Thursday, September 22, 2016

I have a French disease (Ménière’s)

You don't have to grow old to be preoccupied with aches and pains, but experience does foster the angst.

Donna-Lane, having survived two bouts with cancer in the past five years, tends to become concerned with every new twitch and bump she feels. Has the cancer returned? Quite a legitimate fear. But so far so good, her checkups have all been clean since the chemo and radio treatments ended in March.

Since she and I have been together the past three-plus years, I have almost never been ill. Maybe one mild cold for a few days.

Yesterday was different. Severe nausea, which worked itself out, and dizziness, which is the concerning part. I don't have any heart issues, etc., but I do have an inner ear issue known as Ménière’s. It was first discovered in the early 1800s by a French doctor, Prosper Ménière. (Why would someone want to have a disease named after them?) https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/menieres-disease. More than 600,000 people suffer from it in the US.

Is it hereditary? Experts are unsure whether it's genetic or environmental or a combination of both. However, my older brother also has it. And my mother, though not diagnosed as such, has been having dizziness issues. Then again, she's 93 and otherwise going strong.

A potential problem with Ménière’s is vertigo to the point of suddenly falling down, even though remaining conscious.

No, the world is not spinning. It just feels like you've had a little too much to drink.

But think of the ramifications. How long would I be able to sit at the computer to research and write? If walking through the apartment was a concern, what about walking around the village? Driving a car? And worst, could I keep my balance swinging a golf club?

Giving up the car and driving would not be tragic. It would be somewhat limiting for reaching off-the-train-and-bus-route places. But we could survive. There are always friends with cars for really important short trips. D-L managed without having a car for years. And at some point, assuming we grow old(er), they'll probably take away our licences anyway.

I start asking myself, do I really feel dizzy? Really feel nauseous? Or am I imagining feeling those things because I'm overly concerned about those symptoms and the possible progression?

The mind is a mystery when it comes to physical aches and pains.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Where is the discussion of REAL ISSUES?

Thus far, the media coverage of the US Presidential campaign has focused almost entirely on character flaws. Hillary's corrupt pay-for-play style of governance, whether pandering to Wall Street or accumulating personal wealth through the guise of a charitable foundation. Her lies and evasion on why she used a personal email server for classified government business. And now the dodgy tactics of hiding possibly serious health issues. Trump, well, he's as off-the-wall and over-the-top as they come, mostly bombast, but potentially a dangerous wild-card if he gains the reigns of true power. Let's hope there would be cooler heads around a President The Donald to tie him up and gag him whenever critical decisions are to be made.

The mainstream media, which has foregone all pretense of objectivity, only stokes the fire of name-calling, much the same way CNN and Wolf Blitzer seem to love a plane crash. It brings in viewers, eager for the gory details. Facts are irrelevant. Cue the talking-heads gossip.

The real casualty of the campaign is serious discussion of serious issues: 

- Jobs in an economy that the government pretends is recovering but uses flawed formulas and has left the middle class and poor way behind as the 1% hoards all the wealth; 
- An education system which has abandoned the teaching of critical thinking in favor of standardized test-taking and whose undisciplined students are falling further behind the rest of the world ; 
- A health care system, also rigged for the benefit of the elite, in which hospital costs and drug prices are way out of line with other developed countries;
- An increasingly surveillance-driven police state in which all emails, social media, vehicle movements, and especially dissent are monitored, guilt is assumed rather than innocence, and too many cops shoot first and cover-up later;
- Continual undeclared war around the world, dropping US bombs indiscriminately on supposed combatants based on sketchy information and any civilians who happen to be in the blast radius (Clinton and Trump will both continue the warmongering - in fact, they will likely ramp it up to the threat of WWIII with Russia and China);

There's much more, of course: the environment; the TPP treaty which cedes more control to multinational corporations (the same ones who avoid paying taxes); bankers who should be in jail for fraud and manipulation; the preservation of Social Security and the threatened theft of the elderly's lifeline; etcetera ...

I understand the anger of many of America's citizens; the regular folks have been ravaged by the corrupt politicians and corporate charlatans for decades. I understand the fear of many of America's citizens; in Europe, we have suffered several heinous terrorist attacks close to home.

Anger and fear can be and are often destructive. They don't have to be. They can be channeled to start to fix things and build a society founded on mutual interests and a measure of trust.

But first we have to openly, calmly and rationally discuss real issues. Not orange hair and blue pantsuits.
     

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Numerology

One of the things I like about Europe is use of metrics on roadways. The conversion is relatively simple in the kilometres to miles direction. 100 km equals 60 miles.

If we're traveling a long distance, it's easy to determine how long it will take us to get there. Averaging 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour), a distance of 350 km will take us about 3.5 hours.

Also, calculating with kilometres makes it seem like you're covering more ground in a shorter time.

On the golf course, I'm less enamored with the use of metrics. I've played for 50+ years and therefore memorized how far I hit each club ... in yards. When confronted with a distance to the green in metres, I have to do the mental calculation -- not that hard, roughly a 10 percent difference. 100 yards is about 90 metres, etc. But I'm never quite sure because my golf clubs, too, are used to dealing in yards.

Also, it's deflating. Seems like I'm not hitting the shots as far as I used to. About 10% less far. Not good for the ego.