Friday, February 27, 2009

A Very Sick Kit

I'll jump right into the good news. I quit smoking.

I credit the worse case of the flu I've had since my 20s. It hit me last Sunday and made for a very sick Kit, and I still ain't fully recovered.

Have a missed cigarettes?

No. I think that a borderline asthma attack killed the craving for those. The week long fever, chills, coughing, a brief but unforgettable stomach flu as part of the overall flu, crushing aches where pain killer would have been welcome... you get the idea.

Nothing like intense pain to get rid of bad habit. My reaction so far has been Pavlovian.

I didn't even notice until late yesterday afternoon that I hadn't touched coffee all week - or cookies. I've eaten so light that I've lost ten pounds. Must've sweat it off. Well, that shoulda knocked the ole blood pressure back into the near normal range.

Yesterday the Michael Moore movie Sicko came on; I'd never seen it and since I was vegetating in the comfy chair in front of the tv, I watched all 2+ hours of it. It was especially interesting to me since I have no health insurance. I'm still achy and there's a small part of me that worries what if it's something bad that won't go away, and it not a flu? Y'all say a little get well soon prayer for me, okay?

Doubt that I'll write a post or article before next week. I'm too tired to write, but how I miss reading other folks blogs. This week has been a total blackout on my calendar. I'll catch up the next few days and let y'all entertain me with your funny stories or great insights.

Back to my vegetation spot for a few hours. Probably will get up around 2AM and read a bit. Hugs to y'all and thanks for dropping by.

~ Kit

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Different Kind Of Valentine's Day Love

This Valentine's Day, I'll share with you a different kind of gift and how you can show love, and maybe safe a life, including your own.

A few years ago I provided therapy for a teenager of a woman about Barack and Michelle Obama's age and looked just as good. During that time period, the mother had a 'mild' stroke. This was shocking, as I thought of strokes as "an old people's disease".

Hers was 'mild' only because one of her hands was left with less control in writing and holding things - like a pen or a fork. Unfortunately it was her dominant hand, so adjusting to the problem and physical therapy was tough.

At least she wasn't so impaired that she was leaning on one side, limping or drooling, or had slurred speech. However, her family and I could tell her thinking processes and personality were not the same, and she just didn't 'get' things like she could before. The focus in therapy shifted; her adolescent child had to grow up faster, and her husband had to adjust to her problems.

In another case, an old friend of mine was diagnosed with kidney disease. This guy is a youngish 50-something and looked great. He hated going to doctors and hadn't been to one since he was 25, back when I insisted he go for a respiratory infection. His blood pressure then was in the 'high normal' range. This was no surprise; he's an intense person and a workaholic.

In 2008, a new problem came on suddenly; one week he was fine, the next week all the hell he had put his body through from decades of drinking "just a little too much" after work to cope with stress finally caught up with him. He's now on dialysis and a wait list for a new kidney. The cause: ignored and untreated high blood pressure for decades. Learning about this made me horribly sad.

Two weeks ago my son had a knee injury from a biking accident. This was a gift - for me. While at the ER, I asked the tech if he'd mind taking my blood pressure, and was shocked to learn that it's high, particularly since low blood pressure runs in my family on both sides. It's a trick of denial that we think some things will never happen to us.

My former client didn't have a clue that her BP was high and I don't remember what caused it, but she and her family suffered for it. Had I not seen what can happen to a 'young' woman with my own eyes, I would have ignored what the tech told me that day.

Unlike my ex, I rarely drink, but I could stand to loose 25 pounds, cut back on the salt and give up drenching most of my veggies and cornbread in butter, and to start baking rather than frying chicken and fish... and quit smoking. Yeah, I'm embarrassed to say I haven't quit. I could also use more consistent exercise.

Call me lucky, but those are all lifestyle changes that will reduce it dramatically, probably without needing long term medication.

The CDC reports that for black and white Americans, the #1 cause of death is heart disease and the #3 cause of death is stroke. Latino Americans are nearly the same, but stroke is listed as their #4 cause of death.

Both heart disease and stroke are closely related to high blood pressure. First, you need to find out what your score is at your local pharmacy or grocery store that has one of those free HBP machines.

The American Heart Association has a fantastic interactive feature on its site where you can input your age, height, weight, and blood pressure.

Their Risk Calculator will tell you what yours is:

Then click the "Next Section" button at the bottom right side of their page for their Assessment - Part 2. With the information you already gave them, they'll tell you how your specific lifestyle changes can lower your risks and maybe beat them altogether.

You do not need to join, provide an email, nothing. It could not be easier or more simple to learn what you or your loved one can do to save your lives.

The hard part begins with changing the bad habits we love...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Economy:
Drowning In An Ocean Of Problems

I've been pondering the heart attacks or strokes our economy has been going through since I began writing about it last summer and fall. Like a few others out there in Blog Land, I could figuratively hear the train coming long before I could see it.

Like a deer caught in the headlights, however, I've been too frozen to post much about it - that's how dire it is - and I think February will be a very cruel and memorable month for many Americans, and a prelude to our complete descent into a society like Les Miserables or a Tale of Two Cities.

I haven't been too frozen, however, to do my own personal run on my bank or file my taxes before the federal government goes bust.

And right now, "the federal government - working without a road map, and without a net - is putting together a plan to keep U.S. banks from collapsing. Not just to get the banks lending again. To keep them alive.

The government is expected to announce Monday a plan that analysts expect will include lifting soured mortgage assets off selected banks' books, possibly along with guarantees against other losses and maybe more direct injections of cash.

Financial industry experts say it is a matter of choosing the best of several options, none of them very palatable. And no one knows for sure what will work because nothing like this has happened in living memory.

Getting it wrong could trigger a replay of what happened after Lehman Brothers collapsed last fall — the stock market in free fall, seizure of the credit markets, ripples of layoffs. Perhaps even a run on other banks — so many customers rushing to pull out their cash that it would make the bank run in "It's a Wonderful Life" look like, well, a feel-good holiday movie."

I see the Stimulus package as life support for a nation that is a few heartbeats away from economic death. It may delay our demise, or if it works, nurse it very slowly back to life... but the good health and accompanying freedoms we enjoyed may not recover for a very long time. It's also a gigantic IF.

In the meantime, this cartoon below partially nails it for me:

Source: Harpers magazine; Hat tip: Macon D

The only missing is the GOP, banksters and Wall Street sharks circling the boat.

The GOP tries to be slick. By standing together and refusing to vote for the slim chance that this new bailout could resuscitate the economy, The Party That Wrecked America thinks they'll come out smelling like a rose with their phony "I told you so's."

Those bitches are gambling for failure because that's where the odds are, and more infuriating, had no plan of their own and are even hoping for it.

Instead, except for three who voted for the Stimulus package, the rest will come out looking like what they are - public relations whores for top 5% wealthiest people and corporations, and possibly racists who'd rather see our country turn into an impoverished Third World nation than see the new President with African ancestry succeed.

I am fairly biased toward Barack Obama. I think he's the closest thing to a genius the White House has seen in a long time and I desperately want him to succeed. I also get annoyed at my black folks who chip away at every piece of the economic plan he and his team put together.

Team Obama knows what odds they're up against better than anyone in dealing with everyone from the sabotaging bigoted haters in the GOP, to the amoral international parasites in control of the markets, to China who says they want guarantees that its $682 billion holdings of U.S. government debt won’t be eroded by “reckless policies”. That's just the short list.

Surely this Stimulus package is only Phase 1 of his plans with more to come, so I take a wait and see approach and ignore the bullshit over "yo, we gotta make him accountable, and I'm gonna do that on my blog".

Folks need to stop trippin' with their wish list, especially when they blog in their underwear. Yeah it's fine to give support or criticize, but what's with this inflated sense of self-importance? I run across it again and again. Half of us can't even make our dang kids or significant other accountable, much less the President of the USA.

When you get to the nitty gritty, even Fixed News TV and radio are power-trippin' if they think they're doing anything beyond stirring up the poisonous pot of hate, suspicion, confusion and low morale.

Barack is doing his best on this issue and I give him credit for that... and that doesn't mean I'm not in a snit over some other things he's done or hasn't done. However, this financial tsumami is numero uno, and will make Hurricane Katrina look like a Spring shower. I'm even guesstimating that what he described as our situation being "the most profound economic crisis since the Great Depression", that a third to half of us may be lucky to have Internet service next year.

Maybe none of it will matter. When Rome burned and fell the last time, I imagine that the money burned with it. Best we can do hang on to our jobs, hope we'll see the day America locks up the arsonists, and as a nation take inventory and pray we have enough strength and unity to rebuild.