A Brief Post for This Week.

I went to see Dr. Wonderful’s junior colleague on Tuesday, and it was disappointing.  He didn’t know anything about parathyroid tests – which, considering he is a family practice doctor, is understandable I guess – but he did refer me to another endocrinologist.

He told me to use an OTC cortisone cream on both my arms “for the blotchiness” – he didn’t know what that was, either, or why I was losing pigment.  I don’t plan on coating my arms with cortisone cream, as it thins skin and as far as I know cannot help with loss of pigmentation.

He doesn’t think this is environmental.  He told me to follow a “low fodmap” diet.  I guess I can give it a try, once I look it up to see what in hell it is.

Then he scheduled me for a mammogram, and sent me on my way.

“We may never know what’s wrong with you” he says.  Arrgghhhh!

The new endocrinologist’s office hasn’t called me for an appointment yet.

Meanwhile, I went shopping for basic household stuff (tp, I use a LOT of that, toothpaste, etc) at Target on Wednesday, taking the dreaded senior van.  After walking around the shop for 1/2 hour, I was nauseated, drenched in sweat from my head and neck, red in the face, and had to fast-walk over to the restroom with an attack of diarrhea (fortunately, I made it in time and with no drama).

This usually only happens when I have been out for about an hour or more, so it’s getting worse.  I grabbed an extra plastic bag on the way out just in case my nausea escalated on the way home.

I sat outside Target, waiting for the van, out of the way of most people because I was embarrassed that I was bright red and sweating profusely.  A couple of customers asked me if I was alright, as they passed me on their way in to the store.

“Please hurry up van gosh I wish I had a car,” I thought, not the first time, of course. I can add “embarrassment’ to the list of issues I have with lack of transportation.

I literally crawled up the stairs when I got home, hung out in the bathroom for awhile, and then went to bed.  At 2 PM. Took anti-nausea meds and an antihistamine so I could sleep.  My bp was 176/90.

None of this is normal.  Whatever it is, it is getting worse and now I am rethinking my errands situation.  Can I go to the grocery store next week?  Heck, I went downstairs to get the mail today and my bp spiked to 180/97.  I am angry that this is rapidly confining me to my apartment 24/7.

I have things I want to do!  I have my first granddaughter arriving in November, and I want to travel to see her for Christmas (my son and his wife live far away in another state).  I want to get better!  It’s frustrating because, if it’s a parathyroid problem, all they have to do is take one or more parathyroid glands out, and voila!  Cured!  How can I make it through airports and long flights when I can’t even last a half hour in a store?

But…no diagnosis yet.  If I end up in the ER again I will demand a PTH test, along with a colonoscopy (might as well, since no one seems to be able to treat the diarrhea I have had every day since January).  That’s if I feel well enough to advocate for myself, which is unknown at this point.

As I write this, I am still nauseated and exhausted.  This is the most frustrating situation I have ever been in, and it’s scary, too.  I feel very discouraged.

On the plus side, I hope…I received an exercise bike from Amazon yesterday.  I saved up Amazon cards over the past year to get it, so it didn’t cost me anything:

It is supposed to be “easy to assemble”.  I am very bad at assembling anything.  Hopefully there won’t be too much swearing and crying.  The only time I regret not being married is when I am forced to assemble things!

As my world continues to shrink due to illness, I am not about to go down without a fight.  I am thankful that my mind is pretty much intact, even as I try to get my body under control.  At least with an exercise bike, if I start to feel sick I am already at home, so that’s the logic behind this purchase.

I have already eliminated soda, caffeine, bad fats, white sugar, and anything else that causes symptoms that I can think of from my diet.  I tried eliminating dairy and gluten, months ago, and there was no change.  Vegetables and fruits are hit-and-miss, as too much fiber wreaks havoc with my digestion.

I stopped dying my hair and I cut it super-short to see if this helped with the heat intolerance (it didn’t).  I use only organic soaps and shampoos, all free of sulphates.

I take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 for my vitamin D deficiency. I drink enough water – bottled water, as this place is not Memphis with its artisan wells.  This place is where you can set your faucet alight due to fracking.  Heck, I even give my cats bottled water, the water here is so bad.

I cut back on all meds and only take blood pressure medication (not working all that well at times), a med for palpitations, and Tylenol for pain.  The new medication my gastroenterologist’s PA prescribed has, as one of its few side effects, a tendency to prevent absorption of vitamin D3 – so that’s out, too.

Besides, I haven’t any money for new prescriptions this month anyway.  I’ll have to do more surveys just to pay my bills this month.  I don’t need the stress but it can’t be helped.

