Writing, not for others but for myself

It’s been a while since I sat down to keyboard and wrote anything, anywhere.  It’s not been due to laziness, but rather a frustration with my brain and fingers.  Seems that the words I see and hear in my brain do not want to translate to paper, and for some reason my fingers have decided to type whatever the hell they want.  It gets frustrating having to use the backspace key every other word to correct a spelling error, and I weary of seeing all the red lines under words telling me, seemingly yelling at me, that I have made another mistake.

I have decided that, despite the internal frustration this causes, I am going to attempt to renew my writing endeavors.  When I was writing before it was cathartic, and helped me to keep from going over the edge mentally and emotionally.  With all that has been going on the past year, I definitely need the outlet.

I look at writing as a gift.  While anyone can put pen to paper, or in this electronic age fingers to keyboard, it takes a certain level of patience, perseverance, and just plain insanity to want to be a writer.  With all the bloggers out here in aether, and all those that wish to write but have not the courage to do so, why would anyone desire to put their inner most feelings and thoughts out for others to read?  The answer is not as simple as ego, or desire for financial gain.  For me it is release.  Release from the tortures of my mind and body.  I can talk with social workers, who nod and grunt approvingly at what I have to say.  Commenting along the way that they understand the frustrations I feel.  Like hell they do.  They have never had to deal with a body and brain that get confused with each other fighting some internal war day after day, hour after hour.  I can talk with family and friends, sharing my aggravations and concerns.  Being that they love me (why is the topic of another post) they try to be understanding, but all it turns into is a pity party, something that drives me mad.  I can share with a lover the pains that I feel, and while they try to understand, I get at most words of reminder to take this or that medication.  I know these people are trying to “help” but all it does is frustrate.

So I write.  Not for others, but for myself.  To give myself the chance to express my frustrations, concerns, and pains without having to sit and listen to others drone on about how I need to listen to the doctors, or how they once sprained this or that, and the pain was unbearable.  I’ve had sprains, broken bones, concussions, and other injuries, and truthfully I would trade the worst sprain or break for the chronic pain and confusion that I now deal with daily.  An acute condition, while at the time seems to be the end of the world, is nothing in comparison to a chronic one.  You know that the pain and suffering you feel from a broken bone will stop in a few days or weeks.  But with chronic pain you never know when relief will come.  Perhaps only by meeting the reaper will one get relief.  To borrow from a movie I saw recently, I don’t fear death, but I’m not going to ask him on a date.  So I endeavor, and push on.

The sitting about feeling sorry for myself, as I have for the past several months, does nothing but cause me to feel worse.  While the self-pity party that I have been engaged in as of late may help me to justify my sloth, it also has caused me to descend further into depression, and a feeling of hopelessness.  Things have not been getting done around the house.  I have shied away from most social contact.  My personal hygiene habits have suffered.  So it is with depression.  Depression brought on by pain, and an inability to control some portions of my body as I would see fit.  Since I no longer get release from frustrations via heavy physical exertions, I need to learn to get the same sort of release by mental exertion.  So I am back to writing.  I know that I have tried this before, and fell back into the habit of not being in the habit of writing.  But I will try and try again and again until the habit of writing is as regular as eating or breathing.  It is something that I want to do.  It is something that I need to do.  Not for anyone’s sake but my own.

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New doctors, new answers, new path

I have been fortunate enough to have most of my care transferred to the “Pain Clinic” at Wishard Hospital.  The director of the clinic, Dr. Palmer Mackie (pronounced Ma-ki) received his M.D. from the University of Health Science, Chicago Medical School.  He is blunt, and very to the point when he speaks to you.  Something I prefer, and enjoy.  I am one of those people who, if diagnosed with a terminal disease, would rather have the doctor tell me flatly and bluntly, “You are going to die from this,” and not dance around the elephant in the room.

I met first Mackie when I was required to attend the ten-week pain clinic classes at the end of last year.  He spoke to us the first session bluntly and plainly, laying out what his philosophy was regarding chronic pain and its management.  The second session he opened by apologizing to the group for having offended someone.  Personally, I would have told the offended person to kiss a fat rat’s ass, but Mackie is much more of a gentleman than I.

Ironically, the class started with approximately 25 participants, and by the end of the ten-weeks, we were down too little over half that number.  One of the things emphasized every class session was, if you were seeking drugs, this was not the place for you.  The clinic takes an integrated pain management view, and does not dispense narcotics on a whim.  I guess those that dropped out were looking for more than simply managing their pain.

The ten-weeks were actually a bore, with everyone from a physical therapist to a nutritionist to a social worker to an occupational therapist all having a go at us.  I suppose it is because I have read so much about my various conditions that I was bored, and while the sessions didn’t do much for me, I hope they did something for the others.  The group I was in was not, and I am being a snob here, filled with mental giants.  The class was the second, third or even fourth go round for some people, and there were several that loved to hear the sound of their own voices.

As I sat there at eight in the morning, I often thought, “If these people would just shut the hell up, we could be done.”  I know that chronic pain, and the problems associated with chronic pain, is wearisome, tearing at the very fiber of a person’s soul, and making one feel as if there is no relief in sight.  However, and this is the cold-hearted part of me, no one wants to hear your whining story every week.  Unless you have something new to add to the discussion, be quiet.  Perhaps it is hypocritical of me to make such a statement as I sit here typing away, but I like to think that I am adding to the dialogue about public healthcare, along with bringing a spot of humor along the way.

Truthfully, I don’t know why I was relegated to the pain clinic.  The only reason I can think of is my hostility to some of the staff in the neurology department.  Since neurology didn’t know how to deal with me, or offer up any answers for me, the easiest thing to do was to pass me down the line.  Truthfully, I am glad they did.

