Welcome to the age of social media, not it appears social conscience

Are Social Media sites and texting making it easier for teachers to sexually abuse our children?
The headlines in the newspaper and on the nightly news are filled with allegations regarding teachers who have been caught texting sexual messages and sending nude pictures to children. Every time I turn on the TV I am shocked that another teacher has been accused of having a sexual relationship with his or her students. The question I find myself asking is social media sites and texting making it easier for teachers to sexually abuse our children? Is it because of technology that we are seeing an increase in this type of abuse or is it because of technology that we are hearing more about this type of abuse, and not really an increase in the amount of crimes, but an increase in our awareness of these types of crimes.
In the last week I have heard about a handful of cases where teachers are being accused of improper relationships with students. I have heard everything from sending improper pictures and messages to having sex with multiple students. What shocks me the most is the fact that in several of these cases the accused is in their 30s, married and women.
One case involved a female teacher and coach, age 27, who began exchanging messages with an 18 year old student. The textings, according to the Sunday edition of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, “including some messages that contained sexually explicit photographed, went on for about a week.” This was followed by the accused teacher having sex with the student in the teacher’s home. Another case, in the same article, spoke of another female teacher and coach, from a different high school, who was arrested after accusations were made that she had “improper relations with a 16-year-old student.”
Texting and Facebooking has become part of our everyday lives. I find myself getting up in the morning, getting my coffee and instead of reaching for a newspaper, I am reaching for the mouse to my computer. I know that texting has made it convenient for me to keep in touch with soon to be 14-year-old daughter. In fact I have even texted it her when I am in another room (she often time ignores my verbal calls) of the house when I need her to come here. My husband and I think this is great entertainment as I will text her, “please feed the dogs.” Then we hear the door crack open and see a flash of blonde hair as she huffs her way to the kitchen to get the dog food and as quick as she can, huffs her way back to her room and we hear the door slam shut. We have a great laugh over that. Sometimes it is the only way I can talk to her. She will text me when I am in the other room, while she is at school (which is a no-no), or on her way home from the bus. I do admit that texting is convenient if anything.
Facebook is another thing on its own. I struggled for months, should I let her have a Facebook or not. We set very strict rules regarding Facebook once my husband and I agreed our daughter could have an account. The rules were simple. 1. You cannot block your parents. 2. No cusing, swearing or bullying. 3. No one over the age of 14 can you friend, unless they are family members. 4. We have the right as your parents to check your photos and wall posts anytime we want, and if we don’t like them, they get deleted. These rules also apply to her phone as well.
Even with all the rules and checking, I still am worried that something will slip through. Instead of just stranger-danger in a physical form now as parents we have to worry about predators that cannot be seen but read as well. Is technology at fault for this behavior? Or is the world a more dangerous place than when we were kids? Child sexual abuse has been happening for years, I have had people say to me. Now it is just that we hear about it more often in the news. We think it is happening more often because now we have the technology to know what is going on across town, in another state, another country almost as it is happening.
I don’t always buy that. I believe that due to the increase use of social networking sites and texting, our children are being exposed even more to this type of abuse. Teachers are supposed to be leaders, mentors and well..teachers. But for some reason these accused teachers don’t think that they will get caught. When everything can be copied or saved for future review, why would someone risk their job, family, and the threat of possible prison time to send sexual photographs or texts to students? One would think that with the increase in ability to save files and information that there would be a decrease in these types of crimes due to the fear of being caught.
Welcome to the age of social media, not it appears social conscience.

True Blood Season 4..hang on it is going to be a bumpy ride.

I don’t watch a lot of T.V. in fact I only watch a handful of shows. One show that I have been anticipating the return of is True Blood. In case you have been living in a cave for the last few years or simply cannot afford the extra expense of cable, let me tell you a little about the series.
True blood on HBO was created by Alan Ball and produced by Mr. Ball and Gregg Fienburg. True Blood is based loosely on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. I use the term loosely for a reason.
If you are a follower of the books and the series by HBO then you know why I said loosely. The first three seasons deviated from the path of the book a little more each time. It appeared that with each new episode HBO got a little more off track from the books. I struggled through the 1st 3 seasons with my husband, shaking my head, saying “that did not happen in the books” so many times, that I was banned from saying anything at all during the one hour the show was on. By the end of season 3, I was extremely disappointed at how far off the series was from the books. I was not even sure that I was going to watch season 4.
Alas, as it grew closer and closer to the date of the release of the season, I grew more excited. I could not help myself. Season 4 was supposed to be the best one yet, according to the reviews HBO was putting out. Season 4 was supposed to pick up sometime around book 4. If you haven’t read the books, I won’t spoil it by telling you what happens. Let’s just say that things get pretty steamy between Eric and Sookie and Bill is on the down swing. I found my husband and me counting the hours until its release.
Finally, 9’oclock on Sunday arrived and we settled in to watch the first episode of the season. Wow! What a disappointment!
**plot spoiler**
The episode opens up with Sookie being in the fairy world and finding her grandfather (who is dead) there as well. Come to find out he is not really dead, just been hanging out in the fairy world for the last twenty years. Sookie then figures out that the fairy queen is harvesting humans and plans on keeping Sookie and her grandfather in the fairy world. Sookie tries to leave and gets some help from a not so beautiful fairy. The helpful fairy shows Sookie to the portal between her world and the world of the fairy. The only problem is that her grandfather cannot go through the portal because he has eaten the magical fruit. But Sookie does not have time to consider this as the Fairy queen, who by the way looks like something out of the movie Legend (the one with a young Tom Cruise), is closing the portal. So Sookie jumps hand in hand with her recently found, thought to be dead grandfather. Of course once on the ground, they end up in the graveyard, and the recently found, thought to be dead grandfather dies a 2nd time, since he ate the magical fruit. Can you say Disney movie gone bad? Then Sookie runs off to her home crying since she lost her grandfather a 2nd time. When she gets to her house she finds that it has been painted and redecorated. A painter is painting when she runs up the stairs and tells her he is going to call the cops on her if she goes in the house. She confused, slams the door in his face. The cops show up and it is her brother, who was a womanizer in the last episodes, and is now a cop. Apparently he sold her house to someone. She has been gone for 12 or 13 months real time. But feels like she has only been gone 10 minutes or so her time. That’s where I got up. None of this is in the books. Not a single thing. Not one iota. Does not even get close! Oh and did I mention that Vampire Bill is now the King or something of the state and Steamy Eric is now his servant? What was HBO thinking? I watched about 30 minutes of the hour long show. 30 minutes was all I could handle. The plot was so off from the books, so…so, stupid, for lack of a better word, that I could not take it anymore. I got up and left my husband to watch the remaining 30 minutes. I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I was at HBO and the producer. I do understand that sometimes producers have to leave things out due to time issues and the flow of the story and that takes the story to another road. (A side road maybe.) But HBO just seems to ramble along on a dirt road full of pot holes, not even close to the main road. I am not sure if I will watch the next episode, heck I am not sure I will be able to finish the 1st one.
I wonder does anyone else feel like HBO is missing the point?

The Right to Die- Death with Dignity Act and Jack Kevorkian

The recent Death of Jack Kevorkian startled me. I was expecting to hear that he had died by his own hand, not in some hospital after a short illness.
I have been interested in Dr. Kevorkian’s mission, since I became a nurse ten years ago. It has taken me ten years to fully understand his mission. He was a great man who tried to ease the suffering of others. He was judged very harshly by his peers and society. He refused to give up his mission even while in prison.

