Friday, December 21, 2007

Nuthin' says the holicraze like baking

I would love to take credit for this, but, alas, it came to me in an email. Since I’m such a stellar cook, I think I’ll try this tonight…

1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup nuts
2 cups of dried fruit
1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila

Sample the Cuervo to check quality.

Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again,
to be sure it is of the highest quality,
pour one level cup and drink.
Turn on the electric mixer...

Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add one teaspoon of sugar...Beat again.
At this point, it's best to make sure the Cuervo is still OK,
try another cup ... just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs,
and add to the bowl, and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Pick the frigging fruit off floor.

Mix on the turner.
If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers,
just pry it lloose with a drewscriver.

Sample the Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.
Next, sift two cups of salt, or something.
Who giveshz a sheet?
Check the Jose Cuervo.

Now shift the lemon juice, and strain your nuts.
Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink.
Whatever you can find.
Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
Don't forget to beat off the turner.
Finally, throw the bowl out,

finish the Cose Juervo,
and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.

CHERRY MISTMAS

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Writing Atrophy

I read an article yesterday where a writer was giving pointers surrounding his success. One of his points really spoke to me: Write every day.

Of course, he’s right. I tell this to new writers whenever I speak at writers’ conferences. It doesn’t matter if it’s five, five hundred, or five thousand words. Write every day. If you don’t, your story and characters will atrophy. And so will your writer’s brain.

Finishing the article, I felt my head recede into my shoulders as the tiny translucent-winged pixie who sits on my left shoulder began her harangue: “See, you literary wasteland? I warned you about letting your day job interfere with your writing - that you’d move further and further away from your story. That’s why NaNoWriMo exists. But, no, you’re too cool for school. You suck. If you don’t immerse yourself daily into your main characters, you’ll lose the emotional flavor that defines your writing. Is this how you won a major writing award, you excuse for an ink slinger? You’ll lose the grasp and tightness of your plot. You’ll erode. You’ll crack and wither…”

I flicked the pixie off my shoulder and sent her flying across the room, where she landed unceremoniously in the dog’s water bowl. Shaking the water off her wings, she stuck her tongue out at me. “Bitch.”

“Nag,” I replied.

I wonder if my fellow writing buddy, Dino, has this problem…Either way, I’m off to go write.

Monday, December 17, 2007

About the angel tree topper...

Long ago and far away, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip....
But there were problems everywhere. Four of his elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her Mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even
more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where.
More Stress.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys. Totally frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey. When he went to the cupboard, he found the elves had hit the liquor and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from Just then the door bell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door. He opened
the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said: "Where would you like to put this tree, fat man?"

And that my friends, is how the little angel came to be on top of the Christmas tree.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Merry %*&#$ Christmas

This is not for "little ears."

Fridays are supposed to be my day...

This is a perfect summation of my day...and it's still early.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

There are no words...

I just found out that my son's best friend in basic training was killed in Iraq by an IED. He was a goof of a Texan who made my son laugh. He was as big as a tree but could sneak under any bunk and tie the shoelaces of an unsuspecting Private before yelling, "Fire!"
Here's to you, Limone. Godspeed.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

One Smart Dog

Is there anything cuter than a dog and a baby? This dog gives a step by step instructions on how to properly hug a baby.

1. First, spy a baby.











2. Second, be sure that the object is indeed a baby by employing classic sniffing techniques. If baby smells of powder and the wonderful aroma of wet diapers, this is indeed a baby.












3. Next, flatten the baby before actually beginning the hugging process.








**Note: The added slobber should help in future steps by making the 'paw slide' easier.

4. The 'paw slide' Simply slide paws around baby and prepare for possible close-up.











5. Finally, if a camera is present, execute the difficult and patented 'hug, smile, and lean' so as to achieve the best photo quality.








This dog swears that if done properly, this methodology will guarantee a dog a warm, dry,climate-controlled environment for the rest of their life.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What's for dinner?

I have a mountain of work staring at me, but I don't feel like doing any of it. It's Friday - my favorite day of the week. Rather than work, I'd rather tell jokes.


















A man kills a deer and takes it home to cook for dinner. Both he and his wife decide that they won't tell the kids what kind of meat it is, but will give them a clue and let them guess.

The kids were eager to know what the meat was on their plates, so begged their dad for the clue.

"Well," he said, "It's what mummy calls me sometimes."

The little girl screams, "Don't eat it, Don't eat it, it's an ass hole!"

Things that make me go, "awww..."
















The pictures are real (taken from a zoo outside Bangkok), but the story accompanying them in various emails is not. For the real explanation, go to snopes.com. I've always wanted to write a novel about something like this but, alas, three other books await their completion...


















Frankie knows best










This is in honor of all those who will be taking to the skies over the Christmas holdaze. Damn, no one can sing it like Frankie…

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Getting the Spirit...

By golly, I’ve been elfed!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who said weddings are serious?

Hey, we all remember what our wedding dances were like; staid, perfunctory – something we did to make Mom happy and Grandma tear up. I like how this couple decided to do something a little different.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Never, ever...

Never
Never
Never
Never

















Fart in a wetsuit...

apologies...I have the flu, and this is as good as it gets for now...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy T-giving

It seems pathetic that I stop long enough for this particular holiday to count my blessings when I could be doing that every day.

I'm thankful that I have such wonderful parents whose zest for life taught me to look for the treasures of being alive - no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

I'm thankful for my hubby. His kind nature and sweet spirit have always propelled me (and oftentimes propped me up) when I felt like this writing gig was going nowhere. He's loved me for 28 years - even when I'm a pain in the ass. He understands that I'm a lousy cook and that I'll never evolve in the domesticity department either. Anyone who thinks arranged marriages are for the birds needs to talk to me and my dad. It's a joke and definitely a blog-worthy story.

I'm thankful for my three kids. Though I'd rather have root canal sans Novocain than relive their high school years, they are the brights spots of joy that balance my life and keep me humble. They make me laugh until my stomach hurts, and I can't imagine a better crew to share my genes.

I'm thankful for the Pound Princess. She filled a particularly vacant spot in our lives when our beloved Swamp Thing went to the Rainbow Bridge. She seemed to understand that she had very big paws to fill. She was so grateful to be welcomed into our home, that she has earned her 'Precious Dog' status. Now, if I could just teach her about large dogs...

I'm grateful for my writing. We writers isolate ourselves for many long hours while pouring out our verbs and nouns. When we write 'the end,' we can't be certain whether we've hit or missed. That my book won a gold medal IPPY tells me that I'm doing something right. Writing scratches a very big itch for me, and I'm grateful to know that my words bring enjoyment to others.

