One Thing Leads to Another

It rained here early this morning. It’s probably safe to say that the Rainy Season has officially started in the Lakeside Area. It’s a good thing. The fires will stop burning. The Chinese Mountains will turn green again. And maybe my seasonal allergies will settle down.

I started this morning the way I usually do; drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and contemplating the vicissitudes of life. I will freely admit that I find life confusing. It’s one reason why I drink so much coffee in the morning.

My lovely supermodel wife drinks cappuccinos, but only because she can’t get find Coffee-mate® Flavored Creamers in Mexico.

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She used to be able to find them at Super Lake, the gringo supermarket in Ajijic, but about four months ago they stopped stocking it without any explanation. We’ve asked about it several times.

“Vuelve la proxima semana…”

“Come back next week…” Next week, much like unto tomorrow, is something that doesn’t actually exist in reality. That’s why Lea drinks cappuccino now. 

Coffee is one of the weird tastes you develop when you become an adult. It smells like heaven, but it tastes kind of god-awful. Over time, you eventually get used to it. Unlike my wife, I don’t use creamers of any kind in my coffee. 

 “Café, negro, como mi alma.” That’s how I order it.

Black, like my soul. The baristas always laugh. I find it ironic because I’m not joking.

* * * *

The other thing I do in the morning is my daily Dualgringo lesson. That’s what I call my language app. Duolingo® is a platform that includes a language-learning website and app, as well as a digital language proficiency assessment exam. It keeps telling me that I’m doing great and having a good time, so I guess I am.

Lea and I stopped going to Spanish lessons, but neither of us have given up on the idea of kind of understanding how to sort of speak Spanish. We’ve both given up on the idea of ever being fluent in it.

I think if you really want to be bifocally fluent in more than one language, you should start when you’re six, not sixty.

* * * *

I’ve been looking forward to the Rainy Season. It moderates the temperature, and I generally feel better when it’s cooler and there’s less dust in the air. On the downside, the Velcro grass will grow thick on the golf course, and my scores will probably suffer for the next several months.

It’s probably a good thing that I beat Cheryl on Thursday because it might be the only time I ever do.

My golf wife, Phyllis, and I regularly play golf with Cheryl and her real husband, Tom. Cheryl is Madame Champion at my country club. She’s a very good golfer, most of the time. She had a bad day on Thursday, and that’s the only reason I beat her. It certainly wasn’t because I was tearing up the course.

I’m consistently scoring less than 100 now, but still more than 80, which is my current goal. It’s something that I only dreamed of doing a year ago, so I know I’m slowly getting better. I have a lots of almost great shots. I’m practicing for the day that I actually have a lots of great shots. I figure I can’t miss them all, so it’s theoretically possible that someday I will make them all.

Attitude is everything.

Cheryl will probably beat me by twenty strokes on Sunday. I’ll need to bring my ‘A’ game, if I have one, just to stay within five strokes of her score. In terms of following up on my last post, I need to golf like unto a porn star.

* * * *

Golf has become one of my most frequent topics in my blog. Probably because it’s the only thing I do on a regular basis, besides eat and sleep. I could start writing restaurant reviews, I guess. But then more people would want to come down here, and I don’t want that.

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By the way, the food sucks here.

* * * *

I don’t write about porn stars often, but I can’t say that I’ve never broached the subject. And that’s how I got to this point. After I finished my last post, I started wondering why people become porn stars. And I drank a lots of coffee.

* * * *

What do you want to be when you grow up?

No one ever says they want to be a drug addict. I doubt that 🌟Porn Star🌟 ever ranks in the Top Ten in terms of future professions. I’m guessing Garbage Collector rates higher than being a porn star, and who the fuck wants to be a garbage man when they grow up?

So, how does this even happen?

* * * *

Possible Little Known Fact About Being a Porn Star: You don’t require any special schooling or training to become one. It doesn’t appear that you even have to know how to act. I have yet to find any Juilliard graduates working in the Porn Industry. As long as you don’t have any qualms about having sex in front of a camera, you probably have all of the qualifications you’ll need for a career in adult movies.

The process of becoming a porn star appears to be fairly simple:

Step One: Fill out an application form. I know, right! I couldn’t believe it either, but there’s even an online form available. Step Two: You have to be at least eighteen years old, but there doesn’t appear to be an age limit! So, if you’re looking for something to do after you retire…  And, it would give you the perfect opportunity to get back at your children for all of the times they embarrassed you. Step Three: You have to pass a physical proving that you don’t have any Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

If you can survive that strenuous process, you’re probably in.

* * * *

After that, it gets tricksier. And by that I mean, Why?

As a guy, I can totally understand it from a male perspective. There’s probably no such thing as a guy who wouldn’t want to be a porn star. Guys are essentially pigs that have learned to walk on two legs and wear clothes. The idea that a guy could have sex and get paid for it is essentially the Guy version of Heaven. That, and there probably has to be beer…

have to admit that I was surprised by the reasons women gave when they decided to become porn stars, mostly because there were so many of them.

* * * *

Why do you want to be a nurse?

It was one of the first questions we were asked in nursing school. You can probably guess the most popular answer.

I want to do something to help people.

99% of the the people in my class gave that answer, or something like unto it.

I was much more interested in helping myself when I decided to become a nurse. I was tired of working a bunch of dead end jobs and being unemployed. I wanted a career.

* * * *

Working in the Porn Industry doesn’t appear to be the first career choice for many people, even men, though I have to assume it has actually happened. But working in Food Service isn’t anywhere near as much fun as they make it look on TV, so there’s that.

I’ve had two jobs in the Food Service Industry. I was fired from both of them. If I had gone into the Porn Industry, I’m sure it would have killed me to death. I’ll come back to this later…

Interestingly enough, the most popular reason why women become porn stars is economics. More than half of the women surveyed said they did it for the money, and it can be a lucrative career.

One young woman said she was working three jobs to make ends meet somewhere up in Canadia, and she figured there had to be a better way. She filled out an online application and moved to Los Angeles. Apparently, if you really want to be a porn star, you have to live where porn movies are made…

One woman was working as a social worker before she changed careers.

Becoming a social worker isn’t easy, though it’s probably easier than actually being a social worker. You could ask around, they have shit jobs most of the time. You have to have a lots of education and training for a job that might pay you $50K a year. Many social workers have a Masters degree, which means even more education and training. They might make around $70K a year.

Yep. You read that right. It’s ridiculous. A good social worker is worth twice her weight in gold. Maybe three times.

I’ve worked with a lots of social workers over the years. I can think of at least a dozen of them I wouldn’t have minded seeing naked. So, if any of you are reading this, please let me know if you ever decide to change careers.

I haven’t found any information about nurses becoming porn stars, but then, nurses make more money than social workers, so there’s that. I can think of about fifty of my former co-workers that I wouldn’t have minded seeing naked. Nurse-themed pornography is apparently quite popular, and, they already have the wardrobe…  I almost hope none of them read this because I’m sure they’d all tell me to Drop dead. Or worse.

For some women, pornography was an opportunity to explore their sexuality, to travel, and get paid. “It sounded like fun.” Anyone who frequently travels for business will tell you that there’s nothing fun about it. That shit gets real old, real fast.

Interesting Fact About Porn Stars: None of them use their real names. They all have 🌟Porn Star🌟 Names. Vicki Vette. Aspen Rain. India Summer. Carter Cruise. Ivana Sukyurkokov. You can have a 🌟Porn  Star🌟 Name, too. Your first name is the name of your pet. Your last name is the street you grew up on. My 🌟Porn Star🌟 Name is Rusty Cherry.

Some women had friends working in the industry, and, “It sounded like fun.” More than a few porn stars said that. What I think is telling is they all said it in the past tense.

There’s a fair amount of evidence that indicates the life of a porn star isn’t all fun and games and multiple orgasms.

Between November 2017 and January 2018, at least five adult performers died due to alleged drug overdoses or by suicide. One of them was the young woman who had been working three jobs up in Canadia. She was 23 years old. “We are in a crisis in the adult industry. It’s almost becoming like an epidemic.” That’s a quote from a female porn star who wanted to remain anonymous because, you know, Snitches get stitches.

No one likes bad reviews in the movie business, even if they’re true. Probably, especially if they’re true. #metoo

There’s another saying in Hollywood. You’ll never work in this town again. It means, You’ll never get another part in a film. If Hollywood is a small, cinematic community, it’s even more true of the Porn Industry.

Suicide actually appears to be one of the leading causes of death for people in the adult film community, whether it be from ‘accidental’ drug or alcohol related overdoses, or a more direct method. You can look it up on the Interweb. It’s a pretty long list.

If you can’t speak out against injustice in your occupation, it can only lead to despair.

You can quote me on that line.

