jim was radiant

1 JIM WAS RADIANT (Alice Keys (c) 2014)2 HIS HEAD WAS IN THE CLOUDS.3 HE WAS ON CLOUD NINE.4 EVERYTHING WAS ROSY.5 HE WAS SURE IT WAS LOVE.6 SO WAS SHE.7 BUT IT WAS JUST8 A PHARMACY MIX UP.* * * * * * *

Thanks for reading.

Alice

New to my Jim comic strip? Try these:

http://alicekeysmd.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/jim-lost-it/

http://alicekeysmd.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/jim-likes-autumns/

http://alicekeysmd.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/jim-couldnt-make-up-his-mind/

http://alicekeysmd.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/jim-felt-sick/

http://alicekeysmd.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/jim-was-friendly/

Then there’s “Betty”

http://alicekeysmd.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/after-nola-left-betty/

and the baby alligator:

http://alicekeysmd.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/baby-alligator/

in the time of ebola

EBOLA VIRUS (pic from wikimedia commons)There is a part of me that wants to rush into the thick of the ebola epidemic in Africa to help. I read about a young doctor in New York who’s become sick after his work there. He’s barely begun his medical career and he’s put years of his potential doctor service at risk.

Part of me feels like it should have been me. I’m much older than he and not working as a doctor any more. Perhaps there could be some use for my old-fashioned hands-on medical training in Africa. But probably not.

Everything is more complicated than it seems.

Each time I hear of another hurricane, tsunami or epidemic, I have the same old impulse to go be a doctor again. The fire still burns inside me. That part of me that feels the suffering of others and feels compelled give help was there long before I went through medical training. This is the same burning that drove me down the medical path in life to begin with.

But things are complicated even when giving help that’s needed. Things have always been complicated. People in need of help may not want the exact kind of help offered. A hungry person with no teeth can’t eat a hard granola bar.

A friend who volunteers with the American Red Cross said that she went to provide disaster counseling after a hurricane. But she ended up standing in flood water helping someone load their livestock into a truck.

“You have to be ready to do whatever people need at the time,” she said.

Over my years of work as a psychiatrist, this same principal was clear. Just because I had a hammer didn’t mean everyone wanted to be treated like a nail. Even when someone’s difficulty was obvious to me, my answers may not be wanted. I had to ask and listen.

NOTICE THESE HEROS ARE ALL WOMEN. THE RED AMERICAN CROSS DURING THE 1918 FLU PANDEMIC. SAINT LUIS. (pic from wikimedia commons)Once upon a time long ago, in the simpler times before the perpetual hurricane of highly-marketed pills and mega-storm of corporate control of all medical dollars, a man came to me to talk about his drinking.

Back then, patients paid me with their own money. They were free to talk to me or leave. I was free to take my time and to use my professional judgment. And things were still complicated.

I began by asking what he would like to have happen.

“I want you to tell my wife that I don’t have a drinking problem,” he told me.

We talked. I listened. I wrote things down. By the end of an hour, it was clear I couldn’t honestly do as he’d asked. Since his perceptions sounded so different from his wife’s, I suggested we three meet together. But no. He just wanted me to call her and tell her he didn’t have a drinking problem. I wouldn’t do what he asked. He left and never returned.

Medical care is more complicated than seeing the problem and helping. The patient has to want the help being offered.

Being a doctor is more complicated than understanding human pathophysiology and formulating possible interventions. The practice of medicine is more complicated than quickly generating a cooperative rapport with a stranger and their loved ones. It’s more complicated than asking questions and listening well. It’s more complicated than having the time to take a careful history and to do a thorough exam. It’s more complicated than asking what a patient wants and handing it over.

Practicing medicine has been made much more complicated by unavoidable corporate-profit cable-ties on everyone’s wrists and ankles, minds and tongues throughout every level of every medical system. Being a doctor has been made increasingly and unceasingly more complicated by the need to perceive, understand and work around hidden risks incurred when prescribing pills popularized by an incessant media machine. The practice of medicine has been made even more complicated by cumbersome and unreliable electronic record systems mandated for billing, writing prescriptions and managing care records. Being a doctor has been made more complicated by endlessly complex insurance schemes, overwhelming student loan payments and attorneys hovering in wait for another kill.

AN AMERICAN  RED CROSS VOLUNTEER GIVING WATER TO A WOUNDED SOLDIER. (pic from wikimedia commons)It’s likely that, in those hurried metered moments with your doctor, her mind struggles with issues unrelated to your pain and suffering.

Being a doctor and practicing medicine is more complicated than offering medical care to those who need it. Even if one could afford to offer free medical services to the poor, doing so is way more complicated than just responding to human suffering with help. Way more complicated.

Care given within our unremitting megastorm of complications also delivers unavoidable harm. And beneath the profit-powered tsunami that complicates, cripples and impairs the practice of medicine there is a pesky oath.

There is an oath I took long ago. I don’t know if doctors still swear this oath today. But down in Louisiana, when I first became a doctor, I had to swear an oath. And I didn’t keep my fingers crossed behind my back when I did. And I do know that doctors are no longer allowed the latitude to remember and abide by this oath.

There is a line that must not be crossed in medical care. I stand on the not-doing side of that line today. Abiding by this oath is what’s taken me from being a working physician to sitting like a cast-off broken cog during a time of great need.

“First, do no harm.”

HIGH WATER MARK ON LADY LIBERTY  IN NEW ORLEANS AFTER HURRICAINE KATRINAWith corporate ownership of every aspect of patient care, medical education, medical payment, record keeping and in the context of the constant paid media spectacle driving expectations, I can see no place where I can work as a doctor and also honor my oath. Even non-profit agencies and international aid organizations are lost in the same flood. It’s inescapable.

It’s possible to see the problem and know what needs to happen next and to also be powerless to do it.

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Thanks for reading.

Alice

natural-born librarian

HAPPY NINETEETH BIRTHDAY GEORGE (cake and pic by Alice Keys (c) 2014)George’s nineteenth birthday came and went without a hitch. For lunch, we ate the chocolate cake I’d baked. We had the butter cookies Paul and my husband made for dessert. We went out to dinner for the first time in months.

With all our travels and changes, we’ve decided to stick to giving gifts that can be eaten. You don’t have to think of a place to keep them afterwards.

Before bed, George thanked us for being his parents. He said that, even though he wasn’t in on the decision to come into this world, he’s happy to be here with us. And we’re happy having him. He’s easy going. He does a lot to help keep our home running. We are blessed.

In the afternoon, he took his little brother to the library and did his volunteer work there. Every other Wednesday he helps with a program where little kids get to read to therapy dogs. Every Friday afternoon, he helps with library crafts and shelves books.

Yesterday, he came home from his volunteer job unusually animated. His eyes flashed. I wondered if he’d met a girl and fallen in love.

“You look different,” I told him. “You look so happy and lively. What’s her name?”

HE'S A NATURAL-BORN EYE-ROLLER, TOO. (pic by Alice Keys (c) 2014)He rolled his eyes.

He told he likes to do useful work, make a contribution and be involved in things that matter.

“And I get along best with librarians,” he said.

Then I realized what it was. He looked like a grownup librarian wearing his radiant may-I-help-you smile. He loves helping people. He gets along with all ages. He’s fastidious and enjoys being compulsively organized. He worships books. He’s a natural-born librarian.

But he’s also a natural-born musician, a natural-born composer, a natural-born creative writer, a natural-born illustrator, a natural born inventor and a natural-born dancer.

He looked so happy at the end of his work shift. He likes to work. So I asked if it was time for him to get a job. A neighbor had suggested he get a counter job at the bakery up the street. But no. He wants to start his own animation company.

Over the past two years, he’s been teaching himself computer animation. And he’s made a lot of film clips in the process of his experimentation and learning. But now he’s decided it’s time to schedule his first animated short film.

HE'S A NATURAL-BORN CAKE-EATER, TOO. (cake and pic by Alice Keys (c) 2014)He has no money or income. But, since he lives at home and is a guy without material wants, he also has no life overhead. And he told me that his favorite animator made his first film using very few resources even before the advent of computer animation.

George is certain he’ll be able to make a full-length animated film with his computer and his little brother’s help. But for now, he wants to start with a ten-minute short using a character they invented in a pretend game years ago. He’s already made the character rig and developed film clips using it.

Nineteen. It’s such a wonderful age. I’m glad he’s decided to spend it at home with us.

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Thanks for reading.

Alice

alligator dad

ALLIGATOR DAD (wikimedai commons)

alligator dad
sweet corn festival queen mom
birth of a freak show

* * *

loneliness you knew
pushed me away until I
re-birthed your world view

* * *

mother weeps stone tears
for her first twin stillborn blue
holds pink second close

* * *

These three haiku were inspired by the Haiku Circus word prompt “birth”. At Haiku Circus, one may also write haiku in response to other haiku found there. The Circus is always open. Chains grow and linger.

haikucircusbadge

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Thanks for reading.

Alice

just suppose

B IS FOR BABY (original acrylic on canvas 8x10 by Alice Keys (c) 2014)2just suppose
didn’t know they lied
nice people

nice people
captive audience
did their best

did their best
taught as they’d been taught
blinded young

blinded young
forgot the daylight
ever was

ever was
next door to never
became same

became same
simpler not to change
rules are rules

rules are rules
generations pass
words as chains

words as chains
instruments of our
creation

creation
light and life free but
grand scale thieves

grand scale thieves
stole freedom and gave
service jobs

service jobs
the newest word for
slavery

slavery
at ev’ry level
prisoners

prisoners
nation in chains of
profit greed

profit greed
endless hungry wolves
leave nothing

leave nothing
but claim something will
trickle down

trickle down
didn’t know they lied
just suppose

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Thanks for reading.

Alice

crocodiles with dreams

JACKET IN MY DISASSEMBLY LINE (pic by Alice Keys (c) 2014)Last night I dream I watch a torrent of clear water behind a glass window in a wall of my home. A box is caught under water among branches. It shifts in the current. The box would be within reach if I could put a hand through the glass. The box is me and the inside of me. I wonder how to get what’s inside, out.

* * *

Yesterday, while my boys shopped for Halloween costume parts at thrift stores, I shopped for leather for my latest creative endeavors.

Paul found a floor length eastern tunic embroidered with gold to use as the base for a wizard costume. George found a long black hooded cape. Some scary face paint for George and a pointy hat for Paul and they’ll be ready to go.

I traded twenty-eight dollars and got four jackets to take apart for leather. But I left behind two jackets in greenish-brown faux snake. Although the scale-print leather would have made fascinating medicine bags and leather pouches, the jackets cost fourteen dollars each. I also left behind two sleek black jackets and a beat-up black overcoat that were priced at twenty-five dollars each. They were too expensive for me to cut up.

I also found a thickly-fringed motorcycle-style jacket with skull and cross-bone buttons. When I tried it on George for fun (sleeves way too short), this brought the jacket to the attention of a re-seller. He popped it into his cart.

Re-sellers prowl thrift stores with their collecting carts heaped with found treasures. As least, I presume they’re re-sellers on the hunt and not simply hoarders with storage unit bills and secrets. These big shoppers block up the aisles and hang around talking like it’s their living room. They smile like crocodiles with dreams.

Thankfully, we live in a very small house. There’s no storage beyond our bedroom closets and dressers ao I can’t bring much home. And I have to disassemble these jackets into neat slim stacks of raw materials right away.

THIS USED TO BE A WHITE LEATHER BLAZER 2The best two jackets I brought home were in soft red suede and a soft black suede. Both are well-made and look new. It will be difficult for me to take my seam rippers to them. But the other two jackets were less attractive. Disassembly is easier.

The large brown man’s jacket has a distressed finish. I bought it because the cowhide might be stiff enough to learn to use my lace cutter on. The largest expanses of skin could become a sturdy shoulder tote or a tool roll.

I spent the evening cutting the stitching out of a soft blazer the color of cream. I feel less troubled by taking apart this jacket than I did the incredible lambskin pants of last week. This off-white jacket was never so nice as those black pants. These skins are less well matched. It seemed to have been stitched together in a rush. Plus, there are blue ink stains on the side and the leather on the right forearm sleeve A PILE OF LEATHER.is quite worn. It’s as if the jacket was owned by someone who wrote a lot.

This white jacket was bound for a landfill. But the leather is friendly to touch and there’s plenty that’s good. I imagine making it into medicine bags and drawstring pouches similar to my black prototypes.

Last night, at the end of the evening I smoothed buttery leather shapes into a neat stack. I smiled like a crocodile with medicine-bag dreams.

release of steam

RELEASE OF STEAM (wikimedia commons)laced chain mail corsets
gears adorn smug leather hats
release of steam punk

* * *

released grips aieeeeee
climate change killed gravity
fall up forever

* * *

symbolizes what?
release white doves at wedding
and feed red-tail hawks

* * *

smile, catch and release
he follows regulations
fisherman speed dates

* * *

my husband my man
catch and release bugs spiders
but not mosquitoes

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These haiku were inspired by the Haiku Horizons words prompt “release”. I enjoy more haiku or to join in the words prompt fun, click the badge below.

THIS IS THE LINK TO HAIKU HORIZONS WORD PROMPT.* * * * * * *

Thanks for reading.

Alice