healthcare, social media, viral

“A time to be born… a time to die…”

It’s Monday again, and I’m sitting here pondering a discussion I got into yesterday after a nursing friend shared a viral meme about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Right now, people are talking about CPR. Professional football player, Damar Hamlin, collapsed on the field and received CPR, which saved his life. I don’t watch football, so even if I had been in the United States when it happened, I probably would not have seen it happen live. But a number of people on my friends list saw it.

CPR saved Damar Hamlin’s life. There’s no doubt about it.

Damar Hamlin is reportedly now doing much better. He will have to recover from this incident, but as a young athlete, he’ll probably be fine. However, as one nurse pointed out, CPR doesn’t always end well for every patient. She made a meme, and it went viral.

A fair point.

I saw this meme because one of my nursing friends shared it. It made me remember a blog post I wrote in 2013. Back then, it was in the news that an 87 year old woman, who lived at an independent living facility in Bakersfield, California, had collapsed. No one rendered CPR to her. Instead, a supposed nurse at the facility called 911. The nurse explained to the 911 dispatcher that it was against the facility’s policy for employees to perform CPR on residents. A lot of people seemed shocked that this was a policy at a place where it seemed like there would be emergency medical assistance available for residents.

The dispatcher, upset that the “nurse” wasn’t acting, reportedly pleaded:

“Anybody there can do CPR. Give them the phone please. I understand if your facility is not willing to do that. Give the phone to that passerby,” the dispatcher said. “This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don’t get this started.”

But the nurse refused to render aid, and followed the protocol set by her employer. An ambulance arrived a few minutes later, but the woman died at the hospital.

It outraged a lot of readers that the nurse simply let this 87 year old woman die without a fight. Many people posted that the woman’s family should sue. Some felt the “nurse” should be fired and lose her nursing license. Some seemed to think police should arrest the “nurse”.

Inspired by some of the more vitriolic comments, I decided to blog about the situation. In that post, I wrote:

As someone who has studied public health and social work, and lived abroad several times, I was amused and amazed by the comments that came with that article.  There’s quite cultural statement made about this situation.  Look at it.  The woman was 87 years old.  That’s an impressive life span.  CPR is a very traumatic thing to do to another person.  Even if you’re young, CPR can cause cracked or broken ribs, a broken sternum, and internal bleeding.  At 87 years old, I would imagine this woman was a lot more fragile than your average adult is.  Moreover, CPR done to elderly patients doesn’t actually have an impressive success rate.  It’s an emergency intervention and doesn’t usually turn out the way it does on TV shows like ER.

CPR done correctly might have saved her… just in time for her to spend days or weeks in the hospital, hooked up to machines and running up big medical bills that perhaps she had no means to pay.  At age 87, she was likely on Medicare.  She might have made a full recovery… or she might have suffered brain damage, because the CPR wasn’t done correctly and she went without oxygen for too long. She might have lapsed into a coma, where doctors and relatives would have to decide when the appropriate time to let her go would be.  But here in America, we are taught from a young age that we should spare no expense to save a life, even a life that has been well lived and is about finished.  You are seen as a criminal if you opt for death.

I remember posting about the case on my Facebook page. At the time, I had a lot more “friends”, and some of them were argumentative types. The thread about this case got heated, fueling the post even more. I continued:

…there are many places around the world where no one would have raised an eyebrow at what happened to this lady.  In many places around the world, family members or neighbors care for the elderly.  And when death comes, it’s not always seen as something that has to be fought.  Death is a part of life, and it will happen to everyone at some point.

While I can see why it’s distressing to think of a person just watching someone die while on the phone with 911, I can also understand why that assisted living facility has the policy they have.  You can bet it has a lot to do with litigation and insurance. 

It’s hard to think of sitting on your hands in a situation like this.  It is a little unnerving to think about when a person’s life is no longer worth saving due to advanced age.  But I think in this case, it’s likely that this woman had a better death than she might have.  I wish we could come to some kind of consensus as to how we can let people die with dignity.  We can’t have everyone living until they’re 100, though.  The system can’t and won’t support it. 

So… there I was yesterday, looking at that viral meme, and remembering that 2013 case. When I looked at the comments on the original thread, I found out people still seem to think CPR is always justified, no matter what. The person who originally shared the meme is apparently a nurse, and she’s run many codes on people. A lot of the codes she’s run have been on people who are clearly at the end of their lives. They either didn’t have a “do not resuscitate” order or a living will, or their distraught family members feel compelled to keep them alive at all costs. Family members don’t always realize what goes into a “code”, and how violent and aggressive it can be.

Some commenters were profane in their responses, “bravely” stating that they don’t care about broken ribs if it means another day with a loved one. It’s easy to say that when you’re not in severe pain, or dealing with chronic health issues that make life torture. The fact is, everyone dies. And in every life, there will come an opportunity to make an exit. Sometimes, when a very elderly person collapses, it’s simply their time to go.

Later that day in March 2013, I wrote more about the case. I identified the woman who collapsed. Her name was Lorraine Bayless. She lived at an independent living facility, as opposed to a nursing home or even an assisted living facility. The stories referred to the woman who called 911 as a nurse, but it wasn’t clear if she actually was a nurse. It wasn’t clear if she’d had a DNR, either. Some sources reported that she didn’t have a DNR, but at least one other reported that she did. Experts at the time were talking about how “morally wrong” it was not to render aid to Ms. Bayless. But other people in the know were discussing what happens to a person when they get CPR.

I’m 50 years old, and I live with aches and discomfort every day. I’m not in terrible pain yet. A lot of what ails me is helped with over the counter pain medications, or even a glass or two of wine. Unfortunately, as people age, they tend to hurt more. They become more fragile, and develop health conditions that make it more difficult to recover from illnesses and injuries. And, it’s always sad to bring this up, but healthcare is very expensive, especially in the United States. A very elderly person who is nearing the natural end of their life will run up huge bills, even if they survive another day or two.

As many of my healthcare friends pointed out, it’s uncommon for very elderly people to fully recover from CPR interventions. I’m not saying it never happens, but that it’s rare. And that kind of intervention, which almost always involves broken ribs and severe bruising, will mean significant pain in addition to whatever the condition was that caused the collapse in the first place. The whole point of the viral meme I read yesterday was that people often suffer when they get CPR, along with the suggestion that people talk to their loved ones about what they would like to have done to them if they collapse. One would also hope that they put their wishes in writing, so that medical personnel can honor their wishes without risking their careers or their freedom.

On another note…

One thing I noticed and want to comment about is another one of my “pet peeves”. So many people seemed to be deliberately obtuse about the meme’s message. It was as if people thought the nurse was saying that CPR is never justified. That’s not what she was conveying. She was saying that CPR is brutal to bodies. Some people won’t recover from the physical or mental trauma of the violence and aggression of CPR. People should consider that reality before demanding that medical staff resuscitate their very elderly and frail loved ones who suffer from chronic illnesses.

And also… I wish to God that people would read things before commenting. So many people mentioned cracked ribs and other injuries that come from CPR. I think it’s inconsiderate to post comments without reading the post in question or other people’s comments. Why should I read what someone writes when they haven’t taken the time to read what others have written?

In essence, people who comment before reading are telling everyone that their comments are more important than other people’s comments are. That is quite an arrogant and self-centered statement, in my opinion. Reading before commenting saves time in the long run, because you might find that your comment is unnecessary or, perhaps, inapplicable to the situation. I know that making this statement might make me look “mean” or “rude”, but honestly, I think it’s rude to waste people’s time by making statements that are irrelevant or have already been made umpteen times. Just my opinion.

Anyway…

I hope you have a good Monday. I’ll be watching for new inspirations, as I continue to read my latest book. See you tomorrow.

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first world problems, healthcare, sex, slut shamers, social media

Repost: I could jump on the FYI bandwagon tonight…

Here’s a repost of my reaction to Kim Hall’s viral blog post about braless teenaged girls in towels or pajamas. I’m sharing it to go with today’s partial repost. It was written for my original blog on September 5, 2013, when I was living in Texas. I’m mostly leaving it “as/is”. I think it’s a pretty good post.

Yesterday, my Facebook feed was positively littered with links to a certain blog post written by a Texas mother of four who wrote an open letter to all the slutty girls out there not wearing bras and taking selfies before they go to bed.  I could link to that post, but I don’t see the point of doing that.  It’s all over the Internet.

To be honest, I’m of a mixed mind about this woman’s post.  I am generally not a fan of people taking slutty looking selfies.  If they are teenaged girls, I figure it’s because they are caving to some kind of external message that they need to be “sexy” in order to be desirable.  I think that’s sad, but I sort of understand it.  Growing up is hard.  Still, if I were a mother, that would not be something I’d want to encourage.  On the other hand, I don’t think “slut shaming” is good, either.  I think it’s best to encourage common sense. 

Of course “Mrs. Hall” immediately made her post the subject of scorn when she included photos of her handsome sons in their bathing suits at the beach.  Her daughter was wearing a modest one piece tank suit and it looked like they were just having clean family fun.  But if you’re going to be complaining about “scantily clad teenaged girls” who might give your sons boners, you ought not post photos of your boys dressed in a similarly scantily clad fashion.  Yes, I know that on the beach, it’s perfectly acceptable to be wearing a bathing suit, while most people don’t think of pajamas or nighties as clothes you’d see in public.  But the fact is, we still see a lot of skin on those boys… and if your point is that girls need to cover up, you’d best take care with your own photos.

