Sunday, June 28, 2009

Seven Days into Summer…

Hello World Family,

Falcon and Dove are here together to contribute to this blog post. What a week! Seven days ago was Father’s Day, and of course, Solstice, the first day of summer. We were trying to get the U.S. Open in between flooding raindrops (here in Pittsburgh as well), and hoping that Father’s Day would be pleasant, and the Cancer New Moon Monday wouldn’t bring any of the havoc we were told might erupt.

So let’s review: A late finish to the U.S. Open was only the beginning. Lucas Glover would be one of the few who had good news this week. PGA member Chris Smith’s wife was killed in an auto accident in Indiana, and his children in critical condition. Our prayers are with you.

A Metro accident in Washington D.C. also greeted the week, and made us tearful about the loss of 9 people over what looks like it could be a computer glitch.

Then, the stories of Father’s Day nightmare of children killed by their fathers and wives or girlfriend’s murdered over stress combined with guns and alcohol.

Then, June 24: FEMA came to town to access the extensive damage all over southwestern PA but particularly in the small towns of Jeannette and Turtle Creek from a slow moving storm system that did as much damage as a Category 3 hurricane in even less time.

In the meantime, pressure was building concerning the ACES bill in the House. We figured the vote would be on Friday, and it was. It passed the House; next stop, the Senate. This could bring great change to how we handle climate change and the industries it will impact.

Then came June 25: Farrah Fawcett’s passing was sorrowful, but not surprising. There had been documentary footage over the past several weeks getting us ready for the inevitable. What happened that afternoon however, was a shock to all but a very few. Michael Joseph Jackson, age 50 collapsed of cardiac arrest in a rented home with a doctor present, and was rush to LA country hospital, but died shortly thereafter. Opinions about Jackson are as varied as his musical material, but one thing is sure: this will be one of those times, whether one likes it or not, when someone asks you in later years where you were when you heard…you will remember.

I was fixing dinner. It was 5:23pm Eastern Time. My daughter had just gone upstairs to change after her internship, so she missed most of the initial discussion on the news. My mother asked me if I could see the television screen from the kitchen. I was turning the vegetables in the skillet, and leaned into see the graphics at the bottom of the screen, hearing Sally Wiggin’s voice announcing the breaking news. There was some footage from a helicopter in LA over the hospital, and information on cardiac arrest. I thought quickly,” that doesn’t sound good; arrest means not beating”. My mother asked, “Is he alright?!” It was a question with not a small amount of alarm in her voice.

“That doesn’t sound good, mom. It means he was not breathing when they found him.” The news came back to the WTAE studio and said they would update the situation when they had more information. They discussed one more blurb about the FEMA assessment from the previous week’s flooding, and then Sally’s eyes dropped. Mike sat beside her staring at the prompter. I knew what they were going to say. They were aware that what they were about to say would be the voice many people would remember, so they were trying to give it the caution and reverence that they thought it deserved. Then, Sally mentioned the website TMZ and said they were reporting that Michael Jackson had died. It was 5:28pm.

Falcon grew up with all the Motown sounds, and the Jackson 5 were a staple of the music scene. On Saturday mornings, we all watched the cartoons. I remember going to a concert when I was 8, and crocheting a purse to match the very carefully picked outfit I chose: lilac colored sandals with a heel, pale lavender pants, a multi hued shirt with pink, purple and apricot in the mix and a lilac apple cap to complete the ensemble. It was the 60’s after all. I had pictures on the wall like any young girl, although mine were probably a bit more varied than some of my contemporaries, including not only Motown faves, but Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson and George Benson, and some new bands from the UK called Yes and Led Zeppelin had just released their first albums the previous summer. I loved The Moody Blues, and thought classical music was pretty keen, too. Michel LeGrand and Andre Previn were just getting started. Stereo was the bomb! Little did I know my father would get me a really cool system just a year later called quadraphonic…

I am sure this kind of waxing nostalgic scene has been playing out all over the country, indeed, all over the world. People remembering their favorite songs, dancing, moon-walking, and even reflecting on the fundraisers Jackson contributed to over the years. His presence was felt in nearly every corner of the globe, and without his walk, there would have been fewer footsteps to follow for those yet to come, especially from the African American community in every genre of entertainment.

Michael’s story is a bit more complicated than all that, though. He was complicated, unpredictable, and frankly troubled. He clearly suffered from something that changed his perceptions of himself, and then impacted the way he communicated and related to others. It is likely that he would have carried that discomfort for the rest of his life.

To die at 50, possibly after a fatal interaction of prescription drugs is completely unacceptable. He was supposedly in good health, yet he had a hip injury, a fractured vertebrae, and apparently constant pain. Instead of being directed to any sort of integrative therapies that might have relieved (or dare I say, solved) his issues, he was directed to the ever faithful band aid of drugs that provide no curative assistance at all, and contraindications abound. All of the drugs mentioned in his medicine cabinet have some habit forming tendencies, and none actually help ANY condition they are prescribed to treat.

Before we go ONE STEP FURTHER in the health care debate, this needs to be said: The health care industry needs to start focusing on the needs of the patient as curative and treatment centered, rather than as symptom treating and profit margin centered. Want health care reform in this country? Start with taking the profit out of health care. Until that happens, it will constantly be in the collective interested of those who are vow to first ‘Do No Harm” to begin to address the mechanization of the industry before the needs of the patient. If that person is also surrounded by enablers, it becomes even more important to address the individual, not the industry. Integrative therapies need to become part of this conversation of health and wellness. Otherwise, this is nothing but a bad joke.

We just heard about Billy Mays (infomercial spokesperson) today, a Pittsburgh Native currently living in Tampa, dead at age 50. We have no idea at the time of this posting what happened, but foul play is not suspected. The question is: what killed him? I hope this is not another case of contraindicated drug interaction.

Heath Ledger didn’t die of a drug overdose; he took drugs that were prescribed to him by doctors in the amounts recommended. If individuals with the kind of money these guys have can get health care this bad, what do the rest of us hope to get? It’s time to stand up and demand that we begin to address the issues of health and wellness over disease and profit. How many lives could be saved if we became patient centered? Will we ever know? Will we get a collective spine and the courage to demand change?

Along with all the other prayers we are praying, this one has also been added to the list.

Falcon and Dove

No comments: