A Serious Problem

Caveat: This blog talks about the partners addiction and suicide.

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Recently our family has watched a (for me) distant member continue to self destruct. From early on in his life he has been addicted. I suspect alcohol at first but quickly drugs. He has been to rehab many times and now in his twenties he was in a serious accident with his transportation. A short while before this he was hospitalized for an overdose. In the hospital following this latest incident it seems he has expressed that he couldn’t cope any longer.

I can imagine that to have spent most of your life battling addiction, always needing drugs, in and out of rehab unsuccessfully, it would be difficult to see anything in your future except continued pain. I can understand the desire to end it all.

Several blogs have talked about that kind of hopelessness. It is devastating to feel that there is nothing that you can do to stop the circle of pain. Most of the blogs that talk about this have suffered from mental health issues and many have found help with medications, therapy and coping skills. Unfortunately, I know several families who have suffered with the problem as it relates to addiction and wish there were more successful help for sufferers. Some people are helped by rehab but there are those for whom rehab is not enough. It has made me suspect that for these people there are underlying problems, possibly mental health issues, that have never been identified and addressed.

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It makes me suspect these victims have spent their lives self-medicating their unaddressed mental health problem with drugs and/or alcohol. I hope that as we look more carefully into the people who are suffering with this that more help can be found.

The past lives with us

Many times when I am reading other’s blogs I see the tragedies they have endured. So many had childhoods fraught with abuse, neglect and pain. My life has been so different. I makes me wonder why I have been plagued with anxiety and IBSD. Then I remember that even though I grew up in a loving family attitudes and ideas about parenting were different.

Pat & Murrel Clark
My mother and father

My mother was isolated from me when I was small. I remember little about it. She was diagnosed with TB that she caught from my paternal grandfather. She had a very mild lung case and was allowed to stay at home in a separate part of the house. Unfortunately, the TB attacked her adrenaline gland and the doctors were unaware of this. She was well for a while and then by my early teens had declined and was quite ill but no one was able to diagnose her disease. The ins and outs of that period are for another post.

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The bottom line is that I was aware that my mother was very ill but the family never talked about it with me. It was thought that you didn’t share this with children. She was in and out of the hospital and my aunt would come to help and keep me entertained by taking me shopping. Needless to say this was not a good coping skill to be learned by a teenager.

Just prior to succumbing to her illness she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease and lived to be 95. I know now that those years of her illness were terrifying for me and explain anxiety and fear of illness. Anxiety and all its companions also run in my family.

It is nice to know why I suffered in those years and it is wonderful to have coping skills that keep me sane. So much was not understood in those days and mental health was not discussed or treated. Women had the vapors and spent several days in the hospital with “nerves.”

Even though mental health is not treated as well as it should be it is much better than in my growing years. I am grateful for the strides that have given others help and hope. I pray that things will continue to improve and that one day things will be much better.

New York abortion law?

(I hope in the following I will be able to talk about the new law as I have heard it. I have no intention of discussing opposing views on the topic. I am just trying to wrap my brain around what I have heard. It seems that politics has now invaded medical ethics.)

(There are moral side issues that influence the issue such as rape and mother/fetus problems. These are not the ones I am addressing.)

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A hot topic is in the news again (and again)…abortion. I am going to try to talk about this from my perspective as a nurse. If I understood how the law in New York is phrased an abortion may be performed up to and including labor. If this is correct then it seems we have totally gone off the rails.

There are many people opposed to abortion in its entirety. They see conception as the creation of a being and that happening the moment a sperm and a cell join.

Others feel that it is not a life until it is viable…usually after at least 12 weeks. My recollections of earlier abortion ideas are there would be no abortions after 12 weeks except for extreme reasons. If a fetus is not old enough to survive outside the uterus it could be aborted.

Those seem to be the two sides previously as far as I can tell.

Now it seems that abortions can be performed on those old enough to survive outside the womb. Even to the point that the “baby” is about to be born. I find this idea unbelievable. I cannot imagine why anyone who could want an abortion would want to carry until labor and then decide to end a life. Are we talking about a “full term” infant? As a nurse I could not stand by and see that life snuffed out. Why would you not just give the baby up for adoption?

Am I understanding this law correctly?

Am I in the twilight zone or does this sound the least bit rational?

No matter my stance on abortion in general (not for discussion on Word Press) taking the life of a child while mother is in labor with a baby considered full term surely must be murder. P.E.R.I.O.D/

Our emphasis  has for too long been on political views and some sane alternatives are not being addressed.

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We have to reach the understanding that attention must be placed on preventing unwanted pregnancies. Prevention is the key. Practically little money or interest is on the necessary methods of pregnancy prevention. Help must be easily accessible to everyone and free. Education must begin early and be offered freely.

It seems to me that this is the only way to begin to address the problem no matter your position on the topic.  This will not be easy or quick but we have to start now making this a priority.

 

Question: Do I understand this law correctly?

We can’t grasp the infinite

venus-of-willendorfI was thinking today about how our image of God (if you have one) colors who we are and how we think. If anthropology tells us correctly the images of God dug up from very old civilizations were mostly feminine. Women with bulbous breasts and often pregnant. The idea that women created life brought about ideas of their sacredness.

I don’t know that I have ever read any study that gives a step by step progression of how and why that image changed. Might be fun to look that up but I suspect it had to do with the shift from a hunter-gatherer society to a less mobile farming one. As civilization progressed roles continued to be defined and somehow the God as woman shifted. In many cultures there were multiple Gods connected with the perception that Gods controlled the vagaries of the earth and could be appealed to to bring good outcomes.

As God, melded into a single entity in several cultures that entity was primarily male. Our Christian beginnings, linked to the Jewish culture, were firmly entrenched in a male image.

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All this being said how does this affect how we think? If we see a male, patriarchal God we will expect a male dominated society. Our society has had this aspect for quite a long time. If we believe in a God we have to learn to see God as more. God as feminine, God as neutral, God as gay, transgender or whatever allows us to feel connected with the divine. This idea can be offensive to some but the point is we connect with a God who is like us for right or wrong. That is why some people have had a difficult time with images of god. The image we have definitely colors our thinking. It is time we espouse a very broad image. After all, we can’t possibly grasp the infinite. Don’t put God in a box.

Stupid words

words can hurtThis is a re-blog of something I wrote a while ago. It came up recently and so I thought it needed to be said again.

 

People can say stupid things. It is amazing to me that they don’t really think about what they are saying. When I ran a grief support group I heard some goodies.

 

You can have another baby (to someone who just had a miscarriage)

God needed another angel in heaven ( to someone who lost a child)

 Your husband wouldn’t want you to be sad (to a new widow)

I’m sure things are better now (to someone whose wife died a few months ago)

God never gives us more than we can handle (to someone who lost two teenagers in an accident)

Everything will be alright (to someone diagnosed with a fatal illness)

Sometimes when we don’t know what to say we can fall into the trap of saying something stupid or offensive. We may not mean it that way but that is how it comes out. When people are going through tough times they don’t need to hear these kind of answers. They need to hear

Can I bring dinner by tomorrow?

I’m going to a movie tomorrow can I pick you up?

I am so sorry

I will call you soon (only if you really will)

Give a hug

Cry with them

Solid concrete help is what is needed. Only say what you mean. If you can help try to do something specific. Don’t just say “how can I help?” Instead ask if you can pick up children, run an errand, offer a day out. Each individual needs different things. You have to gauge what will help.

compassion-is-a-verbMost importantly offer compassion and love. Nothing is more needed. If you have suffered a similar loss you may understand better what they are going through but don’t assume it will be exactly the same. Just being there is critical. Don’t just say something…..do something!

 

In the midst of life we are in death.

In the midst of life we are in death. This phrase is often heard at funerals. What does this mean? It is a reminder that life and death are linked. From the moment we are born we are dying. That is not morbid it is just the truth. In fact, from the moment we are conceived we are dying. We are set into motion like the winding of a clock. At some point it will wear down and stop. In our world it can be snuffed out by an illness, accident or crime but nevertheless we each have an expiration date.

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Some cultures accept this fact easier than those of us in the western world. We worry about death. We can feel fear and panic just thinking about it.

Before I was a nurse I had ideas about death. I never wanted to think about it or be with someone at their death.  After being at many deaths I have changed my feelings. I have seen people in so much distress that death is a friend.

Most of the people I have been with just slipped quietly away. No anxiety, no visible fear. Some spoke to relatives on the other side. Whether they really saw them I don’t know but I would like to think they did. Some expressed peace.

A long time ago I complained to a minister friend that I was upset about the death of a child in an accident. I fumed that her life had been cut short. He said he had a different perspective. He viewed each person’s life as a candle that burned until it went out. That could be when the candle is completely burned or just after it is lit. Each person has a life span that is different. This view was a comfort to me and still is.

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Death is not something to fear. When we remove that from our minds life becomes brighter. It is not easy to do and we may waver from time to time. It is difficult to imagine not being alive and can produce sadness when we wish we would still be around to see grandchildren or great grandchildren marry and have children of their own.

 

No matter our age and the length of life no one wants to be gone. Life is beautiful in spite of any trials we face. The important thing is to treasure each moment and when we come to the end say “I have lived!”

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We’ve always done it this way

done itYesterday I wrote about”status quo.” Today I have been thinking about it from a different perspective. The culture that most of us live in likes to maintain itself just as it is. In the US the congress and senate do not want to make changes. I know they realize that they are in a wonderful place and certainly don’t want to change. How I would love to make laws that I don’t have to follow, raise my own pay, decide on my own retirement and have health insurance that is better than anyone else in the country. This is a very negative sort of “status quo.” It is unfortunate that there is probably no way to change any of this short of revolution and that is not an acceptable option.

Lawmakers are not the only ones who like the “status quo.” There are many churches, synagogues, mosques etc. who also have a vested interest in no change. A religious facility is one place where your focus must be on what your faith requires of you and not on spending lots of money on buildings and taking care of yourself. For most faiths the emphasis is on others. It is important to put focus on the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless and all those in any need. Just perpetuating yourself is not an option.

I understand where religion is concerned I am guilty of being a part of maintaining the “status quo.” It is so easy to slip into that mode. We convince ourselves that drawing people in requires beautiful buildings and that may be a factor. It is where the percentage of money goes that we miss.

There are, of course, many other institutions who maintain the “status quo” to the detriment of our culture but that may be another blog.

positive changeAll in all, just staying the way we “have always been” is not always the right path. Change can be positive even though hard.  Change is inevitable. Helping to make it good starts with us. Every change has a chain reaction. Do something and let’s make it good.