Friday, February 29, 2008

Shower Heads

Monday, February 25, 2008


The patient was rather uncommonly attractive, at least to the way I see things. Dark hair, watery blue eyes, and an angelic countenance.

Sick, though. As in: long-term tracheostomy (through which they managed an articulate whisper,) a jejunal feeding tube, and multiple intravenous antibiotics for respiratory infections. They were ambulatory, thankfully.

Their condition was not the result of cancer or trauma. Some months ago they had attempted suicide by drinking a kitchen drain declogging fluid. Messed them up right hard, that.

That must be why I felt a little attraction to them. I remember that when I was a college student I sometimes found myself enamored by the gothic, dark-mooded, "complex" members of the opposite sex. That's probably just a branch of the same tree that drew me to nursing. I've always felt that somehow I could have a therapeutic affect on others, and it seemed hardly worth it to mess about with the healthiest ones who had no use for my ways.

Though probably occasionally guilty of trying to help people who maybe weren't ready for it, I can say I developed in those days a way of heading off the troubles that can go along with such attractions. That helps me on the job now too, I suppose.

Over at Head Nurse, the always-light-hearted Jo lists several ways to try to kill yourself, all of which she derides as likely failures. Drano wasn't one of them, though.

A lot of nurses have such things to say about failed suicide attempts and the people who end up in our care after trying. Granted, it does sometimes seem like a waste of time trying to help somebody who is just going to try to end it all again as soon as they're well enough to be released from inpatient care.

Those are patients that I've always liked working with, and I'm not sure why that is. Many are intelligent, but even the dullards are intriguing to me, like that one good-old boy who shot a deer with the one bullet he took on his hunting trip:

He had only wounded it, and it lay on the ground writhing around in circles. He trudged a couple miles in the snow to get back to his pickup, drove to camp, borrowed another's rifle, and went back to the deer but the coyotes were on it. The meat had been spoiled by the dog pack. He left it.

When he got home he tried to kill himself for some reason but he only managed to shoot his leg. Just like the deer. He never made that connection though, at least during the day or two that I worked with him. Nor did any of the other nurses. They just thought he was an idiot.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sunday Plath: An Early Sonnet

One of the things that I find remarkable about Plath's poetry is her craftmanship. Even the hot-house intensity of her Ariel voice is tightly controlled, or rather unleashed, by her command of language.

Even while still a highschool and college student, she worked very hard at developing her abilities.

Sylvia Plath wrote “Ennui” during her undergraduate years and may have intended to publish it, as she placed her name and address at Smith College in the upper right-hand corner of the typed poem, a practice which she often followed with poems she considered good enough for submission to journals. However, she may have simply been identifying the poem for her teacher, Alfred Young Fisher, with whom she took a special studies course in poetry during the spring of her senior year in 1955. “It is difficult to realize how hard Plath worked to perfect her craft unless you read the poems written before 1956,” Karen V. Kukil, editor of The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, wrote to us; “many of these poems, like ‘Ennui,’ deserve publication.”


Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,
designing futures where nothing will occur:
cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning she
will still predict no perils left to conquer.
Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knight
finds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheard
of, while blasé princesses indict
tilts at terror as downright absurd.

The beast in Jamesian grove will never jump,
compelling hero’s dull career to crisis;
and when insouciant angels play God’s trump,
while bored arena crowds for once look eager,
hoping toward havoc, neither pleas nor prizes
shall coax from doom’s blank door lady or tiger.

Sylvia Plath

From the link highlighted above:

Plath’s original typescripts of her poem (including an earlier draft and the final finished version), which we’ve reproduced here photographically, are currently housed in the Sylvia Plath Archive of juvenilia in the Lilly Library at Indiana University under the label “Ennui (I).”

Friday, February 22, 2008


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Weeds, Sick Cows, a Failed Suicide, and Your Grandmother's Heart Medicine

Sweet clover grows as a weed thoughout many areas of the United States, particularly the Great Plains. It is not a native species, having been introduced to this continent by 17th-century European settlers. It's used in animal feed, but otherwise it's considered to be a nuisance by many people.

Except, interestingly, for people who have heart rhythms like this:

Something goes wrong with the pacer node of the heart and instead of sending out a regular pulse it sends rapid and erratic signals, some of which sneak through to the ventricles which can then contract and perfuse the tissues of the body. A lot of people are walking around with this. A couple million. And there are about 160,000 new diagnoses made here every year.

