Casualties of War: A Blast from the Past

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An article that came up on my feed notes that only 1.3% of people who overdosed on opiods had a prescription for them.

A question left unanswered is how many had a recent prescription but turned to street drugs when cut off by their doctors (who have to because of government interference in the doctor-patient relationship) and how many of those with the prescriptions “supplemented” by street drugs because government “guidelines” prevented their doctors from prescribing adequate medication to control their pain.

Prohibition II, The “War on Drugs”, whatever you want to call it, is an abomination.  It’s the driving force behind multiple assaults on the Constitution.  There’s far more violence and bloodshed caused by drugs being illegal than by the drugs themselves.

The cure is very much worse than the disease.

Among the casualties of late are people suffering from severe pain, especially chronic pain.  Among the very best medicines to alleviate the suffering of those people are opioids.  The problem is that they have a loose family relationship with illegal Opium (thus “opioids”) derivatives like heroin.  Yes, if abused they are addictive and care needs to be taken in ceasing their use when one has made heavy use of them (more on that later).

People in Washington, including President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are talking about an Opioid Crisis and pushing for every more restrictions on the use of these medicines.

The problem is, they don’t offer even a plan for a good substitute.  Jeff Sessions “suggestion” for dealing with the “Opioid epidemic” which is being blamed on prescription drug use is “People should say no to drug use.”

Have screaming pain so bad you can’t even see straight? “No thanks on the Vicodin. I’m just saying ‘no’ like Jeff Sessions suggested.”

Well fuck you, Jeff Sessions.

I don’t usually use that kind of language on this blog, but…

Look, I have friends who have serious pain issues that nothing else will touch.  I’ve been in “can’t do anything but curl up in the corner and whimper” pain.  But go and try to get one of than handful of medicines that actually put a dent in that pain, not make it go away but just cut it back enough so you can…mostly…function and you find yourself facing the inquisition for “drug seeking behavior” (yeah, I’m having cluster migraines just so I can get some drugs here).

And it’s truly ironic that they call it a “war on drugs”, considering that some of our nations defenders are among its casualties.

One example:

Late one summer night in 2014, Kevin Keller broke into his best friend’s home. Keller was a U.S. Navy vet wracked with constant pain, and because his right arm had been crippled by a stroke, he had to use his left hand to scrawl a note of apology to his buddy: “Marty, Sorry I broke into your house and took your gun to end the pain! FU VA!!! Can’t take it anymore.” He then drove to his nearby Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Wytheville, Virginia, and pounded on the locked doors of the medical office, probably out of frustration or as a final protest, since the facility had been closed for hours. Keller then put the barrel of his friend’s 9 mm pistol to his head and shot himself.

Grieving friends told The Roanoke Times that Keller couldn’t handle how the VA was weaning him off painkillers. His doctors had told him cutting back would extend his life, but Marty Austin, whose gun Keller stole that night, told the paper, “He did not want a longer life if he was going to be miserable and couldn’t do anything because of the pain.”

Cutting back on his pain medication was going to extend his life?  Yeah, how did that work out exactly?

Another:

Zach Williams came home to Minnesota with two Purple Hearts for his military service in Iraq. He also carried other lasting war wounds.

Back pain made it hard for him to stand. A brain injury from the explosions he endured made his moods erratic.

Williams eased the chronic pain with the help of narcotics prescribed for years by the Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center. Then the VA made a stark and sudden shift: Instead of doling out pills to thousands of veterans like him — a policy facing mounting criticism — they began cutting dosages or canceling prescriptions, and, instead, began referring many vets to alternative therapies such as acupuncture and yoga.

On Sept. 20, 2013, police were called to Williams’ Apple Valley home, donated to him by a veterans group grateful for his sacrifice. Williams, 35, lay dead in an upstairs bedroom. He had overdosed on a cocktail of pills obtained from a variety of doctors.

Authorities ruled his death an accident, officially “mixed drug toxicity.”

In desperation to relieve the chronic pain, and probably dealing with withdrawal from what he has previously been prescribed, he goes to multiple doctors to get relief resulting in “mixed drug toxity”–which could have been avoided had one doctor been able to prescribe medication adequate to relieving his pain.