I am coming to the realization that I probably will not get all the answers I am seeking.  For some reason the doctors, nurses, social workers, ad nauseum are unable to offer up the type of explanation that I desire.  It is not that I am looking for some magic potion to fix all my ills, but rather I simply want to understand why my body is fighting me at every turn.  I know that many of my problems could be directly linked back to all the abuse I have put myself through over 50+ years.  Between injuries, bad diets, smoking, drinking, and working in stressful situations, I have set myself up for a physical break down.  One can only operate a machine for so long without proper maintenance before the machine rebels and breaks.  That is how things have gone with me.  Too many years of letting the oil run out, or not getting a tune up, so to speak, and I am reaping the reward of my negligence.

In retrospect, I have to ask myself if all the years of injuries, long hours, seeing all the trauma, death and destruction were worth it.  Knowing what I know now about how I would be physically and mentally, would I have still done the things I have done?  The answer is simple.  Yes.  There are things that are greater than one’s self.

I can only hope since I am now in the hands of the pain clinic, they can offer up some suggestions on how to make life more bearable.  There are days where I would love to be shot full of opiates and simply crawl back into bed, whiling away the hours in a fog.  However, I know that is not the answer.  While I don’t really know what the answer is to my problems, I do know that I have things yet to contribute to society.  I’m scheduled to see the pain clinic’s social worker in the next ten days.  The occupational therapist suggested that I talk with her about vocational rehab, and the possibility of going back to school.

All of my training and education has been in the law enforcement and investigations field, occupations I can no longer perform.  However, there may be opportunities out there for me in other fields, if I can get the retraining or education I need.  The problem with finding something is the vast amount of information that overwhelms you when you begin to search for a new career.  Add to that the need to find financing to pay for any education.  While there are tons of grants out there for those seeking an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s, I have yet to find anything to help pay for a master’s.  Since I have a BA, it makes no sense to me to get another bachelor’s degree.  I may be wrong, and that is what I need to discuss with a voc-rehab specialist.

The next few months will interesting.  I am going to try diligently to find a “new path” for my life, and hopefully a new career.  I do know that trying to live on a third of what I used to make annually is not working.  Even with paring down all of my expenses, I still fall short month to month, and living at a subsistence level is not for me.  The ride over the past several years has been rough and the road very rocky.  I do not see or seek the easy way.  I know that making changes in my life, whether it is going back to school after thirty years, or just learning a new skill will take time and effort.  It is something that I do not look forward too, but I know it is needed.  So, I guess I will just hang on, and try to enjoy the ride.

Posted in Disability, Illness, Public healthcare, Thoughts on life, Wishard Hospital | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Men and dogs: A comparison

There are times when I feel like the “gay male friend” of some women.  Not that I have ANY fashion sense, or the desire to spoon with some other fellow, it’s just that I often am asked by my female friends, “Why are men such dogs?”  Perhaps I’m asked this question because I’m seen as “safe” (unfortunately) and not a “threat” to someone or their relationship.  I suppose it is because of my medical problems and the fact that I am getting a bit grey around the edges.  It did get me to thinking though about us men and how we react to certain things, and how we behave.

Male comedians like to talk about how simple men are.  All you really need to do is feed us, let us sleep, and occasionally give us some “lovin’”.  To a point that is true.  Most men are simple creatures, with basic primal needs of food, shelter, and sex.  Knowing that we are not complicated makes it even more confusing for women.

I think the difference goes back to early human development.  Women were the gathers, looking over each berry bush, and all the fruits and veggies to find the best ones for their families.  They are and were the ones that took care of the sick and injured.  They wailed over the dead.  They kept the fire stoked in the hovel or cave.  Women are the reason that men are not still living in caves, and why we wear more than a loincloth.

Men on the other hand were the hunters.  Seeking out prey, killing it, and bringing it back to hearth and home.  Men didn’t have to dally about comparing this wooly mammoth to the one in the next valley.  They saw dinner, went after it, and if they survived the hunt, brought home the food.  We were in, done, out, and home as quickly as possible.  Not unlike a lot young men.  If one of the hunting party got gored, they were told to rub dirt in it to stop the bleeding and get back to the hunt.  We men folk trudged home with our kill, hoping that our reward for bring home the “bacon” would be a hot meal and a night of hot sex.  Again, much like men today.

So back to the question, “Why are men such dogs?”  Having owned my share of canine companions over the years, I have realized that dogs, at least real dogs, not the foo foo type dogs that the Paris Hiltons of the world carry in their purses, are simple creatures.  All a dog wants is a warm place to sleep.  Food on a regular basis.  Affection from a loved one (i.e. its owner).  And to feel appreciated and loved.

Photo by J. Ordower

Photo by J. Ordower

My one-year-old Aussie, Gus, is a great example of the human male – dog comparison.  Every day he wakes me by jumping on the bed and either licking my face or pawing at me to get my attention.  Unfortunately, he likes to do this around six in the morning when I don’t have to be up for another two hours.  He likes to have his morning romp outside with me, running and acting crazed.  It is his way of burning off extra energy, and to get me moving.  After some exercise, he wants to share a piece of toast with me, and then off to chase a ball through the house.  Along the way, he will try to terrorize the cat, but the cat always wins, it’s a claw thing.

Having run out his energy and taken on the cat

Do NOT mess with me - Photo by J. Ordower

Do NOT mess with me – Photo by J. Ordower

several times, Gus will settle down to napping, getting up to eat a bite or two of food, and then back to snoozing.  The evenings are a repeat of the morns, with the two of us outside playing fetch or some other game he decides on.  The rest of his food is consumed, and after a few more trips outside for “business” he’s ready for bed.

Bedtime has its own routine, me getting myself tucked in, and Gus taking a running jump onto the bed.  Depending on what position I lay in determines where he is going to lie.  He always settles down at first into my chest area so I can pet him, and scratch his belly.  It has been our routine for months, and one I do not see him breaking from any time soon.  After ten or fifteen minutes, I have to hide my hands, and he will jump to the other side of me and fall asleep behind my knees.

