Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Brief (well, kinda) Beat Update…

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As some of you may already know, I have been dealing (or trying to deal) with my sensitive bastard of a heart. I have had all the tests, met with cardiologists and electrophysiologists. And I have pretty much been told – deal with it, suck it up, you may have this forever so you need to get over it. Of course, that makes me want to just kick them in the neck and steal all their latex gloves.

While acceptance is indeed an important part of this super fun lollipop journey…I will also forever be searching for ways to feel better.

I have made some changes in the past two months to try to reduce my skips (which are both PVCs and PACs). I get them primarily the 10 days before my period. And occasionally the rest of the month here and there.

Before making these changes, I was having 100 or more a day on bad days. And on REALLY bad days I would have them every couple of beats for an hour or two or three at a time. Sucks ass.

I have spent a lot of time talking with a nutritionist/pharmacist who is wealth of information.

It seems to me (and her) that my issues are hormone and magnesium/mineral related. I also think inflammation is generally something all people need to be concerned about – especially with American diets. inflammation is the cause of many chronic conditions, illnesses and even fatal maladies.

Anywho…here are the changes I have made…

I was eating about 6 cups of baby spinach a day. Apparently it contains a chemical that makes magnesium difficult to absorb. I totally stopped eating it.

I started taking a mineral formula (Amazon.com: Integrative Therapeutics Krebs Ionized Chelates, 100 Tablets: Health & Personal Care) . I take 4 per day for the 2 weeks around my period and 2 per day the other 2 weeks (just to save some money).

I take 2 Tbsp of Aloe INNER LEAF (apparently this is very important…whole leaf is bad…inner leaf/fillet is good) liquid – twice per day the two weeks around my period and once a day the other two weeks.

I take apple cider vinegar. 2 pills a day (or 2 tbsp of liquid…I am going back to liquid after my pills are gone…I think it works better. I noticed a huge difference with PVCs when I started doing the liquid last summer…I think I wrote about it).

I take a bath with 1/2 cup epsom and 1/2 cup baking soda almost every night. And I love my baths…so this is easy for me. I have found some good podcasts to listen to while I sit in there and soak. My favorite right not is The Nerdist. Pretty funny and gets my mind off of junk.

And I have tea with Natural Calm every day/night. I have anywhere from 2-3 tsp per day depending on how I am feeling. This shit it great and I recommend it for anyone dealing with palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. I did have to gradually up my intake because it was heavy hitting at first. Knocked my ass out. Another thing I really like about it is that my dreams are back. I have a history of very vivid, realistic and interesting dreams. I seriously have always loved sleeping because of them. They went away for a while, but now they are back big time. Lovin’ it. All it is is a powdered form of Magnesium Citrate. I have found a cheaper version on Vitacost. Haven’t received it yet, but will let you know if it is the same. Should be.

I strongly feel that all of these things have made noticeable differences. With all of them together…this month was about 80% better than last month. Even during the worst days, I was only have a few skips per day and that was after eating heavy or drinking alcohol.

I am continuing with therapy and reading my anxiety books so that I can continue to learn to accept this condition with full knowledge that it may be with me in some capacity forever.

I also still exercise as I have been doing for years…I use my dreadmill for about 40-60 mins about 5 days per week. I would like to increase my workouts tho…I really need to. Thinking about joining a gym…but I just don’t know if I should…

Sooo…I just wanted to share this with y’all. And I will keep you updated. So far, I am obviously very pleased with the results. But I know it may not last and I am aware of that.

I wanted to add that I have learned that estrogen and progesterone both deplete magnesium significantly. So does stress and cortisol. This I think is the reason SOME people get them more when stressed out, anxious and during PMS time. Lack of magnesium also magnifies PMS/PMDD symptoms a lot – which is def. true for me. I get terrible PMDD.

Beta blockers also deplete magnesium and some Drs recommend taking a mag supplement for patients on a Beta Blocker. I have been taking them (Beta Blocker) for 8 years. These are some of the reasons I think Mag plays a big role in my issues.

I went to Barnes and Noble one night and read a bunch out of a book called The Magnesium Miracle. Lots of good information!!!

 

P.S. Please know that I have been knocking on wood throughout this entire posting….I HATE the thought of jinxing myself 🙂

 

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Trying to Get Through This Rough Patch…

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UGHHHHH!!!

I just do not ever get a chance to catch up with my emotions. I can’t seem to get a fucking break.

I have been trying SO hard to come to terms with the heart issues…trying to accept them and learn to live with the symptoms. I know this won’t happen over night. I know this is going to take work and time. But now, more is thrown at me.

Cassidy was sick this past weekend. She was having stomach cramps which would come and go. They appeared to be gas pains. She did have one day of a fever – not even a whole day. After a round of ibuprophen, it was gone. But the tummy issues stuck around until Sunday night. By Monday she was fine. Or so I thought.

