Alaska as Metaphor

alaskaby Anniel10/19/16
Alaska: The 49th state of the United States. The largest state in the union, with coasts on the Arctic and North Pacific Oceans and the Bering Sea. Separated by Canada from the 48 contiguous states. Capital: Juneau, located in the southeastern panhandle of the state. Population: 626,932. Purchased from Russia in 1867.

Metaphor: Noun. A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to a word or action to which it is not literally applicable.

We didn’t know it before, but psychiatrically, Alaskans live in a strictly metaphorical place equated to suicide and death. Yep, sure sounds like everyone who calls this place home.

As some of you know, our youngest daughter, Cate, has many long-standing medical problems and has been living in Chicago to be near her doctors. Over the past few years she has often been hospitalized, always with the same pain that had not been taken seriously, but she finally received a diagnosis of recurrent pancreatitis, not a nice thing to have. Soon after her diagnosis her doctor left on a two week vacation while she remained in the hospital under the care of his staff.

In spite of her real PHYSICAL problems, someone in the doc’s office decided to begin PSYCHIATRIC care. Strange, but junior staff can behave in unexpected ways. The psychiatric resident showed up and began to question Cate about her state of mind, and asked her what her plans were.

Cate replied that she had decided to discontinue treatment in Chicago and would go to Alaska and make the best of her situation. The resident questioned why she would use Alaska as a metaphor for death. Cate stared at her for a few moments, and then said, “You do know Alaska is a real place don’t you?” Apparently she didn’t, and insisted it was just a metaphor for Cate’s despair. Cate had to inform her that people, including her parents and siblings, actually live here, and in fact that she had been born here.

The psych resident might be one of those people who think Alaska is right off the coast of California, just like the Hawaiian Islands that show up on those weather maps.

A little later an officious visiting resident came into Cate’s room and began questioning her status. Bronwyn told him she wanted to show him a picture of how she felt. He would not look at the picture of a plastic skeleton waiting for a doctor which she tried to show him. He acted horrified and refused to look because he said under HIPAA rules he could not discuss another patient with her. Really, a plastic skeleton? And under ObamaCare, what difference does HIPAA make anyway? Your medical records are now out there for anyone to see.

One total fool of a resident was on call on New Year’s Eve, which meant she had to be on duty all night. She indisputably left early in the evening to attend a party and was gone several hours. Video cameras at the parking garage clearly show the time she left and the time she returned. Her Union representative defended her against the powers that be, who were bigots, racist and sexist, as you probably guessed.

But we suicide-challenged Alaskans live only as metaphors, so what do we know?

Ah, yes, now you know something of the new generation of doctors in training. Do you feel better? No? Well, take two aspirin and go to bed. • (976 views)

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19 Responses to Alaska as Metaphor

  1. Gibblet says:

    Well, the parts of Alaska I’ve seen are heavenly! But that’s too much of a stretch to say that the metaphor fits.

    • Anniel says:

      We think it is beautiful here. The psych resident was a total nutcase, but the new crop of doctors are an often uneducated lot. There really are Death Panels, but we knew that was coming from the beginning.

      Maybe someday these people will take a cruise here and find how much in this world they have been missing. Real knowledge does require some effort.

      • Rosalys says:

        “The psych resident was a total nutcase…”

        This confirms that old fact I used to hear, that most folks who study psychiatry, do so for the purpose of finding out what is wrong with themselves.

        God help us! No one else can!

        God bless your beautiful daughter Annie, who faces her difficulties with such bravery. She is in my prayers.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          The psychiatrist in Miracle on 34th Stree was like that, but without the self-awareness.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Everyone is crazy, in different degrees about different things. Those who are at least self-aware enough to recognize their own problems are at least theoretically in a better position to help others with their problems. So it’s kind of like the sinner knowing more about sin than the goody-two-shoes. Who is more likely to be able to give practical advice?

            Still…I don’t doubt there are legions of mental health professionals who are the equivalent (in one form or another) of that hilariously screwed-up psychiatrist in Miracle on 34th Street. It was effective treatment indeed to whack him with a cane.

