Wednesday, November 22, 2017

PLANS CHANGE, AND NOT ALWAYS FOR THE WORST



My course has not been altered dramatically in any way. I still plan to be roughly the same place this time next year that I would have told you last week that I would be at that point in my life. 

My day today, which was technically yesterday,  did not proceed quite as planned for me.  My maternal uncle by marriage had an only semi-expected surgery. the surgery was exopected, though not quite so immediately or urgently. He experienced a complete urinary blockage, which could easily have quickly progressed to complete renal failure. Fortunately due to being in  good place at a good time, renal failure for him was not in the cards.

Because I was traveling in preparation for Thanksgiving Day, I ended up at the hospital where and when my uncle had surgery. It probably was not a productie use of recovwry time for my eyes, but sometimes the world does not have to revolve around me and what is good for my eyes or for any other part of me.  Because this surgery was to take place in roughly four weeks, few relatives were with my aunt and uncle at the hospital.  I drove myself the two hours from where I had been previously to the hospital where my uncle's emergency surgery was performed.  met with the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and other medical personnel along with my aunt. I introduced myelf as the fourth-year medical school student that I am. I highly doubt that even one person to whom I introduced myself as such took me seriously to the slightest degree. I doubt that I came across as eloquent or necessarily even passionate. The others probably thought I was, at best, a pre-med undergraduate students, or, in possibly a more plausible scenario to them, a high school student looking at medicine as a possible future career. I have been told recently, though, that I am maturing in a physical sense and, for the most part, no longer look like a high school student. Some women in particular totally get their rocks off on being told constantly how ridiculously young they look. I am ot one of such women. i am noy one of such women. I consider it a compliment to be told that my chronological age matches or comes close to matching the age I actually look.  If I'm startting to look my age, it's high time., and I've worked hard every laugh line or other indication of age as related to appearance. i do not claim to look like a thirty-five-year-oold woman, but neither am I any longer turned away from R-rated movies when unaccompanied by another adult.

In any event, I'm reasonably certain that even if the medical personnel I met for the first time today  believed anything,  much less everything I said about my status as a medical school student took anything I told them about my status with even a grain of seriousness, they didn't care in the least. Furthermore, had i been in their position and they in mine, i might have felt he same way. My status as a med school student ay my facility gave me no status as a student or member of their staff. For that matter, it wasn't eve a teaching hospital at which my uncle was treated.

At one point, though, they ventured onto territory that was too familiar for me to sit back and be the know-nothing relative. My uncle's surgery produced conditions, including unexpected gravel-like struvite urinary calculi that quite legitimately caused staff members to fear the results of infection. Antibiotics were prescribed, as was appropriate. additionally, my uncle's system was flushed (with H2O) more aggressively than might have been consideted typical.  This elevated my level of concern. My uncle's father experienced a similar though not identical medical phenoomenon  maybe thrity years ago. the increase of watwr created an imbalance between the body's  hydration level and the balamce of electrolyes. in his system. This resulted in cardiac complications that, while it didn't kill my uncle's father right there in the recovery room, caused cardiac complications that ended his life within a few months of the event. the man was not at that point in his life the healthiest creature to walk the face of the Earth, but neither was he expected to be dead within two months of what had been considered to that point to be  a fairly straightforward prostrate reduction surgery. 

If the significant of water imbalance seems unimportant or irrelevant, think for a moment to reall a radio station contest from several years ago where a young mother lost her life by drinking too much water too rapidly in a radio station-'s ill guided promotional attempt of awarding a game system of some sort to whomever who could consume and kep down the greastest amound to water in a given period of time. The poor, sweet mother so wanted an X-Box or Playstation or some similar device for her offspring that she made the ultimate sacrifice in order to obtain it for them. of course she would not have done so had she had the remotest of clues that the end result even possibly might have been lethal. Up to that point, few of us gave any thought to the idea that dirnking too much water could be fatal.  Likewise, meical professionals, who should and usually do know better, can forget that balance in the human body is essentially, and tht flushing a system with even something so seemingly benign as water can produce devastating consequences.

My aunt remembered the events surrounding the death of her father-in-law, as did I , though I'd only heard by world of mouth; the incident took place before i was born. When the treatment pla was presented to her in a small conference room directly off the surgical suite, she paled. I had a good idea of the cause of her concern; she seemed unable to speak eloquently, so I spoke for her in the way I best could. 

My uncle's father's medical hisotry had been entered into records, but the significance and similarity of  his father's history with what seemed to be unfilding before us seemed lost on all but my aunt and myself.  I reminded the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and a patient advocate of my unce's father's situation. The other medical personnel - or should I more correctly say the medical personnel present -- in such a setting, I'm not necessarily even considered medical personnel, period. I'm a mere student, and because I'm not their medical school student, even my status as a student is tenuous at strongest.

Still, this was my uncle -- an uncle by marriage, for that matter but my uncle just the same. His only other adequate at the moment was his pale and shaken wife. One of his offspring was i Newfoundland on military duty. His second child was attempting to arrive at the scene of the surgery preparing for her engineering final exams at a university across the continent. His youngest child was at the mercy of an automechanic attempting to repair the starter on his vehicle  nearly  five hundred miles from the location of the surgery. Other relatives would arrive in the coming hours, but action was needed at tht precise time. My aunt tried to explain her concerns buy had litte success in describing the incident involving her father-in-law some thirty years ago. The only real voice for my uncle twelve or so hours earlier was mine. I'm not certain how interested I would have been, had I been thise medical personnel, in hearing my own notquite-twenty-three year old voice.

there are times to embellish one's voice and one's experiences with hope that bravado increases authority. At other times, bluster serves only to decrease the little credibility one possesses in the first way. This seemed to me to be one of such times. As humbly as i could, I related what was already in my uncle's medical records, but reiterated that neither my aunt or I wanted the same result as what had happened so many years earlier. I calmly advocated for a a more moderate and measured aprroach to the system -- for a modest hydaation, for use of the safest atibiotics, and for a chance for my uncle's body to heal what a body can often heal on its own when left to minimal interference.

My uncle drank 7-up and ate soda crackers a few hours ago. He'll be taking hea y pain meds for a few weeks, as he had a few nasty struvite stine in addition to a grossly enlarged prostate. did I miracuslously save y uncle's life? In the most likely scenario, no. He probably would have urviveved whatever reasonable course of treatment that was ultimately chosen had it not involved the use of leeches or the calling of an exorcist. 

Still, I was able to be what too many times in my career I will not be,  which is an advocate for a patient. It should be a par of a doctor's job at the back of his or her mind at all ties even if it's not his or her primary job.. And we, as medical professionasl (I'm once again calling myself a medical professional again in this sense) need to forget that e ery patient deserves an advocate, and  occasionally there isn't one unless the doctor steps into the role. 

I wsn't entirely the most diplomatic advocate, not was I entirely as humble or as reasonable as I might have been. I have time yet to work on those skills, and i have faith in my ability to improve in thise areas.

It's late, and I still have those miles to go before I sleep along with the proverbail promises to which I'm obligated.  I have a review -which i'm looking forward to writing for my friend Craig. i haven't done my poor and ailing eyes any favrs. My eye muscles were so weakened by tiday's activities that I was unable to drive my aunt hoome; We took Lyft instead. both of our cars are till in the hospital's valet parking secyion. We'll deal with it tomorrow. A generous tip mends fences where most of such things are concerned. We arrived at her home safely. which was and should have been our major objective.

My sub-internship has been a bit of a bust. Injury, illness, and real life sometimes get in the way of the best-laid plans f mice and medical school students, or at least did in the case of this particular medical student. I haven't burned any bridges as far as this sub-internship is concerned; my su;pervisors have been pleased with what work i have gotten in for them. there just hasn't been enough of it. Fortunaely for me, I have a urology clerkship rotation I can scratch in place of a fresh  sub-internship from mid-January until mid-February.  Meanwhile i'm off until Monday, when I will begin  a new rotation in hematology. The career of no doctor of whom I've ever been aware was every harmed by extra knowledge of the field of hematology. 

Plans go awry from time to time. We as prospective physicians and as prospextive aduly humans must learn to adapt or to go with the wind a bit from time to time.

My guess is that both Davey and Goliath would be fully in agreement with my new plans. furthermore, should it not work out, the remake of da ey and Goliath may need a new studio musician, which i could  be if all other options were cut off to me.

Most likely this time next year will fine me in a residency somewhere in the Great Whie north, but even if not, there are other great places to be and other whorthwhile things to be doing.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, all!  Remember that much is expected from those to whom much has been given, and for most of us, in one way or another, much truly has been given.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Literal Biblical Interpretations: Davey and Goliath, Claymation, Gumby, Pokey, Mr. Bill, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Pat Boone, Texas Fundie Nutcases, and Same-Sex Weddings




My dad took me to IHOP at my request tonight, and didn't complain when I was only able to finish about six bites of my meal. I don't know what Mum threatened him with, but it must have been potent. Then again, perhaps his previously nonexistent  conscience finally kicked in.

On an unrelated note, I have a friend who has worked and continues to some degreee to work in the entertainment industry. He now proposes new shows and participates in filming and/or producing pilots. I don't know if any of the newly proposed shows have come to fruition. I haven't a clue as to how the timelines work where such things are concerned.

Along those lines, I propose some sort of remake or update of the 60's Lutheran-produced children's program Davey and Goliath. I'm not certain as to what direction or angle the update or remake should take. Maybe the claymated version of  Emma Stone (who portrayed Billie Jean King in The Battle of the Sexes -- the real Emma Stone -- not the claymated version) could be Davey's girlfriend. Or maybe Billie Jean King herself can be Davey's girlfriend or concubine. Billie Jean already looks a bit claymated. (Sorry Billie Jean, and if I live as long as you have lived, chances are that I won't look as good as you do now.) Despite the excessive with-no-attempt-whatsoever-to -camouflage unabashed push for Biblical morality, the show was pretty damned terrific as originally done. 

I, for one, would not upgrade the animation. Claymation was as about as consummate as animation ever got or ever likely will get, and I'm not sure why anyone would choose to "improve" Davey and Goliath with today's technological animation advances.

Perhaps, trite as this sounds, one upgrade angle could involve including  other claymation characters, including but not limited to Gumby, Pokey, or Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live.  (Let's keep the Godawful California Raisins out of it, however; even tackiness has its limits, or at least should.) These characters could take on traits of Biblical characters, or perhaps not. Maybe Mr. Bill helping the mother who couldn't find her diaper pin or tape for the disposable diaper or whatever it was she was missing when diapering her baby and decided to help out with the staple gun would go right along with Abraham being told be God to sacrifice Isaac. 

Please note that I have lost no fervor toward my resolve to be a more devout follower of Christ. I'm merely suggesting that not every single word or story in the Holy Book was necessarily placed there with what would have been or be best for humanity in mind. The Abraham/Isaac story was a classic a disaster waiting to happen. Mental illness existed in Biblical times. Surely had Yahweh been dictating or writing the entirety of His or Her own story, He or She would have considered that such a passage as that one might easily have been miscontrued, ending up with, hypothetically, some psycho fundo father in Texas encouraging his clinically mentally ill Haldol-withdrawing  wife to reproduce as often as was physically possible, then to homeschool her too many children, ultimately resulting in her drowing them consecutively in the family bathtub. 

Anyway, Biblical characters could be claymatized  -- I recommend Samson and Delilah, or perhaps little Zaccheus and his sycamore tree (I confess to not having read that part of the Bible; was it really a sycamore tree into which little Zaccheus climbed, or was it some random tree but "sycamore" was inserted into the song because it scanned better than did "pear tree" or "holly tree')  -- but the characters in the remake need not be limited to those featured in the Bible or even in the Book of Mormon.  Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump would make excellent updated claymated  inclusions, as perhaps would  Kellyanne Conway, Camilla Parker-Bowles, or perhaps even Pope Francis.

And about the "A Mighty Fortress" trumpet theme; do we stick with it as the iconic Lutheran theme, or are Lutherans so schismed- out by now that not even they remember that "A Might Fortress" is or ever was their iconic theme? And should we choose to stick with it, do we retain the trumpet version, or go with a heavy metal guitar rendition, or even have Kanye West come up with a rap interpretation (that would surely suck; if rap is the selected genre, an artist with more talent than Kanye West would be required)? 

Or do we go with one of those modern Christian anthems - 10,000 Reasons or something of that genre, maybe done in grunge rock style? Perhaps Pat Boone's claymated incarnation could perform it. But would that be before or after the claymated creations of Pat and his son-in-law Gabri Ferrer (son of the late great Rosemary Clooney and lawfully-wedded spouse of Pat's daughter Debby Boone of one-hit-wonder "You Light Up My Life" fame) went to battle with slingshots or swords or other primitive weapons over theclaymated Pat Boone's objections to the claymated ordained Episcopal Priest Gabri Ferrer's willingness to officiate at same-sex wedding ceremonies?

I won't even go into how different the tragedy of Pat Boone's grandson Ryan Corbin's traumatic brain injury that occurred as a result of having fallen through a roof skylight might have resolved in a  dramatically different manner with claymation in the mix, because a body made of clay would tolerate the effects of such a fall with much less trauma than would the standard human body. Whoever it was (besides Yahweh, who in some way had a hand in forming everything and everyone, though His or Her influence would surely have a less direct impact where claymation was and is concerned: Yahweh created humans, who then created claymation) who formed Gumby, Pokey, Davey, Goliath, Mr. Bill, and the rest could simply have reshaped the young victim Mr. Corbin into his original image, or perhaps into an image even more perfect than had been the original. I won't go there, though, because doing such might be perceived as being tasteless. The very last thing I would ever wish to be perceived be would be to be tasteless.

Damn it, I really hope I can get off Prednisone soon. This excessive wakefulness cannot lead to good things.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Slow Learners Are Better than NO Learners - In 'N Out Burger Is the BEST!!!!

This is seriously my idea of a gourmet restaurant. If I ever get hitched for real, I kid you not, I will have the reception catered by the good people of In 'N Out Burger. (It might save you a few bucks, Mum and Dad.)


Some people are rather slow learners, but at least they learn at some rate. My dad drove to In 'N Out Burger to get my dinner for me tonight. I'm reasonably certain that he was motivated at least in part by having to smell but not getting to taste any of my meal from last night. I only ate half my burger, but I took the rest outside to the trash to ensure that he would not in any way benefit from my reckless drive.

I'm available if your name is Philip Phillpis (and you're the REAL Philip Phillips).




God, this prednisone is killing me, or at least is wreaking havoc with my sleep.  I stay awake for sixty hours straight, then go into a coma for the next twenty.  I would be really worried about the situation ezceopt that what the prednisone is doning to me is not all that much different  that what the medical school and intern schedule is done and.or will do to my sleep schedule anywy, so it's probably pointkess to worry about it -- six of one or half a dozen of the other, to be overly trite, which I seem to be lately.

Regarding beginning this post with the word "God," I may be giving the wrong impression. I've decided to give the idea of following Jesus a more concerted effort. It would seem that, in light of such, not beginning a post by breaking one of The Big Ten (numero dos in the Catholic sequence and numero tres in the Protestant sequence; I haven't yet decided which if either I more closely align) would be a step in the right direction. On the other hand, in my interpretation (I've yet to find a single theologizan who agrees with me, but since when has that sort of thing gotten in my way?), God is not His  (or Her) name. It's a title. The name is Elohim or Jehovah or Yahweh  or something along those lines. Just as, once I become an MD, assuming I make it that far, Doctor will never be my actual name unless I I go through the steps of legally changing it to such, which would be ludicrous. but rather, a title, God is not the name of the Supreme Being but rather a job descroption. Nowhere in any of The Big Ten does it say not to take God's or anyone else's job description in vain. If you find it disrespectful or irreverent to say the word God when you are speaking of anything or anyone other than The Supremem Being, by all means, refrain from doing such yourself, but I would appreciate not being condemned to Hell for not taking the same approach.

I've digressed in a most egregious way, though.  The point of this post is not to enucleate my new religious fervor or to delineate my own interpretation of The Ten Commandmanets, but to declare my undying love for Philip Phillips. With all due respect to any and all men (if truth were to be told, there haven't been all that many) I've ever dated, may be presently dating, or may date in the future, were Philip Phillips to call me at this precise moment to propose marriage to me, I would almost certainly accept the proposal with or without a prenup.

Reverting to my initial declaration of religious fervor, during this Christmas season I may, in a manic rage or display of religious devotion, post of recording of myself singing a religious, most likely nativity-oriented, hymn.  If I do this, it will not be to share with the world at large, or, more correctly, with the miniscule readership who appear here from time to time, that I have been gifted with a marvelous voice which warrants being shared with the world at large in a return of gratitude for the great gift with which God has blessed me. Rather, the point would be that the Bible states somewhere (I don't claim to be a scriptorian by any stretch of the word though through some statistical anomaly I am somehow a  two-time graduate of LDS seminary) that a joyful noise to the Lord should be made.  The resulting sound will be somewhere between the ducet tones of Knotty and the less dulcet tones typiclly produced either vocally or by clarinet by The Stormin' Mormon (truthfully, i'll probably sound a bit more lite The Stormin' Mormon)..  If one keeps his or her expectations low, he or she may find that he or she is neither excessively disapoointed nor too rolling-on-the-floor-unable-to catch-his-or-her-breath-due to-uncontrolled-laughter hysterical by the end result.

In the end, it may or may not happen, and, if it does happen, the result will not be a thing of beauty. It will be a pure offering of devotion to Jesus, though. Let me warn you:. my singing voice has yet to mature and probably never will.

