The Hero Takes a Fall

2020. We’ve had a global pandemic. A quarantine and lockdown. Social distancing and facemasks. Murder hornets — maybe some of you have seen them. Riots and protests. Did I miss anything?

It might seem like a strange combination, but none of us had ever experienced a global pandemic before. I almost said none of us had lived through a pandemic before, but this thing is going to go on longer than any of us anticipated. There’s a possibility that not all of us are going to survive it.

Over 500,000 people have died worldwide already, and every medical expert that has been questioned about the COVID-19 pandemic says it’s only going to get worse. The long-term effects of this pandemic are yet to be seen, but the short-term effects have been significant.

Other than my lovely supermodel wife, I may never hug another person again. I have two facemasks, and I’m seriously contemplating buying a dozen more. I haven’t used so much hand sanitizer since I was a nurse. And those are only the things I can think of off the top of my head.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the end of the world as we know it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Our world needed to be shaken up. A whole lots of things needed to change. 

A paradigm shift has occurred. People are mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore. Any time you have contents under pressure, there’s a danger of said contents exploding. That’s not my opinion, that’s science and physics.

Well, it’s happened. The anger is no longer repressed and restrained. It is out there, and like unto Pandora’s box, there’s no way to neatly put everything back inside. The best we can hope for now is that we don’t destroy civilization in the process of trying to rebuild it.

* * * *

Hero Takes A Fall is the first single from The Bangles debut album, All Over the Place. The Bangles are an American, all female pop/rock band from Los Angeles. All four of the girls in the band were hot babes, and I was in love with all of them way back in the 1980’s. 

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See? I told you they were hotties. Gotta love the 80’s hair styles

Hero Takes a Fall is a song about how arrogance can lead to a downfall. That, apparently, is what my Muses want to focus on this time. As always, there’s a reason for that.

* * * *

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we’ve had three rounds of protests this year. First, were the Anti- lockdown protests. Second, were the Anti-racism protests. And third, were the Monument protests.

It’s possible that the riots and the protests would have occurred independently of the quarantine, but the lockdown probably pumped up the volume on them. Everyone was suffering from cabin fever…

* * * *

A monument is a type of structure that was explicitly created to commemorate a person or event, or which has become relevant to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, due to its artistic, historical, political, technical or architectural importance.

The monuments that have become so offensive lately are Confederate monuments from the American Civil War.

* * * *

The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. Depending on the statistical analysis you use, there were anywhere from 600,000 to 750,000 deaths that resulted from the 10,500 battles, engagements, and other military actions that occurred during that time period.

You’re not going to give us another history lesson, are you?

Yes, I am. If I weren’t already writing this for you, I’d tell you to take notes. Perhaps Somewhat Interesting Sidenote of the Civil War: both sides thought God was on their side.

This incredibly bloody war began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over slavery.  The Confederate States claimed it was a struggle to uphold states’ rights, but the only right the eleven states that comprised the Confederacy were fighting about — was the right to keep their black slaves.

Case in point, the Confederate States had a central government. It was based in Richmond, VA. The President of the Confederacy was Jefferson Davis. His vice-president was Alexander Stephens. If they were really opposed to the idea of a federal government, they shouldn’t have created one of their own.

In a speech known today as the Cornerstone Address, Alexander Stephens described the Confederate ideology as being based upon …the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.

It’s a good thing he was a Christian. I’d hate to see what he would’ve come up with if he was a barbarian.

* * * *

The main reason the South wanted slaves was because of cotton. Cotton was the Number 1 export from America in the 1800’s. 80% of the cotton used in England and France came from the South. The Southern plantation owners were making money hand over bale on their cotton crops, and they didn’t have to pay their slaves one fucking dime to work their fields.

The demand for cotton was the ace the Confederacy had hidden up its sleeve. They believed other nations would recognize their claim of independence from the North, and possibly support them financially, politically, or even militarily. All because of the demand for King Cotton that only the South could supply.

Any questions?

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, changing the legal status under federal law of more than 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the secessionist Confederate states.

The Proclamation turned foreign popular opinion in favor of the Union by gaining the support of anti-slavery countries and countries that had already abolished slavery, mainly, the United Kingdom and France. The same two countries the South was hoping would support them.

Psychologically, it was the turning point of the war. The Southern hopes for foreign recognition and support for their cause went up in flames, kind of like the city of Atlanta did on July 22, 1864.

* * * *

I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War for as long as I can remember. It’s certainly the most romanticized war in American history. And to be honest, my portrayal of the events leading up to the war have been seriously condensed, so if you want a more in-depth perspective, get on the Google® and start surfing.

My great-great-grandfather on my dad’s side of the family fought for the North. I believe I fought for the North, too, in one of my previous lives. I’m pretty sure I got killed to death in the Battle of Gettysburg defending the Devil’s Den. I’m not sure why I think that, I just do.

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The only things I’ve researched more than this war are God and religions, and I’m sure I still don’t understand God. No one completely understands God, not even priests and pastors, and they probably understand their boss less than I do.

* * * *

Just in cases you didn’t know, the North defeated the South. General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.

To the victors go the spoils. The North started to memorialize their victory over the South as early as 1865, the year the war ended. The South wasn’t allowed to memorialize their lost cause until 1890. The United Daughters of the Confederacy were the driving force behind the monument movement, and once they got the green light, they erected over 700 statues in 31 states, plus the District of Columbia. 

That’s 20 more states than the number of states that seceded. These monuments aren’t just in the South, but that’s where they had their greatest impact.

