Saturday, August 15, 2009

The King of Swing

Little known factoid about moi: I am an avid fan of jazz. I even subscribe to Downbeat Magazine in its original form, you know, ink on paper, it arrives in the mail once a month.
In the 75th (!!) anniversary issue there is, among many archived articles, a series on the King of Swing: Benjamin David Goodman aka Benny Goodman. He was the 9th child out of 12, born to Jewish-Russian immigrants. Goodman's career spanned the 20th century. Even when the heyday of swing was over, Goodman filled venues with his phenomenal music. Goodman was also one of the first to lead integrated bands (in the 1930's!!!) when such a thing was unheard of.

Here is Goodman's most famous big band in the movie "Hollywood Hotel" playing "Sing, Sing, Sing". If this doesn't get your foot 'atappin, you should check yourself for a pulse.

For those with more stamina here is a fascinating 9 minute version,
again with Harry James on trumpet and Gene Krupa on the drums.
I don't know who is playing the tenor sax.
I love this version for the crackle of the old vinyl records.

Here on "Moonglow" the old master is at his best
playing the clarinet as if praying.
He is surrounded by other masters:
Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton.

This version of "Body and Soul" is a masterpiece.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Plea

I have a sneaking suspicion that there is no such thing as a coincidence. I was assigned to opthamology today. So it just so happened that I anesthetized the patient that I examined yesterday. Today, however, she was much more anxious.

After finding a very small vein to administer the anesthetic drugs, I continued with my preparations for inducing anesthesia. Then with tears in her eyes, the patient gasped a choked plea, "I don't want to die."

I reassured her, that I would take care of her and that I would be by her side the entire time. She seemed more calm.

I applied the oxygen mask to her face, asked her to breath deeply and began to administer the drugs. Again I told her that she would be OK. She quietly said, "I love you," and lost consiousness.

Later, in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit aka recovery room), I greeted her and told her that she was out of surgery. She asked with disbelief, "I fell asleep?"
"Yes", I replied, "The operation went well and and it's all over, you're doing just fine."

She then just held my hand for a while.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Today I worked in the pre-anesthesia clinic. It is a nice change from OR routine. One of the patients was an elderly woman scheduled for surgery for an obstructed tear duct. She was accompanied by her daughter who acted as translator since the patient spoke only Yiddish.

No words passed directly between us. All communication was non-verbal. Much smiling and nodding. At the end of my physical examination and perusal of the chart I provided the usual explanations regarding general anesthesia. I wished her a successful surgery.

As the daughter was backing out of the room with her mother in a wheelchair, the daughter began a tirade about the long day and the inefficiency of the both the clinic and the ward. I was trying to diffuse the situation but I had trouble concentrating because the mother was vying for my attention. She was smiling as if to say, "Just ignore her, she gets like that sometimes."

Then she stretched out her arm to show me the tattooed number on her arm. She is a holocaust survivor. I nodded in understanding and returned her smile. As her daughter continued her whining, she backed the wheelchair out of the exam room and the mother was smiling and waving to me. In my mind's eye, she was indicating her confidence in our ability to care for her.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Plov and Army Logic (or the lack thereof).

The touching letter I recently received from a grateful father has made waves. It made it's way to my boss and her bosses, the Director of the hospital and the deputy directors.
Being relatively new in this hospital, this is good for my reputation, to say the least.

In other news:

I just returned from reserve duty. The medical unit that I command had a training excercise. This is a small very close knit unit. We usually organize a festive meal at the end of the excercise. This is of course against army regulations because only army cooks are allowed to cook and feed the army. (Actually, much of the cooking has been outsourced to caterers. Don't get too excited, it's still army food!).
One of the officers on the base made a point of reciting the regulation, but, if we cook off base then he can't do anything. We were under the impression that we were off of the base because we were, in fact, outside the perimeter fence. But it turns out that there was a second fence. We of course completely ignored the regulation. One of my soldiers is an excellent cook, and he was cooking up a storm in a huge cast iron pot. He made us some "plov":

Plov (12)
(click to bigify)

Nothing will come between the medical corps and its plov!

Close to midnight, as we were about to dig into the enormous portions, the officer again contacted us, this time to order us to disperse because we couldn't be off base with the vehicles after midnight.

Wait a minute, when we were cooking, we were on the base. When we were eating we were off the base. The thing is, we hadn't moved in 4 hours.

This reminds me of the famous maxim: "There's the right way, there's the wrong way, and there's the army way.

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