Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bravo Doctor Stuart!

Yes Virginia, there are some people out there...some of them even doctors, that really see the need to treat the segment of the population that need them most. Those without health insurance. This is one of those stories.

After 22 years in private practice and getting tired of seeing people get "kicked around by the system" Dr. Lorna Stuart found herself frustrated by the medical system and community and now she has done something fantastic about it.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are currently 47 million Americans going about their daily lives without health insurance. Having been there myself I know that they are just one major medical emergency away from a major financial situation. We used to just hold our breath that Max would not break an arm or leg on his skateboard. When we got sick we just waited it out and bought every "over the counter" medication that we could find.

Dr. Stuart had become very frustrated with the insurance companies and the rules and restrictions that came with them,

"The day-to-day time that I spent on paperwork was increasing, while my patients weren't getting the good care that I wanted to give them -- face-to-face time, one-on-one time," she recalls. "I vowed to do whatever little I could about this inequity of care."

"Every single person knows somebody without health insurance," says Stuart. "There are so many people that fall through the cracks."

So, she decided to do something about it. She sold her home, gave up her private practice and began to raise funds to open a clinic. Her efforts have resulted in" The Clinic: Medical Center for the Uninsured". Many patients pay as little as a dollar, even 50 cents, as the patients who may pay in full and receive the same treatment.

"Each day, I get to treat the patients whom our medical system has forgotten, without the hassle of insurance paperwork," says Stuart. "Is it any wonder I once again feel the real joy of practicing the craft that I love?"

Many kudos to Dr. Stuart!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

All Good Dogs go to Heaven

On Friday, April 18th, I had to take Burt to be put to sleep. The paralysis was returning to the front portion of his body again and it was just the humane thing to do. Since John is still in Finland I took him myself. They let us wait in the car until they were ready for him. We sat together in the backseat. It was the only time that I can remember that he let me get right in his face without barking at me. I took off his collar and harness.... and then the nurse came out to get us. I carried him in to the room, there we had a few more moments together.... and then I left.

It was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. That beagle sure was the most unhealthy little dog we have ever had, but he sure brought us years of laughs and entertainment. Seeing as how he came from the APL and was in such a state when we got him I am happy knowing that we gave him 5 very good years. That dog may have been overweight, but he lived a very good life with us and that makes it all worth while.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Concealed Carry 101

It appears that along with Intro to Sociology, Spanish 101 and Philosophy that Ohio is now considering allowing the concealed carrying of weapons on college campuses.
Ohio is one of eight states that are currently debating the issue following the Virginia Tech shooting. This is going to be one huge, uphill battle. Not to mention heated and ugly. As someone who lives and works in a college town, in Ohio, I have many issues with this. As someone who has spent a good deal of years on a college campus I have reservations about this.

I realize that not everyone who owns a handgun has blood lust in his/her mind, we really believe that putting a weapon in the hands of often emotional, unstable, drinking and drug using college students in a bright idea? Now, I know that not every college student fits into that category either, but what scares me is that the ones who do will be the ones who are carrying the guns. There is not a week that goes by that there is not a major, or minor, altercation of some sort on one of the fraternity house properties. Just this week, with the 70 degree weather, as I drove through town there were students outside by the dozens drinking, one group had a hand painted sign in their front yard that read. "You honk, we drink". Would you like someone in that group be walking around later in the evening carrying a weapon and have them get pissed off because they thought that you had "disrespected" them? Not this citizen!

Weekly the police blotters are filled with the names of the underage drinkers and those arrested for simple fighting in the bars. Do we want these people to be able to concealed carry so that these minor issues become shootings and murders? Over something as stupid as who wouldn't turn down their stereo or who looked at my girlfriend? There are so many reasons why I do not want to walk around my town wondering who is carrying. I don't want my kid to be riding his skateboard around a campus where they will be carrying.

Now, I know that there are many other dangers in life and in a college town, but why do we want to add an element like a handgun to the mix? Mental health services are already busy enough as it is on college campuses. Young people sometimes go through many issues during the years they are away from home, maybe for the first time, nights of partying on their own. Roommates and the troubles that that brings, not to mention carrying them in to the dorms after your significant other tells you that they are breaking up with you.

I am not one to say that there are certainly many responsible gun owners and if people want to hunt that is their personal business and recreation, but I do not think that they belong on a college campus. Granted the Virginia Tech shooting was a tragedy, but how many others might have been injured with shooters who would have been shooting back during a time of great stress. If you ask any police officer they will tell you that the casual gun owner is scary because in times of stress they are apt to shoot quickly without much thought. They are not nearly as trained as the police. Even if they go to a range and learn how to point and shoot they still do not have the further training and mental acuity that comes with the training of the police and the like.

No, it is something that I do not like to hear about on my local campus and strongly urge Ohio lawmakers to think twice before allowing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Death Penalty, Innocence Project & Old Confessions all Rolled in to One.

In recent years we have seen more and more states holding back on the execution of inmates. More and more often groups such as the Innocence Project are proving, through various methods, that innocent people are on Death Row. There are more discussions than ever before on the reasons behind execution and more debate about whether or not we should continue with the practice. No matter how you personally feel about the issue there are many materials out there for you to read and information that will give you much food for thought.

