Friday, July 11, 2008

Liminal Limbo...

My favorite pic of Mommy and me.

So at the last minute Mom relented and agreed to dialysis and life support. Yesterday the dialysis had to be stopped, but it went ok today. Things are not looking good, though. I have the feeling the doctors are going through the motions, if you know what I mean.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

More Mama Drama

Well, Mom was home for two very difficult days, then we had to call an ambulance because she was swelling in a way that reminded me of the girl in Willy Wonka - she turned round and blue. Ugh. The good part is, we got her to the hospital on time and she seems to be getting better, but I've been sleeping at the new hospital again. I wouldn't let them send her back to the other one because of all the problems and infections she had there.

Her kidneys are a little strained, but OK. She may have some kind of obstruction in her bowels that they are treating. The diabetes and congestive heart failure are ongoing conditions, but are under control. Her leg still, after 2 months, needs an operation. I'm really pissed about that - it was the whole reason she was hospitalized in the first place and it still isn't done.

The hospital she is in now is much closer to home - less than 25 miles round trip as opposed to 70. My 73 year old dad gets to sleep in his own bed, which is a vast improvement. This hospital is small but new, very modern and clean. They have the best of everything, and the staff is happy and not overworked. My mom's nurse has responsibility for 2 or 3 people at most and sits literally right outside her room. Mom is observed on video every minute. This hospital even has a lounge for the family to use with comfy couches, a coffee maker and a TV - it's like being in your own living room - and they provide meals for the family that's there with the patient, at least in the intensive care unit. She was in this hospital's rehab unit 4 years ago and also had excellent care then. It's the finest care I've ever seen and we've seen a lot of hospitals.

So, I have hope, we're getting some sleep and mom seems to be on the mend. There are still serious issues but (knock wood) things are getting better.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Populist Rhetoric Kicks Ass in Iowa!

Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama and John Edwards are big winners in Iowa tonight, and there's a reason for that - all three represent change from the status quo. Hillary Clinton came in a close third for the Democrats, specifically because she's too beholden to the DLC's Republican-lite corporation-loving party machine. Edward's took second place with far less money than either Barack or Hillary - he's only using public campaign financing. He won't owe anything to corporate interests when his campaign is over, and he got there without a huge war chest.

Huckabee is a nice guy - he's easy to like. The problem is that beneath that personable image lie some very fucked up ideas that would have us living in a Christo-fascist theocracy and women would be breeding slaves of the state. That, my children, must not happen. The Democrats have to win next year, no matter what. Whoever gets the Democratic nomination, make no mistake, we all have to get behind him or her. Right now, I say the money is evenly split between Barack and John.

The turnout in Iowas was unprecedented - young people were an astonishing 56% of new voters. If you watched the caucus, you saw that Kucinich, Dodd, Biden and Richardson all failed to generate enough support to be considered viable. The vast majority of those people who started out supporting one of those four candidates (or should that be 5? Is Gravel still in this race? I haven't heard from him in a while, but there's been a virtual media blackout on anyone but the top 3 Dems) went to Obama. Young people overwhelmingly went for Barack. Not my first choice, but it made me proud. I never thought I'd live to see a viable non-white presidential candidate. Maybe there is hope for us as a nation.

My heart still belongs to Kucinich. While he's still in the race, I can't in good conscience vote for a lesser candidate. He's the only one with all the goods, and I'm praying that all the weeks he has spent in New Hampshire pay off in a big way. I want to see Dennis surprise everybody the same way all those new people who turned out tonight in Iowa surprised the media. Dennis represents the clearest and best form of change we can hope for - but I'm realistic as well as optimistic.

John Edwards speech after the race was called tonight gave me chills. He was damn near channeling John Kennedy and it brought tears to my eyes. Barack is giving his speech as I write this, and he's an inspirational speaker, too, though I'm not feeling it the way I did with Edwards. I could get behind an Edwards/Obama ticket with great enthusiasm thought neither is my first choice. Barack has a huge banner behind him that says "CHANGE" and if there was one resounding winner in tonight's caucuses, that winner was Change. There will be a new America in one year - let's hope it's a better, free-er, kinder and more prosperous one.

One final note to all the Progressive men who will be crowing about the upset accomplished by Libertarian spoiler Ron Paul - about one quarter of Paul's positions are radical and wonderful, but the other three-quarters are frightening and exactly the wrong direction for this country. One of those very wrong positions is that he is radically anti-choice. Some of you are far too eager to trade my sovereignty over my own uterus away for the idea of smaller government. The friend of my enemy is my enemy, too.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Need to Bleed, Pt. 2

I got this comment on an old post called Defending the Need to Bleed. Period. I'm bumping it up because it's important.

I stumbled upon your blog while doing some web research on seasonale, and was very interested in what you had to say.
I am currently very frustrated with my doctors concerning birth control and menstruation. I am 23 years old but have never had a period without medication. My doctors put me on the pill at 17, specifically seasonale. For years I dealt with cystic acne, dehabilitating depression and when I was switched to the generic form of the pill, nausea resembling morning sickness. I went off the pill three months ago due to some health insurance problems, and immediately my skin cleared and I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders. I felt happier than I had in a long time. My problem now is that I have not gotten a period in 3 months.

My doctors just tell me that acne isn't a big deal, that I made the depression up, and that the nausea will clear up in less than 3 months (3 MONTHS!) and want to start me back up on some form of the pill.
I am now terrified of the hormones, and do not want to put artificial chemicals into my body (I have been a vegetarian for 10 years now). Yet I know that I need to somehow have a period.
I am completely confused and frustrated with modern medicine's options.

If you know of anything that may help me, I would love to hear it. If not, it felt helpful to write my worried down.

Hi, Kristin-

First, it's important for me to point out that I'm not a doctor. Based on what you've said here, I think you might want to consider getting a second opinion before you go back on birth control pills.

Depression can be life threatening. As a 46 year old who still has severe scars from cystic acne, I can assure you that it's a big damned deal. Nausea is never pleasant - I can't imagine dealing with it for months at a time. My alarm bells go off when I hear of a doctor telling a woman she's making up symptoms like depression. You need a physician who listens to you, not one who treats you as an hysteric.

You didn't say why the doctors felt it was necessary for you to be on birth control. I know there are some medications they won't give a woman unless she's on birth control, and that in addition to its intended use, they sometimes give it to women to control ovarian cysts or severe cramps or bleeding. There might be a legitimate need for them in your case. Feel free to write back if you want to share more information.

If you need birth control, consider the combination of foam and condoms - the two together are very effective, they're portable, you only use them when you need them and the condoms help protect you from STDs. In the 21st Century, there's no such thing as a monogamous relationship. Always protect yourself.

As I mentioned before, I'd see a different doctor. There are risks to taking hormones, including an increased tendency to form tumors. If you can get by without them, it would probably be better, but only a doctor can advise you. 6 years is a long time to be on any medication, and you've seen from this break you're taking that you feel better without the drug. Your body may have changed dramatically in those 6 years. I wouldn't panic at this point about not having had a period. It could take a year or more for your cycle to normalize itself, if it ever does. Some women are regular as clocks, some aren't - it's not an indication of how healthy you are. There have also been huge changes in the availability of new drugs and treatments. There might be something new available that hasn't been considered yet.

Find a doctor who sees women as people, not problems to be solved. You know your body better than anyone, and Nature often knows best.

Good luck, and do check in and let me know how you are doing.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why I find myself unable to post anything.

1. My uncle is dying. I couldn't say we're close, but he's the only one in the family with a clue about who I really am. He calls me Gypsy. We're doing a lot of traveling these days to visit him, take my dad to the doctor, etc. Any day now, my uncle will slip into a coma from cancer that has moved from his lungs to his brain. That sucks.

2. The weather is too good. It's still in the 80s here. We have a serious drought on our hands.

3. The news is too bad. The Democrats are either too lame or making too much money to oppose the Bush junta. Bush continues to dismantle the Constitution. Blackwater is committing murder. Our troops are dying for no reason. Darfur is in the grips of its 4th year of genocide. pResident Bombs A Lot is going to attack Iran, and I don't even want to think about what could happen there. If you've got friends in Israel, tell them you love them.

4. Halliburton is coming to Kentucky. People here think liquifying coal is a good idea - it isn't. Why does progress here always involve a deal with the devil?

4. I'm taking art classes and I can't decide whether to talk about that here or start yet another blog on this site. Then that begs the question should I redesign this site. Or change servers. Change domains? and on.. and on.... it never ends.

5. I'm having an identity crisis. I am completely unprepared to have lived this long. I figured I'd never make 30, yet here I am at 46. What do you do when you can't be who you want to be? Who am I? What am I? What's the point? Why are people so much dumber than I am so much more successful at almost everything? Why do my days feel like they're an hour long? Do I leave my hair long and dark or cut it off and bleach it blonde, which will piss everyone around me off? Why do I alternate between feeling numb and feeling ovewhelmed? Why do my dreams feel more real than my waking hours? Why can't I paint? I could go on like this for hours, and do...

6. I'm worried I may lose my health care. I'm stressed about money. I'm getting nothing done on my book. I hate my clothes. My room is a disaster of epic proportions. My sick mother needs more from me than I have to give.

I could go on, but you get the point, if there is such a thing. I'll write more when I can do something besides whine.


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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

US slipping in life expectancy rankings

Yahoo! News

Michael Moore's recent movie SICKO cites a WHO (World Health Organization) statistic that the US ranks 37th among countries in terms of our health. This aticle presents a new study showing that we've slipped to 42nd.

From the article:

  • Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.

    "Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

  • Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for Black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.

    "It really reflects the social conditions in which African American women grow up and have children," said Dr. Marie C. McCormick, professor of maternal and child health at the Harvard School of Public Health. "We haven't done anything to eliminate those disparities."

  • Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans. Black American males have a life expectancy of 69.8 years.

  • Murray, from the University of Washington, said improved access to health insurance could increase life expectancy. But, he predicted, the U.S. won't move up in the world rankings as long as the health care debate is limited to insurance.

    Policymakers also should focus on ways to reduce cancer, heart disease and lung disease, said Murray. He advocates stepped-up efforts to reduce tobacco use, control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.

    "Even if we focused only on those four things, we would go along way toward improving health care in the United States," Murray said. "The starting point is the recognition that the U.S. does not have the best health care system. There are still an awful lot of people who think it does."

That infant mortality rate is absolutely shameful. What the hell are we doing to our babies? What are we thinking?!

It's time for America to wake up and realize that we're paying for the best, but most of us are living in Third World realities. We can't afford to wait until Bush vacates the White House.

There's a proposal in the House of Representatives right now for a single-payer, universal health care system. HR 676 would provide "Medicare for all" and it wouldn't require additional spending. Read about it here and here. It is absolutely possible to turn this around and there's no excuse for us to let these abominable conditions persist.

18,000 people die every year in America because of no health insurance. That's 6 9/11's every year that absolutely don't have to happen. Reps. John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott and Donna Christensen have paved the way for us - we just have to get it through Congress.

Michael Moore has a form set up to tell your Congressional representatives that you want this bill passed. Please go there now if you haven't already. It's time to end the Republican/Corporate war on Americans.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Blowback...

Naturally, the news had to bring in a lyin' ass Republican to counter the Edwards Tour on Poverty. This time around we have RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, your basic evil, entitled white guy speaking from Washington. The first thing he mentions is the haircut. *sigh... Then he says Edwards is out of touch with poverty in America - as statement dripping with such irony it makes my eyes hurt - and starts talking about how big Edwards house is and blaming him for the health care crisis in North Carolina because he used to sue doctors for medical mistakes.

Then, wouldn't you know, he mentions the bible. The Republicans' favorite line in the whole thing is "the poor will always be with us" and he trots it out, implying that we have no obligation to help the poor because Jesus says they can't be helped, and there's the implicit understanding amongst the Republican rich that anyone who wants a job has one, and if you were a good, "god"-fearing Xtian you wouldn't be poor anyway. I'm glad this guy isn't here in KY, because I might have to hunt him down and scream at him. Edwards even used the Gordon Gekko line in saying that the view in Washington has been "greed is good" and he resoundly rejects that. The Repubs don't have a leg to stand on here, put they keep throwing labels at Edwards that more accurately apply to themselves. When you haven't got a conscience, it's easy to lie like that, especially when you have no respect at all for your intended audience. Edwards does have the distinction of having used the "L" word in the debates for 2004. He said of Bush and Cheney "they will absolutely lie about anything." The person who will stand up and call shrub out for being the Liar that he is gets my vote, hands down.

Duncan next hammers the sore spot for this area - liquid coal plants. A lot of people in this area think liquid coal is going to save Eastern Kentucky, but they're only going to do what the coal industry has always done here - make the mine owners rich, get a bunch of miners killed, and destroy our environment. It won't do shit for poor people, even if they're directly employed by such a plant.

This area is still struggling to get plumbing and potable water to our poorest residents. (The coal industry has destroyed our ground water. You should see the sludge that comes out of the faucets in some places - or wells, if they don't have faucets.) The average income in the area Edwards visited today is $12,000 dollars a year. The drop-out rate is the highest in the state and therefore in the country. 1 in 4 people in Kentucky is disabled, and a large part of the population is simply unemployable, even for the most menial jobs because they are illiterate. Yet Floyd county has more millionaires per square mile than any other county in the country, because there are a few VERY wealthy mine owners who maintain residences here. Nowhere in America is the "2 Americas" analogy more accurate.

It's not a visible difference, though. That table full of guys in trucker hats and overalls at the local Dennys might have a combined worth that would make Donald Trump drool. Rich people here don't necessarily look rich, and their houses are hidden up in the hills behind gates and stone walls. The money isn't visible here.

Now here's where I get in trouble with my middle-class family...

The poverty in Eastern Kentucky is in. your. face. I can't begin to describe to you the conditions some people live in here. My best analogy is that Eastern KY is like an Indian reservation, without the sovereignty or government aid. We're isolated geographically and we have no infrastructure, so nobody gives a shit about us. They're trying to create tourism in this area with native arts and crafts, golf ranges, skate parks, ATV trails, horse trails and our new elk population, but tourists need things like hotels and restaurants. Except for fast food and an occasional Chinese smorgasboard or Mexican place, there's no such thing. The best meal in the area is supposedly the catfish at the Lodge at Jenny Wiley State Park. There is some higher culture in Kentucky, including fine restaurants, hotels and art galleries, but it's in Lexington and Louisville on the other side of the state.

Let me tell you about the hotels. There's a former Holiday Inn that one of my many, many cousins redecorated with a gun during a party. He was away for a few years. There's a motel that used to be the home of a satanic vampire cult that made the national news when it's "leader" - who was something like 17, and whose mom was a part of it and having sex with his friends - murdered his girlfriend's parents in Florida. There's one other place that Hillary Clinton got to stay in, which I understand is passable, but not great. So if you're coming to visit, bring a tent. We've got an abundance of open mountain land, as long as you don't mind copperheads, rattlesnakes (like the huge one my dad killed in the front yard last week) mountain lions (like the one my cousins down in hollow saw up on our side of the mountain the other night, so we can't let the dogs out after dark) bears, deer, tics and the aforementioned giant elk. No bees, though, so it's getting hard to grow anything. Don't get me started on the foreign insects and flora that have been brought into the area which all caused greater problems than they might have solved.

A friends husband once said that I lived in the middle of nowhere, but my reply was that I have to drive 3 hours to get to the middle of nowhere. That's why my family had to camp at the hospital in Lexington when my mom had two brain surgeries and couldn't be left alone. There are fabulous hospitals even in this area, though, because everyone is sick. Diabetes, heart disease and lung ailments (from exposure to coal) abound. Then there are the accidents, like the toddler who was burned this week when he dropped his sippy cup on some black powder some boys had been playing with, and the car that went driving down the state highway in front of my place shooting randomly the other night. Did I mention that we are the reason oxycontin is called "hillbilly heroin?" It's the number one form of recreation for our young people. We have the same pervasive problems with domestic violence and rape that are found on reservations, too.

Most people are older, poorly educated even if they finished school, and they're deeply indoctrinated in the local religion which is reactionary far beyond anything justified by the actual text of the bible, but they don't know that because the preachers they listen to are illiterate, too. Not just unschooled in theology, I mean can't read a word at all.

The middle class here is tiny, and even a county employee can be the biggest fish in this pond. The bigger fish get angry that this area is portrayed as impoverished. These are proud people, but frankly, they're in denial. You should see what passes for a newspaper here. It's more like a church newsletter, with columns by paperboys and adults who can't write, or even conjugate a verb. They won't touch anything controversial and there's no "investigative reporting" though we sorely need some for reasons I'll get into later on. I don't usually read it because it makes me want to hurt somebody.

Finally, the government recently decided not to put a bio-weapons lab in London, KY because they wouldn't be able to get anyone to work in it that would actually consider living here. The kicker for me is that people here were upset that they weren't going to get a lab full of anthrax and ebola in their back yards because it would have created jobs. Get that? They'd rather have a job doing scutt work around bio-weapons than live.

Is there really anything left to say after that? More power to you, John. Even if you don't succeed, at least you've got people thinking about the poor.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

From Michael Moore: CNN caves!

CNN Throws in Towel, Admits to Two Errors,
and States That All 'Sicko' Facts Are True to Their Source (or something like that)
... Moore Realizes All This is Huge Distraction and Then Spends More Precious Time Thanking Paris Hilton for Seeing 'Sicko'
... Meanwhile, More than 300 Americans Die Because They Had No Health Insurance
During the 8-Day Gupta-Moore War...

July 17th, 2007


The mighty CNN, in a lengthy and sad online defense of their woe-begotten 'Sicko' story of last Monday, has admitted that they did indeed fudge at least two of the facts in their coverage of my film and have apologized for it:

1. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN: "To be clear, I got a number wrong in my original report, substituting the number 25, instead of 251." -- My Conversation with Michael Moore, July 11th, 2007; and

2. CNN: "Moore is correct. Paul Keckley left Vanderbilt in late 2006." -- CNN's Response to Michael Moore, July 15th, 2007.

Furthermore, CNN confirmed that all of our statistics in "Sicko" are the correct numbers from the sources we cited. Although CNN still prefers to use older World Health Organization statistics, we will stick to using this year's Bush administration stats and more recent U.N. data. (In "Sicko," we consistently use only U.N. Human Development Statistics unless it's for studies they don't do or have recent numbers for.) CNN did apologize for these two factual errors, but no apology seems to be coming for the rest of their errors. These days, to get the mainstream media to admit they were wrong is rare; to get them to admit it twice, as they have with "Sicko," I guess should be considered a whopping victory. Will they eventually apologize for the rest, or for their reporting on the war? Will the Cubs win the World Series this year?

So the truce has been signed, the peace pipe has been smoked. And the public is left with a much more cautious and wary eye when it comes to CNN. To be fair, this is what happens when you have to grind out "news" 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a staff you have shrunk through layoffs over the years (like all the broadcast networks have done). You end up rushed and having interns do your research. You have robots replace live camera operators. And, if you're CNN, you are constantly dodging the accusation that you are "too liberal." So when you do a piece on someone like me, you have to make sure you add superfluous and standard ad hominems attacking me simply to prove that you are NOT too liberal. I get it.

Until the last month or so, I have not appeared on a single national TV show for nearly 2 and 1/2 years. After the attacks I had to endure three years ago, from a media intent on questioning my patriotism because I dared to speak out against the war when none in the media would, I decided I had had enough and would simply concentrate on making my next film. I had no desire to participate in networks that were complicit in the war because of their refusal the challenge the commander in chief.

I have to admit, though, I do feel kinda bad taking it all out on Wolf Blitzer. It's not like he's the official representative of the mainstream media. I mean, he's from Buffalo, for crying out loud! He said to me at the end of the show last week to please come back on "anytime you want." I will take him up on that offer and appear again with him tomorrow (Wednesday). I'm not expecting a dozen roses or make-up sex -- I only want a promise that there will be no more distorted distractions so we can have a decent discussion about the REAL issues like why 18,000 Americans die every year because they don't have a health insurance card. More than 300 of them died this week. As Ehrlichman said to Nixon in "Sicko": "The less care they give 'em, the more money they (the insurance companies) make."

THAT'S the only thing we should be talking about. How profit and greed are killing our fellow Americans. How profit and private insurance have to be removed from our health care system. CNN should join me in asking why our 9/11 rescue workers aren't receiving medical care. Somebody should send a crew to Canada to find out why they live longer than we do, and why no Canadian has ever gone bankrupt because of medical bills. And all of the media should start saying how much it costs to go to a doctor in these other top industrialized countries: Nothing. Zip. It's FREE. Don't patronize Americans by saying, "Well, it's not free -- they pay for it with taxes!" Yes, we know that. Just like we know that we drive down a city street for FREE -- even though we paid for that street with our taxes. The street is FREE, the book at the library is FREE, if your house catches on fire, the fire department will come and put it out for FREE, and if someone snatches your purse, the police officer will chase down the culprit and bring your purse back to you -- AND HE WON'T CHARGE YOU A DIME FROM THAT PURSE!

These are all free services, collectively socialized and paid for with our tax dollars. To argue that health care -- a life and death issue for many -- should not be considered in the same league is ludicrous and archaic. And trust me, once you add up what you pay for out-of-pocket in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, overpriced medicines, and treatments that aren't covered (not to mention all the other things we pay for like college education, day care and other services that many countries provide for at little or no cost), we, as Americans, are paying far more than the Canadians or Brits or French are paying in taxes. We just don't call these things taxes, but that's exactly what they are.

See you all when I'm back on CNN tomorrow -- where the discussion will be not be about whose statistics are right, but rather about the guy without insurance who died while I was writing this letter.

Michael Moore

P.S. Oh... I forgot to tell you about Paris Hilton. Apparently cooped up for too long at home since getting out of jail, she decided to head out for a night on the town. But where does she go? Clubbing? Cruising down the Strip? No! She and her sister decide to go see "Sicko." Now THAT'S news! So, no more bad words about Paris Hilton!

He's right - this was a distraction. That's a big old Republican trick - get you talking about something that isn't what you came to talk about. By misdirecting the issue, no one had to address why we have three "9/11"s every year - meaning that 18,000 Americans die for NO OTHER REASON than they didn't have a health insurance card. Corporations are making money while good people are dying.

Case in point - my aunt knows a woman who was a nurse. She recently lost her job because the hospital fired everyone instead of settling a strike like human beings. After she became unemployed, she found out she has 3rd stage ovarian cancer. Her treatments will bankrupt her family, who are good hard-working people. That's shameful, and America needs to step up and do better for its people.

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