Rude Awakening

What a rude awakening!

I went to bed shortly after eleven, exhausted from a full day of activity, and fell asleep immediately.  At twelve-thirty I woke up with a start…what the hell is that smell?!  SKUNK!  It didn’t seem to bother my husband at all (with his CPAP machine quietly humming), nor our puppy, who was snoring softly. How could they possibly sleep with this horrific stench wafting in through the open window?! I scooched Looney Tunes Louie La Peu my way out of bed and tiptoed past the puppy on my way down the stairs.  Here I sit in my chair, in front of the computer, afraid to sleep for fear my tired body will succumb to the smell I’ll never wake up from!  (I don’t even know if that is possible, but I did say I was exhausted and not thinking clearly.)

It just occurred to me that a lot of things “bother” me lately.

For example, last Monday was Memorial Day.  Poor Rachel Held Evans, a gifted Christian author that I’ve admired for several years, penned a Facebook comment prefacing an article about her feelings regarding Memorial Day.  I enjoy Rachel’s common sense approach to religious and spiritual issues, but in our household, this day is as sacred as any religious holiday, as we remember the military members that paid the ultimate price (their lives) for the freedoms we have in America.  Our family comes from a long line of service members, past and present who have fought in conflicts/wars at home and abroad.  We will sometimes get together for a picnic, or perhaps attend a memorial service within the community, but believe me when I say at the very least we proudly fly every flag we own as a sign of respect for the fallen heroes this special day commemorates. You could probably see all our flags from outer space, and we are proud of it.

That day, specifically, I took umbrage with a comment she made about having a personal dilemma “praying for military members during church services” because of her pacifist leanings.  Let me add in her defense, she also said she had been working through the issue to a logical end, which was to pray for the person, not the “military” per se.  It was her opinion, her blog, after all. She can say whatever she wants! But did I move on after appreciating her honesty and transparency?  No of course not.  I wrote a lengthy (but respectful) comment in the space provided. I didn’t need to do that, but I did feel compelled.  Withholding prayer from our deserving military?  That’s just wrong!

The entire week has been like that.  Someone will say or do something that doesn’t sit well with me, and I respond with a verbal or written dissertation  (always respectful, of course, ’cause that’s who I am) of my displeasure or disagreement.

Most of you know I am a retired midwife.  I am militant about babies, children and mothers, specifically their health, but also their happiness and safety. Always have been, always will be.  I recently learned of a new reality TV show on TLC called “Labor Games”.  Expectant parents try to win prizes by answering trivia questions while  mom, dad and television crew are all in the labor room together (you can’t make this crap up!).  The producers even keeps the viewing audience up to speed on the strength and regularity of the woman’s contractions as she and her partner answer childbirth and child-rearing question for cash and prizes.

What about personal privacy?  What about germs?  What about good common sense?Labor Games Show- NY Times

Nothing about this concept is acceptable to me from a nursing point of view.  Excess stimulation and  stressors impede labor, increase pain, and promote a need for meds resulting in additional concern for the baby (all meds effect the baby to some degree).  Even mothers that opt for epidural analgesia (allowing her to be in less pain and appropriately “camera ready”) run the risk of slowing down labor, which can be tough on the yet-to-be-born.  More nursing responsibilities ensue (more paperwork, monitoring and possible intervention, additional liability for the hospital, more outside exposure to pathogens brought into the area, more stress on physicians, etcetera,…you get the picture.  In a nutshell, this unusual form of entertainment is a “train-wreck in the making”? As if any given day on Labor and Delivery isn’t hectic enough?!

Birth is truly one of the most sacred events in a woman’s life, but this venture reduces the process to a game show!  I do admit, rarely do things go “wrong” (complications) during labor and birth, but when they do, it often happens in an instant. Because of this fact, I  felt compelled to write a respectful comment to the channel, clearly expressing my feelings.  I never did receive a response from them (as yet), but I still stand by my comments.  It is my opinion that labor (and birth) are for the families involved, not the viewing public. Keep the games and prizes for the baby shower, please!

From there, it was like I was on a mission, responding to  every injustice and wrong-doing!

