Category Archives: Health Updates

Updates on the mystery illness and other family medical things

“That’s Not Telling It Like It Is. It’s Just Wrong.” – Barack Obama

The President made this remark in his state of the union speech this week.  He was referring to what I think of as “the politics of hate”:

“…that’s why we need to reject any politics — any politics — that targets people because of race or religion. Let me just say this. This is not a matter of political correctness.”  (Transcript of President Obama’s State of the Union Address, White House website, 1/13/16)

He went on to add:

“When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is called names, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong.” (Ibid)

This really hit home with me, because it addresses one of the most often-used arguments to support bigoted, ignorant politicians – “he’s just telling it like it is.”

The implication is that whatever is said is fact, and that the person who repeats it is being candid.

Well, that’s half right, anyway.

The person who states ideas like this – for example, that all Muslims are violent – is being candid.

But he/she is not stating a fact.  He/she is stating an opinion.

Opinions are not facts.

This would all seem to be obvious, wouldn’t it?  Yet, we see it time and time again, this phrase used to justify some very hateful and false ideas people seem to be spewing all over the place right now.

And it’s not just about Muslims – it’s used to support hatred against the poor, the disabled, minorities, women, neo-Pagans, Catholics…you name it, someone will hate it.

This statement is also often paired with “freedom of speech” arguments, such as “We have freedom of speech in America, so I can say what I want and you have no right to tell me to shut it.”

That’s true, up to a point.

Your hateful speech is protected, as long as it doesn’t incite violence or panic (the classic “shouting FIRE! in a crowded theater” argument), and/or isn’t specifically directed at someone else (“Hey, look, a fag – let’s go get him”, that causes others to chase someone down and beat him/her).

What I don’t get is, why would anyone be proud of speaking hatred against other people?

And, of course, the other side of this is that, yeah, we do have the right to tell you to shut up.

In the past few years, I have watched politeness norms dwindle to virtually nothing, on the internet especially.  Now it seems to be affecting person-to-person discourse, as well.

Famous people like Donald Trump have made it fashionable to say all kinds of untrue and hateful things, under the guise of “telling it like it is.”  And I continue to be deeply disappointed in some people – particularly friends who I never considered thought those kinds of ugly and untrue ideas – who have “come out of the closet” and revealed just how much they hate all kinds of people who are different from them.

I’m glad that the President mentioned something about that.  I’m thrilled to bits anytime anyone in the public eye points out how wrong it is to think/speak this way.

And it wouldn’t be so bad if it were confined to the internet.  Or confined to certain groups of people, or certain places (though I recognize where one lives does make a difference)…

It’s bad because it’s everywhere – on the bus, in the places I volunteer, in grocery stores, and other public places I have to go into.  I can’t escape it unless I don’t leave my apartment.

Some of it is unwanted remarks by strangers who assume I will agree with them (this is usually a white person making a racist statement), some of it is one or more people speaking very loudly on public transportation with the intent that everyone hear them, and some of it is directed at me – usually every time I go grocery shopping, because I use food stamps.

I cannot remember a time in the past year where I went to the grocery store and wasn’t confronted by a shopper behind me who stated:

  1.  They can’t afford the organic food I am buying.
  2.  They think it’s wrong that I buy other kinds of food using “their” tax money (last time it was a small cake for my birthday, just last Monday).

I can turn off my computer or go to other webpages and so on.  I can’t turn off other people.

“You’re being too sensitive,” I can imagine some think this about me.

But think for a second – what if you heard this stuff every time you left your apartment, in several different places, day in and day out, year after year.

Can you imagine what that’s like?

It wears on you.  Like I wrote before, like water on stone, it erodes something inside you.

It skews your opinion about humans in general, because after awhile it seems as if everyone you encounter is a mean-spirited bigot who can’t wait to either commiserate with you, or to put you down.

And if you call them out on it, as I have on occasion, they try to backpedal and say that you “misunderstood” them.

That they didn’t mean you, they meant all the other people on food stamps who buy organic food, or who buy ‘junk food’.

Um no, they most certainly did not mean that, because they addressed their remarks directly to me.  Me, who is standing in line with quinoa and organic vegetables.  Which they apparently cannot afford.

I would wager that they spend much more than the $35/week in food stamps that I spend.  So they’re really not even being truthful.  What they mean is they think organic, healthy stuff is too expensive (no argument from me there), so they choose not to buy it.

They want to spend their money on something else, which is their right.

