Thursday, November 20, 2014

I was there . . .

I was there.  In Strozier Library, on the FSU campus.

No, not last night.  Not last night, when bullets were flying and students were running and ducking for cover.

Not last night, when blood stained the steps of the Strozier Library.

Not last night, when campus cops called out, "Halt!" or "Stop!" or "Drop your weapon!" or whatever else they called out to stop a shooter.

In fact, it's been over 20 years since I was last at the FSU campus (on a visit while my husband was at a conference), and Strozier Library was one of the places I visited.

I knew that library back in the 1980's.  I went there to study.  I went there to look for books.  I went there to research papers and, when I was a library science major, I went there to learn how to use different reference materials.  And I went there to the microfilm room to look up back issues of newspapers when I wanted to know about a date in history.

Libraries are a treasure trove.  They are full of information.  If you know where to look, and/or who to ask for help, they are full of wonder, excitement, and discovery.

This morning, when I learned of the shooting on the FSU campus, I visualized the library, and Landis Green, which is in front of the library.  I visualized it as I knew it in the 1980's, with the card catalog in the main reference room on the first floor, with the periodicals on the third floor, with the microfilm in the basement.

I'm sure things have changed in the 20 years since I last set foot in Strozier Library.  These days, card catalogs have been replaced by computer terminals, and certain books have been withdrawn from the library collections.  So what I visualized was probably not how Strozier Library looks today.

This morning, I visualized where the students would be running for cover.  Maybe in the stairwells, or under the tables, or up on the fifth floor, where so many of the old books were kept.  Maybe in the restrooms.

This is not the first shooting that's ever taken place at the FSU campus.  Back in 1986, when I was a student there, a football player named Pablo Lopez was shot and killed behind Montgomery Gym.  I could never walk by there ever again without thinking of him.

This is also not the first murder that has taken place in the vicinity of FSU.  Ted Bundy's infamous attack on the Chi Omega sorority house happened directly across the street from Gilchrist Hall, a dormitory on campus where I later lived twice.  Every time I saw the Chi O house, I thought of Ted Bundy.

The students and staff at FSU today will never be able to walk by, or enter into, Strozier Library without thinking of the shooting that took place last night.

No library should ever be turned into a place where you have to figure out where to hide from a shooter.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Long and frustrating health care journey . . .

This is a long post. Bear with me. 
Since my mid-20's, I have been dealing with periods of severe fatigue that wipe me out. I have been to several doctors over the years and they really have not found the cause.  The only abnormality that's ever been found has been a positive monospot.  But, I've also had a test for Epstein-Barr, and THAT has tested negative. 
I started going to a clinic that did both traditional and alternative medicine, and although it helped for a time, they started piling on the supplements and telling me I needed this stuff and that stuff. They had me on TWENTY supplements at one point.
One of the supplements was a thyroid medication, Nature-Throid. Because of this supplement, my TSH level was at the point where I was nearly hyperthyroidic (overactive thyroid). I was referred to an endocrinologist by my primary care physician.
He took one look at all the supplements I was taking, told me that the people who prescribed them were "quacks", and ordered me, in no uncertain terms, to not go back to them.
I canceled the appointment I had with the people prescribing me the supplements.
Because some of the stuff the clinic had me on were hormones, I went to a GYN that same week (the same practice that delivered Matthew). The GYN put me on an estrogen patch and estrogen cream, along with oral progesterone. I had been on estrogen cream, oral progesterone, and testosterone cream from a compounding pharmacy. My GYN told me that compounded hormones were NOT approved by the FDA. I had no idea.

I'm actually relieved. The supplements were a big drain on our finances (at one point, I paid $750 to buy more) and we just cannot afford to keep doing it.
I've had at least one person online criticize me for this decision, talking about "Big Pharma" and asking, did you think to ask your endocrinologist what supplements he thought were harmful? (Which is a valid question, and no, I didn't.) On the other hand, this is MY body, MY health, and MY finances we are talking about.
I've also been getting work from a freelance website; I have been writing blog content. I was asked to give a rating to the person who's been giving me work. I gave her a 4.2 out of a 5, and she wanted to know where she got "rated low". She apparently didn't think I was being fair to her.  She has kept giving me work, and I'm grateful for that.
Since I've been doing the blog content, I've been very tense, and I'm sure the fact that I'm off the thyroid meds is not helping. Recently, I felt so tense that I wanted to cry, and the woman's comments about my rating didn't help. I am the sort of person that doesn't give out 5-star ratings easily. I was scared to death that she wouldn't give me any more work, but I do have another assignment from her. (The pay is not very much, but I consider it a foot in the door with writing.)
I do have a pdoc, and I don't know whether or not I should call him and ask for an appointment to tweak the meds I am on.
We're also still dealing with financial problems. At one point recently, we were down to less than $25.00 in our checking account and $10.00 in our savings accounts. My DH's paycheck was deposited in the bank today, and I was able to put some back in savings.
I'm trying to breathe, trying to tell myself that God loves me, and it's not easy.
Now that I'm not going to the clinic anymore, I'm right back where I started and a few thousand dollars poorer. I feel like the woman with the issue of blood who spent all she had on doctors and didn't get any better.
Just my .04, adjusted for inflations.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thank you, Dr. Hurlocker.

Dr. James Kenneth Hurlocker was an OB/GYN in Harlan, Kentucky.  He worked out of the Harlan Appalachian Regional Memorial Hospital.

He probably saved my life.

Today is my 51st birthday.  On October 16, 1963, my mother had a doctor's appointment with Dr. Hurlocker.  During the examination, he told her, "You're dilating, and you need to get upstairs, right now."

I can only imagine how scary those words were for my mother.  She was 25, had a child, and wasn't expecting to have this second child for another couple of months.

She got upstairs, and she had to have natural childbirth with me because any anesthesia would have killed her baby.  (I have said to my mother that apparently I've been a pain in the butt to her since before I was born.)

At 3:29 p.m. that day, I was born.

I weighed 4 lbs., 4 ozs.

I spent the first several weeks of my life in an incubator.  (The incubator was invented by a Dr. Martin Couney.  I guess I owe him my life as well, because I probably would not have survived without that invention.)  I have often joked that I am one of the few people that knows exactly where she was when JFK was shot--I was still in the hospital.

I grew up knowing that I was a preemie, but I never thought of the full implications of that until recently.  Even today, preemies have to have special care and special attention.  The medical field has come a long way in their care of preemies in the last 50 years.  Today, we have NICUs that devote themselves to the care of preemies.  I know a little boy at my church who weighed half of what I did when I was born.  Today, he is running around like an active little boy should.

What is it like to be a parent who can't hold their child?  Who worries whether or not their child is going to live?  Who can't take their kid home from the hospital when they normally would?

I was lucky.  I got to go home.  I got to live.

And although I am positive that God saved my life, He used human hands to accomplish that feat.

Dr. Hurlocker died the same year that my father did, and ironically, the same disease that killed my father--ALS--killed him as well.

He has been described as "the best OB/GYN the hospital [HARMC] ever had."  My cousin Susie was a nurse that worked for him, and when she was pregnant with her daughter, she suffered from severe vomiting.  Every Friday, Dr. Hurlocker gave her a quart of IV fluid.  Her daughter probably would not have survived if he had not done that for her.

I don't know how many babies he delivered, and how many other lives that he saved.

I only know that he saved mine.

Thank you, Dr. Hurlocker.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Roll call . . .

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  I've never lost a baby, but I know too many who have.  Their grief is real.  No matter whether it was a miscarriage, a stillbirth, a baby who died of SIDS, or a baby who died of other causes, it was a person, and we are all affected by their loss.

In memory of:

Bobbie Lee
John William
Sarah Grace

And the many others whose names I don't know or have forgotten.

Loved much.  Missed greatly.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Bobbie Lee

Her name was Bobbie Lee Chitwood.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  On this day, I think it's appropriate to mention her and the many others who were born sleeping or who died too soon.

Bobbie Lee Chitwood was the third child of my grandparents, Ralph and Ary Chitwood.  She was the younger sister to my Aunt Mary and my mother Thelma, and the older sister of my uncle Jack.

I don't know her birthday.  It would have been sometime in 1938 or 1939.

She was born sleeping.  She was the daughter, sibling, and aunt I would never know.

Granny mentioned her a couple of times, and I think my mother did as well.  It's only been recently that I've wondered what it would have been like if she had lived.

I'm sure not a day went by in my grandmother's life that she didn't remember the child she had lost. And I wonder if my mother, aunt, and uncle asked themselves what it would have been like if she had lived.

Stillborn babies weren't talked about when Bobbie Lee died.  I have no idea if my grandmother ever saw her baby.  I'm sure that her siblings didn't see her.  They probably had no funeral for her, and it's possible that the family was left to grieve in private.  That was just the way things were "back in the day".

But mothers never forget.  Neither do fathers.

Had Bobbie Lee lived, she would have been my aunt.  Possibly she would have married and had children.  I probably would have had cousins from her.  Who knows what she would have done if she had lived.

On this day, I am reminded of a few lines from John Dunne's poem Meditation 17:

No man is an island
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less. 
* * * * * * * *
Each man's death diminishes me
For I am involved in mankind.

Each baby's death diminishes all of us.

Rest in peace, Bobbie Lee Chitwood.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy 200th birthday to our national anthem . . .

Two hundred years ago today, a man named Francis Scott Key looked over at Fort McHenry in Maryland and saw a sight he'd waited all night to see:  The American flag flying over the fort.

It meant that a British bombardment had not been successful, and that the Americans still held the fort.

He put his reflections down into a poem, which was later set to the tune of "To Ancreon In Heaven", an English drinking song.  How and why the two of them got together, I'll never know.

One of my bucket list items is to either sing, or hear sung, all of the verses of The Star-Spangled Banner.  We all hear the first verse.  No one hears any of the others.  I also have a personal interest in the national anthem:  Francis Scott Key is a great-nephew of one of my direct ancestors, Mary Key Chitwood.  

So, on it's bicentennial, here are the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

For Aimee . . .

Dear Aimee:

I remember William.



Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.