Framing. It’s all in the framing.
Good news from Scientific American: U.S. Hospitals Make Fewer Serious Errors, Saving 50,000 Lives
Good news from Scientific American: U.S. Hospitals Make Fewer Serious Errors, Saving 50,000 Lives
I’ve been posting the poems from my latest book to Ello lately – one per day – and this morning’s entry was “Old Ethan’s Quantum Diary.” It’s an especially difficult and painful piece of a larger work that is, in many ways, the most tortured effort of my 35-year creative writing journey.
As I explained in the preface to the post, there was a time a few years ago when I thought I had very little time left. Since I do not believe in any kind of afterlife, I found myself thinking a lot about what science has to say on the subject. It tormented me that it would all just be over. Fade to black. The void, and not even an awareness of the void. As hard, as painful, as frustrating and unfulfilling as the low spots have been, I love life and the thought of losing it terrified me. Continue reading
Wait, gentlemen, please don’t run away! Yes, I am about to start throwing around words like uterus, ovaries, vagina, clitoris, nipples, orgasm, and hysterectomy. Here under the shameful for-profit health care system we have, an astonishing one-third of American women are hysterectomized, leading to physical side-effects, emotional side-effects, loss of sex drive and sexual response, and total loss of overall vitality. Surely you have a wife, girlfriend, daughter, sister, mother, or aunt vulnerable to this outrage, so please do read on. I have read of so many men being devastated by the changes in women they love following hysterectomy – it is your issue too.
Perhaps you heard: CVS has announced that it will stop selling cigarettes.
I know what you’re thinking – this is awesome! But before we all break out the kneepads and chapstick, let’s ask ourselves a question: why the fuck was a HEALTHCARE COMPANY selling GODDAMNED CIGARETTES in the first place?!
Here’s a fun question. How many people who bought cigarettes at CVS are now dead from cancer? Continue reading
by David Lambert
Contrails are the wispy white clouds of frozen water vapor that streak across the sky in the wake of jet engines. But according to 17 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds—my generation—contrails are actually “chemtrails,” poisonous chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons. As the world becomes an increasingly scary and complex place with no simple answers, the temptation to create narratives explaining all of its evil will grow. And here lies the heart of the modern conspiracy theory. Yet when fantasy overtakes reality, progress suffers.
Whenever anything bad happens in the world today, from September 11th to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, there is a growing gaggle quick to cry, “wake up sheeple!” Continue reading
I haven’t posted in a while, because I had to take some time to lose myself. Literally, I’m not the man I used to be, because I didn’t like going upstairs.
On a good day I would make three trips upstairs. I didn’t like going upstairs. It was work, and all my toys were downstairs.
But one cold January day, when I got the top of the stairs on trip number 2, I shuffled over to the bed to take a nap. My wife was concerned.
“You know, you really shouldn’t get so out of breath from just walking up the steps,” she said.
“I was carrying something,” I gasped.
“You’re carrying a diet coke and a pencil,” she replied. “You just don’t sound right. When is the last time you went to the doctor for a physical?” Continue reading
The two men were clearly friends. The man in the cap was young, baby-faced, and probably still in his late teens. The man on the ground, well, he was probably a few years older than his companion, but his frailty, ugly bruises, and generally wretched appearance made it hard to tell.
Source: name withheld for safety
In the quote that follows, “I Blame the Patriarchy” blogger Twisty addresses a question I, like all feminists, have SO often been asked: “Don’t you think you could win more men to your cause if you were nicer?” And now, now, in my late forties, my answer is a firm “NO! NO I FUCKING DON’T.”
In my thirties, while I was also busy volunteering at and raising funds for battered women’s shelters (did you know the most requested item at a women’s shelter is hair dye, to make the women harder for their abusers to spot? If you ever run across a great sale price on hair dye, buy some extra and donate it to a women’s shelter, please – they always need it) and I was volunteering at the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant, and producing “The Feminist Papers” and “The Vagina Monologues” on my campus and marching in “Take Back the Night,” and taking the stage at “Speak out against rape” and being active in my campus Women’s Studies club and writing and editing the biweekly social justice newsletter for my church, and going to college with a near-perfect 3.9 grade point average, and raising a female child under the patriarchy, often as a single parent having to bring my daughter to classes with me as my military husband was frequently deployed during this period, I was also willing to take precious time to talk to men, both online and off, who demanded that I explain feminism to them, convince them – and it was required to be sweetly, nicely, patiently, with a smiling, pleasing feminine demeanor, and I complied, used up lots of time complying. Continue reading
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:
As the title of this post indicates, you owe us one hell of an explanation. Indulge me, if you will.