The pinnacle of their efforts was Stone Mountain, essentially the Confederate version of Mount Rushmore. It’s a gigantic carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson carved into the side of a mountain in Georgia. It took more than 50 years to complete.

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Then I wish I was in Dixie! Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie’s Land I’ll take my stand, to live and die in Dixie!

As if the monuments weren’t enough to remind the black population of where they were, and who the bosses still were, the Confederate flag was proudly flown all over the South. Even today, five southern states still have symbols of the old Confederacy in their current state flags.

William Porcher Miles, the man who designed the Confederate flag, had the same racist/political views as Alexander Stephens. The stars and bars design is meant to specifically represent white superiority. He didn’t do it because, Oh, you know, I just thought it looked kinda cool.

The memory of the antebellum South — the grand plantations, the demure Southern belles, the gallant Southern gentlemen — these were the nostalgic notions the United Daughters of the Confederacy allegedly wanted to preserve.

The reality is vastly different. First, the Confederacy of Southern States stood for the disunion of the United States. Second, its constitution was based on the belief of racial inequality, and that slavery was the natural state for all black people. Simply stated, the Confederacy was a treasonous and racist institution.

The Civil War monuments are a constant reminder of the oppression perpetrated by the racist South. The South turned Democrat when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and Republican when Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.

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The fucking South fucking sucks! End of story. Since 2015, at least 138 Confederate monuments have been “removed” from public places There will likely to be more to follow.

While removing these monuments won’t change history, it will do one thing: It’ll wipe the smiles off the faces of those debutante cunts who thought they were slipping something past all us stupid Yankees.

Cunts~2

And if you’re one of those fucking people that are all upset because some fucking statues of some fucking dead guys who supported slavery are being torn down, get over your fucking yourself.

Maybe you should take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. Look deep. You’re probably not going to like what you see.

* * * *

In the spring of 1969, The 5th Dimension released Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In. It was a two song medley originally written for the musical, Hair. The song spent six weeks at Number 1 on the pop charts, and won a Grammy for Record of the Year.

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius

I tried to do some research on Astrological Ages, and I had to stop. That shit is more confusing than Chinese math. We might be living in the Age of Aquarius now, or it might not happen for another 25,000 years. Each astrological age lasts a little over two thousand years, and each age is characterized by specific qualities based on the signs of the Zodiac.

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation

Please feel free to do some research on this yourself, and if you can figure it out, let me know.

The only reason I bring this up is because the Age of Aquarius is supposed to be a time of enlightenment and harmony — two things this world is in dire need of. And if we have to wait another 25,000 years for that to happen, well, we’d be better off dying from COVID-19.

Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in

It is time for a change. Our old beliefs and mindsets have done far more damage than good. We, as a people, need to redefine our priorities. A lots of people talk about making this world a better place. It’s time to start doing it.

Oh, let it shine, c’mon
Now everybody just sing along
Let the sun shine in
Open up your heart and let it shine on in
When you are lonely, let it shine on
Got to open up your heart and let it shine on in
And when you feel like you’ve been mistreated
And your friends turn away
Just open your heart, and shine it on in

Just in cases you haven’t noticed, this is the only planet we have.

The Man in the Mirror

I don’t know what it’s like for other writers, but I have to be inspired to write anything for my blog. My inspiration appears to come from my Muses. That’s what I call them. I don’t know who or what they are, but without them I probably wouldn’t be able to write anything except my name.

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I’ve written about my Muses before. They’re loosely based on the nine Muses of Greek mythology. I sincerely doubt that any of the mythic Muses are the actual source of my inspiration. I just like the idea of scantily clad hot babes frolicking around inside my head.

I have also written about my experiences with thought insertions. These can be fairly random experiences for me, except when I write. As far as that goes, I seem to become a vehicle for whomever or whatever it is that wants to be heard. In my blog. That hardly anyone reads…

I know, right? You’d think they would’ve been smart enough to pick a better vehicle.

Case in point, I’ve been trying not to write this post for at least a month now, but the only ideas I get about writing revolve around a subject I’d rather not touch. In the past, my Muses have tended to throw me under the bus in these circumstances. That’s my primary reason for not wanting to write this. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not going to be able to avoid it, so I might as well get it over with.

* * * *

One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is look in the mirror above my bathroom sink. The medications I have to take are in the cabinet behind the mirror.

I take something for hypertension so I don’t have a stroke. I take an aspirin a day to prevent a heart attack. I take Omega-3 to slow the progression of dementia, which I may or may not have. The definitive diagnosis of dementia is done at autopsy, and I’m not ready for that yet. And I also select a variety of analgesic meds depending on my level of pain.

And that’s when the music starts.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Me: I suffer from Involuntary Musical Imagery Syndrome. There is always a song running through my head. This condition is sometimes referred to as an earworm. It’s a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind.

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Today, it’s The Boston Rag by Steely Dan. On the bright side, the DJ inside my head seems to have good taste in music.

* * * *

I’m fairly certain everyone has had this happen to them before, but I don’t know if it’s a daily occurrence for most people. Like unto the ringing in my left ear, most of the time I don’t even notice it. I’ve gotten used to it. Sometimes it’s annoying as hell, like the time I had a McDonald’s® jingle playing in my head for over a month.

* * * *

Man in the Mirror is a song by Michael Jackson. It was released in February 1988 from his album, Bad. It was his tenth number-one single, and Jackson said it was one of his favorite songs. It’s one of the few songs Jackson recorded that he didn’t write, and it’s especially ironic when you consider just how weird of a human being Michael Jackson was.

