Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Olbermann: Gay marriage is a question of love



Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love."

Monday, October 27, 2008

The future of health care?

No matter who wins the presidency, there will be some major changes in health care in the coming years.....are they going to get it right?

I have been a Registered Nurse (RN) for over 32 years (ugh!) and have worked in several different areas. My first job was working with handicapped and developmentally delayed children, then I worked general medical and surgical floors in a couple of fairly large suburban and urban hospitals. I've worked in cardiac and intensive care as well as a cardiac monitoring center. I've worked in dozens of nursing homes. In addition to direct patient care, I've done utilization review and case management for an insurance company, a physician's group and a large, nationally known hospital. Currently I work for a company that has several electronic products for doctors, nurses, case managers and others in health care fields.

I've also been an avid reader and researcher of several medical issues including new drugs, vaccines, and devices; the pharmaceutical industry; the management of diseases like heart disease and diabetes; and various other health related issues. With the Internet it is possible to get more information and varying opinions, which allows one to make informed opinions.

It's very disconcerting to see some of the issues and realize that the very people that are making these bad policies are likely going to be the ones that will advise our next president. The very people that advocate drugs, drugs and more drugs are going to be making their recommendations. The people that are advocating treating diabetics with high carbohydrate diets, the people that are in favor of treating cholesterol levels that have no influence on heart disease, the people that are claiming fat is bad for us and grains are good, and the people that want to vaccinate everyone against everything (even if the vaccine isn't effective or the risk is minor).....these are the people that are going to be having their say about what the future of health care should be.

Are we going to hear from the people that have been damaged by unnecessary and/or ineffective treatment? Are we going to hear from those that have serious doubts about the healthfulness of certain diets? Are we going to hear from those that believe that currently the health care industry is broken? That the FDA. ADA, AMA and others are in the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry? Probably not.....and even if we do, they will be the minority and ignored.

Our costs are out of control because of poor policies. Our costs are out of control because anyone with insurance can get almost any test, drug or device they want. Our costs are out of control because there is too much emphasis on something that doesn't matter (high blood cholesterol) while something else is ignored (high blood sugar), and the ignored factor is much more dangerous and damaging!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

PRA update

Today isn't the greatest day, but things could be a lot worse. Right now my left knee and my right hand/wrist are bothering me. Not enough to take pain med for, but enough to notice.

Over the past few months I've been doing well. In early summer my symptoms started to intensify, but still not too bad. I had been having trouble with my stomach and difficulty swallowing, so my doc did a repeat gastroscopy to see if I might be having a reaction from the Doxycycline I'd been taking for the PRA. Fortunately I didn't have what he was concerned about (Eosinophilic esophagitis), I had another stricture, which was dilated. After the scope I restarted the Doxy and have been doing well on it.

Since the first of August I've been taking Doxycycline 100mg twice a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday only. This dose seems to be keeping symptoms mostly at bay without upsetting my stomach.

Over the past 2 weeks I've also been trying something different. My doc had given me Voltaren, which is an anti-inflammatory or NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). Voltaren has been on the market for a long time, and according to my doc, safer than the newer NSAIDs. I'm not convinced of this....they all seem to cause problems related to heart disease. Because of this, I decided to try and get off the Voltaren and switch over to plain aspirin.

Aspirin is not felt to be a drug that leads to heart disease, in fact it's used to treat heart disease. I've also done some research and it appears that aspirin works just as well as the prescription NSAIDs. So, a couple of weeks ago I stopped my Voltaren and started taking aspirin. I'm taking the "enteric coated" aspiring, which makes it less upsetting on the stomach as it's not broken down until it hits the intestine. I also make sure to take it with food and lots of liquid to make sure it doesn't get stuck in my esophagus.

So, right now I'm taking aspirin 2-3 times a day at most and doing fairly well. I'm still having some pain, but mostly quite tolerable. I've also been using Arnica gel on my hands, and other areas as needed. It seems to be working, but doesn't last too long.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Does this make sense?

OK....so I went to the local library today to register to vote....yea I know it's late, the deadline (tomorrow) kinda snuck up on me.

So anyway, I go into the library, get a form, fill it out, seal it and give it to one of the clerks. Nice, simple, no problem.

Now.....I figure as long as I'm there I should ask for a new library card. Here in NC the cards are by county, and I've moved to a new county.

So, I go back to the clerk, who pulls up something on her computer, asks for a photo ID and at least 1 item that shows my current address....and a phone number.

So I can vote by just filling out a form, but I have to prove who I am to borrow a book??

Monday, September 22, 2008

Economy fears

Is anyone else out there as nervous as I am about this economic disaster as I am?

Last fall I sold my house in an effort to prevent loosing it. I wasn't behind in payments, although I had been a year earlier. I had a lot of debt, but none of it credit cards, and most of it medical, and a big portion as a result of taking care of (some would say bailing out) my adult son. I don't have a great credit history, but I have always paid my debt in full, I have never tried to deal with those I owed, I just paid what was due as I felt I should. (I did have 1 medical bill "disappear" several years ago and I never checked up on it....it was my ex's responsibility but I know he didn't pay it)

So anyway, I sold my house because money had gotten tight and I was feeling like I was paying for a whole lot of house that I didn't need. My house was 7 rooms (3/2) and I only used 4 of them. It was expensive to heat and cool and needed some work....a lot of work. My son still lived with me and once he left I would be down to 3 rooms, less than 1/2 the house....but all except 1 room had to be heated and cooled because of the layout. I also, truthfully, wanted my son to move out.

