Wednesday, March 23, 2011

what are you, sick?.....

as mentioned in past blogs, during the course of my life, i have made a lot of friends. i don't hang out with all of them currently, because, let's face it, there's just not enough time. i stay in touch with many, through emails, phone calls and such, but my core group, these days, is a small circle of good friends in my day-to-day life.

if you remember the premise of this entire blogsite, it's that i'm old. as such, most of my friends are too. my circle ranges in age from about 48 to over 80, so each member of the group has been around in his own life, before intersecting mine, and each has his/her own stories to tell, not to mention, aches and pains. (ok, there's one who is 47, but we forgive him. ah sweet bird of youth!) lately, i've noticed something funny as i sit in conversations with most of them. we've all grown fond of exchanging what ails you stories, and it's almost become a contest to see who can use the best words in describing their particular condition. at a recent dinner party, the conversation went something like this:

me: hi.
friend 1: hi, how are you?
me: i'm good, thanks. you?
friend 1: i've had better days.
me: what's up?
friend 1: well, my back is out. i went to the chiropractor and he took an x-ray and informed that my discs are out of whack and that i have a subluxation.
me: a what?
friend 1: a subluxation. you know, when your discs are not straight and your spine is crooked.
me: oh, i see. good word, btw.

i'm thinking to myself, the game is on.

friend 2: i had that once. it took a while but my chiropractor took care of it and it healed.
me: i'm glad to hear that.
friend 2: but now i have a torn rotator cuff. doctor says i might need surgery.

rotator cuff? subluxation? shit, these guys are serious.

me: i'm sorry to hear that. does it hurt?
friend 2: sometimes.
friend 3: talk about hurt, i have a torn meniscus. hurts like a bastard.
me: can they do anything.
friend 3: we're looking into it. there are these great doctors in new york.
friend 2: i have some really great doctors.
friend 4: oh yeah? well, my docs are so great that they’re famous.
friend 3: my doctors are so good that you can’t even get an appointment with them.
me: well, good luck with that. keep me posted.

i mutter to myself, meniscus? wtf?? he's winning.

friend 2: btw, david, how are your feet?
me: oh, you mean my peripheral neuropathy? same as always, a huge pain in the....feet. and i chuckle. (i've just surged ahead).
friend 4: sorry about your feet. did you hear that jerry had a t.i.a. you know, a transient, ischemic attack.
me: really? is he ok? (shit, jerry's winning).
friend 4: yes, it was brief, but he's not drooling or anything. and with him, it's hard to tell if there's brain damage. (we all laugh mercilessly and without pity).
me: poor jerry. i'll have to go see him.
friend 4: me too, although i hate going over there. his partner lou, has c.o.p.d. you know chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. he wheezes like an old bellows organ. very disconcerting. (seems our compassion is a tad light here, and suddenly goddam lou is winning and he’s not even here.)
friend 2: You know? i had a subcutaneous hematoma once.

i think, damn, what's going on here?

friend 3: that's nothing, i had a pulmonary embolism.


And suddenly it was a free-for-all.....

non-hodgkins lymphoma, take that!
epstein-barr disease.
wait a minute. epstein-barr? hey, wasn't that back in the 90's? you can't use that one.
why not, i have it, so there!
oh yeah? herpes simplex. Take that.
i'll see your simplex and raise you a zoster, you know, shingles.
amateurs, macular degeneration,
Wusses. ok, i was saving this .....transdermal magnesium chloride therapy. beat that!

me: (thinking to myself), omg. i thought i had this wrapped up with the neuropathy, but apparently these guys want a real match. so i counter with,

me: did i ever tell you guys the story of the old cocaine days, when we were just a bunch of fools getting high, and one day my lips swelled up like a ubangi native with plates in them? it was weird. then, days later my tongue swelled up the size of a baseball and almost choked me in my sleep, finally it hit my genitals and my penis got huge! (i didn't really mind that one so much). but of course, when something attacks you down there you head to the doctor, so i did. he diagnosed it as.....(are you ready? game kicker here.....) angio-neurotic edema. it was kind of a temporary allergic condition of sorts, that lasts about six weeks and then stops. very mysterious at the time.
friend 1: really?
friend 2: angio what?
friend 3: when was this?
friend 4: listen, i gotta go.

suddenly i felt bad. i probably shouldn't have pulled that ace out of my pocket, but hey, it was a serious game. they're my friends, and they won't hold it against me. someone's gotta win, right? and tomorrow, i'll send emails inquiring about the various meniscii, rotator cuffs, and c.o.p.d. and of course the t.i.a. victim. we'll all gather again next month and play another round. by then, someone will come up with a doozy. i never thought our lives would come down to a rousing game of who's the sickest old man in the room? but the real question is, why am i trying so hard for it to be me? maybe I need psychoanalysis.
(ooh, good word. gotta save that one for next time).

