New Outlook

Lookout at Rockefeller Center in NYC

The beeps. 

I know those beeps.

From where? 

I don’t have the energy to find out. My head hurts something fierce. I slip away, choosing to remain in the darkness for now.

*****************************************

The pain at my sternum is excruciating. 

Make it stop!

Except that I don’t have a voice. There is a tube down my throat and I cannot speak. I try to grab the hand at my chest by my arms do not respond.

“Dr. Slaughter? Wake up. Can you hear me?” The voice is much too loud and the words are spoken slowly as if the man enunciating them were speaking to an imbecile.

The pain stops. Then I realize…

A sternal rub!

My eyes are open. He moves his face close enough to mine that I can smell his aftershave. 

“Dr. Slaughter? My name is Dr. Holcomb.” He was too young to be a doctor. Too young to be competent. “Wake up!” he shouts into my ear. 

The pain again. Stop with the damn sternal rubs you f***er! I AM awake.

*****************************************

“The patient is a 45 year old male who happens to be a local physician. A neurologist. He suffered a brain stem hemorrhage two weeks ago and is currently in a persistent vegetative state. He has no family we have been able to locate.”

*****************************************

I take inventory. What can I move? Arms? No. Legs? No. I try to tense my abdominal muscles. Nothing. A shift or a scoot to take pressure off of my hips. Not even a millimeter. Smile? No. Wrinkle the nose? No. Tongue? Not that either. Blink? Ok. Yes. A blink. I try to move my eyes. Left. No. Right. No. Up? Yes. Down? Yes. 

Not much to work with but it’s something.

*****************************************

My dog! Who is feeding my dog?

He was probably dead by now.

*****************************************

“Well, his catheter caught on the IV pole so when they were wheeling him down for the MRI, it got rippped right out. We have to place a new one.”

“Should we use the lidocaine jelly?”

“Nah. He can’t feel anything anyway.”

I felt it, bitch. I felt that catheter rip right through my urethra. Use the goddamn lidocaine jelly. Come on. Look at my EYES. See me moving them? Blinking? 

Please? Just LOOK at me. Really look look at me. Someone?

I can make tears.

The night nurses here suck. 
*****************************************

The woman is smiling at me. 

Who is she?

She’s gorgeous. Dark hair. Blue eyes. Long lashes. I have this strange feeling. I think I should know her. 

“Remember me?” She whispers. 

No. No, I don’t.

“I was the intern you came on to ten years ago. A newbie. You told me to go get some gauze and then followed me into the supply room, locking the door and forcing yourself on me. I made it seem I was flattered.” She fixed her gaze onto my eyes and leaned in closer. “But I wasn’t.” 

Her hand was under the sheet, stroking my genitals. An erection. Horror and pleasure washed over me.

Oh, God.

The heart monitor registered the increase in heart rate. A nurse stuck her head in. The hand was withdrawn.

“Oh! Dr. Rutherford. I didn’t realize you were in here.” 

“Dr. Holcomb asked me to see the patient.”

The nurse nodded then stepped out, drawing the curtain closed behind her.

“I hate you.”

Suddenly, fingers wrapped themselves around my scrotum and squeezed tight. Painfully tight. I closed my eyes, fighting the excruciating pain.

“You have locked in syndrome, don’t you, Dr. Slaughter?” She laughed. “You can feel everything but you cannot move. Well….” she chuckled again. “You can move your eyeballs up and down and blink but they haven’t figured that out yet, have they? You taught me well about so many things…”

Another squeeze. More pain.

“You probably know better than anyone that you likely won’t recover.” She smiles sweetly. “But I’ll be back to check on you. Every single day…”

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Friday the 13th

Ellis Island building detail

Every Friday the 13th I tell myself I am NOT going to work. I am so over the bad luck. 

Is it really that much worse than other days? Are people sicker? Is it maybe that everyone is walking around irritable and more afraid than usual and it boils over into how they interact with others? Am I just hypersensitive? Is it a self fulfilling prophecy? 

I dunno. 

All I know is that I don’t want to do it anymore.

Then it sneaks up on me. Every single dang time.

BAM! 

There is nothing to do but just get through it. Buckle down and get it done. 

Survive. 

And we do. 

We always do.

This Friday the 13th it was different, though.

“She looks yellow…” the medical assistant whispered as I pulled up the chart. 

I scanned her info. I’d never seen her before. Hypertension. Diabetes. Cholesterol. Nothing else remarkable.

Knocking authoritatively on the exam room door, I entered.

“Hi! I’m Dr. Denisof. Tell me what’s been going on?” I shook her hand, taking in her appearance. She was quite jaundiced. 

“I don’t know. I woke up this morning and pretty much freaked out when I looked in the mirror.”

“Any other symptoms?”

She shook her head. “Nothing.”

“No fevers? Abdominal pain? Nausea? Diarrhea?” She shook head no each time. 

“Hmmmmm.”

I started examining, working my way from her head down. Eyes, ears, nose, throat all fine. Lungs clear. Heart regular rate and rhythm, no murmurs. 

“Let’s have you lie down.”

She complied.

