The first one they served us breakfast and took our pictures and gave us pep-talks. The next few we were treated to fistfuls of caramels and peppermints and a number of "self-assessment" surveys regarding our personal communication style and then some odd scolding lectures ("By a show of hands, how many people here are in it for the money?")
At the end we break up into groups where we were encouraged to vent and bitch and are assured one too many times for comfort by the "facilitator" that everything here is totally, completely, COMPLETELY confidential.
This bit was important enough to get a name- "tales from the bedside" and it was painful and exhausting and not, just not, not Good.
Last meeting we got no candy and no bitch session. Although we did get to watch a video taped episode of ER where Mark Green succumbs to his brain tumor in Hawaii.
The topic was palative care. Group work revolved around attitudes about death and I heard some stories that were awful.
I'd wish to say they were moving and life-affirming, and they certainly would have been except for the fact that death is a sucky, sucky thing.
Considering how morbid I am, I would have imagined myself dealing much better with this session. Perhaps it was the length- 1 ½ hours of death talk, sure- no problem (plus, could I suggest showing the ER episode with Ray Liotta where he plays the homeless alcoholic that stumbles in with the shot liver and the dead kidneys and the awesome lifetime of failure and regret and the whole episode shows him hallucinating about getting on a bus, or reuniting with the son who has rightfully rejected him- somehow, appropriately enough, a kind of "side-topic" all the while he is dying?- You know- for teaching purposes, cause how many people get to die in Hawaii?)
4 hours of talk about death left me feeling cold (ok, the auditorium was cold, so that wasn't so weird) and STARVING hungry.
I was supposed to have coffee with some mentor type person afterwards, but the moment we were dismissed I bolted out of there. I drove straight to the grocery store and bought a rotisserie chicken and about $20 worth of chocolate. I spent about 30 extra minutes with my children, attired myself in some extra layers of tee-shirts and lab coats and then headed back to work for 12 hours of caring for a woman who'd gotten one of her coronary arteries dissected then pieced back together by a surgeon who was so shocked by his creativity that he could not keep himself from telling her family how crazy it was that she wasn't dead.
(I know this- because the family kept talking about it. I never saw this surgeon but his amazement, awe became the thing the family held onto, in shock and grief they searched around for something good about all of this and one thing was the knife holder going "holey-shit, I can't believe I just did that!")
And BTW anyone who says- "oh, hey- I'll be fine to go when I'm 80"- I say, fuck that. This lady wasn't- isn't ready to go and her family sure as heck isn't ready for her to go. And so, there.
She was a teacher and she raised children who became teachers and those children had children who became teachers and the few crazy, rebellious ones in the family who were not teachers became ministers- specifically pastors. I spoke with a granddaughter who was a pastor in a cardiac unit in another hospital so when she asked me how the patient was doing, she knew the language and the details and that was startling and tricky- but also good.
BTW- The chocolate did not taste as good as I'd thought it would. It tasted like wax. Likely because it (the chocolate) and I were both cold. It did not taste like life nor love nor nothing.
The chicken was ok. Salt. There's your life force.
Coincidentally, around 11: pm (or 2300 for those in the know) we had a "welcome to the unit on NIGHTS!" dinner for myself and the few other new people- featuring buckets of fried chicken. At that point I was a bit over the fueling life to pacify death (or just over chicken) . . . but, accidentally, in an effort to participate, I somehow discovered the Southern style, sweet ice tea, which I normally hate, somehow tasted exactly like what I'd been looking for a few hours before.
What I've Been Reading/listening to: A friend recently bought me "Loneseome Dove" and I haven't made it past the first chapter. I've been blaming the lurid, heaving bosom cover.
I bought myself "Blink- the Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and have made it to page 8. I mourn the loss of losing myself in a book. Reading books had always been a part of who I've been as long as I can remember, and somehow along the way I lost it. Crap.
More about What I'm Doing I went to a hypnotist recently. Yes. Forget to ask why I was there. My only reason for bringing this up was because he said at one point I should look in the mirror and say "I look Damn good!". Funny and just stupid sweet.
Good Morning Star Shine, the Earth Says Hello! (that's from the new Willy Wonka- Blaine? Are you still with me- I know I go on too long) Last of all- School of the Americas
have you heard about this?
This weekend in Ft. Benning GA people are protesting a school that is run and paid for by the U.S. government (i.e. us). I spoke to my Lonesome Dove friend who's down there and there is apparently a "counter-protest" planned by friends and family of the military- the people who care about the kids who are there, military people at Ft. Benning.
The thing is, the protesters are not protesting the regular military- they're protesting a school/training program that has been called "The Assassination School".
I tried to explain this thing to a few people and I feel, as I'm saying it, that I sound like I'm making it up.
If you have some time, look it up. I don't feel capable of convincing anyone that this exists, that this is paid for, supported, acknowledged by our government.
It's been around for a while and the people our military and our tax dollars have supported have used torture, terrorism, rape, murder, "disappearances" and what not all over South America- throughout the ‘80's up until now. We taught them to use these tactics in very specific, organized ways. Our governments condemn their actions and at the same time the School invites them back as honored graduates- to lecture. With this school, we kill El Salvadorians, Columbians, and Guatemalans, a good number of Americans (specifically nuns, priests and bishops). They are killed in intentionally- extraordinarily horrible ways.
I tell my friend- ok, just don't get arrested. (Ha. Ha.- No. Really, I say, you should not, not get arrested in GA. YOU of all people will not do well with southern incarceration. Just don't. Also, stop by on your way back. I will serve warm chocolate. We'll hide under the covers. It will be ok. I hope.