Happy Easter

Dear readers, podcasters and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Happy Easter to all those of you who are religious AND also for those who are not as our Lord Jesus Christ does not differentiate between the two. We are all the same for his eyes. Unfortunately, due to work obligations and the Pandemic and Social Isolation‘s aftermath, we have suffered for the past two years, we cannot have a family reunion with Noël Marie and Gian Luca.

The above picture of us three was taken just a few months ago. We will surely, God Willing, celebrate Easter together next year. It has always been , together with Thanksgiving and Christmas, our favorite holiday.

HAPPY EASTER !!!

FELICES PASCUAS !!!

BUONA PASQUA !!!

JOYEUSES PÂQUES !!!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Solemnity of Good Friday

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today practicing Christians like us remember the time when Our Lord Jesus Christ had his Last Supper with his disciples before being detained in the Gethsemani Garden by the Romans. Caravaggio masterfully retrieved that moment in a tableau for us to visually catch it.

Note. This reproduction of Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caravaggio_-_Taking_of_Christ_-_Dublin_-_2.jpg

When we were young, we always went the church of Nuestro Señor de la Paciencia, a decrepit old church in the basement of a larger one in Montevideo, Uruguay, with our grandmother Yolanda and our mother Gladys. the childhood memories are so tender and solemn at the same time, made us use them as background for a scene in our novel Madame D.C – the Three Voyages. Here is an excerpt of that book that you can find as a Kindle edition by clicking this link. Enjoy the reading.

-“Anda, chaval, no podeis quedaros atras!” was the curt admonition of grandmother Pilar to his grandson, holding his hand in the long procession inching slowly downstairs in the church of “Nuestro Señor de la Paciencia” in the old quarter of Montevideo during the Good Friday festivity of 1965. As Pilar was in town at the time of Easter recess. Carmen thought that her mother—piously devout of “La Macarena”—might like that special ritual.

It was an ancient church located in the basement of a bigger one in the old part of town, open only on Fridays due to its precarious architectonics. Parishioners could not visit it except on Good Fridays when they arrived en masse to thank for a granted favour. Or to ask for one. Or for both things.

Carmen, Pilar, Didier and Nadine parsimoniously walked down the steep stairwell along dozens of women that were clutching plastic flowers, alternatively chanting hymns or fervently praying during their slow descent. Downstairs, they gasped at the terracotta images dotting the whole contour. The children liked to examine all the small copper ex votos affixed to the grimy walls depicting arms, legs or eyes, reminders of the Almighty’s aid.

Pilar and Carmen kneeled down before San Antonio di Padova, patron saint of suffering lovers, their hands locked tight and praying in total silence. They both felt the dangerous threat, morphing in hiding but palpably close.

In the main altar there was an intriguing image of Jesus Christ seated on a rock and holding a slender baton in his left hand. The right hand was holding his reclined bearded visage, which had a decidedly gloomy look.

Padre nuestro, que estás en los cielos, santificado sea el tu nombre…

The loud praying of some committed old ladies echoed through the pews.

Didier was transfixed by the Christ’s melancholic image, free of pain.

Vénganos en tu reino, dános el pan de cada dia y no nos dejes caer…

That Christ was telling him that living meant waiting for something.

Y líbranos del mal, Amén…Padre nuestro , que estás en los cielos…

The litany of fervent prayer, carried out non-stop by devoted women, was a testimony of their big needs and even bigger hope for relief.

After half an hour of staring at the seated Jesus, praying and shedding a few tears, Carmen decided to lead the group out of the cavernous building. They slowly made their way upstairs in the middle of a crowd, back to the waning sunlight of a fall evening that was threatening to turn extremely cold.

– “How about if we go visit Tio Pepe?” said Carmen to the children.

-“Right,” Didier said, “he’ll invite us with hot ‘chocolate and churros’—“ They walked briskly a few city blocks to reach their Uncle’s house.

-“Bienvenidos,” Tio Pepe said when he opened the door. “Adelante!”

Let us celebrate together the utmost sacrifice made for all of us by Jesus Christ, Our Savior.

We take pride in the great Catholic faith conveyed to us by our dear parents and grandparents.

Muchas gracias Mamá y Mita.

AMÉN !!!

What do yo think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

Sacred Duty of Writers

“Écrire c’est réclamer la liberté pour tous les hommes” Jean Paul Sartre

(Writing consists in demanding freedom for all Mankind)

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. After dedicating all our efforts to edit yet again the manuscript of our new book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague we will resume our blogging and podcasting duties. And we use expressly the work “duty” because in these terrible times when the Ukrainian Nation has been invaded by the barbaric Russian Armed Forces, we, the writers, have the duty to speak up.