Which brings me to recommendations…surveys.  Yes, they take forever to qualify and complete, but if you have a ton of free time they are sort of worth it.  Best ones are:

Mint Vine – pays out in gift cards (way too many to list) or Paypal.  Lowest payout is $10, and you can earn that fairly quickly (2 weeks or so).  It’s how I earn Amazon cards, primarily, and how I get Christmas presents for others.  If you want to join this one, please use this link, because I get extra points if you sign up through it and then actually take surveys:

https://mintvine.com/users/register/52e05f2a232d8731927685

Vindale Research – This one takes longer to do, but if you don’t die of boredom you can earn $50 in Paypal within a month.  That’s the minimum amount you can earn.  Definitely worth it if you are in a panic and spend all your waking hours doing surveys so you can pay bills (like me).  This is another one that can help if you sign up and complete the “evaluation” (demographics info) through this link – I get $5 per referral:

http://tryvindale.com/VDMDULiRD

OneOpinion – This, too, takes a bit longer but it also pays out in gift cards (Amazon, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Starbuck’s, Visa) and Paypal.  Minimum earnings – $25.

Sorry to beg for referrals but I don’t think WordPress allows “donate” buttons, and I am really strapped this month from the extra OTC things I have had to buy in an attempt to control some of my symptoms (which I have now discarded because none of it seemed to help).

Terrible situation – health vs bills.  So I am desperate this month.

Weird news of the week: Binky the Cat bites would-be burglar!

https://www.nbcnews.com/video/cat-foils-burglary-963925059745

Made me smile.

Be good.  Be kind.  Please excuse the pitch for referrals, I won’t do it again.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Stop, Drop…and Think.

We live in some really depressing times.  People are sad, angry, anxious, and worried.

I think I can help a bit with that.

Lots of us remember Watergate and Nixon’s resignation, and we were upset then, too.  But I don’t think I have seen the intensity of emotions that I am seeing today, when I compare that event to 45’s chaotic presidency.

Part of it is, I think, due to the outrageous flaunting of public opinion and the blatant disrespect for our Constitution.  I don’t think there is anything to compare to that, in terms of how much contempt the Republicans and the president have for the American people and our democracy.

Putting all that aside, I want to focus on what we can each do on an individual basis to keep our emotional equilibrium.

We live in an instant information era.  Breaking news hits us many times a day, and if it doesn’t get on the TV news it gets on social media and takes off.  News that we had days to digest in the past now has us scrambling to make sense of it within minutes.

That’s cognitively tiring.  Exhausting, even.

It’s easy to just say, “Oh get the hell off the internet and go do something else”, but for those who cannot get out of their homes (due to illness or poverty or whatever), it’s not that simple.

Of course, if you can get out and go camping or take a bike ride or do some kind of hobby, that’s great!  You probably have a lower level of stress than the rest of us.  I am all for that!

My suggestions – for the rest of us – are as follows:

When you read or see a news story that upsets or angers you, stop reacting.  Drop what you’re thinking about.  Think in a different way.

The first part, to stop reacting, is called “thought stopping” (yeah, I know, pretty obvious name). The trick is that you need to be aware when you are reacting, so you can stop it.

Here is an easy way to do that: put a rubber band on your wrist.  When you start to feel upset, snap it.  That is your (slightly painful) cue to tell yourself to redirect your attention.

With time, you won’t need to use a rubber band.  Or maybe you are aware and don’t need to use a rubber band, which is terrific!  You’re ahead of the game already!

You can also use any other attention-getting device, such as a small bell or something. Whatever interrupts your reaction is fine.

Next, drop whatever you’re doing that has upset you – reading news, looking at social media, watching TV, what-have-you.  Immediately go into the “think” part.

You can do this in several ways.  You can redirect your thoughts to something completely different.  Kitten and puppy videos are on YouTube for a reason, people!

You can read a completely unrelated book.  Or a book that’s on the same topic but that sees it from a different perspective – like any book written by your favorite comedian.

You can listen to your favorite music.  Or play your own music.

“That sounds like good old distraction,” you might be thinking.

Yeah, it does.  You can think of it as “mindful distraction”.  The difference between that and distraction alone is that this method is a conscious effort to change your thinking.

It is called “cognitive restructuring”.

Here’s an example:  Let’s say you see a news story about the presidential pardon of Joe Arpaio, or the story about the ban being lifted on giving the police military weapons, or the taunting of North Korea, or…well, you get the idea.

And you react with anger, and/or hopelessness, and think, “We’re so screwed! Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this!  Everyone in Congress is complicit!  My hair is on fire!”

Hence, the “on fire” association when I nicknamed this method.

So, here’s what you do – stop reacting.  Drop what you’re reading, and think about writing your congress person.  If you’re like me, just Googling your congress person’s website tends to turn your feelings down a notch.

Or you could say to yourself, “Self, remember all those crowds at demonstrations and town halls we see!  People are doing things!  And there are more of us than there are of them!”

Keep reminding yourself, Republicans may control all 3 branches of government now, but most Americans are pretty sick of the way things are being handled, as evidenced by polls.  And, Hillary won the popular vote.  There were always more of us than there were of them.

Write these reminders down, if it helps (and it might).

I don’t recommend that you immediately go post your outrage somewhere, like on FB or Twitter or comments sections of websites, because that just continues to make you upset (because you haven’t switched your thinking).

In fact, the more you dwell on something, the stronger the connections between the neurons in your brain get for that idea, and then you can get stuck, unable to stop thinking about it.

That’s called “laying down neural tracks”.   They can be switched/lessened, but it takes more work.   That’s the kind of thing for which I used to conduct therapy.   Therapy works, but it takes awhile.

It takes some effort to do stop, drop, and think, but it’s worth it.  It will lower your stress level, and possibly make it easier for you to sleep at night.

And judging by the way the world has been lately, you’ll have many opportunities to practice this technique – think how good you’ll get at it!   Your health might improve, too.

See? Sometimes I do more on this blog than just bitch.  Heh.

Today’s weirdness comes from Chambersburg, PA (which is about 80 miles SE of where I live):

“Spiritual Sonogram Offers Couple Relief. What Do You See?” (Ali Bradley, Fox43 website, 8/22/17)

The couple sees Jesus in their baby’s sonogram.  I see yet another reason why I need to move out of Pennsylvania.

Today’s recommendation is for Motorola smartphones.  I just got a new one the other day, and it was so easy to set up…ok, with minimal crying, I mean…and I love it.

My last smartphone was a Motorola, too (there is a post somewhere on this blog about it), and it was a klutz’s dream.  I dropped that sucker so many times, and it never broke or cracked or anything.  It was a Moto G.

This one is a Moto E4.  I imagine it will be dropped a lot, too.  It was very affordable (less than $40), it’s on the Verizon pre-paid plan, and it’s at Target or on target,com.  Has a great battery life and decent storage, with a slot for a memory card.  Best phone for the money, in my opinion.  And no, no one is paying me to write this, I just really like Motorola phones.

Be good.  Be kind.  And remember, the only thing that should be on fire is 45’s pants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poverty and the Search for a Diagnosis – Hidden Costs of Healthcare. Plus RWNJ News.

Sorry, had to update after initially publishing because a certain cat was trying to eat my laptop cord and I accidentally hit “publish” too soon.

Very brief lesson in parathyroid glands, calcium, Vitamin D, and doctors who don’t give a crap.

Health update:  Latest test results revealed a parathyroid hormone level (PTH) of 233 pg/ml, which is way over the upper limit of the range (13.2-98.4 pg/ml, which is somehow different at UPMC Altoona labs than the oft-cited 10-65 pg/ml that everyone else has).

My calcium was 9.2 (normal).

My Vitamin D levels were an extremely low 8.7 (normal range is 20-50 ng/ml).

In January, my calcium was 10.4 (too high for someone my age).  My PTH was 60.3.

The problem with that was, as your calcium levels rise, your production of PTH is supposed to shut off – so in this case, it wasn’t “suppressed” and it should have been somewhere around 20 pg/ml or lower.

When I asked Dr. Asshat about this, in January, he just shrugged and said my calcium “isn’t high”.  I tried asking him – 3 times – why the PTH was so high (60.3) when the calcium was high (10.4), and he just kept changing the subject, or said, “I don’t see anything abnormal, your symptoms don’t fit.”

When I asked him this past Monday why the current PTH level was so high (233), he responded as I guessed he would: “Your Vitamin D is too low.”  Yes, Vitamin D deficiency can cause high PTH levels, but then I asked ok why did I have the high calcium and normal-high PTH levels last time?  Those aren’t indications of a Vitamin D deficiency.

He just kind of looked at me.  Now you know why I refer to him as “Dr. Asshat”.

I knew he was going to mention Vitamin D, because it’s the easiest explanation if you disregard the January test results.  He reiterated, as he decided to order 2 more tests, that he doesn’t see an endocrine basis for my symptoms.  Here, then, are some of the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism that I have:

Loss of energy

Sleep problems

GERD (gastric acid reflux)

Kidney stones

Labile hard to control blood pressure

Nausea and vomiting

Heart palpitations

Headaches

Facial flushing (hyperparathyroid crisis)

Diarrhea

(“Symptoms of Hyperparathyroidism”, www.parathyroid.com, and “Hyperparathyroidism Symptoms”, www.uptodate.com)

When pressed, he asked me, “Are you on Metformin?” which is a diabetes drug.  I do not have, nor have I ever had, diabetes.  When I answered with a fairly stunned “no”, he then asked me if I “had anxiety”.

