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Archives for March 2014

Doctor, doctor tell me the news

Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD
Sarver Heart Center
University of Arizona College of Medicine
Post Office Box 245046
Tucson, Arizona 85724-5046

Dear Dr. Sweitzer:

I spent a lifetime as a newspaper man so I understand intimately the meaning of snafu and fubar. But I have to say the Sarver Heart Center under its new management offered me an entirely new perspective.

For a little short of three decades Dr. Gordon Ewy was my cardiologist. I would put him up for sainthood, but he would not accept. It was a sad day when he retired.

Upon his retirement, I saw nurse practitioner Donner in May last year who noted that I was in fairly good shape. But she left as well. I had an appointment to see her last November. I received a letter in the mail that I had an appointment with someone of whom I had never heard. Didn’t say spit about this doctor being my new cardiologist. Then, I got a call to make an appointment for a scan. But I had no doctor and no Donner. I spoke with someone in your office, described my predicament. She said in semi-hysterical terms she could not help me, and moreover she didn’t know what to tell me. So I muttered some words (old Anglo-Saxon) appropriate to the occasion and decided I could probably do without a cardiologist since my last occurrence of SVT was many years past.

But the mischief of your heartless center casts a long shadow. I had prescriptions that required renewal. Rosemary at Walgreens called to obtain a renewal for a prescription ordered by either Ewy or Donner. She was told I had to make an appointment at the heart center. But I had no doctor, no nurse practitioner, no one with whom I could make an appointment. This was a problem worthy of Doc Daneeka.

I worked around this problem by contacting my primary, Dr. Randall Brown who prescribed the drug.

I would have let it go when it happened again today. But this was too much. Rosemary at Walgreens tried to obtain a renewal for atenolol. Someone named Sisterman at Sarver denied it. Perhaps I should not blame Sisterman because she doesn’t know me from Adam. But when it comes down to it, that’s the point, is it not? Once I was a Sarver patient. I could call the center and speak to an actual responsive human being. For many years it was Isabel, a Noo Yawker who took care of my appointments, offered tasty morsels at her desk and advised me on other matters with great wisdom. When Isabel retired, I could deal with Debbie who was efficient and cheerful. Today I am unknown, and Sarver cares not a whit. By the way, Jack Sarver gave me the loan to buy my first house in Tucson. He was a good man, a good Democrat and easy to reach.

Which is unlike the center that bears his name. I called the Sarver Center today. I could press this number and that, and when I did so was told I could leave a message. I muttered some appropriate words (Anglo-Saxon in origin). I was thinking perhaps I should try to dial you, the director of the Sarver Heart Center, but I had to look you up. I don’t know you from Eve. But I figure you have so many barriers set up between you and the public that I would have better luck speaking to the Pope. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would.

I did not want to let it go this time around, and just indulge my un-unique Anglo-Saxon vocabulary. So please consider this a nasty letter of remonstration and my testimonial that the Sarver Heart Center doesn’t give a rat’s derriere for its patients.


Former patient
(Seriously pissed off)

Ah, spring

DSC_0316In 14 years I have never seen so many bees hanging around a more fragrant grapefruit tree. The perfume from the citrus blossoms floats and lingers in a scented halo. This is the first year I treated the tree with a modicum of respect — a little dung here, fertilizer there, a proper prune and there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, a generously fragrant citrus tree that forgives more than a decade of neglect.

And then the bees, the extremely busy buzzers, are in high pollination, doing good, really important work and much appreciated. They pause only to urge others to sign up for Obamacare. Then they just go about doing good things. I think in spite of the queen, they are liberals.DSC_0323

The roses are doing very well, having supped from the same manure-spreading sessions. A small dose of Rand Paul can go a long way, proving the ground of a fanatic is fertile indeed. Some roses, alas, have been beset with nasty, liar aphids, sometimes known as koch bugs. Makes the blossoms wilt. These are particularly irritating because they are tea poddy aphids. You can get rid of them, mirabile dictu, by spraying profoundly with truth and reason. They leave, grumpy and ill-tempered in a great Rush.

My grapevines covet territory. They spread like wildfire looking keenly to cover and engulf the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine withDSC_0322 distant dreams of tendrils and vines in Poland, Austria and Sudetenland. I am content to do my impression of Chamberlain and appease them as best I can. If we can’t have peace, at least we’ll have grapes in our time.

I have to say that my prickly pear putin cactus has never looked better. It froze badly the past two winters, but this year it has flourished, grown tall and confident, even bold. It has more putin pricks than you can shake an economic sanction at. You do not want to handle it because it will stick you without warning, take a vote and annex you.

There’s not a lot you can do about it except sing “Crimea River.”


The lonesome gazebo

IMG_0860 - Version 3

Zoe and I have passed this gazebo many times. It seems such an orphan, sitting there along the north bank of the Rillito. Gazebos are social, for tea and crumpets or beers and conversation. The setting ought to be  lush. This one is none of that; it seems strange, just stuck there all by its lonesome. You have to figure that someone at sometime had something in mind. Seems like it didn’t work out.


Tom Turner remembered

DSCF1093DSCF1095Today (March 15) I joined many others to celebrate the life of Thomas Norman Turner, a newspaper man who spent his career at The Arizona Daily Star. He was a good friend and a talented colleague.

His sons Mike and Kevin offered loving tributes as did the Star’s cartoonist David Fitzsimmons. They caught Tom’s spirit, his hearty laugh, exceptional talents for theater, writing and editing.

He was and will continue to be well-remembered.

The worst parking garage

Into the abyss

Into the abyss

DSC_0124My candidate for the worst parking garage in Tucson, in Arizona, in the Western United States is at the University Medical Center.

It was ill conceived.

It is dangerous, an urban hazard, home of dents, demolished tail lights and bent fenders.

On the day I visited, there was a tow truck by the tollbooth. It was parked there because it could not climb the ultra-narrow ramp and make the 90-degree fricking right turn. What kind of fool could concoct such a thing?

There are a number of levels. If you are forced to go down into them, you may never come out. It is a trip into the abyss, into cosmic claustrophobia, deep and dark where evil lurks in odd shaped nooks and crannies, allegedly parking spaces. It is chutes and ladders in concrete.

Good thing there’s a hospital nearby.