In 1999 a jury had found him guilty of 2nd degree murder after Dr. Kevorkian had videotaped himself injecting Thomas Youk, a patient suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), with the lethal drugs that caused Mr. Youk’s death on Sept. 17, 1998. (The New York Times June 3 2011) He had sent a video tape of his death to 60 mins and that this was one of the reasons that they convicted him. Dr. Kevorkian was sent to prison and was released in 2007 with the stipulation that he could not assist anyone else with dying. He also lost his medical license.
I of course, knew about him from the countless hours of discussing and studying the process of grieving and dying in nursing school. At first I was not a believer in Doctor Assisted suicide. For that matter, I was against Suicide of any kind. I have had several members of my family and a few close friends that committed suicide. I watched the pain and grief that suicide brought to my family and friends. I felt that it was the chicken shit way out. For lack of a better word. It wasn’t until I had a patient that was suffering from COPD that I began to believe that Dr. Kevorkian was on to something. Dying from COPD is a horrible way to die. Most suffer for years with shortness of breath, recurrent infections and huge medical bills. They end up living on O2. They have to rely on family members to care for them as they slowly watch themselves die. If you even been unable to catch your breath after a coughing fit, imagine being like that every day, day after day. It is not a nice way to spend the rest of your life.

My patient, had been suffering from COPD for several years and was in the end stage of the disease when her family brought her to the hospital. We did everything we could for her. The doctors continued to run tests and give her treatment to help her breathe. By the 10th day or so, of this she was exhausted. Her IV had come out for the 4th time in 3 days. Her veins were shot from the steroids that she had been on almost continuously for the later part of her life. I called the Doctors and let them know that she would need another IV. The order was given for a PICC line to be placed. (A picc line is a type of IV that can be left in for weeks at a time, as long as it is properly taken care of. It requires a special nurse that is trained to place it with an ultrasound.) The family and the patient agreed to have the PICC placed. While we were waiting for the team to come in, I was sitting at the bedside talking to the patient and her family. She was soft-spoken and always had a kind word for the nursing staff. I was not very busy that day and took some time to sit and talk with her. She told me and her husband that she was exhausted and tired of being stuck all the time. Her husband’s eye filled up with tears when she told him this. I told her she did not have to be stuck anymore if she did not want to. She looked at me and shook her head “No”. She wanted to do what the doctors told her to do. I said ok and left the room to take care of my other patients. On my way down the hallway, her husband came out and halted me. I stopped and began to talk to him. He told me about her life, how they had met and that she loved to dance. He was upset at seeing her like this with all the machines and tubes around her. I told him that she did not have to live like this anymore. That she could go home with hospice. He asked me what hospice was and I explained the way hospice worked in Texas. He was surprise that she could stop all the treatments and go home to die. He was aware that the doctors had told her that there was not much else they could do for her. He agreed that he wanted her to be told about hospice. So I went and gathered the information and took it to them. This was my 1st time to talk about hospice with a patient so I made sure that I had all the information that I needed. I let the social worker and the doctors know that the family asked me to talk to my patient about hospice.

I walked in the room to see her husband sitting in the chair by her bedside. She looked up at me through the oxygen mask and nodded a greeting. I sat in the chair opposite her husband. I told them about hospice choices. We talked for about an hour. I had let the other nurses know that I would be in her room for a while so they would look after my other patients. I answered all of their questions and I gave them time to make a decision.

Near the end of my shift, the husband came back to find me. He let me know that she had agreed to do hospice and so they were going to honor her wishes. I began making the phone calls that needed to be made and got the hospice ball rolling. When I called the doctor he told me to tell the patient and her family that she may not make it home in the ambulance due to her condition was getting worse. She was able to understand me when I told this to her family and her. They all agreed that she still wanted to go home and die at home, if that is what would happen. They were ready. I was not. I was not ready to say goodbye. But I finished the paper work and got them sent on their way. About an hour after the transport had come to take her on her last ride, her son showed up at the nurses’ station. His father had given me his keys to his motor home that he had been staying in, in the parking lot. He wanted to ride with her in the ambulance and asked me to hold his keys to his motor home so his son could pick it up. I expected the son to show up and I would give him his keys and he would leave. But, as I was standing up to give him the keys he grabbed me in a huge hug and started crying. He kept thanking me for helping his family though all of this. I don’t know how long we stood in the hallway of the hospital. I know that it was a good 3or 4 mins. I let him cry and I tried not to cry myself. Finally, he let go of me and thanked me again for helping his family, I gave him his keys and he left. I walked to the bathroom where I proceeded to collapse on the floor in a heap of tears.

I never saw them again. I do not know how long it took her to die once she was home with hospice care. I pray that she passed quickly and did not have to suffer, which is part of the reason for having hospice care.

I often wondered after this case, if physician assisted suicide was the right thing. I knew we had hospice care for people who were terminally ill, but for reasons much too long to type here, hospice was not always the answer for many. I know several of my patients had talked about if there was some way that they could take care of themselves when the time came, that they would. The choice of being in control of the way you die was always on my mind. I became an advocate for patients for hospice care. Many nurses did not like to speak to patients about hospice care. So when they had a patient that either asked about it or the Doctor had ordered a hospice evaluation, I was asked to go speak to them.

I have watched many patients die alone in the hospital. I have sat with patients after my shift was over, just so they had someone with them in the end. No one should die alone. They died with a diaper on, unable to hold their bowels, with tubes hanging out of every orifice. They died in a sterile, unfamiliar environment alone, because they out lived their family and friends or because they did not have any family or friends.

I recommend the movie “You don’t know Jack” about Dr. Kevorkian, if you want to learn more about his mission. It gives you a view of his world and all that he tried to do for people.

You can find more information regarding Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act on Oregon’s government website, they describe the Death with Dignity act as an act “which allows terminally ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, prescribed by a physician for that purpose”. The more and more that I worked with terminally ill patients, the more I began to understand where Dr. Kevorkian was coming from. I began to understand his mission, He was about choice. The choice to say I do not want to live like this anymore; I do not want to suffer. I do not want to be a burden on my family. The Death with Dignity act allows that. The patient and their family are set up with a team that specifically works with patients who want to end their life on their own terms. The team of volunteers meets up with the patient and discuss the process of ending their life. They go over everything from the prescription costs, to what the medication will do once the patient takes it, how long it will take, and more importantly that at any time the patient can decide you don’t want to take the medication the patient does not have to take it. So the patient has choices while they are still able to care for themselves and in their right mind.
HBO has a documentary out now called “How to die in Oregon”. It discusses many of the points I listed above. The Documentary at times is hard to watch due to it covers individuals who are terminally ill and choosing to end their life before they become a burden on their family or before they are unable to care for themselves. It is worth the effort to watch.

In my opinion, we treat animals better than we do people. Many times, pet owners will put their beloved pet “down” so they will not suffer if they have been hurt or have cancer or some other fatal disease. Why do we continue to let our loved ones suffer in a hospital bed getting poked and scanned and pumped full of medications that are not going to change the end result?
Anytime I would try to talk with other nurses, medical personal or doctors about Dr. Kevorkian and the Death with Dignity act, they would give me the deer in the headlight look and find something more pressing to do… The question I would often raise, is in a state where we have hospice care, why can we not have a Death with Dignity Act similar to the one in Oregon? Whenever I brought up Dr. Kevorkian’s name, they would reply, “Dr. Death? he is crazy, why do you want to talk about that?” Why is it in our civilized country, we are scared to talk about the right to die? What is it about dying that makes it so uncomfortable talking about it? We all are going to meet the same end. No one gets out alive. (Har-de-har) I have met a few who would sit down and talk with me about the issue. I found that there were other medical professionals that felt the same way I did. We should have a choice how we want to die. When my time comes, I want to have the choice. I don’t want to lie up in some hospital bed for months or even years having someone wipe my butt, or feed me through a tube. I want to go while I still have some Dignity left.

I said a little prayer the day I found out Dr. Death had died. I said, please God don’t judge him too harshly, he was only trying to ease the suffering of others. He was judged so harshly while on earth, I believe he should be able to rest now. R.I.P Dr. Death see you on the flip side.