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Jun 14, 2012

Yesterday I took the plunge and joined "Be the Match." I had already joined it on-line, but Tuesday's mail brought me the swabs & the instructions on how to submit a cheek swab. Yesterday I saw the envelope sitting on my desk and decided to go for it. I was a little skeptical of the collection process, being that there's no sterilization of instruments, no depositing of the swabs themselves into some type of media culture or even a plastic baggie for shipping purposes - but I suppose these folks know what they're doing.

I put the envelope in the mail last night on my way out to group, and today the mailman will pick up my Dionucleic Acid samples and send them on their merry little way to Minneapolis where some lab tech in his white coat & goggles will type my tissues to see if they match any of the thousands of people on the waiting list.

Two days ago, Robin Roberts from Good Morning America came on TV to report that she had contracted MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome. She went on to say it's known as pre-leukemia, and that she needs a bone marrow transfusion to beat the disease. Her older sister will be her donor, and is a near perfect match to her own tissue types.

My own oldest sister, a nurse, used to work in the Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit, and later in the Adult Bone Marrow Unit, at Duke University Medical Center in Durham NC. I remember her stories of patients who were deathly ill, her description of the process of the transfusions, her sorrow whenever she would lose a patient. At that time I thought about becoming a donor but never quite got up the nerve, and really didn't know where to go or how to go about doing it. That was before everything was available via Internet, so I didn't have many options beyond donor drives that happened infrequently and always during the daytime when I was working or in school.

Around the time she was working there, one of my good friends & a beloved mentor, Tim McLaurin, died from esophageal cancer, something he said was unrelated to his previous bout with multiple myeloma. For me, that first bout with cancer had been my first exposure to his writings - as the Independent, a local news magazine, had featured one of his short stories in an issue published just as he was undergoing that treatment. Tim was also lucky - his baby brother Bruce was a near perfect match, and the transplant gained Tim another 13 years of life - thirteen years in which to guide and mentor his own children, as well as the children of hundreds of North Carolina families, as they passed through the halls of N.C. State University. Myself included.

Tim said his motivation to survive the first cancer came from his children:

My motivation to defy the statistics comes mostly from my love for my children. When I was first diagnosed with myeloma, Christopher was only three years old, Meghan five. No way was I going to leave a son and daughter behind with no memories of their father. Knowing my probable future, I have worked hard with both my children to know them early, to go ahead and climb the mountains and canoe the rivers while there was still time. The result is that we are very close. (from Tim's Indy Obituary)

As I become a donor and wait for my tissues to be typed, I am thinking back fondly of the time I spent with Tim, and the time that a blood marrow transfusion can give to all who survive the horrific assault on their bodies from the deadly cancers that seem to proliferate in today's society. I remember the patients my sister was able to discharge, to return to their families and a prolonged lifespan, more time to love, more time to grow, more time to nurture their families and children. And I think that perhaps someday I'll be part of someone else's recovery. As scared as I am about maybe having a needle puncture my hip bone or having to deal with a few flu-like symptoms if I donate by PBSC, dealing with the short span of pain and discomfort that would cause, would be 100% worth it if it could save someone else's life. It would be 200% worth it, if that person's love and kindness could radiate outward to touch as many family, friends and even readers of books, as did that of my good friend Tim McLaurin.

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Posted: Jun 14, 2012 5:08am
May 16, 2012

I am glad that the President has "come out," so to speak, on the side of equality. I have always believed that no matter how we are, no matter who we are, all human beings are created equally. This includes gays, blacks, whites, Hispanics, transgendered people, lesbians, Jews, Christians, atheists, etc.

 

As a small child, I learned to loathe hatred of others based on small-minded, backwards stereotypes. I married a black man in 1990 when I was 22 years old and had three children with him, in a time in this nation when miscegeny was still looked down upon, and I have proudly raised my mixed-race children to be proud, non-"raced" adults.

 

The reactions I received as a young "white" mother of coloured children, used to be pretty upsetting and unsettling. Today, however, it barely fazes me when I'm out with my kids and their friends or, simply, strangers, gawk when they hear my kids call me "mom."

 

Based upon my experiences as a "race mixer" (which I have been called, often, living as I do in the Deep South), I feel that marriage is simply a social construct, a contract between two human beings that promises a lifetime commitment. It is a contract that should always be honored by state, local and federal authorities - as it is a LEGAL contract and NOT a religious one.

 

Today's religious right says that we as a nation should adopt the Christian view of marriage - but they fail to remember that many times in Biblical history, "Christian marriage" was a social contract between one man and many women, the women having been offered to the man as a promise that he would then honor peace treaties or other agreements and alliances made with their family members. They forget that some of their best prophets engaged in things like incest (Lot), polygamy and fornication (as when Jacob slept with his wife's maid Hagar, to produce a son when his wife was slow to produce an heir), and domestic partnerships (Adam and Eve were never "married" by a judge or a pastor). 

Christians believe that their concept of "marriage" today of one man + one woman = one marriage - is the only possible construct that should be honored by our (separation of church & state/nonreligious) legal system. They err in their judgment of what "marriage" really is, and their historical memory of what "marriage" has been used for in the past (treaties, repression, even as a means of furthering religious growth, as with the polygamy of the Mormons in the 1800's) - is sadly lacking.

 

When people confuse religious concepts with legal concepts, it is the job of our government to take the middle ground, to blaze the new path, to right the wrongs that are perpetrated in the name of the latest religious "crusade" or fad. We cannot allow religionists take over this country and use their religious views as a way to repress others and bully a nation into following the views of the few sectarians. That is not what this country is about, and it is not what our founding fathers intended when they wrote our Constitution.

I am happy that Mr. Obama has the vision to see through the emotional, religious hysterics, to the real issues at hand, and that he has the courage to openly speak about his position in the matter, even in the face of the maelstrom of vitriol that he knew his statements would unleash. Thank you, Mr. Obama, for staying true to your upbringing and for seeing the truth in this argument rather than being bullied into staying quiet or, worse, caving in to the tooth-gnashing vehemence of religionists who would strip this nation of its neutrality in things religious, if it were not for leaders of courage, vision and wisdom.

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Posted: May 16, 2012 7:17am
May 2, 2012

Video HERE

This was the event I attended. And I'm on TV.  Silly to get excited about these things at my age, now isn't it? But I did. So whatever. 


and another story is here: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/18425147/article-Activists-march-downtown-for-workers%E2%80%99-rights?


Unfortunately, it's kinda hard to find stories about the Occupy marches from yesterday. Why is that? Because the mainstream news chose to concentrate on the 2nd anniversary of Bin Laden's death, rather than to highlight the plight of workers, the unemployed, and unions on this year's International Day of the Worker.

For shame on them.         

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Posted: May 2, 2012 10:33am
Apr 15, 2012

Arizona's new law, the so-called "Women's Health and Safety Act," supposedly falls into line with Gov. Jan Brewer's "common sense measures to protect the health of women and safeguard our most vulnerable population – the unborn." Well, Governor, you have only "won" half the battle.

By re-defining "pregnancy" to mean "calculate[d] gestational age starting with the first day of the last menstrual period," Brewer, and more specifically, the sponsor of this bill-that-became-law, Arizona State Rep. Kimberly Yee, have almost managed to classify women's menstrual periods as "potential abortions."

Where do the men figure into this equation? If women's fertility is such a concern to Brewer and Yee, then why isn't men's fertility also on the legislative chopping block? A woman produces one, maybe two, mature eggs per month. Men, on the other hand, produce mature, viable spermatazoa almost constantly!

While medical science notes that "The spermatozoa take over 70 days to develop," a man can produce between 20,000,000 and 40,000,000 viable sperm cells per ejaculation. Wow. If ONE woman's egg is a viable pregnancy, and she wastes it, then a man masturbating in the privacay of his own bathroom, is committing veritable genocide! Ranked along with the most horrible regimes of world history, that many deaths compares to the death toll during Stalin's regime in Russia (20,000,000) - or Mao Zedong's regime in China (40,000,000)!

Now, you may argue for the side of logic:  that sperm alone do not constitute a pregnancy. The sperm has to join with the egg to become a pregnancy. However, if Arizona's "science" is allowed to hold sway over real science, then the woman's egg is a pregnancy for two weeks, even before it enters the uterus!

The Merck Manual (a prestigious publication used by real doctors) informs us that the "follicular phase," that 12-14 day period before the egg is released into the uterus (womb for those of us who use Biblespeak), is a veritable hive of activity in the follicles of the ovaries.

At the beginning of the follicular phase, the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is thick with fluids and nutrients designed to nourish an embryo. If no egg has been fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels are low. As a result, the top layers of the endometrium are shed, and menstrual bleeding occurs.

About this time, the pituitary gland slightly increases its production of follicle-stimulating hormone. This hormone then stimulates the growth of 3 to 30 follicles. Each follicle contains an egg. Later in the phase, as the level of this hormone decreases, only one of these follicles (called the dominant follicle) continues to grow. It soon begins to produce estrogen, and the other stimulated follicles begin to break down.

On average, the follicular phase lasts about 13 or 14 days. Of the three phases, this phase varies the most in length. It tends to become shorter near menopause. This phase ends when the level of luteinizing hormone increases dramatically (surges). The surge results in release of the egg (ovulation).

Now, I must admit: That's a lot of big, specialized verbage in there. Here's my translation: Out of 3-30 potential eggs, only one will develop into "THE hot mama egg" that is released into the uterus when it's "go" time. However, even SHE will wither like a wallflower in there and be released in the menses, if no "pimp daddy sperm" comes to burrow into her ready waiting cell walls.

So... where did we go wrong with Ms Brewer and Ms Yee's early education? Did they lack the benefit of "home training," where mothers sit their daughters down and explain the facts of life to them? Did they get one of those religious exemptions to sit out the part of Health class, in sixth or seventh grade, where the blushing Phys Ed teachers had to try and stammer through the chapter on human reproduction? Did they skip Biology in the university and go, instead, to the "Rocks for Jocks" course? Don't get excited guys, it's not about scratching your... jock. It's what the cool kids call Geology in college, because it's supposed to be so easy that all the sports team members choose it for their 'easy A' science requirement.

Frankly, if a woman's cycle starts at the first day of her last menstrual period, there are a couple of situations that puzzle me somewhat: It is medically possible to become pregnant when one has never had a period before. What about those babies? Can they be aborted because there was no date of LMP?  Something far more common, happened to me with my youngest child: I became pregnant while breastfeeding - which was a period of time in which I was NOT having menses... so... Regardless of the 13-month difference in their ages, are my youngest two girls twins, since they obviously could be traced back to the same "Date of Last Menses"? Or, perhaps the youngest was immaculately conceived and I need to let her know of her significance in world religion. I wonder if the Christians would care very much, that she is a Buddhist... hm.

When I was younger, abortion was under attack at that time as well (the 70's/80's). I remember girls that I knew who had to travel great distances to access the care they needed. I remember others who did not want to abort, or who could not afford to go to those extreme measures, and who had their babies. However, once their babies were here, they were labeled “teen moms,” or "welfare queens" and told to get a job and stop having babies. One of these girls was just 12 years old – and her son was also her half-brother. One of the teachers in the school reported the abuse and had her removed from the home.

Another of the girls I knew ended up having several children, one after the other, and even quit school to take care of them. About 13 years later, 4 of her 9 children perished in a house fire, reportedly set by the father of some of the children. Yes, that's the kind of life we want for these babies who have the "right to life." We want them to live in squalor, in the ghetto, under the constant threat of harm from domestically violent parents... because Jan Brewer and Kimberly Yee are only concerned about foetal rights – not children's rights, and most definitely not women's rights.

So... here's my question: Arizona. Now that you have made illegal every single route a woman (single OR married) has to try and be responsible and NOT have baby after baby after baby (the current law would outlaw not only the "morning after" pill, but, potentially, all other forms of "the pill"), are you going to ante up and provide free healthcare, housing, food, child care, preschool, etc. for all these babies you're insisting have the "Right" to be born? Are you going to pay for the education of their mothers so they can become contributing members of society? Are you going to invest in education so that these children are able to better themselves and escape from poverty? Are you going to invest in the development of the fathers of these children, and encourage them to either marry the moms or pay child support? Are you going to invest in jobs so that families can be self-sufficient? Or does the "personhood" of a foetus, end at the date of its birth?

I think we need to re-think these "draconian" measures that the fanatical right-to-lifers have pushed on our society. If there is indeed a “right to life” for every foetus, then there must indeed follow a right to the QUALITY of life for each child born.

Either that, or start charging men with murder for wasting their semen, when it is spilled during ‘encounters’ in which they're only interested in pleasuring themselves, rather than the "right to life" of their sperm cells.

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Posted: Apr 15, 2012 5:51am
Apr 11, 2012

I heard something on the news the other day that absolutely tickled me pink:  In another country, the political campaign season for their Presidential candidates, is limited to 90 days. Ninety, count 'em, 90 days of the rhetoric and then back to life, back to the routine, back to normal people doing stupid things on the news, rather than people who are actually trying to impress the electorate, doing stupid things on the news.

Think of it: Ninety days of idiocy rather than this year-long process that takes people out of their "usual" jobs (Senators, Representatives, etc) serving the public, this orgy of ego that makes most thinking human beings with REAL jobs, want to puke. Limit this insanity to 90 days? Ooh, I'm all for it! Where's the petition? Where do I sign?

Why is it that the American people are so eager to watch this painful soap opera of ex-jocks, old nerds and has-been war heroes, parade out their ancient history to try and impress those of us whose noses are stuck to the grindstone, trying desperately to eke out a living? Why are we so impressed with the hysterically obscene amounts of money that are spent by one talking head, to try and knock another talking head, out of the race?

Politics in America have become nothing more than a three-ring -- no, wait, make that a two-ring -- circus. There is nothing about them that makes me proud to be an American, and the gyrations and doublespeak the candidates employ to try and trick me into voting for them, cheapens the value of the vote I cast - a vote that was won be generations of women AND men who fought and died for my right to vote.

From the moment I cast my vote, I'm playing a part in this system. I know that my vote is crucial to my life, but the last election, when I voted for my candidate, and he was elected, I was ecstatic - only to watch two years of bullying and lying, straw man arguments and smokescreens, erected by the "losing" party, to ensure that my candidate's effectiveness would be nullified by their clowning and shenanigans. What kind of "system" is that? You lose, too bad. Obviously the People weren't all that thrilled with you. CHANGE your approach, don't just intensify its ugliness and cripple the United States Government with your insistent belief that everyone else was wrong, and YOU were right. That's insanity, man.

I will not stop voting just because these jokers are determined to show us how incredibly stupid they really are. I will not stop voting just because a vast number of Americans are actually gullible enough to fall for their straw man arguments, smokescreens, lies and bullying. As a matter of fact, I only missed a primary or general election twice in the past 28 years. And those were not Presidential elections or elections in which a Senator, Representative or Governor was being voted in - they were municipal elections and I didn't vote because the campaign season had been so quiet, I didn't even know who was running for what.

While I wish that all electoral campaigns were at least busy enough to hit the local news, the pomposity and circus antics of recent election campaigns is an embarrassment to our nation. The flamboyant, excessive spending of the candidates in their need to be known, recognized, and heard - is a sad commentary on the priorities we as a people have placed on politics in this nation. Where is the candidate who will go to the school board meeting to LISTEN to the people, rather than to posit his own ideas and ignore what the parents and teachers have to say? Where is the candidate who, upon winning, realizes that ALL the people in his district are his constituents - not just those who voted for him? Where is the balance, the fairness, the consideration that all men and women were created equal?

Another issue is the fact that the "two-party system" has not worked in America. It has polarized the left and the right in a great spinning gyroscope and anyone in the middle is forced to choose one or other of the crazy, polarized nutjobs who are running against one another. It makes no sense. We need to break the two parties into four, six, seven... Two parties are not helping us come to any kind of reasonable middle ground. They only make us out to be perpetual enemies, ever trying to "win" over the other side. There is no winning for the American people in today's electoral games. Only the rich, and the people they pay, manipulate and blackmail to vote for their causes.

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Posted: Apr 11, 2012 10:23am

 

 
 
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Kristen H.
, 2, 3 children
Sanford, NC, USA
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