As you are undoubtedly aware, your company, Facebook, recently had a scientific study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). I would naturally assume, social media being your element, that you are aware of a degree of outcry about the ethical lapses that appear evident in your study’s methodology. I doubt you registered my own outrage, so ICYMI, here it is.
A key element of my expressed outrage is this:
Did you know that you were consenting to have your emotional state manipulated? Continue reading
Golfers know all about “the yips.” If they’ve never experienced it themselves, they’ve probably played with someone who has. And they certainly know the stories of famous golfers whose careers were challenged, if not devastated by the phenomenon. This list includes Tommy Armour, who coined the term to describe the condition that forced him to abandon tournament play. He was hardly the only one.
Golfers seriously afflicted by the yips include Bernhard Langer, Ben Hogan, Harry Vardon, Sam Snead, and Keegan Bradley, who missed a simple 6 inch putt in the final round of the 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship due to the condition (although he may also have been suffering from Strabismus).
You may have seen Aaron Goldfarb’s recent Esquire blog entitled “How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk.” Great headline, and how cool would that be, right? I was skeptical, for obvious reasons, but it turns out that what is proposed is an idea developed by Joseph Owades, who Samuel Adams co-founder Jim Koch calls “the best brewer who ever lived.”
I figured I’d test the method myself, and not just because it would give me an excuse to drink too much.
First, how does it work? Continue reading
The story by Molly Redden in Mother Jones, “Hobby Lobby’s Hypocrisy: The Company’s Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers,” is absolutely worth a few minutes of your time. In short: three-quarters of the Hobby Lobby retirement plan investments are in funds that invest in pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptive devices that Hobby Lobby’s owners object to having covered by their insurance plans: Continue reading
at the doctor’s office,
Rural villages in Africa are not just poor, their demography is hollowed out. Continue reading
I hate commuting. Hate. It. Not only is it simply no fun sitting in a rush hour parking lot, I’m stingy about my time. Even if I’m wasting it sitting on the couch, it’s my time. If I have to commute an hour or two a day, that’s time devoted to work that I’m not being paid for. Continue reading
Sometimes I have no clue what the WWE Creative team is doing. Which is appropriate, because I don’t think they do, either.
Case #1: Recently the WWE made a token donation to Chris Nowinski’s organization, which is dedicated to studying and preventing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
The gift is being made to the Sports Legacy Institute, a Boston non-profit with a mission to advance treatment and prevention of the effects of concussions in athletes and others, such as soldiers concussed by blasts. The Sports Legacy Institute has a pro wrestling connection: Co-founder Chris Nowinski played football at Harvard but also wrestled in the WWE under names that included Chris Harvard.
Nice gesture, and one that’s potentially even more powerful if Creative can put a storyline behind it. Almost immediately they had HHH, aka Paul Levesque, the company’s COO and one of its biggest stars, sustain a storyline concussion in a pay-per-view match with Brock Lesnar. Excellent, I thought – they’re now going to use this to illustrate the dangers of messing with a head injury.
Well, not exactly. They had HHH attempting to get back in the ring immediately, where his symptoms manifested in a match against Curtis Axel and he was unable to continue. So far, so good. But then they trot out his wife, VP of Creative Stephanie McMahon, and his father-in-law, CEO Vince McMahon, to explain that he was being withheld from further competition in the interests of his health. Great.
Except that they played Vince and Stephanie as heels and HHH as the good guy for wanting to come back and endanger his physical and neurological well being. They worked the angle so as to incite the crowd to scream for HHH’s return.
WTF? Do these people even read the company’s own press releases?
Case 2: In another extended program, Creative pitted Sheamus against the Intellectual Savior of the Masses, Damien Sandow. If you don’t follow WWE, Sandow plays an insufferable elitist snob and Sheamus is the lovable rough-and-tumbler from the mean streets of Dublin. In show after show, Sandow attempted to outsmart Sheamus and to make him look foolish in the process. Each time Sheamus comes out on top via a boot to the face.