Her abdomen sounded normal. I pulled off the stethoscope and palpated her abdomen. No masses. Liver felt maybe a bit enlarged. No pain. 

I helped her sit up.

A strange look came over her face and she doubled over, gagging. Blood poured out of her mouth and into her hands, dripping onto her lap.

“Call the ambulance!” I yelled out the door then grabbed an emesis bag, thrusting it under her mouth. She gasped and the vomit stopped for a moment before another retch wracked her body, bringing up more. The room filled with the scent of rust and iron. 

“Need help?” An MA stuck her head in:

“You called 911?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Can you print a chart summary and her last set of labs for the EMS?”

“Sure thing!”

“And let the other patients know I am going to be running late while we deal with an emergency.”

“No problem.” 

Sirens were audible in the background, growing louder. Having a clinic so near the fire station definitely had its benefits.

Another retch, more blood. 

I put my hand on the patient’s back and looked into her frightened eyes. “You are going to be OK.” She nodded but did not look convinced.

My mind was running through the differential diagnosis. Causes of rapid liver failure, fulminant hepatitis…. infection? Some sort of aggressive cancer? Drugs? A closet alcoholic? 

The sound of a stretcher came from outside the door and two hunky firefighters in dark blue uniforms stepped in. 

“What do we have here?” the tall one asked.

I gave the run down of what I knew, pointing at the bloody emesis bag. 

As I spoke four sets of eyes grew bigger and the firefighters suddenly backed out of the room. 

What the hell?

“Hang on, I’ll be right back,” I told the patient. I left the door cracked so I could hear any more vomiting or any sounds of distress.

One of the men muttered into a radio receiver on his shoulder. The other took a step toward me, his hands raised.

“Doc, we need for you to step back into the room.”

“Why? What’s going on.”

“You are quarantined.”

What?” More sirens. Through the windows I could see police cars racing into the parking lot, surrounding the building.

“Look, no one can leave this clinic. No one. The CDC will be here shortly and they’ll explain everything.”

*****************************************

The above was a bit of fictional doctor horror brought to you by the month of October…

Thursday Thoughts From the Throne

Clock feature in a small park in NYC

Is the day over? No?

Phew!

Made it. 

My colon has been awfully out of whack this week. So has my running schedule, come to think of it…

So, most of the time I try to avoid talking politics and religion with my patients and my friends. There are only a few trusted people I feel I can have a rational conversation with. Today, though, I ran across one of those people who was trying to convince me that my theology was misguided and that abortion was wrong in all circumstances. Even in the case of an 11 year old girl who was molested by her uncle.

Don’t get me wrong, I like this guy. He is a good man, even if we fundamentally disagree. However, he made a comment about prayer in school that got my dander up. Specifically he said that Christian prayers only should open every school day and that more of it probably would have prevented the Las Vegas shooter from killing all of those people.

Um. No.

I am going to skip the theology question and the abortion issue and hit on that school prayer statement.

Being prayed at is not the thing that prevents hurting people from lashing out. Love does. Good parents who try to do right by their kids and their spouses, fellow human beings who show kindness…. these are the things that prevent damaged people. 

Loving people who need it is awfully darn hard. 

I am not saying don’t pray. Go ahead and pray. I pray. Prayer is powerful. Prayer can help you love, help you find kindness when you don’t think there is any left inside of you. Here’s the thing, though: Don’t you ever think for one minute that your prayer means you have done your duty and your responsibility to other people stops there. No. You have to physically reach outside of yourself and help those around you or you are just saying empty words. 

I used to be that person, the one for whom the world was black and white. No amount of arguing or reasoning could change my mind. I was so full of anger back then. Why doesn’t everyone see the logic that I see? Life had to show me the all of the other shades of gray and the myriad of vibrant colors that make up this world. It had to show me that I am not as smart as I thought I was. 

Life is still teaching me.

Kind of makes me wonder what I will think of this post in ten years…

The Overseers

Through a window at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC

I see your drones flying overhead,
Your truck driving by.
I know you are watching me,
Following my every move… 
Silently waiting 
For the proper time to strike. 
You know my internet searches,
The names of my kids. 
You know my habits 
And my darkest faults. 
Some days you know my secret wishes 
Before I can even get the chance 
To wish them. 
Always there, behind the scenes 
Your satellites measuring my level 
Of devotion. 
Well placed hints, strategic glimpses, 
All forms of intimidation
Meant to remind me that I am yours 
Entirely,
Forever subject
To your every whim.

*****************************************

If you want to see something fun, zoom in on the bottom left of the photo.

Cirrhosis 

Laundry room, Ellis Island hospital

He sat silently weeping in the corner. His hand shook terribly as he reached up to wipe his eyes. Misery was etched across his face.

“You didn’t stay at the treatment center.” He had not even lasted a day. “What happened?”

“My wife cried so hard when she left me there. I couldn’t stand it.”

“What about an outpatient center? A day program?”

“Maybe,” he said, noncommittal.

Each visit, fewer family members came until finally it was just him. 

Alone.

And each visit there was less of him. His body was swollen and bloated, faded. A once strong man, now made a shadow. It was hard to stand by and watch. Not as hard as living it, though, I was sure. How he could continue to do this to himself was a testament to the power of addiction.