This guy, sitting at his laptop, doesn’t even know what’s going on with the patient sitting in front of him.  He can’t remember and I guess he doesn’t take good notes because he still asks stupid questions with the medical record open right in front of him.

I told him, “No, no anxiety”.  He replied, “Oh yeah, your metanephrines are low so, no, no anxiety.”

I then asked, “Yeah, about that…the last 3 tests indicate my epinephrine (adrenaline) is too low to measure – is that abnormal and why is that?”

He told me “they should bottle your blood, you’re so mellow”.   He wasn’t kidding.  He then regaled me with a story about highly anxious patients who “sit there and tell me they aren’t anxious when their adrenaline is off the charts”.

Then he told me to go get a test for diabetes, and one for vipoma (cancer test for digestive issues).  And to take 50,000 IU of Vitamin D once a week.  I followed him out…

“But wait!  What if my calcium spikes too high after taking the Vitamin D??”

His response?  “Oh, someone’s been reading! Ok, if it makes you feel better, I will test your calcium in 8 weeks.”

Dirty look from me.

“Ok, 4 weeks then!” he said, somewhat testily.

High calcium levels can cause strokes.  Giving someone Vitamin D whose PTH levels are high due to screwed up parathyroid glands can result in dangerously high calcium levels.

Got my diabetes test back last night – normal.  Vipoma is not back yet but I bet it was normal, too.

I see a doctor in my PCP’s practice next Friday (Dr. Wonderful is, as usual, all booked up for September).  Since I know this man will sit with me until every.single.question I have is answered, I am looking forward to it.

And I will ask him for a referral to another endocrinologist.  I really hope there is another one in Altoona who takes Medicare, because if there isn’t…well, I don’t know what I am going to do.

Can’t travel – no car, and no way to pay expenses of train, etc.

Mispauperism, Right and Left

Update: I haven’t been keeping up with my blog.  I haven’t posted since I got out of the last long hospital admission I had in October, 2016.  Much of my absence is due to attempts to control my symptoms and possibly get a proper diagnosis, with limited success.  Some of it was just plan “bleh” due to the election that the Republicans stole.  At any rate, I will be writing weekly again.  Publishing early this week because I have more tests for pheochromocytoma again tomorrow.

I made up that word, “mispauperism”.  It means “hatred of the poor”.  I wasn’t able to find out if there is an actual word for this, and I invite any readers to let me know if there is.

There are multiple reasons to be concerned or downright scared of the political climate in this country right now.  To me, it’s different only in that it’s more visible than it’s been in a long time. Things that people used to say and do behind closed doors in public and private offices are now proudly being loudly proclaimed by our illegitimate president, his henchmen, most Republicans, and fascists/white supremacists/Christofascists.

You guys know that, though.  You pay attention.  You speak out and you demonstrate, write your congress people, sign petitions, vote, and so on.

What I want to write about today fits in with the theme of my blog, which is “what it’s like to live in poverty”.    I hesitated about this topic today, because I really don’t want to come down too harshly on anyone on “the left” (being a leftist myself and all) – now, more than ever, is a time for unity.

HOWEVER, having been nearly banned from the Raw Story comments section, and having people jump down my throat on other “left-wing” sites’ comments sections,  I want to address this.

We all know the right hates the poor.  From Libertarians to Republicans, there is a deep-seated mindset that people are poor because we are lazy, stupid, uneducated, and addicts/alcoholics. It’s our fault.  No one should help us because that’s just taking money from hardworking people and giving it to us, so we can buy iPhones, big cars, lobster and steak, and our drugs of choice.

Ok, done with them.  I have written about this extensively in my blog already.

What some of us don’t realize, or won’t admit, is that many on the left hate the poor, too. It seems to be on a continuum, though, because the farther left you go, the more compassion you find towards us.  This is where you find real community organizers, ones who come to our neighborhoods and help us lead our own mass actions and what-not.   They are from all kinds of cultural and racial backgrounds.

Nope, this hatred comes from white liberals and white “intellectuals” – strictly middle to upper middle class white “progressives”.

I am not going to give the standard disclaimer of “not all white people”, because if you are getting all defensive….well, I don’t care, actually.  If you don’t hate the poor then you won’t object to what I am writing.  If you do, you’re probably one of the people I am writing about.  And what I write won’t change your mind.  Also, if you hate the poor, you are not one of my friends or one of my family members, so again, I don’t care.

