Phase V, Act II: Nursing Training at the Expense of Those who cannot Object

ACT II: Nursing Training at the Expense of Those who cannot Object

I had reentered the Nursing program at Rutgers University after a 7 year hiatus, being traumatized by being placed in a position to protect the life of a young mother in my Maternity rotation. Since that time, I had moved to Vermont , owned a restaurant and had my first of three children that I chose to birth at home. Abandoned by the father of my child, I returned to South Jersey to finish my training….

“I want you all to come into this room here,” the instructor called to the nursing students from the door of a room down the hall where an elderly man lay whose breathing was raspy and audible from the location of the central desk.

All 8 of us filed in the brightly lit room to find an old man propped up on pillows to facilitate his visibly difficult breathing…

“We are going to sink a nasogastric tube. We have been given the go ahead to do so,” she triumphantly blurted out.

The old man barely moved, seemed in and out of consciousness, and completely unaware of what was going to happen.

“Who wants to try?” the instructor asked us.

I was barely aware of the student who volunteered and proceeded to wash up and don her gloves. The instructor’s voice faded as I focused in on the raspy breathing body lying in front of us. He was a portly man sitting at a 45 degree angle just barely aware of his surroundings, though he seemed mildly distressed at the accumulation of bodies standing around his bed. His eyes opened and flickered briefly and then closed again.

“This is Mr. Salinas,” Dr. Romeo told us, and without a moment hesitation cranking the bed to almost a full seated position,” Mr Salinas, we are going to be inserting a nasogastric tube so that you get some nutrients that you need.”

She turned and addressed the nursing student by her side, “Now lubricate the tip of the tubing and insert it into his nose.”

Everyone leaned forward to get a better view as the man seemed to jump at the sensation of the foreign object entering his left nostril. As soon as the tube past into his throat, the gagging began. His face quickly turned red with the added strain to breathe.

“Swallow” the instructor yelled to the gagging, frightened, semi-conscious man in front of her, “swallow!”

I could feel the fear well up in me as I watched the scene in horror. Everyone else around me seemed oblivious to the sheer terror being felt by the struggling form in front of them. It felt like an eternity…

“Well done,” the instructor said to the student as she beamed with pride at the successful placement of the nasogastric tube.

At what cost, I wondered to myself as I followed the entourage as they left the room. I looked back to see the color return to the man’s face and wondered how many more procedures he would be forced to endure “for his own good.”

The Social Construct of the Madman: A Eulogy of Christopher Dorner

We as a society want to simplify everything even though there is NOTHING simplistic about the nature of our violent social reality as of late. The problem is that violence, in any form, exists as A SYMPTOM of a society and culture out of control.  We are told how to think, feel, and act. We have a code of conduct for our work places as much as we do within our homes.  Many unspoken expectations  in  agencies and corporate entities within which we work lie in direct opposition to the policies and procedures within the agency written code of conduct. In fact, agency written policy and procedures are as helpful for navigating our places of work as the ethical considerations in the licenses and certifications that we hold. We are rewarded less by being able to comply with the written standards than we are for adhering to the unspoken political natures of our roles.

There is less and less time to understand the internal feelings that are generated by walking through this maze of conflicting expectations. We are expected to morph seamlessly from one social setting to another without confusing the expectations and stresses. We are told to “leave work at work” and “home at home”. We dissociate our identities into neat packages and perform in each without understanding the impact of the stress. For those of us who choose to live outside the  institutional and corporate code of behavior, who defy the often unspoken code of silence when faced with witnessing real human atrocities, intervention is swift and painful. We are harassed, ostracized, victimized and lose our professional status, our jobs and our futures.

Human experience is our greatest teacher but it means nothing if we are not allowed, or we actively CHOOSE not to take the time to reflect on its lessons and to adjust our actions to reflect personal integrity and ethical human living. We no longer think. We follow those with more power and the institutions that they represent. We walk around in a daze bombarded by life events and, as time goes on, become less and less able to deal with their meanings. We aren’t mentally present in our life anymore. We live based on perceptions and interpretations that originate outside of us. We give up an intact sense of self to gain acceptance in social interaction.

The anger generated within is borne out of a feeling of helplessness in a world in which the words, thoughts and actions of human beings are becoming less and less consequential in preserving personal autonomy and accountability in life. Without autonomy and a sense of self, we lose our power and become victims of the social institutions and postindustrial corporate complex on which we all depend. Without actively teaching the importance of boundaries between personal ethics and institutional monopoly of human drive and motivation, we lose all human ingenuity, responsibility and generativity, creating the passive and apathetic public we now know.

Corporations, social institutions and professionals all tell us what to do and how to do it. When there is a conflict between what we are told to do and what we know to be best, we abdicate the most important aspect of human experience, free will. Through this MINDLESSNESS we are losing the ability to know HOW to understand the importance of the experiences we have. Instead, we look to “professionals”. We consult self-help books that rehash the empty and disconnected feelings we struggle with and offer cookie cutter, simplistic interventions for what are cultural and systemic problems.

With the Citizen’s United ruling “corporations are people and money is voice”, real human input in cultural progress has been minimized and business ethics have gone by the wayside. With the wealth of this country being held by fewer and fewer people, more and more people have less and less power within their own lives. This external focus keeps us struggling to just meet our basic needs and willing to give up our morality to meet the financial obligations that we have amassed in our lives. Those of the ruling and judging elite reward us monetarily ONLY if we play by their rules regardless of who gets hurt in the process!

Christopher Dorner’s  life stands as a stark reflection of our violent annihilation of the human spirit and the costs created by the rage that lies beneath.

How freedom of Information impacts you and I: The Legacy of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz may not be a name that most of you know. In fact, I wasn’t familiar with his name until after his death. Unfortunately, some of the greatest accomplishments go unnoticed until the person who catalyzes interest in the cause gets notice posthumously. People who have the most impact usually are the ones who work without fanfare, oftentimes bucking systemic limitations on personal freedoms. The government is invested on keeping these people quiet and painting them as criminals and lunatics. With information comes knowledge and knowledge creates the seed of decisive action.

Since the industrial revolution, training for the masses has been centered on the dulling of intellectual development. There is nothing worse than an uppity line worker! So, our schools were modeled to produce the workers to man the factories. We are molded to fit that need. Discussion and debate has been relegated to course activities that have little relevance to the understanding of different viewpoints. We are tested in a multiple choice or true/false format. Essays which provide exercises in articulation of thoughts are discouraged. Originality is penalized. In fact, within this framework, alternate viewpoints pose threats to a purposeful socialization that yields an inability to articulate thoughts.

We have been witness  to some rather insane utterances of some of the political candidates, utterances that fall short of ideology because they lack merit or connection to anything resembling fact at all.  Remember, politicians in power who lack the ability to think and articulate ideas sit as willing pawns for the corporate industrial complex with an agenda. From http://agvnotes.tumblr.com/post/29904483410/the-top-5-quotes-about-rape-from-republican-men
The Top 5 Quotes About Rape from Republican Men

1. Todd Akin: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down” – mid 2012 Senate Campaign

2. Clayton Williams: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it” – mid 1990 Gubernatorial race in Texas 

3.  Chuck Winder: “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.” – March 2012

4.  Ken Buck: “A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse … It appears to me … you invited him over… the appearance is of consent.” – October 2010

5. Rick Santorum: “I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you… rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.” – January, 2012

The climate within organizations since WWII has necessitated government intervention to ensure the rights of workers. Roger Eugene Karnes (2008) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10551-008-9878-x?LI=true  shared the change in business atmosphere:

Before WWII,  written contracts were unheard of, but rather, the employment agreement was steeped in a tradition that carried the promise sealed with nothing but a handshake. Now employees have little or no rights; and the ones they are given are provided not by the employer, but by government regulation and court precedent. Issues such as time off for illness, sexual harassment, and workers’ compensation are all handled through legal or regulatory means rather than ethical considerations. The research further shows that the distinct lack of leadership within organizations play a significant role in the disintegration of employer–employee relationships. Specifically, how the lack of leadership relates to the emotional intelligence of the leader. Areas such as empathy and social skills are under trained and under developed by organizations.

Karnes (2008) goes on to further consider the complications of overseeing large agencies and corporations, “When an organization is so large and has unlimited resources, they can buy their way out of any predicament”. Corporate entities know several ways to ensure  deregulatory objectives: 1) money to buy off politicians 2) backing government officials who lack the brain power to stand up to BIG business tactics and 3) the actual placement of former BIG business officials in government positions. The aim of corporate entities has become centered on disempowering the government’s ability to effectively shut down or complicate the attainment of maximal corporate profits. We were witness to this tactic within the 2012 presidential campaign when former Governor Mitt Romney rose as a candidate, corporate leader and intellectual knit wit. The fact that he represented BIG business might not have been detrimental to his run, but his lack of intellectual prowess was. As told on http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/mittromney/a/Mitt-Romney-Quotes.htm former Governor Romney was heard making statements like:

1. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. … My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” -Mitt Romney, in leaked comments from a fundraiser in May 2012

2. “Corporations are people, my friend … of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.” —Mitt Romney to a heckler at the Iowa State Fair who suggested that taxes should be raised on corporations as part of balancing the budget (August 2011)

3. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem.” –Mitt Romney, suggesting it would be a good idea to crack a window at 35,000 feet, Beverly Hills fundraiser, Sept. 22, 2012

4. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” –Mitt Romney, using an unfortunate choice of words while advocating for consumer choice in health insurance plans (January 2012)

5. “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” —Mitt Romney (January 2012)

