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IdaBriggs

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Gender: Female
Hometown: South East Michigan
Home country: United States
Member since: Tue Jul 27, 2004, 01:19 PM
Number of posts: 7,915

Journal Archives

"Guilty As Charged" - The end of the jury story.

I was summoned for Jury Duty on Thursday, March 20, 2014, excused for cause, and shared the tale of my day in a VERY SUPER LONG post on Saturday, March 22, 2014. You can read it (if you want) here: "Justice was Served - I was excused from Jury Duty for Cause." http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024708904

I was curious about how the story ended, and have been googling regularly to see if the verdict hit the local papers. (It doesn't appear to have done so.) Today I contacted the court house, and (because this is a public record), learned that the Defendant, Lonnie Walker Jr., was found guilty of all three charges. (The clerk read the charges, but basically he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 14 year girl at knife point during a home invasion; the verdicts were entered on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.)

This was a news story from December of 2013 when he was arrested/denied bond: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/general-news/20131206/deputies-man-with-long-criminal-record-charged-with-sex-assault-on-pontiac-teen and yes, that is the man who was in the courthouse as the defendant.

For those who were moved by my compassion with the victim's father, I appreciated your kind words, but honestly, the end of that story is Very Creepy with a large "ICK!" factor - you might have noticed that the accused is "Lonnie Walker Junior" and at one point while I was trying to find out if his case had concluded, I searched the "Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry" for him. Lonnie JUNIOR did not show up, but guess who did?

His dad, Lonnie D. Walker. You can view his information here: http://www.icrimewatch.net/offenderdetails.php?OfndrID=2000438&AgencyID=55242 and let me assure you that, despite the record saying he "in prison (verified 07/05/2006)" that was the man I compassionately hugged (who hugged me back).

Yes, I am a little skeeved out by the fact I "compassionately hugged a convicted rapist" but I am reminding myself that he is a fellow human being who was having a very bad time, blah, blah, blah.

Still skeeved out.

Moral of the story: hugging strangers in the courthouse probably not the brightest move.

It also makes me feel sorry for "Junior" who frankly, doesn't seem like he had much of a chance in life. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this situation, and how he probably didn't even know how to function outside of prison, if what his father said was true about him having previously spent 14 years in prison, with the bonus of having a father who normalized the whole prison experience. No matter what measures you use - protect the innocent or rehabilitate the guilty, the system failed in epic ways, and this distresses me. I don't have any answers, but I know "something is wrong here."

Sigh.

I don't expect this post to get as many recommendations as my original one (seriously, you guys were awesome!), but I want to say again that I truly appreciated the kind words that were expressed in my original post. I am grateful DU was here to help me process the whole experience, and I hope everyone who reads this post will spare a few moments to send healing thoughts to everyone involved in the experience, especially the 14-year old victim.

In the meantime, DU.

Justice was Served - I was excused from Jury Duty for Cause.

Ever had an "in your face, put your money where your mouth is" karma moment? I had one on Thursday.

I was summoned for Jury Duty at my local Circuit Court.

I am not a stranger to the building -- we were Plaintiffs in a civil case against our bank not that long ago -- but this was the first time I had been there as a potential juror.

Truthfully, I was summoned in December, but I was able to defer until March. Things have been crazy-busy at work, and I ended up canceling seven different meetings to go; because you are supposed to "call after five" I wasn't even sure I would need to report, in which case I planned to go to work (no work = no pay) and actually "get stuff done" with the meetings canceled. Other than losing a day's wages, I felt good about the situation - civic duty, you know. Proud to be an American, etc. Besides, what were the odds I would be selected? Maybe I would be released early, but too late to go to work; my fantasy of a guilt free, kids in school/husband at work couple of hours involved maybe getting a "mani-pedi" and possibly lunch with my mom.

I was "Juror #003" and our pool had about a hundred people or so. Orientation was good, and warned that if we were "called but not selected" we were to return to the jury room because we might be offered for another case. The women running the show were polite, courteous, and sincere - "just being here sometimes encourages settlement in cases, so rest assured you are really helping!" Within five minutes of orientation being complete, approximately 40 numbers were called and since my number wasn't one of them, I jokingly cheered "Go, Team Justice!" as they traipsed from the room before sitting down with a nice book - woo hoo! time to Read Without Interruption! -- because seriously, what were the odds the rest of us would be needed?

In hindsight, this attitude probably summoned the fates of "Oh, Really - is THAT what you think?"

Five minutes later, "all remaining jurors" were called to check-out. We were going to "Courtroom 2B" and the judge's clerk recommended we use the restroom beforehand, because we would spend the rest of the morning there. Fortunately, I listened to this advice, as did most of the women, which meant we waited for a bit in the hallway.

I was in a good mood. I don't "do bored" well, and this was looking like it would be interesting. The clerk noticed, and we did a small social chit-chat: "You seem happy." "I am - civic duty!" "It's good to have a happy juror." She was dressed in heels, with an awesome skirt/long blouse combo, and frankly, she looked amazing. I wondered if anyone would notice my "black-and-white" theme: black pants, white shirt, black jacket. It was supposed to be a "subtle" statement about my views on law-and-order stuff. We made the walk to the courtroom and I joked that it was like being in line at a well known amusement park.

These are the mundane details of the morning. I share them to explain my mood. It was good - I was going to "help" in the cause of justice, which I believe in, and since I only had to be there for one day unless I was seated, at which point it was going to be two-to-four days, honestly, it was inconvenient (lots of work waiting, and losing a day's wages) but still something I was proud to be participating in - I Believe In Justice.

My mood lasted until the Judge read the charges.

The case involved a 14-year old girl who had been sexually assaulted at knife point during a home invasion.

Boom. This was real. Instant mood change. Instant somber.

The details of the charge, which were NOT the evidence, were painful to hear. I found myself thinking, "I can't do this!" and wishing for a nice murder trial instead, which seemed ridiculous and absurd. I lectured myself on holding it together, and listening. Could I be excused because I knew any of the witnesses? Drat - no. But one of us raised her hand, and said she thought the name of one of the Witnesses (for the Defense, I think) was someone she went to high school with; the judge asked if they were close, and she replied no, so she ended up staying. Fourteen of us were called to sit, and I breathed a prayer of relief because my number wasn't one of them.

The Judge asked them questions, and instructed the rest of us to pay attention to save time later. Had we ever served on a jury before? What type of case? What was the outcome? The attorneys later added "were you the foreman?" but the most important question was, "will that experience impact your ability to be fair and impartial here?" The second round had to do with "being a member of or related to law enforcement or judiciary" with the same "will this affect your ability to be fair and impartial?" The judge's final question was "is there anything else that might impact your ability to be fair and impartial" and wish washy was unacceptable. Could you put things aside, presume innocence, and evaluate evidence? Being charged, she repeated, was NOT evidence.

No one wanted to be there. Everyone answered with scrupulous honesty. We could see the defendant, and this was NOT a television show. It was real. Oh, God. It. Was. Real.

The juror in Chair #11 was the first to crack. When the judge asked the "any reason" question, she raised her hand, and in a shaking voice explained that her niece had been the a victim of molestation, and she wasn't sure she could be impartial. The judge pushed the issue - "you realize this isn't the same situation, don't you?" - but didn't release her. Later I understood that it was because, unless it was blatant, the judge waited for the attorneys to challenge jurors, and was probably keeping some kind of mental score about it. "Cause" was unlimited, but "peremptories" were not.

Then the lawyers started questioning - the Prosecutor always started with, "Tell us a little bit about yourself." The follow ups were about your marital status, whether you had children, what you did for a living. Then he asked tough questions: would you be able to listen to the testimony of a fourteen year old, who probably wouldn't be polished and perfect, who would be uncomfortable speaking in public, especially about a terrible situation such as this, and believe her? Could we wrap our heads around the fact there wasn't likely to be any witnesses, or video tapes, or anything to corroborate her story, except her testimony?

The Defense attorney apologized for moving slow - he had put himself in the middle of a dog fight the night before, and I instantly kind of liked him for that. He focused on "being accused does not make one guilty," and asked if we could put our natural sympathy for the victim aside to evaluate the evidence. He also brought up the subject of pornography - we were going to be shown graphic sexual images; did everyone understand that viewing pornography did not mean someone was automatically a criminal? Truthfully, he was a little funny with the question, and being rational adults, there were chuckles, which broke some of the tension.

The Defense attorney also told us he wasn't going to argue over whether the victim had been assaulted; the defense was that it wasn't his client who did it. This seemed a reasonable position, and I think some of us breathed easier because of it - at least I did.

The challenges started: the woman with the molested niece was excused. Anybody with a relative in law enforcement was excused. Anybody who worked with law enforcement was excused. A social worker, a surgeon a pregnant woman, and a woman who had just taken the bar exam were excused. As soon as a chair was emptied, the clerk called a number, and the process started over again.

The man who had shared the table with me during orientation flat out stated he could not be impartial because both his wife and daughter had been raped on separate occasions. Another woman started crying because she herself was a rape victim, and the perpetrator had never been caught. One man told how he had awoken to discover his thirteen year old sister being molested, and knew he couldn't do it. A new citizen whose English wasn't great was excused because he was having trouble following the proceedings. Two college students were released - one had exams over the next two days, while the other had non-refundable plane tickets to the Bahamas for Spring Break, which started on Monday for her. Living in Michigan, we all chuckled - it has been a long cold winter, and the thought of warm weather and sunny beaches made us smile.

As the jury pool got smaller, the judge became harder, especially for cause. The man who worked with a Catholic priest who was "relocated" in 2002 was an issue for her. The Jehovah's Witness who told her he didn't believe he could be fair about the issue of pornography due to his religious beliefs was a fight, and the man who told her he didn't feel as a Christian he could judge another man at this level without violating his religious beliefs had to be "peremptoried" because she wasn't budging: he had said "I don't think so" which wasn't a definite no.

One man was excused because his father had been a murder victim during a home invasion, and he flat out told the judge he couldn't be fair or impartial in the matter. The new citizen from Nigeria, where such things aren't talked about even though they happen, was excused on a peremptory.

There were two "funny" ones - the first was the woman who thought she might know one of the witnesses. She ended up battling the judge over the situation, and was excused when it came out that the reason they weren't friends was because they hated each other's guts due to the fact they both had the same "baby daddy" which had happened while they were both in high school. The other woman was a psychologist, specializing in sexual assault victims (1/3 of her practice) who had appeared in previous cases as an expert witness for the Prosecutor's office; bonus boot - her sister is a US District Attorney.

Our numbers got smaller and smaller; there were only three of us left in the pool when my number came up. I took over seat #5.

I remembered the questions. I had previously served on a jury for a drunk driver. I wasn't the foreman, and we found her guilty. I did not believe this would impact my ability to be fair and impartial.

My father, now deceased, had worked in law enforcement for thirty years focused mainly on property theft. I did not believe this would impact my ability to be fair and impartial.

My third "yes" to the judge was on the question of pornography. No one else had parsed it, but I had had a lot of time to think about it. If they showed me "regular pornography", I would not have a problem, but if they showed me child or rape pornography, especially in this type of case, I was going to find him guilty of anything they put in front of me so he could go to jail as a menace to society.

I said this in a very calm tone, and there was a moment I can only describe as slightly stunned silence. "You do realize those are not the charges?" asked the judge. "Yes," I replied. "But I don't know what kind of pornography you are going to show us, and if it is child or rape pornography, I will be voting guilty."

"Okay then," she replied, and turned me over to the attorneys for questioning.

"Please tell us about yourself," the Prosecutor said in a very nice way. He still managed to sound sincere despite the fact I was probably the 58th person he had said that too.

I had debated whether or not to lie. I decided against it. The man was entitled to know who the people on his jury were, and I would respect the process.

"I am married. I have two young children. I work in IT at one of the automotive companies, and I spent multiple years in therapy dealing with effects of being a survivor of child sexual assault. The person was never prosecuted."

I had to repeat it. Maybe my voice had shaken too much when I said it? Maybe the together looking middle aged woman speaking calmly about being an IT professional was hard to picture as a victim of such a thing. He apologized...

"I'm sorry, but who was the victim? Was it you?"

"Yes," I answered. (Oh, God, this is on the record, and I am saying it out loud in front of a room full of strangers.) "I have also been counting them up while I have been waiting, and I am personally acquainted with between twenty and twenty-five women who are also survivors of child sexual assault, but only two of the have had the perpetrators prosecuted, so I am curious as to what will constitute sufficient evidence. Nevertheless, I believe I am well versed in identifying the affect of victims. I have been thinking about whether or not I can be fair about this, as the Defense Attorney has asked, and I believe I can be fair and impartial since he will not be arguing whether or not she was assaulted. However, I need to specify that when it comes to evaluating the evidence, if she points and says HE DID IT, that will be good enough for me and I will be voting guilty."

If you read the title of this post, you know how the story almost ends. Not surprisingly, the Prosecutor didn't mind my staying, but the Defense had me released for cause. I was thanked for my service, and left the courtroom. Before I did, I looked briefly at my fellow jurors - people who could be trusted to fairly judge a situation that truthfully I could not, and whispered, "sorry" and "good luck" to them.

It was over...but not quite.

On the left hand side of the courtroom through this process had been sitting several people who appeared to be family members. We had no idea if they were there for the victim or the defendant. About an hour before my turn in seat #5 an older gentleman who appeared to be in his late sixties had left the courtroom for what I presume was a bathroom break; when he returned, he was instructed that he had to wait outside. He was standing by the window by the door when I came out, and he asked me if I was "the last" juror. "I was the last one excused," I told him. (I think he could hear what was going on, but I don't know for sure.) "There were two alternates left."

"That man," he said. "He's my son, and he just turned 41 years old the other day. 41 years old, and he's facing life in prison because this is his third strike."

"I'm sorry," I said to him, because what else could I say?

"His third strike," the man repeated. "He's my oldest boy. I have nine children, and he just turned 41 the other day. He went to prison for six years, and then for eight years, and I told him to stay away from trouble, but..."

He was obviously grief stricken. "Has he been making...bad life choices?" I asked gently.

He looked relieved at the euphemism. "Yes," he said.

"I'm sorry," I repeated, and gave him a hug. He hugged back.

I went back to the jury room. They released me. It was 1:00 p.m. and I will receive a check for $25 for my services. I did not return to work. I went to lunch by myself and then I got a haircut.

There is a section on the jury questionnaire that asks if you have ever been involved in a criminal or civil court case. I had diligently checked "plaintiff" in the civil section. I think, if it had been a murder trial, or a drug trial, or even a simple assault case, I would have been a good juror - fair, impartial, open minded. I wonder if I should have lied, or been "less forthcoming" about my past. Was my stance on pornography enough to get me removed? Did I "taint" the pool by specifying that child or rape porn was "different" than "regular" porn? Would I have trusted the "other woman" if she provided a clichéd defense that the defendant was with her when the victim said he was assaulting her? Would they have told us he was up on his "third strike"?

I don't know. I simply have to trust the fourteen people who could judge fairly when I could not, and hope the nightmare thought of a 14-year old girl waking up to a stranger in her room with a knife at her throat goes away soon.

Go, Team Justice.

What would happen if there was an App to tell you who was carrying a gun near you?

Would this be a privacy violation or a useful thing?

Discuss.

ON EDIT: Does your opinion change if it identifies hand guns versus hunting rifles (and can be put in "sleep mode" when appropriate)?

ON EDIT 2: If your "app" went off with a job applicant, would this affect your hiring decision?

All Politics Are Local (my story from way back when)

A long time ago, I used to consider myself a proud Independent. I believed, perhaps naively, that both sides had good people who wanted what was best for this country - the whole country, and not just the "rich people." I split my ticket and voted for the "best person" for the job. That meant sometimes I voted for Republicans. Truthfully, the first time I voted "straight Dem" was 1996 after the impeachment nonsense about President Clinton; it was such obvious partisanship, I was enraged.

But this is about "local politics" and I want to explain how I voted for a Republican who I still respect to this day.

I was almost nineteen, and had been on my own for nearly a year when I made a foolish impulsive decision, and got a puppy. The whole litter was being given away at the front of a local grocery store, and good sense would have been to keep walking, but PUPPIES! Tippy (short for "Tippycanoe") was a black lab mix with a small white chest marking, and a little white tip on his tail. He was somewhere between six and eight weeks old, absolutely adorable, and I was living by myself in a house that was "under construction" in a questionable neighborhood. I could barely support myself, let alone a puppy, but good sense is not part of this story.

He licked my face, I fell in love, and he came home.

I was NOT a "good puppy mom" at that point in my life, and there are stories about that time that are embarrassing. The yard was not fenced in, so potty training required supervision and I wasn't experienced enough to "crate train." I relied on my extensive childhood "dog experience" which, with the eyes of maturity, I now realize was heavily "mom" dependent for the "non-play" stuff.

And little Tippy grew; within a few months he wasn't "little" anymore. He liked to chew/destroy things (not a surprise with his lab heritage), jumped on people, and wanted "outside" at cold/inconvenient times. One cold early December morning a few days before Christmas I let him outside to do his business, and didn't supervise him while I ran to do mine - only for a few minutes! - came back, and he had disappeared.

This is not about one of my prouder moments.

I looked for him, but he was nowhere to be found. Neighborhood children joined in the search, but no luck. In hindsight, I believe someone a few streets over took him in, and I pray he lived a long healthy life with a good family, but at the time, I was devastated. I knew I had been irresponsible, and was terrified he had been picked up by the animal control people. (He wasn't old enough for his license, but had begun his puppy shots.) No one at the shelter answered my calls late Saturday afternoon or Sunday, and I "knew" if he was picked up, he was going to have three days before they put him to sleep.

I was at the shelter on Monday. They were closed. It was Christmas Eve. My stress / grief / guilt / panic was overwhelming, and in my despair, I was convinced (because I could see people there who were refusing to come to the door) that my puppy was there, and they were going to put him down.

