Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Burning Truths & Guineas

 I have siblings.
Together we share parents each of whom have cardiac issues. We will soon lose our mother to this  illness or it's side effects. Our dad is otherwise in reasonable health and has a new edition pacemaker.  We hope to enjoy him a few more years. Maybe another decade?

During one of Mama's touch and go hospitalizations, her cardiologist looked at those of us gathered around the bedside and asked this question, " You have each had a cardiac evaluation and baseline stress test, right"? I am sure we looked like a bobble head line up . None of us bobbled affirmatively. He glanced toward our stricken mother then flipped her chart open while saying, " Didn't your grandmother suffer from congestive heart failure too"?  She did.  Before Doc Cardio left the room he illuminated  the genetic probabilities for us.

As far as I can  remember we didn't much comment on these illuminations.
None of  whipped out our cell phones to schedule stress tests either.

Now that I am the official siblings test guinea I can tell the others to come out of  the shadows and step onto the treadmill. It won't kill you. Or hurt you. Really, scouts honor and hope to spit.

Rarely do the waiting room brochures describe your upcoming experiences. That is surely why God invented siblings.

I will admit to a wee twinge of anxiety when they started an IV so not once, but twice, I could have radioactive material injected into my bloodstream. I might have asked about the " first do no harm" idea but the folks doing this part of the prep were not docs and who knows what oaths they utilize? At least the IV got started on the first stick and not the sixth.

Following this introduction they process you into a room where  one technician , one Nuclear Cardiology PA, one treadmill and a CPR cart are  standing by. No question these folks are knowledgeable pros who do their best to explain things clearly to prevent anxiety. They did mention the need to attach a dozen or so electrodes to my chest.  They did NOT mention the need to  first sandpaper my skin to improve adherence of the electrodes being attached.  Okay, this was a bit uncomfortable but not unlike a dozen skinned knees. Nothing
noteworthy. It's not even hard to be still and not itch the sandpapered areas while they take your vitals and  do a baseline EKG before "getting started".

Following this they explain the treadmill, 12% incline at blah-blah speed to get the cardio beats per minute above 140 for a sustained period. The EKG machine records cardiac function under stress and then later an imaging machine allows them to see how well my radioactive injected blood was making the journey through my coronary arteries. Okay. Clever technology to make my blood radioactive so it could be seen without need for scalpels.

They had no  cheerful 12 pack cutie standing by to encourage me to " go for the burn" because, trust me, the burn will get there. My daily hour with wii advanced step aerobics is not even vaguely similar to this treadmill routine. I had muscle burns everywhere . Everywhere.  And then there was the breathing. That loud, labored sucking noise was indeed coming from me.  Twenty years ago , following the great neck breaking debacle, I was forbidden to ever more do any activity which bounces my neck. I have not jogged or run a  single step since then. I have not swum laps since moving to the Pond as I do not bathing suit in public. While I do "power walk" and wii, these mild maintenance protocols are not aerobic workouts. It was not pretty. I was a burning, sweat soaked, air sucking mess trying desperately to not end up face down on a treadmill.  The "team" chattily tell you  everything is fine when your brain is telling you it's time to fall on your knees and repent .  They also tell you they will continue to measure  cardio  function during the  "recovery" from the treadmill exertions.  Right. As if you could actually  hear what they say with that much wooshing in your ears.

The next part is down the hall to spend half an hour getting your coronary arteries imaged. The fact the machine looks like a 007 set where men with metal teeth try to kill you is irerelevant.  It's just a machine and  while it looks like it is going to crush any remaining breath from your tortured lungs, it actually doesn't touch you at all.  You 'get' to return 2.5 hours later to repeat the images.

Not hard in any way.
Unless you have a hard time being still. Or going hungry for 16 hours. They let you know results in 24 hours if they are normal, they call your doc if results are not. 

My results: NORMAL.
No cardiac issues found.
No valve issues.
No compression issues.
No vascular issues.
NORMAL  :- )

So maybe I have dodged a genetic bullet.
What I cannot dodge is this eye opening reality.
Get in shape NOW. It does not get easier as you add years.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Making the Effort

You know  the saying,
 " it isn't if you win or lose, it's how you play the game which counts"?
I do not agree with this. Just a quick review of the days headlines  will smack you upside the head with a reality check. Right, lots of examples of how you can play by the rules and lose everything while the bad guys get paid bonuses to steal your future. Then of course we can get totally stressed and confused with the scarey notions of staving off de-flation by forcing in-flation. Right.
Sadly, we did this to ourselves by returning to power those who have forgotten the people they are elected to serve. I know, Pollyanna again.

In a recent conversation a wise friend mentioned her viewpoint about  how this November is critical to our nations survival. Wiseone believes if Americans do not oust incumbents then we are doomed. A clean sweep is my idea of marvelous but not all agree with me.  And I get her point, if daily headlines are insufficient to move voters off their sofas? What then can we expect.

I talked with another friend  asking if our nation unravels where would he go? The response was deliberately vague leading me to wonder if he does indeed have a spot picked out. Or purchased?
What was interesting to me is this. Five years ago had I asked this question I would have been laughed out of acceptance. Now, the question is never a surprise and answers are cagey. " Not sure, you"? or
" my decision is as unstable as the Euro".  Does this mean the relocation isn't European or is it simply meant to divert the conversation?

On a recent longish drive I gave some thought to:  if this could happen how?
How much money could be realized from  liquidating all assets and would it be enough to live elsewhere to my end? Unknown. And, where is better? Can I resolve to live in a dirt floor hut reeking of bug spray and draped in netting to prevent malaria?

 Not likely.

Some images are not funny.  At the top of the cartoon dollar  do you see what it says?
 "Federal Reserve Note". Since we have no Federal Reserves will newly printed paper money say at the top , " Federal Debt Certificate"?  Is this our reality? Years ago I remember my grandmother having a fit about money. She ranted about the time when the government switched from " Silver Certificates" to "Federal Reserve Note".  Her story was the government gave citizens a deadline for exchanging their old silver certificates for the notes. She hotly contested this because one was a guarantee of value backed by silver, the other "just a damn lie". She defined this time as a government take over of private wealth and she hated those notes. She saved a bunch of silver cerificates and later in life, when her income was shrinking while expenses were increasing she took her silver certificates out of storage to cash then in at a bank. Where they told her they were expired and of no value any more. "Nonsensical!" she huffed, "this is guaranteed by the United States government and I want the full value of these from the date of issue". Her demands went unmet and her wrath at the government unrelenting.  Did I learn the lesson I should have learned from this oft told family story? Maybe. Or not.

What I am certain of is my inability to grasp the complexities of today's shifting monetary games. I am equally certain I should make the effort. So this morning I fired up the computer and set out to learn more. I read quite a bit, studied charts and graphs, visited the economic dictionary, etc. What I  learned is questionable. What I earned was a masive headache. I headed outdooors for an exercise cure .

Three hours later, at 100% personal humidity,  I headed indoors for a shower and some lunch. I turned on the flat screen for diversion and to my surprise rapidly became immersed in the story of Temple Grandin. It is a wonderful story.  The acting of both Clare Danes and Julia Ormand  were brilliant.  Temple is the daughter of a Harvard graduate who refused to have her then 4 year old daughter institutionalized for what was  called " Infantile Schizophrenia" and is now called "Autism". Temple has a PhD, teaches, writes, revolutionized an industry. She accomplished amazing things at amazing odds.

Watching this movie made me aware of how comfortable we get with the known, the perfected, the understood and how stressed we feel when we are outside that comfort. Like my research of things monetary this morning. But what if every aspect of life was outside your comfort zone? Even speaking or touching? And yet, isn't it astonishing what we ask of those who are " different but not less"?  Do we ask as much from those who are not different? Or ourselves? Not often.

So now I have said to myself, " Okay Fishy, let's say you are autistic about Math , Money, Economics. That you have spent your entire adult life being right brained which you have tried to balance by  purchasing left brain time or skills from others. Too bad, it is now time to go thru that door and learn what defeats you, learn that which busts your head with pain, learn to not be left brain lazy and to make the effort".

 Because it is about who wins and who loses and why.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Practicing "No"

Hello, is this Mrs. Fishy?


Mrs Fishy,  we are calling to inquire if you would like to donate your skills and talents to our church fundraiser again this year.

Actually no, I think it's time for others to take a turn .

Mrs. Fishy, we really do pray for guidance in our committees and it would be so very difficult to report back to the others our prayers are unanswered.

Perhaps you should revise your prayer.

I'm sorry, I am not certain I heard you correctly.

You probably did but I can be even more clear,
I will not be donating my time and talent . Please refrain  from attempting to guilt me into acceptance.
Peace be to you and good bye.

Fishy, it's me Melly, did you blow off Mrs. W about the fundraiser?

Hi Melly, haven't heard from you since last time you wanted something.

Fishy, this year our theme is  a Rio destination. Think of all the excitement generated by Carnivale. It will be a great theme for creative expression, I know you  don't want to miss this opportunity to shine and serve.

No, and I can hardly think of a less suitable subject for a church fundraiser than Carnivale.

Come on, you know we will just call you later in absolute desperation the last week and you will relent because of your good heart and then you will have missed the fun and just have  showed up for the stress.  Don't do it this way. Give of your time and talent as God intended you to do. It is in fighting God's will that we suffer.

Listen Melly, serve that dish  to someone else. We both know God's will and yours are not one and the same. Well, at least one of us does, you have always been a bit questionable.

 I, for one,  have learned to give myself over to God's will Fishy,  I urge you to find that path.

What you urge most in this world is your own bidding wrapped up in faux spirits.

Alright Fishy, if you are going to persist in being difficult I will be forced to go to our Pastor and ask him to pray for you.

He's already prays for me, I am part of his flock.

You certainly don't sound like a memeber of the flock. I mean if you were serious about being a true part of our flock you would not be getting these phone calls prodding you to do the right thing.

Melly, you can turn thaat cattle prod on yourself and leave me alone. Hope your day is a fine one, bye.

Fishy! for God's sake did you tell Melly and Mrs. W you would not help with the Rio fundraiser?


Unaccetable! I am putting you on my committee, we will be meeting next Tuesday.

I won't be there.

Nonsense!  You have a conscious and a fine soul. Time for you to give back some of that talent God gave you and I might add, with a bit more willing spirit would be a good thing.

How much is the bet?

Lunch at Lolly's

The good news is you still get to lunch at Lolly's, the bad news is you will be the one paying. I have to go now, but seriously could you tell the others I will not be volunteering this year and to stop calling me?

Why the devil are you so difficult  about this Fishy? Whatever  is getting your goat cast it aside woman!

Bye. Luck. Peace.