"Some calls it madness...I calls it HiDeeHo." - Cab Calloway
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Friday, October 18, 2002

by R. Robot

"When President Bush tries to protect us from screeching brown men, Julie Fields and her fellow criminals cry out, 'racial profiling!' It's this kind of hate-crazed poison that made me quit The Nation. The most clearly defeatist of the Saddamphiles, Julie Fields, insults President Bush again. 'Maybe we could compare this to another war besides World War II for a change,' she said in an interview with Seymour Hersh. This kind of bleating hatred of America is as pro-Saddam as it is low. The proof that our mission is tough and faith-based is that it's so risky. After all, this is a man who has amassed a deadly guitarsenal. Isn't it clear by now that the world is menaced by a anti-war madman who has already amassed a deadly guitarsenal? What a moment! What poison! What insouciance! What moral equivalence."


Tom Tomorrow points to a place where you can be bashed by conservative pundits.

Heehee...gonna put Josh's name in there next and see what they have to say about him.

posted by Julie Neff  # 10/18/2002 12:50:00 PM

Thursday, October 17, 2002


Dream Anatomy, offered by the National Library of Medicine, shows that medical texts from the 1500s weren't fun enough with mere words. They included illustrations that can only be called whimsical. Yes, whimsical infant skeletons in thoughtful poses. Whimsical naked men showing us latitudinal cross-sections of their brains while ladies look on from above.

It's a long way from the seriousness and detail of Gray's Anatomy. Bah. Who says cadavers aren't fun?

posted by Julie Neff  # 10/17/2002 05:13:00 PM


Remember when I wished aloud that the cable and Roadrunner would go down so I wouldn't have to work this past summer and it actually happened?

Well...yesterday, I wished I didn't have to work because it was so bright and sunny outside, and there were a lot of outside things I wanted to do, like take Mo to the park and rake leaves and jump in them. No sooner had I vocalized, "I wish I didn't have to work anymore today..." than an IM from Sharon, one of my fellow QA people, popped up. Seems she was delegated by Janet, my boss, to notify all the QA people this shift to back out of the medical record database. The database had become corrupted and needed to be cleaned up. It was going to take about 12 hours of being shut down to complete. This was 1:45 p.m. So I got the afternoon free (and still paid).

Last night, I was writing in my journal and expressing the need for some time unencumbered by noisy citizenry, an uncooperative child who steals my candy and eats it all without asking (even after being taken out to play), a job that keeps me in a chair in my bedroom for 8-9-10 hours a day, an almost-ex-husband who won't get off his ass and come get his stuff out of my basement, a cat who thinks its fun to knock things off my desk when I'm trying to sleep, etc. ad nauseam...and I mumbled to myself, "what I really need is a sick day." I fell asleep pretty quickly after that.

(6 hours pass)

I wake up this morning in a MOOD with fangs and claws (the mood, not me), and unable to keep my eyes open for longer than five minutes. The mood persists despite caffeine and breakfast and I develop a nasty stingy-pingy headache behind both eyes. My throat gets a little sore and scratchy. I feel hot and achy and dizzy. Take the temperature and it's 99.8. I think to myself, "I usually run a little warm, it's nothing." The morning progresses, I work and I get achier. My ears start to ring and my head feels stuffy. Take the temp again and it's 100.2.

Shit. I wished myself sick. Funny thing is, I don't get 'sick days' per se. That's one of the things about working at home, especially for this company. There is no such thing as a sick day. I'm not sick enough to not work either, just sick enough to feel like absolute crap.

I wonder what my third wish will be.

posted by Julie Neff  # 10/17/2002 03:39:00 PM

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Reading death summaries is part of my job. Today in particular, there seem to be a lot of them to muddle through. Many people died in Jacksonville, Florida, this past weekend. Some of them took fully 30 to 45 minutes to expire once they were extubated. My gods and goddesses, DNR/DNI status never sounded so good.

Unless you are a health care professional or are on frequent admit miles, you can't understand the lengths to which the fine folks at hospitals are obligated to go to preserve life. Yes, it sounds all noble and heroic, and on occasion it really is. Other times, the painful or vegetative prolongation of life at the request of the family, or even the patient, is an act of the most shameful cowardice. Let's keep Grandma alive just long enough to fight over her stuff and divvy up her estate, then pull the plug. Let's keep Grandpa alive because I can't deal with losing MY father yet. When I finish therapy, THEN we let him go.

The detail with which a death summary must be written is also not to be believed. Every lab drawn, every med administered or DC'ed, every consultation, every I/O, every brand name of every piece of equipment, every time a code is called, the times and places all of the above took place, everything EVERYTHING needs to go in the death summary. The more dictasavvy docs reference previous reports and the lab database and the EMR, if they have one.

In the report about the lady who took 30 to 45 minutes to expire once she was extubated, not once did they ever mention administering morphine for comfort or sedatives of any kind. That made me cringe. Yes, they may very well HAVE administered morphine or sedatives but legally, if it's not in the report, THEY DIDN'T DO IT. Those who have been intubated (myself included, only briefly though) know it is a most horrible experience. Being extubated is similarly awful. This lady had a Glasgow coma score of 6 (on a scale of 3 to 15, one of the stranger scales, most of us are at 13 to 15 most of the time), broken down as no eye opening, verbalizing incomprehensible sounds only, flexion withdrawal from painful stimuli only.

I can only hope that the last 30 to 45 minutes of her life were not spent in racking agony.

I must be in a mood, because dwelling on people's deaths is not my usual cuppa-tea. It's usually more of a pathologist's view, or a coroner's view. Manner of death? Cause of death? Micro/macro findings? Cross sections? Lab results? Sputum and blood cultures? I'm all up in it. HOWEVER...listening to an intern with an incomprehensible accent carrying on a conversation in some other language I couldn't indentify at the same time as he was dictating this lady's death summary, laughing, chewing loudly, mumbling and generally being a very poor dictator...it struck me as being infuriating. I know doctors get toughened up to suffering to a certain degree, but I'm not a doctor, and I haven't. This intern will probably get reamed a new one when his attending gets called to sign his reports. I'D ream him a new one if I was his attending, but I'm not. C'est la mort.

I am all in favor of self-administered euthanasia, but in a lot of circles, that's called suicide. I have followed Dr. Kervorkian's doings closely. Another bit of me revealed; I am a staunch advocate of one's right to die. Funny that one as keen on following nature's course as I am would support end of life self-determination. It's my softhearted side. I can't abide suffering without wanting to tell someone what to do to alleviate it, or to alleviate it myself.

Even little Mo knows, from watching seasons pass and baby birdies on the sidewalk getting eaten by ants, death is a part of life. As I go "awww..." at a careless squished raccoon on the side of the road, she pipes up, "Mom, that's just part of life. " So it is, little one. So it is.

This is the crone in me speaking. What better time for one's crone to emerge than the middle of autumn? I'd be the dark angel of mercy, walking around with a dripping syringe full of morphine. "Please let me go." Shoot into the carotid, swing the scythe and it's over. Sigh. This coming from someone who died on the table back in '96, and still remembers the harsh twist, seize and screams of death coming in the form of antiandrenergic poisoning. Morphine death must be so much...smoother.

beat whilst I think of a longed-for smooth quiet death
another whilst I think of what the rest of my life has to offer

Okay, goth break is over. Back to your regularly scheduled succulent hamadryad flank filet with shallots and aubergines in a Mornay sauce. Glitter dust on the plates and cabernet in your glass. Slainte!


Shit o'my goodness, can mood swings be fun.

So as not to start hitting my computer with a nearby hammer (or hitting the half-full bottle of rum under my kitchen sink), I went and surfed a little bit.

This may be a 'duh' moment for some of you, but I finally figured out how to read Josh's archives, starting all the way back at the beginning, back when he lived in KC. Hint: Look at the url that comes up when you mouse over the permanent links. Three cheers for powers of observation!

posted by Julie Neff  # 10/15/2002 02:43:00 PM

Monday, October 14, 2002


This past Sunday, Morgan and I were playing a little game with Josh. I was washing dishes in the kitchen and he was in here, online, downloading tax forms and such. I would tell Morgan a phrase to repeat and tell her to go tell Josh this. She learned, in the course of this game, the following phrases, plus more:

Subvert the dominant paradigm
Viva la revolucion
Blessed be
Power to the people
Hail Eris
Bona Discordalia
Bona Saturnalia

Are we teaching her the right things to say or what? Mrs. "Murphy," her kindergarten teacher, will be in for an interesting parent-teacher conference, will she not?

posted by Julie Neff  # 10/14/2002 12:14:00 PM


It occurred to me yesterday, as I was sitting down to dinner with Morgan (polenta w/butter, garlic, cheese, parsley and carrots) that a whole paradigm shift has happened almost without me noticing it.

I walk a fine line, as a recovered (!) bulimirexic, regarding body image and weight-related issues. In contrast to last year at this time, when the recovery had only just barely started in earnest, I'm not beating myself up for every extra smidge that ends up passing my lips.

I'm not living on sugar-free jello and plain reconstituted TVP (so as not to have my muscle waste away, hahaha).I feel I have to get this down, more for my own benefit than anyone else's. It's good for a bit of insight and 'oh my god how could you do that to yourself' type of thing.

This had been going on for a good 13 or so years at this point, but it culminated in my 27th year. Who can say why? I can't.

My usual daily intake in 2001 was a strict 400 calories, or less if I could REALLY buckle down and force it out. I weighed, oh let's see...8-1/2 stone (which is about 120 pounds). It doesn't sound too unhealthy to hear or read, but to see me at that point, you might think otherwise. By the way, referring now to stone instead of pounds puts more perspective on it.

