Sunday, April 28, 2013


I had an appointment this week with a specialist in Rheumatology in nearby BigCity. The "first available" appointment was about 5 weeks from date of referral.  That is 5 weeks of "what-iffing" and other anxieties.
Because Arthritis killed my Mother and, my favorite Great Aunt, I have a solid understanding of what was, or was not, the typical path of this illness. The truth is the fate of my Mother and the fate of my Aunt were very similar. Even with 30 years of medical advances and research between them , these largely proved ineffective in all areas except pain management. Progression of this illness is "managed" better by therapies and medications but every step of progress has a counter step. Doctors can prescribe COX2 inhibitors but they might cause heart damage. Then too, you can take these with yet another prescription to protect your stomach and then must take 3 more supplements to protect from skeletal damage caused by the stomach med!  Great.  They might prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation but this repeated protocol will cause Diabetes. Ultimately my ancestors  march from orthopedic shoes-to- cane-to-walker-to-wheelchair-to-hospital bed was not arrested. 

I am not interested in following in their wheels.

The early news is preliminary blood work has ruled out rheumatoid factors and Lupus. This is very good news as I have tested positively for Lupus off and on since my 20's. It was a relief for this specialist to say assuredly "you do not have" an entire spectrum of illnesses. Since I began the first 6 weeks of 2013 as a patient with the Spinal Rehabilitation Center I knew the degeneration and arthritis in my spine was permanent The good news is we have a "musculo-skeletal" system and my "musculos" have long been well developed and maintained. One of the referral reasons was to determine if there is also a "musculo" illness lurking. Still unknown but I am hopeful  these results will also be negative. At least the primary suspect for this "musculo" issue does not destroy muscle, tendons, ligaments, it just makes them all  hurt. 

I return next month for evaluation two. 
I suspect I will again be told  that I do have several different types of arthritis , one type in my spine and another one  in major joints and yet a third in my hands which is typically caused by endocrine disorders. The recommendations will likely be about awareness, body mechanics and pain/inflammation management. I  fully understand the enemy is within and this is the battle for Fishy. I am actually an optimist so  am praying for the best results possible and invite you all to join me.

Yesterday was a gray, rainy, cold, icky day so Blowfish and I cancelled our plans to clean out the Garage and went instead to a movie. We saw Olympus Has Fallen. As usual, we do not agree on the message.
I actually think there is one where Blowfish does not. Or to be clear he finds the message is: box office profits soar with each explosion , each fist to plexus and every gun discharge. I think the message is: a call to awareness of our extreme peril.  Maybe it's because we do not go to the movies very often, or maybe because I truly am Pollyanna, but this movie is tremendously upsetting on many levels. 

Note: If you plan to see this movie stop reading this post now.

First there is the violence. Lots and lots of it  shown in a most disturbing way.  There is plenty  of hand to hand combat and up close shooting. The camera positions portray the carnage in a way that is intimate. Like you are experiencing the effect of having just placed a gun to a head and spattered gray matter all over the wall. In many of the shots, in the last possible fraction of a second, the lead character is no longer  the visual buffer between you and the terrorist in the White House. There is that last look in the eyes before the bang and the splatter. 

I had quite the gut flip watching a huge, weapons modified, cargo plane wreak havoc on Washington's finest architecture. I was horrified by the portrayal of the ease of the capture of the White House. Here was  employed a mixed use of our history and psychic traumas by flying planes through our symbols of  freedom and democracy and, by having the  Asian enemy in the White House, as a diplomatic entourage, at the time of the  attack.

I thought the music was not too good,  far too loud, actually distracting.
I thought the one man as hero  metaphoric. 
I thought the military brass and political decision makers portrayed as spineless idiots metaphoric too.

What terrified me the most?

The threat of being able to destroy world balance with a few computer keystrokes.
All the mayhem was about physical access to computers in the White House bunker.

I watched an interview with Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google.
He has a new book out addressing his visions of how the digital age will shape the future of individuals, nations and business.  Some of the things Schmidt said:
* the speed of computing has, and will continue to, override man. 
* personal privacy is already a myth
 There are  dossiers on all of us compiled by the combination of our  computer and credit card use and the gps data from our smart phones. By the way, this  data  is already being used to influence us by which pop up ads appear on our computers and by the hierarchy of data we receive on our "devices".
* Children will need to be taught defensive "digital privacy"  at an early age.
  (just think how easy it will be to brainwash an entire culture, not just a generation,  by controlling all the data they receive)
* Not surprising was the casual admission "cyber security" cannot be achieved.

We have all  lived through " The Great American Swindle" where by the good have been villified, stolen from and punished while the greedy and unscrupulous have been rewarded and applauded. All of that, and so much more, can revisit us as a nation,  or personally, in our homes, our bank accounts, even if our cars will start. We have lost. Being a keystroke from destruction is not virtual, it is real. 

It has occurred to me that this week has been united in it's message.
The enemy is within.
God help us all.

Friday, April 12, 2013

See No Evil

It will come as no surprise to many of you  if I mention Blowfish is a man of opinions. He is a man who grew up on Staten Island with jobs as early as age 8. I think his first job was as an assistant on his Uncle Frank's milk route or as the delivery "runner" for another Uncle's butcher shop. Later as a  gofer for various enterprises. As a teen he had Summer jobs as a life guard on the beaches and in Winter as the parking jockey for the ferry to Manhatten. In each of these jobs there was an expectation for promptness, reliability, manners and a presentation of self which would pass his mother's keen inspections.

He earned habits which have lasted a lifetime. It is rare to ever see this man in an untucked shirt, or unkempt hair, or scuffed shoes.
(I might just mention there is no human and no machine which could ever shine a boot better than Blowfish). His truck is always clean, he would never leave home with a bed unmade,  he carries a nail clipper in his pocket and his shirt collars stand as erect as any diplomats.

Every year when Spring emerges and temperatures rise, Blowfish gets a bit cranky.
The public starts shedding  layers of clothing thus exposing that which should not be seen.  At least  in public.  When Blowfish comes home at the end of his day I am the recipient of what I call "The Evening Flesh Report" which is this man's vocalized outrage at the presentation of flesh he would have rather not seen.
He feels violated.
" What is the matter  with these people Fishy! Have they no pride?"
" More likely no manners and no mirrors."
" Oh no! They all have mirrors. They like to admire their own tattoos! Clearly they want the world to as well.
It is clear to me decency is over"
" Don't look".
" How am I to do that if it is out there?  Is modesty history too?"
"For some time now."

Blowfish was slamming things. A rare event. But as he was fetching a bottle from the wine fridge, fetching the wine opener from the cabinet and selecting glasses to go with the wine he was slamming doors as a way to punctuate his outrage.

" Today I saw the personals of a  woman I do not know.  I saw her tattoo arching over the great divide. I saw that  she is not a natural blond. I saw her purple sequined underwear with no fabric just a waistband.Why did she do this to me? I am a graphic designer which makes me a very visual person!"

Trying to maintain a straight face I asked,
" Did you know they make purple sequined thong underwear for men too?"
" Those are not men."
" Well, I gather this stranger whom you now know personally was not presenting a fit, young visual?"
" Fishy, you know I do not find this funny. It is true, like any man, I would rather my gaze fell upon beautiful  young flesh than wizened older flesh but in all sincerity I wish women would cover up. Men too. I am sick of seeing young men with their pants at half mast , their heads shaved and their  arms looking like the comic strips."

" Maybe you should run for office. Clearly there are far more important things to outlaw than Big Gulps."

"Okay. So Bloomberg picked the wrong battle. What happened to the laws about indecent exposure? In my life guarding days there were not signs on the beach which said, 'Dress your fat!' but there was an expectation for people to not force others to see what should not be seen. Back in the day, there was a standard to be upheld. Laugh at you want but 'decency" was admired not scoffed over. No decent person would be showing so much flesh. We lifeguards saw everything and nothing I saw then compared with the offensive  visions of today. Back in the day the "tattoo woman" was part of the Straits shows.

"I am quite certain 'back in the day' there were older women with their  ta-tas exposed and those in bikinis who looked like advertisements for cellulite therapies  and didn't speedo jokes start in the fifties? I agree we see far more than we should. Haven't we always? The good news is the fitness craze. At least the ones you see who are looking prime are on the rise too."

" Fishy, you are being deliberately obtuse.  There are people  out there of every body type showing too much body!  Some of them are fit but I see more of the ones with rolls of fat on display. The Michelin man looks slim by comparison. I am not judging these people because they are obese. I am saying if you have that issue do not put on your skimpies and go forth for the unsuspecting to see it!"

Barely pausing for a sip he rushed on,

" There  are women  older than me who are out in public in what looks like pink and black skin with running shoes to match.  It's great they are in shape but they are barely more than nekked. The Bond women showed less! I saw a woman at the grocers yesterday in a scandalous tennis costume and thought,

'How am I going to unsee this? '

Laughing and topping off his wine glass I asked,
" How is it  you could be a professor in an art college,  in Florida, where most of the students were half naked, chocked full of riotous  hormones and  were busy living and illustrating  every coming of age pang  without you having  these issues? "

" Because Fishy that was normal!   Kids coming of age is always normal. Once you reach the age of maturity you are suppose to stay grown!   Thank God my teaching days were before this trend to show it all, pierce it all and ink it all."

Watching Blowfish in a flap about something does have an entertainment value. At least for me.  Laughing at this man divesting himself of the days horror  the imp in me wondered if there was space on those purple sequined man thongs for a monogram?