And Philip Phillips, email me if you want my cell number.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Blind Driving the Blind



It's not that I care a great deal, but I cannot help noticing that both readership and comments are down in droves. I've done what I can.  Chuck, whose comments apparently made readers here uncomfortable,  no longer comments here,  The problem apparently lies in the fact that my life is boring even to people other than myself.  C'est la vie. The life of a medical school student on too-frequent medical hiatus is not the stuff of California Adventure Land's most exciting roller coasters.

My kind and gentle care has packed up and moved on  to San Francisco. My Uncle Steve and Aunt Heather had been here with me, providing my every need and want for the past two days. Now they've gone off to the city, and my dad has replaced them. Tonight I wanted an In 'N Out Burger for dinner. Dad said that was ridiculous because there was plenty of food in this house for me to eat. He pointed out a shelf full of breakfast cereals, a freezer with bread, and pantry with peanut butter and jelly. When I rejected his suggestions and he rejected my request for transportation, I reached for my keys.

"You really shouldn't be driving," he admonished.

"I have no legal restriction against driving," I responded.

I drove slowly and carefully the two miles or so that it took to get to the nearest In 'N Out Burger. The drive-through line was a minimum of twenty-five cars long. I parked in a spot that looked like it wouldn't be too tough to get out of. One has to be careful when parking at In 'N Out Burger because the drivers in the drive-though line often will not let the parked customers back out of their spaces. It could be a two-hour experience if one is not careful where one parks.

I got my burger and root beer  quickly by going inside the restaurant. Once I returned to my car, the car that had been parked next to it had moved, and the lighting had altered slightly. I could see that I was standing on diagonal yellow lines, indicating that I had parked in a handicapped spot. Worse still, as I circled my car in incredulity, I saw a ramp directly in front of my car. Even the handicapped were not supposed to have parked there. It was the access for cars on either side to get from the sidewalk to the parking lot.

I managed not to be ticketed.  I didn't feel particularly guilty about having parked in a spot reserved for the handicapped (even if even  the handicapped themselves weren't really supposed to have parked there) because how much more handicapped could a person be than to not know he or she had parked in a reserved spot? I did feel bad about anyone I may have inadvertently endangered with my imperfect vision, and drove home very slowly and with great caution.

I take responsibility for my role in this fiasco that could have been much worse, but does my dad? Apparently not. He had the nerve to complain that I didn't buy anything for him to eat. At this rate, send me back to Dr. Juvy.




Charlie Manson May Be On His way Out Of HERE!




Major news outlests are reporting that Charlie Manson has been hospitalized in Bakersfield, California, which is a relatively short distance from the California State Prison, Corcoran, where Manson had been incorprated. I would have been preferred that he be transforerred to the tylare regional medical Center, which is presnetly non-operational due to financial crises. I would have been happy to let him take his chances with revocevery or palliative priocedures there. As far as I know, only security personnel are on duty.

Manson has had ore than enough time on theis planet to accoplish his evil work. The good people at Mer cy Hospital in Bakersfield (where one unconfirmed source has listed him as having been admitte3d) have enough deserving patients for whom to care. Charile deserves none of their time or attention. Give him the same mercy he directied his minions to give their victims.

Furthermore, I hope, not for the rest of the patients, but for the sake of Charile, that the most incompetent staff ever assembled is on duty tonight.

May he not rest in peace.



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Red Eye at Midnight, Ophthalmologist's Delight*; ROID Rage or Just Extreme Pain. This may be it for me, or maybe not.

This was the closest approximation of my eye I could find on google images, and I wasn't up to taking a selfie.  The similarity ends more or less with the discoloration and sweling,  I don't have the fullness of face for the resemblance to  extend further. but I expect neither the discoloration nor the swelling to go noticed by children I will encounter by in the work setting to escape theur comments or questions to me or to their parents in front of me. I'm prepared to deal with their questions and comments,
*I was making a silly rhyme here as opposed to offering sound medical advice; a person might actually be better-served with a painkiller and a strong cup of coffee.

Life is a series of ups and downs. We've all experienced both. Right now I'm in a down of major depths, the likes of which I haven't experienced since either the compound femur fracture,  though even with my flair fir drama, I must concede that thi current misfortune,  while it could have ended more tragically than did my either of my previous catastrophes.



I've called everyone I could call in my home area in effort to call in favors in terms of obtaining painkillers legally. The doctors who treated me in southern California knew quite well that over-thrr-counter pain relief would not be sufficient for pain management for this scleritis or sclerosis or whatever it is I have  (I cannot see well enough to read the form) and should have prescribed something for me while I was there. Now the doctors who saw me are off for the long weekend, and due to new rules, a prescriptions can no longer be called in for Level II restricted substances. If I were willing and able to make the trip to southern California and back, they would likely be happy to give me the meds I need. Since the previous trip there and back, however, very nearly killed me and half of those into whose paths I ventured,  Furthermore, no one I've asked is willing to drive me. We have adequate medical care here is the reason given of the eight people I have asked already. I'm in no hurry to repeate the adventure. I'm in no hurry to repeat the trio, however. Jake probably would be willing to transport me, but he has a work shift that is non-negotiable in another state.

I've called my father in Boston and my mother in wherever Rice University is.  My assumption is that my dad warned my mom dad after I spoke with her that he would soon be hearing from me. Both offered lukewarm words that might have been taken as sympathy.  Both claim (perhaps righfully so) that there's really no way they can help me right now. Neither is in a positio to hop into a car and drive me to LA and back , not am I totally in condition to make the trip even as a passenger.  There are scads of doctors my dasd could have called who woukld,  despite the current war against vicodin, have been willing, based in my dad's request alone, to have written a script for easily enougb vikes to get me thourgh the weekend until i coud be evaluated by a local physician or surgeon,  to concure that the need for further meidcation. Had that been asking to much, tons of doctors would have been willing to breifly evaluate me before giving me the prescription. My dad has done siilar facors for many of them. I don't understand his reluctance to ask any colleagues ti return favors.

Furthermore, why is it that, though I am an adult at very nearly twenty-three years of age, whenever I have done anything of which either of my parents disapprove of anything I have said or done, they feeel most free to speak using both tone and words of rebuke to me, as a parent might  to a minor child, yet when I need something from them I'm an adult and on my own, and they're already doing far to muc for me is it stands, and I need to learn to stand on my won two feet and solve my own problems? Had the worst happened and had I suffered a fatal accident coming down the Grapevine, I suppose it would have been my own responsibility to order my own coffin or arrange the cremation. Mty parents want to have things both ways: they want to be able to yell at me and discipline me verbally as though I were a child, but then they want no responsibility  in assisting me when I have a real problem, sometimes not even of any fault of my own.  Does anyone blame me for feeling as I do? Incidentally, Matthew would admit that he is not treated in this manner.

If something here seems totally out of place, as in even more out of place than what appears in my usual posts, please blame the assistive technology upon which I'm relying to get this post done. I've never dictated a post before (except when my brother was acting as my personal secretary) and at would seem from the way things ae going now that I do not speak with particular  clarity. I would think that dictating would produce fewer typos than does my typical typing, but such is not the case.

The eyes were  diagnosed with sclerosis, or at least I think that's what my paper indicating the diagnosis said. Or might have been scleritis. Either way, it's apparently bad. I had issues while attending a medical conference . I received prompt at free medical care, but those in charge did something they really should not have done, which was to have rolled me in a wheelchair out to my car.  I was less qualified to drive than what I would presume would be the average person with a back of 0.15.  People continually honked at me on the freeway, and I assume it wasn't because they though I was hot.  If they made obscene gestures, I was unable to see them.  I pulled over in a little city of Castaic, found what appeared to be a respectable neighborhood, and napped for maybe half an hour. Things seemed briefly better for a short time, but then it was back to where I was before. When I reached Lebec, I pulled over and booked a hotel room. I should have booked the room for a weak but didn't want to be considered AWOL as far as my job was concerned. I had an 11:00 am checkout time. I set my alarm for 10;30 and had everything essentially ready to go except for putting on real clothing, packing up my toothbrush and throwing my alarm clock in my suitcase.

I knew once I was on my feet that I was not good to go but felt I had little choice but to go.  I dragged my suit case to the car, locked myself into my car, and slept for almost three hours.  I then departed. It was a distaster compounded by a fiasco increased by a debacle. Only those little bumpt between lanes let meknow when i had crossed into someone else's lane. k know I was endangering others besides myself. for that I feel most huilty but wasn't sure whay else to do. Had I called 911, they probably would have tossed me into the drunk takn rather than sending me into the hosptial, and I probably would have been arested rather than sent to the hosptial despite a blood alcohol od 0.00 and no prescription painkillers in my system,  The war on painkillers has grown so virulent that it's damned tough to get the good stuff even in real need. if you ever have open-heart surgery in California pray for a compassionate surgeon, because otherwise you're not likely to  be prescribed  anything stronger than Tylenol.

People honked at me a lot. I tried to politely wave.  They probably thought I was attempting to flip them off but was too limited in range of motion to have possessed the motor coordination to stick my middle finger up by itself.

