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Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

Random observations / recollections / stories...

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Staredown

For at least a year after I adopted Jake, I didn’t allow him out of the house off-leash. But I slowly began to trust him, and it was obvious he wasn’t going anywhere. Now I allow him to wander freely while I work in the yard, take out the trash, etc. He never strays far, and all is well.

A few days ago, I heard the familiar sound of the mail truck in the cul de sac, and I said, “Hey, dude, wanna go check the mail?” He executed a vigorous happy dance.

So we walked up the driveway, and I got my mail. When I turned to go back to the house, I was surprised to see Jake in full alert mode. He was fixed in a slight crouch, stock still, eyes blazing, staring at something behind me. I turned to look.

It was a cat, a coal black adult cat, sitting next to a car across the street. He was barely 15 yards away, returning Jake’s stare with murderous yellow eyes. Whether he was confidently standing his ground or afraid to run for it, I can’t say.

Jake,” I said calmly, “Don’t do it. Stay.” He remained frozen, staring at the cat.

Forget it. Stay here,” I told him, taking one step toward the house. “That cat would hurt you. Let’s go.” I took another step.

As if a switch were thrown, Jake emerged from his trance and relaxed. He turned and trotted ahead of me back down the driveway.

I was very proud.

Jake-3-20

———

Disappointment

I’ve been good lately about staying home, physical distancing, wearing a mask, etc., but I still take Jake on regular morning walks somewhere around Jefferson. Also, since the restaurants have switched to takeout, I’ll often pick up lunch somewhere and go find an empty picnic table at one of the parks or schools.

Not long ago, the idea of having a couple of Krystal hamburgers popped into my head. The nearest Krystal is 10 miles away, but, hey – my schedule can handle that. So I drove to Commerce and ordered two Krystals and French fries at the drive-through.

Commerce has a large outlet center whose stores are closed, so I decided to go there to enjoy my Krystals.

Five minutes later, I was sitting on a sidewalk bench at the outlet center, looking out at the empty parking lot, enjoying lunch and listening to the silence.

I wasn’t alone for long. I heard footsteps and looked up to see a uniformed sheriff’s deputy walking toward me. He was a white guy in his 40s or 50s. He carried a long silver flashlight, I assumed making security rounds.

When he got within speaking distance, we exchanged greetings. I made a sweeping gesture toward the parking lot. “This is weird,” I said. “I’ve never seen this place empty.”

Me either,” he said. “But it’s nice and quiet.”

For the next several minutes, we chatted about the new normal, the abundance of birds hopping around the pavement, the warm weather, and the puffy spring clouds.

What would you be doing today if this coronavirus thing hadn’t happened?” he asked.

I gestured toward the row of stores on the other side of the parking lot. “I’d probably be here anyway, browsing in Marshall’s,” I said.

Then the conversation went south.

I’ll be honest,” he said, “I don’t trust the news media. I wonder if this virus is being blown out of proportion – if it’s really as bad as they say.”

Oh, crap. A Fox News type. Jerry Falwell, Jr. is probably his source of information about the pandemic. Man, I thought, are the infection rates and the deaths a fiction? Are the videos of patients and doctors and nurses staged?

But, instead of calling him a moron, I just said, Well, viruses can mutate. They can become harmless or become worse. You never know.”

What a disappointment. We were having a nice conversation, and he spoiled it.

Yeah, anything could happen,” he said. “But I think the news media will do anything to hurt the President. I can see them exaggerating this.” I reached into the bag for the other Krystal and didn’t respond.

Well,” he announced, “I’ll let you finish your lunch. Nice talking to you.”

I nodded, and he walked on.

I finished lunch in a funk. What a disappointment.

Tanger

Weird.

———

Green Anoles

At the corner of my house, beside the garage door, is an aluminum downspout that sits flush to the wall. No light shows behind it. The wall itself is covered with overlapped horizontal siding.

This arrangement, I discovered, has created an ecosystem of nooks and crannies behind the downspout. I know this because one day, I noticed a small green lizard peeking out at me.

Specifically, it was a green anole, a common lizard in these parts. When I was a kid, we would catch one of the little guys, tie a piece of thread around its neck, and tie the thread to a buttonhole on your shirt.

The lizard would sit stoically on your shoulder, or sometimes wander around your back, until you got bored and let him go. Typically, anoles don’t bite, but they’re capable of it, and those little jaws are surprisingly strong.

Anyway, it was a green anole peeking out from behind the downspout, and when I got too close, he retreated into a crevice, out of sight.

After that, I regularly looked for him when I passed the downspout. During the warmer months, he always seemed to be there.

Just when I was about to give him a name, I discovered that he wasn’t my only resident lizard. Several times, I saw two of them sunning themselves.

The lifespan of a green anole in the wild, I learned, is about three years. Because my first lizard sighting was several years ago, it’s possible the original fellow is still around.

