Maria Yeager

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Is It Really That Simple? A Look at Socialism vs. Capitalism

About a week ago, I saw a cartoon video starring Barack Obama as President and Ronald Reagan as a “teacher”. Obama obviously liked socialism while Reagan “taught” him that socialism was a bad thing.  Cartoon Reagan tells a story that humorously involved a bunch of past Presidents and politicians. They were all in a class together in school, and a young Obama suggests that everything should be redistributed so that there will be no poor or rich people – everyone will have the same amount. So the teacher (played by cartoon Reagan) does an experiment. He says that for the next test, all the grades will be put together and averaged, and everyone will received the same grade. Well, that average turned out to be a “B”. The students that worked hard were upset and those that didn’t work hard were happy. So, during the next test, those that worked hard the first time didn’t work as hard. The average for the next test was a “D”. Everyone was mad. The next test, no one worked hard, and the average was an “F”. In the end, the cartoon Reagan claims that with socialism, the redistribution of wealth doesn’t build up, but instead it tears everyone down. It appears as if he tore Obama’s idea completely apart.

But did he?

Let’s look at this from a different perspective. In this over-simplified video, cartoon Reagan is trying to show that in socialism, those that “work hard” make the best grades (make the most money) are the ones that are contributing the most to society. Let me assure you that is not true. My father was extremely fiscally conservative; therefore, I had to pay most of my college expenses on my own. I worked at Wendy’s for four summers and all holidays for minimum wage ($3.25 per hour at that time). Wendy’s was the most physically demanding job that I have had in my entire life, and I am 53 years old. Since college, I worked in several medical laboratories for a total of 20 years (making from $17,00 per year at the beginning of my career to over $60,000 per year when I had to stop working due to back issues). This job was the most mentally demanding job of my life. As you can see, each job was demanding but in different ways. After working at Wendy’s, I was so physically exhausted that I would fall immediately asleep when I hit my bed. The same occurred after my lab job, and I would dream all the time about things I saw through the microscope. Notice the difference in salaries.

People who work in blue-collar jobs are not lazy at all. They work equally as hard and many times harder and in much more difficult environments. Just think about all of the construction workers that have to work in extreme weather (excess heat and cold).

My point is that just because someone doesn’t make as much money as you does not in any way mean that he/she isn’t working as hard or even  harder than you. So this Obama/Reagan cartoon video is extremely over-simplified and very misleading.

Now, I have heard many people say that these blue-collar workers could have had better jobs if they just went to school and worked for it. This is not necessarily true. There are many factors that may prevent someone from achieving a college degree or getting a high-paying job. First, some people are not cut out to become doctors or lawyers. Second, many people don’t have the money to attend college. Third, some people are disabled and may not be able to achieve the things that others without disabilities can achieve. Some might be war veterans suffering from PTSD.

And there are many other factors as to why one person cannot achieve the same level of financial success as someone else.

Let me give you this to think about: If every single person went to college and graduate school and became doctors and lawyers and/or got into a career where you make a ton of money just like some suggest, then who exactly would be picking up the garbage? Who would be constructing houses? Who would be mowing lawns and/or landscaping your yards? Who would be cleaning toilets and emptying trash?

If everyone went to graduate school and received advanced degrees and/or followed other career paths that led them to make a truckload of money, then I guess YOU would have to take your own trash to the dump. YOU would have to repair your own roof when it leaks. YOU would have to build your own house. YOU would have to landscape your own huge lawns. YOU would have to clean your own giant houses. YOU would have to unplug clogged toilets after someone vomits all night. YOU would have to fix your own electrical or plumbing problems. YOU would have to install new appliances, carpeting, tile, bathroom fixtures, etc. YOU would have to exterminate your own house. YOU would have to build your own deck. YOU would have to fertilize and aerate your own lawn.

Don’t you see how good you have it?

Be careful what you wish for.

 

Trump’s Environmental Policies May Hurt Women With Adenomyosis

A post from my facebook page….please share:

I have to speak up today. I will be doing this on all of my pages as this is an issue near and dear to my heart. I do not agree with Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Although there are many reasons to be upset by this decision by Trump, my personal concerns have to do with adenomyosis and endometriosis. As most of you know, I have written two books on adenomyosis. I have done a ton of research (numerous scientific studies through the NIH) and have learned that xenoestrogens (man-made chemicals) in the environment have been implicated in many reproductive disorders. This is not speculation – this has been shown through well-controlled scientific studies. There is great concern that these xenoestrogens, which raise estrogen levels dramatically, are one of the possible players in adenomyosis and endometriosis. Trump’s decision today will more than likely lead to more and worsening cases of these two disorders. Chemicals in the environment are already linked to increases in cancer – ovarian, breast, and endometrial are just a few. I was so disturbed by his actions over the past couple of days that I posted my concerns on his twitter account. Within an hour of posting, my comments could not be found. I posted again, and again they could not be found an hour later. I have since learned that people are being blocked from his twitter account if they post something that disagrees with his views. I also wrote a letter to my Republican congresswoman, Barbara Comstock, detailing my concerns over this administration’s environmental policies and explained in detail how these decisions could adversely affect women with adenomyosis – hoping that since she was a woman, she might be more empathetic. I did not get a response. So, I am posting this here and on all my pages to let women know that this administration does not seem to care one bit about women who are suffering from adenomyosis and endometriosis. They also don’t seem to care at all that there is science backing these concerns. They don’t want to hear it. I tried my best to get my point across, but they prefer to turn a blind eye to it. I am incredibly disappointed and upset that this administration has made it so much harder for women who suffer from adenomyosis and endometriosis by promoting policies that will increase xenoestrogen levels in the environment which may lead to an increased incidence of adenomyosis/endometriosis and worsening symptoms of those already suffering from these horrible disorders..

Fox News Lawsuit By Journalist Who Wrote Endometriosis Article, The Healthcare Bill, and “Whited Sepulchres”

I have tried my best to stay out of politics recently. In January, a long thread on my Facebook feed ended up in several heated arguments, and after that I decided to refrain from political commentary on my page. I just watched as Trump and his administration seemed to make mistake after mistake, and it seemed like every morning, I woke up to some kind of ridiculousness that left me shaking my head. At the same time, I watched as one by one, Fox News correspondents and management left the network due to sexual harassment claims. It was amazing to me to see a news channel that I watched religiously slowly fall apart. I was extremely disappointed.

Well, today I read something that crossed that big red line in the sand for me. A Fox News reporter is now suing the network because after she wrote a report on endometriosis, she was the victim of discrimination. Ms. Diana Falzone was slowly pushed out of her position at Fox News after she disclosed her uterine disorder in her report. You can read the entire article here:

Washington Post – Fox News Lawsuit

I am the founder of Adenomyosis Fighters, an online group that helps women who suffer from adenomyosis. This disorder is closely related to endometriosis, and the two disorders have similar symptoms. Both have to do with abnormal menstruation – very heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding, excruciating abdominal pain, sometimes as severe as the last stage of labor requiring narcotic pain medication, severe bloating that can resemble a three to four-month pregnancy, bowel issues, bladder issues, and even infertility. I have spent the last five years fighting for women who suffer from adenomyosis, so for Fox News to discriminate against Ms. Falzone for this article caused me to become extremely angry. I am livid about this and hope Ms. Falzone takes them for everything they have!!! These men who discriminated against her don’t have a clue. They have never, ever had a period and have never had a baby. They have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what it is like to suffer month after month – anemic from blood loss and with such horrible pain that a woman has to crawl to the bathroom for fear of passing out! Shame on you, Fox News. I will no longer watch your shows because of this reprehensible behavior.