I pulled off periodically when things were at their worst, but all it really accomplished was to delay the agony of the inevitable. I stayed in the slow lane that has that sand-papery stuff on the right. Also, at least people only on one side of my were in any danger from me. I stopped and called several people, thinking maybe someone would understand the danger I was posing to others even if they didn't care about me, but no one picked up.  I seiously considered calling 911, but was more fightened of ending up in the drunk tank than  of death itself, and,  while this speaks horribly of a me as human being, even than of causing the injury or death of another person. I tried to minimize the chances of injury or death to others by driving slowly, driving with my emergerncy flashers on,  remaining in the right lane, and pulling off at the very worst times. Still, I took foolsih risks with the wellbeing of others, and you may lecture me about my self-centeredness and inexcusable negligence if you wish. I get it;  I was inexcusably negligent. Through nothing short of the grace of God  I made the normally six-hour trip that took me closer to eleven hours. It's odd to me that in the roughly nine of eleven hours that I drove with my flashers on, no one called, or at least no CHP responded to the call. I've lost some faith inthe California Highway Patrol. not that their inaction excuses my poor judgment in any way.  I'm not sure of the exact time. I can only estimate. I dragged myself and my suitcase and my body into my condo at around 1:00 a.m.

Within a few hours I made it up the stairs and into my bedroom, where I remained for I think twenty-six hours, at which time I felt that I needed a change of scenery, plus it was time to take my steroid, which needs to be taken with food in order to avoid acute gastric distress. I decided to watch TV in order to distract myself from pain and misery. The romote control device was nowhere to be found, which is not an unusual situaion. Matthew, who isn't an ordinarily creative preson, can think of more creative places in which to stash a remote control than Da Vinci could ever have come up with to create the subtle nuances of his murals.

I dragged myself, with considerable effort,  upstairs to retrieve the remote from my TV.  It did not work on the downstairs T.  I went to Matthew's room to find his remote and try it. It didn't work, either. In a fit of anger than may have been roid rage or may have been just insanity on my part, I pounded Matthew's remote cotrol against the coffee table until the romote broke. It made me feel a little better; not better enogh, but a little better all the same, although the level of my anger frightened me.  It may have been roid rage or it may have been latent insanity waiting for an opportunity to come out. In the end, maybe it doesn't matter. Perhaps I'm not sufficiently sane to do this job or even to continue to function as a human,

No one with the authority to issue a painkiller prescription is answering calls or texts. Assuming I don't quit medical school and, thus, never achieve the status af having the authority to write prescriptions, I shall remember the kindness offerred by each person I called and will reciprocate if given the opportunity. My dad, who cannot prescribe for me now because he is out of state, and precriptions must be presented in hard copy, suggested that I am depending too much upon prescription meds to solve my problems.  I wish for him the worse case of scleritis or sclerosis (whichever it is) as soon as possible, and I wish that no one will give him anything stonger than Tylenol for the pain.  And if he were to have a simultaneous 1.4 millimeter kideny stone, that would be icing on the cake.

I recognize the fact that this is not the fault of anyone out in cyber land. I texted a friend from across the continent who was in a poistion to offer nothing more than moral support and who typically might respond (not definitely, but might) but he was apparently too busy either to notice or to respond.  I have to accept the idea that I am twenty-two -- amost twenty-three-- now, and my problems are now mine and no one else's. I cannot expect everyone else to come running eiher physically or through the Internet, anytime I have a hangnail or a case of scleritis. Still, I'm having a hard time with parents and aunts and uncles I considered to be close to me not caring when I am in pain and distress. Maybe when I reach the magically mature age of twenty-three, I will suddenly possess the emotional strength and maturity to deal with extreme pain and nothing at my disposal to help with it. For now, I am lacking in that capacity. I don't even know if I care to live another day. Ironically, I haven't access to a single vicodin tablet, but there is probably enough acetaminophen to off me and a dozen others in no time in my medicine cabinet even as I type.

I HATE, with a passion beyond my capacity to express, every doctor in my jursidiction with the oower to prescribe narcotics.  I feel that not one of them, nor anyone else, for that mateer, cares in the least about my pain or anything else about me.  If this sounds like self-pity, it is. I'm feeling extremely sorry for myself now.

I'm now in the waiting room of  the E.R. and am exposing myself to every germ breeding in the central coast in order to prove that I am not a drug seeker beggin for my next fix. With any luck, someone in the E.R. will recgnize me as a clinical rotation med school student and might possibly accelerate me through the process.  With my typical luck, however, I  will be here until sundown at the very least. It's very important to keep the drug-seeking medical studente away from the goods for which they went into medical school in the first place to gain access.  Perhaps most of them  know what we don't, which is that selling drugs on street corners would have required far less of our time in terms of education and would have paid us a hell of a lot more.  Situations such as this current one in which I am mired, cause me  gravely to question why anyone with even  half a brain ever bothers doing anything the correct and ethical way.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Most Untimely Valentine's Day Post

Is it really worth looking like this for just one day . . . 
                                                             I do not own this photo.


in order to wind up with THIS a few years later?
In fairness to the bride pictured above, to the best of my knowledge she hasn't spawned as much as a single crib lizard yet in the four-or-so years since she's been hitched, and even had she done so, her situation wouldn't be accurately portrayed in the chaos pictured immediately above. Her presence here is rhetorical and because she's beautiful.

A friend of mine recently called my attention to a country song, "Merry Go Round," recorded by artist  Kacey Musgroves.  The video was nicely done, and the point of the whole thing seemed to be that too many [particularly young] people are rushing off into marriage and reproduction, only to find themselves miserable.  One only has to take a brief walk through one of the housing developments in which married BYU students live to see the wisdom in what the song is trying to convey.

Yet I'm uncertain that marriage or even marriage with children inherently must be a state of gloom, despair, and agony (to borrow a term from Hee Haw).  I think my parents are happy in their marriage. One never knows these things for sure, but I've been aware of very few serious arguments between them. They've suffered through their share of adversity, with losing twins at twenty-three weeks, with my mom having gone through Graves' Disease and the ophthalmological complications, with my dad nearly losing my mom to leukemia, with having to experience being related to my father's family, and, quite frankly, with having to raise me. I wasn't, as one might have imagined, the female reincarnation of the Christ Child in my younger years. Serious trials in marriage, I've been told, either draw a couple closer or tear them apart. Adversity appears to have bound my parents more solidly than they otherwise might have been.  Then again, what the fuck do I know? Perhaps they're  preparing to submit divorce papers as I type.

Largely, my family on both sides comes down heavily on the side of "until death do you part." That doesn't mean they're any happier than any other couples, married or divorced.  It's just that a combination of religious practices, of not wanting to be the one who breaks the mold, and the old idea that what is available on the market probably isn't all that much better than the spouse with whom one is already stuck keeps most of them together. In at least some cases, though. I assume they're well-matched, have  perfected the art of compromise, and are genuinely happy most of the time. No one is happy all the time.

I have one first cousin on each side of the family who has permanently split from his or her spouse. In one case, it was actually annulled. In the divorce that happened on my mom's side of the family,  if the groom's parents have any idea what came between the couple, they've not shared the information with the rest of us. The situation is such that the former couple is no longer comfortable being in the presence of one another. The groom's family, while presumably recognizing that blood is thicker than water, try to be there for their former daughter-in-law just as they are for their son. Her parents are no longer on the planet.  If it's the former daughter-in-law's turn to have Christmas with the children, the grandparents celebrate with them as well. The son goes to the house of one of his siblings for the holidays. The reverse happens if it's the son's turn for Christmas with the kids. (The ex-wife has no siblings.)  It's far from ideal, but is probably making the best of a bad situation.

My aunt's and uncle's son's annulment after three weeks, on the other hand, was Utah's version of the war between the Hatfields and the McCoys. The wedding never should have taken place, or at least not when it did. The groom's sole employment at the time (and to the present, to the best of myknowledge) was as a newspaper deliverer, and he demonstrated no particular ambition to upgrade his employment status.  With his parents' assistance and without the knowledge of his former bride's parents, he snuck her out of her parents home on the morning of her eighteenth birthday (the bride shares complicity in this situation as well; no evidence of a gun having been pointed at her head was ever introduced) and spirited her off to the Manti Temple for the wedding. The former bride's parents, temple-recommend-holding Mormons, were not even told of or invited to their daughter's wedding.  Initial arguments over how to properly hang toilet paper morphed into fights of greater significance, the most compelling, which resulted in domestic violence on the part of the former groom, having been over whether the couple could afford expanded cable service on her salary at an entry-level job as a bank teller and his earnings as a paper carrier. The couple had been living in a small apartment above the bride's parents' garage. The groom was evicted, an order of protection was served, and annulment proceedings were set into order. The marriage for time and all eternity was, in short order, for neither..

These are extreme examples in my own family. Every family, as does mine, has both their extreme examples of marriages that should never have been, marriages that somehow survived despite no particular happiness on anyone's part, and marriages that might have been ordained in heaven. In all probability, most of us will fall somewhere in the middle when our time comes. It's probably important to remember that those who authored the Bible were not God or Jesus themselves.  Perhaps I'm in for a big surprise when my mortality ends and I approach the pearly gates, only to be allowed through or to be turned away, but I seriously doubt that anyone's divorce itself will play much of a factor in what happens in anyone's afterlife. (How one treated a spouse either during the marriage or during the divorce might be another matter entirely, though. Be kind and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.) Life is really not long enough to waste a huge portion of it on it in a marriage that seems like what hell might be like. This is not to say that one shouldn't try to work out problems in a marriage, but when a relationship is kaput, it's probably time to pull the plug.

Then again, who in hell am I to tell anyone how to live their lives or to conduct their marriages? I'm not yet twenty-three years old (I'll be there in less than one month, though!), I've never been married, I've been in three actual relationships, and it would probably be more than a stretch to say that any of them could be considered serious. I'm like the marriage counselor at BYU who has never been married, or the sex therapist who is a virgin in every sense of the word (except that I'm not necessarily claiming to be a virgin).  If your relationship is suffering from serious issues, seek the advice of a professional. Don't pay any attention to me.

As to the person who directed me to the "Merry Go Round" song, I sometimes wonder about him. He's been married for decades and has adult offspring.  He's told me it's unwise to remain in a marriage in which either party is unhappy to the point that the happiness cannot be repaired.  I don't talk with him about his own marriage because it's none of my damned business.  I assume he and his wife are still in love even if not in the way they were when their relationship began.  He's spoken without being specific of all the things a person will eventually tolerate in a spouse throughout the course if a marriage. He's spoken, again without being specific, of heated exchanges in which both parties say things that would have been better left unsaid,  He said you apologize and get over it. Still, with the advice he has given me personally,  my assumption is that he never would have remained in a loveless marriage.

Perhaps that's the way life is with any marriage,  You argue and say things in the heat of the moment that, even if you really do mean them as you say them, you know you should have kept the thoughts  to yourself. If your relationship is strong enough, it survives. If not, divorce is an option.  (Note to Scott Peterson: murder is not an option.)  I've heard of couples who have been married for up to seventy years who insist they have never had as much as an argument. I call bullshit on that. If they haven't had an argument, and it's a very big IF, it's only because one spouse or the other automatically accedes to the other's wishes.  As little as I know about marriage in general and happy marriages in particular, this seems to be no way to live.  If there cannot be give and take in any relationship, it's not really a relationship, or at least not one worth having.


I don't own this video. I thank the rightful owner for allowing me to borrow it for the time it remains here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Weddings With Elvis Impersonators, and Despicable Parents.Who Make Such Atrocities Necessary

This is not what I would want for Caitlin, ad I suspect she would want it for herself even less.


My good friend Caitlin is engaged to be married.  Caitlin remained my good friend despite the fact that I kicked her out of my house and made her call her mom to pick her up at about 3:00 a.m.  because she broke my cardinal rule of never saying inside the sanctity of my house that my father (or my brother) was good-looking. My friends were not allowed to comment favorably upon the appearances of either my brother or my father without facing severe sanctions. Fortunately in the case Caitlin and myself, we got past the breach and are a part of five of the closest friends ever.  (One friend, Claire, succumbed to leukemia a couple of years ago, but she's still very much one of us.)

Most of my close friends grew up in "stable" homes -- ones in which parents sometimes had loud 11:00 p.m. arguments over who did what with the ingredients for the Chex Party Mix right before the house was to be tented for termites and all the food that couldn't be wrapped  and stored in the refrigerator had been distributed to various neighbors' homes, but the arguments almost always blew over. My friend Meredith had things a bit rougher. Her parents divorced and remarried [each other] three times, which would mean they've been married to each other a total of four times.  Still, even between their marriages, they were civil and could attend Meredith's birthday parties and other events together without making either Meredith or anyone else uncomfortable. In fact, people who were present at those events always wondered why they ever divorced in the first place.

Caitlin's parents divorced when she was in middle school, and she hasn't been nearly so fortunate either as the rest of us (well, I suppose she's more fortunate than Claire) or even as Meredith. I don't know if Caitlin's parents really care about the money all that much or if they really don't have it. From their professions, I would assume that any claim of poverty would ring hollow.  They've fought over everything from who had to pay for the insurance co-pay for Caitlin's appendectomy, to who had to buy Christmas and birthday presents for her,  to who should bear the cost of  her braces, to her eighth-grade graduation dress, to her prom expenses, to her driving lessons and car insurance. I'm sure I'm leaving out a whole lot. Most of it was settled in court or by mediators. Ironically, her parents probably paid more in attorney costs than if they had just agreed to split all necessary costs down the middle. Despite a GPA in excess of 4.0 and SATs above 1300, Caitlin would have been stuck in community college (her parents earned far too much for her to have received anything by way of financial aid)  had she not been the recipient of an extremely generous local benefactor's merit-based scholarship.

Now it's time for Caitlin and her fiance to plan a wedding. The groom's parents aren't the Jutes or Kallikaks, but neither are they Rockefellers. They're a  special education program director and a high school principal.  They have three younger children in addition to  Caitlin's betrothed. They could probably go into debt to give their son and his bride the wedding the couple would enjoy, but they seriously wonder why they should take out a second mortgage to fund their son's wedding when the bride's father is an anaesthesiologist and the bride's mother is an attorney who specializes in personal injury and probably brings in an annual salary minimally in the high six figures. The groom's parents are willing to pay their fair share, but they're reluctant to bankroll the wedding of the decade so that the bride's parents can stand in separate corners accepting congratulations for the fabulosity of the wedding without ever letting on that they had nothing whatsoever to do with paying for.

I'll be the first to say that I think today's weddings have gotten out of hand.  In my grandparent's day,  cake and punch were served in the church's basement or social hall following the ceremony, unless, in some cases, if the couple was Catholic, in which case a more booze-friendly location might have been appropriated. Still, if any hors d'ouvres beyond little paper cups of mints and nuts were made available, in would have been considered a classy affair. I'm sure the Kennedys and the Bushes didn't follow this protocol, but the vast majority of America did. Then came my parents' generation, where meals were expected to be served at wedding receptions. Within reason, this wasn't out off line. My generation, however, has taken it to new heights.

At my cousin's recent wedding,  the courses of hors d'ouvres were followed by chef salad  and bread. Next  came the bacon-wrapped filets, followed closely by chicken, by lobster, and by other seafood. Pasta of various forms was available both for the vegetarians and for the carnivores. No buffet line was in effect. Enough waiters were present to simultaneously serve the roughly one-hundred-twenty-five tables. Following the meal, in addition to cake, waiters custom-made sundaes to the guests' specifications, with every available topping I could have  imagined.

First, I should explain that my cousin's parents have more money than I would have if I successfully emptied the vault of a different bank every day for three consecutive years. It's not as though the extravagance of this wedding was really at the expense of anything else. For that matter, they stimulated the economy with their indulgence. My aunt and uncle are uncommonly generous with charitable contributions (and are quiet about it, which makes it all the more noble), and it's not like they needed the money to help their son and his bride buy a house.  Even after paying for the wedding, they probably could have bought Mira Lago or whatever it's called, for their son and his bride had Trump been willing to part with it.

It's simply a matter of why was this really necessary?  Where I personally was concerned, I took two bites of salad, a bite of the bread, three bites of the Filet Mignon, a few sips of water, and was full. Others surely ate more than I did, but I doubt that a single person there required all the available food for personal satiation.  Rather, it was all about the people in attendance who had hosted weddings for their own children at which my aunt and uncle had been in attendance.  My cousin's wedding couldn't be just as good; it had to be at least a little bit better.

Caitlin doesn't need, not do I suspect that she would even want, that sort of wedding. On the other hand, I don't think elopement was ever a part of her plan. Her favorite doll as a child was a bride doll. She was a bride for several years on Halloween.  She faithfully attended church her entire life even when her parents didn't, and always assumed she's be married there in her home church one day.

Furthermore, Caitlin is and has always been, despite her single indiscretion of having referred to my father as handsome in my own home, extraordinarily  good,  reminiscent in a way of Abraham Lincoln who once, as legend has it, walked several miles to return two lousy pennies to someone. When the others in our immediate circle of friends sometimes devised slightly diabolical plans, if anyone spoke out against them, it was Caitlin. She didn't even like to kill bugs. Once a mouse appeared in Megan's family's country home when our group of friends was there.  While I stood atop the dining room table screaming, "Kill it! Kill it!" Caitlin calmly captured the small mouse in a used Cool Whip container and relocated it to the fields behind the house. She was polite even to the rudest of teachers, nor did she speak disparagingly about them behind their backs as did the rest of us. The only unkind thing of which I'm aware of her ever having done was when she immediately spilled a full container of chocolate milk on the boy who broke off his prom date with me (after I had been injured and confined to a wheelchair)o by announcing the break-off  by standing on a bench  and shouting his intentions in a cafeteria full of students at lunch time. Form my point of view, I'm not even sure I would consider that as an act of unkindness. Sometimes one has to be cruel in order to be kind,  and loyalty, too, has its place.

