Ch-ch-changes, Part the Second

I am chagrined to have to report that the effort of making our own household cleaners, soaps and such…is totally worth the effort.  I am mildly pissed that I could have been doing this for years, saving up enough money to buy that purple Lamborghini I saw.  I am also more annoyed that I am actually improving, at least mentally, without all the chemicals floating through the atmosphere of my home.  So what have I implemented?

I made the laundry soap.  Easy, and even a half recipe is going to last us a long time, so it’s not something I’ll have to do often.  The clothes feel softer, there’s no static cling even without using dryer sheets and I suspect that the clothes themselves will last longer if they’re not being cleaned with sawdust and chemicals.  Towels washed in this soap are more absorbent and soft without the weird waxy feel of dryer sheets.  Stain removal is the one thing we still need to learn, but other than that, this one gets a big check mark and a commitment to continue doing it.

I made the kitchen cleaner.  Okay, it’s equal parts white vinegar and water.  Not a lot of mixing, just pour them into the spray bottle.  I use it for every surface and it gets stuff clean.  Might take a little elbow grease, but all in all, very easy to use and it does not actually leave things smelling like salad dressing–in fact, it removes all odors.  Another check mark, another thing I can continue to do.

I made dishwasher soap.  I also use white vinegar as the rinse aid.  Other than the fact that my dishwasher is old and doesn’t get things clean the way it should, the products themselves work as advertised–and the amount needed for the powder is only a tablespoon, which doesn’t even fill the soap dispenser in the machine.  ANOTHER check mark, another item I will keep making.

Shampoo.  Ummmmmm.  Not so successful with this one, still working it out.  It may take time while my hair adjusts to actually making the oil it’s supposed to, instead of madly trying to replace what all the store-bought hair products strip off.  So my hair is soft, very soft, but not so shiny.  Work in progress and when I find the correct recipe or organic product (because right now, I’m washing with Dr. Bonner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Liquid Castile Soap), I’ll let you know.

Body soap.  Bought a bar of organic sandalwood for me…and Beloved has been using it, to discover that for whatever reason, he doesn’t take as long to dry off with this soap as his soap for 2000 parts.  (no brand names, LOL)  When this particular bar of soap is gone, we have a three milk (including goat) soap bar that we bought at the Farmer’s Market to use next.  I will probably never make our bathing soap, there’s just too many options for organic, homemade out there.

(Side note: the use of castile soap to wash my dishes and my hair has had a most unexpected side effect: all of my jewelry sparkles like it was just cleaned at the store.  I haven’t scrubbed it or done anything other than get it wet (and soapy) while washing other things.  Just saying)

So it was worth the extremely lower cost of stocking up on the various supplies to make our household cleaners and beauty products and I will continue to make them because frankly, it’s EASY to make them.  And I know what’s in them and don’t have to worry about chemicals and such.

Other changes…we went to the Warrenton Farmer’s Market yesterday.  Our friend, Todd (chef at Black Bear Bistro) met us there and introduced us around, showed us which places to shop at particularly and then pointed out the places we will probably want to shop–he has to buy in bulk, so prefers to get most of his produce from a man who has less types of items but more of each item.  We came home with produce, ohmydeargods, bread and meat.  The prices are VERY comparable to Wegman’s or Trader Joe’s–and it’s local and organic, which you know means that it wins in the choosing game.

I had a tomato and basil sandwich on some of the bread we bought as my final meal last night.  I can’t begin to tell you how absolutely amazing and terrific it was.  I’m looking forward to my fried green tomatoes!  We bought stuff for juicing which will probably make our feeble attempts last week look sick… Our plan is to go each week, at least through Thanksgiving, when it closes–and hopefully, we can limit ourselves a little better than we did this week.  There’s a certain impetus to actually eating it all when you’ve paid dear enough for it, as well as knowing that it’s fresh, organic and just plain awesome.  Eating the tomatoes won’t be a problem for me…I bought red (and ripe) ones, a yellow one and the aforementioned green ones.  Got carrots, kale, banana peppers, sweet bell peppers (in several colors), cucumbers, and the basil.  Didn’t get apples as we have a peck at home, but probably will in a  couple of weeks since they keep in the fridge pretty well.  Did get some pork sausage links which we’ll use as protein adjuncts to some eggs for first or second meal (first meal is really supposed to be juice and protein powder).

Taking it easy this morning as I am a speaker at the International Day of Prayer for Peace in Manassas this afternoon.  Made three kinds of hummus–one for us and two to take–to share in the after service potluck.  Have carrots and baby pita pockets for dipping.  Thinking about wearing the new dress I got–went to the thrift store on Wednesday, when everything is 25% off, to get clothes that more accurately reflect my current situation.  Got yoga pants and tank tops, another light jacket similar to the ones I wear, and this pretty green and white dress.  The parameters were that the clothes be comfortable, able to worn around the house (which means showering and getting dressed, every day!) but still able to go out in public in them (as opposed to my robe or pjs that I’ve been wearing).  I think I succeeded.

I still ache, am having pains as usual–it’s weird, my brain feels well, almost normal (haha) but even though I know I’d like to be doing things, my body is still not up to it.  But the mental clarity is welcome.  Endurance will come eventually.  I am already more active than I was a month ago.  Oh I still have my “sit and do nothing” days because I’m very responsive to the barometric pressure changes…but hopefully this is a precursor to having something resembling a life again.

Namaste!

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Pride or Honor?

This is going to be about some of the effects of fibromyalgia that aren’t physical, that cannot be handled with a pill or a hot shower, and are just as real and enduring as the disease itself.  It’s about…Social Services.

I’ve told you that we’re poor, that we have no income at this point and are living on the kindness of strangers and the dutiful assistance of his parents.  We are waiting for the approval and subsequent pay out of long term disability benefits, and of course, both of us have entered the fun house of the SSDI application and approval system.  So what do you do when you have no money and there’s none scheduled in (at least in your name alone rather than on someone else’s check)?

You take your pride off and put in the closet, then go down to Social Services to ask for food stamps–or as they call them now, “SNAP” (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

Pride cannot be eaten; will not pay the bills; is not acceptable tender for purchasing groceries or filling the car with petrol.  And the definition of pride is “a feeling of pleasure from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is associated, or from qualities or possessions”.  Very different from honor, which is “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions: a man of honor.”  Pride is an emotion and while sometimes it can be appropriate, it is still about ego and a sense of self-importance, HOW you feel, while honor is WHO you are and has nothing to do with pride except that you can be proud that you have honor.  Am I making sense?  I hope so because my dearest Beloved is a most honorable man, a man filled with honor and … he’s proud of that, rightfully so.

So going to take a hand out from the government, even though we’ve both paid our taxes for years and therefore have some right to ask for this help…it vexes him.  It’s very hard for an honorable man, used to working to pay his way, to have to ask someone else to foot the bill.  As grateful as we are for the parents’ help, he doesn’t like asking them either and not just because of the required song and dance about how we’re destroying their retirement money (well, it’s not quite as blatant as that, but it does require a certain level of request and demur), but because he wants to pay for things himself.  And he’s not a stupid man, my Beloved; he KNOWS what people think about those that they perceive as being slackers on the dole, and he doesn’t want to be looked at that way.  I get that.

And me?  I have no pride, at least not where the practical matters of my next meal exist.  I will take anything they want to give me, sign up for any program that will ease the financial (and associated emotional/mental) stress.  Now either this makes a much better Buddhist than I thought I was, or maybe I’m just too stupid to be proud but either way, I had no problem going down to the county office for Social Services.  I see nothing wrong or shameful in it–although I also know what people think about the “slackers on the dole”.  Frankly, I don’t care.  They don’t know me, they don’t know what’s going on in my life, they have no idea why I need help and it’s not actually any of their business since I am not bilking or defrauding the system.

It was not a particularly onerous chore.  The office was not packed with “welfare moms” and their ahem…the best term I’ve ever heard for it is “crotch fruit”… babies you keep having so that you get mo’ money.  Nope.  On the other hand, it was a poignant sign of our economy that the people who were in the office were a good cross section of our population: white and black, latino; older, younger, ONE child, 3 “tweens”; singles and married.  Not one good stereotype-able kind of person.  No one in rags or dirty, just regular people…like us…who need help getting by.

The staff was professional and polite, even kind.  The lady who interviewed us explained things carefully, told us about other services we can apply for and gave us that information in printed form so we can follow up on it if we need to.  She made sure we understood how food stamps work–just like a debit card actually–and how to set up the card for first use.  Because we have no income at this time, they expedited the process so we walked out of the office, SNAP in hand.  Oh snap!  I did not think we would be able to get it that fast, figured like most bureaucracy requirements we’d have to wait at least a week.  And I did like the fact that both the staff member on the phone when I called to see if I needed an appointment and the receptionist who greeted me at the office each immediately asked if there were children in the household when I asked about food stamps.

And the other clients who came in as we waited?  Didn’t stare at us like we were aliens–beyond the normal glances we get, since we are both somewhat notable (Beloved is a large man and I have long silver hair, which apparently catches the eye).  Spoke quietly to the receptionist, spoke politely and pleasantly to their case processors as they left.  There was a sense of camaraderie, that we’re all in a common boat.  True enough.

The amount we receive per month will be more than sufficient to get groceries, even the (expensive but worth it) organics we are trying to eat.  Of course, as we do get some income we will report that and adjustments will be made–but in the meantime, we won’t starve.  We might still end up living in the car, but by gods we’ll have great meals if we do.

So what’s the “take away” of this blog?  That fibromyalgia may so incapacitate you that you cannot work, that you will have to apply for permanent disability and that while you are waiting for that extremely bureaucratic process to wend its way through the required maze of hoops and challenges to see who gets voted off the system…you may have to ask for public assistance, aka Social Services.  Don’t be ashamed of it if you must.  Don’t go hungry or get your utilities shut off because you’re too proud to ask for that help.  Get rid of any pride that stands in the way of your ultimate well being–and go, with honor, to your county Social Services office.  There is no loss of honor in being strong enough to admit that you cannot do it all on your own, that you are strong enough to accept help both when it is offered and when it is needed.  You don’t have to be proud that you are on public assistance, but you can certainly keep your honor by using it the way it is meant to be used, not abusing it and letting go of it when things change for you and you no longer need it.  Pride is what you feel; honor is who you are–and is the more important of the two, any day of the week.

Namaste!

Ch-ch-ch-changes….

Turn and face the strange…

So I blame my son.  He has been kind enough to let us share his sign in for NetFlix and Beloved has been watching documentaries.  Lots of them.  On a variety of subjects, but many of them are about food.  And he is (justly) inspired and eager to try some of these new ideas about eating in our own diet.  Me, I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all.  Raw food, Vegan agendas, making juice, eating 6 times a day.  Good grief.  As I told him, I’m NOT spending my whole day in the kitchen.  Oh and green products for cleaning.  We’ll talk about that in a minute.

Part of the problem is that I do agree with him on a great deal of these changes.  We need to eat organic–in fact, if you didn’t know, here’s the hierarchy for buying your food, especially produce: organic over non-organic.  Local over imported organic.  Local organic trumps all.  Pastured beef, pork and poultry, including eggs.  Organic meats are not necessarily the same as pastured; organic means they can’t pump them full of antibiotics and they’re probably not all piled on top of each other.  Pastured means that animal walked and grazed, you know, like back in the olden days, before industrial food.  In other words, the animal is eating what it was designed to consume, making it healthier and therefore better for you.

Beloved has been a sponge, absorbing lots of information.  Most of it good, some of it questionable, some of it … well, not agreed to.  After much discussion and negotiation, here’s what we’re going to do add, one small step at a time–because trying to add it all at once makes it unsustainable.  And this is about sustainability–both for us, in our habits of eating, and in the foods we eat being sustainable and healthy in their production and (lack of) processing.  We are going to eat more raw food, aiming for 51% of our food (by weight) to be raw or at least not heated above 110 degrees.  This does not include just fruits and vegetables.  We are both very fond of sushi and rare beef (even to the extreme of steak tartar) so there will be some raw animal flesh in our diet.  We have a juicer now (thanks to his mother, who got it as a gift and never used it), so we will make juice out of the vegetables we cannot consume in sufficient quantities to get the nutrition from them, such as leafy greens.  Beloved has a problem with leafy greens because of his lap band surgery.  The idea is to juice the vegetables and then use that as the liquid in the Vitamix blender, adding fruit for a more nutritionally complete smoothie that is easier to drink than one made all in the blender, which has been too thick from all the pulp.

The pulp that we are separating out with the juicer can be used as an additive in cooking, or I can just compost it, so all that rich plant matter does not go to waste!  And we will benefit from all the nutrition that is in the juice, which we have not been getting.  We’re looking more closely now at vitamins and minerals, in addition to things like protein, carbs and fat counts.  We take a multivitamin because we’re not getting all of our nutrition from our food–in fact, no one is.  The food we eat today is nutritionally deficient to the same types of food from 1950.  Why?  Because of industrialization and commercial preparation of most of our foods.  Let’s talk about this for a moment.

99% of all the corn grown in this country is NOT eaten by us.  It’s also not shipped overseas to be eaten by any human.  Instead, it’s processed.  And processed.  And processed.  Into things like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Xanthan gum, ascorbic acid, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, caramel and caramel color, polyvinyl acetate, stearic acid, and so on.  Hundreds of products, not many of them look like food.  But they are IN your food.  If you really want to freak out about corn, watch “King Corn”, a documentary that will make you flip.  And stop eating corn products.  You CAN eat CORN–but it must at least look like what we all think corn looks like, or obviously come from corn, like pop corn, tortilla chips and etc.

Monsanto (http://www.monsanto.com/Pages/default.aspx) is quietly genetically modifying all kinds of foods–and has been for years–without any idea what that will do in the long run.  It’s more about making produce that won’t spoil before getting to market, plants growing to a uniform size with uniform sized fruit or vegetables so that they can be commercially (mechanically) picked and handled.  Like the long stemmed roses you buy, you get one thing but not two–the roses have long gorgeous stems, beautiful flowers…and NO smell.  So these genetically modified foods are also lacking, usually in taste and often in both taste and nutrition.  Most of Europe refuses to have Monsanto products and in fact, Poland has completely banned them–but here in the US, most consumers don’t even know who they are and how very much they are affecting our health.

So let’s look at the average American’s circle of life:
1.  The agribusiness, industrialized farms produce fruits and vegetables that are deficient in many nutrients.  They are sprayed with petrochemical pesticides and weed killers; in fact, some of the plants themselves have been genetically modified to exude pesticides from every surface (which in at least one case has led to human male sterilization after ingestion of same).  They are harvested by machine without regard to optimum ripeness, shipped distances and kept long enough that any nutrition they might have had is generally gone before they are sold.

2.  The industrialized meat production is worse.  Animals are packed together in spaces so small that they must be mutilated (chickens have the top half of their beak cut off; pigs have the tips of their tails removed) to avoid damage from attacks from their neighbor.  This closeness increases the incident of disease, so that 80% of ALL the antibiotics made in the US are given to animals.  It is in the meat and we ingest it, increasing OUR resistance to various antibiotics and we wonder why.  The animals live a life of squalor and torment and are killed in a state of terror, which floods their bodies with all kinds of chemicals, affecting the taste of the meat–and the nutrition it might–MIGHT–have.

3.  This industrialized is sent to factories for further processing into convenience foods, or shipped to your local grocery store.  Either way, when you buy it, you have no idea how much nutrition it really has, what other chemicals it might contain, and what it is going to do to your body if you consume it.  Americans also have no idea what real serving portions look like, so are generally eating way more of this stuff than they are supposed to.

4.  You cook dinner or you eat out.  You try to be healthy by having a vegetarian or even vegan diet, but you’re still buying stuff that is industrially produced.  And then you can’t explain why you feel tired all the time, why you’re always sick, why you’re fat or not losing weight…well, the next bit is going to make you scream!

Everybody lives with stress, right?  What does stress do to your body?  Apart from the obvious things we all know, stress and the “fight or flight mode” we all tend to live under destroys your body’s vitamin C.  NO WONDER we all get sick!  So to counter stress, take mega doses of Vitamin B-3 (Niacin) and MEGA doses of Vitamin C.  I mean mega, above and beyond the RDA, like 2 or 3 times the amount at least.  You CANNOT overdose on Vitamin C.  Large amounts of niacin can cause flushing, like hot flashes from menopause, so go easier with that.  Just try it for a week and tell me I’m not right.

We have found it makes a difference, and Beloved’s sister bought her vitamins on Sunday and then texted him on Monday that she didn’t think it would work that fast.  Just saying.

We had already made the switch to organic and pastured food wherever possible.  Adding raw is less of a problem for me, who was subsisting on veggies in a bento box long before we met…HE, on the other hand, will have to learn to eat them.  Leafy greens as mentioned are a problem; other certain vegetables can be an issue as well so it will be a lot of trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t.  We’re also looking into spirulina (blue-green algae) as an additive, plus hemp powder and flax seed/oil.  I have discovered that he will eat chopped salads, regardless of what is exactly in them. (Made one with chopped zucchini, onions, tomatoes and an Oriental style dressing).  He and I both will eat summer squashes (zucchini, yellow) that are hot but NOT cooked–so stir fries and barely steamed.  I don’t mind winter squashes (pumpkin, acorn, butternut) cooked and mashed.  I also like root vegetables (turnips, rutabaga, parsnips) either raw or cooked and mashed.  Now I’ll have to figure out how to sauce them to add interest and variety for us to eat them.

We’re eating Raw Revolution bars and prefer the lemon flavored one.  One of them can serve as a snack; two would be a meal.  Probably the single largest change for Beloved will be learning what is really a serving.  He has years of his mother serving a large plate, filled with protein and carbs, with a small little plop of vegetables (that he often wouldn’t eat since she cooks everything until it’s beyond dead).  He’s discovering that 3 or 4 large scallops are actually a serving and that 1/4 pound of salmon is, when presented properly, almost more than he can eat.  (Meat portions should be 3 or 4 ounces or the size of a deck of playing cards).  So we are going to try to live with a more Japanese approach to food: small plates, measured portions, more fish then meat.  (Side note: yes, the fish costs more, but you are buying less.  6 – 8 ounces of good quality fish, depending on what kind and we like tuna and salmon, runs between $7 and $20 per pound.  So even at $10 for 6 – 8 ounces of the most expensive, it’s actually only $5 per person and that makes it incredibly cheaper than buying that same fish if someone else cooks it for you. And it’s healthier.)

We are also using the European shopping method–although we’re not going quite daily on what we need for that day’s meals, but we will be shopping for less items more often, to ensure that we’re getting fresh fresh fresh!  This serves a dual purpose–aside from getting food, we will have impetus to shower and dress and go out more often.  It’s very easy to just sit around in your robe day after day without realizing that’s what is happening.  So having to go out to forage will be a valuable part of our stated desire to walk more.

I did say that we would talk about green cleaning products.  The documentary to watch for this is called “Chemerical” and it convinced us that getting rid of commercial cleaning products would benefit us, especially me with my fibro.  It’s an accepted fact that housewives have a 54% higher rate of cancer than other groups–because of all the contact they have with those household cleaners.  I was a stay at home mom for 13 years, so I’ve had my share of exposure.  Beloved believes that if we can reduce the chemicals, both in our food and in our environment, we can reduce the inflammations of my disease, perhaps even to the point where I might not require medication and wouldn’t that be amazing?

I will leave it to you to do the Internet research for more information about green cleaning products, but I will tell you what supplies you need, to make your own and you’re going to be shocked when you see how simple it is:

Tap water
White and Cider Vinegars
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
20 Mule Team Borax (by Dial Corporation)
Glycerine
Isopropyl Alcohol (Disinfectant/Sterilization)
Hydrogen Peroxide (Mold and mildew killer)
Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
Liquid Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
Tea Tree essential oil (Disinfectant; kills virus, germs and fungus)
*Optional: Lavender, lemon and/or peppermint essential oils

From those things you can make each product you need to clean everything in your house, including you and your clothes.  I have already begun with a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar as a spray kitchen cleaner.  It does not leave a vinegar smell, which I thought it would, and everything I wipe is amazingly clean and smooth.  I am using liquid castile soap to do the dishes and they are really “squeaky” clean, with no detergent haze.  I am using the borax/washing soda/salt mixture for the dishwasher and putting white vinegar into the rinse aid receptacle.  It’s doing a bang up job.  I can hardly wait to make the laundry soap.

I know I sound like a hippy convert, but…we did just fine back in the day with the natural ways of growing our food and cleaning our house.  There’s too much money in industrial food, industrial cleaners and the healthcare BUSINESS for the corporations to be concerned with minor things like nutrition, sustainability and keeping us healthy.  Far more money can be made if we stay sick than if they cure what ails us.  Fibromyalgia is a relatively new disease, and there are other diseases that we never heard of before the Industrial Age…why is our country, with its ability to grow food, the pollution laws that limit what companies can put into the environment, why is our country filled with sick people?  Have you LOOKED at the size of the medication aisles in any store?  Lots of things to treat your cold or your allergies, but no cures.  Why not?  All this time scientists have had…where is the cure for the common cold, for AIDS, for diabetes…oh, that’s right.  Not enough money is curing, much more to be made in treating.  Have a pill.

So we’re making our choices, one step at a time.  I feel better when I’ve had my niacin then when I haven’t.  I like the idea of cleaning the house with products that won’t send me into asthma attacks (like chlorine does).  We’ll try all the things he’s learned about and we’ll keep the ones that work for us.  And do you have any idea how completely pissed I will be if I could come off of my meds while I am in my own home because my nutrition is correct and I’m not breathing in volatile compounds from cleansers?  If it’s the industrial world around me that’s making me sick?  If it’s the industrial world that’s making all of us sick–and we don’t have to be except that someone, somewhere is getting rich off of it?

Sorry, don’t mean to rant but it’s dreadful to think that somehow there is this conspiracy to keep us fat dumb and happy–and ill.  I can only do what I can for myself and share this blog with you so that you can, perhaps, choose for yourself a better way–not even necessarily MY way, but to know that there are options and choices for how to treat your fibro, things you can do that may make you feel better and isn’t that worth it?  This does require a commitment to being even more hyper aware of what’s going into us, adding being aware of what’s going on around us and generally choosing to live a life that is healthy, sustainable and makes us happy.

Namaste, and I hope you find what makes you happy!

 

 

The Politics of Fibromyalgia

Before I begin, it is important to know that I have always been willing to talk about religion or sex with anyone, at great length.  But politics?  I thought it was boring, and almost more importantly, I NEVER told anyone who I had voted for, figuring that was between me and the lever I pulled.  Part of this may have been the fact that for years I was a dutiful but woefully uninformed voter, performing my civic duty because it was a part of my American freedoms.

That has changed.  I am married to a political beast, someone who follows the politics and knows the issues.  And feels that I should also.  Damn.

So what does this have to do with my fibromylgia?   Quite a lot actually.

Let’s step back to 2008, when our only choices were “the black man” and John McCain, who I would have been okay with, but he is old and could die in office and his running mate?  Is that crazy woman from Alaska.  You betcha.  Being uninformed but dutiful, I chose what I perceived to be the lesser of two evils.  I strongly support the NOTA: None of the Above option for voting, even as I realize that it won’t work in this country.  But having to pick one of two, I did.  And you’ll notice that I’m still being a little cagey, not coming right out and saying it.  Let’s see if I can: I voted for Barack Obama in 2008.  Not because I believed in him, or his plans…but because frankly, I figured someone would assassinate him and Joe Biden was an acceptable replacement.  Don’t be horrified, other people voted for reasons just as poor, all through the years of our country’s existence.  At least that’s slightly better than I voted that way because my husband told me to.

In 2008, I did not know my Beloved and was not diagnosed with fibro yet.  As I said then, and still believe today, I had nothing but admiration for a man who so willingly drew a bull’s eye on himself–and his wife and daughters.  I knew then that he had strong courage and the (apparent) conviction of his actions to so obviously put himself in harm’s way.  There are too many in our country who thought he should be dead, who still wish he would die.  For being black.  SHAME ON YOU!  I acknowledged the uniqueness of his color in the parade of Presidents, but I never thought it made him ineligible for the position, nor somehow prevented him from doing at least as good a job as anyone of them ever had.

I’m afraid that my opinion of politicians has never been very high.  Too many of them are “professional politicians” which I consider to be an oxymoron.  I believe you should have had a REAL job, one that doesn’t involve voters, or lobbyists, or government at all, BEFORE you take any office and try to run the city/county/state/country.  How can you know what the “common people” want, if you’ve never been one?  I have also always had problems with the rich kids buying their way into government (at any level) like it’s a game they play, like being CEO of Daddy’s company isn’t enough, so they have to be a Senator…or President.  Or the rich daddy buying the path for Junior to be groomed and carefully placed, carefully mentored up into being a Senator … Governor … or President.  Too, too many politicians are lawyers.  I hold with Shakespeare: “First, kill all the lawyers.”  Why do they become lawyers?  So that they will better know how to get around the loopholes that the lawyers who made the laws left for their own kind to abuse.

Anyway.  You get the picture of my views on the political scenery in America.  But you should also know that I have lived overseas–in a war zone, in a country with an absolute monarch, in a country with a dictator, in a country with socialist democracy.  And I’ve always been glad to come home, back to the US of A, to America.  I still think it’s the best thing going, government-wise, than so many alternatives.  I am a patriot, I believe in my country, for better or worse.  I served in the military and have a son who is fourth generation military service…we are proud to be Americans.