“After a year or so of that so-called ‘glamorous life,’ I sadly discovered that drugs and drinking were part of the lifestyle.” That’s another anonymous quote from a female porn star. This is where I would have died to death. In a profession that glamorizes excesses, I wouldn’t have lived long enough to get into The 27 Club.

* * * *

The 27 Club is the name given to a group of influential rock musicians who died at the ripe old age of 27. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Kurt Kobain. It’s another pretty long list.

* * * *

I’m sure there are plenty of reasons for drug and alcohol abuse in the Porn Industry. There always are. Some of them might even be reasonable, not the least of which is societal scorn and shaming. The Porn Industry makes billions of dollars a year, but no one ever watches it. Porn stars are easy targets for cyberbullying/harassment.   #andyouthinkyouhaditrough

If you work in the adult film industry, there’s no such thing as Bring Your Child to Work Day. And those Parent/Teacher conferences at school take on a whole new light.

I couldn’t find any statistical analysis of drug/alcohol abuse/depression specific to the Porn Industry, but there are a lots of articles about the prevalence of it. Somewhat ironically, the profession with the highest rates of alcohol abuse and depression is healthcare. Yeah, go figure on that.

It would appear that literally getting fucked at work has the same net result as figuratively getting fucked at work, which is something almost all of us are familiar with.   #andididntevengetkissed

In and Out of the Chakras We Go

Lea had survived her first near death experience at Fairview Medical Center. Her post-op recovery went well and she was discharged. I brought her home for the first time in months. I can’t remember how long she stayed home. All I can remember with certainty is she was repeatedly admitted into and discharged from Fairview Medical Center for the remainder of 1991, all of 1992 and 1993, and at least half of 1994 if not more.

Our life together back then would revolve entirely around Lea’s physical health, or the lack thereof. She would have a period of relative stability, then she would have a relapse, and back into FMC she would go. There was no pattern to this, nothing we could identify as a precursor. It wasn’t related to her diet. Stress? Maybe, but doubtful. The most stressful part of her life was being hospitalized, not being at home or work.

I came to think of this period of time as the Era of Living in Two Hospitals and Occasionally Visiting Our House. We lived in a charming arts and crafts bungalow about five miles from downtown Minneapolis. We redecorated that place several times, entirely changing its interior appearance until it eventually looked like showplace for the Pottery Barn.

I doubt that I did many, if any, of those renovations while Lea was struggling to survive her malignant flare up of Crohn’s disease. What I remember most from this time is feeling exhausted all the time. I was essentially a sleepwalker. I owe so much to my co-workers at the MVAMC–they had my back and picked up all the pieces of my job that I missed.

My mind was occupied by two things: my lovely wife, and how long she would fill that role. And how in the hell was I going to pay for this? My health insurance covered most of Lea’s medical expenses, but not all of them, and the part that wasn’t covered had quickly grown into the tens of thousands of dollars. Here’s another time when a great social worker saved the day.

I don’t remember her name, and this is so unfortunate because that woman saved our financial asses. She submitted an application for Medical Assistance on our behalf–something I didn’t think we’d even be eligible for based on our income, but lo and behold, we were, based on the extent of our medical bills. Thanks to that incredible social worker, I only had one thing to worry about.

Lea’s hospitalizations were mostly uneventful, except for the endless reconstruction that the hospital was going through. Fairview was a non-profit organization, and starting in 1992, FMC would begin reinvesting their profits by completely renovating every floor of the building. It was a noisy process, hammering, sledgehammering, jackhammering; even small doses of therapeutic dynamite.

I know, right! Freakin’ dynamite! In a hospital!! Filled with sick people!!! The nurses that took care of Lea were so great. They would move her as far from the construction noise coming from the floor above as they could so she could obtain a semblance of rest, then move her again as the process neared her room again.

The inflammatory process at work inside Lea’s body was every bit as inexorable as the construction process going on inside the hospital. It ebbed and flowed, but mostly flowed. And while Lea’s condition could be described as mostly stable, there were times of profound decompensation. I was sure I knew the answer to the one question that remained in my mind. And the answer was, not much longer.

Dr John was consulted by Dr Kromhout once more. Dr John remained conservative in his approach, but he wasn’t quite as cautious the second time around, and Lea’s condition deteriorated only to the point where she looked like she could possibly die instead of it being a foregone conclusion.

The second surgery was possibly the most unremarkable of all the surgeries Lea would have during this time period. Dr John removed another section of Lea’s large intestine, taking roughly sixty percent of that portion of her GI tract.

