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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pillow Talk



FD hates it when I do this, tell you what we talk about horizontal.

But it's usually not very interesting, and rare that I share. What we talk about, often, when it's just the two of us, is incompetency in the hospital (that can be the answering service) and very occasionally, the last patient the service had to call us about, woke us up about.

Here's a sample of the kind of ranting I get to hear early in the morning.*
FD will groan. Do you believe that guy? He tells them at ICU, No more, no thank you, I'm out of here. Then he stops the transfusion, gets dressed and checks himself out of the hospital! For this I've spent three hours talking to residents in the middle of the night, so he should walk out on a procedure that will buy him a few more months in the Land of the Living. You couldn't have slept through that.
Well, uh, no. I heard it all.

And continue to hear about it. Could have been an ER episode.
And that's okay, that he complains, lets off a little steam. It's healthy. And I'm a paid consultant. He gives me some of his stress, leaves it in the bedroom (not always the most romantic idea). He never uses names or identifiers, and since it's ER call, it could be virtually anyone, and is. If it's someone I might know, someone I'd actually want to hear about, he won't say a word, won't rant, but he might slam a drawer.

I tell him, throw shoes, pies, muffins. Save the furniture. When we recycled at the recycling center, we threw bottles. Now that was great.

It's nice if you have that capacity to complain, nicer still if you hold others captive to listen. (We'll get to nagging another day). As his consultant, had this been a real case, I would have told him that his patient probably came in looking for opiates and left the hospital looking for opiates.

So this morning I get up and don't even bother looking at the clock. I know it's somewhere between 4 and 5 and I'm telling my brain, Just go back to sleep, when FD murmurs, "Time to get up. It's 5:05." He's really telling himself to get up, not me.

"5:03."

I am up, so I excuse myself for a minute, but come back to bed. He's happy. Usually I don't come back to bed. "Why are you coming back to bed?" he asks joyfully.

"To be with you," I say. "I know you think our relationship is all about companionship, so I'm being a companion."

Immediately he launches into a complaint. "I can't get over that guy walking out of ICU the other day. If I ever see him again. . ."

I want to say, Get over it, it's not about you. But that's not therapeutic, you know. So I don't say anything, close my eyes.

Out of nowhere, total non-sequitor, I ask, "What percentage of your waiting room is composed of black people?"

I don't use the PC term, African American, because it's just we two and color, not ethnic origin, matters at this moment to my visual brain. Healthy skin is nice in any color.

"Some days it's mostly black."

"You're a magnet for people with soul."

"Must be. Or could it be the neighborhood?"

And then I tell him how happy I am that Barack Obama is going to be President, even though I was truly on the fence, and no, I won't tell you who I voted for. But I love the feeling of patriotism in America right now, love seeing Hope visit Washington, the White House, the national cemetary. I love that so many people came out to vote, that people, so many Americans, now feel that they are a part of the political process. It's been a long time.

"It wasn't only black people who elected the President," he says.

Right, right. But you know how it is. The Irish, when they weigh those choices for judge, vote for Irish first. The Italians vote for Italians. The Poles vote for Poles. The Jews vote for Jews. People do vote ethnic, I'm pretty sure, and when their candidate wins, it's a good feeling.

We had some company on Friday night, and in the haze of serving and clearing, picking at my tofu and stir-fry, here and there I caught some of the conversation. Someone mentioned this feeling, a ground-swell within the African American community. He thought it comparable to the wonderment within the Jewish community after the Six Day War, when the Israelis trounced the surrounding Arab nations. All of them.**

Triumphant, proud. People didn't like it, those who didn't understand, didn't mind so much the victory, as the pride.

Some of us are scared of people who get happy like that, people who strut, shout, celebrate a victory. It feels too much like power, face it. People are afraid of exhilaration when it's ethnic.

And yet we love those songs. Hold your head up, hold your head up, hold your head high.

Did anyone see Boston Legal the other night? Roe, 11/10/2008. If you didn't and you still plan on it, SPOILER ALERT. But I'll only spoil one plot, if that helps you any.

Jerry Espenson, (Christian Clemenson, simply brilliant) the attorney with Asperger's Disorder, is buying muffins and coffee with his dear colleague, Katie Lloyd (Tara Summers, I like her very much, too).

A smart-talking mortgage broker thinks the two lawyers are listening in on his cell phone conversation in line. The broker taunts them, calls them Mr. and Mrs. Snoopy. He makes fun of Katie's South African dialect and Jerry's tics. Jerry keeps cool, but he's getting visibly upset.

They finish their order, turn to leave, and Jerry accidentally bumps into the broker who subsequently escalates his insults, calling Mr. Espenson Dimento.

Katie takes her friend by the elbow to get him out of there, but Jerry has a moment of clarity. He glares at his nemesis, takes a muffin in hand, aims like a marksman (all in slow motion, just terrific work here) and deliberately pitches the pastry overhand, fastball, hard.

And whack! The muffin's on target, clips the guy's profile, smack dab on the cheek.

