Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holiday Absurdities

'Tis the season for over-spending, over-glitzing, over-eating, over-drinking and now, over-reacting. The Christmas/Holiday debate launched by knucklehead Bill O'Reilly and his conservative Christian followers was amusing for awhile. I'm not a Christian, but I carry enough Catholic DNA to know that putting the "Christ" back in "Christmas" involves more than playing with words. You can bemoan the more inclusive "Happy Holidays" greeting all you want, but if your car is sitting in the parking lot at Wal-Mart and your kids are whining for an X-Box or an I-Pod under the tree, you done lost any "Christ" you thought you had. Clicking your heels and chanting "Merry Christmas" isn't going to bring back the true meaning of the day. I officially stopped being amused by this charade at 10:15 this morning when Greatest Husband gave a hearty "Happy Holidays" shout-out to our crew of housecleaners and was informed by the cleaning business's owner that she was "a Merry Christmas person." WTF? We now have camps? Since when is it acceptable to respond with rudeness to someone wishing you a happy anything? Apparently, the pea-brained among us (and there are plenty) have been emboldened by a language campaign that has convinced them to feel agrieved by a simple greeting, and they have no shame in responding with righteousness, ungraciousness and mean-spiritedness in order to make the point that they are Christian. What a perfect melding of actions and values. Christianity. Making the world a better place for more than 2,000 years.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's All About Me

I've been tagged by BlueGal, and as much as I'd love to deconstruct W's speech last night, or gloat over Krusty's chilly reception by the military in Iraq over the weekend, I have an obligation to a higher calling. Here goes . . . Seven Things to Do Before I Die:
  1. Learn to tango
  2. Raise sheep
  3. Own a beautiful old barn that once housed livestock
  4. Learn to cook Thai food
  5. Pick cloudberries
  6. Watch the sun come back to the Arctic
  7. Live somewhere where I can see mountains every day

Seven Things I Cannot Do:

  1. Donate a kidney before I die
  2. Play the accordion (I really, really tried)
  3. Whistle
  4. Run a mile in less than ten minutes (who am I kidding? 10:30, and at that pace it's not even fair to call it running.)
  5. Speak in a complete sentence before my first cup of coffee in the morning
  6. Contemplate paddling Class IV whitewater (Class III is sketchy, but negotiable)
  7. Consider golf a form of exercise

Seven Things That Attract Me to My Spouse (significant other, best friend, lover)

  1. His passion (for teaching, for politics, for food, for friends, for skiing, for me)
  2. His love of language
  3. The way he gets me to laugh at myself
  4. His intellect
  5. The color of his eyes (and other objectifying attributes)
  6. His devotion to truth
  7. His mastery with household tools

Seven Things I Say or Write Most Often

  1. Is there a reason we're saving this?
  2. He's not here. May I take a message?
  3. Where did you ski today? (closely related to #2 above)
  4. It was on sale.
  5. How stupid can people be?
  6. I'll be right there. I just have to finish this row.
  7. F**king Republican!

Seven Books I Love (Impossible. I can only list authors.)

  1. Adrienne Rich
  2. Margaret Atwood (I'm with you, BlueGal)
  3. Philip Roth
  4. Donald Hall
  5. Jane Kenyon
  6. Annie Proulx
  7. Thomas Hardy

Seven Movies I Would Watch Over & Over Again

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Quick Change, or just about anything with Bill Murray
  3. Anything "Hitchcock," except 'The Rope'
  4. All That Jazz
  5. Old musicals - I love them. They should be in their own category.
  6. Any Busby Berkeley extravaganza
  7. Dr. Zhivago

Seven People I Want to Join In (I don't have seven blogging friends. How pathetic is that?)

  1. Karen
  2. Leslie

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Chemical Reaction

Yes, indeed. There's more than a few of us out here who have earned our chemistry badges honestly. Frankly, I probably got a head start on most of you being the daughter of a nurse, dontcha know. I grew up in a household where mommy brought home the penicillin and administered the injection at the kitchen table. Hell yeah, it was odd, but it was the 50's, and we practiced 'duck & cover' excercises, too.

The issue of personal responsibility - brought up by BlueGal's commentary - is pertinent to any discussion of health issues and our cultural reliance on pharmaceuticals. But how is it possible to determine what role personal responsibility should play in our distribution of health care resources when so many of our fellow citizens are denied access to our health care system altogether?

In my job, I talk to people every week who are just hoping they can make it to age 65 when Medicare benefits will kick-in. They are unemployed, underemployed, working for employers who provide no health insurance - or prohibitively expensive health insurance - they can't afford an individual policy, and they count on luck to grant them a free pass for just a few more years.

They ignore warning signs of potentially serious medical problems because they know they can't afford the drugs, tests and treatments that might be prescribed for them. If they reach Medicare, these people enter our health care system already sick, and we are paying the price for their more expensive, late-stage medical care.

Our ethical and moral discussions have not kept pace with the advancements in medicine that allow some people (those with adequate health insurance) to evade responsibility for their own lifestyle choices and appear to suffer little or no consequences as a result.

I don't know the answer to the responsibility part of the equation. Is it ethical to deny care or penalize those with an addiction to tobacco? Maybe it is. A diabetic who continues to consume sweets and alcohol? Perhaps. But, what about someone with AIDS who is dying because they had unprotected sex? And those nutcase anti-abortion folks think it's just fine and dandy to force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term because, to them, the sex act is a lifestyle choice.

Deep, deep, deep muddy waters, and I'm not sticking my toes in it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Over Dosed?

Question: Do drug companies inundate the airwaves with pill-pushing ads to feed a cultural propensity to treat every ailment with a pill? Or, do they push so hard in order to overcome our innate tendency to view the use of drugs as a weakness? When I consider the people I know - friends, family, acquaintances - the vast, vast majority fall into the latter category. They resist being medicated, even when medications would alleviate pain or, in the case of cholesterol lowering drugs, quite possibly lengthen their life span. They resist the very idea of pill reliance and the resistance is not based on factors such as the ability to pay for the drugs. It's a deep resistance to, and fear of drug dependence, that applies to everything from sinus sprays and lip balm to post-surgical pain relief. No where is the resistance more evident than when it involves mood altering medications. As painful as depression can be, both physically and psychologically, my experience with family and friends is that there is a visceral opposition to drug therapy on the part of the patient in almost every case. The same applies to patients in hospice care. I'm certain any medical professional in the field would agree that overcoming the patient's fear of drug dependence on pain relieving medications is a big obstacle, even at the end-stage of life. So, where do we get the premise that we are all rampantly "pill-popping" our way through life? Is it really true, or do we exaggerate our response to drug use of any kind?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mother's Little Helpers

blog de la resistance has been silent for a bit, but there's a good reason. Virus. As in invade the body, bore into sinus passages, attack gray matter, flatten in bed, bad-ass virus. With a little help from my friends Nyquil, Tylenol and Greatest Husband's homemade chicken soup, I'm back to a vertical position and feeling the old sass in my veins again. Which brings to mind the last cyber communications I had before delirium set in - BlueGal's discussion on the evils of big pharmaceuticals and our societal dependence on pills and drugs for everything what ails us. As much as I love to hate the drug companies - especially their advertising methods which are nothing short of immoral - I admit to being a healthy, if not robust consumer of big Pharma products and byproducts in the form of everything from treating insect bites to keeping my cholesterol level low enough to brag about. My medicine cabinet overfloweth. The practice of modern medicine has decisively shifted from hospital/surgical care to the dispensing of pills and vacines. Not necessarily a bad thing, it seems to me, to treat conditions prophylactically and minimize expensive utilization of hospitals and emergency rooms. For example, my recent allergic reaction to aspirin was controlled by a self-administered dose of OTC benadryl thus saving me a trip to the ER. On the other hand, the pharmaceutical advances that I am eager to take advantage of require a certain degree of education, access to information, access to a physician, health insurance and money. In other words, the big "C" word, "Class" becomes the dominant and relevant variable when it comes to my health. Last week, I took the position that our pill-popping culture was not in itself a sign of Evil Big Pharma manipulation, but that the issue was one of access, availability and drug company profits. Was I wrong? I'll be posting more thoughts on this all week long. Go on, now. Discuss amongst yourselves. It's time for my little blue pill and a nap.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Knitting Up a Storm

Check it out, knitters. No idle fingers here.

Guys - It's NOT Your Choice

An op-ed piece in yesterday's NYTimes by Dalton Conley, titled "A Man's Right to Choose," argues 'yes' to the question "when men and women engage in sexual relations both parties recognize the potential for creating life. If both parties willingly participate then shouldn't both have a say in whether to keep a baby that results? " It's not an insignificant question, especially in the context of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's support of spousal notification requirements for women seeking an abortion. But, Mr. Conley's affirmative position is wrong. Here's why. It's hard to tell whether or not Mr. Conley is philosophically opposed to abortion, but his stance is premised on the assumption of willing sexual activity between both parties and the presumption that an embryo is the same as a baby. Furthermore, his argument suggests that consensual sexual activity equates to readiness for parenthood. Were that the case, most of the men I've known would need to forgo sex altogether until the age of 48. No man, no matter how ready and willing he is to be a father, has the right to either fatherhood or a woman's body to carry his seed. Not that plenty of men haven't tried it. Remember King Henry VIII? And even if one eliminates rape, incest and contraceptive failure - a sexual act based on willing participation does NOT equalize the rights of both parties in deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Maybe men have been the bosses so long that they've forgotten what it's like to not hold all the cards all the time. The very idea that there are limits and obstacles to attaining one's desires must be difficult for a lot of men to face. From seats of powerful governments to armies to organized religion to corporate board rooms, it's still a man's world out there. But guys, this choice belongs to us. Until you figure out a way to insert a uterus into your bodies.