I had an assortment of scales which I would tweak and adjust. I'd 'consult the oracle' every single damn morning, and gloat as the needle crept down. I'd do the diet Dew and pills for breakfast, ride high on caffeine, Prozac, ephedrine and not bother with lunch at work. I'd trip merrily on down to the Walgreen's on the corner and hop on their scale, fully clothed and shod, and gloat again. I'd take my blood pressure and smugly smile at the 75/50, 80/60, 70/45 readings I'd get, dehydrated, dizzy and glad to get settled back in my chair in the office. I'd come home exhausted, reeking of the half-pack of cigarettes I'd sucked down on the way home to kill my hunger for supper, and crash for a good half-hour. I'd make dinner for Morgan and sit with her, vicariously slobbering and making sure she finished every bite. The ex was never home for dinner at that point. After Mo went to bed and was safely asleep, I'd lose it and literally shove everything I could find into my mouth until I felt like I was going to burst. I forced the burst and did it again, sometimes four or five times, until I was exhausted enough to have one last triumphant cigarette and fall asleep, alone.

In the meantime we have fainting spells, bleeding throats, bloodshot eyes, people asking what's the matter, looking as if I had mumps from parotid gland hypertrophy, going to the mall on lunches and packing myself into size 4 and 6 jeans that I wasn't going to buy, reminding myself of how important it was to keep my weight down, if for no other reason than to be able to look good in the clothes my ex would buy for me to parade around in for him, so he'd pay some good attention to me and not go out on any given night to get eyefuls and who knows what else of other women...

The logic was NOT sound. I was in an abusive relationship that was kind of crapping out on its own, struggling to find that oh-so-necessary defiance of the media and that one man, the ex, in particular. Oh, and that minor trifle of electrolyte-imbalance-induced arrhythmia and oh-so-slight myocardial infarct that ended me up on telemetry and observation for a day or two...yeah. See, I had proof then that my problem with food could very well kill me. The ex supposedly supported my efforts to, in his words, "quit killing yourself." The less said about that, the better. There is nothing LESS helpful to someone starting to recover from an eating disorder than this kind of clothing, and what did I find myself being handed as 'incentive' gifts, more and more often? Idiot.

All last winter, after the ex had been told off and relocated once again, I struggled and fought to make peace with my body and its requirements. Caloric intake inched up...500, 600, 800, 1000 a day. I had a friend then who was battling an alcohol demon, and we kept about pace with each other as far as relapses and triumphs. Thanksgiving and Christmas tested my resolve mightily, as it was I who made the repasts and cookies and all the edible froufrou for the extended family.

Spring comes, and I emerge a full 1 stone more massive. My metabolism had been taken down so far that I was gaining steadily on 1000 calories a day. Okay, okay, that's dealable, the therapist and doctor warned me that this would happen, it's okay, really... Proof of health, proof of 'behaving,' proof of living and not dying more quickly than normal.

Tosh and nonsense. I still had that skinny bitch in my head saying, this is why you'll never keep a man, you glutton, you pig, look at you, YOU'RE FAT!!!, etc. etc., blah blah...I slapped that bitch into submission around June.

Summer, and the turmoil of finally calling the marriage dead and getting the papers, working 12-hour days, continuing to raise my daughter solo, eating cautiously but steadily...and then along comes Mr. Pooka in the beginning of July. The rest, as they cliche, is history.

So here I am, a year later, defiantly slacking off in terms of what goes in my facehole and stays there. Holding steady at 10 stone. Feeling relatively energetic, pretty strong, good endurance, too fidgety when sitting at the computer, not dizzy when getting up anymore, but also with a centimeter of pitting edema on my shins and a gnawing in my belly that a muffin, an apple, a bag of microwave popcorn and a bottle of water has not sated. Gah. I'm ALWAYS hungry now. How did I ever like this feeling? Now that I have mental and biological permission to eat and not be punished, I'm reveling in the sensory/tactile delight that is food and its preparation. I've been cooking up a storm in the last two months or so and everything has been magnifique.

Now this extra stone that pads my frame is getting a little irksome. Not so much for reasons of appearance, but for reasons of my family history. Diseases of excess rampage on both sides. I've already had heart problems thanks to the ED. Type II diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, vascular disease and CAD are lurking in my genes. My gallbladder is gone thanks to poor metabolic behavior postpartum (taking only 3 months to lose 50 pounds) and for chrissakes I'm TRYING to quit smoking. I have to. How'm I gonna hike the Appalachian Trail with an irregular heart, clouded lungs and ISSUES? I'm not. That's all going to be resolved before I head down to Georgia. Oooh, incentive indeed.

Josh has said he's probably the worst influence someone like me could have in that area, as he is a compulsive indulgent snacker and has a tendency to go heavy on the sodium. Nonsense, I say. He was just the incentive I needed to finish my first fully recovered year. He is turning out to be the help I need in dealing with the media images. He is turning out to be the help I need in raising Morgan. He is the best thing that could have happened, and not a moment too soon.

The paradigm shift is this: I have come to associate recovered-slightly-heavier-me with happy, energetic, productive, creative, in-love me. I have NEVER had such a thing in all my 28 years.

So, for aiding and abetting keeping me alive and healthy, I give Josh the coveted Golden Toothbrush Award.

posted by Julie Neff  # 10/14/2002 12:02:00 PM


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