Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Their Time Was Up

Two cardiac arrests within five minutes, unrelated.

Two people who woke up this morning like every other day of their life. Why would this day be any different?

Woke up unaware that this would in fact be their last day on earth.

Make a pact with yourself: No half measures.

Make it count.


See them? Look, I’ll make it darker, you said, blowing out the candles.

With no electricity in this squat, after dark, you didn’t have a lot of options for light.

See them now?

Your hand on my shoulder, I could feel your warm breath on my neck as we both looked out the dirty window. Your breath smelled of tobacco. Across the overgrown yard stood an old vacant three-story victorian house that hadn’t been occupied for at least fifteen years. We were on the second floor of a carriage house that sat directly across from it on the same property.

You thought it was a good place to live, what with it being abandoned and all.

Looking at the empty broken windows on the third floor, I thought I saw something move but couldn’t be sure. I started to speak but you squeezed my arm hard.

Shh – be quiet, they’ll hear.

After what seemed like far too long, I realized I was enabling your delusion and stood to leave. Still you sat motionless on the floor, legs crossed, transfixed by whatever you were imagining was happening on the third story of the decrepit structure.

Just as I was putting on my jacket, you whispered,

Wait – the’re here!

Not Everyone in This Country is a Selfish Ignorant Prick

Every national public health agency in North America may have spectacularly failed this nation during the COVID pandemic, and let’s be clear: it can’t all be blamed on Washington.

But you know who didn’t fail the American people?

Those of us who work in your local ER. We have done everything possible to mitigate its effects, both with individual patients, as well as the communities we serve. We had zero guidance in the beginning, but our knowledge base has improved considerably. Contrary to what the American people think: you can die from it. I can’t count the number of people who died while in my care. I honestly have no idea. It was so traumatic it’s hard to think about.

But we care for every person who comes to our ER as if they were our loved ones, and we try to teach patients and their families the importance of quarantining and taking advantage of the free testing offered by the NYC Department of Health to try and control it in our communities.

And shame on every public figure – yeah, you know who you are – who downplays this like it’s nothing more than an inconvenience.

Not that you care – but history won’t judge you kindly. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

Sorry, but I’ve had to get that off my chest.

Movies That are Worth 2 Hours of Your Life (Part 1)

Nightcrawler, 2014
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy

Ok, I’m going out on a limb here and saying this film from 2013 may not be a fucking masterpiece, but it’ll do until one shows up. I just happened on it randomly without having any idea what it was about, and I was left a bit stunned. Yeah, it was that good.

Let’s see, where do I start? It’s a great script of a less than original story, but the story isn’t really the fucking point.

The cinematography, editing, and writing are the fucking point. But the cherry on top is Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it” is usually reserved for the unspeakably bad, but in this case I mean it in the best possible way.

It actually describes his performance, which is quite a trick in 2020. What, you might wonder, haven’t we seen? Well, you haven’t seen this character, I can tell you that.

It’s very cool how virtually no back story is given on the protagonist – we know nothing of his past. In the context of this film, it works because it allows Jake to slowly reveal who he is. All we know of this man is what we we see. And what we see is constantly surprising.

Last Night

Last night
I texted you a selfie
As you watched another
COVID patient flatline

Last night
You sent me a selfie too
Your smile so tired
You texted
When will we quarantine again?
I guess when there’s a vaccine

Last night
I held my own hand
Lacing my own fingers together
To ease the rock in my throat
To keep quarantine loneliness
At bay
Until there’s a vaccine

– Jennifer Schneiderman

There’s No Turning Back

“I have become consumed with an alarming possibility: that neither the polls nor the actual outcome of the election really matter, because to a great many Americans, digital communication has already rendered empirical, observable reality beside the point.”

– Farhad Manjoo

Mentoring Others

One of the perks of being older, particularly in the setting of the emergency department, is recognizing the strengths of your peers and encouraging their development.

Often, we don’t fully recognize these qualities in ourselves – and this is precisely why mentoring is so important. It doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement, but it does mean paying attention to your colleague’s qualities and encouraging them.