I'm grateful for my day job. Being an editor is fulfilling work (though never ending). I've met some of the most fascinating people and read some of the most wonderful works. I can't imagine doing anything else.

I'd like to promise myself to think of these things every day. But just in case I don't, I'm really grateful for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

For the lawyers in my life

I was going to send this to Medblog Addict but decided she had plenty of fodder for her own blog.

THE DUCK AND THE LAWYER

A big city lawyer went duck hunting in rural North Wairarapa, New Zealand . He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer's field on the other side of a fence.

As the lawyer climbed over the fence, an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he was doing.

The litigator responded, "I shot a duck and it fell in this field, and now I'm going to retrieve it."

The old farmer replied, "This is my property, and you are not coming over here."

The indignant lawyer said, "I am one of the best trial attorneys in New Zealand and, if you don't let me get that duck, I'll sue you and take everything you own."

The old farmer smiled. "Apparently, you don't know how we settle disputes in North Wairarapa. We settle small disagreements like this with the 'Three Kick Rule.'"

The lawyer asked, "What is the 'Three Kick Rule'?"

The Farmer replied, "Well, because the dispute occurs on my land, I get to go first. I kick you three times and then you kick me three times and so on back and forth until someone gives up."

The attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided that he could easily take the old codger. He agreed to abide by the local custom.

The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up to the attorney. His first kick planted the toe of his heavy steel toed work boot into the lawyer's groin and dropped him to his knees. His second kick to the midriff sent the lawyer's last meal gushing from his mouth. The lawyer was on all fours when the farmer's third kick to his rear end, sent him face-first into a fresh cow pie.

The lawyer summoned every bit of his will and remaining strength and very slowly managed to get to his feet. Wiping his face with the arm of his jacket, he said, "Okay, you old fart. Now it's my turn."

The old farmer smiled and said, "Nah, I give up. You can have the duck."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When Human Nature Blows My Doors Off

While I tend to look for the humorous side of life, I never cease to be shocked and amazed. That’s why I love medblogs so much – docs shock the crap out me all the time with their vast array of knowledge. Me? I’m lucky to remember where I parked my car when I leave the Batcave and visit the mall.

So while mainstreaming some caffeine into my bloodstream this morning via a wonderful new IV device created by the good folks at M.D.O.D., I read this article about a little girl who was born with 8 limbs! Eight freaking limbs! Can you imagine? 4 legs, 4 arms. In an incredible feat of the human body, this little girl ABSORBED an undeveloped twin. Well, almost absorbed. Surgeons were able to remove the extra limbs with no problems.

Okay, I’m thinking, no physical problems. As a writer, my imagination runs rampant at the possibilities of writing about the mental aspects of absorbing another human being. Was it a human being? Did it have a soul? You hear those stories about how twins have that in utero thing going on. I don’t write science fiction, but, boyo, my thoughts run overtime. Or a thriller? Horror? Gah. I write personal journey type books – ooo, now that could have some great potential. Or what about metaphysical (I hear my doc buds gagging now), or possibly religious. Nope, don’t do that either.

Since I write about docs, maybe their perspective would be a cool angle. However I slice it – oh dear Lord, what a horrible pun – it’s a fascinating story. On the other hand, maybe I should strap my IV back in and mainstream some yogurt.

Knock on my door anytime

Okay, I’m a shit. I admit it. I hate door-to-door beggars.
“Buy my magazines!”
“Let me wash all the stains out of your carpet with my amazing Crap Out solution!”
“Pay for my trip to Rangoon!” and on and on.

The only ones who wend their way into my heart are the neighborhood ankle biters who shove their school forms under my nose, inviting me to buy gift wrap that was designed by a hung-over frat house suffering from gastrointestinal regurg, or candy that was the Army rejects from Desert Storm. If you don’t live in my neighborhood, don’t be ringin’ my door. I'm a cranky old broad. Out of desperation, I put up a sign to discourage this breed.

I work at home, so these door beggars invariably ringy dingy when I'm in the middle of a phone conversation with an agent or publicist – or worse – working on my book.

This morning's adventure forced me to hang up with the hoo ha NY agent I've been prostituting myself over to sign his client's manuscript, tromp downstairs, grab the dog so she doesn't charge out to lick the person to death, open the door and hear the final insult: “Hi there!” followed by a small wave by a young man with ears way too large for his head. “Are you the queen of this castle?”

Me: (blinking dumbly.Queen of the castle? Oh brother) No, but I am the head witch of this coven. How may I help you?

Big Eared Young Man: I’m looking for sponsorship to this oh-so-special-college

Me: (immediately feeling very pissy over hanging up with hoo ha NY agent) Does this oh-so-special college include reading lessons?

Big Ears: Huh? Reading lessons?

Me: (pointing to the sign that says “Solicitors Will Be Eaten”) Seems this is the Pound Princess’ lucky day. Sic ‘em, girl!

My docile PP turns into Cujo, complete with perfectly appointed lip curl and low growl.

Big Ears: Screw this! (his face blanches and he races for the sidewalk)

Me: (shouting) Y’all come back now, y’hear?

PP and I collapse against the wall in a fit of giggles and share high-fives. Hey, I already admitted I’m a shit. But I still have to get my jollies wherever I can. Now, I really must go back and call that agent...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Size Does Matter

I don’t know what it is about my dog. She’s a pound princess, so the first two years of her life are a mystery to us. For my own sanity, I like to think that she was well-treated by some very old person who couldn’t take care of her any longer. I look into those big brown eyes and can’t stand the thought that anyone could have raised a hand to this sweet dog.

But – there’s always a but, isn’t there? I wonder about her sometimes. I’ve blogged before about how we live off this really cool bike path and how the Pound Princess and I take our daily constitutional. I never really knew what that meant – constitutional. When I was a kid, I thought it meant doing a, ah, #2. Whenever my grandmother said, “Come on, Lynn, time for our daily constitutional,” I lived in fear that we were both going outside to lay a big o’ dootie on the sidewalk. I was four, so the idea had a certain charm. But my grandmother? I just couldn’t figure out why we just didn’t use the bathroom like everyone else. But I digress...

As we take our morning constitutional – I take care of that business before we leave – we pass dogs of all sizes. PP sniffs and gives a womanly nod of her fuzzy head to the beagle. She’s fascinated by the chihuahua and sniffs its girly bits just to make sure it’s not a plastic wind-up toy. She grins at the golden retriever and they insist on rolling around on the dirt while I make nice with the golden’s owner while privately wondering why the he didn’t peel the toast out of his teeth before he left the house.