Fox News is known to support the Republicans, many of which are evangelical Christians. For crying out loud – if you are going to support evangelical Christianity, at least TRY to live by Christian teachings!! Compassion is one of the main teachings of Christianity, so why do these executives at Fox News discriminate and treat Ms. Falzone so badly when she opens up about her struggles with endometriosis?? Is that what Jesus would do? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Why do evangelical Christians support this network when the execs have been involved in sexual harassment? Who the hell knows!! Sorry to say this, but based on what I’ve seen, I think lack of education plays a role. Or maybe it’s just ignorance.

Yesterday, the controversial health care bill was passed in the House of Representatives. This bill will basically gut Medicaid and will give states the option of a waiver regarding pre-existing conditions. This will hurt millions of Americans. So many people are now worried if they will have sufficient coverage since they have a pre-existing condition. Then, last night, the Republicans in the House decide to bring in a bunch of Budweiser beer to celebrate. Millions of people are now worried about their healthcare and these buffoons are having a huge party up there at the Capitol? Is this Christian?? Didn’t Jesus say “Love your neighbor as yourself”? How does this insensitive behavior say that you are “loving your neighbor as yourself”? Cutting medical benefits to the poorest of the poor – how is this “loving your neighbor as yourself”? And yes, the Democrats should not have sung after the vote. I don’t excuse their behavior either.

I am a Christian and see right through what Fox News, Trump, and Congress have done. Why can’t these so-called Christians who are die-hard Trump supporters see through it?? I have my thoughts on this. I think they are the Pharisees, the whited sepulchres, that Jesus talks about all throughout the gospels.

The official definition of a whited sepulchre according to Merriam Webster dictionary is a person inwardly corrupt or wicked but outwardly or professedly virtuous or holy.

Trump has a long history of non-Christian behavior. He has made disgusting remarks about women. He had affairs. He has lied over and over again. He pushed this healthcare bill which will hurt the poorest of the poor. He made fun of a disabled reporter (Yes, he actually did….I saw the video and no one is going to tell me differently, so don’t even try).

But then, he shows up to events with a Bible. Melania says the Lord’s Prayer at a rally. He talks about his “Christian values”. Do these acts automatically make him a Christian? NO! Some Christians praise him for doing this – I think it is a form of sacrilege. To me, I see a whited sepulchre because his actions are opposite of his words.

Jesus warns of whited sepulchers in Matthew 23:27 (King James Bible):

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

Remember – NO ONE fools God. You can’t raise your hands to heaven and praise Him and then turn around and cut healthcare to the poor, talk trash about women, discriminate against minorities, etc. and still expect to be in good standing with Jesus. He sees through it all. Our God is a God of justice, and He will see to it that all the scales are balanced. Don’t be deceived by these “whited sepulchres”…those that are really good at talking about God but then live a life that is diametrically opposed to what Jesus said in the Bible.

 

 

“Love One Another as I Have Loved You”

Wow, it has been a while since I posted on this blog! I have been working hard on my next book, Estill County, which hopefully will be done some time this year. But I have also been deep in thought about my Christian beliefs. This has been a time of deep introspection as I have struggled with what is going on in the world today. Today, I would like to pretty much “bare my soul” and explain my thoughts over the past few months.

I was raised as a Catholic and attended a Catholic grade school. During my younger years and in my twenties, my Christian beliefs were pretty much black and white – follow all the commandments, all abortion is wrong, etc. etc. No gray area whatsoever. Since that time, I married and divorced (due to an affair on his side) someone who was Baptist, and we were married in a Presbyterian church. During my marriage, we attended Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and even non-denominational churches. I’m glad I had these experiences as I learned how people praise God in different ways. I still loved my Catholic faith, but I found myself becoming more open-minded about other faiths.

During those years, most of my encounters regarding religious differences were fairly positive, but I did run into a few problems. First of all, when I asked a priest to be a part of our wedding ceremony, I was met with a stern “no” because we were not getting married in a Catholic church. He went on to lecture me about my “weak” Catholic faith. Another example involves a guy that I dated long ago. His Catholic mother said that  her son was not going to heaven because he was engaged to a Baptist girl.

On the other hand, I have met many people who have actually said that Catholics are going to hell. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard that Catholics worship Mary. I went to a Catholic school, and I was never taught to worship Mary – only to ask her to pray for me. I also am very hurt and irritated when others claim that Catholic teachings are not biblically based.

Right after college, I joined a Right to Life movement. At that point in my life, I would have gladly taken part in a protest outside of an abortion clinic. I remember getting all kinds of newsletters from them explaining how they were fighting against abortion. I specifically remember how this group would get involved in “protecting the life of the baby” when a mother’s life was in danger or if the fetus had a known defect. I didn’t think too much about that at the time.

I went to work in a genetics lab (my degree is in Microbiology). After several years of work, my views on abortion started to gray a bit. I performed prenatal testing, and I saw many really sad cases during those years. One genetic defect was particularly disturbing – a disorder called anencephaly. A fetus with this disorder has malformed brain development. Sometimes the entire skull is opened with very little to no brain development. At one point, my boss asked me if I would like to watch a fetal autopsy on a fetus with this disorder (the woman had miscarried). I said “yes” because I wanted to see what I was testing for in the lab. I was shocked when I saw the fetus. The brain was completely opened up. The baby almost looked like an alien – there was no forehead. The top of the head was just above the eyebrows. Anyone without a strong stomach couldn’t have handled that sight, but I could for some reason. Don’t get me wrong – it affected me in a way that words can’t describe, and I felt so horrible for the parents. But I am a scientist, and I believe that God gave me the ability to do this work to help others – just like some people can handle the sight of blood while others can’t. After witnessing several of these autopsies on fetuses that women had miscarried, it suddenly dawned on me the emotional toll that this sort of thing would take on the family. This was a child that was wanted desperately, but something went terribly wrong – something that was completely out of their control.

As I continued my work in genetics, I learned about several other genetic abnormalities – specifically trisomy 13 and trisomy 18. I learned that most of the time, after these children are born and if they survived, they would probably never leave the hospital and would most likely die within the first year of life. Their lives would most likely be spent in agony while they were hooked up to multiple machines. I hated when I analyzed a case and found it was trisomy 13 or 18. HATED it!! I knew what the parents were about to face. I knew it was going to be awful for them, and I wondered if their marriage would be able to survive such an ordeal. One day, when I analyzed one of these cases, I left at lunch, went to McDonalds, ordered carryout, sat in my car, and cried and prayed. Here is basically what I said to God:

God, I don’t know why this happens. I’m just a human, and you are the all-knowing God. I don’t understand it, but I know there is a reason. God, these parents are about to go through hell. You have said, “Do not judge lest ye be judged.” Therefore, I will not judge these parents if they decide to terminate. This decision is between you, them, and their doctor. I can’t judge something like this. I certainly don’t want to be judged with the same stringency as the Right to Life group uses in situations like this. So, all I will do is pray for them. I pray that they will somehow come out of this stronger, and I ask you to comfort them in this horrible time.

Not long after this, I quit the Right to Life group. I am against abortion overall – as a form of birth control, partial birth abortion, or in cases where there is an abnormality but the child can survive and live a productive life (Down syndrome, spina bifida, etc). However, I know from my experience in the lab that there are horrible cases where there is pretty much no chance of survival or limited survival where the child suffers terribly. For me, I choose to stay out of those situations. This also goes for cases where the mother’s life is in danger. Instead, I just pray for them – for comfort, for healing, and for the love of God to surround them.

This is just one example of when gray areas began to interject into my beliefs. But things really got tough – a deep introspection – since Trump took office.

I have always been Republican. I have voted Republican in every presidential race until this last one. I have voted Republican probably 98% of the time in all other elections. The abortion issue was a major reason. But what I have seen over the last few months has really bothered me, and after much thought, I have now become an Independent.

As you all know, there has been a lot of mean and vicious banter regarding this past presidential election from both Republicans and Democrats. However, a large portion of the Republican base are the evangelical Christians. Although I do agree with a lot of the Republican views on major issues, I became disheartened by the enormous number of mean memes and Facebook posts from some Republicans who have portrayed themselves to be good Christians. The posts were not at all Christian, and I honestly viewed them as highly hypocritical. This really bothered me. I also noticed that churches were promoting Trump based solely on his anti-abortion stance even though disturbing news came out about his behavior, especially the remarks about women while on the bus. I expected these evangelical Christians to stand up and denounce his behavior, and some did. But a lot didn’t as apparently they focused solely on the anti-abortion issue. This disturbed me even more, and hypocrisy was becoming increasingly clear to me. I hated this and struggled with it since that time. I believed in a lot of the Republican views but I didn’t want to seem like a hypocrite. I did not like Trump either and didn’t approve of his behavior.

During all of this, I prayed…a lot…and asked God for direction. I felt an uneasiness in my soul. I was confused.

Each time I prayed, I kept going back to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Several times, I opened the Bible to this exact passage. At first, this made me think about the abortion issue. If we stand outside of an abortion clinic and tell someone who they are going to hell if they abort the baby, how do we know the details of that pregnancy? We don’t know if that baby has anencephaly. Maybe those parents are having to make an incredibly difficult decision and really wanted the baby. We are judging a person without knowing the details. Do we want for God to judge us with the same stringency? I sure wouldn’t. I think God is telling us to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. We need to love those people, not judge them. They need comfort, not judgement. It is not up to us to judge others, and Jesus himself told us that. If we judge someone else, we are playing God. This thinking can also be applied to everyone who says that someone is going to hell if they don’t belong to a certain religion as my example above shows.

On Easter Sunday, I went to mass with my mom. We arrived quite early (because we knew the church would be packed). As we waited, I continued to pray and think about the behavior I had seen this year when I looked up at the front of the church, and once again, I saw “Love One Another as I Have Loved You” on the stained glass window. I thought about how all life is sacred. I thought about how disturbed I was that funding to the NIH was going to be cut which would affect all those who were sick – cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes – the list goes on and on. If funding is cut, those people would suffer. How is it that those that are pro-life only consider the life of a fetus but seem to forget about all the other people in the world that would be hurt by cutting funding to the NIH? and the EPA? Millions of people would be hurt, but that isn’t a consideration for those who are strongly pro-life? Why? Why can’t they see this? Again, I looked at the stained glass window.

Love One Another as I Have Loved You.

I believe God expects us to love everyone, not just the unborn. All life is sacred. All life.

A few days later, I went to a physical therapy session. Several of us watched the television as we saw that the “mother of all bombs” was dropped in Syria. While we were talking, a woman turned to me and said “All life is sacred.” She was right, and it confirmed for me that we have to look at how things affect everyone. Focusing purely on the unborn may ultimately harm those who are already here. Don’t get me wrong – the abortion issue is important…extremely important…but by focusing on that and only that, is not a good thing to do. We have to remember that all life is sacred.

Hypocrisy – I have seen so much of it in the last several months and am getting so sick of it. So-called “good Christians” that don’t practice what they preach. I am stunned that after all the things Trump has done, he still has die-hard followers. I have even seen recently how some people still consider him a good Christian even after all the lies (numerous), bad behavior (bus, making fun of disabled reporter), not keeping his word (numerous), pointing his finger at other while doing exactly the same thing (golfing!!), etc. Why, after all that, do people still call him a good Christian? Can’t they see the hypocrisy? Again, maybe they are focusing just on the anti-abortion issue only. I don’t know. I don’t get it. It bothers me so much to see all the hypocrisy yet people still say he’s a good Christian. Jesus speaks of hypocrisy all throughout the gospels. Are these people just turning a blind eye to that?

“The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others…They have the place of honor at banquets…” Matthew 23:4-6

I urge you to read all of Matthew 23 as he directly deals with hypocrisy…“Woe to you Pharisees, hypocrites…

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. I thought some more about these issues. And it suddenly came to me…in the dead silence in the middle of the night. Something quite disturbing. I have talked to many people over my lifetime who have left the church because they have witnessed hypocritical behavior. Some of these people have gone on to become atheists. Hypocritical behavior in Christians is extremely damaging to the church. We have to remember that Satan is very devious and sly. Could he be using the hypocritical behavior of these so-called Christians to his advantage? I believe so. Then I remembered what Jesus said:

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes.” Matthew 18:6

Is hypocrisy a stumbling block? Is this hypocritical behavior by some so-called good Christians a stumbling block to those who are wanting to know Jesus? That’s a terrifying thought, isn’t it? This morning, in preparation to write this blog, I read a devotional in my Bible. The following excerpt came from St. Catherine of Sienna, a mystic who conversed with God. Again, she talks about her conversation with God regarding loving your neighbor as yourself. This is what God said to her as recorded in her book, The Dialogue:

“It is your duty to love your neighbor as yourself…In love you ought to help them spiritually with prayer and counsel…If you do not love me, you do  not love your neighbors, nor will you help those you do not love. But it is yourself you harm the most, because you deprive yourself of grace. And you harm your neighbors by depriving them of the prayer and loving desires you should be offering to me on their behalf. Every help you give them ought to come from the affection you bear them for love of me…This lack of charity for me and for your neighbors is the source of all evils, for if you are not doing good you are necessarily doing evil…You harm your neighbors by not giving them the pleasure of the love and charity you owe them, the love with which you ought to be helping them by offering me your prayer and holy desire on their behalf.”

In conclusion, I have seen a lack of compassion and a need to judge others from the evangelical Christians during this presidential election and during his first days in office. In addition, I have seen incredible hypocrisy. I would like to suggest that we move away from judgement and condemnation and move more toward a spirit of compassion and empathy for our neighbor. Pray for those around you without judging. After all, we are not the judge. We do not know the details of their situation.

Love One Another as I Have Loved You.

 

 

 

 

AARP Medicare Complete HMO is a nightmare!!

I usually like to write about things I know about, but today isn’t one of those days. I am a moron when it comes to insurance, and I really don’t care to learn more about it. But, in order to get by in life without major headaches, we really do need to have a basic knowledge of insurance. Otherwise, you may get into a mess just like the one I am in right now.

Since 2014, I’ve had Medicare for my insurance because I am on disability for complex spinal problems. I usually buy additional Part D coverage for my prescriptions. But last year, I had particularly high medical bills, so I looked for secondary coverage to help cover expenses this year. I looked up plans available in my area, and during my research, I came across the AARP Medicare Complete HMO.

This plan sounded great! For just $89 per month, there are no co-pays for visits to your primary care physician and $25 co-pays for visits to specialist. In addition this plan has some dental and hearing coverage which I need. Prescription coverage was good for me too as it covered most of my medications. I was so happy when I signed up and breathed a sigh of relief thinking that my coverage was very much improved.

That feeling of confidence quickly faded into nothingness this week. I have had problems with my right knee for years, but this past weekend, I injured it somehow which led to searing pain in the front of my kneecap. I was barely able to walk. Stairs were particularly hard – I had to take them one stair at a time without bending my hurt knee. A day after the injury, I was unable to fully straighten my knee, and any attempt to bend it resulted in severe pain. I put ice on it and rested for about 1 1/2 days, and the symptoms improved, but the pain never fully went away.

This week, I made an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Hosick. I had seen him several times in the past about my hip and knee. He had even x-rayed my knee previously and determined that I had chondromalacia in my right knee. Yesterday, I went to his office only to find out that since I was now in a HMO, I had to have a referral before I could see him. Uugghh.

This morning, I had an appointment to see my primary care doctor, Dr. Baker. When I explained to her that I needed a referral, she looked confused. “But I thought you were on Medicare,” she said. I replied, “Yes, but I got additional insurance this year. It’s a HMO, and I guess I now need referrals to see specialists.” She looked confused and then told me that her office may not accept this new insurance. I was stunned. She left to check it out and came back without any further information. The billing manager for the office wasn’t there today, and she really couldn’t tell me if they would accept the new insurance or not, and she wasn’t sure if she could give the referral.

I went straight home, really angry and irritated by what I had just learned about this new insurance. Honestly, I have no idea how all this works. I don’t know all the specifics of how HMOs are run. I called United Healthcare and told the young lady on the other end of the phone that I was confused and irritated that I had been to two doctors, both of which could not treat my knee because of insurance issues. She explained that I still have Medicare, but it’s now all under United Healthcare. I’m still not exactly sure how it all works, but I did learn that I can’t go to any specialists without a referral. Everything has to go through a primary care doctor when insurance is a HMO.

At one point, she offered to give me a one-time referral while everything was being looked at regarding my primary care doctor. Well, it turns out that Dr. Hosick isn’t a preferred provider, so United Healthcare could not give a referral to that doctor. OK, so now my patience was running quite thin. Then I asked her to check and see if my spinal surgeon, Dr. Kalantar, was a preferred provider. This was of utmost importance to me as I had absolutely no intention of leaving him. After two failed spinal fusions, Dr. Kalantar was able to successfully fuse my spine in 2012. He had been my trusted spinal doctor since that time, and I will not go to anyone else.

Well, it turns out that Dr. Kalantar wasn’t a preferred provider either!! At that point, she said that one of the options was to discontinue this AARP plan and go back to original Medicare. I was confused…I thought we could only change plans during the open season (Oct – Dec). She said that I could still change it now, so  I agreed with her, saying that if Dr. Kalantar wasn’t in the plan, I had to leave. I asked her if I could get a Part D plan for prescription coverage, and she said yes. She put me on hold, and I waited for quite a while, but when she came back on the phone, she apologized for the wait and told me that she was going to get another lady on the phone who would be able to discontinue the plan. The call was transferred, and I began the discussion with the second lady.

This second lady proceeded to tell me that she could not discontinue the plan over the phone. WTH?? The first lady told me otherwise. Now I was really getting mad. She gave me a list of ways that I could discontinue, and I chose to do it online. She told me to go to http://www.aarpmedicareplans.com and fill out the form on the site. After asking me a bunch of questions, she told me that I could get part D ONLY if they approve my request to discontinue the plan. WTH?? They might not approve it?? So, I asked the lady for clarification – “So, they may NOT approve my request to discontinue the plan?” Her answer was “yes”. At that point, I was so disgusted that I ended the call.

I went to http://www.aarpmedicareplans.com and did not find any form to discontinue the plan. I decided to send an e-mail that detailed why I was so disgusted with United Healthcare and this AARP plan. They have since sent a notice to me that a case had been opened.

This plan is awful. If I stay with this plan, I would basically have to start over. All the doctors that I have been going to for years and who know all the details of my health over the past ten years or so are not included in this HMO plan – ALL of them!! I would have to start over with all new doctors. In addition, the first spine doctor that I had screwed up my back. It wasn’t until I went to Dr. Kalantar that my spine was finally stabilized. I am NOT willing to go to just any doctor….some doctor that some HMO says I can go to….to treat my complex spinal issues!!

Beware of the AARP Medicare Complete HMO plan. It’s one thing if just ONE of my doctors wasn’t in the plan….but NONE of them are in the plan!! This should be a BIG RED FLAG to all those looking for good health coverage through AARP. Shame on you, AARP, for promoting this insurance plan!!

Update: I received an e-mail saying that they are forwarding my complaint to the Appeals and Grievance Department and that they would get back to me in 30 days. 30 DAYS!!! What about now? I have this knee pain and need to see my orthopedic doctor now!! But God forbid that they do their job and address this now….no, go on ahead and take 30 days…that’s no problem at all (obvious sarcasm). By the time they finish pushing around all the papers, it will probably be open season again. Pathetic!

Hypocrisy, Lies, Fake News, and Trump

It has been quite a while since I have written a blog post. I just haven’t felt like writing because I have quite honestly been quite depressed lately.

I have been struggling so hard to not write about politics. I have some really close friends that are Trump supporters, and I don’t want to offend them. In January, I decided to write some posts on my facebook page about narcissism and how it relates to Trump. Wow, did I ever get hammered by Trump supporters. They did not like the posts at all, and I was called all kinds of names. After that, I decided to not post about politics…well, that didn’t even last a couple of weeks.

Although I don’t want to offend anyone that I deeply care about, there is just something in me that feels that if we don’t speak up, we are doomed to repeat history. Keeping quiet in this tumultuous time may actually be the wrong thing to do. I struggle with this war in my mind almost every day. Well, I have decided to address some things that are really bothering me. I apologize in advance to any of my close friends who don’t agree with what I am about to write, but I feel it is the right thing to do. I hope you understand.

I am disgusted by what I am seeing in Washington. I am particularly sick of seeing all of Trump’s comments on the “fake news”. This is deeply disturbing to me, and this morning on Meet the Press, John McCain so eloquently stated these same concerns to Chuck Todd. He said that the first thing that dictators do is to shut down the press. This week, Trump actually sent out a tweet saying the media is “the enemy of the American people.” I know, I know….Trump isn’t a dictator…yet, anyway. But, as John McCain said, we should learn from history.

It is well-known how Hitler and Stalin controlled the media during their time in power. Stalin allowed citizens to read, listen, and see only what he approved. During Hitler’s reign, the Editor’s Law was enacted in October, 1933, and paragraph 14 stated, “Editors must omit information calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home.”

Here are some other facts about oppressive regimes, both past and present:

  1. In North Korea, all media is controlled by the government.
  2. During the military control of Burma, the media was not allowed to report any opinions that were anti-government.
  3. In Turkmenistan, Niyazov’s administration controlled and censored media content.
  4. In Equatorial Guinea, criticism of Obiang’s regime is not tolerated.
  5. In Libya, no negative reports of Qaddafi were allowed during his time in power. It was the most tightly controlled media in the Arab world at the time.

Clearly, freedom of the press is of utmost importance in upholding democracy. Again, to repeat what John McCain said this morning, we should learn from history!

Now, yes, there is some fake news out there, and that is not OK. But it seems to me that Trump wants to claim that all news that is critical of him is fake, and this is simply not true. According to his own tweet,

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing nytimes, NBCNews, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

What stuns me is that some people out there are so quick to say that all news that criticizes Trump is fake, and they seem to believe everything that Trump says is the absolute truth. Let’s look at this a little more in-depth. According to PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize winning political fact-checking organization, Trump makes false statements more than truthful ones. Here is the breakdown:

Politifact scorecard of Trump’s statements (www.politifact.com):

4% true

12% mostly true

14% half-true

20% mostly false

33% false

17% “Pants on fire”

Here are a few specific examples according to PolitiFact:

  1. Trump stated that Ford Motor Company was staying in the U.S. because of his actions. FALSE: Decision was made four years ago. Actual statement from Ford: “We decided to move the F-650 and F-750 medium duty trucks to Ohio Assembly in 2011, long before any candidates announced their intention to run for U.S. President.”
  2. “The media has a lower approval rate than Congress.” MOSTLY FALSE: Congress hits the bottom quite often.
  3. “The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” FALSE.
  4. “Terrorism and terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe have gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported.” “PANTS ON FIRE”: Heavy coverage across the globe.
  5. “109 people out of hundreds of thousands of travelers were affected by the immigration executive order.” FALSE: Actually more than 60,000
  6. “Here in Philadelphia murder has been steady – I mean – just terribly increasing.” FALSE: third lowest since 1990.
  7. “We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College.” FALSE: Historically it’s in the bottom quarter.