Monday, March 14, 2011

erin go blah.....

remember groundhog day? how i couldn't just let it pass with an observation or two? well, happy st. patrick's day.

let's discuss.

you all know who he was, right? he was born in what was then, england in the 4th century, kidnapped as a boy to ireland, escaped, became a cleric, returned to ireland and used the shamrock with it's three leaf shape to teach christianity and especially the trinity to heathens, and essentially brought christianity to ireland. you did all know that right? well spoiler alert in reverse if you didn't.

i've always heard some stuff about his driving the snakes out of ireland. let's put this puppy to bed right now. first of all, ireland is an island, (that's not so easy to say. try it three times fast). it is separated from the land mass of europe so there are no snakes. nada. el zippo. so that's just a big fairy tale. (speaking of fairies, i'll get there in a minute). so there's no snake story involved, but a similar story is popular about a pied-piper and the rats of hamelin, but i digress.

over the centuries, the irish claimed him as their own, and celebrations began around the 17th century to commemorate him, involving wearing the color green (to commemorate the rolling hills of the motherland) and of course shamrocks. the wearing of the green actually began as a political statement in the 1798 irish rebellion led by soldiers. you did know that too, right? come on people, get with it.

so the wearing of the green is a tradition, and people all over get in the spirit and wear green, irish or not. why? do jews wear crucifixes on easter? do caucasians wear dashikis on kwanzaa? do we all don chinese hats on new year's eve of the rat? i think not.

in more modern times, the celebrations have been formalized into mostly parades and drinking festivals. yes, there's corned beef and cabbage (although i mostly think of corned beef as a jewish thing, personally.) but apparently the irish claim it as their own for one day a year, so i just let it be. no point in making a fuss. my people claim it the rest of the year. (and quite frankly, i'll take a jewish corned beef sandwich over an irish one anyday, but that's just me.) as for the drink festivals, that's a peculiar thing.

the irish, it seems, are famous, nay, notorious for drinking. (see drunken irish). i'm not sure why. (yes, i know they drink a lot, but then so do presbyterians. (albeit an irishman's idea of a good time is a shot and a beer, while the prezzies prefer a highball or a martini.) it's not a big deal to drink a lot. nuns do it, only they use coffee cups for propriety's sake. i even know a lot of gays that drink at least as much as the irish, although the preference, of course, would be for more lady-like drinks like cosmos or appletinis. (oh mary, don't ask). as i said, i'm not sure why the irish have such a bad rap about the drinking, but if an impartial observer took notes on saint patrick's day, the jury would declare the entire irish clan a bunch of drunks. (but then again, the same could be said about 100 million people right here on superbowl sunday, and that's just a football game, so there.) but hey, it's only one day, ok? ease up, will ya?

so to sum up so far, we have a group of people, identified with a particular island in great britain, but living all over the world, of course, who once a year dress up in green, wear shamrocks in one form or another, march in parades, hang out in bars and get drunk. hmmm. when you think about it, it's not much of a holiday really. not like christmas with it's presents, or hanukkah with its festival of lights and potato latkes, or even 4th of july with it's picnics, bar-b-ques, and fireworks. it's not even a day off from work when it falls on a weekday. i'm truly not sure what the big deal is about st. pat's day. but faith and begorrah, the irish sure love it.

and about that parade. there's usually a big one in lots of cities, but new york's is perhaps the biggest of them all. (after all, they do have a cathedral there named for him, and it's a beauty, too). many of the police and fireman are of irish descent, and in their parade, pretty much all are welcome to build a float, raise your banner, fly your colors and be proud.....except the gays. for some odd reason, they don't allow the gays to march in the saint patrick's day parade in new york. do they think there are no irish gays? i mean, if oscar wilde were alive, would they let him march? pretty good playwright, proud irishman and all? how about rosie o'donnell? she's alive. how come she can't march? i've seen her march in gay pride parades. she happens to be an excellent marcher and i think she would add something to the festivities, but alas, not allowed. hmmm. i guess that let's me out too. nice jewish gay boy with irish friends, forbidden to march. for a holiday that's really not such a much, seems to me they could use all the help, color, style and panache they can get. (although truth be told, the gays are not partial to green beer. too hard to find matching accessories.)

you know what? screw it. i'm putting this holiday up on the shelf with groundhog day. no big whoop. and this year on st. patrick's day, i'm going to a jewish deli to eat a hot corned beef sandwich on rye with good deli mustard and a pickle. (way better than boiled cabbage and potatoes.) rosie and i will see you at the gay pride parade.

top of the mornin' to you, and erin go bragh.

Monday, March 7, 2011

take 6 of these and call me in the morning.....