We walk further, and – what’s this? – a new dog on the path? Wait, it’s not a dog, it’s freaking horse. It’s straining against its chain collar that has those little chinks that dig into the neck if they pull against the leash too hard. He has stringy gork dripping from its fangs, which are the size of small cars. It rumbles a deep, low growl that says, “Do. Not. Fuck. With. Me.”

“Come on, Sunshine, let’s be nice,” says the slight woman as she tries to rein in the mass of muscle and attitude.

Sunshine? Just who are we kidding here? No dog that looks as though it’s going to rip the heart out of an elephant should be named Sunshine. No wonder he’s in a pissy mood. He’d rather be named Shredder, Mastadonian Bone Cruncher, or Muscle Masher.

My bladder is doing flip flops, hoping the thing has been fed. “Don’t worry, PP,” I whisper, “I’ll protect you.”

I look down, expecting the PP is worrying about her own bladder control. WTF? She’s decided that this is a particularly good time to show her dominance. DOMINANCE? Whatever happened to, “let’s run away to fight another day? She slows her gait and her head dips low as if she’s stalking. Her eyes are lasered in on the killing machine. The movie playing in my head doesn’t have a pretty ending, and my thoughts take an ominous turn. Is this woman strong enough to hold her dog back from eating PP and me? Did I bring my cell phone so I can order up an ambulance? Where was it that I saw that emergency vet hospital?

The snarls and spraying of gup from both dogs’ grew to a crescendo as we passed each other – the woman and I shared strained smiles. The minute we passed, PP, once again, became my docile little creature who snuggles under my feet while I write and steals my daughter's underwear.

“What the hell is the matter with you?” I hiss. “Don’t you know I’d rather feed you dog food rather than feeding you to a dog?”

Her smile says it all. “No worries, Mom, I could have taken him.”

I wonder if there’s a therapist who deals with dogs suffering from Little Dog/Dumbass Ideas Syndrome. After all, I do live in California

Monday, November 12, 2007

Revisiting 1977 with JC Penny's

This blog entry is for anyone who was being cool in 1977. I nearly laughed up a lung. Here's a teaser. Oh, and make sure you're not eating or drinking anything.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fire and education just don't mix

This goes in my "things that make me go, 'hmmm'" file. Our local Santiago Canyon fire is still smoldering but is completely contained. Yay for a tough job well done. Not a day after the smoke finally cleared and school was back in session, school administrators wore very stern faces and informed everyone that those missed days of school had to be made up. No ifs, and, or buts about it. Everyone saw it coming, of course, and were prepared to do the extra days because education is education, right?

Then I read in my paper that, lo and behold! those days don't have to be made up after all. The state is going to pay the school districts for those missed days. I'm still trying to find the connection between the sudden appearance state money and a missed week of school. After all, that missed week impacts whether little Johnny understands subtraction or can spell NannyState. Silly me. It was never about education.

And these are the people we want running our health care?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Working with greatness

I love my day job because I get to work with some of the brightest literary minds in the biz. One of my big hooha moments came when Stan Chambers signed with us. I grew up with Stan Chambers and KTLA News, and I'm no spring chicken. Whenever something horrible was happening in Los Angeles or surrounding cities, I always felt better knowing Stan was reporting the story. I nearly popped my liver when he insisted my name join his on his book. Stan is the last of the true gentlemen, and I've relished my moment in the sun with this kind man. A true icon...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Summing it up

Yep, this pretty much says it all for me...

When we stop listening...

“Number 4 spawn,” my mother said to me many moons ago, “there are certain discussions you never enter into with the intent of changing anyone’s opinion; politics and religion.”

Mom almost had it. She forgot hair color, bra size, who ate most of the Halloween candy, good-looking guys, and whether those pants really make my butt look fat. I’ve also added integrative medicine to the list because it seems to bring out the beast in people rather than the best. After all, we’re passionate beings – especially with certain issues.

A couple weeks ago I had occasion to be part of a discussion panel with all kinds of medical types sitting in the audience. The discussion was about integrative medicine and its place within traditional medicine. I won’t lie; I was scared out of my Victoria Secrets. My only credentials are that I write about doctors and how their belief systems influence their lives and treatment of their patients. Given that my book presents the pros and cons of this issue, the event organizers felt I’d be an interesting addition to the panel, which was comprised of docs of all disciplines who utilize varying forms of alternative healing methods in their practice.

So I sat down feeling pretty good, comforted that it would be the docs to the right and left of me who would take gas. Nothing could have amazed me more than to become a target for one particularly disagreeable type. Without preamble, he stood up and told me that I was “little more than a member of the lunatic fringe,” and “who the hell are you to advocate this integrative medicine bullshit.” He finished up with, “there’s no scientific data that proves its efficacy, and your real purpose for being here is to sell books.” Well, okay, he’s got me there on the last point. I don’t know of a single author who doesn’t. I was particularly saddened when he denigrated a respected surgeon I’d researched with as being unintelligent because his opinions differed from that of my blathering detractor.

He reminded me of an anonymous doc I encountered on a blog recently. Anonymity is such a lovely tool because it grants anyone carte blanche to behave as badly they want. I’ve never hidden behind anonymity – though there are plenty times that I wish I did, but I digress…

His wrath hurt. Right to the core. This man knows nothing of me or my book, yet he flipped a middle finger to the sanctity of good behavior in order to humiliate me and accuse me of being disingenuous. I understand that he feels integrative medicine is dangerous and is promoted by snake oil artists who rip people off. He’s scared and angry, and I empathize. That’s precisely why this seminar had been offered.

I’ve been speaking to groups for a long while, and I know nothing good comes from confrontation. No matter how passionately someone feels about a particular subject, screaming at someone with an opposing view only proves that we aren’t listening. Where’s the exchange of ideas? At that point, why bother?

When people speak in absolutes, they are basically stating there’s snowball’s chance in hell their opinion will ever change. “Anyone who believes in integrative medicine is an idiot, and because I said so makes it true.” Is this a case where we can agree to disagree? Like politics and religion? Is it remotely possible? I do all the time with many of my doc friends, but there’s a level of mutual respect.

Hey, it may very well be that integrative medicine is a bunch of hooey. Then again, I can’t speak in absolutes because I’ve witnessed to too much to believe that and so have a lot of docs and other medical professionals. That’s why I sat, dazed and shocked, at this man’s spew. As he was being shown the door, I thought about other doors, metaphorically speaking, that were also being shut. So much for discussion about controversial ideas.

