Friday, March 20, 2009

Found and Lost & Lost and Found

Plain(s) Feminist has a post on her blog about a stranger's extraordinary act of honesty when she accidentally left her wallet in a rest stop in South Dakota. At the end of her post, she asks for other peoples unlikely lost and found stories. Here's mine:

It was Springtime in New Orleans and I was an 18 year old single mom at the time. I was walking through a grocery store parking lot and I saw a bank envelop on the ground. I picked it up and it contained about five hundred dollars and several checks written out to cash. The checks didn't have a phone number printed on them but they did have an address.

It's not like I couldn't have used the money. I was still unable to work because having a baby had brought on a massive lupus flare-up that made it impossible for me to do much more than bathe and shop for groceries. Fortunately, I was living with my mother and she was helping me with expenses.

Anyway, my mom and I went home and found directions to the address on the checks and we got in the car and went to see if we could find it. When we arrived, I knocked on the door. The woman who answered the door had a red face and blood-shot eyes. It startled me, but I explained how I had found the envelop and I wanted to return it.

The woman burst into tears and called her husband to the door. She explained that she didn't realize she had lost the money until she got to the bank and couldn't find it. She and her husband were distraught because the money was supposed to pay for their booth at JazzFest and she was inside crying because she couldn't afford to replace the money she'd lost.

She opened up the envelop and expressed surprise that all of the money was still in there. It was as if she had thought I would have skimmed some off the top before returning it. She hugged me and thanked me and offered to try and get me some tickets to JazzFest. I told her that she didn't have to do that. I was just glad that I found it in time for her to have her booth.

I walked away from that door as poor as a church-mouse.

A week later, I was in the parking lot of a busy Wal-Mart store. I loaded my bags and put my almost-one-year-old baby daughter in her carrier and got inside. Getting that girl strapped into the car seat was like trying to herd cats. My mind was focused on the task at hand, to the exclusion of every other thought. We left the store and headed home.

When I got home, there was a message on the answering machine and we played it as we unloaded the groceries. There was a woman telling me that she had found my purse in the parking lot and when she saw all of the medication bottles inside, she wanted to get it back to the owner as soon as possible. The woman had already called and left a message before I had even arrived home and realized my purse wasn't with me!

It turns out she lived just two streets over from me and I was able to run over and get my purse. The woman wouldn't accept any money from me, even though I could only offer her $20.

To this day, I am truly convinced that if I had not returned that bank envelop to the owner, my own purse would not have been returned to me. My purse was worth much more than the contents of that envelop because it would have cost me hundreds of dollars to replace the medications inside of it. On top of that, I would have had to order new checks, get a new ID card, et cetera.

I believe in a Creator and I believe that the universe has a way of rewarding good actions. It may sound goofy to some, but I think that's what happened.

Galatians 6:7
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

The Wiccan Rede
"Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Rand Illusion

I sometimes post on a blog where a few libertarians and Republicans hang out. It's really amusing when I see them referring to Ayn Rand as if she were some sort of prophetess and not the horribly bad fiction writer that she really was. Last night, The Colbert Report mentioned Rand in a hilarious feature called "The Rand Illusion". Here's the clip:

Free Spring Concerts in New Orleans

I want to put the word out for all of y'all who are in or near New Orleans or will be soon. The 10th annual "Wednesday at the Square" begins on April 1st. If you are unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, Wednesday at the Square is a series of free concerts held at Lafayette Square in New Orleans. Lots of great artists are on the line-up.

Apr 1 Bucktown All-Stars + The Soul Rebels

Apr 8 Ivan Neville’s DUMPSTAPHUNK + Shades of Praise

Apr 15 Jeremy Davenport + The Preservation Hall-Stars

Apr 22 Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers + Jake Smith

Apr 29 Marcia Ball + Marva Wright & the BMW's

May 6 Big Sam's Funky Nation + The Dynamites feat. Charles Walker

May 13 Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys + Honey Island Swamp Band

May 20 Letters to Cleo + MaryAnne Marino

May 27 Bag of Donuts + The Figs

Jun 3 Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue + John Boutte' & Paul Sanchez

Jun 10 The Boogie Men + Dr. Gonzeaux

Jun 17 GALACTIC + Hot 8 Brass Band

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hannity and Beckel Discussion of Health Care

Thank you, Bob Beckel, for going on Sean Hannity's radio show and discussing how the (supposedly) free market system has failed to solve the health care needs of 46 million people in this country. On the show, Beckel points out how few companies are providing their workers with health care now, forcing many working folks to have to purchase it on their own. The fact that insurance companies charge more than people can afford to pay and can even refuse to accept some people (due to pre-existing conditions) leaves millions of people without coverage.

Here's a link to an article that contains the audio and a transcript from the show:

Beckel Admits To Hannity: Fox's Health Plan Rejected Me

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My First Period

To mark International Women's Day, "Two Women Blogging" features a post about Jay's first period. I know it's a bit late, but reading about hers made me want to write about my experience.

My story is almost a non-story. My mom was one of those that believed you should constantly be talking to kids about how their bodies worked from the time they are born. She can draw really well, but the only time she'd actually do it is when she was explaining how the parts of the body work. I remember her drawing pictures of the uterus and fallopian tubes and talking to me about the amazing way that sperm cells and egg cells came together to form an embryo. To be honest, I didn't want to hear it. It felt kind of embarrassing to have a mother who wanted to have such in-depth talks about this stuff.

By the time I hit adolescence, I knew all about my period. My friends and I read all sorts of books about it and still had a few misconceptions but, overall, I knew what to expect. One of my best friends had started hers when she was nine years old. She had told me all about how it was for her, so when I went into the bathroom one day and saw blood on my panties, it wasn't really a surprise.

When it finally came, I was at home. I was in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet when I looked down at my underwear. There was blood on the crotch, not much, just a thin line of red down the middle. I remember thinking, "Oh, okay. It's started." It was very anticlimactic. My mom had company over at the time and I didn't want to interrupt them, so I called one of my friends and told her about it. I rolled up a few paper towels and put them in my panties until my mother's friends were gone and she could help me figure out how to put on a pad.

My mother was much more excited about my first period than I was. She wanted me to see it as this great thing. I just wanted her not to tell anyone about it. My mother has five sisters and all but one of them lived in New Orleans, so they were very close and talked about everything that went on in their lives. I suppose it's not really necessary to say that she didn't keep her promise and when we went to my aunt's house later that week, she pulled me aside and said "So, I heard that you are a young lady now!" I was so embarrassed and mad at my mom for breaking her promise. When I questioned her about telling my aunt, she seemed honestly surprised that I was that upset about it.

Looking back, I can understand why she wanted to tell my aunts. I was my grandmother's oldest female grandchild, which is a pretty special position in my family and it gave my mom all sorts of bragging rights. Being the first one to have a daughter with a period was a part of it. I'm six or seven years older than the next female grandchild, so my aunts would have to wait years before their daughters reached puberty. I was the first grand-daughter to need a bra, the first to enter junior high school, the first to graduate from high school.

That first night, my mother helped me to put on my first pad and showed me how I could hand-wash my panties in cold water with a drop of bleach in it. She told me to wrap my used pads in newspaper and throw them in the trash. I remember giggling because, this made them look like little wrapped-up Christmas presents. In the years that followed, whenever it was my moon week, I'd tell my mom that Santa Claus was in town to let her know that I needed her to buy some pads from the store.

Each of the pads in the box came in its own little plastic wrapper and when you're changing them, you can simply put the used pad in the wrapper of the next one you're about to use. The wrappers were opaque and completely covered the pads, so it's not as if my brothers would even see inside of it. However, I never asked her why it was necessary to wrap it in newspaper, too. I remember being told something to the effect that people shouldn't even be able to see the wrappers in the trash. Even when I had to change my pads at school, I wrapped it all in layers and layers of toilet paper before putting them in the trash. I wonder how many trees died just so that I could put wads of paper around my already wrapped pads.

I never imagined that other people might not find it necessary to hide every single scrap associated with menstruation until I was an adult. In fact, it wasn't until I had to throw something away in the bathroom garbage can at The German's house that I first began to question what I was taught. He lived with his mother and two younger sisters. They simply put their used pads in the wrappers they came in and put them in the trash. I remember being more than a little shocked that they'd just put them in the garbage like that where The German might see them.

I asked The German about whether they always did that and he just shrugged and said, "Yeah, I guess so". I asked him if it bothered him and he said it didn't. In fact, he wondered about why I thought it might bother him. I didn't have a good answer for that. At his house, he was the only guy, so things tended to revolve around what was convenient and comfortable for women. He never had things like pads and tampons hidden from him. I think it helped to make him into a better man. He doesn't have any of the weird hang-ups that many other men have. It's very freeing to know that I don't have to go through the whole newspaper wrapping ritual for his sake.

She wasn't perfect, but I can see that my mother did her very best to give me a healthy view of menstruation. She wasn't perfect. After listening to many people's experiences, I think she did a better than average job. I hope that my own daughter will be able to say the same thing when she grows up and looks back at how I raised her.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Research Fraud Involving Celebrex and Lyrica

In what experts are calling one of the largest known cases of academic misconduct, a leading anesthesiology researcher has been accused of falsifying data and other fraud in potentially dozens of published studies.

Scott S. Reuben, MD, of Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., a pioneer in the area of multimodal analgesia, is said to have fabricated his results in at least 21, and perhaps many more, articles dating back to 1996. The confirmed articles were published in Anesthesiology, Anesthesia and Analgesia, the Journal of Clinical Anesthesia and other titles, which have retracted the papers or will soon do so, according to people familiar with the scandal (see list). The journals stressed that Dr. Reuben’s co-authors on those papers have not been accused of wrongdoing.

In addition to allegedly falsifying data, Dr. Reuben seems to have committed publishing forgery. Evan Ekman, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Columbia, S.C., said his name appeared as a co-author on at least two of the retracted papers, despite his having had no hand in the manuscripts. “My names were forgeries on the documents,” Dr. Ekman told Anesthesiology News.

Dr. Reuben has been an extremely active and visible figure in multimodal analgesia, particularly as an advocate for its use in minimally invasive orthopedic and spine procedures. His research has provided support for several mainstays of current anesthetic practice, such as the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and neuropathic agents instead of opioids and preemptive analgesia. Dr. Reuben has also published and presented data suggesting that multimodal analgesia can significantly improve long-term outcomes for patients.

WHAT THE FUCK!!! I know so many people who have taken these drugs. After my second thoracic surgery, I was prescribed Vioxx (a drug in the same class [Cox-2 inhibitors] as Celebrex) and Neurontin (a neuropathic agent). I took that for over a year but it didn't help me so they switched me to Celebrex and kept me on the Neurontin. The Celebrex gave me horrible stomach problems, but I kept taking it because I really didn't want to be on opioids for the rest of my life. A few months after I started the Celebrex, they took Vioxx off the market and, even though they tried to claim that the other Cox-2 inhibitors were okay, I stopped taking that shit immediately. My oncologist was convinced that the Celebrex was safe. He mentioned the fact that he took it himself after a basketball injury. However, after I read about the Vioxx issues, I decided that the Cox-2 inhibitors are too chemically similar to each other for the others not to be a problem if one of them is.

My partner was given Celebrex and Lyrica after being in an accident that damaged his neck, back, and head. The totally incompetent neurologist said he didn't believe in prescribing opioids, so he would only prescribe these two drugs to him. They did nothing for his pain. He was in agony, but the doctor didn't care. He was engaging in a study being conducted on Lyrica and he kept trying to get my partner to agree to participate in it. Actually, he tried to make it sound as if my partner had to but, fortunately, we knew he didn't. Needless to say, this did not make Dr. Asshole very happy. We eventually had to get the insurance company to agree to send him to another doctor.

Now we're finding out that we went through this extremely painful bullshit for nothing. There was no reason to believe that this combination would work in the first place. Great. Just great. I don't even know what else to say. I'm so angry that I'm shaking.