Short Story 1

Below is a short story I copied and pasted from a book a friend gave me for my birthday.  The text to follow is where I rant and rave.  So you may want to skip my bullshit and get to the story.  In fact, that’s what I recommend, skip the following paragraph and go right to the story.

Everyday I look to feel something, take some valuable experience from the universe and incorporate it into my being.  This story supported that thought.  I was in Starcocks when I first read this story.  I call it Starcocks because it’s really McDonalds’ answer to what could have been a warm coffee shop.  So tritefully American, with its patronizing, predictable, bullshit ambiance.  They offer delicious coffee from some obscurely unique and trendy locale, while gently, the brand whispers softly to you, “yes we recycle, yes we give to charity,  yes our employees have health benefits,  yes you can feel good about being here, please spend more money, there’s a shelf just over yonder with some shit you don’t need, no no it’s ok, you can feel good about wasting money here, it’s Starcocks this is what we do, it’s the trendy thing to do, look everyone else is spending, you want to be cool and trendy right.”  I keep coming into Starcocks for the free Wi-Fi but I never feel good about being here.  Besides the over priced coffee, every fucking store looks the same, every employee says the same fucking thing to me, it’s like “Ground-Hog’s Day” with a bunch of pseudo-hip caffeine junkies.  It’s completely inauthentic and an example of how the corporate culture is robbing us true human culture and committing ethni-cide; while making money to build their unnatural culture.  Corporations rob us of our creativity, individuality, our spark, the energy that makes us so interesting, that makes us beautiful, that makes us mysterious, fun to watch and unpredictably sexy.   They rob us the not-so-obvious-tool needed to build the bridge to a more evolved future. “Wait what’s that?” “I didn’t hear you.”  “You think Starcocks is cool, oh well then, by all means, go fuck yourself, your an asshole and stop reading my post.”  If you want to judge how great a company is and can potentially be, then just measure the satisfaction of it’s employees.  That’s the only thing you need do.  Fuck asking the customers, because customer views are distorted and their motivations are unpredictable. Here’s an example of a typical Starcocks customer. “Oh wow Stacy check out this new Starcocks mug.”  “It’s pink and it has a Chapstick holder for the winter time.”  “I love Chapstick Stacy, you know this.”  “Oh, and look at this nifty little compartment on the bottom.” “Wow I could totally keep my morning-after-pill in there.”  “Hey barista, get the fuck over here, like, how much is this?”  “Ugh they are so slow here, all they do is make coffee WTF, it’s not that hard.”  Now tell me you haven’t heard this exact same conversation while on line at Starcocks. Talk to the employees, that’s the best basis for judgment on a company’s charachter.  That said, when I look at the Starcocks employees sometimes they’re ok but most of the time, the look on their face…It’s like their soul was removed,  It’s as if someone sat them down, took their favorite pet, stuffed it into a sandwhich bag, sealed the bag, then let the animal slowly suffocate.  Although, just prior to full on suffocation, just as you could see the animal’s eyes become sleepy from oxygen deprivation, they dropped the loved pet into a working blender set on liquify.  Then they stood the employee up and said, “now go out there, give some great customer service, make some delicious fucking coffee and try not to burn yourself asshole.”  Fuck large corporations, I would say 5% of them actually handle themselves with some shred of integrity.  Oh and by the way I love the Pumpkin Spice Latte, try it, it’s to die for.  Anywho, I was there reading a book, “House of Leaves”, and scoping the fine hunnies.  This particular book ended with a short story which is posted below.  When I finished the short story I looked up from my armchair.   A few feet directly in front of me was a young couple sitting and discussing things with their beloved and wise wedding planner.  Naturally I easedropped which was the socially appropriate move in that situatuon.  People who get married I find interesting.  Marriage is such an alien concept to me; based on my romantic experience.  I often think to myself when will I meet someone that special, someone to make my dreams come true, who will laugh at my jokes, make out with me in the J-Crew fitting room, someone I could take naked photos of, a woman with class.  Toward what seemed to be the end of the conversation, I remembered the wedding planner stating, “As your professional wedding planner I can advise you the best way to go, sure…But I would rather tell you what I think as your friend.”  That made me smile.  I was in sales for 10 years or so.  This was one of my favorties, when the sales person attempts to cross the line from trusted professional to friend and then tells the client they are doing so vocally.  It takes a certain skill level to successfully complete this transition. Some folks are truly artists, making the transition so seemless that by the end of the interaction you actually want the sales person to be your friend.  On some level you want them to like you.  You may even want them to hang with you.  However if they are a really talented salesperson you won’t want them to hang with you, you will want to hang with them.  You may even want them to make out with you in a J-Crew fitting room.  Many sales people are able to create this scenario, keep in mind roughly 5% actually give a shit about you.  This sales person was young and her transition was rough but the couple was young so they were clueless.  I smiled to myself and simply thought, I have friends, friends are free, for $15,000 I want a fucking wedding planner.

Here is a story I wanted to share:

It begins with the birth of a baby, though not a healthy baby.  Born with holes in its brain and “showing an absence of grey/white differentiation”-as Doc put it.  So bad that when the child first emerges into this world, he’s not even breathing.

“Kid’s cyanotic,” Dr. Nowell shouts and everywhere heart rates leap.  The baby goes onto the Ohio, a small 2 X 2 foot bed, about chest high, with a heater and examination lights mounted above.

Dr. Nowell tracks the pulse on the umbilical cord while using a bulb syringe at the same time to suck out the mouth, trying to stimulate breath.  “Dry, dry, dry.  Suck, suck, suck.  Stim, stim, stim.”  He’s not always successful.  There are times when these measures fail.  This, however, is not one of those times.

Dr. Nowell’s team immediately follows up, intubating the baby and providing bag mask ventilation, all of it coming together in under a minute as they rush him to an ICU where he’s plugged into life support, in this case Siemans Servo 300, loaded with red lights and green lights and plenty of bells and whistles.

Life it seems will continue but it’s no easy march.  Monitors record EKG activity, respiratory functions, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, as well as end tidal CO2.  There’s a ventilator.  There are also IV pumps and miles of IV lines.

As expected, nurses, a respiratory therapist and a multitude of doctors crowd the room, all of them there simply because they are the ones able to read the situation.

The red and green lights follow the baby’s every breath.  Red numbers display the exact amount of pressure needed to fill his fragile lungs.  A few minutes pass and the SAT (oxygen saturation) monitor, running off the SAT probe, begins to register a decline.  Dr. Nowell quickly responds by turning the infant’s PEEP (Positive End Expiratory Pressure) up by 10 to compensate for the failing oxygenation, this happening while the EKG faithfully tracks every heart beat, the curve of each P wave or in this case normal QRS, while also on the monitor, the central line and catheter placed in the belly button, records continuous blood pressure as well as blood gasses.

The mother, of course, sees none of this.  She sees only her baby boy, barely breathing, his tiny fingers curled like sea shells still daring to clutch the world.

Later, Dr. Nowell and other experts will explain to her that her son has holes in his brain.  He will not make it.  He can only survive on machines.  She will have to let him go.

But the mother resists.  She sits with him all day.  And then she sits with him through the night.  She never sleeps.  The nurses hear her whisper to him.  They hear her sing to him.  A second day passes.  A second night.  Still she doesn’t sleep, words pouring out of her, melodies caressing him, tending her little boy.

The charge nurse starts to believe they are witnessing a miracle.  When her shift ends, she refuses to leave.  Word spreads.  More and more people start drifting by the ICU.  Is this remarkable mother still awake?  Is she still talking to him?  What is she singing?

One doctor swears he heard her murmur “Etch a Poo air” which everyone translates quickly enough into something about etching of Pooh Bear.

When the third day passes without the mother even closing her eyes, more than a handful of people openly suggest the baby will heal.  The baby will grow up, grow old, grow wise.  Attendants  bring the mother food and drink.  Except for a few sips of water, she touches none of it.

Soon even Dr. Nowell finds himself caught up in this whispered hysteria.  He has his own family, his own children, he should go home but he can’t.  Perhaps something about this scene stings his own memories.  All night long he works with the other preemies, keeping a distant eye on the mother and child caught in tangle of cable and tubing., sharing a private language he can hear but never quite make out.

Finally on the morning of the fourth day, the mother rises and walks over to Dr. Nowell.  “I think it’s time to unplug him,” she says quietly, never lifting her gaze from the floor.  Dr. Nowell is completely unprepared for this and has absolutely no idea how to respond.  “Of course,” he eventually stammers.

More than the normal number of doctors and nurses assemble around the boy, and though they are careful to guard their feelings, quite a few believe this child will live.

Dr. Nowell gently explains the procedure to the mother.  First we will disconnect all the nonessential IV’s and remove the nasogastric tube.  Then even though her son’s brain is badly damaged, he will administer a little medicine to ensure that there is no pain.  Lastly, he and his team will cap the IV, turn off the monitors, the ventilator and remove the endotracheal tube.

“We’ll leave the rest up to…”  Dr. Nowell doesn’t know how to finish the sentence, so he just says “Well.”

The mother nods and requests one more moment with her child.

“Please,” Dr. Nowell says as kindly as he can.

The staff takes a step back.  The mother returns to her boy, gently drawing her fingers over the top of his head.  For a moment everyone there swears she has stopped breathing, her eyes no longer blinking,  focusing deeply within him.  Then she leans forward and kisses him on his forehead.

“You can go now,” she says tenderly.

And right before everyone’s eyes, long before Dr. Nowell or anyone else can turn a dial or touch a switch, the EKG flatlines.  Asystole.

The child is gone.

So, what did you think?

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