19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

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DrDonkeyLove
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19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by DrDonkeyLove » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:36 am

Late Tuesday afternoon I was driving along and suddenly realized I'd become 85% blind in my right eye. I could see a sliver of the world along the bottom of my eye but everything above that was an empty gray fog. It was like my own personal crazy eclipse.

I closed my right eye and used my left to pull over and told my wife that I'd become blind in my right eye and that she should drive. I was cool about the whole thing but confess to some nervousness since I'd never gone suddenly blind before. Frankly, my right extremities didn't feel "right" either but the blindness began to dissipate and I was considering my options

My wife decided I was stroking out and drove me to the inner city emergency room that advertises themselves as stroke specialists. She parked the car while I walked into a pretty full emergency room and described my symptoms. BOOM! Less than 2 minutes later I'm surrounded by a fucking team of neurologists and nurses and CAT scan operators and other people. I've got an IV in my arm and the CAT scan machine had some kind of magnets spinning around my head for the before scan. Then they injected something in my IV for the after scan. This shit made it feel like my ass and balls were superheated [Shape: you want this feeling!]

Next it's a trip to one of the better equipped ER rooms where the team continued to examine me. All this occurred within about an hour of my being struck blind like a one eyed version of the apostle Paul on the road to Ephesus. On a side note of extra irony, it may have been the exact spot where my sister died a few years ago.

Now things slow down. I'm wired up to some monitors and apparently the exam was going well and the CAT scan looked OK so the professionals could take a deep breath. It's pretty much me and my wife and the old lady on the other side of the curtain who was shitting herself. She was all alone with no one to keep her company but the hospital staff. They wheeled her out to somewhere and replaced her with a girl with suicidal ideation who was pretty shaken up by life. I kicked my wife out because it was getting late we had a grandchild at home who needed someone there. I wasn't blind anymore and felt OK so WTF I could handle this alone.

They said I needed an MRI and observation and were getting me a room. Then they moved me to one of the less hectic areas of the ER to wait for the MRI and a room. Turns out there were no rooms available so they kept me there until about 1:30 in the morning and took my to a lonely and spooky area of the hospital for an MRI. If you've never had an MRI in this situation, imagine being trapped in a very noisy coffin, but with less elbow space and in a scene from a Steven King novel. Then it's back to my curtained abode in the ER to wait.

To turn the page on this a bit, I've become an avid reader of Stoic writings since being exposed to it here on IGx. If you imagine a real mature Stoic being the philosophical equivalent of an Army Ranger, I'm kind of a midlevel Cub Scout stoic.

I had nothing to read and couldn't play with my iPhone because I had no charger and had to conserve its pathetic battery so I could use it if something important came up. So, I decided to use the night as Stoic practice and just observe the parade of humanity without judgement while simultaneously trying to be indifferent to the grim reaper sticking his cold finger in my right eye and plastering my ass to a narrow ER "bed".

It was noisy as hell in there with all of us separated by nothing but thin curtains. It was the sounds of machines loudly beeping, health professionals doing their work, and people who were broken physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. Many of them were completely alone with no outside support. There was no sleep for me, just being wired to a monitor and staring at the ceiling and observing until 5 AM when I passed out for a while to be awakened at 6 AM for fresh blood removal. Then I was solidly awake again until about 2 PM when I was finally cut loose by a neurologist who looked like a middle aged Greek god if Greek gods had a retinue of interns.

Besides the various brokenness of the patients I saw a super team of health professionals who treated everyone with kindness and professionalism regardless of their station in life, possession of health insurance, or mental or physical ailment. Every person from the convicts and substance abusers to the addled elderly to everyone else was pretty damn accommodating to them as well and acted grateful for the care they were getting.

After 19 hours I'd had enough of Stoic practice and was seriously considering leaving AMA (Against Medical Advice). Fortunately, my stoic field trip was over and they let me go explaining that my only problem was a blood clot in my eye that resolved itself. And, extra good news was that all the shit in my neck and head looked pretty healthy.

I'm sure I'll get a bill for some number of thousands of dollars in a few weeks and will try to use stoic practices to cross that dispreferred bridge when I come to it.

It's not as cool as coming back to life like Timmy did but it was a very interesting and life changing 19 hours.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by vern » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:20 am

I'm glad you pulled through DDL.

