue. None of that is really important at all."

Hmmm. Philosophical LHM. This should be interesting. I sit back and listen as he talks it out...trying to make sense of things in his mind. He's grasping for the greater meaning that might underlie a tragedy such as this. As I look out the window I wonder if he'll come to the same conclusion that I did. That sometimes there is no reason. Sometimes things just happen.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


9:31 a.m. Oh, I'm feeling SOOOOOOOO much better since I layed an egg! (Okay, maybe it wasn't that big...) Just getting over the infection part now. Which is a gastro-intestinal delight considering I got the Agent Orange of antibiotics.

But enough about my bowels.

I'm so getting fired. Again. I'll update you on that later.

LHM and I are having fun. He's fixing and organizing everything around my apartment. What an exercise in futility...

I have an ME story for you but I have to get back to my "real job" for now.

More later...

Sunday, November 06, 2005


5:48 a.m.

Still waiting.

Still very, very sick.

Antibiotics don't seem to be working.

If this doesn't get better in the next 12 hours I'll head back to the hospital tonight when Light-Haired Man flies in from California.

Isn't that sweet? He's coming to take care of me.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


5:06 a.m. I'm going to hurry up and write this before I have to take anymore Lortab. I actually tried to write it last night but instead ended up spending three of the best hours of my life staring at a screen that was empty but for the word "The".

Any yet never have I felt so content being unproductive.

For the past few days I have been in labor. I'm about to give birth to a bouncing baby kidney stone, you see. Anybody have some cigars?

I sat in the ER waiting room yesterday afternoon for about an hour before I was finally seen. Actually, I was in my jammies and brought my fuzzy blanket with me so I ended up sprawling across three chairs and napping as best I could between phone calls from my supervisors.

Blah blah blah blah! (That's what the ringer on my phone says. It's very annoying and discourages me from just ignoring incoming calls.)

"Hey, boss. Que paso?" It's Jose. He's covers most of the southwest.

"I paso fine, dude. What's up?"

"Well, I am still waiting to hear back from my investigator that went out on the Jones case. Everyone else is accounted for and I tol' them to get their updates in by 5pm so I can start drinkin' sooner."

I had to have a talk with Jose yesterday about laying off the sauce until he's done reviewing cases for the night. There's nothing more frustrating than sending cases back to somebody who is drunk off his arse. "Jose! I sent this back to you three times! Sign the damn expense sheet!" I can hear him opening a can over the telephone. "Polly, you din't seem so mean back when we were in Boston and we were hangin' with Fish. Fish was a cool boss, man."

I sigh. Yes. Fish was cool and I'm mean. Fish called me a couple of days ago and told me that Jose is desparate for the good ol' days when he wasn't expected to do, well, much of anything more than answer the phone when an investigator called.

"Okay, Jose. Just make sure that girl does a neighborhood canvass if she doesn't ID the Subject. I'll talk to you later."

"Aye, Aye, Cap'n."

I hang up and snuggle back under the covers and pretty quick my phone rings again. It's Max. He's my supervisor for the southeast and has a lovely South Carolina accent. He proceeds to tell me how his investigator (a former cop) was trying to strong-arm a Subject into setting up an interview to sign some papers. Apparently, the Subject answered the phone the first time the investigator called and was "uncooperative..." Whatever that means.

So the guy proceeds to call him four or five more times thoughout the day like we're the freakin' Mafia. And all with Max's blessing. I tell him to back off and close the case immediately. If the guy doesn't want to be interviewed, who cares? It's not like we won't get paid of the effort.

Max is eager, but he is seriously lacking in common sense and calls me almost as much as Mouse did back when I lorded over Ohio.

"Okay, boss. One of my investigators got some video today."

"Hi, boss. Just thought I'd run something past you."

"Well, hey, there, Polly! I just thought I'd let you know that I'm about to use a public toilet and don't plan on washing my hands when I'm finished!"

Anyway, I finally get called from the waiting room and am asked to pee in a cup. I'm given instruction on the proper procedure for urine collection with the minimal amount of unpleasant spillage. Bah! Amateurs. That's like somebody instructing Houdini on how to pick a lock.

Anyway, after that excitement I lay there, pale and shivering in the fetal position on a highly uncomfortable bed for...oh... another hour or so, dozing in and out of sleep.

Finally the doc rolls in all bouncy and happy like a well-fed toddler. He was probably out eating lunch with a drug rep while I was freezing my tooshy off in the sub-arctic conditions of the ER for two hours. I lay shaking uncontrolledly as he cheerfully asks me how I'm doing today. I don't feel like being smart, so I say, "Never better! And you?" (Okay, maybe I am feeling smart.)

He asks me what the problem is and I tell him my right kidney hurts. He is dubious. Apparently, most people who complain of kidney pain don't realize the little buggers are jammed up high just under the ribcage on your back. "Well," he says, "Most of the time when somebody tells me their kidneys hurt it's because they're actually suffering from lower back pain or ovulation.

I narrow my eyes. Bastard. I should barf on him.

He asks me to lay on my stomach. I comply. "Oh...sorry. I mean your back." Too many mai-tais at the luncheon, doc? I wince and flip like a struggling fish onto my back. He lifts my shirt and feels around my abdomen, then asks me to sit up. He uses his middle and forefinger to thump lightly on the lower ribs of my left side. Nothing. Then he does the same on the right side and I recoil from his hand as red-hot pain shoots through my body. "Thaaat hurt like a son of a bitch." I say.

I am sweating and shaking like I've got a nerve disorder. The doctor looks impressed. "Wow. That test hardly ever comes up positive." Lucky me.

Just then a nurse walks in with a piece of paper. He takes it.

"Well, you sure have an infection, alright." He explains to me how I'm likely passing a kidney stone that hasn't yet travelled down into the ureter. Then he spends twenty minutes giving me an anatomy lesson which I don't have the strength to thwart by telling him I am already quite familiar with human innards.

He proceeds to cheerfully tells me how he had an accident while parachuting out of an airplane which resulted in a broken pelvis and several other broken things. "But that was nothing compared to the three kidney stones I passed last year. I just hope I die before I have to endure that again."

My eyes are as big as saucers. I am given a prescription for a months supply of Lortab, a killer antibiotic that promises to kill all flora and fauna present in my body...good or bad, and some anti-nausea medication. Apparently, they would like me to spend a few days waiting to pass the little guy before doing something drastic like admitting me and shooting my kidney with ultrasound to break up the stone.

I'm all for that. Just give me the drugs and I'll be on my way.

I go to the pharmacy and am just paying the cashier when a call comes in from the MEO. It's Nancy. "Polly! You answered!" I smile. Nancy sounds frazzled.

"Can you go out on a traffic in the county? I got slammed today...five cases and I can't be in two places at once."

Oh, fudge. I look at my bottle of drugs longingly.

"Sure. I don't have a pen to write down any info right now. Let me call you back in a few minutes. Will you be at the office when I get back? I might need help moving the body." I might need help moving myself...

Nancy promises she'll still be there. I tell her I need to go home and get my equipment (and change out of my bunny slippers).

A half hour later I call dispatch and ask for the officer in charge at the scene. "You mean a phone number?" Duh. Apparently, the ME hardly ever calls for a preliminary update here. After several minutes she gives me Lt. Hardy's number. I call him and identify myself. I ask a few questions. Apparently, this was a van vs a motorcycle. The motorcycle lost.

Lt. Hardy says that there was slight electrical activity when the EMTs arrived so they moved him out of the road and into the wagon. Huh. That means that I have no scene to investigate. "By the time I get out there the sun will be down and I won't be able to take any photographs," I say. "Can you send copies of what you have and your report to the MEO in the morning?" He is very cooperative and I hang up.

But then as I reach the outskirts of town, he calls back. "Hey. Rescue 24 wants to know if there's someplace you'd like them to transport. They've been here since 1430...that's three hours and we'd all like to go home."

I make a unilateral decision. "Hell yes! Ask them to bring him into the MEO. I'll meet you there." I thank him profusely and tell him I'm passing a kidney stone. He winces and tells me how his brother had one of those. "I never saw him cry before that and I haven't seen him cry since. Good luck with that." I can hear the respect in his voice.

I feel almost proud to join this small, rebelious band of kidney stone survivors. It's like going through a right of passage. A vision quest. Hell week with the Marines.

I get back to the office and Nancy lets me in.

"What the hell's wrong with you?" Nancy asks as I hobble into the office. I tell her and she relays to me the story of her mother's kindey stone...that made childbirth look like a walk in the park. Then, she starts telling me about the double homicide this morning that was staged to look like a housefire. "Yeah. The screwdriver in the guy's neck and the gunshot wound to the woman's head sort of tipped me off," she says.

