Friday, September 18, 2015

A Non-Health Issue: Ahmed Mohamed

I don't usually venture off into non-health related issues, but this has frankly pissed me off enough that I've made an exception.

Over the past few days, the story of Ahmed Mohamed has been all over the place. That's great. The responses, however, have been the most frustrating mix of absolutely amazing- it's fantastic that Chris Hadfield, Mark Zuckerberg, and even the President reached out to this kid- and incredibly, maddeningly, ignorant and hateful.

I just wanted to make one thing absolutely clear- something important.

I keep hearing things like 'Well, how the school and police reacted was wrong, but…' or 'maybe in the future he should…' and it makes me angry, especially because some of the people who are starting their sentences this way are people who say they stand with Ahmed.

"Well, how the school/teachers and police reacted was wrong/overkill, but…'

There are no 'but's.
How the school and police handled the whole situation was wrong in multiple, telling ways.
If the teacher/school actually believed they were dealing with a suspicious package incident, why on earth did they not follow whatever action plan is certainly in place in every single public school IN THE COUNTRY in case of that exact situation?
If the police actually believed the clock was a possible bomb, they certainly have protocols for handling it as such. Why did they not stick to those protocols?

I've seen more than one news article say that the police 'decided not to press charges'. Let's be clear: There were no charges that could have stuck. None. He didn't break any rules and he certainly didn't break any laws. The charge they initially tried to pin on him- a 'hoax bomb offense'- hinged on:
1. The item actually being a fake bomb, instead of a clock.
2. Ahmed telling people that the item was a bomb, instead of telling them, as he did over and over, that it was a clock.
3. Ahmed Mohamed having the 'intent to cause alarm or reaction'.

No fake bomb. No intent to cause alarm- at least not by Ahmed himself. So no hoax bomb charge.

As for his suspension, perhaps the teachers who not only raised a false alarm, but handled it with the type of idiocy that is incredibly unsettling to see in our schools, should be the ones who are suspended while it's determined whether or not they're fit to continue working. Because it's incredibly obvious that had this been an actual threat, had circumstances been very very different, their inability to follow the school's action plan for dealing with a suspicious package would have put a lot of people in what could have been serious danger. That's pretty scary.

In fact, that's a good way to describe this whole situation: scary, and not because of Ahmed Mohamed, either.

Let's review what we know about Ahmed's actions:
He built a clock at home, on his own time.
He brought his clock in to show it off to his teachers and friends.
When confronted, he kept telling people it was a clock.

I'd review what the various teachers and police did, but that would take a long time, and some speculation. So let's go with a few highlights:

They handcuffed and perp walked a minor out of school based on a complete overreaction on the part of faculty.
They repeated handled and moved- even photographed- something they apparently thought was a possible bomb. In a school. (Hold your applause.)
They punished the student- first arresting him and then suspending him- despite the fact that he had- again- broken no laws or rules.

"Maybe next time he should-"

Here's what Ahmed Mohamed should do in the future:
Ahmed Mohamed should keep being a student. He should keep up the intellectual pursuits. He should keep being the curious, bright individual that he is.

Maybe next time the school should have a policy that states very clearly what is and isn't acceptable to bring to school- and it sure as hell had better not include any vague terms like 'if it looks threatening'. Perhaps saying something like 'We encourage our students in intellectual pursuits and projects outside of school, but ask that should a student wish to bring in a personal project, he/she give notice to the faculty ahead of time, to avoid any potential misunderstandings."

And this time, all parties involved owe this young man an apology- a personal, detailed apology which does not include a single ounce of blame pointed in his direction, or a 'but' of any kind.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It doesn't have to be a groundbreaking post..

I just got back from a vacation.

Things I want to do:
- Make a cool digital photo album
- Make a new meal plan
- Game
- Write
- Rest lazily in bed with Lucy curled up next to me.

Things I need to do:
- Laundry
- Get prescription filled
- Packing for convention (which starts tomorrow)
- Ironing out details for same

Unfortunately, these past few weeks have drained me- moreso than I anticipated.

From the time we got onto the first train on our journey, it was clear that the trip was going to be stressful.

But after four days on two trains, a fullscale eczema flare, several dollars in quarters spent at hotel laundry machines just to prevent said flare from getting worse, and a trip to a local urgent care to re-up my steroid dose, I have to admit that my patience, along with my supply of social niceties, has run incredibly thin.

Frankly put, I'm tired, stressed, fed up and feeling mean as a snake. I'm suffering from a terminal shortage of spoons, and clinging desperately to control of my bad emotions.

I'm just hoping to make it through this without making an ass of myself or saying something unforgivable....

Here goes. But first, a nap.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Third time's the charm?

 place a funnel into one of the empty quart sized water bottles, then crack the seal of the Miralax.
"14 doses..." I say to myself; one dose equals one cap full, so 7 cap fulls equals half the bottle. An amateur chemist, I ever so carefully measure out seven caps of the white powder, pouring each into the funnel where it hisses into the bottle like fine sand.

I repeat the process with the second bottle; no measuring required now. I tap the funnel to clear it, then crack open the 32 ounce bottle of blue Powerade; it's still cool from the store, but that won't matter. I measure sixteen ounces into the white plastic measuring cup next to me, then carefully pour that into the funnel. I tap the funnel to clear it, place it in the second bottle, and pour in the rest; the blue sinks into the white powder as I quickly screw the lids on both before taking one in each hand. I shake them vigorously, ignoring the twinge of protest in my already sensitive stomach. I peer into the bottle at the results and frown- it's mixed, but the powder hasn't dissolved fully. I shake the bottles again as I think about my options: I can suck it up and drink the 32 ounces of thick, gritty liquid, or I can add another cup of Powerade overall, which, while it may slightly decrease the level of unpleasantness, will draw out the process longer.
Still, I grimace at the prospect of adding 'gritty' to the traits of this already disgusting mixture. There's really no contest. I add half a cup to each bottle, shaking them again, and look inside.
"That's...better." I mutter, pursing my lips. It'll have to do.

I place the bottles in the refrigerator and blow out a sigh, hoping they'll have enough time to chill before I have to start my prep.

Technically, though, this is the second prep I'll be doing in as many days. Yesterday, I sat down with a giant jug of something called GoLYTELY with instructions to drink 8 ounces every 5-10 minutes over four hours, until the jug was empty. I set a timer for 2 minutes on my phone and rented the first three Jurassic Park movies, hoping that rampaging dinosaurs chasing terrified paleontologists would distract me from what I was drinking. For the first four or five glasses, it almost worked. By then, it'd been about an hour; my stomach was starting to feel full. By the eighth glass I was having a significant amount of trouble; it wasn't just the taste- though that, itself, was unpleasant- it was the texture, thick and smooth, coating my mouth and tongue every time I drank it. I pushed back the timer to 2 1/2 minutes between each gulp. Each time, when I was done I had to press my hand to my mouth, my eyes squeezing shut as I breathed deep through my nose and concentrated on not being sick. I ended up having to take breaks between 'doses', trying to get as much as I could at a time into my system.

But there was another problem. According to the prep instructions, I would have my first movement an hour after my first 'dose' of the GoLYTELY. Two hours went by, and nothing had happened.

I carried on as best I could. By 8:30, I'd finished half of the solution, and still hadn't made any progress. Feeling sick to my stomach, I resigned myself to contacting the on call GI at my doctor's. I made the call, feeling embarrassed as I explained to two different people why I needed to reach the GI, and it couldn't wait until morning. I gave my call back number, was told that the doctor would be paged and I'd hear back in around a half an hour. In the meantime, I tried to drink more of the mixture, getting up and walking around.
Finally, I heard from the on call GI.
"So you haven't had a single bowel movement?" he asked
"No, not anything." I said, feeling myself blush and rolling my eyes at myself.
He confirmed what I'd feared - that they wouldn't be able to go through with the procedure.
"You're absolutely right in that we will not be able to get clear information at this point." he said.

I silently groaned and dropped my forehead to the cool surface of my desk. Of course not. This was the third time I'd been unable to have the procedure because my prep had failed to work. Lovely, I thought, already dreading having to call and reschedule, listening to the appointments nurse sigh as she went through her system. Then, starting the prep all over again..

"Do you think you would be willing to continue with the prep tomorrow?" the GI's voice cut through my reverie. I lifted my head.

"Um...yes, I think I could do that." I said.

"Because if you could stay on the clear liquid diet, tomorrow you can start the prep again and then have the procedure on Thursday." he said.

"Yes, I can absolutely do that." I assured him.

And that leads to this afternoon, right now, as I prepare the- thankfully different- prep, trying not to think of the evening ahead of me, and hoping that the Powerade, at least, won't be as bad.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The 'What Do' of Changing How You Eat: (Smeeps Crosspost)

For better or for worse, I actually have another blog running side by side (as it were) with this one. It's called Scribbles and Meeps, and it's a less structured blog- I use it kind of as a way to get ideas, questions and general thought processes out of my crowded brain. Indirectly, I use Scribbles and Meeps (Smeeps? Yea, alright)to explore my lack of knowledge on a subject, or to air the questions I have about life in general to the internet world, whether people actually look at it or not.

For awhile now, I've been trying to plan my food for the week ahead of time, and do shopping and cooking and all that jazz.
I have, for the most part, been unsuccessful. Today, on that theme, I found myself writing a post about the difficulties of changing the way you approach food when you frankly have no idea what the hell you're talking about. It occurred to me that this post - surprise- is health related! So, I figure this is a great time to exercise my right to cross post.

The post can be found here.

You want a quote? Well, I thought you'd never ask!

"I, like many people in the world, eat too much junk. I eat out too much, and my food choices need a serious overhaul- I know this. I am aware of it every damn time my stomach gets mad at me after a bad choice, or when my mental energy is shot, or I'm hungry even though I JUST had a really heavy (and probably fattening) 'meal' not an hour and a half ago.

The thing is, I desperately want to change that, in the moments of clarity in the storm of chaos that encompasses life management when you have chronic health issues and a generally 'work in progress' life, I dream of healthier food choices and how they'd change things."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Laziness, Self Doubt and a Loong Metaphor

Let's talk about laziness.

More to the point, let's talk about why people without chronic illness need to keep that word to themselves.

It's an annoying fact that, when you deal with chronic illness, sometimes you just need to take time to do Nothing.

Well, not necessarily nothing, but there are definitely days when I, personally, need to just not move. Sometimes, I need to take some quiet time for myself. These times aren't just therapeutic luxury for me- they're essential. Whether I like it or not, whether I want to or not, I need these times. To heal. To recharge. To find my spoons or count how many I have left.

To be honest, I really hate being the type of person who needs that. To be totally honest, I still struggle with fully accepting it, often to my detriment. It's annoying and inconvenient and you know what? It makes me feel terrible. That last part, though, isn't just my inner healthy person screaming at me to get up and go, go, go. The embarrassment, frustration and feelings of inadequacy as a human being aren't conjured from nowhere.
They exist because, for as long as I can remember, someone in my life has informed me that my behavior is just laziness.

"You're unfocused." they've said,
"You need to realize that life isn't a game."
"You're being irresponsible."
"Get motivated! You can't just hide when things get rough. Be realistic."
"You need to work harder. You aren't putting in enough effort. You aren't getting anywhere. "
"Grow a thicker skin."

Someone in my immediate family put it the most eloquently, though, a few years ago:
"Why don't you actually get up off your fat, lazy, ass and DO something useful?!" she snarled, "You're pathetic, you're such a brat!"

So this is an open letter to anyone who's ever thought (or said) anything like the quotes I just listed:

First of all, you're idiots.
I don't say this with any particular malice- (okay, maybe a teensy bit with that last one; I'm a bit upset with you after all) because we've all been idiots once or twice over the course of our lives so far. But in this case, you need to not be idiots anymore, because every time you open your mouths to say any of that stuff, you're probably hurting someone.
I'll help! There's something you need to know.

Chances are great that we already fight with ourselves about this stuff- and we aren't gentle. So when you start saying all the things you say, you're just adding to the negative stuff we're already fighting with. You think we haven't heard what you're expressing before? We've said it to ourselves before, probably multiple times!
Here's some of what's gone through my mind, after being down and out for a few days this past week:

I shouldn't need this. Normal people can do so much and never stop. Why can't I be one of them? I'm pathetic. What if this is all I am? What if I can never get past this? How do I get past this? It hurts to move and I'm bleeding and the creams I have to put on my skin burn like fire and I can't stand around because I feel queasy just standing, I feel seasick and my abdomen is so sensitive to touch that even my jeans are too much pressure and make me feel like I have to run to the restroom and the steroids I have to take right now to deal with the pain and itch in my skin and the irritation around my eyes that's so bad I can barely open them in the morning is making my heart (which already beats too fast) race, and it all kept me up all night until I passed out exhausted at 6 a.m. to wake up at 9 to go to an appointment. And I should be able to work through that, I should, I know, but I can't, I can't and I'm so sorry. I'm a failure. I'm so sorry I'm this, I'm so sorry I'm me.

"You're unfocused."
I know. I'm trying. But there's so much going on already.
"You need to realize that life isn't a game."
I know it's not a game. This isn't fun for me. I swear I'm not choosing to be this way.
"You're being irresponsible. Get it together."
It's as together as I can get it- I'm trying but I can't do any better than this right now.
"Get motivated! You can't just hide when things get rough. Be realistic."
I'm not hiding! Things were already rough- I used my motivation to get out of the house this morning.
"You need to work harder. You aren't putting in enough effort. You aren't getting anywhere."
...I know I'm not. I know I do. I'm sorry I'm not doing well. I can't make improvements right now- I'm too tired from doing maintenance.
"Grow a thicker skin."

"Why don't you actually get up off your fat, lazy, ass and DO something useful?!"

I...can't. I did.
I'm disgusting. I'm not useless!...
What if I am?

"You're pathetic, you're such a brat!"

No...I try..I do.. I...
But maybe it's not enough.
Maybe you're right.
I am pathetic.


Imagine our lives are a trek across the whole freaking world.

You come up alongside me and casually glance at me. I seem about the same age as you. Same height. We obviously started in the same general part of the world. I look okay, health-wise. I've got a medium sized pack on my back and I'm carrying something- it looks like a super lightweight jacket or cloak- slung over my arm. I've got comfy looking footwear, and seem well equipped, and well fed (I'm obviously getting a good amount of food from somewhere).

You are carrying a large pack. One of the straps is worn so it rubs your right shoulder. Your footwear isn't as nice- it doesn't keep out the rain and there's less arch support. You've been unlucky in trading or hunting for awhile, so you're somewhat underfed. You are really hungry.

But you're making steady progress and have been all day- all week, in fact. It's what you do. You keep moving forward. You keep a good, steady pace.

You see that my pace is slower than yours. Before too long, I stop and sit by a tree. As you pass me, I take out a tiny charcoal and paper and doodle for awhile. Then I get up and seemingly leisurely gather my things before setting off again. By this time, you've crossed another stretch of forest and climbed a hill to reach a small lake, meeting the objective you set for yourself, ahead of schedule, so you decide to watch my progress. It's going to rain, so while you watch me you are also gathering wood to make a shelter for the night.

By the time I get to you, you've started building. I'm out of breath, red in the face, and took two breaks that you saw on my way up.

Looking up at the darkening sky, I set about looking for sticks and branches. I haphazardly form them into an upside down V. They collapse on themselves several times. Seeing this mess unfold before you is too much. You take a moment from digging your protected fire pit to and offer me some precious rope. You don't bring it to me, though. I have to walk over to get it during which my haphazard pile of sticks collapses again.

It still takes forever- partially because I wandered off at one point to sit and scribble on the paper again. In the end, even with the rope, the shelter I build is a sad excuse for cover. It only fits me if I sit, Indian style, curled down slightly, with my pack in my lap, and it certainly won't keep Anything out.

By this time, you have a fire roaring. You are cooking a pheasant that looks like it's starved to death. It starts to rain. I take the thing that was draped over my arm and shake it out, draping it over my little shelter. This takes a few tries. It looks like an old poncho. It seems to do the trick, mostly. I reach into my pack and pull out a big apple. I also pull out a fish wrapped in paper. I offer it to you. You take it and get it cooking.

I eat my apple. Or, I eat three or four bites. They're small and take forever. After those bites, I offer the apple to you. You shake your head and give me a weird look, not moving- why would I offer a partially eaten apple to you?

I shrug, look down at the apple, then take another tiny bite before tossing it away towards the lake.

You look at me, shocked and annoyed beyond reason before heaving yourself up and going out and grabbing the apple off of the grass. You go back under your shelter, muttering to yourself. How could I be so wasteful?! Throwing out perfectly good food? Why don't I know how to do anything right? Why am I so slow? Why am I so lazy?? And who do I think I am, offering you things like you need my charity??

You don't know that I walk slower even though I carry a smaller bag because, not only is my bag heavier than it looks, but I messed up my back when I was little and one side is weaker than the other. I take frequent breaks because I was sick for a long time and have scarring on my lungs and my leg muscles are out of shape. My poncho is heavier than it looks and made of something I'm allergic to but it's all I've got to keep out the rain. I acquired the fish in exchange for one of three apples I was lucky enough to find, but I'm not great at making fire- or cooking meat- so after you gave me rope, I repaid you with the fish as a thank you.
And as for the apple, I couldn't eat much of it because it was too hard for my teeth. I offered it to you before I threw it away because apples are hard to come by, and it was a shame to let one go to waste. Also, I may have seen the way you looked at it when I first took it out.
Noone ever taught me how to make a shelter, and I'm fortunately not meeting the people I'm looking for for four more days somewhere that is only a few miles from where we are.

I don't know about your shoes, or that your pack is super heavy and you're dealing with it, but you dislocated your shoulder awhile back and it's still really uncomfortable to carry that weight. The dull pain soreness from the bad sprained ankle you got the same day you messed up your shoulder doesn't help matters. Still, you do it, because you have to, but by the time you set up camp you are hard pressed to move anything if you don't have to.
I don't know that you are normally a great hunter,  but since you messed up your shoulder and qnkle you've been struggling to find food, since you aren't great at gathering. I don't know how offensive it is to you to be perceived as weak.
You've been this route before, and you've got to meet someone in three days time so you're on a schedule.

The difference between us is that I'm aware that I don't know your story, or what motivates you deep down. I don't know anything about you other than what I've seen, and I know what I've seen isn't nearly enough for me to formulate any opinion about the type of person you are or judge you.

You, though, seem very, very sure that you know everything there is to know about who I am.

Friday, January 9, 2015

And the World Turns Over - A Step Forward and a Kick in the Pants

A New Year and a new start, and all that jazz. Have barely been able to get up and around for the past few weeks, thanks to new stomach and intestinal troubles (hooray).

This post is partially aimed at members of a community I've become somewhat active in. Since they may happen by, looking for an explanation I promised:

HI! Click here for the background story. Sorry it's long.

My living space continues to be a mess- the vicious cycle continues, and I continue to be effected by it- both mentally and physically.

Quite frankly, asking for help in situations like mine is embarrassing. It's humiliating to reach out and say:
"Look, because I've been having huge health issues, I've let my living space get so out of control that I can no longer handle cleaning it myself because the dust alone would be enough to cause an allergic reaction that would leave me down for the count."

But, I did it. I sucked it up and put up an ad, asking for someone to clean and sort things in a VERY messy room. I got answers, and one of them even sounded like a nice human being! Excited and nervous, I responded to her, and long story short, she's coming in 3 days!


Except that now, due to unforeseen expenses (which may or may not include a whopping $100 rent increase), I find myself in a bind. This is essential for so many reasons and NEEDS to be done, but I'm not sure how to come up with the fee without borrowing money from someone.

I really, REALLY don't want to borrow the money from someone.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dog Therapy

Itches, stress, embarrassment and general upset..

But then, at just shy of 3 a.m., I get this face.

And the world shrinks down to the two of us.