Photo by J. Ordower

Photo by J. Ordower

So, let’s compare.  Men like to have a warm place to sleep.  Dogs like to have a warm place to sleep.  Men like to have food around to eat whenever they are hungry.  Dogs like to have food around to eat whenever they are hungry.  Men like to play with balls.  Dogs like to play with balls.  (I won’t venture any further with this particular comparison) Men like to have someone to rub their bellies and scratch their thighs.  Dogs like to have someone rub their bellies and scratch their thighs.  As we can see, the dog and the man are much alike.

Evolutionist claim that humans descended from lower primates.  I think that may be true for female humans.  If you watch primates, the females are attentive to the young, carrying their babies, suckling them, grooming them, and protecting them.  However, I think the human male must have descended from some primitive canid.  Therefore, the answer to the question “Why are men such dogs?” is simple, because we are.

Posted in Dogs, Humor, Relationships, Thoughts on life | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Illegitimi non carborundum

My mother and I never saw eye to eye on many things, actually most things.  She was a lifelong Democrat, I became a conservative once I got out into the real world and saw how social engineering destroyed lives rather than enhanced them.  Once, when she and one of my ex-wives got into a nasty argument I attempted to step in and calm things.  That was like jumping into the middle of a dogfight between two pit bulls, big mistake.  I remember my mother yelling at me that I was, “Nothing like your father.”  I asked her what she meant, and she explained that my father would have never let anyone talk to his wife like my wife was talking to her.  That was when it hit me, I was exactly like my dad, I was not going to let anyone verbally or physically attack my wife, and I would use all my abilities to protect the person I promised to love, honor, etc.  When I told her that I was just like dad, and would not allow her to disrespect my wife, well that’s when my mother’s and my relationship went south for over five years.

It took five years and a divorce to finally swallow my pride, and quell my ego enough to reconcile with mom.  It was something that I was glad that I did, as I only had a couple of more years with her before she died.  Do I regret standing up for my wife?  No, it was the right thing to do at the time.  Was my pride and ego worth the strain and separation that occurred between mom and me?  No.  In retrospect, I should have been man enough to have sat down with her and discussed the problems, and somehow come to a solution.  However, I did not, and I wasted five years of my life being estranged from mom.  Five years I now regret.

Recently I read the phrase, illegitimi non carborundum and remembered that a variant of it, non illegitimis carborundum, was a favorite of mom’s.  It is mock-Latin, and basically means, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”  The history of the phrase(s) is interesting, but I shan’t bore you with it here.  I bring it up for one reason, it is a motto that everyone who has any type of serious medical problem should adopt.  I’ll explain.

My friend “George” is dying.  He knows it, I know it, those closest to him know it, his family not so much – but they are in denial.  Some days I want to call his sister Cleopatra, but that is another story.  George faces the daily problems of peritoneal dialysis, battles with C. diff., peritonitis, along with other medical problems that crop up along the way.  His best friend, “Martha”, does her best to keep track of what is going on with George, it is nearly a full-time job, one that she didn’t volunteer for, but took on because his family wouldn’t step up.  The chore of keeping track of this appointment or that visit is wearisome to them both, and puts an emotional and physical strain on the pair.  I watch as Martha has her monthly melt down, one that coincides with her other monthly problem, and as George feels weaker and weaker.

As I sit on the sideline watching the travails that George goes through, I think of my own personal medical problems, and empathize with him on having to deal with the all-seeing

Eye of Providenceby J. Ordower

Eye of Providence
photo by J. Ordower

eye of public healthcare.  Since both of us are on Medicare, and he also on Medicaid, I understand the frustration in having to deal the varied levels of review and questioning that goes on when it comes to treatment.  Due to the seriousness of his illness, George usually only has to wait a week or two to get to see his doctor if there is a problem.  Or, he can opt for going to the emergency room to be seen.  While the former is the optimal choice, it is usually not the one that he ends up using.  One cannot predict when one is going to have a severe problem crop up, so it is off to the ER.

Granted, the ER is one place that you will be seen the same day.  It may take eight to ten hours, but you will be seen.  Unfortunately, even with the computerization of all medical records, the records do not show the intimate details that one’s own doctor knows about you.  When George, or myself, end up at the ER for whatever reason, the first several hours are spent having to repeat to varied medical staff our histories, and current issues.  The other downside to using the ER as a fall back is that it is much more expensive, not only to us, but to the system.

Like George, I am frustrated and pissed at having to go through all the hoops required to get treatment or answers.  I was attacked and beaten in August last year; I called my neurologist for an appointment.  I felt since much of my problems were neurological, and the ER docs instructed me to do a follow-up with my neuro, it was prudent.  I did get an appointment for August 2013, a year after the beating.  I did what I was supposed to do, and contacted my primary to see if the appointment could be moved up.  I finally got a call from my primary’s office this past week.  The appointment was moved to June 2013.  Since it was not “life or death” and it had been five months since I was hurt, the need for emergent care was no longer there.

Back to the mock-Latin.  There are many days where I feel as if I am being ground to a pulp by a system that is overloaded and out of touch with reality.  I often sit and wonder how anyone gets treatment for anything within the public healthcare system.  It is not designed for efficiency, but for bureaucracy.   Fill out this form, again.  Call this office, again.  Answer these questions, again.  Over and over, like the hamster on a wheel we run.  Ground down!  Ground down by bastards that are not at the mercy of others.  Now, however, I have mom’s old phrase to help me through those times.  It is not polite, but neither was my mom, nor am I.  It is a point to remember, and a point to stand on for strength.  If I, or others in my position were to simply throw our hands in the air and say, “Screw it!” then the bastards win.  That is something I am unwilling to allow.

Anyone that has any type of serious or chronic or life altering illness, and is stuck in the public healthcare system needs to remember illegitimi non carborundum and keep in the fight.  Not just for themselves and their own health, but to keep the medical bureaucrats honest.  The war we wage against this unfeeling, unknowing, ungodly system is one worth fighting.  If not for ourselves, then for those that come after us, our children and grandchildren.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is only making things more difficult, and will continue to make things harder and harder for those that rely on public healthcare.  We will feel ground down, but we CANNOT let the bastards win.

Posted in Disability, Doctor's visits, Illness, Medical Profession, PPACA, Public healthcare | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The racist politics of gun and medication control

A thirty-something,  single mother of two lives in a squat, three bedroom , subsidized townhouse apartment in an “economically depressed” area of any major city.  She and her eight and five-year old keep to themselves, out-of-the-way of the gangbangers, drug dealers, hookers, and whores that roam the streets of the neighborhood.  She works as a CNA by day, and attends classes at the local community college by night.  Her goal is to get her nursing degree, and move her and her children out of the squalor that is the “’hood.”  Her sixty-some year old parents live four blocks over, the product of generational poverty and government social manipulation.  Her father retired a year ago, after spending his life sweeping floors and mopping up after others.  Her mother spent her life raising children and keeping house.  Her parents are good people; neither has ever been arrested or in trouble with the law, and neither had gone to college, or even finished high school.

From Wikipedia

When the father of the eight and five-year old left a few years ago, mom and children moved in down the street from her parents.  The grandparents watch over the little ones while mom works and goes to school.  It is an arrangement duplicated in tens of thousands of poor families across America, one generation helping another to get a leg up on the future.  When the daughter moved into the neighborhood, her father gave her an old .38 caliber revolver, one that had been his father’s before him.  The blued, slight rusted piece of hardware sat in the top dresser drawer of the daughter’s bedroom.  The bullets in a box hidden away on a shelf in the closet.

At three in the morning, she hears a noise that wakes her.  She lies in bed for a few waiting for the cobwebs of sleep to be dusted away from her mind.  Then she hears glass breaking, and the sound of the backdoor creaking open.  Her heart jumps in her chest, and she slowly gets up from the bed.  Without thinking, she grabs the revolver from the dresser and retrieves the box of ammo from the shelf.  She is trying to be as quiet as possible, loading a couple of rounds into the gun and closing the cylinder with a light snap.  Grabbing her cell phone, she speed dials her parents, “Daddy, someone’s in the house.”  He tells her he’s on the way, and has his wife call 911.  She now hears voices from downstairs and the rummaging of the intruders.  As she walks past her children’s rooms, she checks to make sure the doors are closed, and then quietly plods down the stairs.

There are two men in her living room, both of which she recognizes from the neighborhood.  Standing half way up the stairs, she points the gun at the two of them and tells them to get out of her house.  The younger one tells her, “Bitch, put that gun down.”  The older one has more sense, and sees that she is shaking.  “Let’s get the fuck out of here before she shoots one of us on accident.”  They both run out the backdoor, grabbing what they can on the way out.  She collapses on the stairs, crying.  Her father arrives and lets himself in the front door with his key.  He sits with her, holding her, comforting her.  It is another ten minutes before the police arrive, by then the father has swept up the broken glass, and is looking for something to cover the broken window.  In their neighborhood, the police are slow to respond.  He tells her not to tell the police about the gun, she doesn’t have a permit, and he fears she will be arrested.

The officer tells them there is nothing they can really do; break-ins such as this happen by the dozens all across the area every night.  He asks if they want to make a report.  The daughter looks at her father, he shrugs.  “No,” she tells the police, “it wouldn’t do any good, anyway.”

Miles away in a tony suburb a husband, wife and their two children sleep in the quiet comfort of their 4,000 square foot home.  Motion detector lights surround the two-acre property, and a top of the line alarm system protects the family.  The wife hears a noise coming from downstairs, and wakes her husband.  She whispers that she has heard something, and then they both hear the sound of breaking glass.  The husband gets up and grabs a shotgun from the gun safe in the bedroom.  He tells her to call 911.  The intruders have tripped the silent alarm, and the police are already on the way.  The husband plods down the stairs, and halfway down spies two young men rummaging through the family’s belongings.  He points the shotgun at them, and tells them to hit the floor.  Twelve gauge

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

in hand he holds the pair until the police arrive a few minutes later.  The burglars are arrested, and the police congratulate the husband for his bravery in protecting his family.

A shade-tree mechanic is working on his car.  The front brakes have been grinding, and it has taken several weeks to save up the money to buy the parts.  He sits on the ground, struggling to free the caliper from the rotor, his legs under the jacked up car.  The bolt holding the caliper won’t budge, and he takes a pry bar and hammer to the socket, trying to break the bolt free.  As he is hammering, his knee hits the jack causing it to shift and dropping the car on his leg.  He’s pinned, screaming in pain.  His wife comes running out the front door of the three flat walk up they live in.  She sees blood seeping through his jeans, terrified doesn’t know what to do.  He is screaming at her to get the jack, and lift the car off his leg.  She gets her husband free.  His calf is sliced open from the break assembly landing on it; blood is running down his leg soaking his sock and shoe.  A neighbor offers to drive them to the hospital, another volunteers to watch their children.  He says he doesn’t want to go, they have no insurance.  By now, the blood is overflowing in his shoe, finally he agrees to go.  The neighbor can get him to the emergency room faster than calling 911 and off they go.

The ER is busy, it is a Friday night, and the hustle and bustle of the city flows in and out of the emergency room.  The wife and neighbor help him to the registration desk, leaving a trail of blood as they go.  The hospital staff is quick, efficient and compassionate.  They get him into a triage room, packing his leg with compresses to stem the blood flow.  He keeps telling the nurse that they have no insurance, and can’t afford the visit.  She assures him not to worry, this is a city hospital, one that has to see everyone regardless of whether they can pay or not.  X-rays are taken, and the doctor finally sees him.  The doctor tells him that there appears to be a fracture in the tibia, and he will need to see an orthopedist.  The husband says that they cannot pay they have no insurance.  The doctor reassures him that it will be all right this is a city hospital.  Thirty stitches later, and a temporary cast the husband is released.  He is given three days’ worth of painkillers, all that is allowed by city regulations.  The wife asks how long before they can see a bone doctor and is told it could be a week or so.  She asks how her husband is supposed to get along with just three days of pain medication, when it might be a week or more before he can be seen again.  The doctor shrugs.  He doesn’t know.

In an up-scale, downtown apartment a husband climbs up a six-foot ladder to change the light bulb his wife has complained about for weeks.  After the bulb is changed, and the cover replaced the husband turns slightly on the ladder losing his footing.  He falls, hitting the tile floor with his shoulder and neck.  He is screaming in pain, and his wife runs to his side.  She calls 911, within a few minutes an ambulance is there.  Neck brace and backboard in place the medics transport him to the hospital.

The ER is quiet, even though it is a Friday night.  Most of the patients that come to this private hospital have insurance, or are financially secure, and can pay.  X-rays and an MRI are done.  Nothing is broken, just some strained and pulled muscles.  The emergency room doctor tells him to call his primary care physician on Monday for a follow-up.  They give the husband a neck brace, and prescriptions for muscle relaxers and pain medication.  The emergency room doctor writes the scripts for ten days’ worth of medication.  He tells the wife that it may take a few days to get into their primary care physician, and he does not want the husband to be in pain.

Four stories, but essentially two different outcomes.  In the first story, the young mother used a gun to protect herself and her family.  Why didn’t she file a report with the police when they arrived?  In her neighborhood the police are often looked at as the enemy.  She knows that nothing will get done, they are poor, economically disadvantaged, and likely a minority.  She can’t tell the police she used a weapon to protect herself and her children, she has no permit, and the gun is unregistered.  Does she risk being arrested for protecting her home?  No.  Therefore, the burglary goes unreported, and the father replaces the broken glass with a solid piece of wood.

In the third story, the family can’t afford to hire a mechanic so the husband works on the car himself.  When he gets hurt, he is more worried about the medical bills than he is the injury.  However, there is a safety net in place to help people like him; it is called the public hospital.  His injury, while not life threatening, is painful and will cause pain for days if not longer.   The problem is that he lives in New York City, and there are new regulations in place for public hospitals.  ER doctors cannot prescribe more than three days of pain medication because someone might abuse them.

In the second story the husband is congratulated for his being brave and protecting his family with a shotgun.  The police take a report; the burglars arrested and prosecuted.  The husband does not have to hide the fact that he had a weapon, in this neighborhood the police are looked at as the good guys.   In the fourth story the husband is treated at a private hospital, and given enough pain medication to last until he can get to see his primary care doctor.  The family is a “good” family where the potential for abusing the medication is thought to be less.  They come from a “good” neighborhood with money.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting government officials at various levels have called for a ban on guns.  Everything from handguns to shotguns to whatever is deemed an “assault rifle.”   President Obama has even convened a special commission, headed up by Vice President Joe Biden, to come up with a plan to end “gun violence” in America.  The problem is not “gun violence” but rather a culture of violence that has permeated American society.  A culture promoted by Hollywood and video game designers, and allowed to enter our homes via televisions and game consoles.  It is the abdication of parents’ responsibility to the monster in the room known as the television or computer monitor.

The problem with mandatory gun control or the confiscation of guns of any type is that, one, it will not work, and two, it is by its very nature racist.  It will not work simply because those that are intent on committing criminal acts will find a way to get a gun, whether it is by purchasing one off the street, or stealing one.  No confiscation plan in the world will remove from society all the firearms in America.  If people think that banning guns and confiscating all the guns in the country is the solution, let me ask one simple question:  How is the “War on Drugs” doing to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into the country?

It is racist because it will cause those that need a firearm the most, the residents of urban areas plagued with crime, to be defenseless in their own homes.  Those living in safe, moneyed areas of the nation do not have to worry about the same level of crime as those living in the poverty and violence of many urban areas.  The character in the first story used a gun to protect herself and her family, and though the firearm was technically illegal, she was no more a threat to society than the man in the second story.

If the various government mouth pieces have their way, all firearms would be gone, sent to the smelter to be melted down, leaving many urban families with no way of protecting themselves.  The wealthy will still have their gated communities, their responsive police departments, their private security companies to protect them.  The poor, often, only have themselves, and without a firearm to act as a visible deterrent, the poor will be victimized more and more.

In an August 2012 press release, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that as many as 3.4 million violent crimes went unreported from 2006 to 2010.  This did not include crimes against property, or other “minor” offenses.  If there is already significant un and under-reporting of crime in America, how many people living in poverty will simply not report things such as break-ins and other offenses?  There is already a significant distrust of the police by those in poorer communities, especially the black community.  The forcible removal, by confiscation, the one thing that may protect a law-abiding family from criminals is racist.

In the third story, a man living in a poorer neighborhood of New York City is hurt and treated at the local public, city run hospital.  The emergency room doctor knows that the man will not be able to see another doctor for days, perhaps even a week or more.  In the past he would have prescribed ten days’ worth of pain medication to the patient, however due to new regulations laid out by the Mayor of NYC, he can only give the man three days.

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

Michael Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat who only switched parties to run for mayor in 2001, has decreed that city owned hospitals could only dispense three days of painkillers.  The reason for Mayor Bloomberg’s fiat?  Too many people are becoming addicted to painkillers, and the government needs to step in and stop the problem.  Bloomberg, in a show of compassion told reporters, “so you didn’t get enough painkillers and you did have to suffer a little bit.”

Critics have said the Mayor’s decree will penalize the poor who use emergency rooms as their primary care facility more often than those with insurance and the financial means to afford a private doctor.  Bloomberg remained unfazed by the criticism.  Bloomberg’s personal net worth, estimated at $20 billion, allows him to receive the best medical care in the world.  Yet, he would deny the poorest of his constituents the right to have their doctor decide how much pain medication they should receive.  The Mayor’s decision is another example of closeted racism paraded as being for the “good of the community.”

