“Oh don’t think too much about it. Anything can cause it. It might’ve been the storm, the drop in barometric pressure. It might be the full moon.”
The other nurses nodded along to this proposed explanation for why my son, who wasn’t supposed to be born for another six weeks, had arrived into the world that early morning. It was a relief to hear such talk. At that time I was surrounded by the sterile walls, whirring motors, beeping electronics. My son was attached to a CPAP machine, his little face knotted up by velcro straps keeping the air tubes in his nose; one of his little hour-old veins was extended in an IV tube, and all his bodily functions seemed to be taking place on a screen. When your firstborn looks like a bit of technohorror, you are grateful for that hokum which is as old as the hills: Old wives’ tales.
If it were nothing but old wives tales, fluffing pillows, and changing diapers, I doubt I would like anything more than nursing. The problem is the job that properly belongs to nuns and old widows has been turned into a profession. Nursing is now maybe the most noticeable part of the mommy industrial complex, that part of the feminist revolution which transforms maternal impulses into cogs of the technocracy. A gaggle of nurses is a dangerous thing. Through our next two weeks in the NICU, my wife and I learned and relearned this again and again.
What is interesting is not the malevolence or incompetence of any one nurse, but their wickedness as a corporeal body. If you were dealing with one individual nurse, it would be a whole different affair. If that one nurse made a mistake, or did something the baby didn’t respond well to, you could point it out to her, and she could do better the next time. But the nurses revolve after eight to twelve hours. Then you don’t see the same one again for another couple days, if at all. By the time you notice one nurse’s error, another nurse has stepped in, possibly ready to make the same error (in which case she will be ready to chew you out for suggesting she is like the previous nurse), and very likely to make new errors of her own.
Every NICU nurse has a very clear idea of what is undoubtedly in the best interest of your baby. This very clear idea is never the same from nurse to nurse. One claims that skin-to-skin contact is the best thing for your premie; the next says it will do a world of harm in such a new state. One tells you that any breastfeeding is going to stand in the way of growth; the next tells you it is the best way for premies to grow. If you were dealing with one person, you could ask her questions, you could try to figure out what kind of logic or logical error was involved in a given prescription. But the constant revolution of nurses means you never have any consistency, not even in error.
There is the doctor. I liked the doctor. You see the doctor once a day for about five minutes. Even when he’s leading you down a course of action you or your wife don’t completely agree with, the doctor gives you assurance that his treatment program is based somewhat in science and logic. But doctors don’t run hospitals. No one runs hospitals. No one knows who runs hospitals. Even the people who run the hospitals probably aren’t aware they run it. Some bigwig occasionally make a statement about profits and federal funding, and it slithers down the machinery of the corporate bureaucracy. But assigning ration or even malevolence to the actors obscures the fact that probably no one is in charge.
There are many facts, taken alone, which would themselves provide ample excuse to blow the medical establishment to smithereens. One is that newborn babies, within 24 hours of birth–even premies–are encouraged to take a vaccine for Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B? That disease that doesn’t affect anyone but crackwhores? It is so mind-bogglingly stupid, so blatantly and outrageously a scam, that you can’t believe an actual human being would suggest it without laughing. And yet a nurse comes in and does just that. And when you tell that nurse your baby will not be getting that Hep B vaccine, that he is at no risk for Hep B and therefore has no use for it, she will invariably get angry at opposing “hospital policy.” Is hospital policy to give the newborns heroin? Nurses don’t like when you ask such questions.
On the third day in the NICU, one of the nurses told me that my wife needed to be tested for syphilis. It might’ve been one of the reasons the baby came so early, and she might have passed on to the baby. My wife most certainly did not have syphilis. I told the nurse this. “Well of course I know your wife doesn’t have syphilis,” she said, but the hospital’s “standard of care” was involved. “Standard of care” is not a medical term, of course. It’s one out of tort law. Medical professionals are supposed to be concerned with “care,” that is the actual treatment provided to an individual, not a “standard of care” which is the broad limit of incompetency a medical professional must maintain before he gets sued. I told the nurse neither my wife nor child would be getting tested–that she herself didn’t believe syphilis was a threat, and that I would trust her judgment (and common sense) rather than let us be guided by idiot bureaucrats and lawyers. This was meant as a compliment to her and her competency. But nonetheless we were known as the “difficult” family.
