Policing In Our Cities

It’s preposterous how some are crying out to defund police, and I’ll say why. Policing is the most important contact we have in our daily life that reminds us we’re a land of peace and order. We all know the use of force is meant only to keep us safe, and as Americans, we love it this way!

Sign on Third Ave, Downtown Portland, OR

I’m in Los Angeles, and like any city with a nominal population, we need police out there so our kids will be safe going to and from school. We need police so Sr’s or handicapped can make a quick trip to the store and back again safely.

On any given day In L.A. there’s car thefts, gang related violence, drag races, abusive husbands, pedophilia rings, drug wars, counterfeit thieves, illegal gambling, international smuggling, bank robbers, assaults, child abductions, terrorism, internet hacking, ID theft rings, protests and let me see ….. homicides! Those crimes aren’t being committed by the homeless, mentally ill population, but by organized crime or people who many times are life long criminals.

You gonna assign some “9-5 psychology agents” with no training in violence, or ties to the community, to police those criminals so the public is safe? Where are you going to find mostly men in our culture who don’t have records, aren’t on drugs, are citizens, of age and some speaking other languages?

(Photo – D.D.)

I never truly realized how valuable Law Enforcement was for society until Marc was involved in a homicide case! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the hours upon hours of work it took his Detective team to investigate his case.

The incident happened in the middle of the night, so of course their sleep was ruined as they had to leave for the scene to meet up with the forensic team & witnesses. They had a couple hours to process things between the Coroner, Medical Examiner before they had to locate my ex-husband in Portland and give him the terrible news! Following that were days where Detectives had to go over evidence, go thru the video tape of the incident, interview the local business owners/witnesses, pour over a local 7/11 video, fill the D.A. in on the details. Every crime has to go thru a process, by law!

Police had to further scour the homeless scene using their contacts, to find the 2 original suspects, and set up a ‘take down’ with police units making armed arrests. One original suspect had a record and his family had to be interviewed. Investigations have to be conducted by Police in a legal, sometimes time consuming manner. Police work requires a measure of written work, which many complain of as being tedious, so it’s not a slam dunk type of job, where you enlist, get a badge, weapon and handcuffs. There’s many checks and balances to normal police work so that they are held accountable, and only the most highly qualified men are able to handle the rigorous assignments an officer has to do.

I’ve always trusted police, and have never yelled at an officer, or seen a relative,  minority friend, or anyone resist arrest. I have no reason to hate police, I’m not looking for a fight …. and I live in L.A. I’m not fearful of cops, I like the fact we have laws. If I was unlawfully questioned, ticketed then I’d keep a record and jot the badge number and report it. I live around all incomes, colors, age groups and I never see or hear of the types of encounters they show on TV, Twitter. It’s not that dangerous a city. And believe me, there are homeless, mentally ill, quasi gang types in the nooks and crannies of life here, I drive around a fair amount. I’ve been around bit of gun fire few years ago, so I’m scared of those types, not the police.

When it comes to a personal tragedy like my sons, or a mall shooting or a child abduction …. police generally show up in minutes. We need police out late at night to be ready in their cars to apprehend car thieves, stop bar fights, tail stalkers or help someone if their car breaks down. We like Highway Patrol on the highways at night cause we don’t want road races on our streets, or a psycho attacking our child on the freeway at night when they get a flat tire.

In some small towns police know all the residents, and do welfare checks, drive people home when drunk. You want those kind of guys policing, not a “9 to 5 agent”. There’s a huge minority in the Police force here in LA and that helps. One night I heard 2 Hispanic officers giving marriage counseling to my neighbor when she called them for being locked out by her husband.

All law enforcement members sacrifice their comfort, family time, holidays to work on a homicide, a bank robbery or your missing daughter. They are irreplaceable!

Who are the people complaining about the police most?

Is it working citizens who pay the taxes for police staffing? Is it the average voter who’s interested in public safety? The local business owner complaining? The corporations, schools, stadiums, hospitals, mall owners? No! It’s the youthful anarchist’s weaponizing social media, Leftists and BLM …. (not decent blacks).

The people asking for defunding are not criminologists, law enforcement or have any background in policing. No country in the world has done away with policing! There’s no model for policing in a better way than what we have. Some of those calling to defund are caving to angry Leftists, instead of simply standing up to them.  Or they may fear not being reelected.

We all, at our most vulnerable times, want to know there’s someone who’ll protect us or our families. Every member of Law Enforcement has to go thru extensive background checks, have clearance by DOJ, FBI, do you want impersonal people manning law enforcement who don’t have the community at heart? They are in this for the love of duty, community, not for a paycheck like a “9-5” worker who just might take bribes, strike for more pay or not show up if the work is too hard.

There are some corrupt neighborhoods in certain large cities where officer’s are abused excessively, yet still go to work. It’s not just the police that are supposedly abusing people. There are some bad apples in a large police force, take them out but don’t destroy the entire system we’ve erected in the U.S. or it will cause law makers, citizens to buy many more guns, live in perpetual fear and set up our cities as war zones where people won’t travel, shop or vacation.

Don’t believe those on the Left who’re feeding the weak with how bad our policing system is. We are so fortunate in this country that most our police have homes, families in the communities they serve in. It’s too bad we have to have this discussion but there’s been dis-trust among some in the U.S. and we need to confront it, with truth!

For daily crime updates & law enforcement news info:

http://lawenforcementtoday.com 

 

 

Living in Los Angeles During 5/29 …. Protests

I live in a Los Angeles suburb. I don’t think that much about my city in the sense I like to brag about the weather, or put down any part of my community. Wasn’t born here, but lived most of my life here, except for 10 years in No California.

People put Southern California down but it has many wonderful attributes, it’s impossible to count. It would match or beat almost any of yours likely for natural beauty, weather, natural resources & economy. I’m aware of the progressive politics, the Hollywood cult, but there are many who are moderate or conservative here.

The recent protests/riots took place in Downtown LA, Hollywood mostly, away from the suburbs. They were basically organized beforehand and somewhat peaceful, but I was deeply bothered by the organized antifa rioting that came in after the marches got underway. L. A. hasn’t had any problems with antifa that I know of, up to now. I’m familiar with that group as Marc was murdered in Portland, OR where they have a bad reputation. I’ve visited there during several protests.

As the peaceful marches got underway in L.A., the antifa types would come along and mix with the others and create mayhem. They’d break windows, loot or set fire to cars, stores! Antifa were not part of the Geo Floyd protesters or BLM marches, this was evident on the first day, during the early hours of demonstrations. Various news reporters noticed the influx of antifa, anarchists taking charge over our city as well as the protests went into the night!

It was sickening to see antifa nite after nite vandalize, spray paint stores, or burn L.A., or Hollywood stores on Melrose right out in the open, for NO REASON! Los Angeles hasn’t had a major protest since the early ’90’s with the Rodney King incident, we’ve done pretty well. TV news many times likes to make out there’s alot of racial unrest here, but I think there’s more unrest, or fear among the Latino population than blacks.

On Sat or Sunday, I was heartsick by the totally unwarranted, wanton torching of Santa Monica store fronts by antifa types! Why? There were peaceful marchers there, but a few isolated people set about to destroy property, set cars, or buildings on fire. Sheriff Villaraigosa did a good job of trying to maintain clarity, and shared how protests were fine but not looting and arson! But I think the police were overwhelmed by the different types of protesting from various groups, not one group to focus their attention on.

What’s very disturbing to me is how people turned the tragic mourning of one man’s death into a political riot. I resent how people from out of town came to Los Angeles and took over the intentions of the more peaceful local marchers who were officially organized to march. As I watched TV coverage we’d watch marchers early, then watch the violent crowd create mayhem thru arson, looting. Then after anarchists finished breaking store front windows, carloads of youth from surrounding areas would drive by and loot the stores with broken windows. Each group, each race, had their own agenda in the protests, many could see it, and some tried to turn antifa away.

Police were flying overhead trying to spot looters for police on the ground, but then another store would have it’s plywood barriers broken down, so they moved to show that. Police were trying to arrest those past the curfew, and the Guard were trying to cordon off streets and maintain a presence. The looting in Long Beach, I believe was done by their own residents but otherwise, alot of the initial rioting in Downtown, Hollywood and Santa Monica was instigated by mostly antifa types. There definitely was some larger scale planning to bring antifa to L.A.!

As a mom who’s lost a son to violence, I would never wish to see any city, any buildings vandalized, burned in honor of my son! I don’t rejoice when people or property are hurt, destroyed! The added personal pain, economic woe, legal hassles, public display is NOT worth it. Doing things legally, peacefully is the only solution, in my opinion. Many civil rights injustices have been changed thru peaceful demonstrations.

I’m called to be a Christian, and that means embracing people of all races. Los Angeles has a huge multicultural mix, and I’m not talking about the large Hispanic culture here. Our county has huge populations from Asia, Africa, India, Philippines, Iran …. you name it, but our problems are minimal as we’re not all piled on top of each other like in NY, we have space to live in our areas. In my job, neighborhood I’ve hardly had any problems with anyone that wasn’t settled quickly. But the people who organize or contribute to race or police riots, want us to think violence will bring results.

There are many peaceful people of all cultures, religions in Los Angeles …. we’re not mainly white! But …. we should resist the divisive rhetoric of the violent Left if we are to live here peacefully!

 

Covid Virus Reveals Bureaucratic Waste & More

Economics is an essential ingredient in any discussion we have re: Covid-19. In this article by a contact of mine in the U.K., S. Maitra, we can see how countries have been caught up in not just a health scare, but a money drain!  (I recently shared from another angle about the economic fallout of the virus on Italy, http://www.marcsjustice.com/?p=6054 )  

Mr. Maitra shares here about the management of Federal funds in both the U.K. and U.S. Very illuminating!

From public health priorities, to foreign aid, to academic bailouts, the amount of tax-funded cash wasted in the last few months amounts to billions, and should prompt a rethink and reckoning.

Every social upheaval changes society permanently, from the Athenian plague during the times of Thucydides to a windy New York autumn morning in 2001. The current crisis is no different, as Niall Ferguson writes more eloquently than I can ever do. But nowhere has that change been more visible, than on the question of how one should view expertise and governance.

This coronavirus has seen some startling changes in people who were otherwise thought very different. From Helen Andrews to Peter Hitchens, conservatives who are traditionally a big-state Gaullists, have turned to borderline libertarian. And given the amount of wasted resources from public health, to academic bailouts, to tax-funded wars and foreign aids, it is justified.

Consider a recent report on Public Health finance in the UK. Liberals across the US have consistently portrayed the British (and European) healthcare model as one which needs to be emulated. In the UK, the National Health Service is regarded as a religion, no criticism is allowed. The reality however is different. “In 2018/19, £220 million of the public health budget was spent on anti-obesity schemes—more than twice the budget for infectious diseases. More was spent on ‘tobacco control’ than on infectious diseases. One of Public Health England’s big-ticket projects has been its quixotic, multi-million pound attempt to take sugar, fat and calories out of food.”

The coronavirus has shown the depths to which the bureaucracy is responsible for all the problems we are facing. Around £400,000 were given to academics to study football fans drinking, and around £795,463 to train Imams in Bangladesh about second-hand smoke in mosques. Most of the public health budgets went to local councils, manned by career bureaucrats lobbying for higher alcohol taxes, and fizzy drinks. Everyone remembers London mayoralty’s bizarre crusade against “beach body ready” commercials. Money is likewise usually spent on idiotic hairbrained schemes, thought out by social-justice warrior “experts”.

Anyone asking for more tax-and-spend model on healthcare, from now on should remember that all those tax-dollars would be spent on such schemes. You’d see more “solidarity” or anti-obesity campaigns or such nonsense instead of grants to sew masks for seamstresses.

