Dead People 101

Ahhh. Sigh. Here I am. You cannot kill Little Package. I don’t know yet what’s happening, but Blogger absolutely won’t work for me. It’s like it’s been hacked to death or something. Hopefully it fixes itself because I gave up changing settings and trying and trying and trying. I had to hand code this entry, and it’s not on my template, because it’s all I could manage and I actually got desperate feeling about posting. these last three days have been an emotional rollercoaster and crack high. Kid Amazing (John) stayed around for a few days and that was the best thing to happen to me in a while. It’s cheering to meet new people when they’re honest and open and shiny fresh cool. I thoroughly enjoyed his company Friday night coming home from work having someone to talk to and cook for (but I think I should have cooked the tomatillos in retrospect), and generally around to care about. I’ve known SO many musicians and I think he’s the first to ever lay it down and perform for me in earnest on request. Very charming. So, it was disappointing to come home Saturday and find that he’d found a place and was gone. I miss him already!

Change subject. Saturday was pivotal for events which occurred in the afternoon. As I mentioned in an old post, I’ve never beheld death (December 2002). Even though I work with the sick and dying, I’ve got this phat karma that seems to keep everything groovy and mellow, my patients generally comfortable and safe. I brag. I knock on wood. Anyway, I was assigned a fellow who came under my care to die, and though I hoped he would hold out at least 5 hours to die on the night nurse’s shift, he died two hours after I received him. He arrived curled up sleeping and simply never woke up. I gave him some lip balm (who could live without lip balm?), wrapped him in warm blankets, reassured his family, and kept busy. He stopped breathing. Nothing dramatic. His family mourned behind closed doors and eventually left. I helped bag his body to be sure that I saw some sort of closure (a zipper?). It’s a very strange feeling lifting a dead body. I think his body did seem lighter than I thought it would, and moved like an inanimate object. Morticians must have switches in their brains. I had instincts to fluff his pillow and tuck his blankets that really weren’t necessary I guess. His skin was a funny color. Purple green yellow green white yellow and some pink. His mouth was open. When noone was looking and the door was mostly shut, I had a compulsion to check his pulse. I thought I saw him breathing, and he wasn’t quite dead-looking. I decided he could have a faint pulse but I couldn’t feel it. I never saw his eyes open. That might have really disturbed me more had I looked into his eyes. I never knew him and never will. It was an easy intro to death; I call it “dead people 101” and consider myself blessed to have taken part in his last moments. Cool. Here’s a souvenir. The toe tag actually went on the outside of the bag. And here’s the tag that was supposed to go on the outside of the bag.

Morgue Toe Tag

Wow. My first dead guy.

Change subject. Hey, you know those scenes in the movies where cars go under semis and rail cars and maybe the car top is lopped but the passengers survive, or the whole car gets under ok? Well, that really happens, but not always so cleanly. Thought I’d let you know.

Change subject. I’ve gone a couple days without making a haiku. Here’s a spontaneous eructational revelation:

In other news, the Gallup Poll has revealed that nurses are honest and ethical (more here). Who would have thought? Hm. In four out of five times nurses have been included in the poll, they were ranked as the most ethical and honest, with 83% saying nurses standards are “very high” or “high” (the exception came in 2001 when firefighters, in their only ever appearance on the Gallup list, outscored nurses in the wake of September 11, 2001 events). One, I think it’s fucked that ethics are conditional on whether or not you publically die in service, because nurses have died taking care of patients, too. It really shows the power of hype (i.e. propaganda) in polling. Take the latest Zogby snapshot of George Bush’s ratings for example. I’m assuming this is reflecting recent developments in aerospace. Anyway, two, I think the public is a little ignorant of what I consider to be the true mentality of most nurses. Nurses are trained to be objective and compassionate and many nurses manage to retain this outlook-approach despite severe emotional strains. However, many nurses break under the pressure and – in the back rooms – scorn their patients’ unhealthy and stupid behaviors (as regarded from the outside) and are condescending and will actually snicker and backstab and gossip. How ’bout them apples? People get a lot of credit for their 15 minutes, but it’s always what goes on in the moments you think no one is looking that count. Will your nurse watch your back or do you need to watch her?

Change subject. Today I stuck out my neck a little and spoke more Spanish with a Mexican patient. I’m practicing on people who can’t really talk back, because once I elicit more than a three-word reply in speedy Spanish, I know I’m fucked. I really envy people who pick up languages and have no shyness about speaking with natives. Whenever I visit France I always hesitate to speak French. Why do I do that? It’s so stupid! The word I learned today was “toser“, which means “to cough.” That viral pneumonia going around is really kicking some ass. Make sure you wash your hands a lot.
Change subject. Things are good.