a small win

A big part of what I do at work is checking chemotherapy order forms and batch sheets — making sure patient details and treatment details are correct, and making sure these have been correctly transferred onto batch sheets so that we can compound or make each dose for each patient.

In the course of checking an order this week, I noticed that my colleague had omitted what would appear to be the patient’s middle name. This usually wouldn’t be a big deal — we never include middle names on the batch documents — but this was not an English name. I recognised the name as Chinese, and for a number of Chinese people I know, the “middle name” is actually part of the first name. 

I considered the situation for a minute: There were other patient identifiers on the batch documents, so it was very unlikely that the patient would be misidentified or that any other treatment issue would arise from the omission of the second name. However, it seemed disrespectful to omit it just because we’re all used to seeing names consisting of a one-word first name and one-word surname (including when it’s hyphenated, which makes it count as one word).

So I emailed the team and explained it gently in a “you might not have realised, but just thought it would be good if we added this in” kind of way.

I sent that email pretty early in the morning, and got no response all day. I asked a colleague if he’d seen the email, and his response was that he agrees, but everyone else seemed unconcerned. I went home feeling despondent and agitated. I didn’t want this issue to be ignored.

The next day, contemplating how I could bring it up again, and at the same time wondering if I should just concede defeat in this matter, I happened to receive another order for a patient with a Chinese name. And this time all three names were included on the batch documents! It actually brought a smile to my face because this was not the colleague I’d spoken to (the one who already said he agrees) but one of the others who had seemed unconcerned the previous day.

It felt good to know that I helped bring about this change, and it felt even better to know that I was capable of helping to improve cultural awareness in my workplace. It is one thing to continue to learn, but it is another to help others learn as well.


blue sky, names, sadness

After the deluge on Thursday (the day when everyone was actually told to stay at home from school and work due to extreme weather conditions), we had plenty of sunshine yesterday (Friday). I had the day off from work, so of course I wanted to spend the day enjoying these lovely blue skies. The only problem was that the wind still seemed as blustery as it was at the peak of the storm, so I wasn’t particularly keen on going outside…

But who needs to go outside if you’ve got a bed perfectly located under a window? It wasn’t so much a conscious decision to curl up in bed and read all day, as it was just a natural thing to do (like playing music when I turn on my computer, or switching on the TV when I sit down for brekkie on week-ends). And so, as the wind howled and roared outside, I alternately sat and lied in bed reading Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

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interesting character names

Working in a pharmacy, I come across a lot of different patients. Sometimes, these patients have interesting names, and if you can dissociate them from the actual person – or, better yet, if you’ve never seen the person before – then it can be kind of fun to imagine what they’d be like as a person.

For example, a colleague of mine pointed out that one of our regular patients has a name that sounds like it could be a celebrity name, or it sounds like she could have been a celebrity (back in the day) and is now comfortably retired. Being the book-lover that I am, I tend to point out the ones that sound like fictional characters. I’ve never come across a patient with the same full name as a character that I know, but now and then I’ll find a name that reminds me of a character or novel, or that sounds like it could be written into a story.

Clearly, I can’t disclose any actual names due to patient confidentiality laws, but hopefully you sort of get the idea of it.

There is one patient whose name reminds me of Violet Baudelaire from “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, even though her name does not include “Violet” or “Baudelaire”, and nor does either her first or last name start with “V” or “B”. But there’s just something about the character of her name that makes me think of Violet Baudelaire. There’s another patient name that reminds me of Philip Pirrip (AKA Pip) from “Great Expectations”.

Thinking about this, one tangent after another, I started thinking about memorable character names, particularly of characters in novels. They don’t have to be names of the hero or protagonist of the story, or even the name of the villain; sometimes side characters have memorable names too.

I reckon Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire have memorable names. Well, they must be if I still remember them so many years after I finished reading the series. There’s something kind of grand or noble about their names. Alternatively, they might just be memorable because the series has thirteen books, so I read their names over and over for thirteen books… Going back to “Great Expectations”, I like the name Philip Pirrip because it sounds kind of dignified and comical at the same time. And it just has a nice ring to it.

Pondering about awesome character names, it didn’t take long for my mind to get to “100 Years of Solitude” – that book was just full of cool names. 100YOS even redeemed the name Ursula (I’m sorry to anyone called Ursula who’s reading this, but “The Little Mermaid” did kind of ruin that name for me). Practically every character in 100YOS had a cool name, but I particularly liked “Colonel Aureliano Buendia” and “Pietro Crespi”. Even “Santa Sofia de la Piedad” is a name I won’t be forgetting in a hurry, even though I did complain about the seemingly excessive length of it.

And, of course, I can’t go past Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird”. What an absolutely awesome name! Anyone who has read the book certainly would never forget his name.

The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is also a good source of memorable character names, such as Aragorn and Gandalf (in my opinion anyway). But I kind of wonder if I would still like these names if I didn’t know the actual characters – I mean, surely the personality of the character, and the things that they did in the story influenced my perceptions of their names (?) But then I think of how some letters of the alphabet seem to be either more masculine or feminine, so I suppose it’s just as valid for a name to convey strength, wisdom or cunning without needing context and background…