A pandemic survivor –

The lack of accountability isn’t any better in the US. To give just one example, field hospitals were constructed all over the country, which cost over $660 million. Many of these had to stand down “without treating a single patient.”

In the education reform sector, it is even worse. Ever since the crisis started, I tried to keep a track on how much cash is being wasted on the higher-ed sector, and have written about how to stop that. Unfortunately without any federal oversight the cash spigot was opened. And only 8 out of the top 100 wealthy universities have refused any cash bailout. The total amount of endowment of these top hundred wealthy colleges receiving the tax-funded relief is over $600 million, more than the GDP of the majority of African and Asian countries.

In foreign aid and funding, the US and the UK tops the donors in the entire planet. The 2020 budget of total US foreign aid (after cuts) was around $40 billion. Around 40 percent of that budget goes to just ten countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Aside from the US, the UK is the largest funder of the WHO, with Washington spending $436.8 million followed by London standing at $318.7 million. Meanwhile, around 400,000 Turkish gowns ordered for the NHS in UK was found out to be “useless” and below the safety standards, while the FDA had to ban the Chinese masks being sold by over 65 Chinese designated manufacturers as they were sub-par.

Ever since the crisis started, there were paeans written about “expertise” and tweets about how one should revere “SCIENCE!!!” in capital letters, as if science is some sort of religion to be revered. While talks of holding the government accountable is often heard, no one actually holds the people accountable, those same people who are actually responsible for glibly perpetuating the same craven arguments. The only lesson from this crisis is not simply one about diversifying supply-chains from a Chinese monopoly, but also about not letting government agencies monopolize on spending, given that they have been responsible for such criminal mismanagement in the last few months.

A “faith” in “expertise” is about as destructive as any other faith in anything which requires evidence, and evidence suggests that the story of this crisis is a story of wastage of public funds, by those who consistently appealed to such authorities. History, economics, are also important not just a blind obedience to science and expertise. Context is needed, not just raw data dump. Politics is about tough choices, and prioritization. Most people blathering about “science” on twitter are practically dumb about those. The smug sense of superiority about “believing in science and expertise” has led to an enormously flawed deferential treatment of one, and only one narrow ideological section of experts, while ignoring everyone else.

Experts have been replaced by bureaucrats and career social-justice academics. While for those whose social-conservative credentials are as robust as the next man, these fiascoes should be enough to turn anyone sympathetic about more libertarian warnings against mega-government agencies leading such efforts. A certain section of conservatives lately seemed enamored with more government intervention. They are yet to provide answers on what they propose to do, to avoid such massive waste.

Life as a Hermit During Covid

It’s been something being held captive in my own home because of pandemic directives. At the beginning of the stay-at-home-orders I spent hours online researching info on the virus from various medical sources or reporters around the globe. I read alot about the way the virus hit Italy, Taiwan, Iran, other places.

Like you, I wondered what in the heck was going on with grocery store lines, restaurants open at the curbside and schools getting closed? I started planning on having food shortages, not toilet tissue shortages. I invented ways to wear a mask, so I didn’t look like I was walking around with a sense of disease following me. I didn’t want to look like a zombie like the many wearing the same kind of medical mask.

No one is happy about having to adjust their life to living like a hermit. Much was shared about the hideous side of the virus, but I refused to get into fear. I got out of my own anxieties and asked how my family, co-workers and neighbors were doing, trying to decipher if they really were okay, underneath our chit chat? I know for some this has been a hard time not just with the disease scare, but with family at home, potential financial ruin.

Aside from the deaths due to Covid-19, I’m beyond sad about the threat to our entire economy and our national security! I’ve wracked my brain thinking of how to compare this pandemic to other diseases our nation has been threatened by. I asked myself if we were going to go thru something like the 1918 Spanish Flu? How will shutting business down affect the economy? I saw the huge drops in the stock market, but from what I read on Twitter, we haven’t seen the worst yet. It’s heartbreaking to see business owners ‘go under’ already around me, can the govt. save them all?

Did folks in the 1918 Influenza joke about the flu like we do the Covid-19 virus? I wonder have we joked about this virus out of fear, or not knowing the future re: job or college? There’s been jokes on Twitter often as I think we’ve received so many directives from national & local leaders about masks, washing hands, distancing, beaches and shopping, etc. it’s been over-kill almost!

I personally made photos of myself wearing a mask to relieve stress, and to show I could adapt my own way. It’s a way to steer off ‘captivity’ fever depression, just ‘do’ something creative. I think the humor and jokes on Twitter also came from our being sick about the rhetoric around us. There was sarcasm in our comments too as many were unable to understand the reasoning behind the directives from some government officials, The models used weren’t clear or in line with the medical experience of some of us.

While we were hermits, most of us on Twitter didn’t sit back and fear we’d come down with the virus. I formulated a plan for myself and shared it with my oldest son. He lives in AZ, where the spread is very minimal, I was glad he and his environment was safe. I made sure I took care of my immune system, a Dr. friend sent me loads of immunity supplements. I spoke with a few other close loved ones, it meant alot to be open about our relationships, our lives.

Isolation can be catastrophic for every age group! As a Preschool Director/teacher for years, I know kids do not know how to deal automatically with it. Shutting people inside can create an even more abusive home life.  Isolation can seem like punishment to some who have compromised mental health, suicide hot lines and attempted suicides have risen at least 34%. This family and mental health reality was something some leaders should have taken into consideration more fully!

My general reaction re: the virus at first was to resent it’s threat on me and my loved ones. I understood it ravaged a certain part of Italy, but I read why it spread so fast there. I wish CA officials had read a wide variety of material themselves, so they would have had more accurate models on what was driving the virus here. No one likes to be given ‘scare’ tactics, especially on something so important as closing down an entire culture.

The virus was a real threat, but there was little discussion except on Twitter, articles in papers on creative, practical ways to handle it and bring the least repercussion in the end. Govt. officials should have listened to those in business, local governments, Dr’s, and others as they formulated a plan to close down certain areas of our state (other states).

