Sunday, July 24, 2016
Part of me says this is a big mistake as a blog post since it will only serve to depress people. The other part says I need to write this for myself and apologize to anyone who might be offended by it.
On February 25 I underwent a complete hysterectomy while the wonderful surgeon biopsied the growths found in my ovaries, my uterus, etc. as she went, finding two kinds of cancer, unfortunately. One was 3rd stage ovarian, the other ? stage uterine. The operation should have taken care of all the cancer they found, including removing the omentum . YES - this is a real thing and you can read about it on the link. Some of my details are much too gross to write about. What seems remarkable to me is how this was all done in one operation, with three small incisions, and my recovery was quite rapid. A friend who had a hysterectomy about 15 years ago took six weeks to recover. I am grateful for the advances, some of them, that have been made in medicine.
I began my issues with pain at about 50 years old - serious arthritis in my left thumb, and inability to move my head completely (due in part to hours spent on the computer which I started using in about 1980 and have used ever since on every job I've had). At first I dealt with the pain using alternative methods - luckily found a health food store across the street from my school - 32nd Street - where I'd been hired as the Teacher Librarian. I have a long history with that school, starting in 1965. Anyway, this wonderful man from Gambia ran the health food store serving the African American community. He didn't make much money but I think ran it out of love. I could tell him my symptoms and whatever he recommended always did the trick. I moved away from 32nd St in 2002 which was a big mistake, since I stopped going to my friend Mr. Braithwaite for advice. He cured my neck pain back in 1997 with Glucosamine and MSM.
So what was this pain a sign of in my life that needed to be changed? I was starting a totally new profession at the age of 50, I had to work 8 hours a day, and then attend college on weekends, with loads of homework. I still had a teenage daughter at home. My life was complicated. Perhaps too complicated for my nervous system. I've long thought that had I been born in the 1700s or so I would not have survived because I was born with allergies, and never did have a strong nervous system. But as Dr. Gabor-Mate might have explained, I was also born into the time that my parents were fiercely persecuted by the federal government. My anxiety and fear had a basis in fact. My father was in danger of being executed. I was merely reflecting the fear of my parents which they tried to hide, but it was impossible.
"The brain is affected by the environment not only during critical periods of early childhood development, but throughout the human lifetime. In Hold On to Your Kids, co-authored with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Dr. Maté provides insight into the environmental factors necessary for healthy child development."
Back to the question of pain, which I have been enduring these past five months, and have tried to understand. I have had to undergo six sessions of chemotherapy which were broken up by three sessions of radiation. Radiation, although uncomfortable, did not seem to have side effects. So for about 9 weeks I was fairly symptom free. But the chemotherapy, unfortunately, is much more fraught with side effects that leave one feeling hopeless, helpless, and desesperada. Not quite desperate, but with an emotion that I somehow cannot explain in English.
Two WORDCLOUDS about my pain:
I never imagined one could experience so many side effects from a medication. Of course I stupidly forget that chemotherapy is meant to KILL the cells in your body -- but what I don't understand is why they aren't applied more selectively. For example, in my case, internally the drug could be applied in just the area where my cancer resided. In a way, this is what the radiation therapists did. It
was very concentrated and focused. I'm sure I had side effects from it -- but not nearly so many.
I asked the nurse practitioner (who is no longer there sadly) on the Oncology Gyn unit what I could do for the pain. It was as if I had a serious flu that knocked me down for at least a week, and now ten or 12 days. Wonderful nurse that she is, who believes in marijuana use for some things, and wants to run for president on the marijuana ticket, told me to use pain meds. She generously gave me enough to last a lifetime -- only because I can't really take them.
So the only remedy for all this pain is more pain. Did I mention that for the first few days I am so backed up from all the medication I have been given to prevent nausea and vomiting that the effort to go is enough to make you feel like committing suicide or a crime. I have never experienced such horrible pain before. Childbirth in my experience was not painful - I know, that isn't really fair. But I had no real contractions. It was a strange birth process. But since then I have experienced many other painful episodes that have left me breathless. This one was the worst.
And I cannot take the pain meds -- they don't really help me except to give me a few hours of sleep. And the result of taking them is even more pain. And probably light headedness and dizziness which are also new symptoms.
Now they tell us that serious pain medication has led to suicide. People are taking too much of it. So they won't prescribe medication that actually works. When my father was dying of bone cancer, a pain that radiated from the top of his head down to his toes, they gave him morphine. I watched him writhe in pain when he thought we weren't looking. He had been six feet tall and probably 180 pounds of muscle and bone, not really ever fat. I looked upon him nearly as a skeleton as he shrank away to nothingness with bone cancer. A humane society would provide him with all the dope it could find, and in fact speed up the pace of his death. A wild and wonderful friend later told me I should have "scored some heroine" for him on the street. As if I could've done that. But I do wish I had.
