Sunday, April 25, 2010

"I'll mull that one over" or Random Thoughts on Modern Medicine

After 20 years of living in America, I have decided that the problem with modern Western medicine is that we take pills for everything.

No, seriously. We're all about treating symptoms. Have a cough? Take cough suppressant. Doesn't matter why you have a cough. Just take this pill and go back to work and keep feeding the capitalist machine until you fall over dead.

Wow, I just got pessimistic there, but this is meant to be kind of stream-of-consciousness, so whatever.

I think gynecology is the worst offender in this regard (says the girl who's never been to a gynecologist...apparently I'm supposed to, but all the stories I've heard don't make me want to leap up and make an appointment...) I have heard (from trustworthy sources) that no matter what problem you're having, you walk out of an appointment with a prescription for the Pill. Really, it seems like you walk in there and before you even open your mouth the doctor says "Here, I'll write you a prescription for the Pill and it will solve all your problems."

No, it will screw with your body and put you on a fake cycle of sorts while excess iron builds up in your body and next thing you know you're 30 and keeling over from a heart attack. (Something I learned in a biology class this semester: There's a reason women under 50 don't have heart attacks as much as men and older women. And we should be really, really happy that we get all our iron buildup flushed out of us on a regular basis.)

Of course, the Pill isn't just the magic panacea of gynecology. A doctor once tried to prescribe my sister the Pill for epilepsy. I have no idea how that one is supposed to work. (I should note here: Yay modern medicine, for the 3 different anti-epileptic drugs my sister does take. I'll give it credit for inventing those.) My dermatologist once very insistently tried to get me on the Pill for acne. (I think that one has some vague basis in hormone levels or something.) Seriously, apparently a 13-year-old girl is not old enough to say NO THANK YOU. So my mom had to say it for me, loudly and repeatedly. (I love my mom. Go Mom.) Like, yeah, Ms. Dr. Dermatologist, I'd much rather die of a stroke or breast cancer than possibly risk a little scarring on my face.

My mom also put her foot down this one medicine that's normally used to treat cancer and has side effects like suicidal thoughts. Really, where is your sense of proportion when you'll put teenagers at risk of suicide so they don't have bad skin? (I'm sure they monitor the kids to make sure they don't actually off themselves, but still.)

So then I went on what I called the Deformed Baby Rats medication. You see, back then I was a voracious and, quite frankly, desperate reader. (I'd gone through the entire children's section at the library and my mom wasn't willing to let my 13-year-old self loose in the adult section.) So I read the fine print on my acne medication just to give my brain something to do with itself. And found out that if I should happen to get pregnant while on it, my poor little embryo would be at risk of developing major spinal deformities. This was determined by high-dose rodent tests, hence my nickname for the medicine. (When I noted to the dermatologist's nurse that I was a bit concerned because the medicine they were giving me caused deformed baby rats, her comment was, "Well, don't marry a rat.")

(She was joking, but still.)

Eventually that medicine started burning my skin off, so I switched to a considerably milder substance that was apparently lower on the teratogenic scale. (There's a scale, did you know that? I think the DBR medicine was a 3 and the new one was as 2, but don't quote me on that.) And I read the fine print on that too, because apparently at 17 I was just as desperate for reading material. (Then I went to college and had the Honors program and got my fill of reading for the first time in my life.) And found out that Other Medicine merited a 2 because it had never been proven teratogenic. Because they'd never done tests to see if it was. My, that's terribly reassuring. Seriously, the first one is at least honest that it causes spinal deformities. This one says to me "One of these days people are going to complain and we'll finally do a test and find out that it can cause your baby to be born without limbs." (Or something like that.)

I'm not on that one anymore either, mostly because I am lazy but partly because I am principled and would rather start now on getting all these lovely chemicals out of my body so that it will be a non-toxic environment for my future embryos.

Well, that post went on for a very long time without really having a point. To distract you from that fact, I'll give you a video:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook: Really Tired Edition

Outside my window...
Some of the guys in Kolbe were singing Praise and Worship. They stopped because it is after 10:00 now. (Quiet Hours.)

I am thinking...
How did it get to be after 10:00 again? (I have been staying up past my bedtime too much lately.)

I am thankful for...

I am wearing...
A blue nightgown with white flowers, and a fuzzy robe. And a wristwatch, and glasses, and my Marian Consecration chain...

I am creating...
An essay on Adam Smith's economic theories? Seriously, the creativity is running pretty dry over here with the being overworked and not getting enough sleep and whatnot.

I am going...
To go to sleep as soon as Scott gets back on Skype so I can say goodnight.

I am reading...
Just finished selections of The Federalist Papers for Honors.

I am hoping...
That Scott gets back online now. Seriously, that I learn to rely more on God and less on me.

I am hearing...
(Scott is back! If my computer were not muted I'd be hearing Skype make noises.)
Somebody padding down the hallway in flip-flops.

Around the house dorm room...
A sort of general chaos of books and the detritus of college life.

One of my favorite things...
Unexpected moments of grace in the midst of chaos.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Writing that Adam Smith paper. Trying to get caught up on sleep before I die of The Tired. (That's like The Plague. But slower.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Greetings from the Land of Not-Okay*

You might have noticed that I haven't been posting much lately. Part of that is because I'm just insanely busy wrapping up the school year. But part of it is because I've been struggling with my relationship with the blogging world (struggling with life in general, but I'll get to that in a bit). There have been 2 or 3 times since the end of Lent when I've walked away from reading a post feeling like a little less of a human being, like I'm not pretty enough or smart enough or prayerful enough. I don't much like that feeling. I don't blame the blog authors (which is why I'm not naming names or linking links); they have the right to post whatever they want in their own space and if I don't like it I don't have to read it. Unfortunately, I think my mental state is such that I might have to forgo all blogs that aren't exclusively pictures of cute babies. And if I'm not reading your blogs, I shouldn't expect you to read mine. And if I'm in that mental state, I'm not able to summon the ability to blog anyway. Which basically means that this blog is going on indefinite hiatus. I might blog again next week, I might not blog for six months. Basically, if you haven't figured it out yet, know that I am a reliable blogger only insofar as I always come back eventually. I don't know if I'll ever be one of those people who posts every day for five years or whatever.

If you got through that long paragraph, God bless you. (I like handing out random blessings sometimes.) That wasn't the whole point of the post. I wanted to link to this post from Miriel Margaret, for a couple of reasons. First to say that reading it put a tiny pebble in my own sieve. (And this is where I give a shout-out to Theocentrica, who has been pouring water and pebbles into me as fast as she can for the last week.)

At its roots, anxiety is a fear of loss, a fear of rejection, a fear of meaninglessness. It comes from living without a sense of the providence of God, or from losing it. ~Jenny Driver~

Does it? If you were not separated from me by two computer screens and however many miles, could you look me in the eye and say I've been having a cripplingly difficult semester because I'm not aware of God's providence?

I'm not criticizing Miriel for quoting this at all. It was a quote I needed to address, needed to think about. And her thoughts on it moved me.

My own thoughts are these: Maybe part of being aware of God's providence is being aware that sometimes He gifts us with suffering. Mental suffering as well as physical or financial or whatever. Are you going to tell the person who has cancer that they will be healed if they trust more in God's providence? Are you going to tell the person who lost their job that they will be gainfully employed if they trust more in God's providence? If you answered yes, I don't think we worship the same God. If you answered no, then don't tell me I will be less anxious if I trust more in God's providence.

Maybe God will heal me of the things I've been struggling with lately. If He did I would be very grateful, because this is decidedly not fun. But maybe He will never heal me in this life. Maybe it's my vocation to live in the Land of Not-Okay and suffer redemptively for some purpose or another. (What the point of this suffering is I don't know yet, and I'm working on being content with not knowing, not being able to point and say, "My suffering is earning grace for that person who needs it.") I'm not nearly as good at being grateful for my suffering, but I'm working on that. Working on trusting, in the midst of anxiety, that everything is grace.

*title derived from a post which Just Jen wrote many years ago on a now-inactive blog

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I didn't expect her to answer

Remember when I told you about how I was doing Ministry to Moms?

Well, today I was watching the twins (who are now 4) and the baby (who is now 15 months), and one of the twins expressed a desire for "real lunch." (We eat a lot of pretend food.)

So I said okay and then said, "[Baby's name], do you want some lunch?"

She said "Yeah!" and toddled over to her high chair, where she stood expectantly.

It was the weirdest thing ever.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Who would you be?

Last week one of my household sisters said that something she's found helpful during Holy Week is meditating on the Passion account by thinking, "Who would you be?"

Would you be a member of the crowd shouting for Jesus' crucifixion? Would you be St. John? Would you be St. Peter?

My first thought was, "Well, duh, I'm a Pharisee."

It's something I came to terms with a long time ago. I'm so, so stubborn, and so, so sure that I'm always right...the moment that loony carpenter showed up and started putting on airs, I'd be all about stoning him for it.

But last week a little voice asked, "Would you really be?" And I had to think about it, and decide that maybe this year I'm not.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm still not St. John; I'm not even Mary Magdalene. But the figure who leapt to my mind when I actually took time to think about it was Nicodemus. Sure, I'm still a Pharisee, but maybe I am just open enough to a God who explodes my categories to take a few moments to listen to that loony carpenter (after dark, in secret). I still mysteriously check out when it comes time for the actual Passion (Do you ever wonder where he and Joseph of Arimethea were when the Sanhedrin was meeting? I read a book by a mystic once that said they were deliberately excluded from the proceedings and didn't find out until after.) But after it's all over I'm back with my oils and whatnot, doing what I can for my Lord.

So, who would you be?

I am a child of the 21st century

A thought I had earlier this week, while writing a massive history paper:

"I love the index. It's like Google but slower and with limited search terms."