The gun control lobbies, along with those wanting to control access to medication, are of the same ilk.  They do not feel that Americans can think and act responsibly, and therefore need to have the government think for them.  They do not trust the poorest among us to be able to think.  They do not trust minorities to act responsibly.  The policy wonks, the political class, and the liberal pontificators all think that THEY have the solution to all that ails American society.  They sit, looking out from their gated communities with armed guards, or down from their Park Ave. apartments with high-tech security and doormen, thinking they know what is best for the average man.

The one thing that these people have in common is that they are generally Democrats, or as Hillary Clinton described herself, modern progressives.  They truly believe that they know what is best for the Everyman, and that the modern, 21st century American is not able to think or do for themselves without some form of government assistance.  They have created a society of dependent citizens, one that asks what the government can do for them.  The ideals of individuality are taking a backseat to the needs of the collective.

V.P. Biden quoted President Obama at the outset of the gun control commission, “As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, they’re worth taking.”  But what actions?  The forced confiscation of firearms from normally law-abiding citizens, leaving those that cannot afford private security to fend for themselves?  Chicago, a city with some of the most restrictive gun policies in America, had 500 homicides for 2012.  Chicago Police Superintendent Gerry McCarthy stated the increase in homicides was due to “gang violence and proliferation of illegal guns.”  “Illegal guns”?  It is obvious that more restrictive gun policies do not work.  Why?  Because criminals will always get what they want, just like those that abuse drugs.

Rather than implementing racist, anti-poor policies, politicians should be focusing on how to improve the dynamic of the American household.  Economic empowerment through a robust, growing economy is a start.  Then there is the need to hold parents accountable for what their children do.  We need to revisit what our children are watching TV, and playing online.  We, as a country, also need to have a serious discussion about mental health, and the over medicating of our children simply because they act out in class.  When the progressives become serious about confronting these issues, and not simply enacting their racist, government control over every aspect of American life, then I will believe they are serious.

Posted in Gun Control, Medical Profession, Politics, Racism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Bureaucracy of Healthcare

My friend “George”, whom I have written about before, had a real eye opener this past week. George suffers from Membranous Nephropathy (MN), and has been told repeatedly by his nephrologist that he will ultimately die from the disorder. George’s kidneys are shutting down, and he is on peritoneal dialysis (PD). Due to complications from bariatric surgery and the placing of the PD tube in his abdomen, George has been prone to bouts of clostridium difficile (C. diff). Since he was diagnosed with MN, two years ago, I can recall at least four different occasions where George has had C. diff.

Each time he develops C. diff. he ends up in the hospital for several days, having become dehydrated, weak, and unable to keep any food down. The doctors and nurses load him up with IV antibodies, rehydrate him and send him on his way with a prescription for oral vancomycin. The vancomycin is the only antibiotic that cures his C. diff., and is one that the doctors have prescribed each time he has been hospitalized.  Ten days ago, he was back in the hospital with C. diff., and again sent home with his script for vancomycin.  Only this time there was a complication.

George’s prescription this time was written after January 1st.  That means that new rules are now in place on how medications will be prescribed and filled.  You see, George, since he is dying, and cannot work, is on Medicare and Medicaid, and while vancomycin is HIS doctor’s preferred drug of choice to treat George’s C. diff., it is not Medicare or Medicaid’s.  A fourteen-day course of treatment with vancomycin costs around $1,800.  When we took the script to have it filled, the pharmacy waited two days to let us know that vancomycin was no longer a Medicare/Medicaid approved drug.  It had been in 2012, but now with the new regulations that took effect in 2013, it was bumped from the list – too costly.  It took another two days, and a dozen phone calls between us, the doctor, and the unseen person at the Medicaid office to finally get approval.  The long and short of it is simple.  George had to go four days without his oral antibiotic, after having been dosed for three days with an IV course of the same medication.  If you read the medication bottles, or know anything about antibiotics, then you know you have to complete the course of treatment completely.  Otherwise, you are at risk of a rebound infection that may be worse.  We are hoping that will not be the case with George.

Another surprise that George got at the beginning of the year came when he went to get other medications refilled.  He has been on lorazepam and diazepam for the past several years.  One is longer acting, and the other is for when he gets acute panic attacks.  Several psychologists and psychiatrists have seen him, and they have all agreed that, given his current medical condition, it was prudent to keep him on both medications.  However, when he tried to get his prescription refilled, he was denied both prescriptions.  So round we went again between the doctors, the unseen voice at the Medicaid office and us.  The reason for the denial?  He must be drug seeking!  My question to the voice behind the curtain is simple.  How can he be drug seeking when all of his prescriptions are coming from the same doctors?  It is not as if he has a script written by Dr. Smith, and another by Dr. Jones.  Dr. Jones wrote both scripts.

Over the past year and a half, I have tried to document what I have gone through in dealing with public healthcare.  I have written about the weeks and months waiting for an appointment or test, the endless waits at clinic offices, the challenges of not seeing the same doctor more than a couple of times due to rotations.  These all occurred before the full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Now the PPACA is moving into its next phase, and things will get more complicated.  Medications that MY doctor and I have decided are best for me may not be available to me.  I was having a discussion on-line with a relative, and his comment was that these stories are anecdotal, and do not reflect how the PPACA will improve medical care in the U.S.  We will not know the true impact of the PPACA until it is fully implemented, but from what I have experienced over the past three years, and from what I saw firsthand so far this year, I am not hopeful.

There already was a long wait for treatments in the public healthcare system.  With the PPACA coming more on-line and 33 million more patients hitting the system, my question is simple.  How long before the medical system is so over loaded that it can no longer be sustained?  People want to tout the European system, or Cuba, or some other country with socialized medicine, but they forget to add one very important point.  The countries they are holding up as examples do not have the population that we have here in the United States.  The U.S. has approximately 350 million residents.  Cuba – 11 million.  Great Britain – 62 million.  Canada – 34 million.  Combined, these three counties have a third of the population that we have in the U.S.

Medical reform needs to be done, I will be the first to say that, and support comprehensive reform of the system.  However, I fear for those of us that are at the mercy of public healthcare and the way it is looking to shape up under the PPACA.  How many people will suffer or die because of the bureaucracy of healthcare?

Posted in Medical Profession, PPACA, Public healthcare | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The great oatmeal war

One of the “joys” of having the neurological problems that I deal with is that every day is an adventure. Half my days are what I would consider normal, being able to function to an extent around the house, and taking care of my own home and myself. A quarter of my days are spent pretty much flat on my back in bed, dealing with tremors, pain and feelings of getting electro-shock treatment throughout my body. Then there are the days where I feel somewhat okay, but can’t think well enough to string five words together to form a coherent thought. Those days are the hardest. It is truly frustrating not being able to communicate what my thoughts are to others. It also affects my writing, and makes it difficult to sit at a keyboard.

I can sit and type, then look at the screen and not recognize half the words I have written. Thank God and Microsoft for spell check. On the days were things are not hitting on all cylinders, the squiggly lines that pop up in every third word keeping me from looking like an uneducated fool.

The other fun part of having all the problems I have is the excitement of not knowing what differing parts of my body are going to do at any given moment. Yesterday is a prime example. I had spent the majority of the day in bed, my head swimming in circles to the point where I could not walk from one room to another without falling. After doses of medication, and a long nap, I decided to venture to the store to pick up some needed items. When you are out of cat food, the cat becomes quite pissed off. That is when she starts using your leg as a scratching post. Off I went to the store, and after a few minor setbacks, I had to stop a few times to let my brain catch up with my body, I headed home. That was when the fun started.

I got home, took a break for a few minutes to catch my breath and regroup, and then attempted to put away the treasures bought. It was while I was putting things up in the kitchen that I learned a valuable life lesson. DO NOT knock over the FULL box of instant oatmeal sitting on the counter. It will pop open and spill its contents all over the floor. The mess wasn’t as bad as the attempted cleanup. I grabbed my handy broom and dustpan,

The battle is on!

The battle is on!

and tried to sweep up the oats that had scattered here and there. The only problem with uncooked oatmeal is that it is, on an individual oat level, very light. Every time I would sweep one way, scores of oats would float or bounce up, going hither and dither, making more of a mess.

I fought the great oat battle for ten minutes or so, and then surrendered. There are still oats lying about the floor, and under counters and carts. I will get the shop vac out today, and continue the war, hopefully with better results. I figured that one night of oats being on the floor was better than me ending up on the floor. Plus, it will give the mouse that is hiding in my kitchen a snack for the middle of the night.

The frustration comes in, not with the fact that I dumped an entire carton of oats on the floor, but rather that I was unable to finish cleaning up the mess. As I attempted to sweep and bend to pick up the cereal, I got dizzy, with head swimming and eyes fluttering uncontrollably. Then there is the issue of motor control. I have a persistent problem with controlling my hands and arms. Some days are wonderful, and I can perform dexterous activities. Then there are days like yesterday, where my hands don’t know if I am holding something or not. While dropping things is a nuisance, I have switched to plastic cups, it is more the frustration of not knowing when my hands will let loose. Add to that the tremors that are with me daily, and you have a recipe for a mess. I muddle through, sometimes leaving a mess in my wake. I only wish I would be having one of my shaky days when I visit the doctor. My body is like an old car. Something goes wrong, you take it to the mechanic and it seems to operate perfectly. As soon as you drive out of the shop, the rattle comes back, and it starts to backfire. That is my body. I leave the doctor and start rattling and backfiring all the way home.

As I sit here, eyes beginning to flutter, and hands shaking, I realize it is time to take another nap. See you later.

Posted in Food, Humor, Illness, Thoughts on life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A new year and a new start

Over the years I have had many times where I have been under the weather, or so overwhelmed by things as to not be able to function at anywhere near a normal level.  These past six months have been like that.  Between getting my ass handed to me in August, along with the changes in doctors and clinics, I have not wanted to do anything but lay about, read, and listen to old time songs.  Plus, this past fall semester I decided to take a writing class at the local college which took more time than I had anticipated.  Thankfully, the class was on-line and I didn’t have to venture forth into the wilds of a modern day college campus.  Just going to the campus for registration was enough for me to realize how screwed up many of today’s teens and early twenty-year-olds are.

Now I am back, and I am going to push very hard to be more diligent with this blog.  I plan on bringing updates as to what has been happening in the wonderful world of public health care, along with some humor and perhaps a touching, heart rendering story along the way.

I hope that if you stumble upon this little blog you enjoy what you read, but if not, it truly is not my problem.  I write for catharsis, not for accolades or popularity.  I write as a participant and an outside viewer.  Given the state of the medical profession in America today, I also hope that what I write will open the eyes of those who do not understand the painful difficulty of dealing with public health care.

All that said, it is good to be back.  I look forward to the challenges of the next year, both personally and professionally.  I know that for every good day I have there will be two or three bad.  I have a choice to make, wallow in the bad, and bemoan what is happening to me, or face each day and fight to have a good day.  I am planning on a fight.

All I ask are prayers to fight on, and the strength to do so, so that I might make a difference in at least one person’s life.

Now, with all that said, bring on 2013, and Happy New Year!

Posted in Personal history, Public healthcare, Thoughts on life | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The saga continues

Again, I have been remiss in posting anything for a while.  However, I do have an excuse, since my little “adventure” in August I have been having all kinds of problems with cognition, memory, and severe neck and head pain.  Just the result of having my head used as a piñata and soccer ball.  Along with having to deal with my regular physical problems, ones that I have more or less grown accustomed to, I now get to deal with the additions that are the result of getting the crap kicked out of me.  I good friend has advised me not to comment on this blog regarding the actual event, legal reasons, so I will refrain.