Because my house needed work and I was unable to get a loan to fix it up, I ended up selling to a nice young man who planned to fix it up and eventually sell it. Most of what it needed was cosmetic, but it also needed big things like windows and a new deck. I was not unhappy with the price I got....not happy, but not unhappy. It was the beginning of the market failure here in NC and I was just glad to get rid of it.

I had another house all lined up, but was unable to get a loan, due mostly to the sub-prime debacle, which was just starting to make the news. I wasn't a holder of a sub-prime loan, but because of the whole issue banks were not happy to loan to people without stellar credit....and mine wasn't. I ended up giving up on the house and moved into an apartment. (I got approved finally the day after I gave up the house, which made me think it was an omen) I'm still in the apartment, and not expecting to be out soon. The housing market here in NC is definitely a buyer's market, but no one is giving loans and there's a change in the wind with work.

OK...so work. The company I work for is the latest in a long list of companies.....the first one that I worked for sold our division, to a company that then sold us to another....and now that company is merging with an even larger company....but this merger is being effected by the financial crisis. The bank that was all set to guarantee the loan involved in the merger is one of the biggies that has recently requested (and denied) assistance from the feds in order to keep their business afloat. So until this is settles, apparently our merger is on hold. Everything has been done....all the paperwork has been approved, all the approvals have been given and all the appropriate hoops have been cleanly jumped through....but without that guarantee the merger will not take place. Oh yea....the building we're in has been sold and no one knows what will happen if we don't merge and move to the new company offices...offices that will not likely be available unless and until the merger takes place.

I am single and live alone....just me and my 2 dogs. I have some significant medical issues which cost a fair amount, but not as bad as many people (and many on much lower incomes). Right now I live close to work so I spend little on gas, but if our office moves my travel will be about 5 times the distance and 10 times the aggravation. I can stop eating out, which really isn't all that often lately.....I can cut back on some food....and I guess I'll have to do with the clothes I have. As long as I have a job, I have no fear that I'll starve or become homeless.

As long as I have a job. That is a scary thing to think of when you're in your mid-50s and not in perfect health. Is my job at risk? I don't think so. Will it be if this financial problem isn't handled right? I don't know. Do I have faith that our government will do it right and fix it properly....well, that I'm not so sure of.

I do NOT understand all of what is going on. I have a fair understanding of how banks and businesses work with borrowing and loaning and depreciating etc, but I am by no means an expert. I have stock, but it's company stock and pretty much just sits there. I also have a little stock related to my retirement, and so far that's holding fairly steady.

But if this isn't done right we can be thrown into a severe recession and possibly even depression. What really scared me was hearing last week a financial expert say that we would only go into a depression if "we really worked at it".....and that if anyone could throw the company into a depression, it would be the guy that is currently in charge!

I hope this is done right....and the next administration is able to do something to get us out from under the massive debt we have incurred over the past 7 years!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Our poor children!

I don't even know what to say about this!
For the first time, an influential doctors group is recommending that some children as young as 8 be given cholesterol-fighting drugs to ward off future heart problems.
Mind you, there is little if any evidence that cholesterol medications prevent heart disease!

It is the strongest guidance ever given on the issue by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which released its new guidelines Monday. The academy also recommends low-fat milk for 1-year-olds and wider cholesterol testing.

Dr. Stephen Daniels, of the academy's nutrition committee, says the new advice is based on mounting evidence showing that damage leading to heart disease, the nation's leading killer, begins early in life.

It also stems from recent research showing that cholesterol-fighting drugs are generally safe for children, Daniels said.

Wow...."generally safe"? Really? Many adults that have been damaged (or died) from statins may disagree. Can we at least have a citation for the "recent research"??
Several of these drugs are approved for use in children and data show that increasing numbers are using them.
Oh well.....if more kids are using them, then I guess it's ok for most kids?

"If we are more aggressive about this in childhood, I think we can have an impact on what happens later in life ... and avoid some of these heart attacks and strokes in adulthood," Daniels said. He has worked as a consultant to Abbott Laboratories and Merck & Co., but not on matters involving their cholesterol drugs.

Drug treatment would generally be targeted for kids at least 8 years old who have too much LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, along with other risky conditions, including obesity and high blood pressure.

For overweight children with too little HDL, the "good" cholesterol, the first course of action should be weight loss, more physical activity and nutritional counseling, the academy says.

Pediatricians should routinely check the cholesterol of children with a family history of inherited cholesterol disease or with parents or grandparents who developed heart disease at an early age, the recommendations say. Screening also is advised for kids whose family history isn't known and those who are overweight, obese or have other heart disease risk factors.

Screening is recommended sometime after age 2 but no later than age 10, at routine checkups.

We've been SOOOOOO successful with adults, now we have to work on the kids!

Read more here and for the New york Times article click here. (Registration required for NYT article.

We have GOT to get some sensible people in charge!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm Voting Republican!



The video is excellent....but if you can't watch, go here for a text summary.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A new Special Comment from Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann: McCain should know better
Context and decency elude the GOP presidential nominee
SPECIAL COMMENT
By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'
updated 9:23 p.m. ET, Thurs., June. 12, 2008

Tonight, a Special Comment on Sen. John McCain’s conclusion that it’s "not too important" when American forces come home from Iraq.

Thoughts, offered more in sorrow, than in anger. For two full days now, the Senator and his supporters have been outraged at what they see as the subtraction of context from this extraordinary remark.

This is, sadly, the excuse of our time, for everything. Still. If the Senator claims truncation, we will correct that, first.

"A lot of people," Matt Lauer began, "now say the surge is working."