What got me started with all this was the media and the comments sections categorizing 45 supporters as toothless, uneducated rednecks who were virulently racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic and so on.  They think that all 45 supporters are on Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, and SSI/SSDI (or “welfare”, as they ignorantly call it, not being aware that there is very little “welfare” as they heard of it – being middle to upper middle class and all, they don’t keep up with those things).

They think that all 45 supporters live in red states, as if not one single person in blue states voted for 45 – or that no one voted for Democrats in red states.  Even if those of us did vote for Hillary and we live in red states, well it’s our fault anyway because there weren’t enough of us.

And the kicker?  The “progressives” opined that every single poor person should lose their healthcare and die, because “they all voted for 45”.  Those inbred, genetically inferior (yes, they really do write that) yahoos who live so far into the country they have to pipe in sunshine – which is paid for by precious folks’ middle to upper middle class tax dollars, or something – are all “typical Trump voters”.

I thought, “Well, ok, these are supposed to be progressives, maybe they just don’t realize who 45 supporters really are – that the people who elected 45 are not the poor.”

So…I went researching.  And I found this:

The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data. That’s lower than the $91,000 median for Kasich voters. But it’s well above the national median household income of about $56,000. It’s also higher than the median income for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, which is around $61,000 for both.

(“The Mythology of Trump’s ‘Working Class’ Support”, Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight website, 5/3/2016)

I have mentioned this on other blog posts, so it might not be new to many of you.

But, despite this oft-quoted and referenced source, and even some from other sources that say the same thing, the “progressives” didn’t believe it, wouldn’t accept it, and some even accused me of being a 45 supporter!

Even the Occupy Democrats told me to piss off, when I cited this and asked them to please stop publishing memes of hillbillies as the sole supporters of 45, because it wasn’t accurate and it contributed to hostility and fear of poor people at a time when we really need allies.

It defies logic.  Poor people make up 14% of the US population (“Basic Statistics”, Talk Poverty website).  Even if every single poor person voted, they wouldn’t make up even half of 45’s base.  But that assumes that there is no voter suppression, no gerrymandering, no economic barriers to voting, or the sense that no one gives a crap about the poor so why vote?  And it is backed up by research that poor people tend to vote for Democrats, when we do vote (“The Politics of Financial Insecurity”, Pew Research website, 1/8/2015).

So it’s not even statistically possible that the majority of 45 supporters are poor.

Heart of Darkness: Not the Conrad Novel

Before I begin this latest blog rant, I want to reply to a question I received about my recommendations, which I write about at the end of each post.

I do provide links to news stories, products, movies, TV shows, etc that I recommend.  I do this so you can find them easily.  I have never, ever been paid to do this, nor do I receive any compensation for it. In fact, it hadn’t even entered my mind until someone emailed me to ask.

So, no, if you click on those links they won’t do anything but take you to a site related to whatever it is I am recommending. And if a link is broken, please feel free to tell me so I can delete it and/or put up a new one.

Right.  I think it’s obvious to my Facebook friends that I am in a fairly bad mood these days.  It’s because I am so tired of waiting for people to grow up or shut up.

Ever since Trump announced his candidacy, and continuing to this very day, a certain percentage of people have decided that all their little resentments that have built up through the years can now be fully expressed everywhere, and often.  Even if they didn’t vote for Trump and think that he’s an ignorant narcissist.

Some of the same prejudiced remarks Trumpites and Trump himself and incidentally most Republicans and some Democrats and definitely 3rd party people express are now leaking out amongst people who claim to be free of that kind of hate.

“People should lose their benefits because they voted Trump in”.   This assumes that most people who voted for Trump are poor.  As I pointed out in a previous blog post, the average salary of the average Trump supporter is $72,000.   These are not poor people, not by a long shot.

“The Republicans now will make poor people work instead of getting benefits.”  This is just plain stupid.  There has been a work requirement for people under 55 who are not out of work due to a disability for a long time.

Of course, I suppose they could be talking about single mothers with children, the oft-used target of mean and ignorant people everywhere.  I thought that way of thinking went out with the “welfare queen” crap that died out years ago.

People who I never would have thought would harbor such erroneous and hateful thinking have been surprising me at a fairly constant rate since I have gotten into checking Facebook again.  Some of them I just unfriended.  Others I just accused of being mean-spirited.

Finally, I just posted a status that called them all dickheads.

Look, how many of these people ever had to rely on social programs?  How many of them are white and male?  Why, especially now that we have an incompetent president-elect who has surrounded himself by barely-humans whose main delight in life is dismantling every entitlement program there is, are the attacks on the poor and people of color increasing?

Almost as bad are the “progressives” who feel the need to apologize to indigenous and other people while at the same time attempting to hijack the same peoples’ movements because they think they “know better”.

Or they think they need absolution for their guilt, which is a hell of a lot easier than looking inward at their own shit and being aware of how their privilege plays out in American society – which they do nothing about.

These are the same people who run “non-violent protest training” (can you see me rolling my eyes?), or who finance their “activism” so they can make claims, such as one white male environmentalist did, that they are the leadership of the battle over the pipeline at Standing Rock.  Oh, PLEASE.

Even on “Giving Tuesday”, when I posted a plea on Facebook for people to do just ONE kind act for someone who really needed it, I got 2 “likes” and a comment from a friend (who is also on disability) who told me to “not hold my breath” waiting for people to respond.

No one – not one person – related a kindness they had performed.  Uh, except for me, because I took my EBT card and bought *gasp* holiday candy to give out to others on the bus – because in this area, everyone who rides the bus is poor.  Wasn’t much but it was what I could do.

I state that not to brag, but to point out that NO ONE ELSE reported making any attempt to do something nice for someone else.

Thank you, you know who you are, for doing something nice for me.  Which I am still enjoying to this day.

Instead, there were the usual snarky remarks about poor people (but none about Black Lives Matter, because I unfriended everyone who would post “Blue Lives Matter, Too!” and other clueless remarks long ago), even wishes that we all would lose our benefits, and other equally repugnant thoughts.

There were – and still are – dire warnings about how this new administration is going to screw everyone over.  They’re right, the warnings are mostly accurate.  And I have no problem with people pouring out into the streets to protest Trump and his policies.  I think that’s a good thing.

But let’s not make a cottage industry about it, ok?  Why in hell does anyone need “training” for a demonstration (which probably at some point includes passing the hat)?  I was 14 when I was a marshall at a demonstration, which meant I (and many others) walked along the sides of the demonstration and told people to stop agitating.  IT’S EASY.  NO TRAINING REQUIRED.

I even saw a post from someone who insisted she needed training to make a banner!  What??? Get a sheet, get poster paint, write your slogan.  Again, something I did often as a teenager, no training required.

Does anyone doubt that people charge for trainings or t shirts or banners or whatever?  Or at the very least decide they need entertainment at a demonstration, of all places?  That’s rather self-centered and besides the point, don’t you think?

The exception in the past would probably be the first Earth Day, but that wasn’t promoted as a demonstration.

My point is this: try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, really do it.  Really think about what his/her life is like day-to-day, life that I continually try to illustrate for y’all so you can truly understand what it’s like to be poor and ill.

I am trying to grab you by the shirt collar and pull you up to force you to look, to see, to notice. Not so you can feel guilty and/or ask for forgiveness, but so you can DO SOMETHING.  It can be a small something, or a large something, I don’t care.  It just has to mean something to someone else, to make a dent in the horror of existence that is poverty/illness/bigotry.

You can empower others instead of trying to lead, especially if the struggle is not yours.  Even if you justify your attitude by saying something pithy like, “Clean water is everyone’s struggle”, you need to look inside yourself and ask yourself why you think indigenous people are incapable of leading their own struggle.  Hint: it’s a form of racism, sorry to break it to you.

Because if you cannot look inward, if you cannot examine your motives/attitudes, you are more of a hindrance than a help.  You are not only getting in your own way, in terms of personal growth, you’re getting in other peoples’ ways without even being aware of it.

My main work as a therapist was to promote awareness of self.  It’s really not even hard or painful, it’s just change.   It takes practice, every day.  But it becomes a part of you, like driving a car or other “automatic” behavior.

Then you can pass that skill on to others, by example or even by pushing a bit.  In that way, there eventually comes a cultural/political shift – you know, like the one that enabled President Obama to be elected twice.

But make no mistake, it wasn’t enough of a cultural/political shift so we could celebrate the demise of racism.  Oh no, the latest election should have taught you that, if you weren’t already aware that we don’t live in a “post-racial” world.

It was movement in the right direction.  Just treating people as if they are human, recognizing suffering and trying to relieve it when you can, and at the very least not causing further harm.

You know, acting like a caring, intelligent adult.  Easy.

Today’s weird news isn’t really weird, but I like Grumpy Cat, so…from the website SeattlePi, Grumpy Cat’s Top 10 Pet Peeves:

http://www.seattlepi.com/entertainment/article/Grumpy-Cat-counts-down-to-the-new-year-with-top-10632403.php

Today’s recommendation is for something you probably already watch: the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC.  I like her because she does her research, explains things in historical context, and often knows things no one else does (or at least she knows them first).

Be good.  Be kind.   “Life is real only then, when I am.” – Gurdjieff  (ask)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make No Mistake: This Was Never About Jobs

Brief health update: I am being tested – for the 3rd time – for pheochromocytoma, which is an adrenal gland tumor, and also being tested for carcinoid syndrome, which is a tumor ‘somewhere’. The endocrinologist thinks the tests will be negative, judging from my past test results, but he wants to make sure because my symptoms indicate one of those two diseases. He told me as I left that he might have to send me to Pittsburgh, which is the default answer for doctors here when they don’t know what’s wrong with you.  I can’t go to Pittsburgh, as I have no way to get there nor money for a plane or train (plus taxi, plus motel, etc).

At this point I would just be happy if they found a way to control the symptoms.  This illness has completely derailed my life.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand: the election.

I was dismayed that Trump won, and I was very disappointed that the Democrats didn’t get the turnout they should have.  I should mention, I live smack dab in the middle of “Trump country”, which is Central Pennsylvania.  The polling place I voted at had very long lines, and that should have been the first clue that Clinton wouldn’t win – my polling place never has a line, usually.

I also noticed a lot of apparent first-time voters, judging by how many people needed to have their hands held as they were walked through the process of using a voting machine.  No further comment on that.

So…Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost in the electoral college.  This is the 2nd time in 16 years that this has happened to a Democrat running for president.  But since she won the popular vote, this indicates – at least to me – that Trump doesn’t exactly have an overwhelming mandate from the American people.

Now, I have been watching news shows all through this election and beyond, and I have to say I disagree with the general consensus that Trump won because people have “economic anxiety” and that we “have to listen to them”.

No.  And no.

I live amongst the people who voted this guy into office.  I have heard their views – unwillingly, mostly – on the bus, on the senior van, in the hospital, in the shops, and so on.  Not one of them ever mentioned jobs when they went on their “I love Trump” rants.

They mentioned getting back to “the way things were, when no one was politically correct”. The translation?  “When I could be disrespectful and mean to anyone not like me, and no one would challenge me.”

They mentioned “taking our country back.”  Translation?  “I don’t want all these brown and black folks in my neighborhood/town, and I certainly don’t want to have to look at them or interact with them.”  Similar to that is “I don’t want these thugs coming to live here from Philadelphia, selling their drugs.”  Translation?  “African-Americans who live in this area are thugs and drug dealers, and are responsible for the drug epidemic.”

Never mind that the heroin problem here is multi-generational.  I worked as a drug and alcohol counselor and most of the heroin addicts I treated got the habit from parents, grandparents, cousins, etc – in other words, this heroin problem has been around for many, many years.

But it’s just another thing to blame on minorities, another justification for racist thought.  That is never acceptable, no matter what form it takes.

Not one time did anyone mention jobs, except as an afterthought about when this area had a lot of factories.  It was part of the landscape, not the central reason these people are so angry.

The closest I heard to anything like that was at a talk some man gave about his life as a machinist for Slinky.  He mentioned that he had seen machinery jobs leaving this area for many years, but he still told his kids that they should be machinists, too, and not be “lazy, like those kids who do programming.”

As far as I am concerned, if he saw the writing on the wall and still steered his kids towards being machinists instead of learning marketable skills (like a good parent would), then that’s on him.  He has some hang-up about certain skills and certainly about higher education, and his stubbornness hurt his kids.  It’s his fault.

No one in this area thinks Trump – or anyone else – can bring back the factories that dotted the landscape in Central PA.  That ship sailed long ago, in the 1970s.   The owners of the means of production decided they could make more money overseas, it’s as simple as that.  They weren’t and aren’t going to come back just because people want them to.

The people here know that.  A lot of them, too, are retired military people who have never worked a production job in their lives.  And the average Trump supporter pulls down $72,000 per year (“Trump Voters Earn a Lot More Than You Might Think”, Josh Hatner, USA Today online, 5/5/2016).

These are not poor folks.  They own houses, and cars, and bitch about how much they have to pay for Medicare (which is based on their income, so I really don’t feel sorry for them).  They are comfortable in their little world and they resent non-white people moving into the area.

They complain about “having to be politically correct” even as they say hateful things when other white people are around (I hate that, their assumption that because someone is white they will agree with whatever bigoted shit they care to spout – and I make that reaction clear to whomever tries that with me).

They don’t even want to discuss race or gender, because then they would have to examine their own racist and sexist viewpoints…and let’s face it, they don’t want to do that because it makes them feel uncomfortable.

Luckily, they feel, someone came along who would say all the stuff they were thinking, and now he’s president!  Now they have carte blanche to be as ugly and horrible to others as they want to be, and it’s ok because Trump got elected.

In some ways, as much as people get on the news shows and express disgust with Trump’s and his supporters’ racist/sexist/xenophobic/lgbt-hating ideas, backward and wrongheaded ideas have now been normalized.  This is what bugs me about people, liberals all, who keep insisting that Trump supporters are not bigoted, and we need to “understand them.”

Most progressives already do understand these people.  It’s why we won’t stand to let them get away with anything – not their rhetoric, or certainly not their hateful actions.  What liberals like Michael Moore – who, to me, is just a blowhard even if I agree with some things he says – want us to do is pander to bigots and racists.

They want us to “reassure” these hateful people that they are not under attack.  I won’t, and I can’t, do that.

They are under attack for a reason.  Well, for several reasons, actually.  Their viewpoints that they hold represent:

Racism

Sexism

Xenophobia

Anti-Semitism

Anti-LGBT

And on and on.  These ideas, this yearning to return to a time when only straight, white men were listened to, and everyone else was either vilified or ignored, are not compatible with the values our country is supposed to stand for.

Just Make It Stop

Brief health note: I have an appointment with an endocrinologist on November 15.  Hopefully, we can get to the cause of the flushing and labile blood pressure.  And since I have changed my diet, I haven’t felt nauseated and have managed to stay out of the hospital for 3 weeks.

Today I was going to write about how silly/weird/dangerous Trump is making America look to the rest of the world, then I was going to write about the polls in various states regarding the presidential election.  Serious stuff.

But my heart just wasn’t in any of it.

I am sick of hearing and reading about politics.  I am ready for the election to just.be.over.

I mentioned possibly not watching the third and final debate when I last blogged – and I didn’t.  I did try to watch the Alfred E. Smith dinner, but I didn’t watch for long…it was painful.

This dinner, which is televised every time it is on, has always been a funny and light break from the political debates of the day.  I usually watch it and laugh.  It is a non-partisan dinner held by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to raise money for their charities.

But this year, Donald Trump, ever the out-of-step doofus, either didn’t understand the point of the speeches, or just decided he was going to use the dinner as a platform for his vitriol against Hillary Clinton (I tend to think the latter), and he got booed for it.

Booed.  I think that’s a first for the event.

It wasn’t that his jokes were bad – though they were – it’s that he had so few of them.  He did throw his wife Melania under the bus, making a joke about how she copied the First Lady’s speech.  But self-deprecating humor?  Nowhere to be seen.

At one point he compared himself to Jesus, stating he (Trump) also worked for his dad as a carpenter.  For 3 weeks.  Charming.

I couldn’t watch any more of it.  I am just so sick of the sound of Trump’s voice, and of the poisonous lies that come out of his mouth.  He has no sense of humor unless you count his making fun of people who are other-abled and his insulting “pet names” he has for anyone he doesn’t like as “humor”.

Trump brings down every venue he’s in.  Unless, of course, you are a hate-filled misogynist who enjoys laughing at other peoples’ expense, and thinks name-calling is funny.

One person I do like listening to is Elizabeth Warren.  She has such high energy, and such an obvious affection for Hillary and women in this country in general, that it’s always a treat for me to watch her.

She took Trump’s remark about Hillary being a “nasty woman” and embraced it for all of us. Specifically, she stated

“Get this, Donald.  Nasty women are tough.  Nasty women are smart.  And nasty women vote.  And, on November 8, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”  (“Elizabeth Warren Rallies ‘Nasty Women’ to Vote for Clinton”, Asma Khalid, NPR website, 10/24/16)

Yeah!  And all over the country, women are referring to themselves as “nasty women”.  That did pick me up for awhile.

But I am ready for the election to be over, and clearly I think that Hillary is going to win.  The latest AP poll has her leading nationally by 14 points.  I wish I could say I am surprised her lead isn’t larger, but one thing this election period has taught me is that there are far more reactionaries in this country than I had previously thought.

It’s still quite astounding to me that the GOP is running a candidate like Trump, and I wonder if there isn’t a split coming after the election between traditional conservatives and the alt right, resulting in a 3rd party.

That would obviously be a big advantage to the progressives in this country.

But for now, I wish the right would just all shut up.  They don’t have anything interesting to say, they have been insulting women and minorities for years, and if they want to fracture into a hundred different political parties it would suit me just fine.

November 8 can’t come fast enough for me.

Recommendations for this week….the new season of Longmire is on Netflix.  Great series, and worth a look.

Be good.  Be kind.   Happy Samhain!