Friday, July 3, 2009

I had heard about drug-abusing,abrasive Nurse Jackie, but since I don't subscribe to HBO, I can't offer an opinion.

But since I do subscribe to the channel that broadcasts HawthoRNe, I thought I'd give it a try. After all, I'm always looking for medical shows that give an accurate picture of what nurses really do. I'm afriad I'll have to keep on looking.

It's not because they show Nurse Christina Hawthorne doing non-professional things like acting as a receptionist, or saying "the doctor will see you, now."

Au contraire, our heroine goes above and beyond her nursely duties. Even though she is the chief nursing officer, she finds time to be in every department in the hospital. In just one day. She's in the nursery,arranging lodging for a homeless new mom; she diagnoses a patient in the MRI room, by merely glancing at the results of the scan; she decides the type of surgery a patient should have, and, my favorite, she saves a patient's life by grabbing the paddles out of a doctor's hands and reviving the patient herself. Whatta woman! Think of all the money the hospital can save! She's taken the place of a radiologist, one surgeon and a social worker.
AND, she still has time to play mother confessor to the nurses who work under her.

Oh sure, some of the doctors get aggrivated with her. But, hey - she's so darn altruistic. And spunky too.

Let's see how great she is after dealing with staffing issues, quality meetings,new Medicare regulations and surprise visits by the Joint Commission. If that doesn't de-spunkify her, nothing will.

New Directions

Today marks the beginning of a turn in the road for my blog. It's been an interesting journey, but now it seems like it's time to get serious - well most of the time - about a subject close to my heart, and increasingly important to just about everybody in this country: health care.

So, it begins.

But before I can get serious, I feel compelled to write about my idol, nurse extraordinaire - TV's Christina HawthoRNe.

Stay Tuned!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Things That Change and Things That Never Do

If you've never been to Charleston, South Carolina, you must put it on your "bucket list." If you have the least bit of interest in history. In haunted places. Battles. The ocean. Gracious living. Tradition.I had the good fortune to live in a small town twenty minutes away from the city proper about 22 years ago. So, it seemed to make sense for my husband and me to detour a bit on our way home to Texas from North Carolina, where we were visiting our youngest daughter and her family.We, of course had to check out where we used to live. This actually involved two stops, as we had moved into a larger house about a year before we left with the expectation of making it our permanent home after my husband's retirement from the Air Force. But it didn't turn out that way. We had to go with the city that held the most promising job - and that was Houston, Texas.Our lazy, lovely little town was nearly unrecognizable! Instead of uninterrupted avenues of pine trees, we were assaulted with car washes, fast food restaurants, auto parts stores. The verdict one house number one: good. The current owners were keeping it up nicely, had a new fence and had painted the wood part an acceptable color. We moved on to the second house. Not so good here. Parts of the wood rail on the long front porch were missing, making the house's front look somewhat like a face whose mouth was missing some teeth.It was a relief to move on to Charleston, proper. On the way, we encountered new roads, some "depressed" areas that looked even worse than when we had lived there before. A few high-rises.But Charleston, itself? Still the same, wonderfully proud lady! It was no surprise to us. After all, wasn't this the city that painted the spire of St. Michael's (or is it St. Philip's? I can never keep that straight) black during the revolutionary war to camouflage it from the Brits?Even the devastation inflicted by Hugo several years back barely scarred Charleston's centuries old homes. Hurricanes were nothing new, and there were huge bolts that went through houses from front to back to strengthen them for just such an event.And the open market is still there, just as it was in Rhett Butler's day. Now, where there used to be a plethora of homegrown produce and hand-crafted tools, there is largely merchandise seen at any flea market throughout the country.But you can still get some of the good stuff, if you look hard enough. One example of this is the hand-made baskets woven on site by the Gullah-descendant woman who learned this craft from their mothers, who had in turn learned it from their mothers. What makes them so special is that the designs on the baskets are not created dye, but rather by the weaving itself. So no two are ever alike. I was given one as a parting gift when I left South Carolina years ago, and it is still proudly in evidence in my present home.Now, I am back to the area where medical research makes amazing strides on a regular basis, and the hub of space travel touches the stars every day. I'm glad there are wonderful changes going on in this world.But I'm also happy to know I can always be sure to find a few places where I can count on things staying the same.
Posted by Susan H. Miller at 12:09 PM 1 comments

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blogophobia and Related Social Diseases

I'll be the first to admit it: I'm whimping out. I wanted to highlight my fellow writer and friend Kelli's latest story and probably the best way to do that is to "cut and paste" information about the piece that has already been printed. If I could do that.Without angst.

I have pondered over and over in my mind why the complexities of the on-line world have stimied me so badly. I mean, I belonged to the National Honor Society in school: I couldn't be that stupid.

I finally figured out that it is because of my age. I've been packing knowledge into this brain of mine for over 60 years, and I figure it's just about crammed full. New information must be shoveled in with force and made to stay.

It would be nice if I could get rid of useless pieces of information (the entire score of my high school operetta, "The Sunbonnet girl," the inscription at the bottom of the status of Liberty, "I'm a Little Teapot") to make room But I seem to have no control over this. I'd like to say that my mind is full of government secrets crucial to world piece, but I can't make even myself believe such...poppycock. Therefore, I'm just going to copy the information about Kelli's work, and hope it suffices.

"Kelli D. Meyer has posted her awared-winning horror story "Terrible Twos" on her blog @ It's a creepy new take on zombies with a twist you won't see coming, so check it out."

While I'm confessing my technological shortcomings, I have never twittered. On purpose, any way.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I have listened to two of the three candidate debates (1 presidential, one V.P.) with great interest. More power to all of them: we all expect them to perform miracles. What they promise is pretty close to that, anyway.

The problem is that the debates leave me more confused than ever. It's obvious that I can't believe my ears, because things are taken "out of context." Also, some didn't really mean what they said: they "misspoke."

I also like the fact that politicians make "mistakes" rather than poor choices. I always thought a mistake was something you did by accident.

The newspapers and television gives me insight: their own. Which begs the question. Is there such a thing as a "neutral" newspaper, magazine, radio or television station?

And do we hear only what we want to hear? Even before the bailout - er, recovery effort - of the failing financial institutions, I was hearing our current debt would cost each taxpayer about $45,000 to pay off.

So, do we really think there'll be no tax increases in some form?

In the final analysis, I would wish our hopefuls would state what their top concerns for our country even if they don't have a solution for them all. We can't expect one, or even two persons to be experts in foreign, economic, educational, war, healthcare, education, the poor, the elderly, children, oil, the space program, agriculture, city roads, disaster planning and military policies. But perhaps they can outline for us where they will start.

And as for the policies they have discussed, gentlemen, please tell us the whole truth. Mr. Obama, just how much coverage are those insured by your health care plan going to receive? Will it be available to healthy adults who refuse to work? And won't it tempt employeers who now offer healthcare as a benefit to drop that benefit? Will it really be much less of a burden on those of us whose health care premiums have gone up to cover the losses that the uninsured rack up?

Mr. McCain, do you really believe those who have no insurance will discipline themselves to purchase it with the promise of a tax break in April? Or will they see a plasma TV they can have right now with the amount down that would pay for a month's insurance premium. After all, "If I don't feel any better, I'll just go to the hospital. They have to take care of me." True enough.

And gentlemen, everybody cheers when you tout doctors should be back in charge, without insurance making rules. Check it out, insurances do have rules. They have appeal processes that can leavae the final decision to an expert physician who has no connection with the patient or insurance company. The fact is, among the majority of honest doctors and facilities, there are also greedy ones. This is why "managed care" came into being. Also, some people who are selfish in other areas of their lives, demand needless tests and procedures. No argument, however, that the whole managed care industry needs to be revamped. It's hopelessly inefficient.

Having just about run out of steam with the above, about the only thing I have to say about Wall Street is how disgusting it is.

Also, whatever happened to personal accountability? If you can't afford something, don't buy it. And why, in heaven's name, would you think people with poor credit histories would suddenly change their priorities when it came to owning a house. It's beyond me.

Crawling off the soapbox now, and taking a walk...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I find myself in imminent danger of sounding like PBS travel special. This is perhaps understandable, since I have just returned from a 10-day cruise to Alaska. Of the beauty, the majesty, the crisp, clear air - it's all been said. My own vocabulary ran out of superlatives by the time we docked in Juneau and disintregated into your basic "wow". Until new adjectives come upon the scene, I'm not even going to try to describe the glories of our 50th state.

Still, while the tourist in me was taking it all in, the writer part was seeing stories everywhere the tourist went. In Ketichican, I watched seaplanes launch and land constantly as they go about their daily business. Where were they all going, and what were they doing there?

In the carefully perserved home of the most famous local madam, open for tours, there is a poignant portrait of a baby hung over the sink in the ornate bathroom. How, in this "house of ill-repute", did this come to be there?

As the excursion train wends its way upwards though the mountains high above Sitka, I see flannel-shirted men from a hundred years ago gain each foot of track at the expense of brutal labor and sheer will. Later, they are all gathered around the campfire, grateful for the warmth and company and coffee; thinking about home.

Even before, there are gold miners risking life and limb as they make their way back to town along the now almost indecipherable path hewn out of the mountain side. They are carrying their treasures on the back of often ill-fed and overworked horses. There is a span of trail known as Dead Horse Pass, and it is painful to watch them stumble and fall into the ravine, sometimes taking their oewners with them. It is a huge price to pay to get rick quick.

But not all stories belong in the past. It seems nobody was actually born in Alaska. They come for many reasons. Some are running away from something or someone; others are running to. Many readily volunteer their tales. Either way, it's pretty clear that they are there because they want to be.

And lastly, there are my fellow cruisers. What a diverse group they are! The crew comes from all over the world.

Our chief waiter dreams of taking some schooling that will some day allow him to open his own restaurant. The Maitre d' was born in Jordan, but now lives in Poland.

Ages of the guests range from very old to stroller-bound. Some appear well-to-do; others make you wonder how they scraped together the money for even the cheapest stateroom.

One lady, elegant and beautiful,sits in her wheelchair awaiting her companion to take her off ship on an excursion. The is wearing a white,gauzy dress with a straw hat covering her matching snowy hair. I comment to her that she looks like she is on her way to tea. And indeed she is - at an elegant old hotel in Victoria, B.C.

Our tablemates are a mother and son from California. This is a repeat trip for the mother: her first trip was with her husband, who died two years ago.

A rather shapeless woman of indeterminate age sways alone to the music at the disembarkation from our last port,but with great abandon.

And me? This trip is to commemorate my 40th anniversary. My husband and I, remembering the early days when a big day was charging the gas, driving to a free-to-the-public historical museum and splitting a hamburger, smile at the good fortune that has brought us on this wonderful journey.

But there is yet another story waiting to be explored. I have an early memory of my parents sitting in matching armchairs by the fireplace in the chilly Ohio evening. They are each reading books from the library about a place they have always wanted to go: Alaska.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wasted Time

Mothers' Day 2008 has come and gone. Mine was full of toddler hugs, daughters who got 6 active children, collectively, dressed and into the car to spend the day with me, a spouse who cooked a great dinner, some lovely presents and sweet memories to add to my stockpile.

My sister-in-law's Mothers' Day was quite different. Because her only son was buried the day before.

He was my newphew: a caring son who wanted to someday take his mother on a wonderful trip; his father's best friend; a doting uncle who really enjoyed his nieces and nephew. A jokester. A lover of the outdoors. My nephew, but he could have been your nephew, brother, son, uncle. Everyone has someone like him in the family. Someone who has somehow gotten lost along the way of life's journey.

Only 36 years old, he had run off the road late at night and flipped the car he was driving several times. With no seatbelt, the car had rolled over on him. The theory is he had blacked out. His younger sister related this had happened once before after the near-fatal head injury he had suffered only months before. He had been alone, and died instantly.

His father stood at his funeral, tears running down his face, reminding us all to keep our children close by. He told us it wasn't right for parents to bury their child: it should have been he burying his parents.

But if this hadn't already broken our hearts, the poem read by his older sister after that surely did.

It was one my nephew had come across in the last months of his life, and he felt it described the way he was feeling about his life - the life he so wanted to change.

I would like to share it here in the hope it might succeed for your someone. It is called "Wasted Time" and it was written by Dave LeFave

The time that I've wasted is my biggest regret,
Spent in thes places I will never forget.
Just sitting and thinking about the things that I've done,
The crying, the laughing, the hurt and the fun.

Now it's just me and my hard-driven guilt
Behind a wall of emptiness I allowed to be built.
I'm trapped in my body, justs wanting to run
Back to my youth with its laughter and fun.

But the chase is over and there's no place to hide.
Everything is gone, including my pride.
With reality suddenly right in my face
I'm aacared, alone and stuck in this place.

Now memories of the past flash through my head
And the pain is obvious by the tears that I shed.
I ask myself why and where I went wrong.
I guess I was weak when I should have been strong.

Living for the drugs and the wings I had grown,
My feelings were lost, afraid to be shown.
As I look at my past it's so easy to see
The fear I had, afraid to be me.

I'd pretend to be rugged, so fast and so cool
When actually lost like a blinded old fool.
I'm getting too old for this tiresome game
Of acting real hard with no sense of shame.

It's time that I chanhe and get on with my life,
Fulfilling my dreams for a family and wife.
What my future will hold I really don't know,
But the years that I've wasted are starting to show.

I just live for the day when I'll get a new start
And the dreams I still hold deep in my heart.
I hope I can make it, I at least have to try
Because I'm heading toward death, and I don't want to die.

It's funny how, as teens and young adults, we think our parents, aunts and uncles are hopelessly out of touch with what's cool, rad, or whatever term is being used at the time. We think they are clueless as to what is really important. But as we grow older, we learn that the important things have to do with family, peace of mind and the simple joys of life.

May my nephew rest in peace. May he have been given the serenity he so wanted in his lifetime.