And it goes on and on. I encourage you to read up on Trump’s statements…there are 27 pages on PolitiFacts website (www.politifact.com). And let’s not forget the false statements by his administration – the Bowling Green massacre that never happened, “alternative facts” about election numbers, Spicer saying that it was the biggest election win, period! etc. etc. And one of my favorites from Trump – “The leaks are real, but the news is fake”. Really? How exactly does that work? Well, it doesn’t because that’s not possible.

Fake news? How about Fake Trump!

So how is it that some are quick to point to the news as the source of the problem, but somehow seem to overlook all the untruths that Trump and his administration put out there? Hypocrisy? YES!

I have seen so much hypocrisy since this man took office. This is one of the big, big lessons that I learned in dealing with a narcissistic family – they expect everyone else to follow the rules while they break those rules themselves and attempt to justify their actions. Here are just a couple of the many disturbing examples that I have seen in the administration and in my discussions with other people (and to be VERY clear, I am not justifying the actions of Clinton, Obama, radical Islam, etc. – this is simply meant to show hypocrisy, that’s all):

  1. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News asked Trump about Putin, saying that Putin is a killer. Trump tried to justify his relationship with Putin by saying that there are killers in the United States. Hypocrisy? Yes! Trump then turns around and talks about how radical Islam is killing people, how Mexico has “bad hombres”, how he is deporting all the murderers….but Putin? Well, he can somehow justify that….(sarcasm).
  2. For years we heard all about how awful Bill Clinton was for having the affair with Monica Lewinsky. I was one of the ones who spoke out loudly about that affair – I was disgusted by his behavior. But then when I call out Trump for his remarks about women on the bus – grabbing the *****, some of those same people who spoke out about Clinton are now trying to justify Trump’s statements. Hypocrisy? Yes! One of the justifications I heard recently was that it was OK because men think about sex about every 2 minutes. Another popular justification is that “all men do this”. If it had been Clinton on that bus, I can assure you that the “all men do this” excuse would never fly!!
  3. The e-mail scandal involving Hillary Clinton – all last year, we heard “lock her up!!” over and over again. Then Flynn is caught talking sanctions with Russia and lying to Pence, and Trump continues to talk about how Flynn is a great man. Then Trump turns it onto the media saying that Flynn was treated very unfairly. Hypocrisy? Yes! Another example – Trump talks openly at Mar-a-Lago while dining after learning about the missle launch in Russia. Again, hypocrisy? Yes! Attack Clinton relentlessly, but when he does it…well, that’s OK (again, sarcasm).
  4. How many times did we hear complaints about Obama’s vacations? Yet Trump has been to Mar-a-Lago three times and has been in office for less than a month. Hypocrisy? Yes!
  5. How many times have you heard Trump say that polls are rigged? But then he posts a poll on twitter showing that his immigration ban was “one of his most popular so far”. Then he says that all negative polls about him are fake. Do you see the hypocrisy here?

So, in conclusion, Trump is not the awesome person that he portrays. This administration is full of hypocrisy and untruths. Yes, there is some fake news, but most is reliable if you watch the mainstream media. They may be biased, but in general, CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS…these are all reliable sources that will correct mistakes rather quickly once caught.

One of the news outlets suggested that Trump and his administration may be using psychological warfare. The definition, according to Dictionary.com, is “the use of propaganda, threats, and other psychological techniques to MISLEAD, intimidate, demoralize, or otherwise INFLUENCE the thinking or behavior of an opponent.” Is Trump and his administration actually doing this? I will leave that to you, the reader, to decide after reading this post.

 

 

 

 

 

Do People Dump Problems on You? Sick of Their Excuses? Tired of Being Beat Up For Giving Advice?

Have you ever dealt with someone who says they want advice to solve a problem, but when you give them that advice, they either come up with a slew of excuses or they just get angry? Do any of these statements sound familiar?

“I’ve already tried that.”

“He/she won’t listen. I can’t talk to them.”

“Counseling doesn’t work.”

“He/she will get mad at me if I say that.”

These are just a few examples. People who vent all their problems to you but aren’t willing to take any positive steps to correct those problems are “dumping” their problems onto you. I learned all about psychological “dumping” after going through it for close to twenty years. I was literally to the point of banging my head against the wall in my attempts to deal with this behavior. Little did I know at the time that I was powerless to change it.

For pretty much the entire length of my marriage, some of my ex-husband’s family members would vent to us about issues within the family and asked for advice on how to deal with those issues. Each time I offered advice, I was met with resistance – either a non-stop flow of excuses or an outburst of anger or resentment. Even though it was a constant struggle, I offered my advice each time I was asked, hoping the reception to my comments would change. But it never did. I became more and more frustrated until finally, I did the right thing – I made the decision to stop listening and to stop giving advice. When I made this decision, my father had just been diagnosed with cancer, and I was dealing with my own health issues. I didn’t have the time or energy to ride on this non-stop merry-go-round that went nowhere. I didn’t realize until later (after years of counseling) that this was probably the healthiest thing I ever did regarding their “dumping” behavior. However, after this decision, the relationships spiraled downward until divorce was inevitable. Actually, the divorce was the result of an affair, but it also became clear through counseling that the above dysfunctional behavior also played a major role. I learned all about narcissism (I had been in a very narcissistic environment) and realized that the lack of attention as a result of my decision was more than likely taken as an insult even though it was healthy for me.

I am so thankful that I was able to get out of this relationship as I realized that I was in a very unhealthy and narcissistic environment. I learned that those who vent but get upset or come up with non-stop excuses when confronted with sound advice are not emotionally healthy. They are in denial. They are only interested in surrounding themselves with others who will unconditionally approve of everything that they do even if the behavior is not in their best interest. They don’t want to fix the problem – they only want to hear that everything they are doing is good and right. They want constant sympathy, and they don’t want to take any hard or challenging steps to correct any problems that may be the result of their own behavior. Because of this, their problems will never go away. Only when they face the fact that they may have to take a good hard look at their own behavior and make changes will the problems improve.

I have since encountered some others with this same type of behavior. Instead of banging my head against the wall like I did in my marriage, I just walked away. I didn’t want the headache. For me, I want to nurture healthy relationships, and although I do care about these individuals, I can’t solve their problems. They have to make the decision to take the necessary steps to improve their own lives. Although this was my way of dealing with it, walking away is only one option in dealing with people who “dump” on others.

Another option, according to Psychology Today, is to respond to the person from an emotional stance. A response such as  “I’m really sorry you are going through that” without accompanying advice on how to fix it is advised. Offering advice on how to fix it will just lead to headaches and frustration on your end, and it will feed into their dysfunction. For more information, see the article listed at the bottom of this blog.

Remember, if someone isn’t willing to look at themselves and are insistent in staying in a state of denial, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change it. Change has to come from them, and until that day comes, nothing is going to change no matter what you do. Change will only happen when THEY decide to take a good look at themselves and take positive steps to make a difference.

Do Your Friends Dump Their Problems on You? – Psychology Today

 

Hate, Hypocrisy, and True Christianity

Well,  I really don’t want to be involved in politics in any way. However, since the ugly behavior after this historic election has dipped into my religious beliefs (will explain in this blog), and I do like to blog on Christianity, I decided after thoughtful prayer that I must address the hate seen in America today. It affects Christianity because a lot of people who call themselves “Christian” are not acting in a Christian manner. This behavior may instill negative views about Christians, so I feel a need to clarify a few things, even going so far as to call out some of my fellow “Christians”. It’s a bit lengthy but worth the read in my opinion 🙂

Hypocrisy. Jesus warns us over and over again about hypocrisy throughout the gospels:

“You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to give it water?” Luke 13:15

“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.” Matthew 6:2

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” Matthew 7:5

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:25

These are just a few.

So how does this relate to the election? Well, both sides are so quick to throw insults at the other side,but each candidate has their own long list of issues. I recently saw a meme of a woman crying, and it said “I argued with conservatives, they used facts”. Well, I will now present many facts showing that neither side should be throwing insults at anyone.

Let me start by saying that I did not support either Clinton or Trump during this election. I saw serious problems with both candidates. What bothers me most and the reason I decided to write this blog is that the amount of the hypocrisy and hate that is out there. And it is coming from both sides!

Let’s start with a little background on Hillary. Here is a list of issues that have concerned voters:

  • Clinton Foundation issues – the pay-to-play scheme between Hillary and the Clinton Foundation has led to serious issues and concerns. There is a strong possibility of an indictment. Although Mrs. Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that she would not accept money from foreign governments during her years as Secretary of State, the Foundation did accept several million from seven different foreign governments. According to CNN, some e-mails between top Clinton aides were suspicious and added that these e-mails “raise questions about the Clinton Foundation’s influence on the State Department and its relations during her tenure…” In October, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI was collecting information about the Clinton Foundation to determine if there was any evidence of financial crimes.¹
  • Whitewater scandal – tax evasion and fraud were found. Vince Foster, the primary legal council for the case, committed suicide which cast a very dark cloud over the Clintons and their involvement.
  • E-mail scandal – Hillary’s use of a private e-mail server during her years as Secretary of State has led to a very prolonged investigation. Although she has been cleared as of now, questions still remain.
  • Leaked e-mails show that there may have been some behind-the-scenes attempts to get Bernie Sanders out of the picture during the election process.
  • Hillary told the story of how she was under sniper fire when she landed in Bosnia; however, the video of her exiting the plane clearly shows this not to be true.
  • The Benghazi scandal – this was a very clear a and definite failure on the part of the State Department. She lied about the cause saying it was a result of an anti-Islam video. She was also able to skirt around taking responsibility for the loss of four lives during the attack.
  • Bill Clinton’s sexual history – Juanita Broaddick accused Mr. Clinton of raping her in the late 1970s. She denied the rape for many years but recently accused him again. Paula Jones filed a lawsuit against him in 1994 in which she claims he exposed himself to her. During the deposition, Clinton denied having an affair with Monica Lewinsky which we all know now was a lie. The lawsuit ended with an out-of-court settlement. Kathleen Wiley claimed that Clinton had groped her, but her testimony was thrown out because it was determined that she had lied repeatedly.²

Now, here are the issues surrounding Trump:

  • Trump Foundation issues – The Foundation gave $25,000 to the Florida Attorney General’s office (Pam Bondi) while she was reviewing fraud allegations against Trump University. Her office didn’t bring any charges against the Trump Foundation, and there is some concern that this may have been bribery. The Foundation used some of its money to settle legal disputes with Trump’s for-profit businesses, and some of the money may have also been used for political purposes during his presidential campaign. In October, they were ordered to cease fundraising for the Foundation because they were violating state law by soliciting donations without prior authorization.³
  • Trump has used bankruptcy laws to get out of paying debt, leaving his workers to foot the bill. He also refuses to release his tax returns.
  • Trump University – now defunct, the state of New York has filed a $40 million lawsuit stating that false claims were made and that the University defrauded people. Trump was found personally liable for failing to obtain a business license.
  • Trump has been married three times and has had multiple affairs.
  • Trump’s sexual issues – First of all, Trump himself admitted on a 2005 Howard Stern show that he entered the dressing rooms of beauty pageant contestants while they were undressing. Second – the October 2016 release of the audio clip from Access Hollywood caused a huge uproar when he made multiple inappropriate comments, particularly “grab them by the p***y”. Third, multiple women have accused him of sexual harrassment. Jill Harth filed a lawsuit in 1997 saying that Trump attempted to put his hands between her legs in 1992. She also states that he pushed her against the wall and tried to kiss her. The case was settled out of court. Jessica Leeds claimed that while on a flight (1980s), Trump attempted to put his hand up her skirt and grabbed her breast. In the 1990s, Kristen Anderson claimed he groped her at a Manhattan night club. And there are quite a few more.(4)

OK, so now that we have the background, let’s look at some of the mean, hateful things that are being posted around the internet. First we’ll do the anti-Hillary stuff:

  • I’ve seen quite a few people refer to Hillary as narcissistic.
    •  REALLY?? Trump is the definition of narcissism. Clear hypocrisy.
  • Someone was happy that a person was shot at the Azusa polling station in California, saying “At least they are killing CA liberals”.
    • This one speaks for itself, but I will say it anyway – look in the mirror. Look at your own candidate!
  • I can’t even count the number of times Hillary has been called “crooked”.
    • I can agree as we all know she is corrupt, but look above at what Trump has done.
    • “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
    • “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged…” Matthew 7:1. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be judged by those measures. If you decide to judge either candidate, be my guest. I would be careful, though, especially when both candidates have such a long history of issues….
  • There’s a meme which says “Hi, I’m Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC. Why don’t you take a seat?” There is a picture with Hillary walking in the room.
    • We could EASILY put Trump’s picture in place of Hillary’s picture. Clear hypocrisy.
  • Another meme – Picture of Hillary and it says “This loser will never be president. Get over it losers.”
    • Let’s remember this Bible verse: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
  • Picture of Hillary with the caption, “Satan, why have you forsaken me?”
    • Again, look at the list of issues above regarding Donald Trump.
    • Again,“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
  • Another meme – “Pro-God, Pro-Country, Pro-Life, Proud to be Pro-Trump, 2016”.
    • Pro-God? Jesus preaches kindness and compassion. Where is Trump’s compassion when he makes fun of a disabled person? Where is his kindness when he calls people “weak” or “a disaster” when they don’t agree with him (which, BTW, is also extremely narcissistic)?

Now for the anti-Trump comments:

  • I saw a sweatshirt with the following statement: “Trump sucks. If you like Trump, you suck too.”
    • REALLY?? Look at Hillary’s list of issues above.
  • Many make fun of his hair and the orange-colored makeup on his face.
    • All I can say is let’s remain focused on the issues. This is nit-picking and not necessary.
  • There is a Wizard of Oz meme saying that Trump “doesn’t have a brain”.
    • Again, not necessary. We need to stick to the issues.
  • I saw a news report where a Chicago man was beaten and his car was stolen, all because he voted for Trump.
    • Awful!!! We as Americans have the right to vote as we wish without the threat of violence.
  • There are some people who are carrying around “Kill Trump” signs during the protests.
    • Any threat of violence is unacceptable and should never be tolerated.
  • I know of someone who was called “racist” for voting for Trump.
    • Putting everyone in one big category is just wrong. Yes, there are racists out there, but just because someone voted for Trump doesn’t mean he/she is automatically a racist. Some that voted for him did so because of the Supreme Court as they want more conservative judges to occupy those positions. They are not hateful, racist bigots.
  • I read that the CEO of GrubHub told his employees that if they supported Trump, they need to resign.
    • This again is unacceptable and just plain wrong. We live in a democracy, and we all have the right to vote as we wish.

Now, to finish out this blog, I want to address how religion ties into all of this.

Neither Clinton nor Trump supporters really have any right to throw insults at the other candidate. Each candidate has baggage, and to finger-point is completely and totally hypocritical on both sides.