In short, Caitlin is a person who has done exactly what was expected of her probably since the day her parents brought her home from the hospital. She's currently enrolled in her first year of  a PhD program in Cancer Biology and Cell Signaling as well as Signal Transduction in Lymphocytes. She may one day work with (as opposed to for) my father. She's not in any position at this time nor for the next few years to pay for any wedding beyond an elopement, and even that would be a stretch.  If she doesn't want her wedding to take the form of an elopement, she should not have to settle for such. She's not asking for a destination wedding in Antigua or Newport, Rhode Island.,  She would like a simple church ceremony with a reception in someone's backyard or, weather not permitting, in a local auditorium.

Sometimes divorce is inevitable. Sometimes it's even good. People don't need to live together in misery, also making everyone else living with them equally miserable, just because of vows made in what was often an extreme state of youth. On the other hand, divorce is one thing. Spite as a result of a broken relationship is quite another.  If parents hate each other more than they love the child the two of them produced, and if they're willing to allow their own selfishness and need for revenge to stand in the way their child's basic rights (I would consider the removal of an inflamed appendix to be the basic right of a child), much less her happiness, ether God chooses not to actively intervene in anyone's reproductive success or God made a very poor choice in giving such a wonderful person as Caitlin to two such despicable parents.

Caitlin's parents, if you read this and are angry, you are free to fry eggs on the brimstones you're likely to find in immediate proximity to you in hell if there is such a place.

Caitlin, I wish I could personally do more. I hope you don't mind this post. I happen to know that, even though this will embarrass you, efforts are underway to provide you with the wedding you deserve.  Don't worry; it's nothing as tacky or as public as a Go Fund Me  account. Everything will be OK.  You will be a beautiful bride.






Even though Pachelbel Canon is a bit trite, this is more of what Caitlin, I, and everyone else who loves Caitlin had in mind for her wedding. I don't think the groom give's a rat's ileum how it goes down as log as Caitlin is happy and his parents don't have to go into bankruptcy to make it happen.











Monday, October 30, 2017

Possibly the Most Bat-shit Crazy Teacher in History

I do not own this video. Thank you to the owners for allowing me to borrow it however briefly.


While I'm on the theme of bat-shit crazy teachers, please allow me to tell you a story from my mom's year of student teaching. Her initial semester of student teaching was spent in a sixth-grade classroom and was with a teacher who, at the very least, nominally had both of her oars in the water. Teaching sixth grade, I've been told, doesn't bring out the best in most people, my mom's master teacher was never known to pick her nose in public or to go into a funeral home and impersonate a mortician. In short, she was probably about as normal as any sixth-grade teacher. My sixth=grade teacher, Mr Thatcher, was the exception to the rule about teaching sixth grade bringing out the eccentricity in those unlucky enough to find another grade to teach.

The semester in sixth grade was only half the year.  For the second half of the year, my mom was assigned to third grade with a teacher we shall call Mrs. Delphine. (It's close to but not exactly her name.)  My mom thought it was a bit strange when the school principal and the university's student teaching supervisor walked with her to the classroom to introduce my mom to Mrs. Delphine. The principal first knocked, then, hearing no response, used his master key to let himself and the others into the room.  Mrs. Delphine was seated behind her desk, but not in her desk chair. She was atop a porta-potty that she had delivered to her classroom through some private company. when the porta-potty was not in used, she stored it under a counter.  She swore to the principal that she never used it in the presence of the students. Throughout the semester, my mom saw evidence that such was not the case.  My om was dating my dad at the time, and he told my mom that whether or not the unit was used in the presence of the students, it was a health department violation. He phoned the violation in, but the health department must have had more important fish to fry.

Mt's. Delphine was frequently a odds with the custodial staff because she expected them to empty her porta=potty. Their union officials stood firmly behind them in insisting that such was not a part of their duties.  Mrs. Delphine offered extra credit to any student who would take on the task. There were no takers.  Mrs. Delphine even tried to coerce my mom into emptying the sludge pot, but  my mom is squeamish. She barely survived changing her babies' diapers a few years later, and had both of us out of diapers before we were a year old. She couldn't have stomached toting Mrs. Delphine's private sewage.

One of the books Mrs. Delphine read aloud to the third-graders was something called The Funhouse by Dean Koontz. I never read it and only know what my mom told me about it (when I was much older than the third graders had been), but it apparently featured a young woman who ran off to follow an man to the carnival or circus or something of that nature. As things turned out, the man was demonic, ad he impregnated the woman with a demonic offspring. The demonic offspring attacked his mother at one point, I believe, and the woman killed her baby in self-defense. It was a bit like Rosemary's Baby on crack, as I recall.

Mrs. Delphine used to ask my mom to read that book and others equally inappropriate for third-graders but my mom always ignored her and read books of her own choosing. My mom instead brought along novels by Beverly Cleary, Andrew Clements, Ellen Conford, Louis Sachar, or similar authors. Mrs. Delphine didn't like my mom's choice of reading material. but since her main objective was to give herself a break to drink her Kool-Aid (which everyone suspected was spiked with something potent) and eat peanut M & M's.

The school at which Mrs. Delphine taught was slightly lower middle-class. It certainly wasn't skid row, and the students were mostly children of working parents. Most of the parents had little time to devote to volunteering or otherwise hinging around the school, but one would have though at least one or two kids would have mentioned some of the goings on in the classroom. I might have been afraid of being blamed for lying or being a trouble-maker, but not all parents are as supportive of school personnel as mine were. I don't quite know how Mrs. Delphine got away with all that she did.

Each day when the kids had physical education, they just played in their school clothes. Mrs. Delphine changed into a T-short and sweats or yoga pants or something like that, and she did it right in the classroom with the children still present. She even changed her bra and panties.She told my mom that she, too, could change into something more comfortable for physical activity if she wished. my mom declined. my mom ended up rushing the kids out of the classroom and onto the playground before Mrs. Delphine peeled her clothing off, though it wasn't easy because the boys dragged their feet, taking as long as possible to get out.

Depending upon a teacher's status s probationary or tenured, or also upon a district's contract with its teachers, each teacher is formally evaluated at regular intervals. Mrs. Delphine was a tenured teacher (how the hell THAT happened is a mystery for the ages) and, as such, was subject to bi-annual evaluations. The evaluations consisted of review of files, a scheduled lengthy observation, and unscheduled short-term walk-through observations (at least two per year but no more than three for a tenured teacher unless the teacher was notified in writing that he or she was being referred to peer-assistance reviews for sub-par performance; for some reason no one had ever referred Mrs. Delphine for peer assistance review for sub-par performance.  I don't know if she had something on someone important or if the administrators supervising her were just plain lazy.) Administrators were free to walk through classrooms more than three times per year; the visits just weren't to be written up as observations.

A formal observation was scheduled for Mrs. Delphine 9:30 on a Thursday morning in early March.
My mom asked Mrs. Delphine what lesson she had prepared to teach for the observation. Mrs. Delphine shrugged and said she planned to wing it.  At 9:29 and 45 seconds, the principal walked through the doors of the classroom with his yellow legal pad. (Evaluations are now typically done on laptops, which are more efficient. The principal greeted Mrs. Delphine, my mom, and the children, and took a seat at the back of the classroom.  Mrs. Delphine stared at him as though she had no clue as to why he was there. After a few very pregnant seconds, she said to me mom, "Come with me,  Miss Fitzsimmons. There's something i must show you." my mom looked at the principal. He shrugged, as if he didn''t know what to tell my mom. My mom followed Mrs. Delphine as she led the way to the faculty parking lot.

Once she reached her Ford Explorer, Mrs. Delphine opened the rear hatch and  began taking out supplies. "Do you know how to change the oil on a car?" Mrs. Delphine asked my mom.

"Nnno," my mom answered.  I assume she thought that was what boyfriends and Jiffy Lube were for.

"Now is the time for you to learn," Mrs. Delphine announced. She crawled under her SUV, commanding my mom to follow her.

"I'm not really dressed for this," my mom countered.

"Neither am I," answered Mrs. Delphine," but some things are more important than clothing."

"But you can afford to replace your outfit," my mom argued with Mrs. Delphine. "I'm not being paid. In fact I;m paying for the privilege of student teaching."

"Never mind, " Mrs. Delphine conceded. Just watch everything I do and listen to everything I say!"

"What about the children?" my mm asked. "We're supposed to be teaching them!
"
"The principal is credentialed to teach and supervise students, " Mrs. Delph responded. "Let him earn his pay for once."

"Did you leave lesson plans for him?" my mom asked

"Lesson plans, schlesson plans1" Mrs. Delphine concluded. "Lesson plans are for losers. If he has half a brain, he'll figure out something to do with the kids while we're busy. He could always do the Hokey Pokey or play Hangman with them."

