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Archive for January, 2008

Pain? What Pain?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

As many of you know, I suffer from severe arthritis and arthrofibrosis after two major leg surgeries that - lucky me - left me worse off than I was before. This, understandably, causes me a great deal of pain in the day-to-day business of living.

I am still able to work and drive, and I thank my lucky stars for that - I can walk, though with a limp (sexy, eh?) and sometimes a cane. I have "rock-star parking" (or a handicap tag, if you want to be a jerk about it) for life, so there are a few quirks. Though I am blessed in being able to still get around, for the most part, and do some things it is not without considerable pain. Especially at this time of year, with the temperature yo-yoing between humidly warm and bitingly cold, and the frequent rain that comes through dropping the temperature. Not this gimp's best time of year, as you may well imagine.

Not only is my condition chronic (as in permanent), but it is also progressive. It gets worse, it will get worse - yada, yada. I'm not bitter - far from it. In all honesty, this condition has given me an amazing outlook on life - I've learned not to take anything for granted - and gifted me with a special kind of empathy for those that are suffering, mentally or physically.

I, also, wouldn't be who I am today if not for these struggles I've gone through, and I happen to like me...so it can't be all bad, right? Sure, I might someday be completely crippled and wheelchair-bound, but so what? It could always be worse. I spent the first three years of this disability, after the initial surgery in 2001, depressed as all hell and feeling like a prisoner inside of my own body. I'm done with that. The grieving period for the loss of my mobility is over; now I'm living life to its fullest, doing what I can while I still can and taking every moment as the blessing that it is.

That all said, there is still the matter of pain, of which I'm not a fan. The pain has gotten worse, so that - to enjoy and still be able to do the things I once did - I need some help. Help comes in the form of little blue pills, known to the world as Hydrocodone, or in layman's terms, Lortabs. I don't like having to rely on pills to help me get through my day, or to be able to accomplish something as simple as shopping or a full work-day, but there it is. It's just getting to that point.

On Monday I saw, for the first time, the doctor that will become my pain management specialist. Because the pain is chronic, he suggested we try something longer lasting, because popping Lortabs all day long isn't exactly healthy for the old liver (that Acetaminophen is a bitch like that). He prescribed Contin MS for me - which is, I'm not so thrilled to report, a synthetic morphine. It's time-released and will last for 12 hours - so that instead of taking 4 (and sometimes up to 6) Lortabs a day, I can take the Contin MS and maybe only 2 Lortabs (or none if the weather is right and I haven't been overdoing it).

That's the thing. I'm not in agony every day. It all depends on the weather, what I've been doing on the legs to date (if I've been working hard and on them a lot, obviously the pain is worse) They always hurt and ache, don't get me wrong - but sometimes (more often in the warmer months), it can be bearable. Other times, it's bad enough that I can barely limp to the bathroom without pausing and grasping onto furniture for support. Sometimes I can live with it, sometimes I can't. And the times I can't are what the meds are for.

What scares me - I'll admit - is that the times I can't are getting more frequent. I used to be able to go much longer and do more on my legs without this kind of debilitating pain; now, not so much. I know my condition is progressive...that it will deteriorate and grow worse with time. Still, I was hoping to have a little longer. I'm only 30, and the initial surgery was in July 2001; I had just hoped it would hold out a little longer. I knew someday I was facing "pain management" and a life on pills - yet I had hoped it would not come so soon.

Still, I refuse to let it slow me down or get me down. There's no use in that, and self-pity does no one any good. I have to make the best of it, and work hard to control all of this. I've started doing Peggy Cappy's Yoga for the Rest of Us DVD and am reading her book, Yoga for All of Us: A Modified Series of Traditional Poses for Any Age and Ability. I have always wanted to try yoga, but getting into the traditional poses is difficult for someone with a "frozen" leg like mine; Peggy Cappy has re-worked traditional yoga for the elderly, out of shape, and disabled and it's really wonderful. Using it once a week, I have noticed a difference. If I can get my lazy ass to do it every day, I think it would be very beneficial for me.

This summer, I also plan to get back to swimming, which is a wonderful exercise for someone with disabilities. The resistance of the water is perfect for keeping everything in shape and even helping with the arthritis.

So I'm fighting this and working with it all at once. If I let myself dwell on the fact that I need pain pills and a low dose of morphine to get through my day, I just start to get depressed - and that isn't helping me, now is it? So I am focusing on needing less of those things...doing things that will aid me so that I don't have to take pain medication every day, or - at least - all day.

And that's the best I can do - any of us can - just to take it step by step, day by day. Thanks for listening.

British Brit

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Exactly when did Britney become British?

Cloned Cow for Supper, Honey

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I'm a few days late on this, but - these days - you can just be happy I'm blogging at all, right?

Last week, the European Food Safety Agency reported that cloned animals are safe for human consumption. The initial go-ahead to start producing cloned animals for food will commence as soon as scientists are able to actually produce disease-free cloned mammals that can even survive to adulthood.

Yes, you read correctly. Despite the extreme infancy of cloning animals period (least of all for consumption), and no long-term or even short-term, proven science that humans are even capable of cloning healthy, safe animals, the people that make decisions about what is and is not healthy to eat are claiming that the meat of cloned animals is a-okay to swallow and digest.

To date, scientists have run into a myriad of problems with their cloned beasts - none of which have yet to be resolved or show any hopes of being so in the near future. Yet, somehow, somewhere, someone has decided that these imperfect, sick, and often dying vertebrates are perfectly okay to wolf down at dinnertime. Astounding assumption to come to in the face of cloning science as it stands today; it has been described as a "young and inefficient technology." Oh yes, serve me up a plate of that!

Supposedly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is to poised to follow suit later this month and also rule cloned animals safe for human consumption; a move that will allow commercial production of such products to move forward.

How production can "move forward" at this point is anyone's guess when most presently cloned animals are disease-riddled infants that rarely survive their first few weeks of life. It's a science that is far from perfected, or even close to being complete - yet production companies are already jumping at the bit at the idea of being able to mass produce meat to sell to the masses.

Personally, I have no desire to eat cloned meat. Call me old-fashioned, but the very idea gives me chills. One has to hope that if the packing and selling of cloned meat becomes the norm, food will be labeled accordingly - giving consumers the choice to eat regular or cloned products. Still, it's ludicrous to even think about beginning production of something so new and unexplored. No one knows the long-term consequences of ingesting cloned animal products; no one even knows what possible side-effects might occur at all. They can't even, at this point, clone healthy animals...yet already we're talking about production and consumption.

Unless the world's animal supply is running dry in the foreseeable future, I see no reason to rush into cloning animals for human consumption. I'd much rather wait until they learn what they're doing before they try and hand it over for us to eat.

Lying for Miley

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

"I never said it was true," Priscilla Ceballos of Garland, Texas stated when confronted about helping her daughter pen a false essay to win Miley Cyrus concert tickets. "It never said it had to be true," she insisted.

The essay, chosen out of one thousand sent in to Club Libby Lu's Hannah Montana Rock Your Holidays Essay Contest, began with the words "My daddy died this year in Iraq...". The contest had asked how contestants planned to "rock" their holiday by giving to or thinking of someone else during the holiday season. Priscilla reportedly helped - or wrote herself - the essay that told of Army Sgt. Jonathon Menjivar, the child's father, who had been killed by a roadside bomb on April 17th. The young child won the contest which included four tickets to a Miley Cyrus concert in New York, with accompanying airline tickets.

However, when no military records showed a Jonathon Menjivar dying last year - or one ever even being enlisted - Ms. Ceballos was asked pointedly about the essay at a December 28th publicity event. She squirmed and refused to discuss it; interesting reaction for someone who claims she thought the contest didn't stipulate truthful essays and whom was under the impression a made-up story was a-okay.

The real loser in all of this is the young daughter (I won't list her name - she's suffered enough). The family was stripped of the prize and Priscilla has been the target of "bad mother of the year" accusations all over the vastness of cyberspace.

Though she has issued a number of apologies, they all appear - to my eyes, at least - to be two-faced; she doesn't seem to understand the real problem with what she's done or the horrible message she sent to her young, impressionable daughter. Her remarks are all along the lines of "I made a bad judgment call" BUT "it was just an essay and the contest never said it had to be truthful". What sane and logical person would think it is acceptable and admissible to lie in such a (or any) situation - especially about something as sensitive and devastating as that?

It's simply a wonderful lesson to teach your child, isn't it? If you want something badly enough, do whatever it takes to get it - even if that includes lying, cheating, or breaking the law. Priscilla goes on to say she only wants to make her children happy and will do whatever it takes to do so - but at the expense of your own morals and theirs? For Miley Cyrus concert tickets this woman sacrificed her name, her principles, her character and set an example for her children that cheating to win is acceptable. It truly boggles the mind.

Britney’s Obit – Not News

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Since Britney Spears has uncharacteristically kept herself below the radar for the last week, papers are scrambling to fill their pages with something about their most illustrious train wreck. A week without word on Britney and - to the modern media, at least - the world stops spinning.

And so they come up with this: The Associated Press Already Has an Obituary for Britney Spears. The media is shocking and tantalizing their vapid crowds with the distressing news that The Associated Press, those bloodthirsty hound dogs, have already gone so far as to write the troubled, former pop star right off this Earth. How callous! How cruel! How dare they!

In truth, however, this has nothing to do with Britney or the cold-blooded sharks that swim the waters of American and British media.

After recently reading The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasure of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson and Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers by Alana Baranick, Jim Sheeler, and Stephen Miller, I can assure you that this latest bit of "news" is anything but.

In fact, I can't fathom why everyone is so shocked, or why the media is making such a big deal out of this (oh, wait, yes I do - sensationalism, true or no, sells).

The fact is, this is a very common practice for prominent newspapers wherein celebrities - especially ill, elderly, or troubled ones - are concerned. Anyone can do a little research into the world of obit-writing and learn that obits for some of the world's most prominent persons are ready to go at a moment's notice in the advent of their demise. In fact, some celebs even offer to do "obit interviews" to help the obituary writers out with their eventual and someday-will-be-needed last write-up.

This is a common practice for every celebrity or noteworthy person the world over - not just Britney Spears. And this certainly not the work of some forward-thinking news hounds forecasting the inevitable.

As if there aren't enough newsworthy and important things to be reporting on in the world, the media has to make up sensational and pointless stories about Britney Spears just to feel as if they're writing something relevant. What is this world coming to, I ask you?

And You Thought Skechers Were Cool

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Apparently not so much anymore; in the eyes of the young, anyway.

Yesterday, Baret and I spent the day with his father for his 61st birthday. Also over were Baret's sister and her family, including his 11 year-old nephew, D. After lunch, we were having a blast playing a DVD-version of Family Feud. Baret, D., and I were playing as Team B.

Our question came up as "Name something that - just by looking at them - can tell you someone is a geek." We started whispering and jotting down the obvious...glasses, pocket protector, high pants, braces. After we ran out of obvious ideas and still had a blank to fill, we started brainstorming. D. says, "Skechers! All the geeks at school wear Skechers."

I glanced down to wear my Skecker tennis shoes were sitting under the TV tray where I'd kicked them off. Unable to resist, I grabbed one and held it silently up in front of him.

"Yes!" he said, excitedly, before realizing they were mine, "Just like those!"

I erupted into laughter and poor D. turned red and gave me a sheepish grin. "Sorry", he said.

I assured him that, no, I was a total geek and wasn't in the least upset. We shared a laugh, and won the round.

"Skechers", I am happy to report, however, was not on the list.

My Favorite YouTube Video

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

There just are not words for how much I love this video. The first time, it took my breath away - and every time I have watched it after that I have found some new, beautiful and poignant message nestled into it.

Back in September '07, YouTube, along with Hewlett-Packard, ran a little contest of sorts known as Project: Direct. I knew nothing about it the first time I stumbled onto Ties, but was not the least bit surprised to learn it had drawn first place.

After watching this, I encourage you to head on over to the YouTube Project: Direct profile and view the 2nd and 3rd place entries as well as some of the other amazing entries that didn't make the final cut. You'll find some outstanding work and enjoy loads of great watching. I promise.

(If you are having problems viewing the video below, you can also view it directly on YouTube here.) 

Embedded Video

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