"Anybody who knows the facts on the ground say that," the Senator interjected.

"If it’s now working, Senator," Lauer continued, "do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?"

"No," answered McCain. "But that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea. Americans are in Japan. American troops are in Germany.

That’s all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw. We will be able to withdraw. General Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are. But the key to it is we don’t want any more Americans in harm’s way. And that way they will be safe, and serve our country, and come home with honor and victory — not in defeat, which is what Sen. [Barack] Obama’s proposal would have done. And I’m proud of them, and they’re doing a great job. And we are succeeding. And it’s fascinating that Sen. Obama still doesn’t realize it."

And there is the context of what Sen. McCain said. Well, not quite, Senator.

The full context is that the Iraq you see, is a figment of your imagination. This is not a war about "honor and victory," Sir. This is a war you, and the President you support and seek to succeed, conned this nation into.

Yes, sir. You.


Of the prospect of war in Iraq, you said, "I believe that success will be fairly easy –" John McCain., September 24, 2002.

"I believe that we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time –" John McCain, September 29, 2002.

Of the ouster of Saddam and the Baathists: "There’s no doubt in my mind that once these people are gone, that we will be welcomed as liberators – " John McCain, March 24, 2003.

Asked, about a long-term commitment in Iraq, "are you talking about something in terms of South Korea, for instance, where you would expect U.S. troops to be in Iraq for decades?"

"No," you answered. "I don’t think decades, but I think years. A little straight talk, I think years. And I hope that we can gradually reduce that presence – " John McCain, March 18, 2004.

You were asked about the troops, and the future.

"I would hope that we could bring them all home. I would hope that we would probably leave some military advisers, as we have in other countries, to help them with their training and equipment and that kind of stuff."

"…I think one of our big problems has been the fact that many Iraqis resent American military presence. And I don’t pretend to know exactly Iraqi public opinion. But as soon as we can reduce our visibility as much as possible, the better I think it is going to be – " John McCain, January 31, 2005.

When a speaker at your town hall, five months ago, referenced the President’s forecast that we might stay in Iraq for 50 years, you cut him off.

"Make it a hundred! We’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea 50 years or so. That would be fine with me. As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That’s fine by me … – " John McCain, January 3, 2008.

And your forecast of your hypothetical first term.

"By January, 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq war has been won – " John McCain, May 15, 2008.

That, Sen. McCain, is context.

You have attested to: a fairly easy success; an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time; in which we would be welcomed as liberators; which you assured us would not require our troops stay for decades but merely for years; from which we could bring them all home, since you noted many Iraqis resent American military presence; in which all those troops coming home will also stay there, not being injured, for a hundred years; but most will be back by 2013; and the timing of their return, is not that important.

That, Sen. McCain, is context.

And that, Sen. McCain, is madness.

The Government Accountability Office just released a study Tuesday that concludes that one out of every ten soldiers sent to Iraq, takes with them medical problems "severe enough to significantly limit their ability to fight."

In five years, we have now sent 43-thousand of them to war even though, they were already wounded.

And when they come home, is not that important.

Jalal al Din al Sagir, a member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and Ali al Adeeb, of the rival Dawa Political Party, gave a series of interviews last week about the particulars of this country’s demand for a "Status of Forces," agreement with Iraq, a treaty which Mr. Bush does not intend to show Congress before he signs it.

The Iraqi politicians say the treaty demands Iraq’s consent to the establishment of nearly double the number of U.S. military bases in Iraq,from about 30, to 58, and from temporary, to permanent.

Those will be American men and women who must, of necessity, staff these bases - staff them, in Mr. McCain’s MCEscher dream world in which our people can all come home while they stay there for a hundred years but they’ll be back by 2013.

And when they come home, is not that important.

Last year, a 20-year old soldier from the Bronx, on the day of his re-deployment to a second tour in Iraq, said he just couldn’t face the smell of burning flesh again. So, Jonathan Aponte paid a hit man 500 dollars... to shoot him in the knee.

Mount Sinai Hospital in New York reported treating a patient identifying himself as another Iraq-bound soldier, who claimed he had accidentally swallowed a pen at the bus station. No one doubted his story until examinations proved there was a second pen in his stomach bearing the logo of Greyhound Bus Lines.

In 2006, says his sister, a 24-year old Army Specialist from Washington State, on the eve of his second deployment, strapped a pack full of tools to his back, and then jumped off the roof of his house, injuring his spine.

And when they come home or more correctly all those like them who did not risk death or disability to avoid going back, when they come home, is not that important.

You’ve sold them all out, Senator. You.

You, whose sacrifice for this country was as all-encompassing and as horrible as the rest of us can only imagine in our darkest moments.

You, who survived, so that you could make America a better place where young men did not have to go and die in pointless wars or be maimed or be held prisoner or have to hire hit-men to shoot them in the knee because that couldn’t be worse.

You, who should know better.

Where, Senator, is the man who once said "veterans hate war more than anyone else, because veterans know, because veterans know these brave Americans, and others, know, that there is nothing more painful than the loss of a comrade."

Where is he, Sir? Where is the man who described that ineffable truth?

Oh, so long ago you touched the essence of the reality of Iraq. Your comments about your lost comrades, yesterday.

The men and women in Iraq, today, Senator, they are your comrades, too.

And you are condemning them to die.

To die, for your misdirection, for Mr. Bush’s lies, for whoever makes the money off building 58 permanent American bases and all the weapons and all the bullets and all the wiring so costly and so slip-shod that it electrocutes our comrades as they step, not to fight freedom’s enemies, but into the shower at the base.