Apparently, Mrs. Hall then thought better of it and posted another version of her post with photos of the kids covered up.  But the damage had already been done and lots of folks began posting rebuttals.  These days, America is pretty polarized when it comes to morality.  We have a lot of really religious folks out there who are trying to take back the country, as it were, and at least by my observations, seem to be taking things to extremes.  We also have a lot of folks who are proudly atheist and are also taking things to extremes.  The people in these two groups may not be as many strong as those of us in between, but they are very loud, and some of them are very articulate.  Consequently, the Internet becomes inundated with viral posts that both speak to and repel people who identify with these two groups.

I have friends on both sides of the spectrum, so I’ve seen the FYI post for girls a number of times already.  I have also seen rebuttals and parodies.  I found the initial blog post hypocritical, smug, and ill-conceived… but I also understood where the mom was coming from, even if she came off as quite sanctimonious. 

You know, the one thing that I really came away with is that I’m sort of glad I didn’t have kids.  I wanted them, but raising kids is so complicated.  Even without the FYI blog post, there was an article about how overweight kids are having “fat letters” sent home.  Childhood obesity is no doubt a big problem, but shaming people is rarely the way to get them to reform.  And there are just so many reasons why people get fat.  Could be a simple issue of too many calories, not enough exercise.  Could be because the kid is lonely and eats to soothe emotional pain.  Could be because the kid is being bullied or abused by other kids, their parents, or someone else. 

I just don’t see how sending home a letter about the kid’s BMI is the school’s role.  Unless the school’s staff is going to help the parents do something about the problem, I don’t see why they are more qualified to “diagnose” obesity more than a medical professional is.  Medical professionals also have the added ability to determine how obesity is affecting the children in question.  Moreover, kids whose parents don’t care aren’t likely to care if they get a letter, though the kid probably will. 

Of course, if the school sent home a letter about my BMI, my parents would have been embarrassed and would have taken it out on me.  I remember being in 9th grade and weighing about 115 pounds.  I was weighed in front of everyone and the coach made some comment about how I must have had a big lunch.  I was humiliated, even though now I realize that I was nowhere near fat at that point of my life.  I would love to be that weight today.  Maybe after I’ve been dead a few months…

I got a lot of “fat shaming” from my parents even when I wasn’t overweight and struggled with fucked up eating habits for years.  I’ve reached a point at which I don’t care as much as I used to, but the memories still hurt… and probably had a lot to do with why I was so old when I finally had a real relationship with a man.  Fortunately for me, he turned out to be a great guy who treats me like gold.  It could have easily gone the other way, though.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that there are an awful lot of people self-righteously sticking their noses where they don’t belong.  Mrs. Hall’s open letter may have resonated with a lot of people, but she probably should have addressed boys and girls, not just girls.  And she should have practiced her own counsel.  And the fat shaming asshats are not doing anything but making childhood more miserable with their letters home.  Adolescents are vulnerable, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to their self image.  Eating disorders are serious problems that can wreak havoc on those who  have them and those who love them.  

Childhood obesity is a problem.  Teen sex, especially when it leads to consequences like pregnancy or diseases, is a problem.  Something does need to be done about these issues.  I just don’t think shaming is the way to go about it.  Growing up is tough enough. 

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condescending twatbags, politics, religion, stupid people, wingnuts

The strange case of the scary, satanic, plastic spoon from Sonic…

It’s Sunday morning, so I think I’ll write a post about wacky social media posts by Christians that go viral. Why is it that Jesus loving, God fearing, Christian types are so often white males who want to declare everything fun and fantastic as evil and satanic?

Yesterday morning, as I was cracking open my bloodshot blue eyes for the first time of the day, I opened Facebook and noticed that a college friend had commented on a viral post. My friend had written her reaction to a picture of a plastic toy that was put in a “Sonic Wacky Pack” for a Mississippi man’s daughter. The Mississippian father, name of James Charles Phillips, had written a lengthy post about how his daughter felt that the toy “felt evil”. Because her father has obviously indoctrinated her with right wing religious bullshit, the child was afraid of the fluorescent green spoon, modeled after the scepter carried by Masters of the Universe character, Skeletor. She threw it out of her dad’s truck… evidently opting to litter and befouling God’s beautiful creation, Planet Earth. How very Christian.

I decided to share the post with the comment, “This is fucking stupid.” At this point, a number of my friends are laughing with me about this guy’s wackaloon post about the evil spoon from Sonic. Some have agreed with me that this man’s post is also kind of skeevy, since it’s a dad praising his good little daughter for recognizing a piece of plastic as “evil”. One friend pictured the guy wearing a MAGA hat. Another said she got “Jim Bob” vibes, as if the daughter is his property.