Some of the pain meds I have used in the past: [one I believe affected my developing acid reflux]
acupuncturist in Silverlake. I truly think it helped but not as much as I would have liked.
By the end of August I hope to be finished with all my chemotherapy and on the mend. Most importantly I need to resume my four day a week exercise schedule. Preferably I would like to get a pool put in my backyard so that I could swim every day. I am convinced this is the perfect exercise for people with arthritis. Meanwhile, I wish with all my might that capitalism goes away, socialism is installed in every country, and all our money goes to finding a cure for cancer instead of starting wars all over the world.
Greater OMENTUM - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_omentum
Dr. Gabor Mate - http://drgabormate.com
Free online word generator - http://www.wordclouds.com
Irina Tsoy Acupuncture - http://www.irinatsoy.com/Home.html
Friday, July 15, 2016
Today over 70 people so far have been counted as killed by a "suicide vehicle weapons attack" in Nice, France-- on BASTILLE DAY - which has actually been superseded on Google by reports of the attacks and murders of people in Nice. Now up to 75 as I write this. On Bastille Day it says:
"The French National Day commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, an important event in Paris in The French Revolution, which had begun two days earlier, as well as the Fête de la Fédération which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790. Celebrations are held throughout France. The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, along with other French officials and foreign guests." Most important was : "The French Revolution (French: Révolution française [ʁevɔlysjɔ̃ fʁɑ̃sɛːz]) was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France that lasted from 1789 until 1799, and was partially carried forward by Napoleon during the later expansion of the French Empire. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, experienced violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon that rapidly brought many of its principles to Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies.Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history."
And tonight a helicopter has been circling over my house for 3 hours and we don't know why. Can't ever find out from the news. And there were many cop cars coming into the street. I don't go out to find out -- don't trust the infra-red technology used to find warm bodies. Is this being influenced by the attack in Nice, France? Here's an NPR story about LAPD helicopter policing.
On July 14, 1969 I was working at Yenan Books in Berkeley, selling books from China. It was run by a collective and no one made any money off it. Right next door to us was "Peoples' Park" where folks had gardens, hung out to smoke dope, and just have fun. An empty lot with trees and grass, how could you lose. And it was in the busiest part of Berkeley not far from the university. Meanwhile on campus there was a demonstration against the university turning the park into a huge parking lot. I of course agreed with this sentiment so I went over to the campus to check it out. Or perhaps I was still in my summer school class and went outside to join the demonstration, I hoped. I was met with such ferocious tear gas that I had to retreat to the closest bathroom and try to wash it out. I wasn't prepared with a wet cloth to hold over my face and my body just couldn't withstand the attack. I felt like such a wimp. Physically I was weak, emotionally I wanted to be there to support the demo. But it wasn't to be. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Park_(Berkeley) which explains the mess in Berkeley, including the death of a worker [student] by buckshot and gassing 30,000 Berkeley citizens indiscriminately. Governor Reagan was in charge, though I doubt many other governors would have done differently.
"1969 July 14 (Bastille day) Protestors march from Ho Chi Minh (Willard) Park to People’s Park. Organizers have wire clippers, baked into loaves of bread, and lo and behold - the fence was down. Police attack and a riot ensued." Apparently this was not a big deal compared with other demonstrations against the University. Seemed so at the time to me. [See blog about UC Berkeley for a history - https://barringtoncollective.org/files/Disorientation/Disorientation%20Zine%202004.pdf ]
We were living in a police state with national guardsmen at every corner. At the time I lived in south Berkeley close in a Black neighborhood. We felt the guardsmen were provocative since African Americans were not involved in Peoples Park. Here are two photos that seem indicative of the times. I did have a boyfriend then who picked up a tear gas canister thrown at us by the police who then threw it back at them. Don't think this is him. He was working at a university office at the time and was fired. The police picked him up bodily and threw him against a wall. Months later we had Moses Hall demonstration to protest the University's refusal to hire Eldridge Cleaver because he lacked university education. Funnily they hired true believer Eric Hoffer and gave him an office. He'd never finished high school. My boyfriend was the first the police came for to arrest at Moses Hall - a shock to me since he was new to Berkeley. But he had a long active history that followed him around the country. Like so many young people then, he now works for the World Bank and doesn't think our views were right. I had told him at the time I knew he didn't care about the struggle -- he was fighting his own demons.
chemotherapy session today. Bastille Day 1969 was painful but not as bad as Bastille Day 2016. And then I came home and turned on the television to the attack in Nice, France by a suicide driver of a truck who killed 75 people (84 count July 15). So what more could go wrong on Bastille Day? And what role do chemicals playon this historic day? Here's a photo of me at Kaiser on the Obgyn Oncology unit, specially set up for patients with gynecological cancer issues. We have private rooms or shared ones with TVs. The nurses are fabulous and the setting is quite lovely. Up until April of this year the head of the unit had advocated for this special place. He retired, and Kaiser is now breaking up the unit. Why? to save money? To force the nurses who are already under another management to be spread thin so they don't have to hire more? These are nurses who have settled with Kaiser unlike the ones in the hospital, who demonstrate periodically. Kaiser has successfully divided and conquered these strong nurses.
All of this makes me wonder about health care. France has the best health care in the world - or they did at the time Michael Moore made the excellent movie SICKO. One can get amazing health care in Cuba despite the fact that Cuba is a very poor country. So meanwhile, Kaiser, which originally was the closest my parents could find in 1954 when we moved to L.A. to socialized medicine, is now being run by USC MBAs who give the CEO his highest profits. Apparently he is competing with other CEOs of "nonprofits". Such garbage. The entire country is being privatized by the greedy 1%. Oh excuse me - I misspoke. Here is a quote about the compensation earned by the CEO of Kaiser back a few years: "Other top CEO earners for 2012 included George Halvorson, then in his last year as CEO of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, who received $9.9 million in total compensation in 2011, up 24.6 percent from the prior year." Why was such a low figure as $800,000 bandied about last year when the nurses were striking? Clearly to show that the CEO was just a modest earner.
And more -- Kaiser Los Angeles now makes us pay exorbitant fees for parking in lots that were built years ago, and whose parking attendants have long ago been fired. No over head. This is pure profit. And as my nurse today told us -- many of the poorer members can't afford to park and wouldn't come for treatment if they nurses hadn't fought headquarters to give them the power to cover the parking. So we are lucky, for 5 hours we can get our parking validated. But not for much else.
So Kaiser is now run by a USC MBA who is cutting corners everywhere. He/she is sending all patients to be put in a huge room with only curtains to divide them to go through chemotherapy. No privacy, no special care. He also has understaffed the Family Practice doctors -- mine is excellent but he now has twice the patients he had. He is a tough guy and keeps up with it. But I know he doesn't like it. He has always listened to me and supported me. Even commented when a surgeon told me that my acid reflux was all in my head. He never says no to a procedure. Or rarely. He only says no to meds. But most all of the doctors are told not to give painkillers or effective sleep meds. Ridiculous!
It's 9:45 on Bastille Day eve. The helicopters stopped finally around 8:20. I have no idea if they found who they were looking for, but I doubt it. None of this will be in the newspapers since they like to let us think this gentrified neighborhood doesn't have crime. Of course it does. Nothing changes that quickly and gentrification just brings more hatred and more crime.
I hope one day the people of the United States wake up and take to the streets as they have been in France. Something that is never covered by the mainstream media owned by the 1%. Only the World Socialist Web Site covers these magnificent strikes.
HERE IS MY FAVORITE IMAGE FROM THE 60S - Hippies they say putting flowers in the ends of the bayonets of the National Guard occupying our city and our university. Make love not war essentially was what they told them. And that we understood that most of these Guards were just poor people who enlisted so they could get a job or pay for college education. Essentially true. [And still true.]
It's 10:05 pm and the final count in Nice was 80 people killed. Probably more tomorrow.
Yes - July 15 - 84 people killed. [See below.]
Additionally some images of my bookstore Yenan Books - no real information exists about it. I have a photograph of it that I found amongst my old stuff. It was a great experience. Other members told me they sold books to famous people. One I remember was Jane Fonda married at the time to Tom Hayden. The first photo is of Judi and Tim - two of my favorite people who worked at Yenan standing at the front of the store.
This is another story I have - Dr. Ma Haide who was Mao's physician in Yenan, who marched with them during the long march, who wiped out leprosy and certain venereal diseases and who married Su Fe, a beautiful actress he met in Yenan. I had the honor of meeting them at my parents' home when he finally came back to visit the United States after 50 years gone.
[Latest count in Nice -- 202 hit, 52 seriously injured. 84 dead so far 10 were teens or children. ]
Bastille Day as defined by Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastille_Day
LAPD helicopter policing - http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2015/03/10/41901/criminologists-debate-lapd-s-predictive-policing-b/
History of Peoples' Park - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Park_(Berkeley)
History of Berkeley Protests in Pictures -- https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/gallery/2014/nov/15/berkeley-a-history-of-disobedience-in-pictures
Sicko - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicko
Pay Hikes for non profits -- http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20140811/NEWS/140819983/another-year-of-pay-hikes-for-nonprofit-hospital-ceos
National Nurses strike for adequate coverage of patients - http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/entry/rns-at-kaisers-flagship-los-angeles-hospital-to-begin-one-week-strike/
Strikes in France happening now - we never hear about them --- https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/05/26/fran-m26.html