Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Sydney 2009 Fireworks...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mortuary of the Week Revisted: Sad Point Made

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Funeral resident Jenn...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeI worked throughout the Christmas holiday. Two people, in our inpatient units, died during my work "week". In both cases, I was unable to contact any family members for either patient and no preferred mortuary was on record. That was a pretty crazy coincidence since I'd just posted an article last week about this very subject!

After many contact attempts, I finally had to leave a message on voicemail for the daughter of one of the deceased and then call the Mortuary of the Week (MOW). As for the other patient... well, her husband had left his phone off the hook all night. So he'll get a call from the MOW ,in the morning, telling him that his wife has died and they have her body at their funeral home. How crappy is that?!

I managed to avoid getting ranty in my previous post about MOW's, but I'm afraid that now, I must succumb. Because frankly, I have yet to hear anyone tell me the truth about why a funeral home has not been chosen for their terminally or chronically ill family member:

  • Please don't tell me that you were surprised by your loved one's death when I know that the patient has been chronically ill for years and a hospice patient for months.
  • Please don't blame our social worker for not getting to you "tout suite" with our list of local funeral homes. The exact same information is in the Yellow Pages.
  • Most of all, please don't blame your dead loved one for not choosing a funeral home. You've watched your 84 year old mother decline mentally and physically for years. As her 58 year old "child" you should have had the maturity and foresight to just think about a funeral home.
Oh my, I think I must have had all the holiday spirit sucked right out of me last week! Well, I'll neatly fold my "ranty panties" and put them back in the drawer for now. Hopefully, I won't be wearing them again for a very long time.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

We wish you all the very best for this holiday season...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fun-filled Funereal Facts

Mortuary of the Week

The "mortuary of the week" (MOW) is a concept that has been adopted by many communities across the country. Each funeral home, within the community, will rotate on a weekly basis tending to Coroner's cases and to those who have died without family to consult or a funeral home decided upon.

It is also something well known to an "after hours" hospice nurse. All too frequently, a patient will die in a facility or inpatient unit with no preferred funeral home on their record. To make matters even more complicated, many family contacts do not answer their phones during the wee hours. It is then that I am forced to announce their loved one's death to an answering machine and call the mortuary of the week. It's something that never fails to leave me without a large knot in my stomach.

For now (and to keep this from becoming "ranty"), I'll chalk most of it up to ignorance of how the post-death system works. Some people think that all hospices and skilled nursing facilities have an in-house morgue to keep bodies stored until a funeral home is chosen... not so! Others are under the impression that all dead are taken to the Coroner's until family is notified. Sorry, the Coroner has no interest in a hospice patient. Lastly, my hospice will not look kindly upon my leaving a corpse, "in situ", for hours until family can be contacted and a funeral home decided upon. It is understood that I will facilitate the removal of the body as quickly as possible.

It would be a blessing if everyone, healthy or otherwise, would simply tell their friends or family which mortuary they would prefer to handle their arrangements. No "pre-arrangements" or even speaking to a funeral director need be done. Just know who to call... The mortuary will be most excellent at handling the rest of the business.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Articles of Interest

Jessica Knapp, author of The Good Death, continues her quest to promote dialogue about death. Please see her post, Assisted Suicide in Britain, that covers the recently televised documentary of the assisted suicide of American-born, Craig Ewert. It makes me wonder if any of America's "Big 4" networks would dare to televise this documentary.

Oh, good grief! Jessica has already addressed my question! I can't keep up with this woman!

The Spanish city of Santa Coloma de Gramenet has put the "dead to work" by erecting solar panels in their cemetery. Bueno! Now they can recharge the batteries of all those buried with their cell phones!


Gail Rae Hudson of The Mom & Me Journals dot Net moves forward in exploring her life without Mom and the nature of her grief:

"There is a part of me that also wishes I lived in a culture that not only allowed me to drop to the ground and wail but would expect and encourage me to crawl into the arms of all-encompassing grief and tug at my clothes, scratch at my skin, pull at my hair, ululate at a piercing pitch...I find myself calling up images of this kind of grief expression at frequent intervals. Worldwide Images of Grief. Does such a video exist? If it doesn't, it should."

Dr. Amy Clarkson, at Pallimed: Arts & Humanities, has an excellent post about Prussian artist, Kathe Kollwitz. This truly brings back some memories for me. I devoted a lot of time studying this artist in my numerous, college art history classes. As a young college student, I found Kollwitz morbid, dreary and boring. As a mature woman and hospice nurse, she has become far more relevant and stirs many, all too familiar, feelings of grief.


Finally, this is very bizarre and may not be to everyone's taste. So consider yourself forewarned. A Colorado surgeon found a "foot" within a newborn baby's brain. Click here for the full story and pictures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Bed Blogging" From Dethmama Manor

It's horribly cold and wet... rain and snow... snow and rain.

Due to the endless, damp, hallways and cavernous rooms of DM Manor, I've shut myself up within the confines of my humble boudoir. From here, I am comforted by a rollicking fire in the fireplace and the warm glow of the Apple symbol from the back of my MacBook. I've not been out of my peignoir since... Well, I don't really know. I've been quite involved with the Internet wasteland and playing my favorite RPG, Okami on the Wii.

I'm taking a little time off from work right now. A "staycation" if you will. You'll likely not notice any difference in the Chronicles, because I'm quite preoccupied with writing at this time. Especially with regard to adding to my "True Adventures". These are the most difficult to write and cause no end of pain, suffering and bleeding from my eyes.

Nevertheless, I am thinking of you all and dearly hope that you and your loved ones are keeping warm and cozy. For now, I shall snuggle with my dear Munchkin and pour another Pinot Noir.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grand Rounds Vol.5 No. 13

This week's Grand Rounds are being held at Laurie Edwards', A Chronic Dose: A Chronic Illness Blog. Please stop by and peruse medblog submissions from around the world. Believe me, there's something there for everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2008

"That Girl": 12/08/2008

"That Girl", beloved mother and companion of my dear blogfriend, Gail Rae Hudson, died Monday, December 8th.

While it is indisputable that "Mom" was a woman of extraordinary character, one cannot ignore the attributes of her daughter. Gail's deep love, conviction and unfailing attention to her mother's care allowed "Mom" to pass on to her next great adventure within the walls of her beloved home. They were truly blessed to have each other.

Although Gail is surely going through an emotionally, tumultuous time, she continues to post on her amazing blog, The Mom & Me Journals dot Net. Gail's fiery spirit and legacy-in-the-making must go on... Thanks, Gail, I'd miss you terribly if you didn't.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Your Moment of Awwwww...

Gotta give some equal time to the rodents...

Dancing squirrels!

and "Kill Bill" Prairie Dog!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page: 1923 - 2008

Bettie Page, the ultimate pin-up girl, died Thursday, December 11, 2008 at the age of 85. The most successful pin-up model of the 1950's, she was considered by many to be "the model of the century". Please click here for a very nice Memorial website.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Talk With a Doc

1900 hrs. -- I'm at the hospital on a consult for a prospective hospice patient. At the nurse's station, I sit near Mrs. L's primary physician as I study her chart.

"So, what do you do over at hospice?" asks Dr. S.

"Well, my primary duty is to take care of after hours emergencies", I reply."

"HAH!", laughs the doc. "What emergencies could hospice patients possibly have?"

I keep silent. A little anger is rising up within me. There is no way to respond to his thoughtless remark without betraying my feelings. I get up and go into Mrs L.'s room.

Earlier in the day, Dr. S. had ordered a Dilaudid drip for the patient. Running at a rate of 1 mg. per hour, it clearly is inadequate for Mrs L's pain. She's in agony. Her poor husband, sitting by her side, is suffering nearly as much as she. I immediately return to the nurse's station.

"Dr. S., could you please write titration orders on the IV Dilaudid so we can get her comfortable? The hospice won't be able to get her into an inpatient unit until tomorrow and her pain isn't under control yet."

The doc's eyes widen considerably. I instinctively know that he's hesitant -- no, he's afraid to increase the rate of the drip. "Noooo... I can't do that", he finally answers and gets up from the desk and walks briskly away.

Watching him leave, I raise my voice, "Why did you order Dilaudid if you weren't going to use it for her pain?"

He disappears into the elevator. Shit.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's the Holidays which means... Open Enrollment

by Insurance Guru

Open enrollment, the bane of my December existence... While trying to budget for Christmas presents, cope with the extra workload at the office and praying I get to keep my job, I must sort through the various insurance plans being offered for the next year.

I use the term insurance with a bit of sarcasm here. You would think being employed by one of the nation's largest Insurance Companies, I would have the Cadillac Escalade of plans to pick from at a cost that would make mere mortals weep. NOT. The last 5 years have seen a steady decline in plan options and increase in cost for we cube farmers.

The plans offered to me are so hideous that I don't even use my employer's insurance. I've got the Guru's family enrolled on the Future Ex-husband's retiree plan. How absurd is that?