My health is important to me, it’s not an afterthought. I chose my Physician because he honors my need to know what’s going on, he’s takes care of my health needs so well. He isn’t an alarmist, like the main officials in CA were, telling us we’d end up as bad as New York in 2 weeks, back in mid-March! We came nowhere near New Yorks numbers.

The best approach would have been to get good advisors and look at our state for it’s own individual makeup. 49% of CA deaths came from nursing homes! We should have been notified of that so the public at large wouldn’t be so fearful, and those homes should have been quarantined fast!! Heath care workers contracted 10% of the cases and they should have been valued and protected immediately! An astounding 73% of all deaths in CA came from Latino community.

Just imagine if the State would have worked with the Hispanic community to educate and isolate those who were vulnerable! We were recording cases, deaths all along, I read the results every day in the LA Times. We also knew that the morbidly obese, COPD, & respiratory patients were more prone to death from Covid than were other patients. We could have adjusted our protocols as we went along so we didn’t ‘punish’ everyone in society! The public at large was not in danger, children hardly affected!

We live in such a bureaucratic age. We need people to step up and bring common sense back to government!

Diary of I.C.U. Dr. Jason Hill in N.Y.

This journal of life in an I.C.U. ward is a startling depiction of the lives of those involved in the serious cases of the Covid 19 virus. The story doesn’t hold back, but brings a depth of humanity to this tragedy that is sorely missing from most of the news surrounding the pandemic.

Keep your immune system and hopes up, so you stay clear of this virus the best you can!

Covid at 40 –

The eyes stay with you. In peace time most of those we intubate are chronically ill, or profoundly confused, or unconscious and unaware of the world around them. Covid has changed the equation. Most of my patients now remain awake and alert until the end. These days the ER is permeated with frank conversations about death and dying and what a chance to live entails. It is a hard thing to tell a healthy and functional person who felt fine and well six days ago they may be dead in a day or two and humbly ask how aggressive they want us to be.

A chance to live comes with the risk of dependence on life support and pain. The alternative is the guarantee of an imminent but peaceful death. I have never had more harrowing, more frequent, more brutally honest, more meaningful, more exhausting conversations in my life. Complete strangers open up to you in profound ways during such times and you can only hope both your expertise and your humanity serve them well. And the eyes stay with you.

For those I intubate, those who choose intubation, I often find myself having a final stare. After all the words are spoken, the decisions made, the medications drawn, the bed positioned, the tubes and drips and ventilators readied, there is a final stare. It is a stare of intention. It is a moment of humanity. It is a shared space, a hallowed space, the final moment of someone’s awareness, possibly forever. It is a space where fear and hope mingle, where autonomy fades into trust, uncertainly into acceptance, and all they have left is placed firmly in your gloved hands. It’s brief, and you’re busy, and time is essential, but you find a few seconds to share this final breath. That stare lasts a moment. That stare lasts a lifetime. And the eyes stay with you.

I see them often in my mind, and although haunting I am glad to keep them with me. I warm my hands on the raw humanity inherent in such moments and they empower me to carry on. For carry on we must because the room is full of agony and sickness and fear that must be attended to quickly and humanely.

//

I am asleep before a long night shift. I awake to the sound of cheers and yells. To hooting and hollering. To the clanging of cow bells and the banging of drums. They yell and shout and scream to honor us. They shout from rooftops and ground floors and all the windows and balconies in between. It wakes me up. I am scared shitless. I think the building is on fire. I run around panicked and confused for several minutes. Why do the fire sirens sound like drums and cowbells? Do I even have a fire escape?? WTF is going on?? Oh. Ohhhhhhh. Ok. I get it now. My heart is still racing, but now I’m grinning. Thanks. I feel grateful…mostly.

//

Oxygen Rounds is a new term we have become all too familiar with. I have a hospital full of medications. Antibiotics and anti-virals and sedatives and vasopressors and steroids and opiates. But the only truly effective medicine we have is Oxygen. We blow it at high flow rates into people’s mouths and nostrils, a crutch to help the lungs that are struggling and staggering. And it’s in a shorter supply than I’d like. It flows forever from spickets on the walls, but we have many times more patients than spickets and even fewer rooms so an ever increasing number of patients on stretchers line hallways further and further from the spickets on the walls. We place portable tanks next to stretchers, but the tanks run out and we can’t refill them fast enough. Once per hour, sometimes twice, I walk the halls, hunting for gauges approaching empty and hoping the cabinet holds a replacement. Invariably I find empty ones and hope it hasn’t been empty long. Invariably someone is turning blue. It’s no one’s fault. it’s everyone’s fault. it’s Covid’s fault. And there just aren’t enough eyes and hands to keep up. I mutter a promise to check three times next hour. I pull a step ladder from the utility closet and string plastic connecters end to end to end threading them from wall spickets through corrugated ceiling tiles to drop down above patients’ heads in the hallway so they aren’t reliant on a tank. It’s hard to tell which knob goes to who, but at least it doesn’t run out. It’s a strange time when a step ladder becomes a more useful tool than a stethoscope.

//

I admitted four of my colleagues today. Four of them. They had the usual symptoms. A week or so of cough and chills, fever and body aches, fatigue and loss of smell. They stayed at home and took Tylenol and sipped chicken soup and wondered which patient they had gotten it from. They stayed inside and washed their hands and waited to feel better. But better never came. The cough worsened, they had trouble walking around their home without getting winded, and they knew all too well what that meant, so they came, each of them, not knowing the others were doing the same. I’m in a room with four chairs housing four colleagues with oxygen flowing into their four noses. I’m used to seeing strangers, people I care about because they’re human, but a stranger still. I can maintain a detached distanced. This is different. These are my friends and colleagues. These are the people I suit up with and go to battle beside. This is my team. I’ve had harrowing experiences beside them for years. They keep me sane and effective and capable. Together we’ve saved lives and lost lives and everything in between. But now they are on the other side of the curtain. Their coughs hurt my ears more, their fear becomes my fear, I check on them to the point of harassment, can’t help it, can’t fix it, they’re on a path I can’t cure, can only support through. Can only stand beside them and hope. They try to reassure me, a strange role reversal that belies their strength. I well up with a deep respect. I well up with tears. The front line really feels like the front today.

//

The makers are my favorite people this week. Several days ago I intubated without a face shield. It was three in the morning and we had run out. There were simply more intubations than face shields and we had burned through the stash. But a patient came in and was suffocating in their own lungs and needed a breathing tube, so they got one, and they got one from me, and I did not have the proper armor. Today I stand in a room with hundreds and hundreds of face shields. They are pulled hot off the 3D printers like newspapers off a press. They are arranged on tables by volunteers who add elastic bands and attach shields to complete the ensemble. In the background the gentle hum of a dozen printers working around the clock is an echo of the thousands of engineers and designers, seamstresses and manufacturers, cooks and delivery workers and writers all contributing to the cause. Each shield is a person protected. Each volunteer is a soldier in the fight. I feel less alone.

//

Oxygen means something different in this new reality. In peace time an oxygen level below 95% is bad. An oxygen level below 95% on a non-rebreather face mask is terrifying. That’s a no-brainer. That gets fixed quickly or that gets intubated. Everything is different now. We hang face masks of oxygen on people with 85-90% saturations for days. They are on the edge of the cliff with one foot dangling and there they stay. Will they inevitably fall off? Are we helping or merely delaying? No one knows. Ventilators are in short supply, ICU beds are full, and ICU docs are tired. We’re all tired. So we temporize, hoping a few will sneak by and not get intubated. Hoping someone doesn’t fall off the cliff when we aren’t looking. The monitors don’t help. They are all beeping and blaring all the time from every direction. The background music of a pandemic. They only tell us what we know, everyone is sick. Only our eyes and experience can help us now. I take another lap around the ER to check the cliffsides.

//

I’m baking a mask tonight. My single use N95 has been on my face for days. The backs of my ears are raw from the rubbing of its straps and my nostrils are filled with the scent of fibers mixed with my coffee flavored breath. My mask bakes and bakes, sterilizing it and killing any viral hitchhikers that attached themselves today. I wish I could do the same for someone’s lungs. It comes out warm and toasty and clean. It comes out safe. I set it on the windowsill to cool, like an apple pie from easier days. Worst desert ever.

//

All hands were on deck today. Elective surgeries have been cancelled and the surgeons and anesthesiologists and neurologists and orthopedists and urologists and rehab specialists and pediatricians have been deputized as ER and ICU docs. Urology attendings and shoulder surgeons are rounding with ICU teams, adjusting ventillators, and drawing blood gases. Pediatricians are seeing adult patients and monitoring oxygen levels. Outpatient docs are working in tents in front of the ER to decompress volume. General surgeons are going from room to room to room putting in Central lines and Arterial lines on our sickest patients. Anesthesiologists are running in to intubate. It remains busy. It remains overrun with sickness and suffering. But today we have more help. Today we have reinforcements. Today we feel like one big army devoted to one fight. Today it feels like maybe, just maybe, we can keep up.

//

Es El Fin. Today I’m a palliative care doc. This man is not doing well. This man needs intubation to survive. He’s 67 and only speaks Spanish. He’s healthy. He’s dying. His oxygen is very low. His respiratory rate is very high. He’s getting tired. He’s suffocating in his own body. He needs to be intubated. He doesn’t want to be intubated. He doesn’t want to be on a machine. We ask if we can help call his family to say goodbye. He looks at us puzzled, somehow still not fully understanding. Esta Muriendo senior. Es el fin. This is the end. He gets it. He’s stoic despite the tears. He’s strong. If this disease attacked character instead of lungs he would have a fighting chance. We set up a video call with his family. He says goodbye. They say they love him in a dozen different ways. He touches the screen. A digital hand hold in a pandemic age. We make him comfortable. He’s still drowning but he can’t feel it. He says thank you before his eyes close. I can’t help but wonder if he would have survived had he been intubated. The odds say no. The sense of defeat within me screams maybe. I try to remind myself this is what he wanted. That this is for the best. I quickly forget.

//

I give out more juice and blankets than I ever have. In peace time the ER is busy, always busy, but most people are not dying. Very few are dying, and even fewer are acutely and actively dying. The scourge of Covid has rewritten those rules. Everyone in the ER tonight is too sick to go home. Many are dying. Many will never leave the hospital. Many will never have a meal or a juice box again. In peace times I often can’t be bothered to bring someone juice. It’s not a priority. Tonight anyone asking gets juice. Even those not asking get juice. Often it’s the only comfort I can provide. A small ease of suffering. A brief distraction from the fear. It may be the last juice they ever drink. Some nights it’s the best medicine I have.

//

We had a patient tonight that impaled her hand with a crochet needle. Right through her hand. Simple stuff for us. Easy to take care of. Three of us ran over. Two more than was necessary. An orthopedist playing ICU doc was walking by. He ran over. He was excited. We were all excited. This was not Covid. This was something we could fix. We did it together. Eight hands to do the job of two. We removed the needle, held it up like a trophy, washed it off and gave it back. Our patient smiled, said thank you, and went home in one piece. It was the best we’d felt in days.

//

My colleagues are tired. The patients keep coming. The ER is wall to wall misery and mayhem. Only five people died on me today. Only five. But everyone there is dying to varying degrees and at various rates. The ER is a cross section of the disease. The well who will stay well. The well who will come back much worse. The sick who are stable. The sick who are crashing. It’s all around us. It keeps coming in through the front door. It keeps coming in through the ambulance bay. And my colleagues are tired. We give oxygen. Everyone staying gets oxygen. Needs oxygen. We try antibiotics. We try antivirals. We try hydroxychloroquine. This week we use steroids. This week we limit IV fluids. This week we give blood thinners. Does anything work? Are we saving anyone or just supporting them as they go along a path pre-determined by the virus coursing through their insides? Is the inevitable inevitable? Some days we just feel like spectators, front row observers going through the necessary motions of a play whose final act has already been written. So much death. So much dying. And my colleagues are tired. We’re all tired. And yet somehow, for some reason, I find there’s no place I’d rather be. I leave the ER, the sun has come up and I walk around enjoying its warm tendrils. Its quiet. Stores are shuddered, streets are empty, and sidewalks are bare. It seems peaceful. Its an illusion. But I appreciate it. Time to go home. Time to recharge. Tired won’t last forever. Covid won’t last forever. And there is still plenty of fight in us.

For me, this article brought home how blessed we are with the health care here in the U.S.  It also reminded me of how quickly life can be taken, and how we should not take our existence on earth for granted. May we examine our own mortality during this pandemic and ask ourselves what we’re really looking for, and if we’re ready to go if death should come quickly!

Suspect in My Son’s Case “Likes to Stab People”

“He likes to stab people”, said one suspect in my son’s murder case about the other.

My sons, Paul (L) & Marc (R)

Switching my posts back to my book during the lockdown, and the protests. People need to identify the different kinds of people in the crime, protest world! Some people have honest intentions and some don’t!

I’m sharing a macabre side of Marc’s homicide case, but …. somehow I can now talk about what it’s like to live thru a real life murder investigation, and come out with something to be hopeful about.

One of the first two suspects in my son’s case was one of the darkest individuals I’ve ever encountered. He was only involved in the case a short time but his memory still makes my blood run cold.

The facts in the reporter’s article below are only partially true, her headline and assumptions did not pan out.  Mr. Elder described himself well, but his testimony of Mr. Curtis was far from accurate. (I go into detail in this blog, and book). Crime is not an easy topic to share, but I needed to share this travesty so readers know the kind of terror, evil I stumbled across while trying to get justice for my son.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Court docs: Murder suspect ‘likes to stab people’

PORTLAND, Ore. – The homeless men arrested in connection with a Portland man’s murder thought often about killing others, according to court documents released Tuesday.

Early on the morning of October 16, Marc Sundin was found dead on the corner of Southwest 4th Avenue and Madison Street. The Portland resident had been stabbed in the heart.

Four days later, two homeless men were arrested in connection with Sundin’s murder.

In a probable cause affidavit, Portland Police Detective Erik Kammerer described chilling details from the night Sundin died, obtained through security camera footage, along with interviews with witnesses and the defendants.

Just before the stabbing, surveillance video showed the suspects, 18-year-old W Curtis and a man police believed to be 23-year-old A Elder pursuing Sundin near the 7-Eleven on Southwest 4th Avenue and Taylor Street.

Kammerer said Sundin appeared to be changing his mind, attempting to run away.

Curtis could be seen holding what looked like a knife, with Elder apparently standing next to him. As Sundin began to back away, both suspects pursued him and Curtis appeared to shove Sundin down violently. Curtis then got up and “ran away with a burst of speed unlike any of [his] previous movements,” the court documents said.

A security guard at nearby Terry Shrunk Plaza said he could hear yelling, then saw Sundin staggering across Southwest 4th Avenue.

Sundin’s blood was found starting in the crosswalk of Southwest 4th and Main. When officers arrived they found Sundin dead one block away, his clothes soaked through in his blood. His body was covered in fresh bruises and scrapes.

Friends told KGW Sundin had a calm demeanor. “I would never have imagined him to be instigating or aggressive. He wasn’t that kind of guy at all,” said Josh Blythe, a friend and classmate from OCI.

Elder’s interview painted a much different picture of the suspects.

According to Detective Kammerer, Elder said he has “Bi-Polar Homicidal Disorder” that causes him to “automatically” imagine how he would kill someone the moment he meets them.

He seemed to know Curtis well, calling him by the nickname “Waffles.” Elder said Curtis enjoyed stabbing people, and preferred to have another person with him when he stabs a victim.

Elder has previously been convicted of sex crimes but failed to register as a sex offender, according to court documents.

A woman who identified herself as Elder’s wife told KGW he had nothing to do with the attack and was with her that entire night. Detectives said the surveillance video disproved her claim.

Curtis was arrested on five charges including murder. He was being held without bail.

Elder was arrested on charges of assault, attempted assault and unlawful use of a weapon, but all of those charges were dropped and he was released.

*     *     *     *     *

Articles like this were the source of our sketchy introduction to the underbelly of the Portland, OR crime world. In the early stages of the investigation I couldn’t bear to read any of this, but listened as others spoke about them. Mr Elder was the one who I felt terrorized us, not the actual defendants, who ended up being quiet teens. Mr. Elder set the whole case up to seem like a total nightmare. He was a thrill seeker specializing in conspiracy, physical assaults and contempt for the law. I wonder if I could have been so forgiving in the end if the real offender ended up being him!

 

 

 

Covid Backlash, For the Good or Bad?

Like many of you at first I feared Covid-19 might be something that could swoop down on me and my loved ones …. take our lives, our income. But nothing is ever solely about ourselves. This catastrophic event, while it can devastate us as individuals, it’s really an attack on our nation.

Was this a virus that would wipe out huge swaths of our population? Would we be able to handle perhaps an overwhelming demand for tests/PPE, hospital beds? What would be the cost for small business owners? The stock market? The family structure?

I don’t believe many in this nation think God just helped us start up 200+ years ago but now has given up on us. We’ve gone thru so much, even the near splitting of our nation in half, and somehow we rose up to go on! Godly people have always found the hope and strength to construct a new life where there once was desolation. I think there’s a positive backlash from this virus that will define us, strengthen us and help the world.