A few days ago, I wrote about her experience with what I think was a PANDAS episode.  Well, sure enough…again after an illness, I noticed some eye rolls. I saw a couple last night. I was truly hoping and praying (yes, praying) they were insignificant. But then her teacher told me today that she noticed a few at school.

The teacher only mentioned it because I wrote her a letter about the whole ordeal…shared everything that I did in the blog. She said she has noticed it in the past as well.

I was really hoping it was just a strange event – never to appear again. But it doesn’t look to be the case.

I sent a letter (by fax) today to our Family Doctor. I trust this doctor and have been with her for nearly 20 years. MANY doctors out there straight up do not believe in PANDAS (believe me, I have been reading like a mad woman). I also sent her THIS information. This is very good and interesting information and if you have any interest in this topic, I suggest you read it.I am hoping so much she takes me seriously and doesn’t poo poo it.

I really don’t know what to do at this point. I am going to wait for a response from the doc and HOPE AND PRAY this goes away.

As far as the heart stuff…here is an update…

2 weeks ago I had a conversation with Sunday Muniz at Nutritional Designs. She is always so helpful – being a nutritionist and a pharmacist. VERY very smart. Anyway, she really thought my minerals were probably out of whack. I have heard from a lot of PVC sufferers that magnesium helps a lot. So that was a path I wanted to follow.

She advised me to take a mineral supplement and also said to try a product called Natural Calm at night. Also, I mentioned to her that I was eating about 4-6 cups of baby spinach per day. She said to stop AND limit calcium. The spinach has something called oxalic acid and can mess with the absorbtion of minerals. And calcium competes with the magnesium in the GI tract.

I have taken all of her advice and also started taking epsom salt baths almost daily. This also helps with magnesium absorbtion.

For two weeks – since starting this, I have had very few heart skips (PVCs and PACs). I have been very pleased, but I have not been letting my hopes up.

The true test starts now. Usually 10 days before my period until it is over…that is when my heart goes bonkers. Last month was AWFUL. At least 100 skips a day. There were even moments of skips every 4 beats. And for quite some time, ever minute. It was terrifying. Now, I did feel a couple very slight skips yesterday. And one or two bigger ones today. But my stress level has been VERY high and my sleep has been lacking. These both make a HUGE difference. Anyway, the next 10 days will tell me a lot about how well these changes helping. God, please.

As it turns out, this Natural Calm is also very good for kids with tics and like issues as well. I will be trying this on Cassidy starting tonight. it can’t really hurt and I will be starting with such a small amount.

Anyway…I am just trying to muster through everything right now. I am scared about everything and want to crawl under the covers all day every day. I want this fear to end. I want to have a normal life!!!

Ok. Done whining for the night. Carry on….

 

 

Le Roy Students, PANDAS and Our Experience

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In October of last year, we experienced something very strange and scary. I should say – I was scared…everyone else kinda blew me off. I didn’t talk about it at the time. I think I was just too nervous about what people would say or suggest. I was afraid of being accused of being overly paranoid – a term which has been used with me in the past. But with recent similar news stories being reported, I feel I should talk about this now.

In October, my daughter who is 7 years old, caught a stomach bug. It lasted about 24 hours and it was just awful. She vomited continuously and she was just miserable. I couldn’t have been happier when it finally started to subside.

A few weeks go by and I get a call from the school nurse. Cassidy developed a 103 fever and I immediately left to pick her up. I brought her directly to urgent care. She said her throat “kinda” hurt but other than that she seemed and said she was fine. She had a throat culture to check for strep.

The 24 hour test came back negative. She was feeling better so I didn’t think much of it. 3 days later, I got a call saying it was in fact positive and that she needed to take antibiotics even though she was completely feeling fine by that time. She had no symptoms whatsoever. But I still made sure she took every dose. And everything was back to normal. Or so I thought.

Around the time of Halloween, she started doing this very strange thing with her eyes. She would roll them…like one would do if they were irritated or annoyed. They would roll up and to the side. At first we would scold her, thinking she was doing it on purpose. Sometimes she just laughed and other times she said she wasn’t doing it on purpose.

I expressed concern with my mom and husband. Both thought it was her messing with me or perhaps a phase or habit she would eventually stop on her own if we ignored it. So that is what we did, ignore it.

But then it was becoming frequent and at inappropriate times. It didn’t happen when she was annoyed or upset. It was just randomly happening…even when she didn’t know I was looking at her. I knew in my gut that she was most certainly NOT doing this on purpose.

Here is a video of her having this eye tic during her Christmas concert. It still breaks my heart to see it. She is the third girl on the top row, brown hair with bangs, dress with black top and purple bottom:

Cassidy’s Christmas Concert

I brought her in to see the doctor, actually, the Nurse Practioner because the doctor was full. I had printed up some information on PANDAS after much internet research. The Nurse Practioner never heard of it and went to ask the doctor while we waited. The doctor never heard of it either.

The NP looked up some info while we were there and I asked if she could have another round of stronger antibiotics – because that is what the literature suggested. She agreed.

Here is a basic explanation of PANDAS from http://pandasnetwork.org/

What is PANDAS?

The hallmark trait for PANDAS is sudden acute and debilitating onset of intense anxiety and mood liability accompanied by Obsessive Compulsive-like issues and/or Tics in association with a streptococcal-A (GABHS) infection that has occurred immediately prior to the symptoms. In some instances, the onset will be 4 to 6 months after a strep infection because the antibiotics did not fully eradicate the bacteria. Many pediatricians do not know the latent variability of strep – Rheumatologists and Streptococcal Experts do..

The acute onset means a Y-BOCS (Yale Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale) score of >20 and or a Chronic Tic Disorder YGTSS (Yale Global Tic Severity Scale) often with multiple ticsSee Diagnostics Page.

In 1998, Dr. Susan Swedo and associates first described the PANDAS syndrome in P.A.N.D.A.S.: Clincial Description of the First 50 Cases.

Further an excellent study of 202 children by Dr. Loren Mel, et al in 2005 lends credence to the likelihood of PANDAS as a separate etiological entity.

Dr. Tamar Chanksy, author of many books dealing with childhood anxiety issues, describes symptom onset succinctly in her website Worry Wise Kids:

  • OCD
  • Choreiform movements; involuntary or irregular writhing movements of the legs, arm or face
  • Presence of tics and/or hyperactivity
  • Irritability, temper tantrums, or mood lability
  • Nighttime difficulties
  • Severe nightmares and new bedtime rituals or fears
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Age regression: going back to younger developmental stage
  • New handwriting problems, loss of math skills, sensory sensitivities

 

PANDAS has an encephalitic-like onset. Some childrens’ onsets are clearly debilitating and they become near catatonic and homebound. Other children can function at school and then fall apart at home for hours on end. BUT IT IS CLEAR – THE FORMERLY NORMALLY FUNCTIONING CHILD IS GONE.

PANDAS symptoms may have flared in a lesser manner for weeks or years prior to the acute onset but often readily disappeared or lessened over time. If untreated with antibiotics generally we have seen a myriad of other symptoms will intensify in the weeks and months post-acute onset. If the severe symptoms do not stop and persist over many months, permanent cognitive damage can occur.

Cassidy finished her second round of antibiotics and still had the eye roll. By this time, she started to complain about it. She said that it didn’t hurt, but it bothered her. My worry grew into panic. But still, my mom and husband did not seem concerned.

The problem did eventually subside after about 3 months total. Was it PANDAS? Was it due to the strep? I have no idea.

She was playing with her iPod a lot and we considered that may be the cause. She lost her iPod shortly after the eye thing stopped…maybe that helped, I don’t know that either.

But with these new reports out of Le Roy, NY…I am now reignited to find out more about this.

Doctors are now blaming mass hysteria for this outbreak. I think that dismissing this as an ‘its in your head because you are a bunch of silly girls’ diagnosis is premature and short sighted. And it also kind of pisses me off.

In fact, here is a press release from a doctor who is well versed in PANDAS:

February 6, 2012

 

Press Release:

 

LE ROY, NY TEENS: BEHAVIORS LINKED TO INFECTIONS

 

Ramsey, NJ — February 6, 2012 — Rosario Trifiletti, MD has announced the results

of the laboratory data that he collected in standardized fashion from eight of nine girls he

examined in Le Roy, NY.

 

National attention has been drawn to the plight of the teens who have been unable to control various bodily twitching and jerking movements. Dr. Trifiletti reported that five of eight girls show evidence of Streptococcus Pyogenes (common Group A strep) and seven of eight show evidence of infection with Mycoplasma Pneumonia (the bacteria that causes walking pneumonia).

 

All eight girls tested show evidence of infection with at least one of those pathogens. Both of these bacterium have been associated with a PANDAS-like illness of sudden onset of motor and vocal tics. “A PANDAS-like illness is my working diagnosis, rather than a mass conversion disorder as others have suggested,” said Dr. Trifiletti. He has already started treating the girls with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents. When asked to comment on the continued insistence by Dr. Laszlo Mechtler that the girls have conversion disorder (or mass hysteria as Dr. Mechtler originally stated), Dr. Trifiletti said, “I’m confused by that because he’s never actually seen or interviewed any of the nine girls I examined.”

 

These findings provide a significant clue in the Le Roy High School mystery, but certainly many questions remain. Streptococcus Pyogenes and Mycoplasma Pneumonia are common pathogens that children throughout the world are exposed to every day. Why this town? Why this particular child and not another? Why such a curious presentation resembling Tourette syndrome?