This year, now that warm weather is back, my lizards are out again.

Anole

 

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Nate White is a British advertising copywriter. Last year, he wrote an article that explains Donald Trump’s personality and character with remarkable accuracy. I missed it at the time, but recently ran across it online.

White’s description of Trump is gloriously spot-on. He makes my own attempts seem inadequate, and God knows I’ve labored mightily to find words that adequately describe one of the worst human beings ever to besmirch the planet.

Here is White’s assessment of the Orange Vulgarian.

———

Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?

A few things spring to mind. Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed. So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever. I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever.

And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman. But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers. And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface. Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead. There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all.

He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think “Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy” is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

• Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.

You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss. After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit.

His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum. God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart. In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish: ‘My God… what… have… I… created?’ If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

Nate White, Advertising Creative (2006-present)
Drinks coffee. Writes copy.

———

A fat white slug. Assembled entirely from human flaws.

Well said, Mr. White. Well done, sir.

Trump and Elizabeth

 

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This Runaway Train

Recently, an ICU nurse wrote a harrowing, sobering account about treating COVID-19 patients. Her original story was on Facebook. I found it later on Imgur. It begins like this:

Julianne Nicole

Julianne Nicole continues in great detail about the reality of life in her ICU. She explains how the virus affects its victims and what can be done for them. Sometimes, very little.

Her report is frightening. On Imgur, the first comment at the end of the post was “Dear God.”

You owe it to yourself to read this.

After that, call your loved ones and pet your dog. Remind yourself that your duty right now is to be smart, venture out in moderation, and maintain a safe distance from others. Do it for the common good. It’s a small price to pay.

In addition, listen to the experts. Ignore the clown in the White House. Ignore the politicians pushing to reopen more businesses and public places, consequences be damned.

And, please, when the time comes, vote the way you know you should, for the sake of us all.

Here is Julianne Nicole’s story…

———

I am a Covid ICU nurse in New York City, and yesterday, like many other days lately, I couldn’t fix my patient. Sure, that happens all the time in the ICU. It definitely wasn’t the first time. It certainly won’t be the last. What makes this patient noteworthy? A few things, actually. He was infected with Covid 19, and he will lose his battle with Covid 19. He is only 23 years old.

I was destroyed by his clinical course in a way that has only happened a few times in my nursing career. It wasn’t his presentation. I’ve seen that before. It wasn’t his complications. I’ve seen that too.

It was the grief. It was his parents. The grief I witnessed yesterday, was grief that I haven’t allowed myself to recognize since this runaway train got rolling here in early March. I could sense it. It was lingering in the periphery of my mind, but yesterday something in me gave way, and that grief rushed in.

I think I was struck by a lot of emotions and realities yesterday. Emotions that have been brewing for weeks, and realities that I have been stifling because I had to in order to do my job effectively. My therapist tells me weekly via facetime that it’s impossible to process trauma when the trauma is still occurring. It just keeps building.

I get home from work, take my trusty companion Apollo immediately out to pee, he’s been home for 14 hours at a time. I have to keep my dog walker safe. No one can come into my apartment.

I’ve already been very sick from my work exposure, and I’m heavily exposed every day that I work since I returned after being 72 hours afebrile, the new standard for healthcare workers. That was after a week of running a fever of 104 even with Tylenol around the clock, but thankfully without respiratory symptoms. I was lucky.

Like every other healthcare worker on the planet right now, I strip inside the door, throw all the scrubs in the wash, bleach wipe all of my everyday carry supplies, shoes and work bag stay at the bottom of the stairs.

You see, there’s a descending level of Covid contamination as you ascend the stairs just inside my apartment door. Work bag and shoes stay at the bottom. Dog walking shoes next step up, then dog leash, then running shoes.

I dodge my excited and doofy German shepherd, who is bringing me every toy he has to play with, and I go and scald myself for 20 minutes in a hot shower. Washing off the germs, metaphorically washing off the weight of the day.

We play fetch after the shower. Once he’s tired, I lay on the floor with him, holding him tight, until I’m ready to get up and eat, but sometimes I just go straight to bed.

Quite honestly, I’m so tired of the death. With three days off from what has been two months of literal hell on earth as a Covid ICU nurse in NYC, I’m having an evening glass of wine, and munching on the twizzlers my dear aunt sent me from Upstate NY, while my dog is bouncing off the walls because I still don’t have the energy to run every day with him.

Is it the residual effects of the virus? Is it just general exhaustion from working three days in a row? Regardless, the thoughts are finally bleeding out of my mind and into a medium that I’m not sure could possibly convey the reality of this experience.

There’s been a significant change in how we approach the critically ill covid-infected patients on a number of different levels over the last two months. We’re learning about the virus. We’re following trends and patterns. We are researching as we are treating.

The reality is, the people who get sick later in this pandemic will have a better chance for survival. Yet, every day working feels like Groundhog Day. All of the patients have developed the same issues. This 23-year-old kid walked around for a week silently hypoxic and silently dying. By the time he got to us, it was already far too late.

First pneumonia, then Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), essentially lung failure. Then kidney failure from global hypoxia and the medications we were giving in the beginning, desperately trying to find something that works. Then learning that it doesn’t work, it’s doing more harm than good in the critical care Covid population.

Dialysis for the kidneys. They are so sick that your normal three-times weekly dialysis schedule is too harsh on their body. They’re too unstable. So, we, the ICU nurses, run the dialysis slowly and continuously.

They are all obstructing their bowels from the ever-changing array of medications, as we ran out of some medications completely during our surge. We had to substitute alternatives, narcotics, sedatives, and paralytics, medications we’re heavily sedating and treating their pain with, in an effort to help them tolerate barbaric ventilator settings.

Barbaric ventilator settings while lying them on their bellies because their lungs are so damaged that we have to flip them onto their bellies in an effort to perfuse the functioning lung tissue and ventilate the damaged lung tissue.

Lungs that are perfused with blood that doesn’t even have adequate oxygen carrying capacity because of how this virus attacks.

Blood that clots. And bleeds. And clots. And bleeds. Everything in their bodies is deranged. Treat the clots with continuous anticoagulation. Stop the anticoagulation when they bleed.

GI bleeds, brain bleeds, pulmonary emboli, strokes. The brain bleeds will likely die. The GI bleeds get blood transfusions and interventions.

Restart the anticoagulation when they clot their continuous or intermittent dialysis filters, rendering them unusable, because we’re trying not to let them die slowly from renal failure. We are constantly making impossible treatment decisions in the critical care pandemic population.

A lot of people have asked me what it’s like here. I truly don’t have adequate descriptors in my vocabulary, try as I might, so I’ll defer to the metaphor of fire.

We are attempting to put out one fire, while three more are cropping up. Then we find out a week or two later that we unknowingly threw gasoline on one fire, because there’s still so much we don’t know about this virus.

Then suddenly there’s no water to fight the fire with. We’re running around holding ice cubes in an effort to put out an inferno. Oh yeah, and the entire time you’ve been in this burning building, you barely have what you need to protect yourself.

The protection you’re using, the guidelines governing that protection, evolved with the surge. One-time use N95? That’s the prior standard, and after what we’ve been through, that’s honestly hysterical. As we were surging here, the CDC revised their guidelines, because the PPE shortage was so critical.

Use anything, they said. Use whatever you have for as long as you can, and improvise what you don’t have.

 As we’re discussing medication and viral research, starting clinical trials, talking treatment options in morning rounds for your patient with the team of doctors and clinical pharmacists, suddenly, surprise! Your patient developed a mucous plug in his breathing tube.

Yes, that vital, precious tube that’s connected to the ventilator that’s breathing for them. It’s completely plugged. Blocked. No oxygen or carbon dioxide in or out. It’s a critical emergency.

Even with nebulizer treatments, once we finally had the closed-delivery systems we needed to administer these medications and keep ourselves safe, they’re still plugging. We cannot even routinely suction unless we absolutely have to because suctioning steals all of the positive pressure that’s keeping them alive from the ventilator circuit. One routine suction pass down the breathing tube could kill someone, or leave their body and vital organs hypoxic for hours after.

Well, now they’re plugged. We are then faced with a choice. Both choices place the respiratory therapists, nurses, and doctors at extremely high risk for aerosolized exposure.

We could exchange the breathing tube, but that could take too long, the patient may die in the 2–3 minutes we need to assemble the supplies and manpower needed, and it’s one of the highest-risk procedures for our providers that we could possibly carry out.

Or we could use the clamps that have been the best addition to my every day carry nursing arsenal. You yell for help, you’re alone in the room. Your friends and coworkers, respiratory therapists, doctors, are all rushing to get their PPE on and get into the room to help.

You move around the room cluttered with machines and life sustaining therapies to set up what you need to stave off death. You move deliberately, and you move FAST. The patient is decompensating in the now-familiar and coordinated effort to intervene.

Attach the ambu bag to wall oxygen. Turn it all the way up. Where’s the PEEP valve? God, someone go grab me the PEEP valve off the ambu bag in room 11 next door. We ran out of those a month ago, too. It’s all covid anyway, all of it is covid. Risk cross-contamination or risk imminent death for your patient, risk extreme viral load exposure for you and your coworkers, and most certain death for your patient if you intervene without a PEEP valve.

You clamp the breathing tube, tight. The respiratory therapist shuts off the ventilator, because that side of the circuit can aerosolize and spray virus too if you leave it blasting air after you disconnect. Open the circuit. Respiratory therapy attaches the ambu bag. You unclamp. Bag, bag, bag. Clear the plug. The patient’s oxygen saturation is 23%. Their heart rate is slowing. Their blood pressure is tanking. Max all your drips, then watch and wait while this patient takes 3 hours to recover to a measly oxygen saturation of 82%, the best you’ll get from them all shift. These patients have no pulmonary reserve.

