Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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The past two weeks have been filled with disappointment, anger and misery for me. First I learned that the main distributor of my books is ripping me off, then I learned how desperate our president is to remove our access to affordable health care, and then I got really sick. It seems “the system” can get you wherever you are, and my bad times seem to always come in threes.

I’ve written enough about the Amazon situation, and my printer informs me that it “appears to be under investigation by Amazon.” Please just work through me to purchase my books and leave them out of the equation!

medical factOn the access to affordable health care front, I need to say that Obama’s plan has been lifesaving for us. Since neither one of us is fit for employment, and we aren’t yet 65, we have found a plan in the past few years that at least tries to keep our premiums at a reasonable rate. We are limping along until age 65. Now we have to wonder why our government is acting so hateful towards a couple of elder Americans who have worked hard all our lives, and just need a little bit of help to make it into Medicare. Mike’s problems are most certainly related to his nine years in the Navy, but (of course) the Navy kept no records of his exposure to a number of toxic chemicals and radiation. No records equals no VA assistance. It’s a long story. You don’t want to hear it…

c. difficile bacteriaMe, I just struggle to breathe (COPD). Then last week I caught a really NASTY bug. I knew within days that this wasn’t just your standard food poisoning. It felt much more virulent and toxic. Come to find out it was C Diff. Stay away from this one, although you really can’t because it’s everywhere! This disease has pretty much controlled my life for the past 12 days. I guess my immune system isn’t as strong as it used to be.

 The Hero Sam ElliottIsn’t it strange but interesting how severe illness can make you think? For some reason lying in bed feeling crappy makes me think a lot about my life. Then I watched a fascinating movie on this topic. “The Hero” is the thinking person’s film about facing your own death. Sam Elliott plays a 70+ actor who receives a terminal diagnosis. The entire film is about how he deals with it. I love Sam Elliott and his willingness to tackle tough topics in a realistic way! One critic called this film “cinematic zen.” I agree.

None of us get out of this alive! I have decided to get comfortable with that fact sooner rather than later.

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The Las Vegas Massacre: Whatever you’re not changing, you’re choosing…

Have you seen this yet? If not, this is The Onion‘s take on how pathetic we all are to feel “helpless” as we witness another mass shooting in our country:

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

It happened before and it will happen again. The only conclusion to be reached? This is how we wish to proceed… The NRA owns our Congress. Bought and paid for. Good to know.

“If any ask us why we died. Please tell them that our leaders lied…”                                              from ‘One by One’ by Chumbawamba, 1997

The Elephant in the Room: The Vietnam War

“Military madness is killing our country, solitary sadness comes over me…”

It seems impossible not to discuss “the war” that helped to shape our lives at this time. The amazing new PBS documentary put together by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick is impacting me now, and the war it represents is still present in the hearts and minds of those of us who experienced it either on TV or directly, in our own lives.

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The curious thing is how we ended up making this war about us, when it was always about the people of a tiny country in southeast Asia.

Last night was about 1965, when we first started sending in troops, not just advisers. I had no idea that the Vietnamese came out to welcome the first American troops to land there. Young Vietnamese girls in white dresses came with welcome signs, food and flowers.

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One American who was there, noted what a beautiful and ideal country they saw when they landed. I have some idea what he means. I lived in Thailand near the end of the Vietnam War. I agree.

This documentary provides much background information and detail into how this terrible war came about as a result of a century of Western colonialism in southeast Asia. The French dragged us into it, and we stayed. Most Americans don’t know these facts. I studied Asia in college, so I am quite familiar with this history. I loved the part last night about Eric Sevareid’s first honest report back to us through the evening news, documenting what American troops were experiencing daily there. LBJ called the president of CBS the next day and said, “Are you trying to fuck me?”

The dishonesty of our government is appalling even today. Oh sure, let’s send in thousands of young Americans to fight a war over 8,000 miles away, but let’s not tell the American public. Once we became involved in fighting there, the number of dead from each battle included both Vietnamese and American numbers, but we did not care how many Vietnamese had died, only Americans.

I do not blame anyone who chooses not to view this documentary at this time. It brings up overwhelming sadness and many tears for me. I was born in 1955, so “the war” only became a part of my daily awareness when I was ten or so, after the assassination of JFK. In my family, we were required to watch the evening news, and then discuss world affairs at the dinner table every evening.

It was only after the “wise old men” in LBJ’s world decided to start sending thousands of young Americans to a war 8,600 miles away that Vietnam truly entered my consciousness.

Chicago riots 1968

Besides the evening news reports with Walter Cronkite, my most powerful memories are of the Kent State shootings and the Democratic Convention protests in 1968. I remember watching tears roll down my Dad’s face as we watched the protesters get severely beating by Mayor Daley’s thugs. Yes, there was violence on both sides, but the police had all the weapons and they used them too!

The first time I ever protested anything was by wearing a black arm band to a junior high band concert after the Kent State shootings. I felt so conspicuous and yet I’m sure nobody else noticed. Mike was in the Navy at the end of our involvement in Vietnam. He chooses not to watch this special and I respect that. One of his best friends, who he has known for over 30 years now, was a medic in Vietnam. He definitely saw the worst of it. That war ruined the rest of his life in a number of ways, both with a broken back and severe PTSD.

What can we say now about a war most of us did not want, that destroyed the lives of many thousands of Americans, both those who fought and died, and those who loved them? This war challenged deeply my trust in our government, and by watching this timely documentary now, I learned even more about what I didn’t know about the war in Vietnam. This makes me wonder what else I don’t know about what is happening right now in our world.

“War, what a lousy way to settle politics. And the faces of the dead are all the same, just fucking kids!”   — Ernest Hemingway

Boomers discuss the power of NOW!

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One of the things I love about bringing together current posts from a few popular boomer blogs, is their occasional synchronicity of thought. From the apparently mundane, to the future of our world, we are certainly still giving lots of thought to the circumstances we find ourselves in in our 60s.

purple nerves in brain COOLOne challenge we face is keeping our brains working well, at least most of the time! We have known for years that games can help to keep our brain active. Now Carol Cassara directs us towards online games and these games aren’t just for the young. Many Boomers enjoy them, but who knew online games have brain benefits?

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GROWING PLANTS INSIDE AND OUT GIVES MY LIFE MEANING!

We had two posts this week about one of my favorite pastimes, gardening. What could be more positive and gratifying than helping plants grow inside and out? Unfortunately Meryl Baer can’t seem to make this happen. She says: Folks have many talents and skills, some the luck of our DNA and others cultivated and nurtured over the years. Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting does not consider gardening one of her many skills. She tries and sometimes succeeds, but this year proved disappointing, as she points out in Gardening Guru I Am Not.

eggplant on the vineOn the other hand, over at the Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about how much she loves her garden. See Robison’s articles on how to make tomato sauce, her garden in full production, eggplant goodness, and tips for cooking collards. Rita encourages everyone to plant a garden to enjoy organic vegetables. They’re good for your health, and gardening gets you off the computer and into the yard exercising.

Tom Sightings has been focusing on the BIG PICTURE lately, always a dangerous pastime. He has taken several road trips, spending a lot of time behind the wheel of his car, giving him time to think. This week he focuses on What’s Important, two important issues, plus a postscript that might just save your life. HINT: I don’t know what I would do without my shower grab bar!

dike running up to snowy West Peak

DIKE & WEST PEAK A FEW MILES SOUTH OF LA VETA COLORADO

My week was spent dealing with a couple health issues (like continuing to breathe!) and wondering why this post about life in a very small town went viral by my standards. Are we all so anxious to believe that life can be slow, caring, and friendly again? Judging by the number of boomers moving here, YES! We almost never have a hurricane, but the wind can be incredible here!

Back to reality, strange as it is…

everyone seems normal until youThis is your brain on drugs, prescription drugs… After a few days of very strange brain sensations and a few wild hallucinations (both visual and auditory!), I’m finally starting to feel ‘normal.’ I’ve been struggling with the extreme brain craziness of withdrawal from Paxil, which I really cannot recommend to anyone!

Interesting how doctors don’t tell you about this ahead of time. I couldn’t have imaged anything like this from simply stopping a pill…Post Script: 30 days later feeling much better, but I had to fire my doctor over this one.

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Then yesterday I went out into my garden and found the stupid deer or rabbits had chomped off two of the plants I’ve been carefully nurturing all summer. GRRRR… but my garden has mostly just been taken over by SUNFLOWERS EVERYWHERE! Funny how the deer don’t like them…

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We are experiencing the total invasion of three foot sunflowers everywhere here at the Navajo Ranch in southern Colorado!

Poppy field in Oz

Sometimes it feels just like that scene from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ where they find themselves surrounded by poppies!

I had so much FUN meeting a few new women at a friend’s party yesterday. Most of them live in La Veta, so I got an earful of stories and anecdotes about living there. I love La Veta, and I’m so glad it is nearby, but I have never wished that I live there.

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I figure if we came this far to get away from the noise, traffic, pollution, and problems of other people, why move in right next to them?

The pros and cons of antidepressants

paxil tabsA few months into our move here in 2014, I became very stressed. The uncertainty of this major adventure had overwhelmed me, so I started taking a low dose of Paxil. Surprisingly, my doctor told me nothing about the side effects and long-term problems that might occur. It took a new friend to finally inform me how detrimental that 10 mgs could be to my health. She said it can cause problems with weight gain and decreased libido.

Come to find out, it can do a LOT MORE!

paxil side effectsHere’s a list of possible side effects from Paxil: Weakness, Drowsiness, Dizziness, Nausea, Anxiety or nervousness, Dry mouth, Insomnia, Constipation or diarrhea, Increased sweating, Decreased libido, orgasmic inability or delay, Agitation or irritability, Restlessness, Impulsiveness, tremors, hyperactivity, Memory problems, Allergic reactions, Problems with balance or coordination, Confusion or Hallucinations and Racing or abnormal heart rate.

This did not include additional problems because of my history of brain injury.

Now I’m no idiot. I knew there would be side effects, but gaining back the weight I worked so hard to lose back in 2011, I wasn’t expecting.

I am now in the process of cutting my dose in half. I want out of SSRI dependency. But, of course, this isn’t simple either. It turns out Paxil is one of the most difficult SSRIs to get off of without major problems. Apparently this can effect my brain’s acetylcholine production. I have learned that I need to supplement my levels of choline, lecithin and other B vitamins to lessen the effects of Paxil withdrawal.

Luckily there are dietary changes that help:

“Lecithin and choline can be found in a wide variety of foods, but many of the richest sources are foods also high in cholesterol and fat. Egg yolks are one of the best dietary sources of lecithin/choline. Other excellent sources of dietary choline are beef steak, liver, organ meat, spinach, soybeans, cauliflower, wheat germ, peanuts, and brewer’s yeast.”

I’ll let you know how this process goes for me, but in the meantime, please give some thought to the prescription drugs you are presently taking. Are they helping enough to be worth their side effects? Inform yourself about what other problems they can cause.