Mrs. Delphine emptied the old oil into the oil pan, fastened the bolt or whatever it's called, then crawled out from under her SUV, by no covered with soot and whatever is found i a school parking lot. Her hair looked as though it was done by a blind person with tactile impairment.  She lifted her hood, opened the oil cap, inserted a funnel, and opened and poured five cans of Pennzoil into it.

"Now you know what's really important," Mrs Delphine told my mom. "All this Piaget, B.F. Skinner, Pavlov, Bandura, Madeline Hunter and her Clinical teaching bullshit,  Marie Clay and her crazy notions of reading, even the McCrackens and their fuck-up known as whole language, are poppycock, as are grading, classroom management, and district and state standards. What is important in life is to know how to change the oil in your car, how to change a tire, and how to pt air in your tires. It's also important to know the proper way to apply a roll of toilet paper to the dispenser, but I'll assume you MUST have learned that by now.. And to change a light bulb. You do know how to change a light bulb, don;t you, Miss /Fitzsimmons?" My mom conferred that changing a light bulb was within the scope of her capabilities.

"I've had enough for the day, " Mrs. Delphine declared. "I'm out of here! Would you care to come with me?"

"I think I'd better stick around,  my mom answered.

My mom walked with trepidation back to the classroom.  She found the principal at the front of the classroom teaching a lesson on two-digit multiplication. He excused the children to work on their assigned pages and motioned for my mom to follow him just outside the door. "I'm really sorry about this, " he told my mom, which was a relief to her. She was afraid she might somehow share the blame.

"We've known there was a problem here," the principal said, "but the principals who preceded me didn't take care of the necessary documentation. With your supervisor's permission, we've taken possession of the journal you've been required to keep as a student teacher. It contains enough incriminating evidence to at least begin the peer review assistance process."

"I'm not going to ask you to teach the class for the rest of the day with no lesson plans," the principal told my mom. "If I give you the rest of the morning, can you come up with lessons for the remainder of the day?"

My mom agreed. The remainder of the  day was uneventful.

The next day, Mrs. Delphine showed up at school wearing a leather skirt and a see-though lace bra with no blouse over it. The principal sent her home to change clothing. She threatened to call the teacher's association representative. The principal picked up the phone and made the call for her.  "Are you SURE it's just a bra she's wearing on top?" the teacher's association representative asked him.

"I've been married for ten years," he told her. "I know what a bra looks like."

"If I were you, I'd call the superintendent, but meanwhile, you'll get no fight from the association if you send her home to dress herself appropriately."

Mrs. Delphine left. The word on the street is that the next morning before dawn, she was in the parking lot wearing a G-string with no bra, sprawled across the hood of he SUV in a most provocative manner. When the custodian came on duty, he called his custodial supervisor, who told him to dial 9-1-1.  An ambulance came. She was carted away in restraints.

My mom taught the class with minimal supervision, probably totally illegally, for the remaining three months of the year.

My mother had never seen or heard from Mrs. Delphine for the next eighteen months or so, until Mrs. Delphine inexplicably showed up at my parents' wedding in Nebraska. No one my mom knows has any idea how Mrs. Delphine even knew where or when the wedding was to take place.  My mom had tried to be professional as a student teacher and didn't talk much about her upcoming nuptials, which weren't far into the planning stage at that point, anyway. A person doesn't typically travel from California to Nebraska to attend the wedding of a person she barely knows.

Mrs. Delph  arrived early for the wedding. The guest book was on a small podium, and a corsage had been placed there for the girl who was to supervise the guest book. Mrs. Delphine pinned it on herself, then took her seat in the front row on the groom's side.  For all most of the ushers knew, she was a relative f the groom. She would have fit right into my dad's family in terms of he overall bat-shit craziness.

The wedding was held outdoors, though was a full mass sanctioned by the Roman Catholic church and with both a priest and a relic of a saint present.  My aunt Colleem sang a song -- I don't now what because I wasn't there -- during communion.  During the remainder of communion, the organist (an electronic organ was move outdoors) was to play Bach-Gounod's Ave Maria as an instrumental solo. Such was not to be. As soon as Mrs Delphine recognized the tune,  she stood up from her place in the front row. and began belting the hymn at the top of her lungs. By no stretch of the imagination could she be said to have a nice singing voice, but one would have to give her credit for being loud. There was a gas station - mini mart nearly four miles down the road, and people there heard it and asked what was the caterwauling.  It was so very bad that there was nothing to do but to laugh. My mom had to lean against my dad because she was laughing so hard and gasping for breath to the extent that she couldn't stand. The priest turned his back. He knew it wasn't proper to laugh while facing a congregation as Ave Maria was played or sung, no matter how pathetically it was sung,

My mom heard that Mrs. Delphine did lose her credential. If rumors are correct , Mrs. Delphine is now supporting herself as a life coach.  There's a sucker born every minute.

This story is extreme, but we've all had wack-job teachers. Please share some of your stories with me. Perhaps we could compile them into a book.

P.S. I may have exaggerated ever so slightly, but the vast majority of this story, unless my mom is a complete liar, is true.\



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Piss- Poor (as Opposed to Econimcally Poor)Teachers and Their Legacy - Think of Trunchbull

   

Mrs. Moore may have been slightly
more subtle, but Trunchbull and Cruella had nothing on her when it came to sheer diabolicality.


Life is treating me with relative kindness at the moment.  I'm off the dreaded Augmentin and onto Ampicillin. Montezuma continues to extract his revenge, but I'm at least not doing my best Linda Blair imitation.  Projectile vomiting is bad, as I probably don't have to tell you, but it's all the worse when you are the adult, and no matter how sick you are, the vomitus is not going to be cleaned off the walls unless you do it yourself, 104-degree fever and all. Al things considered, adulthood has been a positive change in my life, but there are those occasional times, such as when you're  painting the walls with the contents of your stomach, that it would be really nice to have mom or dad there to take charge.

I'm missing a bit of extra work time, but my hours of work were nearly double what they should have been for my initial two weeks.  I was having fun and learning a great deal as well. Also  extra time was built into my sub-internship for me, and, if necessary, I can substitute another stint in either surgery, pediatrics, or pediatric surgery next semester. it's not likely to be necessary as far as my superiors are concerned, but I want to feel prepared. it makes more sense to me to spend the time in the areas in which I want to concentrate rather than to pick up a clerkship in urology. it's not that urology is unrelated to pediatric medicine or surgery, but there will be others I can consult, and I'll cover it in my residency as well.

With everything going along so sunnily even in the midst of my illness, from which i am recovering quite nicely, I for some reason feel the need to share a memory of something that happened to me as a child that was not tremendously positive.  Both the positives, the negatives, and the ordinary happenings in one's life combine to make a person whom he or she is, but it doesn't make the negatives any more pleasant to remember.

Some of you may remember my least favorite teacher of all time -- Mrs. Moore, who ridiculed me for many things, but most noticeably for having taken a school picture in which I looked unkempt. It might have helped had she not asked the two children from the fifth grade (one [me] from our class and a boy from the class next door)  who were absent the several days before when the mile run was conducted for PE testing to complete the mile run just before pictures. Still, both my parents and I would have forgiven her had she not made such a scene about the quality of my appearance in the picture.  My father really should have written a note excusing me from the mile run for that day, and probably would have had he known it was happening. The entire fifth grade ran the event together, but Matthew probably  never thought to mention it. I had been absent for six prior days with croup and was questionable even as far as school attendance for that day, but it was picture day, and if a student was absent on picture day, he or she could get re-takes but would not be in the class picture. I showed up at school, crouped my way through the mile run, then took my picture with my hair wild and my face wet with perspiration. Our district typically took school pictures in mid-September, and the weather often made it not far from the 100-degree mark by close to noon.

Maybe six days before the school picture incident, Mrs. Moore was reading to the class after lunch, as was customary. The book she was reading at the time was these Little Town on the Prairie, which was a sequel in Laura Ingalls' Little House series. This particular volume was filled with excitement as Little House books went. Almanzo  Wilder's (Laura's eventual husband) sister was hired to teach at the one-room Walnut Grove School. She took a particular liking to Laura's nemesis, the incomparably evil Nellie Oleson, and used every available opportunity to  torment Laura and her little sister Carrie.  Even the boys were typically interested in this Laura Ingalls volume.

On the particular day, however, for some reason the boys in the class were especially obsessed with the upcoming San Francisco Forty-Niners game. The Niners, I believe, were scheduled to play the Atlanta Falcons that weekend. While we were clearly within Forty-Niner country in northern California, and that was in the day when most kids still rooted for the local team, some kids doubted the Niners' ability to take the Falcons and were not apt to pass up what they saw as sure money.. Now you have kids in Florida cheering for the Vikings, kids from Seattle rooting for New England, and vice versa. Usually the kids are front-runner bandwagon jumpers who follow whatever teams are winning. Still, some children choose teams from out of their region and stick with them. That wasn't nearly so common in my day.