Several minutes later, the body arrives accompanied by a police cruiser. The officer walks in as Nancy and the EMTs struggle with the body. She is a young lady and is pretty green, but i give her points for remaining professional through what must have been one of her first death scenes. She holds it together through my questioning. Only when I lightly touch her arm and ask her how she's doing does she almost lose it. She tells me how the man still had a pulse when she arrived on scene and that she'd hoped he'd make it. Her eyes get glassy and I quickly get back to business because I know how sucky it is to almost break down in the company of your peers.

Dr. Frank is still there finishing laying out the clothes that need to dry from the fire. "You should have told Nancy to go eff herself (only she didn't say "eff") when she asked you to come in." I smile. "Yeah. Probably." I am leaning on the cabinet and am currently having a hard time concentrating on anything but the pills that are stashed in my truck.

Later, after I've taken some pictures, documented injuries, and moved the body into the cooler, I am sitting with Nancy in the office, chatting. Suddenly I hear a scratching sound in the bushes outside the window. Nancy and I look at each other. There's a knock. What the hell? Nancy stands up and goes to the window where a perfectly arranged woman with blond hair, a suit, and a microphone in hand motions for Nancy to go to the entrance. Nancy chuckles and shakes her head, "No". We hear the woman yell from outside, "This is Tamara from channel 5 news. Are the results of the homicide autopsies in yet?"

Nancy has no patience for the media. "No. Go away!" She turns back to me. "I've been answering calls from those vultures all day."

Okay. I should go, bloglit.

I am way overdue for my happy pills.

I'll let you know if it's a boy or a girl.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


12:12 p.m. I got a call in to the ME's office the other day. I was just heading back from a surveillance in Madison, WI.

"Polly, it's Nancy. Boy, do I have a case for you!"

"Yeah? What's up?"

"Well, we just got a call out on a bone case. Apparently, there's a dumpster behind the country club and when the garbage man came to dump it, he noticed a bone. So he dug around a bit and found two bags full of decomposing skeletal remains."

Oh, dear. "Any idea whether they're human or not?"

"I don't know yet. I just got the call. Can you come along on this one?

I look at my watch, then back at the road. "I'm about an hour out yet."

"Okay. Well, I'll go on out to the scene and I'll give you a call once I've done my scene investigation."

Nancy and I hang up and a little while later she calls me to say that she doesn't think they are human but that she's bringing a few back to the MEO so that I can drop by and tell her what I think they are.

I meet her at the office 20 minutes later. I walk in wearing my slippers and workout pants. "Well, you didn't have to go and get all dressed up on my account," Nancy says.

I look down at myself. "Yeah. I should probably apologize for the way I look...and smell. I usually don't get gussied up for surveillance."

"That's okay," Nancy says as she leads me down the hallway toward the autopsy suite, "These bones are so ripe that even YOU can't overpower them."

I smile. She's getting better at the sarcastic banter thing.

As we pass through the security doors Nancy stops and turns to me. "Notice anything different? Missing maybe?"

I look around, puzzled. "No. Not really. Everything looks the..." I stop as my eyes land on the window. You know... That window I told you about that is at the end of the poorly planned ramp? The one that I said somebody was going to put a body through one of these days?

I start to laugh. "You did it!!!! You sent a body through the window, didn't you?" Nancy is laughing, too, now. She nods her head and we both double over.

After several minutes of this, Nancy can finally speak again. "Yeah. I thought you'd get a kick out of that."

She tells me the story of how a funeral home was coming to pick up a body and she was pulling it up the ramp behind her. Her fingers slipped, though, and she accidentally let go.


"Well, I hope it wasn't going to be an open casket!" I say as I wipe the tears from my eyes.

"Fortunately, he went feet first. We'd be up a shit creek without a paddle, otherwise. That glass was not tempered and it left some nasty marks."

After discussing for a few minutes if it would even be worth replacing the glass in the window (I vote for no...This will happen again, so why waste the money?) we move on to the bones.

"I brought in a pelvis and some other bones. They were the cleanest ones there. Really, the rest was a goopy mess. I found no cut marks. I counted four rib cages there, so suspect there were four specimens. No heads." Nancy says as she pushes the tray out of the cooler.

I put on a pair of gloves and turn to the table. Oh boy. They ARE ripe. They are coated with a greenish brown layer of slippery decomp. Ick. There are two sets of several articulated bones...meaning that the joints are all still attached.

Right away I note that there is a scapula, or shoulder blade. It is long and fan shaped, not broad and triangular, like for a human. The scapula is attached to a squat humerus, which leads to a fused ulna/radius. The end of the radius was sawed off with what appears to have been an electric blade of some sort. The other set was a femur, a tibia/fibula, and a talus that was also cut off at the distal end.

"Well, it's not a human, anyway, so you can rest your pretty little head about that." I look up at Nancy and she's scowling at me. "What?"

"Nothing. Go ahead."

"Okay," I say. "The fused forelimbs and the shape of the scapula point to an ungulate, or a hooved mammal. And you see on the hindlimb? That long bone attached to the tibia/fibula is actually a modified foot bone that has elongated to create a third joint. That is also evidence that we're looking at an ungulate. It's a smaller animal...definitely not cow or horse-sized, but bigger than a goat. The bones are fused, so it's an adult. If I had a skull I could tell you for sure, but I'm 80% certain these are deer that were butchered and then tossed."

Nancy is writing down every word I'm saying. "I have to go change my report," she says. "Are you sure there's no pelvis in there?"

I smirk. "Yeah. No pelvis. And the feet were cut off, by the way. So much for your 'no butchery' theory, there, boss-lady."

"Oh, shut up. Smartass." (That was a quote, Mom.)


9:28 a.m. Okay.. let's see. I'll start with Boston. I had to go last week for training to become a Regional Supervisor. The meetings were predictably boring. I was drifting in and out of sleep and couldn't remain inconspicuous because...well...there are only four of us.


I twitch.


I jump and find myself sitting at a conference table. I look around. There are several sets of eyes on me. Fish, one of the other regionals, is smiling.

"Jet lag," I say, "Sorry about that."

The CEO of the company raises an eyebrow. "You live one time zone west of here."

"Yeah...ah...I'm sensitive that way. And I'm getting sick, I think." I fake sneeze. I hear giggling. Phew. "Can I...ah...have the text of this Power Point presentation emailed to me? Just for future reference..." I sit up and take a Diet Coke from the cooler in the middle of the table. Caffiene will get me through this trial.

The weather is crappy. A Noreaster has blown in and it's been cold and rainy since my plane landed this morning. What I wouldn't do for a cup of tea to warm me up right now. Instead, Fish notices me shivering and lets me use his jacket as a blanket.

Fish is a big, scary-looking Scottish guy with red hair, a beard, and lots of tattoos. He looks like a lumberjack. Or a Highlander. He just needs a kilt. Fish has got a great sense of humor and when we get together we frequently mock..well...everyone and everything. It's fun.

And then there's Dennis. I'm calling him Dennis because he looks EXACTLY like Dennis Miller. He even SOUNDS like him and has similar mannerisms. Bizzare.

Anyway, Dennis and Fish have been with this company for about 10 years a piece. They are not pleased with the new directive that Regional Supervisors will no longer work cases. After our meeting is over, the three of us ride back to the hotel together. Along the way, I am practically peeing myself listening to them tell me stories of how they fudged videos over the years before sending them into Corp.

"Once I was supposed to be in North Dakota but didn't quite get there," Fish says. "I took my mastershot and then I looked it over and I realized, 'Hey! There aren't palm trees in North Dakota!'"

Dennis laughs and adds, "Yeah. I once had to make it look like it was raining, so I turned on my windshield wipers and had two of my kids get up on top of my truck with spray bottles while I took video from inside." He gives a melancholy sigh and looks off in the distance. "I guess those days are over now. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to handle being around my wife and kids all day."

Ah, well. The winds of change blow no matter what we want.

(Thank you, that'll be $20 bucks. Now get off my mountain.)

More later....

Monday, October 31, 2005



Boy, did I miss you guys!

I sent in my proposal this afternoon and now I can finally focus on something else. Hooray!!

Happy Halloween, by the way. And speaking of the dead...BOY, do I have a lot to tell you guys. I've got at least three posts for tomorrow, but for now I'm going to drop into bed and get unconscious for a while.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


11:29 a.m.

Hypothetically, there was a 10-year-old girl who was walking along the side of the road one morning. She was on her way to church, which was just down the street. Her parents were already there.

Hypothetically, some depraved, horrible person hit this little girl with their car. The child went sailing into a ditch..broken and battered, but not dead. But that bastard driving the car didn't stop. For some godforsaken reason, they didn't stop. And that little girl sat in a ditch in 40 degree weather...conscious and suffering for over an hour before her parents found her.

Hypothetically, the little girl was rushed to the hospital where she died a short time later from exposure and internal bleeding.