I know that some people were told to vote for Trump in order to get conservative judges in the Supreme Court. I do understand this reasoning as I struggled with it as well. It was a very real concern, and that is one reason why I am happy that Trump is now president. But that’s the only reason.

Franklin Graham recently made this statement: “I believe God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic, progressive agenda from taking control.” This statement does not make sense nor does it support Christianity. Donald Trump is an adulterer, a self-proclaimed greedy man, and someone who has left the small businessman out in the cold by filing bankruptcy even though he has billions. Take a look again at the list above. Does this man really sound like the type of person Jesus calls us to be?? Of course not. Franklin, I would re-think that comment. Wayne Grudem called Trump a “flawed candidate”, but thankfully he stated that he regretted that comment and he changed his opinion, asking for Trump to drop out of the race prior to the election. Sin is sin, and immorality is immorality. You cannot call someone a sinner and then turn around and call someone else “flawed”. Again, that is hypocrisy.

Politifact states that Trump’s statements are verifiably false 76% of the time (DallasNews.com), so we can safely say that Trump lies. Whatever happened to “Thou shalt not lie?” For all those who praised God for the election of Donald Trump, did you conveniently forget all the sins this man has committed? Yes, I do believe in forgiveness, but this man hasn’t repented as far as I can tell. He needs to truly apologize, especially to women (not saying it’s just locker room talk) and to the disabled. According to what is written in the Bible (and that’s all I can go on), I would venture to say that God isn’t happy with either of the candidates. I would bet He isn’t happy with America. Why?? Because none of us can get out of our own way to actually see the truth, and the truth is that we are all hypocrites.

Jesus taught us to be kind. He gave us the Ten Commandments which He expects us to follow. He expects us to love one another. To love our neighbors as ourselves. Christianity is centered around kindness, mercy, forgiveness, empathy, love, and faith. So-called “Christians” who can do nothing more than send out a constant stream of hateful posts, messages, videos, etc. are not practicing true Christianity. I don’t want those who are not Christian to look at us and think “what hypocrites!” Many do, and it’s the result of this kind of behavior. I want these non-Christians to know that true Christianity does not condone this kind of behavior. Jesus NEVER taught us that violence, distasteful comments, hateful memes, gloating over an election win, lying, adultery, etc. was alright. It is NEVER alright. We are to love each other just as God loves us and we are to follow His commands. I am ashamed at the behavior of some of the American citizens right now, especially those who say they are Christian but don’t act it. I think it’s time for people to stand back, look at all the facts, think about what they have done and then re-evaluate their behavior. We need to act like true Christians, not hateful hypocrites.

 

The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright ©1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_Foundation%E2%80%93State_Department_controversy

²https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton_sexual_misconduct_allegations

³https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_J._Trump_Foundation

(4)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump_sexual_misconduct_allegations

 

 

 

 

I Am A Survivor…And You Can Be One Too!

You know, strength is not just physical. Someone can be physically strong but emotionally and mentally weak. I know people who fall in to this category. However, today I am going to talk about emotional and mental strength…something that is not recognized very often. Going through rough times make people beautiful by strengthening their resolve. You know you can rely on these individuals as nothing will bring them down. I have been through it myself, and I have persevered due to the love and help of God. I want you to know that you can persevere as well.

It’s been a while since I have written a blog, and there is good reason for that. I have been dealing with some medical issues again. After receiving some disturbing news yesterday regarding my health, I thought back on everything that I have been through in my life. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, so I decided to write this blog to let all those who are suffering know that there is always hope.

My health story begins in 1986 when I suddenly came down with an acute case of appendicitis. I was brought into emergency surgery in the middle of the night, and it turned out that my appendix had ruptured. I stayed in the hospital for six days and was told that I was lucky to be alive.

Around 1990, my whole ordeal with adenomyosis began. The severe pain and extremely heavy bleeding lasted for seventeen years before I was finally diagnosed at hysterectomy. You can read my other blogs for more details on my adenomyosis journey.

In 2009, I woke up and was unable to stand as my right leg gave out from underneath me. It turns out that I had a herniated disc in my lower back and a broken vertebrae. This led to my first spinal fusion. Five months after surgery, I learned that two of the screws broke, and I needed a second surgery.

In 2010, I had my second spinal fusion. Sadly, this fusion also failed, and a third surgery was done in 2012.

In between my second and third back surgeries, just by chance, I learned that I had a brain aneurysm. I had no symptoms. The aneurysm was picked up when I had a head CT scan that was needed prior to a CT myelogram for my back. I was stunned! I had surgery, and the doctor placed a coil and stent to block flow to the aneurysm. Thankfully, the aneurysm is now stable.

While recovering from the coil and stent surgery, I found out that my husband was having an affair. I was an emotional wreck as we had been married for almost twenty years. One month before my third back surgery, we separated and he moved out. We are now divorced.

After my third spinal fusion, my left hip began to hurt. I was unable to sleep on my left side at night. This was the beginning of hip bursitis which plagues me to this day. I get occasional cortisone injections to help ease the discomfort.

Although the third surgery resulted in a fusion (yay!), I still live with chronic daily pain in my lower back. The pain still sometimes radiates down my right leg. Not a day goes by now that I’m not is some degree of pain.

In the last year, I began to have severe upper back pain. An MRI showed four bulging discs in my neck along with a couple of pinched nerves. I haven’t had surgery for this yet. I decided to go to a pain management doctor, and I have had many shots – epidural, facet joint, medial branch nerve blocks, etc. These have all given me minimal relief, so my doctor suggested I try radio-frequency. This procedure deadens the nerves that go from the spinal cord to the brain which block the pain signals. I had this procedure done, but it deadened the feeling in the middle of my back while the pain continued in my shoulders and upper neck. I actually am in more pain now than before the procedure. Sigh…

In the meantime, I have had knee, shoulder, and ankle pain, and at times, my knee and hip lock up and give out. Since so many of my joints were hurting, my family doctor suggested I see a rheumatologist. On my first visit with the rheumatologist, they took eight tubes of blood from my arm.

Several weeks later, I had my follow-up. I was shocked to learn that I had a positive ANA test. This test detects autoantibodies which means that there is an autoimmune process of some sort occurring in my body. I couldn’t believe it. So, the doctor ordered more tests, and I had eight more tubes of blood drawn.

Last week, I had yet another follow-up with the rheumatologist. This time, the blood work showed that I had high levels of cardiolipin and beta-2 glycoprotein. This means that I have a clotting disorder! She told me to start taking an aspirin a day for now, and I have to repeat the blood work in several months to see if the levels are still elevated. If they are, I will be diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome.

The most shocking thing about antiphospholipid syndrome/high levels of cardiolipin and beta-2 glycoprotein has to do with pregnancy complications. Apparently high levels are associated with a high incidence of miscarriage. While I was married, there were times when I was quite sure I miscarried. Until now, I thought it was a result of adenomyosis, but now I wonder if these high levels played a role also. By the way, I have no children. I wish I had this information thirty years ago! It doesn’t really apply to me now as I have had a hysterectomy. However, these levels put me at an increased risk of stroke or heart attack, so I definitely need to address it, and the rheumatologist needs to keep an eye on it.

My rheumatologist believes that my aches and pains may be due to fibromyalgia, and I have been put on Lyrica. So, for now, I live with chronic pain…pain in my lower back, pain in my upper back, pain in my shoulders, pain in my hip, and sporadic pain in my knees and ankles. I hope the Lyrica will help.

So…I know what it is like to hurt physically. I know what it is like to hurt emotionally. I know. I get it. I’ve been at that place where you think there is no way things are going to work out. I’ve been at that place where I ask God, “Why me?” But I’ve made it this far with God’s help, so I know I will make it in the future. No matter how bad things get, you will make it. Ask God for His hand, and He will guide you. With His help, you can move mountains. Nothing is impossible with God!

 

Wake Up Call to the Medical Community

Yes, these do actually exist!  They can be purchased at your local CVS pharmacy.  You will understand as you read through this blog.

It looks like I am turning into a Patient Advocate with my history of health problems and working in a medical lab.  I saw the report today about a man who traveled to the U.S. from Liberia and fell ill after he arrived here.  When I saw this story on FOX news, I decided to sit down and write a post even though I am dealing with my own health issue right now.  This news story today goes along with the idea I had for this next blog, and I think now is a good time to publish on this subject.

For those of you who don’t know the news story, a man from Liberia boarded a plane last week, flew through Brussels and Washington D.C. and finally arrived in Dallas.  He felt fine during the flights.  However, several days after arriving in Dallas, he began to feel ill.  He went the the ER where he told the nurse that he had just traveled to the U.S. from Liberia.  Now, a red flag should have gone up in the nurse’s mind immediately, but it didn’t for some reason.  This information was never forwarded to the treating doctor.  As a result, he was given some medication and released.  He came in contact with quite a few people while he was symptomatic.  His conditioned worsened and he returned to the hospital where it was finally determined that he had the ebola virus!

Clearly the nurse dropped the ball on this one by not putting two and two together.  Liberia is being ravaged by ebola, and this patient should have been put into isolation immediately.  Of course, he should have never been allowed to leave the hospital in the first place.

Now, let me tell you the story of my medical nightmare over the past several weeks.  As I said in a previous post, I have been dealing with some back pain.  It turns out that I have what appears to be a urinary tract infection.  During my first visit to the ER (I went three times…..yes, three!), they talked to me, assumed I pulled my back during a workout and sent me home with pain meds and a muscle relaxant.  About a week later, I notice cloudy urine, and I was feeling worse.  I went to CVS, bought some AZO test strips, tested at home and found out that I had a urinary tract infection.

Commentary:  First of all, this was a misdiagnosis in the ER.  I diagnosed myself by going the the store and using an over-the-counter test.  So, I spent probably several hundred dollars to go to the ER and get a wrong diagnosis, and I went to the store and spent $10.00 to get the correct diagnosis.

Continuing with the story….I went to my doctor’s office and a urinary tract infection (UTI) was confirmed.  I was put on Cipro.  I took that antibiotic for a week and didn’t improve.  In fact, I was having worsening back pain and extreme weakness.  I took another AZO test strip which was strongly positive, so I went back to the ER.  This time, I had a very young doctor who talked to me about my symptoms, pushed on my back and lower abdomen a few times, and determined that I needed to change antibiotics.  So, she put me on Levaquin.  She left, and a few minutes later, the nurse came in.  She gave me a Levaquin to take and made the remark “Even if your urine comes back normal, she wants you to take this Levaquin now.”

Commentary:  First of all, Cipro and Levaquin are in the same class of antibiotics.  Both are fluoroquinilones.  If the infection is not responding to Cipro, would it be the best choice to switch me to Levaquin?  Probably not.  If the bacteria is resistant to Cipro, there is a pretty good chance it’s going to be resistant to Levaquin.  That’s not for certain, but a better antibiotic could have been chosen.  Second, the nurses remark about if the urine “comes back clean” was absurd.  It was strongly positive about an hour prior to this remark, and it had been positive repeatedly for about a week and a half.  Does she think it’s just magically going to disappear into the sky somewhere?  Or does she think I’m lying?  When she came back into the room, she told me that “yes, you do have a bladder infection.”  I responded, “I know.”

Back to the story.  As I talked more with the nurse, she proceeded to tell me that she had never heard of AZO test strips.  I had to explain to her that you could test your own urine at home with these strips.  This conversation started to give me a headache.  Later, as I was being discharged, she decided to tell me how to deal with back pain.  She asked about my mattress, and I told her I had a tempur pedic.  She looked at me with a blank stare and told me she “didn’t know what that was”.  I explained to her that it was one of the best mattresses on the market today.

Commentary:  Now, I can understand the average person not being aware of AZO test strips.  But for a nurse in a hospital ER to not be aware that you can test your urine at home is scary.  Secondly, if you are going to give out advice on back care, it is a really good idea to know what you are talking about.  I left the hospital that day with all the symptoms I had plus a migraine headache.

I woke up the next day feeling the worst I had felt during this whole ordeal.  After talking with the doctor on call,  I once again returned to the ER determined to find the cause of my problem.  This time they took me a bit more seriously, and I finally received care from some exceptional nurses and an excellent doctor.  First of all, they took me off Levaquin as the doctor noted that both Cipro and Levaquin were fluoroquinilones.  “Thank God,” I thought to myself.  “I finally got a good one!”  A bunch of blood work was done along with a CT scan.  It was determined that I had an infection confined to the bladder (thank goodness) that was resistant to Cipro and Levaquin.  I was put on Macrobid, which is in an entirely different class of antibiotics.  I am still struggling with this infection, and I will see a urologist in the next few days.

Commentary:  I have to give my kuddos to the team that worked on me during that last visit.  That is how patients should be treated!  But, I couldn’t help but think how much money and time was spent on me during this whole ordeal.  Being a microbiologist, a thought came to my mind that made my laugh, although it is actually sad.  I know how to grow microorganisms just like they do in the lab.  And believe it or not, it can be done at home.  All the materials needed can be purchased at your local grocery store.  The only problem that I can see is in the actual identification of the microorganism.  So, I thought to myself, “Even though insurance will cover quite a bit of this, I have probably spent a couple thousand dollars trying to get a diagnosis here.  But I could have done almost the entire thing myself for about $50!  After all, I diagnosed myself with the AZO test strip.  It would probably cost about another $40 to get the plate, gelatin, sugar, etc. needed to grow the culture.  I really would just need a microscope and a few other items, along with a doctor’s signature after I go into the office, tell them what bacteria it is and what antibiotic I need.”  I shared this story with a few friends, and we were laughing so hard…..I mean belly laughing!!

OK, so my point is this:  We, as patients, have to weed through some of the bad doctors/nurses to finally get to the good ones.  Book smarts are great, and thank goodness that we have smart people around to help us.  But what really makes an exceptional doctor/nurse is his/her ability to think outside of the box and to really listen to the patient.  Don’t think that since someone doesn’t have the “classic” signs of a disease, then they aren’t sick.  I have seen more missed diagnoses than correct ones. Here are a couple of examples. Thirty years ago I went into the ER extremely ill with nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain in the center of my abdomen.  I was diagnosed with the flu and was about to be sent home when the doctor went on his gut instinct and ordered some bloodwork.  Turns out I had a ruptured appendix – not just inflammed, but ruptured!  If I had been sent home, I wouldn’t be here now.  And then there was my dad who went to the ER for back pain.  He was given pain meds as they assumed he pulled his back.  It turned out that he actually had lymphoma.  But the worst was that it took 17 years to finally be diagnosed with adenomyosis…..yes 17 YEARS!  According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, the average time for a diagnosis of endometriosis is 10 YEARS!

Pay attention to your patients.  LISTEN to them and write everything down, even if it sounds unimportant to you.  If that nurse in Dallas had done this, we wouldn’t be looking at multiple people being possibly exposed to the terrible ebola virus, and panic wouldn’t be setting in across the nation right now.  Think outside the box.  Do the necessary tests the first time around, and don’t make the patients return over and over again to the ER.  By doing this, we actually can reduce the cost of medical care….and I am quite sure you will be hard pressed to find someone who is against that idea!

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