Monday, December 31, 2007

There's Nothing Like the Smell of Self Destruction in the Morning

It smells like Primary Season!

What you have to keep in mind when running for president ~ something that no presidential candidate EVER keeps in mind ~ is that YOU are your own worst enemy.

It would appear Rudy Giuliani is learning that lesson the hard way.

Remember that company, Giuliani Partners, that Rudy never really talks about?

Everyone wanted to know what they did ~ consulting, who were their client ~ not saying. All very hush, hush.

Well, here's what the hush, hush was all about.

There's a company called Purdue Pharma. They manufacture a drug call OxyContin, or O.C. if you're looking to buy it without a prescription from someone who is in no way licensed to sell it.

According to the New York Times, the DEA described the promotional campaign for OxyContin as perhaps the most aggressive for high powered narcotics, ever. Further, they aimed their physician campaign not only at pain specialists, but also family doctors with little experience in treating serious pain and who are not as well trained to identify drug abuse or drug seeking behavior. This marketing strategy alone increased the amount of the OxyContin that would end up out on the streets.

And there were some other problems.

Security at the manufacturing facility wasn't particularly good. And the record keeping was a bit questionable.

O.C. became a very popular street drug and proved to be highly addictive. Even the time released version could provide an immediate high if ground up and snorted.

Then there were the overdoses and the deaths. The abuse, addiction and death occurred in place where the community wasn't used to deadly drugs, places like Appalachian Virginia.

Purdue has an image problem, a government oversight problem, and in Virginia, a legal problem. They needed an image makeover. A new face.

So they hired Rudy.

He became their face with the federal government: the Federal Court, Members of Congress, the DEA ~ He was their crisis control.

How does Giuliani defend his part this?

In the OxyContin case, Mr. Giuliani’s supporters suggest that as a cancer survivor himself, he was driven by a noble goal: to keep the company’s proven pain reliever available to the widest circle of sufferers.

“I understand the pain and distress that accompanies illness,” Mr. Giuliani said at the time. “I know that proper medications are necessary for people to treat their sickness and improve their quality of life.”

Nice try, there, Rudy. I might actually believe you if your had bone cancer or had survived some form of cancer that's known to be physically painful. But prostate cancer is almost always a slow growth tumor. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is rarely accompanied by symptoms, forget pain.

So what have we learned about Rudy? If it weren't for that pesky campaigning he might be doing crisis management for those Chinese manufacturers that keep forgetting that lead paint is not appropriate for toys?

Well, yes.

But more importantly, he can't be counted on to use his powers for good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The BEST Christmas Present EVER

I'm not sure if I've been hemming and hawing here about my financial issues.

I need a bridgework where my tooth was extracted. Price: $3,000

According to the closing paperwork I signed when I bought my house last year, my property taxes were not be taken out as part of my mortgage payment and put in escrow to be paid by my mortgage company. Price: $3,900

Now, I suppose it would be silly to point out that I don't have $7,000 sitting in some account or in my walk-in freezer, (I'm not mentioning names, but I do have a relative that does this.) or even my money market account.

Why? Well, lets see. I've been paying in excess of $200 a month in co-payments for my prescription medications. Am I frickin' kidding you? Sorry, no. And that's on top of the close to $400 that's paid for my insurance coverage.

But, this blog entry is not to rant and rave about the ridiculousness of a health care system that can't even care for it's high functioning, working, self-advocating, health insurance covered chronically ill ~ that would be a much longer post titled "so very, very broken"


As you may recall from my posts at the time of my house closing I'm not okay, the whole thing nearly fell apart because I lost my job, my mortgage and my electrical wiring all in about the same week.

My mother and I were literally sitting at the closing waiting for documents to be faxed up from the Florida offices of my bank. I was a nervous wreck. My mother had every checkbook she owned, including the home equity line my father had taken out on their home. (She actually had a backup plan of buying the house outright.)

Now, I don't remember a whole lot from that day, but I do remember reading through the bank paperwork and noticing the I was paying the 2006 property taxes, but the 2007 and following years would not be taken out of my mortgage escrow account.

So, imagine my surprise when I received a receipt in the mail today from the county tax office thanking me for my full payment of my 2007 property taxes in the amount of $3,900 (and some change).

Let's just say that's one debt off of my conscious.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I've linked an editorial from the CDC Journal, Preventing Chronic Disease. It's a meditation on resilience and the differences between generations ~ the GI Generation, the Boomer Generation ~ and what we can expect from them as they grow old.

The concept is pretty simple. The GI Generation has resilience woven into their DNA. They survived the Great Depression, they fought in WWII. If anything can be said for them, it is that they are resilient. Boomers on the other hand are the generation of the Vietnam War, of protest, of assassinations. They as a group will live longer than their preceding generation, but not from sheer force of will, but because the road was paved before them. Most of them anyway.

That's the generational analysis.

On the individual level, it's a whole different ball of wax.

We share the experience of our generation, but in each of our lives, we exist in completely different worlds. To some resilience is a survival instinct. To others it is something kept in reserve that they never knew they had until the absolutely horrible happens and everything in their character is tested. And for some, resilience is something they lack as some lack integrity or honesty and it is only when they need it most that their lacking becomes so glaringly apparent.

I could laugh this off and tell you that being a Red Sox fan fosters resiliency. But that would only be true if baseball were life and death.

Disease fosters resiliency. Survival is all about resiliency. Coping and finding a way to not get caught up in all the little things that tie up everyone else so that you can focus on the big thing, moving on.

I do believe I learned about resilience from my grandmother; the only member of her family to have a job during the Great Depression, the single mother and beat cop during WWII, the no-nonsense matriarch for the first half of my life.

But here is the real truth: If she were alive today, she would tell you that she had learned about resilience from me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And just like that ~ he reappears....

It's amazing to me how people wander in and out of your life.

They probably don't even realize that they're doing it.

I was actually the one who was remiss in emailing, but he was the one who had let the time between messages lag. But then I hear from him again and it's like no time has passed.

It's seriously pathetic.

The truth is there's a certain intimacy in our emails ~ partly because we've known each other for decades, but partly because it means something that all that effort went into finding each other.

Of course, I'm talking about the guy from 20 years and 2000 miles away.

I did track him down and I never got a straight answer about that postcard. But we're both still single and we still make each other laugh and that has to mean something, doesn't it? I mean, beyond the fact that I'm a pathetic romantic who is just tired of meeting *new* people. (Seriously, at this point in my life, haven't I filled my quota???)

But since I started hearing from him again, this song has just.... Maybe it makes me think of our hometown or the things and people where I came from, but it is definitely him...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Syndromes, Disorders and the Way We Were

I've been rather distracted lately.

My nephew was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder (or Dysfunction, depending on who you talk to). According to Time Magazine, it's the new ADD. I wouldn't want my nephew to have to suffer with some unpopular ailment, god forbid!

So what is SID? It's a neurological disorder when your brain/neurons don't accurately process information from your near senses. Who knew there were near and far senses, right? The far senses are the five senses we generally think of when we thinks of "senses." The near senses are balance from the inner ear, the nerve endings all over the body and the brain's ability to know where any or all of the appendages are at any given time. So, how does that translate into symptoms?

According to A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D., OTR, who first described the interaction between these senses and the brain, these are some of the symptoms:
An acute awareness of background noises
Fascination with lights, fans, water
Hand flapping/repetitive movements
Spinning items, taking things apart
Walking on tip-toe
Little awareness of pain or temperature
Coordination problems
Unusually high or low activity level
Difficulty with transitions (doesn't "go with the flow")
Self-Injury or aggression
Extremes of activity level (either hyperactive or under active).
Fearful in space (on the swings, seesaw or heights).
Striking out at someone who accidentally brushes by them.
Avoidance of physical contact with people and with certain "textures," such as sand, paste and finger paints.
The child may react strongly to stimuli on face, hands and feet.
A child may have a very short attention span and become easily distracted.
A strong dislike of certain grooming activities, such as brushing the teeth, washing the face, having the hair brushed or cut.
An unusual sensitivity to sounds and smells.
A child may refuse to wear certain clothes or insist on wearing long sleeves/pants so that the skin is not exposed.
Frequently adjusts clothing, pushing up sleeves and/or pant legs

So that, almost exactly, is my nephew. He has been refusing to were anything without long sleeves and long pants for the last two years. We've been trying to figure out how he's been surviving the unbelievably hot Austin summers dressed like this. Now we know. He hates the beach because of the sand. He actually tells you "Not so high" when you push him on the swing. And apparently, he can't complete activities requiring multiple steps ~ like riding a tricycle. I feel so guilty for having my father get him one last year. He tried it once and then refused to ever use it again. We had no idea he physically couldn't.

But my sister and I have both confessed to experiencing many symptoms of his disorder through out our lives ~ I have texture issues with food and surfaces, can't cut on a line and have no balance; she can remember going through many of the diagnostic tests she watched him take. Could we have wandered through life firing off the wrong neurons? Or the uglier question, for me, the one I don't share with her, does this mean he'll follow me to additional diagnoses?

But for now he's doing well with his therapy. He's trying more complicated games and becoming less fearful of falling ~ image how scared you'd be of falling down if you had no balance? It exhausts him. It exhausts my sister. All of us worry. He's otherwise exceptional. My mother wants my sister to push for the school district to take over the cost of his treatment, but I'm afraid he may be placed in treatment with autistic or mentally disabled children, since this disorder occurs more often in children with autism or mental retardation. My nephew is gifted, scary smart. His vocabulary is enormous and he's very articulate.

But for now, we just wait to see what happens next.

In the meantime, the NYT published an article about parents identifying with their children's disorders ~ like me and my sister did. I couldn't stomach the first reader comment however and got to it too late to post a response. So, I'm posting it here! Below is a link to the comment.

Morons Masquerading as Experts

My respectful response: Look you moron, try reading a medical journal once in a while before making statements regarding the existence of genetic evidence or lack there of. There have actually been four different genes that have been identified as being related to major mental illness. Genetic researchers believe their may be as many as 50,000 genes that have a role in some type of disease involving the brain function. AND, the twin studies, especially those done with identical twins raised apart looking at schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as EXTREMELY compelling. AND, don't forget the significant genetic research done with Amish populations where no stigma is attached to mental illness and no drug or alcohol can be used to self medicate and cover disease.

Next time, do your homework, DOOFUS!!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Many Errors in Thinking About Mistakes

I really loved this article and the reader responses.

It reminds me of the upside of living with illness ~ you mess up.
You can never be perfect or live to your full potential, but you still have to try.

Life itself is a risk.

And the things that would or should be scary pale in comparison to the things you've survived.

No one can fault you (at least not down to the bone) for the places and parts of your life where things have gone to pieces.

It just happens.

Then you pick up the pieces or you start over from scorched earth and you move on.

I'm not saying it's easy.

It's HELL.

There are times when suicide is the most rational option. And for very good reason.

But in return, you learn how to fall.

You learn how to be imperfect.

You learn that mistakes don't constitute flaws or failure.

And you learn that you're strong. That you persevere.

And you never live in fear of failure.