Sunday, February 28, 2010

If I Had A Button

There are a lot of people in the world who feel powerless over their situations.  Imagine children living in homes where abuse occurs.  Imagine people in disaster zones, like Haiti, or more recently in Chile.  Imagine young people who live in under-developed countries where resources and jobs are not only scarce, there simply aren't any.  How will they live?  Criminally insane people and jihadists come from the likes of these.

And then there are the chronically sick.  Lately Sue's been experiencing chronic pain.  You get tired of being sick, and you get tired of being in pain, and you get tired of feeling powerless, and then wierd things start to happen.  Sometimes this feeling of powerlessness leads to despair.  Sometimes it leads to anger.  In Sue's case, she wants a button to push.  The way she put it last night, and again this morning, was something like this:  If I had a button to push, I'd push it.

In her case that's a double entendre.  It's frustrating, and it makes her mad, that she can't get her pain medications administered on time while she's in the hospital.  Even when she asks for them they don't get timely administered.  Sometimes, in hospitals, they will give you a little morphine pump that hangs on your I.V. stand and it has a little red button you hold in your hand and can push every so many minutes to self administer your pain meds.  Sue wants one of those, but so far they haven't given her one.

But the other sense of the button-to-push double entendre is more ominous (and here I specifically use the word "ominous" instead of "sinister").  Here we are talking about a Dr. Kevorkian, a.k.a. Dr. Death button.
I understand this sentiment of wanting a button to push, and I've always agreed with Dr. Kevorkian's assertion that "dying is not a crime."  Obviously not everyone agrees with this assertion, because the "good" doctor served eight years in prison for the crime of assisting terminally-ill patients expedite their own death.  He assisted 130 by his own account (see ).

So we dealt with these very real sentiments as constructively as we could by co-writing a new verse to the Hammer Song (written and sung by Pete Seeger and later sung by Peter, Paul and Mary, "If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning etc."  We now call it "The Button Song" and we had a silly good time singing it in Sue's isolation room this morning.

If I had a button,
I'd poke it in the morning,
I'd poke it in the evening,
And never let it out of my hand,
I'd poke out mor-or-phine,
I'd poke out i-ice-cream,
I'd poke out the love between
Our doctors and insurers,
All over this laaa-aaaa-aaa-and!

P.S.  When looking for a YouTube version of the hammer song, I came across this gem:
Hammer Song, by Obi


  1. It's been proven that opiates are not addictive to people who have real pain, so for those in chronic pain, being able to "pump" the pain away is both a necessity and a kindness... why oh why does it have to continue to be an issue with doctors and nurses?
    The "Hammer Song" was a creative way to take some kind of control over this situation. I went to school with Seeger relatives (sister and son) and this was a reminder of those many years ago when Pete came to the school on Parent's Weekend to hammer out that song and many others on his banjo... music does sooth the savage beast - for awhile anyhow.

  2. I'm glad you could find some little way of lessening the frustrations... humor sure helps. Love your song! :)

    Life is hard.... but God is good!

  3. Grandma G, that last comment kinda reminds me of a country song called "People Are Crazy" by Billy Currington with the main catch phrase: "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy." You can hear it on YouTube at:

    Note: If you can't click on the above youtube link, just cut and past it into your browser address line and click "go."

  4. wonderful song - made me laugh, too. For Sue,
    I am with you, day by day - constantly in my thoughts.

    now comes the question - are those my own words or God's?

    answer - YES!

    I wonder if you are a button in God's hand. Perhaps.

  5. I like that song! Its funny! Good to know funny comes through! I might print it and bring it to Mom's room!

  6. Oh,yeah... I've heard that song! :) However, I was thinking more along the lines of Pam Thum.

  7. Hey, Sue, my dad would agree with the button theory to get what he wants, when he wants it. He's in rm 474. He did get his ice cream yesterday, but Mom says it's not nearly as good as at Cottonwood. Dad's longing for the food there! He appreciated the cartoon in the paper yesterday that had the doc telling the patient to discontinue eating hospital food to improve her health! Bill and I are thinking of you every day.