It gets wild, of course, and wonderful, and Jerry ultimately chooses to defend himself in court. He tells the jury that having had emotional issues and Asperger's since childhood, he has suffered abuse and bullying for forty years. He simply reached his max in that coffee shop, his passion, years of anger simmering inside, got the better of him.

He had to react, couldn't take another insult. He isn't sorry for what he's done, although he is sorry for celebrating with that little dance that he does.

There's more, and this is a great episode. I won't even tell you about the abortion subplot, which is almost as good. In fact, it's better.

The rise in pride in this country, surely muted by our economic woes, is not something we should associate with the rising frustration that drives someone like a Jerry Espenson to throw a muffin, although you could argue the similarity. These are very different tides. The political process is a constructive process.

Back to our pillow talk.

FD says, "You know, we're pretty much out of food."

"Yeah, I haven't been in the shopping mood so much."

"But just because you're not hungry. . . Okay, I'll go to the store after shul."

"No, don't. We have blueberries. That's really all we need right now."

This is a cue for me to make muffins. For some crazy reason, my goofy home recipe makes only 10 muffins. The pan with the first six went into the oven first, and I heard the timer, took it out in time. Perfect. Soft. Yum.

But the second pan, the one that went in later, I forgot about. And as I luxuriated in the shower, they burned, my first decimation of muffins since we got the new stove in April. It seemed a real waste and I felt badly, but the last four were hard as rocks. so I tossed them into the garbage.

FD thought they were salvageable, but you know.

These things can be dangerous.

therapydoc

*Anecdotes about patients on this blog, medical or psychological, are always sheer fiction.

** Wikipedia says, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the Third Arab-Israeli War, Six Days' War, an‑Naksah (The Setback), or the June War, was fought between Israel and Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The nations of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria also contributed troops and arms to the Arab forces.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Your synopsis of Jerry and Katie is a perfect description of why gun control is a good idea. If we went around packing muffins instead of heat the homicide rate might take a noticeable dip. And why therapy is a good idea. It's too crowded a world to let that simmering anger that we all have for one reason or another get to the point of *having* to do something rash and thoughtless about it.

frumhouse said...

Isn't it weird listening in to patient calls in the wee hours of the morning. When Mr. Frumhouse is on call, so am I, in a weird way. Although if it's a really busy night, soemtimes he will move into another room to spare me the constant wake-ups.

I too sometimes get caught up in the drama, and even wonder what happened to the patient the next day....

I think getting paid as a consultant and/or physician counselor isn't a bad idea. What would I charge per hour?

therapydoc said...

Great comment, Anon.

Frumhouse, in this economy you could get a lot out of bartering here. Have him build you a deck. Go for big, here.

Blognut said...

Muffin throwing is a good thing. I like this idea. Plus, if you miss, the dogs will take care of the mess. We have actually used jumbo marshmallows; they work well too. If something must be thrown, I say let it be food, and let it be soft.

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

I'm with you on the good feeling about the election. I, too, was very much on the fence, (and I, too, am not divulging how I voted,) but I am feeling buoyed by the general satisfaction and, dare we say it, hope, that is in the air.

Of course, it is less present here among the bitter, religion-clinging masses than it is in Chicago...

therapydoc said...

I understand we should expect a pogrom, chas v'chalila (G-d forbid, and this is unbelievably ridiculous, but traumatized people think this way.)

Midwife with a Knife said...

Hm... somehow those little bits of normalcy, of connectedness are really great little moments. Even though they may seem sort of ordinary, they're ordinary in a very extraordinary way.

Margo said...

It's really not fair to starve my father. You always feed me when I'm around (ask my obstetrician) and he makes the coffee, after all...

Jack said...

*Anecdotes about patients on this blog, medical or psychological, are always sheer fiction.

Come to my blog where every story, euphemism and or metaphor is based upon truth. I live it, you read it.

Probably shouldn't joke about it, but some of the stuff that people believe makes me wonder.

therapydoc said...

My son read the line and said, Mom, you're a blogger. You can't make stuff up! He was ashamed.

Obviously I can't make all of it up, I told him. Certainly not the stuff about him.

The professional stuff, though. The stuff a person who knows me might read and think, OMG, she's writing about ME! That stuff is all made up.

It's never about you, I tell them.

Jack said...

Mom, you're a blogger. You can't make stuff up!

That is the best part. Sorry, I just can't help it.

Just Me said...

If anyone ever doubts the effect of ethnicity on voting they need to spend time in Appalachia.

I honestly don't know who won in the counties near me. I know a surprising number of Barack signs were in place. Even my town, historically extremely prejudiced apparently (I'm a transplant) had Barack support, although I'm sure he lost here.

But the things people said......I know they were said everywhere, but I'd never realized how strong prejudice is until this year. So many people who just refuse to believe that different colored skin, or a different sounding name, is not nefarious.

And yet I've seen something I didn't expect. I work in a nursing home. I thought I would see a lot of prejudice there. Instead, the older adults I deal with am mainly thrilled and many voted for Barack, even though they are the parents of those who still have such misguided ideas. Some seem a bit baffled at the whole thing, and some seem to hope for something like JFK.

I hope that means there is hope yet, that the younger generations might still gain wisdom.