Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Typical short-sightedness

In the twenty years (gasp!) that have passed since I entered Nursing school, many things have changed. I am constantly amazed by the advances that have been made in surgical techniques, particularly laparoscopy. Surgeries which once required large incisions, long recovery times, and the risk of permanent nerve damage to the surrounding area are now performed through tiny keyholes with incredible precision.

If you'll forgive the pun, this cutting-edge technology has been brought to a new level by the DaVinci Robotic Surgical system. Developed in France, it was approved by the FDA for use in the United States in 2000. Applications include heart valve replacement, hysterectomies, and prostatectomies. Here in the USA, it is common to see billboards advertising a hospital's ability to perform surgeries with this new technology. The DaVinci system is expensive, but in a competitive health care marketplace, the bean counters know that they must spend the big bucks if they want to bring in the big bucks.

North of the 49th parallel .. meh, not so much. The DaVinci system is available in five Canadian cities, but none of the provincial Ministries of Health will cough up the extra $3000 to $5000 that a robotic prostatectomy costs, as compared to the traditional surgery to remove a cancerous prostate. It is left to charitable foundations to pick up the tab.

Never mind that the robotic surgery cuts the length of the hospital stay from four days to one. Never mind the reduced risk of post-operative infections in the age of C-Diff and MRSA outbreaks. Never mind the reduced risk of incontinence and impotence, both of which add to the cost of post-operative care. Never mind that any of these sequella could easily cost the Canadian health care system much more than $5000.

Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face!

My flight of fancy is already their reality

During the long dark downtime of night shift last Sunday, the Nurse's Aide and I were talking about technological advances which would improve the care that we deliver.

One idea that has been tickling and nagging in my perpetually sleep-deprived brain, is a better toilet. I have this notion that the hospital toilet of the future would measure output and scan for occult blood, C-Diff, and urinary tract infections. It would also have a built-in bidet and would sanitize itself immediately after use.

Unsurprisingly, the Japanese are already way ahead of the curve on this idea, with the latest incarnation of The Intelligence Toilet II. This model is designed for home use, and beams the information collected to your PC.

Now, if only they could release a Hello Kitty Intelligence Toilet ...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Charming non-sequitur of the day

Against my better judgment, I went to the Commissary on Fort Drum today. Normally, I try to avoid all retail establishments on the Saturday before Christmas, but I needed to take advantage of the lull between the blasts of Snow-Mageddon '08.

I don't use the Commissary very often. The small savings offered to the military community and its retirees are usually offset by the annoyance factor. Many things contribute to the annoyance factor, and chief amongst them are the young GI Joes who are full of piss and vinegar. One of their favourite tricks is to sit in their muscle cars and burst the eardrums of all persons over the age of 25 within a 2 mile radius.

The role of obnoxious GI Joe was played today by a dude in a yellow Mustang GT, parked right in front of the Commissary doors.

And his music of choice was .. Andrea Bocelli ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I'm pretty sure that GI Joe still had most of his baby teeth when Con Te Partiro seemed to play on endless loop. I never tired of it then, and I certainly appreciated it today.

Thanks, obnoxious GI Joe, for making an old lady's day!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm sure there were no vampires in this town, either!

Brussels sprouts, oh brussels sprouts!
Magical, but not a fruit,
Makes Gorillas Toot!

Sorry, said the zoo.
Embarrassed, and unprepared
For a smell that strong.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Waste not, want not!

I was amused by this story of pungent ingenuity.

Arkeny, Iowa, is the home of Tone Brothers, Inc. I have a cupboard full of their spices.

Apparently, they had a surplus of garlic salt, which they donated to the town. It was otherwise destined for a landfill. Mixed with regular road salt, it did a fine job of melting snow and ice.

Also, there were no reports of vampire attacks in the town this week. Bonus!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Living the dream

The Mister told me
It was his dream to snowblow
In a Santa hat

Who am I to stand
Between the love of my life
And his lifelong dream?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

So senseless and such a waste

A few hours ago, the church where I was baptized was filled with tears.

Hundreds of people had gathered to mourn for a family of four, who had roots in my hometown. They had succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning when a pipe inside their natural gas fireplace became blocked with carbon. All four had been complaining of flu-like symptoms for a couple of weeks.

A simple CO detector would have revealed the cause of their symptoms and saved all of their lives. Apparently, they didn't have one in their home.

Friends, if you do not have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, why the hell not?

Go get one.

Right now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

To every thing there is a season

Thousands of snow geese
Fill the gray December skies
Just for a moment

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oh, Canada!!!

Hold on to your toques! The week in Canadian politics has been fascinating, to say the least. Yes, I just typed "fascinating" and "Canadian politics" in the same sentence. Does anyone else have whiplash right now?

One of the best explanations I've read for the machinations in the Great White North can be found in, of all places, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's knitting blog, the Yarn Harlot. As one commenter said, Canada's Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy is, at once an incredibly complex and yet frighteningly logical system.

Newfie satirist Rick Mercer has an excellent take on the situation immediately prior to the prorogation of Parliament. Say that three times quickly!

I'm looking forward to hearing my brother's take on this turn of events. (hint hint!)

Incidentally, if anyone who knows me in real life is stumped in terms of what to get me for Christmas, I've put some of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's books on my Amazon wish list. (hint hint hint!)

Hang on tight, my fellow Canucks. It's going to be a bumpy toboggan ride for the next little while.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008


We enjoyed a post-Thanksgiving feast of turkey enchiladas tonight.

Well, the grown-ups did. Young William was not as enthusiastic about this meal, given his preference for simpler cuisines.

I encouraged him to try a few more bites. I said, Here's some nice bits of turkey. And, dude! look at all the cheese on top! Who doesn't love cheese?

Without missing a beat, the kidlet replied with that laconic humour that he has developed of late: Vegans!

Kids today.