so much for remedies

Substantial progress toward better things can rarely be taken without
developing new evils requiring new remedies.

William Howard Taft

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This picture of the collegiate dammit doll, that does not always
successfully assist my beloved Georgia Bulldogs with a win,
is looking more and more like a potential
voodoo doll as I am just about at that point…
To the point that if I rip off said left leg of dammit doll,
will my own left leg feel any better??

So I went for my little nerve block yesterday…the one I had high hopes for.

Arriving a tad early, they finally called me back to the procedure room.
I had to hop up on the table and was instructed to lay on my stomach
as the cute young assistant pulled my tee shirt up to my head
and my shorts down to my keister while she proceeded to place the
sterile papers on my back in such a fashion that only a sectioned portion of my back was exposed.
She then rubs me down with betadine, alcohol and whatever else she had on that tray.

The doctor comes in donning a lovely lead gown complete with a lead apron for his neck.
I cock to my head to the right to see that the little assistant is now donning
her own cute polka dotted lead gown with matching neck guard as they were both
making darn certain their thyroids were covered up from the x-rays
they’d be using on my back during the procedure.

I didn’t have a lead guard for my thyroid…
maybe cause I was on my stomach or maybe they just knew
that my thyroid was already too far gone to be concerned with.

I explained that the drilling pain in my back and hip had subsided
but that there was now an excruciating burning pain in my inner thigh
and groin with the top of my thigh being totally numb.

“Hummmm, that’s odd…”

Not a reassuring comment from my young tall, just recently married, Asian doctor.

I asked the doctor if this little shot business was instantaneous and he couldn’t exactly say.
He says the goal is to get rid of the pain…
Yes that is my goal as well.

“How will you know where to shoot in order to help these oh so fiery nerves of mine” I ask
“Will the X-ray show that?”

“Oh no, the x-ray just let’s me see the spine, but from what you tell me I might
need to shoot higher.”

Great.

The reason they did a MRI was because they couldn’t see the two bulging discs on the x-ray—
so now he thinks an x-ray is going to steer him straight….?

Like I say,
Great.

As they position the x-ray machine, letting it fire off for an image, they both step back.
I begin feeling a little like Typhoid Mary as they keep taking steps back to a safe distance…
Them in their lead gowns and guards and me in my jacked up tee shirt,
jacked down gym shorts and tennis shoes.

“you’re going to feel a pinch.” he tells me.

Try more like a skewer has just been threaded deep into your back.

My fists clinch as the little beep beep monitor on my finger lets all present know
that I am now in pain.

With each x-ray blast, each step back, each skewering, lidocaine and steroids are injected
deep into my back

“Do you feel the steroid going in, feeling it down in your leg?”

“No”

“Hummm.”

I did however feel not so good.

Kind of heavy in a weird way and now my neck was hurting from being cocked backwards…
herniated discs there as well, but that’s for another day.

They x-ray and skewer me several more times before they finish.

And just like that, my tall, recently married, lead covered Asian doctor leaves the room.

The assistant slaps a small band-aid on my back and tells me to go home, sit with
my feet and legs elevated, no lifting, no cooking…just rest.
“Watch for any white liquid coming from the holes”…leaking spinal fluids I fear,
as she adds “no showering for 12 hours”…

I sit up on the table as I ask her how long it would be till I could tell any difference.

“possibly tomorrow, but give it a week.”

A week???
A freaking week?????
UGH!!!

I get up and go out to my waiting husband…
Who’s looking ever so hopeful—

“How do you feel?”

“Let’s just say that the pain that I came in with, is now going out with us.”
“Add to that a sore back like I’ve just been beaten.”

He takes me home, helps gets me situated and tells me not to worry about supper, he’ll
pick something up.
I tell him, no, that I can cook as I feel no different, but my back is just sore as hell.

I sit on an ice pack for about 30 minutes when I say to hell with this.

My leg still feels like crap and I was now mad.

I started getting supper ready, slamming every drawer and door in my wake.
I went out to start the grill, still slamming and bamming.

My husband comes home to find me in the throws of the tears of utter frustration.

I fall into his arms sobbing that first it was dad, now it was me…
He tells me that we’ll go to the clinic down in Columbus but I sob that
between all the doctors I’ve been to in the past month, between both me and dad…
I’m done…

We’ve seen…
Primary care physicians, his and mine.
Urologists,
Gastroenterologists,
Oncologists,
Radiologists,
Orthopedic surgeons..
everyone’s PAs
CT scans,
Cystoscopes,
Surgeries
x-rays
MRIs
Nerve Blocks
Hospice

you name it, dad and I have done it all… starting late August.

