Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Heart of the Matter

I never expected to spend election week with my cardiologist. Heck, a week ago, I didn't have a cardiologist, but, now I have one, and I'm going to let him thread a catheter into my heart and look around. I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to write about this, but, since six times more women die from heart disease than breast cancer, I thought, perhaps, I would, and maybe that I should. So, here goes.

Let's go back to last Wednesday morning. Like so many other women I know, before I ever hit the shower, I had checked my email, responded to a few, and read the morning headlines. I was tired after getting in late from an Atlanta meeting the night before. My phone buzzed away on the table while I dried my hair and put on my make up. Before I left the house, I spent ten minutes with a friend who was feeling betrayed by her mother. I finally jumped in the car only to find I'd left my phone in the house. I ran back in the house to get the phone, and remembered that maybe I should wake up my son who had class that morning, so I did. On the way to the office, I called another friend who I was worried about, and when I got to the office began to work my way through the phone messages waiting for me there. By the way, I'm not complaining about all this activity. I like it. Us Type-A's, we plan it.

Then, it happened again. It wasn't bad, but it was there. I wanted to ignore it, to find something else to call it, but truth be told, for several weeks, I had occasionally been experiencing this ache right in the middle of my chest. Chest pain. There, I said it. I had mentioned it to my husband a couple of times over the last month, and then, that morning, as I was returning phone calls, it started again. I told Daryl that I was tired of worrying about what this might be and was going to the MedCenter to let them check it out. No, no, no. No need for him to come. I was sure that I was just being overly cautious. It was probably my stomach, not my heart, not to worry. And, so, I drove myself there. I thought I was going to walk in, get an EKG, have the doctor tell me all was well and to follow up with my primary care doctor. So much for thinking.

In case you've never done it, when you sign in at the urgent care center and write the words, "chest pain" on the problem list, people move very quickly. They had me in the back doing vitals before they could get my insurance card and driver's license back to me. I knew the doctor who was on call, and was glad it was him, someone I had seen before. "How bad is the pain, on a scale of one to ten," the nurse said. "A two," I replied, meaning it. "It's very occasional, non-radiating chest pain when I'm at rest. And I really think it could be my stomach." They were already hooking up the leads for the EKG. By this time, the doctor was in the room. "Know anyone who had a heart attack at your age?" "Yes," I said, "my father had a heart attack when he was 52." "Ah," said the doctor. What do you mean, "Ah?" Sensing that this bit of information might take my visit down a path I had not planned on, I countered, "but he was a smoker, and I am not. But, then there's my sister. She had a heart attack earlier this year, but she's eleven years older, and has had other health issues. Did I mention that I really think this could be my stomach?" By this time, he was listening to my chest, and telling me that they would do some blood work and get a chest X-Ray. The nurse wheeled oxygen into the room. I didn't know who it was for, certainly not for me. "Just a precaution," she said, as she started an IV. "Did I mention that I think that this might be my stomach?"

I pulled out my phone and sent a text to my husband and told him I was fine and he didn't need to come. Lie. I sent a text to a girlfriend who knew I was lying when I said I was fine. Twenty minutes later my "sister" was there to see me. Thank God.

Tests done, the doctor came back with good news. I had not had a heart attack in the last few hours, and he thought the EKG looked pretty good. But, with the family history, he wanted me to see a cardiologist. He'd make the appointment, then we could leave. Good idea, leaving. I agreed. He gave me prescriptions for pain meds that I did not fill and told me to go home and rest which I did not do. Stubborn.

What I did do was keep the appointment with the cardiologist. At the first appointment, he said he could see that I was stressed. Tears. He told me to depend on the man upstairs, pointing. Panic. Well, the imaging lab was, technically, upstairs. He walked me out to the desk and began shifting appointments around to try to get tests scheduled ASAP. Panic! Then, he wrote a prescription for nitroglycerin. I couldn't understand why he was handing me someone else's prescription. Denial.

I spent lots of time with the cardiologist last week doing a repeat EKG, blood work, stress test, echo. I was certain when I left his office after those tests I was in the clear. Not so much. With the family history, some numbers in the blood work he did not like and not entirely normal test results, he wanted to schedule a cath for Wednesday. I tried to bargain. "I just need to make life style changes, diet and exercise, maybe take one of those cool cholesterol medicines I see on TV, right? I have a gym membership." He wasn't buying it. So, this time next week, I will either be reporting that they looked around and all was fine, or I will have some new jewelry, the kind you wear inside your blood vessels. Not exactly the gift I want for my almost-here 50th birthday. Did I mention that I'm too young to be having any of these issues?

They say that women experience heart disease differently than men. I think that we learn early on to push through pain and discomfort to do what we have to do, to take care of who and what we have to take care of. From the first day we deal with menstrual cramps while we take that big history test until we deliver our babies, women push through it all and get it done - all of it. We take care of other people while ignoring our own needs - and our own bodies, and it's not a virtue. I believe I have officially learned my lesson. Bargaining. No matter the outcome of the test next week, I don't think I will ever again think of my heartbeat as a given.

Did I mention that I really, really think it's my stomach?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wonkette's Take on Ox's "YouPorn" Ad

Yesterday, I found Wonkette's filleting of Oxendine's "YouPorn" "ad" that was supposed to strike fear in the heart of Gov. Barnes. Go, there because it is so worth the read.

Among other things, she opines,
"Well we could dissect this, or we could use the time to back up this video,
because at some point today, someone in John Oxendine’s campaign will realize,
“Oh wait… Wait. Shit. We actually made this thing and invited people to watch
it. That was a thing that we did. Wow. We really just should have done the
opposite of that.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gee, I wonder what Georgia will do?

Sen. Reid has indicated that he will support a health care reform bill that includes a public option, but that allows states to opt out. Unfortunately, since our congressional delegation has already opted out, there's little question that Georgians, whose health and access to health care can be correctly categorized as the least, the lost and the last, will find ourselves watching as the public option parade passes by.

Here's a question for you. Talk to a Republican about health care reform, and to a person, they will say that people and businesses should be able to purchase plans across state lines. That's code for "purchase plans from states that have the least regulation and the fewest mandates for coverage." Your health insurance policy could end up being worth approximately as much as old Confederate dollars. But, what they don't want is for people in their state to be able to purchase insurance from the federal government. If you can make that make sense, please, have at it.

More Mail from the RNC

Not having had time to purge their database after creating a mini-firestorm with their mailing masquerading as an official census form , my husband got yet another RNC mailer, this one in an envelope marked "Official Business," "To Be Opened By Addressee Only, Under Penalty of Law," and "2009 Future of America Health Care Survey." I did laugh because on postage paid return envelope, they wrote "By using your own first class stamp to return this envelope, you will be helping us save much needed funds."

From the inside, here's my favorite "survey" (read: push poll) question:

8. Rationing of health care in countries with socialized medicine has led to patients dying because they were forced to wait too long to receive treatment. Are you concerned that this would be inevitable in the U.S. under the Democrats' plan?

Fear and deception seem to be the only weapons left in the Republican arsenal. Where were all these RNC surveys about health care when Bush was in office? Why now, do they suddenly give a damn?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Georgia Congressman: Privatize Medicare

He's gone and done it. Or maybe he's just gone. Broun has finally sat on the third rail and put out a picnic.

Georgia Rep. Paul Broun is seriously proposing privatizing Medicare. He thinks seniors should just get a voucher and go buy their own health insurance. Great idea because everyone knows insurance companies are standing in line to issue affordable individual coverage to people who have a stack of pill bottles in the pantry. Maybe nursing homes will take the vouchers, too.
Might as well give out Arby's coupons.

I now want all my Democratic friends to recall how we tinkered in that race to help this idiot win. Now, how about one of you running against this caricature.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How Can the RNC Get By With This?

I laughed earlier this week at the prospect of the RNC putting my husband in charge of Republican voters in Georgia's 8th Congressional District, but this post on Think Progress points out the problems with that mailer appearing to be a census form. It is very, very deceptive in that way, and here, I am also posting the envelope which looks remarkably like ones the IRS sends out, even in the subtle markings. This does look like a deliberate effort to confuse voters, so now I wonder whether he was targeted because he is a Democrat rather than in spite of that fact.

Here it is again, envelope and contents:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Marshall Disappoints Again"

I am sure that Jim Marshall could not care less what I think about his recent interviews on Fixed News or this piece in the Telegraph where he not only bashes all of the health reform plans before Congress, but at the same time manages to slam President Obama and draw a comparison to the Soviet system. How great of him to attack the President's leadership and evoke images of socialism in the same statement. It was a trifecta, only this time, the losers are his Georgia constituents whose health and ability to access care remains among the poorest in the nation. Let me be clear, I was never under any illusion that Marshall would support health care reform. We couldn't even get him to vote for the expansion of children's health care. But, does he have to toss the whole damn party and the President under the bus while doing the bidding of Houston County Republicans? I'm just asking. Folks who read the piece emailed me suggesting that perhaps he is posturing for a move to the minority party. Not a chance of that, I think. Someone else summed it up well in the subject line of her email, "Marshall Disappoints Again." When it comes to health care, that about says it all.

What? Dem Invited to "Lead Republicans in Georgia"

My husband, who is the 8th Congressional District Chair for the Democratic Party of Georgia, has been getting some interesting mail. This mailer from the RNC came just yesterday and is made to look like an official census document. Pretty deceptive, if you ask me. But, the funny part of this is the pitch-the Republican Party would like Daryl to "lead Republicans in the 8th Congressional District." What a hoot! I wonder where the RNC is getting their lists these days, but do appreciate them wasting their donor's money this way. Here's the mailer:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Makes Me Sadder than Sad: Updated

Tom Crawford reports that the State Ethics Commission is widening the probe into Oxendine's donations. By the end of the day, will Ox or will Ox not send out an email blast alleging that he is the victim of a vast right wing conspiracy? Oh, wait...

I think Ox is the Ralph Reed of 2010, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Update: Read Galloway. They went for the right wing conspiracy before close of business.

A Million Reasons to Vote for AC Pup!

AC Pup, local celebrity and mascot for Macon Animal Control, has entered himself in a beauty pageant with a grand prize of a million dollars! That's right, if AC gets the most votes, Macon Animal Control could get a cool million. This is one time your clicks really do matter. Click here to vote for AC today and everyday between now and October 24th.

Here's his video. Just watching it brightened my day. You'll love it. Also, you can become AC's friend on Facebook to see more pics and get regular updates. So, watch, connect, and vote. AC just needs a little help from his friends!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Forced Unionization in Georgia???

When I saw this on my husband's desk today, my first thought was, "Why is the Georgia GOP sending expensive direct mail to a DPG state committee member?"But, I was wrong. The mailer was from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, but the message was indistinguishable from the Republican party line. Heck, they could write Sue's next email:

Thanks the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, we now know that my husband's law office is about to be forced to unionize. That's right. Forced. We already knew the part about our health cost skyrocketing. We pay that bill every month, more than I can say for how our insurance company pays the bills we send them. Apparently, in this economy, groups like the Chamber have to resort to fear mongering to inspire new recruits. But, can I just ask, why wasn't the Georgia Chamber looking out for us when the economy was being driven over the edge? Why didn't we get a flier that said "Forced Into Bankruptcy" "Increased Foreclosures" "Hikes in CEO Bonuses?"
By the way, from the postage permit, it looks likethe flier was designed by The Stoneridge Group, a firm that advertises itself on Facebook as working on behalf of "Republican candidates and conservative organizations." The group's current "tweet" is: "President Obama to Enter Diplomatic Talks with Raging Wildfire. Brilliant" . You get the picture. Unfair, unbalanced, and why, though I am a business owner, I will never be a member of the Georgia Chamber.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Culture of violence and disrespect....

I had fun decorating a booth at the Georgia National Fair for the Democratic Party. I brought tables and chairs and flags and posters from home. Then I stopped by Kroger and bought blue and white balloons. My friend Fenika Miller brought a life size stand-up of President Barack Obama as a finishing touch for the booth.
And that’s when the vitriol began.
Grown men raised in the South whose mamas must have taught them better stopped by the booth on a regular basis and made rude, aggressive, and sometimes violent comments.
One sneering man approached the booth and said, “You better take that down.” He pointed at the Obama stand-up.
“Are you threatening me?” I asked. Twenty-three years in the public schools did not make me a shy person. I am a retired educator, age 73, with a head full of white hair but I will still stand up to bullies.
“I’m threatening him,” said the visitor. I’m coming back and I’ll pour gasoline on him and burn him up.” This sounded a bit like Mississippi in the 1960s to me.
After that, I had a chat with the manager in the McGill building and with fair security. Some nice guys at a nearby booth offered to help me if I had more trouble.
And there was more trouble, most of it occurring when women were volunteering at the booth. I guess the bullies weren’t up to trying to intimidate the men volunteers.
At one point a guy who apparently had gone obsessive on the subject of communism stood in front of our booth hollering, pointing, and doing everything but making good sense for what seemed like ten minutes, but had to be shorter. Two real Southern gentlemen helped me out by approaching the booth and standing next to him, one on either side. The ranter became quieter and quieter and finally slunk off. The presence of two men, both bigger than he was, seemed to have a calming effect.
Let me insert here that the Republicans that I know personally have manners and class and would be ashamed to act like those ruffians who taunted the Democratic women at the fair. If they are disappointed over the outcome of the 2008 election they are not showing it by snarling “You don’t believe all that crap, do you” when a Democratic woman asks, “Are you enjoying the fair?”
Another older man said he wanted to borrow our Obama image so he could hold its head under water at a nearby hot tub demonstration. Said this grandpa, “I would hold him under the water for ten minutes and smile the whole time.”
I would like to say that this rude behavior surprised me. I would like to say that it surprised me when a young man stood in front of our booth and went through the motions of firing an imaginary rifle in the direction of an image of the President of the United States. It doesn’t surprise me because I was at the same booth last year and encountered the same type of verbal abuse.
What does surprise and shock me is the culture of violence and disrespect for the Presidency that is taking root in my beloved United States of America.

Kristina Simms is a retired educator and state president of the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women. She is the author of a history of Macon, GA and several other books, and also an advocate for the mentally disabled.

Cashing in on Bad Behavior

In politics, "sorry" no longer implies regret; it is simply the preamble to a coming fundraising appeal. With any luck, out-right celebrity will follow. It's the Joe "You Lie" Wilson road map to success and an indication that the line between shock-jock and politician gets thinner every day.

Last week Georgia Congressman and Republican candidate for Governor, Nathan Deal got caught on video using the term "ghetto grandmothers." Doesn't that make you just tingle with pride? Galloway reports that first Deal was sorry, then he was just misunderstood and mostly needed you to send him money to ward off the evil leftest media. Really, he was just trying to have a meaningful discussion about the importance of extended family support among the growing number of Georgians living in poverty.

No worries, Deal has plenty of company. Earlier this year, John Oxendine twisted himself into a figure eight to make himself a "victim" of the AJC "hit piece" (a.k.a. reporting) about his own questionable campaign contributions. Tuesday, Robert Lowery, a Floridian who hopes to unseat Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Shultz, joined fellow GOPers for an afternoon of fun with assault rifles. Lowery chose to shoot at a full-sized silhouette labeled "DWS." Nice. First he called it a joke, then, he called it a mistake. I'm betting that by Monday, he's calling himself a badly misunderstood supporter of the second amendment who needs your money to fight off the evil media. His buds, who were shooting a cut-outs depicting Muslims, were not about to apologize for exercising all of their constitutional rights, presumably including their right to stupidity.

One thing is certain, no one should confuse running for office, or even winning (see Mark Sanford, John Edwards, Charlie Rangel et. al) with public service, and certainly not with leadership. These guys seriously need to decide whether they want to govern or have their own radio shows (see Fred Thompson) because the choices are mutually exclusive.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What Do Georgia Democrats Believe?

On Saturday, the Democratic Party of Georgia adopted a values-based platform that reflects what Georgia Democrats told us they believe. Here's just the summary statement:

• Georgia Democrats believe every child in every classroom in every school in every county in Georgia should have access to a high quality public education.

• Georgia Democrats believe access to quality, affordable healthcare is a basic, human right.

• Georgia Democrats believe we have a moral obligation to leave our children and grandchildren with an earth as safe, beautiful, and majestic as the one bequeathed to us by our parents and grandparents.

• Georgia Democrats believe in and uphold every citizen’s right to equal and impartial justice under the law. We are firmly committed to upholding and protecting the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Georgia. We believe that all Georgians are equal in the eyes of God and should all be equal in the eyes of the law.

• Georgia Democrats believe that the American Dream of opportunity for all should guide government policies at all levels.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Some Bible Verses for Political Candidates

Last week, there was much to-do about whether or not cheerleaders in Catoosa County could burst onto the field through paper banners emblazened with Bible verses. According to Jim Galloway over at the AJC, some Democratic activist...I mean a mom who'd just finished an education law class at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University...had the nerve to call up the county school superintendent and question the legality of the signs.   But, never fear, John Oxendine is here. Oxendine called upon his super powers to issue a proclaimation, attend their next game and send an email blast to his list vowing to defend the cheerleaders from anyone who might try to strip them of their constitutional rights. Not yours and mine, so much.

In any case, I do find scripture instructive and think that perhaps as the candidates for Governor of Georgia qualify next Spring, perhaps they should also enter the room, bursting through scripture verse painted paper. Here, I'll even put my theological education to work and suggest a few appropriate verses:

1) "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Exodus 20:16)

2) "You shall not commit adultry." (Exodus  20:14)

3) "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Matthew 22:21)

4) "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." (Matthew 19:30)

That'll do for starters.