Thursday, July 22, 2010

I am becoming my father.

(incidentally, my dad died 4 years ago tomorrow).

One of the things I remember most about my father was his activism. If he saw something he thought was wrong or unjust, he let people know and more often than not, took action himself. He even threatened a 'sit-in' protest at a local hospital once - he'd been admitted for triple bypass surgery (a repeat) and the surgery kept getting cancelled as he got sicker and sicker. The doctors said that they didn't know when they were going to be able to do the operation, and that they were going to discharge him to home because they needed the bed for someone else.

Dad was having none of that. He told them that if they wanted him to leave, they'd best get the poilice in to move him because he wasn't going anywhere until he'd had the surgery. Then he called the local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and even a national TV station to tell them about his plight. The resulting publicity (front page news in some publications) must have shamed the local health trust into taking action, because he had the operation 3 days later.

Whilst I haven't gone so far as to stage a sit-in protest, I have inherited my father's activist trait. I can't stand by and simply watch as events happen, and I also can't sit back and let someone else take care of it. My husband tells me all the time that some of the crusades I go on are none of my business and that I should leave them alone. My response to that is that I'm making it my business and that I'm taking care of something nobody else wants to get involved with.

A good example of this activism happened earlier this week. I was at the BX with Hubs, perusing the magazine rack, when I found a publication that was dedicated to the cultivation and use of marajuana.

It was all about pot. How to grow it, where to grow it, what kind of fertilizer, how to use it, where the good stuff comes was pot, pot and more pot.

A magazine all about pot for sale in a store on a military installation.

For those of you not familiar with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is an offence for ANY service member to grow, possess and use marajuana (or other illegal substaces). The penalties can range from dishonorable discharge to jail time, loss of rank and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. It's illegal in the civilian world, but the military holds it's personnel to a higher standard when it comes to dope, so to see such a magazine for sale in a military store? Inappropriate. Incredibly inappropriate.

I showed it to Hubs. He said that it might be inappropriate, but that they also sell porn magazines and those aren't exactly appropriate either. "Yeah, but porn's legal. This isn't" was my reply. He said for me to leave it alone, that it wasn't my business.

I couldn't. Considering what we've been through with our son, I simply could not walk away and do nothing.

So, I emailed the base commander, asking him if he was aware of this publication being sold in HIS BX and telling him I thought it was highly inappropriate.

I sent the email at 5pm yesterday. At 10am this morning, I got a call from the manager of the BX, telling me that she had pulled the magazines from the shelf and that she would make certain that they would not be making a repeat appearance. She agreed that they were not suitable for the facility and that had she seen them when they first came in she would never have let them out on the sales floor.

I have to say I feel very satisfied with this result. I saw a problem, I took action, and I got it solved.

Thanks, dad. You raised me well.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Now I know.

I saw the GI doctor again last week. I had spent the prior Sunday in the ER with awful belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Whilst going gluten-free had helped, I was clearly still having problems.

She reviewed my test results (biopsy results and blood tests from the ER) and, after examining me, concluded that I'm gluten intolerant, and that I have Crohn's disease.

It all makes sense. The renal damage, the dramatic weight loss (I'm 120lbs now)the aching joints that come and go, the fissure in my natal crease that sporadically opens up, the "ulcer" that never responded to treatment but seemed to wax and wane ....everything that I've been dealing with for years all comes together in a single diagnosis.

I had wondered if I had Crohn's a while ago. I'd been trying to NOT make all my symptoms fit; I didn't want to be the kind of patient that reads about symptoms on the internet and erroneously diagnoses themselves. I had a feeling that it was more than Celiac disease, though.

So, I have a diagnosis at last. The good news is that it can be controlled. There are lots of medications available to put Crohn's into remission; I started taking one last night and have to go back in 2 weeks to report on how it's working for me. I'm learning about signs that a flare is coming on, and I'm also learning to mitigate my stress levels (stress doesn't help Crohn's disease and can sometimes lead to a flare).

The not-so good news is that I doubt I'll be able to go back into medicine (emergent or otherwise) again. It's quite a blow, to be honest; I'd always envisioned myself in EMS or nursing for the rest of my working life and now that doesn't look like it will happen. I'm having to reassess and think about where I want to go and what I want to do. I've enrolled in part-time classes this fall and am continuing my degree with an emphasis on sign language interpretership. I took a semester and a half of it some years ago and really enjoyed it (did well, too), so I'm looking to build on that. I can still use my medical knowledge (hospitals use ASL interpreters for their translator banks), but the stress levels will be much lower.

I'm just grateful and relieved that we've finally figured out what's wrong with me. I was starting to get worried that we'd never know - and I'd also started to doubt the validity of my symptoms. My husband and kids said that they were wondering whether I was really feeling as ill as I said that I was; if I wasn't embellishing a little to get attention. Now we have this definite diagnosis, I can leave the limbo I've been living in behind me and get on with life again.

Life is going to be good!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You know what really drives me crazy?

People who have graduated High School/college but who seem to not know how to spell basic words or use tenses.

The ability to read and to write is essential. If you can't read, you're literally lost - you can't do something as simple as read the instructions on a box of cake mix, and if you can't write, filling out a job application is impossible. Why the hell more emphasis isn't placed on literacy and basic writing skills is beyond me.

Here are some examples I found in a 15 minute span this morning:

'You will be miss bro'

'Wen to da stoe to look at cloes'

'I was driven when someone past me doing there hair'

'What was I suppose to do? I didn no it was wrong'

'wat you wanna kno they hole life stroy?'

'people just wanna have sumthink to talq abut'

Not all of those quotes are from teenagers and younger people, either. Some of them are from folks in their 50's.

We're becoming a nation of idiots.

That's sad.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Concealed Carry Permits and the lack thereof

When I first got a gun, I lived in a state that had a CCP law. It wasn't a 'shall issue', it was a 'may issue' law; you had to undergo a background check in order to be considered and if that came back clean then you were issued the permit. Ths particular state had reciprocity with many other states, meaning that I COULD carry in more states than I could NOT.

Then we moved to Illinois, and the frustration began.

IL does not permit concealed carry, period. In fact, you have to be granted a Firearm Owners ID (FOID) card in order to even touch a firearm in a store or purchase ammunition. The FOID card application and background check was just as comprehensive as the one for my CCP - in fact, it took longer to get the FOID card.

Basically, you can't carry a gun in Illinois. Chicago and it's draconian gun laws have tainted the rest of the state. I think that needs to change.

I live close to a high crime area; the local newspapers and TV stations are constantly carrying reports of people being shot and killed on the streets....and nearly all (I won't say 'all' because I don't want to talk in absolutes) of those homicides was committed by a person who was in legal posession of the murder weapon; they're all done with unregistered 'street' guns. When was the last time you heard of FOID card owner being involved in a drive-by? How about holding up a gas station? Mugging someone? Home invasion, perhaps?

Earlier this year, just across the river in MO, there WAS a report of a man who was shot and killed by a person with a legally owned, concealed firearm. The man was robbing his victim at gunpoint the time - he pointed an illegally acquired, unregistered 9mm at him and told him to hand over his wallet and phone. The victim was carrying a .38 special in a small of the back holster, and after he'd passed over his wallet he reached back as if to get his cell phone, pulled his gun and shot his assailant in the chest. It was a justified homicide; he killed his attacker in self defense.

I spent half my life in England, where guns are outlawed. The old adage of 'when guns are oulawed, only outlaws will have guns' is true, and outlawing those guns has done NOTHING to decrease the crime rate. People simply stab each other with knives now - and there was even a law in the pipeline banning knives with blades over a certain length. What's next, banning people from using their bare hands?

I understand that when the Second Amendment was written it's intent was to allow the citizens of the US to protect themselves from foreign enemies and invaders, NOT necessarily from each other..... but times they have a'changed, folks. Every law abiding citizen in the US, regardless of what state they live in, should be able to own and, if they so choose, carry a gun on their person to protect themselves from the thugs and criminals that seem to be breeding so prolifically.

Times have changed, society has changed, cultures have changed. . . and laws, more specifically IL state laws, should change, too.

It's time.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lesson learned

Any doubts I may have had about this NOT being Celiac disease have been removed. I made a huge mistake yesterday and I'm paying for it.

We were supposed to go to a friend's house for a cookout yesterday afternoon. Yesterday morning, I made some macaroni salad with gluten-free pasta to take with us (I wasn't going to tell anyone it was gluten-free to see if they would be able to taste a difference) and I decided to have a cup of it as part of my lunch.

I didn't read the ingredients on the jar or mayonnaise; I just assumed that it would be gluten-free. That was a BIG mistake.

Half an hour after I ate it, my belly started aching. All I could do was curl up in a ball on the couch - it was so bad I had to take prescribed pain medications and Hubs made what he called a 'command decision' and called our friends to let them know we wouldn't be attending the get-together. He asked me numerous times if I needed to go to the ER (something he doesn't usually do).

It wasn't just the belly ache, I felt lousy in general . . . just like I had been feeling before I got diagnosed. I had my kid read the ingredients off the mayonnaise and pickle relish jars:

Her: " Eggs, oil, vinegar....."

Me: " Does it say 'distilled vinegar?"

Her: "Nope, it just says vinegar"

Me: "Oh no....."

Today I have spent more time on the loo than I have off of it. My belly still hurts, I'm mildly itchy, my fingers, knees and hips ache and whilst I don't feel as bad as yesterday, I don't feel great either.

Lesson learned: when in doubt, don't eat it - and don't assume that something is safe. From now on, if it's got a label on it, I'm going to be reading it. If it's something somebody else made, I'm going to be asking questions. If there's any doubt whatsoever about whether it's safe or not, I'll just go without.

My doctor wants me to do a capsule biopsy test so he can visualize the rest of my small bowel (he wants to make sure I don't have a colitis as well as celiac and to nail down the celiac diagnosis. The biopsy results were 'highly suggestive' of celiac disease, but I was sero-negative)), but in order to do that and get accurate results I'd have to eat a full (meaning gluten included) diet for at least 2 weeks prior to the test. After yesterday's experience, I'm incredibly reluctant to do it. To me, it's pretty clear: I went gluten-free and saw a cessation of some symptoms, a minimization of others and a steady overall improvement. I ate food containing gluten (albeit inadvertently) and the symptoms came back. I don't want to go back to feeling like crap all day every day again.

Will the benefit of having the capsule scope outweigh the drawback of feeling ill and downright miserable again? If he suspects a colitis, can't we just start treating it? I really don't know what to do.

Anyone have some advice?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New name

I've changed the name of my blog, as you can see.

It was time to change. Noodle Dawg is long gone, and I'm no longer working as a medic. My adventuring days are over. It's taken me a long time to come to terms with all of this and I still struggle with some aspects of it.

So, welcome to Awkwardness a la carte. Come join me as I stumble through this life.