Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do you realize that if your friends are cool, their parents may be as well?

Q. Who can you turn to for a fatherly second opinion?
A. Mr. B

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

This man is my Father's best friend. Although I think my Mom's sister is her best friend, Mr. B's wife and my Mom are very close and dear friends. The Bs have three children, the oldest just a year younger than me. We grew up in the same neighborhood. The three children and I went to the same elementary school, but different high schools. However all of the following are graduates of Marquette University: My father, me, Mr. B, Mrs. B, and their two oldest children.

Anyways, Mr. B is a very important person in my life. When I look forward to the possibility of introducing a potential future wife to someone I fear Mr B's reaction more than that of my Father. Mr. B can be intimidating to others. His kids will yell at him and call him rude. I call it honesty without filters. I have, at many times, used this non filtering for my advancement. I love my parents, as you know, and always ask for their advice. But sometimes parents give candy coated advice. That's not the case with Mr. B.

He saved me from making quite possibly the worst career decision of my life.

But as much as I'm thankful for his role in my life, I'm more thankful for his role as a friend to my Father. They have a great time, and many laughs, when together. I know my Dad feels the same way - but these bears of men won't publicly declare it like I am now.

Instead, may they both raise a glass to each other.

Friday, February 27, 2009

How can you follow footsteps deep enough to live in?

Q: What kind of person do you hope to be in 37 years?
A: Dad.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

My father is the the youngest of 6.
Upon graduation from high school his parents left him.
Retired to Florida.
He worked full time at a canning factory to pay his way through school.
An institution that admitted him on academic probation.
He had to get an "A" in "Christian Family & Marriage" to graduate.
Supposedly it was his only "A" ever received.
Lord knows he's earning it now.
After buying his first car, a VW bug, he was able to pack himself and everything owned into it.
The love of his life came at a time when his friends had given up on him.
Bought a home in suburban Chicago for more money they could ever image earning.

I don't know the hardships endured during the short life of my brother.
Rumors have recently developed.
Aid from our Church.
My sister staying for long periods of times at friends.
Sadly, I may never know the truth.
These questions I don't know how to ask.
I was born when he was 37.
He's always been older than the Dads of my friends.
Yet, he's always acted younger than them.
I heard complains from other Fathers.
Never from mine.
My sister and I frequently go to his bottomless well of wisdom.
Earned through a life neither of us think we have the strength to live.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Who is your greatest teacher?

Q: Who taught you how to live?
A: Mom.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

We, my family, tease her a lot. It's our only defense to her, at times, brutal honesty spoken with a connotation of care. For example: last Sunday she questioned how I was going to keep my weight loss off. I told her I didn't know yet, which was met with the soon to be texted line:

"You need to find a girlfriend who will cook healthy for you." (My sister really laughed at that - actually called my mom moments after the text was received)

One of the better lines in history was spoken before my current diet, "When you buy a couch, don't get a cheap one. You are big and you don't want it to break."

Enough kidding aside, this woman raised me. I'm thankful I was raised in an era (and had a Father successful enough) to allow my Mom to put her career on hold to raise my sister and I. Her career was put on hold, but it was not getting rusty. I like to think her transition back to being a full time teacher was eased because she was spending her years teaching us. She's the reason why people at work come to me for grammar advice.

The sight of my Mom laughing is one of my favorite images. It doesn't matter if it's from something by me (in fact, I'm so happy to witness her laughing at a joke from my Dad that I'm excited to be there experiencing it). But if I can get that woman to laugh I feel like I've accomplished something.

If you can, call your Mom and tell her that you love her.
Excuse me, I have a call to make.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What did you give up for Lent?

Q: Who would you take a bullet for?
A: My sister.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

This project is inspired by my sister.
One year, she decided to write 40 letters to people she loved. In a half assed version of that campaign, I'll be writing open posts about 40 people (or groups of people).

Which means the obvious start of this Lenten voyage is my beautiful sister.

Some of my friends are only children. They have openly commented on not understanding the sibling dynamic. It's true: it's impossible to explain.

One aspect of this relationship I will attempt to describe is how proud I am to be her brother. No question brings a smile to my face quicker than (said in an enthusiastic tone) "Oh, she's your sister?" Literally, by relation, I am better next to her. Her outstanding character lifts mine far above the immature shell most see. I don't know if her shoulders hurt, for she certainly carries me. Her strength, faith, and capacity for love pulls enough weight for both of us.

She can be rebuilding hurricane damaged homes while I'm getting felted in Vegas (true story).

I love her.
Something I used to do, whenever I was in her classroom - would find a stack of post-it notes and write, "don't forget your brother loves you" on one of the middle notes (to be exposed at some unknown future date). I haven't been to her newest school, and sadly it's been too long since I've conducted this brotherly stunt.

Volumes could be written here. I'll have to end this now - I'll have 39 more of these to write and don't want to set a precedent. Let me just close that no matter what you hear, my sister is underrated. It is impossible to completely understand how wonderful she is.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

JURY DEBRIEF: The Cast of Characters

The Judge was a king. Although greatly influenced from a very gracious act of allowing all of us jurors into his chambers after the ruling was announced to answer all of our questions, he ran a tight ship. At times it looked as if he wasn't ever paying attention - but when an Objection was called he was right on top of it. Later we all learned that he purposely looks down in order to not give any nonverbal communication on to the jury that could influence us in any way. He is a man who's name I can't wait to see on a ballot - to punch YES.