Now, there are a couple of issues here. First off, Sheamus was being played as a straight-up schoolyard bully. And second, he’s the face. The storyline set the smart kid up as the smarmy asshole, the bully up as the good guy, and the payoff was when the bully beat up the brainiac.
The crowd goes wild!
So yes, WWE Creative concocted a program where the bully was the hero. Well, so what, you say? You don’t necessarily expect pro wrestling to be a font of intellectual enlightenment, right?
No, but it might not be unreasonable to expect better of a company that’s explicitly pushing a goddamned no-bullying initiative!
Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) was founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE in April 2011. The mission of Be a STAR is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness. Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.
Currently, Be a STAR has 58 alliance members, including National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN), GLAAD, STOMP Out Bullying, The Ad Council and the United Federation of Teachers all partnering together to take action against bullying.
Furthermore, The Alliance debuted Be a STAR Chapter Toolkits to help schools and communities start their own Be a STAR chapters. The free kit includes a guide on how to start a Be a STAR chapter, suggested activities, resources, a poster and other useful tools to combat bullying. The chapter toolkit has been downloaded by more than 4,000 students across the country.
Through the Be a STAR website, over 30,000 people from all 50 US states and from 91 international countries have taken the pledge to end bullying through WWE’s Be a STAR program.
In an ongoing effort to spread the word about tolerance and respect, WWE Superstars and Divas visit two – three schools or community centers per month to speak with students about bullying issues including sharing their own personal stories.
I repeat, WTF?
It’s like Creative is somehow engaged in a battle for the soul of the organization. By golly, corporate and diversity can go out and fund all the prosocial bullshit they like, but tune into Monday Night RAW to see us undermine every bit of it. Take that, goody-goody bitches.
If we ever see the company unveiling an anti-racism campaign, I guess we’ll know to expect an R-Truth heel turn where he’ll team his Negro Drug Dealer persona with “The Minstrel” Cody Rhodes (wearing blackface, of course) in a program against a fan favorite Ku Klux Klansman character. And since he speaks German, maybe you add in Antonio Cesaro as The Midnight Rider’s cool Nazi sidekick.
It makes every bit as much sense as some of the other angles we’ve seen lately…
The Susan Komen Foundation announced this past week that it’s slashing the number of cancer walks it stages in half.
In a decision “not made lightly,” the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure announced Wednesday that it was canceling seven of its signature three-day fundraising walks next year.
The decision comes about 18 months after the organization stoked considerable rage from some supporters when then-Komen Vice President Karen Handel pushed the organization to end funding for Planned Parenthood. Komen eventually reversed the decision, angering some other supporters.
Leaving aside for a second that the last sentence there is fundamentally incorrect – Komen did not reverse the decision and everyone, including the usually on-the-spot Ragan.com staff and, I don’t know, seemingly every news organization in America, fell for the PR misdirection – this is dire news for the foundation and good news for everybody else, including those who lives depend on finding a cure for breast cancer.
If you recall, S&R was brutally critical of Komen’s decision to put social conservative ideology ahead of women’s health, and until such time as the organization is fully rid of those responsible for the Planned Parenthood decision (primarily founder/CEO Nancy Brinker and, one assumes, all of her close associates), the conviction here remains the same: burn it to the ground, scrape the lot and dedicate our resources to those whose commitment to curing breast cancer has as its top and only priority, you know, curing breast cancer.
In this light, Komen shutting down half its events strikes us as good news, but the job is only half done. And don’t be fooled by the foundation’s slickly-crafted official statement, which is, not surprisingly, more PR smoke and mirrors:
“Many participants have reported that enthusiasm for the series remains very high, but it is more difficult for people to donate at levels they had in the past,” she said in a statement.
Yes, it’s more difficult because millions of former supporters are now done with Komen because of its conservative religious agenda.
First, Komen has cut the proportion of its revenue that goes to actual research by half, with only 15% of the cash it rakes in finding its way into actual cancer research programs. That may not get them on the 50 Worst Charities list, but it has them closer to the neighborhood than a prospective donor might like.
Second, many potential supporters couldn’t have been happy to learn that Brinker’s salary jumped. Boy howdy, did it jump.
The embattled former CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure made $684,717 in 2012, Dallas News reported.
That’s 64 percent more in 2012 than she earned from April 2010 to April 2011.
Maybe this, plus the decision to hire a high-profile PR firm, helps explain why they had to trim their proportional commitment to research funding.
As I say, this is all potentially very good news for cancer research. There are a lot of very good cancer charities out there, and 11 of them earned an A- grade or better from CharityWatch.org. At least three of their top-rated organizations are explicitly dedicated to breast cancer, including the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund (A) and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (A+). The latter says it dedicates more than 90 cents of every dollar it collects to research and awareness programs, and while I’d like to see the details on the “awareness” component, which might well include the in-house marketing and development budget, the available evidence suggests that their on-point expenditures come in well north of Komen’s.
Let’s do a little math here. The Reuters article says that Komen spent $63M on research in 2011, and that this represented 15% of the donations they received. Which means their total donations were roughly $420M, right? Let’s be extremely generous and take Komen at their word about their expenditures. If we do, and if we attempt to parallel them with what BCRF’s “research and awareness” probably entails, then we get to around 75% of Komen’s total spend on education, research awards and grants, screening and treatment.
Now, say that instead of all that money going to Komen, it went to the BCRF. And let’s suppose that the BCRF managed those funds the way they manage the ones they already take in. Komen’s theoretical 75 cents on the dollar vs. BCRF’s 91 cents on the dollar adds up to a difference of $67M and change, if my calculations are accurate. Again, this is being as generous to Komen as we can possibly be.
So let’s not lament the Komen Foundation’s self-inflicted downfall. Their demise doesn’t hurt our search for a cure in the least – in fact, if all that energy and enthusiasm that Komen so effectively harnessed is simply redirected toward better organizations, it should actually be a good thing.
Seven down, seven to go.
NOTE: “NSFW” isn’t quite right. Not Safe To Read, period, is closer. WARNING: This article contains depictions of a doctor inserting a hypodermic needle into a man’s penis and may leave readers lying in a fetal ball on the floor.
by Patrick Vecchio
The local urologist is a nice guy, but I wish he and I had not come to know each other so well over the past months. I’ve learned about his personality, sense of humor, professional demeanor and medical acumen. As for what he has learned about me—well, let’s call it inside information. Three times, he has slipped on a latex glove and lubricated his index finger for what I call the “Star Trek procedure.” That is, he boldly goes where no man has gone before. He was almost apologetic the third time and laughed when I shrugged and said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
He and I met about a year ago after a kidney stone sent me to the hospital pleading for industrial-strength pain medication. I knew what I was dealing with; X-rays simply confirmed it. I was hospitalized for two days, spending the first in a narcotic fog. He discharged me after the pain inexplicably vanished the second day and said if the stone didn’t pass in a week, he’d go in after it.
After a week, I didn’t need more X-rays to tell me the stone hadn’t budged. I’ve passed somewhere between a half-dozen and a dozen kidney stones over the years, and as they scrape their way to the outside world, the stone-passer is in what I’ve seen referred to as “exquisite agony.”
The last half-inch of the stone’s journey is particularly unpleasant. I force myself to drink lots of water so my urine stream can blast the stone out. When a stone shoots out, it announces itself with a little “tink!” when it hits the porcelain of a toilet or urinal. During the week after I was discharged from the hospital, none of those things happened.
So the doctor booked me for surgery. There is, of course, just one open passageway from the outside world into the kidney, and he took that path while sliding a minuscule camera inside me to find the kidney stone. Fortunately, I was blissfully anesthetized.
After the brain fog lifted, I asked him how big the stone had been. He said he didn’t find one. “You must have passed it,” he said, to which I replied, “I’ve passed kidney stones before, and believe me, I know when they pass.” And the X-rays showed this one was the size of El Capitan.
The only trouble with my theory was that I had been pain-free after being discharged from the hospital, and considering that this particular stone announced itself by putting me in the hospital in the first place, my argument didn’t hold. So I went along with the urologist: I had unknowingly fired an asteroid through my apparatus. “You’re not a doctor,” I reminded myself. “Stranger things have happened.”
Earlier this month, strange things started happening again. My first signal something was amiss came when I was standing at a urinal at work and noticed not one, but two colors: the usual mellow yellow, and red.
Blood in the urine is a tad unsettling. Nonetheless, I tried to rationalize it away. “It must have been my workout on the treadmill last night,” I thought. “I really pushed it. I probably just banged up my guttyworks a bit.” And sure enough, the next day the blood was gone. I congratulated myself for the self-diagnosis.
A week later the bleeding resumed, this time after I’d spent the day mowing my lawn. With a riding mower. Workout? Strenuous? Probably not. I went to bed hoping the situation would again resolve itself overnight.
The next morning, after I had finished peeing, it looked like somebody had poured a carafe of Merlot into the toilet bowl. I couldn’t see to the bottom. This was more than a tad unsettling. As the week passed, so did more blood. Clots, too. I looked into the mirror. “‘Tis but a scratch,” I said. “I’ve had worse.” The guy in the mirror didn’t believe me.
I called the urologist, who ordered a whirlpool of tests. I had blood drawn for analysis so often that I felt whiter than the Pillsbury Doughboy. Soon, just one procedure remained. I had been X-rayed. I had been ultrasounded. This time, I was CT scanned. Immediately after the scan, I had an appointment with the urologist so he could discuss the fresh images with me.
I checked in at his office and waited a few minutes. The usually crowded waiting area was vacant. Then the nurse showed me into what I thought would be one of the routine exam rooms where the doctor and I had met before. But I knew something was amiss when she left the room saying, “Take off your pants and underpants and lie on the table on your back.”
Hmmm, I thought, lying on the table and studying the ceiling tiles. This is a change in the routine. I figured she had told me to take my pants off because the starship USS Enterprise was on its way. But a nagging little voice in my brain told me I was wrong.
I sat up and looked around. I saw strange machines with weird knobs and baffling gauges. I saw mysterious instruments and vaguely menacing medical accessories. The inside of my mouth started to feel like I had eaten a tablespoon of flour. Thinking back to the empty waiting area, I hoped for a moment that I was in this room because the other rooms were full—but the moment passed. My anxiety started to spread like bacteria in an infected urine culture. I had the caffeine shakes even though I hadn’t had any coffee. Trying to breathe was like inhaling cotton.
My adrenaline surged, but before I could flee, the urologist wrapped on the door twice with his knuckles. He and the nurse came into the room, and he said, “You have a bladder stone.” It sounded benign, considering the other possibilities, and relief washed over me like a cool sheet on a July night. I sat up and started to step off the exam table so I could start putting my pants back on.
Then he asked me to lie back down. The nurse was still in the room. She drew a curtain so that nobody opening the door could see what was going on. The cartoon thought balloon over my head was filled with three letters and a punctuation mark: WTF?
And then he started swabbing the tip of my—well, let’s just say he wasn’t swabbing the tip of my big toe. I bolted half-upright, elbows on the table.
“You’re not going in, are you?”
Male readers—and female readers, for that matter—have no doubt begun to wince, shudder, make horrified faces or cross their legs—maybe all four. I say this because I was doing the same thing. And I was doing the same thing because I immediately remembered being in the exact same situation with a different doctor many, many years ago. It had not gone well—at least until they gave me an IV shot of something; I think it was Valium. Once it kicked in, they could have been going in with a chain saw, for all I cared.
As the doctor continued swabbing, there was no talking my way out of it. Couldn’t I get a shot of something first? Did we have to do it today? Before long, the urologist demanded that I lie back and relax because the more I moved and the more I resisted, the more uncomfortable I was going to be. I tried to relax, but it’s never a good sign when doctors use words like “uncomfortable.”
So I tried not to pay too much attention as he began slipping what felt like a needle into me. This was to numb me—or a particular part of me, anyway. “You may feel some discomfort at first,” he said in an all-business voice. Given what I was feeling and where I was feeling it, I wasn’t sure the word “discomfort” was appropriate, but at the time I couldn’t describe exactly how it felt as he was treating my equipment like it was a pincushion.
Next, he threaded one of those tiny cameras inside so he could take a look around. “I’m inside your bladder now,” he said in a voice that sounded like it was coming from another room. “You have a bladder stone.” After a pause, he said, “I don’t see any tumors.” At that moment I realized why he had looked inside instead of simply relying on images from X-rays and ultrasound and the CT scan: He wanted to see for himself. He was finished moments later. I was dazed but grateful.
We met a few minutes later in his office, where he showed me the pictures from the test earlier that morning. “There’s the stone,” he said. “This is causing the blood in your urine.” It looked like it was the size of a black bean. Clearly, it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
For the briefest of moments, I considered asking him whether this was the missing kidney stone. Had it dropped from the ureter into a bladder backwater—and no farther—where it had rolled around and accumulated a mineral coating like a peanut inside an M&M? At that point, though, I only wanted to get out of his office as quickly as possible, so I didn’t ask. I suspect there’s no way to know, anyway.
So now he’s going to go back in again with a laser to break the stone into small enough pieces to pass. Before the surgery, I am flying to Florida for a family get-together. I am not a good flier. At the slightest bump in the flight, I start death-gripping the armrests and watching the flight attendants’ faces for signs of alarm.
But if the ride gets at all choppy either on my way South or on my way home, I’ll simply think of my reaction when the urologist began swabbing me down. That should take my mind off any bumps in the air.
I just hope the passengers next to me don’t freak out when I start wincing and crossing my legs.
Subjective rant in 3…2…
This one’s for those with opinions about Angelina Jolie’s boobs, especially those who don’t have ‘em. Sadly, it seems even some women don’t get this. Generally, I couldn’t give less of a crap about celebrity anything, but I’ve got a soft spot for her. I respect her for the difficult decision she made. I mean, seriously…you think it was an easy decision? Step into her mind for a moment (at least as I imagine it…you might imagine it differently).
“Hey, there’s this part of me I’ve been fretting about since I was a pimple-faced kid, that society says is more important than my brains, talent, or character, that I get judged by more often than not, and that, when dealing with men, probably has a huge effect on how much money I make, and when dealing with women probably causes all kinds of catty unspoken criticisms for being either too big or not big enough or being the real cause of any success I have, like *I* didn’t have anything to do with it. Oh, and it’s surgery, so this shit is gonna hurt. And I’ll never get to see myself in the mirror again like I used to. And I might have to second-guess whether I’m more important than my boobs to a guy who could have his pick of other women.”
Other than that? It’s none of my damned business. I know this, though. If a doctor said I’ve got a significant chance of being killed by crotch cancer, and we agree on the essence of significant, that shit’s coming off. My manhood and my humanity are defined by who I am and what I show everyone, not by a bit of extra meat-baggage. Would I be scared and probably have issues forever? Sure. But I’d be alive to have those issues. As for anyone that dared to fucking question that decision? That’s the moment that person stops mattering even a little.
 Any question, even hypothetical, of my possible castration or anything approximating it merits an f-bomb in my book. If there were an even worse word to use for amplification, I’d use it.
Here’s Rosalarian‘s take on the matter.
Today’s adventure involves scalpels.
It seems Universe is getting back at me for all the times I’ve called someone else a boil on the ass of society, except that Universe either has really bad aim or a sense of humor. In a place that um, shall we say, affects my mobility, there arose a boil a couple days ago. Not only did a hot compress do diddly, I managed to piss it off something fierce somehow. Yesterday it told me how angry it was with a hot, stabbing pain any time I (pick one/mix and match): bent down, turned, twisted, knelt, squatted, climbed, or carried. Luckily, that was only the last half of the day. Before that it was just mildly uncomfortable. If this doesn’t cause at least a little schadenfreude from some quarters I’ll be both mystified and disappointed.
This morning it was bad enough that I decided it was a fine day to visit the ER. I’m not generally one for polite euphemisms, but when standing at an ER desk populated with 3-5 people paying attention at any one time, and passers-by, it’s a delicate matter to state one’s reason for being there. “I’m here because um. I have this, erm.” *cough* Even if I’d whispered this, it had to sound like, “I’VE GOT AN INFECTION THAT’S GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL IN A RATHER DELICATE PLACE AND IT’S AFFECTING MY MOBILITY!”
Naturally, the first step after that was to have a seat and answer questions for intake.
Of course, it is only then that it occurs to me that I might wish to have my insurance card handy. As it happens, it was conveniently tucked away in my wallet. In my back pocket. I can have either a twist and a *stab* or a stand *stab* and sit *stab* Decisions, decisions. I opt for the solo *stab* and twist to reach my wallet. I forgot about the twist to right myself after that. *stab* I got two bonus *stabs* for putting wallet back. “Oh, my ID?” *stab* *stab* *stab* *stab*
When they wanted emergency contact information, I gave them my significant other’s. Having given me a ride there, she was standing right behind me. Name? Check. Address? Check. Phone? Check. Relationship? Check. *typetypetypeclickclickclick* And how long has this been going on?