It's been a rough morning, bloglit. Hug your children if you've got them.

Friday, October 21, 2005


2:45 p.m.

I was on call last night and I finally got to sleep around 1am when my beeper went off. The message said, "Call Jamie frm..."

That was it.

So I sat there in a half-asleep daze for about 10 minutes wondering who the hell Jamie is and why they didn't give me a damn phone number to call. Finally, my brain kicked in and I called dispatch. They gave me the proper information and we all lived happily ever after.

Well, some of us.


I am working on the proposal. Six days and counting to deadline. Several chapters are completed in the book.

Stinky Jimmy got demoted to a regular investigator probably because of the nasty email he sent the corporate office (and forwarded to all of his supervisors) telling them what evil bastards (that was a quote, Mom) they are.

Which, I suppose, is why I got a regional position with my cover some of his territory.

Jimmy called me late on Wednesday night sounding susupiciously drunk while I was still in California visiting Light-Haired Man. He wished me luck and told me to watch my back. That's two of my former bosses that have been demoted. I think that perhaps I should ride this wave just a little bit further before bailing.

Damn. I'm going to miss Stinky Jimmy in Boston on Monday and Tuesday. Him breathing on me and making me pass out from the stench was the only thing that made those supervisor meetings tolerable.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Light-haired Man and Polly in an entirely inappropriate little black dress. Wait. That sounds like we're both in the entirely inappropriate little black dress. Bugger! Posted by Picasa
Jeff and Jackie...and some buggering Brit's hand.... Posted by Picasa
The happy Weasels sharing Italian on Friday night. Posted by Picasa
It's Higgy! He's now my new favorite Brit...replacing that saucy little Prince William, of course. (Higgy taught me a new word. Bugger. I am using it as often as I can. Bugger the margaritas! It's all buggery!) Posted by Picasa
No lie...this chick went swimming in a huge blender full of Margarita before dancing wet on the ledge. Now THAT takes talent, my friends... Posted by Picasa
Dinner Saturday night at Margaritaville. Posted by Picasa
Makin' paakes on Saturday morning... Posted by Picasa
Mad Scientist and Weasel on our fancy night on the town. Posted by Picasa
Higgy, Weasel, Mad Scientist and Polly on a quest to molest statuary...No statue escaped. And judging from the pictures I'm not posting, it's a good thing statues can't file charges for sexual harrassment. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 16, 2005


And you have to admit that "PollyPI" is a pretty rare last name...


I am terry jessy A Staff of Chartered bank Nigeria Limited.

We are conducting a standard process investigation on behalf of our
The international Banking conglomerate to reach either the relations or
anyone wanting to stand as the next of kin to late
Mr.Anderson PollyPI a nationality of your country with and also the
circumstances surrounding investments made by this client at FEDERAL
REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.with the Private Banking arm of Chartered Bank Of
Nigeria PLC.

This Private Banking client Mr.Anderson PollyPI died intestate and
nominated no
successor in title over the money with the bank.

I decided to trace his last name over the Internet, to locate any
member of
his family hence I contacted you.I have contacted you to assist in
repatriating the money and property left behind by this client before
get confisticated by the federal Government after being declared
unserviceable by the bank where this huge deposits were lodged.

It is pertinent that you inform me ASAP if you are interested and
seek a very honest and reliable person.
You must appreciate that I have constrained from providing you with
detailed information.

At this point. Please respond to this mail as soon as possible to
afford us
the opportunity to proceed to the formalities as soon as possible.

Thank you for accommodating our enquiry.

Mr Terry Jessy
Please Reply to my private email address

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


10:13 p.m.

Remember how I figured I was going to be fired from my PI job? Well, slap my a$$ and call me purty...they just offered me a regional supervisor job!

Here I thought you had to work hard and be enthusiastic to get ahead in life, when in reality you just have to give a lackluster performance and exhibit extreme apathy while threatening repeatedly to quit. Lesson learned. The squeaky wheel DOES, in fact, get the promotion.

I should be excited... but then again I work for Hell, Inc. and I'm not sure how I feel about descending the corporate ladder into the bowels of everlasting damnation.

Speaking of damnation... I have to be up at 3am to get to the airport for my 6am flight to VEGAS. Woo hoo! I'll be sure to take plenty of pix.


9:17 a.m.


We are stupid, silly creatures and something needs to be done about it.

*replaces ice pack on crotch*

I made my next appointment for two months from now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


4:54 p.m.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. I am getting my very first bikini wax.