"abc news was there for a drug bust today, among lavish homes and luxury cars. florida doctors accused of writing prescriptions for powerful pain killers."

so began diane sawyer on her news tonight.  a multi-million dollar pill mill bust.  but let's start at the beginning

i live in south florida, as you all know, and sometimes we're very savvy and sophisticated, (such as the florida grand opera, or the new world symphony, or the art basel world art event). other times not so much. (such as the stand your ground law, allowing citizens to kill each other, legally, no gay adoptions (repealed just recently), and of course the ever popular no pregnant pigs in confined spaces). this piece is about the not so much.

i try not to write political pieces. i leave that to the talking heads on television, (o'reilly, hannity, olberman, and maddow, and of course the huffinton post). so if politics is mentioned here, it will only be in passing, with a minimum amount of indictment, although there is plenty to go around.

we have ourselves a situation here, in this country, where drugs are virtually out of control. (re-read that last sentence with the voice of strother martin from cool hand luke. it's way better that way). there's the illegal kind of drugs, of course, which you can buy from your local dealer, thug, gangster, or stock broker (hey, the market was down awhile, ok? some of those guys branched out. can't blame them.) police and authorities do their best but it's a tough fight. there's also the other kind, legal drugs. prescription drugs. pain killers, to be exact. this is the scenario, as it stands in most parts of the country.

there has been a rash of pain clinics that have gone into operation across the country. apparently there's big money in it. people go to a doctor for a back-ache, shoulder-ache, knees, elbows, what have you, and he or she will write a prescription for pain killers which the patient will subsequently fill at a pain clinic. (these must be the un-insured, as the others would go to walgreens, rite-aid or cvs, i'm guessing). now here's the catch. people abusing pain killers, like oxycontin, vicodin and others, are able to go to different doctors, get multiple prescriptions, fill them, and either spend their days and nights buzzed, (not a bad choice for some), or sell them for a profit, make some money, go buy more, and essentially become drug dealers in legal, but controlled substances. (although if you're caught dealing, i' m pretty sure you spend some quality time being bubba's bitch in the slammer, and you're going to need those same pain killers to soothe the hurt emanating from your rectum.)

this last kind of dealing is possible to control with a little help. authorities have devised a database kind of thing, where each doc is required to enter the name of the patient, the type of pain killers, the amount, and the date. that way, if another doctor pulls up that patient, he can see whether or not he's filling this kind of script very often or not. if he is, the doctor has some control and can opt not to give him or her more. it's a great plan, really and for the legitimate patient, there's no down side. they can check, i'm not abusing, i'm good to go. for the doctors, it's a win/win as they're more than likely not contributing to drug abuse or dealing, they're being responsible doctors, and they stay out of trouble when the patient who's dealing gets busted. personally, i think the database is a good idea. (but hey, can't go by me. i think funding the arts and paying teachers a competitive salary are good ideas too).

so who, you might ask, would object to this system?

apparently, our new governor, rick scott. he came to office claiming he was elected by the people to trim budgets, stop the deficit spending and make florida a fiscally sound entity. (good idea, really). oh, and jobs. his slogan for his campaign was let's get to work. (like the unemployed didn't want to?) so he takes office and begins to do his thing for our great state, and decides to veto the new law that the pesky legislature passed last year, allowing for the creation of the database to fight the pill mills. he wants to veto it, despite the fact that the state is not paying for it. it's not publicly funded. not his money. not our money. (something about invasion of privacy). so i'm thinking that talking to governor rick would go something like this:

me: hi gov. how's the job going?
him: not too bad david. the job has its perks. but there are downsides too.
me: really? seems like it would be a good gig. mansion and all, company car, huge treasury to plunder.
him: well, mr. smarty, i had a mansion before, and plenty of cars and more money than you could shake a stick at. i had a really good hospital company for a while. made a fortune, although they did make me give some back.
me: i hear ya. bummer. i hate when that happens. so, gov, what's the downside?
him: i tell people to do stuff and they don't. they have to take it up with the legislature. what kind of crap is that? i'm either the boss or i ain't.
me: yeah, raw deal. this cockeyed state kinda works like that. sorry. it can cramp one's style. so why the veto of the pill mill database?
him: i'm afraid of invasion of privacy issues. having doctors knowing which pills you take and how many.
me: um...excuse me, governor, but aren't doctors supposed to know that?
him: well of course, but not a lot of doctors. why would you need a lot of doctors to know your business.
me: a better question would be, why would you need a lot of doctors to write prescriptions, no?
him: i just don't like people looking over my shoulder and in my stuff. i'm a very private person. i like to keep my actions private.
me: so you went into public life to achieve that?
him: you ask a lot of questions, you know that? me, i'm skeptical. i saw that nice rush limbaugh get into trouble just because the doctors were into his business. doesn't seem right.
me: that nice rush limbaugh? um....ok. i gotta go. good luck with your veto and getting it through that pesky legislature.
him: great talking to you. now, let's get to work.

of course that was just an imaginary conversation, but i'm stymied why anyone is against the database to help control the flow of drugs and all of the related deaths. i doubt he'll be successful with his veto, and i think the legislature will prevail on this one, although it's gonna piss him off, i'm sure. go figure. you spend 70 million dollars of your own money to win an election (buy an election?), and you win, and now you're king of the world. (actually he could save a lot of money for the state by disbanding the legislature, but honestly, these days, that only happens in egypt). for now, he's stuck. he's the boss, but not the king. 

another classic case of be careful what you wish for.