“You’re going to die.”

“I know.” Then he smiled. “This is the one way I can kill myself and the family still gets the life insurance payout…”

The Tasty Trinity

Some years ago I stumbled across Teagan’s blog while she was in the midst of a serial story. I was drawn to her characters and the images she included as part of the story. Each episode involved soliciting three things from a reader, then she would skillfully weave each item into the tale. Now she has knit these tales together into another book. You have GOT to check it out and if you have not been following her blog, you’ve been missing out.

See below:

**********************

Announcing the Launch of
Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Introducing the second “three things” serial, in novel form Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I.

Bijou front only 2

Yes, that’s the cover. (I love making covers!) I kept it similar to the one for the first serial, The Three Things Serial Story, but with different 1920s photos.

For those of you who are not familiar with my blog serials…

Ages ago I developed a writing exercise. I asked friends to give me three completely random things. Then I would write until I had mentioned all the things. I brought that exercise to my blog (Teagan’s Books), but I had the readers send me their things. I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters. That resulted in The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to this culinary mystery. However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.

About the Book

As with the first serial, Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is a spontaneously written, pantser story. I wrote by the seat of my pants and let the “ingredients” readers sent each week drive a new serial story. This is the “bookized” version of that serial.

This time the Jazz Age setting is Savannah, Georgia where our flapper, Pip, is “sentenced” to live with her grandmother and learn to cook. Pip gets caught up in a layered mystery that includes bootleggers, G-men, and the varied challenges of being a young woman in changing times. She meets new friends, including some animal characters.

If you have not read The Three Things Serial Story, be warned. This adventure contains a bit of a spoiler, but does not go into detail about it.

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is available through and Amazon and Create Space. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon also offers a free app that will let you read Kindle books on your computer or other device. The purchase links are below. But first, here’s a snippet.

Blue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer

In my imagination, a young Lucille Ball would play Pip.

Excerpt

Rutabaga Limbo

Either I woke up feeling horribly nauseated, or the queasiness woke me. I’m not sure which. I opened my eyes to complete darkness. There was no light, no sound. The way my stomach tossed reminded me of a small boat on the ocean. It was as if I sailed in a lightless limbo.

Oh… that was a bad train of thought to have with an unsettled belly.

Think of something else! Anything else, I told myself.

I stood unsteadily. The sound of a cricket came to me. Good. The utter silence had been very disturbing. I became aware of the cool moist earth beneath my palms.

Where the Sam Hill was I?

I sat back on my heels, focusing all my senses. My eyes might as well have been closed — it was that dark. Bare ground was beneath me. The air had a musty odor. A sickly sweet scent clung to my bobbed hair.

The cricket’s chirping was the only sound. Still sitting, I turned. My eyes widened and strained, trying to see in that heavy darkness. When I looked up I was rewarded with the sight of a thin line of pink light.

The faint glow allowed me to see vague outlines a few feet away. I stumbled over something and stooped down to let my hands figure out what it was. I felt a burlap bag and round lumps. Rutabagas? I felt around and found another bag. That one felt like potatoes. I moved closer to the wall and a tall shape. Yes, a ladder, my questing hands confirmed for my still foggy brain.

Gazing up at the line of pinkish light I realized I was in a root cellar.

But how did I get there?

***

Purchase Links

Amazon USA

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Bijou-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/dp/1974544273/ref=la_B00HHDXHVM_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502806322&sr=1-4

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Bijou-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B074S5ZK7L/ref=la_B00HHDXHVM_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502806322&sr=1-3

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Bijou-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene-ebook/dp/B074S5ZK7L/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502806519&sr=1-1&keywords=murder+at+the+bijou

And https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Bijou-Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/dp/1974544273/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502806519&sr=1-2&keywords=murder+at+the+bijou

Amazon Japan: https://www.amazon.co.jp/Murder-Bijou-Three-Ingredients-English-ebook/dp/B074S5ZK7L/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502806623&sr=8-1&keywords=teagan+geneviene

Author Bio

Visual for Teagan_2017 Chris

Image by Chris Graham

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, a southerner by birth, was “enchanted” by the desert southwest of the USA when she moved there. Now a resident of a major east coast city, she longs to return to those enchanting lands.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences in both the southern states and the southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes 1920s stories and Steampunk. Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers.

You can also visit me at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM
Twitter: https://twitter.com/teagangeneviene
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeagansBooks
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/teagangeneviene/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teagangeneviene

Thursday Thoughts From the Throne #1

Thomas Fuller quote over NYC bridge

If you will recall my corny post from last month, Twindaddy of Mental Defecation correctly deduced that I had written that post while sitting on the toilet. Truth be told, I do a lot of blogging from the potty. Clearing the bowels tends to clear the mind. In the comments Twindaddy graciously offered to allow me to use “Thoughts from the Throne” which was a recurring feature on a previous blog. I love alliteration. Alliteration is sexy. 

So I am going to try to make this a recurring feature. It may not be every week, but from time to time you may see this title and I wanted you all to know where it came from. 

Also, you should know the above image was created using Pixlr. Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist did a post on this recently. I have found that it is addictive….