Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lessons from the Past + Being in the Present = Lovely Future

So I have had some amazing insights, moments and happily unexpected blasts from the past lately. And I'm still processing a lot of it. I've been reminded that you never know what's around the next bend in the road. It could be disaster or it could be heaven. You just need to take things one small step at a time and you never know where you may end up.

For instance, if my first college adviser hadn't given me bad advice on some of my core classes, I might have been in the Diplomatic Corps. Instead, I switched majors, ended up becoming a happy Georgia Peach, and building a wonderful family here.

I have learned so much in my short life, and I know I still have so much more to learn. I've sometimes run, sometimes walked along this path of mine. Occasionally, I turn around and take a few steps back, but mostly, it's just to sight-see and reminisce. I leave the pain back there where it belongs. Instead, I try to savor and treasure the beautiful times I've been granted.

Even though there's been more hardship in my life than I would have liked, whether by someone causing it or through my own dumb mistakes, if I could go back, I wouldn't change one bit of my life's path.

That's because if I did, that butterfly effect might kick in and I might not have the wonderful people who are in my life now. Each and every one of you are bright and beautiful gifts who constantly provide happiness, surprise, love, friendship, support, truth, hugs, smiles and laughter.

I had a spiritual epiphany the other day... Love does indeed make the world go round, but we've got to have a balance in it. Too much love can lead to obsession or blind fanaticism; yet too little love makes for a sad, lonely life.

I know it's not time for next year's resolutions, but I'm going to make one right here, right now: I promise to always try to learn my lessons from my past experiences so that I can be fully here in my present and appreciate all that I have instead of worrying about things I can't control... which leads to a better future, no matter how many turns that path may take.

Love and hugs to everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Huckabee Calls Knee-Jerk GOP Attacks On Obama 'Deplorable' And 'Shameful'

I don't often agree with Mr. Huckabee, but I wholeheartedly agree with him on this one. Thanks Mr. Huckabee for throwing some sincerely needed common sense into our political discourse!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Robert Reich: An Open Letter to Harry Reid on Controlling Health Care Costs

These ideas make a lot of sense to me. And I emphatically support one of Robert Reich's last statements to Harry Reid:

"Your responsibility isn't just to pass whatever will muster 60 votes and that the President and Dems can later call "health care reform." It's to do the right thing by the American people and bring down future health-care costs. Don't cave in to Lieberman or Nelson or the drug companies or the private insurers or the AMA or anyone else. Lead the charge."

But I would add that this is not just Harry Reid's responsibility, it's everyone's. As citizens, call on your elected representatives and demand real reform. Thanks and best wishes!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hopes and Prayers for Our Soldiers

I got hit in the gut today with one of the scariest feelings.

I heard news that a dear friend had been hit with an IED and there was no word on his condition. I tried to stay hopeful since I didn't have any details, but for a few brief moments, a wave of grief washed over my soul that I just couldn't stop. The thought of that bright light going out just floored me.

I had to let it work its way out for a few minutes and then I started to think clearly again. I got in touch with the right people and within a few minutes learned, (Thank Goodness!) that he was going to be okay and that everyone in his unit made it, too. Whew.

I don't care whether you're for or against the Iraq or Afghanistan wars and the side missions into Pakistan. I don't want to debate whether it's right or wrong for us to be there. What I want is for us to do whatever it takes within legal and moral guidelines to resolve those situations and bring our soldiers home!

That means we need to realistically look at the situations in all war zones as they are today and figure out how to solve them given the CURRENT conditions on the ground, not what they were and not what we wished they'd be. Put those plans into place (and these should be both political and military actions) and do it. We Americans are famous for our ability to adapt and overcome. Please let's live up to that image so we can bring our soldiers home safe and sound as soon as possible.

There are too many friends and family members who already have to live forever with that grief I experienced for a few moments. I hope and pray that I never have to experience that feeling again. But if I do, I'll bravely face it. It's the least I can do for those who risk their lives every day to safeguard me.

Please don't just think of our soldiers on holidays like yesterday and Memorial Day. They deserve to be in our thoughts daily. To quote my new friend Paul Arvay:

"Today and every day, when you see someone that you know is a Veteran, or you see someone in uniform, please thank them in person with a smile, a nod or a hand shake! Let them know that you care about and appreciate all that they have done and will do for all of us."

Thank you Veterans and Soldiers for all you have done and will do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where's my Party?

So I've almost always claimed to be an Independent because I have never been completely comfortable with the platforms of either of the two major political parties. And the terms to describe them seem to have been hijacked. I am moderate, liberal, and conservative... it just depends upon the topic.

It's also one of the reasons that I often try to persuade folks our democracy would be stronger if we had more choices of political parties out there.

And yes, I know there are other parties than the two main ones, but either by choice or history or both, it is incredibly difficult for any of the smaller parties to regularly get candidates on the ballots due to various election laws and regulations

At first, I looked at the Libertarian Party because that sounded really close to some of my viewpoints, but the idea of unbridled capitalism hangs me up. Although some of their other platforms I can get behind... like the government keeping its nose out of my business.

The Democratic Party also has elements that I think are great. They're much more embracing and inclusive of people who are different from each other and I'm a firm believer in the premise that all people should be equal under the law. I also believe that those who can work and be productive members of society should, but that our country has a responsibility to care for those citizens who can't care for themselves.

There are also elements to the Republican Party that I like... especially when it comes to the idea of being careful of how we spend taxpayer money and the focus on states rights vs. federalism. I agree we need a strong central government but it should also be balanced with strong states.

One of my complaints about all these parties is that they don't stick with their ideals. As an example, Republicans were supposed to be all about fiscal conservatism, but under the last Republican president and Congress, a record surplus was turned into a record deficit.

So here's the political party that I want to be a part of, one based on the following premises:

My ideal party would be a staunch supporter and upholder of the Constitution, especially our Bill of Rights--All of Them.

All people are equal under the law no matter what.

The government has a responsibility to ensure the health and welfare of its people... first and foremost by having sound economic policies that strengthen the economy without it being held hostage by companies that are "too big to fail." I am all for capitalism... but it should be a fairly regulated system of capitalism with consumer and worker protections built in. Businesses are not people, and there should be no such thing as a corporate citizen. Business interests need to have balanced regulations that will ensure our people are safe and yet are not so onerous that businesses can't grow and prosper in a fair marketplace.

Our government should be responsible for our national defense and handling of natural disaster situations... again, going back to the ensuring the health and welfare of our citizens.

Our government should be made up of people who are honestly trying to serve their constituents by looking at the big picture and how laws and regulations will affect our country over the long term--not people who are looking to keep a job and are constantly turning with each direction the wind blows in order to get re-elected.

Here's where my libertarian leanings come in: the government has no business regulating my personal life. For instance, as a woman, I should be able to have any kind of surgery I want without asking permission... however, I also believe that I would never have an abortion unless my life was at stake... and maybe not even then. But I should have the right to do with my body as I choose. Period.

Speaking of personal life regulation... church and state need to be completely separated again. The idea of marriage as a religious ceremony should stay within whatever religion you worship. For the purposes of caring for property, children, etc, people should draw up and enter into a civil contracts. And any people who want to should be able to enter into that civil contract. That way, if you're religious and marriage between only a man and a woman is important to you, then it stays that way, but people entering into commitment contracts would have the same rights under the law as any other participant in a contract, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, etc.

And last but far from least: Prison should be used as a last resort and should be used to keep violent offenders away from the rest of society. And prison should be a place to reform violent offenders, not a way for them to increase their violent tendencies. Victimless crimes should never be a cause for a prison stint... In fact, I really find the idea of a victimless crime as a concept hard to wrap my brain around. In the Depression era, Prohibition of Alcohol created huge crime syndicates that were empowered with the wealth they gained from the black market sales of alcohol.

With today's current drug war, the very same thing is happening. And what is incredibly saddening to me is that a substance such as the currently illegal marijuana has fewer and less damaging side effects than alcohol or cigarettes. Yet it is illegal and someone who prefers it to alcohol can be put in prison with violent offenders and then have to assimilate into that culture of violence in order to survive. So not only do the black market sales of this substance empower the cartels who sell it, but it also increases the number of people who participate in violence as a way of life.

So I guess my last point is that as LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)suggests, we should at the very least decriminalize these substances and instead tax and regulate them. This would reduce our prison population (and thus a drain on our state and federal budgets), violence, the power of criminal organizations in our country, and possibly increase our tax revenue. Sounds like a win/win to me.

So there you have it... I've described some of the main ideals of a political party I'd like to see in existence... Anyone else interested in something like this? I'd love to hear everyone's pros and cons on my thoughts.

Thanks, and as always, I hope you have a lovely day!

On Being Alive

So I had quite a shocker today... turns out there's been a rumor of my death floating around somewhere in NC. The way I found out was from a dear friend who just found me and told me he was so glad the rumor wasn't true.

I've always been a firm believer in the do good things and be the best person you can be and those things will come back to you motto. And today, good things came in spades. I didn't know how worried my friend was for me. Ours was a typical story... close friend in high school, I went one direction, he went another and we lost touch. I don't know why this rumor of my untimely death exists. In one way it's a bit disturbing, but in another way, it made me remember that when someone is really your friend, you matter to them no matter how long or how far apart you become.

To hear the sound of relief in my friend's voice... and the bit of disbelief that it was actually me... The experience was profound to say the least... I feel thankful, honored, stunned, happy, and immensely humbled.

I am so thankful for all the love and support and birthday wishes yesterday, but I think I'm most thankful for being able to give the gift of a happy surprise to someone else.

And just so we're all clear... Rumors of my untimely demise are just that. I'm still the spitfire you all know and love and I certainly plan to be around for a long time to come. = )

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Day!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and happy day today! If you're not having one yet, take a pause and think for a moment about something you like or love and let that wonderful smile shine through. For me:

May everyone who has pain experience a reprieve,

May all of our soldiers come home safe and sound,

May those who are in need find help or learn to help themselves,

May you find or come closer to your own sense of inner peace, and

May today bring joy, love and happiness to all.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Joseph Cao: Voting For Health Reform Was "A Decision Of Conscience" (VIDEO)

Thank you Representative Joseph Cao for following your conscience and putting the needs of your district before party politics. Here's hoping more people follow your good example!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, November 06, 2009

Successful Flight Through Enceladus Plume

Successful Flight Through Enceladus Plume

Gotta love the amazing things our space exploration is showing us...

Angry at the Wrongs of Our Health Care System

So currently, I and my family are among the supposed lucky ones in our nation to have insurance, an HMO. You'd think that if anything was wrong with us, we'd have at our resources the best people available to solve the problems. And we'd be able to pay for those solutions because we have insurance.
[Big Angry Buzzer] Wrong!!!

So a family member of mine has had two different pain conditions for the longest time. And since I love this person so much, I've tried everything I can to figure out how to fix it or ease it or something.

With the first pain condition, we saw our primary care physician a few times (all at $25 a pop) and then we were referred to a neurologist. No offense to the good neurologists that I'm sure must exist somewhere in Atlanta, but the two different ones we visited for my family member SUCKED. They tried to tell us it was carpel tunnel syndrome (something I've seen first hand and KNEW wasn't it.) But NOOOOOO, the doctor knows everything and was so positive it was carpel tunnel that my already in-pain family member had to go through an extremely painful nerve induction test to find out that guess what??? It's not carpel tunnel.... something I told both doctors during the first visit... Total of primary care and specialist visit copays: over $200.

So basically, we paid these doctors to torture my family member with that damned nerve induction test and then tell us that they had no idea what was causing the problem, go see another specialist. At this point my family member gave up on the system and just learned to deal with the pain and loss of hand dexterity.

So lo and behold, over the last month, the other pain condition flared up, and my family member refused to go to the doctor because they didn't want to get their hopes up and have them shattered again. After it gets too painful, we agree to go to our primary doctor (a different one who happened to graduate from Yale School of Medicine). I thought to myself, okay this time it's going to be different.

As soon as the primary doctor examines my family member, she immediately refers him to a general surgeon because she thinks something is torn inside. $25.00 to find out this possible diagnosis. Two days later when we're able to get in to see the surgeon (and by now the pain is at a 10 on a 1 - 10 scale), and after a ten minute exam at 3:40 yesterday... and without sterile gloves even, the surgeon says sorry I can't help you, it's not the problem your doctor thought it was. So essentially, I paid $25 for this other doctor to hurt my family member even more during the probe of the painful area.

I walk back into the primary doctor's office yesterday around 4pm and demand the doctor find the cause of my family member's pain so they can get some relief. Doctor has no idea what to do other than tell us to go to the emergency room... Yay, we're going to the emergency room in the middle of a flu outbreak.

4:15, we walk into the emergency room door, sign in and after a 20 minute wait, are seen by the triage nurse. She tells us the rooms are all full but we're the next in line. 5:15 rolls around and they finally call us back to a room. And when we get into the room, that's when we have to pay the $50 copay for an ER visit. A doctor comes in and spends ten minutes doing the same kind of exam that surgeon did earlier in the day. Then he decides to order a CT and an ultrasound. Whew, I think. We're finally going to get an answer. But my family member is still in pain and finally around 8pm they come in and give him a shot of something for the pain.

Now keep in mind, my family member hasn't eaten anything since midnight because they thought they were going to have surgery that day. But eating is still not allowed because it might mess with the tests.


We then have to wait for over another hour to get the test results back. Guess what?!?!?! Everything looks normal except for a teeny bit of extra fluid somewhere, but that fluid shouldn't be causing the pain because it's seen on both sides of the body and the pain is only on one side.

Bottom line, we paid people to poke and prod my family member, cause more pain, waste lots of time only for them to say we have to go to yet another specialist. We didn't walk out of the emergency room until after 11pm last night.

So for all these people who are screaming and scared about having to wait in lines for the boogeyman of socialized healthcare... WAKE UP PEOPLE, WE ALREADY ARE! And those of us with insurance are actually paying for the privilege of doing so.

$100 personal money spent and over 8 hours of our day wasted. (And that $100 may not seem like much to some people, but when you're laid off and trying to save every penny, that's way too much to have to spend for little to absolutely NO results) Speaking of results... our end result, a prescription for a pain med and a referral to another specialist who I doubt will be able to help us.

And guess what, my family member is so disgusted that if this next specialist can't figure it out, that's the end and they're going to stop trying to get it fixed.

Not only do I feel taken advantage of by the system, but I feel emotionally raped. We get our hopes up time and time again that someone's going to actually find a solution only to hear, Nope, we don't know, and ha ha... you had to pay us to tell you that.

Maybe I should start learning the words to Oh Canada... my Canadian friend tells me this would never have happened there.

My whole life, I've worked hard to tone down emotional reactions and be calm and rational. I don't pass the buck and I try to fix as much as I can and not try and throw blame around, but if I or my family member has caught one of the flu viruses after all the rest of this mess we had to deal with, I am so going to verbally throttle someone.

Last night was finally the straw that broke this long patient camel's back. I've tried to be good and do the right thing, and all I've gotten for it is wasted money and the horrific chance to see my family member clenching teeth through pain. Do you know how much it hurts me to see my loved one hurting—really hurting—and not be able to do a damned thing about it???

So I don't care who has to do what. Mr. President and Members of Congress, get off your collective asses, stop dilly-dallying around with lobbyists and special interests (corporate or otherwise), and actually do something for our substandard American Health Care system instead of talking about it all the time!!!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A different idea in the healthcare debate

So I just read an article on HuffPost called: "Public Option Plan Will Cover Few Americans, New Statistic Reveals." A quote from one comment on how the public option should have been:
"Here's how it should have been: Open up clinics for citizens who don't have health care insurance. Require proof of citizenship for access. Done. It really is that simple. And no one should have a problem with that. I could have written the bill for this in ten days and it would have nothing to do with the insurance industry..."

I think the person who commented is on to something here to provide access to everyday health service needs, especially with the public option sounding as watered down as it is... Further suggestions for improvement would be to include legal immigrants (who have to file taxe returns like citizens do) in the ability to access services and include preventive care as services provided.

Study after study shows that preventive care reduces costs across the system, yet our current system is not based on any preventive care incentives. Instead, it's based on reactionary care... fixing things after they've gone wrong instead of focusing on wellness.
About Health Care
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost