Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Every Tuesday, let's try to laugh at/with death.

Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Film Magic
from New York magazine

Paul Rudnick is a funny guy. He writes regularly for the New Yorker magazine, often contributing to the weekly humor column, 'Shouts and Murmurs,' which is where I generally encounter his work. He's also written several plays and movie screenplays.

I just finished his latest book, I Shudder: And Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey. I really needed it. It's a quick read, but if you still don't have enough time, this snippet from page 242 provides a worthwhile taste:
Here's what I know about death and grieving: None of it makes any sense, although I will always cherish the words of a woman who spoke at a friend's memorial, and who began her affectionate remarks by saying, "God knows, Ed was cheap." Here's what I know about New Jersey: If you're a citizen, be proud of it. I know a guy from Piscataway who would tell people that he was from the more posh Princeton, which was forty-five minutes away. I always wanted to tell him, Darling, you're still from New Jersey. Who are you kidding?

And here's what I know about love: Don't let go.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Memorial Monday - Jerome "Jerry" Brudos

Jan. 31, 1939 - Mar. 29, 2006
Known as 'The Shoe Fetish Killer.' A native of Webster, South Dakota, he was a former electrician, who became serial kiler, and later one of Oregon's most notorious inmates...Although he was convicted of 3 murders, he confessed to four, and was suspected of at least 6 others...Brudos died at the age of 67, at the Oregon State Prison, from colon cancer.
photo added by K

My selections for this somewhat-regular feature are pretty much made at random. I have no idea what I'm going to find whenever I start looking.

Most of the entries at Find a Grave feature people from the fields of politics, professional sports, the military, art, and literature, and while I respect them and their accomplishments, I'm more interested in learning about others who may not be well-known, or whose deaths prompt me to think about things that I may not otherwise have thought about.

I recently featured two women who were murdered, and today's anniversary for the death of a man who murdered many women reminds me of the first principle of the code for ethical practice by nurses, as articulated by the American Nurses Association:
The nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems.
I'm not saying it's easy, or perhaps even always possible, to accept that every human being has the right to skilled care whenever it's needed. But maybe once any of us starts to draw a line, where do we stop?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Memorial Monday (on Tuesday) - Barney B. Clark, D.D.S

Jan. 21, 1921 - Mar. 23, 1983
He was the first fully artificial heart transplant recipient, having recieved (sic) it in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1982, and died 112 days post transplant.
Photo added by Ron Moody

From the biographical sketch included in the description of the Barney B. Clark papers held by the University of Utah Marriott Library Special Collections:
In June of 1954 (Clark) was informed by his physician that he had contracted a case of hepatitis. Unknown to him, this was to be the first in a long line of illnesses that would plague is (sic) life from time to time. Due to his smoking habit, he eventually contracted emphysema (May 1978); and then there was the idiopathic cardiomyopathy which deteriorated the muscle in his heart.

In 1980, Dr. Clark was referred to Dr. Jeffery Anderson for treatment. Dr. Anderson tried to manage his condition medically. The treatment included administration of digoxin, furosemide with potassium supplementation, warfarin, captopril, prednisone, azathioprine, and a trial of the investigational new inotropic drug amrinone.

Unfortunately, all of these drugs proved unsuccessful in preventing further cardiac decomposition.

Dr. Clark was first introduced to the artificial heart in 1982 when he went to visit the animal research barn, and he went home to Seattle to decide on the surgery with his family. But (his wife) Una Loy knew right from the start that he was going to do it. Although he did want to help advance the medical research, what he really wanted was a much better quality of life than he had been experiencing the last few years. He truly believed that this artificial heart would give that to him; and it probably would have, if he hadn't been suffering from so many other problems. He was admitted to the University of Utah Medical Center for the transplant at the end of November in 1982. He signed the consent form, required by the Institutional Review Board (twice), and then due to complications, he went into surgery earlier than expected.

Even though the operation was successful, they had a lot of problems at the start.

First, he developed an air leak in his lung that had to be corrected surgically. Then, he suffered from seizures of an undetermined nature. Next, there was also a broken valve on the left ventricle of the artificial heart that had to be repaired. And finally, due to the necessary anticoagulant, he suffered from terrible nose bleeds which also had to be fixed surgically.

Even though preparations were made for him to go home at the end of April, he never made it. He suffered from aspiration pneumonia in early March which sent him back into the ICU, and he never left it again.

On March 21st, Dr. Clark suffered from reduced renal function that induced a high fever. And on March 23rd, he suffered from multiple organ system failure that caused a circulatory collapse which killed him at 10:02 that night. It wasn't the artificial heart that killed him, it was everything else that was going wrong with him at that time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Evidence-based opposition

Yeah, OK - that was too easy. But it's been over a week, and I've got to post something.

I'm working on some stuff and will be back with it soon.

Thanks to Fightin' Digby.

For a contrast in both substance and thinking, see Scott Lemieux.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More fishin'

This time with my bare hands...

Be back soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Memorial Monday - two women murdered

Virginia Voskerichian
Sep. 14, 1956 - Mar. 8, 1977

She was murdered by serial killer David Berkowitz, also known as the "Son of Sam."

From Find a Grave
Photo added by Stan Buturla

- - -

Shirley Ann Bridgeford
1933 - Mar. 8, 1958

She was the second victim of notorious serial killer Harvey Glatman.

From Find a Grave
Photo added by Scott Groll

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In plain sight

He sorta looks like Paul Farmer...

My mother always said, "The best place to hide something is right under somebody's nose," though that sentiment didn't prevent her from stashing the ten-pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups under the dish towels in the top drawer to the left of the sink when she returned from each week's grocery shopping excursion.

Then again, maybe it proved her point.

Anywhoozle, I just made my monthly $100 donation to Partners in Health, and this time I made it in honor of the ever-observant Eric Widera of GeriPal fame. The dude won a contest, and this was his prize.

If you're confused and really want to figure this out, you'll just have to poke around on your own. (Hint: be sure to check the top drawer to the left of the sink, under the dish towels.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gone fishin'

Interesting fishing, indeed

Actually, I've been busy with some other stuff recently, and thus have been unable to update this blog as much as I'd like. I'm also attending the Assembly tomorrow, and so it might be another couple of days before I can wrap up a couple of longer posts that I have in the hopper.

I considered learning how to Twitter in time for the Assembly, based on Christian's enthusiasm for the medium, but in the crush of recent activities (family stuff, job interviews, sunbathing, etc.) I've opted for something simpler.

So, I'll be there with little more than a spiral-bound notebook, several pens, a few copies of my resume, some Death Club for Cuties business cards, a Pallimed sticker kit, and my Flip. I'm not even bringing a laptop to download onto, and will instead focus on quality video.

I hope to feature the results here next week.

Hanx to Jan Nordgreen at Think Again! for the pic

Monday, March 1, 2010

Memorial Monday - Lucille Hegamin

Nov. 29, 1894 - Mar. 1, 1970
Born Lucille Nelson, she was one of the earliest female blues singers ever to be recorded. Her career began while she was a teenager touring the south as part of a traveling tent show. In 1920, Lucille, who had moved to New York City, made her first recordings on the Victor Record label. She later appeared in numerous Broadway musicals including a production known as "Creole Follies." Like many of the "classic blues" singers, her career began to fade in the early 1930's. She left the music behind her in 1934 and became a registered nurse in New York City, a job she held until the late 1950s. She came out of retirement to record again in 1961...
from Find a Grave
photo added by Adam Maroney

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1920-1922)