 

Until these questions are fully answered, the doctor said that the cluster will remain a mystery. “I suspect that genetic, environmental factors provide an immune background where the PANDAS-like response is possible to common pathogens. The infectious exposure is simply ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back,’” said Trifiletti.

 

However, the infectious exposure points the way to rational medical treatment for these children, which he said is of immediate importance. “Clearly, their response to the treatment I’ve started will be helpful in supporting my working diagnosis,” he added. As with most illnesses, Trifiletti said there is a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors involved.

 

As with all illnesses, psychological factors possibly play some role as well. “All we have done here is provided evidence for exposure to two infectious agents as potential factors,” said Trifiletti. “I encourage efforts to further explore genetic and other environmental factors that likely are playing an additional role here.”

 

To reach Dr. Trifiletti contact:

 

Telephone: 201-962-7284

 

Email: trifmd@gmail.com

 

Website: http://www.site.neurokidsr.us

 

For additional Information about PANDAS:

 

http://www.pandasfoundation.org

 

http://www.pandasnetwork.org

 

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/pandas/pandas-frequently-asked-questionsabout-pediatric-autoimmune-neuropsychiatric-disorders-associated-with streptococcalinfections.shtml

 

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/childhood-illnesses/ocd

 

http://www.savingsammy.net

 

 

My Thanksgiving Wish (Patch)

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I have had many friends and family ask why on earth I do what I do. Some say they would never want to open themselves up to public critique and bashing. Some think it is just less burdensome to stay quiet. And others worry because they know how sensitive I can be. I even have close relatives who do not read my pieces on Patch because they do not agree with my philosophies; their attempts to keep the peace, I suppose.

I have been writing since I can remember. I love it, and high school was the beginning of my need to be heard. That escalated in my adult life after a brief period of apathy in my early 20s. So when this opportunity was presented to me, there was no doubt I had to grab it. Before this, to actually be paid for something I absolutely enjoy was really just a notion I considered a pipe dream.

But with all that, there are subsequent consequences. There is always bad to go with the good. And because of the type of writing I am currently producing – those consequences can be harsh.

For someone with a pretty fragile ego and who wears her heart on her sleeve, the things people say sting a little more than they should. The personal attacks, threats and insults are becoming easier to dismiss. But I still have work to do in that department.

I often wonder how people can be as hostile and vile as they present themselves to be. I wonder what kind of pain they must be enduring to want to spread it to others. I often think about what it is like to live with those people.

My mother, who has been my closest and best friend my entire life is on the very opposite end of the political spectrum from me and, often, philosophically. To say this past year hasn’t disturbed our relationship would be untrue. I have also had friendships end because of this political divide. I have many reasons to return to that time in my 20s when I was asleep and unaware. The rewards for giving up my voice, sitting down and tuning out would be significant.

But I cannot in good conscious do that. There is this recently developed equation. Social turmoil and a medium in which to speak both hold me to my sense of integrity. I have been given an opportunity during a time in which I feel so strongly about many issues. What kind of person would I be to stick my head in the sand? Happier? Maybe. Proud? Most definitely not.

When I see people who have opinions differing from mine, I do feel a sense of frustration. But I try to look at them as though they were my mom. She isn’t a bad person. She’s funny and caring. And she loves me. I don’t hate her because she supports what I am against.

I wonder how conversations would change if we all just tried looking at our opponents as though they were our brothers, daughters, friends and fathers. I wonder how differently we would speak to one another if we could see them as just another human being.

I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I have had bad experiences to hurdle just like most of you. I cry at commercials. I yell at my husband. I have anxiety issues. I need to lose 10 pounds. I am SO not perfect. I change my mind – or flip flop from time to time. I am often too conservative for my most liberal friends and far too liberal for my conservative friends. And what causes the most trouble is my (often unfiltered) big mouth.

I get that you may not agree with me all the time – or EVER. Honestly, I do. But I don’t get the hate and venom which so many seem to take pleasure in doling out. And it isn’t just me, no way. I hear people speak horribly to and about each other every day. And I am sure there have been moments when I, too, have gotten caught up in the circular anger.

When I am pulling that wishbone this Thanksgiving, I will be hoping that we can start to perceive each other as people not so different from ourselves. That we can acknowledge that we all have emotions, feelings and sensibilities. And that we can find a way to simply play nice. I sure hope this is possible because I won’t be chased away. I will take the criticism and the insults if that remains to be a consequence of this assignment.

I know that hostility will always exist to some degree. But perhaps we can attempt to behave how we teach our children to behave and at least keep the golden rule in our consciousness when we begin to boil over.

Click HERE to see the original article and reader comments

Rally to Recall Walker – A Delightful Experience (Patch)

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We were running late, as we occasionally do. The rally speakers were to begin at 1 pm and we arrived at the hotel at 1:30. We rushed to check in so that we could get to our room, bundle up and get out there. Luckily, our hotel was across the street from the Capitol, so the commute was short.

But just was we began finishing up at the front desk, we noticed Mahlon Mitchell and John Nichols standing together, just feet away.

Mahlon Mitchell is the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and a Lieutenant in the Madison Fire Department. He is also considering a run for Governor after all the signatures are collected.

John Nichols is the Washington Correspondent for The Nation Magazine, a political blogger, book author and a man who has taken the Wisconsin plight under his wing since its inception. He has been one media participant who can be truly counted on to get the story out there without the usual conservative influence. I stick to my belief that the notion of “liberal media” is a myth.

I grabbed the camera bag and handed it to my husband, “Oh, we are getting a picture!”

We approached them and introduced ourselves. We politely asked for a photo and they seemed more than happy to oblige. I wanted to say something clever or memorable. I wanted to let them know that I appreciate their work and have a great respect. But sadly, my goofy nerves took over and I was unable to utter much more than a few giggles and thank yous. (sigh…what a dork).

We scooted away quickly to not bother them further and made our way to the elevator. While I was checking to see how the photo turned out, a familiar face approached from the corridor.

“Well, oh my goodness gracious.” Yes, I actually said those words. Out loud and akin to a 90-year-old grandmother. Liberal television and radio talk show host, Big Eddie Schultz, was right there – face-to-face. I stuck out my hand and said, “Very nice to meet you.” He smiled, graciously said the same and kept moving. My mind apparently wasn’t working properly and I forgot to ask for a picture (again…dork!).

It’s funny. Not so many years ago, I would have been all tongue tied had I met a rock star or television celebrity. Now, I feel gitty when meeting political figures and writers. What has become of me??

Honestly, though, what a remarkable beginning to a great day!!

Once we finally made it outside, it was as if we traveled back to Spring of 2011 when the streets were filled with fist signs held by mittens. It was a fabulous sight. Most reports have estimated between 20,000 to 40,000 people at the rally. I can imagine how many more there would be if it hadn’t been the first day of deer hunting season.

Musicians strumming various instruments, vendors selling (and giving away) “Recall Walker” t-shirts, hats, pins and other items and, of course, recall petitioners all in abundance. Ages 8 months to 80 years, the people were from all walks of life and cultures – the crowd was beautifully diverse.

Creative signs wallpapered the landscape mking us laugh throughout the day. As usual, the people were pleasant, in good spirits, friendly and considerate. I didn’t see any garbage anywhere! We walked to dinner a few hours after the event and the place was spotless. Again, remarkable.

Throughout the sea of Badger red and toothy smiles, I only witnessed good-hearted individuals who felt proud to stand up for their beliefs. With cheers and chants and reworded polka songs, their voices were indeed heard and will continue to echo through the rotunda for years to come.

There was nothing thuggish about the day. No malcontents or violent outbursts. It was simply a pep rally to invigorate those who believe in the goal of recalling Governor Scott Walker. It was a celebration of the successes the effort has already gained. And it was a coming to together of like minds, values and ideas.

By the way, United Wisconsin and friends were able to organize a wonderful Can Walker Food Driveon the day of the rally. In the end, they had received 2.5 tons of food for needy families. Just imagine how much more food there could have been had it not been left up to greedy, selfish, lazy thugs. (cough) Just sayin’.

You can see photos and video from Saturday’s rally HERE.

Click HERE to see the original article and reader comments

The American Protest: Part Two (Patch)

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An anti-choice protester chaining themselves to a physician’s car is wrong, plain and simple. So is it not also wrong to shout obscenities at an official’s children? Vulgarly protesting the funeral of a fallen soldier is likely one of the most reprehensible acts imaginable, I am sure most of us can agree. I am not saying these people do not have a right to their opinion – or even a right to express it (as disgusting as it is). But there is a time and place. There needs to be respect and decorum. There needs to be boundaries.

Drumming 12 hours a day outside of a school is taking away a student’s right to an education. Shouting curse words during a Special Olympics Ceremony is only hurting the Olympic participants and their families. Protesters on all sides, for all causes, with all beliefs need to realize that their points would be far more respected and acknowledged if they were a little shrewder about their strategies, logistics and practices.

Shortly after the Dem 14 returned to Madison, spurring the last REALLY big rally at the Capitol, the people began focusing their energies on the forthcoming recalls. Protesters returned home, returned to work (if they could) and became active on the internet.

Of course, there still stood a group of activists who were clawing into the rotunda every day. And some were irritated that the numbers had dwindled – suggesting that those who decided to step into a new direction were less committed. But mostly, the protesters knew that it was time to evolve and sleeping on the ground in Walkerville would no longer have the impact that it once had.

