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.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Leggo my eggo

It’s been suggested by any number of people that I’m truly inhuman. This would pertain to my day job as editorial director rather than my other love, which is writing. And there are times I’d be willing to agree with those assessments. But now the truth is out. I’m a Lego girl. Take that!

Thanks, Sid.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wonder if I’m old enough to try this…

A young man shopping in a supermarket noticed a little old lady following him around. If he stopped, she stopped. Furthermore she kept staring at him.

She finally overtook him at the checkout, and she turned to him and said, "I hope I haven't made you feel ill at ease; it's just that you look so much like my late son."

He answered, "That's okay."

"I know it's silly, but if you'd call out "Good bye, Mom" as I leave the store, it would make me feel so happy."

She then went through the checkout, and as she was on her way out of the store, the man called out, "Goodbye, Mom."

The little old lady waved, and smiled back at him.

Pleased that he had brought a little sunshine into someone's day, he went to pay for his groceries.

"That comes to $121.85," said the clerk.

"How come so much ... I only bought 5 items.."

The clerk replied, "Yeah, but your Mother said
you'd be paying for her things, too."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I’m Purple…

So I was yukking it up over at Runs With Scissors’ blog, and there’s this test; what color is your brain?

Your Brain is Purple

Of all the brain types, yours is the most idealistic.
You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.
Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.
You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places - or a very different life for yourself.

Are you kidding me? It’s true, then? I really am out of my mind? Thank the gods we now have it diagnosed. My family was convinced I’d just eaten some bad clams. My brain may be purple, but I can feel it swelling by the second. Honey, widen the door jams, willya? Wildly imaginative brain comin’ through.

All kidding aside, the thing really does nail me. I guess my vocations of editor and writer are well chosen. What a relief. Mom wanted me to be a bank teller. Something to fall back on, she said. Mom’s practical. Me, I throw most caution to the wind and eat up life as if asteroids were aiming for the Big Rock.

In that respect, I’m much like my main character, Kim Donovan. I admire the heck out of her. I know how schizoid that must sound considering she’s a creation of my imagination. But it’s true that our characters do take on lives of their own, and there are times – especially during my day job – when I think, “What would Kim do?” Where I may be tempted to blow a gasket, Kim would recommend humor and save the gasket blowing for something really important – like someone messing with the special jar of peanut butter that Sarah, my cockatoo, really loves. She’s to peanut butter like I am to coffee. Don’t push the envelope, and we’ll be friends.

After Mom got over my not going into banking, she urged me to write, so I have her to blame for these silly voices that rock my brain at all hours of the night, forcing me to turn on my little flashlight and scribble midnight tomes of brilliance that make absolutely no sense in the morning. She was especially thrilled when I won a gold medal IPPY, and we all sat around and got sloshed on Dad’s expensive champagne while making numerous toasts my imaginative dynamic duo, Kim and Erik.

Anyway, back to the brain bit. I’d like to think that my creativity not only enhances my writing, but spills over into my day job as an editorial director. It’s my hope that whatever imagination I see for any particular manuscript lights the fire for the author, and they envision the things I see for their work. Life is chock-filled with possibilities, and I’m grateful for every day that I wake up and look for those gems.

Now…if I could only do something about it interrupting my sleep.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Just Do It!

Humph. Not Dead Dino stated in front of God and everyone that I don’t post as often as most.


In my feeble defense, I didn’t think many read my blog. It’s one of those cases of, if no one reads the words do they really exist?

I’m not one to wander too deeply into the whole tree-falling-makes-a-noise existentialism bit. Truth be known, I’ve been trying to work on Book 2, and this is made difficult with my day job as an editorial director. What’s even more frustrating is that my beloved med blogs are filled to the gills with fabulous information that feeds right into Book 2.

I really should stop calling it Book 2. It’s so blue label. The title is Donovan’s Impasse and picks up where Donovan’s Paradigm left off. Like this entire series, it carries the same theme of a surgeon’s fight for alternative healing within mainstream medicine.

I worked my butt off on researching this book, as I did on the first one. I spent seventeen chigger and mosquito-filled days in the Peruvian Amazon with a medical team, and I owe it to myself to finish – especially since I have Book 3 semi-mapped out. Donovan’s Impasse is about having the guts to stick to your beliefs in the midst of facing personal demons.

It’s an intriguing idea. We all have demons, don’t we? Some fear losing their home, or their health. Others fear losing their kids or spouse. Or, like Kim, they come face to face with losing their career. How we tackle our fears says a great deal about us and what we truly believe. It’s easy to espouse all sorts of enigmatic and Delphian ideals when life’s going great. But what happens when the shit hits the fan and our personal demons rear their ugly heads?

I’m a “heady” kind of writer, meaning that I love to get into the full development of my characters and figure out what makes them tick. Kim Donovan has my utmost admiration. She’s brutally independent, gutsy, and fights for what she believes in, often with humor, sometimes with a lot of spit and vinegar. She refuses to compromise, yet has an uncanny ability to view adversity as being a portal to something better. Or does she? When faced with the possibility that she may never lift a scalpel again after a river accident, do her firmly held beliefs pull her through, or does she accept help from an unlikely source?

This all ties into the alternative healing theme because it deals with issues that can’t be stuffed under a microscope and analyzed. Sometimes all you have are the results, be they good or bad. My medblog buds have been a wealth of information to me. Some are passionately against alternative medicine, and I use them as a reality check to insure I’ve written Erik Behler (who shares the same opinion) realistically. I can confess with no small amount of pride that I nailed it.

So, thank you, Dino, you’ve given me ample motivation to post more often. Who knew anyone was looking?