Saturday, November 25, 2006

The power of the written word

I am probably more cynical than most. I don't get into fandom. I have never had an autograph book and I have never asked anyone for an autograph. I have never looked for movie shooting sites or camped out hoping for a glimpse of my crush.
In fact when they shoot movies in my area I get pissed. I hate the traffic tie ups and helicopters swooping over head scaring the hell out of bird and beast.
That being said I have actors I enjoy. There are a few that have never gone wrong. If I see a movie with Clint Eastwood I know it will be entertaining.
I am getting to a point honestly. It's the Tom Cruise thing.
For a long time for a lot of people Tom was their Clint. They went to every movie because they felt secure in that choice. Then there were a lot of people that began to lose their ever loving GD minds. They began to believe that Tom owed them something. As if everything he did was some how connected to them. Then he chose to join some weird half assed religious culty thing.
People were insulted. Having your favorite movie star turn out to be some dim witted cult member reflects badly on your personal taste.
It began to be embarrassing to admit in public that you still liked Tom Cruise. Then he divorced Nicole under bizarre circumstances. They were weeks away from their tenth wedding anniversary...that terrifying date for any rich man with a leaky prenup. What was awful about this was Nicole had just miscarried. She seemed genuinely shocked ,confused and terribly hurt.
He said "Nicole knows why" and cheerfully moved on. He seemed a callous prick.
So at this point he is a member of a cult for the rich who believes he is descended or invaded from/by aliens and he ditched his mourning wife for no apparent reason other than cash.
He is a dick and people are beginning to wake up to that fact. What confuses matters is the weird, near continuous rumour of his homosexuality.
Then he publicly loses his mind over a B actress many, many years his junior who he promptly knocks up...or does he?. Rumours persist that his religion forbids ejaculation as a loss of "control" and that Katie was inseminated artificially.
All of this combined to make people reconsider whether they really needed to see any more of Tom Cruise.
So let's recap..Tom Cruise is a closeted homosexual , belongs to a cult that not only bans ejaculation it bans anti-depressants too,divorced his wife over a prenup despite her miscarriage, faked his love for his new, young girlfriend to avoid being outed, created baby Suri in a petri dish.....

The only thing we can confirm is the anti-depressants because Tom said that. Every other part is gossip. But it is gossip printed around the world. This bs is presented as news. Because a lot of it is upsetting to more than a few people they stopped going to his movies. His career is being directly affected by gossip.
I don't care for Tom much, he isn't Clint Eastwood. I have been disappointed more than once by his movies. That is how I judge him because I don't know the guy. I thought he was embarrassing on Oprah but he only embarrassed himself. But there are other people involved in this situation. This guy has three kids. Maybe it's time everyone stopped making up stories and passing rumours. His kids are the ones that have to live with the fall out.

This gossip as news has now become the norm. I can't watch CNN anymore because they broadcast stories when the story hasn't even concluded yet. They know absolutely nothing but that doesn't stop them from having fourteen experts dissecting events that may happen. This is not news, it is gossip..a bunch of guys bullshitting about events they know nothing about.

When did this become okay?
What if this started happening to you at work?
What if your co-workers and your boss started trading rumours about you? What if you lost your job because of it?
Let's play it out.
You go out with a group of friends and get a little drunk. Mike from accounting watches you kiss your best friend of twenty years on the lips.
Monday morning Mike makes a joke about your drunken kissing during a staff meeting.
The whispers begin that you are a closeted gay alcoholic. You separate from your wife and join a church. Mike's three ex-wives all go to the same church. Mike finds out and tells a few friends, they tell a few friends and like that game of telephone you are now a gay, alcoholic ,cult member that ruined your poor wife's life.
Two weeks later you get the flu and are off for two weeks. Todd, Mike's friend sees you at the doctors office. Todd tells everyone you look terrible and have lost thirty pounds. Your HIV rumour is born. When you return to work you are fired for too much sick time.

It's not that hard to believe. All it takes is one or two assholes with no social skills, or one or two assholes who really want your job.
People love to talk about other people behind their back.
We all learned this in high school.
People really don't change all that much .
I work in a place where high school is alive and well. Nursing is full of catty bitches that spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about other catty bitches.
If they were to be believed half the staff would be burned at the stake for incompetence.
Sadly, for a few they did get lit up. Gossip forced them out.

The written word is a dangerous thing but the spoken word is a terror device. Whispering nasty innuendo into your buddies ear can devastate someone.
I have no idea how upset Tom and Katie are..they are not my friends but I can tell you how upset my friends are when they fall prey to malicious bull from unthinking, uncaring people.

I want a t-shirt that says shut up and mind your own business but it goes against the dress code. I may just get it made anyway.

I have a theory. I believe that for a lot of people seeing someone become successful, falling in love, finding happiness is a brutal slap in the face. Genuine happiness makes some people irritable, down right itchy and they can't stand it. It grinds at them so they attack it. They want it dead and buried. Then they can be sympathetic and supportive over it's demise.
Happy people don't make other people happy.

Try it at cheerful as hell and see how many times someone snipes at you.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

driving me crazy

Over the years I have had one kind of patient that will try me so badly I want to quit nursing right on the spot. The anxious, demented, paranoid elderly escape artist.
These patients begin the shift seemingly pleasant, rather normal, hell, boring people. I get fooled every time.
Then they ask a weird question like: "who is that guy standing there?". You look around and you are all alone. There is no guy standing there. You tell the patient and they laugh it off, blame it on the drugs and it all seems fine. Until they ask again. Then you know.
Once it begins you have to have a strategy. If you deny the presence of phantom man your patient will think you are lying to them and hiding some scary dude behind the curtain.
You can answer their query with "I don't know, would you like me to ask him"? But then you are lying and it's your job to re-orient the confused not give names to their imaginary friends.
I have tried ignoring the question but that only buys you a tiny fraction of time.
Usually I tell the patient a second time that "theguy" ain't there. I follow that up with a discussion about pain meds and how we can fix this unnerving side effect. This buys you just about the same amount of time as ignoring the question.
Inevitably the patient decides you are lying and the paranoia begins. You are doomed at this point.
If you are experienced this would be the moment you call the doc and get an order for Haldol and lots of it.
Haldol is not all that reliable. I have never seen it work as advertised. Eventually if you give enough your patient falls asleep. Asleep is better than screaming for the phone to call the police.
Patients calling police is a regular thing. Elderly demented patients love to call the cops. The police actually have to respond. Patients on the ward have private phones and half the time the staff have no idea the cops are on their way. It's a hilarious interrogation though. The cop asks what is wrong and the patient, wily and paranoid announces they are being held behind enemy lines by the insert racist comment here. Always it's some long held, well hidden streak of bitter hate about another ethnic group. The cops close their little notebooks and walk out. Then they tell us to unplug the guys phone.
In the ICU patients have no phone. This pisses them off. After you tell them you aren't calling the cops and no they can't have the phone the escape attempts begin. First it's a little toe testing the water. Then the foot follows. Soon the whole leg is searching for the floor. If you are preoccupied the other leg will slip across the bed to join it's wayward brother. Two legs reaching for the floor is a bad thing because the rest of the body cannot resist the impulse to join in.
Then you have a guy fresh from a big surgery standing at the side of his bed wrapped in tubes and lines with, no shit I kid you not his ET tube still in and still attached to the vent. Encouraging this guy to get back into the bed really wasn't all that hard. We would have freaked out but the patient had that covered so completely it would have been overkill.