My first thought, upon looking at the “scary and satanic” spoon, was that the top of it reminded me of a woman’s reproductive system. Maybe dad was skeeved out because the horns on the scepter look like fallopian tubes. They live in Mississippi, and that’s a place where a woman’s reproductive rights are likely to be stripped away any day now.

Yikes! It really does look like a woman’s reproductive innards. Maybe dad thinks that’s satanic, too. This photo came from Wikipedia and is in the public domain.

I was curious about this guy, so I went to the original post. I noticed that, at this writing, he has well over 16,000 followers on his Facebook page. Who in the hell is he to have so many followers? Especially since he doesn’t write particularly well and lives in Mississippi? So I did a Google search, and discovered Revival in Courage, a Web site that is connected to him. Weirdly enough, the site appears to be based in North Carolina, but when I read the description of the self-described “Constitutional Cowboy”, and look at the person in the pictures, I’m pretty sure it’s the same dude. A link to his very public Facebook page confirms it.

Mr. Phillips appears to be a political activist, who does “motivational speaking and teaching”. He served in the United States Marines, and raises Longhorn cattle and “nine little patriots” with his “bride” on their farm. I looked around the site and wasn’t surprised to find that it’s basically advertising right wing political beliefs, with dire warnings about the United States’s inexorable slide into communism. Once again, I can only shake my head at the lunacy. I don’t think this dude even knows what communism is.

From what I can see on their home page, members of the Revival in Courage group believe that public health mandates are left wing strategies to take away our liberties as Americans. They deny that COVID-19 is a public health emergency, and that ivermectin really does effectively treat the virus. They are vehemently against wearing face masks, and they’re especially against children being required to wear masks.

They are against vaccines for children, even going so far as connecting them to abortion and declaring them “genocidal”. Naturally, they’re against abortion, and want it completely abolished.

This group believes that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” and the results were fraudulent.

This group is against gay pride, and gay rights. They are for forcing children in school to pray and read the Bible, even though not everyone is Christian. They think the schools are full of “filth”… I guess things like the satanic Skeletor spoon from Sonic are “filthy”, as is any discussion of sex education, any books that might actually give children liberal ideas or help them think critically.

I see that this group deems itself “patriotic”, and refers to members as “patriots” and “minutemen”. And, looking under the speakers tab, I see there’s a list of people– James Charles Phillips among them– who are promoting the idea that they can “save” America from liberals who want to “take away their rights”. One of the speakers is Dr. Jeffrey Barke, who wrote a book titled Covid-19: A Physician’s Take on the Exaggerated Fear of the Coronavirus. The book actually gets pretty good ratings on Amazon, probably because it caters to the many people in the United States who are frighteningly wedded to the extremely conservative “Trumpian” mindset. However, there are only five reviews posted, so my guess is that the ratings are inflated.

I’m sitting here amazed, since a viral Facebook post written by some religious wingnut with extremely right wing ideas, has caused me to fall down yet another rabbit hole, when I could be reading Jennifer Grey’s life story. Still, I was amused by the many posts on the guy’s Facebook page. A lot of people were telling him, in no uncertain profane terms, how fucking stupid this is… and how he shouldn’t be teaching his children to be so terrified of plastic spoons that look like women’s reproductive organs and glow in the dark. In fact, many people have rightly called what this dad is doing as emotional abuse. Isn’t life scary enough without kids being afraid of satanic influences at Sonic? I guess it’s only Chick-Fil-A for this guy’s family from now on, since he’s so afraid of his kids being desensitized and influenced by evil demons at Sonic. If you have some spare time and need a laugh, I recommend reading some of the comments. They’re hilarious. Many people are pointing out that it’s just a plastic spoon!

Mr. Phillips has even posted a video in which he calmly tries to explain himself… I’m not sure he quite makes the mark with what he said in the video. I’m not going to post it here, but it’s on his Facebook page, and at this writing, is still public. He doesn’t sound like Marguerite Perrin of Trading Spouses, at least… but like her, he probably thinks tarot cards and gargoyles are “dark sided” and satanic. What a bunch of nonsense.

Get the hell out of my house in Jesus’ name I pray!

On a more serious note, though… I am a bit scared of these crazy right wing nutters who think they need to “save America” from communism. These people have the unfortunate combination of inherent stupidity, hyper-religiosity, no critical thinking skills, and no experience beyond what they’ve known their whole lives. Add in their love of weapons, and you have people who really could make America a dystopia akin to Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale. Now, to me, that is scarier than Satan ever could be…

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