Our First Deputy deserves his own variety show. He was only our deputy the day of Juror selection and our first couple days on the trial. He spoke with confidence, he knew the game, he's the kind of man who if the building caught on fire would be the one leading the sane way out. I would love to know his opinion on anything.

Our Least Favorite Deputy kept stealing our morning orange juice. First she asked for just carton, then she asked for two, and finally she just took'em without asking. She talked to us about everything we didn't want to hear about like her belt. And her belt under her belt. She carried around a flashlight that didn't work because she sweat too much. I'm sorry that I had to tell you that - but we found out, so I'm sharing the pain with you.

The Counsel for the Plaintiff was by any angle you look at out manned. I believe his uphill climb took a toll on him that was clearly visible from the Jury Box. Not only was he literally out manned by a number of four defense attorneys to just himself, but also I truly believe every one of the defense attorneys were more capable than him. After all four of them would cross examine his witness, his re-direct was over before it began... Similar to an offensive team finally taking the field after their special teams had given up 4 touchdowns before their first snap.

The Counsel for DOCTOR A was a charismatic Latino who loved the court room. It was probably his favorite aspect of his occupation: pacing in front of the jury, demonstrative gesturing, a true thespian of law. Might have done the best job out of anybody connecting with the Jury. His competence makes me believe anybody who wants to be a trial lawyer must take as many public speaking classes - and even acting classes - if they wish to succeed.

The Counsel for DOCTOR B was a bear. He reminds me of your friend's father who will "tell it like it is" but in an extremely exacting method. He was viewed as condescending by some of the Jury for his style of simplistic questions to yield simple answers. But he never fooled me. I could tell that he knew exactly the medical terms he was asking - and at times you could see the Mack Truck about to hit the witness four questions in advance. He was also the grandstander of the bunch. Nobody in the courtroom yelled 'Objection' as often or with as much authority as him. The other attorneys for the Defense, in my opinion, leaned on the fact that he would be the bully (allowing each to concentrate on just speaking well of their own client, not wasting time on speaking ill of others).

The Counsel for DOCTOR C was the most analytical person in the courtroom. I get the sense that the research aspect of these cases is his favorite. As methodical as through, he would at times test everyone's patience with a laborious review of a countless number of typed or handwritten notes from the PATIENT's file.

The Counsel for DOCTOR D presented his own unique style which featured a laid back attitude and propensity to inject comic relief when he could. Please don't misinterpret: The man was as serious as a multi-million dollar medical malpractice case. His comedic jabs were impeccably timed as he could sense the moments when the tension needed to be snapped.

I paid attention to all the Court Reporters. Especially the young brunette who had eyes of steel and a face that wouldn't crack a smile if Brad Pitt walked up to the stand holding a chisel. All of these court reporters were fascinating. One of'em had to go home with busied fingers - for she beat that steno machine like it owed her money. Some had an orchestral flair with sweeping back swings and melodic rocking back and forth in the chair, as if the dialogue created a bass line to groove.

(There were 14 Jurors selected)
Juror 1 was a young woman, a single mother we suspect, who was dismissed before opening statements. She had told her employer the previous day of the three week time commitment asked by the court and was met with a response of, "we can't fire you - but we can't pay you." It was understandable that she couldn't have gone an entire pay period without a paycheck, which made me thankful I had a job that was covering me through my civic duty.

Juror 2 was an idiot. I'm sorry if I'm being harsh here. But anybody who walks up to The Counsel for DOCTOR A and says, "You're doing a great job" during a lunch break is a bonafide boner brain. That's the true story (from the Judge) on why he was dismissed. And I tell ya that he sat right next to me during some of the testimony. Dude had a "bad back" which made him stretch at odd times. It looked more like an impatient kid in the back of a car to me. Not to mention this guy had one of the worst poker faces in history during the trial.

Juror 3 worked in a dentist office and had a quiet charm that reminded me most of my Mother. I could all but hear her evening recaps with her husband about the other jurors (especially the kid that wouldn't shut up and built the facade like he knew everything and worse wasn't shy about sharing his opinion of it). Poor lady got a puncture wound on her finger halfway through the trial. Nearing the end of the process, and hearing all this expert testimony on infections, began to think it had gotten infected. We all thought it got infected. The Judge excused her to let her get an earlier doctor appointment. No question it was the smart thing to do, I never could have concentrated thinking I also (like the PATIENT) may be infected. It hurt her, we all knew, that she was unable to have a say in the ruling.

(That leaves 11 Jurors left - these are the ones that were there until the end) Juror 4 was also almost excused from the trial. As a worker at a dermatologist's office, one of the witnesses for the defense was a doctor her boss would call in for consults. However, the Counsel for Plaintiff liked her, and wanted her kept on the jury. Describing this Juror will be the easiest of the whole lot: She was a Guatemalan Eva Longoria who never stopped moving. She would dance no matter how many earplugs from her iPod were in her ears - even if that number was zero.

Juror 5, on the same day of Juror's 4's near expulsion, was nearly excused as well. During Jury Selection, the judge named about 4 pages worth of doctor's names - wanting to know if any of us know any possible future witnesses. Juror 5 mentioned that she was the maid-of-honor for one of the listed sisters. But she had no other interaction beyond that and more importantly would not influence her judgment. If we would have lost both #4 and #5 it would've dropped us below 10 jurors (the minimum amount agreed pretrial). We would've all be sent home due to a mistrial, 2 weeks wasted and all parties had to start with a new jury. Juror 5 was a (divorced) mother in her early middle ages working for a high powered consultants office blocks from the courthouse. She earned an MBA from a highly notable school (I even called her on it and she said, "oh, it wasn't that reputable back when I was there"). She was an extremely sharp cookie, and who's sharpness I knew would come in handy... later...

Juror 6 is cut from the same cloth as I, in only ways that I hope. He ended up being our foreman, mainly by default. We had a great sense of community - and team - but we used the excuse of his prior experience on a civil trial to be the deciding factor in naming him foreman. He is a man in his middle early ages, completely bald (by both nature and decision) working at the corporate office for a very large drug store chain. He later admitted to taking a couple Improv classes at The Second City - and it showed. I mean that in a good way. He had a quicker wit than I - and his jokes hit with laughter on a much higher percentage than I. He is also a gambler and card player.

Juror 7 was the queen of the Jury Room. In her mid sixties, to call her the matriarch of the group is selling her short - she was more of a point guard. A real "glue" of the room as she would interact with us all, and ask open ended "what's with the world today?" type questions that got us all talking. We would not have had the rapport we did without her. Every day I had the goal of making her laugh. Friends have later asked me if there were any cute single girls on the jury. I've told them that I flirted a ton with one of'em... But she was a widow more than double my age.

Juror 8 was a man in his possible late forties or early fifties. A great model of adult suburbia. His nicest shirts were bought from his wife. His greatest stories involved his grown sons from younger days. He was a warehouse manager by profession, but lacked any stereotypical coldness a blue collar may lend. Also, he had one of the world's greatest mustaches. The kind of mustache that would look ridiculous on everybody who didn't earn it the way he did...

Juror 9 made me smile from the bottom of my heart the first day I met her. She was a 60 year old grandmother who we all tried to think of gifts for her 14 year old granddaughter (impossible, by the way, they hate everything). She made my heart smile on that first day because of a small jewelry pin of the letters CHANGE. She also mentioned her plans to retire and move to where she grew up: Mississippi. And let me, at this time, say this Macy's store worker (who had to work weekends during this trial) is a black woman. Jury selection was January 21, the day after Obama's inauguration. I felt a gap in my heart, but in a good way, in how I couldn't comprehend the pride of a woman who spent her youth in The South of the 60s and now has a President that doesn't look like the green men on our currency.

Let's cast Vin Disel in the movie interpretation for Juror 10. Something like a follow up role to The Pacifier. But this time Vin is playing Juror 10, a young junior high science teacher with a basketball and volleyball coaching responsibilities on the side. Now, he'll probably be the first to say that he's not buff guy - and maybe tease me because I'm taking the lazy way out. For was well over six feet, also had a shaved head (like Juror 6) and he could be intimidating at the drop of the hat if he wasn't smiling and joking most of the time. But he's a fellow single guy - and I want to help him out. Juror 10 is also another fan of the previously mentioned hot court reporter.
Juror 11 is pregnant. She's also a young 100% Itiallian Chicagoan, and an elementary school teacher, and a fan of some high quality and low quality television programs - but if I'm going to pigeon hole my fellow jurors: she's the prego. She had her first ultrasound appointment during the trial. She wanted to bounce potential baby names off us. She's also said to me once, "I bet all your friends to to set you up with their single friends?" All I could say, dumbfounded, was "nope... It's happened once in 30 years."

Juror 12 was extremely difficult to get a read. I know that she was young woman, worked at a cosmetology place (maybe she was a cosmetologist herself?) and has been with her husband since high school. Very quiet. Very polite. Never got a laugh from her, only polite smiles. I thought if anybody was going to write a tell-all "I was in a jury of morons, freaks and losers" it might be her. But she is far too polite to ever do something like that.

Juror 13 was also very quiet. She was a young Latina who kept mainly to herself and her cell phone text conversations during our break. She was engaging, when engaged, and was generally in a smiling mood most of the day. (None of us, going through that testimony, could be in a smiling mood the entire day) I am very thankful that she was one of the dissenting opinions in deliberation. If we had all instantly agreed and spent less than a half hour deliberating - I feel that we were short changing somebody. That her initial disagreement caused a discussion that had to happen after closing arguments.

Juror 14:

The Grandstanding, Metaphors, and Visual Torture of the Trial:
We, the jury, loved hearing "Objection" yelled. It became a code in the Jury Room. "213," and "Scope" became ultra inside jokes to us. One of lawyers kept motioning to his groin region. Another lawyer wanted to lie down on the courtroom floor. And another lawyer kept using a football metaphor. Now his metaphor made sense. An Internist is like a quarterback. But when he extended the metaphor out like the following example, I had a problem:

"It's like when Mr. Orton calls an end around - so when he turns and pitches the ball it's because he knows that Mr. Hester will be there to catch it."

My first problem with this metaphor is that if you want your client to look competent: don't align them with the offense of the Chicago Bears. Secondly, you want to SERIOUSLY avoid relating the play comprehension of Mr. Devin Hester to anybody in the medial profession.

Near the end of the trial, The Counsel for the Plaintiff tried to use a metaphor of a ship. No question, one of the worst metaphors ever attempted. It confused everybody - even the judge (although I think he was trying to hide that emotion). To attempt to clean his metaphor up: The patient is a ship, the doctors are aboard that ship as lookouts... And then somewhere we got into a discussion of The Iceberg that sunk the Titanic and the other ships that were able to navigate that ocean on that night. Bad.

On a related metaphor thread - I had a specific scene from A Few Good Men running in my mind during this trial. It was the scene in which Tom Cruise's character asked a witness to find "The Mess Hall" in the Marine handbook. Citing that just because something is not in the handbook, doesn't mean it doesn't exist." There was a lot of testimony revolving around the interpretation of various medial notes. A lot of presuming what absence of material meant or didn't mean. I wanted to share this with the Jury badly, but was instructed to not mention anything about the case. Finally, during the closing arguments the scene was referenced - and I perked up in my chair only to get deflated when it was misquoted by the Counsel for DOCTOR B.

The Lunches:
Allow me to describe the glory of the Southwest Chicken Wrap. It was plain and simple, the best option on our lunch menu. Our First Deputy had recommended it's quality. And I kept ordering it as an ode to his memory. And also cause it was tasty. I sang it's praises to my fellow jurors - by the end of the trial half the jury was ordering the Southwest Chicken Wrap.

I should also mention that I made a mixtape for two jurors. It was the same one, just two copies. The Queen of the Jury (you know, the one I was flirting with) and the Prego (you know, the one who referenced me being set up with friends) and I would have nice pop cultural discussions during lunch. And when prego mentioned an up and coming songstress - The Queen wanted to hear a song. That was all I needed to start the creative mixtape titled "Listen and Deliberate."

We were under the constant attack of projected notes. A word of advice to all trial lawyers: Incompetence in presenting the evidence has an ability to make the evidence less credible.
One of the lawyers never figured out the projector's functionality. One day I may write, direct, and star in a one man stage performance illustrating his ineptitude.

Frequently, The Counsel for DOCTOR C would beat down the analysis of these doctors and nurses notes to the point that only dust remained on the projector. A cell phone rang during one of these duststorms. Our Least Favorite Deputy got on her high horse and called out, "Who's phone is that? But our Judge, in a comment he later apologized to us after in his chambers, said "No, it's okay - It's a nice change of tone." We told him that we all felt the same way. However, to his analytical beatdown credit, the lawyer produced one of the nicer poster board board displays of a time line that would make any art teacher shed a tear of pride.

The Deliberation and Aftermath:
About ten minutes into "the real deliberation" which started after we discovered where the disagreement lied, I checked out of the debate on purpose. When I have opinions, I like to argue them. I have also been told that I can be interpreted as condescending. This is when I relied on the mental braun of our MBA juror. It was clear that she, more than any of us, wanted to get home and done with the trial. When she took the lead in pursuing the disagreeing juror's doubts I sat back and was pleased to do so. But the prego interrupted us all for a moment and said, "Tom, what do you think?"

I collected myself and tried to carefully find the proper word choice.
(To paraphrase what I said):
"Well... like I said I have doubts about DOCTOR C's possible negligence. Some of these things did happen on her watch. However, that being said, when I saw that autopsy, and it's explanation... I don't see anything at all associated with DOCTOR C. And because I feel that way, I can in no way file for the Plaintiff against DOCTOR C."

Juror 13 responded "...when you put it that way..."

By the time we walked back to the courtroom, there weren't many people there waiting for us (approximately 2 hours after we were given deliberation instructions).

Minus their counsel, only DOCTOR B was there. Other jurors expressed relief that they didn't have to see the reaction of the PATIENT's mother or family. I was surprised that DOCTOR A and DOCTOR C had left. I wrote it off as them having family obligations, or maybe just a feeling of exhaustion. They didn't have to be there for the trial - but they were. To have your professional livelihood put on examination and criticism like that has to be grueling to an extent I hope never to know.

So the Jurors and I all exchanged e-mails... Well, some of us. The Obama Mamma doesn't own a computer, let alone Internet Access. And the mustached patriarch of our team supplied a phone number instead... the classy move. These two are the only ones to be immune from my follow up emails to the rest of the jurors. Notes I send them to encourage the reunion some of us want. Notes I send still trying to make them laugh. And general "what the hell was that ship analogy about?" types of comments.

I've sent my previous post to them, for review of accuracy. I will also send this posting to them as well.

If you can believe me, I had to edit out a lot of my memories and experiences. I could write volumes about this group. I told them that I wanted us to rent a short bus and travel the country solving mysteries... Kinda like The A-Team.


P.S. A very special mention:
DOCTOR B has a perfect quote from The Big Lebowski in his testimony. Here's what the offical court transcript would look like:

QUESTION: ...and the ultrasound showed it to be one by three and a half centimeters in size?
QUESTION: About the size of a golf ball?
ANSWER: Obviously you're not a golfer.
QUESTION: But that's what the note said...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

JURY DEBRIEF: Just the facts

The following is an account of the civil case in which I was a juror:

In late May 2002 a 30 year old, 429 lbs. male PATIENT walked into HOSPITAL X complaining of breathing difficulties. According to the history taken on his admission forms, PATIENT has had a history of asthma, sleep apnea and cellulitis. Morbid Obesity, a term I previously thought was just a saying and not a technical medical condition/diagnosis, was also listed.

The cellulitis was reported, on the admission papers, to be located on his abdomen. Later it was described to be on his "pannus."

An ER Doctor moved PATIENT to the Intensive Care Unit after he was intubated. Soon he had gone into respiratory failure and was placed on a respirator. The ER Doctor ordered a central line. A surgeon, who was on call at the time, was unsuccessful administering a central line. DOCTOR A, a Pulmonologist, also made an attempt on PATIENT - specifially into the femoral vein. The attempt by the pulmonolgist was unsuccessful. Later a vascular surgeon successfully carried out the central line order through the subclaivian vein.

The failed attempt by DOCTOR A resulted in a hematoma along with ecchymosis in the right groin area of the PATIENT. Also a DVT: Deep Vein Thrombosis developed in the PATIENT's lower right leg. In order to avoid a typically fatal PE: Pulmonary Embolism (which may result from a DVT clot traveling through the circulatory system from an extremeity to the lungs), PATIENT was given various blood thinning medication: including Coumadin.

***Because my Juror's notes were destroyed, I am having a difficult time trying to reconstruct the various steroids and other respiratory antibiotics administered to the PATIENT due to his pneumonia (lung infection), which had also developed. There was quite a cocktail of pharmaceuticals in PATIENT, the only name I can remember is the aforementioned Coumadin. The point I want to state is that PATIENT'S blood at this time was relatively thin - causing the blood loss from the femoral vein central line attempt to be significant.***

DOCTOR B, an infectious disease specialist, was called in by DOCTOR A for a consult on PATIENT'S hematoma.

PATIENT'S health in the ICU improved to the point of extubation (a reversal of the intubation: "they took out the breathing tube"). By this time is was the middle of June 2002. The PATIENT'S sedentary lifestyle, indicative of prolonged medical stays, warranted a transfer to a subacute facility instead of a release home due to a need of physical therapy. Also, the PATIENT was in the middle of a multi-week Pneumonia antibotic course. PATIENT was transferred from to HOSPITAL Y (a subacute medical facility).

DOCTOR B, the infectious disease specialist, also saw PATIENT at HOSPITAL Y. The hematoma, by the accounts of various doctor's notes, was either improving or staying the same. An ultrasound had found the hematoma to be 3.0 x 1.5 centimeters in area. The ecchymosis was changing colors and also moving. At the time, it was explained as a healing process (typical of buises changing color) and the move to other parts of the thigh was caused by gravity (PATIENT lying down for most of the day).

The opinion of DOCTOR B was that no infection existed in the right groin area of the PATIENT. Although the hematoma remained, he decided against an I&D: Incision
and Drainage. It was in the judgment of DOCTOR B that an attempt to stick a needle through the patient's groin (a normally "dirty" area of the anatomy colonized by multiple strains of bacteria) into a collection of blood (the hematoma) would be an unnecessary risk without sufficient reward.

In late June 2002 the DOCTOR B "signed off" on the case, citing that his consultation was no longer necessary for it was clear that PATIENTs hematoma was not infected. It is important to note that White Blood Cell levels (a common indicator used to evaluate infections and possible infections) were detailed in the notes of DOCTOR B. Multiple reasons for an elevated White Blood Count were explained as a resulting factors attributed to PATIENT's:
-loss of blood from the central line attempt
-Deep Vein Thrombosis
-Prescribed Steroids related to Pulmonary care

While at HOSPITAL Y, PATIENT's doctor of record was DOCTOR C (An internist). DOCTOR B was responsible for the overall care of the PATIENT while at HOSPITAL Y. This is who had called in the Infectious Disease Specialist (the fact that it was the same DOCTOR B from HOSPITAL X is a coincidence, for DOCTOR B was on staff at both hospitals).

In early July 2002, while at HOSPITAL Y, the PATIENT's health decreased rapidly and aggressively. An apparent infection and resulted in the PATIENT going into Septic Shock. PATIENT was immediately transferred to HOSPITAL Z (an acute hospital facility).

The source of the infection was PATIENT's right groin. As much as one liter of blood and pus were removed from the area. An I&D was preformed. The notes described "handfulls" of diseased tissue were removed. The subsequent tests on the tissue found positive traces of a highly resistant strain of E. Coli.

In mid-July 2002 PATIENT died at HOSPITAL Z. The autoposy listed Acute Bilateral Pneumia with Multi System Organ Failure as the causes of death.
This was a medical malpractice case.
The deceased's mother and two sisters were suing DOCTORS A, B & C on behalf of the PATIENT.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: There was a fourth Defendant involved in the case: a pulmonologist from HOSPITAL Y. However, this fourth Defendant was dismissed from the case shortly after their defense case was rested and before the closing arguments. The lawyer for the plaintiff had allowed for the dismissal. Also, there was a fifth Defendant: the vascular surgeon from HOSPITAL X. However, this fifth Defendant had died during the time period of PATIENT's death and the start of the trial.)

The attorney for the Plaintiff's case was built on the following:
-That DOCTOR A should have waited for a vascular surgeon before attempting the central line (and that DOCTOR A introduced an infection to the groin area from an existing nearby cellulitus, which resulted in an infected hematoma leading to the eventual death of the PATIENT)
-That DOCTOR B failed to correctly diagnose an infected hematoma (that further questioning and evaluating not performed would have discovered the infection and prevented the eventual death of the PATIENT)
-That DOCTOR C failed to call in more opinions to evaluate the potential infected groin and that DOCTOR C's overall care led to the deterioration of the PATIENT'S Health (causing the immediate transfer to HOSPITAL Z and to his eventual death)

The attorneys for the Defense built their cases on the following:
-That DOCTOR A is a well trained and qualified physician acting within the standard of care (and that pre-existing conditions like Morbid Obesity and other factors were causes of death)
-That DOCTOR B is a well trained and qualified physician acting within the standard of care (and that no infection existed or developed under his care)
-That DOCTOR C is a well trained and qualified physician acting within the standard of care (and that the eventual death of multi-organ failure at HOSPITAL Z were caused by pneumonia and factors successfully managed under the care of DOCTOR C while at HOSPITAL Y)

We, the Jury, had to rule on the three Defendants on an individual basis.
For each doctor: we had to either rule in favor of the Plaintiff (against the defense) or rule in favor of the defense (against the Plaintiff).
In order for a ruling in the Plaintiff's favor, all three statements had to be true for a specific doctor
1. The doctor was professionally negligent (defined as a deviation from the standard of care a reasonably well qualified physician would provide).
2. The doctor's care was harmful to the patient.
3. The doctor caused injury (in this case death - in any way) to the patient.