There were a couple of significant post op events after this surgery. The first, Lea sent me home. I could not help myself when she got out of the Recovery Room and was being transferred to her room on the Med/Surg floor. I had to touch her. I was gentle. I’m a nurse. I have a great sense of touch, and great hands. But even my careful caresses were too much for Lea.

“Don’t touch me.” she said.

“I’m sorry, honey, but I can’t not touch you!”

“Then go home.”

I’m pretty sure the nurses that were caring for Lea and were part of the transfer team actually heard the sound of my heart breaking. I stopped in my tracks in the hallway as Lea was rolled into her room, sat down with my back against the wall, and cried.

I went home and called my best friend, Gary Miklos, who was living near Dallas, TX at the time. Gary did something only a best friend will do at a time like that. He bought an airplane ticket on the next flight to Minneapolis.

I can’t remember if I tried to stumble my way through work the next day or if I called off, forcing my boss to cover one of my shifts with another nurse. I picked up Gary at the airport. I went back to the hospital to see Lea. She sent me home for a second time.

Gary took me to a billiards hall. We played pool, drank pitchers of beer and smoked packs of cigarettes. I’m pretty sure I lost every game of pool we played that day.

Gary had to work for a living, too. He flew to Minneapolis to be with me for one day, and then he had to fly back to Texas. And this wasn’t the only time Gary would travel halfway across the country to be there for me.

I went home and passed out. I know I had the following day off because I was still asleep when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hi, honey!” It was Lea. “I think I’m gonna live!” Even over the phone I could see and hear the smile in her voice.

There had been a second post op event. One of the night nurses that took over Lea’s care was reviewing all the multitudinous IV bags and fluids and medications flowing into my wife’s veins, and she hung another bag of morphine solution. Not a big deal, but Lea already had a bag with morphine flowing, so she was now getting a double dose of very potent pain meds. This was a bad thing. A double dose of IV morphine will generally result in death.

“If that had been you or me, we’d be dead right now,” Dr Kromhout told me the next time we met. “But because Lea has been on high doses of morphine for awhile, and she has a strong tolerance level, all she did was get a good night’s sleep for once.”

The night nurse that accidentally overdosed my wife caught her mistake before it became a fatal med error. She called a code. Lea later said she had a vague memory of fifty people being in her room. I don’t know how many doses of Narcan she received, but it was more than one, and less than ten.

There was an investigation, of course. Lea and I met with a whole group of suits and skirts from various management and administrative departments. They wanted to know if we wanted to press charges or file a lawsuit. We declined. No harm, no foul was our take on the matter.

As a result of actually sleeping, even if it was a drug-induced coma, Lea actually felt better. She had a nursing student assigned to her when she woke up. Lea would refer to her as ‘my savior.’ That young girl helped Lea shower, got her dressed, helped with her hair and makeup, and had Lea sitting up in her room, looking like an angel when I arrived.

Despite the inflammatory process that was mindlessly trying to kill my wife, despite the construction process that prevented her from getting much rest, despite being cut open and losing another section of her GI tract, and despite almost being accidentally overdosed to death–Lea had survived by the grace of God.

God is great. God is good. God brought us together; we both believe that. It’s taken a lots of work and intentional living on both of our parts to stay together, but it’ll be twenty-eight years of staying together in one week.

I know. I can’t believe it. I’m not sure Lea can believe it either.

Sometimes you take things for granted in a relationship. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this. But I also know my relationship with Lea has been the most life changing experience in my life. Nursing might have made me a better person, but being married to Lea has made me into a better man.

The Witch Queen of New Orleans

I met the Witch Queen at St Luke’s Behavioral Health. I had just started there after fleeing Banner Del E Webb Medical Center. The Witch Queen had been on my unit–AP 5–for quite some time. She was what we in the business refer to as a ‘placement problem.’

Almost all psychiatric treatment centers are acute care facilities. In places such as these, patients are stabilized as quickly as possible and then discharged back home, or to a halfway house, a group home, a homeless shelter–something/anything like unto that. In essence, all patients have to be discharged to a some where.

Every now and then a patient will be admitted to your facility that finding the where place to send them to is supremely difficult. This is usually the result of said patient being an unimaginable, monstrous pain in the ass, and they have essentially been kicked out of every decent existing placement facility in your area. Even all the roach motel placement dives that will normally accept anyone with a pulse and the money to pay for their care won’t take them either.

What you’re left with is a nightmare because the person no one wants is stuck inside your facility, and you’re trapped inside with them. It’s like being in a horror movie, except it’s not a movie, and no one ever gets to say, “Cut!”

This is where having an amazing social worker comes in handy. In the world of Inpatient psychiatric treatment, the psychiatrist orders medications. The nurse administers the meds and manages any medical issues, as well as as a varied assortment of other duties as required. And the social worker drives the discharge bus. Social workers also perform a thousand and one other miscellaneous duties, much like nurses. Take it from me, a really good social worker is worth twice his or her weight in gold.

My personal favorite social workers based on the fact that I actually worked with them: Tom McClellan, best social worker at the MVAMC. Mike Greeman, second best social worker at the MVAMC. Brian Lockwood, great social worker at the MVAMC. Denise Blackfeet Wagner, really great social worker at the MVAMC. Michelle Zwemke Burns, great social worker at Del E Webb. Amy Bressler, great social worker at Del E Webb. Ray Young, great social worker at Aurora. Karen Rae Goff, my personal favorite greatest social worker at Aurora, ever. For all time.

Oddly, I can’t remember the names of any of the social workers at St Luke’s. I do remember one of the social workers–she dressed like a prostitute, right down to the fishnet stockings and the miniskirts. Maybe social worker was her day job…

Now then, where were we? Oh, yes. The Witch Queen.

Her name was Larue. I think ‘The Diary of a Mad Black Woman’ was written about her. If it wasn’t, it could’ve been. She was from New Orleans, and she ended up in Arizona in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, somehow. This is how I imagined it happened: someone, probably a social worker, bought her a bus ticket as far away from the Big Easy as they could afford, and that’s how she ended up in Phoenix.

It didn’t take long for Larue to develop a reputation once she arrived in Phoenix. She was quickly banned from all the nice placement facilities. The placement dumps followed suit quickly. She probably set a record for how quickly no place in Phoenix wanted her at their facility.

Larue was truly psychotic. Even when she was as stabilized as much as modern psychiatric treatment could possibly accomplish, she was still crazier than two Mad Hatters. She would sit quietly in the day room, absorbed by whatever it was that was playing inside her head. And then she’d get up and stroll toward the nursing station…

There are times when a narrative is just not sufficient to portray the quality of something, like Roya’s darlingpreshadorbs Persian accent. Or Larue’s psychotic Witch Queen motormouth, blackmagicmojo ramblings. It’s been probably five years or more since I’ve heard one, and I had to go make sure she wasn’t standing outside my front door before I started writing this.

There were three points of patient access at the AP 5 nursing station. There were Dutch doors on either end, and a window in the middle of the station. Larue would randomly pick one of those three spots, and for lack of a better descriptive term, go off like a motherfucker on the unfortunate nurse sitting at that spot in the nursing station.

Larue didn’t appear to have any preference. She didn’t single out any particular nurse. She just let whomever have it with both barrels at point blank range, and there was no such thing as verbally redirecting Larue once she got started. She was a laser guided, heat seeking missile of psychosis that delivered a payload of unintelligible insanity. Her speech was a combination of English, Creole, spittle and craziness delivered in an extremely loud shriek.

Larue would let her victim have it, and when she had completed her rambling voodoo curse, or whatever it was she was doing, she would take a deep breath, nod her head and walk away. And there was peace once more. Until the next time…

It was inevitable that Larue would pick me for one of her rants. In fact, I can remember a few. The first time, I wanted to die, maybe. I should’ve pretended to have a seizure, that might’ve distracted her–but if you’re going to fake a seizure, you really need to pee your pants or no one will ever take you seriously.

The second time I was better prepared and smiled every now and then, but mostly nodded in agreement a lots of times.

The third time, I actually don’t remember the third time, but my first ex-work wife, Deb Goral does. Larue went all batshit crazy on me, as usual. She’s shrieking at me in Chinese Creole English or something, and spitting all over the plexiglass window separating us. I think she wanted me to discharge her, “…or all your hair will fall out! Great googly-moogly, prolly nolly dictum!!”

I ran my hand over my head and said, “Oh my God, it worked!”

All things must pass. Nothing in this world is permanent. Larue was eventually discharged to a facility near Tucson. The Witch Queen was gone, the memory of her presence would fade. She would be replaced by other nightmare patients, some of whom would make the Witch Queen look like a fairy princess.

Psych nursing is a lots like working in a pawn shop. You never know what’s going to walk through that door. So be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.