Back to the fibro part of this.  So I meet Beloved, we have a whirlwind romance, get married…and get sick.  Both of us.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that we’ve been ill for almost 2 years now, in differing amounts and degrees of the word.  Sometimes, I’m the one in worse shape and sometimes, he is–fortunately, we don’t seem to cycle through our very bad phases together, so that at least we can take care of each other.  I have been out of work since January (and fired when my FMLA ran out in March); he hasn’t been to work since February and is on “personal medical leave” which means he’s an unpaid employee who still has (thank all the gods!) health insurance.  My short term disability benefits were our only income until they expired at the end of July.  I am still waiting for the processing (and please, all gods!) and approval for my long term disability benefits.  The time frame on that is a minimum of 4 more weeks from today.

We have retained the services of a lawyer (not ALL of them are bad)…and have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  Approval time: 4 months minimum for Beloved, probably not less than a year, possibly TWO for me.  We have also applied for short term income assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSI) which takes 60 to 90 days to be processed.  We are going to apply for food stamps (SNAP) once we sell (cheap) his non-functioning and unused BUT an asset of a truck.  Anyone want a 98 Ford Explorer that need about $1000 worth of work?  Its Blue Book value isn’t enough to pay for the repairs.  Sigh.  I still owe on my car, but it’s also still considered an asset.  And they don’t give SNAP (don’t give a snap?) if you have assets.  Sell the cars and then you can buy food.  But we can’t get to the store to buy it…never mind, that becomes too much like the old song about the hole in the bucket.

Fibro.  Yeah.  No income.  No ability to work.  And the current economic reality is that it would take a while to get a job, even if we were applying.  Neither of us is capable of doing the job that our skill sets cover due to our disabilities.  (And side note here: I am NOT disabled, I HAVE a disability.  Important distinction for the mind to make.)  I cannot, for the life of me, think of a job that will let me come in when I wake up, no matter what time that is, work for an hour or so, maybe as much as 3, and then go take a nap for 3 to 6 hours and then come back to work for another 2-3 hours.  Will let me take off whenever I need to go to the doctors, or when the weather makes me unable to function, or when I’m just wandering in my fibro fog.  And pay a living wage.  If you know of one, comment here so that I can go find it.

So what are the politics of fibro?  Applying for social services that the Republicans want to cut or destroy completely.  Relying, heavily, at least through February 2013 when his leave expires, on medical insurance to cover the cost of–at a very bare minimum, if they didn’t pay for the fibro meds too–my pain pills so that I can have some quality of life.  Not to mention the doctors, the medical equipment that helps my (wrist splints, a cane, ankle braces…and the possibility of a wheelchair and or scooter).   The distinct possibility that both of us will be on Medicare (as part of SSDI) with Medicaid paying for the things that Medicare doesn’t cover–and again, the Republicans want to scrap the programs.  The need for a vehicle that is well made, well protected–and gets better gas mileage than my beloved purple PT Cruiser, checking in at about 20 MPG, 23 or so highway.  And that need includes such invisible things as a lower price because it’s made here and we don’t have to pay for the transportation costs from Japan or Germany.

We need government services, we need government help.  We aren’t “welfare abusers” who are looking for a free ride, who will take advantage of our food stamps to sell them for drugs or whatever else.  We have both worked hard for years and now, being ill, prefer not to become an onerous burden either to our children or to our parents.  We also prefer not to live in the street.

I refused to watch much of the RNC.  Stupidity and lies just make me angry.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t been involved in politics before.  But with the increasing attempts by the Republicans to take America back to the 1950’s, with Dad being the sole breadwinner and Mom cooking the bread…I have begun to listen.  I recognize that the attacks on women’s reproductive rights are NOT the main issue; it’s a symptom of that greater problem, putting women back into the kitchen and shutting them up–and shutting them out.  It’s about denying half, HALF of our population, basic human rights.  It’s the same old story with women cast as the villain this time instead of “The Black Man”.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (BEINGS) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..”  What if a woman’s idea of happiness is to be a CEO?  A firefighter?  A fighter pilot?  A mother who stays at home because she CHOOSES to?  How does it serve our country to deny anyone the right to pursue their dream, whatever it may be?  Who are you to decide that someone else should not have the same rights as you enjoy?  I don’t care who you are; neither money nor position nor gender, not who your family is or was, not what your religion says is right, NOTHING gives you the power to remove another’s choices.  Or to reduce or remove their right to basic healthcare, a home, security from the fear of being poverty-stricken and ill, to remove their hope.

I didn’t watch a lot of the DNC.  But I did watch Mrs. Obama’s speech; Mr. Clinton’s speech and then, Mr. Obama’s speech.  One of the things I have learned over the past 4 years is that Barack loves Michelle.  There is NO doubt in my mind.  They touch, freely and often, even in the public eye.  They are glad to see each other and certainly have each other’s back.  Just watch them.  And their girls adore both of them, which is reciprocated.  Most of the married politicians I have watched look uncomfortable with each other and any touching is for photo ops and as limited as possible.  (Hate to say it, but Bill and Hillary come to mind.)  There is an honesty in that relationship that speaks well of the state of their marriage.  He wouldn’t cheat on her not just because he loves her, but because she would kick his ass.

