Chocolate Kiss

Theresa Brown, RN captures the feeling of a busy hospital unit and the temptations that lurk in the break room…

A Hershey’s kiss can be exactly what I need to make the day feel better, especially since lunchtime has long passed and I haven’t had time to eat.

The truth is, though, I try to eat sparingly because I learned early in the job that stress eating is an occupational hazard. Having our conference room filled with doughnuts and caramel corn makes it all too easy to, as we say, “eat my feelings,” rather than just feeling them.

She thanks the patients and families who show their appreciation with home-made cookies or a box of candy. With all the stress patients and families go through it is really amazing how often they take time to give a word of thanks and encouragement to the staff.

The last time I worked inpatient, in a nursing home, I kind of dreaded the holidays. With the kindest of intentions families would send boxes of chocolate that I seldom managed to resist for the full eight hours. Especially when it was so often impossible to find time for a meal break.

Reading between the lines, Ms. Brown describes a work pace that is taxing, constant, and stressful, without time to rest, eat or drink some water. Heck, there’s hardly time to go to the bathroom. I used to kind of envy the smokers, because they managed to take their ten minutes off the unit.

Skipping break was not a badge of honor. You tried to be efficient enough to have time to eat. You didn’t advertise that shift after shift you used that thirty minutes just to keep up.

In the normal course of things, there will be times when a lot of people are sick all at once and everyone is flat out busy. When every day is like that there’s something wrong. Nurses work, and not only RN’s but LPN’s and CNA’s, is overloaded, with staff spread thin.

You really see the best of people when you work in nursing. The courage of patients and families stays with me. Even sitting here with nothing worse than a bad cold I think of the people I meet who feel sick every day, and how seldom they complain.

One of the commenters to Ms.Brown’s article suggests that families might want to send a card or a note to the unit and the boss, and I second that. While all acts of kindness are appreciated, these notes are read and have an impact. When some consultant comes along and decides to make the staff ‘leaner and meaner’ they will go over every aspect of the job looking for ‘fat to trim’. Those cards and letters mean a great deal then.

Community Garden Opportunity in Cranston

From Democratic City Council Member Steve Stycos:

I am working with Mayor Fung to start a community garden in the park at the end of Narragansett Street and Bay View Avenues. Those participating would receive a small area of land, perhaps 10 by 20 feet, to grown vegetables or flowers. To gauge community interest, I am holding a community meeting for those interested in participating, Thursday March 3 at 7 PM at the Open Table of Christ Church at the corner of Broad Street and Montgomery Avenue. The church, also known as the Washington Park Methodist Church, is on the Cranston/Providence line, but the garden is only for Cranston residents.

Next week, a flyer announcing the meeting will be going home with kids from Edgewood Highland Elementary School. I would also like to hand it out door to door along Narragansett Street and Bay View Avenue, and surrounding streets. Would you be able to help me distribute leaflets this weekend?

I will have leaflets and maps available Saturday morning. You can hand out the leaflets whenever is convenient over the weekend. Please let me know if you can help. Hopefully, you may also want to participate in the garden.


Celebrity Debris

After running around to three libraries in the freezing cold all last week your Kmareka correspondent has been struck down with a sinus infection.

I’m stuck in bed, reading a lot of Agatha Christie– mistress of distraction, storyteller extraordinaire. Her mysteries don’t actually make any sense, but who cares? I’m not up to anything that requires mental effort.

This week’s New Yorker has a short profile on Crystal Harris, the 24 year old almost college graduate who is engaged to the 84 year old Hugh Hefner. She gave up everything to be with him…

“I was a psychology major, and I didn’t want to be a psychologist,” she said. “I thought it would be cool to come up here and just, you know, hang with Hef. School will always be there, I guess.” Read more

Agatha Christie could have made this stuff up, and she’s a genre writer.

I wish Crystal Harris every happiness, and I want to give her some words of encouragement. Men are living longer these days.

I only see the old people who are sick, so you can extrapolate that there are more well people I never meet. It’s not so unusual to encounter a dude over 90 who still has his marbles.

Any man or woman who makes it past 80 in decent shape has a strong constitution and a good shot at making it to 100. The oldest man I ever took care of was 105, and feisty enough to demand that the items on his bureau be rearranged every ten minutes. How lucky that Hef is loved by a woman with the youth and energy to take care of such needs. And how lucky that his wealth can provide for the many necessities that consume the savings of a lifetime. Hef will even be able to try expensive and experimental cutting edge treatments for longevity. Dick Cheney, I have heard, is bionic. With any luck, it will all come out even and Crystal will not begin her middle age in debt.

If she survives her husband, Crystal will still be young enough to finish school. She’ll have learned so much about psychology by then.

I wish them a long and happy union.

Any more celebrity debris I can find to take my mind off phlegm and congestion will go into updates here.

IN RELATED NEWS: Sr. Cecilia Adorni celebrated her 103rd birthday by dancing a polka. She’s still working. They have her picture and she doesn’t look a day over 90.

All You Need is Love….And Unions

Just read this long piece by Kevin Drum about why unions improve life not just for union members, but for the entire middle class. The ultimate fact, as research in Drum’s article shows, is that politicians don’t do things for the middle class or the working class. We like to think Senators Whitehouse and Reed just love us because we’re their li’l peeps and they want to take care of us, but the truth is that politicians respond to powerful lobbying forces, and the past 30 years has seen a marked decline in powerful lobbies for the middle class. Drum presents two things you need to understand to get why our politicians have become so unresponsive to the needs of the middle class:

The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-’70s—far more in the US than in most advanced countries—and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and—even more dramatically—among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.

Second, American politicians don’t care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early ’90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that’s not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don’t respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that’s not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don’t respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.

Planned Parenthood Saves Lives

About twenty-five years ago, a young woman scheduled a job interview at a photo studio. She was a skilled retoucher who could make decent money fixing portraits with a graphite pencil and a sable brush. The studio was where the downtown Pawtucket pedestrian mall used to be, and right on the bus line.

When she arrived for the interview, she found herself in a room with two men who gave off an unwholesome vibe, and as they discussed business she formed a quick escape plan in her mind, but fortunately did not need to book it out the door. When she got up to leave, the conversation went like this–

“We’ll give you a ride home.”
“No, that’s fine, I don’t need a ride.”
We’ll take you home.”
“No thanks.”

By this time she did not want to be in a car with these guys, or let them see her house. The men were insistent beyond politeness, but she kept saying no, and finally got out of there, vowing to avoid the place and regretting that they had her resume with her address.

To paraphrase Mark Patinkin, I was that girl.

I never heard from them again, and would have forgotten the episode if the studio owner had not been arrested some time later for sexual assault.

The story in the paper as I recall it was that the photographer had enticed an underage girl to pose for him, promising to shoot a model portfolio and make her rich and famous. He persuaded her to take off her clothes, then told her that he would show the pictures to her mother unless she let him have sex with her. The crime was discovered when the girl went to Planned Parenthood, fearing she was pregnant. She told her story to a counselor, who reported it to the police.

This happened in 1984. The Providence Journal did not put its archives online until 1986, and the only way to find a citation for this story was to go to the Providence Public Library, search through index cards and look at microfilm.

I couldn’t remember which year this happened, but I had help from some people who used to work for the Pawtucket Times. The story was a minor local scandal, and the photographer was ‘a character’ who used to hang out at Tom’s Diner. Not a scary guy at all unless you were a fifteen-year-old girl he was extorting. I found only one reference in the card catalogue, and one article–

Providence Journal May 25, 1984 p.C9

‘Pawtucket businessman charged for coercing teenager into sex’

PAWTUCKET– A Pawtucket man was arraigned in District Court yesterday on a charge of first-degree sexual assault on a girl, 15, and Judge Anthony J. Dennis set bail at $100,000 with surety pending a grand jury hearing.

———–is charged with coercing a minor to have sexual relations by threatening to distribute nude photographs of her.

Capt. John Tomlinson, prosecution officer, said the girl said she answered a newspaper ad for girls interested in a modeling career.

The rest of the article says that Capt. Tomlinson wanted the bail set at $200,000. It sounds like the police thought he was a real bad guy.

I can’t find the article that cites Planned Parenthood, I’m still looking.

The photographer paid $10,000 surety, and the records posted online at show many hearings and court dates ending in a plea of no contest to a lesser charge of 3rd degree sexual assault. I’m not a lawyer, sounds like a plea bargain to me.

This assault was a felony crime then, and now we are even less tolerant of child pornographers and child molesters. The use of coercion means the crime fits the definition of human trafficking, even though the girl was not taken out of state.

I’m not naming the offender, I’m told he has died and he’s not the point of the story. The point is that Planned Parenthood is accessible health care and advocacy for women who have few other options. The staff at Planned Parenthood are bound to confidentiality. They have been targeted on trumped up charges of aiding human trafficking when in fact they are an agency where women can find help and advocacy.

Contraception is under political attack, and if women’s health is collateral damage, it’s the poor and the young who will suffer the most. Many of us can remember a time when Planned Parenthood was the only medical provider we could afford. Planned Parenthood saves lives.

Feministe lists some of the services the House of Representatives voted to de-fund…

One in five American women has used Planned Parenthood’s services. The vast majority of care — more than 90% — offered at Planned Parenthood health centers is preventative. Every year, Planned Parenthood carries out nearly one million screenings for cervical cancer — screenings which save lives. Every year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses give more than 830,000 breast exams — exams which save lives. Every year, nearly 2.5 million patients receive contraception from Planned Parenthood — a service which prevents enormous numbers of unintended pregnancies and, by extension, an enormous number of abortions. Every year, Planned Parenthood administers nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV — tests and treatments which save lives, extend lives, preserve fertility, and maintain reproductive health.

Reproductive health is not a luxury, it’s an essential part of women’s health. Politicians want to score points by playing with women’s lives. We won’t let them.