Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Bah Humbug!

I do enjoy Christmas, I really do. I also get pretty crabby because real trees can be messy and sometimes smelly and not everyone can agree on one all the time. And no matter how small it looks out on the tree farm, it usually covers half of my living room. 

Gift-giving can be a little stressful, too. I don’t know what to tell people I want, and unless I’m given a list, I usually don’t know what to get others. I think you should be grateful for what you’re given, no matter what it is. I don’t think you should post pictures of horrible presents or call in to a radio show with what the worst-ever Christmas present was you received. Because you know what? The worst present you could get is nothing. And if what I have given is considered your worst, then it might just get worse next year. 

I don’t even mind the shopping, because I really do enjoy shopping. No matter the time of year. Rude people are rude people no matter what time of year it is. 

Here’s what really gripes my ass: Christmas music playing at the stores and malls. First, they start playing it in September or October when they start putting out the Christmas items to sell, and that is just wrong. Back to school items and Christmas items should not pass each other in the retail aisles. Second, there are very few Christmas songs that don’t sound like nails on a chalkboard to me. Really.

I was shopping with my daughter earlier this week and I heard a song and I commented that I hated that song. Later, I heard another that I hated just as much. She gave me a look and I said, “Yes. There are a lot of Christmas songs I hate. I think I will let you know when there is one that I like, okay?”

I will attempt to run down a few for you, citing reasons. Feel free to discuss or refute.

“Santa, Baby” – Eartha Kitt is the only human being in the history of the world who can pull off this song. It’s whiney and greedy. Eartha Kitt can pull it off because she’s Eartha Kitt. Nobody else is, so don’t try. Okay?

“Last Christmas” – Do I even need to explain why this song is inane? It’s been a year. Quit pining. It wasn’t meant to be so let it go. Move on and take that damn song with you when you go.

NOTHING sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks belongs anywhere outside of a preschool or elementary school. I know my 18 year old daughter will disagree, but it is nothing that should be played on an adult radio station. How do they even know what chipmunks sound like, anyway?  

“Little Saint Nick” – Let’s just start off by saying that nobody in the last four decades has been a “cool cat.” And there is no lyric out there that is more stupid than "Christmas comes this time each year." Really? Duh. Too many drugs, I'd say. And obviously not good ones if that's all the better you can come up with, Boys. 

"Carol of the Bells" - As an instrumental, strictly a large orchestra instrumental, this is a wonderful piece. When you put words to it, it sounds like either an unmedicated child with ADHD or someone on crack. 

"Feliz Navidad" - Sorry. Taco John's ruined this for me. Jose Feliciano should sue them. 

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - This WAS a cute song. It should never be sung by an adult. And I think the Jackson 5 should have been fined millions of dollars for singing this song. Don't add stupid lyrics. "I did! I did see mommy kissing Santa Claus!" Don't be ignorant. It didn't make the song any better. Less is more, Michael. 

"Jingle Bell Rock" - oh. my. goodness. Very cute in 1957, I'm sure. There should be no song, about Christmas or otherwise, that includes the word "swell." 

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - Very sweet song. Unfortunately, too many people have turned it into a dirge. I CAN'T have a merry anything after I hear this song! It depresses me!

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" - This has the potential for being a very nice song. Sadly, Andy Williams confused Halloween and Christmas in this song. I do not, and have never, on any of my 43 Christmases, told a scary ghost story. Never. Not once. 

"Winter Wonderland" - No song that contains lyrics about conspiring by the fire can be a good one. And why would you include in your song that the other kids are going to knock down your snowman/circus clown? And I think it's pretty racist, too. Just how exactly DO Eskimos frolic and play? Is it different than how other people frolic and play?

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" - My apologies to Mr. Bing Crosby, but this song is pretty damn sad. If someone sang it to me like that, I wouldn't be there when he got there. It would just make me depressed! Speed it up!

"Little Drummer Boy" - this has got to be the most overrated Christmas song ever. Too slow. Too sad. Too pa-rum-pa-pum-pummy. 

All that being said, there are Christmas songs I do like. 

"The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting) is my favorite. As long as it's not sung too slow and sappy. Except the whole thing about Eskimos. I just think it's racist to lump all people who live in cold climates together as Eskimos.

"Holly Jolly Christmas" is a good one. I would have a cup of cheer if it were offered to me. I like that song.

"Sleigh Ride" is a good one, too. Nobody covered it as well as Whitney Houston and Mary Katherine Gallagher on SNL, but I do like the song. It's fast-paced and peppy. But not the instrumental-only version. Then it just sounds like a horse on crack.

I could listen to the entire album of John Denver and the Muppets, A Christmas Together. "The Peace Carol" is probably the most beautiful song I can think of. And "Christmas is Coming" is fun to hear anyone sing, but it's the best when it's led by Miss Piggy. I'm sorry, but it can't get much better than Kermit and Miss Piggy. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is only enhanced by Miss Piggy interrupting the song because she thinks they are calling for "piggy pudding" and not "figgy pudding." I don't think I'd eat either, but it makes me laugh, every time.