  • I think some people will evaluate their consumer habits, and become more creative on less. People will learn to cook, stop smoking, walk more and correct bad eating habits. Some will learn to repair things or become more independent. Many will tighten up their selfish cravings, lack of caring about the world outside and reject the lazy Western attitude.
  • I believe this Covid 19 threat is showing us just how important our national identities are.  Countries are now thinking of their ‘borders’ in a different way, even borders between friendly nations. This is true on almost every continent, and I believe will continue to have impact for months, likely years and shut down some of the ‘global’ objectives.
  • I believe this shutdown will backfire for those who lean Left and embrace socialism. Some will come to understand how the policies of China’s communist system caused this pandemic, and subverts all it comes into contact with. Many have said this virus shuts down much of Bernie Sanders argument for socialism.  We need people to vote this Fall who think for themselves and have some raw experience to back their views up. All of the House is up for grabs, and we need discernment in voters.
  • This pandemic will help the U.S. in our international relations.  Nations are aligning themselves on one side of the issue, or another in some interesting ways. Some choose to be vigilant, some careless or weak. You can see the ‘blamers’ raging against the honest nations, diverting their responsibility. Even in the U.S. we are seeing tyrant governors abusing the rights of the people.
  • This pandemic has come in a good season as it will prove that race is not the argument it once was. Nor is sexism, ageism.
  • Some folks will wake up and begin to ask questions, like how did this virus ended up over here? They will learn to appreciate the U.S. more, and listen to the voices in government from a new perspective. Some will mend ways with family members, or seek God for the first time.
  • This virus will reveal to some which political ideology wants them free, out working, shopping, going to games, worshiping …. and, which ideology wants to tax them, coup them up.

This pandemic will do it’s thing among the people in higher, elite echelons too. Celebs, atheist profs, & whiners won’t escape the virus, fear, lack of freedom or threat on income.

  • American’s have never let a crises go to waste. Entrepreneurs will bloom from this virus.

*Note – Research references are found in various articles. Please refer these online sources :

                    Real Clear Politics  

                   The Federalist

 

 

Italy …. A Virus & A Sell Out Combined?

People have referred to Italy as a kind of ‘marker’ in the battle against Covid 19. They’ll say, ‘oh, look at how high the numbers are?’ Leaders have told us, “We may become like Northern Italy!”

I was married to a dentist, and have physician friends. One of my favorite courses in school was physiology, the study of the human body. When you naturally love a subject, and have people around you with whom you can get feedback, you learn keys. So, I’ve always been interested in health and wanting to know how to avoid getting sick!

There’s a tremendous amount of reporting on the Covid 19 virus, much of it fearful, repetitive facts. And much of it by those with no medical knowledge who pretend to know more than they do. It’s frustrating getting the facts straight, but to be fair, we are living thru a rapidly evolving situation that we haven’t faced before as a nation. Anyway, looking at what happened in Italy prior to the outbreak helps us understand the huge toll the Italian people have suffered. Hopefully the U.S. and others can learn from this.

There are several key reasons why Italy got caught in the clutches of the Covid 19 pandemic. Many think of the viral outbreak as a medical or scientific catastrophe, but it’s actually a multi-layered issue when you read articles from people who live there. Following are stats on the tragedy –

  1. Italy suffered a higher death rate from the Covid 19 virus in part because it has the 2nd oldest population in the world. 23% of the population is over 65, compared to the U.S. where only 16% are over age 65. While Italy has had the 6th longest life expectancy in the world, fewer children are being born to Italians. Japan, for example, has 28% of their population over the age of 65, but their case #’s were far below those in Italy. Lock downs, and testing were the two ways Japan immediately controlled the spread.
  2. Italians have taken a big hit as they have a different sense of ‘personal space’ from some other cultures. The elderly mingle with youth ‘often’. They often live together, but work apart. “They simply are not used to distance in personal relationships”, said one journalist.
  3. The section of Italy hit most severely is the North, the part of the country that has a ‘dense population’. Italy has 533 people per sq. mile, whereas the U.S. has only 94 pr. sq. mi. Two thirds of the population of Italy live in urban areas. The city of Milan, in the North, is a hub of the financial district, and has a density of 19,000 citizens per sq. mi. That’s twice the density of Berlin, Wash. D.C. Those quaint towns in Italy/Europe where people live so close and mingle easily in city squares, cafes only help a virus move fast in a population..
  4. Milan is the financial center of Italy, with close trade, educational ties to China. No Italy/Milan is home to a multitude of multi-national corps, where people travel to and from all over the world.
  5. It was reported by several sources that when the first coronavirus patients entered Italian hospitals they weren’t segregated from the main population in the hospital, thus allowing the virus to spread to other patients in the hospitals. Also, Dr’s and medical staff were not properly protected from the covid patients, and became some of the first patients to come down with the virus, creating another medical crises.
  6. The sheer mass numbers of cases has been a devastating side to the tragedy in Italy. Italy has a population of 60+ ml compared to America’s 337 ml, which makes the Italian epidemic more devastating.
  7. To me and others, perhaps the most telling aspect re: the travesty in Italy has been the way recent Italian leaders have allowed Chinese businesses unprecedented power to buy out Italian banks, telecom, industrial & fashion companies against existing Italian & EU laws. The leaders diverted funds for the hospital/health system in Italy, raised taxes four times. They allowed tens of thousands of Chinese from Wuhan entry to their country before the virus started in Dec. ’19. Their health system failed to track & share info on the virus until it had spread too far too fast. Italian leaders were looking at the wealth it was bringing in from China, and not prepared for the danger lurking below.

An Italian American lady waiting to get out of the house –

On the other hand nations like  Taiwan, Australia, S. Korea, etc have not had the extreme infection rate, or economic lock down as the U.S. has. Taiwan Health Dept. sensed immediately that the illness in travelers returning from China was not normal, and asked China for permission to visit. While in China they saw the secrecy, terror in China as the virus began to take center stage in Chinese affairs, and they rushed home. Taiwan officials quickly put into place a quarantine for those who were sick, a contact check protocol, and citizens were advised on other protocols like taking temps of their children before they went off to school.

On the Sunday News talk shows yesterday I heard several governors share their hope in the contact lists, testing protocols in order to get our economy back up. We need to ramp up those efforts in the U.S., I believe, and emulate the success of other nations.