All of our choices to intervene in this situation risk our own health and safety. In the beginning we were more cautious with ourselves. We don’t want to get sick. We don’t want to be a patient in our own ICU. We’ve cared for our own staff in our ICUs. We don’t want to die. Now? I’ve already been sick. I am so, so tired of the constant death that is the ICU, that personally, I will do anything as long as I have my weeks-old N95 and face shield on, just to keep someone alive.

I’ve realized that for many of these patients in the ICU, it won’t matter what I do. It won’t matter how hard I work, though I’ll still work like a crazy person all day, aggressively advocate for my patients in the same way.

My coworkers will go without meals, even though they’re being donated and delivered by people who love and support you. Generous people are helping to keep local restaurants afloat. We can always take the meal home for dinner, or I can devour a slice of pizza as I walk out to my truck parked on the pier, a walk I look forward to every day, because it gives me about eight minutes of silence. To process. To reflect.

I’ll chug a Gatorade when I start feeling lightheaded and I’m seeing stars, immediately after I just pushed an amp of bicarb on a patient and I know I have at least five minutes of a stable blood pressure to step out of the unit, take off my mask and actually breathe.

Every dedicated staff member is working tirelessly to help. The now-closed dental clinic staff has been trained to work in the respiratory lab to run our arterial blood gases, so that the absolutely incredible respiratory therapists who we so desperately need can take care of the patients with us.

Nurses in procedural areas that were closed have been repurposed to work as runners. To run for supplies while the primary nurse is in an isolation room trying to stabilize a patient without the supplies they need, runners to run for blood transfusions.

Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists being repurposed to be part of the proning teams that helps the nurses turn patients onto their backs and bellies amidst a tangled web of critical lines and tubes, where one small error could mean death for the patient, and exposure for all staff.

Anesthesiologists and residents are managing airways and lines when carrying out these massive patient position changes. Surgical residents are all over the hospital just to put in the critical invasive lines we need in all of our patients.

The travel nurses who rushed into this burning building to help us are easing a healthcare system. The first travel nurse I met came all the way from Texas. Others terminated their steady employment to enlist with a travel agency to help us. Every day there are more travelers arriving.

A nurse from LA came to me after she found out I was part of the home staff, in my home unit, where this all first started in my hospital what feels like a lifetime ago, and said, “I came here for you. For all of the nurses. Because I couldn’t imagine working the way you guys were working for how long you were working like that”.

During our surge and peak in the ICU, we were 1:3 ratios with three patients who normally would be a 1:1 assignment. And they were all trying to die at the same time. We were having to choose which patients we were rushing to because we couldn’t help them all at the same time.

The overhead pages for emergencies throughout the hospital rang out and echoed endlessly. Every minute, another rapid response call. Another anesthesia page for an intubation. Another cardiopulmonary arrest. A hospital bursting at the seams with death. Refrigerated trailers being filled.

First it was our normal white body bags. Then orange disaster bags. Then blue tarp bags. We ran out of those too. Now, black bags.


The heartbreakingly unique part of this pandemic, is that these patients are so alone. We are here, but they are suffering alone, with no familiar face or voice. They are dying alone, surrounded by strangers crying into their own masks, trying not to let our precious N95 get wet, trying not to touch our faces with contaminated hands.

Their families are home, waiting for the phone call with their daily update. Some of their loved ones are also sick and quarantined at home.

Can you even IMAGINE? Your husband or wife, mother or father. Sibling. Your child. You drop your loved one off at the emergency department entrance, and you never, ever see them alive again.

Families are home, getting phone calls every day that they’re getting worse. Or maybe they’re getting better. Unfortunately, the ICU in what has quickly become the global epicenter for this pandemic is not a happy place. We are mostly purgatory where I work, so this snapshot may be more morbid than most.

These people are saying goodbye to their loved ones, while they’re still walking and talking, and then maybe a week or two later, they’re just gone. It’s like they disappeared into thin air.

That level of grief is absolutely astounding to me, and thaht’s coming from a person who knows grief. I was there at the bedside, I held my young husband’s hand when I watched his heart stop beating. I was there. That grief changes you immeasurably. 

But this grief? This pandemic grief? It’s inconceivable. These families will suffer horribly, every day for the rest of their lives. They might not even be able to bury their loved one. God, if they can’t afford a funeral with an economic shut-down, their loved one will be buried in a mass grave on Hart Island with thousands of others like them. What grave will they have to visit on birthdays and holidays?

Yesterday, I was preparing for a bedside endoscopy procedure to secure a catastrophic GI bleed in this 23-year-old patient.

It was a bleed that required a massive transfusion protocol where the blood bank releases coolers of uncrossmatched O negative blood in an emergency, an overhead page that, ironically, I heard as I was getting into the elevator to head to the fourth floor for my shift yesterday morning; a massive transfusion protocol that I found out I would own as a primary nurse, as I desperately squeezed liters of IV fluids into this patient until we got the cooler full of blood products, and then pumped this patient full of units of blood until we could intervene with endoscopy.

Before the procedure, I stopped everything I was doing that wasn’t life-sustaining. I stopped gathering supplies to start and assist with the procedure.


I told the doctors that I would not do a required “time-out” procedure until I got my phone out, and I facetimed this kid’s mom because I didn’t think he would survive the bedside procedure.

She cried. She wailed. She begged her son to open his eyes, to breathe. She begged me to help her. Ayudame. Ayudame. She begged me to help him. She sang to him. She told him he was strong. She told him how much she loved him. I listened to her heart breaking in real time while she talked to her son, while she saw his swollen face, her baby boy, dying before her eyes through a phone.

Later in the day, after the procedure, his mom and dad came to the hospital. He survived the securement of the bleed, but he was still getting worse no matter what we did. He’s going to die. And against policy, we fought to get them up to see their son.

We found them masks and gowns that we’re still rationing in the hospital, and we let his parents see him, hold him. We let them be with their son.

Like every other nurse would do in the ICU here, I bounced around the room, moving mom from one side of the bed to the other and back again, so I could do what I needed to do, setting up my continuous dialysis machine, with the ONE filter that supply sent up for my use to initiate dialysis therapy. This spaceship-like machine, finicky as all hell, and I had one shot to prime this machine successfully to start dialysis therapy to try to slowly correct the metabolic acidosis that was just ONE of the problems that was killing him as his systolic blood pressure lingered in the 70s, despite maxing all of my blood pressure mediations.

Continuous dialysis started. You press start and hold your breath. You’re not removing any fluid, just filtering the blood, but even the tiniest of fluid shifts in this patient could kill him. But you have no choice.

His vital signs started to look concerning. I could feel the dread in the pit of my stomach, this was going south very quickly. Another nurse and the patient’s father had to physically drag this mother out of the room so we could fill the room with the brains and eyes and hands that would keep this boy alive for another hour.

She wailed in the hallway. Nurses in the next unit down the hall heard her crties through two sets of closed fire doors. We worked furiously to stabilize him for the next four hours.

Twenty minutes before the end of my shift last night, I sat with the attending physician and the parents in a quiet and deserted family waiting room outside the unit. I told his mother that no matter what I do, I cannot fix this. I have maximized everything I have, every tool and medicine at my disposal to save her son. I can’t save her son.

The doctor explained that no matter what we do, his body is failing him. No matter what we do, her son will die. They realized that no matter how hard they pray, no matter how much they want to tear down walls, no matter how many times his mother begs and pleads, “take me instead, I would rather die myself than lose my son”, we cannot save him.

We stayed while she screamed. We stayed until she finally let go of her vice grip on my hands, her body trembling uncontrollably, as she dissolved into her grief, in the arms of her husband.

This  is ONE patient. One patient, in one ICU, in one hospital, in one city, in one country, on a planet being ravaged by a virus.

This is the tiniest, devastating snapshot of one patient and one family and their unimaginable grief. Yet, the weight is enormous.

The world should feel that weight too. Because this grief, this heartbreak is everywhere in many forms. Every person on this planet is grieving the loss of something.

Whether that’s freedom or autonomy sacrificed for the greater good. Whether that’s a paycheck or a business, or their livelihood, or maybe they’re grieving the loss of a loved one while still fighting to earn a paycheck, or waiting for government financial relief that they don’t know for certain will come.

Maybe they’re a high school senior who will never get to have the graduation they dreamed of. Maybe they’re a college senior, who won’t get to have their senior game they so looked forward to. Maybe they’re afraid that the government is encroaching on their constitutional rights. Maybe it’s their first pregnancy, and it’s nothing like they imagined because of the terrifying world surrounding them.

Or maybe they lost a loved one, maybe someone they love is sick, and they can’t go see them, because there are no visitors allowed and they’re an essential worker. Maybe all they can see of someone they love is a random Facetime call in the middle of the day from an area code and a number they don’t know.

Everyone is grieving. We’ve heard plenty of the public’s grief.

I don’t blame anyone for how they’re coping with that grief, even if it frustrates the ever-living hell out of me as I drown in death every day at work. It’s all valid. Everyone’s grief is different, but it doesn’t change the discomfort, the despair on various levels. We are at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basic survival, physiological and safety needs. I’ve been here before. I know this feeling. How we survive is how we survive.

Now that I’ve had the time to reflect and write, now that I’ve let the walls down in my mind to let the grief flood in, now that I’ve seen this grief for what feels like the thousandth time since the first week of March as a nurse in a Covid ICU in New York City, it’s time you heard our side.

This is devastating. This is our reality. This is our grief.

———–

Her original Facebook post is here.

How this will end is anyone’s guess. But things will be different for a long time.

This is our reality.

ICU

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Come to Georgia

Despite the threat posed by the illness, which has already infected more than 886,200 people and killed at least 50,360 people around the United States, (Georgia) Gov. Brian Kemp loosened the state’s shutdown, allowing certain close-contact businesses, such as gyms, barbershops, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, and spas to reopen. Elective medical procedures can also be resumed.

From Business Insider, April 24, 2020.

———

Friends, are you ready for a satisfying sit-down meal at a restaurant again? Then come to Georgia.

Overdue for a workout at the gym or fitness center? Come to Georgia.

Want to wow your friends again with your bowling skills? Come to Georgia.

Anxious to get that special tat? Come to Georgia.

Planning to get an ear or a nostril pierced? Come to Georgia.

Need a haircut or a beard trim? Roots need a touch-up? Come to Georgia.

Ready for an in-theater movie experience? Come to Georgia.

All set for a relaxing massage? Come to Georgia.

Legs need waxing? Eyelashes need extending? Come to Georgia.

Need your teeth cleaned? Come to Georgia.

Tired of putting off that elective surgery? Come to Georgia.

Got your heart set on attending cosmetology school? Come to Georgia.

Not satisfied by online church services? Ready to slide into the pews again? Come to Georgia.

Friends, if you’re frustrated because the global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted your life and routine…

If you’re out of sorts because, well, you’re not sure if the virus is really that contagious, really that deadly…

If you’re dying – dying – to return to normal times…

then this is the chance you’ve been waiting for.

You only live once. Roll the dice. Come to Georgia.

Kemp 4-20

Statement by Gov. Brian Kemp on April 1, 2020. Possibly a joke for April Fool’s Day.

 

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Kemp’s Folly

You probably know that Georgia’s bonehead governor, naturally a white conservative Republican, is relaxing the stay-at-home order and allowing a baffling array of businesses – hair salons, tattoo parlors, restaurants – to reopen. Someday, I expect, this act will be known as “Kemp’s Folly.”

Speaking as one of Kemp’s guinea pigs, I have no intention of going inside a restaurant, a massage parlor, or anything else until medical professionals tell me it’s okay.

You may be aware that Governor Kemp was Georgia Secretary of State while running for governor, and in that capacity, he blatantly purged large numbers of Democratic voters from the rolls.

As a result, Kemp beat Democrat Stacey Abrams, but just barely. Although celebrated among Republican politicians for his win, he is widely considered something of a dim bulb.

Kemp is reopening Georgia for several reasons. For one, the on-air clowns in conservative media have been wondering lately if we really need to stay hunkered down so much. Sure, people are dying by the thousands, but, well, the shutdown is really bad for business.

For another thing, Kemp watched as Florida’s bonehead white conservative Republican governor reopened the beaches. The beaches promptly filled up with wall to wall people, probably the MAGA faithful. The bonehead white conservative Republican MAGA faithful.

Further, Kemp probably was influenced by the “spontaneous” wave of protesters, the gun-toting tough guys and the strident middle-aged white women who showed up at several state capitals, railing about freedom and demanding that we mix and mingle again and get haircuts and such.

Add to that President Douchenozzle, cheerleading the bonehead white conservative Republican MAGA protesters with tweets of ‘LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and ‘LIBERATE MINNESOTA” and ‘LIBERATE VIRGINIA.”

This is the same stable genius who tried to pitch a malaria drug as a miracle cure for COVID-19, and who wondered on live television if injections of disinfectant, or maybe somehow shining light inside the body, could kill the virus.

Faced with a global health crisis, with bodies piling up, with no end or relief in sight, you would think the nation’s bonehead white conservative Republicans would put aside petty politics and shut up, so the experts can try to stop the virus and save us.

You would think that, just this one time, under these awful circumstances, facing widespread misery and death, they would engage their brains.

You would be wrong.

The right-wingers are too wacko for that. Most have spiraled so far down into a pit of lunacy that they are hopelessly lost.

They have a way of coming down on the wrong side of virtually every issue. Invariably, they take positions that are ignorant, illogical, and, too often, dangerous to themselves and others.

And they do it with bravado. They are proudly ill-informed. Defiantly ignorant.

It appears they can’t help themselves. It’s simply in their nature as bonehead white conservative Republicans. At least you can count on them to be consistent and predictable.

Sometimes, I think about the rational Republicans out there – people whose brains haven’t shorted out, but who, for their own reasons, stay silent.

In my better moments, I try to understand, relate, sympathize.

But not much, and not for long. They gave us Trump.

Bravado-1

Bravado-2

Bravado-3

 

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And Another Thing

Last month, I posted a tirade about President Douchenozzle and the members of his cabinet in which I described them as a motley assortment of Snidely Whiplash-style villains (Ross, Mnuchin), shameless toadies (Pence, Barr), and outright buffoons (Carson, DeVos).

Although I stand by the post and my characterizations fully, I was remiss in one respect: I stopped short of expressing my contempt for the rest of the equally nefarious right-wingers who burden American society. Namely:

Virtually all Republican elected officials, local, state, and national, who are, in varying degrees, mean-spirited, selfish, cynical, misguided, unbalanced, and/or delusional.

Fox News and the rest of the right-wing spin machine, whose decades of lies and half-truths created the MAGA crowd and today keeps the conservative herd in a perpetual lather.

The low-life, avaricious leaders of the religious right, whose support of a reprobate like Donald Trump proves they are about as religious as cockroaches.

Democrats and liberals are not choirboys, but they are rational and sane. Moreover, they are capable of expressing empathy and compassion. Today’s wacko conservatives are not.

Most progressives believe the resources of government should be used for the common good, which includes helping the poor and disadvantaged. That’s logical. Sensible. Decent.

But, to a conservative, the fact that you’re poor or disadvantaged proves you are a deadbeat, and the country owes you nothing. If you’re a black or brown person, the eyes of the typical right-winger narrow even further.

Today’s conservatives simply are not normal. Empathy and sympathy are not in their nature. Which helps explain why they are so pointedly angry, fearful, and defensive.

Put it this way: only conservative boneheads would claim COVID-19 is a hoax, a conspiracy to bring down Trump, and urge people to attend church in defiance.

Here’s a thought. For every instance of a church service held while such gatherings are forbidden for public health reasons, 90 days in jail for everyone on the church payroll, and a fine of $1,000 for everyone in the pews.

Here’s another thought: bring back retired general Russell Honoré. Assign him to straighten out the supply chain for essential medical equipment. And authorize him to lock up any public official who exempts religious services or other gatherings from public safety restrictions.

Lock ‘em up for the duration, and then some.

There. I feel much better now.

Moron

Moron, douchenozzle.

MAGA

Morons, douchenozzles.

 

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Rogues’ Gallery

The word pandemic comes from the Greek words pan, meaning all, and demos, meaning people. I didn’t want to know that either.

———

So… the world is in the grip of a global pandemic that might be our undoing, and we have to depend on the Trump Administration – a veritable rogues’ gallery of corrupt and incompetent villains to save us.

My first thought when Trump got elected was clear and simple, and I’ve expressed it often on this blog: electing this orange gasbag was a tragic mistake, and it will not end well for us. Nothing has happened yet to change my mind.

For God’s sake, take a look at the bunch in charge.

First, of course, there is Donald Trump, self-styled playboy, former TV show host, and a failed businessman, who, as you know, inherited his wealth, lost millions during the 1980s and 90s, filed for bankruptcy several times, and eventually began taking loans from Russian oligarchs. He is, and long has been, owned by Vladimir Putin.

You can count on Trump to boast, bully, and BS his way through any situation he faces. He lacks the skills, qualifications, or temperament to be President, but there he sits.

Then there is Vice President Mike Pence, former congressman from Indiana and former governor of Indiana, whose lone skill is being a professional conservative politician. He was an early supporter of the Tea Party movement and is a long-time opponent of legal abortions.

Pence believes being gay is either a choice or “learned behavior.” He has emerged as the administration’s ass-kisser-in-chief, one of the most appalling sycophants ever.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, another Republican hardliner, has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee and a zero percent rating from Planned Parenthood.

At his confirmation hearing in 2018, when asked if he could avoid being a “yes man” to Trump, Pompeo said he had been Employee of the Month at Baskin Robbins twice (!?). When Trump personally attacked members of the FBI and the State Department, Pompeo said nothing.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is a former hedge fund manager and investment banker best known for aggressively foreclosing on homeowners. After Sears went bankrupt, the company sued Mnuchin for “asset stripping” during his tenure on the board of directors. Mnuchin’s priorities: weaken the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act and cut corporate taxes.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, another Republican insider, was a senate staffer and later chief of staff at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. More recently, he was a lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon. Yes, Trump’s Secretary of Defense is a former lobbyist for a defense contractor.

An especially egregious member of the Cabinet is Attorney General William Barr, who, when he was AG to Bush No. 1, convinced Bush to pardon six officials who pulled off Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scheme. Look it up. Barr also pushed to increase the national rate of incarceration.

You may recall, too, that Barr lied to us about the Mueller Report and was held in criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring subpoenas. He is a political hack who has no shame about serving as Trump’s personal lawyer instead of Attorney General.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt is a former energy industry lobbyist whose clients included Halliburton and the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Yes, the man charged with protecting America’s natural resources is a former lobbyist for the petroleum industry.