“Oh, about three years.”
A look a shock from the clerk. A pause.
“Oh, you mean the infection! 2-3 days!”
A round of laughter rolls through ER, thankfully including my significant other.
I was joined by a young man in the examination room. Judging from his clothes and the fact he was sent in by the others, I can only assume he belonged there. I don’t think I ever saw his nametag or learned what his role was. What he did says, “medical assistant” or “nurse,” but his clothes said, “EMT.” He’s got plenty of other medical history questions, and I let him know from the start that I only shared part of the story out there, given that there’s um, delicate areas involved.
I let him know the full extent of the reason for my visit. After writing it all down he agrees. “Yup, ‘delicate area’ works for me.”
I figured as long as we’re talking about my horrid deformations I’d bring up the sebaceous cyst on the back of my neck. It’s been sitting there, out of sight, out of mind (mostly) for a fair bit now. I had one there a few years ago that finally got to the size of a peach pit before I finally considered it sufficient reason to lose several days pay. Apparently the first surgeon missed a spot, because by fair bit I mean more like a year and a half, and in that time it’s grown to about the size of an almond. When asked, it’s just my CIA implant. It was almost worth having just for the looks, but what the hell. May as well cut out all the things, right?
He takes my blood pressure and my temperature. The waiting begins.
Eventually a kindly older man came in and introduced himself. We’ll call him Bill. When addressed by anyone, either by EMT-Nurse-Strangerman or someone peeking in to speak with Bill about medical things, it was always, “Bill.” Not doctor. Oh, did I forget to mention the bit where I’d already changed into the Buttless Robe of Medical Shame? Sitting or lying, there was no way I couldn’t help but to go all Sharon Stone on my hapless audience.
Luckily for me, there were no precog psychic grammar nazis there. Not near the scalpels, at least.
EMT-Nurse-Strangerman took off. Bill had a good, thorough look over the Occupied Territories. Upon spotting my friend Stabby, he proceeded to press it like a patient pushing the call button for more morphine. Yes, that was an 8 on the 10-point scale, thank you. The one on my neck got the same attention, but that one wasn’t sore, so nyah.
We agreed to take care of the CIA implant first, then get around to Stabby. EMT-Nurse-Strangerman returned for the procedures. The only thing that sucked about getting the CIA implant sorted out was the lidocaine shot. Those bastards hurt a bit. After that, the only thing notable was the amount of gunk that came out. Turns out it was a peach pit after all. It was just playing a friendly little game of Iceberg.
It was all downhill from there.
Let’s just say that Stabby was Vastly Unamused by the lidocaine needle. I went all Spinal Tap and declared it an 11.
After all the preliminaries had been seen to, Bill turned to the tray.
“Doc, do me a favor will you?”
“Once you’ve got the knife, don’t sneeze.”
“You don’t either.”
Bill and EMT-Nurse-Strangerman seemed to appreciate my sense of humor.
Finally, Stabby was drained by the turn of events and stopped being a huge pain. A bandage was surgically taped in place, a promise of fun to come tomorrow. And Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday. I’m thinking of starting a new grooming trend and calling it a Montanan.
Much aftercare was discussed, many good-natured jokes of the “let’s not embarrass Sharon Stone here any more than we have to” variety, and I vigorously agreed to follow all of the directions. “After all, last word I want to hear from you is ‘gangrene.” Pause. Bill: Amputation! For comic effect, EMT-Nurse-Strangerman even flicked open his pocketknife, an impressive piece with a nice combination blade. Most awesome ER moment I’ve ever had. Comedy genius!
I ditched the Buttless Robe of Medical Shame once they cleared out, put my clothes back on, headed out, wrapped up paperwork, and got my prescription for antibiotics and pain killers as well as a return to work note.
Might I say I’m extremely glad to be surrounded by kind, thoughtful, tactful, and considerate folks here. The person to receive this documentation at work also happens to be the boss’ wife. She didn’t even bat an eye at the words presented to her on the return to work note.
“Frank has had minor surgery on his neck and groin, should work in a clean environment until Monday.”
Considering I basically cover myself in filth for a living, whether it be dust and dirt and chaff, or grease, new and old, or any of no less than four different species of poo, she was quite amenable to letting me run a deficit on my sick time.
And this is how I got a five-day weekend.