Ref:   Antonio Masiello – WIRED  (3/17/20)

         The CONVERSATION  –  “5 Reasons Why the Coronavirus Hit Italy So Hard”

Giacomino Nicolazzo, American-Italian author

An ER Nurse During the Covid 19 Lockdown

Here’s a sobering story my writer friend Crista shared with me yesterday. Read the real life experience of an ER nurse and the protocols she must  follow to stay safe and sane during this pandemic. Her particular trauma will give you a glimpse into what healthcare workers face if they work in a respiratory practice or are assigned to respiratory units during this Covid 19 virus.

By – One Vaxxed Nurse

Tonight is the last night that I’ll hug my kids goodnight or kiss my husband until god knows when.

Community spread is now confirmed in my area and being an ER nurse means that the odds of being exposed over and over again are now a 100% guarantee. So I just wanted to talk to everyone stuck at home with your family, bored out of your mind and itching to get out. A little perspective is sometimes all you need to feel grateful for the things you have that others don’t.

Starting with my shift tomorrow, I’ll come home from work through my laundry room door that leads to the outside. I’ll strip naked including shoes and put everything straight into the washing machine on sanitize mode. Ill use a Clorox wipe to clean anything I touched in the process. I’ll then take the towel that my husband has left for me and use it to walk to my master bedroom covered up. In there, a room that nobody else is allowed to enter after today, I’ll shower on hot. After my shower I’ll sanitize everything I touched again, then hand sanitize and get dressed.

When I’m done with this process I’ll be able to sit in the family room 6 feet away from everyone I love, but not touch anyone- I’ll know I’ve been exposed. I’ll have been using the same single disposable face mask for minimum of an entire shift and I can’t be sure that the moisture from my breath didn’t render the mask ineffective. So I must treat myself as though I have it and am contagious.

I’ll get to talk to my husband and kids from a safe distance, but I won’t get to touch anyone I love. I’m not a hugger, but I anticipate that the next few weeks are likely to bring days where I could really use a hug. I won’t be able to have one. It’s the only way I can protect them.

If I’m hungry I’ll have someone fix me something on disposable dinnerware so that the worry of improperly sterilizing my utensils isn’t an issue. I’ll probably-scratch that, definitely- have wine out of a red solo cup as I answer a barrage of questions from my kids and try to ignore the look on my husbands face. I’ll probably have to assure my youngest for the millionth time, that mommy will stay safe. When that’s done, I’ll give the kids air hugs and wish them goodnight. When the kids go to bed I’ll be able to unload a little less censured to my husband- but the truth is, depending how bad it gets, I’ll probably lie a little. When exhaustion hits I’ll go to bed…..alone. In a room that nobody else can enter.

This will be my life, every day. Even my days off (until those are no more) because I could be contagious before showing symptoms. So until this thing is gone, my reality will look a lot different. I’ll probably hug my co-workers because they are just as dirty as me, but at a time of heaviness, I won’t be able to receive the human touch of love from the people who love me most. For weeks, for months, who knows- that part is in the hands of the American public.

So my ask of you is this, as you sit at home with your children on your laps snuggled up watching a movie- please end this thing quickly by not going out unless absolutely necessary. My arms stay empty every day that you don’t. I go to bed alone every day that community spread is still a thing. Stay home. Hug your children, sleep with your spouse, eat on porcelain plates, sip wine from a long stemmed glass and give thanks for the things that you can still do that some of us can’t. I’m doing my part. Please do yours.

Pandemic Saga

This is an unusual topic to write in a blog post! But, this virus doesn’t care what race or political identity we are. In this day and age we’re all subject to the same germ, the same confusion and alarm because we have a potential death threat over our loved ones and our livelihood that needs to be met with clear thinking!

Some of us know how life works, we are vigilant, planners. We know from history or from relatives about plagues, wars in the past decimating cultures for a time. But some are new with this, this is their first experience with real mass danger. And, we all hope to God this threat passes over fast.

Our ‘bubble’ worlds are going to be shaken. We’ll be forced to see there are other people in this world outside our comfort zones. We’ll reflect on the fragility of life, what’s important to us. There’s a shaking going on.

Who knows how bad this epidemic will get? Our government has taken strong measures to flatten the curve in the U.S., trying to avoid the mistakes made in Iran, Italy. We’re teaching people how to self care. Lot of us are thinking of life down the road, when this pandemic is over. There’s our jobs, families, and an election coming up …. a country to rescue.

They say this virus outbreak will get worse before it gets better, and that’s hard to comprehend, as I’m pretty okay now. But, I don’t want my loved ones getting Covid 19. I personally don’t want to come down with it, but I’m not running around scared! I use health precautions wherever I am, and take along wipes or sanitizer. I’m trying to keep my immune system strong. I’m only as physically strong as my immune system is healthy.

It’s so crazy how some are treating a serious disease as a time to obsess about food and silly things! The fear of starving is an instinctive fear in humans, but it’s not like there’s a famine. But we might not be thinking clearly at this time, and want to anesthetize our stress with food. What may likely be a problem is that people will need something, or get ill and they will be too afraid to tell anyone. They may feel desperate re: work, the future and they will hesitate to reach out. People on the fringes (elderly, drug dependent, homeless), will be in a very precarious situation at this time.

Don’t listen to negative people at this time, the complainers …. no matter what! They blame Trump, the government for this virus gaining whatever stronghold it has. Don’t listen to doom prognosticators who say half of us will come down with the virus.

Don’t be like that NBA center who touched every interviewing surface after a game, scoffing how he wasn’t afraid of getting the virus but came down with it anyway. Listen to the right sources yourself, and check inside what is the right approach in this pandemic!

I’ve often thought of how politics, life …. seem to explode during the holy days of Lent/Passover/Easter! You may laugh, but it’s too coincidental not to ignore. God gave people a way to avoid death at Passover, He’ll do it again.

        Psalm 91