What are we dealing with, here?

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Image via Metro

On January 21, in the most stunning display of dissent in modern American history, an estimated one million women, men and children marched on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to protest the inauguration of Donald J. Trump.

Similar gatherings took place in virtually every major city in the United States — and in many more cities across the world. Hundreds of thousands of people wielded homemade signs reading, “Impeach the Peach,” “Don’t Tweet on Me,” “nobody likes you,” and (my personal favorite), “We Shall Overcomb.”

It was like the Bizarro World version of the 2009 Obama inauguration, which may as well have happened in 500 B.C., …

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How are you feeling today?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last 48 hours watching Space Jam on a repeating loop while binging on fast food and mainlining vodka directly into your heart. (Feel that tightening sensation in your lower back and the base of your brain? That’s called “awesomeness.”)

Yes, it’s been two whole days since Li’l Donny Tuba was elected Grand Exalted Cyclops of the United States of Pennsylvania, and life is already on the up-and-up.

Are you vomiting bile? Have red-eyed snakes come tumbling out of your rectum? Have the demon eggs in your attic hatched yet? If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then congratulations, you are NOT possessed by Astaroth, the dark lord of the First Hierarchy. …

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Credit: NBC News

We still don’t know the real numbers.

Forty-nine dead in Orlando, dozens more injured, a few of them said to be “in grave condition.”

The numbers of the dead may still change. People may yet die from their wounds.

But for me, the key number is: 1.

One shooter dead.

One very sick man, and all that carnage. The mind reels.

It has become journalistically fashionable — and is probably a very good idea — to omit the name of the shooter when these massacres happen, as is becoming increasingly commonplace in America. To lavish attention on the shooter — so goes the logic — is to encourage more such attacks. …

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“You need anything? Help with a turn? A sheet change?”

Actually, yes, your patient is soiled in C. diff diarrhea, down to his knees.

“Cool, cool,” says The Scam Artist, walking briskly past your room, “let me just refill this pitcher, and I’ll be RIGHT IN.”

Ten whole minutes later, you’re still waiting for The Scam Artist to pop his head into the room. The Scam Artist is always offering favors he can never quite make good on. He is particularly obsessed with “fine-tuning” the schedule — wheeling and dealing for a holiday or a night shift off, always looking for some mathematical edge. …

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You know the drill.

You spent the last two hours bargaining with a resident for a one-time dose of Ativan, you finally got your detoxing patient comfortable in bed … and here comes a conga line of family and friends, entering the unit with all the quiet grace of a high school marching band.

You’re all about creating a calm, healing environment for your patients — but sometimes, forces of nature intervene. Fires, floods, family members, it’s all the same to you.

They’re your other patients — and this is how they roll.

12. The Biographer

“How long have you been a nurse?” … “Where are you from, originally?” … “How many people have you seen die?” … “What made you want to work in this field?” … “What’s your schedule like?” … “Do you work straight nights/days?” … “Are you married/single?” … “Have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” …

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Pictured: Insult Comic Donald J. Trump

There was a time, not long ago, when I was open to the idea of a Donald Trump presidency.

Better brains than mine have been lured in by Trump’s “Teflon candidacy,” his ability to absorb the blows of the media, and, indeed, his delight in conjuring its scorn. Cartoonist Scott Adams has made an online cottage industry out of explaining, in fawning detail, Trump’s persuasive “wizardry.” Over at Vox, Ezra Klein has been bleating about Trump’s masterful handling of the media. …

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(If you like this post, follow me on Twitter: @icuwriter. Thanks for reading!)


You went to nursing school at a time when nurses still wore those funny, starchy white hats, back when sexual harassment and even physical abuse were expected hazards of the profession. You have seen more crazy shit than most people can expect to experience in several lifetimes … and you do not hesitate to let people, particularly new nurses, know it.

You’ve seen more dead bodies than a grizzled homicide detective, a county coroner, and all our active military combined. Your very first day on the job, a sundowning patient snatched the engagement ring right off your finger and swallowed it whole. You once caught a severely hypernatremic patient drinking urine from his own Foley bag. The last time you were the least bit fazed by a patient action, M.A.S.H.


Ernesto Barbieri

Writer and nurse.

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