I wonder what Mom would think about that. Then again, I think she dropped me on my head when I was very young…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

California on Fire

I just got back from El Toro High School, which is an evacuation shelter for victims displaced from the horrible Santiago Canyon fires. It's a scene that etches into one's memory like an overly bright light bulb. We've all seen the images of people sleeping on cots, having nothing but the clothes on their back, but nothing does those pictures justice other than seeing it firsthand. The parking is filled with cars, motor homes and pop-ups. Pets on leashes wander around with their owners – each looking dazed and worried, while others lie around, waiting.

My daughter and I arrived with three boxes of books – “hurts” that didn’t survive the book signing process. We can’t sell them for retail, so we’ve been donating them to the Wounded Warriors in Camp Pendleton. As I drove past the high school yesterday, I got the bright idea to give these poor victims something else to think about. How better to do that than escape into the pages of a good book.

The Red Cross folks told us they won't accept books, but their faces changed when I said I live right up the street, my intent was to give these poor people something better to think about other than whether they still had homes, and that I was Stan Chambers' publisher. Hearing Stan's name, they brightened right up and welcomed us into the gym. It was surreal to see the gym where we'd watched countless basketball games while my daughter bounced around as a cheerleader years ago. It was a place of action and excitement.

Not now. It's eerily quiet. There are cots everywhere and the lights are low because most are trying to get some sleep. Everyone speaks in soft tones. Even the television is barely audible. Inside and out, the school looks like a war zone. Those we spoke to were upbeat and grateful for the books.

We had a small crowd around us as we unpacked the books and stacked them around the main television. It was a thrill to watch them paw through our many titles. Many touched our arms and gave us a soft thank you before wandering off. It was hard to keep a dry eye.

I'm so glad we did this.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Smoke gets in your eyes

Once again, California is on fire. I couldn't figure out why I kept seeing ash and smelling smoke so strongly while walking the Pound Princess this morning. Our paper stated that the Irvine fire had been put out. Wrongo. #1 son just called to say that his work was evacuated. They're about fifteen minutes away from us. Hmm. The fire just moved and is about ten minutes away and fire trucks are blasting past our neighborhood. I might not get a lot of work done today...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Fox is Watching the Hen House

Boy, just when you think the Good Ol’ Boy Club can’t get any dumber, they up and pull a new trick out of their rectums. I see that one of our local ob/gyns, Andrew Rutland, who was accused of negligence in the death of two babies, has had his license reinstated by the Medical Board of California after only five years.

Mind you, the state investigated him for two years and accused him of negligence, misconduct, and incompetence in the treatment of 20 pregnant women. What’s worse is the guy admitted responsibility for the death of a baby who suffered a torn spinal cord and died a week after she was delivered by forceps. Furthermore, he decided not to contest the other accusations of the death of another baby, scaring patients into having unnecessary hysterectomies, botching surgeries, lying to patients, falsifying medical records, over prescribing painkillers, and having sex with a patient in his office.

During his little “time out,” Rutland completed courses on ethics and record-keeping. Just to show how tough the medical board is, they’ve thrown a five-year probation at Rutland, he has to pay $37,000 to the Medical Board to cover the costs of their investigation, he has to pass an exam, he won’t be allowed a solo practice, and a monitor will be appointed at Rutland’s expense to “periodically” watch over his practice.

So there you have it, folks. In California, you can kill babies, lie, cheat, be incompetent, and immoral, and be granted a free pass back into the medical world. With “help” like this from the Medical Board, I have to wonder why the fox is allowed to watch the hen house?

Go Trojans


I had the honor of speaking before a writers' group yesterday. I love rubbing elbows with fellow word benders. But it was tempting to call in a no-show so I could watch the USC-Notre Dame game. As soon as the seminar was over and I'd shaken my last hand, I beat feet into the bar where hubby was already tipping back a beer and hooting over SC's first touch down. Way to go, Sanchez, fellow Mission Viejo-ite. Hope Coach has you playing next week.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Uh, Doc, it hurts right here...

I read in my morning newspaper about how our Govornator is stabbing about how to pay for his "broad health care plan," which is double speak for giving everyone in California health insurance. He needs $37 billion for this dalliance with idiocy, but can't find the money. Isn't this just like a politician to sign a bill and then wonder how they're going to pay for it? What I found to be most humorous is that they're considering leasing the lottery to a private operator. Wait, wait, it gets even better. Finance Dept. spokesman HD Palmer said that the administration is convinced that a private company could make the biggest improvement in lottery revenue. This is as close an admission as we're ever going to get that they understand how inefficient and inept they really are and need private enterprise to bail them out.

This is who you want governing your medical care?

In light of this, here is how those lucky Canadians are enjoying the medical care that certain parties seem to envy. Thanks M.D.O.D.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Needle Point

A great article in this morning’s newspaper forces me to don my tie-dye shirt and dance around the campfire in my Birkenstocks while singing “Kumbaya.” The headline is, “Acupuncture Cuts Post-Surgical Pain.”

The gist of the article is that researchers at Duke University Medical Center analyzed the results of 15 clinical trials on the effectiveness of acupuncture and found that the patients receiving acupuncture before or during various types of operations had significantly less pain, nausea, and dizziness afterward than those who didn’t receive acupuncture. This also translates over to the fact that they needed less pain meds such as morphine. Boy, I remember puking my guts out on that stuff after my hysterectomy. Bring on the needles, baby.

NIH scientists don’t understand how acupuncture works because they can’t scientifically measure how needles affect pain management. Thus, as my med buddies are all too happy to point out, there is no proof. My only counter is that if the acupuncture patient isn’t experiencing any pain, then something must be having an effect.

As a writer, I keep thinking of the great chapters and subsequent controversy that’s ahead for my beleaguered surgeon, Kim Donovan, if I dare to allow her to bring in her clinic’s acupuncturist. Between her Reiki and acupuncture, I’m betting the new chief of surgery, (coming in book 3) Erik Behler, will start referring to Kim’s patients as being fried and skewered. But more importantly, think of the impact patients could have by not having to ingest powerful pain meds for certain surgeries. Oh my holy liver!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Science, schmience, pass the chocolate

Scientists are taskmasters at reducing all our guilty pleasures into lackluster techno babble. For instance, I used to chalk up my weak knees and breaking out into a cold sweat whenever Tony Massey took off his shirt during our tennis matches to being horny. Not so, sez the science geeks. It’s all about hormones, the laws of attraction, the pituitary gland and some other very dull stuff. Puhleeze. Tony had a killer chest and amazing abs. ‘Nuf said.

