Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's All About the Money

I like to read. And although I enjoy fiction, I find that what really holds my interest are books that lead to some sort of outcome on my part, be it self-help and spiritual("Your Best Life Now" by Joel Osteen; "Secrets of the Vine" by Bruce Wilkinson), or books on nutrition and healing ("Prescription for Nutritional Healing" and "Prescription for Herbal Healing" by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC). I even adore certain cookbooks, such as Sophia Loren's "Recipes and Memories" (this is really just a lovely book with Italian peasant meals much like the ones I grew up with...but what makes this book wonderfully special are her various stories about her family and her enjoyable accounts of her lifetime experiences that seem to coincide with each recipe at hand). However, the book I just started reading, from what I've read so far up to Chapter Three, could've been written by me, myself, and I. I am aware that it's controversial. It's called "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About", by Kevin Trudeau. I'm sure some of you scoff just hearing his name.

Well, I don't. I believe him. Drugs are big business, there is no doubt. Take, for example, the advertisements for prescription drugs that NOW HAVE COMMERCIALS ON NATIONAL TELEVISION. You sure wouldn't have seen that twenty years ago. The list of side effects that they have to announce alone makes you wonder how desperate someone is to get to sleep or have some sex (more on the latter later). I actually started laughing when one of the prescription sleep drug ads warned consumers to contact their doctor if they experienced any of the following: Talking in their sleep, walking in their sleep or driving in their sleep. Yes, driving. So apparently, the FDA knows that certain people who take this sleeping pill may, in fact, get into their car wearing their nightcap and their puffy-eye gel blinders, and go for a joyride at the expense of innocent people everywhere while counting sheep at the same time. But an herbal "sleepy" tea has to have a warning attached to it that it is not approved by the FDA. My goodness.

And back to that sexual "magic" pill that of course was approved by the mostly-male FDA with no problem: Viagra. I can almost just hear them in the boardroom now...

"How much money do you think we can make off of a pill that guarantees a man an erection?? I mean, this stuff is so powerful that they might have a woody for four or five hours...but who wouldn't love that?!? And, okay, obviously most of the population that requires erectile help consists of older gentlemen who are probably on some sort of heart meds, but hey! We'll put a small warning on there not to take nitro glycerin at the same time that they decide to get frisky. When it comes to the more important organ, you know the penis will win out over the heart every time!"

I'm sorry, but to me, any organization that will approve a drug that will give a man an erection over an herb that may cure certain diseases for life is just not respectable. And I have touted this opinion for several years now, even before I started reading Kevin Trudeau's book (and a footnote here: I don't even know if he delves into Viagra. As I said, I've only gotten to Chapter Three).

Twenty-two years ago my mother died in our house. The attending physician was a new associate to our longtime family physician, who just so happened to be on vacation at the time of her death (he loved my parents, and would've been there for them in a heartbeat). I had never met this new associate, but when I spoke to him on the phone, he gave me all the comfort that I could ask for: "I don't want you to worry about a thing; if she needs more morphine to help her to not die in pain, I'll prescribe it. No matter what time of day or night that you need me, I will be at your house." What he offered to do for us was so generous...I knew this doctor was special.

Well, yes, he was special, and he was also adorable and right out of med school. After my mom's death, every ache and pain I had of course meant cancer of some major organ. "Dr. M" tolerated my bi-monthly visits with grace and aplomb, and was always understanding and kind, no matter how crazy my imagined ailment may have been. But let's fast forward about twenty years.

I still see Dr. M. Most of my family has given up on him...they said he spends one minute with them, prescribes them some new, fabulous med, and shoves them out the door. For some reason, he really does spend time with me and my brother; I'm assuming it's because we were two of his first patients, but I'm also assuming that it may have something to do with my mom being one of the first deaths he attended to. As much as I adore Dr. M., I had noticed in the past couple of years that he was way too "gung ho" about handing me samples of new drugs, and a prescription for them as well. Anti-depressants were his cure-all to everything. After he realized that I would take the samples, read the contraindications and throw the pills out, he started to beat me to it and throw the inserts out right in front of me, and then hand me the sample, stating that he really wanted me to take the pill and that it would help me; I shouldn't waste my time reading about all the side effects that most likely wouldn't happen to me.

Well, of course, being the great skeptic that I am, I started to doubt that Dr. M. was caring about my well-being at all. It really seemed like he was trying to make some sort of "sale"! It was just about this time that a friend of mine began working in his office. She told us that there was not one day she had to buy lunch because every single day of the week, lunch was catered in by one of the pharmaceutical sales reps! And I thought to myself...why? It started to become crystal clear to me just how corrupt this business of "healing" people was. No one was "healing" anyone. They were merely treating symptoms with various drugs, and apparently getting some sort of "kickback"...they didn't care what the cause of anyone's ailment was, or if it could be treated with something a little more natural. As long as the patients were sick, the doctors could benefit. If they were healthy, the doctors couldn't make a dime. It became all about the money.

What really clinches things for me are nursing homes. Not only was my dad in one; my work takes me into a very prestigious facility almost weekly to volunteer with my developmentally disabled individuals. What I have witnessed is frightening. When I asked to see my dad's med sheet, there were two pages of meds listed that he was taking. What was sad was that some of the meds were given solely to counteract symptoms caused by the other meds. What was even sadder was that my dad basically didn't even know where he was, and slept through most of his day. This is a quality of life?

When I volunteer at the nursing home in my area (where the minimal cost per month is $13,000 per patient), all I see are people sleeping through the remainder of their lives, being woken up only to take their meds and to get bathed. It really does make you wonder who is benefitting here. Certainly not the families of the patients, who have to watch them dying a slow death, sometimes for years. And most certainly not the patients themselves, who are so far gone they have no say in their own lives anymore--and they are so drugged up, they don't even care. No, I'm sorry, but the only people who stand to benefit anything at all from situations like this are the owners of the nursing home, the drug companies, the pharmaceautical companies that supply bandages, gauze, syringes, etc...and even Kimberly-Clark! There's not one nursing home patient who doesn't wear Depends. This is not speculation; this is the truth as witnessed from my own eyes.

I don't know where all the craziness will end. As a matter of fact, I don't believe it will end at all in my lifetime. It seems as though the world now worships money and power more than God Himself; I've even heard people try to reason that what they're doing is the "right" thing because they stand to make money off of it; meanwhile, what they are doing may only stand to hurt someone else. And to them, that's okay, as long as they see the green. I don't understand this way of thinking, and I don't think I ever will.

In the words of the dying, melting, Wicked Witch of the West: "OH, what a world, what a world!"

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened...

Funny things happen to me when I "vent" on my blogs. Any time I'm being the slightest bit negative, or sharing personal stories that I really need to keep to myself, things happen all around me that let me know that what I'm doing is...well...not exactly the best way to go about it. I seem to be reminded time and time again that this is not the blog I originally started...a blog that was more positive, and not a "venting venue" for all of my personal struggles. I enjoyed my blogging in the previous year a lot more than I do now. I was sort of reminded of this in the past week.

After creating another blog for the "darker" posts (which really aren't "dark" at al
l...they're just me whining....oops, I mean venting), I discovered that that blog was just as easy to locate on the internet as my "Comforter" blog. It wasn't hidden. Which meant that anyone could find it just by entering my name on "Google" (my advice for anyone who doesn't have a blog and is considering creating one...DON'T use your full name anywhere in your blog if you don't want to be "Googled." Not even on your profile. They will find you). My blog and personal information came right up on the first page, and the second as well. This is very scary to me...especially considering the fact that I just posted an article about a man who wronged me who will be permanently out of jail next month. Not a brilliant move on my part.

But besides all that, I've been starting to allow myself to fall down that slippery slope of negativity. It wasn't just apparent in my posts; my whole family has made various comments over the last month about my "depressed" attitude. I'm not exactly sure why I seem "depressed"; I'm so very thrilled about my successful surgery, and I had no idea a month ago how wonderful I'd be feeling right now. Years of health issues and fatigue caused by organs that didn't funtion properly are now in the past; at this moment, I feel like I could conquer the world. My guess is that since I've been home from work, I have no routine, and I am definitely a person who operates a whole lot better with one (of course, this has nothing to do with my disorganization...however, I do like to know that things will happen at the same time every day or will go about in the same way every day, even if it means the same mess will appear in the sink every night by 6:30pm).

Or perhaps it's because of a whole host of other problems, stemming from money to family issues. I really don't know. But what I do know is that being negative has not helped me move one step closer to anything I hope to accomplish in life, whether it's something big like moving to the country, or something small, like just being the best person I could be (maybe I have those juxtaposed, actually. It could be a very "big" thing to be a forgiving, kind person, and God only knows if I'll actually ever move that's not such a big deal right now).

After posting on my other blog about a not-so-nice family situation, I received some very positive comments from people, one of whom I didn't even know (thanks,
Sue). I was reminded that my position in life as a woman who follows the teachings of Christ is to practice forgiveness at every turn. It's not for the other person; it's for me and my own peace of mind. Simply Me is always there for me to explain the psychological aspects of why people behave the way they do, and helped me to understand where certain people were coming from from a "mental" point of view. This in itself helps me to release those angry feelings, and to bring on a more sympathetic outlook. And really, it does feel so much better not to be angry. Actually, it gives me almost a feeling of power to be able to let go of the family drama. Just to take a step back, and let everyone else deal with the nonsense, the unkindness, and most of all, the lies. I do know my truth. And no matter what anyone says or what anyone believes, nothing can change the truth.

So with that, I have decided to delete the post from my other blog. I want to take this blog into the direction that it was originally intended to go, with posts such as
Positive Dreaming and Happy Is as Happy Does. I will most likely keep the other blog for title purposes (I liked the way it was sort of in conjunction with this blog), although I don't particularly know what kind of material I will be posting on it at this time. Time will tell.

Thank you to all of you who were genuinely concerned with my feelings and offered up such comforting words of encouragement. This "blogosphere" has certainly been a great blessing in my life, and I'm so grateful to all of you for your kindness.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Shut Up and Wake Up

Yesterday, I realized that I was in a “funk” of sorts. It all started when my husband and I actually took ten minutes to discuss that most loathsome of subjects…our finances. When we realized that our debt was not moving despite our efforts to keep our credit cards at home in a drawer, we decided that our only options to release the stranglehold of the credit card companies immediately were drastic at best, and not going to be popular with the kids in the least.

Of course, the most desirable option for us as a couple would be to sell and move out of state. I paid a fraction of what my house is worth now, and even with refinancing and a home equity line of credit, I could still pay everything off and have plenty of money leftover to purchase a home and put security in the bank. Plus, from the research I’ve done, we could have a house twice the size with 10 times (or more) the amount of property. However, in doing so, our kids would have to leave their suburban, Abercrombie & Fitch high school and try to adapt themselves into the John Deer Institute of Agriculture and Levi’s. Not a popular option.

None of our other options have them doing the happiness jig, either. They range from not going on our annual family vacation to Lake George to selling our house and renting another in the area until the kids graduate. Although the latter would be overwhelming, it has thus far been the only option that anyone has even considered. However, trying to find a house to rent for half of what we spend every month on our bills and that’s large enough to fit a family of six has proven quite impossible. What’s a person to do?

Well, I decided to go to church. In regard to the aforementioned funk, I was beginning to feel sorry for myself and to question if God was actually even hearing anything I’ve had to say in my prayers. I felt stressed, I felt option-less. I figured if I was going to find an answer somewhere, it would probably be in the House of God. Or at least in the parking lot.

…Which is where I started to come to some pretty sad conclusions about myself upon walking towards the entrance.

Earlier that day, I read of a fellow blogger whose grandson was facing cancer head-on, enduring all sorts of painful tests and procedures, and coming through every one of them like a trooper. All this kid wants to do is go to school with his friends, and yet he’s stuck at Ronald McDonald house for weeks at a time. I thought of this brave boy and his amazingly strong grandmother as I walked through the rustic lot, wood chips crunching beneath my feet, and the fresh smell of cedar filling my nose. This awareness suddenly brought feelings of gratefulness and shame at the same time before I even walked through the church doors.

You see, I was alive to smell those chips. To feel the light breeze on my skin. To hold my husband’s warm hand and acknowledge his constant supportive attitude toward my needs. I started to realize that God had heard some really big prayers of mine in the past few months. Even though I’d been worried over my finances for years, they won’t kill me. Ovarian cancer could have, however, and although it was in my family history, God answered my prayers for health. How dare I complain about Chase or Citibank. I was healthy, and I was present. I had one good ovary left; I had my hair.

Shame on you, Lisa.

Appropriately, the pastor gave a sermon about our words…how strong the small orifice of our mouth is, yet how the words that come out of it have the power to hurt…or to heal. At the end of the service, he handed us little cards that we were to use as a tool for the upcoming week. This piece of thick paper, called a “mission card”, had the week’s objective on top: “Shutting up.” Underneath the title, it had a small list written next to the word “Stop:”

A. Complaining
B. Lying
C. Gossiping

Underneath that list was another:

Each time you mess up, you will:”

A. Start the month over


B. Give one dollar to charity

By the time I had gotten to my car on the way out, I was up to three dollars already. Two gossips and a complaint, and that happened in the church lobby.

In those moments, I decided that, for at least this week, I am going to try to speak more positive words not only into other people’s lives, but into my own as well. What good is it if I’m positive towards others around me, but I can’t seem to convince myself that I’ll ever be out of debt? And what good is it if I’m never grateful for the things that I have been given for longer than five minutes? Perhaps my debt is in lieu of something much worse. I’m sure that my fellow blogging buddy would take ten million dollars in debt if it meant that her grandson had perfect health. I think we all would.

So in other words, I’m shutting up.

…Wish me luck.