Thursday, August 27, 2009

Phoney protests are baloney!

When will this country be able to have a real debate on the pros and cons of the health care reform issue instead of being overwhelmed with propaganda and fear tactics? Here's another story about health care protests being funded by people who are heavily connected with the insurance industry:

More than 70 percent of the American public agrees that a public option for health care is a good idea. That fact is terrifying to insurance companies that have hustled billions of dollars out of a dysfunctional health care system for decades. The insurance industry is so worried that they now have phonied up protest groups showing up at town hall meetings to disguise the fact that 70 percent of Americans want a choice between private insurance and a government run plan.
When did greed (whether it be corporate or personal) become the prime motivating factor in doing business?

What happened to quality products and services for fair prices?

What gives?!?!?!?!?! Wait, I know... the economy, that's what... and it's given until it's plain tuckered out. Sigh.

Stepping off the soapbox now and would really like others' opinions on this one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This one's for you, Mom! Poetry from my college days...

a box of strawberries

her unruly brown halo
bounces in the wind as she bustles
the groceries into the house.
limbs tired from exertion, she sinks
into a chair and asks me to bring...

the box--a wondrous vessel!

full of speckled plump strawberries
she dips them in fluffy white powder,
juice drips from the corner
of her munching mouth.

i sit gazing at her... she offers me one
i quickly take a bite and swipe
the sweet sticky liquid from my chine.
for a moment,
tasting the aroma of love,
berry sweet and pure as powdered sugar.


the strawberries have disappeared.
energy renewed, having had a respite,
she again takes up her rags
and her Pledge,
trudges almost hesitantly to the dining room
and circles the dust from the table.

--Tammy Payne, Spring '93

dedicated to my Mom

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Day to all... A collection of some of my favorite quotes

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see!!!" -- Jovanna Alex Sidney

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." --Lao Tzu

“Love is like a piece of art work, even the smallest bit can be so beautiful.” --Stacie Cunningham

"Life is the flower for which love is the honey." --Victor Hugo

"Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young." --Sir Arthur Pinero

"Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear." --John Lennon

"Love is like pi - natural, irrational, and very important." --Lisa Hoffman

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." --Jimi Hendrix

"Just because you love someone now doesn't mean you're meant to have them in your life forever. So treasure and appreciate the now with your loved ones and in the future, whatever it may hold, you'll have no regrets." --me--

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Freedom of Information: Debate of facts vs. fiction in healthcare

This morning I planned to discuss how the current debate on health care in our country seems to be a farce versus a real discussion of the actual facts. But before I waxed indignant about it, I discovered that my friend Chuck already had on his TERRIBLEMINDS site:

Let’s see. It’s early. I’m only halfway through my coffee. I can’t quite herd my stray thoughts into a straight line.

Perfect time for a spirited debate about health care!

Except, the debate has been rigged. Public opinion against the public option is a paper tiger, yet it’s a paper tiger that we’ve been led to believe has real teeth and an angry roar. We believe this because we’re at least a little bit stupid, and because the media has approximately zero interest in doing its job.

I recommend you give him a full read, but be warned, he's a lot more raw on this topic than I would have been. I think it's a necessary intensity, though, in this frustrating stage of the non-issues debate, and I'm glad he was able to go where my manners wouldn't have let me. Here's another point he made as an example:

Hitler? Hitler. Hitler?! Really? Comparing Obama to Hitler is easily, handily, totally the most ludicrous goddamn notion this side of a faked moon landing. Actually, it’s worse. You’d be smarter thinking that you can eat dog shit for dinner and poop out pennies. I don’t even want to refute it, because then I feel like I’m somehow giving the argument credence.

How on earth people can actually believe that Obama is like Hitler is beyond me. I have tried, but I just can't wrap my head around it. I don't know whether to be sad, completely outraged, or laugh at the complete hypocrisy of those who are behind this imagery. When the comparison was first made, I just shook my head and thought "Wow, that's too crazy for anyone to take seriously." And then it was.

When did we become a nation of sheep to be led around by our noses by people who don't know what the words honor or truth really mean?

There was a long time in our nation's history in which your word was your bond and having a reputation for honesty meant something. I think that all changed the moment that journalism became a business for shareholders instead of a business to give people real news. Now it seems we've returned to the good ol' days of the robber barons and yellow journalism.