What do you do in this type of situation? It was two weeks after my nineteenth birthday. I opened the phone book, and called everyone I could think of - and the person who answered his home phone (which was listed in the phone book back in these ancient times) was my local County Prosecutor. (ON EDIT: I thought he was the County Executive at the time, but apparently I had his title wrong. I don't think I even knew what a prosecutor was at this point in my life. Doh!)

He listened to my story, made a few phone calls, then called me back to assure me that the shelter had no dogs matching Tippy's description, and even if they did, he wasn't going to be killed. He gave me a name (the person in charge at the shelter), and I met with that person the day after Christmas.

Tippy wasn't there, but I was given personal attention because the County Prosecutor made sure of it.

I never saw a Tippy again, but I never forgot the kindness of the man who interrupted his family's Christmas Eve celebration to help a foolish teenager with a lost puppy. I've voted for him (with a few exceptions) for decades since.

The man is Republican L. Brooks Patterson, and he is in the news for some remarks about Detroit. Some might call it a scandal, and it probably is, but I'd vote for him tomorrow. At some level, I trust him still, and bluntly, while his remarks may be scandalous, the truth is that certain areas of Detroit aren't safe for its citizens, let alone visitors, and the true scandal should be that fact instead of those who say it out loud.

Don't ask me to defend all of his remarks, because I can't. But all politics are local, and I still remember that terrible Christmas and Tippy, and I also remember a kindness to someone who was really a "no one." The measure of a man, in my opinion, is how he behaves when no one is looking.

The only one looking was me, and I have NEVER forgotten.

More Thoughts on Woo - and How Doctors Don't Take Women Seriously

Okay, earlier this week I had my little hissy fit about the whole "no need to investigate and stop wasting money on vitamins" editorial (based on bad studies), and shared my own experience with *trying* to get something investigated. Many of you were extremely supportive - THANK YOU.

I have had a lot of time to think about why these issues (nutrient deficiencies) aren't being more thoroughly investigated and why everything has to be either a "disease" or a "genetic disorder" (which completely ignores the role nutrients plays in turning certain genes on/off - but, whatever), and also why medicine is truthfully still as much of an Art as a Science, and here is what I have come up with - your mileage may vary, and I would like to stress this is my opinion, and limited to my own knowledge and experience.

Back in the 1800s almost half of our population was involved in agriculture; by the year 2000 that number was at 3%. And only "rich people" could afford medical training back in the day, and realistically, how many rich men were involved in taking care of the livestock on the family farm? The farm, after all, was pretty far away from the city where the schools were, so think it through.

I've used the "when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" analogy before, and I think it applies to nutritional issues, too (on both sides of the discussion). If you know any people involved in training as physicians, ask them (for example) if they have time to garden. After they finish laughing at you, ask them when the last time they fertilized their lawns was (if they even *have* lawns). Master Gardeners (of which I am *NOT* one) are probably already smiling; feeding your lawn a decent blend of N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) affects how quickly it grows, the color, the strength of the root system, and its ability to combat drought/disease (among other things). These micronutrients are essential to healthy plant systems, and there is a ton of information out there about how to calculate the "best" percentages depending on your goal.

The same concept goes for animal husbandry. How many physicians do you know who have time to pay attention to the health of livestock while undergoing medical residency or actually practicing medicine? Nowadays we have a lot of companies providing "ready mixes", but a hundred years ago farmers were still mixing their own; screw it up, and you lost money. But again, this is not something most modern day medical students really have to deal with (although I am sure there are a few out there).

I probably don't need to discuss the challenges of getting women into the medical field, do I? Shockingly, many historical "female problems" were simply not taken seriously by male physicians ( ) and some pretty common medications involved opium and alcohol. Apparently we just imagined problems a lot, and at least that shut us up. See the wrong gynecologist, and you may still get this attitude - I did back in the 80s.

So we have a profession that does a lot of good, but is not really in touch with "how to grow a healthy pig" (for example) with a long history of dismissing concerns that haven't been personally experienced by the practitioners themselves, all puffed up and proud because they are "scientists", and anyone who doesn't follow the same path to reach the same conclusions is easily dismissed as a practitioner of "woo"; to be fair, this is an age old battle - midwife versus medieval physician, still replayed to this day.

And here is where I fight my little anti-fury battles, because I *get* the mindset that comes with the discipline they practice. I do not have the training to hold myself a little separate from the children in my project - their success and failure hits me at a level I cannot explain. It is not my normal. It feels like an unpleasant place to be, and I have not accepted it as "my home" for the duration of my career. To be honest, I would like the "Preemie Growth Project" to just go away in a few years because the mission should be accomplished with this getting investigated and implemented where appropriate. (Seriously - work for free, and see how quickly YOU want to work yourself out of a job! Lol!)

But then I get angry again, because WOMEN (and what we report) STILL AREN'T TAKEN SERIOUSLY. Let me give you an example --

One of the most common laments of the preemie mother is "my baby won't eat or gain weight." This is one of the scariest things a parent deals with -- when your child is "failure to thrive", and you *know* something isn't right because they aren't eating, you get anxious. You ask the doctor for help. You talk to everyone. You freak out. And when you are watching your child "not eat or grow or meet milestones", You *KNOW* Something Isn't Right.

The doctors initially double check to make sure you aren't a moron, or someone who is abusing / neglecting your child, then they assure you it is normal. The moms know better. Some of them do stupid stuff - one mom I know started feeding her child lard with sugar in it to help her child gain weight - and some just force feed their kid. Most spend time crying. If your child doesn't eat, as mammals we know our babies will die, and every bite becomes a battle, every calorie a victory - if the only thing your son will eat is chicken nuggets (for the sensory moms), then by God! your child can have as many nuggets as he wants!

The Mayo Clinic says:

Zinc deficiency - Zinc deficiency is caused by inadequate intake or absorption, increased zinc excretion, or increased bodily need for zinc. Zinc deficiency symptoms include growth retardation, hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, eye and skin conditions, and loss of appetite. Additional symptoms may include weight loss, delayed wound healing, taste changes, and mental lethargy. Zinc can be measured in plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and hair. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/zinc/NS_patient-zinc/DSECTION=evidence


I am using Zinc because it is easy. Physicians already know premature babies are at increased risk for trace mineral deficiencies because it is in their textbooks and the neonatologists prescribe intravenous TPN to correct for it. NOTE: If you are missing one of the trace minerals, odds are good you are missing more that we don't know how to measure - this is for example purposes only, so don't diagnose yourself based on this post, okay? INVESTIGATE IF YOU ARE CONCERNED!

Back in 2007 when I started supplementing my babies with the trace minerals, the first thing I noticed was they started eating like little pigs and gaining *healthy* muscular weight like crazy. Prior to this, coaxing them to drink 30 mls of formula was an absolute battle, and it could take more than half an hour to get that small amount into them every three hours as instructed; when they started eating like "normal" babies, they sucked those bottles DOWN quickly and demanded more. They ate, they grew, they got healthy.

While I was doing my research for the Project, I ran across this little gem --

Col-late Piglet Kick-Start - "An immediate available source of glucose, B vitamins, vitamins A, D and E, amino acids and trace minerals (emphasis mine) providing a nutritional boost for runts and poor doers. PIGLET KICK-START ensures that the weak piglet receives rapid assimilation of energy and nutrients as the essential ingredients are shunted directly into the bloodstream across the stomach wall. Marked improvement will be evident in minutes." http://www.hyperdrug.co.uk/Col-late-Piglet-Kick-Start-100ml-50-doses/productinfo/COL9008269/


So let me get this straight: when the mother of a fragile newborn tells a doctor "my baby won't eat!" she's imagining things, but when a RUNT PIGLET won't eat, farmers have a nutritional product ON THEIR SHELVES that "provides a nutritional boost for runts and poor doers" that has been used FOR DECADES?



Bonus - it has zinc in it.

The health of my children was a woman's problem; my husband worked while I stayed home for the first year of their life, and my observations of my own children's growth are dismissed (including here on DU, by the way), despite heavy non-biased documentation by both their pediatrician and a NICU follow-up clinic, as purely "anecdotal". Not one of the organizations you would think would be interested (March of Dimes? ROFLMA!) has sat down with me to interview me to determine why the results my children achieved happened, or to verify whether what we did could be repeated. Anything I have to say is...not relevant. I am a reasonably intelligent college educated woman, but I am *not* a doctor.

But runt piglets -- ah, runt piglets who have no energy / won't eat, THAT can't be "bad mothering" so the veterinarians and the farmers actually INVESTIGATED the NUTRITIONAL NEEDS behind WHAT GIVES BABY PIGS THE ENERGY TO EAT AND NOT DIE, provided it, discovered it worked, and have been using it for DECADES???

Didn't someone figure out people are mammals, too, like a hundred years or so ago?



We were lucky. I heard that line so many times I started spitting it out. LUCKY. Yep, LUCKY. Or "blessed". That was another line - "you should be counting your blessings!" (I do - trust me, I do!) Both minimize my experience. Both DENY my reality. Both DISMISS what I report - and that was even before the good portion of my journey began.

Healthy babies eat and grow. Failure to thrive babies have poor appetite, don't grow and are at increased risk for further health problems. And LUCK doesn't need to be investigated.

Food and babies are women's purview; it isn't "science" like runt pigs are science. Women things aren't taken as seriously, and the reports of those who care for children are obviously biased. Bottles and poopy diapers (input and output!) are not seen as "measurable data" -- if the baby won't eat, it is obviously the mom's fault (or so we tell ourselves). It is one of the many reasons I think "correctable nutritional deficiency" was totally missed BY MALE PHYSICIANS as a cause of neuromuscular problems for 50+ years, just like autism used to be blamed on mothers, or having sex on a holy day was obviously why children were born with problems we now know are related to Vitamin B9 (folic acid) deficiency or why tens of thousand of women died because physicians who didn't believe in germs wouldn't wash their hands, or an african american lab technician who invented heart surgery worked for a white guy who took all the credit.

Do I sound bitter? How about "aware" of my current reality? The rise of the expert makes it easy to ignore me when I beg for an investigation.

But....

If you don't know what it takes to make your grass green, and you don't know what your cows eat to make milk taste sweet, and you don't know how or why the contents of the quality "animal chow" has increased the life expectancy of your own dog, how can I honestly expect you to know what the FUCK you are talking about when it comes to nutritional issues with a premature baby?

Oh. You're a doctor. Got it.

I'm a mom.

And I'm LUCKY.

End Rant. Thank you for reading.

Nitwits & Why Physicians Lose Credibility

We have a lot of folks on DU who are "experts" on a lot of stuff, but one of the favorite topics is "woo." "Woo" is generally anything that has not gone through rigorous scientific testing and stringent peer reviewed studies.

Today the good folks at the "Annals of Internal Medicine" jumped in to the fray, and have published an editorial that has me personally pissed off six ways to Sunday because they just don't know what they are talking about when it comes to nutrition.

Yeah, I said it, and I stand by it.

Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

...Despite sobering evidence of no benefit or possible harm...

(snip)

The large body of accumulated evidence has important and public health and clinical implications. Evidence is sufficient to advise against routine supplementation, and we should translate null and negative findings into action. The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided…The evidence also has implications for research. Anti-oxidants, folic acid, and B vitamins are harmful or ineffective for chronic disease prevention, and further large prevention trials are no longer justified…With respect to multivitamins, the studies published in this issue and previous trials indicate no substantial health benefit.

http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1789253


Well, there you have it - pregnant women everywhere, stop taking your prenatal vitamins and folic acid because all of the research that showed good things was just a joke. Oh, and the Vitamin K shot stuff that has been doing what for babies? Ha! A "well nourished" baby needs no such thing! And all of you crazy veterinarians who have been dealing with "what does it take to grow healthy livestock" - you must be imagining THIRTY PLUS YEARS OF RESULTS because the hallowed authorities have spoken and the fact they don't know what they are talking about is completely beside the point!!!



Did I mention I am PISSED?

Many of you know my story. For those who don't, let me share. My husband and I went through eight years of infertility treatments that included three miscarriages. If the doctors said jump, we asked how high. If they said needles would help (drugs or acupuncture), into my body they went. You name it - pineapple juice, standing on my head, quacking like a duck - I was there. I also saw a guy with a PhD in CLINICAL NUTRITION, and followed his instructions for my prenatal supplements: a good quality easily digestible multivitamin, folic acid, zinc, and liquid trace minerals. And blessed be - I got pregnant with twins.

I am an anal retentive geek; I get "garbage in/garbage out" and I read the "what to eat for a healthy baby" books, especially the one about "how to eat if you are pregnant with multiples." And I tried - except I had hyperemisis the whole pregnancy, which meant "non-stop, put you in the hospital vomiting" and instead of gaining weight, I lost it, which was Very Bad. Then I ended up with pre-eclampsia, we all almost died, and my babies came two months early.

My daughter was born at 3 lbs 15.6 ounces, and my son was born at 4 lbs 3.5 ounces. Those are good weights for that gestational age, especially for twins, and a little surprising for the medical problems I was facing. We did the NICU trauma - 13 days for my son, and 19 for my daughter, who came home on oxygen and a heart monitor - and since I couldn't get them to latch, I pumped every three hours for two months.

And then I couldn't physically do it anymore, and had to switch to formula.

"Studies show breast milk is best for babies" and I knew that. My twins were at increased risk of neuromuscular issues due to their prematurity, and anything I could do to decrease those odds (since we had been living on the bad side of the odds for a very long time at this point) was important to me. But I honest to God could not physically do it because of absolute and utter exhaustion at a level I can barely describe. And I had a small breakdown in the middle of my kitchen, crying and praying because these children were the most important thing in my life, and I was failing them - first I couldn't eat right while I was pregnant, then I couldn't keep them safe inside of me, and now I couldn't "not sleep" so I could feed them. And for reasons unknown, as I was mixing their bottles with the polyvisol and liquid iron (baby vitamins and the iron was for anemia issues), I saw the liquid trace minerals I had been continuing to take while nursing, remembered a lecture about chickens getting 25% bigger than other chickens, and went, "well, it couldn't hurt" AND THEN I ADDED 3ml once a day to their bottles.

Two months later I had "normal" 14 pound four month old babies. By six months old, they were top of the growth charts for full term babies, and then they started meeting or beating their milestones as if they were full term babies.

Those of you who know anything about preemies are probably either surprised or skeptical. I have pictures and doctor reports. Honestly, it was somewhere between eight months and a year before I started getting how unusual this was - I had been told "preemies usually catch up" but didn't know it wasn't supposed to happen until they were one to two years old. And I suspected the trace minerals had helped and shared that information with my doctors; no one was interested.

The twins turned two, and I decided to push for an investigation. I contacted over FIFTY different organizations, physicians, research facilities, the NIH, formula manufacturers - anyone I could think of, I called. I put together a PowerPoint presentation, and over and over again I asked, "please investigate this - I think it is important!" People were happy we had such good results, especially because so many preemies don't, and everyone agreed "someone should investigate that."

We were formally diagnosed as "lucky."

In 2009 I complained about it here on DU, and the explanation was found in the "Textbook of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition" on page 631 - “ are at increased risk for developing trace mineral deficiencies... because accretion of trace minerals takes place during the last trimester of pregnancy." In addition to explaining what happened with my children, it also explained why preemies get "caught up" between one and two years of age, because that is when they start eating "real food" which has the missing micronutrients in it.

I went back to every single scientist, physician, organization, etc. showed them the textbook, AND NOTHING HAPPENED. Apparently I had given birth to miraculous mutants.

It got worse. We started the "Preemie Growth Project", provided the trace minerals to 17 more preemie babies (crappy documentation because honestly expected other people to take over), and they ALSO "caught up" in 2-4 months.

Yawn.

Ah, then Jordan's baby happened - 9 months old, weighing 12 pounds, diagnosed as a "floppy baby", she was told he would receive his formal cerebral palsy diagnosis when he was two, but she needed to begin preparing herself for him to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. She gave him 15 mls a day, and two months later he weighed 22 pounds, took his first steps, and currently has no cerebral palsy symptoms - woo hoo! THAT is a big deal, right?

My fifty folks didn't even blink. "Misdiagnosed."

The twins were 5 when "the Neighbor Girl" incident occurred. She was 9 years old, born a micro preemie, confined to a wheelchair, unable to use her hands to take care of herself, "failure to thrive" at 44 pounds, and unable to remember the alphabet. Her brother was five - my twins were five, and the family didn't do wine, so I gave them a bottle of the trace minerals.

June 8, 2012 - six weeks later - she was standing up, bending her fingers, could remember the alphabet, and weighed 50 pounds. I freaked out.

This time I documented. We put it on the web. We gave it away for free, and ended up with 271 children in 38 states and six countries. We ended up with "good data" on 162. 121 saw "dramatic measurable improvement" in at least three of the eight categories we tracked. They started eating. They became demonstrably stronger. Three reported CVI children responding to visual stimulation. Small skulls began to get bigger. Babies responded in as little as 72 hours. 74% of the chronic "failure to thrive" kids were no longer in that category within 90 days. Teeth grinding stopped. Chronic constipation went away. Sensory issues were "gone" by week 16. "Impossible" things kept happening - clonus went away for one child! - and every excited parent assured me their doctor was going to be very excited because this was a MIRACLE!

Not one phone call. Not ONE.

These are busy people. Nutritional supplements are a waste of time and money. Just because the vets use them doesn't mean humans need them, right?

ARGH!!!

I don't sell this stuff. There are multiple brands on the market, and while I have my favorite, they all seem to work.

Apparently, you NEED the trace minerals TO GROW BRAINS. Also muscles, and a few other things, too. Children with deficiencies have neuromuscular issues. Correct the deficiencies, and the kids get better.

Oh, and it has to be done ORALLY (which is why TPN in the NICU isn't doing it), and liquid on an empty stomach seems to get the best results.

For babies, you just add it to their bottles. For children, mix it with juice. It tastes nasty. We've documented the pattern of improvement pretty clearly, and people know within two months if they are going to get a magical "lucky" diagnosis.

There is more - so much more! - and I have a list of unanswered questions, including why it only seems to help four out of five kids.

Apparently, I am "peddling woo." According to the experts, all of this is imaginary, and could be attributed to the placebo effect. Babies *always* respond to the placebo effect - and children, too!



At the end if the day, I have to make my best decisions for the benefit of myself and my family. I need to decide if the good folks at the "Annals of Internal Medicine" know what they are talking about. I have to decide if they understand the importance of a DIGESTIBLE multi-vitamin, or the differences in efficacy that can be found with a liquid form when there are issues with lower intestinal absorption. I have to figure out if they get that deficiencies can cascade, because zinc deficiencies can impact the appetite, which means you don't eat, which means you don't get what you need, which makes things even worse. Do they understand the role of biotin in Vitamin
B absorption? How about the estrogen/copper connection for young boys? Or the disastrous role of miralax and how it affects people with chronic neuromuscular issues?

I am guessing not. I find them to be "not credible."

And maybe I did indeed "get lucky" when the "scientific community" opted to ignore my story.

It isn't like they really seem to know their heads from a hole in the ground anyway.

Yep. I believe in "woo".


3 Strange But True Facts About Me.

1) I was once fired from a role as an African American psychic on a ghost hunting reality show before filming of the pilot began, and no, it wasn't because I am a corpse white Caucasian - I wasn't taking it "seriously" enough. (They were right - I wasn't. )

2) I am mostly responsible for a new theory about the possible cause, prevention, and treatment protocol for pediatric neuromuscular issues including cerebral palsy and sensory processing which is currently benefiting 83% of the children using the protocol.

3) I won a foreclosure battle against my bank!!! <== Yes, this is the one people will probably disbelieve the most!

Although the first two are fun stories, this post is really about the third.

We bought a house in mid-2008 right as the market started crashing. We used a "203k" construction loan to rebuild the worst house in a good neighborhood, with the expectation the loan would be refinanced when the construction was complete. (The construction interest rate was several points higher than a traditional mortgage, and standard practice involves refinancing when complete.) We went over budget, and depleted our financial reserves / went into substantial "unexpected debt". When we finished the construction, the bank delayed the refinancing for six months until the GM/Chrysler bankruptcies of Spring 2009 ended up with my husband being laid off for two months, which meant we no longer qualified for the refinance.

We began the "Loan Modification Process" in August of 2009. Yesterday - October 10, 2013 - I received the papers from the bank showing it was finally completed.

Our house was officially foreclosed incorrectly TWICE during this process, and reversed both times. We attempted to negotiate in good faith, spent over $36,000 in attorney fees, won $1,500 for them destroying my husband's credit, and had an idiot judge tell us there was nothing she could do to help us.

The *only* thing that saved us from being homeless was that I am an Anal-Retentive Detail Oriented person who was able to document over 275 communications between them and us, provide written proof of our veracity, and when I didn't get what I needed (them following the rules), I escalated.

Oh, and our case was identified by a HUD Auditor in December of 2010 who contacted us/documented the bank's "severe non-compliance", and we "blind cc'd" the faulty instructions to her for the next several months.

In August of 2012 the bank was instructed by FHA to halt all legal proceedings against us while they investigated. (We had sued them, and they decided to foreclose during litigation because we OBVIOUSLY weren't going to win.) The bank decided to ignore the FHA folks, and foreclosed on us a few weeks later. The bank was repeatedly instructed to provide documentation about our case, and they ignored it. We correctly concluded they were waiting for the "six month redemption period" in Michigan to elapse so we would have no legal standing.

Our attorneys told us repeatedly to "walk away" because no one *ever* beats the bank.

In December of 2012, in a final desperate bid to save our home, I sent 21 3-Ring Binders with documentation of our complaints to every single vice president of the bank in question, all attorneys involved, and all the way up the chain of command from our "FHA Housing Specialist" to the Assistant Secretary of HUD in Washington.

In January of 2013, the bureaucracy moved - not, I am convinced, because we were being screwed over, but because the bank was "ignoring" the people who were supposed to be overseeing them, and THAT was unacceptable.

(I'm good with that! )

In February of 2013 the (second) foreclosure was reversed with apologies for having been done "in error" and in April of 2013 the findings came back that there were "servicing errors identified."

FHA spanked the bank HARD. We didn't get a free house (we weren't trying to get one), and the fuss I raised did end up making a difference that I hope will help other home owners.

Oh, and they have to clean up my husband's credit, which is HUGE deal for us.

I was repeatedly told "no one had ever seen a case so well documented" - and yet, we still came within weeks of losing our home.

We weren't special. The screwing we were getting was standard procedure. We actually had the money to fight, the skills to document the situation, and the wit to know when to escalate.

The bottom line is that the bank only did the "right thing" because the government regulators forced them to do it.

We were lucky. I have talked to dozens of people who gave up, lost their homes, had their credit destroyed, and finally walked away because there was nothing else they could think of to do, and they needed to move on with their lives.

We came so close to that - and even at the end, it almost got screwed up.

Last month we sent in our final notarized paperwork, and the week we did that, the bank "outsourced" their loan modification process, which meant anyone who knew anything about our account was no longer employed, and our paperwork was in a box on the desk of someone who didn't work there anymore. (I felt bad. Oh, and they couldn't find my "authorization to discuss" again either, which is a whole story in itself.) Fortunately a little pressure from our Not Happy FHA person (did I mention the bank was instructed to comply in April and we were now in late September?), and things smoothed out fairly quickly.

I have the bank notarized completed paperwork next to me. It has a cover letter that is definitely personalized. The last two paragraphs say this:

...Your concerns have enabled us to update procedures and practices ensuring a better relationship with our customers now and in the future.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us directly. <== their underline


It is real. I beat the bank.

(Thanks to the government regulator who is currently on furlough because the government is shut down.)

It is over. We won.

I beat the bank.

Four days is about right. The math is working nicely. (No, it isn't secret.)

Remember this? "12 victims slain in Navy Yard shooting rampage; dead suspect ID'd" http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/dc-navy-yard-gunshots/index.html

It was Monday. I posted a thread on Tuesday with the subject "Another mass shooting? Yawn." http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023682882

In that thread I said this:

Condolences to the victims and their families. Prayers for the next ones - because based on the current realities, I predicate another "mass shooting/killing" within the next ten days or so.

(Look! I'm psychic! I can do math! 272 days since Newtown / 29 incidents of 4+ killed = average of 9.4 days! )


I *should* have predicted today's shooting, though. In the 272 days since Newtown (at the time of the post), there had been 84 incidents of "4 or more people shot" (which is the definition of a mass shooting).

272 / 84 = 3.238 which is basically four days.

One of today's headings is this:

"Boy, 3, among 13 injured in Chicago park shooting"
http://news.yahoo.com/boy-3-among-13-injured-chicago-park-shooting-081123625.html

CHICAGO (AP) — Thirteen people have been shot at a park on Chicago's southwest side, including a 3-year-old boy who was in critical condition, in what authorities say was likely a gang-related shooting.


Now, who will win next Tuesday's lottery? Based on the current math, it should be a big one, with at least four dead.

Will it be YOUR town?

Public Mea Culpa: I now support the NRA.

Specifically, the BLACK NRA.

http://www.upworthy.com/ever-wonder-what-a-double-standard-within-a-double-standard-looks-like

With a goal to "arm every young black man in the country, so they can do normal things like wear hoodies, walk in the rain, and buy Skittles," how can I NOT support this fine organization?

Seriously, HOW could I have been so wrong for so long?

Bravo, Sara Silverman and Black NRA. Bravo!





Another mass shooting? Yawn.

With respect to the most recent victims (and appropriate condolences, of course), these "isolated incidents" are becoming so common place that the "once a month crime spree du jour" is becoming a staple of the news media.

Everyone is SHOCKED - simply SHOCKED - because it happened AGAIN.

Where *is* the fainting couch?

Remember this, back oh-so-long-ago in December, 2012?

http://www.thenation.com/blog/171774/fifteen-us-mass-shootings-happened-2012-84-dead#

Sixteen US Mass Shootings Happened in 2012, Leaving at Least 88 Dead

Today’s nearly indescribable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where twenty-seven people, including eighteen children, were shot to death inside an elementary school, is at least the sixteenth mass shooting to take place in America this year. The death toll is now at eighty-four.

Here is a list of every fatal mass shooting that’s taken place since January 1—defined as multi-victim shootings where those killed were chosen indiscriminately. The tragedies took place at perfectly random places—at churches, movie theatres, soccer tournaments, spas, courthouses and, now, an elementary school. But given the frequency of these awful events, perhaps in the long view their occurrence isn’t so random after all—it’s predictable.

(then lists sixteen of them, ending with Newtown, CT)


Well, it was NINE MONTHS AGO - and lots of things have changed since then, right? Except they really haven't.

Over on Reddit, they have a list of 246 mass shootings (defined as "4 or more people SHOT") so far this year, but personally, I think a "mass shooting" should only get counted if people get killed, which brings the "number of times four or more people were killed" down to 29 mass shootings in 2013. If we think of it as "only 29 so far" instead of 246, then we only have to worry about 137 dead people, instead of 327 dead people, and we can totally ignore the 857 people who were "just injured."

http://www.reddit.com/r/GunsAreCool/wiki/2013massshootings
MASS SHOOTINGS IN 2013

The most obscene gun related killing surprisingly often doesn't make the mainstream news at all.

The only requirement is that four or more people are shot in a spree. This may include the gunman himself (because they often suicide by cop or use a gun to kill themselves to escape punishment), or police shootings of civilians around the gunman. The reasoning behind the latter being that if the shooter is arrested, he will often be charged with injuring people the police actually shot, as that is a foreseeable result of a shooting spree.

We count the number shot rather than the number killed because people are still shot by a gun whether they survive or not. The gun lobby benefits from our ability to save those who would otherwise die, even though those gun shot victims will never be the same. The NRA exports their medical costs to society which often pays the costs for the medical care of the wounded. We refuse to ignore the victims of gun violence who survive shooting sprees.


Obviously the number of "mass shootings" has nothing to do with the weapons, right? Because only a fool would think giving someone (usually a man) the ability to KILL LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE WITHOUT RELOADING was a "bad idea" -- heck, if you ask the NRA or their supporters, they would point out that knives and baseball bats kill more people, and everyone should be able to defend themselves against crazy felons with guns.

I have been an office worker since 1984. Earlier this year my workplace - for the first time *EVER* in my career - had me participate in a mandatory "Active Shooter Event Safety Training." My six-year olds have been in "school lockdown" more times than I can count to the point where we don't even notice anymore, and I don't *ever* remember dealing with that while I was growing up. Tornado drills, fire drills and pop quizzes - yes. "Mandatory School Lockdown" situations - no.

So, pardon me if I yawn through the tragic news reports of the latest one du jour. Most of them don't even seem to get any attention unless they shoot in the double digits (7 so far this year!), and the gun nuts think the second amendment gives them the right to roam local department stores with AR-15's strapped on their back (remember this thread? http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022218233), so UNTIL WE DECIDE TO TAKE AWAY THE ABILITY TO FIRE MORE THAN A FEW ROUNDS AT A TIME (and I will let the gun nuts earnestly explain why that isn't possible or necessary), instead of the breathless ratings driven television reportage, I'm going to re-watch the helpful hints in this old thread:

"RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Situation." http://www.democraticunderground.com/12623980

Condolences to the victims and their families. Prayers for the next ones - because based on the current realities, I predicate another "mass shooting/killing" within the next ten days or so.

(Look! I'm psychic! I can do math! 272 days since Newtown / 29 incidents of 4+ killed = average of 9.4 days! )
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