That, Senator, that is context.

It is an easy thing to dismiss Sen. McCain as a sad and befuddled figure, already challenging for some kind of campaign record for malaprops.

Just yesterday in Philadelphia he answered Sen. Obama, not by defending or explaining his own "not that important" remark, but by seizing upon Obama’s "bitter" remark - or trying to.

Obama had foolishly said that some, in despair, in small towns, cling to their religion and their guns.

Sen. McCain vowed he’d go to those towns and tell them, "I don’t agree with Senator Obama that they cling to their religion and the Constitution because they’re bitter."

It was hard not to dismiss with a laugh, Sen. McCain, or any Republican, for even accidentally implying that he’s clung to the Constitution, not after the last seven years.

It was hard, the day before, not to become almost bemused when the Senator tried to say he would veto every single bill with ear-marks, but wound up, instead, vowing "I will veto every single beer."

It was hard, this week, not to laugh at how Sen. McCain could offer any serious defense against the accusation that he is running for President Bush’s third term, when a 2006 interview suddenly surfaced in which McCain said he would consider Dick Cheney for a position in a McCain administration.

"I don’t know if I would want him as Vice President. He and I have the same strengths. But to serve in other capacities? Hell, yeah."

These are all very funny, in a macabre yet unthreatening way.

And then one remembers Sen. McCain’s inability to separate Sunni and Shia, or his insistence that Iran is training Al Qaida for service in Iraq, and then being corrected about it, and then saying the same thing again anyway.

And then one is, inevitably, drawn back again to the overlooked substance of yesterday’s remark...

"If (the surge) is now working, Senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?"

"No."

No?

The surge is working and even that still tells Sen. McCain nothing about when we can ransom our soldiers?

Wasn’t that the ultimate purpose of the surge? To get them out?

If we cannot tell, if McCain cannot even guess, doesn’t that, by definition, mean... the surge isn’t working?

And ultimately we are drawn back to the "not... too... important" remark, in its full context:

The context of the kaleidoscope of confused rhetoric, and endless non sequitur, and mutually exclusive conclusions—and what they add up to: a veritable tragedy, a microcosm of the American tragedy that is Iraq, a tragedy of a man who himself will never understand… "the context."

Your tragedy, Sen. McCain?

No. I’m sorry.

This tragedy is of Justin Mixon of Bogalusa, Louisiana. And it’s of Christopher McCarthy of Virginia Beach. It’s of Quincy Green of El Paso, and Joshua Waltenbaugh of Ford City, P.A. The tragedy is of Shane Duffy of Taunton Mass, and Jonathan Emard of Mesquite, Texas. It’s of Cody Legg of Escondido in California, and David Hurst of Fort Sill in Oklahoma. The tragedy is of Thomas Duncan the 3rd of Rowlett, Texas, and Tyler Pickett of Saratoga, Wyoming.

And who are they, Senator?

They are ten Americans, who have died in Iraq since the first of this month. There are four more. The Defense Department has not yet identified the others.

And while you, Senator, may ask for all the context you can get, those ten men... will never know any of it.

Because the true context here, is that if you could ask those American war heroes, or the family and the friends that loved them, if they have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq…

They could rightly say, "No. But that’s… not… too… important."

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25126582/






Monday, May 12, 2008

My RA/PRA diagnosis

This blog is mainly about low carb eating and living what I consider to be a truly healthful lifestyle. I also (since it's mine and I make the decisions) posted a few times on political issues and other topics unrelated (seemingly at least) to low carb. This is one of those posts. I'm posting thing for several reasons. First off, I feel like have almost have an obligation to my readers (there aren't many of you, but you seem to be faithful) to explain what's been going on in my life and preventing me from posting as much as I'd like.

There are many other reasons for this post, including wanting to get some links out there for people that may stumble on this. I have found online support extremely important for me since I started following a lob carb lifestyle. I only have 1 close friend and no family near me as I live in NC and they all live in New England, about 700 miles away. Finding the online support I have found with low carb makes me believe that this can be helpful for all kinds of issues.

About two to two and a half years ago I started having trouble with joints being very painful. There were times my ring finder on my left hand would ache, then a day later that was fine and my right shoulder would hurt. A few days later it would be my right ankle, or my left knee, or my left ankle....or my toes, or shoulders, hips, etc. Each time the pain would be moderate to severe, but only last for a day, maybe a day and a half. There were times when the pain seemed to travel from one joint to the next, other times it would go away and I'd be fine for weeks. At this point there was never any redness, swelling, or signs of inflammation, just pain (5-8 on a scale of 10).

One day my right foot started bothering me....the outer ankle area. It rapidly progressed to the point where I had trouble walking. I slept little that night and had a lot of trouble just getting to the bathroom. I had a Percocette, so I took it and was able to sleep, but the pain was constant. The next day I went to Urgent care (didn't have a Primary Care doctor, PCP, at that time) and when I got there, discovered the ankle was now red, hot and swollen, very swollen. The first doc told me it was gout, then the second doc (his supervisor) decided it was just inflammation from an injury I didn't realize I'd had and it should be fine in a few days. That night the pain went away almost as quickly as it came on. The next day I was able to finally get an appointment with a new PCP, but still had to wait a couple of months. During that time, the joint pains continued to come and go.