We, the Jury, instantly and unanimously agreed that DOCTOR A was not negligent. Therefore we did not discuss the merits of asking questions 2 & 3 because as soon as #1 was agreed to be false, we had to rule in favor of the Defendant.

DOCTOR B was evaluated in nearly the exact same fashion. None of us believed there was a deviation from the standard of care and thus ruled in favor of the Defendant.

The majority of our deliberation in the Jury Room was in reference to DOCTOR C. Some of us believed that DOCTOR C may have caused harm to the PATIENT, however we all agreed that the alleged harm did not lead - in any way - to the eventual death of the PATIENT. By rule, this lead us to file in favor of the Defendant.

Punitive damages were only to be discussed in the instance if we filed in the Plaintiff's favor for any of the three cases. (Point of curiosity: the Plaintiff's attorney asked us for $1 to $5 million dollars)

Hopefully I have provided more than ample material. If you want any more details from this case, let me know.

My next post will be more entertaining, for I will try to paint you all a picture of the characters involved in this case (both inside and outside of the Jury Room).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Has the jury reached a verdict?

Q: So I hear you've been on a jury recently?
A: Yes, over the past 11 business days I've heard over 60 hours of testimony.

Tonight the fellow jurors and I deliberated, and reached a unanimous decision.

I please ask for your patience because I have quite a long story to tell. It will be posted soon.

Stay tuned sports fans.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Do you really want to know more? (A near infinite list of random things)

Q: Does 30 revolutions around the sun make you qualified?
A: Nope, but it makes you realize that you were wrong for previously saying such.

A quick statement to those reading on blogspot (away from the ti
me imprisoning facebook) - There is a epidemic sweeping across facebookland - Notes titled "25 Random Things" in which people tag one another in an quasi-chain letter structure that entices tagged individuals to reciprocate. One of these lists outwardly tagged no one - and I wholeheartedly agree with the logic behind that choice.

1. Many people would say that I'm extroverted to the highest level: Openly show my feelings, opinions, life experiences. The smarter of these people realize that this all access pass (that readily gives them access to my experiences dating from the Internet, embarrassing family stories, propensity to talk to strangers) is an elaborate diversionary tactic that blocks them from the ultra inside information that only very few know.

2. I attempt to live by the motto, "It's not whether you win or lose - it's if there's a story to tell afterward."

3. An extremely close friend of mine is no longer reliable. From now on, when I call him I expect to get a voicemail and expect the call to go unreturned. Unreturned like the texts, emails, and facebook messages. Soon I will literally pen a letter to mail. I refuse to give up on this friendship. Nothing pisses me off more than thinking that this friend would rather smoke up than respond to a call. Nothing scares me more than thinking that the unresponsiveness is a function of something worse than his addiction (yes, I'm using that word choice) to pot. 63 people, not all of them I knew, showed up to celebrate my 30th birthday party - and with each new person that walked in I was hoping it was him. I was sincerely hurt that evening by his absence.

4. I was touched by the presence of a friend from high school showing up at my birthday party. Without question, my years in high school were the worst years of my life. I simultaneously want those years wiped from my memory and use them to remind me to live. This friend from high school is the only person from high school that knew me at my worst and stayed friends with me throughout. Telling him so in an e-mail the day after my birthday literally made me cry.

5. I cry a lot. Not just for a guy. For a human. I used to cry fits when the Bulls would lose a single playoff game. I've been reduced to sobs in a movie theater on multiple occasions. However, I also cry a lot when I laugh too much. Sadly, I seem to now cry in situations when I didn't before (i.e. at a wedding two years ago and at a wake last year).

6. I am not professionally motivated by money or accomplishment. Depending on how the day goes, I'm either motivated by an abject fear of being fired or the delight in making other people successful at their job.

7. My current employer has about 300 people at our location. I may kn
ow more than half of them directly, and 85% of the rest work with someone who knows me. Some of them think I'm full of myself - Most of them think well of me - All of them think I am crazy. It doesn't matter which of those three categories they fall in because they are all correct.

8. Generally speaking, I rarely use profanity in my speech. Most of my coworkers have never heard me swear. However, when it comes to playing video games and watching Marquette Basketball: I'll out-cuss you to the end of time.

9. I want every girl who's ever gone on (at least) one date with me to meet each other. At the same time. An actual convention setting. I want them to share stories and experiences. Finally, I want it all videotaped and transcribed for my enjoyment.

10. White Castle is an establishment I can dine at regardless of my sobriety. Yes, they are awful for your health and cause havoc on your "system" but I can put'em down with a smile on my face.

11. Twenty some weeks ago I weighted myself. I weighed exactly one-eighth of one ton. Currently, 30 pounds have been lost - and I consider myself halfway to my ideal weight.

12. Once I was told that I "get off" on rejection. That I purposely ask out girls who will say "no" and only act in ways that will make them end it first. There is not enough evidence for me to find to argue against that stance (but I still don't believe it is the case).

13. Crunchy Peanut Butter is the only real peanut butter. Creamy is for sissies. Most of America prefers creamy (Most of America also voted for G.W.
B. in 2004).

14. I saw The Big Lebowski in the theater when it first came out in 1998 and 24 when it premiered in 2001. (Honorable mention: I also watched the first Puppy Bowl in 2005)

15. I finally watched all the "original" Star Wars films when I was 17 when I worked at Noo
dle Kidoodle. In case you missed that - I once worked at a place named Noodle Kidoodle.

16. My sister never picked on me when we were younger. I believe this to be directly attributed to the fact that I am my sister's second chance at a baby brother. Before me my parents had to bury their son less than a year after his birth - and I also believe that if Kevin had lived, I would have never existed.

17. I have a horrible starting assumption that everyone is male, white, heterosexual and Christian. Give me any first and last name together and this is where they start in my mind. Basically, it's a perverted version of "innocent until proven guilty" - but I'm not implying that there's anything wrong with the alternatives... I just really don't think of it - people have to tell me "oh, he's gay" or "she's not working today because it's Yom Kippur." before I realize that aspect of their life.

18. I have delusions of grandeur on a daily basis. Most days, I seriously think I have the mental toughness to handle fame. Daydreams of foiling a plane hijacking, winning the WSOP, stumbling upon a cure for HIV are just a few examples.

19. I forgot to mention that drinking will loosen the lips as far as profanity is concerned. This is usually how people will hear these words from me for the first time. I drink way less than most, but also way more than my closest friends. One of the founding principles of my "one drink = I don't drive, period" philosophy is because I often don't want to drink - and it's a perfect defense for those that don't understand non-drinking.

20. In 2002 I bought my first car, which I was unable to drive home because it was a stick-shift. Last February I bought my second car, which is also has a manual transmission. I may never buy an automatic again?

21. I really like The Big Lebowski. The previous sentence is a understatement to the largest possible degree.

22. Writing is one of my most enjoyable leisure activities. I took a creative writing class last year that was ebullient - to use a word from the class. However, just because I like writing - doesn't mean I'm any good... More importantly, if my livelihood was dependent on my writing - I'm positive it would stop being fun very quickly.

23. By that same token I love gaming. When I say "gaming" i just don't mean gambling. I love running poker tournaments and other gambling operations (like my NCAA bracket pool). So when people ask me if I'd ever consider a career in the gaming industry or working at a casino - I have a similar response. If I had to run poker tournaments for a living, I think it would stop being fun... Even if I came into a disturbingly large amount of cash - and never had to work again - I don't think I'd want to become a professional poker player (because I'm also not very good).

24. I really like that I can have huge disagreements with close friends. We don't discuss our differences often, but when we do it makes me feel more mature. Which reminds me - I'm very immature.

25. At all times, I have a crush on at least three girls. Sometimes it's more, but you can always bank on at least three. These crushes are of varying degrees of intensity - but more importantly most are not realistic. Allow me to clarify these "unrealistic" crushes: Mainly, these women are undateable for various reasons. It could mean they are currently in a relationship, currently don't live in my geographic area, or other factors I won't list here because I'm fairly confident one of my current, former, or future crushes may read this... Yup, if you're reading this and you are a woman there is a very high chance that at one time you were a target of a TQ harmless schoolboy strength crush.

26. Tomorrow will be my tenth day serving as a Juror in a Cook County Civil Trial. It's one of the most important things I have ever done. Comments like, "why didn't you get out of this" insult me. I was raised to believe in civic duty, and because I have no desire to join the military - I think serving on a jury is on par (and in some cases exceeds) voting as the single most important act of a citizen. I've heard, "Just say you're a racist." which is angers me because
a. I'm not a racist
b. Purposely avoiding jury placement is contempt of court
c. If I'm ever in a situation when I need to have a jury - I hope I get 12 peers who understand the significance of providing this unbelievable right that most in the world do not have.

I'm always surprised when people tell me they read my blogs, or notes, or whatever the new name for "this." And I'll try to hide my secret here: I love comments. I look at some of these notes, that have 5+ comments before I read it and say to myself, "holy crap, look at how many people read [this person]'s note." Besides my sister and three close friends - i doubt anybody reads these, and love to be proven wrong.

28. A neurologist diagnosed me with three specific sleep disorders. I blame none of them for why I have a difficult time sleeping under normal situations. Wanting to know what song is next on shuffle, wanting to know what TV show is on next or reading another article is a more accurate reason. Plainly said: my mind just can't turn off. I'd rather type stupid blogs than stare at the ceiling dreaming of what I would do with the ability to stop time.

29. If I could have one superpower - it wouldn't be to fly or have strength. It'd be the ability to control and manipulate time. Reading people's minds and telekinesis are closely tied for second place.

30. I also feel guilty for how much I love jury duty. Yes, it's not all fun and games - it's mentally draining and the impact I know have on multiple people's futures is staggering - but I'm digging walking to the train station to ride to downtown Chicago to a building with ramped up security makes me feel more important. The guilt comes from the people I've left behind at my place of actual employment. The increased workload my absence has created for others and the general inconvenience of it all... for them.

31. Every time I see the letters l, o, and l typed together I feel like I've lost mental capacity that I'll never reclaim. It also makes me feel icky on a few levels. If you get me laughing, I may frantically type Hs and As or plainly say, "I'm literally laughing out loud."

32. If you get an e-mail from me that includes an emoticon (aka "smiley face") it's an accident or someone made me do it to convey context. I was told that emoticons were encouraged at a major telecommunications company for the specific purpose of detecting tone and seriousness.

33. Despite what I may tell you, I would like to be set up with that friend of yours. I'm gonna hate the stories that may get leaked back to you. Just tell me to surrender to fear.

34. Scared? Scarred? I rarely know which word means which and will rearrange words to use "fear." This is because of #35 in some ways.

35. I spent a lot of time in Speech Therapy. Tons. So much I finally quit - refusing to go back if my parents sent me again. I wasn't cured. The sound of my voice is my least favorite noise. Words containing a "R" still cause me to stumble and I'll try to say synonyms of words to replace words that have an R (especially if the letter is at the end of the word). My vocabulary has been enhanced through this now involuntary speech pattern. I also speak very quickly and string words together:

36. Bjork is the last musical act I want to see live before I die. The list, when it was made, included U2 and Radiohead. A good taste in music is very attractive to me.

37. Halloween doesn't make sense to me. A lot of people absolutely love it, love their costumes, love the candy. An adult in costume seems odd to me... That being said, I wish I could say that I'll never be in a costume again - but I know I'll be convinced or forced to comply again.

38. Some people can dance like no one is watching. Some people like to dance when others are watching. Nothing debilitates my self confidence than the feeling of eyes watching me dance. However, girls can get me to dance. But as much as it breaks my sister's heart - not her. I'm an absolute wreck at weddings, when people start dancing. I sweat bullets and pray I don't have to hurt someone's feelings by turning down a dance. Alcohol does cut through this. Whatever that inhibition is that is freed by booze can get me to dance - but only if I get "way in the bag" so to speak - to a level I rarely descend.

39. Sometimes, I want to experience a heroin high. I know it can wreck my life - and that I'll never be stupid enough to try... But for people to literally throw their entire life away for that elation - it makes me suspect how good that feeling must be (even if it is ju
st short term). Yes, I've got my R-rated vices, and that's probably all I'd be able to handle.

40. I don't get into physical fights. But if it's going to happen - it won't be in a bar. It's going to be in a movie theater - and it's going to be started from someone else's cell phone or endless talking. Nothing gets me more to the point of resorting to physcial violence like poor movie ettiquite. Although this may make you laugh, I'm dead serious.

41. I love my parents. (that's all I really want to say, or feel like I need to say)

42. When I play basketball, more of my made shots are shot left handed. This isn't because I've gotten good at using my off hand - it's because I've gotten
progressivley worse at shooting longer distances.

43. A dream of mine is to be nominated for an Academy Award. Not because I want to win, but because I think I could get a date with ANYONE with the line, "I was nominated for an Oscar, I have two tickets - what are you doing in a couple Sundays?"

43. If I happen to win an Oscar, this will be my acceptance speech. "I would like to thank everybody who has ever heard me complain, but I want to dedicate this to all of th
ose that listened."

44. One of my favorite words in the english language is the contraction "y'all." It's a
beautiful word that is all encompassing yet species neutral. I love to use it in e-mails. It's the greatest thing The South has ever given the world. Not to demote their other contributions - I just feel that strongly.

45. Serena Williams is an attractive woman. I get a lot of opposition to this statement. I guess nobody finds winning sexy? And no, I'm not attracted to her because I think she can beat the holy hell out of me in a fight. I understand that she may be more "muscular" that most... men... but I like watching her grunt her way to Grand Slam titles.

47. I take pride in the movies on my NetFlix queue and songs in my iPod playlists. I wish I could make movie queue lists for people the same way I make mixtapes.

48. At least twice a week I check Craigslists' Missed Connections because I want to be the subject of a posting. Especailly when I go into the City, I want to make sure I didn't "miss" my missed connection. My eyes are always on a swivel and I try to remember as much details as I could so I could reply, "yeah, I remember you - weren't you wearing a red and blue scarf?"

49. Please stop calling your boots, "My hooker boots." You need to show me a pair of "non-hooker boots" before you can make that distinction. What's that? All your boots are hooker boots? Yeah. I know.

50. I need to stop writing this now because I don't see any end to my mindless rambles.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What are your favorite Super Bowl (viewing) memories?

Q: Of the last five years, what are your strongest memories from watching the Super Bowl.
A: It's never about the actual game.

2009 (Wheeling): Laughing hysterically at Bruce's opening monologue - which we had to replay instantly because we were laughing too hard to hear it all:

"Ladies and gentleman for the next 12 minutes we're gonna beam righteous and mighty power of The E Street Band into your beautiful home. I want you to step back from the guacamole dip, I want you to put the chicken fingers down and turn your television... all the way up!"

2008 (Palatine & Hoffman Estates): Double booking myself causing me to watch the two halves in two different towns... I'll never do that again, especially when the short drive was impossible due to a snowstorm.

2007 (Des Plaines): The only Super Bowl viewing I've ever hosted... Mainly because this Super Bowl happened to be a Bear game. The memory is not our elation of Hes running back the opening kick, but rather that my friend wanted to dress up and wore a jacket and tie (He said it was the most important sports viewing event of his life).

2006 (Charleston): If they ever write an unauthorized biography of my life, this weekend will be in it, due to a certain girl who hung a Jack Kerouac poster in her studio apartment located in "the square." The lame Seahawk/Steeler game was unable to distract me.

2005 (Charleston): Since none of us could handle the endless pre-game, we kept flipping the channels looking for a better option. Through this random act of boredom we discovered the first ever Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. It was one of the funniest and surreal moments of my recent memory...

I've made it a point to watch the Puppy Bowl every year since. As I write this, long after the conclusion of Super Bowl XLIII, I have Animal Planet on in the background (I believe they air this back to back to back). The broadcast is much more glitzed up now. Instant replays, kittys at halftime, a referee, and now flashbacks to earlier puppy bowls. Back in 2005 it was just a pure camera without almost zero voice over. A great counter-programming idea. In my opinion, they need to keep it as diffrent as the actual game as possible.