Tag Archives: health

Tyger, tyger, burning bright

My blogging has been lighter than usual because a couple of weeks ago, I saw my doctor and she told me that my right shoulder is so much lower than my left, she would have thought that I had a severe curvature of the spine. My typing has been slow, my sleep has been poor and and my breaks have been many. Unless today’s snow dump somehow derails it, I’m going in for an evaluation with a physical therapist early this afternoon.

The last couple of months have been a revolving door of reminders about mortality and health. We’ve been second-hand witnesses to the passings of three people, one far too young, the other two simply too young to die. I’ve interviewed young people who know too much about things like homicide and psychological abuse (for projects I am working on). I felt helpless as I stared at images of the fields of bodies in Haiti, keeping the television mostly silent because my boy already spends too many bedtime hours resisting sleep, trying to solve the puzzle of death.

In a little over a week, the Year of the Tiger begins, and it feels far more like a ritual time of reflection and reassessment than January 1st this year. I’m making lists, trying to finish projects and clearing away clutter. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to bring my physical, personal and professional carriage back into alignment. I want to be on the tiger’s side.

And I would be oh so grateful to see her clear our collective house of fire, thieves and ghosts.

Related Posts:

Things I find unforgivable

A couple of years ago I was at a Fourth of July potluck outside of town. Some inebriated in-law of a cousin of a friend of the host showed up and, as I spooned tabbouleh onto my plate, began lecturing to several people around me that all people of Middle Eastern descent need to be deported from the U.S. He didn’t stop there, insisting that those of us who didn’t happen to believe that the country should bomb other parts of the world into the stone age were ignorant and sure to be slaughtered.

Now, I’m a person who, in my more adventurous reporting days, did things like take a handgun class with NRA members, and spent hours in personal conversations with Fundamentalist Christians – two groups that may as well have been Martians to me, ethically speaking. But those reporting exercises put me past knee-jerk disdain and into a place where I could sometimes locate some hard-won common ground. I’ve had mostly civil conversations with Republican relatives and friends, even if I sometimes walked away with my ears burning. I sought out extremely different opinions from my own when I began to interact with people online in 1997. I try my best to get angry with actions and policies, not people.

With a checked-shirt man advocating genocide and racism at an Independence Day picnic, standing feet away from my toddler son, I didn’t keep my cool so well. I felt this anger rising from the pit of my stomach and I simply bellowed at him:

“PLEASE GET YOUR DISGUSTING HATRED AWAY FROM MY SON. NOW!” (I did say please.) He moved away a little, though not enough for me, and I took us as far away from him at the party as I physically could. Being tolerant of political difference, in my view, does not require me to be tolerant of a person advocating violence or fear.

Earlier this year, when we went to a public venue where we could look at stars and planets through telescopes, a woman started speaking heatedly to one of the resident scientists, who maintained a remarkably calm and polite demeanor.

“This world is going to end,” she hissed at him. “Armageddon will be here soon and you’d better get yourself right with God before that happens.”

She spoke of floods and earthquakes and hurricanes and rapture while standing maybe five feet from my almost four-year-old who I think deserves to have faith in the fact that the Earth has a future, no matter how tumultuous. He deserves to have his dreams of piloting spacecrafts unimpeded by some self-righteous person who had no thought in her head that the things she was yelling could frighten the crap out of a small child. Thankfully, he was so wrapped up in a computer that takes you through the universe that he didn’t absorb it (now that he’s truly four and dealing with mortality questions, he would). Luckily, the conversation stopped just as my husband asked her to quiet down because, you know, if you want to convince your children that this world is a goner and isn’t worth participating in beyond stepping up to the next level, that’s your faith and your business and God bless. Please don’t make it mine.

This week, I took my son to the Health Care Reform Now rally because I am sick of this bizarre impasse our country has skidded into and sick of struggling with our current system. The first sign I see as we drive in is a swastika with Obama’s name inside and I turn into Aunt Mildred and I stick out one finger and I tsk tsk tsk at the crowd. Shame on them. That sign, to me, is just a subverted way of advocating violence against our president wrapped in the guise of free speech. Because of the first amendment, you can make it and parade it through the public square. And because of the first amendment, I can say “shame on you” and “I think that’s a subverted way of advocating violence against our president wrapped in the guise of free speech,” and that’s not me censoring you, that’s me countering your opinion.

I’m sick of the media giving “balanced” time to groups of thirty versus a group of over 1,000. The fourth estate should be giving more time to those who are better equipped with research, facts or true stories about actual people instead of covering every political rift with less depth than they give the average football game. Seriously. I sat there and I listened to a story about a 17-year-old girl who can’t get health care coverage because of her parents’ medical conditions. I listened to promises that the public option is not negotiable, which I hope is true because my family is counting on that. But almost all of the coverage I found gave the 30 people outside the same amount of time or column space as the much larger group inside.

What are people thinking, anyway? I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their health care insurance costs get jerked up and certain costs turned down arbitrarily for years – and unless we’re independently wealthy, it’s cost us way more than any of our taxes. Recently I had a lovely experience when a $500 bill showed up in my mailbox from a doctor’s appointment I had about a year and a half ago. In one conversation with the insurance company way back when, I was told that nearly all adult preventative care had been dropped from our policy (take heed if you have OSU student health insurance, ladies, a pap smear or illness is all you’re allowed), so a blood panel, and in fact, my whole appointment wasn’t covered, even though it resulted in a referral to a surgeon and eventually, surgery. My doctor’s office communicated that there was actually medical treatment for an illness on this visit, and suddenly, after all this time, the insurance company decided to pay an additional $15.00 (why even bother?) of the bill and pass the rest back to me. Now I have more arguing to do, or I have to pay a bill I really didn’t expect or think that I should owe, which makes me feel sick.

So, stop telling me that the fact that I want universal health care makes me anti-American. The free market has zilch for health care choices. The ranks are closed – if you are an American like myself, who has been resolutely independent for most of my career, you are basically screwed by the current system. If you are like my husband, who has a preexisting eye condition and has also always worked for himself, screw you too! When people like us are lucky, maybe our local chamber of commerce will offer a plan with premiums less than the size of our mortgage payment or we can stick to catastrophic coverage.

We are all most free to work for big corporations that have little or no loyalty to employees in order to get insurance from corporations that have shown us their priorities – getting out of paying what you pay them to take care of is more important than anyone’s actual health. That’s…. freedom?

It seems to me to be as awful or worse than, say, taxation without representation. I have to pay corporations that I didn’t elect and that I can’t vote out of office. Corporations have more rights than me! The government won’t make it more bureaucratic. It simply can’t possibly get more bureaucratic than it already is.

Related Posts:

The dawning facts of life

The boy woke up before 6 a.m. the other day, wide-eyed and full of questions, starting with:

“Mommy, when I was an egg in your womb, how did I break out of my shell?”

“Um, human eggs are soft, not hard like the chicken eggs you saw hatching at school. They are a teeny tiny cell.”

“I don’t have a very hard nose like that.”

“No, you don’t.”

“Did you have other eggs inside of you?”

“Thousands, I think..?”

“Will you have a thousand other babies?”

“Heavens, no!”

“Why won’t those other eggs become babies?”

“Because mommy and daddy decided especially that we wanted to have a baby when we had you.”

“But how… why did I grow from an egg?”

“Because daddy gave mommy another cell to make you grow from both of us.”

“How did it get in there? Did he cut you open?”

“No, he was very nice about it.”

Naturally, I was caught off guard by these questions (particularly at the hour when they were asked), and I got out of the larger conversation that day by asking if we could talk about it after mommy has more sleep (and then both of us oversleeping for his camp). I expect we’ll resume the conversation soon.

So… I’ve got the old “Where Did I Come From” book from when I was a child, and lots of human body/science books that show the whole sperm meets egg thing – any book recommendations for presenting the real deal narrative with good science?

Related Posts:

The fideicommissum of my achoo

I’ve been prone since Friday afternoon, when a nasty summer cold walloped me into bed. I missed a birthday party, a couple of nice days and a dog festival, but I saw a lot of television. I watched Olympic synchronized swimming and the movie Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus. I think the synchronized swimming was the more surreal of the two.

Obama picking Joe Biden was slightly surreal, but only because I had a fever when I got the text message. In reality, I find this decision so logical it borders on Vulcan, and I say that with confidence now that I’m so well hydrated. And I’m not the only person who has thought about the virtuous connections between Obama and Spock.

Really, yay for Joe Biden. For at least two years, he’s been one of the only politicians I could listen to talk about Iraq without pulling my hair out. And I’m an Ohio voter who went for Hillary (head vote) over Obama (heart vote) in the primary. Put that one on your cafeteria lunch tray, punditface.

Today I’m dry coughing so horribly, I think tumbleweeds might come shooting out of my mouth. And my son just told me that he wants to be the solar system for Halloween, which means I probably need to take a sewing class or three.

This week I have a couple of little deadlines, but right now, most of my job involves looking for more work, which always feels like a lot more work than working does. I should be more unnerved about this than I am. I have a couple of prospects out there that feel like long shots, and yet, I feel like Tony from West Side Story singing “Something’s Coming.” I think I know better than to let Riff and Bernardo fight at the rumble, but I guess there’s no guarantee I won’t be shot down on the tennis court.

Phew. I’ll leave you with this parting thought:

“Your love is like 1000 caucasian carnivores playing mumblety peg with an eggplant. ”

Courtesy of the Surrealist Compliment Generator , which I have been drawn back to every seven months since I first found it in 1997 or so. It restores my sense of balance.

Related Posts:

And the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all

Declan scraped his leg and foot about three different times on Saturday, while trying to keep up with his turbo-cleaning parents. When he does something like bonk himself on the elbow, he’ll run to me, say “smooch it!” and go on about the day. But when blood is involved, he bites his lip and runs away, not wanting me to touch it, let alone clean or bandage it.

I struggled to get him into the bathtub that evening, a place he’s usually happy to visit. He gazed at the water lovingly, but resisted. “I don’t want a bath,” he told me repeatedly. After a while, he confessed the reason: “My foot still hurts.”

Looking at the small mix of blood and mud on his leg, I knew I had to get him into the tub.

“A bath can make your foot feel so much better,” I told him. It might sting a little bit when you get in, but in a few minutes, it won’t hurt as much.”

After more negotiation and a bit of pleading on my part, he opted to take my word for it. He stepped in, blinked his eyes a couple of times, then proceeded to enjoy his bath, as usual.

When I asked him how his scrapes felt a few minutes later, he surprised me with “you told the truth, mommy. You said it would sting a little bit and then it would feel better.”

“Is that what happened?” I asked him.

He nodded. “It feels better.”

I believe in the power of telling kids the truth. Not everyone agrees with me.

In a few days, a placebo pill for children will be available online. Named “Obecalp” (get it?), it’s apparently “designed to have the texture and taste of actual medicine so it will trick kids into thinking that they’re taking something.”

The product strikes me as insane. I know a few too many people who have looked at pills as a pat solution to ailments, and that approach only mired them in deeper problems. No matter how miraculous the cure that some pills offer may feel, pills are scientific, not magical things that you consume blindly. And outside of an infection or certain other temporary conditions, they shouldn’t be seen as a solitary answer to any condition. In my perfect world, there would be nutritional advice with every diagnosis, as well as advice on fitness, or any other relevant lifestyle habit. In my mind, a child with hypochondria probably has deeper emotional needs or problems (or is scarred by parents who choose to do things like LIE TO THEM ABOUT PILLS).

Granted, I am a person who could barely sit through the movie Life is Beautiful because the premise that the loving thing to do for a Jewish child in Nazi Germany was to lie about what’s really happening positively drove me up the wall. I don’t think lying is part and parcel of parenting. There are truths I have definitely sidestepped with Declan because I don’t think it’s necessary or wise to impart life’s harsh realities to a toddler, but I can’t imagine calculating the best way to lie to him convincingly. Besides, once they’re old enough to realize that they don’t actually disappear when they cover their own face with a blanket, children aren’t so easily duped.

What’s your take on this? Am I overlooking an instance where a placebo could be ethically used to help a child?

P.S. There was a good commentary on NPR by a doctor who is opposed to the product.

Related Posts:

This is me getting tweaked about lead paint and blog primary coverage

I just read this story over at Daily Kos, and I was really grateful that someone took the time to actually go through some of the legislative records of Clinton and Obama, particularly to see, in fact, whether Obama is the lightweight that he is made out to be. I am relieved to know more about what he’s gotten done. Especially since I still don’t know who I am voting for on Tuesday.

However, author Grassroots Mom might as well have pinched my sciatic nerve with tweezers as made her argument that Obama is more visionary because he initiated legislation against lead paint in toys, while Hillary introduced some to help give tax incentives to landlords to fund the clean-up of lead paint in older houses.

I’m not disputing or advocating for Obama’s visionary-ness, but this particular argument for it upset me, because it includes some dangerous assumptions. Plus, I just think it’s terribly important to broaden awareness about this issue, and this gives me an opportunity to do so.

Toxic toys are shocking by nature, and should absolutely be legislated out of our homes because of the dangers they pose. But they pose a fraction of the threat to children that lead paint in older homes (specifically any home built before 1978) does.

I know because I have had the unfortunate need to speak to more than one public health official in recent years about this. I can tell you that they are glad that the public is up in arms over toys with lead-based paint and that measures are being taken to do more safety screening of imported goods. But they wish that issue could be leveraged into greater awareness of the larger risks that exist all around us.

Of the children that they encounter who have elevated lead levels in their blood or lead poisoning, the overwhelming majority are still getting sick from older homes. And they aren’t just the homes in the inner city by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the worst cases exist in suburbs and historic neighborhoods with beautiful older houses where windows have never been upgraded, or proper clean-up has never been done. (Lead dust is much finer and heavier than other dust, and does not come up with an ordinary vacuum.)

Because I love you and I don’t want your, or anyone’s, children to get sick (and I don’t want to see other parents wracked with the guilt and fear the way I was because of the things I didn’t know), I wrote more about this important environmental issue here on Blog Action Day last fall. At some point, I will write more about our family’s experience.

Incidentally, like Clinton, Barack Obama does have a strong stance on lead paint and abatement standards in homes.

Related Posts: