Doctors Tell All—and It’s Bad

Meghan O’Rourke in The Atlantic: Doctors Tell All—and It’s Bad.

Having watched my father in his last days, most of which were spent in the hospital, everything she says is true. Being in a hospital, even a smaller one like my dad was, is a terrible experience for all involved. The routines and lack of connection with reality can cause serious mental disturbances, especially in the elderly. Sleep is difficult at best, the food unpalatable and most of the staff, from doctors down to the maintenance folks, are overworked and seem distracted. It’s a truly awful environment.

It’s not all bad. My dad had been going to a podiatrist for months complaining of a painful toe. The podiatrist (I’ll refrain from calling them a doctor) misdiagnosed and mistreated it. Finally, they sent him to a rheumatologist who basically took one look and sent him to the emergency room. If not for that, he would have died sooner.

But he still spent months needlessly in pain. He wasn’t the type to complain so I didn’t think much of it until he finally admitted to me one day that he had trouble sleeping because of it. But by then it was too late, though we didn’t know that at first. That trip to the ER ended up being months of time in the hospital interspersed with time in a rehab facility before he finally passed. He never made it back home, even for a visit. But even in the hospital, getting pain medication for him required far more work than it should have. Since the doctor only stopped by for a short period each day (if at all), asking the nurse for something more than Tylenol required them to have to page the doctor so that he could prescribe something stronger. This would then allow the nurse to unlock the pain medication cabinet for a pill. And if he needed another one later, we would have to go through the same process again.

I don’t place all the blame on the doctors and staff. They were working within the system as it exists today. Most of them were kind and caring and did the best they could under the constraints they must deal with. But something fundamental has to change. After what I’ve seen, I hope I die of a massive heart attack or get hit by a bus, literally anything that will keep me out of a hospital or nursing home. It shouldn’t be this way.


The Oatmeal on making things for the web

The Oatmeal has Some thoughts and musings about making things for the web.

Man, this really hit home. Not all of it, the “Your Career + Internet = Sad” part. I’m not a full-time “content creator” and my photos, comics and whatnot are things I do in my spare time and post to various web sites. I’m not a pro, by any definition of that word. Prior to the net, there would have been no outlet for someone like me other than the occasional local art show or contest. But there’s a stigma associated with this. Despite the decline in the printing industry, we still think of actual printed matter as being more legitimate than a web site. I don’t see it changing, either

Yet I can’t stop myself. I’ve cut down on how much I post online but I still do. When you’re driven to create, having an outlet is so appealing you can’t resist the urge. Even if no one notices.

Lightroom 4 and the endless photographic upgrade cycle

As I recently noted, Adobe Lightroom 4 is coming out and it’s actually cheaper than previous versions. This is likely a reaction to Apple lowering the price of Aperture on the Mac App Store. This is all good, right? Maybe.

I’m going to come off as a curmudgeon here, but I’m getting tired of the endless upgrade cycle that digital photography has created. I’m on my second dSLR (a Canon 30D), my third “walk around lens” (a Canon EF-S 15-85mm), my fourth (or fifth) memory card, my third version of Lightroom, my second computer and my third external hard drive to hold the photos. I’d be on my third dSLR if I didn’t have two kids in college at the same time. Things were simple when I had just my old HP 320 and iPhoto. But I was big into photography when I was younger and took the plunge and bought dSLR #1. At first I shot in JPEG and iPhoto was more than capable of handling the images. But just as I discovered what I could do with the camera not set on full auto, I realized that RAW offered more capability. But that required: a) a bigger memory card, b) more hard drive space, c) a faster CPU and d) Lightroom to deal properly with the RAW files. When I got the 30D, it meant even more hard drive space and yet another memory card. I think you can see where this is going. Yadda yadda yadda, here I am at Lightroom 4.

Then I got into shooting bands in live settings. That meant a new, faster lens that allowed me to work indoors without a flash. But it also means high ISO values and my 30D gets pretty noisy above 1600. So I’m thinking I want a full-frame sensor (Canon 5D Mk. II), but that would make all my lenses obsolete, so the Canon 7D is the reasonable alternative. It’s APS-C, but has much better low light performance. Only it’s about twice what I paid for the 30D. I just can’t do this anymore.

So, what to do? For me, at least for now the answer is “nothing at all.” I’m not going to upgrade Lightroom despite the attractive price. No new dSLR and no more computer upgrades. I’m going to enjoy what I have and work within the limitations I have.

Notes: I didn’t mention printing, which has its own slippery slope (inks, cheap construction, etc.).