NomDebPlume's 2½ Cents

Because I have an opinion about everything…

Archive for the category “Being human”

Insult to Injury / Illness

If I read one more person lament about being unable to gain weight because of their Crohn’s Disease, I will very likely scream out loud to the point where I will frighten my neighbors.  There is most definitely a benefit to the several online support groups I visit; other patients can share information and consolation in ways most doctors just can’t, and that really helps.

In a recent thread started by a woman who wanted to know if anyone else couldn’t lose weight, despite the disease restricting her ability to eat, the comments started coming in fast and furious.  As someone who deals with this same problem, I felt less alone in my struggle when I saw how many others really know the pain and frustration I feel daily.  It’s not a “misery loves company” thing, really – it’s more an “I’m not the only one (a freak)” feeling that makes me feel a bit better.

What does not help is a person showing up to the thread adding their comments about how they are 5’9″ and only 115 pounds.  So, basically, you’re complaining that your height and weight is similar to that of a Super Model??  And, let me see if I understand: you consider this is a freakin’ problem?  Question: Does the inability to gain weight [so you can stop resembling a Super Model] also eliminate your ability to realize it is inappropriate and most certainly NOT helpful for you to share this in a thread where the rest of us are commiserating about our complete failure at losing any weight?  Why not contribute to the person who commented about how utterly horrible it is to have people continually tell them, “you really need to eat more” because she DOES eat normally, but just cannot gain weight.  “They just don’t understand.”  There was a whole whine-fest going on over there and you’d fit right in.  Courtesy: http://femaleimagemedia.blogspot.ca/2008/11/model-behavior.html

Here’s the thing that really upsets me: in our society, your “underweight-ness” is completely acceptable – praised, appreciated and envied, even.  Until a person literally looks like a skeleton, they are considered attractive (even then, you might find walking skeletons on runways during Fashion Week).

But for those of us who are bloated from steroids and other harsh medications, overweight from a diet that restricts fruits, vegetables & other complex carbs (Oh, my kingdom for a salad!), out of shape because this disease combined with the side-effects of all the drugs that keep us alive and out of the hospital [for now] drain us of so much of our energy that we can only do what we absolutely have to… and even that is sometimes impossible.  Us?  No, we’re not attractive.  We’re not understood.  We are quickly and thoughtlessly judged, labeled as “fat and lazy”, with an underlying implication that we are also stupid.

We may be fat, but we are not lazy, and certainly not stupid.  We are at war with our bodies and at war with Crohn’s Disease just as much as much as our thin, attractive, socially acceptable counterparts, dealing with all the same horrors this disease has brought into our lives — only, we deal with more.  We also live with societal stigma and the butt of even more jokes: Fat jokes are always funny, right?  Just like bathroom humor.

When It Hurts

When it hurts, I pray.  Most times, I can feel a perspective shift in my mind and spirit, taking my attention off what is bothering me and turning it to something that reminds me of all that God has done and given to me, and I feel thankful.

Sometimes, I only need to look out my window.

20151030_092948  20151030_093012

Autumn 2015

Unfortunately, yesterday was not such a day.

But His mercies are new every morning, so today offers another chance to get it right.

Naked Gnomes?

 

One of the things I like about being married to a “European” is how he not only stays on top of the news here in the U.S., but keeps himself abreast of newsworthy stories in Europe, as well:

 Where does one even go to purchase a “naked gnome”? 

In the story, naked gnome collector, Sandra Smith, said she was told to put clothes on three of her favorite ornaments because they were deemed offensive.  Personally, I find the entire display offensive because it’s so kitschy and overdone.

I mean, really, Sandy… the wet t-shirt gnome is over the top! J

Home, Hospitals, Holidays and HIPAA

 

 

smurf-doctor

 

To write that being in the hospital is anything but unpleasant and something we all wish to avoid would be obvious and unnecessary. Yet sometimes, it is the only way to enable someone to return to good health, or at least better health. And during a stay at the hospital, there are things we can learn – other than exactly what diagnosis put us there in the first place.

Beginning with how grateful I am for my own bed and pillow, I personally learned how much I really do appreciate the mundane, annoying chores I do on a daily basis that normally give me only the slightest gratification. I missed getting my children ready for school and making my 7-year-old’s school lunch at 6:30 each morning. I missed doing laundry, cooking dinner, paying bills and loading/unloading the dishwasher. After 6 days away, I missed seeing my family every day – even when they were in my face making too much noise when I wanted to be ‘alone’. For the most part, I was alone each one of those days, all day… all night.

It is a conundrum of human nature, I think, to initially be content with what we have… then dissatisfied once we have it for a while… then miss it and want it back once it is taken from us. Or maybe I am the only one who is guilty of this unappreciative tendency, along with the lack of appreciation of the phrase “at least you have your health”.  Spend some time as an anxious patient in the hospital and you, too, may eliminate the words “at least” from that sentence… at least for a while.

Because my stay in the hospital was a bit longer than average, I enjoyed the company of 4 different roommates, 2 of whom were sicker than I was. If not ignored, this benefits one’s perspective; focusing on the pain and anxiety of my roommates was definitely helpful in temporarily diverting attention away from my own problems. While I felt bad for what these two women were enduring, I admit I felt grateful that it wasn’t me. And when I pray for my own health and future, I remember them, too.


Now, since I am never one to overlook the political aspects of an experience… :-/… I was surprised, perhaps even shocked, to learn that our HIPAA Privacy Laws that we are told are so vitally important (and the related paperwork that stuffs landfills everywhere) were broken on a regular basis. If you’ve ever visited a doctor’s office, you’ve signed a HIPAA form that prevents the sharing of your personal medical information without your expressed consent. If you’ve ever watched a television police drama where they need medical records, you’ve probably noticed they need a subpoena to get/view medical records, even if the person is DEAD.

Well, I was privy to dozens of people’s medical records while in the hospital every day, without a subpoena or anything… using just my ears. My hospital room was close to the nurses’ station and every time the shift changed, the nurse on duty would relate each chart’s information to the nurse coming on duty. She would go over each chart, starting with the FULL NAME, diagnosis, doctor’s orders/medications, details of what transpired during her shift, and for some patients, some added anecdotal information, such as “what a nice woman she is,” or “he’s a real nasty one”. I wasn’t trying to hear what they were saying, their voices echoed into my room and to my bed, which was the furthest from the door.

Thankfully, I didn’t recognize any of the names I heard, so all of this information means absolutely nothing to me, but what if I DID know one or more of these patients? I would now know their private, medical history (unless I stuck my fingers in my ears and did that la-la-la-la-la thing). And who might have heard MY medical information? There could have been someone there who recognized my name from seeing it on my check at the grocery store, or the pharmacy, etc. Now they know exactly what is ‘wrong’ with me. I’m not liking this. Why don’t the nurses have a room with a closed door where they can do this confidential job? Why do any of us sign those HIPAA forms in the first place – are they just to make us THINK our privacy is being protected? Hmm…

hear-see-speak-no-evil

 Whatever the case, I was released from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving and enjoyed a toned-down eating experience, but a day full of more gratitude than usual. I valued this more than the usual type of celebration, and hope I can remember this important lesson for future years without preceeding the holiday with an unpleasant trip to the hospital.

 

While all of this is so fresh in my mind, allow me to wish each of you a Holiday Season full of gratitude and good health…
:-)
 

I Married a Democrat

Love Conquers All

Love Conquers All

 

No, I did not just realize he was a democrat after four months of marriage. This is not something that has reared its ugly head during the last few weeks of a heated and critically important presidential election. It is something that other people find interesting about us and our long relationship, wondering how we are able to ‘get along’ so well. We met in a republican chat room during a previous presidential election when he came in to instigate arguments, but he didn’t know *I* would be there to argue back :-) And neither of us could have guessed that heated political dialogue would someday lead to marriage.

So here I am many years later with my liberal honey, whom I love dearly and whose opinions have helped shape some of mine over the years. And after the Clinton and Bush years, amazingly, we find ourselves on the same political page – and somewhat disoriented! While he is still a liberal, he is not, nor has he ever been, stupid, so it is as obvious to him as it is to me that Barack Obama is miserably and frighteningly inexperienced for the job of Postmaster General. Oops… I mean, President of the United States. (Personally, I would not want him for either job, but that’s another story).

It concerns me that he is the least experienced candidate in history, how he also has less experience than Sarah Palin (who is number two on the republican ticket, despite how the democrats vilify and dismiss her), how he is a blatant opportunist, how his social/political associations speak to the matter of his character – as does his behavior, causes, and what he has allowed his children to listen to in church every Sunday. I find the prospect of an Obama presidency off-putting, to say the least. Lying is nothing new in Washington, but media substantiated lying and having one’s own party cleaning up behind a candidate like the sweeper behind an elephant in the circus, is something I don’t remember witnessing before, or certainly, not to this degree.

Personally, the best thing about this election cycle is that my husband has finally seen for himself what I have been trying to get him to see for years: that media bias DOES exist. It’s really something when someone has a ‘light bulb moment’, when they see what you were never able to explain. Of course, with the majority of the media in the tank for Obama, one would have to be Helen Keller to miss it, but still…

It would be difficult to narrow down the worst thing about this election cycle to just one. On the personal side, though, it may just be the very thing that has always been so good (and entertaining) about previous elections: the fact that my husband can’t vote because he is a citizen of The Netherlands. It was always nice that he could not “cancel my vote”, but this year he would actually have voted for John McCain.

It’s just part of that irony I’ve experienced with this election – like when I found myself supporting a Clinton during the primary.

September 11th… 6 years later

 

World Trade Center 

Today I think of how quickly everyone forgets the unity and singularity of purpose once known as the years increase between September 11th 2001 and the present.  My sense is that we could not be more divided than we are right now and our enemies probably enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they have not only hurt us physically, but emotionally and politically as well.  I wonder if they knew how quickly we would all turn on one another; I, for one, am appalled at such a realization.

But life goes on for all of us in all our cocoons.  I am keenly aware that Americans are an impatient sort.  Not entirely our fault, I’ll concede, but not always a beneficial quality to possess.  While our desire to see things accomplished “yesterday” has contributed to our success as a Superpower, individually, we want what we want NOW… or sooner.  And when it comes to war, we Americans have precious little tolerance for the unavoidable accompanying discomfort.  Of course, as Americans, we also want THE best, 100% infallible plan that can be carried out neatly and quickly with little to no casualties. 

Sadly, this is not a reality we can know and we all scurry for someone to blame.  Blame makes us feel a little better and gives us a focus so moving forward is bearable.  But what we all really want is for none of this dreaded ugliness to ever have touched our lives in the first place, for our fragile version of innocence to have been left in tact, for those terrorists to have been stopped before they boarded the planes on that fateful day six years ago.  We want what we can’t have, and, heck, we’re Americans… we usually figure out a way to get it!  So instead of acknowledging a pain that cannot be quelled, we collectively grumble, complain, name-call, and viscously blame easy targets.

And today I think: How many years before we figure out that our country’s dissension feeds our enemy while starving our ability to heal and triumph?

Does One Person’s Free Speech Trump Another’s?

 

Imus and Rosie      

It goes without saying that Don Imus’ comments about the Rutgers University Women’s basketball team were deplorable, unacceptable, and never should have been uttered.  My goal is not to excuse his behavior in any way, but to attempt to draw attention to the hypocrisy that is so thick in the media, and society as a whole, that publicly punishing him when others go unmentioned, tends to minimize the impact of those doing the punishing… and the offense itself.

While Imus stole a golden moment from this hard-working team of young women, insulting them, and frustrating their lives by the unwanted attention this situation has thrust upon their lives, he has also inadvertently given them more than their 15 minutes of fame.  After their press conference, we all now know they are much more than fine athletes, they are women of substance, worthy of our respect, who could never be defined by one man’s thoughtless comments.

But someone please explain the premise of ‘free speech’ to me again – it has gotten so muddled in the mire of this latest controversy.  With the usual players coming out of the woodwork for their airtime, taking up the cause du jour, how are any of us supposed to give the issue the consideration it deserves?  It has always been my understanding that free speech extends to everyone, not just those we agree with.  It’s easy to allow the airwaves to be filled with opinions and comments that don’t offend us, but why is it that only when certain subjects of offense arise, there are those who wish to draw a line?  And who says THEY get to decide where they line is drawn, anyway?

Why does Rosie O’Donnell get to spew her “view” every day, influencing the ignorant with her propaganda that ranges from irate rhetoric to something that can only be labeled “absurd”, but no one wants to take up that cause?  Why do we hear no one calling for her to be fired or fined or suspended?  And why no call for boycotts?  This woman badmouths the President of the United States on a regular basis, which apparently is “chic”, and therefore… “acceptable?  More acceptable than a racist remark, I guess.  And Rosie’s radical personal opinions about our country only serve to fuel the terrorists’ resolve and hatred toward us. Why is that an acceptable form of free speech? 

Why are Al and Jesse and the media ok with THAT?

What Would Make an Educator Do This to a Student?

A Man referred to as “Principal”, no less?

ZV Injuries 1

This is a picture of my son, Zachary… 16-years-old (at the time), 120 pounds soaking wet, and all of about 5 feet 6 inches tall.  The picture was taken the day he was assaulted by a principal in his high school, who looks to be at least 250 pounds, as Zachary tried to leave the building after the bell rang.  Apparently, this principal decided Zachary should wait, go sit in another principal’s office and miss his ride home.  Why?  The principal was under the impression that Zachary did not have permission to be in the hallway 5 minutes prior to the bell ringing, which he DID (indisputable). 

Even though Zachary had permission to be in the hall, he had begun his walk to the office as instructed prior to the bell ringing, but once the dismissal bell rang, he turned around and headed toward a classroom to meet a friend on his way out, and this time, was cornered by the teacher who put him in a choke-hold and wrestled him to the ground because Zachary was “disobedient”.  Once on the ground, the teacher put ALL his weight on my son, preventing him from breathing and causing him to struggle to break free just to try to get some air.  Ultimately, Zachary’s body went limp (lack of oxygen) and the principal released his grip.

Zachary Injuries 2

As evidenced in the above picture, petechial hemorrhaging is visible beneath Zachary’s eye, indicative of asphyxia, or strangulation.  A visit to our doctor immediately after being detained by the police (where Zachary was charged with Disorderly Conduct), showed that Zachary had, indeed, been deprived of oxygen to his brain.  The doctors, nurses and everyone who saw him for the next week were appalled by the marks on him, and that they had been caused by a teacher/principal at his school.  Everyone except the faculty at the school and the police, that is. 

Whatever story the faculty was offering – and they had offered me 3 different versions to prepare me for what I was about to see before allowing me in the room with my son – none of them sounded anything like, “Zachary came into school with a shotgun and was about to kill innocent people”.  To me, that certainly would have warranted such a violent take down.  No, ultimately, they put their heads together and agreed on a version that sounded like: “Zachary was in the hallway and when told to go to the office (after the dismissal bell rang and everyone else is allowed to go home), he pushed Mr. Principal, began flailing his arms and needed to be restrained.” 

Now, while my son is no angel and not an ‘A’ student, he has never had an incidence of violence against a student, and definitely never against a teacher.  His flailing began when he was being choked and that was in an effort to breathe, but, unfortunately, Mr. Principal was standing out in the hallway with a friend of his, Mr. Teacher (conversing outside of a classroom, instead of teaching), and his friend parroted every word he said in the “official” report.  As a result, the police wouldn’t even allow me to file assault charges against this man.  Neither Mr. Principal, nor his friend had any bruising, petechial hemorrhaging – not even a scratch – on them as a result of all the pushing and flailing Zachary did that needed such violent measures of restraint, coincidentally.

ZV Injuries 3

These are not scratches on my son’s shoulder in this picture – they are crease marks from his clothing, indented into his skin from the principal’s full weight and pressure on top of him after he pushed him to the ground and while he held his neck in a choke-hold, preventing him from breathing. 

[Reminder: Zachary was charged with a crime, not Mr. Principal.]

 


Why am I writing all of this?  Out of sheer frustration.  I can accomplish nothing toward achieving any semblance of justice and it just eats away at me.  Nearly 10 months have passed since this incident took place and my son is a ‘marked man’ at the school, being picked on by those in power because I dared to hire an attorney and not just silently accept our punishment.  Although my son is now in a trade school for his senior year of high school in order to avoid contact with the original principal who assaulted him, I am about 5 months behind in paying the attorney who made this arrangement possible for him – and still, we must continue to deal with the same school district, where our infamy precedes us.  

But beyond contending with the issues of the school, the disrespect shown to me and to my son, the fabrications invented by one member of the faculty – then sworn to by another – that continue to cause trouble for him and great stress for me, I am haunted by bigger problems.  Where does forgiveness come into the picture?  I believe I have forgiven this man for what he did to my son, to the extent I am humanly able.  But my question is this: Is seeking justice a sign of unforgiveness?  Ten months have passed with little action on my part for two reasons, 1-because I have wrestled with this moral dilemma, and 2-because I have learned that most people get as much justice as they can afford… and I can’t afford all that much. 

So I share this story via my blog, accepting opinions from wherever they may come.  It will probably come as no surprise that the story has been somewhat condensed, but the pertinent facts are most definitely included… except for one.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will add that Zachary did have a knife in his pocket during this entire episode, yet this was not known to anyone and he voluntarily offered it to a different principal after being assaulted.  Naturally, I was appalled to find this out, but his excuse is, and has always been, “fear”.  He has been bullied since grade school, since right after his father died when he was in fourth grade and began showing his emotions in school.  Combined with his slight build, he was an easy target.  Although the school district was no help to me in that situation, either (“Isn’t he over his father’s death YET?”), and he never used the knife, to me, this is still no excuse for carrying it… regardless of how much “safer” it made him feel.

 Please feel free to share your opinion or offer advice.  The stress from this situation is literally making me sick by exacerbating the illnesses I suffer from (Fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease) and I need to figure out what to do.  It has been suggested to me that I just let it go and forget about the whole thing, to accept the injustice and go on with my life.  But it’s not just my life, it is my son who was victimized and it is I who must stand up for him and show that I am his advocate.  When he’s wrong, I throw the book at him, but when something like this happens, well….

Thanks for reading,

Debi

Merry Christmas… to everyone


Merry Christmas to those of you who visit this blog.  May this year be extra special in ways you’ve not experienced before. 

Merry Christmas to my children, to the man I love and to my family.
Merry Christmas to my friends and to my neighbors.
Merry Christmas to my Children’s teachers, and to all teachers.
To the salespeople who have been nice and helpful to me while Christmas shopping: Merry Christmas. 
To the rude people in the mall during this Season: Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas to the man who yelled, “Bush sucks” at me while stopped at a red light in response to my bumper sticker.
And Merry Christmas to the man who was driving in front of me with the bumper sticker that says: 

                            HeartSatan

Merry Christmas to those who are hurting this Christmas, and to those dealing with illness.
To those who have allowed their sadness to turn to anger and then try to make everyone around them miserable: Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas to those whose hearts have become so cold.

To those in our government who try and succeed: Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas to those who try and fail.
To those in the media who don’t try hard enough: Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas to Jon Stewart, John Kerry, Al Franken and Nancy Pelosi.

To the people who make our country great: Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas to our brave and selfless heroes in the military.
To the people who constantly complain that our nation isn’t great enough: Merry Christmas.
To those who want to destroy us: Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas to the Taliban, to Al Qaeda and to Osama bin Laden.

Merry Christmas to everyone

Christmas is a gift of love not given based on the merits of the recipient.   God gave His Son to be born on this day so that He could one day die and provide the ultimate gift: forgiveness of our sin.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:7-8
The Holy Bible

A “Fall from Grace”?

 

A Fall from Grace is defined as “a loss of status, respect, or prestige”, but is actually an idiom originally based on scripture:

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.  Galatians 5:4

Certainly Ted Haggard qualifies as one whose status, respect and prestige is now lost – I can’t even refer to him as Reverend Haggard anymore.  As to the question posed by the idiom’s Biblical source, ahh… that is another question altogether.

I have mentioned it before, and will mention it here again: My faith is a simple one, you could call it fundamental, even.  To complicate one’s faith would be to supply an excuse to disregard it.  There are those who insist on complicating the definition of Fundamental Christian, for example, somehow linking the term “Christian Fundamentalist” with “Islamic Fundamentalist”… and the Christians live with the negative consequences.  Truth be known, there is a very simple definition for Fundamental Christian, that being, they subscribe to the following 5 beliefs: the inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth of Christ, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.  Not all that complicated, really.

As an Evangelical, Ted Haggard also believes this.  What comes as the biggest surprise to most is that Ted Haggard is, in addition to these labels – and ones he has newly acquired – (dare I say it)… human.  In no way am I excusing his behavior, he was wrong.  On that, we can all agree.  But here is where it will get sticky – Where was he wrong, and why?

I have my thoughts, and they’re just my own opinions… so here goes…

To me, Haggard was most wrong for allowing the power of his position to blind him to God’s calling on his life.  In a nutshell, he became full of himself.  “Pride comes before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)  This is something each of us is susceptible to, but perhaps not to the degree of someone who has risen to national prominence and occasionally has the ear of the President. If hundreds of thousands of people listened to and read my words, would I suddenly have an over-inflated opinion of myself?  Would I think I was “all that” if GW asked my opinion on spiritual matters and then, maybe, decide I didn’t need to consult with God anymore. Gee, I hope not.

Betraying his wife and family is a biggie for me.  It matters little to me that it was with a man, except for the added shame it brings on his family.  It is the broken trust.  He has also betrayed his church family, but they should be discerning enough to know how important it is never to “follow” a man in place of God.  By taking drugs, engaging in homosexual sex, and then lying to cover up his transgressions, he has provided a duplicitous message to all eyes watching, but especially to his children. 

And this brings us to hypocrisy.  Anyone who knows me knows I have a big problem with THAT one.  Oddly, though, in this case, I find I’m not looking for a stone to pick up and cast first.  This is partly due to the fact that there are so few stones to be found after the media got their hands on the story.  Granted, this story is noxious with hypocrisy, but for me, it illuminated a finer point about our society.

The problem with being a Christian, but especially a publicly, well-known Christian, is to announce to the world, “I have set a bar of morality by which I’ve chosen to try to live”.  From that point on, there are people watching and waiting for you to fall short of that bar; they will trip over each other to point out when you have failed to meet that bar.   In my case, when this happens, I can only respond with, “Why are you so surprised?” :-)  Man, if I could always reach that bar, MY name would be Jesus!  But I strive toward the example He set, the “bar”, if you will.

In the case of publicly known Christians, those who are tripping over themselves include the media.  Camera crews and scurrying people with pads and pens chase down the sad person who has missed that bar.  (I’m so glad a camera crew does not show up every time *I* mess up!)  And, with Haggard, they hit the jackpot.

What has occurred to me through the Haggard situation is how each person has their own “bar” set for themselves, but it seems as though only those who set their bar as high as the Bible asks are the ones who get tormented this way when they fail.  It’s easy to be successful when the bar is low – heck, it’s even easier when you allow yourself to keep moving the bar to suit your life!  But let someone dare to take a stand, and fail… and we’ve got 24-hour news to keep us abreast of that failure.

For me, I am grateful that the grace this idiom is based on is not as fragile as that available in society… or as mutable as the morals found there, either.

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