When are we ever going to learn from our history instead of repeating it?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Freedom of Information: About Your Doctor!

Patrick Malone and I must be on the same wavelength... His article on HuffPost captures exactly why it is so very important that we as consumers be able to learn more about our doctors.

I know I've mentioned some of my family's experiences about unnecessary doctor visits, misdiagnoses, etc., in previous posts. For anyone in Atlanta, let me know if you're investigating neurologists, there's a couple out there who are absolutely horrible, and I'll happily share their names with you offline so you don't have to bother seeing them.

But getting back to the article at hand... Malone makes a great point about something he calls:

"no patient left behind" -- a simple report card system to give patients a heads-up about their doctors' credentials and safety record, something almost impossible to get now.
I think I've finally found a good neurologist for my family, (fingers and toes crossed), but in order to do so, I had to:
  • get lucky enough to find a very caring employee at my insurance company who went through the entire doctors' list looking for the information that they had on the doctors... where they went to school, when they graduated, where they did their residency training, etc.
  • call all the offices to see which were accepting new patients
  • talk with people who worked there to get a feel for how skilled the doctor was, would the staff actually go see him/her for their problems, etc.
All in all it took me a few days to get all this researched. And even so, there are no guarantees. So I'm in a wait and see mode at the moment. Here's hoping that our doctor who trained at Emory lives up to the hospital's reputation.

As for Malone's "no patient left behind" idea. I think it makes nothing but common sense. We can all go online and look up reviews on lots of different products and services that we may or may not need. For something as important as our personal health and well being, we should at least be able to look at a safety record.

I think the reason I am most passionate about this idea is that I lost my Gram to an unsafe doctor a few years ago. Her mom (my great-grandmother) had died just a couple of years earlier, so based on my family's health history, I honestly expected her to be with us for at least another decade. Unfortunately, the doctor did not follow Mom's instructions (she had medical power of attorney for Gram). The end result was that Gram had to live the last year of her life suffering from the effects of stroke and congestive heart failure. And just when we thought she was going to get better, she didn't.

I have missed one of my truest and best friends ever since.

If we had had access back then to more information about her doctor, including his safety record, Mom and I would have known to take Gram to a completely different doctor, instead of the one who made such bad decisions about her care.

Now I know that some who read this post may say that knowing more info about the safety records may lead to more malpractice suits... but I think it would actually cause the opposite to occur.

If we knew the skills and abilities of our doctors, then supply and demand suggests that we would go to the better service... given that those doctors are in our insurance networks. Those better doctors would probably have more accurate diagnoses, resulting in prompt treatment of conditions and fewer unnecessary visits to a whirlwind of specialists. Bottom line, health care and malpractice suit costs would be reduced, not increased.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Being productive

I have very much enjoyed my vacation time, but it's now time to get serious about what my different options are for work and career. In a few short hours, I'll have my orientation session with the career transition service my former company provided me. I know I'm lucky to have this benefit, and I plan to take full advantage of it.

I'm worried about how productive I'll end up being, though. My problem is that my brain has gone in a million different directions and I'm struggling to figure out which choices to focus on. But the one thing they all have in common is that I would prefer to work at home at hours that I can set around the needs of my family.

Here's hoping my confusion will clear up a bit with my orientation later. Good luck to anyone else who's also trying to find their way in this new economy of ours.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rest in Peace Les Paul

Thank you Les Paul for your gifts to music and the world. You are honored and will be missed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Health Care Debate--I'm frustrated!

As an addendum to my previous post about health care, I found a great article by Brian Unger on NPR that seems to sum up a lot of my feelings about the current health care discussion:

The health care debate is toxic, revealing a lot about us as a nation. And it feels embarrassing — like the whole world can see our underpants. Or hear us fighting in the kitchen.
I wish our leaders would recognize and address the hypocrisy of the whole "government health care" is socialism fear tactic and actually do things that don't solely help big business. I agree that a strong business sector is a very important part of a healthy economy, but I am so tired of short term gains being the focus of business, who have lots of powerful lobbying efforts, which in turn can cause our own government to look at short term benefits instead of long-term benefits.

Shouldn't both the short term and the long term be taken seriously?

Any others' experiences or thoughts are welcome!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Healthcare frustrations

I've ended up having quite a few discussions on the topic of health care recently, and the bottom line from all the discussion is that while some may have it better than others here in our country, we still have a long way to go before we get it closer to where it needs to be. Now many people have their ideas that they passionately believe when it comes to health care. Some are worried about socialized medicine... i.e. government run health care... Isn't that what Medicare is?

And the one chorus I've heard from lots of seniors is "Don't you mess with my Medicare!" So if this government run plan is what so many people are scared they're going to lose, what's the big deal with providing another government run option for all the people who are not lucky enough to work for a big company that provides healthcare?

When I worked for a big company, all I was concerned about was that I'd be able to keep my own health insurance and that the government wouldn't take away my freedom to choose.

Now that I've been laid off, I'm really interested in that possible government plan b/c I'm not sure I'll continue to be able to afford to stay with my current insurance provider. And if I switch, then there may be a whole lot of pre-existing conditions that might not be covered anyway.

One of the things that everyone talks about is problems, but not solutions. I think one solution is to get the insurance companies out of the doctoring business. My doctor should be able to tell me what is wrong and not have to wait for an approval for an insurance company as to when and how to provide treatment.

Another problem we have is that often, your primary doctor may not be able to diagnose the condition because they're often not allowed to run the right tests and then you have to go see specialists... Well, if enough prep isn't done on the front end as to what type of specialist you really need to see, then you could go to one pointless doctor appt to another to another and still never find out what is truly wrong with you.

This has been a personal experience of mine. A few years ago I got Very sick... It was kind of like mono, but worse for me, and I knew it wasn't mono because I'd already had it a few years earlier. This particular virus made me so tired it took all my strength to climb up 6 stairs. No one could figure out what was wrong. First I went to my doctor, then an ENT. Nothing they did helped, so after a few weeks, they sent me to an infectious disease specialist. By the time I got to the right specialist, the virus had almost worked its way out of my system. Then I had to fight with the disability insurance people because they didn't want to cover my time away from work because the diagnosis of the infectious disease doctor wasn't absolutely certain. Ugh! Finally won that one, but I shouldn't have had to fight at all.

So both the insurance companies and I were stuck with paying useless bills and copays until I got to the right specialist. That was 3 or 4 visits that could have been avoided. If my primary doctor had had the time and support behind her from the insurance companies to run the right kinds of tests in the beginning, those useless visits could have been avoided, and I might not have gone through the terror of wondering what was wrong with me for over a month and would I ever get better.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Broadening my horizons...

I had the most wonderful visit today to a Hindu Mandir (temple) here in Atlanta. It was absolutely gorgeous and the meditation room was awe-inspiring. This was actually my second visit.

When you first enter the temple, you have to take off your shoes. When you get into the meditation room, it is like a light blue/white glow emanating from the area.There is no talking and cell phones have to be on silent. The first time I entered, I was so stunned by the sight that all I could do was gaze in amazement at the beauty and peacefulness. And then I started slowly walking through the room and almost every space was intricately carved in white stone. It is so interesting how there is this theme of similarity and difference within the meditation area. The same stone, but so many details.

It was such a beautiful experience. I sat and meditated in under one of the large domed areas and I felt so unstressed when I was done. I'm so thankful I was able to experience such a wondrous place.

Monday, August 03, 2009

What does the word "diversity" mean to you?

Sometimes the same word can mean different things to different people. I think diversity is one of those words. Some think of it as something we have to do for the sake of political correctness, other's are so passionate about the idea of it, they have made it their full time jobs. [For the sake of transparency, I have to share that I'm actually considering trying to make it a full-time job.] There are websites and discussions devoted to diversity, and there are lots of consultants who help companies develop their own diversity goals/programs/initiatives. Some think it's the latest flavor of the month in the business community; while others believe it is the key ingredient for success, especially in the economic downturn.

When I first heard the word diversity, it was actual from the original Star Trek TV series. IDIC stood for "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" and so my first thought was appreciation for things different from me. Then we started doing diversity training at work and I learned all about bias (whether on purpose or subconcious), group identities, that some groups have more power than others, and all sorts of specialized diversity vocabulary to understand the dynamics of power in the corporate environment.

I was skeptical at first, but in the midst of it, I realized that from my perspective, here was a huge company doing the right thing and trying to make sure that all its employees were valued and appreciated. It didn't always get it right, but the leaders were truly trying to make a difference. So I did a lot of learning about diversity because I thought that would be one of the greatest things in the world, to help everyone be understood and valued for their contributions and the content of their character instead of some group they happened to be a part of.

And during my learning, I figured out how to listen without judging first. I learned to talk about things that used to be very uncomfortable for me. I think this work is about respecting people first... that you have to truly listen to someone and speak from your own point of view so that both of you can learn to understand each other. Yes, it's also about learning how to avoid bias and oppression. But I think political correctness takes it too far. That's why some of my favorite shows (Mind of Mencia, Southpark, etc) are horribly politically incorrect... but they do so to everyone. There is no target that is not off their radar. In fact, in one of Carlos Mencia's specials, he discussed a show he did for a disabled audience. And he started doing all of his jokes except for the "deet ta dee" ones. He tells how he got called out by an audience member about not telling the jokes, so he started doing them a little here, then more and then the full repertoire. The audience was laughing so hard at the end. During that show, he had an ah hah moment: If he couldn't tell those jokes in front of that audience, he would have had no business telling them at all.

Doctors have said that laughter is the best medicine. I think we should learn to laugh more at ourselves. For me, diversity is about trying to understand other people, to work better with them at home, community and/or work, but I think it's also about learning to laugh together.

So that's what diversity means to me. How about you?

Continuing information on infant DNA collection

We started an interesting conversation yesterday about the collection of infant DNA without parental consent. One of my readers asked some questions about use and oversight. Right now it looks like all states collect a blood spot to test for genetic diseases in babies, but what happens after the blood is tested varies by state. Here's another blogger who has some more information.

From a research perspective, I encourage you to read the comments on the link I've provided, they come from an actual researcher who shares how anonymous the information is. This makes me feel better about the idea, but I still feel that parents not the government should be the ones to give consent about the use of their baby's blood.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Baby DNA gathered without parental consent

I watched a special on TV last night that mentioned there was a law that our former president just signed into law last year. Every newborn's DNA can be collected by hospitals for a government "bio-bank" without parental consent. And then earlier this morning, I did some more research and discovered that Bob Barr had also discussed this topic in the AJC:

Once it is collected, the DNA is considered government property. I have a huge problem with this ultimate invasion of privacy. Using this, the government can know information about not only the baby, but the parents and ancestors of the babe. That is way more information than I think the government has the right to collect without my consent. Again, I wouldn't protest this so much if we had the option to give consent... and even to revoke that consent later if we find our data is being used in ways with which we disagree.

Don't get me wrong, I can see the benefits that having access to such a database could provide scientists. I think it could help them solve many sorts of genetically passed diseases. No human is perfect, which means no government is perfect. Some horrible things that, in my opinion, tarnished our nation's reputation have been done in the name of our national security. These things were done without my consent as a citizen, and I had no power to keep them from happening. However, one of the traditions of our country is that to do anything with one of our children, you MUST have the consent of the parent(s) or guardian(s).

My DNA should not be government property without my consent, and now if I decide to get pregnant, I don't have any choice in the matter. In my libertarian leaning heart, this smacks of government invasion into my privacy, and I'm completely unhappy with the idea that I have no recourse other than to file an expensive lawsuit to challenge this law, which is something that, unfortunately, I can't afford these days.

I would love your feedback on this topic, and from many different perspectives, especially if you disagree with me. I'm still forming my opinion about this one, but my gut instinct is that my potential baby's DNA should never be government property without my consent.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cycles within cycles

So I'm at a point of endings and new beginnings. There are cycles of change that are definitely in the air. I have a few strings from the past that have been dangling for years and they're getting built back into the weave of my life. There are so many people I'm back in touch with after a long hiatus. With some, it's like we were never apart, with others, we may not still have that same kind of comradery, but it's still good to have them in my life again. And there are new people that have come into my life recently that are also becoming precious and special.

I spoke earlier of appreciating those special ordinary moments. While your job is a part of who you are, it can't be all of who you are. Sometimes you get lost in the process of providing for your family and then you're not able to be there for the people you'd like to be, whether it's good times or bad. In my personal hunt for a new way to help provide for my family, I'm not going to let this valuable lesson leave my mind.