One thing I've learned about hospitals over the years is that sleep is not tolerated.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by nafod » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:29 am

You missed your calling donk. I look forward to the article in Inside magazine.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by syaigh » Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:01 am

Glad it was relatively good news.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by dead man walking » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:21 pm

DrDonkeyLove wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:36 am
I decided to use the night as Stoic practice and just observe the parade of humanity without judgement while simultaneously trying to be indifferent to the grim reaper sticking his cold finger in my right eye and plastering my ass to a narrow ER "bed".
serious question: what's the difference between stoic practice and buddhist practice?

glad to hear you're ok and your eyes work. there's still time for you to see the light.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by johno » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:31 pm

Donk, I'm glad you had a good outcome. I'm sure your Docs have told you, but if they know it was a clot, you want to the "why" of it. There should be things you can do to prevent a recurrence. I wish you all the best.

I like the way you handled the driving. And the lessons in stoicism.

The vision stuff can be alarming - I had a ~40 minute visual disturbance twice in a couple months...I worried that I was having TIAs (temporary strokes). After the second occurrence, I talked to my Doc and had an MRI. The conclusion was a painless migraine.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by seeahill » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:36 pm

nafod wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:29 am
You missed your calling donk. I look forward to the article in Inside magazine.
Well written. Held my interest. It had a beat. You could dance to it.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by seeahill » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:36 pm

Edit: double. Happens to us Stoics now and again.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by judobrian » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:39 am

Welcome to a brief look into my world.

Glad you are OK. I may have missed it in the piece - did you get an echocardiogram of your heart?
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by beefheart » Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:26 am

Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by DrDonkeyLove » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:22 am

Beefy, DMW, Johno, judo, syaigh, Timmy, vern:

Thanks for the kind words and thoughts. They’re appreciated.

Judo: Did not get an echocardioigram as far as I can tell. Did get an EKG and was wired to a monitor via 8 or 10 wires. Constant review of HR, BP & stuff I didn’t understand but it looked impressive.

Finished with follow up ophthalmologist today. Final diagnosis is roughly "You had a lot of tests and everything looks good. We're not really sure what happened to you but it wasn't one of the bad things. Go enjoy your life".
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by DrDonkeyLove » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:49 am

dead man walking wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:21 pm
DrDonkeyLove wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:36 am
I decided to use the night as Stoic practice and just observe the parade of humanity without judgement while simultaneously trying to be indifferent to the grim reaper sticking his cold finger in my right eye and plastering my ass to a narrow ER "bed".
serious question: what's the difference between stoic practice and buddhist practice?

glad to hear you're ok and your eyes work. there's still time for you to see the light.
DMW
Won’t get wordy again on this topic but I wanted to provide a thoughtful response for you (and me) because the question caused me to consider what was behind my own thinking.

You asked about the difference between Buddhist and Stoic practice. I’m not sure because I never really grasped Buddhism as much as I wanted to (or thought I wanted to). I’ve never been able to follow a consistent meditation practice and things like the eightfold path and Buddhist mindfulness have eluded me. Becoming one with the void and nirvana sound awesome but it ain’t happening for me.

There are definitely similarities. In my medical adventure both practices would have a type of mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion for myself and those around me.

I’m unqualified to define anything about stoicism but as I understand it, as humans we’re the animals most capable of sophisticated reason and we’re social creatures that are made for each other. There are virtues to be sought: wisdom, justice, courage, self-restraint, etc. There are vices to be avoided. Every vice has a virtue you can use to resist it. There are a lot of basic human psychological techniques designed to help you develop a tranquility in the midst of whatever life brings you.

The best description I can give is to give you a rough overview of a few of my thoughts and the stoic teachings that helped me guide them to something more positive.

Thought: Fuck me, the grim reaper is sending me a message. Sooner than later I’m very likely to end up helpless and alone shitting myself in some hospital like the old lady next to me.
Stoic Practice: Everybody dies including you. It’s as natural as anything else in this world. When you die you’ll be with God. If you’re wrong and there is no God, you’re going to be rejoined with the earth. It’s out of your control and is the fate of everything. If you have your wits about you, you can be courageous and tranquil no matter what the circumstances. If you’re senile and alone, it’ll all be over soon enough anyway. Just roll with it.

Thought: I’m stuck in this bed staring at the ceiling and it’s noisy as hell, fuck me this sucks. Why me?
Stoic Practice: Remember that this is only your opinion. Why not you? People have medical problems and you’re a person. This shouldn’t be a surprise. This place is nice and you’re getting great care. You’ve been to India. How’d you like to be in a hospital in India? What if you were on an airplane or driving in the late night in the middle of bumfuck? Be grateful.

Thought: I’m surrounded by some really messed up people who are annoying me. I don’t want to be near them.
Stoic Practice: You don’t know these people or what made them the way they are. Don’t look at them as the crazy girl, the drunk, the convict, the losers. They’re people just like you. Have some compassion. You’re not all that different from them.

Thought: They’re doing a ton of expensive shit here. This bill is going to be insane! You already know that you’re probably going to earn less in 2018 than 2017. Adios money. Fuck me.
Stoic Practice: You’ve got insurance. You’ve covered your deductible for the year already. This is an emergency room visit and they usually cover that stuff better. You’ve got a job. And, you haven’t even got the bill yet. Why worry about something that’s out of your control? Figure out what to do when the time comes.

Thought: I’ve been here for almost 15 hours and I’m fine. It’s ridiculous that I’m still here, why don’t they cut me loose?
Stoic Practice: The doctors are busy and you’re not their number one priority. What’s in your power here? Just politely ask the nurse what your options are. You still have some patience, use it.

I’m not a Stoic evangelist. Just sharing some techniques that proved useful to me. Here’s a link from somebody smart. Here's something from Facebook.
Mao wrote:Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party

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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by dead man walking » Sat Oct 28, 2017 4:14 am

thanks, donkey. that's an impressive breakdown of your thinking.

i'm a dabbler in both stoicism and buddhism. i know only enough to be struck by (superficial?) similarities: objective observation (mindfulness), restraint, reason.

regarding human reason, kahnemann's thinking: fast and slowwas hugely influential. i just got thaler's nudge. i always just knew we are imperfectly reasonable at best, and the "behavioral economists" confirm what i've long believed.

i'll take a look at the links. thanks for those.

one final aside: recently i ordered the book buddhism is true, which has gotten good reviews.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by johno » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:24 pm

Donk, nice stoic self-dialog.^

How are you doing?
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by DrDonkeyLove » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:50 pm

johno wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:24 pm
Donk, nice stoic self-dialog.^

How are you doing?
Doing great. Thanks for asking!

The father of my newest daughter-in-law apparently had a real stroke yesterday. Feeling a new empathy towards him and gratitude that all I had was an adventure. He has real recovery to work on.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by Sangoma » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:19 am

Donkeys, your train of thought fits Buddhist ideas just as well as Stoic. In short, you experienced the Four Noble Truths first hand.

For me it is never an enjoyable experience being "on the other side". But then again, it gives me a different perspective of my profession and makes me a better doctor.

I am glad you are ok.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by Yes, I'm drunk » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:47 am

dead man walking wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:21 pm
serious question: what's the difference between stoic practice and buddhist practice?
Serious answer: neither one of them is a Christian practice, which is of critical importance to the post-Christian Man.

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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by Turdacious » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:17 am

DrDonkeyLove wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:50 pm
johno wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:24 pm
Donk, nice stoic self-dialog.^

How are you doing?
Doing great. Thanks for asking!

The father of my newest daughter-in-law apparently had a real stroke yesterday. Feeling a new empathy towards him and gratitude that all I had was an adventure. He has real recovery to work on.
Real strokes are no joke; after his stroke in his early 60's my dad had to teach himself how to count. Glad you're going ok.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by nafod » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:11 pm

Turdacious wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:17 am
DrDonkeyLove wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:50 pm
johno wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:24 pm
Donk, nice stoic self-dialog.^

How are you doing?
Doing great. Thanks for asking!

The father of my newest daughter-in-law apparently had a real stroke yesterday. Feeling a new empathy towards him and gratitude that all I had was an adventure. He has real recovery to work on.
Real strokes are no joke; after his stroke in his early 60's my dad had to teach himself how to count. Glad you're going ok.
My BIL, retired senior naval officer, maybe 62, had a stroke, and went from retired master of the universe to dependent on wife for just about everything. Can still walk (poorly) and move his left arm (he's right handed) and mumble. The night he stroked, he was drunk and refused to go to the hospital. Bad move.

Donk, glad it was "nothing"!
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by johno » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:08 pm

nafod wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:11 pm
The night he stroked, he was drunk and refused to go to the hospital. Bad move.

My Dad & Mom were slow to identify his stroke. They didn't call 911...eventually she drove him to the ER. It probably cost him his use of the right side of his body AND a career he loved.


Everyone over 40 or with loved ones over 40 should study the signs of stroke. The key is to get to an ER fast and to call them enroute, warning them they have an incoming stroke patient. It's also good to know what hospitals in your area are cutting edge in stroke treatment.

If you wait more than one or two hours (at the outside), you are fucked.


http://strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/ ... mePage.jsp
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by johno » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:12 pm

DrDonkeyLove wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:49 am
The best description I can give is to give you a rough overview of a few of my thoughts and the stoic teachings that helped me guide them to something more positive.

Thought: Fuck me, the grim reaper is sending me a message. Sooner than later I’m very likely to end up helpless and alone shitting myself in some hospital like the old lady next to me.
Stoic Practice: Everybody dies including you. It’s as natural as anything else in this world. When you die you’ll be with God. If you’re wrong and there is no God, you’re going to be rejoined with the earth. It’s out of your control and is the fate of everything. If you have your wits about you, you can be courageous and tranquil no matter what the circumstances. If you’re senile and alone, it’ll all be over soon enough anyway. Just roll with it.


Donk, some of your self talk reminds me of the book "Feeling Good" by David Burns. I'm not a psychologist and I don't care about the theory behind the book.
BUT it has some good tools for self-evaluation that align with stoicism.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats

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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by Sua Sponte » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:32 pm

johno wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:08 pm

It's also good to know what hospitals in your area are cutting edge in stroke treatment.

Amen to that. Had stroke of an unusual sort about 8 months ago. Effected the 3rd and 6th cranial nerves. My eyes were no longer synced; nominally staring straight ahead my left eye pointed about 25-degrees to the left of center. When I tried to look around they failed to track together and the offset in pointing varied with where I was looking. Woke up this way and at first thought I had left one contact in and pulled the other out giving some strange visual impression in the dark It's only after I got out of bed and called my wife i to look did I realize what was going on.

She took me to the ER. Told them I thought it was a stroke. By this point I was extremely dizzy and nauseated. Ran through the usual tests and questions checking for paralysis, numbness, speech, coordination, and acuity. As this type of stroke had none of those symptoms I was assured I had indeed not had a stroke, it was just some vertigo. When I asked how this accounted for the issue with my eyes I was told they weren't sure but it was unrelated. Finding this laughably implausible, and continuing my love affair with the "ain't we so brilliant" profession, I eventually convinced them or they finally decided on their own to contact the U of Utah med center where they reportedly have an excellent stroke center. Sure as the day is long, it was a stroke but of a rare variety. Confirmed with a properly targeted MRI. Thereafter the treatment was excellent with very good recovery but some critical time had been lost.

We were just of recent arrival to this small MT town. Other than my wife there was no support system of family and friends but her for me and none for her at all. This, too, then ended up being an exercise in stoic resolve. Had many similar thoughts go through my head as did Mr. Donks. Had recently been reading much on the topic of stoicism and it was of considerable help as I lay there alone contemplating my fate and future.

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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by Sangoma » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:54 am

This "unrelated issue" is a real curse among inexperienced or ignorant practitioners, and causes a lot of grief for patients. It is very rare when two symptoms in one patients are caused by two "unrelated issues". In other words, the condition that fits the symptoms is most likely diagnosis.

Years ago I saw a patient in a clinic in Johannesburg. He had pain in epigastrium and in the left shoulder. It was his second visit; a week ago he was given some Voltaren for the shoulder and some antacid drink for the stomach. His final diagnosis was... abdominal aortic aneurism. It caused pain in the abdomen that was irradiating to the left shoulder.
Last edited by Sangoma on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by Sangoma » Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:01 am

After experiencing these kinds of events people often consider them the "first warning" of things to come. Unfortunately, there isn't much to be done about tgem. Yeah, sure, get your BP and BSL under control, lose some weight and get your exercise in order. I personally think thst getting stress sorted is by far more important than all of the above. At the end, it is the reminder that we are not invincible and immortal.

Stay well, you fucks.
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Re: 19 Hours Of Stoic Practice In The ER

Post by DrDonkeyLove » Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:48 pm

Yes, I'm drunk wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:47 am
dead man walking wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:21 pm
serious question: what's the difference between stoic practice and buddhist practice?
Serious answer: neither one of them is a Christian practice, which is of critical importance to the post-Christian Man.
At least several, maybe all, of the main modern stoic authors seem to be atheists in search of a modern moral keystone with ancient gravitas, yet the main roman stoics believed in God, gods, and an intelligent purpose to the universe.

There will always be Christians but who knows what a post-Christian western world will look like. Probably no better since apes gotta ape.

No longer being atop the cultural heap might be good for Christians and those influenced by them.
Mao wrote:Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party

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