And look at those suggested alternatives.  Acupunture?  Yoga?  Yoga might have some benefit in certain cases but is worthless for a large number of others.  And acupuncture?  Basically a placebo.  There may be a slight counter-irritant effect that helps in some cases (the “chi-meridian” stuff is pure nonsense).

People are dying, accidentally or deliberately by their own hand, because they cannot get adequate relief from pain.  That’s the price of this “drug war.”

It needs to stop.

New Pupper Comes Home

As I have mentioned elsewhere, we are getting a service dog for my daughter.  The process starts with choosing a suitable puppy which then has to go into training.  Yesterday we went to the breeder to complete the adoption process.  My daughter had done her research, found a breeder not to far away with puppies of a breed she wanted (Australian Shepherd), that had a litter close to ready for adoption.  So we started fundraising and were able to complete the adoption.  Athena named the puppy “Dango” (a Japanese sweet).

This was an opportunity for Athena to actually meet the puppy for the first time.  But first, we had to corral a couple of escapees who took the opportunity of the opening of the door to go exploring.  Video of her first meeting (along with some of the corralling effort) here:

You can see that Athena’s almost in tears as the breeder’s husband hands Dango to her.

After the video, I grabbed a few more pictures.

 

We still need to raise money for the training.  Dango is intended as a fully trained and certified service dog to assist Athena with issues related to PTSD.  This requires extensive training that does not come cheap and which insurance does not cover.  If you can find it in your hear to help, you can find the fundraiser here.  Every little bit helps, even if it’s just helping to spread the word.

Drazi Politics: A Blast from the Recent Past

This was originally posted earlier this year, but with the recent “impeachment” vote in the House, it becomes particularly relevant once again.

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An episode of Babylon 5 focused on a cultural practice of the alien species the Drazi.  Every so often they had a big battle between Drazi wearing green scarves and Drazi wearing purple scarves.

There was no philosophical or economic dispute between the two sides.  There was no matter of class or status or race that stood between them.  No, they had a big box of mixed scarves and whoever drew out a purple one was on the purple side, and whoever drew out a green one was on the green side.

American politics has long born entirely too much resemblance to that conflict.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are differences of principle between the major parties, and between various minor ones.  However, those differences in principle get forgotten when it comes to actions by the party representative in office.

Republican implements gun control by executive fiat?  That’s unimportant, his supporters say. “Who cares about…” or worse. “4-D Chess.” Democrat proposes gun control?  High dudgeon from the Republican’s supporters.

Democrat says “we must enforce our immigration laws”? Cheers, or at least silence from Democrat pundits and voters.  Republican says the same thing, and continues policies started under a previous, Democrat, office holder? Screams of “concentration camps”, “never again!” and “war crime” (one wonders with whom we are supposed to be at war).

For entirely too many people, principle takes a back seat to supporting “their team.” Unlike the Drazi, they may have chosen a side based on principle rather than simply pulling a scarf out of a box but when it comes to actual political action it’s “Green!” “Purple!”

Or “Red!” “Blue!”

The Car Stereo Odyssey

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A while back I’d bought a new stereo for the Explorer–something that can “talk” directly to my phone to replace my kludge of a phone via Bluetooth to an FM transmitter then the FM transmitter to the car stereo. Took a bit to figure out the tools and equipment I needed to install: dash kit for a “double din” system, plus adapter for an Explorer with Premium Sound.

So far so good. I get everything together, wire up the adapter to the harness provided by the radio manufacturer and…dead. Won’t turn on. I double check the wiring (pretty straightforward match wire colors on radio’s harness with adapter’s harness). Good. Check continuity through all the wires with a multimeter. 0.1 ohm in each of the connections.

Oh, I also check the voltages reaching the radio (sticking probes in the back of the plugs while it’s all hooked up with the car running. All correct there too.

Since it was bought through Amazon and it turns out that Amazon has support for the unit. So I get onto chat with them. They give me some things to try. Nothing.

Next step, then, is to go to the manufacturer. They talk me through a couple of the same things, but since I’m getting power from the car to the unit, not turning on means unit’s dead. So they send me an email to get an RMA started. I provide them with proof of purchase (Amazon order number) and shipping information. They agree to send the replacement in advance so long as I send the old one back within 10 days of receipt of the new one and they have a cc on file in case I don’t. I should get an email in a couple days, they say, with tracking information for the new one.