I am done for a while…

When it was finally time for bed, I decided I’d take half a pain pill.
I have amassed a small arsenal of prescriptions that each and every doctor and PA has prescribed…
with me forgoing all of them as they have been various drugs from hell—
sedatives, pain meds, anti-inflammatory meds, nerve meds…
none which have been the first bit helpful, curative, let alone safe with me driving
back and forth literally every other day to dads…

I take only half of the hydrocodone as a whole pill will keep me up and wired for hours.
Hopefully half will help.

At 3AM with my eyes never having actually shut and with sleep now long elusive,
my mind frantically racing, I pondered how in the hell people could
ever get addicted to these things as they only make me wild and
ready to go run a freaking marathon.

I ponder the current affairs of the world.
I’m thinking that in my current mood and state of mind that I could
be put in a room with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
and could knock some sense into both of them,
or better yet,
I could knock them both silly.
I was ready to take on Basher Assad, Kin Jong Un, Vladimir Putin and all of ISIS combined.

It was a ‘don’t mess with me’ moment to be sure in the wee hours of the morning…
all the while as my leg was on fire…
which got me singing Alicia Keys’ “this girl is on fire” in my head at 3AM…

I was relieved at first light…the mental madness would now come to an end as
the day and fire of leg would resume..

So, it’s back to square one…whatever square that is….
With the thought of me finding a nudist colony as the whole pants thing is not working
for my leg…
I’ll keep you posted at to what I find…

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.

Psalm 86:12-13

Morality

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who,
in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

Dante Alighieri

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(an empty sarcophagi deep within the bowels of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“But evil does not die, just as history does not end. Like a weed, evil can be cut back but never entirely uprooted. It waits for its chance to spread through the cracks in our vigilance. It can take root in the fertile soil of our complacency, or even the rocky rubble of the fallen Berlin Wall”

In his book, Winter is Coming
(Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped)
Garry Kasparov makes a compelling argument as to why it is dire that those of us in the West should be on our guard…as he truly believes the harsh reality of a very cold unbearable winter is soon to be falling upon our fragile democracy.

The single raised rampart of defense is to be morality.

“We need new, morality-based frameworks to confront the dictatorships in Russia and China now that they have so thoroughly become a part of our globalized world…
These frameworks and alliances must be based on moral principles, the only weapon the enemies of democracy cannot match.”

Yet, as I look around our western societies, I look very hard for what remains of a morale society.

Secularism has taken root and spread like a deadly poison weed…reaching deep within the fabric of society. Both Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa each observed that western societies now live, as well as embrace, a culture of death.
Even mainstream media reports on the self-centeredness and perpetual quest of all things materialistic and self gratifying within our millennials.

Morality has never been trendy, convenient nor chic.

Excuses are made as to way morality is so passé and out of step with a modern society.
Abortions, Gay unions, declining traditional marriages, rising divorce rates… all work at whittling away at the traditional family unit…the once true anchor and underpinning of a society’s morale fiber.
As today’s society is just too busy with its focus and quest of self fulfillment to be bothered by something as cliche and outdated as morale fiber.

With the current trend of FaceBook, social media, smart phones and all things technological vying for top god position, the quest for this hoped for champion of democracy is growing ever more difficult and elusive. Self satisfaction is raising the victory flag of satiation instead.

Warnings have been issued before to a slumbering world more interested in appeasement and the total denial of Truth….ending every time with deadly and grave consequences…
Things such as Truth, Morality and even God have each become victims in the endless quest of self…

Time is of the essence to heed these current warnings, once again, before we all begin to feel the icy reach of winter….

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11

Asleep at the helm

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.
Henry Ward Beecher

Even today we raise our hand against our brother… We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves as if it were normal we continue to sow destruction, pain, death. Violence and war lead only to death.
Pope Francis

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(Justice Ginsburg asleep during the State of the Union Address, image taken from Web / 2015)

It is not my intent to delve into the twisted world of the political here on this blog—preferring rather to simply offer a bit of thought, concern and reflection on this thing we call life. . .
However I was recently taken aback when this image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg made its way in and out of the various news agencies and the meme of various websites as this octogenarian was caught napping, as it were, during the recent State of the Union Address.
Adding a bit of insult to injury was her ensuing explanation—“I wasn’t 100% sober”

OUCH!
Really??!