The song is about making a change and realizing that it has to start with you.

The phrase …you should look in the mirror, isn’t usually meant to be taken literally. It’s more of an allegory to suggest that you need to take a long, hard look at yourself. You need to do some soul searching. You’re probably going to have to do some agonizing reappraisal. It’s a process that’s probably going to suck. A lots.

* * * *

rac·ism
/ˈrāˌsizəm/
noun
  1. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

* * * *

Racism. It’s the other big headline in the news this year. Racism isn’t new. It’s been around since, well, forever. In and of itself, racism doesn’t sound like an ugly word.

Puke. Crepuscular. Smegma. Those words sound ugly. But if you want to make 9 out of 10 people feel uncomfortable in a conversation, bring up the topic of racism. I’m not even talking to anyone, and I feel uncomfortable writing about it. Almost everyone has some racial biases lurking somewhere deep inside of their souls. Almost none of us are proud about it.

If you ask someone from my generation if they’re racist, they’ll probably stumble all over themselves when they try to explain themselves. At best, you might get this response, “Well, I used to be…” At worst, you’ll hear this answer, “Oh hell yeah.”

My dad was a racist. He wasn’t an in-your-face racist, he was more of a behind-your-back racist, which tells me he wasn’t proud of his beliefs either. I’m sure he inherited his biases from his parents, and right or wrong, he passed them on to his children. 

* * * *

No one knows when the concept of racial superiority first emerged, but it appears that pretty much every ethnic/cultural group of people on the planet has at one time or another thought that they were superior to every other ethnic group of people.

The US has been the hotspot for racial tensions recently, but it’s hardly the only place where race is a major issue. The English feel superior to the peoples living on the European continent. The Germans feel superior to the peoples of Eastern Europe and Russia. And the French feel superior to, well, everybody.

I’m sure there have been a lots of studies exploring the origins of biases and discrimination. If you’re interested, you can look it up on the Google®. For my money, they originate from ignorance and fear because that’s where all of mine came from.

* * * *

Knowledge can be defined as information you acquire as you grow. Wisdom can be described as as the application of accrued knowledge. Ignorance is the absence of knowledge. Stupidity is the absence of wisdom. 

These aren’t the actual definitions of these words. They’re my definitions.

* * * *

In the 1600’s, scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism came into vogue in Europe. At best, it was  a pseudoscientific belief that empirical evidence existed to support or justify racial discrimination. In other words, it was a bullshit philosophy. There isn’t any evidence to support this line of thinking.

Despite that, racism is alive and well on this planet. And it’s not just racism that afflicts the human race. There are a plethora of biases that you can choose from if you want to discriminate against others.

People may discriminate against others based on age, social status and class, height, criminal record, weight, religion, physical appearance, disability, intelligence, family status, gender identity, gender expression, generation, genetic characteristics, race, marital status, nationality, profession, color, ethnicity, sex and sexual orientation, political ideology, dietary preferences, and personality.

See? I told you it was a long list, and the list I just detailed is by no means complete. The most ironic form of discrimination is based on religion. I believe in God, but the idea that the invisible entity someone else worships isn’t the real Invisible Entity is just… crazy. Additionally, Jesus Christ repeatedly said that you should love everyone, no matter what. I’m not sure how some of the people who claim to believe in him missed that integral part of his message.

The Apostle Paul believed that the love of money is the root of all evil. Maybe that’s true, but the misuse of religion is the root of the greatest evil. You can quote me on that. In my opinion, the only people who should be able to discriminate based on religion are atheists, and they’re probably the only people that don’t.

* * * *

I’m not sure who came up with the idea that people with white skin are superior to all of the people that aren’t white, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the person who did –was white.

I see this concept as a combination of Creationism and Evolution — two schools of thought that mix together like oil and water — but it goes something like unto this: white people are superior to everyone else because they’re the children of God. And all of those inferior darker-skinned people — they descended from apes.

* * * *

When I was in nursing school, I met John. He was a patient at the St. Cloud VA. John was an older black man who spent hours in the bathroom staring at his reflection in the mirror. The thing I remember most about him was the look of shock and…horror…on his face as he stared at his reflection.

“I don’t know what happened to me,” he said in a voice so low it was almost a whisper. “I woke up yesterday, and I was…black!”

“Um, I don’t know how to say this, but isn’t that, you know, normal?”

“Hell no it’s not normal! I’m WHITE!”

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* * * *

I went to a lots of Catholic schools when I was young. I received an excellent education, and I was taught to be a morally upstanding person, something that would take decades to take root inside me.

I was taught to love everyone no matter who or what they were. I didn’t. I’m not sure I even liked many people back then. I spent a fair amount of time living in small towns in Minnesota when I was very young, and again after I was discharged from the Army. These were towns where a racially diverse neighborhood meant Swedes and Norwegians lived on the same block.

I was around ten years old the first time I remember hearing the word nigger. I had no idea what the word meant, but I remember I laughed when I heard it. I thought it sounded funny. 

I’m pretty sure I thought all of the common racial slurs were funny. Wop. Chink. Beaner. Kike. Gook. They all cracked me up. I can’t remember when I realized that none of them were funny. All I know for sure is it took a helluvalot longer than it should have.

Once I got to know people of color, I discovered they didn’t fit into the preconceived ideas I had, so something had to change. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet a real, live black person face-to-face until I was in high school. I hope I didn’t look at him like he was some kind of animal that had escaped from a zoo, but I probably did.

And I hope I didn’t call him a nigger out loud, but I know I was thinking it.

It wasn’t until I was in the Army that I was exposed to a lots of people of various colors, races and creeds. The black guys were all so damn cool. They could dance, and talk shit gooder than anyone I’d ever met, and they were funny! They had a sense of humor and style that I didn’t possess. They didn’t fit into any of the misconceptions I possessed. They actually made me feel inferior to them.

I suppose I could have hated them for that, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt superior to anyone. That whole not being good enough thing was something I was very familiar with. Come to think of it, I probably still feel that way.

Added to that, it was Basic Training — black, white, brown — it didn’t matter, we all felt a sense of unity because we were all being made to feel miserable, and in the Army there was only one color that mattered.

Olive drab green.

* * * *

Two of my best friends after I got out of Basic Training were Hispanic. Johnny Gonzalez and Raoul Sanchez. They were two of the smartest guys I’ve known, and they taught me so much about how the military worked. I probably wouldn’t have survived the Army without them.

They were so proud of their heritage. Both of them were from Texas, and they took me home to meet their families more than once. I learned to love Mexican food because of them. And I also learned to have a very healthy respect for Hispanic women because of them.

I’ve written a few stories about some of my adventures with Raoul. You can check them out if you don’t have anything better to do.

* * * *

The Army taught me that I didn’t know everything, and most of the things I thought I knew about people were wrong. But there was one group of people that I still couldn’t abide.

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For the longest time, I really didn’t like gay men. I didn’t hold any ill will against lesbians, so sexual preference wasn’t my issue. I had been sexually abused by my uncle when I was a kid — that was my reason for hating fuckin’ queers and faggots.

I was probably the most homophobic person on the planet when I was in my twenties. I hated Richard Simmons. I didn’t like Elton John. It wasn’t until I became a psych nurse that my homophobia finally subsided. 

Many of my patients were gay. Because I was their nurse, I had to talk to them. And I discovered that most of them were decent guys. Two of the nurses I worked with at the Minneapolis VAMC were gay, and they weren’t just decent guys, they were damn good nurses.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Nurses and Nursing: it’s a profession where your performance determines what kind of person you are to other nurses. Seriously. You can be the sweetest person on Earth, but if you’re a lousy nurse, your co-workers are probably going to think you suck.

From my point of view, if you’re not a good nurse, there’s almost a zero chance that I could ever be your friend.

Conversely, you can be an absolute disaster area of a human being, but if you’re a good nurse, your co-workers will probably love you, at least some of the time. In this aspect, nurses are a lots like unto cops. Cops judge other cops in a similar fashion.

* * * *

It was only after we moved to Arizona that I worked in a very diverse workplace. The Psychiatry Department of the Minneapolis VAMC was about as vanilla as it could be. The was one black psychiatrist, and one black nurse. I can’t remember working with a single Hispanic person, but there were three Native Americans on staff.

Everyone else, was white.

Arizona was a whole ‘nother story. I wish I could say that by this time in my life I had gotten past all of my biases based on color. But in all honesty, I’m sure there are times when it still happens…

It doesn’t happen as often now, and I catch it faster, and tell myself to get my head out of my ass.

In my mind, Phoenix and Minneapolis are probably equal when it comes to racial diversity. I’m not sure how to explain the differences in staffing when I compare the hospitals in the two states. One major difference was funding. The Federal Government has a lots more money than any hospital does. As a result, the VA hired only nurses to work the floor. There was no separation of duties at the VA. You were a nurse. You did everything.

The healthcare system in Arizona was vastly different than the system I was used to in Minnesota. All of the hospitals I worked at in Arizona employed Registered Nurses and Behavioral Health Technicians. The majority of the BHT’s were people of color. The BHT’s checked vital signs and basically controlled the environment of the unit while the nurses passed medications and did paperwork. A whole lots of goddamn paperwork.

It didn’t take me long to realize that a good BHT was worth twice their weight in gold, and the color of their skin was their least important attribute. Our patients were much more marginalized than the relatively benign guys I was used to at the VA. It could be a much more dangerous climate in Arizona.

* * * *

Some of the nurses I worked with in Arizona rarely left the nursing station. One nurse didn’t have any idea how to even use the blood pressure machine!

“That’s a BHT job.” she said.

I fuckin’ hated working with her and her lazy-ass attitude. The really weird part about this is I also worked with her in Minnesota, at the Minneapolis VAMC. I expected better things from her.

* * * *

I was seriously injured only once in my career as a psych nurse. I’m not sure I’d even be alive right now if it weren’t for the BHT’s in Arizona. Those guys saved my life more than once. So, thank you Bob. And James. And Anthony. And Devon. And Luis. And Antonio. And anyone else that I’ve forgotten.

You are among the best people I’ve had the pleasure to work with, and you are some of the best men I’ve ever known. I’m a better person because of my association with all of you.

I hope you all can say the same about me.

* * * *

Hatred. It sounds like an ugly word, but the sound of it fails to adequately describe the depth of its hideousness.

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you’ll know that I do not like Donald Trump. One of my friends went so far as to say that I hate Trump. His comment hit me like a slap in the face because that’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about a lots of late.

Can that be true? Do I really hate President Trump?

My first response was, Hmm, I’m not sure that’s possible…

However, upon further review I realized that I hate Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham — and William Barr — so I’m clearly still capable of hating other human beings.

