Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Hanged Man

If a hospital, or perhaps a chain of hospitals, has a nursing shortage and also due to the poor economy has instituted a hiring freeze, then that shortage of nurses becomes fixed.

As wealth is concentrated upwards into the hands of the lucky few, so misery is concentrated in the lower echelons of society, and there is no one lower on the scale of being than hospital patients. They walk around bare-assed. They are bankrupt. They are not working.

I have a facsimile of John Dowland's First Book of Songs. It folds open with each of four musical parts facing to the four different sides of a table. Four singers and a lute player can seat themselves around it and read the music with their own part facing them. People knew how to sing music from written parts back then.

A rather fancy family might have a chest of recorders, viols, or some other consort of instruments. Sackbutts and krumhorns, anyone? It was home entertainment in a low-energy time, when we did not have electricity funneling various amusements into our homes for us.

An early music specialist came to my college and we formed a "broken consort" of unlike instruments (lute, bandora, cittern, viola da gamba, and flute,) to rehearse and perform a concert of Elizabethan music. I played the little cittern. The only time I ever have. I had been studying on my own and I could read the tablature notation, so the early music professor recruited me for the gig.

The headstock of the cittern I played had a blindfolded man's head carved into it.

Citterns, lutes, mandoras, and other instruments used to hang from the walls of Elizabethan barber shops. Loops of string tacked to the walls would hold the instruments by their headstocks. The blindfolded man was a sort of common joke, as the loop of string would circle under the neck of the hanged man.

While you were waiting for your shave or haircut, you would take an instrument down from the wall and play upon it.

Now we have fucking Fox News everywhere. So I refuse to have my hair cut at a salon anymore. It can grow to my knees.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What You Don't Hear

I always inform my patients when I am about to do something to them that will cause pain. Usually it involves needles.

My patients like me. They tend to like the unit in which I work, and often they say complimentary things, such as "The nurses here are so good. Very professional, and everybody's been so nice."

Meanwhile the cartoon word-bubble over my head is silently reading out "wait until you get the bill."

That doesn't work on Canadians, though.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Brought to You by Your Health Insurance Premiums

Well, eventually they ordered a temporary hemodialysis catheter and proceeded with thrice-weekly dialysis. It was a concession to reality. That's what the man needed in order to live.

However, we were unable to just keep him in the hospital and provide this service indefinitely. So one day they decided to send the patient home. After he was dialysed, they removed the catheter and presto! he was discharged home.

The best possible scenario was for him to return to Mexico for treatment. But he hadn't lived there in fifteen years; he was a legal alien here and had been so for the past twelve years. Unfortunately he had no medical insurance, and legal residency doesn't include that. He really had no place to go back in his home country.

In all likelihood, he just stayed here in The Valley of The Sun. He will soon get pretty sick and he will present at another hospital. Or maybe he will just come back to ours, where we will start this all over again.