If I worked at Wal-Mart, I would get an employee discount, if I worked at a gym, I would get free membership, if I worked at AIG, I would get spa days. I guess I should just suck it up and count the twin blessings of employment and medical insurance.

During this joyous season of Open Enrollment, I encourage you to look at all the plan offerings and how each would cover you and your family in the year ahead. Consider if that dodgy knee or new baby is a concern. New glasses? Braces?

Most of all, if you are lucky enough to have an employer sponsored insurance plan, take advantage of it! A little insurance is better than none. Take a look at this little video that Dethmama dug up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ghost Tour

It's been a long time since our last Ghost Tour...

Since then, there has been a scandal surrounding the Ghost Hunters, originating from their live, televised Halloween special this year. Click here for a "behind the scenes" look at the show and the infamous "jacket tugging" incident... Yeah, it doesn't look good. Pretty heartbreaking for fans like me (sigh).


Cullan Hudson's blog, Strange State, has a sweet little video featuring a "Museum Ghost". Check out his blog, too. Cullan is an excellent writer and story teller, with an intelligent, skeptical approach to the paranormal.

A while back, I first saw this video on Cullan's blog. It's pretty intriguing.

After many infuriating attempts, I was finally able to stop the video at a point where I'm willing to bet my lunch money that
I caught the image of someone to the far right that's pushing the "Ghost Train". Yeah, we got "punk'd". Here's my screen shot of the suspicious frame from the video.

Of course, what I'm looking at may just be an example of pareidolia. Which is my lame attempt to segue into my next paranormal item of interest...


Forgetomori, a blog by Kentaro Mori, is in my opinion one of the best sites around for all things strange and wonderful. His recent post, Best Pareidolia Ever, is an absolutely amazing example of the phenomenon. One look at this and you'll think twice before bidding on that "Jesus on a Doggie Door" on eBay. (Thanks, Buck!)

Finally, we need to see what our "drunken brother" ghost is up to...

Click on the lable "Ghost Tour" to get caught up on all the good ghostie stuff!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Patience is a Virtue? ...Not.

by Insurance Guru

Dethmama mentioned one day that some of her patients had complained of having to wait up to several months to see an oncologist. It could just be an urban legend, but regardless, they felt that they had had to wait too long to see a specialist.

If you feel that you can't see a specialist within an acceptable time frame and your PCP isn't helping, call your Insurance Company. If all the paperwork required to see a specialist is approved, you are not restricted to the specialist that your PCP chose. Your Insurance Company can provide a list of specialists for you to pick from. You may not get the closest specialist to your home, but hey - if I need an oncologist - I want one NOW!

PCPs often refer their patients only to the specialists near their offices. I won't speculate on the reasons, but your PCP should be working for your health, not toward maintaining a relationship with the specialists in their area.

So, dig out the number for your Insurance Company, and get on the phone... Now!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, December 1, 2008

Joie de Vivre et Madame M.

1940 hrs. -- It was an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood until I walked inside. The home is filled with lush, expensive furnishings. My eyes are dazzled by the glittering, crystal chandeliers, rich rugs and fabrics. Nearly every square inch of available wall space is taken up by gilt-framed oils and drawings. Books, trinkets, memorabilia and personal photos inhabit nearly every flat surface in the home. Mrs. M. once had a lot of dusting to do!

I follow the deceased's daughter, Iris, to the hospital bed in the dining room. Mrs. M's body is lying in dignified repose. A turban hides her thinning hair and her face is in full makeup.

"Oh my, she looks beautiful!", I exclaim.

"Well, I know Mom would never want to leave the house unless she was completely made up", says the daughter.

Although tearful, Iris is eager to tell me a bit about her mother's story. A singer, dancer and artist, Mrs. M. was well loved by all who knew her. Many of the treasures in her home had been collected from her frequent ventures abroad. In a photo, from her "prime", Iris' mother bears an uncanny resemblance to Brigitte Bardot and likewise, the '60's was certainly her decade.

Looking at the daughter, I can clearly tell that she loved and admired her mother. Nevertheless, a parent like this would be an almost impossible act to follow. I make a point of not inquiring about Iris' own work, interests or accomplishments.

The doorbell rings... Not wanting to see her mother's body taken away, Iris retreats to her own home, just next door. I greet the funeral home's removal team at the door. From the foyer, one of the men is able to see straight into the dining room where Mrs. M. lies.

Leaning close to me he whispers, "Is she a gypsy?"

It's true, even from nearly thirty feet away, the rouged cheeks, painted lips, false eyelashes and turban are striking.

"No", I reply. "What you see is je ne sais quoi."


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]