There’s a reason for that. Those three crepuscular blobs of puke and smegma have bartered their souls to support Donald Trump. There’s no doubt in my mind that all three of them know exactly what they’re doing, and that they also realize the full extent of how much they’ve compromised their principles in the process.

I don’t know how those three cocksuckers can look at themselves in the mirror.

Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, misogynistic, slob of a pig of a human being who is also the most corrupt and criminal President that has ever sat his fat ass in the chair behind the big desk in the Oval Office of the White House. And yet, I don’t think that I hate him.

There’s also a reason for that. I’m not sure that The Donald has complete control of his mental faculties anymore. I think he might have dementia, and because this is clearly a matter of national security, I think the best thing to do is perform an autopsy on him immediately, and settle this matter once and for all.

Come to think of it, we should also perform an autopsy on Mike Pence, just to make sure he actually has a brain.

* * * *

There are over 400 types of dementia, and they all suck. Dementia is a group of conditions characterised by impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and judgement. Common symptoms include forgetfulness, of course, as well as limited social skills and altered thinking abilities that can be so significant that it interferes with daily functioning.

And there’s another thing you should know about dementia. It’s terminal. Yep, it’ll kill you to death and you’ll probably be so fuckin’ out of it that you won’t even know you got dead.

* * * *

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If, and only if the dementia factor is real, then Donald Trump suddenly becomes someone who is more far deserving of pity than he is of scorn and contempt. That said, it doesn’t acquit him of the criminal activities he has committed as President. When it comes to that, I think he knew exactly what he was doing.

Nor does it excuse his inflammatory words and discriminatory attitudes. That’s his baseline. Unfortunately, if he does have dementia, it’s only going to make those qualities worse.

And, he’s also a narcissist. So I’m sure this is what The Donald sees when he looks in the mirror:

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* * * *

I had been working as an RN for about a year when I was assigned to work with my first dementia patient. He was old white guy named Del who spent a lots of time standing in his bathroom staring into his mirror. One day he called me into his bathroom to tell me something important.

“Look! My friend is trapped in there, and I can’t get him out!! You’ve got to do something!!!” Del pointed at the mirror on the wall and his “friend.” And I had no idea what I was supposed to do. There’s nothing in the textbook that covers this.

Seeing how I had no idea what I was supposed to do, I did the stupidest possible thing I could have done in that situation. I tried to explain to Del that he was seeing his own reflection in the mirror. His “friend” wasn’t trapped in a parallel universe. His “friend” was him. And he was looking in a mirror.

While this might appear to be a reasonable response, Del looked at me like I was speaking to him in Chinese. And I was just standing there, not doing anything to help Del or his “friend.”

Seeing how I wasn’t going to do anything, Del reached up and ripped the mirror off the wall with his bear hands. It’s not an easy thing to do because the bathrooms on Pysch Units are designed to withstand being hit by a small nuclear bomb.

That’s when I did something. I took the mirror away from Del and turned it away from him so he couldn’t see his reflection anymore, and pointed at the wall.

“Look! You saved your friend! Damn! That was amazing, Del! Good job, buddy!”

* * * *

I have no idea how to end this post. It’s time to cue the music and let the band take us home. Fortunately, I have a song in mind. Today, it’s Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

From the Odds and Ends Department

Have you ever watched something on TV, or read something, and thought, Man, I could do so much better than that! You might even be thinking that right now…  Especially if you’ve read more than one of my blog posts.

I mean, all this guy writes about is getting wasted, his slutty girlfriends, and how all of his relationships fell apart! There was that story about his nympho Russian girlfriend, Ivana Sukyurkokov. And his heartbroken Chinese girlfriend, Wat Wen Wong. Jeez, his blog is dumber than putting wheels on a ball! I liked him more when he wrote about crazy people!

And I hear you. Before I started writing my blog, I thought bloggers were people who needed to get a fucking life, man. They were probably people who thought Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian were the epitome of American society and they all wanted to be Paris-ites, or biffles, or twat waffles with them or something.

I’ve started reading some of the blogs that are out there on the Interweb, and I was wrong about bloggers. Most of them appear to have lives.

Except me.

I’m retired. If I were to write about my day-to-day life now, my blog would consist of restaurant reviews in the Lakeside area, and stories about how much I love my Sleep Number bed®.

And to be honest, I probably liked me more when I was writing about crazy people, too. But those stories are relatively easy to write, and like everything else in life, it’s only when you step outside of your comfort zone that anything meaningful happens. It’s the stories I didn’t want to write that taught me the most about myself. It was the stories that hurt like hell that showed me how far I’ve come.

And how far I still have to go.

And the other thing about writing about my nursing career is not every person I cared for resulted in a story worth telling.  Knife wielding homicidal maniacs were the exception, not the rule, thank God. Most of my patients were never a problem, unlike medical dramas on TV. I’d probably hate being a TV nurse, unless my work partner was the hot nurse with the big tits…

The majority of my nursing career was pretty ho-hum. Mischief was managed. Shit got done. No one died. And that was that. But there were a lots of snippets and moments and oneliners, and if I could patchwork a lots of them together, I might be able to spin a tale or two…

* * * *

I’ve discovered that time management is still necessary once you retire. I certainly have more time to do things I enjoy now, like reading. And because other bloggers sometimes read my posts, I feel a certain obligation to read some of their posts, too. My favorite blogger is a young woman in New York who writes about her struggle to overcome her eating disorder. Her blog is called Beauty Beyond Bones. And while I love her now, I probably would’ve hated her as a patient.

