Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back in the day and today. . .

In Kevin Borwnlow's book THE PARADE'S GONE BY
(a book about silent films)

Gloria Swanson recounts how this scene was filmed.
(DeMille is alleged to have arrived on the set sporting two pearl handled revolvers.)
Now that's one heroic woman with nerves of steel, and beautiful too.
Disclaimer: Kids, don't try this at home.

And in exciting elephant news, Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, aka Scott and Heidi, the hardest working elephant folks in the biz, welcomed a new addition. Bets, in honor of Bets Rasmussen, the chemist that pioneered scent research at their facility. During my time at their course in hands-on elephant handling Bets told the story of having a difficult time selling her used car. Seems she had carted buckets of ele pee to her lab and well, the car had a peculiar odor to it making it hard to sell. Her research has since resulted in scent deterrent used in India to repel elephants and help them co-exist with people.

Bets Rasmussen
One of the most intelligent and inspiring women I've met.

Congratulations Scott and Heidi, your vision and perseverance are a blessing to us all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cognitive Pollution & Aetna Health Insurance

Yep, I'm naming names in this case. Once again I found myself unsheathing my sword in the healthcare field. Take that, and that you smarmy fools. How dare I laugh when it seems so absurd. And with that she hung up. Ok, I digress as I so often do.

I was attempting to get a straight answer and firm price I would have to pay for being seen by a specialist "out" of the network. The way it works is the insurance companies tell the doctors what they will pay them and then tell the consumers that it is the "reasonable and customary" amount doctors in the area charge which in reality is a complete lie.
Oh, and then they take 10% off the top, or as they put it "pay 90%" and even then won't quote exact amounts. So I laughed and she got bent out of shape and hung up. So I'm buying something without knowing the cost. Gosh, just like the government. So simple to me.

But it's her I'm worried about. From the second she answered I could tell she was stressed. I gathered up all my happiness and tried hard to get through. Try to take it lightly, I said, when she mentioned how many calls she had to put through. I tried hard to help her see the levity in the entire situation. It's even funny to me that she works for a health care insurance agency and they are subjecting her to life-stealing stress. Seems to me it's all so meaningless, just numbers and lies, no time for the truth. Yeah, I laughed out loud and she'd had enough. Oh, and I called back 2 more times to get more information, mentioned this fact and was told the 4 supervisors were busy and would call me back. An exceedingly sweet southern woman did and I figured out what it all comes down to. Words. The words that they use, are meant to confuse. Gosh, I hope I don't laugh.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Duality, Illusion & Trapdoors

From hell during the day, to heaven at night.
RTC Productions performed as guest artists for the Gainesville Ballet Theater's "Little Match Girl". A period piece, we recreated the subtrunk illusion using a prop box built in the 1920's. (I wonder how many other "box jumping" women have sweated it out in there, hmm) As is the nature of our current culture, it was a 5-minute act performed as a 60-second trick. Whew! I drew inspiration from the film, "The Prestige" and created my own costume. Together, Elise, Kyle and I staged and re-staged the exact sequence of moves repeatedly until it was smooth. Banged knees, heads and toes, we perservered. Fun was had. Jess, Robyn and the Dalai Llama played a role as well. Thank you GBT and Miss Joni for allowing me the creativity to produce something new for you each year.

Update on the quest for world peace.

Good friend and circus empressaria, Jessica Hentoff is making her annual plea for donations to fund groundbreaking work building pyramids of people and bridges between people. Last summer they really did so in the Middle East. Combining circus students from the U.S with the Jewish/Arab youth circus it was social circus in action. As she puts it, "...these young people demonstrated, in a breath-taking way, what can happen when people of different nationalities and backgrounds build something together. They are only children- - but they have a lot to teach the rest of the world." The language of circus knows no nations.

Here's a link, what a wonderful gift.

Peace be to you too. :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Week from Hell

I awake in the early a.m.
writing in my head,
want to fall back to sleep
so I can pass through
there again.

That's right, hellish week. I can only be stronger from this.

As I flashed my ID card and beeped myself onto the Adult Psych unit for my weekly attempt at work in the corporate world, I noticed it.

The fluorescent lights bounced off the linoleum floor in the corridor and escaped into blackness. There on my left was a hole punched through the drywall, exactly the size of a human head.

My radar perked up as I warily double checked the hallway leading to the seclusion room, the vibe felt pretty cool, was there something I missed? It was Sunday afternoon and I'd picked up a shift to make the extra weekend dif. I'd forgotten we were at the peak of a full moon.

Overbooked and understaffed I found myself clinging to my own sanity as the whirlwind of human emotions exploded around me. Juggling the unceasing phonecalls, doorbell and doctors' requests, it was all I could do to play the peacekeeper as the nurses went after each other's throats. The hallucinating schizophrenic is screaming at the top of their lungs for meds which sets off the borderline who starts cutting them self. Two pacing manics are carrying on a non-stop conversation covering every topic in the book. The verbally abused techs hold their own and allow patients comments to roll off their backs. "Yo, yo, yo" answering the cell phone is the high tech, redneck, doc. Brief moments of levity are the lifeboats we cling to when the acuity is this intense.

We are sinking in the sea of a system that's horribly broken - at the mercy of lawsuits and audits monitoring our every movement and what is written in charts. Mistakes are made, we are only human. And HIPPA prevents us from reassuring family that their members are there, unless we jump through the paperwork first.

A kind word, conversation and a little hand holding is sometimes the medicine needed more than all the drugs we use. In our world today there is little time for that and the therapists have been reassigned to utilization management in an attempt to wrangle money owed from the government and insurance sources.

Those I work with are angels sent to lift up those less fortunate. My circus strength and courage stands me in good stead while I'm in this place. It's not until I get home that I come unglued myself.

The system is terribly broken and what hurts the most is the human cost.