Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Today, like many of you, I have been reading. Many of these pieces I first encountered on Facebook, for which I thank my friends and acquaintances:

Jeffrey Toobin, "How Not to Use a Grand Jury"

Carol Anderson from the Washington Post (August 29), "Ferguson isn't about black rage against cops. It's white rage against progress."

From Heather Armstrong, "A Syllabus for Thanksgiving Break"

Chase Madar from The Nation, "Why It's Impossible to Indict a Cop"

"Situation 6 from CITIZEN by Claudia Rankine in collaboration with John Lucas" on Vimeo.

Jamelle Bouie on Slate, "Justifying Homicide"

Syreeta McFadden in The Guardian, "Ferguson, goddamn"

It's not enough, not an adequate response, to read and repost and read some more.

Adding: "Why Ferguson Burns," from The Nation. 
"So yes, Ferguson is on fire. Black America, brown America, poor America is on fire. And these embers of rage will smolder and flare until our out-of-control “justice” system is thoroughly reformed."

Monday, November 24, 2014

In which I write another post for this blog, for no apparent reason.

Five good things:

1. Chinese takeout, just waiting to be dinner.
2. A cold walk on a brilliant afternoon.
3. Possibly the best socks ever.
4. The proximity of no more grading for a week. Almost there!
5. Such good movies on the horizon.

Oh, okay. A few more:

6. Thanksgiving is just around the corner!
7. Ergo, pie!
8. My LSU daughter is just about to graduate!
9. Ergo, beignets! in New Orleans!
10. Yesterday, I wrote a poem. For no good reason!

Let's see if I can blog again tomorrow for no apparent reason.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Some things about the hospital.

1. No one, and I mean no one, can predict when the doctor is going to come around. 

Except for that 6:30 a.m. rounds thing.

2. I have eaten the same sad salad at the salad bar too many times.

Lettuce, kidney beans, mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers. Croutons, a few. Some sort of ranch-y dressing. What can I say? It is my go-to salad bar salad, and unless the salad bar is quite fancy, it'll do, or have to do.

3. Places I have spent a lot of time: 

The surgical waiting room. The CVICU. The Starbucks in the lobby. The cafeteria.

4. There is fairly reliable wireless. So you can "teach" from the hospital.

5. Your nurses are what you have going for you, most of the time.

Most of them are pretty awesome.

6. When things get unnerving, the whole gamut of medical professionals are an awesome team.

However, the minute there are a million specialists coming in and out of the room, you can have a bunch of different narratives of what is happening, and someone needs to be there to synthesize. And critically think. And generally to resist, even if for a few moments.

7. It would be amazing to be able to ward off their worst case scenarios. Like, with a shield or something.

I would tell you some of the scenarios spoken in certain ICU rooms, but you, dear reader, don't really need that. You really don't.

8.  The doctor will say things to you, but unless he writes it down, it's as if you made it up.

You know, when you try to tell it to a nurse later. Is it rude to say to the doctor, "So are you writing that down?"

Also, today, when we were trying to track down a chimerical order that was spoken but not written, one of our nurses said, "I'm gonna see if I can track down those CT desperadoes and get to the bottom of this."

9. I wish I could send a dozen roses to one of our nurses from the ICU. 

Because he was splendid.

10. In the cafeteria's favor, they do have Banbury Cross doughnuts.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The best/worst. (medical edition)

a marble impression of the IV trolley.
1. the ICU. So much beeping. So many alarms! The IV contraption is Medean in its multi-stranded-ness. So many people coming in and out with medications and blood to draw and ideas about how
you should get up and walk. And the beds. So, so uncomfortable. YET: when they transfer you upstairs to the counterintuitively named "step down" unit, with its heavy solid door and its much more quiet, you kind of worry they've forgotten you. What about all the needs? what about the alarms that go off and nobody comes? In the ICU this never would happen.

a bunch of people who can describe part of the problem.
2. Specialists. The Social Worker. The Case Manager. The Physician's Assistant. The Anesthesiologist, both attending and resident. The ICU nurses. The Respiratory Therapist. The Dietician. The Hematologist. They all know so much! Yet not a soul of them can tell you, really, how's he doing. Except maybe...

3. The Surgeon. Who is the best. No, really: the best. He might be a hero, in fact. He comes in at
6:30 for rounds with the medical students or interns or residents or whatever they are, their tired yet young faces fixed on his. He says, "The Historian is a X-year-old man..." and then gives the historian's case history. There's a lot of interesting stuff there, what with the factors and the surgery and the developments and the ins and outs and what have yous. Then, he steps into your room for all of 45 seconds to say that, despite this or that serious GD big effing deal that is causing you to lose sleep and possibly be at the ICU at 6:30 in the GD a.m., the historian is nonetheless looking good. Looking good.

Okay then!

I love/hate this place.
4. The hospital. This is an entirely admirable hospital. It's publicly funded, and thus it takes Medicaid, which means that they take the sorriest, meanest cases, and do a damned good job of helping people get better. So when I say that the hospital is the worst, I only mean that I hate it. I mean, I hate/love it. I mean, I am so damned grateful for it, and yet still I hope that my days there are few and fewer, and that it won't be long at all before the historian is in good enough shape to leave it for good.

But not until the hospital finishes its healing work with him, of course. Not until then.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Open letter to this week.

Dear This Week,

I wish that you were not driving toward a serious medical event, but you are. There, I said it. I'm saying it in a blog post stroke open letter that means, in some weird way, that I am trying to talk about why everything, literally everything has felt so strange. Like one's life is living one, and not the other way around. Is it stranger to talk about it, or to keep it to myself? This is what I've been asking myself for weeks now. Just like, This Week, I have been planning you for many weeks before now--before This Week. Planning how to teach after This Week. How to withdraw from any but the most essential commitments. How to ask for help (how does one ask for help? I think I would know how to ask for help if I were, say, drowning, but for this? how?). I have been trying to manage everything including my feelings about you, This Week. Maybe it's easier to plan and schedule and work and cram meeting upon meeting than to grapple with the serious medical event that is the apex of your arc.

On Friday, more or less the end of you, This Week, I will be sitting in the waiting room of a hospital while my beloved is in surgery.

On Friday, I will not be alone, but I will feel so alone. I know I will, it's just how I'm made.

By about midday on Friday, I will know the meaning of the week, the arc toward which this narrative seems to have been inevitably tending. I, who by training know that there is no one story, rather many stories, feel threshed and chastened by the power of this story. Helpless, maybe, in its inexorability. Is this a fruitful way to think about one's life? I think not, but there I am: I am at the mercy of this story.

I hope that you will be merciful, this week. I am, in fact, praying for that mercy.

lisa b.


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