There is a time to say ‘when.’ And doing so does not imply surrender. It simply means that efforts should now mature to the next level. Protesting has a shelf life. After a while, it is barely even noticed. And when it is, it is usually mocked and often the entire cause becomes misrepresented. The people within Occupy who ignore the fact that people are dying and health issues are rising are not doing their movement any favors.

Now, with all of that being said, I will be enjoying a wonderful day in Madison this Saturday cheering on the recall efforts. I do not consider it a protest persay, but a rally to inspire, invigorate and inform. I hope it is reminiscent of the events in February and March. The Capitol and surrounding streets were filled with respectful, kind, diverse citizens. I witnessed no fights, no vulgarity, no damage and no crime. Everyone I encountered was pleasant and considerate. It was really quite remarkable and unforgettable. See, I don’t believe you need to yell profanities, dole out threats or tip over trucks to make a point or support a cause.

Whether it be Occupy Wall Street, anti-Walker protests, anti-choice barricades, Penn State tantrums, people who cheer on executions or churches who picket funerals – protesting, while a right, musthave boundaries in order to be effective, respected and understood. Please, protest wisely so that it can still mean something significant when it really counts.

Click HERE to see original article and reader comments.

The American Protest: Part One (Patch)

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I have written in support of protesting. I have protested myself. And I fully believe in anyone’s right to protest. I think it can be effective and powerful. But recently, I have been unsettled over particular protesting tactics.  In full disclosure, I am apprehensive about writing this because it does speak against some of the practices by people whom I respect a great deal. Hopefully I have made clear that I indeed hold protesting and demonstrating in high regard.

When the protests started in Wisconsin last spring, it was heavily populated with Union workers and their supporters. As subsequent bills were introduced and further conduct was revealed, the face of the assemblage modified to include a wide variety of individuals and causes. Yet the end goal was similar and clear. And everyone worked beautifully together to envision that goal.

When Occupy began, it was also a diverse crowd and they seemed to mainly hold a focus on the disparity of wealth with anger toward the corrupt greed being allowed and encouraged by our government. Since then, the movement has grown into so many separate cultures and messages that sometimes have very little to do with one another. It has added much confusion and distraction.

I have always been mortified seeing anti-choice protesters drag their young children along to their hostile confrontations. I feel that kids need to be kids and should not be thrown into the pit of adult situations. Talking to them, teaching them, even an occasional family friendly event is one thing. But I don’t believe they should be required to trade their baseball mitts and crafts for cowbells and picket signs.

I proudly admit to bringing my daughter along the first time we went to a Madison protest. And it was a cool and rare experience for her. But that one time was enough and it was time for her to go back to thinking about Clifford the Big Red Dog and Webkinz. Children living at Occupy camps, standing in front of abortion clinics or spending each weekend at political demonstrations just make me uncomfortable.

And another thing while considering the participants of such events – when you support a message which is completely outside of the realm of common sense you will look like a damn fool. The protesters at Penn State last week looked absolutely absurd. There really aren’t even words, well, not ones I can say here anyway.

In the most recent weeks of the Occupies around the country, violence has become an increasing crisis. There have been deaths, rape, illness, hygienic issues and even a suicide. Anyone can set up a tent and fade into the crowd. Anyone, under the guise of an active citizen, can quietly hunt their prey. Unstable criminals are peppering themselves among the well-meaning activists and tainting their movement.

Some of the violence has been committed by those who are against the demonstration and there have even been reports of police brutality. The longer this continues, the more extreme become the participants and the more dangerous the activities will become. I think safety needs to be a consideration and I do not think that local governments are out of line for becoming concerned and attempting to close the camps.

I believe that denouncing the misfits of a group will only help your motives. If the Tea Party doesn’t agree with the racist signs and suggestions prominent at their rallies, they need to vehemently discredit those intruders publicly. Otherwise, those messages will remain a part of the Party’s image.

Those involved in these protests are representing the cause. Whatever that cause is – people will always hear about the most extreme individuals and see the most extreme behaviors. The “who” in these scenarios are crucial to the public’s perception and that is what ultimatly dictates the outcome.

To be continued later this week.

*I would like to add a personal thank you to all of those passionate protesters who use so much of their time, energy and resources to stand up for all of us – including those who do not or cannot stand up for themselves.

 

Click HERE to see original article and read comments

The Great Ornament Heist of 2010 (Patch)

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I have been hemming and hawing about this piece. I had a plan, but reconsidered. And it’s all inspired by tomorrow’s Downtown Racine Holiday Parade.

We try to attend the downtown events as often as we can. Of course, most of those days are in the comfortable summer months, which is more appealing. But somehow, my family is usually able to get me off my pajama-covered butt and bundle up enough to get to Monument Square for the holiday parade. And typically, I am glad we attend. The kids enjoy it, the event isn’t ridiculously long and the crowds aren’t too suffocating.