  2. Lucia says:

    I have James Michener’s novel Alaska in my home library. Have you read it? Nowhere does he describe the place as a metaphor. Maybe it’s for the best that people think it doesn’t really exist so that Alaskans may be left alone to live their lives the way they see fit.

    When I sent the family album to my daughter, she removed the funeral photos for the grandparents and great grandparents that showed them lying in state. She said that it might upset her teenage children or her friends. She explained that “most people” get upset looking a photos of dead relatives, as if I’m weird or something. In the past, the children usually participated in the funeral viewing so that they would learn about death in a healthy way. But I guess all that’s changed now.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I specifically remember seeing my father’s body in the casket, and I was only 14 at the time. He looked quite normal.

      I recall a couple of anecdotes about Alaska, usually involving a Texan’s reaction to the state (which displaced Texas as the largest). My boss once visited the state (in the summer, of course), traveling there by way of the Al-Can highway.

  3. Anniel says:

    To not even understand that Alaska is a real place and not even be able to look at a plastic skeleton cartoon shows such an abysmal lack of intelligence it is breathtaking. And for the med school never to be able to throw out a stupid resident with union aid is even worse. Sorry, but that is the reality of medical training today.

    If you think that the Feds are ignoring Alaska, think again. This is no longer the place James Michener wrote about.

  4. pst4usa says:

    So when you say “we suicide-challenged Alaskans”, does that mean you have a hard time committing suicide, or you have too many? My niece has lived there ,(near Anchorage), for quite a while now, should I be worried, or relieved?

    Very beautiful place that metaphor, I always though I was visiting a real place.

    • Anniel says:

      See how misled you have been all these years? Lately I’m not certain what to think about suicides, nor about crime. We’ve been having lots of both. We have so much youth suicide, maybe (probably) for the same reason, the loss of hope because of the loss of God in many young lives. Do they think empty life here is worse than death? There has always been more suicide among the native population, but now it’s everyone.

      Lots of drug related murders, and home invasion robberies and murder here now, just as elsewhere. When I was young the beauty around me was so seductive that I thought it was the same for everyone else. I actually believed if you took criminals out to beautiful places they would turn to goodness. Now we have trash who have no use for beauty, so they trash everything.

      We all need a lot of prayer for our beautiful homeland, every inch of American soil.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Hugh Thomas pointed out in The Spanish Civil War that the Barcelona anarchists would take their bourgeois victims to their deaths in a setting of natural beauty at dawn. (He also suggested the Catalan forces in Aragon might have done better if so much of their fuel supply hadn’t been used driving their victims to beautiful places to be killed.)

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Those residents are just further examples of a major malady which has taken hold in the country, i.e. many are living in a state of “make-believe.” Clearly, large swaths of this nation, particularly the young and Leftists, are unwilling or unable to cope with reality. The ramifications of this illness are huge.

    • Anniel says:

      I’m no longer certain what reality is to people when they can say in all sincerity “my truth is different than your truth,” as though “truth” is a social construct of some sort that varies from person to person. “Make Believe” really is a major malady.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        This concept of truth is intended to deny reality in the form of factual truth in favor of ideological belief. The Russians, according to Robert Conquest, refer to the former as istina and the latter as pravda — and you’ll recall which they used as the name for their “newspaper” under Communism. Modern liberals take the same approach.

  6. Rosalys says:

    “Rhode Island? What state is that in?” It sounds like a joke, but I personally have had people ask me this. I suppose it’s understandable, RI being so small, it’s easy to miss. But Alaska? How can you miss Alaska?

    Remember when John McCain chose Sarah Palin for his running mate (the only thing he got right, in my opinion!) That comedian’s (whose name I can’t remember) reaction was (spoken with as much incredulity as he could muster,) “Alaska!? Alaska!?”


    I don’t do too well on boats – I get sea sick – but I am tempted to go on an Alaskan cruise. I may just have to settle for watching “Dr. Dee, Alaskan Vet.” She flies all over to remote Alaskan villages to care for animals, and I go on vicarious journeys with her.

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