Anyway, against both school rules and local statutes,  money changed hands over the game. Making bets at recess was risky. The principal had heard of the gambling operation and had his eagle eyes on any potential. bettors or bookies.  Any money that changed hands at school had to happen inside the walls of the classrooms. Had the gamblers just passed notes, which was not a difficult thing to do in Mrs. Moore's classroom, all would have been well. Those who wished to hear the story could have heard it, and the high rollers could have made their wagers. Instead , the boys whispered their offers of odds for bets.

Mrs. Moore had little patience for children talking about things other than the story while she read aloud. Actually, she had little patience for anyone talking even about the story. Questions about what was read weren't welcome, and discussions were even less welcome.  Even though Mrs. Moore drew a salary as a teacher, she wasn't a legitimate "teacher" : we learned next to nothing in the time we spent with her.

In any event, one too many boy whispered a bit too loudly regarding an offer of odds to another boy. Mrs. Moore slammed her book shut. "I'm not reading ANY MORE!!" she declared. "You children obviously aren't interested!" The daughter of the class's room mother, to whom Mrs. Moore felt more obligated to be less brutal than she was to the average student, pled with Mrs. Moore to continue the chapter. It was the  part where Carrie and Mamie something or other, who shared a desk, were unconsciously rocking it as they read. Miss Wilder told them to rock the desk as hard as they could. Mamie left the desk, leaving skinny and anemic little Carrie to fend for herself in rocking the desk.  Carrie grew paler by the minute, and Laura spoke in her defense.

At that point, I let loose with a cough that wasn't actually a cough. I was a croupy child, and had a bout with  croup that was apparently just at its onset. The sound of croup is not easy to describe to one who hasn't heard it. (You can probably find it on YouTube now, just as you can find videos of people cleaning the wax from their ears. Hell, you could probably locate a video of someone passing a kidney stone. Nothing is too sacred for YouTube anymore.) The sound of croup is something like the sound of a seal making its barking-like noise,  followed by difficulty and noise in taking in air, known as stridor..  I then crouped again. In both instances I tried to muffle the noise,, but it's a deep and penetrating sound not easily  quieted by a small hand or two.

The average compassionate and humane teacher might have been mildly concerned and probably would have sent a child with such symptoms to the school nurse.. Mrs Moore especially should have been so, as she had raised three children to young adulthood; chances are that she had heard the sound of croup before and knew what it was. Instead,  Mrs. Moore once again slammed Little Town  on the Prairie shut, glared at me, and said, "Some children don't care if they spoil it for everyone."

My classmates  turned and gave me death glares. Jeffrey Keiser, who sat directly in front of me, told me he hated me, He was from what was probably the most pious Presbyterian family in our town. Had I possessed the ability to talk without going into another crouping fit, I probably would have asked him the rhetorical, "What would Jesus do?" The croup only got worse. Mrs. Moore finally told me to take a chair out and to sit outside the room to do my work. Not knowing what else to do, I followed directions. At that point in my life, teachers were right and held ultimate authority.

I remember having increasing difficulty in breathing. I'm not sure I completed any work, though it hardly  mattered as I was usually several weeks ahead of everyone else in the class on work that was years below my ability level.. The school dismissal bell finally rang. I moved the chair back into Mrs. Moore's classroom and gathered my belongings.  I somehow made it under my own power to the gymnatorium where an after-school program was held for children whose parents worked.  The director of the after-school program heard one  episode of croup with the stridor, took one look at my blue-purple fingernails and lips, and dialed 9-1-1. I was hospitalized for two days and recovered at home for the next four days.  Again, my dad or uncle should have written a note excusing me from PE, but I don't think it occurred to either of them that a child who had been hospitalized due to croup six days earlier that came on at school would be called upon to run a mile, and our typical PE program consisted of foursquare and tether ball, neither of which would have been much of a risk to a child recovering from a respiratory ailment..

I made it through the picture, looking utterly colorless except for the bluish-purple of my lips, with a sweat-drenched face.. This time  the photographer noticed that something was amiss. He alerted Mrs. Moore, who assured him it was just Alexis being Alexis. My brother's teacher, there with her class because they were next in line for pictures,  overheard, took one look at me,  and immediately summoned the school nurse. After another ambulance trip, I this time spent three days in  Children's Hospital..

Mrs. Moore never called, sent a card, or otherwise inquired about my well-being. (The previous year, a ten-year-old boy in her class had been tragically killed in a car accident. When a collection was taken up among faculty members to send flowers to the family,  Mrs.  Moore declined to contribute. "I never liked that kid," was her explanation, according to my aunt's sister, who also taught at the school.) When I returned to school, Mrs. Moore reminded me that I was responsible for all the work missed in my absence. I tore the pre-completed pages from my workbooks, took the compositions from my folders, signed and dated everything, and handed the work to her. As it ended up, I had given her two extra weeks worth of work, which for some reason didn't please her. 

The class then received a lecture. "Some of you think you're smarter than the teacher, but you're not."
It was one of many of her themed lectures, one of which was "Some of you are not pretty at all, but if you would just be sweet, others might forget how homely you are," An acquaintance in the class with whom I had little in common but who was neither an enemy of mine said to me at recess  after that particular lecture, "I don't understand why she always looks  directly at you when she gives the speech about being homely. You're not exactly Miss America, but you're not really any uglier than anyone else here.." Backhanded though the compliment may have been, I took the words as the consolation they were intended to be. Another favorite theme was, "People who think they're sick all the time will never get anywhere in life. They may fool their doctors, and they may fool their parents, but they won't fool their bosses when they have to work, and they'll never fool me."  Another was, "Premature babies do not have to grow into weak individuals. Just get over it." For the record, I had been the only premature baby in the class.  Another favorite topic was, "Our culture has some sort of fixation on thinness. Thinness does not equate with beauty. If you're very thin, you are NOT pretty, and you need to do something about it, and by that, I don't mean that you need to eat candy." At four-feet-four-inches and forty-one pounds midway through fifth grade, and, incidentally, known for my love of candy., I was by far the skinniest kid in the room. and Mrs. Moore always glared directly at me when she made this speech or any of the others. Probably the most damning thing she ever said to or about me was that because my mother was a school psychologist and my father was a medical doctor, I thought I was better than the other children.  She said this to me in front of the class, but the worst part was that she apparently said it to the other children individually when I wasn't present. Near the end of my association with Mrs. Moore, several parents telephoned my mom to let her know of these indiscretions. I suppose I could have told my parents about some of the things that were said before, but it never occurred to me to do so. The teacher was always right.

Eventually the fiasco with the school picture and Mrs. Moore's public ridicule of me happened. I imploded. Other parents called my parents. I was moved not only from  Mrs. Moore's class but from that school to another one in the district into which we had just moved, and I was blessed by being placed into the class of one of God's greatest gifts to children, who was a thirty-ish man named Mr. Thatcher.  My brother and I were fortunate enough to have him the next year in sixth grade as well. Mr. Thatcher  knew how to make learning fun, knew how to make learning happen, and treated children with the respect they deserved. Education never again sank quite to such lows for me. Mr. Thatcher had a wife and young children, a church he attended regularly , and other outside interests, but one would never have known that by the focus on which he placed upon his students while at school.

I'm not quite sure why I felt the need to share this story tonight, part of which I've shared before.  Sometimes something is on a person's mind and a person cannot move on without acknowledging what is bothering him or her.

For anyone who feels called to be a teacher, or even one is limited by default to join the teaching profession because he or she feels in possession of no other professional options, remember this: you can be like Mrs. Moore, or you can be like Mr. Thatcher. Not everyone  has the skills and talents possessed by Mr. Thatcher. Regardless of  talents or inclination, though, anyone can make the conscious choice to work hard,  to put students' needs above his or her own while at school, and to be both fair and kind.  Prospective teachers, the choice is entirely yours to be either the exemplar of all teachers or the Anti-Christ of the same. .Either way, you may never know the difference you'll make.  Despite which path you take, you may read of  former students who are Nobel Prize winners, or you may read of students who have committed senseless violent crimes. You will likely produce impeccably educated students, or you may produce at least a part of a generation of semi-literates. Fate may be beyond your control in some instances.  The students are with you a mere six or seven hours per day Monday through Friday.  Still, you can skew the odds in favor of your students and of their successes.  If you must teach, be dedicated, diligent, and child- or student-centered.  You may never be thanked for all you do, but  knowing a job was well done is thanks in and of itself.

And thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Thatcher. My brother and I took the opportunity to honor you at our high school graduation, but that feels woefully inadequate in light of everything you've done for Matthew, for me, and for probably every other child with whom you've come into contact. I hope some day to make you proud.


I don't own this video. Please allow me t use it if only briefly. Thanks for your generosity.


This video is from the One Voice Choir, under the direction of Masa Fukuda. Thank your for allowing me to use the video,  however briefly it remains here.