Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Glossing the below

First, thanks for all the empathy and sympathy and stuff, but don't worry about me. I had plenty of visits from family and friends -- sometimes it seemed like too many -- cards and flowers, the whole deal. I'm not going to drag any of them into this story unless they happen to be an integral part of it. We're here to make sociological observations. So here are a couple of mine.

The fruit of the poppy: Some people sacrifice everything in life -- family, friendship, work, home, freedom. They lie, rob and steal; contract deadly infections and nearly starve themselves; all for the sake of an experience I found unpleasant and repulsive. Well, for a couple of days I sought it out, I needed it, because it made me not care about pain that I just could not endure. In fact, it made me not give a shit about anything. But personally, I don't like not giving a shit about anything. As soon as the pain was down to a level I could stand, I preferred it to oblivion.

I think my experience and Lou Reed's song explain opiate addiction pretty well.

I wish that I was born a thousand years ago
I wish that I'd sailed the darkened seas
On a great big clipper ship
Going from this land here to that
I put on a sailor's suit and cap

Away from the big city
Where a man cannot be free
Of all the evils in this town
And of himself and those around
Oh, and I guess I just don't know
Oh, and I guess I just don't know

Heroin, be the death of me
Heroin, it's my wife and it's my life
Because a mainer to my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then I'm better off than dead

When the smack begins to flow
Then I really don't care anymore
About all the Jim-Jims in this town
And everybody putting everybody else down
And all of the politicians makin' crazy sounds
All the dead bodies piled up in mounds, yeah

Wow, that heroin is in my blood
And the blood is in my head
Yeah, thank God that I'm good as dead
Ooohhh, thank your God that I'm not aware
And thank God that I just don't care
And I guess I just don't know
And I guess I just don't know

It is very uncommon for people who are prescribed opiates for short-term pain relief -- such as post-surgery -- to develop any sort of addiction or dependency. Narcotics are quite safe for that purpose. Addiction isn't just about the chemical.

The organization and management of the hospital: For whose benefit are the procedures, rules and routines in this institution established? Is the hospital run for the benefit of the patients? What exactly is their role and importance there?

One other thing -- I was there for two days and already I'd been sexually molested twice. I have no idea how common this is and I assume my experience was atypical. But think about it. The hospital is full of helpless people, with all sorts of fairly low level employees wandering around unsupervised in the middle of the night. I suspect that 90% or more of the people who feel an interaction was inappropriate in some way don't say anything about it. If they do, they are probably ignored.

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