For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Just popping on a moment to wish everyone Merry Christmas!  I hope it has been a wonderful day for you, full of family, friends and joy.

Crosslink: Eye on a Crazy Planet: Your chance to help fight against suppression of free speech

Eye on a Crazy Planet: Your chance to help fight against suppression of free speech

Friday, October 26, 2012

Men Don’t Mother | Public Discourse

Men Don’t Mother | Public Discourse

So what do the decades of research on fathers say? Boys from fatherless families are twice as likely to end up in prison before age 30. Girls raised in homes without their fathers are much more likely to engage in early sexual behavior and end up pregnant as teenagers—for example, girls whose fathers left home before their daughters turned six are six times more likely to end up pregnant as teenagers. Children who grow up without married mothers and fathers are also more likely to experience depression, behavioral problems, and school expulsion.
There is also more abuse in homes without fathers. In studies of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, fathers living with their children emerge as strong protectors—both through watching over their children’s activities and communicating to others that they will protect them. In one study, abuse was 10 times more likely for children in homes with their mother and an unrelated boyfriend.

h/t Big Blue Wave

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Todd Akin and Manufactured Controversies

There are two things about the Todd Akin controversy that amazes me.  1) that it happened at all (especially considering the complete lack of controversy over Biden's recent bout of foot-in-mouth-disease) and 2) that it's still going on.

When I first saw the headlines after Akin's interview, I could see right away that there was a case of how not to report the news going on again.  The headlines made it obvious.  Virtually every headline had the words "legitimate rape" in it, in quotes, followed by claims that Akin said women who've been rapes "don't", "won't" or "can't" get pregnant.  A few had some variant of how women can somehow "shut down" their bodies if they're raped to prevent pregnancy.

Of course, with headlines like that, people were in full freakout mode.  I expected that from the political left, of course.  They'll freak out over the most minor of gaffes by those on the political right, while pretending the most heinous comments from their own side never happened, or simply brush them off as irrelevant.  What amazed me is the vicious attacks from those on the political right.  From what I've seen (and I admit, I've missed a lot of it) the attacks on Akin from his fellow conservatives has far exceeded the attacks from his liberal opponents.

The problem is, everyone seems to be freaking out over what they think he said, or some projection of what he apparently meant when he said it.

What was it that he actually said?  Well, see for yourself.

Here's the transcript of his actual words.

Well, you know, people always want to try and make that as one of those things... "Well, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question?"
It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. Let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment. But the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
And then all hell broke loose.  But why?  What did he say that was really so wrong or terrible?  Let's look at the key phrases everyone is blowing a gasket over one part at a time.

"...from what I understand from doctors that's really rare."

Okay.  So what's controversial about that?  Pregnancy from rape is rare.  He's not saying it doesn't happen, as so many headlines and commentators have claimed.  He just said that doctors have told him it's rare.  How rare?  Well, that's difficult to say, since rape statistics are understandably questionable in the first place (more on that below).  What percentage of rapes result in pregnancy?  There have been many claims that the pregnancy rate in rape cases is the same as for consensual sex, but I'm not seeing any legitimate data to back those claims up.  Then there's this example.

Pregnancy is rare after a single act of forcible rape. In a prospective study of 4000 rapes in Minnesota, there were no pregnancies. In a retrospective study covering nine years in Chicago, there were no pregnancies. In a prospective study of 117 rapes there were no pregnancies among either the 17 victims who received DES or the 100 who did not.
Eugene F. Diamond, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Past Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine
April 11, 1985 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine

Now, that's old data in just one area, but I don't know that women in Minnesota are any more or less fertile then women in other parts of the US, and while the number of reported rapes may have changed, I have not seen anything to suggest the percentage of pregnancies as a result of rape has increased since then.

So basically, then, his first statement - that pregnancy due to rape is rare - is true.  He didn't say it doesn't happen, or that he doesn't believe raped women get pregnant.  Obviously, he knows it happens, and that is reflected in the interview.  Yet if you read only the headlines, you'd think he said that rape due to pregnancy doesn't happen, which is clearly false.

What's the next part?  Ah, yes.  This one.

"If it's a legitimate rape..."

People are just losing their heads over the use of the word "legitimate."  There are all sorts of accusations that he was somehow implying that there's rape, and then there's rape-rape.  Kinda like Whoopi Goldberg.

Now if only people had flipped out over Whoopi's comments the way they are now over Akin's comments, because hers were far more condescending and insulting to rape victims!

What confuses me is how anyone could have any confusion about the use of the word "legitimate."  To be honest, I think Akin's detractors know full well what he was talking about, but it's far more satisfying to get all offended and pretend he was saying something else.  It fits into the "Republican War on Women" narrative so much better.

For those who still refuse to see the obvious, he's talking about ... well, legitimate cases of rape vs things like false accusations or false claims of rape. 

Here is where things get muddy.  Rape statistics are unclear at the best of times.  Part of the problem is that there is an unknown number of women who never report their rapes, or report them years after the event.  It's said that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted (all types of sexual assault, not only rape) in their life time, which is meaningless, since it's a prediction.  Then there's the problem of false rape reports.  Again, it's hard to know how many false rape claims there are.  On one end of the spectrum, it's claimed that only 2 percent of reported rapes are false (which is higher then the percentage of abortions due to rape).  Yet a US Dept of Justice report from 1996 found that about 25-26% of rape cases were proven to be false!

So here we have a problem of there being an unknown number of unreported rape cases, coupled with what may be as much as 25% of reported rapes being proven false (some have claimed that number is actually as high as 51%, but I don't find it reliable).  It's entirely possible the unreported vs false accusations cancel each other out, but there's no way to know.

To further mess up the numbers, there's also statutory rape, which can include consensual sex as well as forcible or coercive rape.

In other words, when it comes to rape statistics, we really do need to know what is, or isn't, "legitimate" rape!

In context of the interview, this sort of thing was obviously what he was referring to.  The headlines would have us believe he was somehow claiming that rape victims weren't really raped, or somehow making light of the seriousness of the crime committed against rape victims.  Personally, I think that's a stretch.  It does make me wonder, though.  Just how could he have been more clear?  Some have suggested that he should have just said "rape" without any qualifiers, but in context of the interview, that would have actually made his statement worse.  So what would be a more appropriate word to us?  Real?  Authentic?  True?  Actual?  I can think of a lot of potential adjectives, but they all end up making his statement sound worse, too.

Which leaves us back with the word "legitimate."  Personally, I can't think of a better, less offensive, way to differentiate between actual rape events and false claims. 

Which leads us now to the next part that has people's heads spinning.

"... the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Wow, have the responses been over the top to this part!  Akin is accused of all sorts of things, from being stupid, unscientific, and crazy, to associating him with Nazi experiments and linking him to some bizarre claim from the past that "spastic tubes" somehow prevent pregnancy.

First, let's make it very clear what he ISN'T saying.  He is NOT saying women who have been raped do not, cannot or will not get pregnant.  That's what's in the headlines and in the interpretations.  That's not what he said.  He is also not suggesting that women have some magical ability to voluntarily make their bodies prevent pregnancy during rape.  Again, that is something others are claiming is meant, but it's not what he actually said.

Is there any truth to the statement?

Actually, yes, and it's been known for ages.  Long before we knew about the chemicals our bodies produce, and the roles hormones play in reproduction in particular, it was known that trauma and high levels of stress can affect a woman's ability to conceive and/or prevent miscarriage.  Such things affect male fertility, too, but when it comes to women, our bodies actually do have ways to prevent pregnancy when conditions are not optimal for conception.

First, there are the effects of stress on the reproductive system.  This can be long term stress, of it can be stress from a single traumatic event. 

The female body is, from a purely biological point of view, a baby making machine.  We are awash with chemicals and hormones that are there to ensure optimal fertility.  That may not be true as individuals but, as a general statement for healthy women, that's how our bodies work.  Aside from stress, a number of things can trigger our bodies into becoming hostile to conception.  Nutritional deprivation is one such example.  When we're starving, women are less likely to conceive, and if we do conceive, we're more likely to miscarry.  Likewise, if we have too much or too little of specific nutrients, it can prevent pregnancy.  I remember seeing an interview, several decades ago, with a doctor from a Toronto fertility clinic.  He talked about how most of his patients didn't need extreme interventions such as IVF; most needed to only make minor lifestyle changes.  He described two cases to illustrate.  One couple he treated lived an extremely "healthy" lifestyle.  They were both marathon runners, and were in peak physical condition, yet they could not conceive.  In the end, it turned out the wife did not have enough body fat.  They relaxed their marathon training regimen, gained some body fat, and promptly got pregnant.  Another woman he described was also a "healthy" eater.  He talked about how one of the first things he did was look at the palms.  When he saw this woman's palms, he noted a distinct orange cast to them.  As he talked to her, he learned that she had read a lot about antioxidants and had been supplementing with beta carotene.  For some reason, she was taking very high amounts of it, which is why her palms started to turn orange.  She stopped taking the excessive supplements and was soon pregnant.

Calorie restriction can also affect fertility.  Our bodies can't tell the difference between starvation due to famine or starvation due to dieting.  It can tell when we are not getting enough nutrition to support a pregnancy, causing changes in our chemical balance that make it more difficult to conceive.

These are just a few examples of ways our bodies create conditions to prevent pregnancy by shutting down our reproductive system.  In the context of Akin's interview, it is the stress related responses of our bodies that kick in, creating conditions hostile to conception.  Such conditions also cause miscarriages and prevent lactation.  This is old news.

Do women still get pregnant, even in non-optimal conditions?  Obviously we do, and he never claimed we didn't.  He just said that our bodies "try to shut that whole thing down."  Which is accurate.  Sometimes, it fails.  The idea that he was suggesting women can somehow control whether or not they can become pregnant is ludicrous, but that doesn't stop people from making that assumption.

Now, I have no idea who Akin is and, frankly, I don't care all that much.  What I do care about is accuracy and truthfulness.  I've seen his interview and compared it to the many headlines and column inches dedicated to tearing him apart, and it bothers the heck out of me.  The attacks against him are inaccurate, in that they claim he said things he didn't, and dishonest in how they extrapolate meanings to what he said that are, at best, pure conjecture or, at worst, deliberate misrepresentation for the purpose of destroying him both personally and politically. 

Was what he said clumsy, "misspoken" and or insensitive?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  I think the "shut things down" part of what he said was clumsy and unclear, but only to those who don't know anything about the effects of stress on the reproductive system. 

Was what he said false?  No.  Though he was repeating what he says he was told by doctors, and he was in no position to expand on the claims during the interview, his actual statements were correct.

Of course, you won't know that by the headlines. 

With all the focus on one sentence of what he said, people are completely forgetting about the closing sentence.

You know, I think there should be some punishment. But the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

People are completely ignoring what he's pointing out here, which is that it is the rapist that did something wrong and should be punished for it.  This brings up the obvious question for pro-abortionists using the rape and incest argument: Why should any child conceived in rape be killed because of what the father did?


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Boycott to Buycott - or game changer?

Starting a post at 1:30 am is probably not a good idea, but I wanted to take a moment and post about some observations I've noted in the past few months.  We're still in the busiest time of year for my family and it won't slow down for a couple more months (at least I hope it will!), and I haven't been on top of things like usual.  Even so, I've still managed to hear about some of it.

I haven't been living under a rock enough to miss out on the Chick-fil-A fiasco, and it's been fascinating to see how things have played out.  Being in Canada, we have no Chick-fil-A's, so it's has no effect on us, but there's no shortage of Canadians weighing in on the whole thing anyhow.

What I find the most interesting is comparing the Chick-fil-A boycott is comparing it to others I've seen. Especially after I saw someone sharing this on Pinterest.

My first thought when I read this was along the lines of "that's not quite how things unfolded."  It's a pretty typical strawman response, though; portray an alternate to reality, then attack the alternate as if it were the reality.

Right off the top, in the above example, whoever made this used the term "anti-gay rights organizations", which in itself is a strawman.  Gays have the exact same rights as everyone else in Canada and the US.  What gay "rights" activists and their supports want are for the restrictions of granted rights to be removed so as to accomodate a tiny sub-group - plenty of whom disagree with the activists that claim to speak for them - forcing the rest of society to redefine it's foundational institutions while at the same time endorsing their proclivities.  This isn't about equality - we have that.  It's about special treatment and recognition.

Now, let's take the list at the top.  Right off the top, we can write off the Electronic Arts one, which was faked.   The end statement is accurate.  They (whoever "they" are) are indeed exercising their free speech.

Let's use the JC Penny example, simply because I'm more familiar with it.  JCPenny hired Ellen Degeneres (or, uh, "Degeneress").  Personally, I don't see understand what the big deal is with her; my few attempts at watching her show left me decidedly unimpressed, but so does most TV.  I don't find her funny or interesting.  Actually, I find her boring and bland and, quite frankly, I think more people watch her show because she's a lesbian and want to prove they're not haters then out of any real interest, but that's just me.

Now, JC Penny can hire whomever they want.  They are free to do that.  The One Million Moms (OMM) group made a statement and called for a boycott.  I thought that was a rather bad idea, but again, they are free to do that.  You know; freedom of speech and all.  What was interesting was the fall out from that.  The level of pure, head exploding hatred levelled against this group was pretty amazing.  Of course, anyone who disagrees with anything gay activists demand are labelled "anti-gay", "homophobe", "bigot", "intolerant" and "haters."  Which is really funny to see, considering the terrible things they themselves were saying against the group or anyone who doesn't cave in to their demands.  Now, if someone actually called for gays to be hung (as in one of the images above), I would have a problem with that.  For someone to say that gays are "possessed by demons," well, that's free speech, too, and I'd just laugh and think they were idiots.  I don't actually see the context of any of the images across the top of that graphic, though, except for the first one with Ellen, and the use of the term "anti-gay moms" is just another illustration of what I'm talking about.

The point is, however, people who support traditional marriage are allowed to say so.  Doing so doesn't make them "anti-gay" or "haters," but hey, that's free speech, too.  One group can call for the boycott, others can condemn them for it.  And condemn them, they did, with a level of hatred far exceeding the perceived hatred coming from the OMM, and that's when things started to cross the line.

JCPenny, however, seemed to enjoy their notoriety and went a step further.  Hiring Ellen, after all, had nothing to do with her being a lesbian.  For Father's Day, they were more blunt.  Sort of.  That's when they put out an add featuring two guys with kids.  When I saw the add, I actually just assumed it was a couple of male models posing as dads with their kids.  The image I saw was difficult to read, so I completely missed the bit at the end that revealed that the two guys in the photos were a couple, posing with their own children.

At this point, I think JCPenny was counting on OMM, or some other group, to object, because of the surge of support they got with Ellen.  I saw plenty of people condemning OMM, and again, the level of pure hatred aimed at them was startling.

I also saw plenty of people claiming they would shop at JCPenny to support them.  I'm not sure that that actually translated into increased sales for JCPenny.  I've read claims that their sales dropped significantly as a result of the boycott, but I've also read claims that their sales soared.  I don't think either is true.  I expect they got a modest increase, and then everyone promptly forgot about it.

Then there was Oreo.  This was interesting, because the ONLY reason I found out about the rainbow Oreo cookie ad was from people who posted about it or shared the image, slagging "homophobic" groups that were calling for a boycott of Oreo because of their support of gay activists.  I actually had not seen any of these calls for boycotts at all.  I'm sure they were there, but whoever they were, they got more publicity from those condemning them then they ever would have otherwise.

As soon as I saw the ad, though, my thought was that the marketers at Oreo saw what happened with JCPenny and figured publicly stating they supported gay activist causes, inviting controversy, would result in a surge of supprt - and sales - from gay activists and their supporters.  I don't know how well that worked out for them.  The people I saw voicing their support for Oreo say they planned to buy more Oreos, but there were so few of them, and I didn't see anyone claim they already had, because of this.  Personally, I think Oreos are kind of gross, unless they're in ice cream. ;-)

Now lets go to the second part of the graphic, where is points out the percieved hypocrisy of how the call to boycott Chick-fil-A is "infringing on... free speech."

That's where the maker of this little bit of catch phrase activism gets it wrong.  Gay activists are free to call for a boycott.  Likewise, others are free to condemn them for it, just as the activists were free to condemn OMM for wanting to boycott JCPenny.

Calling for a boycott was never the problem.

The first problem was that the boycott was based on a lie.  Many lies, actually. The owners of Chick-fil-A are well known for being supporters of traditional marriage.  This is not news.  Of course, the activists translate this as being "anti-gay" and "hate speech," etc.  This recent controversy, however, was based on the CEO of Chick-fil-A saying "guilty as charged" in an interview, which was re-written as him saying he was against gay marriage.  The thing is, he was never even asked about gay marriage.  The conversation had nothing to do with gay marriage.  If anything, it was anti-divorce.  No one it going around saying he was "anti-divorcee", however, or that he "hates divorced people."  Becuase that would be a lie, too.

So the whole thing was a manufactured controversy, right from the start.

The other problem is the claims by pro-gay activists that Chick-fil-A - the company - was discriminatory.  It was claimed that their policies were discriminatory and anti-gay.  That's just plain slander.  If, as a company, Chick-fil-A refused to hire gay people, they'd have a case, but they *do* hire gay people.  If, as a company, they refused to serve gay customers, again, they'd have a case.  Of course, they do no such thing.  What these activists and their supporters have done was not just twist around the actual statements made by the CEO of the company into something else entirely, but they're outright lying about the company itself.

That still isn't quite restricting the free speech of the CEO.  What *is* restricting free speech is the demands of activists to punish the company for the personal beliefs of the CEO.  When politicians promise that they will not approve new restaurants in their areas because the personal beliefs of the CEO is not what their own personal beliefs demand, it's actually illegal.  Yes, even fascist.  This is government officials abusing their powers to force private individuals to change their beliefs, or keep those beliefs to themselves.  Many of these activists, who so loudly claim they are for "equality", "equal righs" and "tolerance" not only fully supported this abuse of power, they demanded it. To them, this dictatorial behaviour was "noble" and "brave."

To be fair, I saw some people who started out supporting the boycott of Chick-fil-A draw the line here.  This, however, is where the gay activists lost the game.  This is on top of the most vile and hateful attacks being aimed at Chick-fil-A, all because of something the CEO didn't actually say.  Foul language is pretty standard for these sorts and, unfortunately, so is wishing death and all manner of terrible things (Rosanne Barr's tweet being the most infamous) on the CEO, his family, his employees and their customers.  There have even been bomb threats.

It was the same level of vitriol aimed at OMM, but this time, the attackers were the ones calling for the boycott.

So, first was have the "anti-gay organization" calling for a boycott of a company because of their corporate level support of gay marriage (I have no idea what the private beliefs of anyone involved are).  Yes, that's free speech.  Then we have the pro-gay activists and their supporters condemning the boycotters, while claiming they are haters, bigots, homophobes, etc. for supporting traditional marriage.  That is also free speech.

Now we have the pro-gay activists calling for a boycott of a private company because of personal opions of the CEO, which were misquoted and misrepresented, in the process declaring him anti-gay, homophobic, a hater, etc.  It is falsely claimed that the company discriminates against gays.  When people step up to support the company, they too are called haters and bigots and homophobes, along with wishes of illness, pain and death, even though the people supporting the company and its CEO includes gays.  These people absolutely tried to infringe on the free speech of the CEO through bullying tactics, and some were willing to do so illegally through dictatorial abuse of political power.

What's the fall out?

Well, the calls to boycott JCPenny and Oreo seem to have fizzled out of the limelight, as have the calls for a buycott to support these companies for their support of gay activist demands.

The Chick-fil-A boycott seems to have backfired completely!  The bullying tactics used by the pro-gay activists were stood up against.  I began seeing comments everywhere from people saying that they had gone to Chick-fil-A to support free speech.  I saw people saying they'd never gone before, and even some who said they'd spent the last of their money before payday, to support the company and stand up to the attacks against it.  I read people describe how they went several times a week - some every day - when they had only occaisionally gone before.  I heard from others saying that they were gay, but they still went to Chick-fil-A because of the what the boycotters were saying and doing.  Over and over again, I heard people describe restaurants packed, some so full they couldn't get in at all, with drive through line ups that wrapped around the block.

(h/t Blazing Cat Fur)
Then there was Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, and the response is out of this world!

Watching all this has served to confirm some of my other observations.  For all that SSM is legal in Canada now, and polls in the US supposedly show that support for SSM has increased over the years (this despite the fact that ever state that put it to a vote has maintained the definition of traditional marriage), the tide may be turning.  Just as the abortion issue, which was supposed to be a done deal, is now seeing a resurgance of opposition as more and more people recognise the damage it does to society, people are starting question the notion that accepting SSM is benign.

It had been my belief that SSM would eventually be accepted in general, though at the cost of personal and religious freedom for anyone who dared challange it.  I thought it would follow the typical pattern I see elsewhere.  After acceptance, it would take years - probably a generation or two - before the damage we were told would never happen would be recognise, and then eventaully a backlash would begin.  That is the state the abortion issue is at now.

Oddly, I think the Chick-fil-A fiasco has become a game changer.  There is an unexpected momentum in the backlash to the gay activists.  We've already got evidence showing that SSM hasn't resulted in sunshine and roses for all, and that there is, in fact, quite a lot of damage resulting from even the most stable of SS relationships.  Now, as the totalitarian behaviour of pro-gay activists crawls out into the open, people have noticed, and large numbers are standing up to it.  Not by protesting or becoming angry, but by going out, having fun and buying chicken.

Is it possible that the humble chicken sandwich can become the final straw that revealed the hypocrisy of activists who are trying to redefine our society into their own image?


Check out Bigotry and Chick-Fil-A

Give this a watch, for those still under the delusion that allowing gay marriage won't affect everyone else.

Also, When hating on Chick-fil-A, try to hide it better.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just you wait! Your turn is coming! (updated)

Things are still pretty hectic and my writing time is still sporadic, but I wanted to get this down before too much time passed and I forgot too many details.  So here is a continuation of our new doctor medical practitioner saga. 

Dh had his triple appointment last week.  I made a mistake in my last post; I thought we would get to see the actual doctor, but nope, not at all.  That appointment turned out to be with someone to help with chronic pain, but still another nurse.

When we came in for his appointment, he went to the receptionist.  She looked him up and noted that he was due to see the dietician first, then the diabetes nurse, then the NP.  Dh asked, "what about the chronic pain specialist?"  The receptionist checked again and corrected herself.  The second person was the chronic conditions specialist, who usually sees patients about diabetes, so she had assumed he was there to talk to her about his diabetes.  She apologized for the assumption.

Shortly after, we got called in to see the dietician.

It did not go well.

First off, after the introductions, she asked us why Dh was there to see her.  It turns out that, while she had been able to look at his file, there was nothing specific about why an appointment was made with her.  We just sort of hemmed and hawed a bit, then said we guessed it was because of Dh's diabetes.  He's been having difficulties controlling his sugars, especially when the pain gets really bad (as it has been recently).  He can't get enough exercise because of the pain, the meds don't seem to be doing very much, so we figured he was there to talk about dietary possibilities.

The rest of the meeting was very disjointed, uncomfortable and... weird.  One of the things we found weird was a mannerism; she talked as if we were 5 yr olds.  I wasn't sure what to make of it, but I'll assume she is used to talking to patients who don't research their own conditions very much - or anything else, for that matter.  Who knows?

We were booked for a 1 hour meeting with her and went over time by about 10 minutes.  In all that time, we basically came away with:

- eat more vegetables.
- and lentils.  (looking things up since then, lentils are on the off list, along with several other foods she mentioned, though plenty of sites promote lentils as some sort of miracle blood sugar controller)
- Dh doesn't have to avoid fruit (even though we told her fruit makes his sugars spike badly)
- margerine is better then butter
- butter and margerine both have 45 calories per teaspoon, and that has something to do with why there's no difference in bioavailability between butter and margerine.
- he should eat yogurt and cheese (yes, we did mention he's lactose intolerant, which is why milk isn't on the list, but he should just take lactase and eat them anyways)
- she thinks Dh, who is 6'1", should only eat 1800 calories a day (that was the level of starvation for men in the Ancel Keyes starvation study during WWII)
Now, Dh's diet sucks.  We know that, and it's a point of contention between us.  He'll go on about how he needs to eat healthier, but when it comes time to actually sit down for a meal, he eats little or none of the foods he's said he should be eating.  When it comes right down to it, though, we already know that the diet that best meets his needs for controlling blood sugar is basically an Atkins or paleo type diet - high protien,  plenty of fats, very little carbs.  The problem with this is it's friggin' expensive.  The price of groceries has been increasing quite a bit over the past couple of years and, though we've increased our grocery budget, (it's looking like I'm going to have to find some way to increase it again soon),  it's still not affordable for us to be buying that much meat (and no, vegetable substitutes are not adequate to the job.  They may be for others, but not for him).  When it comes to stretching the food budget, there's little that can beat the cheapness of high carb foods.  They are also a lot easier to work with and work out better as lunches for him at work.  For someone who's struggling just to bring his numbers into the single digits (in the Canadian system), that isn't going to work for him.  Even whole wheat pasta (which he finds disgusting) causes his sugars to spike, so all pastas would have to be out, along with all breads, potatoes and rice, along with fruit. 


So that meeting wasn't particularly useful, and I found myseld dreading the idea of seeing her myself.  Especially since I have even less reason to see her then Dh did, and his appointment seemed to confuse her enough as it was.

Our next appointment was with the chronic care nurse, and I will say right now, she was AWESOME!  To begin with, she had a great attitude, which always makes things easier.  However, she asked us a lot of questions about his injury (the pain of which was the reason we needed to get a new doctor so urgently in the first place) and his history with it.  We also talked about his blood sugars, but it was in relation to everything else.  We learned a few new things from her.  For example, no one had ever mentioned the need to wash your hands with plain soap and water before using a glucometer to us before.  It turns out that just basic sweat on your hands can lead to false high readings.  Scented and fancy soaps can also cause false high readings, as can those anti-bacterial hand sanitizers and wipes.  "Milking" your pricked finger to get a drop of blood out can also lead to false readings, so it's a good idea to vigorously rub the hands together before using the lancet.

You know what else can lead to elevated blood sugar readings?


Of course, Dh has noticed his readings getting wildly higher when he's in a lot of pain, but this is the first time anyone actually said outright that the pain itself has anything to do with it.  With every other person, his diabetes was viewed in isolation from his back injury, and since he's started seeing the NP at this new clinic, the focus has been entirely on his diabetes, with almost no discussion about the injury.  As I mentioned in my last post, stress is something else that can cause high readings, and he's got plenty of that completely aside from his pain, too.

While we saw her, she took his blood pressure.  His BP was normal, though one reading was ever so slightly on the high side of normal compared to the other.  His heart rate was really high, so she checked it again.  It was still high.  No surprise, really.  Aside from "white coat syndrome" (his BP readings are always higher in the doctor's office then when taken elsewhere, though they don't usually cross over into the high range), he was in massive amounts of pain at the time - he needed a cane to walk, and was breaking into a sweat from the pain, just sitting there.  Or should I say squirming, not sitting, as he constantly had to adjust his position to try and alleviate the pain.

Oh, there was something else that stood out.  During the meeting with the dietician, she had asked if we knew what Dh's A1C was.  She didn't see one on his file.  The last one Dh could remember, it was 9.  The chronic care nurse, on the other hand, had no problem finding it in his file.  It was 7.   That is still higher then recommended, but it is a HUGE improvement from where it had been some time ago.  He's cut his A1C to about 1/3rd what it was at one point.  She was pleased by that progress.

In the end, there wasn't much she could do for him.  He's got his MRI in about 2 weeks.  She did say that a major part of controlling his blood sugars is going to be controlling his pain - we're not going to get much progress with his sugars as long as he's having so much trouble with his back.  Until she gets the results from the MRI, though, she wasn't going to suggest anything beyond what we're already doing.

Even so, we came out of that meeting pretty happy.  She was really refreshing, and we felt confident that she was interested in all of his issues, not just his diabetes.  We look forward to seeing her again.

Then there was the appointment with the NP.


Now, the last time he saw her, she'd added 2 more prescriptions to his collection - baby asperin and a low dose blood pressure medication.  Note that he does not have high blood pressure, but the combination is to help protect his kidneys from all the other meds he's taking.  At least that's what we were told back then.

That's right.  Because he's on so many meds, they may be over taxing his kidneys, and the solution is to prescribe more meds.

No, there's no actual evidence that his kidneys are having a problem.

This time, she went over his numbers and latched onto his BP reading.  You know, the one that was normal, but had one number on the slightly high side of normal.  Both of which were slightly lower then the last time he saw her, so even though the low dose blood pressure medication was prescribed to him as being part of protecting his kidneys, she attributed the slightly lower reading this time to the prescription (because apparently any fluction can only be because of meds).  She wanted that second reading to be more in line with the first reading - or at least that was her reasoning - so she doubled the dosage on the BP prescription for him.  She also added two new prescriptions.  One is a cholesterol medication.  Does he have high cholesterol?  Of course not.  However, his HDL reading was lower then she wanted it to be, so more pills!  The other was a low dose anti-depressant.  This was the first one that was actually about his pain; it seems that low dose anti-depressants have been found to help with chronic pain.  At least that's what she said then; at this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if she says something else the next time he sees her.  The first brand of anti-depressant she named was one he'd been put on many years ago and reacted badly to, so she wrote him up for another one we've never heard of before.

As she was writing him up for all these prescriptions, I made a comment about "more pills" for him to take.  That's when she looked at me and said,

"Just you wait!  Your turn is coming!"

Then, before I had a chance to react, she started talking about when my appointment with her was.  It had originally been booked for the afternoon of the same day as Dh's triple appointment, but I hadn't had a chance to take the blood test, so I had rescheduled it to the end of this week.  I'm not sure what to make of her reaction, but her promise - threat? - was clear.  She already intended to put me on prescriptions, even though she had yet to see any new test results.

I was not impressed.

We finished up the appointment with getting Dh written up for medical leave for a week, on top of the days he'd already missed from the week before because of the pain.  By then, he was pretty wasted, so I took him home so he could lay down for a while.

That evening, I took the new prescriptions to the pharmacy.  There's one pharmacist I've been dealing with regularly, and he's quite familiar with Dh's file by now.  He's also given us a lot of advice and information, and we're quite comfortable asking him questions.  I had plenty of them when I gave him the new prescriptions.

I talked to him about the BP medication that got doubled, even though Dh's BP was normal.  He was rather taken aback by that.  He was also taken aback when I mentioned that Dh had just gotten 2 new prescriptions so recently, and now there was 2 more.  On looking at the list, he asked if Dh was having sleep problems.  One of the new meds - the anti-depressant - is often prescribed to people as a sleep aid.  This rather alarmed me because of Dh's severe obstructive sleep apnea.  When I mentioned that, the pharmacist was yet again taken aback that she would prescribe something like this to someone with sleep apnea.  That one was to be taken just before going to bed, but the other new one was to be taken in the morning, about half an hour before eating.  Dh is already taking something at that time, which I mentioned.  The pharmacist did yet another double take and checked the file.  It turns out the two meds are contra-indicated!  So he changed the instructions so that the old one is still taken half an hour before eating, while the new one can be taken with food.

Then the pharmacist noted the NP's name on the prescriptions and realization seemed to dawn on him.  It turns out he's had problems with this NP before - and he's never met or talked to her.  He knows her by her prescriptions.  Which is pretty interesting, considering this clinic is so new, and she's been there only a couple of months.

Dh is still going to take the new medications, though we have serious reservations about it.  He now has 11 different meds that he's on, including an injection, with two of them needing to be taken 3 times a day.  Of all those, only the 2 meds related to his back injury are taken as needed, rather then at set times.

There's something very wrong with this.

I've been really unhappy with all this.  We called this place looking for a new doctor, and we have yet to see one.  The doctor at this clinic we'd originally asked to see comes highly recommended by our pharmacist, I've heard positive comments about her elsewhere, and even Eldest has heard good things about her from someplace else.  Instead, we're seeing an NP seems to be a pill pusher and seems to make her decisions not based on actual readings, but her own idea of what things should be - and she's already got me labelled and is eager to put me on prescriptions, too!

So what do we do?

Today, I called and cancelled my appointments with the dietician and the NP and asked for an appointment with this doctor.  It turns out I still need to book a meet-and-greet appointment, and the earliest that can be done is in September.  That works for me, but Dh can't wait that long.  He's stuck seeing the NP for at least a few more times, as we have another follow up appointment before his MRI, then a follow up for the MRI results.

I still have to book an ultrasound for myself - my reason for seeing a doctor is still about the discomfort in my side - but I'm not going to take the fasting glucose test again.  When I see the doctor in September, I want to ask for an oral glucose tolerance test instead.  Meanwhile, I'm still using Dh's glucometer to test myself, and my non-fasting blood sugar levels are well within the expected ranges for non-diabetics, even based on the printout the dietician gave Dh.

I don't know if I dare hope too much that when I finally see the doctor, it will work out.  For all I know, she might be much like the NP.  Or she could be more like the chronic care nurse.  I don't know.  As I've been looking more into the implications of the change in diagnosis for diabetes, the more disturbed I am about it.  Will the doctor be just as eager to hang a Sword of Damocles over her patients as the NP?

Before the diagnosis change, 4.0 - 6.9 was considered the "normal" range for blood sugars.  7.0 and up was considered high.  Readings below 4 can be dangerous and, for someone with diabetes, readings of 4.5 or lower can be equally dangerous, as their blood sugars can drop so quickly, leading to coma and possibly death.  Still, there was a decent range of "normal."

Then the "pre-diabetes" notion showed up, and readings in the 6 range were considered something to worry about, but was still in the normal range. Readings of 4.9 or lower just don't seem to be discussed much anywhere.  Now, with a diagnosis of diabetes being made with only a single reading of 6.0 or greater, the range of "normal" is so small, it's almost impossible to not be diagnosed diabetic!  It also means that anything under 6 is now "pre-diabetic."  So basically, we're all either low blood sugar, "pre-diabetic" or diabetic.  How does that even make sense??

So if you're reading this and think you don't have to worry about being diagnosed as a diabetic, just you wait!  Your turn is probably coming, too.

update: June 28

Since writing this, I've had a chance dig around some more, and I'm even more pissed with the NP then before.  First off, I'm not finding anything, anywhere, that the threshold to diagnose diabetes has changed from => 7.0 to => 6.0  Going through the Canadian Diabetes Association website, not only does it still say 7.0 and higher for a fasting blood glucose, but it also says that no matter what type of test was used, a second test should ALWAYS done before diagnosis. 

I noticed something else.  For the fasting blood test, everywhere I looked said to fast at least 8 hours.  I was told to fast at least 12 hours.  As we go without food, our livers begin to release glucose to prevent our cells from starving, so even without eating, our blood sugar levels can go up the longer we go without food.  The sites I read also all said that only water is to be ingested during the fasting period.  I was told I could only drink a small amount of water in the morning.  Lo and behold, there is some sort of relationship between water and blood sugar levels, though the why and how of it is not completely understood.  Lack of water can lead to a high blood sugar reading.  More importantly for me, lack of water in general also leads to high blood sugar levels.  I don't drink much water, as I don't enjoy the taste.  Yes, I know, water isn't supposed to have a taste, but ours does.  I don't like bottled water, either, as I find they have an unpleasant taste, too (I find Dasani quite salty, for example).  Though I do drink things like tea, Coke Zero or iced tea, depending on what we happen to have in the house, I don't drink much of anything overall.  I have been recording my food and drink along with my blood sugar readings for the past while.  I also been recording all fluids *except* water in my records, though it's still on my mind as I document it all.  In the process, I've come to realize that not only am I not eating much, but I'm drinking even less, to the point that dehydration is probably a concern. So here I have yet another possible cause for my one anomalously high fasting blood sugar test. 

Not only is my increased level of stress lately a contributing factor; not only is my borderline dehydration another possible contributing factor, but the parameters I was given for my fast were practically a recipe for a higher reading.

And this woman's specialty is diabetes.  I find myself thinking of the old saying, that when your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look like nails.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


It's been a while since I've posted - life has been hectic, and there's no sign of things slowing down.  We're actually heading into the busiest time of our year, so I don't expect to be posting regularly for a while.

It's probably silly of me to be starting a post now, when it's past 1:30am, but I feel the need for a rant.

First, a bit of background.

We lost our family doctor.

We're not sure what happened to him, other then he went on medical leave and hasn't come back.  I had been expecting to hear back about the ultrasound I had done to try and figure out why I'm having pains in my lower left side, near where I had a large cyst removed over a year ago.  Though the discomfort is usually mild - it feels like I pulled a muscle or something, except it doesn't go away - it sometimes becomes uncomfortable to the point that I can't sit up straight.  Every now and then, there are sharp, shooting pains as well.  I figured it would be a good idea to get it checked out, rather then just put up with it, like I normally do with such things.

When I didn't hear from our doctor's office, I figured it was one of those "no news is good news," things; they had no reason to have me come in.  Then Dh needed to see the doctor and called to make an appointment.  There was an automated message saying the doctor was on leave for medical reasons (which has happened before) and giving the name of a doctor at another clinic that was willing to take our doctor's patients, if needed.  We were willing to wait for our own doctor, so never called the other one.  Eventually, though, Dh needed to get updated prescriptions and called again.

The number was no longer working.  Not even our pharmacist had a working number to get an updated prescription.  We ended up having to pay an extra fee for the pharmacy to able to get a 1 month prescription renewal for him.

Dh ended up calling the College of Physicians and Surgeons and, while they didn't know what happened with our doctor, they were able to see that all his files were sent to a holding company in Ottawa!

Long story short, we found ourselves in need of a new family doctor for the 4 of us and, based on a recommendation from our pharmacist, we found one almost immediately at a new health centre just up the block from our pharmacy.

Sort of.

 Dh ended up needing to see a doctor quickly, and they were able to get him in on the same day.  I made appointments for me and the girls for a meet and greet at the same time.

Except we never actually saw a doctor.  Nurse Practitioners (NP) do the majority of the visits with patients now, including being able to prescribe most medications.  We all ended up with the same NP.  Dh had his visit, got written up for a new and very thorough set of blood tests.  The girls and I came back a few days later for our meet and greet appointments, which we were able to do together, saving a whole lot of time.

Before my appointment, they were able to look up the results of the ultrasound for me.  The only thing that was found was a 6mm benign cyst on my left kidney - not something that could be causing the discomfort I'm feeling, nor anything of any concern.  Also, my liver is slightly larger then expected - a "fatty liver" - but I knew that already from an MRI I had done a few years back.  It's also not a health concern.  Everything showed healthy.  I got written up for a very thorough series of blood tests as well, and that was that.

At this point, I was feeling cautiously optimistic about the situation.  Sure, we weren't actually seeing a doctor, but if an NP can do the job, I'm good with that. 

Then I came back for a follow up visit.

The results of my blood tests were pretty much as expected.  My thyroid is working fine, my cholesterol is fine, my liver had one slightly elevated reading, but that was expected and is not a health concern, etc.  There was one reading however, that was off.

My blood sugar was at 8.2  This, apparently, is now considered very high.

Now, I've been pretty aware of my blood sugar levels.  When Dh was first (mis)diagnosed as diabetic (the high reading was before he got his CPAP, and it normalized after his sleep apnea was treated) we charted both his and my blood sugars several times a day for a week for comparison.  Both were well within normal ranges, though mine were on the low side of normal.  Years later, he was re-diagnosed, and this time his blood sugars really were consistently and extremely high.  We still tested my blood sugars every now and then, just to compare.  'cause we're like that.  Mine continued to test normal.

In all these years, my blood sugars have been well within the normal range, and no sign even of "pre-diabetes."  The most recent series of blood tests were about a year ago, and there was nothing odd about them.  My blood work has consistently tested right where it was supposed to be.

But with this one reading, she was ready to pronounce me a diabetic.

Now, if this had been my old doctor, I would not have been suspicious or concerned.  With the NP, however, there were a few things she said that made me increasingly bothered.

First, there were the comments in regards to diabetes itself.  She had some pages printed out from a medical website she referred to as her "Bible." (It turns out diabetes is a specialty of hers.)  I can only half remember the name, and in searching for medical websites, I can't find anything even close to what I'm half remembering.

Anyhow, she started reading off about diabetes to me from this printout, including the part that mentioned that the percentage of people with diabetes is 75%.  I did a double take, but didn't say anything, as she kept on talking, but this sounded really off.  I've looked it up since then, and the Canadian Diabetes Association says that there are 9 million diabetics and pre-diabetics in Canada.  Hardly 75%.  Did she actually believe that 3 out of 4 people were diabetic, whether they knew it or not?  Did I missunderstand what she was saying?  Unfortunately, I can't find anything that could clear that up.

The other thing she mentioned was the change in diagnosis.  It used to be that a blood sugar reading from 4-6.9 was considered normal, while 7 and up was considered high.  Now, anything 6 and up is considered high.  Way to make sure lots more people get diagnosed diabetic.  (It reminds me of how the range of "normal" weight on the BMI was dropped, rendering millions of people "overweight" in an instant.)  It also used to be that it took more then one test to determine if a high reading was not an anomaly, but it hasn't been done that way in a long time.  Now, all it takes is a single high fasting blood sugar reading, and that's it.  No matter how normal your blood sugars might be after that, you're still considered a diabetic, since diabetes is a chronic condition with no cure.

When I mentioned that this reading was a surprise and an anomaly, she said she was willing to give me "the benefit of the doubt."  She wouldn't diagnose me as a diabetic just yet (NPs can now render diagnosis without a doctor, apparently), and wrote me up for another blood test, this one for just fasting blood sugars.

As we were talking, we went back and forth with the other test results as well.  When she went back to my liver test, with it's one slightly elevated but not a concern reading, she mentioned treating it with weight loss.  ??  If something is not a health concern, why does it need to be treated?

The kicker was when she mentioned the normal thyroid results again, saying that we'd tested my thyroid to rule it out as the cause of my weight.

What?  When she wrote me up for blood tests, my weight was never mentioned at any point.  She certainly never mentioned anything in particular about testing my thyroid, since she was checking me off for a whole bunch of things that tend not to get tested for very often.  She had said she wanted to get a thorough blood work, and that's what I got.  The only thing that was mentioned in any other context was when she saw that I had some testing done on my liver in the past - some 5 or 6 years ago - because I'd been put on a prescription that had liver damage as one of the possible side effects.  I wasn't on that prescription long, so it was never an issue again.  That was partly why testing my liver was thrown on the list, too.

One of the things that she said was that, based on the 8.2 reading, she would put me on metformin.  She wasn't going to because of my saying this was an anomalous reading, so she'd wait for a second test to confirm that I'm diabetic.  She clearly already thought of me as such.

Because Dh has a series of follow up appointments coming up, she had me book a follow up appointment with her to go over the new test results, plus a dietitian, on the same day as Dh.  Hopefully, even at the same times, in that he'd be seeing the dietitian while I was seeing her, then he'd be seeing her while I saw the dietitian.  He also has an appointment with the actual doctor, whom we've yet to meet.  In the end, they were only able to book me in the afternoon.

Well, I didn't get a chance to take the test, so I've rescheduled my appointments.  I have to admit, though, I'm not happy with this.

Now, don't get me wrong.  It's entirely possible that I have suddenly become diabetic.  That's not how diabetes works, but it's possible.  I'm over 40 and fat, so my risk factor is a bit higher, however T2 diabetes has a strong hereditary factor, and both my parents are fat, and there is no diabetes in my family.

What gets me is that, if she really believes that 3 out of 4 patients she sees are diabetic, then she'd have decided I was diabetic right from the start, and before I was tested, simply because... I'm a fat, middle aged woman?  Granted, so is she, if not as large as I am, but still...

She also made no attempt to learn more about me.  No attempt to figure out why I went from normal health to diabetic within a year.  She did ask if I'd gained any weight, and I have - it was something I'd intended to bring up, because it's so unusual.  I've gained between 15 and 20 pounds in the space of a few months.  Curiously, I have not changed clothing sizes at the same time.

Oh, and we did also discuss the reason I wanted to see a doctor in the first place - the pain in my side.  I've been written up for another ultrasound.  The previous one was abdominal.  This one will be pelvic.  Beyond that, she really didn't know what to make of it.  It might be because of scarring from my surgery, but that's about all she could think of.  Hopefully, the new ultrasound with tell us more.

So I go to see a doctor (or not see one, as the case may be) about a pain in my side, and end up being told I'm fat and most likely diabetic.

From an NP reading off of online printouts with information I can't find anywhere else.

Since the appointment, I've found myself becoming increasingly angry about this.  Not because of her diagnosis - if I'm diabetic, then I'm diabetic - but because of the circumstances surrounding it.

Oh, and there was one more thing she said that has perplexed me from the start.  Near the end of the appointment, printouts for tests in hand, talking about the follow up appointment with her at the same time as the dietitian (because... I'm fat?  She is convinced I'm diabetic?), she gave me this sort of slyly humorous look and said, "you don't have to be diabetic if you don't want to be."


What does that even mean??  Is she saying that I can just ignore it and pretend I'm not a diabetic?  Or is she saying that I can physically choose to not be diabetic?  And if that's what she meant, how would I go about doing that?  Was it like with the liver test, in that I could "treat" it with weight loss?

I recall when Dh got re-diagnosed diabetic, and he picked up a new glucometer and other stuff the doctor prescribed for him, among the things he got was a booklet about the facts and myths of diabetes.  I'd skimmed through it.  Among the things the booklet said was, to paraphrase, "it's not your fault that you are diabetic; you did not do anything to cause it," and "if you are overweight, your weight did not cause your diabetes.  If you change your diet and exercise to control your blood sugar, you may lose some weight, but you might not, either.  Losing weight is not the goal; controlling your blood sugars is."  It also stated things like, "no, eating sugar does not cause diabetes, either."

Though I haven't had time to get the blood test done yet, or even make an appointment for an ultrasound, there are a few things I've managed to do.  I've borrowed Dh's glucometer, and I've been testing my blood sugars while keeping track of what I eat or drink.

I've also looked up information on diabetes.  Here's a list of symptoms for T2 diabetes, and my comments about whether or not I've got them.

Unusual thirst - no

Frequent urination - no

Weight change (gain or loss) - most sites just mention weight LOSS, not weight gain.  During the appointment, the NP said that my weight gain was probably a symptom, then mentioned weight loss as something that happens after many years. 

Extreme fatigue or lack of energy - no.   The only time I feel extreme fatigue is when I haven't slept.

Blurred vision - no, except when I haven't slept

Frequent or recurring infections - no

Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal - no

Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet - no

Trouble getting or maintaining an erection - n/a

Granted, diabetes can also be asymptomatic, so not having symptoms does not mean no diabetes.  What about risk factors?  Here's another list, with my comments added.

A member of a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent) - no
Overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle) - yes

A parent, brother or sister with diabetes - no
Health complications that are associated with diabetes - no
Given birth to a baby that weighed more than 4 kg (9 lb) - one was 9 lbs 6 ozs, and there was nothing the least bit unusual suggested because of it; quite the opposite.  She's about to turn 16, so I think if that was a contributing factor, it would have shown up a lot earlier.
Had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) - no
Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose - no
High blood pressure - no
High cholesterol or other fats in the blood - no
Been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin), or schizophrenia - no

The thing that made me most curious is why I would suddenly have a high blood sugar reading after all these years of testing normal.  It turns out that there are a few things that cause blood sugars to right in non-diabetics.  One is simply eating lots of carbs.  Not usually an issue with me.  Another is liver function.  Since our bodies always need glucose, our livers store it for later release when we're sleeping, which is why our blood sugars can be elevated in the morning, before we've eaten anything.  Other possibilities are illness and medication related, which doesn't apply to me, unless I count the discomfort in my side as an illness.

Then there was stress.  At first thought, I dismissed it, as I don't really think of my life as being stressful.  Then I thought about it and realized that, yeah, life has been VERY stressful lately!  In fact, once I started thinking about things, the list of stressers in my life right now is pretty friggin' long!  Some of them have been going on for quite a while now, with no respite.  So, yeah, stress could very well have something to do with that high fasting reading.

And what about the non-fasting readings I've been taking?

When talking to the NP about the diagnosis change in what's considered a high reading while fasting (from 7 to 6), I mentioned testing my blood to compare with Dh's, and that my numbers tended to the low side, not the high side.  She casually mentioned that 11 was normal for non-fasting numbers.

After keeping track for a few days (none of my numbers hit the 11 mark she mentioned, though I did get one that eeked above 10 after a restaurant meal), I went digging around for a chart of what normal, non-fasting readings throughout the day should be.  It was hard to find anything to say what's normal for non-diabetics (or any with the scale used in Canada), but from what I have found, my readings fall into the good to excellent range - and that's a very small range according to the charts and sites I looked at!  That 11 she mentioned, by the way, was considered high in all the charts I found, so again, I don't know what she was talking about.

As you can imagine, my confidence in the NP has faded dramatically.  I don't want to go back to her.  I plan to get that second test done, but I don't want to go back to her to go over the results. I sure as heck don't want to talk to a dietitian.  Somehow, I don't think that is going to go ever well.  You see, I discovered something else I was not aware of while keeping these records.  Or should I say, not aware of how bad it was.

I'm not eating anywhere near enough!

I don't obsess with eating or calorie counting, but I do have a problem when I start feeling hungry.  The hungrier I am, the less appetite I have, and the longer I tend to delay eating.  Even so, with my blood sugars normally tending to be low, I have long known I need to eat regularly to prevent them from dropping too much.  I try to, but things tend to get in the way and, before I know it, it's 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and I haven't had breakfast yet.  Some days, I've barely managed to eat a single meal.  I've been doing that far too often.  I hadn't realized how bad I had gotten. 

Somehow, I don't think a dietitian is going see me and my big round belly and bodacious butt and believe that I hardly eat.  I could be wrong and I don't want to prejudge someone I haven't met yet, but I'm already discouraged by what's going on with the NP.
I miss my doctor.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Kids these days...

Today was errands day, so after constantly running around town, we gratefully went out for supper.

There was a couple at the table behind me, and the woman had a scooter.  As they left, Youngest and I could see the big sticker on the back of the woman's scooter.  Since Eldest and Dh couldn't see it, Youngest told them what it said.

"Proud to be everything the right wing hates."

To which Eldest immediately responded, "Stupid?"

So young to be so cynical. LOL

Friday, April 13, 2012

Taking a break

Due to my inability to balance the needs of my family with keeping up the blog, I will be taking a break from writing for a while.  Hopefully, I'll have a chance to throw the odd post up until I can get back to writing regularly again, but until then, I hope you enjoy what I've got up so for.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Marriage Debate: Why marriage?

I've been slowly working on this for some time - long enough that I can't even remember what originally triggered the whole thing - made several false starts and deleted some draft versions.  In the end, my problem was that there was just too much I wanted to cover.  So now I start again, but will be splitting things up into specific topics.

For this post, I will focus on one thing.  Why marriage?  In other words, what is the purpose of marriage?  Why do we bother to get married, and why has marriage been elevated and recognized throughout human history?

First, I want to make clear that when I use the word "marriage," I am referring to marriage between one man and one woman; the so-called "traditional" or "Judeo-Christian" marriage.  When discussing other types of marriage, I will be more specific and use terms like SSM (same sex marriage) or polygamy, etc.

So what is the purpose of marriage?

This is a complex question to answer, since the purpose of marriage is both public and private, religious and secular.  Many of the reasons for marriage are also intertwined, and cannot really be separated, one from the other.

Marriage has been viewed as many things throughout the millenia.  It has been a rite (both religious and a rite of passage), an obligation, a responsibility.  It has even been mandated by secular law, as well as by religious decree.  It has long been an expectation, and those who never married were often viewed with pity, while those who deliberately chose not to marry were often viewed with derision.

Marriages around the world continue to take place by choice, arrangement and even by force.  At times, people could only marry with permission, either from family members or from rulers.

One thing marriage has never been, however, is a right.  It can be a privilege to be earned or qualified for, an obligation that had to be met, but never a right.  At most, it is a granted right, like the right to vote or the right to drive.  Granted rights have qualifiers.  There are many, many granted rights.  Human rights are rights we have simply because we are human, and there are very few of those.  The problem is, too many people are demanding granted rights as though they were human rights.  I will discuss rights more later on.

Another thing marriage has never been about is love.  Oh, we have been admonished to love our spouses.  Love is a verb; it's something we do.  What has never been a requirement is to be "in love" - a passive term that makes for a rather shaky foundation for marriage.  Either way, love itself has never been a requirement of marriage.

So after looking at two things marriage is NOT, what is marriage about?

The primary reason for marriage, however, is procreation.  More specifically, it is a recognised institution dedicated to the creation and protection of future generations, connected largely (with recognised exceptions) by biology.  When you have a single wife and a single husband, you are pretty much reassured that the children born of that coupling are genetically related to those two individuals.  Adoption, of course, is a necessary and recognised exception.

But what about those marriages that don't produce children?  Are they less valid?

Well, historically, yes, they were.  If a married couple did not have children, this was considered something shameful.  It was also generally assumed to mean something was wrong with the female, so it was extra shameful for her.  Lack of children was considered a valid reason for divorce, and some couples went to extremes to produce the required children.  What those were depended on the culture of the time.

The need to procreate was so vital, that in some (usually patri-linial) cultures , if someone died childless, they considered truly dead.  If a person died with progeny, then they still lived on through their children.  To die without children was a greater tragedy then death itself.

Procreation within marriage served other purposes.  It ensured the continuation of the family line, as well as the continuation of the community.  Inheritances and lineages were assured, often through complex rules, customs and negotiations.  It also served the communities.  It was not unusual for cultures to restrict marriages within the village.  Instead, marriages had to be arranged between neighbouring villages.  This not only prevented intermarriage (for those cultures that saw intermarriage as a bad thing), but ensured ties between neighbouring communities.  One was far less likely to cheat or go to war with your neighbours when you had family there.  Kinship ties could be incredibly complex, and custom required special behaviour and treatment of those ties.  Such recognisable ties could not exist without the recognition of genetic relationships, and those relationships could be determined with assurance only through marriage.  Infidelity was a scandal as much for its effect on these kinship ties as it was for the betrayal involved.

In essence, marriage between one man and one woman attaches children to their parents and each other.  It ensures that those children belong to those parents, and they are responsible for those children.  That recognition and responsibility is a nucleus within the community that expands outward, connecting the community through expanding, concentric ties.

Which leads me to another, overlapping, purpose of marriage.  The joining of families and communities through recognised ties.  Nations could be built and wars ended on the marriage bed (or the other way around, I suppose).  Kinship through marital ties often accompanied elaborate ritual recognition that established responsibility between groups.  People could be complete strangers, but if it was found that they had kinship ties, there were proscribed ways that they had to treat each other, ranging from care of children, care of the elderly, inheritance, gifting, and ensuring that those kin who were undergoing hardship would be assisted by those who could, even if they lived far apart.

Another important part about marriage is that it is absolutely and necessarily exclusive and discriminatory. 

First, what does it mean to discriminate?  From Merriam-Webster, we have:

transitive verb
1 a : to mark or perceive the distinguishing or peculiar features of 
   b : distinguish, differentiate <discriminate hundreds of colors>
2 : to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences; especially : to distinguish from another like object

intransitive verb
1 a : to make a distinction <discriminate among historical sources> 
   b : to use good judgment
2 : to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit <discriminate in favor of your friends> <discriminate against a certain nationality>

What about exclusive?  The Free Dictionary give us:

1. Excluding or tending to exclude: exclusive barriers.
2. Not allowing something else; incompatible: mutually exclusive conditions.
3. Not divided or shared with others: exclusive publishing rights.
4. Not accompanied by others; single or sole: your exclusive function.
5. Complete; undivided: gained their exclusive attention.
6. Not including the specified extremes or limits, but only the area between them: 20-25, exclusive; that is, 21, 22, 23 and 24.
7. Excluding some or most, as from membership or participation: an exclusive club.
8. Catering to a wealthy clientele; expensive: exclusive shops.
9. Linguistics Of, relating to, or being a first person plural pronoun that excludes the addressee, such as we in the sentence Chris and I will be in town tomorrow, so we can stop by your office.
These days, when people talk about discrimination and exclusivity, they tend to use the terms as entirely negative.  Discriminate, in particular, is mostly a positive term - it's choosing the best; making good judements, etc.  One would hope people would be discriminating when it comes to choosing spouses!  If anything, we need more discrimination in marriage, not less.

Exclusivity is another important part of marriage.  When a couple marries, they are publicly stating to all that they are now exclusive to each other.

Which brings me to the next purpose of marriage.


Yup, marriage is about sex.  Married couples have exclusive sexual access to each other.  This is important and related to the expectation of procreation, since without exclusive sexual access to each other, the assumption of paternity cannot be made.

Of course there's more to marriage then the sexual relationship, but that does not change the fact that one of the purposes of marriage is to show, to the entire community, that this couple has sexual exclusivity.  This is a public statement, not a private one.

This leads to another reason for the exclusivity of marriage.  The more sexually active people are outside of monogomous marriage, the greater the risk of contracting and spreading disease. 

Now for the recognition of marriage.

With few exceptions, marriage has restricted to one man, one woman.  Even when, in the interests of procreation, other sexual relations were condoned, the marriage itself was the official, recognised relationship.  Even in cultures where homosexual relationships were mandated by the state, marriage itself was limited to one man, one woman.

State recognition of marriage, however, follows community recognition of marriage, and community recognition of marriage has its foundation in religion. With few exceptions, regardless of what god or gods or spiritual beings were worshiped, marriage was a religious rite.

So when people tell me that oppostion to various alternative types of marriage is religion forcing itself on everyone else, they have it backwards.  It is those groups who demand recognition of their alternate marriages that are forcing their version of marriage on everyone else.

State recognition of marriage tends to take on two forms; it either reflects the religious and community recognition of marriage, or it tries to control its populace through marriage.  Therein lies the danger of the state imposing marital law on the populace, rather then the other way around.  I will leave that topic for now, however, as that will be discussed in another post.

For now, let's look at the secular side of marriage.  Secular, by the way, is a word rooted in religion and meant "in/of the world."  Specifically, medieval Christianity.  When men and women reached the end of their religous training, they had a choice.  They could continue to live a "religious" live of academia, or they could chose to live "in the world."

Today, the word is defined as

1.of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests.
2.not pertaining to or connected with religion ( opposed to sacred): secular music.
3.(of education, a school, etc.) concerned with nonreligious subjects.
4.(of members of the clergy) not belonging to a religious order; not bound by monastic vows ( opposed to regular).
5.occurring or celebrated once in an age or century: the secular games of Rome.
6.going on from age to age; continuing through long ages.

7. a layperson.
8. one of the secular clergy.
 However, whem people use the term these days, it tends to be anti-religious, rather than non-religious.
Secular or state recognition of marriage reflected religous and community recognition of marriage, and that includes its restrictions, and like religious recognition of marriage, what is recognised is not the same everywhere.  Canada, for example, now allows first cousin marriages, but other countries still do not, so a first cousin marriage in Canada would not be recognised in those countries, even though it's legal here.  Likewise, Islamic countries recognise polygamous marriages, while Canada does not.  The issue of polygamous marriages among immigrants is starting to cause all sorts of problems in Canada, but that's a discussion for another time.
Meanwhile, not only are there cultures and states that recognise polygamous marriages, there are those that recognise marriages to non-humans and objects.  In some Indian cultures, a man who's astrologer told him his first marriage would be a failure, but his second a success, could marry a dog or a doll, and that marriage would be recognised.  He would then divorce his "wife," and what would be seen as satisfying the astrological prediction.  
So why did countries like Canada recognise "traditional" marriage, but not polygamous marriage?  In essence, it's because Canada is a Christian country, whether people are willing to admit it anymore or not.  The state reflects the people, and the foundational culture of Canada was based on Judeo-Christianity, even if individuals may not have been.  
State recognition of marriage has its own purproses outside of religion.  Once again, procreation plays a large part.  The state recognises that children within a marriage as being the product of that marriage, and that in turn affects such things as the rights and responsibilities of the parents over their children, and influences laws of inheritance, property, etc.  
Though Judeo-Christian history included polygamous marriages, it is the union of one man and one woman that holds special status.  Why?  
Because the union of one man and one woman has been found to be the most beneficial to all, whether on an individual basis to society as a whole.  Polygamous marriages almost always devalue women.  The rare cultures that practice polyandry have the problem of breaking paternal recognition.  We always know who the mother is, but which husband is responsible for which children?  It also tends to devalue women, as it often takes the form of brothers "sharing" a wife, who gets passed around to various male relatives for sexual purposes.   
"Traditional" marriages have also been found, through centuries of experience, to be the most stable unit for the upbringing of children and the strengthening of society, as well as for the individuals involved.  Mental and physical health, for parents and children, is improved, they tend to be more stable, the children raised have better outcomes, including education and mental, physical and even financial health.  
Ah, but what about all those divorces?  Infidelity?  Abusive relationships?  etc.  Traditional marriages are badly flawed, so preventing people who love each other from marrying is wrong and denying them their equal rights, right?

The problem of that particular argument will be the subject of my next post. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A word on the facebook dad

Normally, when a topic gets really hot for one reason or another, I tend to stay away from posting about it.  Most of the time it's because there are so many people saying what I'd already be saying, I see no need to add my own voice. 

So when the story came out with the dad responding to something his daughter wrote on facebook and ended with him shooting her laptop and posting the video on her facebook page, I wasn't going to bother writing about it.  I'd shared it myself, but that was about it.  I wasn't surprised it went viral.

What I found interesting is the reactions the video got, and that's what prompted me to throw in my own two cents.  Here's the video, just in case you've been living in a cave and haven't seen it yet.  Or if you're one of those who've refused to see it because you heard such terrible things about it.  If you're one of those, it's not as bad as it's been made out to be.  Go ahead and watch it.  It won't claim your immortal soul and plunge you into the depths of despair.

So there you have it.

As people have been sharing this video, tweeting about it, blogging about it, writing articles about it, and just plain adding to the din, the usual sorts gravitated to different camps about it.

On the one hand, you've got the people lauding him as a hero.  Father of the year, best dad ever, and so on and so forth.  On that side, I really didn't see much I didn't expect.  A lot of people out there could really empathize with this dad.  At the most extreme, some people said some pretty nasty things about the daughter that were uncalled for and unwarranted, but for the most part, there was a lot of understanding about the father's anger and frustration.

Then there's the other side, and this is the one that I found fascinating.  It wasn't just that they disagreed with this dad and what he did.  They were horrified.  Saddened.  Depressed.  Feeling that this just showed how terrible the world was becoming.  Doom. Gloom.  Terror.  Woe.

One of the first things I noticed is that many completely disregarded the daughter's role in triggering the situation.  It didn't matter to them that the daughter had posted a rant online that portrayed herself as a slave and victim of her parents' cruelty, or that she had actually lied to make her own case sound so much worse.  They weren't bothered by her class-ist reference to the "cleaning lady."  It didn't matter that she was rude and crude.  It didn't matter that she exemplified the white privilege this side tends to rail against. It didn't matter that she used facebook as a soapbox to rant against her parents, for all the world to see, except for her parents, whom she thought she could block from seeing it.  Nope. She was just an innocent child and the dad was an ogre, humiliating her online for no valid reason.  He was labelled cruel and abusive, and if they bothered to note the daughter's part in all this at all, it was to blame the dad.

It was all rather fascinating to watch this side of the equation play out.  We don't actually know a whole lot about this family and how they got to this point in their lives, but I quickly noticed a whole lot of projection happening.  People who had experienced parental disciplinary action that they felt scarred them for life would project those events onto this family, with this dad standing in for their own parents' cruelty.  Interestingly, they often referred to being punished for something they didn't actually do, whereas in this video, there was no question that the daughter had done what she did.  This wasn't some guy going off the deep end with no evidence - he had the evidence right there in his hand, and he'd found it in the laptop he had worked long and hard to fix up for his daughter.

A lot of people were distressed over how this dad had humiliated his daughter, and I'm sure they're right that she has been humiliated by it.  Of course, they don't care that she had humiliated her parents and their "cleaning lady" online herself, and these folks don't seem to have any problem with that.

Then there was the really over-the-top commentary.  There were people predicting that this daughter will someday end up shooting her parents/boyfriend/insert whoever else here as a direct result of this horrible, horrible parenting.  Others suggest the daughter is going to shoot herself.  Some predicted that she will leave home at 18 and never have contact with her parents again (usually from people who went on to say how they had left their own parents young, and how they'd never forgiven them for being such terrible parents).  I've seen people actually advise the daughter to run away from home, while others recommended she exact revenge by doing this like using her dad's toothbrush to scrub the toilet.  Others suggest that the father should shoot himself because he was so cruel to his daughter by posting this video.  There's more and worse, but that's just a sampling.

As I was reading from a lot of parents talking about how much they had a problem with this, I began to notice something.

The one thing they all agreed with was that he was a bad parent.  Why?  Well, he humiliated his daughter, of course.  And he smokes.  He's got a gun.  He shot the laptop instead of donating it to charity.  He has a southern accent.  He disrespected his daughter.  He clearly doesn't love his daughter.  He's a redneck. Her mother should have stopped him.  His wife is just as bad because she told him to throw in a shot for her.

This whole thing, of course, is all his fault.  You see, if he had respected his daughter first, she would never had done what she did.  If he had been a good parent, he would never humiliate his daughter online like this.  If he were a good parent, he wouldn't have a gun to shoot the laptop with (and we all know those gun owners; they're just a thread away from going into rampages - a laptop today, a human tomorrow, that sort of thing).

They, of course, would NEVER do something like this!  They respect their children too much. They would never be so cruel.  They would never shoot anything.  They would never...

... and that's when it became glaringly obvious to me.  It wasn't about the dad and his daughter at all.  It was all about them.  You see, only a bad parent would do something like this, and since they would never do something like this, THEY were clearly good parents.  They were superior to the redneck with the cowboy Tilley hat and the cigarette and the Colt .45  By running on about how terrible this guy was, how wrong he was, or psychoanalysing him as someone who is clearly [fill in diagnosis by projection here] and unfit to be a parent, they were able to turn the spotlight on themselves over what wonderful parents THEY were, because they weren't like him.

Chances are, this dad probably regrets putting up this video.  He was clearly very angry when he made it, and I doubt it occurred to him that it would get beyond his daughter's facebook friends; his target audience.  People - even IT people - can forget that the internet is forever.  How could he predict that it would be taken up by newspapers and go viral?  Yet his daughter had been warned.  While such a public display might be considered too much, he was following through with the consequences he's warned her of. 

In reading comments from his detractors, I began to detect a hint of resentment, and even perhaps some jealousy.  Here is a guy with a "went uphill both ways, barefoot" type of history, and he has clearly made a success of himself. He mentioned being an IT guy, which can pay pretty darn good.  They live on an acreage, and he can afford to buy his daughter a laptop and all the stuff that comes with such a purchase, along with other electronic toys for her.  He can afford a video camera, and he can afford a gun and ammunition.  He's also willing to work out exchanges of service, such as with their "cleaning lady" that showed he wasn't the greedy, money obsessed sort, either.  He's got what a lot of people wish they had.

In condemning this man for being a bad parent, his detractors seek to elevate themselves above him.  THEY would never do such things, sure, but then they likely couldn't afford to buy their own kids all the electronic gadgets they wish.  And how many could forfeit payment and barter for services, instead?  THEY would never humiliate their child, but they probably don't know what their kids are doing behind their backs any more than this dad did until he stumbled on it (and I've encountered more than a few parents, including home schooling parents, blissfully in denial that their kids were completely messed up).  THEY would never smoke or own a gun, and they certainly wouldn't destroy something that could be donated to charity.

I suspect these folks would have been much happier if Mr. Cowboy Hat, with his cigarette and Colt .45 and his pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps work ethic went back to the trailer park where he belongs, and they could go back to living their superior little lives and never have to look at their own lives in comparison.

update:  If you want to see what this dad has to say for himself about all this, his facebook page is public.  And for those freaking out, yes, he has been visited by the police.

uppderdate:  Response to Dr. Phil.