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    On a First Name Basis

    Monday, February 21, 2011, 9:35 AM [General]

    As of today, February 21 2011, mom has been in the hospital since Feb 17th. Currently, she's in DOU (direct observation unit), which is just one step down from ICU. We're still waiting for a radiologist to read the results of her CT scan before we know what happens next. 

     

    One thing is certain.... she'll no longer be able to live on her own. The best possible outcome is that she won't have to live in an assisted facility, where the last vestiges of her independence will be no more.  My brother and I are trying to persuade her to accept the idea that she'll need to come live with me, assuming she won't need any in-patient nursing. 

     

    When I called last Thursday,  she was short of breath --- said she wasn't feeling very well and didn't want me to come and visit. I told her she didn't sound very well and I was coming over anyway but would hold off for 30 minutes. 10 minutes later, she called back and asked me to come.   When I arrived, she was still short of breath, her normally ruddy yet fair complexion was extremely pale to the point of being sallow, forehead was clammy, hands were cold, a pinch on the back of her hand testified to dehydration, and toes were curled under. When she told me she'd been throwing up all night and day, I called her Dr's office (programmed as a contact on my phone), who referred me to urgent care based on her symptoms.  

     

    As soon as we got her to urgent care, the poking and prodding began. From that point, both mom and I have encountered a blur of new faces in the form of nurses, doctors, radiologists, lab techs, x-ray and respiratory specialists, nutritionists, orderlies and so many other professionals, yet one thing beyond their call to health and healing remains in common. When Mom sees a new face taking blood or monitoring her IV bags, she asks... What is your name? The only doctor who didn't provide his first name was the ER doctor, who told her his name was Dr. Wilson. 

     

    By asking for a name, she not only humanizes everyone who is responsible for a portion of her care, but she in turn humanizes herself. She is no longer "patient x". She is the patient named Karen.

     

    Good on you, mom..... Please stay with us, you still have much to teach. Positive thoughts for myself and prayers for mom (who is a non-religious believer) are welcome. 

    4.1 (3 Ratings)

    Lesson 1001 I learned from my pet - On living, loving, and letting go...

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 10:51 AM [General]

    On Sunday, I laid my 19 year old kitty to rest. Wrapped up in her favorite blanket where she liked to curl up next to the heater, I buried her under the shelter of a mighty tree. May the leaves shelter her from the sun and the rain, may the roots hold her, may the birds that find harbor in the tree sing to her, and may this huge void in my heart eventually stitch back together....

    We learn to embrace some of the best aspects of humanity from our children and pets. That best within us originates from Unconditional Love and Compassion. Yet I just learned another lesson from my little baby girl kitty... That part of Unconditional Love is knowing when to Let Go.... part of compassion and mercy is knowing when to Let Go.

    I didn't learn to let go soon enough for my baby girl, so I have to live with the knowledge that I may have prolonged her suffering BECAUSE I didn't know how to Let Go. I knew that as elderly and crotchety as she was getting, that eventually I would have to mourn her. A few months ago, she stopped grooming herself. She's always been such a meticulous kitty, I should have listened to this clue. She stopped seeking affection and quit hopping up into my lap in a fuzzy ball of purring kitty contentment. I should have listened to this clue but I didn't. Because her appetite was still healthy, because she continued to drink plenty of water, because she didn't exhibit any difficulty hopping into and out of her litter box, I only listened to her physical needs and didn't take a holistic approach to consider her emotional needs as well.

    I probably should have taken her to the vet a few months ago but I didn't want to let her go. Instead, she died at home in the kitchen, where she rarely went. I believe she went to the kitchen to die because she didn't want to die where she had lived.

    The decision to euthanize a dear and beloved member of the family is never easy, but we have to learn to take the "me" out of it and allow the needs of our beloved pets to take priority.  If quality of life has gone down to the point where a meticulous princess kitty no longer grooms herself and no longer cuddles in the lap, it may be time to consider offering the ultimate in compassion and selfless love... an end to pain. I've since learned that there are vets in some areas who will come to your home to euthanize your pet.