As a lifelong educator, for me, this entire incident has trouble written all over it. Here we have a member of one of the highest offices in our land doing two things that any other mere mortal human would be strung to the highest yardarm for having done. . .
A) she was sleeping on the job
and
B) she wasn’t sober.

“Ok”, you say, “she’s old, cut her some slack.”
Really?
“She technically wasn’t working, she was attending an albeit, perceived by many, boring sort of speech.”

I would think, however, that when one dons the robes of one of the highest offices in the land, that would pretty much be considered working at the top of one’s professional duty.

And now the mantra begins. . .”She’s been sick, battling cancer. . .She’s a tough old bird. Let her have her wine and sleep. It was just a speech. She’s brilliant. It’s no big deal. . .”

And so it appears that the excuse for her having been caught sleeping, which was more or less an alcoholic induced sleep, is no big deal because she wasn’t driving, wasn’t the speaker, wasn’t actually sitting on a case—making it all fine and dandy, and as some may add, a much ado about nothing sort of moment. . .???

Well, I’m certainly not trying the cast stones as I am far from any paragon of virtue, yet I do know trouble when I see it.

Let’s say that my principal, superintendent or even myself, a lowly teacher, had gone to dinner prior to say some sort of school or other important function, opting to have had a couple of drinks or glasses of wine with the meal—only to later attend said function. Taking either the place of honor on stage or on front row of said function and now feeling and reeling from the full effects of being totally satiated and woozy, coupled with it being toward the end of a long day and it’s now a little too warm, plus I’m now nice and still, subsequently falling asleep—Only to blow it off later as “I ate and drank too much prior to the meeting”—-the general public would demand a head upon a plate as that would have been no way for any professional, let alone educator, to have conducted themselves during a public forum of such.

And yet we think it’s okay for a Supreme Court Justice to do such since she’s older, sickly and probably tired. . . all the while as we, the courts, the justice systems and any adult worth their mettle, tell our kids, as well as the general public, do not drink when driving, working, caring for children or the elderly, operating heavy machinery or making important decisions that effect people’s lives. . .let alone opting to be seen by the general population at a massively public forum. . .and better not to drink in the first place, period. . .

I think we mere mortals do expect, as well as often demand, that our elected officials, our leaders, our doctors, our ministers, our educators, our justices, even our parents, act the part of their said position and if they don’t, we, in turn, are very quick to do one of two things. . .We either quickly excuse and dismiss the poor behavior, attempting to make it all quickly disappear, or we quickly assemble the executioning squad.

It’s just that I don’t ever remember seeing Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, being snapped by press or paparazzi, sleeping while attending any sort of state or governmental function. . .nor even Vladimir Putin, who is often seen shirtless attempting to be a hulking he-man, nor Queen Elizabeth (we won’t discuss her children or grandchildren), or other world leaders. . .Therefore do we not observe that certain positions require one to step it up as it were, appearing above board particularly when the lights are on and the cameras are rolling?

Which brings us to the idea of not being caught asleep while standing at the helm.

A colloquial expression used to express the sage warning that anyone given authority, such as steering a ship, should live up to such responsibility, not shirking one’s duty particularly when the heat is on. . .
I can only imagine the jokes that this viral image has now generated amongst not only ourselves and the late night TV talk shows but to the jokes and mockery from allies and enemies alike.

I don’t think I need to remind any of us that we are currently living in very globally grave times. A time that calls upon us to be ever vigilant, mindful, stalwart and resolute. . .

There is another image out today equally as viral yet this one being most vile. . .

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This is an image of a group of Coptic Christian men from Egypt, lined up along a beach in Libya, at the hands of their ISIS captors who are about to video the beheading of the men. Beheaded in retaliation for the death of Usama Bin Laden. . .
But wait!
Weren’t we, the US, the ones who actually killed Bin Laden?
These men were guilty of one thing, and one thing only, they were Christians.
Maybe they were actually guilty of two things—they were Middle Eastern and Christian—a deadly combination.

Somehow I do not think we will ever see images of ISIS leaders asleep at the job, claiming that they were not sober, I often wonder if these evil individuals ever sleep.

“But Julie” I hear you implore– “a sleeping Justice has nothing to do with a global terrorism organization that is comprised of thugs! How can you even put these two events within close proximity to one another?! You’re being terribly unfair. . .”

When we see our country wrestling with and waiting on our Supreme Court Justices to figure out such in-country bickering and struggles over who can and can’t smoke pot legally, whether or not homosexuals can or cannot marry legally, or to what extent does a President’s powers reach— all the while as a growing global army of terrorists quickly decide who can and can’t live, let alone who can or cannot practice a religion and life other than that of extreme Islam, I think we’ve got bigger troubles than what we could ever imagine. . .

May we all be mindful of our responsibilities.
May we be mindful of our duties.
May we be mindful that we are often the only example others may have.
May we be the example of that which is just and good.
May we be strong enough to stand above the crowd.
May we take what we do seriously, no matter how insignificant we may think it to be.
May we understand that too causal is not always a good thing.
May we be mature, stepping up to the plate, when the circumstances demand nothing less.
May we not play the blame game but rather “man up” to take the heat when necessary, remembering that often times the buck does indeed stop with us.
May we not be so quick to write everything off so simply.
May we not tolerate everything we do and say for the mere sake of tolerance but rather may we have the courage to pick and choose what we do and say then have the courage to stand behind our beliefs–
May we remember that there was a time in this country when we could disagree, respecting the right to disagree rather than as today when the mentality of “I’m right and you’re wrong and therefore you must change and change now or else” reigns supreme
And may we remember that there are those forces around this globe of ours who look to take away our very way of life and wait in the shadows for when we are asleep at the helm to take advantage of our sleep and distraction, hoping to change our lives forever. . .

It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.”

Mark 13:34-36

Prayers for the Ukrainians

Violence is like a weed – it does not die even in the greatest drought.”
Simon Wiesenthal

For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”
Simon Wiesenthal

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This is a very old, very tiny Russian Icon.
It is just a tad bit larger than a postage stamp.
I found it in an equally small antique shop tucked away in a small alley in the ancient hill town of Cortona, Italy, one summer, several years ago.
The small image of Christ the Pantocrator is hand painted and very detailed to be so small but difficult to capture with a camera as much of the detail is lost.
The sterling silver covering, the Riza, or риза meaning “robe”, is not intended merely to protect the underlaying painting, as is often the common assumption, but rather is an added bit of reverence or veneration.

After being the guest at large for the past three weeks, the world has most recently departed Sochi, Russia happy, pleased, as well as relieved. We were welcomed into what is a massively vast country, which for so many of us, for so very long, has been steeped and shrouded in dark mystery. Those of us who have lived through the inception, duration and eventual fall of the tangible walls of a bitter cold war, delightfully enjoyed this most recent and uplifting visit. A large exhaled collective breath could be heard reverberating across the world as the extinguishing of the Olympic flame signaled not only the closing of this year’s games but it also signaled the closing of the possibility, of what so many believed to be inevitable which thankfully had not taken place after all— that being an act of terrorism.

With the unifying events of the Olympics being played out in living rooms around the globe, a more sinister fog hung heavily in the air, seeping its way eastward from the neighboring unrest playing out in the Ukraine. Ukraine, which in fact translates to “borderland,” shares not only its eastern border with its massive overshadowing neighbor Russia, but the inextricably intwined bond of a people bound by language, religion and blood. For years the relationship between the two countries has been tenuous and strained as Ukraine has woven in and out of life under Czarist Russian rule, Soviet rule, eventually turning sovereign neighbor. Yet now, as the world waits and watches, the disturbingly new question begs to be asked if Ukraine does not currently play the part of occupied nation by that of a much larger hostile nation?

As the very fluid events unfold faster than I can type, we, the world hold our collective breath fretting what may be next, not only for the Ukrainians, but for us all as well. We see the faces on the news of people just like you and me—men, woman and children caught in the middle of a power play of political ideologies. The rhetoric escalates as European and American leadership dicker over roles of responsibility. All as the situation seems all too familiar, with actions from the past demigods unfolding as if in a stop frame slow motion camera. The once massive growling grizzly portrayed under the banner of a red hammer and sickle snidely nicknamed “Uncle Joe” sweetly gave way to the childlike cuddly teddybear of the Olympics.

What we must cautiously remind ourselves of today is that all wild animals, even those tamed circus bears and sweet Olympic teddybears, still remain wild at heart, naturally demonstrating tendencies of reverting back to the unpredictable ways of their wild nature. We wonder which bear Vladimir Putin claims for Russia.

May we all pray for a peaceful resolve to the very dangerous and fluid situation in the Ukraine.