I will however speak about how I am being “treated” by the wonderful public hospital that I use.  Wishard Hospital, as I have said before, has some truly fantastic staff.  My local clinic is terrific, and Dr. Seele is a great doctor.  When I got hurt in August, I had some deep concerns regarding injury to my brain and central nervous system.  The ER seemed more concerned about the damage to my face, and treated those injuries as if they were the important ones.  If you have ever seen my face, you would realize that it is not an area that I am all that concerned about.   I was once told that I had a face made for radio, and to an extent, I would have to agree.

Several weeks after I was beaten up and knocked out, I was still having problems – dizziness, increased numbness in my limbs, cognitive and memory issues, vertigo, and an increase in what can only be described as PTSD.  I contacted the wonderful neurology department and was again told that someone would get back to me, or if things kept getting worse, go to the ER.  It is a shame that the ER is the fall back for everyone within Wishard, and it is no wonder that the ER staff is so overworked.  If the doctors and staff at the varied clinics would simply set up an appointment with a patient, rather than passing the buck, the costs of the running the ER would drop dramatically.

Off to the ER I went again, this time to have my neck X-Rayed.  There were no apparent fractures to the neck, so I was sent home, again.  I have had enough broken bones to know that there may well be hairline fractures that do not show on an X-Ray until the bone starts to heal.  Then they show as shadows or calcification along the bone.  But what do I know; I am just another number in the vast pool of numbers that is public healthcare.

It is now a month and a half post injury, and I am still having severe problems with my neck.  If I tilt my head back, as you would to finish a cup of coffee or look at the moon, I am struck with a lightning bolt of pain, and my arms and legs go numb, I get nauseated, dizzy, and end up with a massive headache.  Neither heat nor cold help the problem, and I end up in bed, trying to get my neck into a position that takes away the pain.

I have called neurology again.  After being routed around to various extensions and people, I finally was able to leave a message for the nurse that I was having problems.  This was Monday, October 8th, and I was advised by the message on the machine that it could take 48 hours to get back to me.  So today, October 10th will be 48 hours.  I am waiting to see if in fact I get a call, and what exactly will be the result of the call.  If I am told to go to the ER again, I am going to park myself outside of CEO and Medical Director Lisa Harris’ office until I get someone to listen.

While I try not to politicize this blog all that often, it was started as a place to vent and inform, I get more and more fearful as we come closer to the implementation of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  If our public hospitals are so incapable of communicating within themselves now, how is it going to be when more and more patients further overload them?  Will the use of the ER become the continual fall back for every department?  And what will that do to the ERs?  And to the costs of medical treatment?  Is it not more cost effective to see a patient in the doctor’s office versus sending them to the ER?  I would think so.

I will be patient (no pun intended) and wait to see if I hear back from neurology.  If and when I do, I will let you know how it goes at the ER.

Posted in Doctor's visits, Medical Profession, Public healthcare, Wishard Hospital | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Blackout, movie, and pizza

I guess the effects of Friday’s little adventure are more than I had thought.  While the initial C-Scan showed no fractures to my face, I am experiencing some major ill effects of the beating.  I am seeing black spots in front of my face that I would liken to a swarm of gnats flying around one’s head.  My tremors have increased perhaps fifty fold, and are unabated by medication.  The headache is still present, and due to the contusions on my head, I have only one spot on my skull that I can lay on without being in pain.

I am also dealing with a massive amount of memory and cognitive loss, more so than normal.  I can look at an item and not remember its name.  I can think of an item, be able to describe it, yet cannot name it.  To add to all this mental and physical confusion, it seems that I had a blackout session last night.

Yesterday I had friends (George and Martha – from a earlier post) over to help move some furniture and things given to me by a couple I know that is retiring to Florida.  After the gifted items were moved and settled in, George spent the afternoon working on his brakes at my house.  Given his medical problems, it is always better to have someone around when he is working on his car.  The little bit of assistance I was able to offer in moving things took a physical toll on me, and I laid down around four in the afternoon.  George and Martha were still at the house, he working on his brakes, she moving things into the sheds I have on my property.

I woke around eight last night, and no one was there.  I called Martha and asked when they had left.  She told me that they left around 5:30 or 6pm, and both even came in to say goodbye.  I then asked why she had moved some of the furniture around in the living room, and why they didn’t save me some left over pizza.  This is where things start to get “freaky.”

Martha told me that she hadn’t moved any furniture in the living room, and that they had left me several pieces of pizza in the box in the refrigerator.  I could hear her ask George if he had moved any furniture or had eaten the pizza, and he said no to both.  Martha told me that they had left right after I had spoken to my daughter, something else I do not remember, and that I was in bed.

When I woke, I was in the recliner in the living room.  The recliner that had been moved from one side of the room to the other.  The pizza box was on the stove, and a paper plate was next to it with a half-eaten crust.  The movie Safe House was in the DVD player.  I asked her if they had watched the movie and she said no.

The only thing I can think of that makes any sense is that after they left I got up, rearranged the furniture, ate the pizza and watched the movie.  This morning I found the adapter for my DSL/TX line lying on my desk.  I checked the plug where it should have been, and it had been replaced.  The end of the old adapter had the plug torn out.  So, I am guessing that I must have repaired the plug also.

I did wake up in bed this morning around nine or so.  The dog was licking me to get my attention and in need of the great outdoors.

Unless there is a furniture fairy that came in, rearranged the house, ate the pizza, watched a movie and fixed my DSL plug I must have done it in some sort of fog.  I have called my primary doctor for a follow-up visit, and I am hoping to see her soon.  Unfortunately, I am at the mercy of the public healthcare system, and appointments can take weeks to get.  I am also going to try to get into see my neurologist as soon as possible.  Obviously, something is amiss, and I have a concern regarding what happened last night.  I am grateful that I do not have a car right now, because God only knows where I would have ended up.

Posted in Concussions, Illness, Personal history, Public healthcare, Thoughts on life | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments