Family · Health · Memory · Nature · Personal · reading · School

Broken Hearted in Grade School

Reading very quickly became my favorite thing.  By sixth grade, I was reading at twelfth grade level.  I often spent recess or other free time in the school library.  I was reading from one side to the other of the shelves in our small library.  When I got through fiction, I read biography and history.  Best of all, I found mythology.

Once I found mythology, I looked for stories everywhere.  Meanwhile, I experienced all the common childhood illnesses, including measles, mumps and chicken pox. I usually had bronchitis at least once each winter. I had walking pneumonia and a couple concussions. I didn’t break any bones, but I stepped on bees, sprained ankles and tumbled off bikes. Reading saved me during all the down time. I loved ordering Scholastic books at school and visiting the library.

After my open heart surgery at age three, I was followed pretty closely until released at age six. Because of the heart issues, my baby teeth needed dental work. My body was not my friend. I didn’t like failing and I didn’t like sports. I was competitive and felt that I couldn’t compete. Instead, I found solitary activities. I collected frogs from the garden and released them again. I rode my bike up and down hills in nearby grassy lots. I took books and snacks to make nests in tall summer grass. I liked badminton, swings and climbing trees.

I especially liked reading books and having them turn into movies in my head and feeling like I was living them. I had adventures and experiences. I was competitive intellectually and academically. I could plot and I could plan. All this was so good in so many ways, but helped set up the disconnect between ME and my body which was always disappointing or failing me.

Ethics · Personal · Pets

Being a Cat Person

I’ve shared my life with a variety of animals and loved them all. But, in the end, I am a lover of cats.

Katie, Keith, Toby, Toejoe, Patches, Gidget, Enie, Sammy, Charlie (& Morris), Jesse James, Dusty, Merlin, Christmas, Grace, Molly, Murphy, Mouse, Bernie

Things I’ve Learned

  • Food should be wet, air dried, or kibble
  • Food should be high protein, no grain, minimal peas/lentils/potatoes.
  • Food needs to be composed of human quality ingredients, whole parts rather than meal.
  • Vaccinations increase the chances of cancers. If you have an indoor cat with little or no exposure, do not vaccinate.
  • Do not get all your vaccines at the same time. Do not get them in the same location.
  • Most vaccines, especially rabies and rabies combos, are effective up to 5 years. 3 years is a good compromise.
  • Never declaw (unless you want to inflict trauma equivalent to cutting off your own fingers and toes to the first joint). Arthritis, joint deterioration, pain and balance problems result.
  • Rescue when possible. Adopt specific breed rescues. Purchase ONLY from vetted and ethical breeders. (I had my heart set on a Scottish Fold.)
  • Spay or neuter after 5 pounds … or as soon as feasible. Doing so, decreases the chances of many health issues.
  • Don’t breed your pets. Too many pets still need homes.
  • Commit to your pets. They are not disposable for any reason, especially inconvenience.

Finally, cats are individuals. You should understand their individual personalities, learn their histories, and honor their boundaries. My Scottish Fold Bernie is a joy, but I wish he was more of a cuddler. He isn’t, but he is companionable and affectionate. Most of all, nobody has mistreated or been mean to him EVER. I raised him from a kitten after having rescues for 30 years. I loved those rescues, but I’m sad for who they might have been under better circumstances. And, I’m amazed at how loving and lovable they remained.

History & Mission · Memory · Personal

Memory – The Facts

What is memory really? Is it a recording and recounting of events? I don’t think so. Personal history is rewritten every day.  It is the story we tell ourselves to make sense of our lives.  Memory, like our personal history is fluid.

I had my midlife crisis at 25, bought my first house at 30, got my first tattoo at 35, divorced and got a nose piercing at 40. I spent the next three years adjusting, socializing and dating. I had a heart attack, which was diagnosed as acute pericarditis, at 45. I had a hole in my heart patched at 50 and broke my arm at 55.  My life is defined by crisis and remembered by location.  I grew up in Kelso, Washington, graduating from Kelso Senior High School in 1980 and attending Washington State University as a freshman. I moved into a condo with my mother when my parents separated and then divorced.

I married at 21 and had that midlife crisis while living in Fairbanks, Alaska.  At 30, I lived in Sierra Vista, Arizona. At 35, in Augusta, Georgia.  At 40, in Spanaway, Washington. I spent the next 21 years working as an IT Specialist at Stone Education Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit, I moved in with my mom in Longview, Washington. I teleworked and later spent the occassional work day back onsite. Rather than returning fulltime to JBLM, I retired.

Those are the facts. They are not the story.

Drugs · Family · Health · Pain Management

Get Over It (the Opioid Crisis) Already

My mom will turn 81 years old this July. She has been struggling without effective pain medication for over a year. Her OTC options are very limited because she is in Stage 4 kidney failure. She’s managed to stave off actual dialysis for nearly five years. She’s had one shoulder and one hip replaced and should probably have the remaining two replaced. But really at 81 years old?! She also has osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica and spinal disk issues.

And she isn’t able to truly manage her pain … because the backlash from addiction to opiods has meant that the people who really need them often can’t get them. We resorted to buying edible cannibas (high CBD/low THC). She sleeps more to escape the pain and her energy is depleted from the stress of dealing with continuous chronic pain. She loved taking her Yorkie for a daily walk. She enjoyed going out to shop and eat, visiting the ocean etc. COVID limited that for such a long time that we were really looking forward to doing them again. And she just can’t cope without effective pain relief.

We figured something had happened to change policies at her PeaceHealth medical provider and recently had confirmed via an article in a local newspaper that one of the senior doctors (who just happened to be her doctor) was both over prescribing and prescribing for himself.

In the interim, her doctor recommended a drug that interfered with her muscle control and led to falls, shots directly into her joints and back, physical therapy and, of course, more surgery. Again, she is 80 years old. Quality of life is clearly more inportant than quantity at this point. She’d been taking Hydrocodone without overuse or addiction off and on for years. Getting addicted seems highly unlikely and, even if she did, why would it really matter?

She had a wellness exam with her doctor and I went into it armed for grizzly bears. We were not leaving without a plan that included a medication to manage her pain. Viola! The prescription had to be reviewed by a “team,” but we will be picking it up from the pharmacy tomorrow.

In conclusion, punishing people with a real need for pain management via opioids is WRONG. If some of those people no longer need the drug and/or get addictd, they need real treatment that is a viable alternative (maybe methodone), not to simply be cut off. Individuals become heroin addicts because heroin is cheaper then pills on the black market. And the need to get any of those things illegally, leads to crime annd broken lives. Treating the social issues that lead to addiction might also be a “good” idea.