Now they’re messing with my love affair with chocolate – and it has nothing to do with Tony’s rippling chest. Scientists have linked a type of bacteria living in our digestive systems to our chocolate cravings. Bacteria? Ewwww. How gross can that be? Do they mean to insinuate that the haunting voice who whispers to me whenever I pass a See’s Candy store, “Price. Must. Stop. For. Chocolate,” is really bacteria rumbling around in my gut?

How can I possibly unsee this article? Next thing scientists will tell me is that integrative medicine can’t be clinically proven…Piffle, pass me the choco covered caramels and let me think this over.

And between you and me, I think Tony took off his shirt just to make sure he’d win.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Illogical Laws of Diminishing Returns

I weep for my doc friends. Seems as though the insurance industry is painting yet another target on their collective backs. I spent a lunch hearing my friend, who is a family practitioner, explain how Medicare is planning on cutting docs' salaries by ten percent to…wait for it…make them more efficient. Hoo boy, now that’s what I call running a company of thousands on one brain.

My friend groused over a glass of white wine the other day. “I don’t know about you, Price, but decreasing my pay is not an incentive to work more efficiently. What’s more,” she said, stabbing what is probably her last bite of lobster for a while, “is our esteemed Governator wants to tax me, run my money back through the government, then pay me back with my own freaking money so that everyone can have health care!” She looked up at me with tears of frustration pooling in her eyes. “Is this why I studied my ass off in medical school? To have my own government tell me how much I’m allowed to make? This is damn scary. How much longer before I can’t stay in business?”

She went on to tell me about another friend of ours who decided to specialize in cosmetics and weight loss in order to compensate for his loss in earnings. Another left medicine all together and took up engineering.

“Want to know what the insurance asswipes did to me three months in a row?” she said. “They deliberately changed the insurance codes and didn’t tell my bookkeeper. That way they didn’t have to shell out reimbursement to me. Now, you take what they’re pulling on me and multiply that times thousands, and I can tell you who’s making the money. And it ain’t the docs. Oh sure, they said it was all a mistake. Mistake my lily white butt.”

I drank my chardonnay in one solid gulp.

“Oh, and you’ll love this," she said. "Ted Grapply, you know, the internist with the hairy ears? He had an insurance company deny payment because they needed to know if the patient was on birth control pills. The patient was a freaking man, for goddsakes. Want to know how long it took him to get that little disaster cleared up?”

"No," I said, fearing the answer.

"Four months."

I poured more wine into my dear friend’s glass, knowing I’d drive her home and help nurse her impending hangover.

“An’ you wonder how this affects you?” she said, slurring her words. “Well, lemme tell ya. Time, baby. And quality. Where I used to spend twenty five minutes with a patient getting their history and discussing health issues, explaining different meds an' such, I’m cramming ‘em in every ten minutes. My exam rooms are stacked up like LA International Airport at Thanksgiving. Is this the future of medicine? The only ones gettin’ the big bucks are the insurance CEOs as they collect record profits. And let’s not forget the bonuses. How is it that the gove’ment can tell me I’m makin' too much money but it’s okay for the insurance guys?”

“Politics?” I ask naively.

She pointed her salad fork at me. “Exactamundo! You don’ think that money doesn’t trickle into our benevolent politicians’ pants and bras? My mentor from med school just retired. At fifty-five years old. Told me he was sick of the whole mess. My building mates want to do a Nancy Reagan and just say no to accepting insurance all together. And you know what, Pricey? It’s up to you guys, the patients, to speak up for improving medical care. If you don’t, it’s gonna be some twirly headed bean counter who will decide just how desperately you need that liver transplant or heart valve replacement. We docs are being taken out of the equation.”

I felt my heart sink into my gut. This was supposed to be an afternoon of laughter and fun as she, as my medical advisor, helped me with my new novel. Instead it morphed into watching a dedicated doc grapple with thoughts of leaving a profession she’s dreamed of since the first grade when she stuffed dirt and grass in my bloodied knee after a rousing dodge ball session. God, how I wanted to just hug her 'til she stopped hurting.

She finished the conversation off with a final lament. “I should have listened to my first boyfriend and become an exotic dancer.” She did have the boobs for it.

As I watched her drain her glass, I thought about my next novel and thought about how easy it would be to weave this sickening topic into the plot. For not the first time that day, I held my bestest bud's hand and said, "Who is John Galt?"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Atlas Shrugged at 50

Happy birthday, Dagny, Hank, and most of all, John Galt. You are an inspiration to my world view.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Craziness Abounds – Who’s Lookin’ Out for You?

Just like the pendulum that swings from side to side, ideas also swing from side to side. Eggs used to be good for us, but then they turned bad, before it become a hesitant okay. How about caffeine? And dark chocolate? Heck, it used to be grease for my hips, but now it’s a soothing balm. And what about books that have unhappy endings?

Think I’m kidding? Take a look here, and you’ll get an eyeful. Seems that there is a group of good people in Britain who have appointed themselves the literary police, and it is their mission to burn children’s books that have unhappy endings. I quote: “The Happy Ending Foundation is planning a series of Bad Book Bonfires for later this month, when parents will be encouraged to burn novels with negative endings.”

As a publisher, I find it abhorrent that there are people out there whose rose-colored glasses are so fogged up that they will censor everything that doesn’t fit within their narrow field of vision. As a writer, I’m appalled that these people are so ill prepared to handle a pesky little thing called “Reality.” These are the same folks who cluck at PTA meetings and strong arm schools to ban childhood favs of Tag and Dodgeball.

I’m a parent and took pains to insure that my kids read age appropriate books. The idea that I need to enlist the services of busybodies who have nothing better to do than invade my life is a travesty every freedom loving person should reject.

“Yes, yes, Price, ease up on the rising blood pressure. See how we’re all laughing?”

Of course I do. We’re all doing the collective eye roll. On the other hand, it’s gradualism at its finest. What seems insane now could one day become acceptable because they’ve worn us down through attrition. That’s how freedoms are lost and groups like this are able to propagate.

What’s too crazy to think about now could very easily become the norm in the future. Publishers may be ordered to only publish happy-happy stories and think joy-joy thoughts. We writers could one day be forced to take a look at our work and decide if we’re ready to see it go the way of Tag and Dodgeball.

