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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: 10,559

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"That's a pretty stupid idea, John. I'm afraid I'll have to kill you."


This cartoon, which I first saw on a mug that also shared the pithy advice of "Stay Awake, Stay Employed", completely encapsulates the idiocy of trying to change people's minds by killing them.

While amusing on the surface, it just flat out doesn't work.

Which, in my opinion, is why the very IDEA of a "War on Terror" is STUPID.

While killing people with "stupid ideas" may sound like a "brilliant" idea (in that it gets them out of your hair while you figure out what to do with them), reality (that bane of political conservatives everywhere) invariably shows that "short term stupid ideas" like KILLING PEOPLE don't fix "Big Problems" like opposing views on equality, opportunity, or social justice, to name just a few.

"Good ideas" will occur to more people even if you kill off the first few people who come up with them. Example: Think "racial equality" and Dr. Martin Luther King for an example of this (or any of the civil rights workers who were lynched before him). While some holdouts still exist, the vast majority of the country no longer accepts "racial segregation" as APPROPRIATE behavior.

At the end of the day, if you want to "win the war on stupid ideas" you actually have to do something harder than "kill people" - you have to Think Up Smarter Ideas, and then find ways of COMMUNICATING and IMPLEMENTING THEM.

Sometimes that means actually THINKING about why someone would think a "stupid" idea had merit. Example: Think "don't let african american men play football" -- since they were deemed "inferior" (per movies about early integration efforts), the only way to dispel that type of misinformation was to have excellent african american male athletes DESTROY teams of caucasian male athletes, thus proving that athletic ability was not a skin color issue.

In the above example, even though anyone with half a brain *should* have been able to figure out that "skin color" and "athletic ability" weren't related, people actually had to THINK about the problem to solve it, which meant considering Other People's Points of View - even the LAME STUPID ONES.

They had to be taken seriously so the stupidity could be shoved down the throats of those practicing it hard enough to choke on it.

This concept - THINKING - is one many of us might find benefit in using. When, for example, one has a knee jerk reaction about someone else's religion ("EVIL!" perhaps THINKING about the GOOD (feeding the hungry, caring for the homeless, offering support services to victims of domestic violence, providing aid during natural disasters, etc.) that many people do as they attempt to walk their faith might be a demonstration of wisdom. One could then THINK about ways of not throwing the proverbial "baby out with the bath water" approach to blanket shouts of "EVIL!" This is just one of many examples of how THINKING can help make the world a better place, and there are others: not all gun owners are murderous scum, not all rich people are spawns of satan, and men who open doors for women aren't trying to turn them into swooning morons. And, although it pains me to admit it, not all "Republicans" are empty-headed nit-wits bent on the destruction of the human race, not all "Libertarians" are self-involved hypocritical parasites, and not all "Democrats" are wise and benevolent caretakers of the public good.

But THINKING such thoughts is hard work; in truth, it is right up there with "showing respect and courtesy" which many people have a challenging time grasping the concept of, and the LAZY among us usually prefer to demonstrate boorish and ignorant behavior because it is EASIER.

In those cases, perhaps the metaphorical bullet is appropriate: public scorn, shame, and a swift "stop being an asshole" boot-to-the-head? (Maybe there can be a smilie icon made for this?) At the very least, they will amuse the rest of us.

Perhaps these actions can knock some sense into the senseless; they are less messy than other, more permanent solutions, and pre-suppose that PAINFUL STUPIDITY is a temporary condition that can be treated with large doses of education and good sense. I am, by nature, an optimist. I could be wrong.

But I don't THINK so.

I need to talk about my (dead) sister.

She died from complications from Multiple Sclerosis in 2003 at age 39.

Because this is a "political" message board, I am going to share some things about her life that tie into the current discussions about Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and the people who use and/or "abuse" them.

My sister was on Social Security Disability, and she scammed the system by not reporting when she made money.

She had a type of Multiple Sclerosis called "relapsing/remitting" and it SUCKED. Sometimes she was almost fine. Sometimes she wasn't. Family frequently questioned whether she was "faking it" because when she wasn't suffering from an attack, she could function at a pretty normal level, but when she was "having a spell" she would be almost incapacitated. The attacks could hit suddenly: one day she would be out mowing the lawn, and the next, she would be in a wheelchair. (In hindsight, yes, the correlation seems obvious.)

She received approximately $9,000 a year in income from Social Security Disability; she also received money for her children (with two, probably about $850 a month?), and her live-in boyfriend also received money for taking care of her (I have no clue how much).

When she was doing well, she would work under the table (full time, sometimes more). We knew she was still collecting money from the government while this was going on, and to be honest, there was not a lot of respect for her because of it. I asked her about it once - one tries not to interfere in other people's lifestyle choices - and she explained that it was more about the health insurance than the money; it had taken several years to get approved for SSDI when she was diagnosed in her early twenties, and there was no way she could afford the the medical bills when the next inevitable attack came without assistance, let alone the roof over her children's head, without it.

They lived well most of the time - cell phones (back when they were an uncommon luxury), new clothing, nice cars - in a nice neighborhood, in a house that they were always working on "fixing up." Financially, their life style seemed impossible, especially because her "caretaker" went through several years of chronic unemployment. We suspected that drugs (illegal, and selling her prescriptions) were used to supplement the family income; this was confirmed by her children after her death, but she also shuffled credit cards like crazy, and left behind a ton of unpaid and noncollectable debt because of it. (Not a criticism, by the way.)

Multiple Sclerosis consumed her life; when she was well, there was a near feverish desire to "do as much as possible" for and with her two daughters. When she wasn't, she kept the house dark. Each time she came back from an attack, she was a little "less better" -- the numbness always grew. She had nightmares. She was scared. She was angry. She was defiant. She was hopeful.

And then, three days after Christmas back in 2003, she was dead. She got a cold (just like she always did multiple times a winter) that turned into pneumonia. She died on her way to the hospital, leaving behind two daughters age 20 and 18.

We had all gotten so used to her constantly being sick that I didn't believe the initial call that she was gone. It was too sudden - we had seen her at the family holiday party, and she was fine. We had talked a few days later, and she was fine. Then she was gone.

Yes, she cheated and scammed the system; she played it like a fiddle sometimes. Most of what she needed was the medical care, but the two - health insurance and income - came bundled together. When she was well, in the early years, she could have worked a full time job that wasn't under the table, but if she did, when the "next attack" came, she would have had no income or health insurance. The system really isn't set up for "okay, sometimes I will need some help, and I won't be able to wait two years for you to figure it out, but I want to be as independent as possible, so ...?" It is set up as a "yes/no" and as a taxpayer, I can look at it, and see that it costs *way* too much money, including in personal pride. (She was proud; she knew she was scamming sometimes, but she felt like it was the only way to survive, and by God! she was a survivor!)

Multiple Sclerosis is a terrible disease. She was so scared about being trapped in a body that she couldn't control -- we still lost her too soon, but at the same time, we didn't have to deal with some of the options she discussed about "when the time comes" - and yes, she talked about being control of when the battle ended. It turned out not to be an issue; we all thought there would be "more time."

This week (March 11 - 17, 2013) is national Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

My sister was more than a person on Social Security Disability. Yes, she scammed, and I won't pretend she didn't, but I understand why, and it wasn't because she *wanted* to - it was because she had no choice if she was going to make sure her family was taken care of. She was also more than that:

She was funny. She had gorgeous long thick hair that she was ridiculously proud of. She was skinny, and would freak out when the medications made her "puffy". She worshiped the sun, and was always tan. She liked to roller skate when she was young. She loved animals. She was worried more about being a friend to her daughters than a disciplinarian. She loved pretty jewelry. She was good with plants. She was a survivor of an abusive relationship with her ex-husband. She spent eighteen years with the love of her life, who raised her daughters as if they were his own. She was a complicated person. She didn't always make good choices. She loved her daughters, and would do anything for them. She could be the Queen of Bitchy. She could be your best friend. She was my sister, and she never got to meet my children.

She's been gone nearly a decade; there is still no cure.

Jeannette: May 12, 1964 - Dec 28, 2003 (age 39)

This week is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week - http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx

"Trust Me." (Except sometimes you can't. How do you "comparison shop" for blood work?)

I am of the opinion that capitalism is an insane system when it comes to health care. We have some excellent posts on DU talking about health care issues and associated costs, and I thought I would share my story. (Please feel free to add your own.)

My husband and I went through eight years of infertility treatments. The majority of the expenses associated with this "choice" on our end were not covered by insurance, so we paid out of pocket. This was "normal" at the time, and the local clinics had policies in place to get "immediate payment" for services like blood work and ultrasounds. Trust me when I say that women desperately trying for a child will sign a check for anything "necessary" to achieve that dream, and women trying to get pregnant measure success in only one way: holding a healthy baby in your arms.

Our last attempt (which resulted in my beloved twins - yeah!) was done with an out of state clinic. We picked them because they had some of the best success rates (healthy babies!) in the country, and they were economically reasonable / comparable to the clinics that *didn't* have the same reported success rates. (Delete curses on Ronald Reagan's name for the years of delay in implementing standards of care, and blessings on Bill Clinton for telling NIH to fix it!) The "out of state" system was already well established in our area: we would have "local monitoring" (blood work and ultrasounds) and the "big/important stuff" done out of state.

My local gynecologist had been part of one of the local infertility clinics, and I had gotten pregnant/first miscarriage with her; we had an excellent relationship, so when she left her old practice, I followed her. She continued to be affiliated with a well known and respected hospital, so I went with her facility for blood work.

The new doctor decided to do some extensive blood work just to make sure nothing had been missed previously that could be corrected/would help increase my odds of carrying a pregnancy to term. He ordered a battery of tests, including one to determine if I had ever had a common virus; a large percentage of the population has had it, but it is only "bad" if a women contracts it while pregnant, at which point serious birth defects occur. (Its been years - I used to know what it was, and will look it up if anyone cares.)

The blood work for that test came back so wonky, I was sent back to "bleed again." Again, really *weird* results - so strange, it looked like I not only currently *had* the disease (which typically lasted about a week to ten days), but still had such high numbers two weeks later (with no symptoms ever), that maybe I was a carrier?

I was devastated - perhaps this was the reason I had miscarried three times? If it was true, I would not be able to carry a healthy child to term.

But the doctor wasn't satisfied - the results were just too "out there" - so the whole thing got escalated up the head of the laboratory, and it turned out there had been "a mistake" (made twice), and the results were WRONG.

Just flat out WRONG.

I had never had the disease, and wasn't a carrier. Somebody at the laboratory had messed up (still don't know how), and I had come "this close" to stopping our pregnancy efforts, which would have meant my twins would never have been born.

There is a "Part 2" to this story, and in hindsight, I am grateful for that "reality check" that blood tests can be messed up.

After our "two week wait" (I started doing home pregnancy tests early - and they were POSITIVE!), I went in for my "am I pregnant" blood work. To my shock, I received a call from my doctor telling me that my beta level was showing "38" which meant I was pregnant, but was going to miscarry again. (I needed to see at least "50 or above" for a singleton, "100" meant twins, and "200" was going to mean "more than two".) Eight years, three miscarriages already -- I left work in utter and complete despair -- and then I got mad.

I had a conversation with God (sorry, this is a truthful story), and took some more home pregnancy tests -- all of which were showing pregnant. I was CONVINCED beyond all reason I was pregnant, and "knew" I was going to have twins.

Beta numbers have to double in 48 hours if a pregnancy is going to viable. When I went back for my "48 hour check" I drove to three separate clinics and presented my arm for blood work.

The numbers all came back in the "200 range" - yeah! - and I've already mentioned my fabulous now-six year old boy/girl twins.

I asked the original clinic to "double check" things since it is mathematically impossible for a "38" to "double" to "200" - which is when it came out there had been ANOTHER mistake at the laboratory.

Apparently someone had written my progesterone level "38" in the beta level column, and put the "96" in the progesterone spot.

I had been pregnant with twins the entire time. It was just a lab error.

I cannot adequately explain the horrors of the emotional roller coaster I was riding during this process. There was simply no way I could have looked at the numbers and "caught" the mistakes. The same standard tests were done at every facility, and the price I paid varied between $45 and $200 depending on the facility.

The folks who made the TWO errors I just mentioned were neither the cheapest nor the most expensive, and to this day I have no idea who made the mistakes - a new trainee? An exhausted experienced person having a bad day? A glitch in the computer programs? How the h*ll could I have "interviewed" or "investigated" or "prevented" myself from doing business with the people who made the error? The first one was supposed to be a "one-in-a-million" mistake, but carelessly writing numbers in the wrong column? How many *other* people had this happened to?

Wait a minute: No Clue. And no one else knows either.

You pay your money, and take your chances. You *trust* them.

I paid money, and *trusted* that meaningful, accurate data that would be used to make health care decisions would be provided. In multiple cases, that turned out to be "wrong" -- but there was no way *I* could have figured that out on my own.

In an emergency situation, I wouldn't have had time for "three tries" before getting to the right answer. If I am bleeding to death on the table, I can't count the medical personnel operating, and competent professionals aren't going to "negotiate" with me to save a buck ("I don't need an anesthesiologist, and I certainly don't need an IV!" while they are doing their jobs. And depending on the procedures, one can't "refuse" to use the "in-house" laboratory if you've had some bad experience with them.

There are standards of care that simply need to be "across the board" and my cynical nature says that numbers can be fudged to make a facility appear to be in compliance, which is why auditors/regulators whose paychecks aren't dependent on making people look good need to visit regularly.

And seriously, we need to get to a single payer system. The only reason I knew about the price differences on the blood work and ultrasounds was because we went through it for so long; "comparison shopping" for blood work pricing is just not a reasonable way to spend limited time and energy in most cases.

I think the "for profit" health care system sucks. I hope "Obamacare" is the first step on the road to dismantling it.

But my children? Let me tell you: they were worth it. Totally, utterly worth it.
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