Sometimes what may seem to be insignificant encouragement can change the course of someones life.


Art must provoke a response.

The stronger that response is, the more powerful the art.

Good response or negative – both the same.

If it makes you feel something, even revulsion and anger – then we’re on the right track.

When You’re Caught With Your Hand in the Cookie Jar (Part 2)

It hurts to admit you were wrong, and I’m embarrassed to say this, but here’s the truth: I fell for it.

That stings – because it means that I’m complicit in letting them win.

Why? Because I became so disgusted I wanted no part of it.

That was the wrong move – they were counting on the good people to bail. See, the strategy is even more effective on smart people, because the ruse is so transparent. It has all the subtlety of a third-grade bully.

We live in a time that clearly bears some resemblance to The Weimar Republic in the 1930’s. The good Germans must’ve thought, “This hateful bullshit is ridiculous, I don’t want any part of this asshole and what he stands for.

We all know how that turned out.

When You’re Caught With Your Hand in the Cookie Jar (Part 1)

Admittedly, what I am about to say sounds ridiculous, yet it has been used effectively in Washington for decades, possibly longer.

Here’s how it works: The one getting caught stealing would say, I’m not stealing cookies, you are. Of course this seems like it would be a poor strategy for defense, and yet…

It has apparently worked quite well for the ones stealing. If nothing else, it just confuses matters – What? would be the natural first response of any reasonable person. That doesn’t make any sense…

But perhaps confusion is the desired outcome. Especially if it’s followed by immediately stealing more cookies, all the while repeating over and over (to the honest person), Stop stealing these cookies. The only reasonable response is disgust and fatigue.

I’m not going to argue with this lying asshole, you think. Everyone can see it’s not true. Yet the people stealing the cookies keep getting more cookies.

So you throw your hands up in the air and say Fuck it.

And they win.

Fuck This

There’s been a lot of posts recently of quotes and even missed days that should probably be addressed.

Struggling seems to be a recurring theme in this post-COVID blog, and that’s what I’m going through. When I look back on my pre-COVID entries, I seem much more engaged on a wider range of ideas. Afterward, not so much.

Did my experience with the pandemic in my ER really change me so profoundly? Yeah, I guess it did. The thing is, I’m still writing a lot of fiction, but after March this blog has become more and more difficult.

I just seem to write about a much narrower range of topics – COVID, mainly. Quite frankly, it bores me, so I’ve actually missed a few daily posts recently (like anyone gives a fuck) because I don’t want to keep writing the same shit over and over.

I do think posting something everyday is useful for me because it’s like using a muscle. If I’m putting sentences together on a daily basis, it primes my writing neurology.

But I should be clear – while this might be good for me abstractly, it’s not really good writing and probably shouldn’t be made public.

So should I hang it up or keep going?

I’ll probably keep going – but let’s keep this on the down-low.

No one really needs to know about this.

This Is It

“As I often say: Stop living this life like it’s a dress rehearsal. This is the show! There is only one performance. You don’t have time for fear and hesitation. Pursue your dreams. Be yourself. Love who you love, openly. Be free.”

– Charles Blow

Six Months In

The long-term mental health repercussions among frontline health care workers in the NYC COVID pandemic is both predictable and disturbing.

The level of psychic pain among the docs, RNs, and techs I work with is palpable. Everyone seems to express it in different ways – anger, sadness, depression, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares – all classic manifestations of PTSD. Each of us tries to hide it, but all I have to do is bring the subject up privately and it all starts to come out.

Even six months later, it’s still raw.

The Dead Return

Just triaged a 26 year old male who spent 2 and a half months in the ICU, another 2 weeks in the hospital, and finally few weeks in acute rehab. He originally came through my ER at the height of the COVID pandemic here in NYC.

He shouldn’t be alive, yet he is. We did lots of emergency tracheostomy’s then, his is now fully healed. He just started walking again without oxygen 3 weeks ago.

He now looks like a thin but normal young man, already fully engaged with life. Just seeing and talking to him was the highlight of my day.

Sometimes the dead do return to life, in the best possible way.