healthcare, rants

A stupid hill to die on…

I’ve been thinking about my health lately, and not just because of COVID-19. That stomach bug I had two weeks ago has left some lingering effects. Sorry if this is too much information for the delicate among you, but I have been suffering from what I think is “post-infectious IBS“. Ever since I kicked the acute version of whatever made me sick two weeks ago, I’ve been dealing with, shall we say, mixed bowel habits, especially in the morning. Since mornings are when I tend to do most of my stuff for the day, this new development is cramping my style somewhat. As I write this, I feel vaguely queasy, and I’ve had diarrhea and constipation. It’s not the greatest way to start the day, although one positive to this development is that I don’t want to eat very much. Maybe I’ll finally lose some weight.

Up until two weeks ago, I’ve had the good fortune of being pretty healthy, in spite of my decadent lifestyle. I haven’t had a cold or the flu in ages (knock on wood). I didn’t even feel sick after I got vaccinated against COVID-19. I just had a sore arm for a day or so after the first shot. After the second shot, I didn’t even have that.

I understand not everyone has been as lucky as I’ve been. In fact, I realize that some people really suffered after they got vaccinated. Still, I don’t understand why so many people are still refusing to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. It seems to me like a pretty stupid hill to die on.

This morning, I read two stories about people who are refusing to get vaccinated. One person gave up her job as an anchorwoman on a morning television show in Mississippi. Another is allowing herself to be marked inactive as a candidate for a lifesaving kidney transplant. Both she, and her living donor, are refusing to be vaccinated against a deadly virus that has killed millions of people worldwide.

I’ve written before that, generally speaking, I do have empathy for people who want to make their own medical decisions. I also understand that there are people who can’t get a vaccine for health reasons. Some people also cite religious reasons why they won’t get the shot(s)– personally, I think religious reasons for avoiding vaccines are pretty bogus. Let me make it clear that I’m not for forcing people to get shots. However, I am in favor of private businesses being allowed to make decisions based on whether or not people get vaccinated, particularly against diseases that are highly communicable and have killed so many people.

The Mississippi anchorwoman, name of Meggan Gray, is 40 years old and has co-hosted “Good Morning Mississippi” on WLOX for the past 14 years. Her former employer, Gray Television, mandated that employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1. Gray decided not to comply with the directive. So she was forced to resign her position. She claims she had made an “informed and prayerful decision” not to get the vaccine. In a public Facebook post on her page, she wrote:

Before GrayTV mandated this vaccination policy, I made an informed and prayerful decision not to get the vaccine, mostly because I had already survived a case of COVID-19. (There are other, more powerful reasons that led to my personal decision.) I know there will be people who disagree with me or do not understand my reasons. That is fully understood because that is a protected right they enjoy. Moreover, it is a personal decision for each American; but in my opinion, a forced decision to decide between a vaccination and the livelihood of an individual is a dangerous precedent.

Unfortunately, because of my decision about vaccination, I faced termination. The decision was difficult because I knew it would impact me and my family. My choices were either I follow the mandate and get vaccinated, or I lose my career at WLOX.

Gray writes that she offered to be tested weekly (which wouldn’t have been often enough). Her request was denied, and rightfully so. Yes, it’s true that vaccinated people can still get and spread COVID-19, but the evidence is very clear that vaccinated people are much less likely to get and spread the disease. I fully support Gray’s decision not to get vaccinated. But I also support her former employer’s decision to terminate her for not complying with a company policy designed to keep everyone safe from a deadly communicable disease.

There are plenty of people out there who are willing to abide by the company’s policies and can do Meggan Gray’s job. I’m sure there are people who enjoy Gray’s work as an anchorwoman, but they can get used to someone else. Television is a pretty competitive field. I’m certain there are many people who would love the opportunity to launch a career at WLOX, although maybe some of them would rather avoid living in Mississippi. I’ve got nothing against the state myself, but I can see why some would rather not go there.

Moreover, Mississippi is an “at will” employment state. That means that a person can be fired from a job for any reason that is non-discriminatory. I’m not sure, but I don’t think COVID-19 vaccination hold outs are in a protected class of people who can claim discrimination when they are dismissed for non-compliance of company policy regarding vaccinations. I would think that someone who “prayerfully” considered not getting the vaccine would understand a private business’s right to enforce health policies. Besides, God helps those who help themselves.

I’m sorry that Meggan Gray has chosen this hill to die on. I hope she doesn’t literally die because she’s made this choice. I especially hope her decision doesn’t kill someone else, and no one ends up begging for the shot as they lie in an intensive care unit, gasping for breath. I wish her luck with her career. Maybe Fox News will hire her. Or maybe she can start a YouTube channel. I know some people are cheering on her decision not to be vaccinated. Personally, I think people who are refusing to be vaccinated are short on sense. But maybe that’s because I have a master’s degree in public health.

As for the lady in Colorado who is being denied a kidney transplant… I don’t know where she’s been, but people who need organ transplants are routinely required to abide by conditions before they can get someone else’s healthy organ(s) transplanted. They typically have to agree not to smoke or drink alcohol. They have to agree to take powerful immunosuppressant drugs and yes, be vaccinated against diseases– not just COVID-19, but other diseases, too, like hepatitis and measles, mumps, and rubella. These are standard protocols for transplant surgeries; they are nothing new.

I don’t have any personal experience with organ transplantation, but I have done some reading about the experience. In one book I read, Sick Girl, by Amy SIlverstein, the author explained that getting a transplant is basically like trading one health problem for another. She wrote that she constantly suffered from sinus infections and colds because she had to keep her immune system weakened. Otherwise, it would attack her donated heart and she would die.

Leilani Lutali needs a donated kidney. She and her living donor have chosen not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 “for religious reasons”. Lutali claims that she’s “uncomfortable” taking the vaccine, and worries how it will affect her health. She stated, “I’m being coerced into making a decision that is one I’m not comfortable making right now in order to live…” She cares enough about staying alive to accept a donated organ, and her religion doesn’t forbid organ transplants. But somehow, her religion forbids vaccines? That sounds like bullshit to me. But if her faith in a God is so strong, then maybe God will perform a miracle and she won’t need that kidney after all.

I want to ask Lutali… why in the hell did she consult physicians for help with her kidneys if she knows more than they do? I get being an expert on the experience of living in one’s own body, but why go to a doctor for cutting edge medical care if she doesn’t trust their opinions about how to prepare for a transplant? She’s concerned about how the vaccine will affect her health in the long run? If she doesn’t get a transplant soon, this will not be a concern for her anymore. She will die, and health will be a thing of the past for her.

Aside from putting herself and the success of her operation at risk, Lutali will also be putting hospital staff and other patients at risk by not being vaccinated. For some reason, these folks who know more than medical and public health professionals have missed the memo that COVID-19 is extremely contagious. Hospitals, for all of their lifesaving capabilities, are chock full of organisms originating from sick people.

Hospitals are not actually good places for sick people to be, because sick people are there, and they spread diseases. That’s why people who go to the hospital for a simple surgery sometimes end up contracting nosocomial infections or iatrogenic illnesses. COVID-19 spreads like wildfire, and people in hospitals are already vulnerable. What right do Leilani Lutali and her donor have, putting other vulnerable people at risk?

I wish Lutali luck with her quest to find physicians and a hospital that will grant her a kidney transplant without the vaccine. I hope if she finds them, she tells us who the surgeon(s) are and where they practice medicine. That way, people can make an informed decision to avoid seeking treatment from them.

Most of the time, I really do support people’s rights to make their own decisions regarding medical treatment and healthcare. I do support privacy policies, too. But COVID-19 is a different matter. It’s killing people all over the world, and it’s a nasty way to die. The vaccinations have been tested and are safe and effective. They have been shown to reduce hospitalizations and the severity of illnesses. Every single vaccine that was ever made was once “new”, but as each day passes, these vaccines become less new.

At this writing, millions of people have been safely vaccinated against COVID-19. Hospital wards are not full of vaccinated people; they are full of unvaccinated people. And those people are preventing people with other health problems from getting the lifesaving care they need. That’s not right or fair.

I’m afraid vaccine mandates are here to stay. People better get used to them.

Don’t want to get the vaccine? That’s your right– for now, at least. But there are consequences for those kinds of choices. You should be prepared to live, or die, by your decision. You’ll probably be dying alone, too, because that’s often what happens when someone gets COVID-19 and it’s bad enough to kill them. I hope these ladies wake up soon.

In other– good– health news– Arran’s pathology report came back. The crusty growths he had removed last week are benign! So that’s one reason to smile today.

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lessons learned, nostalgia, silliness, TV

Life lessons from The Love Boat…

I love watching cheesy TV shows from the 70s and 80s. I especially enjoy watching them when I’m laid up in bed and in need of comfort. Although I’m mostly over the virus that kicked me in the butt all weekend, I was still a touch under the weather for most of Monday. I did experience sort of a second wind later in the day, but not enough of one to call myself “well”. I managed to find the energy to wash all the bed linens and turn on the robot mower 😉 , which I forgot to check on, and later found stuck in the corner of the backyard. I even summoned the energy to walk the dogs in the afternoon, which they both appreciated. But then I came back, hurled, and spent more quality time on the toilet.

Yesterday, I watched The Love Boat, an Aaron Spelling/Douglas Cramer television show that aired on ABC throughout most of my childhood. Someone on YouTube uploaded a bunch of episodes from the 1982-83 season and I found myself glued to them for most of the afternoon. Although most of the plot lines were completely ridiculous and implausible, it was still kind of fun to watch. There are even a few pearls of wisdom within the episodes.

Yes, I did have to suspend belief when I watched the late Eva Gabor (born in 1919) playing the mother of a teenaged boy in the early 80s. It was a bit jarring to see Connie Needham (born in 1959), playing the fiance of her mother’s ex boyfriend Gene Barry (born in 1919), only to have her mom steal him back. I’m sure Alan Hale, Jr. and Bob Denver, both of whom were best known for their roles on Gilligan’s Island, had a great time on the show. It’s a trip to watch the crew members romancing the passengers as they live in huge, sumptuous quarters that I know are not the reality for actual cruise crew members. But still, I remember yesterday afternoon, actually stopping in my tracks to ponder when Dr. Adam Bricker (played by Bernie Kopell) said something unexpectedly profound. Or, at least I thought it was profound when he said it… I wish I could remember what he said at this moment, but alas, the thought has passed. Oh well, next time, I’ll make a note of it.

It’s always a treat to see Charo perform. Seriously– Charo is a very talented entertainer, especially when she plays guitar. She was a staple on The Love Boat, though, and I don’t think I ever need to watch her sing “Physical” again. My respect for Charo came when she was on The Surreal Life around 2004 or so. Even though that was a silly show, Charo showed everyone that she’s a lot smarter than anyone ever gave her credit for in her heyday, and she can REALLY play guitar.

Granted, this is supposed to be tacky and obnoxious, but it kind of goes beyond the pale. Charo later said she “cuchi cuchi-ed” all the way to the bank! I think I see a little Las Vegas era Tina Turner in this performance.
But at around 12:25 on this video of The Surreal Life, you can hear Charo play guitar… she does have some chops. I’d rather hear her play guitar and listen to her sing. Incidentally, this was one of the better seasons of The Surreal Life.

The Love Boat also did a couple of on location two-parters during that time period that were fun to watch, especially since Bill and I have been to some of the places they went. In 2013, we did our last SeaDream cruise from Rome to Athens, which included pre-cruise stops in Venice and Florence. The Love Boat, which usually focused on cruises to Mexico, went to Italy and Greece. They did one two-parter based on an Italian cruise, and one was based on a Greek cruise. I noticed they had some pretty high ranking guests for those episodes, too. Both specials made me want to travel! I have wanderlust anyway, but COVID-19 has made it more intense.

I’m sure all of the footage for the Italy and Greece episodes was filmed at the same time, production costs being what they were. I came to the conclusion they were filmed at the same time because I noticed that Lauren Tewes’ hair was the same “Sun-In” bleached blonde in both of the specials, plus the used the same footage of a TWA plane taking off. Forty years later, I’m amazed that people in the 80s thought that orange hydroxide look was attractive. Lisa Whelchel, who guested on the Greek special, had the same bleached hair with brassy overtones. It was pretty ghastly. As I watched the show, I realized it was work for everyone involved. But it also looked like a lot of fun to film.

I know this is a common phenomenon, but it seems like life was a lot more fun in the 80s… I know it probably wasn’t, for many reasons, but I was a kid back then. Actually, looking back on it, the 80s were hard for me, personally, because that was when I was growing up, and I didn’t have the greatest childhood. But we had all these feel good TV shows that were light entertainment. The Love Boat always had happy endings, with people falling in love, getting married, or discovering a new path in life. The staff on the ship was caring, friendly, and always invested in seeing that everyone had a good time. The Love Boat and Fantasy Island were great shows to watch on Saturday nights when I was growing up– at least until we had The Golden Girls, which was a much better show on all levels.

Granted, The Love Boat definitely jumped the shark around the time they kicked Lauren Tewes (cruise director Julie McCoy) off the show because of her cocaine addiction and other issues, but it always featured old movie stars alongside up and coming stars of the 80s. It was great fun to watch when I was a kid, and probably more fun to watch now for entirely different reasons. I could imagine someone turning it into a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type of show, where there are snarky comments made for every ridiculous scenario, cheesy band number, or godawful evening gown. Also, I noticed all the women wore dresses no matter what, many of which were pretty frumpy and uncomfortable looking, even if they weren’t having dinner.

As a child, I was oddly enchanted by evening gowns and fancy events. It’s probably because I used to love reading fairytales. I also used to love watching beauty pageants, not because I believed in evaluating women by their looks, but because I loved the evening gowns. I liked the colors and designs. But times change, and just like The Love Boat and silly shows like it, beauty pageants have also gone out of style. Even Miss America, which was probably the most prestigious pageant, has changed its focus more toward promoting scholarship and community service than beauty. I think that’s a positive thing, but I must admit that as a kid, I loved the glamour of 80s television. It was fun to revisit it over the past couple of days, watching The Love Boat, a televised intellectual equivalent to empty calories.

Having now been on some cruises myself, I now realize that there’s a price to be paid for wearing fancy duds, and not just at the cash register. I have a few sparkly dresses, but I don’t wear them well. I find them uncomfortable, and I never want to spend a lot of money on dresses that I won’t wear more than a time or two. Consequently, I don’t really look smashing in an evening gown. Even if I had a really cute figure, I think I would rather just wear a nightgown with no bra, rather than a hot evening dress that is always too long for me and heavy with sequins. And that is exactly what I did yesterday, as my stomach and intestines launched into a few more revolts. I did feel markedly better yesterday, but I wasn’t quite all the way…

Well, I’m happy to report that today, I feel 100% better. I have a spark of energy, and I managed to eat a banana, toast with butter, and drink two cups of coffee with cream without feeling like I needed to puke. I’m sure there will be some residual crud from the virus my body seems to have vanquished, but I think I’m on the mend. It was the first time I’ve been sick in ages. In fact, I don’t remember the last sickness I’ve experienced since moving to Wiesbaden. I was sick more often in Stuttgart, probably because Bill was always traveling to Africa and exposing me to exotic pathogens.

One thing I’ve learned from being sick for the past few days is that I needed a reminder that I don’t enjoy the experience of sickness. In fact, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that I definitely don’t want to catch COVID-19. I have no idea how I got this stomach bug, which I’m guessing is less contagious than COVID is. But being sick for the past few days has SUCKED, even though I was somewhat functional the whole time. Maybe if this bug has done anything, it’s renewed my resolve to stay healthy.

Will I watch more Love Boat today? Maybe… I was watching the second part of the Greek two-parter when Bill got home. He worked late last night and stopped by the store to get me some OTC meds and food. I might watch the second part, just to finish. I could tell I was getting better, though, because as the day wore on, I was getting more tired of the lame storylines. I may need to view something with more substance today, if I choose to watch television at all. It’s amazing the boost one gets when that initial post-sickness energy surge hits.

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Ex, musings, narcissists

What a crappy weekend I had…

If you read yesterday’s travel post, you might know that I was felled by some kind of stomach virus over the weekend. It started with a fever, progressed to vomiting, then watery diarrhea that continues today. I do feel somewhat better this morning, although my guts are still rumbling and my head hurts. However, I’ve been up for about two hours and so far, have mostly managed to stay off of the toilet. That’s already an improvement over yesterday.

One thing I have noticed about this virus is that it seems to have made my sense of smell super acute. Last night, Bill came into the bedroom and smelled like he reeked of beer. He’d only had one. I could also smell the carbon from the stove all the way upstairs when Bill made me some mashed potatoes. I also notice that I can really smell the laundry detergent more than usual. If I weren’t 49 years old and living the sex life of a nun, I might think I was pregnant. But that’s definitely not possible.

So here I sit on a foggy Monday morning. The sheets are in the washing machine, because they definitely needed refreshing after the weekend. I was in bed the whole time, hence my decision not to write a post for this blog yesterday. I couldn’t really think of anything to write about that would make me feel better. Let’s face it. A lot of my material is not all that uplifting. I suppose this blog could have used an uplift after Saturday’s book review. I guess I can be grateful to the sickness for helping me finish that depressing book at long last. 😉

The weekend did have a few moments of levity, though. For instance, yesterday, I decided to watch a couple of episodes of The Love Boat that someone thoughtfully uploaded to YouTube. One of the episodes was about a special dog show, in which a dog would be chosen to be the face of dog food brand. Our dog, Noyzi, was previously terrifed of the TV. He comes from Kosovo, so he’s being exposed to a lot of things now, that other dogs get exposed to when they are much younger.

Anyway, one of the guests on The Love Boat for that episode was a fluffy white dog named Tundra. Noyzi took a liking to her and immediately perked up when she was on the screen. It was hilarious to watch him. He still hasn’t seemed to figure out that the figures on the TV aren’t going to come out and attack or play with him. Just a few months ago, he would run out of the room if a man was on the screen. As you can see, he does that less now, especially if there are dogs to watch!

I think he’d like to be Tundra’s boyfriend.
Tundra definitely has a new fan.

I also watched Gimme A Break and WKRP in Cincinnati. I’m glad I was around when those shows were on TV, especially WKRP. Even 40 years later, it’s still a hilarious show that never gets old. Even the music they used is timeless. I would not want to relive my childhood, but I sure do love the stuff that was on the radio in the late 70s. Hey… what do you want? I was a little kid! Also, I had spent three years in England and, prior to that, had no memories of the United States. At that time, it seemed like an unusual place. Now, it seems like an unusual place for entirely different and much sadder reasons.

On a snarky note, and because I’m feeling kind of mean… I took a peek at Ex’s public social media the other day. There was a time when it would have pissed me off to look at it, but now I’m just amused and somewhat sad for older daughter, who bears a striking resemblance to Bill’s mom. Ex posted a couple of pictures of her, along with some schwag she got from a “box of the month” outfit. Ex’s latest thing is her claim to be descended from an aristocratic clan from Scotland. And you know, she may very well be a descendent of the Scots. Lord knows I have lots of Scottish ancestry myself. It wouldn’t be unheard of.

On the other hand, I’m not sure she would know for certain what her clan history is, since she was adopted, and even if her bio mom told her about any family history, I’m not sure I would trust that source. According to what I’ve heard, Ex’s bio mom gave her up because she’s a product of an affair and bio mom’s husband didn’t want to raise some other guy’s child.

Interesting that she’s suddenly so hot on Scotland, though… and that she has the money to spend on “boxes of the month”, when she ripped off her children’s college loan money to pay for household expenses. But that’s none of my business, of course. 😉 I was tempted to leave her a comment about how much older daughter looks like her *real* paternal grandmother, whom she hasn’t been allowed to see or talk to since she was a small child. But I decided I felt sick enough as it was.

One thing I’ve noticed about people like Ex… they all seem to have a compulsive shopping habit. Many of the most dysfunctional people I’ve known have had a shopping habit that was downright destructive. When Ex and Bill were married, she was always buying useless crap like Disney plates or depression glass, claiming she would later sell it and make a killing. But all that happened was that it piled up in the house, and made big credit card bills that they couldn’t pay. It used to drive Bill crazy, since he was chronically underemployed in those days, mainly because of where they were living, the location of which was entirely of her choosing. She chose it because of the lifestyle she envisioned, not because it would offer plentiful work opportunities.

I’m sure Ex’s shopping habit has something to do with trying to fill a void within her. There’s a part of her that may feel empty or depleted, or perhaps second rate. So she cheers herself up by buying stuff she can’t afford and doesn’t need. And she leans on other people in her life to pay for all of her useless crap, which they often can’t do, because she sabotages them. I don’t know for certain this is what happens in her home now, but I would bet money that’s how it is… because that was how it was for Bill. It was as if she was threatened when he succeeded. And based on what we’ve heard, that dynamic hasn’t changed.

Believe it or not, there’s a part of me that feels a little sorry for Ex. She’s never satisfied with what she has, and always has to show off her “stuff”. It’s as if she is consumed by getting people to admire her for having “stuff” and this facade of cheer. But it’s all an illusion, and the vast majority of people don’t give a fuck about it.

If she hadn’t hurt Bill and his family so deeply and profoundly and had such a direct effect on my life, I might have genuine compassion for her. But I know too much about the truly evil things she’s done. That, and I know that everything she posts on social media is to enhance her facade. She cares much more about what other people think of her image, than loving the people who are close to her. She makes her children’s pain about herself. Below is a direct quote from her… (again, this is entirely public stuff– I did nothing nefarious to get this intel.)

Och aye!!! JE SUIS PREST!!! What a treasure trove! I think my new favorite color is purple!! Swipe to see what kind of treasures have arrived as my bonnie daughter, B, and I unbox our latest WeeBoxes! (As you can tell, we have a hard time letting go of the boxes from months past!!) From our favorite cookies, to a gorgeous tartan shawl for B, see the types of goodies we enjoy each month! That one little purple box each month is the most exciting day for us. I have a severely autistic child and he requires so very much of our time and our spirits that often sadness and frustration rule our days. This little peek into Scotland reminds us that one day we WILL find a way to travel to the home of our ancestors and walk the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh and the beaches, scattered with ancient memories. We are of the Fraser du Lovat clan and long to learn more of our family.

This– from a woman who forced her older children to leave high school and start college courses so they could take out loans, and she could coerce them into giving her the excess money. And now she’s made them pay back the loans all by themselves! What she doesn’t seem to realize is that if she had only been a team player, she could have gone to Scotland a bunch of times. Bill and I have been there four times so far!

And how very sad it is that she blames her sadness and frustration on her severely autistic child. Especially since we have it on good authority that Bill’s older daughter is the one who actually takes care of him. Ex pressured my husband to get “snipped” because pregnancy was so hard on her, but then she remarried and had two more children, one of whom is apparently the source of daily “sadness and frustration” for her. She’s never been one to enjoy what she has… she always has to go for more, even when there are tremendous risks or there’s no logical need for more. Oftentimes, it leads to needless pain and suffering for other people.

Anyway… that’s enough about Ex. The more time passes, the less her antics really matter to me. And I don’t really care too much that she’s blowing money on Scottish schwag. It’s none of my business. But if she had been a better partner to Bill, she probably could have gone to Scotland and picked out her own schwag. And she could have done it unhindered by a special needs child who causes her so much daily “sadness” and “frustration”.

I just realized that I’m suddenly feeling much better than I did even just a couple of hours ago. Maybe today, I can even eat something besides potatoes and bananas. So, on that note, I will end this post, and get on with my chores for the day. Hope your Monday is a good one.

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