Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Overworked Sniffer

I’ve always had a fairly acute sense of smell.

I can smell the milk two days before it goes sour. I can smell the garbage molding the day before anyone else. I end up with migraine headaches based on smell (and the whole world demands that they smell ‘good’ – so everything is perfumed).

I recall smells too – the smell of the hallway behind Centennial Hall at Augustana has remained the same smell since I first encountered it in 1966. The smell of Oscar and Ruth’s upstairs bathroom (smoke, an old bathtub filled with hot water, the hint of people). The smell of the basement at Budlong School – a never to be forgotten mix of aromas: hot chocolate on cold mornings for the school patrol; the scents from the home economics rooms; a smell of little kid sweat.

The toughest part of this round of chemo has been the persistence of smell.
As I said, there seems to be a requirement that the world be perfumed. Everything is scented: the soap in the hospital bathroom, the hand sanitizer, the nurses with their various perfumes, the doctors with theirs. One particularly pungent individual – for me anyways – is the guy from infusion therapy who comes to check my Hickman catheter. It’s a woody smell, one that most people might find pleasant, but one that immediately begins to awaken headaches for me.
The smell of the food: The hospital feeds forty on this floor alone, so the food wagon is constantly on the floor. It’s all overcooked and over salted (surprisingly), and there is always a pervasive food smell lingering on the floor. My digestion has been hideous this treatment, and the smell of the food has not aided the digestion. I don’t want to eat anything.

The smell of the room: Housekeeping comes in sort of daily. But my linens haven’t been changed since I’ve been in the hospital, not even rearranged. I have to ask for towels. In other words, the linens are all soaked with a me smell. Not a pleasant one. I want to get home, get all the clothes, particularly the robe, in the laundry. I wish we could hang them outside afterwards so that they could get that fresh dried in the sun smell, but that’s not likely, since I won’t get out of this place until 2 pm at the earliest.

The smell of the chemo-therapy: This time, more than any other time, I noticed the smell of the chemo-drugs. I suspect it’s “the red devil” that gives off this smell. “The red-devil” is what one of the nurses calls adriamycin, one of the two drugs in my cocktail. The problem with the smell is that it gets into everything: my excrement, my urine, the pores of my body. I smell like the drug. It is a strong smell and I think that everyone else smells me too. Maybe they don’t. But I do. It literally smells red. Not blood red, but red, a warm and unpleasant red. It is a smell that will haunt me to my dying day. I want to get rid of it, but I know I have to go through it for three more treatments.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Limbaugh Slander

The Limbaugh insults have been followed by advertisers leaving Limbaugh and pundits commenting on the slurs against Ms. Fluke.

While the slander has been the ostensible reason for advertisers dropping Limbaugh’s show, I’m bothered by the fact that the size of the lies has been ignored by punditry.
Yes, he called Fluke a slut and a prostitute and demanded that she make sex tapes and upload them to titillate the right wing taxpayers. That’s outrageous. But no less outrageous is the misrepresentation of Fluke’s testimony by Limbaugh, O’Really and the rest of the Right Wing Noise machine.

She did not go to the Democratic forum to demand that taxpayers pay for her contraception. She went to testify that her Roman Catholic law school refused to include birth control in her insurance program –the insurance program that covers Georgetown U students, faculty and staff. She testified not only that she could not get insurance coverage for her needed and desired medical treatment to prevent pregnancy, but that the medication was also denied to a fellow law school student who needed oral contraceptives to prevent ovarian cysts.

Graduate students, particularly in high profile professional schools, bear a heavy financial burden. They are expected to be in school full time, pay high tuition and have little way to earn any cash. Graduate students in other departments can earn small amounts by being Teaching and Graduate Assistants. Can law school students work for the law school? I don’t know. There are no undergraduates to instruct. But there may be other ways that Law Schools help their students make ends meet.

Still, the pay is low and barely making ends meet in Grad school has been a time honored tradition. In earlier generations those in professional schools made it by having a working spouse – but that was back in the era in which the majority of those in Med School, Law School and Seminary were male and married. Then the biggest worry for the family was an unplanned pregnancy that would force the “man of the house” to have to find part time work.

Today better than half of the seminarians in our ELCA are female. I’m guessing that the same is true for most of our mainstream Christian seminaries. According to a 2009 report at UC Davis, women outnumber men in Law School, Medical School and Veterinary Medicine. There are all kinds of implications for this, including delay in age of marriage, which is a general trend in Western society.

Thus is it not unreasonable to expect that your graduate school health insurance include contraceptives. Short on money, long on expenses, this is basic medical care. The decisions about our medical care should be made between us and our doctors, not between us, our doctors and legislators – or the leadership of a church to which we don’t belong.

As I understand it, that was Ms Fluke’s position. It seems rather reasonable to me. It has been misrepresentation by the right wing. That is at least as much of a problem as the easily decried ad-hominem. Yet none of the pundits have chosen to even mention that – except, of course, for Rachel Maddow. Her reporting on this story has been outstanding.

If you are Roman Catholic and wish to follow the traditional methods of birth control, by all means do it. But why should you be allowed to impose your moral tradition on those who make other moral judgments about their sexuality or their family planning? Why should you be allowed to deny needed insurance coverage for those who need this medication for reasons that surly don't offend your moral sensibilities?

Friday, March 2, 2012

No Free Lunch

AT&T announced the end to unlimited data plans. This should not be surprising. The phone companies are not satisfied with gigantic profits, they want Oil Company profits.

The problem is that AT&T motivates the purchase of a smart phone showing how you can do things like download whole movies, stream today's basketball game and upload videos to Facebook. Those are the activities that will bring send your data stream over the cliff of data limits. But if you can't afford to do those things, why would you want a Smart Phone anyway?

Get you hooked and then charge you more than you can afford.

The cable company sent me an offer. Bundle phone, internet and tv and we'll give you a month free. The problem, after my free month the bill runs $150 per month. And don't expect much for being a loyal customer. Last night I gave them a half hour of my time doing their survey and they gave me a $5 Amazon gift card. Ain't that grand.

The corporatization of America continues. We are all supposed to shut up and be loyal consumers and never question the way the corporations save us so much money that we're constantly broke.