People with atrial fibrillation are at greater risk for stroke and pulmonary embolism because blood can "pool" in the fibrillating upper chambers of the heart; allowing clots to form. These can be ejected from the heart, clogging arteries and stopping blood flow to areas of the brain or lungs.

This risk can be reduced by administering drugs that interfere with clotting mechanisms.

I don't think a work day goes by in which I do not administer Coumadin (also called Warfarin or Jantoven) to somebody or other. Hospitals often treat people with new-onset or rapid-ventricular-rate atrial fibrillation, so we do coumadin teaching and get people anti-coagulated on other drugs until the coumadin reaches a therapeutic level in their bloodstream. Sometimes the heart can be shocked back into regular rhythm by elective cardioversion.

That's not the interesting part, though. This is:

"The development of the anticoagulant warfarin is a good example of scientific exploration leading to development of a poison and, eventually, to the serendipitous discovery of a therapeutic agent. In 1922, a hemorrhagic disease was noted in cattle in the Northern Plains of the United States and in Canada. The chief diet of these cattle was silaged sweet clover, a crop that had been introduced to the Plains in the early 1900s.

In 1939, scientists Campbell and Link identified bishydroxycoumarin (dicoumarol), produced by the fungus Aspergillis, as the toxic agent in sweet clover. Bishydroxycoumarin produced anticoagulation by its antagonism of vitamin K. The anticoagulant properties of this substance were exploited by K.P. Link in 1948 in the development of "warfarin," a potent rat poison. In 1951, a military recruit survived a suicide attempt using warfarin, and researchers perceived that the agent, if properly titrated, could be used therapeutically as an anticoagulant."

From Poisons to Therapeutics: The Historical Origins of Contemporary Pharmacology,
Susan Russell Neary, PhD, ARNP-BC

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Plath: Nursing Drug Books


O half moon---

Half-brain, luminosity---
Negro, masked like a white,

Your dark
Amputations crawl and appall---

Spidery, unsafe.
What glove

What leatheriness
Has protected

Me from that shadow---
The indelible buds.

Knuckles at shoulder-blades, the
Faces that

Shove into being, dragging
The lopped

Blood-caul of absences.
All night I carpenter

A space for the thing I am given,
A love

Of two wet eyes and a screech.
White spit

Of indifference!
The dark fruits revolve and fall.

The glass cracks across,
The image

Flees and aborts like dropped mercury.

Sylvia Plath

Personally I find this poem one of Plath's more difficult ones; not necessarily difficult to understand, but to just read.

Plath's daughter Frieda Hughes tells us that after Plath's death in early 1963 there was a collection of forty poems left on her desk. "Thalidomide" was the fourth, but when Plath's husband Ted Hughes put out Plath's intended Ariel and Other Poems he omitted it.

Back then:


Plath stopped work on the Ariel manuscript probably in November of 1962, but wrote more poems afterwards. After her death Ted Hughes re-edited her version of the collection before publication. Frieda straightened out her mother's intentions a few years ago by publishing a facsimile of the original.

Thalidomide was first used to treat nausea and sleep difficulties in pregnant women. Horrifyingly it became evident that the drug caused short-limb birth defects and it was quickly recalled from British markets in 1961. It was never licensed for use then here in the U.S.

It was big news in 1962 and that must have somehow caught Plath's imagination. And fears.

In the poem she seems to wonder about the dark mysteries that protected her own children, while in her womb, from the difficulties of severe physical defects.

Thalidomide has undergone a bit of a resurrection. Some of its derivatives are under consideration for treatment of multiple myeloma and leprosy. One can only hope.

As a nurse I sometimes; no, ALWAYS dispense dangerous chemicals which we call "medicines" to patients in hopes of treating various things. All medicines are poisons if taken in sufficient quantities. I double, triple, quadruple check, and I carry around a palm-pilot loaded with programs that can calculate drug interactions for up to twenty substances at a time.

Yet still I worry.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Could Be Happy

"$100 million is not really much to launch a typical cable network," says Derek Baine, an analyst at Kagan Research. By comparison, News Corp spent $400 million to launch Fox News, and it took about five years to break even.

Baine projects that Fox will endure about $107 million in losses from Fox Business Channel before breaking even in four years.

From a "reliable source," Will the proposed Fox Business cable television channel be merely a competitor to CNN Money, or will it be an enemy? You decide.

Fox News itself was launched in 1996 and lost well over $400 million before it turned penny. Imagine if some sugar daddy pumped that many dead presidents into Air America... One can only dream.

Thom Hartmann reminds us that rightwing media like Fox didn't get there because "the free market," whatever the fuck that is, was clamoring for it. It got there because the very rich and oddly conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch blew hundreds of millions of dollars on it.

The rabidly conservative media organ The Washington Times only exists because it's highly subsidized by the Messiah, True Parent, and notorious tax cheat Sun Myung Moon. It really doen't make any money.

Some Air America show hosts have beaten out their conservative counterparts in important markets and crucial listener demographics since the inception of that little talk-radio upstart, and they did it without half a billion dollars donated by religio-conservative cavemen.

Soon we will be able to get away from the obnoxious misinformation spewing from such sources. Far away.

"I Could Be Happy" by Altered Images, a skinny-tie band of early 80's punky-popsters fronted by groovy Clare Grogan.

i would like to climb high in a tree
i could be happy, i could be happy
or go to Skye on my holiday
i could be happy, i could be happy
maybe swim a mile down the Nile
i could be happy, i could be happy
all of these things i do
all of these things i do
to get away from you
get away, run away, far away, how do i?
get away, run away, far away, how do i
escape from you?

"MTV From Scratch" stupid video here with intolerable home-made visuals but better sound.

Here in America we can't swim down the Nile to escape our political problems. But we can call and pester our representatives and senators. We can let media personalities know what we think. We can gather in the bloggy wilderness. And maybe, if we're fortunate, we could even vote.

So who needs to toss away millions of dollars propping up failed conservatism?

Not us.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Plath; Feminism Rings

The crux of feminism lays upon the issue of marriage.

The independence of women was an issue of great struggle only a few decades ago. Now, it is quite taken for granted within the educated classes that our daughters will grow up to have careers and incomes that give them independence from marriage and men.

This is not to be taken for granted. Currently there are vast and powerful political and cultural movements that would obliterate this here in the land of the free, just as Sharia law considers such female freedoms reprehensible and devilish.

If a woman does not need a man for economic support then she is just one great step closer to equality. Hence the Republican hatred for Hillary, gays, and reproductive freedom.

What could be more threatening to Republicans and their allegiance to rich white males? They have everything, except absolute control over their wives and daughters. And gays. That gives them nothing left to want. And what they want is paramount to their egos, their businesses, their politics.

That is why Plath was considered to be something of a feminist icon. She had a voice. It was nuclear in its intensity, wildly descriptive, and exotic. All the things that challenge rich men with big wallets and small penises, so to speak. They couldn't have *that.*

The Applicant

First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something's missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit -

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they'll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as paper to start

But in twenty-five years she'll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it's a poultice.
You have an eye, it's an image.
My boy, it's your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

Unfortunately we haven't yet kicked this nonsense. Heed the screechy misogyny of that caveman Chris Matthews:

I think the Hillary appeal has always been somewhat about her mix of toughness and sympathy for her. Let’s not forget, and I’ll be brutal, the reason she’s a US Senator, the reason she’s a candidate for President, the reason she may be a front runner, is that her husband messed around.

That’s how she got to be a Senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn’t win it on her merit, she won because everybody felt, “My God, this woman stood up under humiliation, right? That’s what happened! That’s how it happened.

What an asshole. He's completely unaware of his own presumptive hatred of women. I wish we had a media that was; well, somewhat less clueless. But it is, after all, dominated by men of a certain age. When they all die off, perhaps then some progress will be made.

That's basically what it took for feminism to take a few small steps towards parity. Some stupid white men had to grow old and die. Such is progress. They have made it so. They have conjoined progress with death. Their own deaths, that is. Fuckheads.

This is her most defiant piece, more so than any of the poems in which death, escape, or triumph was at the center.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


This blog is also not a subsidiary of Macquarie Media Group, and I'm not holding my breath waiting for an invitation to that little party.

Redistribution of Wealth, Upwards Edition #4812


That's the starting annual salary for a Phoenix-area elementary school teacher.


That's for a police officer new to the job.

Do those pay figures seem like too much money to you?! But wait, there's more, and if you order now not only will you get the ginsu knives, but we'll even throw in the Secrets of the Known Universe!

"Super Bowl organizers will try to nail down another big game for Arizona, possibly as early as 2012.

But for the state to stay competitive, taxpayers need to shoulder the majority of game costs, organizers say. And the organizers plan to lobby for legislation to accomplish that."

That's fucking insane.

Though the recent $17 million weekend party bill was mostly financed by members of the private sector, in order to lure a future Super Bowl here again the taxpayers will have to buy it. Game-day organizers will be lobbying the legislature to see to this.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Sofa Covers