Predictably, Bernhardt has defended the reversals of environmental regulations instituted by the Trump Administration. In 2019, he was caught using national park entrance fees in ways Congress specifically had forbidden.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is another example of the long line of Republican politicians who use their positions to enrich themselves. In 2003, he signed an executive order that prohibited state officials in Georgia from accepting gifts worth more than $25, yet, as governor, he accepted over $25,000 in gifts.

As Governor, he was slapped with ethics complaints 13 times. In 2004, he bought $2 million worth of land near Disney World from a developer he had appointed to Georgia’s economic development board.

Former investment banker and now Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is known as the “King of Bankruptcy.” He was skilled at buying failed companies, stripping them of their remaining assets, and selling off the remnants.

In the 1980s, when Trump’s three Atlantic City casinos faced foreclosure, Ross convinced the bondholders to back off and give Trump more time. In 2018, reports surfaced that his business partners had accused him of stealing $129 million.

Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was an attorney who specialized in helping large corporations fight federal labor and financial regulations. “Suing the Government? Call Scalia” read a 2012 headline in Bloomberg News.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is the former president of the drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and a former lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. In the 1990s, he spent two years working for Ken Starr on the investigation of the Clintons’ real estate investments (the Whitewater thing).

While at Eli Lilly, Azar tripled the price of insulin. He is an opponent of Obamacare, claiming that the “free market” can best meet the country’s health care needs. Yes, a Big Pharma executive and lobbyist is in charge of Health and Human Services.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was a successful and respected neurosurgeon until he spazzed out and turned to Republican politics. He quickly proved himself to be an airhead, ill-informed on most subjects.

Carson is the guy who, in 2017, was caught spending $31,000 on a dining set for his office. In 2019, at a meeting about transgender persons in homeless shelters, Carson warned of “big, hairy men” infiltrating women’s shelters.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao is a veteran Republican politician married to Mitch McConnell. Her father is a Chinese shipping magnate, which creates a spectacular conflict of interest that should get her booted from office. Her department has tried regularly to cut funding for shipping companies that compete with the family business.

In 2018, Politico reported that in her first 14 months in office, Chao had 290 hours of “private” appointments; her underlings said the meetings were labeled private for security reasons.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette was a top lobbyist for Ford Motor Company and more recently a member of the Louisiana Mineral and Energy Board. Brouillette is a strong believer in the Trump policy of maximizing the use of fossil fuels and rolling back regulations that are bothersome to the oil, coal, and natural gas industries.

The cost of wind power and solar power may be dropping rapidly, but Brouillette, he’s a big fan of fossil fuels. And nuclear power, too.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is so wrong for the job that the Republican-dominated Senate barely confirmed her. The vote was 51-50, with Mike Pence having to break the tie. DeVos is a rich socialite and a seasoned Republican fund-raiser. She made her name among conservatives by advocating charter schools and vouchers and opposing the traditional system of public schools. So, naturally, Trump made her Secretary of Education.

DeVos is married to the former CEO of Amway. Her brother Eric Prince is the former Navy SEAL who founded Blackwater USA, which is its own sordid story.

Another Republican insider, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie worked on Capital Hill for several Republican senators. Raised in North Carolina, Wilkie is dumb enough to have stated publicly that the Confederate cause was “honorable.” He also said people who opposed slavery during the War of Yankee Aggression were “enemies of liberty.”

Wilkie got in trouble at his confirmation hearing for misleading Senators about “lost cause” speeches he gave to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and similar groups.

The acting Director of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, has a background of working for Republican senators and lobbying firms. As Chief of Staff to former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, he was involved in shaping Trump’s repulsive family separation policy.

In February, the State of New York sued the Trump Administration because Wolf is penalizing the state for its “sanctuary” immigration policies.

And don’t forget White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, one of the most rabid conservatives in public life. He is a bomb-throwing tea-partier and a member of the Freedom Caucus. When Hurricane Sandy whacked the eastern seaboard in 2012, he voted against the disaster relief package. He strongly supported the government shutdown of 2013 as a way to get rid of Obamacare.

For years, Meadows’ official biography claimed he held a Bachelor of Arts degree. After that was revealed to be untrue, he changed his bio to read Associate of Arts. Meadows was fined $40,000 by the House Ethics Committee for failing to address sexual harassment allegations in his office.

———

I repeat: the world is in the grip of a global pandemic that might be our undoing, and we have to depend on the Trump Administration – a veritable rogues’ gallery of corrupt and incompetent villains – to save us.

Maybe these are, indeed, the end times.

As I write this, I can hear one of the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefings in progress on the TV set in my living room. Later, I will check CNN or MSNBC to learn what happened and find out what falsehoods Trump spread today.

At the moment, I can vaguely hear Trump’s voice. I assume he is BSing and pontificating about something, careening from thought to thought.

Perhaps he is berating a reporter, or maybe taking a shot at Obama for something. Winging it as usual, stream of consciousness style.

This moron is the President. God help us.

Trump et al

 

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