Docsplainin' -- it's what I do

Docsplainin'--it's what I do.
After all, I'm a doc, aren't I?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

This flu thing is gettin' outta hand

We're open today, and I'm goin' to school in a coupla hours, but seriously folks, if you are sick--or if you've even been exposed--for heaven's sake stay home!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So Sad

He beat her to death with a fire extinguisher.

During the trial, prosecutors played recorded jail conversations where Andrade referred to Zapata as "it" and said it wasn't as if he "killed a straight, law-abiding citizen."

"His own statements in the jail call betray the way he values Angie's life, the way he thought of her as less than, less than us because of who she was," Chief Deputy District Attorney Robb Miller told jurors."Everyone deserves equal protection under the law and no one deserves to die like this," Miller said.

[The defense attorney] said Andrade's statements were jokes made by a man who knew he was innocent.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


'Cause suicide is painless,
It brings on many changes,
And I can take or leave it if I please
-The theme from M*A*S*H,
by Johnny Mandel & Mike Altman
I've never tried it myself, but I really doubt that suicide is painless. Yes, I know--it's just a song. But there are lots of songs out there that imply the same thing, and the sentiment corresponds with what more than a few of my suicidal clients have as much as said. The truth of course is somewhat different.

The time leading up to the decision is certainly emotionally painful, and of course sometimes the person is motivated by chronic physical pain to consider suicide in the first place. And finally, suicide is ugly, so that no matter how you do it, it is going to be traumatic for whoever finds you.

It's not at all romantic

Suicidal people are in a world of pain. They do not feel loved, or even lovable. Waldowski, the suicidal dentist in M*A*S*H, couldn't get a girlfriend, and that was his central motivation for wishing to die. But most suicidal people (I would except folks like Hitler in his bunker) are loved. If you are depressed enough to kill yourself, you can't feel the love, but it's there. Both fictional scenarios, M*A*S*H and Tom Sawyer, are accurate in that regard. People will go to great lengths to keep you alive if you give them the chance (witness the ritual the whole M*A*S*H unit puts on to help Waldowski get laid), and they will certainly grieve you if you don't.

People die because they have given up hope. It is one of life's greatest tragedies that a laughing baby, a beloved toddler in his new white Stride-Rites, a snaggle-toothed teeny-bopper with her braces and pigtails, and a grinning teenage boy can grow up to be so hopelessly miserable that they end up blowing their brains out under a tree in the park one night, swallowing pills and putting bags over their heads in lonely motel rooms, or swerving their cars into oncoming traffic. Or like my friend back in '85, stuffing towels under the garage door and sitting in her car with its engine running, her favorite music on the radio, and a Moosehead in her hand, waiting for the Reaper.
Seasons don't fear the reaper
Nor do the sun, the wind, or the rain
We can be like they are...

We'll be able to fly...
Redefine happiness...
We can be like they are
-Don't Fear the Reaper
Blue Oyster Cult
No, you can't: You can't be like the elements, you can't fly. (The last verse of the song makes suicide sound like the Darling children following Peter Pan out the nursery window.) You'll be dead. Suicide doesn't redefine happiness, or bring on many other changes, either, other than that you are now dead. I once heard a workshop presenter liken people's fantasies of suicide to the scene in which Huck and Tom watch from their hiding place as the townsfolk drag the Mississippi for their bodies, grieving the boys' presumed deaths and regretting every wrong or injury done them, however slight. I'm not sure suicidal people really understand that they will not be here somehow to see that their loved ones or the bosses or whoever "will be sorry." That relationship can't change after you are gone. The people you leave behind may well wish they could have a do-over, but will be too late for that. If you want things to be different, you have to be here for it.

Some folks, like teenagers, or persons with Borderline Personality Disorder, tend to give up hope when the problem situation is clearly (at least to the dispassionate outside observer) a temporary one. This was, of course, the case with Romeo thinking Juliet had really died. But they over-react, they believe that they way they feel now is forever, always has been, and always will be. They cannot remember that they actually have felt better recently, and most likely will again soon. They see no solution to their situations. Such folks are particularly prone to impulsive, lethal attempts. This is perhaps life's greatest tragedy, because such people do not have to die. Many, if not most, suicides don't, but these people really don't. Unfortunately this is a decision that, once made, cannot be un-made: As the old line goes, it's a permanent solution to a temporary situation.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say with this rambling missive. Perhaps I just want you, if you are feeling this way, not to give up hope. I want you to believe that the love is out there, even if you can't feel it right now. I want you to believe that you can find happiness again, or maybe for the first time, but you can find it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

In case you doubted that animals have personalities

Friday night, when I started getting sick, my dog Io started sticking pretty close to my side. By the time we decided I needed to go to the ER, she was curled up on the foot of the bed watching me closely and sniffing at me with what I swear was a concerned look on her face.

My husband had taken migraine meds before bed so he could not drive me, plus I was so sick I was going to need help getting to the car, so we called our neighbor Russell to come help. Io wouldn't let him in the bedroom: She stood on the foot of the bed and barked and growled, effectively holding him at the bedroom door. This is particularly remarkable in light of the fact that Russell is her babysitter when my husband and I are away.

What makes this interesting to me is that she was already two years old when we got her, and we've only had her about four months. By comparison, her predecessor, Rosie, was born into my waiting hands. I towelled her off and gave her back to her mama to lick and nurse. I took great pains to build a one-on-one relationship with her when she was tiny, but despite the fact that I adored her and she me (to the extent that she would not eat if we were separated from each other), she never seemed to take any particular notice when I was sick or upset. Io is a far more sensitive dog in that regard.