More on FDA's OTC drugs

I started to comment on feedback on my previous post, but then I decided to make it another post since there were other issues I wanted to think about out loud. I really appreciate my doc buds' feedback since you guys are the ones in the trenches. My knowledge could fill the head of a pin. But since I write medical fiction, I have a natural interest.

Given my involvement with integrative medicine, I see people every day who toss aside common sense and abandon their docs in the belief that alternative meds are the only game in town. I see this move toward making strong meds OTC as an equally dangerous move.

I know we can't legislate stupidity, but why enable it? If the FDA thinks statins are a viable OTC candidate, what else are they going to decide is okay? And where does this put us in terms of responsibility when patients too dumb to breathe overdose or underdose?

Lastly, what's the criteria for deciding what should be an OTC drug?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sumtin' jes' ain't right

I read an interesting article in today’s paper about how the US is weighing whether to make some drugs more easily available by letting pharmacists dispense them from behind their counters without a doc’s scrip. They’ve even given it a cute little name; intermediate drugs. They make it sound like it’s not a baby drug like aspirin and not a big boy drug that can cross the street all by itself, but rather a drug that’s still deciding what it wants to be when it grows up. And until it decides, the FDA wants to make them available without a doc’s control. Like I said; cute.

Problem is, these drugs aren’t cute and don’t do cute things like make me talk funny after sucking up a helium balloon. They’re talking about statins and nasal steroids. WTF? I can’t even go to Costco and buy certain cold medicines without being given a body cavity search and my bra size because I might use them to cook meth.

Admittedly, I’m not a doc and don’t understand doc things, but in my limited brain capacity, I figure these drugs were made scrip only for a very good reason. So why the change? Well, it’s not because statins have suddenly become warm and fuzzy. This is being proposed to help those who can’t afford to visit a doc. Huh? Joe or Jane Patient can’t afford to go to a doc, so, hey, let’s let ‘em prescribe drugs for themselves, and, well, gee, big deal if there’s no one to measure their blood levels to make sure the dosage is right. Pharmacists will now be the new gatekeeper. Frankly, this scares the crap out of me.

I’m wondering just how far politics and government can go in order to dilute docs’ control of their patients. Whatever their goal, demoting big drugs to over the counter status just so “poor people” can get them is dangerous and idiotic. I wonder how my doc friends feel about this.

Communication technology

I seem to be on this communication kick. I think it's because the technology is so utterly amazing. If the world were left up to me, I'd be still trying to figure out fire. Given that there are brains more highly developed than mine, they are able to keep me in touch. Doesn't matter if I'm stuck on a train in NY or camping in the mountains at Lake Arrowhead - I'm only a phone call away.

However, as much as I love the latest in telephone technology, I'm not quite sure I'm ready for this...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sentence structure is everything!

Okay, I'm not normally off-color, but I think this highlights a point that I face with my personal writing and with manuscripts that cross my desk. I'm talking about clarity. No matter what our day jobs are, we are invariably faced with the need to communicate in an email or a letter. Since I'm a writer, I can ill afford to have double entendres unless I put them there on purpose. How 'bout you?

This little story brings my point home very well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The boss had to fire somebody, and he narrowed it down to one of two people, Debra or Jack. It was an impossible decision because they were both super workers.

Rather than flip a coin, he decided he would fire the first one who used the water cooler the next morning.

Debra came in the next morning with a horrible hangover after partying all night. She went to the cooler to take an aspirin.

The boss approached her and said, "Debra, I've never done this before but I have to lay you or Jack off."

"Could you jack off?" she says. "I feel like shit.

Thanks, Shan!




Thursday, September 13, 2007

9-11 Tribute

I've seen a lot of differing reactions regarding 9-11. I'd originally decided to sit this one out. But after seeing this, I changed my mind because it speaks my heart more eloquently than anything I could say.

To those who perished on 9-11, to those who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to those who have fallen protecting my life, my heart blesses each and every one of you.


*Budweiser only aired this once. The intent was to acknowledge this tragic event, not profit from it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Apologies

Dear Ms. Reviewer, Madame Publicist, Mr. Event Planner, Mr. Senior Newspaper Editor,
It seems as though all correspondence originating from my desk is not as I'd feared; five malfunctioning printers. After careful surveillance, I've determined that the office mascot is to blame.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Writing is hell

I'm struggling with a chapter in my book that's given me fits and starts for months. I just can't seem to find the right tone that makes it rock as much as the other chapters. I had a friend read it and felt it was fine. "So it's not one of your better chaps? It gets the job done."

It gets the job done? Is she pigging mad? I'm considering demoting her from friend status. Who needs supportive and encouraging, dammit? Kindness and love is for pussies. I don't want to merely "get the job done." Each chapter has a reason for being there, and that's to impart information about my characters and move the plot along in an engaging and consistent manner. I don't make space for mediocrity. Besides, it's a key chap - it's the first time my two main characters have seen each other after a contentious breakup.

For one character, the reunion is a complete shock, and I'm looking for that perfect balance of shock that plays well off my other character while allowing space for some tough dialog. After all, I can't have her dragging her tongue along a dusty road forever. Besides, dialog is a huge strength of mine - I own dialog - so what's my freaking boggle? Every time I think I've finished it, I come back the next day and down more Maalox. It's too rushed, it's too trite, it's too this and that. Argh. The hell with it; this has been dogging me for too long, and I've decided that today is the day that it lives up to my standards.

What? The beach, you say? Now? Wait, hold on, let me grab my suit. Erik, Kim, you suckahs are gonna have to wait...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Melancholy Moment

I don’t get out of the Batcave very often but on those special occasions that I do the lunch thing with a friend of mine, I drive by one of my most favorite places; the El Toro Marine Base. It hurts to see it now. The base closed in 1999, and I was one of the few who mourned the loss. Our first home twenty eight years ago was very close to the base, and we’d hear “the boys” winding up their F-15s and Intruders in the morning as they clawed for airspeed to clear the mountains and head off to wherever jets go. We’d hear them screaming back to base for a brief lunch before they tore off again. For years, it was the only way I knew it was lunchtime.

Many neighborhoods hated the jet noise and circulated any number of petitions. I never signed. After all, who was here first? Back in 1942, the only thing around were orange groves and strawberries. The base was built on an old beanfield. It wasn’t until the early seventies that neighborhoods sprang from the ground. My feeling is; you don’t want jet noise, don’t move near a Marine base. While others groused, I preferred to think that was freedom screeching over my roof, and I blessed each and every pilot as they disappeared into the clouds that they’d come home safely.

Even though I wasn’t part of the military, I’d come to think of the ET Marine Base as mine and its soldiers as “my boys.” Back in the day, our little town was filled with jarheads and camouflage. The Iron Mule was spitting distance from the base. It was their hangout, and it wasn’t at all uncommon for a Friday night fight to break out in that diviest of dives. It was part of the charm. The barber shops all had signs in their windows advertising military haircuts at cheapie prices. The dry cleaner was filled with all sorts of multi-colored uniforms. They were an integral part of our community.

One of our neighbors was a jet jockey, and I was always trying to ply him with my killer margaritas in an effort to extort a freebie ride in an F-18. Never happened, and I was reduced to letting my kids ditch class for a day so we could all attend the Air Show and ooh and ahh as flyers strapped all kinds of planes to their butts and perform death-defying tricks.

When my kids were little, they always made me pull over to the side of the road so we could watch a squadron of Intruders and F-15s fly in. Our little nest on top of the bridge had a bull’s eye view of the runway. Those are some of my favorite memories – being with the kids when they were small and untroubled and watching “my boys” do what they do best.

But it’s all changed now. The base is closed as I drive past these days, deserted. The military buildings are cracked and rotting. The family housing where military wives hung their laundry out on communal lines while their kids played on hand-me-down toys has been torn down and stands ready to become something else. Aged curtains ripple in the breeze through the broken windows where young Marines once lived. Loading docks that once bustled with men and women in uniform now stand silent. Slowing my car down, I can almost feel their ghosts against the burning of my eyes. It’s sad to see something that was so vibrant and alive reduced to tumbleweeds and dust. There are weeds growing through the cracks of the runways, a sacrilege to me. The hangers where engineers tested jet engines used to create such ferocious noise that I could hear them from miles away. They now stand silent, and the only thing to be heard are the crosswinds blowing through the open doors.

I can still hear the echoes of platoons as they ran drills around the large track ringing the perimeter of the base. My kids used to wave at them as we sped by, often rolling down the window to tell them they shouldn’t run with a heavy backpack and gun.

The base is gone. In its place, they city is planning on building The Great Park. They already have the balloon ride going on the runway. I suppose it’s a great idea. But it’s hard for me to imagine anyone tearing down the buildings that saw so much action. Many of our Marines deployed from El Toro during the Gulf War. We, of the community, always knew when something was gearing up because we’d see and hear huge troop transports fly in – a truly breathless sight. The idea of people taking balloon rides on that same runway is tough a tough pill to swallow.

I suppose my melancholy derives from the fact that their history is wrapped up in my own. The base was so active and alive, as were my kids and I, and we took so much pleasure in watching them up close and personal. Watching the crows pick at the stuffing from a discarded mattress makes me realize how quickly the years flew by. “My boys” packed up their gear, flew their jets into the skies and were absorbed by other bases. I can’t help but feel left behind.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Say What?

As one who deals with words all day long, this fractured translation just tickled my funnybone. Thanks, Scissors, for the laugh.

"When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor."

-car rental brochure in Tokyo

Lumbar Lambada

I’m pathetic. No, really, I am. I ride a desk these days and the most exercise I get are my eyeballs scanning countless manuscript submissions or re-reading a chapter from my personal writing. The other day I decided I was disgusted enough with myself to get out on our beautiful bike path and take the Pound Princess for a walk. It was a clear morning, a gentle breeze teased its way through the PP’s fur – all the right ingredients for a perfect saunter.

Until the rabbit crossed the path ahead of us.

Why do they do this? They spot us hundreds of yards away, know damn well we’re coming, and that I have a dog that’s convinced all rabbits belong in her food dish. Yet they wait until we’re within spitting distance before wagging their little rabbit tongues at us and high-tailing it for the safety of the glen on the other side of the path.

PP breaks loose and gives chase. It becomes immediately apparent that the rabbit failed geometry, and his little pea-sized brain miscalculated the triangulation between him, the safety of the glen, and the Pound Princess. He’s not going to make it. Meanwhile, PP is bearing down with her tongue dragging behind. Oh shit, I think to myself, I have Cujo on my hands, and I’m going to have PETA pulling on my brastraps for months for allowing the slaughter of a defenseless bunny.

Defenseless my ass. Killer Bunny stopped and whirled around to face the PP. He bared his little bunny teeth and growled. WTF? Bunnies can growl? He advanced toward the PP, and now I’m suddenly afraid he’s going to attack. I increase my fast walk to a run. Save the PP! I keep repeating in my head.

PP is equally freaked. She bolts in the opposite direction, and I go flying over her and land squarely on the bike path. Pain screams out in every direction before centering in my lower back. I’m dying! I’ve broken my butt and I’m dying. PP begins licking my face, and I swear Killer Bunny flipped me off before walking off into the glen.

Screw the perfect saunter; I’m considering hiring Elmer Fudd to walk the dog. Meanwhile, I’m in traction.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cover art

My day job as an editorial director affords me a front row seat to a great deal of artistic creativity. Our cover designers are at it again, and I thought I'd show some of our upcoming titles**.

This first one, Fuck, Pete, Is That You? is a riveting book about mistaken identity. A sure winner.

This next title is the start of our new religious line titled, You Can Take This Cloud and Shove It. The author's blurb says it's an Armageddon ditty. Comes with a complimentary crucifix and rosary beads.

This last one is part of our new science line. I'm A Human Condom explores the idea that...oh hell, I have no idea. Hey...who signed this author anyway?


**We really do have new titles coming up...just not these.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Work those abs…

I’m taking a brief breather from the heavier issues to relay the perfect exercise for those of us who captain a desk for many hours a week.

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.

Each day, you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks. Then try 50-lb potato sacks and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level)


After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks
.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More About Complementary Alternative Medicine

I’ve been stewing on this for several weeks as many of my favorite medblogs go on the offensive with respect to complementary alternative medicine – CAM. I’ve taken the opportunity to comment on these various blogs as a way of opening up a dialog so docs can hear from someone who’s researched both sides of the issue and written about it. To that end, I’ve been prepared to be ridiculed and attacked. I’m happy to report that none of this happened - which thrills me, because I consider a number of these docs buds. I've had a number of docs ask intelligent questions. What I never expected (foolish on my part) was to be summarily dismissed by so many.

And this is a huge problem. Dismissal is arrogant. I realize I'm nothing more than an irritant - a bug - and whatever I have to say isn’t important in their esteemed opinion. They’ve already set their bias guns on Stun and decided that a differing opinion is worthy of a shot.

What’s irksome is how docs formulate an opinion based on research that supports their opinions rather than going outside their comfort zone and looking at both sides of the coin. After all, isn't this what good scientists do? Going in with a preconceived notion ignores the data and flaws the hypothesis. In my way of thinking, voicing an opposing voice brings balance to any discussion. As a result, I’m continually asked to defend and justify my opinions (which is only good business), yet when I ask questions of docs, all I hear are crickets.

Not one doc has ever replied to my questions about what patients should do when the medicines they’re taking are just as risky as the affliction themselves, such as hormones for menopausal women create a risk of cancer. What are patients to do when their docs tell them there’s nothing more that can be done for them? I’ve outlined any number of times the hefty helping of skepticism regarding CAM during the research phase of my book, yet I was proven wrong with the betterment of my own health. What of that? Are these not verifiable results? It's achingly easy to chalk something up to the placebo effect rather than consider something non medical can be effective.

I’m pretty sure I’m being dismissed as a whole because I’m not a part of the club. I expected this result, so I’m good with that. But what about the docs who practice integrative medicine, such as the Continuum Center for Health and Healing – the largest alternative care facility in the US and is connected to Beth Israel – or GW Center for Integrative Medicine which is an umbrella of George Washington University Hospital (and where I did my research)? They are part of the medical community. Are their findings summarily dismissed as well because they stand in the face of the medical majority?

As mystified as I am by these omissions of response, I would never declare war on docs or the medical community. It’s ignorant and gets us nowhere. We’re in the fight for health together, and we should be uniting to cure body, mind and spirit. If that makes me a lunatic deserving of disregard, then it saddens me, because I respect the medical community a great deal and feel there needs to an opening of minds and doors.

Some docs claim to be open-minded, and this is lip service at its finest given that they point the finger at CAM practitioners as being the ones refusing to consider any opinions other than their own. I’d like to be shown evidence of proof. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but advocates of integrative medicine are continually trying to marry themselves with allopathic medicine in order to create whole body health, so why would they purposefully piss off the very people they’re tying to enlist? On the other hand, I know of oodles of doc’s refuse to listen to these ideas. Until bombs stop being lobbed across the aisle, this will continue to erode all the things that medicine could be while continuing to maintain the current status quo. Complementary Alternative Medicine is one where allopathic and alternatives are complementary to each other – not exclusive, and it makes sense for docs to embrace integrative methods in order to keep a close eye on their use.

Docs want to be shown the science before changing their methods of practice. They want to be proven something doesn’t work before they’ll stop, eg: hormone replacement therapy. I think this article lays out a pretty compelling case. It’s a fact that doctors all over the US are recommending many of their patients discontinue their HRT because it’s been proven women run a higher risk of cancer. I was one of those women, and I suffered horrendous hot flashes. I’ve been under the care of a CAM practitioner for a few years now and am taking natural plant-based substances for my menopause symptoms. Where many of my friends are still suffering, I’m not. Does this have zero validity or interest with my doc friends? Apparently not, because not one of them has ever replied.

Still on the topic of docs wanting to see proof something isn’t working before they discontinue use, how about the new “black box” labels warning diabetics about a high risk of heart failure that Avandia and Actos will soon be sporting? How many warnings on medicines are uttered at light speed on all those nightly commercials? With some, it’s a tossup between which is worse, the affliction or the meds.

This isn’t to say that I’m anti-med or anti-doc. I most certainly am not and would never advocate otherwise. Chemo, for instance, can come within inches of killing the patient, but the benefits outweigh doing nothing. But what about the side effects? Rather than pumping more meds into the patient, why not offer biofeedback, meditation, or Reiki, which have been documented to be very successful in alleviating side effects. So, while I’m by no means anti-med, I am a proponent of seeking the best, most appropriate product or method that offers relief or a cure.

Example: It’s minor in the grand scheme of things, but it does highlight my point. My daughter has warts. Lots of them. On her hands and legs. We’ve spent years having them burned off only to have them grow back or sprout elsewhere. Nothing was a permanent cure in getting rid of them. The cost for the liquid nitro wasn’t insignificant and easily ran into several hundreds. After years of this, Daughter gave up and discontinued the process. An integrative health practitioner offered up a bottle of oregano essential oil. Along with smelling like a pepperoni pizza, within two weeks her warts were gone. All of them. Three years later, they haven’t grown back. This, in my mind, was not only an appropriate alternative, but better than the allopathic choices.

My question is this: are these examples not proof that non-medical means can heal or alleviate suffering? Like everything in life, generalization is a dangerous mistress because of the tendency to throw out the good for the sake of ridding the bad. In most cases this isn’t too big of a problem. But when you’re talking about people’s health and quality of life, is it wise to do this? Would docs rather I stay on my HRTs and risk cancer? Or stay on Avandia and risk heart failure? I’m sorry, but this has the smell of arrogance.

Now, having said this, I do agree that integrative medicine has to be dealt with carefully, and that’s what those $120,000,000 studies by NCCAM are trying to establish. What works and what doesn’t. It’s smart, yet docs lambaste these studies as shoving a bogus idea on to an unaccepting public. It’s not the public that won’t accept the idea of integrative care, but the docs. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t issue. Scientists are chided for “wasting” money on these studies while at the same time, docs scream for scientific proof. You can’t have it both ways. You need to spend money on the studies.

Docs talk about CAM practitioner’s intolerance to criticism, and I have yet to really see this for the simple reason that these people have spent their entire careers justifying, explaining, educating the public and medical society to exactly what it is they do.

Alas, this argument isn’t unlike political opponents who decry anyone with a differing belief as being intolerant. What they really mean is that they, themselves, are intolerant of anyone who believes differently from them. Since the medical community is such a vast lobby, they have the power to keep a differing idea under wraps with claims that integrative care is nothing more than a placebo, it’s pabulum for the idiotic masses, and docs know best.

In my discussion with docs, I’m continually held to a high standard which demands that I have concrete facts at my fingertips at all times and be prepared to sit under a bright light. I agree that this is vital. But it’s irksome that docs aren’t held to those same standards. If someone is going to offer opposition to a practice, it’s only logical to have a balanced and thoroughly researched reason.

After all this venting, I realize that I’m spitting into the wind. Instead, I see comments from those who claim to have an open mind accuse CAM advocates of "doublethink." This dismissive tone is especially depressing because it offers zero chance of there ever being a true sharing of ideas. I could present case after case, and I believe it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Docs don’t check their beliefs in at the door of their practice, and I can’t help but feel that patients could be the worse for it.