Monday, November 19, 2012

On OCD, Roger and the Crazy in All of Us.

I am candid about my anxiety.  I am neither ashamed nor proud of it. It is just there.  It is  a part of me.

Like right now.  I haven't taken my meds.  As I was going up the stairs my heart beat skipped a little.  Today was one of the days I was able to beat my urges "holistically", sans my Lorazepam.  Other days I'm not so lucky.

It starts with a fluctuation.  Has this bump on my neck always been there?  Has this mole always been this dark?  Has this cough lingered too long?  Once this thought enters my head, it typically resides until I take my medication or slowly incapacitate myself.  I become consumed with Web MD.  I prepare for the worst.  Sometimes I can't eat.  Sometimes I can't breath.  Sometimes I drink a little too much.  Sometimes I talk about it a little too much.  I reach out for help.  I try to find that person who will reassure me I'm not dying.  I don't care if they think I'm crazy, because sometimes I think I am.

The thing is I know that I'm not being rational, even when my heart sinks when I read a worst case scenario on some online forum, and this just angers me.  I know it is a chemical in balance, but sometimes I get so frustrated that I can't do much else besides curse my misfiring brain.

My OCD has impacted my personal relationships.  I realize I'm not the easiest to deal with.  I also realize that I've become "that girl" and that my behavior is construed as attention seeking.  In a way it is.  Like the rest of us, I just need someone to tell me that I'll be o.k.  I just need it more than the average person.

I do try.  I've gone to therapy and have learned some tools, other than medication.  I write (see poem below) , I take a walk, or I throw myself into my work.  Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they aren't. I let myself down every time I reach for the Ativan bottle.  Sometimes it is the only thing that will get rid of Roger, that elephant that sits on my chest.  Sometimes it is the only thing that will allow me to breath.

I've been told that anxiety is just an excuse to take medication, and that by succumbing to it I am weak, and I feel weak.  I know this is wrong, and the science backs me up on this, and it is my sincere wish that no one struggling with anxiety were to feel like this.  Yes, there is a problem of over diagnosis and over medication. However, just like taking too much medication is dangerous, not taking it when necessary is dangerous too. I have the battle wounds to prove it.  I think I have permanently damaged the lymph nodes in my neck.  My breasts hurt so much from the constant checks.  My weight fluctuates to the point my metabolism is shot.  This is all because I tried doing it alone.

I admit that I can be irrational , but you know what?  We all are.  We all have vices and life style choices others will deem crazy.  Some people drink too much, and some people take not drinking at all to an extreme evangelism. Some of us hoard, some of us conserve to a point of obsession, and some of us are obsessed with minimalism. I'm not going to apologize that my brain happens to make more Serotonin than average.  Humans are never 100% rational.  That is what makes us human. Sometimes being human just comes with excess ivory.

Ivory-An ode to Anxiety
They like to explain away the pressure
I know really
It is only Roger
The small elephant who keeps me company
Whispering helpful reminders
You forgot to lock the front door
He says
Repetitions will turn the oven off.
Are you sure it isn't cancer?
But one night poachers came
And took his trunk
So that he could no longer speak.
His presence lingered
Reminding me to breath
With his formless urgency.
The next night his ears
His feet
Until finally one day Roger was gone.
I'm pretty sure
My doorknobs are made from his teeth.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Vaccines are stealing all your money (and are kicking puppies and kittens in the face).

Paul Offit.  More like Paul “Proffit”. This is a mantra of sorts for anti-vaxxers.  Part of their deal is that they think vaccine manufacturers and the scientists that develop them are making big bucks off of vaccines, while slowly killing their customers. Sometimes when an argument is so stupid I’m just rendered speechless.  I’d really like to buy the next person that sincerely thinks that vaccines are a huge money making conspiracy a beer and just pick their brain.  Unfortunately, we can rarely get to the point of reasonable conversation with these people.

First I’d like to say that there is money to be made with vaccines., just from the other side.  This world is riddled with charlatans that are willing to make big bucks off the masses that refuse to become inoculated.  Mr Andrew Wakefield of the Lancet fame himself was commissioned by Richard Barr, a lawyer profiting off of families with autistic children, to conduct research linking autism with the MMR vaccine.  He ended up making roughly $750,000 dollars(Deer,2010).  He earned this money by conducting fraudulent studies and conducting some ethically questionable research(which included giving kids $50 for blood at a birthday party).  Furthermore, he was intending to start a company that would make testing kits for autism, which would eventually lead to a complete cure.  Andrew Wakefield is kind of an asshole.

I shouldn’t pick on just him though.  I could go on and on about the alternative “cures” for autism and homeopaths, but that is a rant for another day.  I would however, like to talk about secretin. Secretin is a hormone from pigs that has been said to improve the symptoms of autism. Parents against the MMR vaccine willingly will inject this substance into their children.  By scanning the Internet, I’ve seen people on forums talking about spending up to $800 on these injections or for the oral variety, $60 every two weeks.  This is for a drug that has been all but found ineffective by studies (Molloy, 2012).  If that isn’t making money, I don’t know what is.  The funny thing is that the research on secretin isn’t even complete.  From the couple of studies done, it has been shown to just probably not work.  If someone was so worried about what was being injected into their child’s body that they opted to not vaccinate them, you’d think they’d want to wait until a more conclusive study comes out.  However”secretin” was marketed as being a natural alternative, so I guess we are good to go.

The thing is, from what I’ve heard, the money isn’t in vaccinations .I'm not saying that drug companies are giving them away, but drugs are far more profitable for them.  If drug companies were wanting to profit off of vaccines, why would they pump them full of so many ingredients?  Couldn’t they just inject snake oil and call it a day? That is why there are more and more multiple use vaccines.  Furthermore, it doesn’t seem like good business practice to give your customers something that will kill them if you are trying to make some money.  You kind of want them to keep coming back.  All good drug dealers know this. You give them something to keep coming back for. If it was proven that one of the main ingredients of vaccines is crack cocaine, I'd be a little less skeptical.

I've also heard that the profit actually comes from vaccine mandates. With the population being mandated to receive vaccinations, the vaccine makers are rolling in dough. It couldn't be that maybe vaccines are being mandated because they are good for herd immunity. Maybe the government shouldn't be mandating them. Maybe they should let us go back to the days of polio and small pox in peace.
In an FB argument someone said “fuck the scientific community that profits off the deaths of millions”.  I’d really like this explained to me.  The offer of a free beer and the promise to not call you crazy (to your face) remains on the table.

Sources Cited (a lazy bibliography):

Deer B. Wakefield's "autistic enterocolitis" under the microscope. BMJ: British Medical Journal (overseas & retired Doctors Edition).  April 17,2010.  (I got a lot of information from Deer's reporting, but the majority of the investigative work on Wakefield's enterprises came from Brian Deer).

Molloy, C, Manning-Courtney P, Ulrich II C, Et Al.  Lack of Benefit of Intravenous Synthetic Human Secretin in the Treatment of Autism.  Journal of Austims & Developmental Disorders.  December, 2002 (Also check out Autsim's False Prophets, by Paul Offit)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How Oregano Oil Started a (Blog) Fire

If you know me, then you know the surest way to upset me is by telling me vaccines don’t work.  Recently I started an anti-vaccine flame war on my Facebook page that led to a sleepless night. It all started when I said that "natural antibiotics" shouldn't take the place of real medicine and vaccines.  I lay awake so angry at the willful ignorance of someone so immersed in a ridiculous conspiracy theory.  However, after thinking about it I realized that this FB “friend”, someone I vaguely remember going to highschool with, provided me with an anti-vaxxer gold mine.  Sure it may be crazy gold, but gold nevertheless. This person ended up de-friending me, which is disappointing in that I wanted to hear all the crazy he had to spew.  While frustrating as it may be, it is important to know your opposer’s side.  This is why I force myself to read Jenny Mccarthy and to engage in dialogue with someone I find to be a complete moron.  It is even more difficult to not call said moron a moron in a heated debate.  Because then you lose them forever.  Sure, they are probably already lost, but to personally attack them leads you to look weak.  I have a fortune from a fortune cookie on my desk that reads” Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause”.  However, I feel like attacking their ideas is fair game and should be done so ruthlessly.  Sometimes it is hard to draw the distinction, but I encourage all of you to at least try.

In honor of the upcoming TAM, I want to share my findings with you all, and start (or at least try to) blogging all the arguments I’ve heard over the years, and to do my best to deconstruct them.  For the record, I am by no means an expert, but have done much study on the matter.  I started in college for a research paper, and have absorbed everything I can on the subject, especially after seeing children become ill due to a lack vaccines before my very eyes.  I’ll try my best to cite sources, but after years of accumulated data, I may slip and forget. Much of my research also comes from medical journals I no longer have access to, but I’ll try to dredge up any bibliography I can.  My main focus is to start dialogue and encourage critical thinking.  I encourage all those who disagree with what I say to pipe in.  As long as you can back up your ideas with reputable, science backed sources I feel you should be free to speak.  Just don’t post a link to a crazy anti-vaxx site that promotes colon cleansing, because I doubt they are peer reviewed.  Otherwise, be prepared to be ripped to shreds.

I’m not set out to be a famous blogger.  I don’t write controversial things and will never gain any kind of celebrity status.  However, I do encourage you to pass this along to all that you can, no matter where their opinions and beliefs lie. I’ll be starting with my favorite argument,which is on vaccines and profitability.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Grandpa

In November I lost my grandfather.  Tomorrow is his memorial service.  Tomorrow I'm really saying good-bye. I've been living these six months pretending that I'm not in grief but I think about him almost every day. It is the hardest at night.  I often wait until Bjorn has fallen asleep to really start crying, because I'm not dealing with this well.  I've had moments where I'm not ashamed to say I've bargained with a god I knew didn't exist.  To give me some message that my grandpa is listening to me and knows I love him.  I'm always disappointed.

Then I heard a song by George Hrab.  It is called "Small Comfort" and they lyrics go:
I’m glad I get to miss you
but that you can never miss me

Thinking you’ll wake up and see us
is your eternity…
small comfort.

My grandfather was one of the most selfless and generous people I've ever met.  Do I really want him see me in this much pain for eternity?  It is time I started repaying him. I don't believe in an afterlife, but I do believe someone can live forever as long as we keep their memory alive.  So now I'd like to celebrate my memories of Burton Loren Sorensen, my Grandpa Larry.

When I was little my grandparents watched me all the time.  My earliest memories are in my grandparent's backyard playing with Snuffy.  He used to put a ball in a tree and we'd spend hours watching that dog jump up and grab it.

We used to spend long hours in Veteran's Park and then eat at Perkins where he got irritated the puzzles in the place settings were too difficult to figure out.

As I got older my grandparent's were at every event in my life.  I don't remember one ceremony, karate tournament, piano recital or badminton match he wasn't at.  Even if I didn't do too well he always made sure to tell me he was proud of me.

He always encouraged my writing, and said that someday I'll be the next Jack Kerouac, without the crippling substance abuse.

I remember telling him once about the bullying I endured and he taught me a poem.  Every time I feel discouraged or down on my self I remember that I have "Miles to go before I sleep".

My brother played a lot of sports in the summer and my grandpa would always pick him up.  We'd spend long afternoons at the fountains waiting for him to finish practice.  We'd talk about anything and everything.  That is the same place my husband proposed to me.  The same place I'll take my kids.

My grandpa was always there when we needed something fixed.

My grandpa once took me home after a teeth extraction.  I had just woken up from general and I was leaning on him for support.  I said some ridiculous things he never wanted to talk about again.

When I was in high school I had to write a report on my personal hero.  I wrote it about my grandpa.

I used to sleep over at my cousin's and in the morning my grandpa would babysit and take us to McDonalds.  He would always hand the bag over to us and we'd always hide something.  Every time he got madder and madder until one day he threw the bag across the room.

Everything I watched the history channel I heard something I'd want to talk to my grandpa about.  I still get that urge.

I remember the comfort of his car and how it always smelled slightly of cigarettes, like the blue jacket he always wore.

I remember seeing my grandpa for the last time.  He looked so small and frail and being around him made me scared and sad, but he was still making jokes and smiling.

The last words I said to my grandpa over the phone were "I'll see you soon.  I love you".  He passed away peacefully later that afternoon.

I still think about my grandpa everyday.  I think about him every time I lose my temper.  I think about him every time I hear a poem or a Bob Dylan song.  I think about him every time I see an older man on the bus, or someone with the same lilting walk.  I think of him every time I'm at my desk. I have his wedding picture right by my keyboard.  My grandma looks so beautiful.  He looks so young.

I think about how unfair it is that the world had to lose someone so awesome.  I think about the time I lost being afraid.  I think of how he made me a better person, played a part in my life.  So you see, he won't ever really be gone.  Maybe living through memory is my version of heaven.  Or maybe I'm ultimately wrong and he's watching a World War 2 documentary with Bob Marley. It is useless to think of all the things I could have said or did.  It is a beautiful and warm May afternoon. I'm going to go outside and enjoy it as the photons and particles of countless loved ones lost float around me.