I feel like a virgin on her wedding night.

Only I doubt it will be quite as pleasant.

Unless it's a real disaster of a wedding night.

That is all...


9:08 a.m.

So, I'm outside of a doctor's office right now. I have spent the past two days following a guy that is supposedly very, very injured in his left hip. He was doing yard work yesterday with hardly a limp. This doctor's appointment was actually set up by the insurance company to set him up for me.

I decide to bring a random 4-year-old kid with me while I'm undercover today so that I won't raise suspicion in the waiting room. (Who's going to suspect some lady with a child of spying on them, I ask you? What kind of a crappy parent would bring a kid on surveillance?)

I take random 4-year-old's hand and counsel him as we walk into the building. "Remember, kid, this is not the same thing as lying. This is 'pretext'. Big can't go to hell for pretext."

We are there early and the office manager is really cool about accommodating me when I tell him what I'm doing. He even shows me the back door so that I can sneak out after my Subject gets called into his appointment.

So I'm sitting on the floor and random 4-year-old and I are playing with a pathetic collection of snot-covered toys when my Subject walks in. Oh, my goodness. He's grunting and limping like the Hunchback of Notre Dame without the hunchback. It hurts to watch.

I get some good video from my spy purse and then slip out the back door. Now I'm waiting for Igor to leave his appointment and we'll see where he goes from here.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


2:35 p.m. If you love me, send me your spare Valium.

Here's my schedule for the past couple of days:

Wake up 3:30 a.m. Surveillance until 12:00 p.m.

Take 1 1/2 hour nap in McDonald's parking lot before starting another surveillance at 3:00 p.m.

In the MEANTIME, I go on call for the ME's office from noon until 4:00 p.m. Overlap..not good. Hoping nobody dies.

Surveillance lasts until 7:00 p.m. because I lose the guy in Chicago traffic. This is the second time I lost this guy. The client will not be happy. Too tired to care.

Grateful nobody died Friday afternoon.

On call with ME's office from 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m.

Get called out to a scene at 3:30 a.m. for a guy who fell and hit his head. Pull on some jeans and a sweatshirt. Brush teeth. Look in mirror. Wonder why I am doing this to myself. Go to scene. Upset family. I end up deciding not to bring the guy in because the fall was from him dying..not the other way around. He was a very sick man. I call the family doctor to make sure he will sign the death certificate. Doc says he's down with that. Cool.

At 5:45 a.m. While heading home, I get called by dispatch again. This time on a hospice case. Don't have to go out since it is a natural death and they are just reporting it to me.

At 5:50 a.m. I get home, grab a few things and leave for surveillance of the guy that I lost last night. I drive by his house. No activity.

At 7:00 a.m. I come home. Sleep. Yes.

At 11:25 a.m. Wake up to beeper. Another case. Hospital ER death. Guy had a significant medical hx so I turn him down and tell the ER to contact his family doc to sign the DC.

At 11:30 a.m. Pack up and drive by guy's house again. No activity.

At 1:00 p.m. Come home. Sleep. Yes.

At 2:00 p.m. Wake up. Work on proposal. Get a few more pages done.

At 4:30 p.m. Get showered and dressed for a date. Fall asleep during movie. Wonder if the guy minds that I drooled on his shoulder.

At 10:30 p.m. Come home from date.

At 10:45 p.m. Talk to Light-Haired Man on phone.

At 11:45 p.m. Go to sleep.

At 4:30 a.m. Wake up. Check email. Find out the surveillance I'm supposed to go on this morning has been postponed. Hooray!!! Go back to bed.

At 11:25 a.m. Wake up, again. Good lord. I almost slept for 12 hours. I remember that I am on call again for the ME's office in a half hour and take a quick shower...brush teeth.

At 11:45 a.m. Panic attack. Overwhelmed. Eight million things to do. Three reports for the ME to write. Several cases to reassign for my PI job and two cases to write up. Proposal to write. And I have to clean my house so that I can call the landlord to come fix my heater that isn't working and the toilet I broke a couple weeks ago.

At 11:35 a.m. Call Light-Haired Man. Break down in tears. Tell him I'm going to jump and I mean it.

At 12:00 p.m. Gather up my papers and my computer and go to the diner down the street. Set up at a booth. Work and drink tea. Eat food. Oh yeah....forgot about food. Food is good.

At 2:00 p.m. Come home. Feel much better. Will be speaking in complete sentences again in no time.

I miss you guys. I will come up for air again really soon.