Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Accumulation of Misery

I was at the nurses' desk giving report. It was evening change of shift and I was looking forward to going home, popping open a case of shells, and pumping lead into schoolbuses. No, not really. It had actually been a good day. I was just thinking that would get your attention. As luck would have it, the real story is much more interesting.

The secretary gave me that look and handed me the phone, saying "shrimpie, I think you had better take this."

"Hi," I said, "This is shrimpie, I'm one of the nurses." I never declare that I'm a charge nurse or anything, because who cares? I certainly don't.

"Hi. I, uh, just took a lot of pills. I think my bipolar schizophrenia has been acting up on me, and I'm depressed about the economy. I can't get work. I think I might want to just kill myself," said a young woman.

"I'm glad you called," I said.

The secretary jotted down the caller's number and handed it to me. Not from here in Phoenix. Deep out among the far reaches of fuck-all Lower Foreclosurestan.

We chatted quite a bit. After a while the young lady assured me that she would seek help. I let the house manager know that I'd gotten the call. I have no idea how that happened. Our little telemetry unit is no place to direct such a call.

The nurse manager suggested that we notify Phoenix police, but instead the oncoming charge nurse googled up the number of the law enforcement agency that works out that way. I spoke to a very nice lady there who said that they would send a car over to the address, which I had gotten after I called back the suicidal young woman. She told me her name too, and that the pills were diet pills. Those made her feel "a little shaky." But that was all.

During the second call, the one I initiated, I also spoke to the woman's brother who told me he would take her to a local hospital which happened to be a sister facility to ours. Some of my old colleagues work there.

I hope they were able to help.

This article on rising suicide rates reprises this salient excerpt:

“The law ... rivets the laborer to capital more firmly than the wedges of Vulcan did Prometheus to the rock. It establishes an accumulation of misery, corresponding with accumulation of capital. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality [and] mental degradation at the opposite pole, i.e., on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital.”


Health Advocate said...

This is really a well laid out website. I like how you have presented the information in full detail. Keep up the great work and please stop by my site sometime. ask a nurse

GingerJar said...

Good blog. Somehow one night we got a call to a patient's room that a lady needed an ambulance for her husband who was having stroke symptoms. Seems like she had a little dementia, couldn't remember where she lived or how to call 911. Her Husband had been in that room the week before, and she had a scrap of paper with that phone number on it. She was a Winter Texan with an *up-north* cell phone number. She did not know her phone number. I went to the desk and looked her husbands name up in the computer, based on the limited info I had. She verified that that was the RV parks they lived in. I went to another phone and notified the house supv who called the ambulance service, gave them her phone number. I got back on the line with the little elderly lady and told her help was on the way. We had her hang up so the 911 service could call her. She got help...just not as you would traditionally get it.

Anonymous said...

Shrimplate, I'm glad to hear that the lady was just reaching out for help, and even more so that it was you on the other end of the phone. They say that something like 1 in 6 mortgage holders will be foreclosed upon before this thing is done, and that unemployment will be 10% or higher. I don't know how people hold it all together.

Charles of MercuryRising

Eli Blake said...

Merle Travis once summed it all up in his old country classic about coal miners (made famous several years later by Tennessee Ernie Ford,) "Sixteen tons."

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt,

St. Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go,

I owe my soul to the company store."
Things haven't changed all that much since then.

shrimplate said...

Eli, I am familiar with that song. For some reason we had a 45rpm recording of it. Listening to it during my preschool years may have solidified my inchoate Marxist tendencies...