Sometimes you can't get the demented back into the bed. Their incessant picking, pulling and plotting has weakened you. You have no patience left so you stick them in a chair. The chair is usually blue. These patients now become the blue chair people. You can tell how rough any night shift was by how many patients are lined up in the hallway in their blue chairs.
These chairs are ingenious , damn near escape proof. They have the advantage of having a built in tray table. I have given the demented piles of face cloths and instructed them to fold them. By morning you can have outrageous piles of carefully folded laundry every where.
I have no patience for the demented. I want to. I try very hard in the beginning but eventually their inability, their obstinate refusal to stop picking or pulling drives me past the point of empathy or sympathy. I chant in my head "they can't help it" but that mantra gets old. It offers no plan, no solution.
I absolutely hate to use restraints. Tying some poor, sad ,confused old lady to the bed creeps me out. Especially when they start begging you to untie them. I did not go into nursing to tie people up against their will. I do it though. Anytime you have scary tubes and IV lines the risk is just too damn high. If you pull out a chest tube you could die, better you get tied to the bed until you get yourself together.
A million years ago I was walking around the unit when I heard some alarms going off. The curtains were pulled and I thought the patient was getting a bath. I peeked my head in to offer an extra hand and was confronted with the patient, He was sitting at the end of the bed and he calmly handed me his chest tubes. I stood there transfixed. Like a zombie I took them and then asked him to stay very still. Then I yelled for help. He had some minor complications from his first attempt at chest tube removal but he did recover well. I never forgot it. His nurse thought he was asleep, he never gave a hint that he was confused. They get you every damn time.

I once had a patient throw herself out of bed right in front of her visiting husband. She was wildly confused and combative. The family had refused any restraints and didn't want her drugged anymore. They thought it was the medications that were making her bonkers and I couldn't disagree. The family agreed to stay in the room at all times and we agreed not to restrain her physically or chemically. Her husband brought a book. He was busy reading and ignoring his wife when she got up on her knees and according to him "threw herself out of the bed". So, first she got physically restrained and then she got chemically restrained. She also got a nice black eye and a CT of her head. I felt sick.

Little tiny things that look like the wind could blow them over are stronger than linebackers. Never doubt they could beat the crap out of you.
I don't ask families about restraints anymore. I know what they will say and I also know they will forget their end of the bargain when it is inconvenient. Reading that book meant more than keeping his wife safe.

I have seen a pregnant nurse get kicked in the stomach, nurses are bitten and spit on. All from elderly, demented patients. They end up making you as crazy as they are by the end of your shift. Worse you go home feeling like you did nothing to help them. Instead you tied them down and drugged them. With the horrifically over entitled baby boomers moving into the "old" category it's all going to get worse.

I saw a cool idea the other day. Someone actually wanting to help with time and knowledge. Her website is
I wish I could have done this when I was a teenager. I don't know if I would have the courage.
I gave a little money. Hell why not right? There can't be anything wrong with orphans getting taught English and it makes the teacher a better person too. Give her some money and you can tell your friends you are fighting AIDS in Africa..just like Bono..except you actually gave some money.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

quiet things

Late at night is when we begin the baths. I don't know why it became a tradition to bath the patients at night but it is now "the only way".
I love bath time. There is something very soothing about bathing another human being. I loved bathing my baby.
Make no mistake there is a forced intimacy to this. Most of my patients can't say no to the bath. They are ventilated and sedated. This means it is my complete responsibility to care for them. They cannot do anything for themselves. I brush teeth, wash hair and sometimes I take a razor and get rid of those stray chin hairs that would horrify these well kept, manicured and pedicured women. I do it because I want someone to do it for me if I was laying there immobile and exposed.
There is a rhythm to bathing. It soothes your brain. You start at the top and work your way to the bottom methodically.
You assess everything as you go. I have always considered the bath the most accurate health assessment tool there is. I can see how you deal with turning..Does your breathing get laboured? Your heart begin to race? It reveals your weakness so I can create a plan to make you stronger.
There is a happy feeling of completion when you are done. Your patient always looks more comfortable, more settled. They reflect your good work back to you.
If you can give a good bath you can watch your patient relax. They can sense even in coma that you mean them no harm, that you only want to make them feel better, more like themselves.
When you take such liberties with another human being you must give them something back that has real value.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I'm sick again. How can that be you ask? Because I take some nasty drugs. These drugs slyly work on my immune system. They don't do that much damage, just enough to leave me as vulnerable as any four year old in daycare.
You all know that one kid in school, runny nose, deep bronchial bark all year round..Well that's me all grown up!
I play with the idea of quitting these drugs but I did it once before and well, the results weren't pretty. I was bedridden until I started them again. I was also in so much pain I was less than friendly.
So, perpetual cold or laying in bed contemplating how to kill myself without having to actually move?. Holding your breath doesn't work by the way.Obviously I lack imagination and chose the runny nose.
My doc has recommended many interesting things over the years. Because I was so over medicated I actually tried them. I had large needles filled with steroids shoved into my epidural space by medical students, I took large amounts of narcotics that left me a drooling ghost of myself. I had surgery and that, surprising to everyone involved except for me and the surgeon worked quite well. It is bizarre how some doctors are rabidly anti surgery. One of my docs stopped speaking to me for a while after my surgery.
When he realized it worked he gave me a lecture on luck. I was lucky I wasn't paralyzed or made retarded or worse, I still can't decide what he thought what could be worse.
Needless to say I don't see him very much anymore.