This was the amazing thing about nurses: Even when you flatter them, even when you refer to their individual expertise and opinions against notoriously absurd “hospital policy,” they get mad at you for failing to conform. Don’t they resent having to promote policies that fly in the face of logic and medical knowledge? Don’t they resent that their organizations place so very little emphasis on the competency of their staff? No, no they don’t at all. They don’t have a healthy pride in their work, nurses have a pride of their place in the system. They are individual professionals hired by the hospital to perform a task; they are members of the hospital’s harem, striving to be the favored wife.
It has been fascinating to see how quickly and illogically Coronadoom policy has changed these past two years (masks don’t work, then they do…). This couldn’t happen if the medical community were full of people with any sense of professional responsibility. The nurses don’t have any; the administrators definitely don’t have any. Even the doctors are a strangely subservient crew, given they are members of a profession that prides itself on independence (not as strange when you consider how many are holding green cards).
One of the great signs of civilization–perhaps it is synonymous with civilization–is being able to feel confident in entrusting some task to the competency of another. But the entire medical establishment is just a blob of received opinion, and regurgitated “standards of care.” This couldn’t be confused with any traditional hierarchical model, because in traditional hierarchies, orders flow down and information flows up. The CDC is a quasi-shamanistic institution whose jurisdiction over anything isn’t totally clear. They put out “guidelines” which are obviously corrupt and which anyone with any professional responsibility has a duty to disobey. The Hep B nod, for example, was the result of certain board members being paid off by Merck, and literally no one caring.
The mind recoils to think the system could continue along without some reform. Even the Soviet Union had a Glasnot. But then you realize the nurses. They are the true believers interspersed within, keeping the moribund system going. They are the ones who eagerly snap up Dr. Fauci’s guidelines and want nothing more than to prove themselves obedient to the forces above them. They are a class unknown in history: Sterilized, spinsterish, unexceptional but worshipped as the height of virtue.They are not just taking home paychecks, they are validating the system with their girlpower. Their entire motive for existing lies in conforming themselves to this system. The faceless credentialed mediocrities give the tenor and tone to all society.
This is government by harem. When Fauci talks he isn’t sending orders down the chain, but directly to this class of women who anxiously comply. Fauci is not a medical expert in a traditional sense, one who proposes courses of action based on scientific evidence. He is a shaman, whose authority radiates from the fact that the gods of the machine have elected him for his role. No one cares if what he says is true. It doesn’t matter. He is a chieftain, a scientistic warlord for a people who have transcended war. He is the supreme validator of girlpower, and he must be defended.
This is the reason women must be kept out of government of anything but the household. Bureaucrats still like to know their superiors are competent. Even within the bureaucratic hierarchy there can be room for advance through improvement of the system. But these women take comfort in defending louts. The more irrational the orders they receive, the more they are justified in their irrational enforcement. The better they bolster their superiors’ incompetence, the better they are at their roles. The entire system operates on fostering female vice.
Government by harem provides a new model of leadership. Modern administrations operate on suggestion as much as orders, whether those administrations are medical, academic, or governmental. All the female functionaries in these realms have the same liberal, anti-racist education, and the same idealism. None of these women have any care or knowledge of procedural matters like jurisdiction or chain of command. They aren’t exactly bureaucrats in a traditional sense, because bureaucrats strive to maintain themselves within their allotted roles. These women love the exception; they love when their superior is acting ultra vires, for this is when the powers of idealism and social change can really get a shot in the arm. Are you not excited to see emergency powers extended? Are you not excited that the CDC is finally getting real power to control diseases? Not in recommending things like exercise and diet of course…more along the lines of eviction moratoriums…
Look at poor Andrew Cuomo. If he were a traditional hierarch he would be facing charges of manslaughter for the tens of thousands of excess deaths he caused by housing the sickest next to the most vulnerable. But my use of the word “he” presumes that men in power have some kind of direct authority over a group of subordinates. Who can even say nowadays? Who wants to even try? No, the powers that be went at Cuomo by attacking the nexus of his practical power: Between his sweaty Italian charisma and the harem of 6s with masters degrees who provide the lifeblood of his administration. When this cache was gone, his effective power was destroyed. He was a caresser, and now he’s a groper. Women are fickle that way.
We eventually escaped the NICU. I wanted to smoke one of the “It’s a Boy” cigars I’d bought, but they don’t let you smoke in the parking lots anymore. Anyway, I contracted Corona in the hospital, so I probably couldn’t taste it at any rate. The wife thankfully had already had it, and passed the antibodies along to our boy. The properties of breastmilk are so magical that they don’t deserve to be lowered to the realm of science, just as women are such fine creatures they shouldn’t be lowered to anything less than mothers.