less mystery, more me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

window to the past

This is a picture I took of a window in the old greenhouse at the Chateau Munnehorre. I took the picture with my first digital camera, a Sony DSC S70. I know nothing of the settings, but I still like that camera. I'm trying to have a hobby besides dissertation research and work. I'm trying to learn more about my camera, the early sony digital zoom, and the little pentax point zoom shoot. Today I read about LV and EV. Light Value, Exposure Value. I'll have to read it over and over a few times.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

3:12, awake again

I'm awake again. I would like to get back to my next paper, so for purposes of intellectual kindling, I have reread my submission to ITHC2007. Of course I found a few typos, mostly left from cutting and pasting and then overlooking sentence changes that need to be made. I hate this aspect of professional submissions--the errors I find AFTER submission. Sooner or later we have to release each paper, and I've yet to find all typos before the first submission. I usually continue to edit under the assumption that if the paper is accepted, I'll have a short period of time to submit the revised final version. I've been using Word 2007 for this paper, and I really like it. I guess I'll have to buy a copy.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

working with miracles

I've been working. I love my work. I run up and down the hallways and stairways of my hospital talking to patients about the crises that have brought them to my care, usually on an involuntary basis. I spend a lot of time talking to team members about how we can best help each patient. My job is to select and manage medications and to somewhat lead the team when I'm covering for a vacationing psychiatrist.

I think I work with miracles. Biological miracles, at least. I'm astounded weekly by what disturbed brain chemistry can make folks do, whether disturbed by natural causes, or a foreign substance like methamphetamine, crystal, or heroin. It is nothing short of a miracle.

I wish I could tell you what the brain chemistry can make folks do, but an actual story might make my patients recognizable, and violate HIPAA laws. My patients are admitted to the hospital in extreme states of vulnerability, unable to care for themselves, or control their own behavior to the degree that someone is in danger--my patient or other persons. This is the definition of grave disability, danger to self, and danger to others. Danger to property falls into the commitment criteria as well. My patients occasionally make the news before they come to my hospital.

Psychosis and mania are so stereotypical that the stories all run in similar form:

"I thought I was god...I had the cure for AIDS if I could just remember...I'm working with the FBI and I can't tell you any more...someone is trying to kill me, but they can't get into the hospital, so it's safe here..."

Such statements are the bread and butter of the assessment process of the psychopharmacotherapist. We assess behavior as well, and make inferences when patients can't talk to us coherently. Patients take their clothes off and stand on their heads, or wear many layers of clothing, perhaps with pajamas or underwear on the outside. Others wrap articles of clothing around their heads, and may wear a denim turban with a Levi's tag over their 3rd eye for a few days. Others are so fearful due to their biologically distorted perceptions that they are assaultive to staff or other patients. They may integrate us into their delusions sometimes, and all we can do is medicate, and wait for the next miracle.

The next miracle starts when I select the right medicine for the patient. If the patient will take the medicine, the chaotic brain chemistry slowly begins to stabilize, and the real person behind the biologically driven behavioral chaos emerges. I never tire of watching this process--the return of the patient to the consensus tract that more of us share.

The next miracle is when the real person with the stabilizing brain chemistry emerges, and starts asking questions, piecing together what happened. Or not. Some do not want to talk about it. Some want to know what they can do to prevent it from happening again. Some already know. They remember exactly what happened, what they were thinking as they were engaged in their respective dangerous behaviors, their fire-setting, car wrecking, self immolation, etc.. Some set out to change their lives. Some set out to change their lives many times.

I used to try to interpret all this behavior through various psych* theories and paradigms. Now I just think of all as miraculous and consider myself blessed to be present and be of service.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Mom is better. This is a relief to me. I didn't realize how much this affected me until I heard she could go back to rehab soon. I'm working on a digital picture frame for her, instead of flowers.

No entries here recently because I've been working working working.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

ithc2007 paper submitted early!

I completed the revision of the paper and submitted it early in the afternoon on the day of the deadline. That was a first for me, and I hope the first of many more. Usually I'm struggling with the overburdened server to upload my paper at the very last minute, anxious, swearing, praying, visualizing, etc. I smoothed out the stuff the excellent medinfo2007 reviewer pointed out, and off the paper went to Australia on the wings of electrons. This is the 3rd submission for that paper, so there wasn't much left to do to it. I didn't want to add any more data to it. I'm saving the rest of the data for journal submissions. It may be that this paper is of interest only to me and my committee, though in fairness MedInfo2007 did accept it as a poster. I didn't expect that at all. This stuff is not yet mainstream informatics.

Of course, after the early submission, I reread a paper draft at 2340 and found an old reference from a previous draft stuck at the end of the paper. I had to repair that and update the submitted version. Then I found that distinction should have been distinctions...

Monday, March 05, 2007

still working on revisions

I'm still working on revisions to the paper. I'm working faster and smarter because mom is doing better. One of my brothers showed up at the bedside with a shave and haircut, and she reached up and touched his face. He was amazed at how powerful a shave and a haircut could be. No time to write more, but remind me to tell you about puppy Xena's toileting training.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

3 o'clock in the morning

I started this blog (of which I am the only reader) because so many of my friends have complained that they hardly know me since I started graduate school in 1999. I did not plan to take 8 years off from friendships, but I have been driven to complete my PhD. It's as if I had to do this work in order to finish becoming myself, as crazy as that sounds. Now I'm using this blog to complete the process, return to the writer self that most of my friends loved so much. I also have not spent 8 years on the PhD. I've earned one masters degree in nursing to become an ARNP, and have almost completed a second masters degree in health informatics.

Here are some common things about me. One of my best teachers ever told me that this every-day-ness is what makes us real.

At 2:52 I was awakened by the puppy scratching my back as she stretched in her sleep. I was immediately fully awake, no chance of drifting back to sleep. My sleep is erratic as a general rule, but recently much more so. Sleeping pills make me drunk for a couple of days after I take them, without the fun of having a drink with friends. I don't take those unless I'm very sleep deprived, cranky and paranoid.

Since I have much work to do on my dissertation, paper submissions to conferences & journals, and keeping up on clinical reading, I've decided to make insomnia work for me. Earlier this week, I got up and reviewed genre analysis. I reviewed Swales, 1990, and some very recent articles to make sure I haven't gone out of date since I last reviewed genre theory. I think this review and re-review is part of what has slowed me down. Another drag on my progress is this inner notion that I have to "feel" like a "Doctah" before I want to become one. This is prolly making me go in circles. I found I'm still pretty much up to date, but saw how to use the genre analysis vocabulary more effectively.

This morning, I'm revising a paper for submission to the ITHC2007. I was in Korea for NI2006 to present the first paper based on my research last spring. It was exciting and very frightening. I loved it. I learned to love "brown rice tea," and I still drink it though it's hard to find the Korean style here. I drink an organic Japanese Genmaicha from Choice Organic Teas. To my shame it is not fair trade.

A second paper based on my research was accepted as a poster (not a full paper) for MedInfo2007. AMIA2007 took a pass on both the first and second papers. International reviewers seem to understand my work and appreciate it more than American informatics venues. My adviser tells me that I'm free to submit the full paper again to another conference, even if I present the poster at MedInfo. MedInfo is in Australia this year, followed by ITHC. I've always dreamed of going to Australia, so this trip will be one of those "trips of a lifetime." I hope. I've ordered lots of books of all kinds on Australia both as purchases from Amazon and from the library.

I'd never dreamed of going to Paris, and it's now my favorite city on the planet. If I ever have a chance to live there, I'm going to do it. However, I went to Paris with great trepidation, expecting the French to hate me because I am a dirty American. Somehow, I loved the city the minute I got off the plane at Charles de Gaulle airport. Since I've been thinking about the dreamtime and the outback for most of my life, I hope I love it as much as France. I cried the day I read that the last dreamtime shaman had no apprentice. I worried the world would stop when he died.