The worst is the shoulders....did you know it's tough to move without moving your shoulders? The wrist and hand isn't good either....cooking, typing, getting dressed is difficult when every movement hurts. Eventually I started seeing more and more signs of obvious inflammation. I'd wake up and my right index finger would be swollen to almost twice it's size. I'd be fine and out of the blue my shoulder would start hurting, eventually getting to the point of tears. I had no idea what was going on, but of course started to look up symptoms online, having Rheumatoid in the back of my mind, but finding what I could to "prove" that I didn't have RA! RA hits joints on both sides of the body....some of my joints hurt on both sides, but hardly ever at the same time....and often only the joint on one side would hurt.

Well, eventually I had my appointment with my PC, but of course had no symptoms that day. I told him about it and he sounded concerned, but didn't know what it was. He told me to call and try to come back if I had any obvious signs of inflammation. I did, about 2 weeks later. When I went in with symptoms, he immediately told me I needed to see a specialist, had a bunch of blood drawn and set up an appointment with a Rheumatologist.

I went to see the Rheumatologist, who had my blood work and was told I had an autoimmune disease, Palindromic Rheumatoid Arthritis. The "rheumy" explained that PRA moves from joint to joint, sometimes shows signs of inflammation but sometimes doesn't, and comes and goes erratically. Wow! That was exactly what I had! He also explained that, like RA, they really didn't know the cause, so they treat it like RA and sometimes get good results. He also ordered more blood work, including a second RA factor, and added a few more tests.

When I went back to see him a couple of months later, he ordered Plaquenil for me, but I was unable to tolerate it. In January I finally called and got an early appointment and when I saw the doc I asked for something else, as well as some pain medication. I was prescribed Doxycycline and Oxycodone. I filled both prescriptions January 18th and started taking the Doxy that night. Over the next few weeks, things didn't change, pains came and went, sometimes swelling, but mostly not. Then the pain got more severe, more frequent, and lasting longer in each joint. And then after a few weeks the....um..."intestinal side effects" kicked in. Oh man, I felt like I'd been on a bender....and I don't even drink very often (um, like 2-3 times a year!). Eventually I figured out it was the Doxy and stopped taking it. Apparently this stuff destroys a good amount of the "good" bacteria that live in our guts and you need to take probiotics on a regular basis to keep from having side effects.

Right around this time I found a couple of sites about RA and PRA that have information about autoimmune diseases as well as support forums. The sites aren't "official" sites, but are set up by people that are themselves living with one of more of these diseases. All of the "official" sites have the same info. If you go to Web MD or Prevention, or any of the RA organization sites you basically see the same information. There is almost no information about natural, nutritional, or alternative treatments. Antibiotic treatment is apparently not widely accepted, but being found to have excellent results in some people.

Eventually, with the help of probiotics, and the wonderful people on the support boards, I was able to tolerate the antibiotic....somewhat. I still have to stop it from time to time, but all in all I'm doing well with it. Now, I don't know if it's working or not....it can take 3-6 months or more before you know if it's working or not. The beginning of March I gave in and asked (begged) my doc for steroids and that has helped a lot.....but it's also now wearing off and the symptoms are coming back.

The good thing about having PR is that there usually isn't any joint damage like you see with RA. The bad thing is the degree of pain! I'm told that PR pain is worse than any other....and I sure won't argue with that. I cannot believe how much this can hurt!!

So...that's where I am now, and what I've been going through the past few months. Right now I have sore joints and occasionally one will flare up to the point where I want to take a pain med. I am trying to not take them unless I have no choice.....but that's not always possible. I'm still taking the antibiotic, and still hoping it is helping. I imagine when I see my doc this week he'll order more blood work, and hopefully that will show an improvement.

I want to post a couple of sites for those with RA, PR and other auto-immune (AI) diseases:
International Palindromic Rheumatism Society: An excellent site that has been created by a man with PR. There is a ton of info on there and even a support forum.
Tender joints R.A.I.S.E.D. (Rheumatoid Arthritis Information, Support, & Educated Determination): a forum for those with various AI diseases.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"You drink the Kool-Aid"

Ex-Drug Sales Rep Tells All

To sell their drugs, pharmaceutical companies hire former cheerleaders and ex-models to wine and dine doctors, exaggerate the drug's benefits and underplay their side-effects, a former sales rep told a Congressional committee this morning

Shahram Ahari, who spent two years selling Prozac and Zypraxa for Eli Lily, told a Senate Aging Committee chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisc., that his job involved "rewarding physicians with gifts and attention for their allegiance to your product and company despite what may be ethically appropriate."

Ahari claims that drug companies like hiring former cheerleaders and ex-models, as well as former athletes and members of the military, many of whom have no background in science.

"On my first day of sales class, among 21 trainees and two instructors, I was the only one with any level of college-level science education," Ahari told ABCNews.com on Tuesday.

During their five-week training class, Ahari claims that instructors teach sales tactics, including how to exceed spending limits for important clients, being generous with free samples to leverage sales, using friendships and personal gifts to foster a "quid pro quo" relationship, and how to exploit sexual tension.

"The nature of this business is gift-giving," says Ahari. He claims that he's heard stories about sales reps helping to pay the cost of a doctor's swimming pool and another doctor who was routinely taken to a nightclub where a hostess was paid to keep him company.

Drug reps develop a positive view of their drug and a negative view of the competitors, according to Ahari. "You drink the Kool-Aid. We were taught to minimize the side effects and how to use conversational ploys to minimize it or to change the topic.

According to Ahari, the benefits could be lucrative for sales reps, who tended to earn more than researchers. On top of a base salary for starting reps of $50,000, "there were four quarterly bonuses, an annual bonus, stock options, a car, 401K, great health benefits, and a $60,000 expense account."

Read the rest here.


Preaching to the choir, I know....but maybe it will bring about some changes!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Recent Diabetes study in the news

Recent Diabetes study in the news.

I'm sure plenty of you have seen the articles in the news about the study to lower blood sugar was partially stopped due to increased deaths in 1 group.

"Among the study participants who were randomly assigned to get their blood sugar levels to nearly normal, there were 54 more deaths than in the group whose levels were less rigidly controlled. The patients were in the study for an average of four years when investigators called a halt to the intensive blood sugar lowering and put all of them on the less intense regimen." according to the NY Times.

Now, of course the medical industry is explaining, even tho the data hasn't been analyzed, what this means:

“It’s confusing and disturbing that this happened,” said Dr. James Dove, president of the American College of Cardiology. “For 50 years, we’ve talked about getting blood sugar very low. Everything in the literature would suggest this is the right thing to do,” he added.
and:
“It will be similar to what many women felt when they heard the news about estrogen,” Dr. Hirsch said. “Telling these patients to get their blood sugar up will be very difficult.”

At the very end, there is this:
It might be that patients suffered unintended consequences from taking so many drugs, which might interact in unexpected ways, said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

Ya think?!?!?!

Keep in mind, not only was this group subjected to a program designed to "get their blood sugar levels to nearly normal", they were also aggressively treated for high BP and/or elevated cholesterol levels. And how were they treated? With high doses of multiple medications!

As one blogger pointed out, there are so many different drugs used, in so many different combinations, and so many different doses that it will be impossible to come up with any statistical reason for the deaths. And remember too, these people were also treated, often with multiple drugs for 1-2 other conditions....that we know of! How many drugs were these people taking for other conditions? (Not to mention their smoking status, their weight, activity level, gender, age, etc etc etc!)

Please, at least at this point in time, ignore these articles and continue to do what you've been doing!! All recent and past evidence indicates that the tighter the control and the closer to normal, the better the outcomes!

Back in the 70s, when all that was available, besides diet, was insulin and a handful of oral meds (designed only to stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin) we saw fewer complications than we do today. We could predict sometimes which patients would do well, simply by how tightly controlled they were. Those that followed the diet (which was not ketogenic, but much lower carb than today's diet) and took their meds didn't have too many problems. But those that didn't take their meds, or stick with their diet, got all kinds of complications!

I seriously am starting to question the medical profession in the care of diabetics. I just don't understand how they can continue to encourage, no push, a high carb diet and then just keep adding meds! These statements are, in my opinion, criminal!

There are blogs all over the place about this subject and different takes on why we should continue what we're doing and ignore the advice of "experts". Here are links to a couple:
Dave Dixon's take at The Spark Of Reason,
Regina Wilshire's at The Weight of The Evidence, and
Jenny's at Diabetes Update.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Keith Olbermann: Special Comment Regarding FISA

Keith Olbermann: Special Comment Regarding FISA
By Keith Olbermann
MSNBC Countdown

Thursday 31 January 2008

And finally, as promised, a Special Comment - of FISA and the telecoms.

In a presidency of hypocrisy - an administration of exploitation - a labyrinth of leadership - in which every vital fact is a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma hidden under a claim of executive privilege supervised by an idiot - this one… is surprisingly easy.

President Bush has put protecting the telecom giants from the laws… ahead of protecting you from the terrorists.

He has demanded an extension of the FISA law - the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - but only an extension that includes retroactive immunity for the telecoms who helped him spy on you.

Congress has given him, and he has today signed a fifteen-day extension which simply kicks the time bomb down the field, and has changed nothing of his insipid rhetoric, in which he portrays the Democrats as 'soft on terror' and getting in the way of his superhuman efforts to protect the nation… when, in fact, and with bitter irony, if anybody is 'soft on terror' here… it is Mr. Bush.

In the State of the Union Address, sir, you told Congress, "if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger."

Yet you are willing to weaken that ability!

You will subject us, your citizens, to that greater danger.

This, Mr. Bush, is simple enough even for you to understand: If Congress approves a new FISA act without telecom immunity and sends it to your desk and you veto it - you, by your own terms and your own definitions, you will have just sided with the terrorists.

Ya gotta have this law, or we're all gonna die. But you might veto this law!

It's bad enough, sir, that you are demanding an ex post facto law which would clear the phone giants from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive, and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans, under the flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail.

But when you then demanded again, during the State of the Union address, that Congress retroactively clear the Verizons and the AT&T's, you wouldn't even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserved to be cleared!

"The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America."

Believed?

Don't you know?

Does the endless hair-splitting of your presidential fine print, extend even here?

If you, sir, are asking Congress, and us, to join you in this shameless, breathless, literal, textbook example of fascism - the merged efforts of government and corporations who answer to no government - you still don't have the guts to even say the telecom companies did assist you, in your efforts?

Will you and the equivocators who surround you like a cocoon never go on the record about anything?

Even the stuff you claim to believe in?

Silly me.

Of course Mr. Bush is going to say "believed."

Yes, it sounds dumber than if he had referred to himself as "the alleged president," or had said today was "reportedly Thursday," or had claimed "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.

But the moment he says anything else, any doubt that the telecoms knowingly broke the law, is out the window, and with it, any chance that even the Republicans who are fighting this like they were trying to fend off terrorists using nothing but broken beer bottles and swear words couldn't consent to retroactively immunize corporate criminals.

Which is why the Vice President probably shouldn't have phoned in to the Rush Limbaugh Propaganda-Festival yesterday.

Sixth sentence out of Mr. Cheney's mouth: The FISA bill is about, quote, "retroactive liability protection for the companies that have worked with us and helped us prevent further attacks against the United States."