Our literary hero Jean Paul Sartre did not sit out the Nazi occupation of France but joined the Résistance to participate in its public relations and propaganda efforts, which was a very dangerous choice at the time. his companions said that he was always eager to help in any way he could. This political compromise continued throughout his public career, from denouncing the use of torture by the Occupying French Army in Algeria to the use of Napalm by the American Army in Vietnam.

Note. This reproduction of a 1965 image of Jean Paul Sartre was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

When the May 1968 insurrection raged through the streets of Paris, Sartre, who had become a Maoist while he was teaching at La Sorbonne, was conspicuous in almost all the manifestations. The government of Général De Gaulle was constantly irritated by the famous writer’s high public profile, which attracted the attention of all the major international news and media outlets. One day one of his ministers suggested that he should arrest Sartre for sedition. After demurring, he said:

“On n’enferme pas Voltaire.”

( We cannot imprison Voltaire)

We the writers have a sacred duty to always defend the freedom of all the rest of Humanity. We cannot stay silent in the face of the daily atrocities perpetrated against innocent Ukrainian women and children by the unruly, undisciplined and unhinged Russian soldiers in this War of Aggression.

Speak out against the barbaric Russian Invasion of Ukraine in all the World’s intellectual forums.

Speak clear. Speak firm. Speak loud.

Long Live Ukraine.

No pasarán !!!

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Howdie from Brooklyn, New York City!!!

Dear friends:

Good morning. We have recently resettled in New York City, our birthplace, to continue in earnest our Cinematography and Stand Up Comedy studies. In this picture, you see my sis Noël Marie and myself at the footsteps of the Brooklyn Courthouse where many of the scenes from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America were shot; the Brooklyn Bridge sits prominently in the background.

We will keep you updated about our adventures in the Big Apple. We love you. Arrivederci.

Peasant’s soup to celebrate the Ukrainian Resistance

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. To properly celebrate the beautiful pictures sent by our dear friend Nina, we decided to prepare a hearty peasant’s soup full of vegetables, very similar to the ones produced by the military field kitchens in the battle zones. It has to be very nutritious and easy to digest. We used a chicken broth full of potatoes, carrots, peas, corn and some Rotini durum pasta.

What do you think? You are invited to share a bowl of soup and plenty of conversation with us.

Enjoy! Buen apetito! Bon apétit! Buon appetito!

Long live Ukraine!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

Warrior-Poet Nina keeps fighting on!!!

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. In the early dawn our dearest friend Nina, member of the Special Forces of the Ukrainian Army, sent us a personal message accompanied by two recent pictures. Here they are:

Note. These images were forwarded through the dating app titled AmourFeel, which has been actively encouraging their customers to show their support for the brutalized Ukrainian people.

Nina is in a good spirit, even though she longs for the time when this terrible war will be over. However, her commitment to defend her people and their just cause against the Russian invaders, remains as solid as ever, performing the specialized duties she so methodically trained for.

When women join the battle like she did, the tide of war inevitably tilts in favor of their army.

Hail to Warrior-Poet Nina and all her valiant comrades. The Fascist invaders will not win this war.

We are right alongside you. Watch the skies. Stay vigilant. Aim well. Sleep with only one eye closed.

NO PASARÁN.

Long Live Ukraine.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please eel us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Physician and Nurse Burn-Out – Part XVI – Nursing Turn-Over

“If they believe they can sweet-talk us with just a few bucks—they got it coming.”

Norma X. is a very qualified and smart Critical Care nurse that has been seriously considering retiring from the profession after more than twenty years off service due to the physical and mental exhaustion after two long years of pandemic. Management is desperate to keep her, not only to continue taking care of seriously ill patients, but also to guide the young nurses that seem to be entering the career with less knowledge and experience than before to meet the increasing demand. She scoffs at the array of perks they try to entice her with to sign another contract. She confessed to us that she is only dreaming of her retirement in easy Key West with her hubby and two dogs (their grandchildren can visit them but only once a year)

All health care providers know that nursing personnel is the main pillar of a modern Health Care Delivery system, usually more important than the medical corps itself. Most public and private delivery organizations have the strategic imperative of retaining them, and what is more important, to keep them happy in their careers. After the 2008 recession, rates of  unemployment rose in all the economy sectors and some experienced nurses delayed their retirement to account for an increased living cost. At that time retention of nursing personnel was not a problem and institutions were not hiring the new graduates. Now the tide has turned as the new clinical demands of a protracted COVID-19 pandemic has strained the human resources of many hospitals and clinics in the USA. Newly graduated nurses are in high demand but that brings new operational challenges to policymakers and administrators.

Training qualified nursing personnel is very expensive, approximately amounting to double their yearly salaries; institutions cannot afford to have a normal 2-3% staff turnover without suffering the consequences. Their four main reasons to quit are:

  1. Excessive patient workload, worsened during the pandemic,
  2. No scheduling flexibility to accommodate the family life obligations.
  3. Sub-par financial compensation that stresses their family budgets.
  4. Professional frustration due to the lack of continuing education possibilities to advance their careers inside their institutions.

As the exodus rises, the remining nurses inherit heavier workloads, which in turn entices them to follow their colleagues to the exit doors, and so on. A vicious circle. Moreover now large institutions, desperate to cover their many vacancies, are hiring increasingly younger graduates, who have the highest attrition rate in the first year. To meet the market increased demand for nurses, their licensing requirements have been streamlined and the novel nurses get their badges much earlier than before. The rookies are increasingly being deployed in highly critical areas where there is a lot of stress and require clinical knowledge and expertise that they do not yet possess.

Note. This World War II Navy recruiting poster was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

These novel nurses must be paired with an experienced nurse providing emotional support and clinical expertise to the newly entrants; checking on them in a regular basis and simply by “being there for them” will boost the morale of young recruits. Now these “support role” has been systematically developed into protocols by the American Associates of Colleges of Nursing that established the Vizient/AACN Nurse Residency Program to support the entry-level nurses as they transition into clinical practice. The evidence-based curriculum focuses on three critical areas:

a) Leadership Skills and Pathways.

b) Patients’ Good Outcomes.

c) Continuous Professional Development.

A not-so-well-kept-secret-of-the-caring-professions is the mendacious role played by some old-timers in the nursing profession that systematically harass and demean the rookies, perhaps trying to make them pay for “sins” committed by physicians, in a classical example of what Sigmund Freud described as a displacement mechanism that we fully discuss in our new book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague. The horizontal abuse of colleagues must stop, and senior staff must be vigilant. Because most of these recent nursing graduates are young ladies a little bit too shy for their own good, who prefer to quit their jobs in silence rather than complain. The formal mechanisms to report labor abuse must be operational and easy to access.

Of course the salaries and perks of Nursing personnel must be raised to make them closer to what physicians actually earn in the public and private institutions. But more importantly the feminization of the Health Care workforce has given new impetus to the longstanding demand of nurses that management should consider the family life of their employees by offering more flexible scheduling and coverage. Promoting a healthy, inclusive, respectful environment will certainly impress nurses.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Our new podcast “Guernica is being shelled again” is Live

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday we watched in sheer horror the CNN reportage of the indiscriminate shelling of a Children’s and Maternity Hospital by the Russian invading forces in the besieged city of Mariupol; seeing the pregnant women laboriously make their way out of the rubble sickened us. A few days ago we saw how a mother with her two young children were killed while trying to cross over a bridge in the Kiev’s suburb of Irpin, together with a young volunteer; today an article in The New York Times put faces and history to that dramatic moment. Tetiana Peribyinis, 43 years old was a cheerful accountant working for a global software company, who was trying to dash across the bridge with her daughter Alisa, 9 years old, and her son Mykyta, 18 years old, with the help of Mr. Berezhnyis, a church volunteer; just a few meters ahead of them, a shell exploded killing them all.

How can we remain silent facing this blatant Crime of War that should be punished by a court? How can we accept that in the 21st century there is a big army that disregards civilians completely?

These atrocities remind us of the savage bombardment of Guernica, the ancient capital of the Basque Homeland, by the Luftwaffe in 1936, which prodded Pablo Picasso to render all that unimaginable horror in the homonymous tableau, now at the Museo Reina Sofía of Madrid. for the Republican Pavilion of Paris in 1937. Pablo Picasso never fully explained the disquieting images of this cubist representation of a tragic day when almost a third of the population was massacred; he preferred viewers to get their own impressions and not receive any outside political influencing.

Note. This reproduction of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Now our new podcast Guernica is being shelled again is Live at anchor.fm/dr-mario-o-laplume.

We hope you appreciate our diligent work by listening to it and if you have any suggestions, please write us to email@drmolaplume.com We cannot remain silent because as Simone de Beauvoir said:

“Le plus scandaleux du scandale c’est de s’y habituer”  (the most scandalous part of a scandal is to get used to it)

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Physician and Nurse Burn-out – Part XV Group Therapy

-“We are watching so much horror —and we must take it with a stiff upper lip?”

That complaint from one of our medical colleagues recently summarizes the sorry spiritual state of most of the health care practitioners that have been taking care of very sick patients in all these interminable months of the COVID 19-pandemic. Most of us are physically exhausted and emotionally depleted with no relief in sight. There are manifold signs that as the non-stop clinical burden takes a heavy tool on us, many are experiencing serious signs of stress overload and emotional/ mental surmenage.

In a great paper, Dr. Clare Gerada stated that the same personality traits that allow us physicians to bear so many clinical responsibilities in grueling work schedules are the same ones that might predispose us to sickness and prevent us from seeking specialized help early on in the process. According to Gwen Adshead, we are:

  1. Perfectionists
  2. Narcissists
  3. Compulsives
  4. Denigrators of Vulnerability
  5. Martyrs

Most physicians can easily recognize a few or all of these traits in our personalities because we have a good esprit de corps that makes us feel “different from others.” We all have a deep-rooted sense of “being special” and our professional identity gets consolidated as we plow through the study-intensive Medical School and the ridiculously demanding work schedules of Post-Graduate Training. It is our armor for survival. In fact all our personal lives get subsumed by the demands of clinical work and the hospital demands replace the ones from family and home; akin to a secret cult we create our own jargon and a new way to see things: the medical gaze.

When we physicians get sick there are external and internal defense mechanisms that usually make us hide the reality and waste precious time to get the needed professional help. You got sick? How come? It can’t be. We , doctors, do not get sick. The others do… Moreover, in all these long months of  pandemic horror and the associated Social Isolation prodded us to necessarily acquire two tricky psychological defense mechanisms: depersonalization and denial of feelings. In order for us to slog through our tasks and still remain operational, we had to “take distance” from the encroaching Death and Despair. The farther apart we moved form the daily horror, the more we duped ourselves into believing that we were somehow “invincible”, which is usually a hallmark of the younger Docs. As we are now used to work in clinical groups with different specialties,  we tend to abhor the idea of “being sick ourselves” as it is like a treason to our healer’s oath to always be ready for big service.  Moreover, if we get sick, someone else will have to pick up the slack with our patients.

Note. Considering that our two references are British authors, we decided to put as featured image this Royal Navy World War II recruiting poster, which was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Humans need to live in groups and feel a “sense of belonging” to feel fine. For us physicians the primary belonging is to our clinical work and when it is destroyed, then we need a secondary group, preferably with the company of our peers. In another great article, Dr. Gerada discusses the NHS Practitioner Health Program,  which is a very confidential service to discuss and treat the Mental Health disorders of physicians. Finally freed from their masks of empathy, health care practitioners can “spill the beans” in the comforting company of their peers sharing their angst. In the 2008 sample she studied at the time she found that three fourth of cases had Depression/ Anxiety and only a fourth had Substance Abuse problems. She claimed that this represented only a stopover solution and that eventually most of them responded to psychological therapies and later joined other non-medical groups. As the exclusivity of physicians’ privileges have been steadily contested by a more egalitarian approach to health delivery services, there are hardly any physicians’ meeting points like reading and discussion lounges, lunch spaces, etc. We lost the intimate contact with our peers.

She wrote: “it is important that, as health professionals, we engage as patients, participants, and as providers in group work. Part of any strategy to improve retention of doctors must involve creating spaces for doctors to reflect together, support each other and share techniques for remaining mentally healthy.”

In order to get some well-deserved relief from the stress and angst we suffer now, we. physicians, must first take the step of getting rid of our guild-identifying lab coats. Below them, we are simple human beings, notwithstanding all our knowledge. In the re-assuring company of colleagues, including nurses, and devoid of our silly theatrics pour la gallery, we can finally begin to heal.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Celebrating the International day of the Woman

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today, March 8th, we are celebrating the International Day of the Woman worldwide. We salute all those devoted, smart and hard-working ladies that have made the difference in our lives.

Note. This is a picture of our dearest daughter Noël Marie holding our hand.

Thank you very much for giving us Life itself and making it so much more efficient and enjoyable.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.