• human trafficking in our lives


    I wrote this 2 or 3 years ago and didn't have the guts to publish it anywhere.


    This one has been on my mind for a few years, and I think it's ready to come out into words.  It makes me sick, but I need to face it.

    Human trafficking has been around since the dawn of time.  Humans have forcibly been removed from their homes and families for many reasons.  Sometimes it's war, sometimes it's poverty, sometimes it's personal, sometimes it's just the law, like when a government requires forced laborers.  All ages and both sexes have been shoved around, bought and sold, and pushed aside for time immemorial.

    This is not acceptable today.  Humans have rights.  We have compassion.  And we close our eyes.

    I grew up in a fairly protected bubble concerning these things, so I didn't think much about it.  I knew about slavery and Roman roads and whatnot, and I had heard that babies are sold into adoption, but I honestly didn't have to confront it in any way, so it didn't cross my mind very much.

    I got a phone call around 11 p.m. one evening.  I was 18, and still living at home.  My mother woke me up and said a friend that my sister had grown up with was calling me.

    I was told that my best friend that I grew up with in school, during her first semester of college away from home, was found dead in an apartment in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She had been forced into a van at weapon point in the parking lot at a shopping center, and had been held hostage in this apartment along with several other girls.  One of the girls survived, and when she was discovered by police, she was able to give them a detailed description of what had happened.  These young women had all been tied up for several days, mercilessly brutalized and raped a number of times, some while being strangled, some just till they died from the abuse, and the men doing this had camera equipment set up.  The police were trying to bust a porn ring that was into making snuff films.  I don't care what you read about snuff films not being 'real'.  Keep closing your eyes if you don't want to believe that.  My best friend is dead, and somewhere there were people getting off on watching her being raped to death after it was filmed.  Snuff films are like illegal drugs, you aren't going to find them in legal places.  Anyway, my sister's friend said she called and told me this because she knew I was very close to her and thought I should be told by someone who cared.

    You can imagine how shocking a phone call like that could be.  Even though we were not aware of it at the time, I have Asperger's, and back then I was still in a 'deep' state, not very likely to be able to respond socially or emotionally.  I simply went dead inside, said thank you, and hung up.  My hovering anxious mother asked me if I was ok, and without looking at her I said Yes, I'm fine, and I went back to bed and stared into the dark, not reacting, shutting it all off inside as surely as any Vulcan would have.  I didn't acknowledge it again for five years, and my mother never brought it up.  I regret that she never tried.

    That was a little over 29 years ago.  My friend's father and his business disappeared, and I was never able to track him down.  If I could go back in time, I would have asked my sister's friend if she could get funeral info for me and send flowers and write my friend's dad a letter, because I know he must have found hundreds of letters I'd written to her after I moved to another state in high school.  But I am a different me now.  Back then I couldn't face it.

    I know that was a blunt beginning.  But there is more.

    At the age of 19 I married into a family that lived off the grid.  Still living in a pretty thick bubble, I simply believed they were poor and had very bad luck.  I felt sorry for them, and tried to be a good friend and help them.  I never saw the red flags popping up.  I was as naive as a lamb tripping gaily through a slaughterhouse.

    What I married into was 4 generations of welfare, a way of life.  Twenty-one people lived in a legally condemned house, drove stolen vehicles on which they regularly traded out stolen tags, and ran stolen guns, among who knows what else.  My honeymoon week was spent living out of the back of a car in a poverty stricken section of Oklahoma City next to a house on one side that someone had died in and it had never been cleaned out, and another house on the other side where the police showed up and confiscated 3 car trunk loads of the kind of weaponry you see on military shows.  I believed that my husband was there to hook up with another friend, also having very bad luck, in order to look for jobs.  After one week I had enough and spent our last $2 getting to a cousin's house across the city.  It was my car (an old Chevy station wagon), and my money (which my parents gave me when I got married), and thankfully I was too stupid to be afraid of what would happen if I rebelled.  Wish my husband hadn't come back with me.

    That was an intro.  It took me several years to realize what was going on under everyone's noses in his family.  The worst of it was continual rape of all the kids in that house, grade school to high school.  I thought the playing around was just rough housing.  I didn't have a clue one of the girls (15) was literally being carried out to a ditch and being raped by the older cousins just feet from the house, or that another girl (11) was being told to go upstairs to be raped and beaten with a belt.  Looking back, I can see that my husband's mother winked at all this because it was her way of keeping control.  She controlled all the money and food stamps coming in, she controlled who got to eat, and peer pressure within the house controlled who got punished and who got favors.  There were two little boys living in the house, 3rd and 5th grade, who secretly begged everyone they ran into around town to adopt them, and no one ever knew why.  The oldest became an arsonist and wound up in juvie just to escape the house and to be able to get regular meals.  I found out from the younger boy, although I didn't realize exactly what he was saying at the time, that there had been another child, and he had witnessed someone burying it.  I blew it off.  At the time I thought he was just a poor little kid with a story that didn't make sense, and behavior that didn't make sense to me.  Since I didn't visit the house that often, it took me a long time to put all the puzzle pieces together so I could see the real picture.

    One day I ran into the 11 year old girl in town.  She had moved out of the house into a cheap run down hotel room with her older cousin, and proudly showed me the 50 cents she made having sex with a guy while her cousin was at work in the local factory.  I remember telling her I didn't think it was a good idea to do that, but at the time it was such a weird off the wall kind of thing to hear without any warning, so I simply didn't believe her, and she bubbled happily off to get a can of pop out of a vending machine, and I was on my way somewhere else, and I forgot all about it.  They were a weird bunch, and I had my own stuff.  Plus, having Asperger's, I don't automatically tune in to what's going on with other people sometimes.  The bells and whistles didn't ring, the red flags waving in my face weren't getting my attention, because they were invisible.  And I had been trained all my life to think differently than that, because mainstream Christians just didn't bring that stuff up.  It wasn't 'real'.

    I didn't plan my pregnancy, it just happened.  I'd been married about 8 months.  But by then I was starting to feel odd enough about the family to be a little afraid, and I prayed to God to give me a little girl, because if I ever had a boy for my husband, I would never be able to get him away, and they would ruin him.  Even thinking that, it *still* wasn't hitting me how deadly serious this was.  Somewhere inside my head, I knew we would have to get away, but on the outside where 'good' people see the world a certain way and expect certain behaviors, I just kept going along.  I'd played that game all through my childhood with my Asperger's, my head split into two parts, going along with what I don't understand and doesn't make sense, and diverting off into my own little world of aspie thought about sunlight and time travel and the philosophy of being.  I wasn't much of a talker.

    Time passed.  I had a little toddler in a trailer.  I had a job.  My husband stayed home babysitting.  And I never questioned the gun parts hanging by wires from the shower rod, or why he might need the car while I walked to work.  I started to notice that our little girl had funny bruise marks on her arms (turned out to be cigarette burns) and seemed kinda klutzy, but it wasn't until I saw him deliberately slam her fingers in the front door and walk away with her caught there screaming that I realized he was hurting her on purpose.  That opened my eyes, and I started noticing more.  One day I turned just in time to see him stick his foot out and trip her as she was happily coming up the hallway.  It was so unbelievable, because he always played so well with her in front of people, and she seemed to adore him, and he was so proud of the fact that he could get her to go right to sleep when it was nap time.  I'd never seen an adult deliberately hurt a small child before, much less their own baby, but once I started seeing it, I realized how afraid of him I'd already become without realizing it.

    One night I arrived home from work to him contentedly watching tv and her screaming in the bedroom.  She was laying on the bed, face beet red with the screaming.  Her diaper was soaked.  I couldn't calm her.  I took her pants off, opened her diaper... and found a long black pubic hair.  I missed a breath and nearly fainted.  I changed her has quickly as I could, knowing without a doubt if he walked back to the room with us and saw me see that, I would be dead.  I had to hurry, but I do remember she was a little swollen and not quite bruised up.

    This guy was cracked, slept with a black powder pistol under his pillow, and had on several occasions done things that sorta scared me but didn't last long or leave a bruise, and I just kept ignoring it.  I had heard of abused women as a teenager, worked with a girl who was beaten up and the boss told her to go home because waitressing with a black eye was unacceptable, but I'd never seen abuse like that in my own family, never really knew people who lived like that.  My husband's family was extremely careful not to leave marks, I can see now.  They were very experienced at staying out of jail.  So my ignorance about why women just don't leave abusive situations was as bad as anyone's.  I figured it wasn't really *real* abuse since I never got bruised up or bloodied.

    I lived with the subtleties and finally saw it all in one big whoosh.  I got scared.  I knew I couldn't just leave and tell people without being seriously injured, or worse.  One of the cousins had left with a baby she had, and my husband's mother took a bus to Oklahoma and found her, and kidnapped the newborn and brought her back across state lines at only 4 days old.  Police met her at the bus station.  How she stayed out of jail is a real mystery.  I had shrugged it off as one of those laughable Reader's Digest stories at the time, somehow.  The night the realization hit me, I knew my baby would never get away.  She would be a sex slave in the family the rest of her life, used as another body in order to get more welfare money, like all the other cousins.  I've had some terrifying moments in my life, but that one rocked my world a 180 in microseconds.  I was in the MIDDLE of human trafficking, had married into it, and I had to outwit a Godmother to rescue my daughter from that life.  I knew a couple of family members had disappeared and couldn't be found, and I knew if they ever got her away from me, she would disappear, too.

    As far as I know, my daughter is the only child who has escaped that family in four generations, and yeah, they tried to find us.  Got a little scary.  I'm not going to share any more details on that.  She's grown now, she's gone, and I hope she lives a long and happy life of true freedom.

    I have two more experiences with other people's stuff.  I personally know a woman whose high school aged daughter was kidnapped from a friend's house, along with the friend and the friend's mother, and none of them ever seen again.  Also, part of my masters degree training involved the study of both physical and sexual abuse, and the statistics are incredible.  During that time in classes I was assigned to write up a psychological analysis on another woman in class who was repeatedly raped by both her very Christian parents throughout her childhood, to the point of being too scarred to have normal sex as an adult.  Her mother was a nurse and had even performed abortions on her in the basement after her father got her pregnant several times.

    Briefly in passing, I have been raped twice as an adult after I divorced my first husband, although not brutally, thank goodness.  I knew both men, thought they were friends.  They each baited me in different ways, and once I was caught, there was no escape.  Neither one of them saw anything wrong in what they did, and I had a very hard time having to face them in public afterward.  They acted like it should be no big deal, so I guess I was one of many for both of them.  My current husband would love nothing more than to run into them so he can beat them senseless, even though that is long over, and no longer affects my life.  I've purposely kept him from my first husband, because the fight would have to be to the death and have to be secret in order to continue to keep me safe, and he just doesn't understand that.  If I'm ever found, it'll be bloody.

    Since these six experiences in my life, my eyes have been wide open.  I have run into so many kids who say the same kinds of cryptic things, so many grownups who eye other people around them like merchandise, so many more who cringe or falter because they aren't ready for a pat response to a simple social question or remark that would open a whole can of worms if they were honest.  We are ALL surrounded by people who have been USED.  A good portion of the people reading this have been used, or have used others.  There are so many people in this world who masquerade as good people, hiding something.  Some of them hide that they are trapped in families or circles of people who force them to sexually behave against their will, some of them hide that they *like* using weaker people against their will for some kind of perverted sexual satisfaction.

    We have laws in the United States about both rape in many forms and free speech.  These are probably the most conflicting laws we have.  Before anyone tries to tell me yay or nay about abortion or legalization of marijuana or solar power or whatever issue you wanna argue, I will argue that we have legalized channeling of people into sexual addiction and abuse on a grand scale because of this conflict, and it has taken decades to convince lawmakers, law enforcers, and Christians that this is a much bigger problem than anything else they can come up with to argue about.  Because:  Lawmakers are being caught with child pornography.  Law enforcers are being caught in sex stings.  And there are plenty of Christians hiding that they are embroiled in their own perverted sex issues, at home, on the road, behind closed doors.  The line between porn and breaking the law is so wide and blurry that freedom of speech pretty much gets most of it off the hook, and the rest can be hidden, sadly to the point of murdering and hiding bodies if need be.  There are plenty of people out there who look the other way, and plenty more who easily slide into paying for or taking sex they know isn't right, but covered over with legitimacy like a frosted cake.

    What is WRONG with us???  Why are people so unwilling to see that sex *SLAVERY* is alive and well in what is supposedly the most moral and ethical nation on the planet???  These six things happened in my own life, and I'm seeing evidence in both research academia and on the news that this is so widespread and prominent that it's incredible it's not being addressed more than it is.  The porn industry flourishes.  We have freedom of speech.  But the problem with that is the same as we have with alcohol.  It's legal, it ruins people's lives, and it's deadly.  We all know what a battle MADD has had with drunk drivers, and we've gotta face now that we've got a real battle on our hands with the rise in people reported missing, the lack of serious coverage in the media when rape and murder cases come up, the hush ups that go on when someone in power gets caught, all the people who lie to themselves and say what they're doing isn't 'bad'.

    We are in a golden age of human development.  We are supposed to be the most psychologically healthy humans since time began.  We have open minds, religious freedom, human rights.  And we are so sexually active that we can barely contain ourselves.  How dare we bring up the slavery of black people and the butchering of Native Americans when we're hiding the use of children for personal pleasure?  How dare we be self righteous about the past when the present is even more shameful??

    Would it bother you to be able to read a coworker's mind and know that they got off on a little kid earlier in the day?  Would it gross you out to know that some person in the elevator with you helped hold someone down while they were raped?  Would you feel sick if you knew that the kid everyone made fun of on the playground at your kid's school had to do things most adults have never had to do for someone else's pleasure?  I don't care what people do with consensual sex, I could care less if people are gay or bisexual or have orgies.  In fact, I think people making big deals about that crap are missing the whole point.  Who CARES what is right or wrong between legally consenting adults when so many people around us are secretly ~raping~ each other???

    Using other people for sex is still legal in some countries.  Escort services thrive in the U.S.  Internet sting operations are the hottest new thing now.  There are groups that openly stand up for their rights to use children for sex, and we barely blink an eye.  We hear the words 'sexual predator', but what do they really mean?  We hear stories of recovered kids, or missing people who are finally found after being presumed dead for years, but the details are so sordid that they can't tell us what really went on.  People who aren't trained to think like that just simply don't.  I've been there, in my bubble, innocent, skipping through the slaughterhouse with the truth all around me.

    What is Obama going to do to change this?, I ask, I ~challenge~.  While some worry about us still being in Iraq, and others go green, what about the people under our noses who are allowed to keep suffering abuses in a FREE COUNTRY???  Where is Oprah on this?  Why isn't this as important as how fat we are or how much gasoline costs?

    Oprah threw a big dinner party for Obama the night before the inauguration.  Obama's people spent millions running his own satellite channel before the election.  I'd like to see the two of them, with their wealth and power and *charisma*, deal with some cold hard facts about human slavery in the United States of America.  I'd like to challenge them both to come up with some real solutions to human trafficking, give the Feds and local law enforcement more training, more money, more people, more equipment, give the media more incentive to pursue this, give the nation a reason to stand up and say NO to this illogical, unethical, and completely primitive behavior.  We are being demoralized, and it's being ignored.

    And honestly, let's quit clogging up our prisons with sex offenders.  But since we don't have the guts to keep up Club Gitmo anymore, I suppose we'll have government programs sprouting up left and right to cater to sex offenders.  Free ride the rest of their lives, right?

    July 2015- I know now why nothing is done about this.

  • surviving health care

    Does anyone else out there ever base their lives around whether they might die this year?
    I'm a natural doom and gloomer.  To me, the ultimate optimism is expecting the worst, and when it doesn't happen, your day is going pretty good, even if stuff is still going wrong.  It's kept me pretty sane, don't seem to need anti-depressants or anything.
    I have a conundrum this year.  Since I experienced a nasty viral infection that hit my liver about 1 1/2 years ago, I'm highly med-intolerant.  I'm not able to treat for lupus and fibro and use pharma pain management because of this.  I'm subject to infections because my immune system loves getting hyper on me, and my lungs are already scarred up from years of low grade fevers and inflammation in my tissues inside my chest wall.  My conundrum?  The swine flu is coming...
    I had to make a new plan when my liver got sick and changed everything.  I HAVE to eat healthy, get lots of rest, and stay as far away from extra germs and stress as possible.  I'm a good person and try really hard to stay as productive as possible, but necessarily have to recluse myself from society quite a bit.  I'm learning to live with that, being left behind while others have fun and enjoy traveling and holidays and stuff.  I'm learning to deal with the bad feelings of jealousy and self pity and turning them into new ways to do nice things for others.  I love to cook, and this summer I made a big load of peach jam to hand out.  I cook meals for older in-laws.  I send surprises in the mail to people.  Get lots of books from the library, keeping my mind busy.  Hang out with my 'girls' (chickens) and do my own little studies on their behaviors and egg production.  It's a fun hobby.  Sometimes I work on articles to share what I've learned.
    But in the back of my mind, every single day, is the thought that this might be my last year.  This might be the year that my kidneys crash, or my lungs fail during a combo of illness and lupus flare.  This might be the year that I go into some kind of unstoppable catastrophic failure that medications can't fix.
    How can a person live like this?  When I try to discuss this with people who don't live with illness, they get upset and tell me all kinds of things about 'hanging in there' and 'don't be so down' and 'think healthy'.  It won't matter how much pain I might be in or how much difficulty I might be having on any particular day, just bringing it up is very upsetting to others.
    I know other people who live like me.  Some people are born with cystic fibrosis and live like this their whole lives.  Some people live with lupus for decades.  Some people get much more devastating illnesses, some have no idea they are sick and find out they have 3 months to live.  And some people simply destroy themselves severely neglecting their health.
    There is a lot of debate going on about health care reform right now.  I've heard nightmare stories from every conceivable angle when it comes to people winding up in hospitals, and it had nothing to do with insurance or a lack thereof.  Just last week a young man (20) went to a local hospital with chest pain, had all the tests and was told he was fine and to go home, and two days later he was dead, and AFTER the death they concluded it was pneumonia.  He didn't have a health challenge, and it had nothing to do with the swine flu.  We have a local chest bug going on around here, and everyone is being tested for H1N1 with it, coming back negative, but still making people VERY sick.
    If universal health care goes through, I will be one of the people at the top of the list to 'weed out'.  Nature is already weeding me out, I can't even take advils (or anything related) any more without instant fever and kidney response.  I could live another ten or twenty years trying to be as useful as possible to the people around me, but not if getting health care becomes even ~more~ difficult than it is now.  I've heard pros and cons, I've lived through medicaid controlled health care in the past (I was so restricted back then that a doctor smuggled 5 months worth of drug samples to me that medicaid refused to cover, most likely saved my life because I was so very ill at the time), and I have 'awesome' *ahem* insurance now.  But the key is managing one's own health care.  It doesn't just magically happen.  You could get a great doctor who is stuck in a dinky little clinic with crappy staff and very little to offer in the way of radiology and lab.  You could be in the biggest clinic in town with all the latest toys and get a doctor who gives you five minutes of negligence.  I've * seen * it * all.  I've had to work very hard to not only keep doctors coordinated, but to keep test and blood work orders from being mangled up along the way.  I've been lost in the system, took 3 years to dig up records over 10 years old when insurance changed, so many FACTS are lost that I can no longer prove I broke my foot over ten years ago, for instance.
    Cancer treatment in the United States is phenomenal, if you are willing to make the sacrifices to get to special treatment CENTERS.  We have some pretty dang impressive cardiology clinics.  Been in one, had heart surgery.  But these things don't magically happen just because you 1) walk into a doctor's office 2) with private insurance.  In short, I know plenty of people who have died already ~because~ they don't know the ropes in the health care system.
    THAT IS THE KEY.  Knowing the ropes.  It takes a lot of time to learn the ropes.  Long term patient care can be a nightmare in this country, depending on how well you monitor and manage the health care you are offered, how much you insist on more when it doesn't seem like you're being responded to sufficiently, how much you neglected your own health in the first place...
    Some of us wake up and face our deaths every day.  It's not all about the elderly being denied hip replacements and pace makers.  It's also about millions of people who live with chronic illness and need continual monitoring and maintenance to stay out of the hospital.
    I'm going to ask a question.  If the FDA and universal health care suddenly took all your OTC cold medications off the shelves and told you that you just had to live with your colds (which are self-limiting and you get over anyway), would you be upset?  Everyone knows how miserable a cold can be.  Imagine being told you can't take something to relieve your congestion and sinus headache, your sore throat and raspy cough.
    Now imagine that sometime in your life you will inevitably, sooner or later, be much more ill than simply having a cold.  Imagine that you have to argue your way into an appointment after a trip to urgent care because a specialist requires a referral, and you can't get an appointment with your regular doctor for at least 3 weeks, and no one is returning your calls.  In the meantime, you are having incredible pain breathing because the lining around your lungs is inflamed (but your lungs are clear), and all it takes is one week on a corticosteroid to keep you out of a hospital, which would cost you at least several hundred dollars (or even a thousand) AFTER insurance pays on your ER visit.  One $15 prescription, and it takes 3 doctors, 2 x-rays, and 3 clinics (and $90 in copays) to get it...  And that's before universal health care even gets here.
    That is NORMAL.  There are already people in the United States who spend weeks and even months pushing to get diagnosed and treated.  It took a year and a half and 3 doctors before I was FINALLY tested for lupus, and it came back positive.  I lost 75 pounds over 9 months, carried a low grade fever the entire time, but because I was on medicaid at the time (divorced parent in college), I was DENIED health care.  Until a doctor smuggled me in and then smuggled drugs to me.  I can't imagine government-run universal health care making that nightmare any better.  Isn't that what medicaid already is?
    I've already been through this.  I'm not afraid of universal health care.  I've been expecting to die for 2 decades.  What I AM afraid of is getting the swine flu because people are stupid and show up to work or go shopping when they have high fevers.  Yes, they do, you know they do.  I ~know~ people who live carefree happy lives and run out of everything in their cupboards, then when they get sick they panic and have to go shopping for pepto or advil or even just basic food to get them through a couple of days of hanging close to the bathroom.  These same people are not avid hand washers and don't carry hand sanitizers with them.  These same people wipe their noses on their hands, and then touch stuff on shelves and set them back.  They don't care that some germs can live up to 7 days in a dormant state on surfaces, easily picked up by others.
    When you reach a point where you are sick ~all the time~ and never get better, you get really tired of this.  If every time you go to a holiday dinner or go to the mall you wind up sick for a week, you start paying attention.  You get to the point where you don't think it's cute or funny when your friends show up at your door whining about being sick and wanting to hang out and get sympathy for it.  You reach a point where you barricade your life and stock up your entire house for two months of quarantine in the event some kind of nasty bug sweeps the schools and churches and work places and you don't dare go out, because you know you could wind up in a hospital.  Like that 20-year-old guy.  Actually, he was sent home.  He died.
    You don't see people like me out and about very much.  I worked for years with people who think that violently throwing up every week is 'normal'.  They think snotty noses and hacking coughs and gut wrenching trips to the bathroom are inevitable, and don't give a second thought to how many people they infect in passing.  And for many people this probably isn't a problem, unless you get disgusted with constantly having to deal with bodily fluids spewing from all angles and all the misery it causes.
    Sorry, that was gross.  But you get the picture.
    Anyway, just wondering if other people out there are thinking about the fact that this could be it.  This could be the year that a lot of people just die.  Maybe people we know.  Maybe us.  I see people drive around with support ribbons on their cars.  I see ads on tv about breast cancer and mesothelioma and motorized chairs that you don't have to pay a penny out of pocket for, and I wonder if this is the year it's going to hit much closer to home than that.  Like, maybe all it's going to take is a new virus to sweep through weeding ALL  of us out.  Before universal health care even gets here.
    I think we all need to slow down a bit and take stock of who we are, why we are, and what the debate is all about.  I have no idea, given that our country has millions of people and we have so much science and technology, whether one plan will work better than another.  But I do know that, as individuals, we've ALL got to be smart, and not just wait for other people to make the decisions for us.  If you WANT good health, you will do what it takes to HAVE good health.
    Confession-- before I got sick with lupus, I was a smoker and enjoyed a fair amount of alcohol.  I engaged in extreme dieting.  I loved Coca-Cola and rarely ate vegetables.  I ran my body into the ground between work and college and being a mom.  I was Super Woman.  And I nearly died when the lupus hit me.  It was very painful, and took months of drugs to stabilize me, took years to bring the SED rates down.  If I had been in better health to BEGIN WITH, I might not have gotten so sick or taken so long to recover and heal.  I have a lot of damage in my body that will never get better.
    My advice?  Live like this could be your last year if you don't change things.  Every day when you get up, think that this is the year you could die from something as simple and stupid as a virus.  It happens to other people, it can happen to you, too.  Take an inventory of all the things you do that make it harder for your body to function well.  Ask yourself if you really want to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in unforeseen emergency health care costs.
    Because it's YOUR choice, no matter what kind of health care policies are coming down the road.  Be proactive NOW, and take a good look at what the debate is all about.
    A final word on private insurance.  I love it, but ONLY because it saved me from government health care.  Private insurance doesn't fix everything.  You have to be smart about that, too.  For all the illness I've been through, I've taken the biggest financial hit because I was willing to pay cash when insurance wouldn't approve tests and treatment.  I sometimes feel like my insurance is a scam because we pour so much money into it, and it seems like I see diminishing returns when they only pay out $1000 for alt preventative care like chiropractor, but are willing to pay tens of thousands on spinal surgeries and resulting months of physical therapy.  But that's the wrong way to look at insurance.  Insurance is a safety net, that's all.  They make no big promises.  In the end, you've still gotta make the decision over whether you're willing to pay out the cash for the health care you want instead of shopping at the mall or upgrading your car.
    And for those who don't have the cash, I've been there, yes, it sux.  I was so very lucky to find a doctor who cared enough to get around the system and save my life.  I may not like everything about big pharmacy, but those hundreds of dollars' worth of free samples saved my life.  There IS a way around the system.  I know a woman who was smuggled into chemo through a back door after hours by a doctor who didn't want her death on his conscience.  I know we don't all get that lucky, but at least there are still good people out there fighting for the right to heal people.
    Please don't let the government kill that spirit.  The health care part is easy.  The having to explain everything on piles of paperwork is what's hard.  All those rules and regs.  Find ways around them.  Keep searching for ways around them.  But don't think for one second that someone making up more rules and regs can fix the mess.  The freedom to practice medicine is what is being eradicated in our country, eroding slowly over time through big pharma, big insurance, big govt.
    Be smart.  This could be your last year.

