Mother’s day 2007

I miss my children.

Oh sure, I still have one at home and see another two weekly and the other one monthly, but they are adults now.  I miss the children.

I miss their little bodies full of energy and their skinny little legs running through the fields at the farm.

I miss their squeaky high little voices chattering non-stop to each other, to me, to the world in general.

 
I miss discovering otis in the fridge

I miss the happiest time of my life.  I have a memory that plays on a mobius loops in my head of intermingled days with my children spent at the wading pool at kinsmen or the beach at miquelon.  Days in the sun, with water, sand and happy playing children.  It’s always there to give me a sense of loss and longing.  Just me and my children, before I had to go back to school, before I had to go to work, before they had to go to school and daycare.

Those were the perfect gastby-esque days of youth and  warm summer.  Life didn’t hurt when we were together as one.  Just a mother and her children, the eternal human unit.  I was never happier, nor healthier, nor more confident.  I was the archetypal Earth mother, children swarming around her skirts, holding on to her as sustenance against the world.  Artists wanted me as a subject, writers, painters, musicians flocked to our table for wine and bread and esoteric discussions of imagery and synesthesia and perception.  I made my own play-dough, I made their clothes, I made life.

 
Too many birthdays and christmas and mother’s days and school pagents and baseball games and just ordinary day that I missed because I was there, holding someone’s else’s child’s life in my hands.  Balance, they say, is necessary to prevent job burn out – and mother burn out too I would say.  So often we don’t fully appreciate what we have until it is gone.  I know I learned to cope with the horrors of work in the picu by examining each family, each hurt and damaged child and discovering that they were not MY child.  By learning to let more and more things go as unimportant.  By discovering, exactly, which hill I was willing to die on as a mother.  Was an uncleaned room in and of itself important?  Was anything worth the months of conflict with a confused angst ridden 14 year old? – ask the mother of the girl who hung herself.

Did I know what I had?  partially.  When the ugliness of life intruded finally and we had to go our separate ways to school and work and hours apart we all hurt and felt abandon.  I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  I wish I could have kept you close here safe and warm in the sun by the water for longer.  But I kept you in my heart.

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end of days

Doom comes in the strangest ways.  We have been fed on visions of large explosions and mayham, but maybe the harbringer is something so significant that we have always taken it for granted.  like oxygen in the air or honeybees in the summer.
 
Honeybees?  Yes, haven’t you heard?  Check out mark morford’s Apocalypse Of The Honeybees in his
notes and errata at sfgate.com
 

extracorporeal engagement

Many many years ago, Florence Nightengale did something that no self-respecting, well-brought up woman would do…she went into nursing.  She discovered the horrors of military medical care and set about to improve outcomes and reduce mortality and morbity.  Florence was the first documented quality improvement nurse. 
 
She found an environment with an absence of hygiene and set about cleaning things up.  And we are still trying to get people to wash their hands. 
 
Sure things have improved – we now have antibiotics – and super bugs.  And transplants and graft vs host syndrome.  And ABO cardiac transplants and multiple transplants over a short life.  And cut down liver transplant and the facinating opportunity to care for a child with his liver sitting outside his body.
 
Major organs should never be located outside the body.  I’m pretty sure that is one of tenets of medicine.  If it isn’t, it should be. 
 
The brutal load of months of hospitalization with no hope of abdominal closure upon the family and the staff provides little grace or evidence of mercy.  One can only hope and perhaps try to convince one’s self that the child is in no pain and little awareness of the situation – until he opens his eyes; clear and solomn.  Discovering the mind wrenching surgical wound beneath the dressing and the responsibility for cleaning and dressing it again will break the strongest nurse.  To do it day after day is to invite moral distress and to court staff attrition with a rapidity that will make the administration breathless.
 
As for how the parents cope with this – well, one does what one can, and if that includes stepping over the role of parent and becoming a technician and perfroming nursing behaviours, who can blame them? 
 
I remember another liver and another child some 15 years ago or perhaps it was another lifetime.  The first ‘cut-down’ liver transplant.  Very innovated, cutting edge stuff.  An adult donor provided the meat, the experimental subject was a small child of some 18 months.  Most certainly the child would die without this sugery.  Most certainly the child would die with it.  Do parents know we use their children for experiementation?
The small body returned from the OR so many years ago and despite the surgeons optomistic idealism, the adult liver lobe didn’t fit into the child sized abdomen.  Duh!  All those years of medical training and they couldn’t spatially predetermine that it wouldn’t fit.  I can’t remember how many days she lived.  I can only remember the horror of lifting the sterile drapes to find the liver sitting on her abdomen.  A liver that I was supposed to keep moist and sterile.  The belief was that once the swelling went down it would be enclosed within the abdomen.  Looking across the belly into the other nurse’s eyes I could read the ‘what the fucked!’ inside voice screaming.
I remember the hysteria escaping once when the ultrasound tech arrived to scan the liver for portal vein patency.  He held up the probe by it’s cord with the head dangling down and slowly rolled a sterile condom over top of the probe.  The impotence of the probe was just the stimulus needed to start the giggles…
 
I never thought to see the senario again.  Yet there he is, liver exposed, looking nothing at all like a liver should look, with a child’s large hopeless look of resignation at the antics of adults and the subjugation of his body to the demands of the gods of advancing medical care.
 
Florence?  Florence, are you there?

the enemy within

yes, allowing everyone to have a gun is one solution to this issue…maybe.  Being as we have no data to suggest that it would work, we can only hypothesize that it would be an effective deterent to school slayings.   I’m not entirely sure how it would have worked in this situation though….student with a gun enters a dorm and kills two students – most people don’t wear their gun at home (which is what a dorm is) and therefore he would have killed these people and left while someone went to get their gun…or been killed there…so still some students killed.

Unfortunately the police and the school dropped the ball by not locking down the school until he was found.  Hypothetically, if everyone was allowed to carry a gun in schools then potentially he would have killed less students once he started shooting in the classes….but, not everyone would WANT to carry a gun, so he might have encountered a few who were not interested in carrying and he would have still killed students before being killed himself…..granted perhaps he would have killed less students if someone had stopped him.  Perhaps someone did attempt to stop him …reports of an elder blocking him from getting through a door to more students…no gun, just his body.

So one solution may be gun carrying by everyone everywhere…maybe even mandate that everyone must carry a gun.

But surely, since this is a complex issue, there are other solutions.  Only through a thorough examination of the process that led up to the kills can we, as a culture, ever hope to understand how it happens and ever hope to find solutions.  No one wakes up one day and decides…"hey!  Beautiful morning, I think I will kill everyone I see!"   There is a long series of hurtful, painful events that leads someone to kill themselves this way.

I don’t think our culture is willing to examine it’s dirty underside and look hard and long at how it has created an environment where children kill children.  I don’t think our culture is willing or able to look at how these things happen and what can be done to prevent them from happening again.  There are too many icons who would have to change what they do, do many businesses who perpetuate the ideology that when you are offended you are within your rights to lash out horribly.

We are no different than the moderate Islamics who create a culture that allows terrorism to exists.  We have met the enemy and he is us.