Back when I was a psych nurse in Arizona, there were a couple of eating disorder treatment facilities in the little town of Wickenburg, about thirty miles northwest of Surprise. Remuda Ranch and Rosewood Ranch. She’s never come out and said if she was a patient at either of them, but I’m going to guess she was at Remuda. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that. I interviewed at both facilities, but decided not to take a position at either one of them. I absolutely sucked at working with eating disorder patients.

Remuda is a Christian based treatment facility. One of the questions they asked me in the interview was did I think the Bible was the sole source of truth. I said no, it wasn’t, and I wasn’t even sure all of the things written in the Bible were true. After my interview, they told me I wasn’t Christian enough to meet their criteria. I told them that was okay. They weren’t the first Christians to tell me that.

A few weeks later they called me back and told me that they had changed their mind about me, and asked if I was still interested in working there. I wanted to say something like, God, you guys must be fucking desperate! But instead I thanked them for thinking of me, and told them I had found another position and I wasn’t available anymore.

Well, it was the truth…

Like most every psychological/psychiatric disorder, eating disorders are caused by a multitude of complex factors, and as with every psychological/psychiatric disorder–except dementia–the successful treatment of anorexia or bulimia depends completely on the patient. If they don’t want to change their behavior, there ain’t nothin’ anyone can do for them once they’re discharged from the hospital.

It’s like alcoholism or drug addiction, only worse. Just as the drinking and chemical use are usually a symptom of a deeper, darker pathology, eating disorders are about far more than food.

Eating disorders are incredibly difficult to treat, mostly because eating disorder patients are the spawn of Satan. I mean that in a Christian way. They are sneakier than a ninja. They can vomit silently so they can purge without anyone knowing. They stockpile food so they can binge feed when no one is looking. And if their lips are moving, they’re probably lying.

The other thing I remember most clearly about most of these women, and they were all females, is the majority of them were gorgeous. And that is truly one of the great mysteries that used to keep me awake at night when I was learning how to be a psych nurse. How could someone so beautiful be so fucking miserable?

One of my first posts was about one of my patients at the MVAMC. I called him the Piano Man because he liked to play the piano. About the time he walked onto the unit for one of his many admissions, we had just discharged a gal with anorexia. She had been on our unit for a couple of weeks, and none of the staff were sad to see her go.

After we got the Piano Man admitted, he sat down at the piano and started playing, and the piano sounded like a wounded moose. We opened the top to find the eating disorder girl had hid enough food inside of the piano to feed Hannibal’s entire army when he crossed the Alps to attack Rome. Including the elephants.

For someone who has never worked in a psychiatric setting, it would be easy to say that we, as staff members, totally sucked at our job, and I really don’t have much of anything to say in our defense. We were hardly specialists at treating eating disorders, and the fact we were so happy to see that particular patient leave speaks volumes to the level of struggle we all had with her.

* * * *

To be sure, it’s very easy to be an armchair quarterback or a wheelchair general, and criticize someone doing a job you’ve never attempted. And when you’re in a service oriented occupation like Nursing, you are never going to be able to make everybody happy. No one is that good, and people can be incredibly demanding/entitled. And it is generally the people who were making the least positive contribution to anything who were the most demanding and entitled.

You guys have to be the worst fucking nurses I’ve ever seen! I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one. And it was usually a guy that you and your team had spent a month busting your asses trying to arrange housing and follow up for, who had been discharged from your unit forty-eight hours earlier, and was already back because he chose to drink as much alcohol and smoke as much meth as he possibly could before he came crawling back to the hospital.

Most of the time it’s better to just agree with someone like that, and walk away. But there were times when I couldn’t.

“Maybe you should get out more…  That means a lots coming from you…”

I said something like unto that to one of my unhappy frequent flyer guys at the MVAMC who probably spent as much time in the hospital as I did. His name was Ray. I’m going to guess that the total bill for the many, many times we detoxed him off of alcohol, sobered him up and set him up to succeed was in excess of one million dollars, and he had this response, “You used to be a good guy, but you need a new job. You’ve been inpatient too long.”

“So have you.” I replied.

He froze to death one cold December night in Minneapolis. He had gotten drunk and was walking to the hospital so he could be admitted again. His body was found propped up against a tree across the street from the hospital in the morning. He had stopped to rest before making his final stumbling trek to the ED, and had fallen asleep.

You meet a lots of guys like unto that when you’re a psych nurse. There was Charles. He was another MVAMC guy who spent an inordinate amount of time getting drunker than fifty guys combined, and the rest of his time detoxing on my unit.

We had safely detoxed Charles for the umpteenth time, and discharged him at 9:00 AM on a Friday morning. At 2:30 PM that same day, I answered the phone. It was Charles.

“Hey, I don’t think this discharge thing is going to work, man. I’ve been out of the hospital for about six hours, and I’m pretty fuckin’ wasted, man.” he slurred.

“Hey, Charles. Has it ever occurred to you that you need to quit drinking?” I decided to ask. There was a long silence, and then Charles said this,

“Is there anyone else there I can talk to?”

For one of the few times in my life, I had no response. I handed the phone to one of my co-workers. Charles would also die to death as a result of his alcohol abuse.

Sometimes the disease wins.

* * * *

You never know what you’ll see or hear as a psych nurse, and there’s a reason for that. People are capable of an infinite amount of kooky stuff, not that you have to be a psych nurse to experience the full spectrum of kookiness available out there.

All you really need to see that is a family.

But one thing you may not experience unless you’re a psych nurse is the dreaded Dissociative Identity Disorder, or more commonly, Multiple Personality Disorder. In my thirty year career, I met a lots of people who claimed to have multiple personalities, but none of them ever seemed to be legitimate to me, or anyone else I worked with.

Multiple Personality Disorder was virtually unheard of until the 1970’s. That’s when the book Sybil was published, 1973 to be exact. Three years later, the TV movie of the same name was broadcast on NBC, starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward, and like magic, suddenly everyone had multiple personalities.

For my money, all of the people I met who claimed to have multiple personalities were just assholes looking for an easy excuse for their behavior.

* * * *

I was working nights at the MVAMC fairly early in my career. I was the Med nurse that night, so anyone needing any medications had to see me. Enter Sam. It was around 2:00 AM. We had detoxed Sam off of alcohol with a Valium protocol. Once someone had been safely detoxed, the protocol was discontinued.

Sam had been off the protocol for a day or two, but he wanted more Valium. I explained to him how the protocol worked, and Sam had a five star meltdown. He screamed at me, waking up everyone on the unit. One of the other nurses called the POD and got a one time order of Valium for Sam, and he went back to bed.

At 6:00 AM, Sam came up to the nursing station to get his morning meds. He was quite pleasant, and I remarked that he was much nicer than he had been at 2:00 AM.

“Oh, that. That wasn’t me. That was Samuel.”

“No kidding. He looks just like you.” I said.

Sam gave me, and anyone else willing to listen, a detailed description of his three personalities: Sam, Samuel and Sheryl. A line of patients had formed behind Sam. They were waiting to get their meds so they could go smoke. According to Sam, Samuel was the troublemaker. Sheryl was the lover, and Sam was the drunk. I listened to Sam, and gave him his meds.

“Well, the next time you talk to Samuel, give him a message.” I said. “If he ever talks to me like that again, I’m gonna punch you in the fuckin’ mouth.”

Sam’s jaw dropped. He turned to the guys standing behind him, “Did you hear that! He threatened me!”

“Hey! Take your goddamn meds and get the hell out of the way! And if you ever pull that shit again, if he doesn’t punch you in the fuckin’ mouth, I will.” one of the Nam vets growled.

Yeah, not one of my better moments, but Samuel never made another appearance.

* * * *

I think the last time I met anyone who claimed to have multiple personalities was at Aurora. I walked onto the Canyon Unit, and Nikki was on a 1:1. She was a frequent flyer, and I was usually her nurse.

A 1:1 is a special precaution, usually reserved for patients that are acutely suicidal. In essence, one staff person is assigned to one patient, and that patient is never more than an arm’s length away from the person assigned to watch over them.

Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work, but it’s rarely played out that way.

I went over to talk to Nikki. She had scratched her wrist with a plastic spoon on the evening shift. She didn’t even break the integrity of her skin, and her nurse had placed her on the 1:1.

I’m shaking my head while I write this. I don’t usually like to criticize the actions of other nurses, but that was a lazy-ass intervention. If the evening nurse had taken even five minutes to talk to Nikki, that ridiculous waste of manpower and resources wouldn’t have been needed. We barely had enough staff to cover the units, let alone have one staff assigned to watch someone for no good reason.

I asked Nikki to tell me what happened.

“I didn’t do anything! It was Alexandra!”

“And whom might that be?”

“She’s one of my three personalities! She–”

“Stop. Cut the crap, Nikki. You’re on a 1:1. You can’t smoke if you’re on a 1:1.” I said.

“But they let me smoke last night, and this morning!”

“I don’t care what they did last night. This is my unit, my rules. If I can’t trust you to be safe on the unit, I’m sure as hell not going to trust you to be safe off the unit, with a lit cigarette in your hand. What if you decide to burn yourself?”

“It wasn’t me! It was Alexandra!”

“I don’t care who did it. None of you get to smoke.”

“I’ll be safe, I promise! Please!!”

Less than five minutes. Mischief managed. And I never heard another word about Alexandra again. Ever.

* * * *

There was a fairly consistent response whenever I told someone that I had just met that I was a psychiatric nurse. Their eyes would widen, and they would say something like unto, “I bet you’ve seen it all, huh.”

I would reply, “No. I’ve seen a lots of strange stuff, but the kookiness of humans is infinite.”

And that is the fucking truth.

Every time I thought I had seen it all, something I didn’t think was humanly possible walked through the door. I eventually made peace with the fact that I would never see it all, and I was okay with that. My two other personalities are still sulking about that a bit, but they’ll get over it.

Or I’ll punch them in the mouth.

A Brief History of Christianity

We watched Hacksaw Ridge the other night. It’s the Hollywood depiction of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who enlisted in the Army during WW II and saved the lives of 75 men.

That’s one of the storylines in the movie. Desmond was also a Seventh-day Adventist who endured a considerable amount of torment and harassment because of his faith after he enlisted in the Army.

There’s one thing the US Army and organized religion have in common: conformity. Marching to the beat of a different drummer is highly discouraged in the Church. It’s essentially against the law in the Army.

I’m going to give the Army an edge in achieving conformity over the Church nowadays. KP, push-ups, bullying and blanket parties–I’m sure the Army no longer condones the last two tactics of enhanced peer pressure/alternative conformity techniques–be that as it may, they are very effective tools.

The Church hasn’t had that kind of control over people since the Inquisition. If the Inquisition were still in effect, I’m going to say the Church would win. Torture and possibly being burned at the stake beat the hell out of peeling potatoes and doing push-ups when it comes to getting your goddamn mind right.

I’ve never had my faith tested like Desmond. I’m not sure how I’d respond if it were. I’d like to think I’d stand firm in the face of opposition, trial and tribulation, but you’ll never really know until it happens.

* * * *

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that religious persecution has existed as long as there has been religion. And I’m going to guess that almost every religion has had their time in the spotlight when they waged a holy war or two against others that didn’t believe the same things they did.

I claim to be a Christian, so I’m probably more interested in how Christians have been persecuted. Besides, I want to keep these posts relatively short.

The first Christians were essentially Jews who thought they had seen The Messiah, however, the vast majority of the Jews didn’t see it that way. In regards to ‘persecuting’ the first Christians, the Jews saw their actions more along the lines of disciplining their misguided brethren. You know, for the sake of conformity.

Eerie Preview of Something I’ll Write About Someday: There was this guy named Saul. And he had a part in the death of at least one Christian martyr, possibly more. I’m going to have a lots more to say about Saul/ Paul of Tarsus.

In a previous post I stated the followers of Jesus tried to convince the rest of the Jews that their version of Judaism was the path all of the Jews should walk, but the majority of the Jews rejected that idea.

The Council of Jamnia was convened by the Jewish leadership late in the first century, and it may have been when the Jews decided to exclude the followers of Jesus from attendance at the local synagogue, but that was the extent of their decision. They certainly didn’t call for the deaths of all the Christians.

It wasn’t until the Bar Kokhba Rebellion that there was a clear delineation between the Jews and Christians in Judea. Simon bar Kokhba was the leader of the Jewish revolt that bears his name, and like a thousand other guys before him, he claimed to be the Messiah.

The Jewish leadership, and Simon, wanted all of the people to support him, and they urged the kooky followers of Jesus to get on board. After all, this Simon guy, he was the Messiah. And that’s when the unstaunchable breach between Jews and Christians opened. The Christians replied that they couldn’t support Simon. They already had a Messiah.

* * * *

A lots has been written and said about the Roman persecution of the early Christians, but they were only the latest in a very long list of peoples that had incurred the wrath of Rome. Ask the Etruscans. Ask the Carthaginians. Ask the Gauls, the Huns, the Celts and Picts. Or the Dacians.

There’s no doubt that the Romans made many early Christians martyrs, but it’s not as though the Romans were intent on wiping out the Christian faith. Nero possibly needed a scapegoat after the Great Fire in 64 AD, and blamed the Christians, and had a lots of Christians killed to death.

After Nero, persecution of Christians mostly ebbed and flowed throughout the empire until the reign of Diocletian. There are records of some misguided early Christians petitioning Roman officials to be killed to death so they could become martyrs! Martyrdom had a special status like unto a Fast Pass+ at Disney World®. Virtually all of the first saints were martyrs.

When Diocletian became emperor, he decided to restore good old fashioned Roman values and religion, and this newfangled Christian religion was one of the things that could no longer be tolerated. He issued a series of edicts against Christians in the year 303 AD.

The Great Persecution resulted, and many Christians were imprisoned, tortured or executed. When Diocletian resigned as emperor, most of the persecutions ceased, and by the year 311 AD they ceased entirely. Thirteen years later, Christianity would become the official religion of Rome.

The Romans loved many things, but they appear to have had an almost obsessive desire for order, uniformity and conformity. And because they were the biggest bully on the playground, they could kick the shit out of almost any other kid on the block until they agreed to get in line, or were exterminated.

It was this love of uniformity that led the Emperor Constantine to convene the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The early Christians were hardly united in what they believed, even the Church hierarchy wasn’t always on the same page, and for Constantine, that was unacceptable.

Constantine invited bishops from all around the known world to Nicaea to discuss the issues and establish, for the first time, an uniform doctrine of Christian belief. You can look it up if you want to know what the controversies were. The results of the Council were hardly unanimous, and a great deal of bickering and backstabbing went on for years. And because Constantine was a Roman, he probably ordered the execution of most of the dissenting members of the Council and their followers, you know, for the sake of conformity.

* * * *

Christianity would flourish. The Church would become incredibly powerful, and Christians would start persecuting non-Christians. Remember the Crusades? There were at least nine major campaigns, and it’s doubtful that anything meaningful was achieved by any of the crusades, beyond the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

I’m sure if I had been alive back during the time of the crusades, I would’ve been one of the crusaders, eager to defend my faith and free the Holy Land from the hands of the fucking infidels. And I would have devoutly slaughtered anyone that stood in my way, or I would have willingly got dead in the process.

The only reason I mention this is I was once in the Army, and during that time my country was fighting a war in the far away country of Vietnam. I had no moral objections to killing back then, and if I had been sent there, I would’ve done my best to kill the Vietcong, if that’s what the Army had wanted me to do. Even if we were foreign invaders that really didn’t have any business being in Vietnam.

There’s nothing on earth that would move me to take part in a war or a crusade if one were called for today. I have yet to see any examples of violence accomplishing anything but more violence.

I’m living in one of the most devoutly Christian countries on the planet. There’s a very slim chance that I’ll experience any ill will because of my religious beliefs. It’s beyond doubtful that my faith will ever be put to any sort of test.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m okay with that. I’m not especially eager to be taunted and teased. After all, I was a psych nurse for thirty years…