This week, for the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a case that involves the execution for an inmate accused of a crime other than murder. It is an awful and messy case that involves a child. There are other states that are also advancing their death penalty laws to include similar circumstances. Although no one has been executed, since 1964, for anything other than murder. Newsweek has an excellent article that details, not only this case Kennedy v. Louisiana, but also the way that perception has been changing about execution in this country. They ask, "Is this a burgeoning new trend for the execution of rapists or the last gasps of capital punishment?" Part of what they must look at, in the Constitution, is the "cruel and unusual punishment" versus the "evolving standards of decency". An excellent and informative article. It is often quite difficult to understand all the parts that the Supreme Court must evaluate when they hear cases and this article spells it out quite well about this very huge issue.

Another very important thing that one must look at when considering Death Row or those serving life sentences are those who are wrongly convicted and the numbers keep rising. If you ever have the interest, or desire, to read Barry Schecks book "Actual Innocence" you will be amazed at the conduct by some lawyers, or maybe not, how witness identification can be so wrong. In my mind there can be nothing more heinous than to spend a major portion of your life in prison for something you REALLY did not do. How drastically that must change a persons life. No matter what compensation you may receive later it can not make up for the way that your life will be altered forever. The book is amazing. I read it when it first came out and used to let some of my seniors use it, when I taught about the constitution and the death penalty, for those that wanted to stand on the side against. They would often debate the issue.

Soon, another wrongfully convicted man, who has spent 26 years in prison may get to walk out as a free man. He has spent those years in prison, even though another man confessed, due to a technicality in the law in his state. How pathetic and sad is that? There will be no way for him to get those years back or the peace of mind that he has lost by being incarcerated for that many years.

The actual guilty party confessed, in writing, and gave it to his own lawyers to be opened upon his death. He died in prison for an unrelated crime. The catch was, even though he told them, lawyers can only tell someone about this only if it will prevent serious bodily harm, death or criminal fraud. In this case, the other man was already dead. He was confessing about a murder that had already occurred and there was nothing that anyone could do about it. They had to sit on this for 26 years! This is another amazing story. A sad and pathetic story that tells how the justice system in this country needs to be scrutinized and given an overhaul. I am not saying that we need to change every bit piece by piece, but we need to look at loop holes like this and fix it, so something like this doesn't happen to someone else. How do we even know that it hasn't. Just because this story has come to light does not mean that there are not more men like Alton Logan who have lost the prime years of their lives in a place as humiliating and degrading as prison.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On Being a Mom

This morning I am rushing around to get my own stuff done so I can get Max an appointment to see the doctor. Yesterday he took a spill on his skateboard and may a fracture to his heel. OUCH!! I returned home yesterday to find him with the frozen bag of peas, which we keep plenty around due to their excellent ability as ice packs, and he had propped it up on the coffee table. Yep, there was a good size bulge and it became increasingly difficult for him to bear weight on that foot. So, called him off school today and now the rush to get in the doctors office begins. But, as I say, better some other body part than the teeth!!

That, along with the stores already pushing Mothers Day cards, along with current news about "bad moms" not raising their kids in what are considered correct ways, giving your kids candy as a bribe or letting them watch cartoons as a babysitter and so on. Has given me reason to think about and contemplate my own experiences and qualifications as a mom. Or lack thereof!

I started out this adventure as someone, who in their twenties, never wanted kids. I was not one of those people who spent time pondering the joys of parenting or dreamed about marriage and children. That was not in any part of my mind or vocabulary! Then, lo and behold, one day closer to thirty I found myself pregnant. Not totally unplanned, but certainly an interesting prospect. The whole 9 months and birth were all just a blur that lead to the moment, before leaving the hospital, when I said to my own mom, " After I get home, what do I do then?" She laughed and said, "You take care of him." And so I did.

Now, we zip ahead to the present day where Max is now 17. This August he will be 18 and both he and I are quite excited about his first year to vote. The idea of his last year of high school is very odd. It seems as if this kid has always been in either day care or school. I have no idea what I am going to do with myself when I am not contemplating scheduling, packing lunches or shopping for "school clothes". Where will he go to school next? Where will he live? Who will reach those wine glasses on the top shelf for me?

My plans were to put cloth diapers on this kid, make all my own baby food. This kid was never going to eat hot dogs or macaroni and cheese! Well, since he often ate clumps of dirt, and I managed to get over that, the other stuff sort of fell by the wayside too. Not to mention the bribery that would take place as one was preparing to enter the grocery store. The best day of both of our lives was when my favorite grocery store added a day care center!! He used to cry when he had to LEAVE the grocery store!! I can not tell you how many times I got all the way home to discover that I was still wearing one of their pagers.

There were those times that I am sure that some people, maybe those that write the books on "perfect parenting" would say that I did things that were less than stellar in my child rearing practices. Like running in the house for a moment as he played outdoors, letting him sit in the bathtub for a second as I ran and grabbed an extra towel in the hall closet or letting the VCR play "babysitter" as I had my coffee and tried to wake up on an EARLY Saturday morning and was not quite up to early morning chatter with a 4 year old. Did all of that make me a bad mom or make him a problematic child? In my mind I think not. Like they say, all the best laid plans will often go awry. You do the best that you can at the time. Learning not to beat yourself up along the way. As long as what you do is not causing great harm, then I think that you are ahead int he game. It was only as he got older, and I grew more comfortable in my role, that I also began to see that I was in good company. All the other working moms were doing the same things as me and hell, I ever learned a thing or two from them. I think that is why moms need other mom friends.

The fact that he still needs me is a good feeling. Along with the Advil we looked for some old crutches last night. Put him to bed early and woke him up this AM to tell him I was calling him off school. I saw how he still needed me to care for him and offer comfort. To look at the "boo-boo" and tell him what needed to be done. Still needed me to make it "better". Although I was not kissing it like when he was four. Not the bottom of his foot that had been in a skate shoe for several hours!! The lessons learned as a mom, patience and selflessness being the top two, are and have been so important in my life. I had never anticipated how much it would impact me. As this Mothers Day approaches I would hope that we would all commend ourselves on a job "well done". Appreciate you for raising that child or those children and making it through an exceptional time, not only in your life, but in theirs as well.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Is Anyone Listening?

According to a CBS News- New York Times Poll 81% of Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction. They said that," things seem to have gotten seriously off on the wrong track". This number is up from 69% a year ago, and 35% in early 2002. 78% of those responding felt that the country was worse off than five years ago, while just 4% said that they thought that things were doing better. Who are these 4%? I would love to talk to one of them and find out what their frame of thinking is and how they feel things have gotten better. I want to know where they shop for food and how they can afford the general basics of day-to-day living.

I am not even talking about the little extras like eating out, going on vacations and the like. Hell, for my family those are things of the past. If my mom was not having a birthday this weekend I would not even be going out to dinner! But it is a delightful luxury these days and I am looking forward to it with gusto. Not to mention that it is something that has to be strategically planned for and cash set aside towards. We never do fast food anymore. Assuredly we are better off health wise, but sometimes I just crave something greasy and fried, not to mention the convenience.

I am giving some serious thought to buying our own cow to defray the cost of milk. With all the milk I have at my fingertips, at the coffee mega giant, I could make some side cash selling it in the back alley for $2.00 or less a gallon!

If things are getting this out of control and more and more people are showing the signs of financial strain etc. I wonder who out there is listening and when are they going to begin to really address our concerns? To coin a much used and abused phrase, " Can you hear me now"?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Obama Yaps & Faith Kills

Seems that Barack Obama is bringing his flashy brand of rhetoric down a few pegs. He wants to try and appeal to the middle class working white voter. The New York Times has a good article about the Dem candidates stumping in PA. and how he is lower his yap to try and fit the mind set of the locals there.

"He is grounding his lofty rhetoric in the more prosaic language of white-working-class discontent, adjusting it to the less welcoming terrain of Pennsylvania." states Michael Powell of the Times. He goes on to point out how much like Ohio the working class folks are and the type of "plain speaking" that is preferred, "Mr. Obama’s effort to master a plain-spoken and blunt language that extends back centuries in Pennsylvania is accompanied by no small stakes. Voters here, as in neighboring Ohio, where Mr. Obama lost the white and aging blue-collar vote, tend to elect politicians whose language rarely soars and whose policy prescriptions come studded with detail." I understand that it is mostly election year yabber, but I also want real, tangible meat & potatoes. I took speech classes and love a rousing speech as much as the next guy, but I also want real facts and not just platitudes. Hillary may be nearly boring with the detail in her plans and speeches, but there is content there that I can function with and hear results oriented direction. "A thrill these talks are not, but G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, noted that politics that attended to the precarious details of life could provide comfort to the hard-pressed.

“If you’re an unemployed steelworker, a former coal miner, you want to know about job training, who pays your health care,” Dr. Madonna said. “Obama’s speeches are uplifting but without much specificity, and that’s a tough sell for working people who don’t live in a world of ideas.”

I am all for an adult following in any religious style that they would like, but when your choice, as a parent, can or does lead to the death of your child then I believe that you should be held accountable. It is a crime and it is neglect! Bottom line. You are the adult that is making choices for care that the child can not do for themselves. Here we have a story, yet another, of parents that belonged to some very strict little religion that allowed them to only pray for their child's illness and they watched the child die when some simple early medical care may have saved the child's life. How utterly sad. "The Worthingtons belong to a small fundamentalist sect, The Followers of Christ Church. The Followers believe that faith will heal all and that death, if it comes, it is God’s will.

In fact, death has come often to the children of the Followers. Before Ava, other children died in circumstances where simple, well-proven medical treatments might have saved them. According to an investigative report done some years back by Mark Larabee of The Oregonian newspaper, at least 38 young children lie in graves in the church’s cemetery in Oregon City. And the Followers have reported a suspiciously high number of stillborn deaths in recent years." All very sad indeed. How can anyone rationalize the death of an innocent child in the name of God? Parents have the right to feed and dress their children as they wish, but I stand firm in the fact that they do not have the right to watch them die.