Monday, August 28, 2017

Doctors and Vacations Don't Mix

As an offshoot of my bout with atrial fibrillation in May, I went back in to see my cardiologist for a follow-up.  The good news: the old tickers is fine.  The bad news: I have to start acting like a grownup now and get some wellness care.  (Meaning maintenance drugs.)

First off, I know my blood pressure has been creeping up. I get a reading every time I give blood or otherwise see a medical professional, so I’ve seen the pattern. That the doc wants me on BP medicine did not come as a shock. In fact, I’d already been working on lowering my sodium intake.

Now, I never put salt on anything (but French fries), but have you seen the sodium content on prepared foods? Holy crap! Just about everything I buy from the grocery store is loaded with sodium. One can of Campbell’s chili has over 1600 mg, and most Progresso soups have over 1000. You’re only supposed to have 2000 mg per day, and probably less if you’re trying to lower your blood pressure.

I’ve been buying lots of “no salt” canned vegetables and “reduced sodium” soups. They’re better for me, but unfortunately they taste like sawdust. I had to consult with Sweetpea to help me make my side dishes taste like anything.

So I was ready when my doc prescribed BP meds for me.  (Lisinopril, to be exact.)  I also had to go buy a blood pressure monitor so I could take daily measurements and report them to my doctor every week.  I got one for Sweetpea’s place too, so I didn’t have to schlep mine around every weekend.

He also had me get some bloodwork done, which I haven’t had since around 2009.  My cholesterol was in the high range… just barely, but still high. (And the “good” cholesterol was barely too low.)  So I’m on cholesterol medicine now too… Crestor. 

The bloodwork also showed a problem with my triglycerides. I don’t know what those are but I have way too many of them. No pill for that; only way to address that is to lose weight and drink less.

And there it is… That’s why I avoid doctors the way I do. Total buzz-kills, and I mean that literally. Obviously, I’ll have to seek an exemption for football season.  I’ll see if there’s any wiggle room.

I’ve been on the meds now for just over a month.  Good news: my BP is way down.  The meds are doing the job. The bad news: I have one of the common side effects… persistent dry cough.  I asked him give me something else; we’ll see if it kills the cough. Just started taking it on Friday. No change with the cough yet but the BP is still good.

Another ramification of my follow-up is that my doctor hooked me up with a primary care physician, right in the same hospital complex.  I haven’t had a PCP, pretty much ever, so this is a big development.  I’m happy that whatever comes up, I’ll be in a facility that can handle it so I won’t have to be sent all over hell’s half-acre for different services.

I met with her for an initial consultation last week and we hit it off well.  Hell, it was almost like a first date, with all the relating of personal history.  But it’s time that I get with the program and start taking better care of myself.  I want to have a lot of time with Sweetpea before I get old and decrepit. 

And as I feared, our discussion led directly to the Big C. 

You know… Colonoscopy.  I knew I was five years past the threshold so I’m overdue.  I’m not exactly looking forward to it but I realize it’s inevitable. But when she asked me when I wanted to schedule it, I was like, “It’s gotta be before the end of the year.”

She looked at me like she was surprised by my rush.  I said, “That heart treatment this year filled up my insurance deductible. I’m in the sweet spot now, with the insurance picking up the bulk of the bills, so I want to fit in everything I need before December 31st.

If they must shove something up my ass, I’d rather not be the one paying for it.

On the bright side, we decided I wouldn’t need another prostate exam, without the appearance of symptoms indicating that one is required. I think I high-fived her. You really have to appreciate all of life’s little victories.

So there I was, all ready to make life changes and commit to good health, but there, standing in my way, was a week’s vacation in Ocean City.  Sweetpea had a friend with a condo for rent down there, so there we went… me, her, and two of her friends (a guy and a girl). 
This was the back of the place, with up and downstairs decks. Gorgeous.

Seriously, no one should have to start a new healthy lifestyle during a week in a beach house.  I know I ate stuff down there that I never eat at home.  The snacks were totally on point.
These were just the snacks Sweetpea and I brought.  Similar quantities were provided by the other two guests as well. To look at our countertop, you’d think someone handed a hundred-dollar bill to a 9-year-old and said, “Go get some food for your treehouse.”

Our first full day down there came with the threat of heavy rain, which was supposed to start around 1:30. We decided to hit the boardwalk for a couple hours before the rain began. 

There are all kinds of odd places on the boardwalk and it’s funny about the things you consider when you’re on vacation.
YOLO, right?

Wrong!  After careful consideration, I decided, “Oh HELL no.”

The rest of our board walking didn’t work out though… Rain started early at 12:30, so we did the only reasonable thing. We took refuge in the nearest bar. After a couple drinks, it looked like it was letting up, so we made a break for it. Bad choice. We got soaked running back to the car.

Note to Doctor: Today I went for a run.

Things started clearing up on Tuesday, enough so we could get in a round of mini-golf.

Note to Doctor: Played 18 holes, and didn’t even use a cart.

Wednesday and Thursday were gorgeous, so we spent the morning and early afternoon on the beach. At one point on Wednesday, I posted to Facebook:

Beach status check:

Times in water: 1
Times crushed by wave: 2
Saline in nasal cavity? Yes. Note to Doctor: I’m staying hydrated.
Water in ear? No.
Lost contacts? No.
Lost hat? No.
Sunburned? No.
Sand in every crevice? Well, shit…
Families of goobers set up directly between us and the water? 2
I wanted to move our chairs up and sit right in front of them.  See how they like it.

So the results of the beach experience were mixed.

After beaching, it was time to go out and get some libations. Because it was too early for “Happy Hour,” we went to Happy Lunch instead. That’s like Happy Hour with sandwiches.

The “guy” part of Sweetpea’s friends was the guy she texted the day we met when she saw me at the bar and wondered what my name was. They’d been friends for more than 20 years.  I only knew him as the jolly Ravens fan from the other side of the bar.

When we were at the condo, I said to him, “In your wildest dreams, did you ever think you’d find yourself in a beach condo for a week with “That Steelers asshole over there?

No surprise there.  Besides differences in football allegiance, we also had another significant difference:
I don't know how the dude even sits on a barstool without falling off. That’s a serious “Costanza” wallet right there.

He and the other girl left on Thursday, which gave Sweetpea and I some time to ourselves in the condo, which was nice.

In other news, Sweetpea wants to get our own beach house, so I’d better get to work.

This was the longest amount of time we’d ever been together without a night apart.  We both wondered if it would work, or if there would be problems. We were delighted to find that we could have kept going.  Granted, it’s a vacation on the beach, not the daily grind of working, commuting, household chores and complaining about the utility bills.  So it’s not really a fair comparison to a long-term living situation. But is sure wasn’t a disqualifier either. We are both optimistic for our futures together.

As long as I can stay healthy, that is.  Oh, that reminds me:

Note to Doctor: I played another 18 holes, still without using a cart.  And I had to use steps, too (to get up onto the pirate ship.)

A Shameless Plug
As some may know, my friend Sherry Stanfa-Stanley spent a year doing her 52/52 Project, in which she did one thing outside of her comfort zone for every year of age. She did things like going to a nude beach, zip-lining, acting as a street mime, crashing a wedding and a fraternity party, and going into a sensory deprivation tank. 

After first blogging about her experiences, she then wrote an honest-to-God book about them.
The book was released last week and I was thrilled when my copy arrived.  I was even more thrilled that I turned up in one of the stories (page 300) and in the acknowledgments. The acknowledgment stemmed from a comment I made to her from THIS blog in 2011, which may have just instigated the whole shebang. 

But the “Bluz” angle aside, the book is a real hoot to read. Trust me, you’re going to want to go along for the ride.  She’s one of the bravest people I know.  There is zero chance I’d do even half of the things she tried.  You can order it from Amazon by clicking the link: Finding my Badass Self

You can either tear through it in a couple hours, or read it more… incrementally.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Limitation of Statues

You have to stand in awe at the ease that conservatives are able to change the conversation from a topic they can’t defend to one they can.

Remember how we were arguing about whether Nazis and white supremacists were bad?  The Republican leadership can’t defend them and still seem rational, yet they are the base that they dare not alienate.  So what are we arguing about now?  Tearing down Confederate statues, aka: “erasing history.”

That’s one the guys at the bar can get behind… “Gee, no, we shouldn’t erase history; that’s what an overreaching, out-of-control government does.”

Thus does any criticism of their side become another symptom of the federal government-run amok.

Very crafty.

Essentially dishonest, but still very crafty.

First of all, the Confederate statue angle of the alt-right demonstration was a sidelight.  I mean, what were they chanting, after all?  “Protect the Confederate statues?” 

Nope.  It was “Jews will not replace us.”  Not exactly a Confederate war cry, was it?

The statues were an excuse.  This was a white power rally, pure and simple, for which there is no rational, 21st-century defense.

Secondly, this “erasing history” thing?  Complete BS.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  You can take the statue down but the history (of an event) is always there.  I mean, somehow we remember the history of events that never had statues in the first place, don’t we?

There is a difference between remembering history and celebrating it.  And there is no good reason to celebrate the darkest part of our nation’s history.

Not satisfied with the initial fallacies, the Nazi apologists started trying to get cute with the analogies.  Like this one:
Dudes, there is a difference between a tomb built by slaves thousands of years ago (on another continent) and a contemporary glorification of those who fought to preserve the right of white people to treat black people like cattle, barely more than a hundred years ago.  The two cases are not remotely similar, other than to a poorly educated mind.

The same goes for comparisons to the founding fathers.

No, there is no tearing down statues of Washington and Jefferson.  I hate to use the “product of their time” argument, but it applies.  It’s just the way things were in the mid-1700s.

BUT, when large factions of the nation accepted that black people were “people” too and should not be owned, they did not trigger a secession from the Union and go to war in an effort to keep that ownership intact.  Granted, they were dead by then, but this is an exercise in logic and reason, not a literal representation.  But that’s why they shouldn’t be lumped together.

The founding fathers built a nation; the Confederates waged war to tear it down so they could continue to treat sentient people like property.  That’s why one set of statues need to come down and the other does not. 

The rest of these absurd comparison arguments should be torn down and warehoused right beside the statues.

Last week, as you may have heard, the city of Baltimore removed the four Confederate statues that stood within city limits.  They did it smart… they just went in overnight, unannounced, and took them down and stored them.

Two years ago, following that SC church mass murder, Baltimore’s then-mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake commissioned a study on that very action.  And in the year and a half since it came back, no one took any action.  I liked Mayor Stephanie but I wish she would have stepped up like our current mayor, Catherine Pugh, and just got it done. 

Both current and previous mayors are African-American, as is most of City Council.  I don’t know what the hell they were waiting for.  They were going to get grief from pissed off rednecks either way; might as well be sooner rather than later.

I’m not often proud of Baltimore but I am this week, at least until the next video of police planting evidence.

And I was heartened to see some other cities follow suit, though.  Maybe this thing has legs.  Sure, there will be protesting, but I think it’s more important to be on the right side of history.

And this side will be remembered without having to put up any more statues.

Monday, August 14, 2017

On Many Sides

On many sides.”

Those three words show the lengths our supposedly “straight-talking” president will go to avoid alienating his racist base.

Does “two” count as “many?”  I always thought “many” meant “a lot.”  But I can only count two sides in the Charlottesville atrocity. 

On one side, you have a thousand white nationalists, Klansmen, and garden-variety racists, carrying torches, bats, clubs, guns, and wearing armor.  On the other side you have a couple hundred people with signs. 

Yeah, it’s those hippy sign-wavers who are the troublemakers…

Fuck off…

News item: Riot breaks out when white supremacist demonstrators attack peaceful counter-protesters. Woman killed and 19 injured when racist plows car into crowd.

Fox News Angle: 20 hippy activists damage young Patriot's car.

Trump had one chance to get it right and condemn the hateful attitudes that created this mess.  But no, he had to appease the dirtbags who put him in office… the people whose support he actively courted before being forced to disavow them.  But he didn’t really disavow anything, did he?  He kept right on spewing the nonsense that attracted the racist right in the first place.  They understood it was just lip service.

Just like this weekend’s mealy-mouthed condemnation.  Immediately after he uttered those three cop-out words, the alt-right websites (which I refuse to name or recognize) lit up with comments about how he didn’t condemn them, and that he supported what they were doing.

Grand Wizard David Duke himself reminded Trump that he’d best stay on the idiots’ good side:
At least some of these self-important dicks are starting to feel the consequences.  As pictures surface online and on Twitter, people are attaching names to the protesting white faces, who are then getting fired.  No, it doesn’t really change anything.  It’s doubtful any of these dipshits will reflect on what they’re doing and change their beliefs.  More likely, they’ll just blame it all on radical liberals and the media.  Like that’s something new…

And if you think Trump made weak excuses, he’s got nothing on the people getting named.  I’ve heard more convincing rationalizations from grade-schoolers.

It’s funny how they keep repeating the bullshit about not wanting to lose “white culture.”

What the fuck is “white culture” anyway?  Peanut butter sandwiches on Wonder Bread and small dicks?

And to think, all it took to bring blatant racism bubbling to the surface in 21st century America is a black guy getting elected president.  And then having a TV show huckster with sufficient lack of shame to cozy up to the poor threatened white males and promise he’d fix it all by sticking it to non-white people.

The bottom line is that the Republicans now own this.  They recruited this faction, they promised them everything on the racist wish list, from building walls to killing government aid.  They blew dog-whistles for two years before the election and the dogs came running.

To say that they don’t represent Republicans or conservatives is disingenuous.  In 2017, racists define the GOP.

That’s a fact that everyone who voted for Trump has to face.  No matter what alibi they tell themselves, they got in bed with a man proposing racist solutions to exaggerated ills. 

Maybe they were so laced with greed that they sought to lower their taxes even further, despite knowing millions of others would lose their insurance.  Or maybe they came from Republican-ingrained military careers.  Or maybe they just couldn’t stand Hillary Clinton for whatever reason, while giving Trump a pass on the same charges, (like being loud, abrasive, corrupt, immoral or mean).

It doesn’t matter.  For whatever the reason, people who voted for Trump prioritized these alibis higher than the result of what blatantly racist policies would do to fellow Americans.

That makes them no better than the racist, torch-waving alt-right pinheads.

Republicans, this is what you wrought on America. 

You bought it, own it, you fix it.

This is me, not holding my breath.

Monday, August 7, 2017

If Fox "News" Existed Before 1996..

You’ll notice that I give Fox “News” a lot of crap.  Believe me, it’s well earned.  They are not an outlet for anything resembling “journalism,” and what they broadcast can only be considered “news” in the broadest sense.

What they are is a mouthpiece for conservative talking points; nothing more and nothing less.

And really, their philosophies are malleable.  As soon as a Democrat adopts one of their points of view, they change it so that they are still in opposition to progressives.  (Remember that the idea behind Obamacare came from the GOP congress in the early 90s.  Mitt Romney, himself, instituted it in Massachusetts.  But as soon as the Democrats adopted the idea, it became a liberal, socialist scam.

There are only two kinds of stories you’ll see on Fox “News,” or read on their websites:
·        Those that promote Republicans or a conservative agenda
·        And those that criticize Democrats and highlight apparent failures of a progressive agenda.

It doesn’t matter what else is going on; if they can’t label it as one of the two of these, they ignore it or only cover select aspects.

And this is because Fox exists for only two reasons:
·        Creating new Republicans
·        Engaging, enraging and maintaining current Republicans.

Take a hurricane, for example.  Most networks will run stories about the devastation, heroic efforts to save people, or government efforts to address the crisis.

Watch Fox and you’re guaranteed to see outraged reports on the looting, usually black people.  That’s the part that plays to their base.  Every time Fox viewers see black crime, it translates to “Freakin’ Democrats…”

Look at last Thursday night. While other news channels were covering the Grand Jury being convened to investigate Donny Jr.’s date with the Russians, Fox was busy covering… well, pretty much anything BUT that.

As I was considering this situation, I began to wonder how Fox might have covered other major historical events from before it came into existence.  Before long, I had some ideas…

News Item: Berlin Wall comes down

Fox Angle: Radical liberals remove wall, compromise security to allow horde of commie refugees.

News Item: Nixon resigns.

Fox Angle: Hippie reporters use Fake News used to oust American Hero. 

News Item: Moon landing.

Fox Angle: Fanciful program begun by Democrats spends millions, adds to the deficit, and then finds no usable natural resources.  Wasteful spending!

News Item: Space Shuttle Challenger explodes after lift-off.

Fox Angle: Forced diversity causes millions to go up in flames as shuttle leaves a Challenging hole in the federal budget.

News Item: Civil Rights Act of 1964 passes.

Fox Angle: Democrats open the door to massive voter fraud.

News Item: OJ acquitted

Fox Angle: Reverse-racist jury lets a killer go free.  

News Item: US Olympic Team’s “Miracle on Ice.”

Fox Angle: Reagan surges in polls, inspires American skaters to beat favored Commies.

News Item: Reagan assassination attempt as shooter tries to impress Jodie Foster.

Fox Angle: Liberal Hollywood’s assault on Screen Legend President!

News Item: Rodney King beating.

Fox Angle: Policeman injures hand while subduing criminal.

News Item: San Francisco earthquake of 1989.

Fox Angle: Infrastructure crumbling out from under feet of radical-liberal California.