I appreciated her talking about their life together, how it started–even as I recognize the political machinations of “we’re just like you, we started out poor” to appeal to the mobs.  On the other hand, Mr. Romney can’t say that, unless he’s going to lie some more.  And his wife always manages to look like she smells dog poo on your shoes.  And I’m sorry, but you just DON’T wear a $1000 t shirt and try to pretend that you’re just “one of the people”.

So Michelle Obama talked eloquently (she’s a lawyer, too, remember?) and yet her emotions were real, she was not just reading words off the teleprompter.  She loves her husband and she believes in him–and in what he’s doing.  Which makes me believe that they had a lot of late night in bed conversations about him becoming President — and that it was as much her choice as his.

Bill Clinton spoke the truth.  I could be a cynic and say it was for the first time ever, because when he was in office I knew that he did was politically expedient, not necessarily what was right.  But it was a most formidable rebuttal to the Republican’s accusations, lies and distortions.  Now I know that there was also the same level of political spin, but why lie when the truth is a much more worthwhile response?  And Mr. Clinton is a powerful, motivating speaker.  A very successful keynote speech, directly addressing the issues the Republicans would have you believe that Mr. Obama has been failing at.

I was glad that Michelle got to introduce her husband when it was his turn to speak.  And did you notice the hug and her telling him “You’ll do great”?

But it wasn’t his speech, or Mr. Clinton’s, or even Michelle’s, that has solidified my choice for President.  It was the contrast between those two conventions.  RNC was mostly, almost totally a white audience, many of them elderly or (apparently) not a means because the clothing was…shall we say, not dressy?  Clean jeans do not a dressy outfit make, unless of course that’s the very best you can do.  Everyone looked angry or unhappy.

The candidates and their wives looked like they wanted to be almost anywhere else…and the men LIED.  If you can’t convince someone to vote for you based on what you’re going to do, I guess you have to lie about your opponent.  Oh, and if you’re not going to tell us what you plan on doing in the White House, should you be elected…that makes my Mom radar go off.  It’s Little Johnny, asking Mom for her sheets and some pans, some cookies and clothespins–and when she asks why, he won’t tell her.  She has to discover later, for herself, that he’s built an elaborate trap and has an angry cat scratching through her sheets trying to get out.  What is it that you’re going to do, that you can’t tell me ahead of time?  Must be something bad for me.

Even watching the RNC over my shoulder as Beloved gather intel against them made me angry.  The whole thing, the expressions on faces, the tone (and the lies, dear gods, the lies) gave off an emotional feeling of anger and bitter resentment.

So I watched more of the DNC.  An audience that was as diverse as our nation truly is.  I saw signs for this or that “for Obama”–Brazilians, Latinos, and Muslim Americans.  I saw old and young, and the overall clothing level was…not jeans and t shirts (not even $1000 ones).  People dressed like they cared where they were.  The audience looked happy, not angry.  People were excited, hopeful…glad to be there, believing in this choice rather than voting for Romney just to be voting against the Black Man in the White House.

And the clincher for me was the language of each party.  Republicans are very much “us versus them”…”we’ve got to get ours” and “you’re on your own” (because if you’re poor, it was a choice and too bad).  Republicans want to divide, want to keep us separate, want to go back to the Man on top and everyone else back in “their place” which is not equal to The Man.  And if you think that money is not a huge part of this for them, just Google “Koch Brothers” and be appalled.  There isn’t enough room in this blog for me to talk about them, but you need to know what they are doing.  A great deal of the Republican plans are actually THEIRS.  This is two old, white men, trying to destroy our country so that they can make another billion.  Sigh.

Let’s go to the language of the DNC.  “We are in this together”.  “YOU made this”.  “We’ve come part of the way, and have more to go and we can do it united”.  Yes, the community organizer is EXACTLY what we need in the White House.  America is not you and me and him and her–it’s US.  Yeah, it’s US!  That’s part of our name and it should be our guiding thought for our government.  The speeches at the DNC did not rely on grandiose rhetoric and empty meaningless phrases; they talked specifically about the things that we care about.  Healthcare, social services, jobs here at home instead of outsourcing.  Mr. Obama admitted and addressed the fact that while we have made progress, there are still those out in our country who haven’t seen any benefit–but that if WE are strong, if WE stand UNITED, WE can continue on this path, to bring America back to the power and prestige she used to have.

He doesn’t want the same old answers to our problems.  Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result was a sign of insanity.  Well, the Republicans, by that measure, are insane.  Or as Mr. Clinton said, “We left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”  That just won’t work.  We need different answers, and Mr. Obama has some of them.  Not all, no one can do that–but he’s got enough new ideas that it’s worth following him.  He doesn’t deny that we have a long way to go, but as he said, it took a while to get where we are and that’s not going to change overnight.

I listened to him and I heard that he has a plan–and what it was.  The Republicans tell us to “wait until after the election” to find out what they plan on doing for the nation.  It’s probably an angry cat, trying to scratch its way out of the restraining sheets.

So what does my vote have to do with my fibromyalgia?  It’s in my own self interest to vote for someone who will ensure that I get my SSDI for years, who will make healthcare possible for me because I need it.  But I am a patriot and I will also be voting for the candidate who believes in America, believes in a strong, UNITED STATES of America, who is a community organizer at the national level.  I will vote for the man who is inclusive, who agrees that people who love each other should be able to marry, regardless of their gender; who wants to make the US a manufacturing nation again, instead of a service economy, who wants to stop outsourcing jobs and wants to train workers for the new jobs that are coming.  I want a strong country, I NEED a strong country so that I can continue to live in the land that I love–and still have food and medication.

Final note: you don’t have to agree with me.  I don’t expect you to.  But I do expect you to vote in November.  And if you do agree with me, it’s even more important that your voice is heard, that your vote is added to the total count because otherwise, we’re headed for a country that will fall apart in a war between those who have more money than they could ever spend and those who have no money at all.  And I don’t want my country to die that kind of ignoble, useless, wasteful death just because some old white guys think billions of dollars isn’t enough for them and they want more.

VOTE!

And, as always, Namaste!

It’s Just Not Fair…

And I don’t mean the whole money situation, or the fibromyalgia.  I mean all the “other” problems I’ve had since I started going to the doctor.  Hey!  Wait a minute…I was never sick BEFORE I went to the doctor regularly…hmmmmm.

No seriously, I need to see the physician, but I’ve been having other ailments that aren’t part of fibro: shingles, an infection in my jaw, a twisted ankle and now I’m fighting the sinus infection from hell.  Not too be too gross about it, but the post nasal drip goes into my stomach and makes me nauseous.  And I’m back to taking 4-6 hour naps each day.  I realize that fibro makes me more susceptible to other things (and yes, even the twisted ankle because I wobble when I walk, which is why I use a cane.  My that was alliterative.) but it just doesn’t seem right, somehow, that I should have all these other things piled on top of the fibro.  It’s not “them” instead of the fibro,  oh no, it’s all added up together.  Sigh.  I’m so sicked and tired of being sick and tired.

Money continues to be … notably absent.  No word yet from the absence management company about my long term disability claim, whether it was accepted and if there will (please, whatever gods are listening) be a benefits check in the mailbox today.  The fact that if approved, the first check will include back pay does NOT reassure my creditors who want their money…er….NOW.  And yes, I thank all the gods that we have friends who keep us in food.  We will not starve.  At least not right away.  We’re pretty well stocked and not down to the truly creative meal planning that canned goods and rice require yet.  We still have fresh produce, we still have fresh milk–and there’s still meat in the freezer.  Good for food.

We are talking bankruptcy because there are back medical and other bills that if we use some of the money that will be coming to try to pay them off, we will never get out of this financial hole.  Beloved’s loan and credit card are on abeyance, as that insurance benefit has been approved.  (We pay for insurance on our cards/his loan in the event of … oh yeah, what has happened, happens and it will remove about $400 of “negative cash flow” from our budget, at least for a year.  Ditto my school loan, which has also been deferred.)

No word from the Social Security Administration, but I didn’t think we would hear this fast.  (I can hope, can’t I?)  If my long term disability is not approved, or isn’t approved soon…well, I don’t want to think about it.  I also need to talk with my landlord to find out if the apartment complex will accept  VA housing vouchers for rent.  I am eligible (a veteran, a FEMALE veteran, about to become homeless) so hopefully the VA will indeed give them to me–but no point in asking if I cannot use them for my housing.  If the landlord says yes, it means a trip up into DC as the VA in VA don’t have any more vouchers to give out, per “my source” who suggested going to DC.  Yay, another day where we drive somewhere (and then catch the metro because neither of us is going to actually DRIVE in DC) and spend the day in waiting rooms and talking to people about how pathetic we are.

We spent a couple of hours in the pool yesterday, last day of the season for it to be open.  Hopefully all the money shit will work out well because we feel that the cost of a membership to the local indoor pool is worth it for both of us.  (And hopefully that membership won’t be too expensive, or maybe we can get some sort of a break because we’re poor and on disability and I’m a vet and whatever else it takes to get the discount…)  I don’t know how much it’s helping me, but Beloved is actually regaining some muscle tone,  since he has to keep moving or drown.  If nothing else, it removes gravity from our bodies and bones for a while–although climbing the stairs to get back out is a bit of a struggle sometimes.

The kitchen remains my bete noir.  There’s too much that requires hand washing (due to the inefficiencies of the old dishwasher) and I just feel overwhelmed.  On the other hand, with our friend here this past weekend, we did a lot more cooking.  That’s a start in the right direction.  And we have been introduced to canary (or canari) melon–cut it up the same as you would a cantaloupe or honeydew–but then, drip lime juice on it.  I can’t explain what a difference that makes, but it does and it’s amazing!

Beloved has gone to run the errands we normally do together on Tuesdays because I am just not up to a day in the car today and then ANOTHER day in the car tomorrow, to go on our 2 hour (each way) expedition to his doctor.  I’m hoping he finds a nice check in the mail.  Rent is due (again.  Another month gone already?) and so he’ll do the money-shuffling, getting some from Dad, put it all in the right account so I can make out the check to give the landlord.

Nothing much else going on and I’m tiring of typing…so that’s it for now.

Namaste!