I know there are other songs I like. I know there are other songs I hate. If I think of them, I'll add to this. But all I have to say is THANK GOODNESS it is December 23. I don't think I could handle much more of the Christmas songs on the radio and in the stores.

Friday, December 2, 2011

How Lipitor and Dr. RW Killed my Dad

I've never been known to mince words. I say it like it is. If Dr. RW were standing in front of me, I'd tell him that I think he, with a combination of medicines and his own ineptitude killed my dad. If there were a way for me to sue him for every penny he has, I would. It wouldn't bring my dad back, but maybe it would stop him from "practicing" medicine on anyone else.

The guy was seriously a joke. You know the joke: "what do you call a doctor that finishes last in his class? Doctor." That's him. And besides that, he looks like Beaker from the Muppets. Beady eyes, long neck, red hair, skinny pointy head. Yep, that's Dr. RW.

He put my dad on some medicine for his arthritis many years ago. Didn't do any of the monitoring of bodily organs that he should have, but one day just told my dad that he couldn't take the drug anymore. No explanation, nothing. Come to find out, one of the serious side effects of this drug was that it destroyed his kidneys. It could have been stopped sooner if Dr. Inept had monitored it more closely. But he didn't. Dad found out from another doctor the reason why he couldn't take the arthritis medication any longer and what effect it had on his body.

Later he put Dad on Lipitor to lower his cholesterol. You know in the commercials where it says "Lipitor can have rare, but serious side effects. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience one of these side effects." If you ever do suspect or experience one of them, don't stop contacting your doctor until they have researched it and conducted enough tests to completely rule that out.

From that point on, Dr. RW kept prescribing more medications to counteract the side effects of the previous medication. He prescribed Neurontin (gabapentin) to alleviate the leg cramps and muscle fatigue in his lower leg, which was actually a side effect of the Lipitor (atorvistatin). Abrupt withdrawl from Neurontin nearly killed him in May of 2009. That was another doctor, though. He was not nearly as inept, but had an ego the size of Texas and did not appreciate being questioned over his medical practices.

But back to Dr. RW/Beaker/Inept/Idiot. He had a way of raising my dad's blood pressure. It was always "one more test" or "one more night in the hospital" or something. Finally we'd had enough. Dad was scheduled to have open heart surgery in March of 2005. We took that time to contact Dr. RW's office and let them know that Dr. RW was not to visit Dad in the hospital because he would no longer be Dad's doctor. But true to Dr. RW, he showed up in intensive care anyway. Less than 24 hours after his surgery, he came to the ICU to review Dad's chart with the excuse that he had to sign off on his progress.

Well this is what happened: One of my brothers and I were in with Dad and a nurse, and suddenly the blood pressure monitor started making sounds like it was going to take off or something. Another nurse rushed in the room and asked what was wrong, that his blood pressure was through the roof. Dad just pointed through the window to the desk, to the back of a tall, gangly, red-headed man in a long white coat. I told the nurse, "that's his FORMER doctor. We released him today. He tends to get Dad's ire up." The nurse pulled the curtain and Dad's blood pressure started going back down. The other nurse went to the desk to ensure Dr. RW would not try to go in and see Dad or speak to him.

That was the last we saw of Beaker. To the best of my knowledge, he did not ever try to make contact with my dad again. It seems so simple and seems like that would be it and things would get better. Unfortunately, there was 19 years worth of incompetence and ineptitude from Dr. RW building up inside Dad's body. 19 years of damage that could not be undone. I'm not blaming all of my dad's health issues on Dr. RW. There were things Dad could have done differently that would not have put his body in the condition it was in. Like 45 years of smoking, for starters. 

I guess I have two points I'd like anyone who reads this to take away from here. 

1) You are your own best medical advocate. You are the best medical advocate for your family members. Ask questions. Do research. No, do informative, intelligent research. Know what you're taking and what the side effects are. Question your doctor if he or she tries to put you on additional medication to alleviate the side effects of a current medication. Know the difference between generic and name brand medications. Know the consequences of abruptly stopping a medication. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. Doctors DON'T know everything. My brother says there is a reason they call it "practicing" medicine. Everybody is different. Just because your doctor has 12 patients who take this medicine or that medicine and they tolerate it quite well doesn't mean you will tolerate it well. Know your body and know what things your body is trying to tell you. Speak up for yourself and don't ever hesitate to tell your doctor no. If you refuse a medication or a test and they say they have to put in your chart that you refused something, make damn sure they put your reasons for refusing in the chart as well. 

2) Love your family. Love your dad, love your mom, love your siblings, love your spouse, love your children. Love them all because you never know when will be the last time you are able to tell them you love them. And if you have a family member who is taking medication or having medical tests done, ask them how they are and how they are feeling. Don't accept "fine" as an answer. We all know that F.I.N.E. stands for "f*ed up, insecure, neurotic and emotional." Ask specific questions and ask what you can do to help them. 

Just because someone has a medical degree (or a juris doctorate or a higher degree of any sort!) does not mean that they know more than you do. Some knowledge does not come from a book. Some knowledge comes from your heart.