Last year was an extra interesting experience.

I am a crazy camera lady. When family members see me coming, they hide. When the kids see me coming, they ham it up. I can always be found snapping shots. And last year’s parade was no exception. Apparently, I was so busy taking pictures; I almost missed witnessing The Great Ornament Heist.

As I tried to get my kids to pose, I suddenly heard my family gasping and giggling.

“Did you see that??”

“What is he doing??”

“Oh my God, LOOK!”

I finally got them to explain their flabbergasted fuss. They saw a guy – a kid, really – walk right up to the tree and take an extra large ornament right off the branch. Directly (even touching) Santa!! Very casually, in front of everyone – he simply decided he really needed that decoration.

By the time they told me and I figured out what they were talking about, the dude was gone. Nobody seemed to notice or like us, say anything. The bandit was quick. But not THAT quick.

When we got home, they were still talking about it. And suddenly I realized I had been pointing the camera in that very direction at the time of this Christmas caper. I grabbed the computer and the camera to begin my investigation.

Whatdaya know. Red handed, I caught the punk. I got a clear shot of him bending over and maneuvering the ornament off the tree. Face and all, right in frame.

I posted it on Facebook. But it didn’t catch much attention and I didn’t think much about it after that. I suppose I could have sent it to the police, but really – don’t they have better things to do? I just left it alone. I mean, it’s not like I caught someone raping a child in the locker room. I just didn’t feel, in my gut, that it needed to be pursued.

I was initially going to post the picture with this story. But I have since reconsidered for a couple of reasons. One, out of fear and the other out of being…I don’t know, compassionate?

I mean, I don’t know this kid. I’d say he was around 15, maybe. He wasn’t dressed very warmly, but he had one of those rubber cause bracelets on. Other than that, I know nothing about him. I think I need to consider the safety of my family, my home and myself when I write in public. I often worry how people will react to my words and I thought this may have pushed my luck a bit.

Also, for all I know, this kid could have taken the past year getting his life together. Maybe he has found his path after a mischievous childhood. Perhaps he regrets what he did. Maybe it was the only time in his life he ever did something like that. Maybe he has already been punished harshly by his parents. I simply don’t know enough to take the chance with throwing a hammer at this kid’s life. This year could have been his year of change – would I really want to destroy that?

It’s kind of what I was saying in my last piece about being responsible with our power. I really had to sit and think about what the possible consequences to my choices could be. And while I think posting the picture may get a fair amount of reaction and attention – I really don’t know if that would be the right thing to do. So, this time my words will have to be enough.

To see the original article and reader comments – click HERE

Are You a Megalomaniac? (Patch)

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One thing I find terribly frightening is brazen abuse of power. Whether it is by a business owner, a union president, a police officer or a judge – these practices can be life altering. It seems that with the littlest amount of authority, an ego can become so out of control that it will allow for abdominal actions.

This weekend, I was listening to a story calledPetty Tyrant on NPR’s This American LifeThe piece was about Steven Raucci, a bully to the greatest degree. Raucci was sentenced 23 years to life for a variety of crimes including arson and weapons charges. This man was a supervisor for the maintenance department of the Schenectady school system. Not only was he in charge of many employees, he was also their union leader. Clearly, a conflict of interest.

Raucci used the power he had gained within the city’s school district and in the union to intimidate his employees and co-workers, even going so far to threaten death. He would fire people at will without the fear of consequence because he was the one who filed the grievances. He spray painted property, placed bombs in the homes of his enemies and he had many people afraid for many years. He thought of himself as The Godfather and often bragged about the similarity.

Recently, in Hawaii, a pregnant mother and her husband were arrested for accidentally leaving a store without paying for a sandwich. Many of us have mistakenly walked out with something unknowingly hidden under our purses or left on the bottom of the cart. They went through the checkout and paid for the rest of their items, but they simply forgot about the sandwich.

They were handcuffed, searched and demeaned in front of a public crowd before going to the station to be booked. But if that were the whole story, I probably would have never heard about it. What made it national news was the fact that authorities took their 2 year old daughter and placed her with Child Welfare over night. The trauma this likely inflicted on the child AND the parents will be the fault of people with undeserving power; casual decisions made by those being led by their arrogance.

And this kind of nefarious mentality doesn’t stop at the Wisconsin borders. 20 complaints were filed against Calumet County’s DA, Ken Kratz, for inappropriate sexual behavior with female victims. Investigations began after a domestic abuse victim suffering from PTSD was continually harassed by Kratz via sexting messages. She was initially afraid to file a complaint because Kratz would be prosecuting her abuser. While his behavior ultimately cost him his job, he was never prosecuted.

A former Milwaukee police officer, Ladmarald Cates, was charged in September with the rape of a woman who called 911. He gained entry to her apartment under the guise of protection. When she later complained to other officers and asked to be taken to a hospital, she was met with refusal and accusations of lying. It appears that many people abused their power that day.

In August, three Milwaukee County Department of Health Services employees were charged withdefrauding the state’s FoodShare/Quest Program. They used their positions to open and renew accounts with fake client names. Not only does this hurt our state financially, it hurts those who truly need this service in order to simply live.

These examples seem to go on forever. A Mukwonago police officer was found guilty of misconduct when he tampered with breathalyzer results. A Wheeler police chief was charged with the sexual assault of more than one child. And there is the consistent and clear abuse of power in our State Capitol in the form of systematically overhauling our laws, norms, rights and traditions on a daily basis.

Power can corrupt at any level. I have seen 18-year-old supervisors who schedule only their favorite employees with premium hours. I have seen 50-year-old restaurant managers who verbally abuse their staff simply because they can. Even a middle school class president can hold themselves to unrealistic esteems. From the classroom to the Capitol – with a little bit of power comes a great deal of responsibility.

And the greatest responsibility should be the capacity for these individuals to keep their feet planted in the reality that they are still just another human being with no greater worth than the guy standing next to them. We need to have the ability to trust those who make the decisions that will and do impact our lives.

We all have opportunities in life to hold power over another. Anyone can accuse another person of a crime – regardless of the truth. Anyone can threaten a person to get what they want. We all have the ability to use our words in a way that could have life lasting effects and consequences. Please, use your power wisely; with forethought and compassion.

Click HERE to see original article and reader comments.

Recall Walker – A Necessary Fight (Patch)

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In February of 2011, I became aware of the so-called “Budget Repair Bill.” I was informed of how it would affect teachers and at the time, that was enough for me to know it was wrong. But I learned more.

I soon realized that this wasn’t only about our educators, but about all public union employees and the attack on their right to collectively bargain. Things were becoming more clear and more blatent. But I learned more.

It was soon after my first protest in Madison I became schooled on the fact that this fight was no longer just about unions at all. Not for me, anyway. To this day, I hear the term “thug” tossed around like pigskin on Thanksgiving. But it was and always has been a patsy thrown to the wolves as a distraction from the approaching devastation of our state. I continue to learn more.

Scott Walker is a killer of progress, but he is not alone. He is merely a cog in the Tea Party machine that is systematically stripping away decades of advancement from our local governments, states and country. These gears, greased by the greed of corporations and religious zealots, have used the media and false prophets to perpetuate hate and anger only to further their agenda.

The one-sided legislation coming out of Madison these past months is nothing short of a corrupt take over. And the laws being introduced and passed are simply pay backs to past and future political contributors.

It was in the interest of their bank accounts to derail any high speed plans. It solidifies donations when the wind energy industry is turned away. Lobbyists are thrilled to have everyone packing heat. And the religious right cannot be more pleased about abstinence only education.

Legislation which has been pushed through the House and Senate have all been bills which promotetheir personal and professional interests. They have solely benefited the likes of the Koch Brothers and ALEC. They have all taken us back to a time of wild west shoot outs and chastity belts.

November of 2010 was the real birth of the Tea Party when they were able to gain enough votes to infiltrate many positions in all levels of government. While they shut out the lights – they took their places behind those desks and before eyes could adjust – the machine was already grinding.

Walker and his buddies have the power and they will use it and abuse it until they are stopped. Why wouldn’t they? After all, when they are recalled or voted out – they will likely have cushy, high paying jobs waiting for them with the corporations they have been pampering.

Walker called for a Special Jobs Session (AKA Back to Work Session) on September 27. Since then, there has not been a single job creating bill passed. They have been using this “Back to Work” Session (which makes a pretty headline for Walker and the GOP) to weasel through social legislation which panders to their corporate cronies.

Thanks to the work of our House and Senate, it will be easy as pie to get away with shooting someone in your home or car. And it will be easier for a neglectful physician to get away with malpractice.

Thanks to our House and Senate, we can have a Capitol Building filled with gun toting visitors. But you may be arrested if you’re packing a camera or holding a sign.

Thanks to our House and Senate, schools can now deny children comprehensive sexual and health education. And they can also help themselves by attempting to roadblock any recall efforts.

You can thank them for all of that, people. But while you’re at it – maybe ask them how many jobs they have helped create. Ask them how stopping cameras and condoms are putting people back to work.

This is a brief drop in the rusty bucket of why I will be doing anything I can to help get Walker and any other Tea Party promoting politicians recalled. November 15 cannot come soon enough and whether or not the recall fight is successful – I couldn’t be any more certain about its necessity.

Click HERE to see the original article and reader comments