24 October 2008

they did it with bras, we can do it with bills

kd and mom, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Mom spent the better part (or worse, depending on how you want to fill that particular glass) of this past summer either in hospital or in rehab center following a full knee replacement and a (hello St. Mary's Hospital? Yeah, this one is for you...) a seriously ugly major medical error in having given mom meds that she was known to be allergic to, as in meds listed on the charts as big hairy no-nos. As in, meds the intake nurse and the anesthesiologist and the other nurse and those other people all talked with her about, both pre- and post-surgery. Each person who went over her chart with her talked about medication allergies and this particular one came up repeatedly in discussions. I was sitting there, people. She might not have remembered much through that month but I kept a handy little notebook into which I jotted down the particulars, including the name of the doctor who authorized the panic. Just for fun I think it'd be a hoot to have the individual who made that landslide decision and all the short-tempered staff we had to deal with following the breakdown be fed enough of whatever pills could induce psychosis so they also are able share in the heartfelt experience, the joy of being even more unwell and in way less manageable ways. Please don't misunderstand, there were some very very kind and patient staffers, particularly nurses, who provided care for mom and who took the phone calls from her children, and the repeated questions and the follow-ups and the follow-up follow-ups. I would like to thank you few for the work you do. You are underpaid and vastly under appreciated, and I want you to know I saw the support you offered my mother and my family is grateful to you.

I've heard that people can die by hospital error and frequently do, while hospitals still don't have to assume responsibility for making a person be dead. In fact, 18 patient safety indicators evaluated contributed to $9.3 billion excess charges and 32,591 deaths in the United States annually.

I think that sucks. Yes of course it's true that users and malingerers exist, people who want to swing from someone else's coin purse. But I just want to say here to the collective staff -and specifically, to the billing department, who probably only ever handles the credits and debits- at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison Wisconsin, who has been sending bills, including charges for the week of care they provided to my mother after they had to re-admit mom from a rehab center when she took that drastic allergic reaction downturn: My mother isn't one of those malingerers. She was merely trying to get healthier while in your care, and you broke her. After the insurance payments shake out she may have some out of pocket expenses for her first few days there, but as for the time and charges for the time following that mistake you made? You can eat that one.

She came out alive. You were lucky.

All this is to say, my mom is smiling and walking and is much more mobile with her new bionic knee. Not everything is easy to do yet, but not everything was ever easy to do. She's healthier, fitter, and looking sassy here on my brother's wedding day.

22 October 2008


snowdrops, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Pea gravel pellets
slap their open fists at the top of my head,
It’s impossible to do anything
but shiver life back into wet skin, I admit.

Five degrees’ warmth can
make all the difference in
today’s squalling
sodden wind.

Given conditions, I decide,
you would have to agree.

The brighter times,
when the swelling undertow of
buttercups drifted us toward one another,
to shake the apples
from the tree.
“They’re meant to be eaten”, you grinned.
There’s no harm in trying. Do you remember it?

That was a remarkable time,
Just before you bought me
the trip of a lifetime, that shiny
one-way ticket to the valley
beyond Coventry,
where it rains and rains
between fine moments.

When pressed, you’d admitted
your confliction,
spare though it was.
Disease ate at you
Like a plump caterpillar gorging,
wanting more and more after the
first lush taste on your tongue
of the underside of green.

Before the idea of you
and we dissolved like sand,
parenthetically between
the edges of my cupped hands
I leaned in to brush my lips against
the warmth of your cheek.

In this interminable downpour I surrender,
walking searching circles,
stepping a little closer to out there.
With each breath, each backward glance,
each prickling memory, scanning
for directions I seem unable to make
lead agreeably away,
toward anywhere.

None of the signs lead me away from you,
nor to, but I have an umbrella.
I will be fine.
If you’re ever able to find the field again,
bring me to the apple tree
dormant with her grief,
a bouquet of buttercups and daisies at her feet.
I will forgive you.

21 October 2008

hearing things

creepy crawlies, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

-- Dr. Seuss

20 October 2008

inspection collection

leaf collection, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.

-- Henry David Thoreau

our task is to embrace

where we go from here, originally uploaded by McBeth.

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

-- Albert Einstein

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