Despite the success of my surgery some of symptoms are permanent. I guess I could sue the ass off all the docs that actively discouraged and delayed my surgery but I don't see these docs as having done anything wrong.
I researched the hell out of my surgery. I knew the odds weren't all that great, I knew it wouldn't solve all my problems and might create new ones. I made a choice despite some docs howling no.
They didn't prevent my surgery because they were bad or negligent doctors. Actually they spent a lot of time considering and reconsidering, researching and looking at statistics.
They gave me their best advice. Some were surgery adverse because they had patients that had failed surgeries and they had a personal connection. It did colour their view. But they were honest about that.
Yes, if I had my surgery immediately after the accident I would not have the pain I have to live with now. But my doctors weren't being negligent. They used the knowledge they had and guided me as best they could.
The job of the patient is to know when that is not enough. Sometimes you have to push past your docs inner conservative. I told my doc the time had come for me to look in a different direction. Sure, he was a little put out but we moved past it.
We worked together and found a guy we both quite liked to do my operation. We both enjoyed it's success.
But that leaves the lingering injury and my docs reaction to it. I thought I was open minded but he has lost his mind in the search for a better answer to my pain control.
I have tried acupuncture, no it didn't work but you do get a nice placebo effect for an hour or two...A little euphoria is a good bonus after getting stuck with teeny tiny needles.
He signed me up for crack pot specialists that want all their money up front..We had a good laugh over that one. He signed me up for meditation! Buddhist Zen stuff...All "lets take deep cleansing breaths and blow away all negative emotions". Great! Next he will sign me up to become a Scientologist..I can hardly wait!
I like him a lot . Even though he seems to be pawing through the yellow pages for weird ass treatments at least he cares enough to try.
I think he is also getting a little tired of hearing me blow my nose and hack up something foul....He is a neurologist, snot is way out of his comfort zone.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Didn't we already do this?

Once again I have to spend a moment talking about reading comprehension. It seems once again the peoples of the internet refuse to read the written word and instead interpret through some kind of weird speaking in tongues filter that lets them get really angry about issues near and dear to their heart.
It started out as a simple post over at Boobs,Injuries and Dr Pepper.
It was a post full of irony and sardonic wit. Mostly it was a memory of a lost friend.
If you had read it with interest and attention it would be a little sad and yes, a little funny in that awful,soul deadening familiar way.
Ofcourse a few people read it and screamed racist! I see a racist! Holy shit a real live racist in our midst..Cry for the children.....
No matter how carefully it was explained to these people they didn't get it.
Some people carry around a desperate need to be a victim wherever they go. They see everything in life in stark terms..The terms are "how offended can I get here?" Because you see they want to be offended, to be offended gives them a feeling of power when they feel powerless.
I get that for some people their skin is thin. They have suffered real racism. No one denies that racism is everywhere. No one denies that every person alive has a sliver of racism they hopefully do their best to shove in a dark cupboard.
The problem is when you begin to see racism everywhere and you begin to twitch.
That is when good people get slashed with your problem.
There is no doubt that Crystal is deeply hurt and most likely shocked as hell by some responses.
It probably does little to say hey it's not your thing..It's theirs..Because it's too late isn't it?
Some melodramatic tool over reacted and said some awful things and you can't take that kind of shit back.

