Friday, January 9, 2015

Why are cartoons so threatening?

What is it about cartoons and novels that make some people so angry? Angry enough to kill and imprison. Or put out hits on the creator. I really find this aspect of the world very difficult to wrap my head around. When I was a little girl, I would sometimes come home from school in a snit and my mom would remind me of the nursery rhyme "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me". Aren't political cartoonists essentially making a statement, calling people names or bringing focus to a situation through their caricatures? In the past few days, the carnage in Paris has horrified the world. President Erdogan of Turkey apparently has nothing better to do than to focus his attention on cartoonists, particularly those whose depictures of himself he doesn't like. Really? You've got to be kidding. I always thought that when you focus attention on something like that, then you give it power. The world is changing in ways that are extremely difficult to understand. And novelists. Novelists write fiction. Fiction is imaginary. But I believe there is still a fatwa on Salman Rushdie. We must not take freedom of expression for granted.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Presumption of illness/noncompliance

A recent experience underscored the illness-driven nature of some parts of our health care system. Some necessary background: several years ago my cardiologist put me on lipitor. I had an adverse reaction (muscle pain, fatigue) and after some trial and error began using a combination of crestor (a statin) twice a week and zetia every day. It works great. My numbers are dandy. I've been hypertensive since I was 23 years old, when I was skinny. It's just how it is. Been on medication a long time. Take a beta blocker for tachycardia and bp. Had ventricular arrhythmias which resulted in two ablations one of which resulted in a puncture, CPR, cardiac arrests and the big drama and emergency open heart surgery to repair the puncture, so I'm followed fairly closely. Since I also have heart spasms, I take a calcium channel blocker for that. When the CCB was introduced, that gave me a total of four medications that work on blood pressure that I'm taking. I also exercise almost every day-rowing machine, walking, or biking for 30-45 mins. I noticed that my resting pulse was really low (57-60) and bp was in the 103/62 range (with all the meds). So I talked to my cardiologist and asked if I could cut back on some of the meds since neither my pulse nor my bp needs to be that low and I'd prefer my body not become resistant to the meds. At some point I may need to go up on the meds. He agreed and we gradually reduced the metoprolol to 50 mgs from 100 and the lisinopril from 20 to 10 mg. Of course, I've been checking my bp and pulse and it's fine.

Enter the pharmacy management part of my health insurance. I got one letter, notifying me that they had noticed I wasn't taking as much of a particular medication as they expected. The letter went on to say that there were resources available to me, etc. etc. etc. It was all very caring and very nice. Well, I didn't do anything at that point. After getting a couple of more letters, I noticed that they listed five reasons why people don't take their medication as prescribed:

a. they forget
b. side effects
c. they can't afford the medication
d. they don't see the benefits
e. they are confused about how to take...

I was prescribed to take the statin twice a week, not every day, but I guess they didn't see that. But the reduction in dosage of the others was with medical advice and was the result of my losing some weight and increasing my exercise.

It's admirable that pharmaceutical management teams are paying attention and reaching out to help people who need assistance with purchasing or taking medications. BUT, there is something wrong when that same team never considers that the patient could actually be improving and needing less medication and that the change was done in conjuction with a physician. I find that just disturbing. It is distressing that a positive reason for the change did not seem to have been considered.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Livingness of Food

Walking this morning, was thinking about Meatless Monday and how much better I usually sleep Monday night and feel on Tuesday after going completely or mostly meatless on Monday. I always try to go completely meatless, but it does not always happen. For years, I have seen myself as somewhat of a fraud in that I don't think I could ever kill an animal unless it was attacking me. So, I'm not sure I have the right to eat that chicken out of the grocery store if I don't have the will to kill one. Anyway, so I was thinking about that and then thinking about plants and grains and dairy and how they are actually all alive and at least some of them are killed in order to provide food. And no, I'm not suggesting that I need to eat only things like berries and seeds and dairy products, not at all. But it did make me think how so many foods seem so divorced from life. And when one considers the inhumane conditions that many animals are raised in...animals raised solely for food. I suspect, although I can hear some about to laugh in derision, but I think the quality of food raised in poor conditions must be inferior to that raised in conditions that are better for the animals. It is like cooking. The food I cook when I'm angry or sad or frustrated is never as good, nowhere near as good, as the food I make when I feel at peace and when I think with love of those who will eat the food. It does make a difference.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Have you ever thought about this?

It is interesting to me that we pay quite a bit of attention to the time each of us is born...we play with astrological signs of the zodiac or Chinese year of the dragon or horse or pig, and some cultures give babies names according to the day of the week of the child's birth. All of this makes sense to some degree and is fine and well. But there are two things that I sometimes ponder...one is the time of our conception..wouldn't that be important too? And, of course, the two dates are related, at least to a degree, because the human baby grows about nine months in the womb before birth. But I sometimes think whether or not I was conceived in joy or at the end (or beginning) of a vacation and what, if any, difference the time of year might have made in my development before birth.

I also think at times, particularly at the beginning of the new year, about the fact that one of the days through which I passed over the past year, is the pre-anniversary of the day I will die. Some of us (I for one) celebrate our birthdays with great joy, but each year we also pass (unknowingly) through what will be at some point the date of our death. I don't say this to be morbid but rather I think it helps to appreciate life when we truly know it is finite.