Saturday, December 31, 2005

I'm a Proud Big Jar Mayonnaise Mama!

You can (and should) be a Big Jar Mayonnaise Mama or Papa too!
Laughing at Shakespeare

I have been idling my time of recovery away in studying Shakespeare. I stocked up on a few movies from the library and got a few books about Shakespeare, and am all set to read my way through the plays. The fact that my boys are going to need assistance in their English study of Shakespeare for school has been my excuse for shameless indulgence.

Shakespeare alternately amazes and repels me. Some of the subject matter is sublime, much of it ridiculous, and in other places indecent and brings a blush to my matronly cheeks. (There are some obscure and anachronistic terms that I will NOT be interpreting into modern patois for the boys!) The plot lines are improbable and at the same time reveal a startling insight into human nature. And is he ever hard to pin down. It is amusing to hear Shakespearean scholars pontificate about what Shakespeare meant by this or that only to have the next scholar come along and contradict the first. In the end, I don't think you can make Shakespeare a spokesman for any school of thought or the Elizabethan age in the same way Bob Dylan refused to be the spokesman for his generation. I have heard some people claim that he was a great Christian. And then I read some of the bawdy language and have no doubt that this was one of the things that led to the Puritans shutting down the theatres. Was he nihilistic? Realistic? Hopelessly romantic? Depressed? Hard to say. We don't have any of his writings on his own personal thoughts about things and I would greatly hesitate at making his plays or sonnets speak for his actual state of mind or personal opinion on anything. How nice it would be to find a detailed diary that would actually tell us that. Imagine if computers and blogs were around at the time he lived!

All the while I have been reading through some of the plays, especially the tragedies, I have had this Monty Pythonesque desire to do a parody of some of them. Apparently I am not the only one who has had this desire. Some of my most enjoyable moments have come from reading what others have said and done to Shakespeare. Witness:

~ When Big Pharma was an infant in the '70's, one of the enterprising pharmaceutical companies sought to combine the profundity of Shakespeare with a marketing strategy for tranquilizers. They psycho-analyzed the personality disorders of the likes of Lady MacBeth, Hamlet, and Ophelia. Apparently Ophelia's madness and subsequent suicide was more the result of a lack of tranqulizers and psychotherapy than the fact that her lover had violently rejected her and stabbed her father to death.

Of course, if Lady MacBeth had been tranquilized, she might not have dwelt on her guilt over urging her husband to murder Duncan. And then Shakespeare wouldn't have needed to write the play.

~ Shakespeare is beloved, not only by the nations of English speakers, but his plays have been translated into many languages and played in remote places like African huts. The Japanese are no slackers when it comes to admiration for the Bard. Some of Shakespeare's plays translated back into English from Japanese read as follows:

Strange Affair of the Flesh and the Bosom
(The Merchant of Venice)

Lust and Dreams of the Transitory World
(Romeo and Juliet)

Swords of Freedom
(Julius Caesar)

The Oar Well Accustomed to the Water
(All's Well That Ends Well)

and my favorite...

A Sad Case of Early Retirement
(King Lear)

Of course, not everyone was or is an admirer of Shakespeare. Mark Twain is one notable example. He said on one occasion:

"I feel that our fetish [with Shakespeare] is safe for three centuries yet. The bust too -- there in the Stratford Church. The precious bust, the calm bust, the serene bust, the emotionless bust, with the dandy mustache and the putty face, unseamed of care -- the face which looked passionlessly down upon the awed pilgrims for a hundred and fifty years, and will still look down upon the awed pilgrims three hundred more, with the deep, deep, deep, subtle, subtle, subtle expression of a bladder."

The urge to parody Shakespeare's tragedies is not new. Some of the nineteenth century music halls did a lot of business making fun of Hamlet:

Hamlet the Ravin' Prince of Denmark!! or the Baltic Swell!! And the Diving Belle!! A Burlesque Extravaganza in Three Acts

Hamlet a la Mode

Hamlet the Hysterical: A Delirium in Five Spasms

Apparently this was too much for humorist P.G. Wodehouse who wrote

I went into a music-hall but soon came out of it
On seeing some comedians in a painful "Hamlet" skit
And a gentleman who gave some imitations, all alone
Of other people's Hamlets, plus a Hamlet of his own.
It's "Hamlet" this and "Hamlet" that,
And Hamlet day by day.
Shakespeare and Bacon must regret they ever wrote the play.

Then there is the "skinhead" version of Hamlet which reduces a play that was originally about 4 hours long down to four pages. Here, in skinhead vernacular (with appropriate bleeping inserted by me), is Claudius's response to a play-within-a-play:

1 Player: Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart
Claudius: I'll be ****** if I watch any more of this crap!

And in the final act when Fortinbras enters to find Hamlet, his mother, Claudius and Laertes dead:

Fortinbras: What the ******* is going on here?
Horatio: A ****** mess, that's for sure.
Fortinbras: No kidding. I see Hamlet's *******.
Horatio: Yer.
Fortinbras: ******* shame. ******* good bloke.
Horatio: Too ******* right.
Fortinbras: ******* this for a lark then. Let's piss off.
(Exeunt with alarums.)

Even Prince Charles has taken a stab at reproducing Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" speech into the common vernacular of our day.

"Well, frankly, the problem as I see it
At this moment in time is whether I
Should just lie down under all this hassle
And let them walk all over me,
Or, whether I should just say, "OK,
I get the message," and do myself in.
I mean, let's face it, I'm in a no-win
Situation, and quite honestly,
I'm so stuffed up to here with the whole
Stupid mess that, I can tell you, I've just
Got a good mind to take the quick way out.
That's the bottom line. The only problem is:
What happens if I find out that when I 've bumped
Myself off, there's some kind of a, you know,
All that mystical stuff about when you die,
You might find you're still -- know what I mean?"

Anyhow, I'm having fun with all this Shakespeare stuff and enjoying most of the videos that I have been able to track down.

By the way, all the quotes from above have come from the book The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard by Norrie Epstein.

Now tell me: Which is your favorite play or movie version of a Shakespeare play?

Friday, December 30, 2005

Nearly There

We are almost at the end of the holiday madness and we managed to survive it despite the death rattle cough. What started out as a viral infection took on a secondary bacterial infection in moi. For a week or so I have been coughing up dark green gunk from my left bronchial tree and tightening my abs in the process. I am nearly done with the cough though and I am VERY PROUD to say that I did it without antibiotics! Gotta love them herbs and glyconutrients. At times when I was up in the wee small hours of the night feeling like the top of my head was going to part company with the rest of my frame with each cough, I briefly contemplated breaking down and getting some antibiotics. However, the knowledge of the aftermath that abx cause held me firm to my path and I merely had another hot bath so I could snuff up some warm moist air. I also eschewed the dubious comforts of Tylenol and its generic cousins in favor of letting my body's own defense mechanism of fever free reign to kill the pathogens wreaking havoc in my lungs. I woke in the middle of the night when my fever broke to find I had drenched my nighty. After that happened, it was like a switch going on in terms of feeling better.

I hadn't planned on taking time off around the ho ho season with the schooling, but this most recent bout of illness put the kybosh on that. I will continue to take it easy for another few days as I slowly regain lost ground in housecleaning and by Monday I should be back in fighting trim again.

I'm not posting any details, but if he is brought to mind, please say a prayer on behalf of my son, Nathanael.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Something is Different, but I Don't Know What or Why

The past few weeks have been instructive ones. For one thing, I have had confirmed in a personal way how big a toll emotional angst can take on one, mostly by losing a lot of it. Spinning one's wheels is a fruitless activity that consumes a lot of emotional, mental, and physical energy. Remove the spinning wheels, and all of a sudden you have energy you didnt' know you had for other things.

I know I am not alone in this ~ so much of my drive to do things is driven by what "they" will think or say. Who "they" are I haven't yet determined. It is like I have this judge and jury in my head composed of a number of friends, family, church members, and other significant others who are waiting to pounce on my every mistake. I realize how ridiculous this is as I write it, because while there has been the odd person here and there who has been critical, it is mostly been from people I don't know well and care even less about.

Some things have changed in my head without me having to work at it. This was an unasked for grace. I have been able to see what my priorities clearly are and this has enabled me to determine what is important and worth spending time on and what is not important and which can afford to wait.

First priority: My relationship with God. More prayer and meditation on God's Word has been happening. Funny thing about my "episode". When everyone else was freaking out about the possibility of imminent death, it hasn't troubled me. I don't claim responsibility for this. God has worked in me to such an extent that while death remains an enemy, it isn't one I fear.

Second priority: My family. My kids are growing and will be gone sooner than I think. I'll never be able to have as much impact on them as I am now while they are still under my roof. All of a sudden homeschooling isn't the chore it was before. Instead it is a way to keep contact with my kids. Looks like I won't be using the Christian school next year. My husband needs taking care of. He's the only one I have and likely to be the only one I will ever have.

Third priority: Everyone and everything else. As important as it is to do good works (as the result, not the cause of salvation), everyone else has to take a backseat to the first two items. Not that I didn't already know this.

Here's what is funny: I have stressed less over messes in the house. The messes are disappearing and I am able to keep up with most of everything.

I am not stressing over the homeschooling, and now all of a sudden it is getting done in a timely and satisfactory manner.

Business is good. I am seeing a steady stream of clients but if they don't show up, well that means more time for other things.

I am content. I still have my ambitions, but I don't have this desperate need to beat the clock as far as getting them done. Naturopathic school will still be waiting for me when the times comes that I can devote my energies to it. In the meantime, I have plenty of good solid work and studies to keep me occupied.

I want to end this post on a note of apology. I have been aware for some time that a number of young women and mothers have looked at me like I was some sort of example to follow -- maybe not in terms of levels of sanctification, but perhaps in levels of sheer activity. For that I am sorry. I would hate for anyone to think that one must always be going, going, going in order to accomplish things of any worth or that the standard of godly womanhood was measured by how much laundry you get done in a day. As important as it can be to do, it is just as important just to be.
Calvin Must Be Spinning

In the country that was formerly one of the cradles of Reformation, thanks to the likes of John Calvin, we now learn that one of the Swiss hospitals in Lausanne will be allowing an organization, which is in favor of assisted suicide, to help terminally ill patients to end their own lives.

The hospital will not accept people whose only goal in entering "is to prepare to
end his life," said Alberto Crespo, who is responsible for law and ethics at the
hospital. "The purpose of a hospitalization remains therapeutic treatment."

The Question No Expert is Asking....

Something is rotten in Denmark.

Parents of children with autism who believe that the condition was caused by vaccines have been routinely written off by the experts. It doesn't matter that these parents saw normal behaviour and development before vaccines and a startling regression after. That is pure coincidence.

So where are the studies that compare vaccinated children with autism with rates of autism in children who are not vaccinated? In other words, where are the controls?

Nowhere according to the "experts".

"There have never been any large, prospective, long-term studies comparing the long-term health of highly vaccinated individuals versus those who have never been vaccinated at all," Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center wrote in Mothering Magazine last year.

Therefore, the background rates for ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, seizure disorders, asthma, diabetes, intestinal bowel disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and other brain and immune-system dysfunction in a genetically diverse unvaccinated population remains unknown."

-- "Why hasn't the most obvious research been done -- that is, assess the incidence of autism in unvaccinated children?" wrote Illinois autism activist Dr. David Ayoub this fall.

-- Kennedy, in a white paper called "Tobacco Science and the Thimerosal Scandal," quotes University of Kentucky chemistry professor Boyd Haley as saying, "If the CDC were really interested in uncovering the truth, it would commission epidemiological studies of cohorts who escaped vaccination, most obviously the children of Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists or the Amish."

Instead, Kennedy said, the CDC has "worked furiously to quash such studies" and prevent access to its own vaccine safety database -- a charge the CDC denies. Kennedy said he asked an official at the Institute of Medicine -- which last year rejected a vaccines-autism link -- why it didn't encourage those studies rather than recommend research money be redirected.

"That's a great idea, no one has ever suggested it before," Kennedy quoted the official as saying. Kennedy commented: "That statement is incredible. ... The idea of finding an uncontaminated U.S. cohort is Science 101. ... In fact, Dr. Boyd Haley has repeatedly urged IOM and CDC to conduct such a study, including at two public and tape-recorded meetings."

All these people are saying the same thing: Given the stakes, where's the study? This winter the government wants all pregnant women and 6-to-23-month-olds to get flu shots, most of which contain thimerosal.
In Case You Have Missed It...

...I have big problems with Big Pharma and the ethics being used to drive their industry. In their search for increased profit taking, they have turned to third world countries not only for a cheaper workforce but also because the regulations governing testing of drugs is more lax. This allows them to get away with things like the following:

Sun Pharmaceuticals convinced doctors to prescribe Letrozole, a breast cancer drug, to more than 400 women as a fertility treatment in a covert clinical trial -- and used the results to promote the drug for the unapproved use. This reminds me of a story that I heard on CBC radio's science show, Quirks and Quarks a few years ago where the WHO went into a South American country and under the guise of providing vaccines against disease, actually vaccinated women against pregnancy without their consent.

and ...

"Doctors are easier to recruit for trials because they don't have to go through the same ethics procedures as their Western colleagues," Ecks said. "And patients ask fewer questions about what is going on."

Also, critics say study volunteers may be taking risks without the potential for reward. Since many pharmaceutical companies are developing the drugs for markets in industrialized nations, it is unlikely that India's poor will have access to most of the new medicine.

You needn't reserve all your moral outrage for India's poor. Big Pharma is willing to stick it to the poor in North America as well. SFBC International has a 675 bed facility in Miami that has been recruiting undocumented Latinos who are desperate for money, and is paying them to take untested drugs in studies overseen by an unlicensed medical director whose degree comes from an offshore medical school in the Caribbean.

I don't know if any of my readers invest money in Big Pharma as part of their stock portfolio, but if you do, maybe it is time to seek a more ethical way of making money, no?

Monday, December 12, 2005

I Came, I Saw, I Worked Out

I got up early this morning -- like around 5:30 am. This was with some help from Jamesie who was snuffling around for first breakfast (second breakfast is at 9). Usually I would go back to sleep for another hour or two, but my curiosity over lights emanating from the downstairs overcame me, so James and I went downstairs to see what was up. What was up were two girls getting ready to go on their paper route. Something in the air told me that they had eaten or were going to eat. I happened to wander over by the stove which had a dish cloth draped over the top bit where the controls are, and discovered it was warm. I opened it up, and inside were browning popovers. Two girls stood there sheepishly grinning. I predict either naps or an early bedtime for those two tonight.

Sam was roused and joined the girls in their hot popover treat and I shoved them out the door by 6. I then donned a t shirt that wasn't as baggy as it should have been, yoga pants, and runners and proceeded to do 20 minutes of aerobics, 20 of upper body weight training, and 20 minutes of contorting myself into a semblance of Pilates moves.

I can't wait for the elliptical trainer to come. At least I can read a book while I run on it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I Love My Work

Yesterday and today I got to work with two clients who live in Vancouver. Whenever they come to PG to visit family, they get me to work on them. One of them has been in a bad way for some time and the doctors and naturopaths down in Lotusland haven't been able to give her much in the way of help. What has helped her is seeing me, according to her and her husband. So....
He's planning on sending her up by plane every six weeks or so to have me work on her. Which I think is a real compliment.

In other news, James exploded today. No, he has not joined the Muslim extremists dedicated to blowing themselves and others up. Instead he did what many breastfed babies do -- he saved a bowel movement for several weeks and then finally exploded in a yellow lava-like flow of poop all the way up his back and out his legs. It is hard to believe a baby could hold so much poop. The tricky part was trying to get his onesie undershirt off of him without smearing it all through his hair. I think I used up half of my homemade baby wipes cleaning him up because I didn't have time to just put him in the bath and be done with it.

It has been a full week since I went to town. I almost went in tonight, but Marc elected to go for me, giving Ben the chance to drive. Hannah is out babysitting, as is Trahern. Only the little kids and I are at home and some of them are laying around in various stages of decreptitude. It looks like it will be a quiet Lord's Day at home tomorrow. Not all the kids are down with the "death rattle" cough, but James is feeling out of sorts from that and teething. Despite the fact that he can't do more than squeak in a pathetic manner, he is still smiling and surprisingly unfussy. Bless him!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Thimoserol (Mercury) and Autism Link

I recently read an article from the Boston Globe written by a pediatrician concerning what he thought was a bogus connection between autism and the thimoserol found in many vaccines. His concern was over the numbers of parents who are now refusing to administer vaccines to their children and in doing so were opting for other methods of protecting their children over "herd immunity". In reply to his article, a neuorpharmacologist from Northeastern University who is doing research into the molecular causes of autism replied that there is indeed hard scientific evidence demonstrating a link between autism and thimoserol exposure through vaccination. He summed up his findings with the following:

1. Thiol (sulfur) metabolism is widely recognized as the primary target of mercury (i.e. Thimerosal) neurotoxicity.

2. Autistic children exhibit profound abnormalities in thiol metabolites

3. Concentrations of thimerosal produced by vaccination inhibit methylation activity of the enzyme methionine synthase.

4. Autistic children exhibit impaired methylation activity (Dr. James study).

5. Thiol metabolism plays a key role in inflammation and oxidative stress (e.g. maintaining glutathione levels).

6. Autistic children exhibit neuroinflammation and oxidative stress (Vargas et al. Ann Neurol. 2005 Jan;57(1):67-81)

7. Mercury and other heavy metals cause neuroinflammation (e.g. activation of microglia).

8. Thimerosal causes significantly greater accumulation of inorganic mercury in the brain than does methylmercury. (Burbacher et al. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Aug;113(8):1015-21)

Ergo, there is indeed substantial scientific evidence of a link between Thimerosal and autism.

Furthermore, and more importantly:
Treatment of autistic children with regimens that:

1. Remove heavy metals (e.g. chelation)

2. Augment levels of glutathione (e.g. GSH or N-acetylcysteine)

3. Support methylation activity (e.g. methyl B12 (not just B12), folinic acid)

4. Reduce neuroinflammation (PPAR-acting agents )

....bring about clinical improvement in a large proportion of children with autism.

What the articles against freedom from vaccination boil down to for the most part is a desire for draconian action on the part of the state to force parents to vaccinate their children irrespective of the desires of the parents to protect individual children from the possible harmful effects they may suffer. Scare tactics alongside fervent declarations concerning the safety of vaccines are commonly employed in order to get compliance. Those who question the connection between vaccines and various disorders are put off with the notion that what they are experiencing couldn't possibly be caused by vaccines and that their observations are not scientific. Autism is caused by something else: it can't possibly be the vaccines!

What is lacking from the pro-vaccine side is the lack of questions: Why are so many children getting sick?

The argument the vaccinators put forward is that the increases in autism are the artifacts of increased awareness and better diagnosis. In short, we had autism before, but it wasn't being diagnosed. However, this is a testable hypothesis and the hypothesis has proven false. Autism spectrum disorders have been rising. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and the idea that it can be administered safely to infants at what can be 15 times the EPA limits of toxicity in vaccines is, well, just plain stupid. Autism is an environmentally caused condition. However the integration of science and commerce dictates that we ignore the single most probable cause of a preventable condition and furthermore that we attempt to coerce everyone into compliance with it. So some children end up unable to function in society. That is the price we are supposed to pay for herd immunity.

It is clear who the winners are with this sort of program.

Oh, and btw, I think it is highly interesting that Big Pharma has persuaded Congress to protect them from further lawsuits caused by vaccine damage. If vaccines were so safe, would the bottom line need such safeguards?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Thoughts on Finitude

It happens to me everyday. I am brought up against my state of finitude in multiple ways.

My children fight and I can never know for sure that I have gotten all the facts and ruled justly because I am finite.

I read the paper and see that such and such a move by the US gov't will likely lead to a rise in this or that commodity. And I wonder if they have all their facts straight or if this is only an educated guess because the commentator is finite.

We argue over which form of gov't is best: democracy, republicanism, socialism or marxism. We all can't agree because we are finite and only see a tiny part of the picture.

We take sides in a controversy thinking we have done our due diligence and are competent to render judgement only to find out later that we were missing some key facts. We are finite.

Despite my best efforts to get everything done, I often wake up in the night with the memory of something that I forgot to do. I am finite.

Finitude can be something to bang your head against in frustrated anger, or it can be a means of being humbled and filled with gratitude because even if you are finite, God is not and He can handle it all.
Seven Seven's

I am taking Sora's general invitation to list my seven seven's since no one else has tagged me. [sniff, sniff]

Seven things I hope to see or do before I die:

1. See all my children serving the Lord and their children after them.
2. Learn to sing all 150 Psalms by heart
3. Become a naturopathic physician
4. Go to the UK and travel all the historic sites I have dreamed of for years.
5. Have a summer home in the Maritimes so that I can visit with my family every year.
6. Lose all my "baby" fat and fit back into some decent sized clothing.
7. Write an autobiography solely for my family's use. I'm not noteworthy enough for wider publication and have no desire for the limelight that way anyhow.

Seven Things I Cannot Do

1. Willingly drink soda pop. Every time I try, I think of how the phosphoric acid drains the calcium from my bones and how the 10 - 12 teaspoons of sugar wrecks my immune system and affects my blood sugar.

2. Relax when my house is a mess.

3. Sit still for very long. I am not happy unless I am busy with something.

4. Read books for long. This is because I am constantly interrupted by little people and big kids wanting this or that.

5. Take a bath without a baby or two wanting in.

6. I can't stop kissing Jamesie. He's just too adorable for words.

7. Homeschool four grade levels at the same time and keep my sanity. One-room school house teachers have all my admiration!

Seven Things that Attract Me to my Spouse

1. His chest hair.

2. His sense of humor. It is odd and not everyone gets it, but I do.

3. His faithfulness and loyalty. I have never known Marc to say a bad word about me to anyone.

4. His diligence in working for years at a job he hated in order to provide for the children and me.

5. His ability to provide some calm and short circuit my ravings when I get worked up over things.

6. The practical things he gets me. I know a lot of women like receiving romantic gifts of flowers and jewelry, but it says more to me that he is thinking of me when he provides me with the tools I need to do my work.

7. His appreciation for the things I do for him.

Seven Things I Say Most Often:

1. Who made this mess?

2. Whose job is it to ________? (insert name of chore)

3. I love you too.

4. ________ (insert name of child) come hang up your coat and put your shoes away!

5. Did you clean your room?

6. Suppertime!

7. It's time for family worship!

Seven Books or Series that I Love.

1. Lord of the Rings

2. Anne of Green Gables and all the other "Anne" books by L.M. Montgomery

3. The Chronicles of Narnia

4. All of Dorothy Sayers' novels

5. Anything by P.G. Wodehouse

6. Anything by James Herriot

7. The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink

Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again if I had the Time

1. The Princess Bride

2. Lord of the Rings

3. A&E's version of Pride and Prejudice

4. BBC production of Dickens' Our Mutual Friend

5. Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson

6. The Horatio Hornblower series with Ioan Gruffud

7. Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow

Seven People I Want to Join and Do this Meme

Anyone who wants to join in!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Martin Luther on Diapers

Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason . . , takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, "Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores . . . ?

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a
certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even
more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight. . . .

God, with all his angels and creatures is smiling--not because the father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.

Now doesn't that quote make you want to have a better attitude about your chores?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Take the Harvard Reading Test Below ...

This was developed as an age test by an R&D department at Harvard University. Take your time and see if you can read each line aloud without a mistake. The average person over 40 years of age can't do it!

This is this cat
This is is cat
This is how cat
This is to cat
This is keep cat
This is an cat
This is old cat
This is person cat
This is busy cat
This is for cat
This is forty cat
This is seconds cat

Now go back and read the third word in each line from the top down.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thinking the Unthinkable (for me, that is)

Homeschooling has been a part of my life for ever it seems. It was something I approached initially with a lot of the enthusiasm and bravado that only youth can bring to it. Over the years I have gained experience, but the funny thing about it is that instead of getting easier, it has gotten progressively harder.

At some point the weight of responsibility that knowing my kids’ education rested pretty well on my shoulders became crushing. If I had only had two or three children it might have remained manageable, but when you add a lot of kids to the mix , at some point you can hit critical mass when you can’t spend the time with each one that you would like to. All the arguments in favor of homeschooling being more efficient because of the small teacher/student ratio flew out the window because what competed for my attention wasn’t merely children: it was also laundry, cooking large quantities of food, housework, appointments, and outside activities. If I could have focused just on the schooling and let someone do the cooking or cleaning, and running around things might have been easier.

The other thing that has made homeschooling harder is the sheer breadth of grades being taught. I know that there are systems out there like unit studies that allow you to teach everyone the same subject and then do work at their own level. However, I just couldn’t manage to do that program – it involved a lot of planning and tracking which meant time; something that has been in short supply around here.

The burden of responsibility was eased a great deal when I finally put the kids on a distance education program where we have a teacher to answer to. It has made a difference in how motivated the kids are to do their work and do it well when they know someone besides mom is going to be looking it over. It has also kept me from slacking off and taking off days when I just couldn’t seem to get started.

The question is not whether or not this latest approach works. It works if their grades are anything to go by. The kids are learning. The younger children that I have been more diligent in teaching are getting A’s. and B’s. However, this has all come with a cost – a burnt out and apparently over-stressed mother.

I was teaching the children the other day. James was on my lap being nursed, Elodie was trying to climb into my lap and I was teaching Garnet his grade one math. At the same time I was fielding questions on grade 11 accounting and grade 5 social studies. Sam looked at my red and distressed face and said, “Mom, go lay down. We don’t want a dead mother.”

I feel horrible about the whole situation. I try to involve Elodie with us as much as possible, but more often than not I am telling her to go away and watch PBS kids so I can spend hours in the attic schoolroom making sure that everything is getting done. My delightful baby becomes a distressing hindrance instead of the light of my eyes when he needs my attention. I feel like I am being forced to sacrifice their babyhood for the sake of an ideal that I am not so sure I really want to die for.

And so, I am doing the unthinkable – thinking of placing some of my kids in a local Christian school next year so that I can regain some sanity and start to enjoy my kids again.

What has surprised me about all this is that when I finally gave myself permission to contemplate this step, I really find myself not wanting to do it. Those who have read here for any length of time know that homeschooling is not something that I feel particularly well equipped to do. I make an excellent student, but a lousy teacher. My children will be grown and gone from the nest all too soon. I am not eager to see less of them especially as I know that my time with them is all too short. I also have this ridiculous idea that I have somehow failed as a mother in having to do this.

I realize that school is something that you can be withdrawn from once you start it. The kids and I aren't locked into it forever if we find later on that it isn't working. And who knows? Maybe by next summer some of the current situation will be eased enough that we won't have to go there at all.

Emotions aside, I need to make the best decision for the sake of the kids. It is their future that is at stake in all of this. Killing myself to keep them home will deny them a mother for good and ensure public school as a certainty. I definitely don’t want them to go there if they absolutely don’t have to. In any event, I have until next September to figure out how to homeschool without hurting anyone or find some money for the private Christian school. Pray for us if you think of it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Forgot About This

Below is an article I posted last February. This might explain what happened to me recently...

Feb. 9, 2004 — Emotional stress can precipitate severe but reversible left ventricular dysfunction caused by an exaggerated sympathetic response, according to the results of a study published in the Feb. 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The potentially lethal consequences of emotional stress are deeply rooted in folk wisdom, as reflected by phrases such as 'scared to death' and 'a broken heart,'" write Ilan S. Wittstein, MD, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues. "In the past decade, cardiac contractile abnormalities and heart failure have been reported after acute emotional stress, but the mechanism remains unknown."

Using coronary angiography and serial echocardiography, the authors evaluated 19 patients presenting with left ventricular dysfunction after sudden emotional stress. Five patients underwent endomyocardial biopsy, and plasma catecholamine levels in 13 patients with stress-related myocardial dysfunction were compared with those in seven patients with Killip class III myocardial infarction.Median age of patients with stress-induced cardiomyopathy was 63 years, and 95% were women. Presenting symptoms included chest pain, pulmonary edema, and cardiogenic shock, and most patients had diffuse T-wave inversion and a prolonged QT interval.

Although 17 patients had mildly elevated serum troponin I levels, angiography revealed clinically significant coronary disease in only one of 19 patients.On admission, all patients had severe left ventricular dysfunction (median ejection fraction, 0.20; interquartile range, 0.15-0.30), which resolved rapidly (ejection fraction at two to four weeks, 0.60; interquartile range, 0.55-0.65; P < .001). Endomyocardial biopsy revealed mononuclear infiltrates and contraction-band necrosis.At presentation, patients with stress-induced cardiomyopathy had markedly higher plasma catecholamine levels than did those with Killip class III myocardial infarction (median epinephrine level, 1,264 pg/mL [interquartile range, 916-1,374] vs 376 pg/mL [interquartile range, 275-476]; norepinephrine level, 2,284 pg/mL [interquartile range, 1,709-2,910] vs 1,100 pg/mL [interquartile range, 914-1,320]; and dopamine level, 111 pg/mL [interquartile range, 106-146] vs 61 pg/mL [interquartile range, 46-77]; P < .005 for all comparisons).

Study limitations are those inherent in any small, observational case series, as well as inability to prove a causal relationship between sympathetic activation and stress cardiomyopathy."Emotional stress can precipitate severe, reversible left ventricular dysfunction in patients without coronary disease," the authors write. "Exaggerated sympathetic stimulation is probably central to the cause of this syndrome."

Because patients with stress cardiomyopathy typically present with clinical features resembling those of acute myocardial infarction, the authors recommend coronary angiography in most cases.The Bernard A. and Rebecca S. Bernard Foundation partly supported this study, and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation partly supported four of the authors.N Engl J Med. 2005;352:539-548

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

'Flu Flim Flam

Last night my hubbie and I watched two programs, one after the other, on PBS. Both of them dealt with the Spanish 'Flu epidemic of 1918. It was really amazing how quickly the SF spread and how fast it struck people down. What was especially interesting and surprising to me was the fact that the typical victims were not those who usually suffer -- the elderly and very young-- but for the most part struck those in the prime of life between the ages of 20 to 29.

The fact that viruses caused flus wasn't known at the time. Efforts to create a vaccine was based on bacterial studies and the resulting vaccine was of no effect. Vaccine production against various strains of flu viruses is on-going, but it is anyone's guess as to whether or not the vaccine producers have lucked out and chosen the correct virus to innoculate the population with. Then there are the problems with fraud...

Fraud in an already flawed flu plan

Just a few days ago, I wrote to you about the President's Big Plan to reduce flu infections and protect us against an outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu. As you might expect, increased flu vaccinations are the biggest component of this plan...

The problem with simply ratcheting up the number of vaccinations is that flu viruses can mutate into more virulent forms at a rate that's faster than what effective vaccines can be manufactured in mass quantities. I've written in the past (Daily Dose 3/8/05 and 2/20/04) about how worthless mass vaccinations are - except as profit drivers for the vaccine manufacturers. In one of those articles, I referenced a National Institute of Health study that showed flu vaccinations had not saved a single life in the supposedly "most vulnerable" over-65 demographic.

But these facts don't stop our government from lining us up every year and needlessly needling us in the name of flu resistance. And as if we needed any more evidence that these mass vaccinations with instantly-obsolete drugs were worthless, consider this:

In some cases, the shots themselves contain almost NO MEDICINE.

Apparently, the lure of easy money is too much for some doctors to bear in the fight against the flu. At least one such doctor, a man named Iyad Abu el Hawa, was arrested last month in Houston, Texas after the health care company he owns administered more than 1,000 fake flu shots to Exxon/Mobil employees and independent contractors at a job safety event in October. According to the now-involved FDA, the substance administered was nothing more than sterilized H20...

Authorities say el Hawa planned to keep giving the fake jabs while billing Medicare for the administration of real vaccines. So far, the investigation has gathered evidence showing that the doctor also administered ersatz vaccine to residents of a housing facility for senior citizens. Interestingly enough, "doctor" el Hawa was convicted of assaulting a police officer in 1999, according to the Baytown Sun, a Houston-area newspaper.

The doctor would no doubt have continued to perpetrate more of these frauds (another mass inoculation scheduled for October 22nd was canceled after his arrest), but for the clear head and strong medical conscience of a sharp-minded temp nurse contracted to help administer the shots. Keep reading...

According to a U.S. Newswire account, a nurse hired by el Hawa's company to help dole out the "flu shots" became alarmed after a conversation with one of the facility's other employees - the one filling up syringes the night before the event - revealed a startling lack of knowledge about the system of identifying and tracking vaccines currently in place in the U.S. According to the nurse's testimony, the person didn't even know what a vaccine lot number was.

Concerned, the nurse palmed a pair of the syringes prepared for the Exxon/Mobil safety fair and contacted authorities, who raided el Hawa's facility the day after the event. They also seized 32 syringes el Hawa himself attempted to discard in a dumpster across the street from his company's offices during the raid.

Thankfully, no injuries have been reported from this fraudulent jabbing. When you think about it, the people who received a harmless salt solution instead of vaccine are the lucky ones since there's no proof that the vaccines are effective in the first place.

But to me, this incident raises new questions about the safety of vaccinations - not from a point of view of adverse reactions to actual vaccines or the unwitting spread of secondary infections, but from a standpoint of the ease in which a disgruntled doctor could cause another terror disaster of a 9/11-ish scale...

Think about it. If it's this easy to inject people with something other than a vaccine in order to perpetrate simple fraud, it would be equally easy to inject a few thousand people with a toxic chemical or deadly communicable disease, like AIDS (or worse)...

I wonder if the president has a plan in place for THAT?

Always planning, never flim-flamming,

William Campbell Douglass II, MD

Copyright (c)1997-2005 by, L.L.C. The Daily Dose may not be posted on commercial sites without written permission.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Where I've Been

I know some people have been waiting to see what I would write about recent happenings in my life. I have held back because I didn't know quite how to address this. Should I be light and humorous? Should I be deeply reflective and profound? I also held back because I wanted some time to think about it all. What follows is merely prose.

Be careful what you pray for.

I was sitting in church on the Lord's Day a couple of weeks ago, mulling over various situations of friends and family and my own failings that were having me bummed out. As I sat there, I thought to myself "Lord, it would be so wonderful to be free from the power and presence of sin." An hour later a group of us were discussing various issues, and I began to have some chest pain. I thought perhaps it was a bad gas attack or something because it felt like I had swallowed some pills the wrong way, so I gathered the kids up and got them out into the van. As I drove the 20 minute drive home, the pain continued to grow and radiated out from my sternum towards my armpits and my back. By the time I drove into my driveway, it had gone down my left arm and I had a feeling of pins and needles in it. I had checked my heart rate as I was driving, and it was plodding along in its customary way. However, the pain in my arm had me a bit worried, so I stuck my pinky finger in my mouth and bit down and held it. The heart meridian happens to run into that finger.

I got out of the van and walked into the house and could barely make it down my hallway because now the pain was so intense that I couldn't breathe well and I felt slightly nauseated. My son Ben came and put his arms around me and asked me if I was ok. I said I didn't know and stumbled upstairs to my room. Bethany, my 10 year old came in and with a worried look asked me if she could make me some tea or something. I told her to go and get her father.

I was gasping and crying with the pain when Marc came down and found me. He took one look at me and asked me what was wrong. I told him about the pains I was having. He asked me what I wanted to do. I said, "Take me to Cal's!" (Cal is my health care provider.) "Don't be crazy!" he replied. "I'm taking you to the emergency room!"

In short order he hussled me out into the car and drove me to the hospital. The pain was still pretty intense, but it began to ease off. We arrived at the hospital and Marc ran in and grabbed a wheel chair and wheeled me up to the triage nurse. In a short period of time she had me hooked up to a blood pressure cuff, was taking my temperature, checking my oxygen saturation and firing questions at me. Next trip was down the hall to a small room with a bed to strip off and put on a hospital gown and await an ECG.My blood pressure was only slightly elevated. By the time the lab tech hooked me up to the portable ECG machine, it was considerably eased. She did one strip and then came back and did another in about a half hour. Another lab tech came and took some blood samples.

Sunday night is typically a busy night in the emergency ward of our local hospital, and this night was no exception. My bed was needed for other people being taken in, so I was asked to dress and go and sit in the waiting room until the doctor was available to see me. When Marc and I went out to the waiting room, Mike, one of the fellows from church came in. In his humorous way he said he was in the neighborhood and recognized our car so he stopped in to see what was going on. The truth was that either he called our house or my son Trahern called him and told We sat and chatted for a bit and in a little while they called me to come in to the actual emergency ward for an assessment. Being able to sit and chat with Mike and joke around helped to add some normalcy to the situation.

The doctor was very nice. He explained that it looked like I might possibly have had a very slight heart attack, but they would know for sure when the blood work came back. He was extremely doubtful that it could be that because I don't have any of the risk factors for it: no family history, no smoking, no drinking, and I was relatively young. Plus the number of children I have had is actually a protection against heart disease. He was thinking it might have been more along the lines of an esophageal spasm. At this point I am ready to get up and leave because I am thinking about Sweet Baby James at home without his mama and his nursies for several hours. Plus I wasn't in pain and just wanted out. It was not to be.

My blood work came back and showed slightly elevated enzymes. Gone was the warm reassurance that everything would be ok; now I am being informed solemnly by the doctor that I must not have any more children. And drugs are being ordered. Lots of drugs.

At this point I said, "I'm a nursing mother and I need my baby!" Well, ok, but baby will have to be brought to me and would someone be available to help look after him? Marc left with instructions to bring back James, his portable crib, clothing, and various things necessary for a short hospital stay. I lay back in my bed with a sense of unreality about all this.

The nurses were very efficient and in no time at all had me hooked up to all kinds of monitors, stuck full of needles, and on an IV. I'm not the typical patient. Before I would let them give me anything at all, I had to know what it was for, and whether it was safe for nursing mothers to use. I had them bring me the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties which is the Canadian equivalent of the Physician's Desk Reference on drugs and another book specifically on the use of drugs in pregnant and lactating women and I looked up each and every drug and its contraindications, side effects, and if it was studied for safety in breastfeeding. The internist who looked after me was of the opinion that I needed the drugs regardless because it was important to save me, but I was of the opinion that I didn't want my baby being treated.

Marc returned with my son Ben and a baby who was very happy to see his mom. James charmed all the nurses, of course, being the cheerful sweet thing he is. It also doesn't hurt that he is as cute as a button. After much trial and tribulation, and finally some assistance from a helpful nurse the crib was set up in my cubicle, and the 40 tons of baby and mother paraphanalia were unloaded into it. James was placed beside me and by carefully manuevering around all the wires and iv lines, he was able to settle down to sleep.

I eventually ended up in the pediatric room in the emergency ward for the night since there wasn't space for me upstairs on the internal medicine unit. It had the virtue of being a separate room with walls and a door which would have afforded me the ability to sleep if it were not for the fact that I had nurses popping in and out all night long checking on me and taking yet more blood for more tests.

One of the things I came to detest was the automatic blood pressure cuffs they put on you. They have no brain and just keep pumping the air in until your fingers turn blue and your arm feels like it is going to fall off. I was hooked up to one and left on it for that first night. Every fifteen minutes it would blow up and cause me excruciating pain because they went and put it on the arm with the saline locks and iv in it. It felt like the iv and saline lock ought to be shooting across the room from the pressure of it. I finally protested to one of the nurses, and when she took it off, my arm looked thoroughly mangled and had long red streaks of broken blood vessels around it. The age of automation has rendered many nurses nearly incapable of taking a blood pressure manually it seems.

The following morning they brought me breakfast: a boiled egg, two pieces of cold toast, black coffee, and margarine. I ate the egg. I didn't sleep much and poor little James was a bit disturbed with it all, but it was a comfort to have him there to snuggle with.

The internist who would look after me came in that morning. His name is Dr. Hamour, and he is a tall, distinguished looking Muslim from Sudan. He has only been in Canada for two months but he speaks English beautifully due to some time he spent in the UK. He had a very calm and dignified demeanor. In the course of our conversation he learned that I had 12 children and that I was homeschooling them. "That is very noble of you," he said in his quaint way. He himself is from a family of 15.

He told me that he thought I had suffered a slight heart attack and that I would likely have to be on a statin drug to lower my cholesterol, a baby aspirin, and some other drugs for some time. I am severely allergic to even the thought of taking drugs so that prospect didn't do much for me. Then a very sweet nurse, who it turns out is a Christian, came in and in her quiet way read me the riot act about lowering my stress levels, taking naps in the morning and afternoon, easing back into life, etc. She went on to say that my heart was very unstable and another heart attack could be much more serious and do more damage if it didn't outright kill me. What a regular ray of sunshine she was.

Later that morning I got moved up to the IMU unit and I was placed on a mobile telemetry unit so they could monitor my heart rate, breathing, etc., from the nursing station and yet allow me up to shower and use the washroom. I was taken off the heparin, which was there to thin out my blood and instead they gave me injections of another similar drug which did the same thing, with the added benefit of leaving huge bruises on me about the size of a silver dollar all over my belly.

"It burns us!" I would hiss at the nurses in my best imitation of Gollum while they injected me.

They also brought me little cups of pills to swallow. I would not swallow them until I had quizzed them as to what each one of them was. Turns out this was a good thing to do. One morning a nurse rushed in at 6 am and woke me out of a sound slumber and shoved some drugs at me and commanded me to take it for the fever I had. Being slow of wit upon first waking in a strange place with strangers shoving cups at me, I did as I was told. Turns out the tylenol was not for me, but was for the gal in the bed beside me! IF I had been feeling somewhat nasty, I could have caused a lot of problems for that girl. As it was, since it was only Tylenol and I wasn't suffering ill effects from it, I let it go but shook my finger at her and told her, "Now you know why I have been such a pain about taking my meds!"

[Please note that this is a practice I think every person should employ if they find themselves in the hospital. If you can't do it, or you have a loved one who is out of it and unable to do it for themselves, then do it for them. If mistakes are made, you are the one who has to live with the results.
Medical mistakes kill 100 000 people a year. Is there something you can do, even from your sickbed, to protect yourself? Become an expert. First, know what ails you. Ask your doctor all about it. Research it on the Internet, for instance or look it up in medical books like Merck Manual. Patients should feel entitled to inquire about their care no matter how sick they are. Second, know about your drugs. The study shows more than 7,000 die each year because of medication errors. ]

On my second morning in the hospital, a cardiac nurse came to visit me. Up to this point in time, I was being a bit cagey about what I thought about all of what was happening. Some doctors can get really snitty if they know you use alternative forms of healthcare. Marvin was there to talk to me about lifestyle, eating plans and all that sort of thing. The first thing he told me was that he usually does this sort of thing in a group setting, but in reading over my chart, he found I was so atypical that he wanted to talk to me one on one.

He started out by noting that I didn't have any of the things that would normally raise red flags for doctors concerning heart problems. My blood pressure, even while still in the midst of the "attack" was only slightly elevated -- the sort of elevation you might see in a person who has "white coat syndrome" which is stress-induced by being in medical places. I am slightly overweight, but other than that, nothing in my history would suggest cardiac problems. My blood work for cholesterol had come back and it was nearly perfect. My HDL levels were very high, my triglycerides were in the basement, and I had only a slight elevation in my LDL levels. Instead of using statin drugs, which I know to have many bad side effects, I could use niacin to lower it to normal. I related to him how I had checked my pulse during the episode and it was beating at its normal rate. Other than the initial blood pressure reading which was barely high, it had remained in the normal range once I stopped taking the bp meds. ( I figure that no blood pressure is just as bad as too high, and they had it down to 95/55 on only half the medication they had prescribed for me!)In the course of the conversation, he looked at me thoughtfully for a moment and then asked me if I had a medical background.

"Why?" I inquired warily.

"Because most people don't know the medical terms you are using to answer my questions. Nor do they look up drug interactions and contraindications or quiz people about their vitals."

"Oh, well I read a lot. "

He raised his eyebrows.

"You know. Medical studies, and um, things like that."

"Why do you do that?"

I sized him up for a few moments and then... "I um.... I intend to be a naturopathic doctor some day." I blurted out and then waited for the explosions to start.

He grew quite animated, but in a pleasant way. Turns out this guy is into complementary medicine as well and we ended up having quite an enjoyable time together discussing alternatives to the drug therapy route. My diet was already pretty good. I just had to knock off the sugar which I was wanting to do any how and get more exercise to drop my weight back to what it should be. (This last one could be a feat in itself since I find it harder to lose weight when I am nursing a wee one.)

Later that evening, Cal stopped by to see me and check up on how I was doing. In between the nurse coming in and doing my vitals, he managed to give me a quick check over. In his opinion, it wasn't my heart that was the problem -- it was the pericardium, or the membrane around the heart. From what he could tell, it looked like I might have a bacterial infection in it. Now, I had quizzed the nurse about this very thing. Could a cardiac arterial spasm cause an elevation in enzymes? It is quite possible. Before you all think this was a bunch of malarky, I had been to see Cal six weeks earlier, and he told me at that time that something was going on in my heart region, but it wasn't at a level of severity that would cause concern. In the intervening weeks I had been under considerable stress with all that I was doing with homeschooling, lessons outside the home, business meetings and my clinic. The straw that broke the camel's back and likely caused the spasm was the stress I felt in church. (Incidentally, my sister, who is a nurse who worked in the emergency ward told me that they always had what they termed "the church crowd" on Sunday afternoons. People seem to find church stressful and the ER would get busy with all the people who had chest pains, fainting spells, and similar maladies.) In any event, when I went to see Cal a few days after I was out of hospital and he was able to do a more thorough examination, he told me that my heart was sound -- something that I had found in my own testing, but that my pericardium and the heart-end of the portal vein were both considerably weakened by the bacterial infection. And you know, that makes a whole lot more sense to me than what the doctors and nurses were telling me.

So what caused the chest pain? Likely a spasm in the pericardium or portal vein -- enough to cause an elevation in the enzymes. One of the enzymes is that which has to do with muscle damage, so I am not certain that it was actually caused by the spasm or from the fact that I had been working out at the gym the day before. What is certain is that I am taking it a bit easier these days and my family is assisting for the most part.

I left the hospital with a list of about five drugs that they want me on. I only filled the prescription for one: nitroglycerin. (Mom don't freak. I know what I am doing.) Instead I am watching my diet, exercising more, taking niacin for the LDL, herbs for the infection, and resting when I am tired. I am trying to lower my expectations with regard to household neatness standards. I think one of the banes of society is the Beautiful Homes and Gardens or House Beautiful types of magazines. The ideal homes never seem to have anyone living in them. That being the case, I guess I should stop trying to pretend that 11 people don't live in my home and work on keeping things clean, but not pristine. I never achieve pristine, but it doesn't seem to keep me from trying.

Thankfully, the last time I got seriously ill I gave up the notion that I was somehow invincible because of the supplements and herbs I use. If you have an excellent diet and are getting all the right nutrients but are under constant and sustained stress, the stress will "eat up" the nutrition and leave you vulnerable to whatever is gonna get you. Not only that, even youth grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. But those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. Diet, exercise, supplements, herbs, and prayer are only the usual means to good health. If the Lord doesn't want to use those means and would rather you endure a physical trial, He is free to withhold His blessing from them and allow you to become ill or even die.

I know the reaction of a lot of people when this happened was "Cheryl!?!" At one time this would have caused me shame and embarrassment. I mean here I am an enthusiastic promoter of good health and nutrition and this sort of thing happens? However, I got over that sort of thinking and now look on these sorts of things as invitations to learn something new. Last time I was ill I learned a lot about how to manage inflammation, systemic yeast conditions, and treating allergies. Now I will be learning a lot about cardiac issues and intensifying my knowledge and practice of stress reduction and management. This information won't be kept to myself, but it will become a tool for helping others.

For those who are worrying about me bucking the medical establishment in my treatment, I am going to get the echocardiogram and do a stress test as well as follow up blood work. This is to prove to myself, my family, and the doctors that I am really ok.

I can't close this post off without thanking all those who knew for their prayers on my behalf. Mike G. told me that before he came up to the hospital to see me that fateful night that he prayed that God would show mercy to my children, husband, and church by not taking me right now. I think my mother and father had me on half the world's prayer chains. Thanks Mom and Dad! I appreciated the visits from friends while I was in hospital, the beautiful flowers, Joyce sending me a care package, the phone calls, cards, meals for the family, and Teresa and her girls taking James a few mornings so I could rest in the hospital for a bit without worrying about him. God promises rewards to all of you; for in doing this unto this least of your sisters in the Lord, you did it unto Him.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Why I Love James

So there I am in the middle of the YMCA gym, flopped over a Swiss Ball, trying to stretch muscles that dont' want stretching, and trying to firm up flab that suddenly appeared with the advent of James. Hannah, who was taking care of Jamesie came up to where I was feebly working out to find out how much longer I was going to be, and she carried James with her. Despite the fact that I was surrounded by women, younger, firmer, and more attractive than me, James had eyes, grins, and happy squeals for no one but his mommy. He looks at me as though the sun and moon set by me and like I am the most attractive and wonderful woman in the world. That makes every single fat cell I am working on deflating worth the getting!
Why I Love SuperNanny

Last night I watched SuperNanny with my kids on the TV. I have to confess that I love/hate this show. The reason I hate it is because I so often see myself portrayed in the ineffective and even infantile and self-indulgent responses that many parents have towards their children. It is too true and too sad that much of the time our children suffer from our own childish behaviors and we have to grow up alongside of them. For some parents, it never happens, or it comes too little, too late.

Last night's show was about a family with two little girls and a boy who had been diagnosed with autism. The parents loved their children but had no effective coping mechanisms or training strategies for their particular situation. I really felt for the mom. On the outside she looked like a mother who didn't care about her children and was negligent of them in favor of doing her housework. Inside though, was a woman who was in helpless despair and loaded down with guilt over what was happening in her family. Dad was equally sad.

SuperNanny came in and gave them the straight goods, without pulling any punches. I squirmed for them as she laid bare their deficiencies for all the world to see. Very often at this interview, there can be a lot of defensiveness, but in this couple's case, there was deep humilty and a desire to do better for their children. Then an expert who worked with autistic children came in alongside of SuperNanny and they set up a program for the whole family that would encourage quality time and training for all the children.

Within the first day of training, this little autistic boy said his first words. All that was needed was the right amount of stimulation and perserverance to get him that far. It was a thrilling moment to see. It was also thrilling to see how the parents were able to improve their parenting skills with some coaching and direction and what a difference it made to their whole family.

That is why I love SuperNanny. She tells you the truth about your rotten condition, but then gives you hope that it can change. Kinda like the Gospel.
Will Avian Flu be the Next Pandemic?

Ok, so I am focusing on health issues lately. That's because I have an interest in health. Get over it or read something else.

Every year about this time we start to hear all kinds of alarmist reports about the next pandemic of flu that is about to hit and decimate the world's population and cause havoc in the chaos that already exists. I don't doubt that flu poses a threat to those who have a suppressed immune system due to malnutrition, improper eating habits, lack of exercise, lack of sanitary conditions, etc. However the media and the flu flunkeys from Big Pharma like to hyperventilate about the dangers of flu, especially when they look at the big $$ to be made from getting everyone on the flu vaccine.

I am pasting a post complete with references from Sheri Tenpenny below. Read it and then re-evaluate what you have been hearing in the mainstream news. Then make a decision as to whether or not it is worth getting that flu shot. Incidentally, though this is purely anecdotal, a lot of the people that I know who get the flu shot end up getting sick with flu-like symptoms soon afterwards. Mere coincidence?

Eliminating Bird Flu Fears:
10 Facts You Need To Know
By Red Flags Columnist, Sherri Tenpenny, DO

The concerns about avian influenza, a.k.a. bird flu, seem to have the entire world in an uproar. More than 150 million domestic ducks and chickens have been sacrificed throughout Southeast Asia, China, Russia and Eastern Europe in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Billions of dollars are being allocated to the development of a new “pandemic” vaccine and the stockpiling of two drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, which are touted to “treat” the infection. The hysteria in the United States has risen to the point where President George Bush allocated resources toward preparing to use the military to enforce quarantines and perhaps even to enforce mandatory vaccination.

What is really going on? Is a pandemic going to develop that will stop all commerce for months and put an end to Western civilization as we know it? (1) What tactics are being used to scare us into believing these measures are necessary?

A level-headed examination of 10 important facts shows that the prevailing alarmist point of view is inaccurate, irresponsible and self-serving.

1. The death rate from H5N1 infection is highly overstated.
Between Dec. 26, 2003 and Oct. 24, 2005, there were 121 confirmed H5N1 infections and, of those, 62 have reportedly died. That makes the “apparent” death rate just over 51 percent, ranking this infection among the most deadly on record.

However, thousands of mild and asymptomatic cases are going undetected as detailed by Dick Thompson, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO). In an interview granted to CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) News on March 9, 2005, Thompson said that the case-fatality rate had been overstated. Documented cases were those where the patients were sick enough to seek medical care in a hospital and, predictably, they had very poor outcomes. He concluded, “Surely others were infected and either not getting sick or not getting sick enough to seek treatment at a hospital. Factoring those into the CFR [case-fatality rate] has been impossible. We simply don't know the denominator.” (2)

To illustrate, if 62 people died, but 10,000 had actually been infected, the death rate would be 0.62 percent, essentially insignificant. Therefore, without knowing how many are infected, the death rate is being highly inflated

2. The virus has barely infected humans; significantly, there has been no sustained person-to-person transmission of the infection.

Very few cases of severe human infection by H5N1 have occurred. An intensified surveillance of patients in Southeast Asia has led to the discovery of mild cases, more infections in older adults, and an increased number of “clusters cases” among family members, suggesting that “the local virus strains may be adapting to humans.” In other words, humans are developing their own innate resistance to the virus. (3)

In addition, all cases have occurred via animal-to-human transmission, and there is documentation of only one confirmed case of human-to-human transmission. Without sustained transmission between humans — meaning one person spreads it to another and another, and so on — there can be no pandemic. The “hype” that, sooner or later, the H5N1 strain will mutate into a strain that can be easily passed between humans is completely unsubstantiated. Whether this will happen is nothing more than a guess because:

3. We have had “potential pandemics” before.

In February 2003, Thompson of the WHO revealed that “there have been a half dozen pandemic ‘false alarms’ in the last 30 years.” A false alarm is an outbreak where a virus has jumped the species barrier, but has been confined to one or two people and has not been lethal. (4)

What makes H5N1 particularly significant? Why is this virus gaining the attention of the world? The attention may be due not to its potentially lethal effects on humans, but rather to the deaths of millions of domestic birds, infected or not. Could this be about commerce? Is this a global economic crisis in the making, but not a global health crisis?

4. Tamiflu does not treat the flu and it is unknown if it will stop the spread of the infection.
Clinical trials with Tamiflu have shown that the drug reduces acute symptoms of flu by a maximum of 2.5 days, depending on the subgroup analyzed. That’s it: 2.5 days. In addition, viral shedding in nasal secretions was reduced after Tamiflu had been administered. Although this would presumably lessen the exposure risk for close contacts, this theory has not been tested. (

5. The virus is already becoming resistant to Tamiflu.

Recent human isolates are fully resistant to older, less expensive influenza drugs, amantadine and rimantadine. (6) In addition, a high-level of resistance to Tamiflu has been detected in up to 16 percent of children with human influenza A (H1N1). Not surprisingly, this resistant variant has been detected recently in several patients with H5N1 infection who were treated with Tamiflu. (7)

In addition, nearly seven percent of people who are prescribed Tamiflu can’t tolerate the side effect: persistent nausea. So, at nearly $100 for a course of treatment, you might want to save your money and spend it on saline nasal spray, which is at least as effective. (8)

6. The other newly recommended drug, Relenza, isn’t much better.

Relenza is a powder, which is inhaled twice a day for five days from a breath-activated plastic device called a Diskhaler. Some patients have had bronchospasm (wheezing) or serious breathing problems when they used Relenza.

In fact, in January 2000, the FDA issued a warning about prescribing Relenza after some users reported deterioration of respiratory function following its inhalation. Particular concern was expressed for patients with underlying asthma or emphysema. The FDA stated that “an acute decline in respiratory function may contribute to a fatal outcome in patients with a complicated pre-existing medical history and pulmonary compromise.” (9)

7. The “seed virus” produced by the WHO and given to the vaccine manufacturers may not be the correct virus.

In February 2005, the WHO developed several H5N1 prototype vaccine strains in accordance with the requirements of national and international pharmaceutical licensing agencies for influenza vaccine production. These H5N1 prototype strains were made available to institutions and companies working to develop the pandemic vaccines. (10)

By October 2005, the WHO had evidence that the virus had evolved and is now “genetically distinguishable” — i.e., different — from the prototype strain selected for vaccine development. In what can only be described as a case study in bureaucratic thinking, the WHO, in spite of the new information, does not recommend changing the strain.

In any case, it will take another 4 to 18 months before the vaccine is ready for mass dissemination. As Nancy Cox, director of the influenza branch at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) stated, "If we don't get a good match, the vaccine will be less effective, producing illness, hospitalizations and death." (11) By that time, will the “vaccine virus” show any resemblance to the “pandemic virus” thought to be in circulation then? If it is appreciably different, how can mandatory vaccination be justified?

8. Who benefits the most? Big Pharma.

Millions in grants and tax incentives to develop new products. Guaranteed purchase orders from governments here and abroad. Complete product liability protection. It doesn’t get any better for a product manufacturer, and in this case, all the benefits go to Chiron, Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline, the “big boys” in the market for making the new vaccine. With a global population of more than six billion, the market share is large enough to get their attention. Add in the financial incentives, and the developers are off and running.

To add an additional layer of protection, on Oct. 18, 2005, Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced and fast-tracked a bill that would create a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) called the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA). This new agency would help “spur private industry to develop and manufacture medical countermeasures for bioterrorism agents and natural outbreaks.”

However, the dark side of S.1873, the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005, is that it would exempt the pharmaceutical industry not only from liability, but would also ensure that no one would have access to data documenting medical failures or catastrophes. BARDA would be exempt from access by the Freedom of Information Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act and parts of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. It would act in total secrecy and protection from the general public by the federal government. (12)
Fortunately, the scientific community is standing up loudly against the formation of the new agency. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, a coalition of independent member societies and scientists, which has historically shown particular interest in public policy issues relating to science, weighed in to voice several concerns. In a letter to Chairman Burr, dated Oct. 18, 2005, the coalition’s president, Bruce Bistrian, MD, PhD, wrote the following:

“On behalf of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a coalition of 23 scientific societies representing more than 65,000 scientists, I am writing to express our reservations over your recent proposal to create the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA)….”

“FASEB is troubled over the impact this new agency might have on existing programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control, particularly in an era of limited funding for domestic discretionary spending. NIH and the dozens of universities and research institutions around the country where NIH-supported research is performed already have the scientific expertise and research infrastructure in place to carry out the bioterrorism research that our nation needs. Our concern is that BARDA would duplicate, constrain or even eliminate these programs. Moreover, while implementing a ‘top-down’ approach to research, as described in the BARDA proposal, may be suitable for the manufacturing stage of development, we do not believe it is an appropriate substitute for hypothesis-driven basic research, which has historically led to the most important advances in biomedical science.” (Emphasis added). (13)
Hopefully, other organizations and the general public will follow suit and fight to oppose this bill.
9. Who has the most to lose? The citizens of the world, particularly U.S. citizens.

The Global Pandemic Preparedness Plan is nothing more than a power grab for the government, the United Nations (UN) and the WHO. Buried deep within the WHO’s plan, here is a glimpse of the ominous plans in preparation for “affected countries:”

Activate procedures to obtain additional resources; consider invoking emergency powers.
Activate overarching national command and control of response activities, either by formal means or de facto (close oversight of district and local activities).

Deploy operational response teams across all relevant sectors. (14)

Global control and UN peacekeepers may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

10. What you need to do

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the avian influenza virus is easier to destroy than other influenza viruses. It appears that it is very sensitive to detergents — i.e., soap — which destroy the outer fat-containing layer of the virus. This layer is needed to enter cells of animals and, therefore, destroys the infectivity. In other words, when you have been in public places, use soap to wash your hands before touching your face. (15)

Congress is attempting to shield Pharma completely from responsibility and then hide the resulting problems through the fast-tracking of S.1873. Contact your senators immediately to try to stop the passage of this bill. For quick access to the bill, and what to do, go to and click on “Senate Alert” at the top of the page.

Don’t get caught up in the hype. For daily updates and developing action plans, go to and stay informed.

Preparing for the Next Pandemic by Michael T. Osterholm. Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005.

Relatives of avian flu patients have asymptomatic cases, by Robert Roos. CIDRAP News. March 9, 2005.
Beigel, JH. Avian influenza A (H5N1) infection in humans. N Engl J Med. Sept. 29, 2005;353(13):1374-85.

The Scientist-Online
Stiger, G. The treatment of influenza with antiviral drugs. CMAJ. Jan. 7, 2003;168(1):49-56. PMID: 12515786

Li KS, Guan Y, Wang J, et al. Genesis of a highly pathogenic and potentially pandemic H5N1 influenza virus in eastern Asia. Nature 2004;430:209-13.
Avian Flu Virus Showing Resistance to Tamiflu by Katrina Woznicki. MedPageToday. Sept. 30, 2005.

Spray used for asthma may help slow spread of infections. Asso. Press. 11-29-04.

FDA Public Health Advisory. Jan. 12, 2000.

WHO. Recommended H5N1 prototype strains for influenza pandemic vaccine development remain the same. Oct. 28, 2005.

Breakdowns Mar Flu Shot Program Production, distribution delays raise fears of nation vulnerable to epidemic. SF Chronicle. Sunday, Feb. 25, 2001.

For more information and complete version of SB 1873, go to
FASEB letter.

WHO. Pandemic Preparedness Plan. p 30.

FAO. Special report on Avian Influenza.