Oops.

Mr. Cheney is something of a loose cannon, of course.

But he kind of let the wrong cat out of the bag there.

Because Mr. Bush - and the corporations he values more than people - didn't want anybody to verify what Mark Klein says.

Mark Klein is the AT&T whistleblower who appeared on this newscast last November, who explained, in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood I-T desk, how he personally attached all of AT&T's circuits - everything carrying every phone call, every e-mail, every bit of web browsing - into a secure room…

…Room Number 641-A, at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco - where it was all copied so the government could look at it.

Not some of it; not just the international part of it; certainly not just the stuff some truly patriotic and telepathic spy might be able to divine had been sent or spoken by or to a terrorist.

Everything.

Every time you looked at a naked picture, every time you bid on eBay, every time you phoned-in a donation to a Democrat.

"My thought was 'George Orwell's 1984,'" Mr. Klein told me, reflecting back, "and here I am, being forced to… connect the Big Brother machine."

You know, Mr. Bush, if Mr. Klein's "Big Brother Machine" - the one the Vice President conveniently just confirmed for us - if it was of any damn use at all at actually finding anything, you could probably program it to find out who started that slanderous e-mail about Barack Obama.

Use Room 641-A to identify that E–assassin, sir, and I'll stand up and applaud you.

Yeah, I'm holding my breath on that one, too.

But of course, sir, this isn't about finding that kind of needle in a haystack. This isn't even about finding a haystack. This is about scooping up every piece of hay there ever was, and laying the groundwork for the next little job which you have to outsource to AT&T and Verizon.

It was your Director of National Intelligence, Mr. McConnell, letting this one out of the same bag.

The need for Homeland Security to stave off cyber-attacks against the government's computer networks.

And how do they do that, sir?

By constantly monitoring the internet - the whole internet.

And who actually, physically, does that, Mr. Bush?

Right. The same telecom giants for whom you want immunity - Quickly. So quickly, you wouldn't believe it.

Because this previous domestic spying, and this upcoming policing of the internet - they may be completely evil, indiscriminate, unlawful. So you have to dress it up, as something just the opposite.

It isn't evil… it's "to protect America."

It isn't indiscriminate… it's "the ability to monitor terrorist communications."

It isn't unlawful… it's just the kind of perfectly legal thing, for which you happen to need immunity!

There's yet another level to this, and here we move from Big Brother… to Sleazy Son.

Mr. Bush's new Attorney General, Mr. Mukasey, the one who has already taken four different positions on water-boarding, and who may yet tie that record on this subject of telecom immunity - he has a very personal stake in this.

There happens to be a partner in the law firm of Bracewell and Giuliani, named Marc Mukasey. And Bracewell and Giuliani and the Attorney General's son Marc, just happen to represent… Verizon.

You know, Verizon - Telecom Giant.

And all of a sudden this is no longer just a farce in which "protecting the telecoms" is dressed up for us as, 'protecting us from terrorist conference calls.'

Now it begins to look like the bureaucrats of the Third Reich trying to protect the Krupp Family industrial giants by literally re-writing the laws for their benefit.

And we know how that turned out: Alfried Krupp and eleven of his directors were convicted of War Crimes at Nuremburg.

Nevertheless.

For those of us watching a President demanding this very specific law (the one the Germans had was called the "Lex Krupp") there is one surprising bit of comfort in all this:

Clearly, Mr. Bush is at his hyperbolic worst here.

Consider how his former chief of staff Andy Card came on and scolded Chris Matthews and me after the State of the Union address.

"The President's address tonight was very important," Card said, "because it really was a sobering call to reality for us.

"And the reality is, we have an enemy who wants to hurt us. The primary job of the president to protect us.

"He talked about protecting us. He talked about the needs to have the tools to protect us."

Indeed, Mr. Bush.

The primary job of any president is to protect us.

Not just those of us who own Internet and Telephone companies - All of us.

And even you, sir, with your intermittent grasp of reality… even with your ego greater than a 100-percent approval rating… even with your messianic petulance - even you could not truly choose to protect the corporations instead of the people.

I am not talking about ethics here. I am talking about blame.

Even if it's you throwing out the baby with the bathwater, Mr. Bush, it still means we can safely conclude… there is no baby!

This is not a choice of protecting the telecoms from prosecution, or protecting the people from terrorists, sir.

It is a choice of protecting the telecoms from prosecution, or pretending to protect the people from terrorists.

Sorry, Mr. Bush. The eavesdropping provisions of FISA have obviously had no impact on counter-terrorism, and there is no current or perceived terrorist threat, the thwarting of which could hinge on an e-mail or a phone call going through room 641-A at AT&T in San Francisco next week or next month.

Because if there were, Mr. Bush, and you were to, by your own hand, veto an extension of this eavesdropping, and some terrorist attack were to follow, you would not merely be guilty of siding with the terrorists, you would not merely be guilty of prioritizing the telecoms over the people, you would not merely be guilty of stupidity, you would not merely be guilty of treason… but you would be personally, and eternally, responsible.

And if there is one thing we know about you, Mr. Bush, one thing that you have proved time and time again under any and all circumstances, it is that you are never responsible.

Good night and good luck.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New home...finally!

Finally! I'm no longer homeless! I rented an apartment in Raleigh and moved in last Thursday. Still waiting for all my belongings, but at least I'm finally out of that hotel!!

I have a kitchen!! I have a stove and a refrigerator, and a sink big enough to wash dishes!