    I hope I'll remember this lesson 1001 I learned from my little baby kitty girl... I miss her dearly.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    As I Stared Upon the Mountain, the Mountain Stared Back at Me.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010, 6:55 PM [General]

    Fools tread where the wise won't.... sometimes I'm moved to utter foolishness.

    I don't necessarily discount the possibility that some portion of what makes me "me" will go on after I die. Whether there will be enough "me" left to even BE me  remains to be seen.

    I've had a few personal, non-verifiable experiences that I can no more prove to anyone else than their personal gnosis can be proven to me. I suppose some would equate them with religious ephiphanies, but I define them as moments of hyper-awareness....leaving me open to the possibility that there MAY be some other state of being that will continue to continue.

    The first epiphany occured was quite a few years ago, as I was driving down a snowblown highway in the middle of winter. The Big Horn mountains loomed on the left, casting long shadows across the highway.... an open field with a small herd of antelope was on the right. I'd been driving for hours and pulled over to rest. Admired the herd of antelope because I hadn't seen them for so long...

    Got out of the car, walked around and gazed up at the mountain. Mountains have always been as home to me... to this day, I  feel the lack when I have no mountain to aspire to. I cast my eyes up higher and higher, passing over each ridge, each crevice, taking enormous pleasure in the permanence of the mountain, until my eyes reached  the summit.... Observed a completely different weather system up there as winds whipped around a cornice that looked ready to fall at any time. Breathed in the cold mountain air and got the impression that the mountain was looking back down at me.... Have you ever had that feeling when you're being watched? It was kind of like that, in a very non-creepy way.

    As I stared at the mountain and accepted it just may be staring back, all these pictures started popping into my mind.... bubbling volcanos, primeval swampy marshes, boiling oceans of water, billows of steam, fiery pools of molten crust, kilotons of rain, tiny lichens clinging to life, trees harboring the birds, squirrels and other creatures who depended upon their "home tree" for sustenance. Deer, antelope and bighorn sheep nibbling on grasses and shrubs, tiny caterpillars and insects munching on the leaves of the sparse wildflowers, Native Americans winding up a trail to pitch a camp for the night, an ancient shaman seeking shelter in a cave, a pioneer woman in a flowing dress with an infant strapped to her back, a bear cub looking for it's mother.... a wolf carrying her pup gently at the scruff of his neck... all these vivid images were as a snapshot of everything that mountain has seen since or experienced since the beginning of time.... and they were being communicated to me not because I'm anyone special, but only because I just happened to be there at that point in time when the mountain was moved to move so.

    Was the mountain sentient? Reason and logic tell me no, yet reason and logic tell me we haven't discovered EVERYTHING there is to discover yet. YET.... Those moments of extra awareness granted me an insight that resembles the concept universal connectedness you've read in New Age books or some such.  Where others may attribute it to god, I attribute to a law we haven't yet met.

    It is said that sound never dies..... it only attenuates, like ripples on a pond; until the ripples can no longer be seen and the sound can no longer be heard... Just because we no longer hear it, does that mean it no longer exists, or will an instrument capable of picking up the increasingly small vibrations of sound still be able to detect this?

    If energy can never be destoyed and we ARE made up of ENERGY, where does it all go? Is it dependent upon consciousness or does all the energy join with the Universal mindspring? Do we travel to multiverse? I have no idea. But I'm open to the possibility of some level of universal consciousness.

    The universe is much weirder and more wonderful than we can grasp all at once.

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    An Atheist's View on the Sanctity of Human Life and Female Sexuality

    Friday, January 15, 2010, 1:52 PM [General]

    I don't usually spend time debating on the Abortion Issue, but at times I feel compelled to respond. I'm pro-choice/pro-woman/pro-life and I think that my position on this is much more PRO-LIFE than the imposters who CLAIM to be pro-life when they place a greater value on potential life than the living, breathing, unquestionably HUMAN LIFE of the woman facing such a painful choice.

    My response to a Catholic poster who is pro-choice, but is not comfortable with abortion. He's a moderate who hesitates about imposing his beliefs on others. I respect that position a great deal, that's what CHOICE is all about....But I thought it would be interesting to address his perception that non-theists may not place as much value on human life as theists do. This is my answer to those who think that atheists don't believe that human life is very sacred. In fact, I think human life is MUCH more sacred than many Christians/Muslims/Jews do BECAUSE I don't subscribe to monotheism.

    Just as there's a wide range of thought within Abrahamic-monotheism, there is a wide range of thought within A-Abrahamic-monotheism... I'm using the term a-Abrahamic-monotheism rather than non-theism or atheism to include a wider range of those who do NOT practice Abrahamic monotheism -- polytheists, pagans, Buddhists, Hindus...etc. I appreciate that you and other Christians, Muslims, Jews and Bahai are able to   recognize that holding life as sacred is NOT limited only for those that do subscribe to Abrahamic monotheism;  but I wanted to address this to other Abrahamic monotheists who suffer from TUNNEL VISION and bigotry in their myopic perception that everyone on the pro-choice side is inherently callous or immoral or lacking value for human life.

    I value HUMAN life greatly. I do believe we all have a "divine spark" as well... where we differ is from the SOURCE of said "divine spark" --- inherent/interal or external. Speaking for myself only,  I don't recognize that the homocidial, genocidal character who dominates the old testament is any kind of moral guide, but more a cautionary tale of what NOT to do and how NOT to be....  The OT fella who poses as the supreme creator is extremely human in his capriciousness, jealousy and vindictiveness when deceit and treachery are rewarded... Is it any wonder that those of us who don't subscribe to Abrahamic monotheism perceive such a character to have been created in Humanity's Own Image? For many of us who have studied Abrahamic monotheism, we have REJECTED what we perceive to be extremely immoral and extremely callous when it comes to human life; that Human standards are much more moral and respectful of HUMAN life.

     

    Jan 15, 2010 -- 6:41AM, TemplarS wrote:

    This is this is not universal, many religious people do not feel comfortable enough with the issue to insist on it. I put myself in this category;  I do not like abortion, I think it is an unconscionable waste, I will work for alternatives, but neither do I feel comfortable legally imposing my views on others; but I do understand what motivates both sides to be as impassioned as they are on the matter. Human life and human rights are serious matters.



    Well said TemparS... human life and human rights are VERY serious matters. I appreciate your discomfort in imposing your religious beliefs upon others.  Women haven't been recognized in the arena of human rights until very recently. 

    1. The male body has always been his own. The female body hasn't.

    2. Males have never been treated as property or chattel... Females have. 

    3. Males have never had to give up their property upon marriage. Females have until very recently in the history of humanity.

    4. Males have been able to marry or not as they please. For millenia, options for females were very limited; marriage was often the ONLY option. Entering a convent was another one.

    5. Males have always been more able to exercise their OWN reproduction by withdrawing before ejaculation to reduce the potential to spread their progeny. Females have never been able to FORCE the male to withdraw before ejaculation; always having to depend upon the male to do this of his own will. In the throes of passion, this is not an easy thing to accomplish. Not until very recently have females had the means to control their own reproduction and yet priests and preachers still teach that this is wrong. 

    6. Males have never had their genitals mutilated to the point where they can't enjoy sex. Females are STILL subject to some very extreme forms of genital mutilation in some parts of the world... All to control female sexuality.

    7. Males have never been forced to endure a pregancy nor deliver in pain. Clerics taught that females should endure very painful births --- anesthesia was outlawed for how long? Even now, women still die in pain.

    8. How many religious leaders and political leaders blame the ills of society on the freedoms women have only recently been granted? Oh,  The Pill, women who work, women who like sex just as much as men do, oh working women contributing to the high divorce rates and women who vote all to blame for the breakdown of society.... All of these are either directly or indirectly used as weapons to blame women for everything that is wrong with our world. 

    I'm disturbed by the conditions that lead to a woman's decision to abort, there are so many factors;  but I'm even MORE more disturbed by those who still find it necessary to control  female sexualty, female self-determination and female reproduction.....all of which are the sole province of each and every woman.

    Thanks for listening...

    3.7 (2 Ratings)

    The Placebo Effect

    Thursday, November 12, 2009, 9:46 AM [General]

     

    god jesus allah jehovah yaweh mithras virgin mary isis demeter athena muhammad buddha krishna great spirit are all the construct of human beings; created from the desire to fill in the blanks of a previously unknowable reality... A placebo.

    May lightning strike me if allah is pissed off at me for questioning her existence and omnipotence.... LOL!

    Placebos in and of themselves aren't necessarily the problem; they're a manifestation of our endless capacity for imagination, creativity and abstraction...... Placebos are not the problem as long as you KNOW you're only taking a placebo but too many of the unwitting participants in the human experiement are completely unaware of their condition....

    Beware our illustrious illusions/delusions and see them for what they frequently are... like the shadows on Plato's cave, they are only a shadow of the reality that exists in spite of our perceptions.

    3.2 (1 Ratings)

    Spiritual Musings of an Atheist Chick

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 7:26 PM [General]

    I submitted this stream of consciousness to one of the Spirituality forums last October 2008  --- decided to plagiarize myself and post it in my journal as well....

    ------------------------------------------------------------------



      I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been spending entirely too much time focusing on politics…. Understandable since Americans are choosing their next president; but not since 911 have I spent so much time on the news. It was time to take a break from it all for a few. The blackberry was left at home.  :D

      First day was in a small mountain town. A little too touristy for some tastes but once I escaped all the pseudo-Swiss chalets and fake Bavarian architecture by walking a couple miles into the pine; I was able to pretend a city of 10 million people didn’t exist only 2 hours away. Walk far enough from the noise and confusion to nothing but sky, trees, squirrels, birds and a soft cushion of soil, loam and pine needles beneath my feet.

      At this altitude, the mountains are dominated by cedar, ponderosa and lodge pole pines. At the lower elevations, yucca is king. Having grown up in the Rocky Mountains, I somehow don’t think mountains are REAL MOUNTAINS unless I’m surrounded by pine; how much do we resemble the sculpture formed by clay when our own definitions are formed by where we were born and raised?

      Winds blow at the top of the trees with greater force than it touches the ground. Imagine, only 200 feet up from the surface of the earth, the climate and environment are completely different. Does the wind speak; does it have a voice of its own? Does it transport the song of the trees from one ridge to another? Do the birds care about who the next freaking president will be? Did the mountain weep when GWB engaged in a pre-emptive war? Do the squirrels wonder whether or not global warming affects their food supply as they stock up every winter? Do the smallest of sunflowers feel oppressed by their bigger siblings who capture more of the sun? Do the clouds realize how profound it can be to lay back on a hill and find the faces, shapes and forms within them as they pass?

      Next day I headed to the ocean. A lot of other folk had the same idea…. This time I didn’t have the luxury of walking for a few miles into the forest to be alone with sky and trees. Here, I took off my shoes and walked along the shoreline while tuning out sights and sounds of the humanity I so needed to escape. It finally came as the tempo of the ocean waves crooned their timeless lullaby.
      Endless wave upon wave pounded the shore…. I felt an immense peace as I watched the sandpipers play tag with the tide. How like a small child they seemed, dodging each wave in an attempt to keep their little feet dry. How can you not smile at such a sight? A brown pelican skims the surface of the ocean, plunges beneath and triumphantly emerges with a full pouch. Does the pelican know it’s on the endangered species list, do they know there’s a rescue organization 15 miles away dedicated to their safety and rescue? Are they grateful for the efforts of all these innumerable bipeds on their behalf? Are they Democrat, Republican, or would they vote the Green party instead? How anthropomorphic to look for comparisons between humanity and other species of Big Blue. ;)

      The sun finally starts to set; a big ball of fire slowly dips below the horizon in an extravagant array of color. The clouds begin their timeless dance in splashes of orange, purple, and pink against indigo sky. I’ve seen sunsets in the desert, sinking below the mountains, in the inland sea of grass we call the prairie, and over the ocean. Each is very beautiful and unique, but I think the sun setting over the ocean is at its very best. Something about the contrast of fire and water, the proximity of water for my Aquarian mind?

      The beach is much more quiet now, fewer people about. Footprints on the shoreline have long since faded away. My handprint fills with water, then sand and finally erases as if it had never existed. Now the moon makes its appearance and stars begin to glisten against the velvet sky. Do the stars care about who our next president of the US will be? Do they even recognize national borders as we do? Does it matter to the moon what nation is represented by the flags planted on the surface? Does the moon care that ancients once thought it a great orb of cheese?

      Humanity will only unite when we can keep things in perspective. Then again, human beings being the fractious beings we are, we may never truly unite, or if we do it won’t last for long. Kinda like the footprints in the sand that wash away with each ebb and flow of the tides. As I walked back to my car, I closed my eyes and visualized all the wonder of the last couple of days; to store up the reserves, feed that inner divine spark and call upon in remembrance when I need a bulwark against the daily montage of insignificant concerns we all care about too much at times. At best, the appreciation of moon, stars, sky, mountain, trees and ocean can unite us. At worse, this appreciation can lead us to our own realization that in the end, the minutia and footprints we leave can also matter, if only to our own minute universe within the totality of the multi-verse we all inhabit.

      It is. It just is. That does not lessen my wonder and awe

    3.7 (3 Ratings)

    Snake Oil or Cure? How do you tell the difference?

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 10:27 AM [General]

    I picked up a weekly paper at my local natural goods/health/grocery store. You know the kind of store I mean?? Organic everything, lotta tofu, natural/organic health and beauty products, organic produce, very small selection in the form of animal protein (with the exception of dairy).... In one area of the market is a weight room surrounded by a bookshelves full of enticing reading... for a price, of course. Herbal cures, a few books authored by Kevin Trudeau (conspiracy theorist or visionary?Money mouth) a greater selection of exercise, nutrition, vegetarian and vegan cook books, Green Living, Eco cures, etc.... Get the picture? I feel healthier just by virtue of shopping here --- Innocent Even better, it's close enough to walk to with canvas shopping bags slung over my shoulder.


    As I was browsing through the weekly after lugging home two bags of groceries, it occured to me that our modern day snakeoil vendors no longer sell their cures in horse drawn carts or push carts, but instead live in strip corner malls, boutiques, and shiny new storefronts. We are still easily lured by the hope of magic potions in a bottle or pill to magically take care of our problems. Instead of the old crone/midwife with her folk cures, we now have nutritionists, dieticians, alternative/holistic medicine. Some of these are true healers and some of them are true shysters.


    1. One article (written by an advertiser selling his services) breathlessly explained how neurotherapy can help cure addiction, depression, stress, and all sorts of other maladies. He doesn't cite any medical journals to back it up, only anecdotal "evidence".... Oh, he'll discount $100 from the first 10 visits for new "clients"? Marks? Victims? I googled neurotherapy and found a lot of practicioners who offer this treatment but couldn't find any non-biased research about neurotherapy. Was I using the wrong keywords, do I need to subscribe to medical journals, how can a non-scientific layperson/non-medical layperson find out more about this?


    2. Another interesting article from a vendor who sells water. This is special water -- it's deionized, oxygenated alkaline water. If you drink this, you'll restore the PH balance to an overly acidic body. Oh, and it'll fight free radicals too, we KNOW free radicals are bad, don't we?


    Let's see, reviewing high-school chemistry --- alkaline is the opposite of acid, a PH balance is desired to maintain a healthy skin barrier.... Skin being the largest organ in our body and our best defense against bodily ills.... we're all made up of chemicals and actions originate with chemical reactions. So I can ALMOST buy these remarkable claims making the case for alkaline oxygenated deionized water.... but I have a few reservations nevertheless.... Doesn' t water alREADY have oxygen in it? If you have more than 1 oxygen molecule for every 2 molecules of hydrogen, is it still water? Is there really such a thing as an acidic body, will drinking alkaline water really restore this balance, or should we look to food and nutrition to restore the balance?


    The symptoms listed in this article (fatique, loss of energy, weight fluctuation, etc...) could be caused by many things so how are we supposed to know if our body is acidic? Are PH test strips up to measuring this?


    3. Noni Juice --- need I say more? No, I don't buy this.... but a lot of people do and are quite willing to witness...er, testify..... even evangelize this cure and peoples will buy it because so many of us want to believe that a bottle, a pill will make us healthier.



    There's a lot of snakeoil being sold..... How can a layperson sort this out?

    3.2 (2 Ratings)

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