I move like smoke
Like a wisp of smoke, I have wafted forth from Fairmont General Hospital. Illness sucks. I am working very diligently on reinstating my unshakable belief that “I’m invincible!” I confess that I was offended at the offer of a ride to the front door in a wheelchair, but upon arrival was thinking, darn, a few days on my ass didn’t do my balance any good, did it?
Consider health care people - The folks up at FGH are rather poorly paid. They deal with sick people, many of whom are grumpy, depressed, sad, angry or demanding. They get all sorts of bodily fluids & excretions on their hands. They stay cheerful and upbeat and in many instances loving. They very naturally refer to patients as “honey,” “sweetie,” (when of different gender), although that may be at least partially a regional thing. They have the same nobility as the folks who climb into the Mercedes’ and Hummers in the parking lot at the end of the day, and I was glad that they were there.
I met a young deputy for the first time today, and was talking with the sheriff about lots of different things. I mentioned that he was obviously a good kid, and going to be a good officer, and the sheriff agreed, and we talked about the learning curve and need for experience versus the need for good performance from the word go. The use of the word “kid” was not and is not disrespectful. We have entrusted this guy with a lot of responsibility, and one responsibility that we don’t think about is that of learning as fast as he can. I remember in my first years at the bar, Louis Schoolnic, an elder member of the bar, taught me a lot. He called me alternately “counselor” and “kid.” The former reminded me of my already-existing responsibility; the latter, on the need for humility and willingness to learn. Louis is one of the old guys who I really miss.
John Edwards and The First Stone
The press is all over what a terrible guy John Edwards is for (1) screwing around and (2) lying about it. Here is another story that could be reported simply and quickly that the conservative media is square dancing to. One CNN commentator today called Edwards a “rotten” guy. Since I saw about 30 seconds of CNN today, I’m betting that lots of epithets were thrown around.
Edwards committed adultery and lied about it. Now he has come clean, to the extent that it is any of our business. What bothers me the most is the hypocrisy. If you want to talk about screwing around, political orientation makes no difference, and I’ll omit the dozens of examples from each party. There are even several wife-sick-with-cancer examples. Reporters seem to have busy marriage-divorce cycles, so I’m thinking that perhaps they are prone to this failing, too. Perhaps a voluntary rule: Those without sin cast the first stone; all others, first state, “I have committed adultery x times,” and then ask the probing question.
I do not have the right to condemn John Edwards. You do not have the right to forgive him. That’s between him and his family. His screw up hasn’t killed any soldiers.
Senator Byrd book signing
We took a quick B&N run this evening. There was a sign that Senator Byrd will be there next Wednesday to sign his new book, Letter to a New President: Commonsense Lessons for Our Next Leader. Let me be clear: I respect Senator Byrd more than anyone else in government. He has not profited from public service. His personal “fortune” is modest. His ethics record is unblemished. He has always said what he believes. When he has made mistakes, he has owned up. The worst that anybody can honestly say about him is that he was a member of the Klan for a few months 60+ years ago, for which he has continually expressed chagrin and regret all of his public life.
I’m not going to the book signing. America is not a personality cult. It is a government of law, not of leaders. An autograph is meaningless. It means that someone wrote his/her name. It says nothing about the person, and it is not a real connection. If for some odd reason, I were called upon to do something for the interests of the Senator, I’d be off and running. I don’t count empty adulation on that list.
I can’t help a bit of envy and a lot of worry over Tim’s EMS work. Envy because those years of my own life were good; worry, because the work is somewhat dangerous. Wednesday night, Tim locked his keys in his truck while working at Mannington. He was stuck at the Fair, so LaJ and I drove the spare key up to him. He told me the combination to the station punch lock (same punch lock, same combination as when I was last there 20 years ago), and I left the key there. I did comment that perhaps the folks might want to spiff up the station to the point that husbandmen might hesitate to keep livestock in there. Mannington station looks a bit odd, a bit high. John D. Amos, a Fairmont attorney, was president of the corporation when we built the station. He and I found the lot, but found that it was about 6 vertical inches in a flood zone, which affected financing. With the help of a banker, we struck upon the solution of building the foundation & lower walls three courses of block higher than originally planned (above that, it was steel), so the building looks too darn high. It won’t flood, though.
Last evening, Tim came in after a double, and was talking about a fire call. They were called to a town house/apartment fire with a fatality in White Hall. Owing to population density, while the first fire engine usually will arrive promptly, additional engines take time. The ambulance got on scene immediately after the first engine. Because there was someone in the house, the first fire crew made an entry, but was driven back by heat even in their protective gear. Just as the second engine was pulling in, an outside staircase collapsed on the first crew, so Tim and his crewmate pulled them free. This very much skirts safety. It’s not interior work, but being right up next to the burning structure without fire gear is very risky and, to Dad, worrisome. On the other hand, it was the right thing to do and when you sign on in that business, sometime you just have some danger. Darn it. I remember a fire where we arrived with the first engine under similar circumstances, someone in the house, and the fire chief (one of two guys on the first engine) gave me a 5 second course on the pump panel, basically, if this happens do this, if that happens do that, and if anything else happens, lean on the air horn so we know to get the hell out of there. This is NOT a wise thing to do. But in a rural area, getting a lot of manpower to an emergency quickly simply isn’t going to happen. That is a tradeoff of rural life.
And this evening, Tim came in and asked me if I’d ever used a precordial thump on a patient in arrest. Well, yes, several times. A precordial thump looks theatrical on the TV shows, it’s where you thump the chest when someone arrests, and it creates a small electrical charge that may restart the heart. It’s actually done from 8 or 10 inches up, not a roundhouse punch. Then Tim asked if it had ever worked for me. Well, no. And he grinned, because he had it work for him today, and as far as he knows, the patient is still alive.
There was a big deal made last week about a black bear on golf course at the U.S. Open, with comments about danger and so forth. Bullshit. Black bear are not dangerous unless you corner them or mess with cubs. They are basically scaredy-cats. If you expect to see a bear, carry a whistle, and when you blow it, they will run. Of all the mammals at the Open, the Bear was the one least likely to have hasn’t gotten drunk & beaten mama bear; to have cursed anyone; to have lied or started a war. The less hairy creatures there were much more dangerous. In many respects, I envy the bear their simplicity and purity.
I’m getting tired of guys in divorces & criminal cases bringing their mommies with them when they come to talk to me.
I’m sitting on the ridge en famile, MP3 embedded (playing Prokofiev, Alexander Nevsky Suite, loudly, to drown out the TV), and LaJ is watching something about people planning weddings and intending so spend $50,000. This is nuts. Get a church, a buffet caterer, spend $5K. Give another $5K to the church’s food bank. Save $40K. $50K on a wedding is idiocy incarnate.