Archive for December, 2013

The quiet revolution

Just after pope Benedict resigned from the papacy, I blogged here in agreement with E. J. Dionne in order to do any real good, the church needed to think outside the box and elect a woman to the papacy, arguing that nothing short of turning the organization upside down would effect any real change.  I also blogged here that  early results from Pope Francis were great.

Times’ “Man of the Year” appears well deserving, not for anything in particular that he’s gotten accomplished on the world stage, but for the attitude he brings to the job.  He sees himself as a servant, not as royalty.  He’s anxious to let go of the trappings of the papacy and apply real reform to institutions that need it ( see Vatican Bank ).  And at great risk to himself I would add.  Any time you start talking reform and the result is that corrupt individuals are no longer going to be benefiting, you’re messing with fate.  Just ask Ethel Kennedy.

Most importantly, his focus is right.  He hasn’t significantly brought about reform of any kind yet … but he has softened the church stance somewhat on gays and Christianity ( “who am I to judge? ” ), and he rightfully reminds people when it comes to birth control, abstinence, celibacy for priests “We don’t need to talk about these things all the time.”

That is an incredibly powerful message.  This is the point I was trying to make in my earlier post about Francis.  No, he hasn’t changed his mind on the ‘official’ laws on something yet, but we have more pressing things to worry about right now than to be talking about contraception all day long.  Yeah, it’s on my list but it’s 79th.

It’s easy to over-simplify these things, but in my mind there are two basic camps of Christians in the catholic church.  You have your group led by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League who run around using fear tactics to justify every archaic rule that’s ever been invented by man… and then you have your second group which is more focused on social justice issues like income equality, housing for the poor, feeding the poor, health care for all, etc.  There are quite a few Catholics who get this and roll up sleeves and get to work on behalf of the poor and have been ignoring Rome for decades.  Now they don’t have to anymore because they have a friend in Rome who has the same mind-set as they do.

I believe this is a quiet revolution that, if given some time, has the potential to turn the Catholic church into something that many people will come to admire.  Prior to Francis, the only news from the church was bad news.  More child molestation charges and more instances of the pontiff in chief making sure that the rules of the church didn’t change on his watch.

But you really need no more proof than watching Rush Limbaugh go off on a rant calling Francis a Marxist.  The rule of thumb that I go by is, anything that pisses off Rush Limbaugh is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seeing the forest for the trees

I don’t often procrastinate, but there are a few exceptions. Going to the doctor is one of them. I think it might help if they’d skip that first step of having to step on the scale with all my clothes on and get weighed, but that’s a topic for another post.

There’s very little that I enjoy about the experience. The front end people treat everyone as if they are incapable of knowing anything, and requests to forward information to at least the Dr.’s nurse are summarily denied because ‘they know better’ and the request was somehow non-standard.

The nurse shows up and takes the vitals and maybe asks a few questions, which get written down. Then the Doctor shows up ( yay, finally ), and he knows nothing about any previous conversations or documentation that was written down. Glad you’re here to save the day, doc. Sure, I’ll start over, why not?

If the problem is outside needing some codeine cough medicine, I get referred to a specialist ( great, another appointment, but I have to go through this clown to see anyone else ). No thought goes into the questions asked, so not much is revealed. He looks in my ears, taps on my sinus areas, feels my feet for swelling ( same shit he did for the last 50 patients ), and then sends me on my way to the pharmacist with possibly a referral to go see someone who really knows what he’s talking about.

One time I tried to be proactive about bringing up weight management as I find that is getting more difficult in my old age. Nothing. Watch your quantities. Really? Is it that simple? Just go on the “Eat Less Food Diet?” Why didn’t I think of that? When can I come back for more advice?

Last week I had a very unusual medical event take place during work hours. I was working from home as I usually do and trying to hold a conversation with my boss on the phone. In the middle of talking to him I lost vision in my right eye. “Hold on”, I said. “I think I might have a medical issue here.”

I proceeded to get up and walk around and a couple of minutes later my vision returned, but I was spooked by the event just the same. The first concern I had was stroke, but I didn’t want to over-react. In talking to my relatives who are in the medical field in the Seattle area, I decided to make the appointment and not risk it. Better safe than sorry.

So I call the Dr.’s office and make an appointment. He’s off today. Really? It’s Thursday. Okay, what do you have on Friday? I can come in on Friday at 1:30. Okay, should be fun.

By Friday I’ve also contracted a really nasty flu virus ( quite coincidentally ), and am in need of some cough syrup and whatever else helps a person get through the flu. So I go in the doctor and I get weighed ( screw it, I’m leaving my shoes on, I don’t care what it says this time, I’m not here to talk about that ), and go through the usual routine with the nurse.

The good doctor finally shows up and sets me down in the corner chair opposite where he is sitting, noisy keyboard and terminal in front of him. “So are you here to get your blood pressure checked again?”

“Well, no I.. CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK had this awful thing happen with my CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK right eye.” You see last Thursday CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK … At that point I realized that I wasn’t having a conversation with anyone. I was talking to a wall and some idiot was trying to type in my words and make some sense of it all before sending me off with my cough medicine. 20 minutes later I leave pissed off with a prescription for cough meds + 2 referrals, one to an eye doctor ( I don’t need his referral to see him ) and another to the hospital to get someone to do an ultrasound of my neck. It’s Friday at 5pm by the time I get home. I don’t have time to deal with this shit now and besides, nobody is open for any of these appointments over the weekend. I’ll deal with it on Monday.

Sunday rolls around and the flu is an order of magnitude worse. I mean my head hurts, big time, and I’m coughing up a lung. It had been a long night so I planned to just get up and see what I could salvage from my day. I got downstairs and started doing some basic kitchen duty and then I felt kind of dizzy. Then really dizzy. And then I hit the floor. THUD. For the first couple of minutes on the floor the room above me was moving all around, spinning out of control. I knew something bad had just happened but there wasn’t anything I could do. I yelled for my wife but she was upstairs in bed, unable to hear me. I rolled over to my stomach and then the crazy dizziness slowed down some and I was able to crawl over to my cell phone. I called her and thankfully she picked up and came down to help me. We crawled over to the couch and I worked my way up to a sitting position on the cough pretty shaken about what had just happened.

I had two thoughts. The first was stroke. The second was vertigo, somehow related to this flu I was having. Since I was at the peak of my flu experience, I was hoping for the latter. Nevertheless I resolved to get back to my brilliant doctor to gain his incredible insight into this situation — only this time I was bring my wife with me. Of course it’s Sunday and he doesn’t work on Sunday’s either. Sure, I’ll wait.

At this point I”m feeling one step above doggy dung and I looked the part. I couldn’t sit straight.
I could barely talk. The flu is a nasty, nasty flu and it was causing me discomfort in so many ways and yet I had these other problems too that I needed checked out.

Lucky for me they were able to get me in at 1:30 on Monday for yet another appointment with Dr. Brilliance. His first observation? I haven’t gained any weight since last Friday. Really? Is that what we’re here to talk about doc?

So I take the position of honor over in the corner and go through the ask a question try to give a response for a period of time before I takes another look in my ear, puts the stethoscope to my back, checks my feet for swelling and sends me on my way with another prescription and a few more referrals. On the way out he closes with me, reminding me that my blood pressure and weight were pretty much the same as last time, which was last Friday. Thank you!

Turns out I could do two of the referral appointments on Tuesday ( Christmas Eve ) at 4pm and 5:30 respectively. The first was for an ultrasound of my neck. I guess they were looking for occlusion or any other reason that blood may not be flowing to my brain. I asked the technician how it went after a fairly lengthy test and he thought the doctor would be fairly happy with the result, but couldn’t guarantee anything. Off to do an MRI.

So I get all hooked up to go into the Iron Lung and nobody bothered to communicate with me about how long I’d be in there. 1 minute? 10? 20? All I knew is that if I coughed ( and I sure needed to ), the test might have to start over. I was in there for a long, long time. 20 minutes seemed like 4 hours to me, especially when I needed to cough, but finally I get out. Whew, I can go home now. I’m tired, hungry, and I got all of these necessary pain the ass procedures out the way so I can relax now.

As I headed out of the room a new doctor who I ‘d never met, greets me in the hallway and starts asking how long I’d been having a hard time. “Do I know you?” “You’ve had a stroke”, he said. “I what?”

Now I’m in disbelief. He further counsels me to go straight to the ER and get admitted. I was wondering how bad it was, what was next, surgery? I’m not sure I’ve even come to grips with it yet, 24 hours later.
I felt fine. My vertigo symptoms had pretty much disappeared from Sunday. I was walking on my own. No other symptoms. I could talk fine. No paralysis. What was this guy talking about?

Once in the ER waiting room I get hooked to all of the instrumentation ( I’m still finding sticky patches to pull off my body ) and an diagnosed with hypertension. Blood pressure is 210/110. Can’t go home until that’s fixed. 4 hours later, they decide to do an XRAY because my cough doesn’t sound too good. Too much wheezing. They suspect pneumonia and that is confirmed by the XRAY.

So for all my trouble of going to see Dr. Brilliance, he got nothing right. This is not surprising. You can’t tell how bad of shape your patient is in if you’re looking at your keyboard and screen.

I have a suggestion for a new flow-chart, doc. LOOK at your patient. If he looks like SHIT, then something is wrong.

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