communication, condescending twatbags, healthcare, mental health, social welfare

People offer diet advice to woman who wants to “end it all”…

I got a rather late start this morning. Or, it was late by my standards. I usually get up between 5:00 and 5:30 AM most days. Today, I got up at about 4:00 AM to answer the call of nature, went back to sleep, and didn’t wake up until almost 7:00. It was pretty nice, actually. I don’t have a real need to be up at 5:00, but I often wake up then, because that’s when Bill gets up most days.

After almost 21 years of marriage, I’ve come to follow his patterns because it’s easier. I’m also pretty productive most mornings. I like getting things done early in the day, so I can fuck off later… or maybe do something musical. I did make a video yesterday, expressly for Alex. I posted it last night, but had to repost this morning, because I somehow neglected to get the very beginning of the song. I think it’s because I was getting tired. I had the song about 85% nailed within a few minutes, but I can be a perfectionist about recordings. I think the take that finally made it to video was #30. I’m not sorry about that, by the way. It kept me busy and distracted.

Below is the link to the edited video without the missing opening measures.

I just learned this yesterday and I think it turned out pretty well…

So… about today’s topic…

As I was looking at my Facebook memories, I found an intriguing post from 2018 about how some doctors have a tendency to focus too much on a person’s weight when they present for examination. Below is a screenshot.

In 2023, I still haven’t seen a doctor… but I have a feeling I’m going to have to bite the bullet soon. I absolutely dread it for THIS reason.

Because I’m a masochist with too much time on my hands, I decided to look at the comments on the original post. I wasn’t surprised to find the usual belittling, insulting, victim blaming, shaming, arrogant, condescending, armchair psychoanalyzing, and all of the other shitty behaviors that comes at people who dare to comment on posts such as the above one. What’s especially funny about this post is that it’s from before the pandemic, when everyone and their brother had gone to the Google School of Medicine and Public Health. I’m surprised I survived the worst of the COVID era… although it’s entirely possible that we haven’t even been through it yet. You never know what the future holds.

Lots of people– mostly women– were sharing their personal stories of being dismissed, lectured, and treated with condescension by healthcare providers. And as they tried to relate to the cartoon, they got more of the same shit from perfect strangers with “correctile dysfunction”. It’s a waste of time trying to have a meaningful dialogue on social media, since so many people feel the need to show their metaphorical asses to everyone, rather than be courteous, and have basic empathy and kindness for their fellow man. I’ll admit, it’s easy to fall into that pattern of behavior, especially when someone is egregiously obnoxious.

I read quite a few posts before I got to one that made me stop in my tracks…

This is all I ever hear. I am severely overweight. I need my knees replaced but insurance won’t do it till my BMI 35 or lower. I can’t walk or stand very long due to the pain. I cant do water aerobics because I cant get out of the pool by myself and the gym is not allowed to help me. I cut my fat, cholesterol and amount of food I eat but I’m still not losing. I know it’s the lack of exercise but my doctor just keeps telling me to try harder. No help declined my request for physical therapy where I can get help in and out of the pool. My depression is so bad I am thinking of ending it all.

I really felt empathy for this woman. I don’t have problems like she does. I can still walk, and get up and down stairs. Hell, I recently explored several caves, which required some stamina. The first one, which had 456 steps going down, then up again (so 912 steps), was pretty difficult for me. But I still managed to do it without any ill effect. My knees are still good. I don’t have bad ankles or hips, either. I do have some lower back pain, which I know would be helped if I lost weight and got a new mattress. But overall, I have a pretty resilient body that has historically been ridiculously healthy. I think I inherited my parents’ strong constitutions. Dad died at 81, in spite of being an alcoholic and having Lewy Body Dementia. Mom is still going strong at 85 years old.

I’ve gotten away with not seeing doctors for many years, and I will admit, I mainly avoid them because I don’t want to waste time or money being lectured about a complicated problem that can’t be immediately solved simply because a doctor ordered it. I’m not stupid. I know it’s unhealthy to be overweight. But when I visit a doctor, I expect immediate help with the specific problem that brought me to their office, not lectures and shaming by someone who doesn’t really know anything about me other than what they see.

If I’m sitting on an exam table with a problem that needs to be addressed immediately, I expect it to be addressed ahead of lectures about my weight. Especially if the doctor doesn’t actually have advice that will work, and isn’t based on actually knowing something about me, and my lifestyle. It’s not helpful to simply tell someone to eat less and move more. If it were that simple, we’d have a lot fewer fat people.

I could identify with this woman’s predicament. I certainly don’t know what led her to be as heavy as she is/was in 2018. The simple answer is, she somehow took in too many calories for her body and didn’t exercise enough to burn them off. But what caused her to consume too many calories? What caused her not to get enough exercise? What is the best way to help her get back into balance? How can she be helped in a way that isn’t demeaning, insulting, and self-defeating? How can she be convinced that she’s worth helping, rather than just giving into despair and “ending it all”, as she put it.

There were a lot of comments on this particular cartoon post. Some of them spawned separate threads of their own with a bunch of responses. They were often tit for tat, “let’s compare qualifications” types of comments, that were unhelpful. I’m sure you’ve seen those types of comments yourself. They have a lot more to do with a person’s ego and personal biases than actually offering anything helpful to the conversation. But, if you’re unclear on what I mean, have a look at this exchange …

During my recent pregnancy, I gained very little weight and my OB told me I obviously led a very healthy lifestyle, but I also had to have extra ultrasounds and was considered “high risk” because of obesity. The disconnect between weight and perceived health is real.

A guy who doesn’t know this woman at all wrote this response:

what disconnect? The more weight you have on you the harder your heart has to work, it’s basic a&p, there is a very distinctive line on what your weight should be according to your structure (height, muscle fitness, genes ect) and if it’s not within those parameters (that medical professionals studied and developed for longer than you have been alive) then yes by medical definition you are overweight, and there’s not a single person in the world that’s overweight and is healthy, it’s medically and physically impossible.

A different person took him on, writing this response:

Considering how little information is on your profile it looks like you’re not a medical professional. You need to stop acting like one. As someone who’s actually studying nutrition and psychology none of what you said is true. Infact most healthy people are overweight. Being in peak shape with little extra body fat has been proven to make you less able to fight disease. There is morbidly obese, you can start having health issues due to weight at that point. But do you know what the number one indicator for chronic disease actually is? Prolonged stress.

Bold guy came back with this comment and a link:

I hope you’re joking, you went digging into my profile, which is private, and you determined I wasn’t a medical professional because my profile is private, excellent use of brain cells. 

I’m not going to respond to rest of the gibberish, as this article singlehandedly dismantles the said gibberish, I suggest you read it before you plan your next stupid internet excursion.

***I’d like to point out that you control what’s public on your profile. Whatever is publicly posted on your profile for people who aren’t your “friends” is not “private” information. If you don’t know that, you probably shouldn’t be on the Internet, let alone working with people who have medical problems. I’d also like to point out that I don’t think this guy has ever helped anyone, if he has, in fact, ever worked in healthcare. ***

Italics person wrote:

a Heath line article lmao, yeah you’re probably not a professional otherwise you’d mention creditials other than just working in a hospital and bring up something literally any idiocy could Google. I’ve been a CNA going on 7+ years. Working in homecare, LTC acute care and a rehab unit. Stop spreading misinformation. I’m using real science. I’m studying for a PHD at MNSU. Getting into research not the clinical side of healthcare. Having little body fat does not a healthy person make. BMI doesn’t take into account muscle mass and nutritionists don’t like using that as a form a measurement. How someone feels should be the determine factor for health. Flexibility, good eating habits and overall strength and mental well-being are signs of good health and healthy people come in all shapes and sizes. People who push their body to limits to fit into strict guidelines aren’t going to be any more healthy than an overweight person, who is active, gets good rest and good nutrition. Infact that person putting their body through intense stress in order to be aesthetically easing may be less able to fight off disease and might be prone to injury. If you actually care about those you take care of, check yourself.

Bold guy– a supposed “seasoned” physician’s assistant, came back with:

I’m not going to read this bs story, I’ve been an ER PA for 3 years, prior to that I was a paramedic. (Count in the 5 years of school in between) 

It’s not pushing your body to “limits” it’s eating healthy food and exercising. The less weight you have on you, the less your heart has to work, are you just not understanding that aspect of human anatomy? Do you not understand that your heart is the most important muscle in your body, and you destroy it by poor diet.

That article provides FACTS, Percentages… pulled directly from government statistics (please see sources before you just throw away important information just because it doesn’t agree with your rhetoric) if those OBJECTIVE SCIENCE backed statistics still don’t change your mind, then go on eat like shit, be happy, and I’ll see you in morgue before age 50, have a nice day, I’m not going to argue with a CNA who claims to know more than doctors.

***I’d like to know what drew this guy to work in healthcare. Was it just the paycheck? He doesn’t seem to care about people.***

Italics person wrote:

what Nutrition education do paramedics have? My professor for my emergency classes was taught stuff by me about both diabetics and my own personal congenital heart defect. You work in acute and emergency care you aren’t qualified to speak about chronic conditions

More from bold guy:

“insert 5 years of school” Why do you think it takes a few month to become a CNA and a minimum of 5 years to become a PA and that’s extremely fast. Do you see how stupid you sound? Go on and find a provider at your hospital, tell him what you told me here, show them this convo, you will be slayed.

***Really? Why is he in healthcare? I want to know.***

Italics person wrote:

 7+ years experience accounts for more than a few months don’t you think? Also read, I’ll be in school a lot longer than 5 years to complete my degree. I’ll I had to explain to my GP what the phrase neurdivergent meant. Y’all need to see people for people. Your patients are individuals.

More from bold guy… If he really is a PA, he shouldn’t be.

wtf dude you are delusional, I have already completed my school, and my fellowship… you’re a CNA…you assist nurses in completing my orders and clean up shit… and you’re trying to explain medical ethics to me… just blows my fucking mind, the audacity

More from italics person…

again seriously fucking read, I’m a PHD candidate and I should show this shit to your employers if you can’t respect the people who do your fucking grunt work you shouldn’t have a position in healthcare. I have other coworkers who are in medical school and do the same job as me.thinking I’m unintelligent because I’m a CNA..It’s pretty shocking that I do have to lecture you about ethics. You should know better.

Bold guy continued:

good grief…. I don’t have to respect idiots that spread misinformation because they’re obese and want to fit in, you don’t think we have those? Fucking HR nightmare; funnily enough they are always doing some “masters or PhD program” it’s like literally the same story. And they never win and always get fired, because they say stupid shit and talk back to providers. 

You keep living in your fantasy world that in 5 years you’ll graduate or do whatever, that’s a long time, and you ain’t done shit yet, because you’re just a cna, that’s it, those are your qualification, and end to your scope of practice, and your knowledge as far as I am concerned. 7 years ago I was still and EMTB, not even a P, now I’m a PA-C, and you’re telling me I should listen to you 

Response from italics person:

Just a CNA, like I don’t hold the hands of patients while they die. Ive had a career for nearly a decade and “I haven’t done anything yet”. Nice dude. I feel so fucking sorry for anyone in your care. I’m screenshotting shit and finding out your employer. I am an HR nightmare. I bet they would be really interested to hear about your neglect of obese patients and disrespect of your coworkers. Just because I didn’t have the money to go to school till recently doesn’t mean I’m not any less valuable in an emergency situation. I’ve saved many a life and helped many people cross over because I’ve worked in both hospice and acute care. Been a scheduler too, that’s some shit. I’ve had on weeks on call and worked shifts that are 24 hours and given CPR and both lost and saved a life. I’ve held people waiting for paramedics in pools of blood trying to stop bleeding after finding a bad fall, been a first response for people having seizures or strokes on and off the clock. Just cause I don’t make as much money as you doesn’t mean I have less knowledge or less experience. I can’t do things out of the scope of my practice because of my license that doesn’t mean I just wipe ass and if that’s something you turn your nose down on you arent fucking qualified to do your job. 

You are what is wrong with healthcare. Some young ass bro of a PA, the seasoned RNs that work with you most likely think you’re useless. That’s like saying you don’t know shit cause you don’t have a PHD.

And italics finished with:

Basing your medical opinions of the very strict parameters of BMI isnt in line with current nutritional standards. Maybe you need to go back to school too. Overall weight doesn’t account for muscle mass and looking at a obese patient and thinking that what they need to do is simply lose weight without trying to assess what caused the weight gain in the first place is setting you up for some malpractice, and any good clinician right now shouldn’t have the fucking time to argue on Facebook

I wasn’t going to include the entire above exchange because it’s so long. However, I think it’s a good example of what I mean when it comes to these kinds of conversations people have on social media. Notice these two supposed healthcare professionals quickly devolved into personal insults and “sword comparisons” of their supposed qualifications. Neither of them seem very professional, although if I had a problem, I think I’d rather deal with the CNA who is getting a PhD.

You can be the greatest clinician in the world, but if your personality is so arrogant and insufferable that I can’t even stand to listen to you, you can’t help me. Moreover, if the PA is calling people names, using profanity while citing credentials, and demonstrates general disdain toward people who need help, he is not someone I want to waste time seeing, let alone paying for medical help. He is immature, abusive, and just plain doesn’t care. With his crappy attitude, maybe he should work in a laboratory, instead of with patients.

There were a number of tit for tat arguments like the one above, and they got a bunch of comments. Yet here was this comment from a poor woman who actually needed REAL HELP. Not only was she suffering physically because of her weight and the negative health effects obesity has had on her body, she was in so much emotional and physical pain that she was thinking of “ending it all”.

Her post got six replies, one of which came from one of the “experts” who were arguing above (the CNA, who wrote of needing breast reduction surgery, rather than offering concern or empathy). Only one person (not the CNA) offered to listen to the lady who expressed her desperation about her situation, and even with that offer came unsolicited advice with some well-meaning encouragement. The rest of the commenters offered diet tips and medical advice, even though no one even knew her personally, and it did not appear that any were actual healthcare professionals beyond being a CNA. Unsolicited advice is almost always uniformly unhelpful.

I didn’t even read all of the comments on this cartoon. I was led to the conclusion that asking for healthcare is a crapshoot. It made me wonder what the point of it all is. We’re all going to die sometime, anyway. And if you have the choice between being lectured, shamed, belittled, and discounted and then PAYING for that treatment, when you are certainly going to die at some point, anyway, and just getting on with life for as long as possible, free of charge, albeit in pain– well, I can certainly see why some people avoid going to doctors.

I just think it would be so much better if people would just be kinder and more empathic, and less focused on trying to show everyone how “smart” they are in comment sections on social media. I don’t know the woman who posted about wanting to end it all, but I’ll bet there are people in her life who love her and would miss her if she died. I’m sure they want her to live and thrive. I’m sure she’d rather live and thrive, too. What she needs is actual help from people who care about her welfare, not more discounting, and arrogant comments about how she just needs to lose weight– with absolutely NO real help with how to accomplish that end.

Well, this post is way too long, and I’ve got other stuff to do. So I’m going to end here, until tomorrow. Hope you have a nice Thursday.

Germany, healthcare, mental health

“It sure does suck getting old…”

Years ago, the electronic card service, JibJab, made funny flash animation videos. They made some pretty awesome politically themed ones starring George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, featuring their shenanigans… wow– that seems so quaint today, as Donald Trump continues to become more unhinged! But they also made a really funny video called “It Sure Does Suck Getting Old”, or something along those lines. Unfortunately, I can’t find any trace of that video anywhere on the Internet. Edited to add… I think I found it! Geezers: The Musical for the win!

This is the video and song I’m writing of, but it’s not a very good upload.
I relate to these old farts.

I hate it when this happens, because it makes me wonder if I imagined what I clearly remember. Like– I can remember some pretty weird stuff I saw on TV back in the day– commercials and PSAs and stuff like that. I can often find stuff I remember, but sometimes I can’t even find it mentioned anywhere. Then I wonder if maybe I imagined the whole thing.

In any case, I don’t really need to share the video I remember, although it would be nice to see it again. The point is, it was a funny song involving two old guys lamenting getting old and all the unpleasant shit that goes with it. And it’s on my mind today because I’m having abdominal issues again. What makes my problem especially annoying is that I’m having classic gallbladder symptoms, but they’re on my left side instead of the right. Most people have gallbladder pain on the right, but mine is on the left (which can sometimes happen in gallbladder issues).

I don’t have a fever, nor am I in significant pain. It just feels like there’s inflammation in that area and it’s going around to my back. So basically, it feels like a dull, pinching, burning, slightly pressured sensation that occasionally cramps. I’ve had gallbladder attacks since about 2004 or so… or, at least I’m pretty sure that was what they were. They hurt, but never last for long– maybe a few minutes or so. Lately, the issue is more constant. This isn’t like the sharp pain of a gallbladder attack. It feels more like heat and inflammation, coupled with some itching and slight jaundice. I do think the gallbladder is the actual culprit, though.

I haven’t been to a doctor since 2010, and it was because Bill wanted me to get my gallbladder checked. I was having pain then, too. But after the ultrasound, I was blown off, and I’ve never been back since. I hate dealing with doctors with a fiery passion. I’ve written about why quite a few times in this blog, so I won’t go into the specific reason with this post. Suffice to say, I have to be pretty sick before I’ll willingly volunteer to see a medical person, and I have a tendency to put it off for as long as possible.

I can remember when I lived in Armenia, I had strep throat over the weekend. I had a fever of 102 degrees and a really sore throat with pus on my tonsils. I didn’t seek medical attention until Monday morning, because I didn’t want to bother the Peace Corps doctor (who was also once my former landlady). She took one look at my throat and said, “Why didn’t you call me?” I told her I didn’t want to bother her over the weekend. I wasn’t that sick. But also, even if I’d wanted to call her, I don’t think I would have been able to do it. In 1996, it was very difficult to call people on Armenian landline telephones. I could call the United States easier than I could call my school, which was in the same city. I’d try to dial– and I do mean dial, as we had rotary phones– and it would just click without connecting to anything. Nowadays, that’s no longer a problem. Everyone has a cellphone.

I just want to state this, because it’s why I’m suffering instead of dealing with the problem like a normal person would. I know it’s irrational to suffer instead of simply dealing with the problem. I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to doctors, though. It’s not as bad as my mushroom phobia is, but it’s pretty bad. I get very anxious around medical people, if I’m around them for my own healthcare. I don’t mind them in other situations, like when Bill has a colonoscopy, or when I’m working with them in a professional capacity, which, believe it or not, I used to do.

I think another reason why I don’t seek medical care when I need it is because I don’t feel like I deserve it. I dread negative interactions with people, and I so often have them… not just with medical people, but with rank and file people. I have a personality that people tend to love or hate, and I’ve gotten to a point in my life that I don’t want to trouble people with my odd personality. I feel like I’m not very well liked by most people, so I’d rather hide from them. I realize this is probably also an irrational thought on my part, too… In fact, last week, Bill told me that the co-worker we ran into in Czechia said she thought I was a very warm person who laughs easily. Some people do get that impression, because I do laugh a lot, and I can be very warm and friendly. I’ve been told I am a very genuine person. But I’m also pretty weird… blunt, moody, and some people clearly would rather I didn’t exist. Or, at least, that’s my impression. So I try to avoid them, which probably comes off as strange and standoffish, and that perpetuates the problem.

Bill is very sensitive to my anxiety issues. He knows it’s distressing for me so see doctors, and he knows I can be very stubborn about things. He mostly doesn’t insist that I go to doctors, the exception being that one time in 2010. He’s also a very busy guy, and arranging medical care can be complicated when you are an American in Germany with no Hausarzt (family doctor). While I could try to go to Landstuhl (the military hospital), most of my issues with doctors stem from having to go to military doctors when I was growing up, culminating with a horrifying visit with an Air Force OB-GYN who traumatized me. Also, it’s space available for retirees and their family members.

Logically, I know that if I am dealing with gallbladder issues, the problem could be solved with a pretty straightforward outpatient surgery. Even if what I’m dealing with now isn’t a gallbladder issue, I know I do have gallstones, because I’ve had a bunch of attacks over the years; I fit the profile; and my dad had his gallbladder removed. Of course, it could be something else… something much worse, which would also be horrifying for me, because it would probably mean being encouraged to see more medical people. That idea freaks me out, too. The one thing that comforts me is the fact that I can refuse… at least until I keel over somewhere in public. And, even then, if I’m conscious, I can refuse.

If we were in the States, I could deal with this more easily on my own. There would be no language barrier, and I have a lot more familiarity with what to do, especially since I went to graduate school to learn how to deal with people seeking medical care. At home in Virginia, especially when I had Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance, I’d just go see a doc in the box and get a referral somewhere for whatever else is needed. I didn’t enjoy going to doctors then, either, but at least then, the military healthcare service was completely left out of the equation. In the US system, you’re more of a customer.

I don’t go to doctors regularly, so I don’t even really know how to call Tricare for a referral somewhere in Germany. I don’t have any medical records to speak of, really. And I’m here all alone… which really sucks. It sucks to be isolated as much as I am, with no friends or family nearby, and a husband who is constantly on work trips. I do love living in Germany, but at times like this, it would be good to be a civilian in the US… because at least there, I’m not a foreigner. On the plus side, healthcare is much less expensive in Germany.

The good news is, as I’m writing this post, the burning feeling in my chest has subsided a bit. I do feel markedly better now just since starting this post. But I have kind of a foreboding thought that pretty soon, I’m going to have to deal with this problem, one way or another. I really dread it on many levels. It sure does suck getting old, doesn’t it?

Oh well. At least that annoying burning sensation has mostly passed. Now to get on with my guitar practice and dog walking. Maybe today will be a music day, not that anyone cares one way or another.

healthcare, money, music, narcissists, politics, social media, Twitter, YouTube

“My husband has to work two full time jobs…”

It’s Thursday, which used to mean it was party night, when I was in college. But now every night is party night. 😉 I’m kidding, actually. Bill and I don’t party every night. We sit at our table and listen to selections from my huge music library, eat dinner, and drink wine and/or beer. We do a lot of talking, too. I’m grateful we have time for talking and listening to music as we quaff wine and beer. Maybe we should drink water instead of alcoholic beverages. It would be healthier and less expensive on many levels. But the fact is, we don’t do the “right” thing by avoiding booze.

Bill will be gone for about ten days starting Sunday. I will spend the time anticipating our trip to Armenia, and trying to teetotal. 😉 I usually do a pretty good job of teetotaling when Bill is gone. My main thing is that I have a tendency to get bored when he’s gone. Drinking beer helps pass the time. But I have downloaded some movies and a box set or two. I can use my empty evenings entertaining myself by catching up on movies and TV, and perhaps I’ll sing a couple of songs. I did a couple yesterday. I think they turned out quite well.

I finally learned “Jesse” yesterday afternoon. I’d been wanting to try it for a long time, but held off. I seem to have a knack for Roberta Flack tunes (although this was written by the great Janis Ian).
I’ve known this song for awhile, but finally decided to sing it when I noticed the rainy fall weather…

Someday maybe I’ll do something original. I’m getting noticeably better at playing guitar, although I have a long way to go before I’m fit for a public performance on YouTube. I have actually done a couple of songs with my mediocre playing, but not while I’m on camera. I think I need one of those mics that hang overhead, and that would require another VESA arm, which isn’t so easy to arrange when you have sloping ceilings. But anyway, maybe the day will come when I can arrange a live performance with singing and guitar… and maybe I will even write a song someday. That’s a not so secret goal of mine. I often say that something positive can come out of almost any situation, if you think long enough about it. COVID gave me the gift of guitar, as in, I finally got more serious about learning how to play. I know I would be a better guitarist if I had a real teacher, though. 😉

Anyway… about today’s title…

Today’s topic comes courtesy of Ex, who has been surprisingly civic minded lately in between her comments about Outlander. Before I get too deep into my commentary today, I will state that, on the surface, I actually agree with a lot of the stuff she posts. Somehow, she’s evolved from a conservative to a liberal… kind of like I have. I’m not sure how much of her political commentary is based on her true thoughts and feelings about things.

I’ve long suspected that Ex is a true narcissist, which means she tends to say whatever is going to get her the most fuel. And she tends to support whatever politics are going to benefit her personally. She seems to have become more liberal since she had her last child, a young man who will likely need help for the rest of his life. I can’t blame her for that, by the way. If you, or your family members need assistance, it makes sense to vote for people who might vote to provide that assistance. I’ve just noticed that her political views have dramatically changed in the years I’ve known of her. I can remember a time when Ex was a lot more conservative than she apparently is now.

Today, Ex seems to be all about voting blue, backing social justice warriors, and “wokeism”. In the past few days, she has let her liberal feelings be known to everyone on Twitter. She also has a history of repeatedly expressing a desire to move out of the United States. Most of the time, she’s posted that she wants to move to Scotland, although I don’t think she’s ever been there. But she also recently posted that she once had a desire to move to New Zealand. Alas, the New Zealand dream can never be realized. When the singer, P!nk, posted about people mistaking her Māori Poi flags for Israeli flags at her shows and getting threats, Ex chimed in with a comment about herself, revealing her former wish to move to the land of Kiwis and why that can never be…

This may be read by many Māori, so I’ll tell. I dreamed of living in NZ, only to learn autistic people are not welcome. My family can’t come, even to visit. I don’t think the Māori would approve of this discrimination. Seeking NZ & UK opinions only. As for war? I pray for PEACE.

Notice this comment has nothing to do with P!nk getting death threats over flags at her shows. It’s simply Ex’s complaints about perceived discrimination toward the people in her family who are on the autism spectrum. Once again, she’s making someone else’s post about herself.

Even though I rolled my eyes as I read it, I actually learned something new from Ex’s post. I didn’t know that New Zealand and some other countries won’t grant residency permits or citizenship to people with autism. I researched the issue, and learned that, at least in New Zealand, this rule is in place because of fears that people with autism would strain the healthcare system too much. I’m not sure Ex is correct about people with autism not being able to visit, as if you have a US passport, you can travel to countries that allow US citizens to visit. But it does appear that New Zealand and other countries will not grant permission for people to live there if there’s a chance they will strain the public health system. From the article (dated April 25, 2022):

“The current settings are not specifically discriminatory against disabled people, but instead focus on assessing the public health impact an individual will have,” said a government statement.

“The government values the contribution that disabled people bring to society and is always willing to take steps towards making New Zealand a non-disabling society. However, as this goal pertains to the current Acceptable Standard of Health (ASH) immigration settings, the government considers these settings appropriate.”

I can’t blame Ex for being attracted to New Zealand. It’s a beautiful country, based on what I’ve seen in photos and videos. I’d love to visit there myself someday. Unlike Ex, I will probably have the ability to do it. Besides having family members with autism who “can’t even visit”, Ex is perpetually strapped for cash. This isn’t a new phenomenon. It was also a problem when she and Bill were married, before autism was part of her life (our understanding is that older daughter didn’t have an official diagnosis until she was about 20 years old– long after she and Bill divorced).

Bill worked constantly to bring in money, taking jobs in factories, because that was what was available where they were living. Ex spent all their money on a wide variety of things– cars, landscaping, furniture, Disney plates, snacks from Swiss Colony, depression glass, and whatever else struck her fancy and temporarily bolstered her empty soul…

When I met Bill, he was broke, and his credit rating was in the toilet. Today, he has an excellent credit rating and little debt. He works at a job that pays well and is suitable for his talents, interests, and skills. Although he has dental insurance that will pay half, Bill can afford to pay out of pocket for the dental implant he’s about to get next month. He’s learned from past financial mistakes and repaired his credit. But Ex, apparently, is still broke. Last night, she posted this in response to someone’s comment about Mary Lou Retton crowdfunding her recent stay in the ICU.

And what are YOU doing to help make ends meet, Ex?

Here’s what I have to say about Ex’s comment. First of all, healthcare is NOT a basic human right in all places. It ought to be a human right, but the fact is, it’s not– especially in the US.

Unfortunately, in the United States, healthcare is a business, just like pretty much everything else is. Although changes are necessary, they will likely be very slow in coming. This is on account of our fucked up government, where people argue for weeks over who’s going to be Speaker of the House, rather than choosing someone expeditiously. I’d love to see politicians getting to work making policies that are good for the American PEOPLE, instead of making more money for the already rich. But that isn’t reality today.

In the United States, we have many non-profit healthcare organizations, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t businesses. It just means that their profits must be reinvested into the organization. I think Ex would like to see healthcare delivery services become a “not-for-profit” entity, which would mean that they are charitable organizations that don’t exist to make money, and the people working in them care only about the joy of healing and nurturing their fellow man.

But that concept also has its issues, as healthcare workers work very hard to get qualified to earn their credentials, have to pay high premiums for malpractice insurance, usually have lots of student loans, and demand to be paid well for what they do. To generate enough money and benefits to attract good people, healthcare systems have to make money. Otherwise, we’d have a whole lot more mediocre people going to medical school (which isn’t to say there aren’t some mediocre people in medical school now).

Many Americans are completely ignorant about how hospitals function, and they have fallacious ideas about how any changes to our system would affect them. Add in the fact that a large number of Americans never travel abroad and don’t experience healthcare outside of the United States. They think national healthcare will mean they won’t have any choices, and that our system will turn into a dystopian nightmare. So they keep voting for people who are focused on keeping things the way they are, which isn’t very sustainable for most people.

It’s kind of like how Americans resist moving away from the tipping model in restaurants. In other countries, restaurant workers are paid by the people who hired them. Yes, they get tips, but they don’t depend on them for their livelihood. Try to explain this to Americans, though, and they just don’t have a concept. I think it’s kind of the same for the prospect of changing healthcare. A lot of us would rather just stick with what we know, even though it sucks. So even when progress is made, it gets rolled back by the opposing parties, who want things to stay the way they are. 😉

Secondly, I am not surprised to read that #3 is working two full-time jobs (or perhaps just two jobs– she does embellish sometimes). He probably does work that much so they can “live”. But it’s not just because healthcare is so expensive that he does that. Based on Bill’s experiences being Ex’s #2 husband, I think there are several reasons why #3 has to work so hard.

  • Ex spends her money on all kinds of worthless crap. You only have to look at her Instagram to see this, but I also know from Bill’s and younger daughter’s stories.
  • She doesn’t save money or pay off debts in a timely manner, which means she winds up with emergencies she’s not prepared for, and gets socked with service charges and higher interest rates.
  • She has an extreme “live life in the present” mindset when it comes to money, and assumes things will somehow “work out” in the long run, which they never do. She easily justifies spending money she doesn’t have. Usually, that means her husband has to bust his ass at work, and it still won’t be enough. She will also berate him for not meeting her endless needs, so he’ll try to work harder to avoid that.
  • Ex doesn’t have a job, and though she gets lots of help with housework and taking care of her son from older daughter, she has legitimate expenses, like her recent ankle surgery and, perhaps, college tuition for their daughter.
  • Working two jobs gives #3 a refuge from Ex’s batshit craziness. I’m serious. It was true in Bill’s case. He lived for going on National Guard drill duty, because it meant getting the hell away from her for awhile.

What is especially telling about this situation is seeing how Bill was once in #3’s shoes, and now he’s doing quite well, financially speaking. When I met Bill, he lived on $600 a month, and whatever he could scrounge from per diem payments when he went on TDYs. It took us a few years to recover from the financial nightmare of his marriage to Ex. But now, he has plenty of money to meet our needs. If he’d stayed with Ex, he certainly wouldn’t have what he has now. She would have squandered the money in an attempt to impress other people or satisfy her bottomless pit of needs for shiny things. She also wouldn’t have let him succeed in the Army. She resented the Army for dictating where they would live and when Bill would be working. I don’t interfere with Bill’s work, so he’s been able to achieve and succeed, and he gets paid accordingly.

So… while I agree with Ex that our healthcare system is fucked, and needs to be reformed, I don’t believe her husband works so hard simply because of soaring healthcare costs. There are plenty of reasons why he’d even CHOOSE to work so much. Some of them have to do with escaping having to be around her. I just hope he doesn’t work himself into an early grave for her sake. I don’t like #3, but I dislike Ex even more. She’s not worth dying for.

Unfortunately, as Ex’s third husband, he’s already seen what she does when she gets divorced. #3 does have an advantage that his daughter is an adult and won’t be as easily alienated and manipulated as ex stepson and Bill’s daughters were. But his son with Ex will probably always have to live in the home, and if they split up, she won’t let him be involved in his life unless he lawyers up and forces her to cooperate. That takes a lot of money in the US, and it might not even work. Family courts are a crapshoot. He probably thinks it’s cheaper to keep her.

But anyway… those are just my thoughts as a longtime observer. I realize I could be wrong. I do wonder, though, now that #3 has been with Ex for so long, if he understands now why Bill so readily agreed when she demanded a divorce. Maybe he does when he has a spare twenty seconds at the urinal when he’s working, but my guess is that he doesn’t have much time for thinking about his situation. He’s in too deep. Poor sucker. /sarcasm

Well… I’ve got laundry to fold, carpets to vacuum, a dog to walk, and a guitar to practice. So I am going to end this long ass post. If you managed to read it and not think I’m an asshole, I thank you. See you tomorrow… if I survive today.

controversies, healthcare, memories, videos, YouTube

The price of being motivated by Mary Lou Retton…

A couple of days ago, when I was writing about Mary Lou Retton’s recent health crisis and her daughter’s subsequent crowdfunding campaign, I went on YouTube to jog my memory. I found a large collection of ads she did in the 80s and 90s. Watching some of them was quite a time warp for me, although I still remembered them well. Below are just a few ads from back in the day…

This is one I remember really well, probably because of the opening lines of the ad…

But I also remember Mary Lou pitching Energizer batteries… and she did so a few times.

You got it!
She actually looks really excited about the batteries!

She also did a lot of ads for Revco, which was a drug store chain that was eventually sold to CVS. I remember her saying “And another thing…” in a lot of those ads, but I can’t seem to find those particular commercials on YouTube. However, there are plenty of other Revco ads she did back in the day. Behold…

Here’s she’s talking about how Revco allowed people to talk with the pharmacists and gave them low prices.
Here she talks about how her Revco ads saved some woman’s life by encouraging her to read the patient information leaflet. The woman had been taking her medication wrong.
And the ever popular Wheaties ads…

Obviously, Mary Lou Retton has historically been pretty good at pitching things. She has a big smile that is always convincing. Her eyes twinkle, and she has no problem hamming it up for the camera. It’s interesting to me that Mary Lou did so many ads for Revco, a place where people used their health insurance benefits, but she doesn’t have health insurance herself. As of today, just a few days after her second eldest daughter, McKenna Kelley, posted a crowdfund plea for donations to fund Mary Lou’s current hospital care, the fund is up to $414,195. That is an astonishing amount of money, although sadly, it’s probably still not going to be nearly enough to pay off her medical debts if she really doesn’t have any insurance.

I remembered that Mary Lou Retton has also done public and motivational speaking. I also remembered seeing her profile listed on a site that pitched her services. Last night, I decided to see if the profile was still available on the Washington Speakers Bureau Web site. It was, and still is… Feast your eyes.

Notice that her fee ranges between $25K and $40K. Granted, we don’t know how often she’s been asked to speak recently, nor do we know if the people who would book her would be expected to pay for her airfare, ground transportation, and hotel. However, I would expect that if she was less in demand recently, that asking amount would be less than it is now. Mary Lou is also listed on a site called Celebrity Speakers Bureau, and interested parties are advised to call for her fee. On Sports Speakers 360, she asks for $20,001-$30,000 to speak.

The Washington Speakers Bureau site is very interesting browsing, by the way. There’s a huge range of speakers available– everyone from George W. Bush to Elizabeth Smart. And it does look like, based on this site, Mary Lou’s fees are quite a bit lower than some others. I see some of the most powerful and influential people require calls to the WSB for information on fees, while lesser known people have their fees readily listed.

I don’t begrudge Mary Lou Retton for charging whatever she can for her public speaking talents. She worked very hard in the gym for years, and she was the first American woman to win all around gold at the Summer Olympics. She is a legitimately successful person and should earn money accordingly for everything she’s accomplished. It still doesn’t explain why her daughter has to ask the public to fund Mary Lou’s medical costs when it looks like she could have purchased health insurance for herself. And her family is not being forthcoming about why Mary Lou lacks health insurance.

I guess what I really find sad about this situation is that there are so many people who aren’t famous, and don’t get paid five figures to give speeches, who also need help paying their medical bills. I mean, it’s great for Mary Lou Retton that she’s well known and loved by many, but I can’t help but think about much less fortunate people who can’t raise money to pay for their necessary healthcare. And living in Europe for the past nine years reminds me that there are so many developed nations in the world where this kind of thing isn’t necessary, because healthcare is so much more affordable and people are expected or even required to be insured. Most people also don’t have access to the U.S. Olympic Committee, who are reportedly reaching out to Mary Lou’s family to help with her expenses.

Mary Lou Retton is still motivating people to spend money, even though she’s in the hospital. It used to be she’d get them to spend by lending her likeness and perkiness to commercials. Then she’d get them to spend in order to hear her speak about her accomplishments and how to be a winner. And now they’re spending to help pay for what will almost surely be astronomical hospital bills, to say nothing about the doctors and pharmacists who will also need to be paid. While people are certainly free to spend their money as they choose, it does seem to me that the least Mary Lou’s family could do is be more transparent about why she needs the money, especially if she’s reportedly worth millions and can command such high fees for motivational speaking engagements. And especially when she is aligned with a political party that is all about personal responsibility and not looking for handouts (unless, of course, we’re talking about corporations).

I continue to wish Mary Lou Retton well in her recovery. I hope her situation highlights how badly the United States needs extreme healthcare reform and a complete revamping of our system. In the meantime, we still have videos like the one below for a good reminder as to why Mary Lou used to pitch Energizer batteries…

Yikes! The 80s were weird!

celebrities, healthcare, sports

Mary Lou Retton is in the ICU. She needs your money.

I woke up at about 1:00 AM this morning. I had a terrible coughing fit, thanks to this cold I’ve been fighting for the past few days. After a couple of trips to the bathroom to deal with the cough and the inevitable call of nature, I was pretty wide awake. I went on Facebook and saw a news article by The New York Times about 1984 Olympic gold medalist, Mary Lou Retton.

I realize that I may have some readers who weren’t around in 1984 and may not know much about the legendary Mary Lou. In 1984, after she became the first American to win Olympic gold in the women’s gymnastics all around competition, Retton was everywhere. She was the first female athlete to grace a box of Wheaties, a cereal famously promoted as the “breakfast of champions”. After the Olympics, she got in tight with Republican politics, appeared in a couple of films, had her own kiddie exercise show, and was in lots of commercials. I distinctly remember her as the pitchwoman for the now defunct drug store chain, Revco, in the 1980s. She was also on Energizer battery ads and wrote at least one book, which I read about twenty years ago. More recently, she was on Dancing With The Stars, although I didn’t see her perform.

In 1990, she married Shannon Kelley, a football player, had four daughters, and made her home in Houston, Texas, where she reportedly purchased a huge home. The marriage broke up in 2018, and Mary Lou reportedly suffered from some health problems. A former professor of mine recently commented that she’d seen the famous gymnast on an ad for Colonial Penn life insurance and didn’t think Mary Lou was aging well. I remembered reading about her having total hip replacement surgery on account of hip dysplasia exacerbated from many years of demanding gymnastics training. I mentioned the surgery to my old professor, thinking maybe that was part of the reason why she might have seemed poorly.

Mary Lou Retton pitches Colonial Penn life insurance… but she has no health insurance.

I was still surprised when I read about Mary Lou’s most recent health issues that landed her in the ICU (intensive care unit) with a “rare” form of pneumonia. Her daughter, McKenna Kelley, also a gymnast, posted a Spotfund campaign for her “amazing mom”. Below is a screenshot.

Why isn’t Mary Lou insured?

Now… far be it for me to want to know the minute details of Mary Lou’s medical condition. It’s none of my business. And God knows, I understand that medical care is very expensive in the United States. What I don’t understand is why Mary Lou doesn’t have medical insurance. I can only make assumptions, which I will now proceed to do, realizing that I don’t know what her personal circumstances are. Based on this May 2022 article by homedit, Mary Lou has had nice digs, at least in the past. To be fair, I’m not sure if she still owns the house mentioned in the article, since I did see that it was listed on the market at one point. Hell, she has actual streets named after her in at least two states– Texas and her home state of West Virginia. And yet her daughter needs to crowdfund her medical care.

People are heeding the call for funds, though. When I woke up again at about 5:00 AM, I noticed the original goal of $50K had already been surpassed by about $60K. About three hours later, I see that people have donated about $134K. Every time I refresh, the total increases. It’s good that Mary Lou Retton has so many fans and friends.

I don’t know why Mary Lou isn’t insured, but sadly, I do know that the money collected so far is probably going to be a drop in the bucket for what the final costs will be. She’s already been in the ICU for at least a week. And because she doesn’t have insurance, she will pay the “list price” for her medical care, rather than the negotiated price health insurance would have gotten her. Mary Lou Retton is famously Republican. I don’t want to get too far into it for the purposes of this post, but I’ve also seen people mention that in 2017, Retton spoke to Congress against a bill presented by the late Dianne Feinstein that would have made it mandatory for national governing bodies of Olympic sports to report sexual assault to the police. According to the link:

The [US Gymnastics] federation has had no shame, either. When the sex abuse bill was introduced, Penny and others from U.S.A. Gymnastics met with Feinstein about the federation’s sexual assault policies. How about this for a public-relations stunt: Tagging along was Mary Lou Retton, the smiling, bubbly sweetheart from the 1984 Games, as they said that the federation’s policies were solid and that gymnastics was a happy, safe place.

You would think that Mary Lou, as a gymnast and a mother of four daughters, would have some empathy for the hopeful girls in the sport, dying to achieve what she and a few other Americans have in gymnastics. After all, it was Mary Lou’s big victory in the Soviet Union boycotted 1984 Olympics that enticed so many girls to the sport. But instead of trying to protect girls in gymnastics and other sports and showing respect to the many gymnasts who have already been victimized, Mary Lou chose to side with the conservative establishment. And, it appears that she may have done it again by not having health insurance. Maybe it’s because of a reason other than not wanting to participate in “Obamacare”, but I’m hard pressed to determine what that reason might be.

As I sit here reading about Mary Lou’s troubles, I’m reminded of the last communication I ever had with one of my very conservative cousins, who was a big time Trump supporter. I’ve written about the conversation in the original OH blog, and on this blog. But for those who don’t want to read the posts about that conversation, here’s a brief rundown. I was discussing high drug prices on Facebook with my friends. My cousin, who was then a Facebook friend, but rarely commented on my posts, came along and basically chastised us for lamenting the high cost of medical care in the United States. She wrote:

So success is defined by having cheap drugs? Those 35 million Americans that take these drugs don’t realize they are dying quicker by taking them than by doing without. We’re enslaved by Big Pharma whether the price is small or great. BTW, I’m a Republican. I am 62 and don’t take any medicine.

Later, when some of my friends (even one of the conservative ones) were writing WTF comments, my cousin came back and posted this:

Don’t mind me, I’m just Jenny’s off the grid organic farmer cousin. I don’t mean to be insensitive to those who really need medicine but there are drug companies and doctors who push all sorts of medicine unnecessarily. For the most part if folks would just take responsibility for their diet 3/4ths of the medicine now prescribed would not be necessary. But Medicine is big business. I live on the edge with no health care and use a lot of essential oils. I would rather pay a penalty than pump $6K a year or more into the healthcare insurance business. Call me crazy. (Indeed I will)

You know where my cousin is now? Six feet underground. My cousin died of colon cancer at age 67. She had no health insurance, and when she developed stomach pains, she decided to write it off as a potential ulcer and wait until she was eligible for Medicare (horrors, more socialism!) to see a doctor… which she never actually did until it was far too late and her cancer was well advanced. In January 2021, a couple of months after her death, I wrote this:

Last night, I read about how my cousin had let her disease go unchecked for at least six months because she didn’t have health insurance and was waiting for Medicare to kick in. The dramatic event that led her to her sick role had occurred in May of 2019, but she’d had Medicare coverage since late October 2018. As of May of 2019, she’d experienced severe abdominal pain for over six months. Still, she’d ignored it, dismissing the pain as a potential ulcer until she was passing bright red blood rectally in the wee hours of the morning.

I’m actually surprised that my cousin agreed with using Medicare, since she was a proud Republican and a Trump supporter, and a lot of Republicans seem to think Medicare is a socialist idea. If she had seen a doctor right when the pain started, would she have survived 2020? Would she have had another Christmas and New Year’s with her family? Would she have made it to her 70s and been there to see her grandchildren come of age? We’ll never know, but I suspect that she would have had a much better quality of life and a more favorable outcome if she’d been able to see, and pay for, a doctor much sooner than she did.

To be fair to my cousin, both of her parents died of different forms of cancer. She watched them go through the treatments of that era and probably really feared them. And she probably avoided doctors for much the same reason I do. But she had children and grandchildren, many friends and doting family members, as well as a couple of businesses she ran with her loving husband. If she’d done something about that pain sooner, maybe she’d still be with us. On the other hand, given my cousin’s loudly proclaimed love for Jesus, maybe she’s better off dead. She believed in Heaven, after all… and being in Heaven would mean being with her parents and our beloved Granny and Pappy, as well as the many aunts and uncles who have also passed.

I guess what really pissed me off about her situation was, she intruded on a conversation I was having with my friends, on my space, lectured us about desiring more affordable drugs and health care, pushed “essential oils” as an elixir for health, and then promptly got very sick with cancer and passed away. It was sheer stupidity, hypocrisy, and stubbornness on her part. And, aside from that, she was very publicly a Christian, even though she voted for people who were not very Christian at all.

I should mention that I don’t think this cousin liked me very much. I, in turn, returned the sentiment, especially after that exchange. She used to get offended when I cursed, and would chastise me for enjoying alcohol (which– sorry– I come by honestly. Our family is full of alcoholics). I suspect she also didn’t like that I sing, because before I came along, she was the family troubadour. I am sorry she got cancer and died. I didn’t wish death on her. But I couldn’t help but see the irony… she chastises us about hoping for more affordable healthcare, refuses to pay for health insurance, and pays a huge price. Or, rather, her family is paying… because in spite of my less charitable feelings toward her, I know they loved her very much.

I don’t actually know why Mary Lou Retton isn’t insured. I just think there’s no real good excuse for it. Moreover, it always BLOWS my mind when Republicans want to crowdfund things like medical care and funeral expenses as they lament people who access welfare, that if the recipients have ever had a job, their tax dollars actually went to help fund. Why is crowdfunding better than accepting welfare? Frankly, I think crowdfunding is worse than welfare, since you’re essentially begging, and relying on other people’s pity and compassion to pay your necessary bills. We all die, and we all have a need for healthcare. And if everybody pays for health insurance, that means there’s less bad debt for the rest of us to pay in the form of higher healthcare costs… and less need for crowdfunding.

By the way… as I finish this post, the results of Mary Lou’s crowdfund appeal is now up to $138K (as of less than six hours later, it’s at $174 K). That’s great for her, but most people don’t have Mary Lou Retton’s ability to make people want to reach into their wallets to help pay for healthcare expenses. And again… I strongly (and sadly) suspect that Mary Lou’s bills will be a hell of a lot higher than just six figures. I do wish her well, and I hope she will make a full recovery. I just wish she’d done the responsible thing and been insured. I’m pretty sure she’s one who could have afforded it.

Featured photo is from the current crowdfund Mary Lou’s daughter is running in support of her mom’s medical expenses. You can donate to it by clicking here.

Edited to add: Yesterday, Mary Lou got a $50,000 donation from the wife of a Texas tycoon. Her crowdfund is now at over $332K… Most people commenting have been very kind, but one person wrote this:

While I don’t necessarily disagree with this person’s very harsh take and wouldn’t have left a comment this mean, I can kind of see their point.