I am sick to death of people reading into what other people write and assigning other people evil motives. Everyone has their own triggers, things that piss them off and ofcourse we look for them. But it isn't fair to take your obsessions and point the finger and scream death to the witch.

There is no doubt there is some scary racist shit on the internet. How about railing against that?
How about emailing the shit out of those people?
Why misread, misunderstand and then accuse an innocent party? I guess because it's easy.

I write a lot about how very much I hate extremist thought, extremist behaviour and I believe this is just another example .
Instead of emailing someone privately with their concerns some people must grab center stage for their misguided outrage.
I hate that a good writer and a good person just got the crap beat out of her by someone who didn't even read the damn post, didn't stop and put some reading comprehension skills into use but instead took what they wanted from a few words and got onto their soapbox and insulted the hell out of an innocent bystander.

It seemed so much like FoxNews .

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dear anonymous

Okay, I got all four of your replies. You repeated yourself four times and honestly you still made no sense. If you want an argument you need to actually read what I wrote and react to it.
It's always the easy answer to say "oh, every big group has a subset of crazy people". Your point is what? That subset of fools is who I am directing my comments to. If you are feeling the heat maybe you need to have a look at what subset you belong to.
Announcing that every religion harbors an inner group of vicious nutcases is not an excuse. What it says is religion instigates insanity in a lot of people. Not a tiny subset..A few million car bombing, bomb dropping, flag waving freaks.
I don't think the US is innocent either. I don't think any country that settles it's problems by blowing people up indiscriminately is sane.
I think the US has lost it's mind but thankfully that is not my problem. I am Canadian. It's your President, not mine. It's your voting practices that have sunk you in the shit not mine.
I honestly have very little sympathy for any American right now. You voted for this government, you drank the fucking kool aid that almost every other country in the free world threw out.

So dear anonymous you may be right, I do want to get rid of every right wing, left wing religious fanatic in the world. But here in Canada it wouldn't be everyone..Just a million or so and we wouldn't miss them.
We will send the Christians to America okay? They will cheerfully vote Bush and "stay the course"..Well as long they don't actually have to you know...Fight.
The crazy Muslims can pick any country that is fanatical enough for them..There isn't any shortage.
See , I think it's about respect for your country and the people you ride the bus or the subway with. You respect their rights and they respect yours...Everybody gets to stop respecting you if you act like an asshole and start pushing your personal saviour onto them.
I don't want to know what you believe in. I want you to shut up about it and practice whatever you practice in the appropriate practicing area with other practicing people.
I want your religion to be anonymous okay?
You mind your own damn business and let me mind mine and we will all get along just fine. You start ranting about uncovered women's faces and your compulsion to rape them? Well I want you to get the fuck out of MY country.
My country is a country of fairness and relative tolerance. You keep shoving my face in your whack job religious beliefs the minute you step off the plane from whatever Islamic fundamentalist crazy town you escaped from and my response is to get you right back on to that plane.
If you choose to leave the country of your birth because you believe MY country is much better then you better take some time to understand where you are moving to. The cost of a plane ticket doesn't give you the right to spew hate and filth and threaten to blow me up.
You abandoned your own country, you deserted your own people for a better life so why do you think dragging your hate to my home is going to make us happy?
Why did you come here? Oh, suck up our resources, to steal medical care from citizens and to propagate hate.
Stay the fuck home.

If on the other hand you are leaving your home country to have a better life and to respect and to contribute to your new country? Welcome and shut up about what God you believe in..This is Canada we don't care.

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