6.“I went to a number of women’s groups and said ‘Can you help us find folks?’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.” —Mitt Romney, on staffing his cabinet while he was governor of Massachusetts, presidential debate, Oct. 16, 2012

7. “As president, I will create 12 million new jobs.” —Mitt Romney, during the second presidential debate
“Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs.” —Mitt Romney, 45 minutes later (Oct. 16, 2012)

8. “My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico… and had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.” -Mitt Romney, in leaked comments from a Florida fundraiser, May 17 2012

9. “It’s hard to know just how well [the 2012 London Olympics] will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.” –Mitt Romney, insulting Britain on the eve of the Olympics by suggesting the country is not ready, NBC News interview, July 25, 2012

10. “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.” –Mitt Romney (January 2012)

Governor Romney was a willing participant in a corporate agenda to steal the power of the White House. The fact that he lacked the ability to pull it off is due in fact to the media’s   exposure of the true Romney which negated the effectiveness of the campaign in its entirety. It is clear that the loss highlights an environment of ever increasing corporate greed and the need  for a public and candidates who exhibit a vacancy of thought.

While the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act ensure the rights of the government over many of the personal civil liberties that we have taken for granted, we cannot allow the further erosion of the freedom of information in the opposite direction. We as a people demand transparency and the right to object to the corporate take-over of our lives for the sake of profit.

Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey, MS, MAC, LMHC

The Lesson that is Lance Armstrong

We vacillated back and forth during the saga that has been Lance Armstrong. The story that has played out like a fairy tale has now revealed the ugly truth that lies at its core. Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs. It must be true, after all, he told Oprah!

What lays at the heart of this saga  is the story of how culture creates the Lance Armstrongs of the world. It is a common tale tucked away in both corporate boardrooms and the government back room obscure dealings of a nation too absorbed in scandalous gossip to deal with the foundational elements that take root in our own countrymen. Lance and others like him are symptomatic of the moral decline of a culture, nothing more.

We educate our children without teaching them to think. We receive financial incentives to produce in our workplaces without experiencing the self gratification of a job well done. We lose our jobs for offering our expertise and are punished for voicing opposition to poor treatment of our peers and clients. We have become line staff in industries that have no connection to the factories of early industrial America. Without the ability to think and problem solve, we are willing puppets of the post industrial complex working for the accumulation of wealth for smaller and smaller number of elites.

The very principles we pride ourselves on as Americans are the very skills many of us will never be paid for. Education, certification and license requirements serves the idealist but has no carryover to the workplace. Ingenuity is perceived as threatening. Problem solving is relegated to carbon copied programmatic policy guidelines. Conflict resolution is settled by who has the most power to bully his point. This takes place as much in corporate America as it does on our own school playgrounds. This is the workplace and social experience no matter where we find ourselves. These are the rules that we are forced to play by.

We live vicariously through Lance. He is our hero. His triumphs fuel our belief that one day we will find success and be better able to face the mounting obstacles and injustices in our own existence. We support his efforts through blind adulation and defend him regardless of allegations hurled at him.

Corporate entities salivate at the Lance Armstrongs of the world. Built within each  is a representative to use to drive up sales. With money as the driving incentive, corporations are able to make willing participants of the most idealistic among us. The unspoken problem with the arrangement is that signing on with BIG business makes each participant beholden to the corporate goals and tactics regardless of its ethical or legal consequences… Where corporate interests collide with individual convictions, corporate entities are sure to win. This statement is further substantiated by the United States Supreme Court Citizen’s United ruling asserting the fact that “corporations are people and money is voice”.  It stands to reason that as a representative of a corporate entity, contractual expectations of performance is mandatory.  Within the hierarchical arrangement between corporation and employee there are added unspoken expectations of behavior that hasten the further erosion of the individual self in any interaction where money exchanges hands. Through the long list of public figures that have succumbed under the pressure to perform, it is not outlandish to question the evolving mental health crises for those who enter the realm of celebrity status. Corporate entities are not interested in the personal effect of their expectations or media exposure on people. They are interested in the most important aspect of the transaction, their investment.

So, amid the adulation and hero worship that is bestowed on celebrities like Lance Armstrong, it is easy to understand how they come to rely on questionable activities to feel in control of expectations that come from both their ascension to world status and their corporate affiliation. Many engage in the unethical and illegal behaviors because 1) They are affected personally by the stress of being center stage, and/or, 2) There is an unconscious mistaken assumption that their corporate affiliation buffers them from any investigation into improper behavior.  I want to make it very clear, corporate entities may wine and dine celebrity wanna-bes before the deal and to celebrate gross earnings but they will be the first to pull the plug when questionable behavior arises regardless if it was caused by personal shortcomings or unspoken corporate expectations. Remember, “corporations are people and money is voice”. With that ruling it is clear that even Lance Armstrong gets the short end of the stick no matter what he has personally accomplished.

Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey MS, MAC, LMHC