Note coffee maker that I got for Christmas!
Back door is to the right of the stove.
Door to the left of refrigerator is to the utility room.
Wall next to utility room is excellent for my freezer.

Since I don't have any of my furniture yet, I've only been able to decorate the bathrooms and the kitchen, For the kitchen I'd already decided (based on the house I never got) to go with red and black, so I decided to continue that idea here.

The half bath, located between the living room and kitchen will be blue to match the living room colors. The upstairs bath also has red as it's primary color as I bought the carpet, accessories, etc for half bath, but carpet wouldn't fit. It's not that I'm a big red fan, although I do like red. it's just that I wanted bright colors as the whole place is beige and white.

Half bath
Half bath
Main bath
Main bath
I'm currently sleeping on an air bed. It's one of those that is higher than just a mattress and it's a twin size. I'd already decided to buy one of these for when I visit Laura & Chris, so it's not a big deal having to buy it a bit earlier. Friday night I guess I got too close to the edge, as I ended up face first on the floor in the middle of the night! I'd prefer to have a full size mattress, but they cost double the price!

My bed...looks normal, right?
Can't wait to get my own bed (latex foam mattress) back!

So, right now, it's just me and the pups. I'm an "empty nester", at long last! This is the first apartment I've ever had by myself. Actually only the second apartment ever, the last one was when I got out of school and got an apartment with my friend Jeanne. She moved out and my husband to be moved in, then we bought our first single-family home. (I've lived in 3 single family homes, Avon and Brockton in Massachusetts and one in Durham, NC)

This apartment is a town home style, which I want to try to see if I can live in that style long term. Since the deal with the house in Mebane fell through, I've decided to rethink buying a condo or town home. At this point, since I have a 6 month lease, I'm not going to look much, unless of course something catches my eye. I have a few friends on the lookout for deals in their areas, but won't start seriously looking until at least the beginning of May.

I've been thinking about changing to a condo or town home as that would relieve me of the responsibility of the outside maintenance. I'm not thrilled with having people living above me, and I have 2 dogs that must go out several times a day, so the town home set up sounds better. I've never lived on 2 floors, however, and I'm concerned about my legs and feet with the arthritis. So far I like having the 2 floors, even when I've had to run up and down the stairs because I forgot something. Not sure how long it will be, however, that I get tired of the stairs!

Once I get the rest of my furniture I'll post more pictures.

In the meantime, here are a couple new pics of my pups.....my pups who are very confused about what's going on.....and what the heck is the noise when no one is doing anything? (Floors are VERY creaky, it's about all we hear of the neighbors)

Daisy
Duke

Oh yea!! Forgot to mention. I'm still smoke free and I've been sticking to my plan. I've been getting around 20-25 grams of carb (total) a day, the one exception being Thursday (moving day) when I grabbed an Atkins bar....that alone had over 20 grams!

I've been to the food store and have lots of meat in the freezer, and veggies in the refrigerator. Once I get all my pots and pans, microwave, etc I'll be better off. Tonight I'm just having yogurt with fruit and walnuts as I'm too lazy to cook!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New year!!!


Wow....what a year!! Lots of changes this year....most of them good.

I've fallen completely off plan, gained a ton of weight back, but as of today I'm back. Setting new goals and revising plan for the new year. I'll be posting that within the next few days.

I fasted today, just having coffee and water. Just a few more days and I should have a kitchen. Probably no table, chairs, etc....but a kitchen where I can cook!! And!! It's close enough to work that I can go home for lunch and not eat out!! Woo Hoo!!


Roast pork tenderloin with cucumber spears and Caesar dressing, Brussels sprouts with butter, and home made applesauce.
Maybe this will be on the menu again soon!! I set Brian up with food and recipes for 3 meals today. Meatloaf and 2 chicken dishes that are too carby for me. But it got me to thinking about some of the meals I can make!! I want to try mashed cauliflower and a couple of new veggie recipes I found. I want to have a steak with Worcestershire sauce and sauteed mushroom, cooked exactly how I like it. And I am definitely making meatloaf soon! I also have a ham to cook....the spiral cut one I forgot to bring with me to Laura's house on Christmas!

In the news:
Dr Vernon and others are reporting the recent about-face by the ADA in regards to low carb diets. It's a pretty poor endorsement, and it's only for those that need to loose weight, but I think it will prove valuable! Low carb is only recommended for those that need to loose weight, and there are all kinds of cautions to check blood work and watch medication doses. BUT! I think this is going to be a good thing.


I'm thinking maybe we're going to be seeing docs using low carb to get patients to loose weight and they are going to see dramatic improvements, not only with the patient's weight, but blood sugar levels, lipid levels, etc. They are also going to see drops in blood pressure. Eventually it is going to have to dawn on someone that there really is something to this way of eating! I mean really....eventually they are going to realize it.....right?? How about when patients start reporting less GERD? better sleep patterns? Lessening of arthritis symptoms? Come on.....it's gonna happen, right?

On the non-smoking front....I'm still not smoking and have not had even a puff! For the most part it's still been easy, but I'm having a bit more frequent cravings. Actually over the past few days it's eased off again, so maybe this is the way it goes. It certainly isn't because my stress is any less, although having Brian on his own is a bit of a relief!





Just for fun, here are some pictures of my dogs:


Daisy (left) and Duke enjoying their 5th birthday dinner.

Brian playing with Daisy.


We're good puppies!

Trying to get attention while mom is wrapping presents.


And Laura's dogs:
Cheyenne

Kita

Kita (left) and Cheyenne playing.


And finally, Laura's Christmas Tree!!