Authortarian Shaman.

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I don’t react well to people ignoring my questions.

B, my diabetes buddy, called me for company to go to a wellness seminar on new ways to treat diabetes, and I was happy to accompany her.  (B found us the website:  TCOYD.org a few years back, and I found a full Saturday’s worth of seminars and discussions very helpful for finding a way to live with my diabetes).

So, she called me and we went.

The talk was very interesting.  He is a former Civil Engineer, as well as a Chiropractor, who claims to have found the solution to all of life’s ills.  Good for him.

A charismatic speaker, he got my back up when he said that there would be “no questions” during his 45 minute talk, and that we could ask questions later.  Fine.  But, then he went right into the “sign up now to save money” spiel, and took no questions.  (I guess they put him off his rhythm).

I am all for alternative therapies, but I am not made of money at this time.  Dr. Pierce claimed that his introductory consultation is “normally” $250 but for a short period of time, participants at the dinner seminar could get it for the “discount” price of $49 (gee… enough to cover the cost of the dinner and the hall???.  He claimed that he would be happy to work with folks who were on Disability or Social Security with a limited income, so long as you could afford “a couple hundred dollars” each month for a few months of testing.

Well, that let’s me out.  I don’t have much, certainly not during the Winter when I’m trying to keep this place warm enough to remain healthy and not be sending all my hard earned $$$ up the chimney.

So, I raised my hand to ask, “Do you have an attendance coupon or something similar so that I can schedule and appointment with you once I have my tax return?”  His reply:  “Nope.  For you the cost will be $249.  Health is clearly not a priority in your life.”

Funny, because I’ve been cruising their website, and I see where I can get an initial consultation for $0.  Hmmm…

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As I’ve been going through this battle to remain well, I have chosen to take a lot of dietary supplements that MAY help, as I know that I cannot tolerate many of these through their normal source (Fruits and Vegetables).  Currently, I’m taking:

Blood sugar balance:

– Cinnamon (1,000 mg/day)

– Turmeric Complex (400 mg/day)

– Fenugreek (610 mg / day

COPD / Asthma / Energy balance:

– Vitamin E (400 IU / day) – eyes, Asthma supplement (and, eyes may be a b.s. issue, too)

– Vitamin D3 (2,00o IU / day)

– Potassium (99 mg / day) – swollen, painful feet – respiratory Doc’s recommendation

* includes B6 (2 mg / day) – podiatrist’s rec to help with swollen burning feet

– Marshmallow Root (480 mg / day) – to help reduce congestion /mucus

Menopause / peri-menpause heat flash balance:

– Maca Root (25 mg / day) – cut my hot flashes almost immediately

– Green Tea (315 mg / day)

– Black Cohosh (540 mg / day)

I am not against alternative therapies.  But, I am very much against dealing with authoritarians.  Even if it is for my own best health.

So, B signed up for the sessions and I’ll see how she does over time.  As for me, I start with the new Endocrinologist this week (let’s pray she’s better than the last one), and we’ll see what she has to say about Dr. Pierce’s method of working.

Maybe she knows of him.

Maybe she’s a fan.

Time will tell which road I’m taking, but for now I’m skipping the Shaman.

Cults

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Let me start by saying that I was raised Catholic, and have found that to be a cult.  (Cue the instant protests from staunch supporters of the Church).  Any place that includes exercises in their sermon (sit, stand, kneel; repeat at key points in the mass) is either a broadway show or a gym class. If there is no music and you’re not sweating, then maybe – just maybe – you’re in a cult.

I say all that, though, because I’ve been watching the Scientology expose and am fascinated at how that particular cult designed itself to shed all need to answer logic-based challenges.

Not simply by saying, “I believe.  That’s enough.”  But, by persecuting the people who challenge their beliefs.

I have a wide variety of friends and acquaintances who have a strong religious faith.  Not a problem for me.  Not a problem.  BECAUSE.  IT’S.  NOT.  MY.  BUSINESS.  Truly, it’s a boundary issue for keeping a relationship healthy, by being able to separate the things which challenge us into “important” and “unimportant” boxes, and accepting the value of the whole person, regardless of whether or not we agree on every point in life.

However, I was running around with one friend and talking about another friend who constantly tries to convert me to seeing her version of Jesus Christ.

Even though I’ve said repeatedly that I’m ok with whatever happens in the next life, and am fine being an agnostic.  If heaven exists, and there is someone in charge, I’ve said often that he or she has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Lots and lots of ‘splainin’.

I will not go peacefully into the next world just because someone says they are in charge when I get to the pearly gates or the fiery ones.  “Really?  Good for you.” is likely to be my reactionary response.

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Just because someone claims a position of authority over me doesn’t mean that they are the boss. I’m a big fan of topping from the bottom, if that’s what it takes to make your world workable.

(So, back to the point of our story)…

I was heading toward the movies, and talking about a friend who was raised Irish Catholic and is now a member of a Maranatha Church in the back woods of Maine.  Evangellical Baptist.  I very much care for this woman as a friend,  but I merely tolerate her need to “get one for Jesus”.

I have other family and friends who are Jewish (and I am thankful that their faith requires them to NOT convert anyone to their faith as the Jews believe that Hell is on earth, and to be Jewish is to be particularly challenged in this life due to the attacks on their faith). **

My occasional housekeeper is Jehovah’s Witness.

My Moms’s best friend is Baptist.

My brother and sister self-identify as Roman Catholic, however, they are typical American Irish Catholic in that the church doesn’t have a big place in their lives, and their faith is mostly exercised in family events (baptism, weddings, deaths), and on high holy days (Christmas, Easter).

So many different versions of belief in my life, and I’m fine with each and every one of them.  Most folks respect the boundaries when I state that I am not Christian, I am agnostic, and we usually agree to disagree. But, not the friend who is part of the Maranatha Church, and not the other friend who is Born Again Christian (whatever that means.  I think it means to choose God for themselves as an Adult vs. simply being brought up in the Church, but I lose track after awhile) **.

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So, we were heading toward the bowling alley because the movie we wished to see was sold out, and this friend asked me about something from FB, and we got started on Donald Trump and on faith in general.  Wrong.  Oh so wrong.  The next thing I know, she’s arguing that she “knows” because she’s studied this closely, and that my Jehovah’s Witness friends are in an evil cult, as are my Mormon friends.  “Magic underwear !  Seriously?  They believe Satan was Jesus’s brother !  You need to read, “Evidence 4 Faith” to understand where the truth lies” she spouted passionately.

“B, I am never going to read anything that will talk me into one faith or another, or to position myself for the next life, because my logical mind just does not agree that anything anyone else could write would convince me.  You forget, I was raised in a Church.  I’ve been exposed to faith as a way to get through the hard parts where logical evidence, auditible evidence, does not appear exist.  I was raised on the Catholic bible.  I went to catechism as part of completing my religious education.  I just don’t believe any versions of any faiths that I’ve seen so far, and I don’t feel the need to try and find a meaning.”

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The thing that struck me about this argument, though, is that she believes because she cannot do otherwise.  She cannot contemplate a world where she isn’t certain about where this life will lead, what guarantees result from a capricious, wrathful and apparently revenge motivated God, and what happens in the next world.  Her very certainty, though, leaves me gasping, as doesn’t that search for the truth also negate the foundation of her faith?  Either you believe or you don’t.  Faith is not something you’re educated into believing (in my humble opinion).

So, into all of this enters the fight over Trump.

So many true believers start their arguments with, “God has chosen this man to lead us” (the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy).  My instant response is, “Really?”  If we cannot have a political leader elected without an all-powerful God’s blessing, then I guess he also chose Obama.  You know, the man whose wife Franklin chose to call akin to the Whore of Babylon.

As long as Man is involved in religion, where one person feels that they have a right to direct my line of thought and correct me when I step out of line with their belief system, then I am going to call them out as being part of a cult.  Yep.  Just like Scientology.

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If you need to spend all your time proclaiming your faith, in getting one for your faith, in criticizing others who don’t believe exactly as you do, even though they are people of faith and are morally harmless and upright, then the issue is with you, and not with the person you’re challenging.

Anyway, why did I write all this up?  Because I’m tired.  Tired of people being ugly to each other in the name of their God and their faith.  I’m tired at how many people get diagnosed with a life threatening illness, such as COPD, and suddenly join the “I have all the answers” corps, and try and get one for Jesus.  Many of them are appearing on my facebook feed because facebook links to EVERYTHING.  And I’m getting tired of the ugliness.  And the ugly claims that God has sent Trump to us.  These are the same people who claimed that Obama was Satan on earth.  Seriously?  Sounds like a mighty convenient labeling system to me…

We’ve been going through a particularly ugly time in this country at present, and I find the invocation of God into this current political system more than I can tolerate.  Trust me, God doesn’t need Donald Trump’s endorsement.  If God exists, and he or she has something to say, I’d much rather get it from that God than from a blowhard mouthpiece.

As an Agnostic, I find Trump’s claiming God is ok with everything he’s done particularly distasteful, especially given Jesus’s actions in the temple with the money changers.

I find it particularly entertaining, though, that there were no fewer than 6 religious leaders on the inauguration platform with Trump.  Because it was raining, I was wondering if he was trying to hide from a lightning strike by giving himself so much collateral for potential cover.  The politicians he was surrounded by should have been enough, IMHO, but who knows what goes on in the mind of God or the mind of Trump?

I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next 4 years, however, I do know that there are over 5,000 recognized religions in this world, and that remodeling the white house to any particular branch of Christian faith is a huge move in the wrong direction.  Separation of church and State is a key article of our constitution which should not be diluted.

We don’t need to become the cult of America.  Capitalism and Greed are doing fine without our help.

** Disclaimer – I’m sure I got some of these descriptions wrong; don’t go crazy on me when replying, as I’m trying to explain a mix of understanding and conversations and other people’s beliefs **

COPD & Chills

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I’ve been chilled to the bone all day.

Even though the temperature in the house is a toasty 70 degrees (and I cooked to move around and add to the warmth in the house) I’m still freezing.

I was watching a very funny video by Wanda Sykes earlier today,

img_0403Unfortunately, I forgot one of the carnal rules about eating with COPD – do not eat if you’re likely to be surprised by laughter.

I was freezing, so I started the day by making pancakes and hot cocoa to fill the knawing in my belly, and to warm up.  I sat down and took a sip of my cocoa just as Wanda said something totally unexpected, and I began inhaling my cocoa.  Never good, as one cannot do the heimlich maneuver on themselves.

Scary, too, as I know all these things and can feel the air exiting, my lungs spasming, and there’s no way to clear the backup, causing panic and more spasms to kick in.

Diaphram exercises caused my breathing to restart, but I was (and am) dealing with wheezing for the rest of the day.  It’s pouring rain, I can’t go out and walk off my cabin fever, and the paroxysms of coughing are continuing to clog my lungs as my bones ache while my core gets colder and colder.

Hence, the ridiculous opening photo of the Mummy woman, as I try to sweat the chills out of my body and get my energy back.

It works, eventually.

For anyone reading this COPD blog, do you ever get chilled to the bone?  If yes, what tricks and tips can you share for getting back to normal?  Inquiring minds want to know…

Identity Theft

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I signed into wordpress to catch up on other blogs, and to try once more to shake the theme of “Identify Theft” hanging out in the back of my brain. While I have had no success in stepping away from this particular aggravating ear worm, I was very pleased to note an interesting blog from Chronic Yogi which talks about what I’m struggling with – health and finances as a meritocracy.

May you be free from shame.

One of the things her blog touches upon is granting yourself absolution for things which are beyond your control, including health and wealth, when one is struggling with their chronic illness.

In my case, I didn’t realize that I had a particular vision of myself, other than “independent” and “liberated”.

I’ve always been able to hide my illness and work through any issues to be able to earn for myself a lifestyle that afforded me a comfortable living.

However, as I’m in the midst of a fight with my employer about who I am and what I’m owed based on those prior earnings and related benefit payments, I’m coming to the conclusion that my identity has been stolen by the new classification, “disabled”, and that I must continue to fight this theft with every spare bit of energy I possess. To summarize:

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(Photo credit:  Lick Observatory, about 15 miles from home)

I feel like Heidi looking at these pictures, as a closeup of the observatory from yesterday afternoon shows what I could be dealing with in terms of snowy weather, if not for the microclimate I am lucky enough to enjoy:

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(Lick Observatory, up close this week)

Anyway…

It’s been freezing cold since just before Christmas, and the ongoing rains have turned my Northern California foothills a lovely spring green, while also bringing rain and flooding to the areas surrounding my new home.  While I knew that I’d be trapped indoors for most of this Winter, I never expected the identity thief of exhaustion to have prevented me from finishing painting the interior of my home, truly leaving me stuck inside amongst the crap and debris of half-finished projects while trying to stay warm and not run up the heating bill.

It’s hard to look back and realize that I gave myself a full two months to do a basic rehab and painting on this home prior to moving in, and that the two months was anything but sufficient.

It’s that lack of reliable planning ability that irritates me the most.  I set what would be a reasonable goal, then again and again I fail to attain the desired outcome.  Yes, there’s plenty of excuses, but in the end it all comes down to health and finances.

I’m sitting here doing my taxes and dreading what the outcome will be for knowing if I will get a refund (one would hope) or will have to pay additional taxes (one hopes not – certainly not after having paid out $36k already).

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Through various sources, I have amassed almost $100k in income for 2016 through a combination of Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability, Profit Sharing, Bonus and Stock Cash Outs.

While I can tell you I was much easier to live with in February, when I was getting paid $4,408 per month, and could see some light at the end of the tunnel, things continued to drop lower and lower as the months went on.  It’s not like any of that money was pocketed.  I paid off my car.  I took care of myself medically, when the insurance company wouldn’t pay for various treatments.  I did waste a bit of money traveling to check on my Aunt and keep her company on a cruise, but it was all stuff I’d been doing since 1998, when I first began checking on my Aunt in place of my Mother.

My long term disability kicked in as of July, dropping my monthly income to $2,408.  While my income dropped steadily from the original amount of $10,500 per month, none of my living or medical expenses were cut, however, and I was scrambling for every bit of cash to purchase my mobile home by the end of August.

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I’ve leveraged my 401K, and I got through 2016 only owing $2,500 to the credit card company (thank heaven for payments to keep me afloat until my ship comes in).  I have one payment left to make to a doctor for $46.xx for an outstanding bill, and then I will be current to once again begin the juggling act for 2017 finances.

So, I then get a notice that I’m getting a disability income increase of $8 per month for 2017 – I’ll now take home $2,416 per month.

Of course, then I received a subsequent notice from my mobile home park (thank heavens it’s a non-profit and directed at low-income seniors and disabled folks) informing me that my monthly space fee will increase by $7 for 2017, starting in April.  Phew !  I am $1 ahead.

Such a little thing to be grateful for, but as I’m dealing with the identity theft that being without funds is doing to my life, I’m finding a whole new appreciation for any kind of breathing room I can get.

I know others have it much harder than me, having no place to live or no money at all for extra room.  But, even knowing how well I have it, I still very much resent counting every single thing that I may need to make my upcoming month livable via medication, supplements, food wise, and stopping to purchase that first, before it gets wasted on other essentials like gas for the car, heat for the house, additional cans of paint to continue working, vanity such as hair colors and cutting, etc.

My lawyer is continuing the good fight on my behalf, and I’m counting the days to see if I will get paid my 2017 Profit Sharing, Stock Cashouts, and backpay that I am owed.  It will all be ok, eventually.  Until that point occurs, I’m in mourning for the person I used to be.  Identity theft sucks.

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