I don’t.  What happens is I run out of food before the month is out, and then I either do not eat or I eat some “emergency” thing like ramen.

But that, too, is a choice.  A choice they will never have to make, and one they do not understand.

They don’t even think about it, all they see is someone not spending their food stamps in a way that they think is appropriate.   I’m not sure what they think we ought to be buying, actually, but if the food bank is any indication I guess it’s canned vegetables and beans.

Even if I agreed with that, do you have any idea how heavy that is, lugging a month’s worth of canned goods home on public transportation?

See, no one thinks that deeply about anything.  That is one of the reasons for this blog, to let people know what it’s like to live this way.

Sudden Falls, Parasols, Walking in Malls: Fitness Challenges for Those Over 50

No ranting today, I think.  This is the fitness program part of my blog.  Because I figure if I write it down, I will be more likely to stick to a program – and can also come back and read my posts for motivation.

My goal is to lose a certain amount of weight by December, 2015.  Since it is May, I think that’s doable.  Not saying how much, but suffice to say I am now a size 16.   I am a lot more comfortable going by dress sizes than weight, because it isn’t so embarrassing to me.

So, by December, the goal is also to get to size 10.

I don’t remember when I was a size 10.  I was a size 8 at age 18, and can you believe I thought I was fat?!  I weighed 120 lbs at 5’4″.  That’s only fat by modeling standards.

Yes, the skinny standard has really not changed much since 1974, sad to say.  Women still think they are fat, pretty much no matter what size they are.

If it isn’t fat, it’s wrinkles/sagging/grey hair/arm flaps (don’t ask if you don’t know, but even Madonna has them, and she works out!).  Women are not really allowed to grow old gracefully.

But I digress…size 10 by December, ok.  That’s really only 3 dress sizes, and I think I can manage that.  If I drop more, my goodness I will be over the moon!

My plan is simple: Walk 30 minutes per day, at least 5 days/week.  And since my Oster “MyBlend” blender arrived today, it’s smoothie time!!

1-2 smoothies per day in place of meals.  I am aware of the calorie trap smoothies can be, so I bought whey powder, 1% organic milk, nonfat yogurt, and frozen fruit.  Protein and carbs.

No green smoothies for me!  Sorry, but I think that green smoothies are the most disgusting-looking drinks on the face of the planet!  I do not like green drinks to slam, I do not like them Sam I Am!

Plus, kale is notorious for having oxalates – and if you get kidney stones, oxalates are a huge no-no.  That includes nuts and nut butters (awww), rhubarb (yuck), potato chips/french fries (awww again), and beets (awww x 3!).

Of course, health websites also say that large amounts of protein can help kidney stones develop.  Damn!  Can’t win!  I’ll take my chances with that one.

What kind of monster would tell someone to give up cheese??  Ain’t happening.  I love love love cheese of all kinds.

So, that’s the plan.  Since I now eat almost nothing but fruit and vegetables – and cheese! – it should be easy.  Oh yeah and the beans and rice thing, too, got to get back to that.  Increasing fiber to a goal of 20-30 grams/day.

If I am still hungry after that (and I’m usually not, fiber is filling!), I tell myself I can eat whatever I want.  Since that is mainly whatever is in my apt, it’s limited.  If I want sugary yummy goodness, I have to either walk to the store, or pick it up once a month when I go food shopping.  That limits it quite a bit.

And even if I just HAVE TO HAVE A DONUT, the donut shop is nearly a mile away so I reckon I would walk off those calories in no time.   The fact that it is so far away, though, deters me from going there (that, and the fact that they replaced the Dunkin’ Donuts with a local, not-as-good donut shop).

The gas station that sells junk food is not far, but they don’t have the kind of junk food I like, so….the local Sheetz, however, does.  It’s half a mile from my apt.  I might actually walk there some time, but since I am so tired most days, it won’t be often.

I have been walking for a week now.  Down to Basin Park, then twice around the trails that go by the Juniata River and the band shell.  It’s a really nice park.  I will show pictures when I actually take good ones (didn’t know Moto had a zoom function, so all the pictures I have taken thus far are teeny tiny).

I have to admit, up until today, I hated my walks.

It wasn’t always that way – any time in the past when I did the walking-for-fitness thing, I enjoyed it for the most part.  But this last go-round, it’s different.

For one thing, I have to get up early so it isn’t hot by the time I get walking.  This is no easy feat, as I have two extremely annoying cats who seem to think it is their life’s purpose to wait about 3 minutes after I have closed my eyes…

Crash! A lamp, a glass, some books?  One cat on the dresser, looking pleased with himself.

I have a floor lamp that has shelves.  One of the cats likes to pull it down.  It’s fun to see all that stuff go flying, I guess.

Or…they could be sleeping on my bed, but a few minutes after I turn off the light to go to sleep myself, one gets up.  Taps me with his paw, on my arm or my face.  The other one finds a box and starts hitting the flap, over and over and OVER again (ok, got to get rid of boxes, I know, but I have no storage space).

So, there’s that issue – getting enough sleep so I can wake up decently at 8 am.  So far, I am dragging my ass outta bed with 4 hours of sleep.  I know it’s just a matter of time before I decide to walk later in the day.  But for now, I am cranky when I get up.

Aside: I can’t kick the cats out of the bedroom and close the door, because I only have one window a/c unit, and that’s in the bedroom.  They would get way too hot – I live upstairs and so it can get mighty hot in my small apt.

The Good, The Bad, and the Strange

There’s been a lot going on in the US lately, and so I wanted to touch on a few things and update some others. The governor of Indiana (Mike Pence) has signed a revision of the “religious freedom law” I wrote about last week.  According to CBS News…

…the law does not, “Authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service.” (“Indiana Governor Signs Updated Religious Freedom Law”, Rebecca Kaplan, CBS News website, 4/2/2015).

But, while it states someone cannot refuse or provide services, it is still legal to fire someone in Indiana because of their sexual orientation if they work in, say, a Catholic school as a teacher. That’s wrong.  Substitute the word for any protected class (women, Latinos, etc) and you can see how wrong it is.

The law needs to be repealed, in my opinion.  And, really, the only reason the governor did this was because businesses were objecting – Apple, Angie’s List, and the NCAA, to name 3.  As usual, money is the key (Ibid).

Regarding Ebola, the cases were diminishing, but have picked up again, unfortunately. It’s not in the news in the US much – if at all – because there are no more stories about people coming back from 3rd world countries infected. According to The Independent (UK newspaper)…

Dr David Nabarro, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy on Ebola, told The Independent the world should prepare for more major outbreaks of zoonotic diseases – those which can pass from animals to humans – which he said were a “local and global threat to humanity”.

“There will be more: one, because people are moving around more; two, because the contact between humans and the wild is on the increase; and maybe because of climate change. The worry we always have is that there will be a really infectious and beastly bug that comes along.”  (“World Warned: Prepare for More Ebola Outbreaks”, Charlie Cooper, The Independent UK, 4/5/2015).

Deforestation is the reason there is more contact between humans and wild animals.  The thing about climate change isn’t necessarily relevant to Ebola, but it is for mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.  Climate change has expanded the range of mosquitoes.

So, I am sorry to say, that’s the bad news.

The other bad news, this time closer to home, is the frighteningly increasing numbers of people being shot and killed by police – usually African-American males, and often in the back, and when they aren’t doing a thing to provoke it.

As if provocation is any excuse for a police officer shooting someone – it’s not.  But so many times, the reason the police use for shooting is “wrestling over a gun”, or “going for a weapon”, and a lot of people used to believe that.

The last incident was not a shooting, but a death of someone who was in police custody at the time.  No one is saying how this man got his injuries, and the police are denying they did anything to injure him (though they are supposedly investigating it).

The man, Freddie Gray, was walking down the street when the police made eye contact with him.  He took off running.

Let me stop here.  If the police were, for some extremely weird reason, killing older white women on a frequent basis, I reckon I would run from them, too.  And mind you, this killing of AA males has been going on for a long time, it’s just with smartphones/cameras we are hearing about it more.

They arrested him, and it’s not clear why.  Something about him having a switchblade, which by the way isn’t a crime.  He didn’t resist arrest (by the police’s own admission), and he was limping.  His leg was hurt, and he had just been recently released from the hospital after being treated for three fractured vertebrae and a crushed voicebox (from a car accident).

He was put in a transport van and not seat-belted, and by the time he arrived (half an hour later) at the police station, he wasn’t breathing.  The police admit they did not get medical attention for him when he asked, nor did they call an ambulance. (“The Mysterious Death of Freddie Grey”, David A. Graham, The Atlantic website, 4/22/2015; “A Freddie Grey Primer: Who Was He, How Did He Die, Why is There So Much Anger?”, Peter Hermann and John Woodrow Cox, The Washington Post website, 4/28/2015)

Now he’s dead.  He was 25.