  • Librax withdrawal, are we having fun yet?


    I guess it's about time for one of those 'where am I now' posts.  Besides discovering BLATOs (BLT with avocado and onion), renewing my out of county library card (50 bucks), and cruising the farmers market, I'm on the roller coaster from hell.   
    Yep, getting off another medication, and doing it all wrong.  When doctors and pharmacists blow you off for 20 years with "it's a safe drug" and "you're on a very low dose", and then the FDA gets involved and your insurance company stops paying and you're suddenly stuck with paying double for half as much, you sorta take stock and make a few decisions.
    Such as, Hey, I'll just chop the dose in half.  The doctor says ok, be careful, here, take some xanax while you're at it to help you get off it.  Xanax?  I don't understand.  I *don't like* xanax.
    So, I didn't take the xanax.  And I didn't stick to the plan.  I started having some really bizarre off the wall crazy withdrawal problems and freaked out, decided to get off the medication all together.
    NOT a good change of plan.
    Common sense says that once something's out of your system, you're home free, right?  WRONG.
    Probably need to insert here that I was diagnosed with lupus and severe fibro 20 years ago, have minor complications that are slowly grinding my life to a crawl, and since I finally had to quit work in '06 I have been on a quest to better myself via healthiness.  In doing so I've gotten off handfuls of meds and see very little difference now in my quality of life for doing so, even though 20 years ago they probably saved my life at onset.  I feel I've been extremely lucky not to have ever been hospitalized, but I think my doctors would see it more as me being extremely stubborn.
    And my stubbornness is doing me in this time.  I finally spent a really bad night on search engines, after a realization dawned that I might still be in some kind of weird withdrawal.  Guess what.  It's called "protracted withdrawal".  I got through the profuse sweating and severe bloating, got through the days-long uber intense migraine, got through the blood pressure drops and spikes (everything from 96/64 to 150/95, very unusual for me since I'm on a very stable BP pill), got through the weird pain spikes down my back and legs and around my neck and shoulders, even got through the freaky bug crawling all over me sensations, and the stinging and biting sensations that made me jump outa my sox.  I got through ALL that.  But-- it wasn't ~going away~...
    The stuff I found on search engines convinced me to get back to a doctor.  The withdrawal can go on for months because the brain receptors have been changed, and there is even danger of seizures for some people, and no way to tell if and when and who.  Egads.
    By now some of you are going Geez, what medication was this???  I'm sure a lot of you out there are using Librax for various digestive problems associated with all kinds of illness and disorders.  I was only doing two pills a day.  How in the world could getting off that stuff be so traumatic?
    An ingredient in Librax is chlordiazepoxide, which is in the benzodiapezine family.  Xanax happens to be in that family, too.  I didn't know this stuff until I read about it.
    So, it's gonna be a long summer.  The doctor I saw yesterday convinced me to step up the xanax (0.25, smallest dose), of which I was taking only half a day, to taking it 3 times a day.  I was commanded to take the whole pill each time.  I have severe pill phobia after so many years of med reactions and withdrawals, so I've compromised, and I'm taking a half xanax 3 times a day.
    Even that small amount is amazing.  Withdrawal symptoms were slashed almost immediately.  Still courting the headache, so I have a feeling I'll increase the xanax a little more if I can't handle it, but at least I'm not on the edge of my seat ready to head to the ER any more.
    Another withdrawal problem I'll have to watch are body temp regulation problems, i.e. the possibility of heat stroke (heat index this week is 98).  From what I read in those links, withdrawal can last anywhere from 3-6 months, or even up to a year for some people, regardless of whether the dose was low and how short a time a person may have been on it.  The key to all this is brain receptors.  They don't automatically reset back to default just because the medication is out of the system.  Some people's receptors are never able to reset back, and they are dependent on controlled addiction all their lives.
    I hate pills.  I have always hated pills.  This one pill was my last standby, the one that always got me through no matter how bad anything else was.  I had severe IBS (related to the lupus and fibro) in my 20's, more controlled in my 30's, and now in my 40's I've figured out what triggers it, so I'm not having a problem with wanting to be off this pill.  No doctor or pharmacist EVER told me this pill would be a problem and a real bitch to deal with if I ever wanted off it.  Not even the printout says "This medication will change your brain receptors and will require very careful medical supervision if you ever stop taking it."  I have had more pain and physical problems trying to get off this medication than ~anything~ the lupus and fibro ever dished out.  Although it was a godsend at the time I needed it most, I really really wish someone had sat down with me and discussed the consequences of taking this pill.
    So to everybody out there with digestive problems, this is what I've learned, and hopefully you won't go through what I'm going through.
    I'm not lactose intolerant, nor do I have celiac disease, or many other problems related to digestion.  I was checked for cancer as a baby, had ulcerative colitis by the time I was 6, and have spent my entire life in severe digestive pain.  I've learned what triggers it and how to avoid it.
    These things are bad for me and make it worse.  Gum, mint, chocolate, cinnamon, 'hot' spices, raw fiber, raw dough of any kind (even cookie dough ice cream), anything with high fructose corn syrup, soda pop of ANY kind, coffee, alcohol, smoking, too much hidden salt, pastries, too many vegetables, fruit juice of ANY kind, citrus in any form, some herbal teas, rich dinners in restaurants, big salads, I think you're getting the picture.
    I have an easier time if I eat a very wide variety of foods and rotate them.  For instance, one meal very plain and bland in between other meals, never repeat a tomato or tomato product two meals in a row, home cooking so I can control the ingredients, limited sugar and salt, vegetables cooked soft, limit meat to smaller portions and keep the meat simple, i.e. a steak is preferable to meatloaf, fry foods in canola or olive oil, avoid orange juice and lemon pie all together, don't snack all day long so my stomach can rest, eat smaller portions and do 4 small meals a day...  Sorta like putting the Mediterranean diet, diabetic diet, cancer diet, and several other diets all together.  It's like the closer the food you eat is to the farm, the easier time your stomach will have with it, as long as you don't pile it in till you're stuffed and remember to rotate a variety through all the time.  Like, don't eat rice 3 meals in a row.
    I've never known why I have all these digestive problems, but they could be related to having Asperger's, and they could also be related to being a CF carrier.  No one else in my family seems to have digestive problems like this.  I've had many tests, all negative, they keep saying all my tissues are very healthy, so I guess the hypersensitivity and pain are just something I have to live with.  I guess IBS problems are fairly common, there seem to be a lot of people out there dealing with stuff like this, including medication problems, so I hope this post is helpful.
    :edit: 6-19-09
    I will be looking into high salicylate foods.  Got this message, and I think it will be very helpful.

    If you haven't done so already, you might really benefit from checking out alienrobotgirl's blog and giant collection of information at the Plant Poisons and Rotten Stuff site (not on xanga, but a quick google search should turn it up). She's been exploring the connections between food intolerance (your list really does look like a salicylate-intolerant's nightmare), fibromyalgia, autism-spectrum disorders, and thyroid, among other things. She herself is an aspie with fibromyalgia and multiple food intolerances, thus her interest in the topic.

    If anyone else is looking for more info and interaction on this, there is a post at Tomato Sauce Makes Me High | autisable  Hope this helps anyone else who is having similar problems to mine.
    Ok, other 'where am I now' stuff.  My closest video store doesn't have Sliders for rent at all.  I'm going to call around, and if I can't find one within 30 miles, then I'll dig through my old VHS tapes and watch what I've got.  Can't afford to buy the series at Best Buy, so that'll have to do.

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I've started transferring my survey posts over to Surveypalooza so people coming in from search engines on mobile devices will be able to see the surveys.


Apologies for the missing vids, another upgrade during the server migration swept through like a scan sweeping through the Enterprise. I'll fix those later, kinda busy...

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