There was that fellow that kicked his kitty into a blazing fire pit and walked away scot-free from all legal prosecution,

… and the “father” and “son” duo in Penna. that was forced to adopt one another because gay marriage was illegal, who married after 54 years of loving together.

…and the well-known comedian who lived with OCD and germ phobia for decades, was hypnotized on a show and “cured” by a hypnotist, creating doubt within the viewing public that his/their ailments are real mental health issues.

…and  the news that live anthrax (!!) was “inadvertently” shipped to nine states (how is that even possible?)…and the list goes on and on and on ad nauseam.

I am clearly (and in all truth and humbleness) not an expert in anything, but I had strong opinions for just about everything that crossed my desk, was printed in the paper or had the audacity to be repeated on television! Many of those opinions found their way into emails, blogs or telephone calls, mostly because no one else seemed to really feel strongly one way or another, I reckoned.

Was I being too sensitive, irrational, or just plain over-acting to those events?  Possibly, but what was it that made me feel I needed to add my two cents, as if my opinion matters one way or another? I thought about it long and hard.

I responded to Rachel’s comments because I am passionate about our brave military members (some are family members) that follow orders and have faith in the chain of command not to lead them into a hopeless conflict.  As a Christian, I believe we should not “qualify” who we pray for—we should pray for everybody, even our enemies.  God knows, we all need guidance and all the help we can get.

I responded to the concept of a game show filmed during labor because I am passionate about the practice of Midwifery and Nursing, professions that protect the young and vulnerable as well as the family unit; a service career that is committed to the concept of “in all things to do no harm”.  The birth of a child is also the birth of a family, the process of which I see as absolutely sacred.

I responded to the situation of the comedian that was duped into being hypnotized (by an novice entertainer trying to win a spot on the show) because like the comedian, I also feel it diminished and dismissed his struggle with the pain and the challenges of his illness merely to increase television ratings.  Patients and clients all over the country are asking their therapists if they still need to take their required meds when such a “easy fix” is an option.  They also ask and for the telephone number of a good hypnotist.  Hasn’t mental health disorders been relegated to the dark and misinformed for too long already?

I responded with joy to the news that a gay couple is finally able to get married, but then I felt frustration and irritation that two adults whose only “crime” was that they shared the same gender, were forced to live a lie for over fifty-four years!

Perhaps, I may have over-reacted a bit by responding to the story of the guy who got away with torturing a cat, but my years associated with mental health services encourages me to postulate that most sociopaths and mass murderers started their careers by torturing the family pet. If we don’t learn from our mistakes of “under-reporting”, than we are doomed to repeat them, which never turns out well

Mailing live anthrax… by mistake??  C’mon, folks!  That’s just wrong!  This entire screw-up goes beyond an “oops” moment!  Where did the “glitch” in the safety procedures (developed to catch such a error) falter?  Just imagine the devastation if the product was delivered to the wrong person!  Yeah, like that would ever happen, eh?

If you see or hear faulty reasoning or injustice in the world, and don’t reply in some way, your silence becomes compliance.

Remember Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), the Protestant minister whose infamous quote about the Nazis quest to conquer the world realistically parallels the logical result of a public’s apathy:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade Unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.  Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I am not a Jew.  Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me”.

You do not have to be an authority on a topic to respond to a statement or situation that doesn’t sit well with you. It doesn’t matter if people agree with you or not, as your opinion is as valid as theirs. The fact that you are clearly engaged with your world enough to have an opinion is what truly matters.

Be respectful and humble in your response.  If you are proven wrong, accept constructive criticism and learn from your mistakes.  In some situations there is no right or wrong, only “personal opinion”.  We all have them.  Exercise your right to share yours.  Pretty much common sense, don’t you think?

(Yawn) I guess such “clarity of thought” means I still have all my faculties.  The odor of the polecat has dissipated enough for me to try to squeeze a few hours of sleep out of this disappearing night.  Perhaps I should sneak back up the stairs before the sun comes up to annoy me.  Regardless, I don’t mess with the Almighty and His purposeful reasoning, bowing to His expertise even when it doesn’t sit well with me!

1 Comment

  1. Nana Talbot

    AMEN!!!!!! and Thank you.


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