Couple more day pass. Get an email. Not shipment advice with tracking information. No, “the unit you bought has been discontinued. We’d like to substitute this one instead, please respond if that’s okay. So I respond that yes, it’s okay.

Couple more days pass, which brings us to today. “That unit is out of stock. We’re trying to with one of our partners at Amazon to get you a replacement product. Any tracking information will come form an amazon e-mail and…

…you should receive the product on 12/24/19.

You can believe as much of that as you want to, I suppose.

Angry

I had intended to reblog a post from over at According to Hoyt, but the “reblog” button wasn’t working on the browsers I had open.  So… here’s an intro:

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Yesterday there was a comment by someone here about how he wanted blood on the streets.

Sure. we all want blood on the streets. In a general and metaphorical way. Except some of us have seen blood on the streets. And those of us who have don’t want it.

Now is avoiding blood on the streets consigning ourselves and our children to the type of hell other countries have gone through for three generations? I don’t know. It might not even be possible for people like me. It’s always a bad sign when I wake up strangling the bed clothes and shaking them, which is the reason I’ve been up for two hours now and it’s not even 8 am. It’s a sign the anger is starting leak around the edges. And we’re nowhere at the level of oppression going on in Venezuela or even vaguely approaching the crap people put up with for 70 years plus in the USSR.

However people who lived in the USSR and people from Poland, say, might very well tell you it was worth to keep their heads down and quiet until they could be free again. After all if you’re dead you’ll never see freedom again anyway.

Which is fine, but being a live lamb might not be possible for most Americans in this day and age.

This in turn brings me to why we’re angry.

We’re angry because this is a gross violation of our country as constituted, our country as we’re committed to, our country as a country of laws.

Read that paragraph again. And realize that the fashionable habit these days of adopting a pose of the “the republic is gone, gone, gone” is bullshit. The only people who can think that are people who have never lived in another country as one of them.

Read the rest at the source.

Performers Having a Good Time: A Musical Interlude

This is a short one because, well, I know what I’m looking for here but finding it on demand can be difficult.

One of the things I like to see in a musical performance is performers who clearly and obviously are really enjoying being out on the stage.  That kind of energy can be contagious.  Now, mind you, that kind of vibe is generally going to go with music quite different from most of what I listen to these days, but it can make a pleasant change of pace.

Saw this one on TV way back in the day.  It’s really what made me, back then, a “Melissa Manchester” fan.  Mind you, back then I did listen to a lot of 80’s pop and earlier softer rock and ballads (this was before my “Musical Awakening”.  Still, it makes a nice change of pace for me even today.

 

The song in this one is fun in a goofy way but watch the guys singing and grooving to it.  Really watch them.  They are clearly having a blast.

 

This one was similar in timeframe to the one above.  What made this one is the group was performing in front of an immense live audience.  You can see that the band is pumped.

 

I’ve never known Floor not to be into it when she’s on stage.  This is a good example of that.

 

Watch the expressions, especially during the slow-mo introduction to the video.  Another group out there having a good time.

 

Then there’s these folk.  Their whole raison d’etre was that they loved that “oldies” music (“oldies” when I was a kid; positively ancient now) and you can clearly see that they had fun with it:

 

Personal Progress

So these pants arrived yesterday (the pic is clickable and goes to the order page):

The size of these pants is 32X28.  They are a little short.  I could probably go to a bit longer inseam (29 or maybe 30), but they fit in the waist.

Look at that again:  Pants with a 32″ waist (81 cm for you metric folk) fit me as of last night.  I started this year wearing a 40″ waist and probably should have been wearing a 42″.  That means I’m down 8-10″ (20-25 cm for you metric folk) since February (when I started getting serious about diet and exercise.

Overall, my health has seen a significant improvement.  As I mentioned yesterday, in many ways I’m in the best shape (as in fitness) of my life.  My blood pressure is good.  My cholesterol numbers are good.  And my average blood sugar (as measured by A1C) is good.

So…not bad for a guy who’s just about to turn 59.