Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What to blog about today? (Something light no more heavy stuff please)

I have talked in the recent past about some heavy topics, so heavy there will be no recap because I do not want to ruin the light mood I am here to fore creating.  I really enjoyed the some of the words I used in that sentence.  To the question in the title, maybe my sense of humor and lack of filter?

I have a great sense of humor, I mean I am funny.  Is there an objective measure to this?  No, in fact the only metric I am using is how often I make myself laugh and let me tell you that is a lot, no really I crack myself up.  How do other people react to what I think is funny?  That is a mixed bag.  I think it would be safe to assume that since I have been married three times that at least those three women were able to if nothing else tolerate my humor.  I am going to extrapolate from there and say since I am not physically attractive and by no means wealthy or even well off that my sense of humor is part of what attracts women to me.  There are other things but I am going out on a limb here and say that my funny bone is part of the package that entices women into my lair.  I am not sure if I mixed metaphors just then but it was bad and I am not sure if it is bad in a funny way or just bad.

When I first began to actively pursue the eighth wonder of the world (women) people immediately thought I was funny.  Unfortunately at that time the humor was for the most part unintentional.  Then and now I lack a normal understanding of what is going on in most/some social circumstances.  Unless someone is threatening me or has threatened me in the past I am not intimidated.  This sounds like I am bragging but no I am not.  Ninety percent of the time it is a minus to not have any caution or a fear filter as I like to call it.  It does sound counter intuitive that lacking fear is a bad thing but being intimidated is usually a good thing at a first meeting or a second meeting or a meeting where you do not understand the social norms.  Yes I am building to something be patient grasshopper, I am trying to be concise and failing. 

Fear has evolved in humans for a reason and the fear filter as I call it has an important purpose in allowing us a society to have nice things.  There is nothing wrong with being afraid or some might use the word concerned but I think in this context they are interchangeable and we just say concerned because we do not want to look weak.  Any way there is nothing wrong with being concerned about negative consequences and avoiding them. 

Here comes the funny story, at the time the story I told was not funny but I think twenty years later it is funny in the context of the retelling but let me know.

When I was twenty years old I had been married for a couple of years and my wife at the time was generous enough to pay for me to go to college while she worked.  I was going to a community college and had a grade point average that entitled me to free tuition.  As stated in previous posts I am smart but again not smarter than the smart guy smart so even though I was getting straight A's it must be stated that regardless of whatever a teacher tells you they will grade on a curve even if it is subconscious and just because you shine compared to other students.  I do not think it is arrogant to say that I did shine compared to most students there.  While the stereotype of the community college as a bunch of stoners and underachievers that could not get into a real college is far from accurate it was not the Ivy League either.

Just a side note here, it looks like it is really hard for me to be concise and tell a story in a short form or we could even say a short story is not a tool I possess and is beyond my ability.  Now back to our story.

Since I was the cream of the crop at the community college I was also asked to join an honor society called Phi Theta Kappa and I did join.  I have a hard time saying no to women and when I was twenty it was even harder for me to say no than it is now.  An attractive single mother encouraged me to join the local chapter and although I had no intent and there was no chance of any kind of physical interaction with her beyond I hand shake I still did not say no regardless of the fact I had no interest in an honor society no matter how good it would look on applications to other colleges.

After I joined I found out that most of the members of Phi Theta Kappa at the community college were women, at least the active members that I actually saw were women.  I was asked to join a committee by a woman and I did not say no to that either.  My memory fails as to the exact purpose of the committee but it had something to do with a service project for young adults still in high school and junior high.

Now I will paint the scene.  We were in some kind of multipurpose room at the community college discussing these young adults and the issues that they were facing.  I had just read an interesting article about how young women in Utah county, Utah were having anal sex and oral sex at increased rates compared to previous generations.  I think that is probably enough painting but I should mention one more thing.  This was before the internet was a readily available user friendly porn delivery system.  This is back in the day when you had to use Unix shells to access the internet and things like gopher, telnet and multi user dungeons were really cool things.  The point is that young women in Utah country were not learning about anal and oral sex from watching porn on the internet.  They wanted to stay pure for their husbands, crazy I know.

Side note, to get porn delivered via the internet was not an easy task even for the computer literate of the time.  In my opinion that is why internet exploded and became user friendly, non computer literate people needed to get porn from the internet.

Back to the story and seriously I need to work on being more concise, seriously!  Myself and some single moms from Phi Theta Kappa are sitting around a table discussing young adults and the troubles they were facing compared to the troubles we faced as young adults.  I spoke because I lacked a well developed fear filter and I did not consider the consequences.  The content in my head began to flow from my mouth.  I had just read an article about teens and I thought I should share it with the group and share I did.  I told six single moms that it was fascinating to me that the young adults were having anal sex and oral sex in order to maintain their virginity.

I was sincerely fascinated and I began to elaborate my position to the six moms.  I indicated that when I was in high school it was easier to get a girl to sleep with you than it was to get a blow job.  Now that is not a direct quote but it is pretty close and I am sure that I said blow job and not oral sex, I just said blow job.  To continue my point I also stated that nobody ever had anal sex.  I guess it is a small blessing that I did not say butt sex or use some colorful expletive but it was a small blessing.  I had now stated the differences between now and then as far as sexual norms and so I finished by saying I could not understand why these people considered themselves virgins even though they had oral and anal sex.

At this point there six sets of eyes staring at me, not blankly but I am not sure how else to describe it.  They were staring at me intently and it was not good.  One of the moms present did speak up and say that was strange and then I was never invited to another meeting and they did their best to avoid me.  Punchline delivered, funny?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sarcoidosis and Cognitive Failure or a Passive Aggressive Attack on my Sister (If I am at full strength maybe both?)

I have a lot of blog posts in the fire, usually somewhere between ten and fifteen at any given time.  I  will start a blog post and sometimes after a couple of paragraphs I will start to tear up.  At that point I say to myself I will put this on the shelf for a while until I can get some distance.  I then come back to the post later and I will have so much distance I have no idea what I was talking about, I mean I know what I was talking about but I do not know what the point was or is or any of it really.  Unfortunately a lot of this is because of sarcoidosis.

If you found this post because you have sarcoidosis and you just read that last line and went holy crap I have been telling my doctor that I have cognitive issues and he has been telling me that it has nothing to do with sarcoidosis, for you I have included the PDF below which is as it states a study of the Everyday Cognitive Failure in Sarcoidosis.  Going forward you will be armed with science and you can tell your doctor look at this study and then if you are not a dick about it he will say that is interesting (Important you not be a dick, doctors usually have a pretty good sized ego and no one likes to be told they are wrong).

Hold your horses the PDF is coming but I would just like to temper you excitement with a caveat.  This study looked at the effectiveness of TNF inhibitors for sarcoidosis and its impact on cognitive issues.  There were positive results and a lot of sarcoidosis patients were helped with their cognitive issues by TNF inhibitors but not everyone was helped.  I took Remicade (Remicade is a TNF inhibitor) for six months and did not experience any measurable benefit for any of my sarcoidosis symptoms including cognitive function.  All right here is the link and remember when you bring it to your doctor do not be a dick.

Everyday Cognitive Failure in Sarcoidosis

I started this blog to memorialize my travails and troubles with sarcoidosis and in doing so perhaps gain some catharsis (I know I am using the word wrong, I have cognitive failure and besides that it is the common use of the word so shut up) and maybe, maybe help someone else going through the same thing.  As my illness has progressed it has become harder and harder to write, I was going to add some other descriptor here but I think that is enough, each week it is harder to write than the week before.

During the week I usually dictate most of the post into the Blogger app on my tablet.  The voice recognition on the Nexus 7 works well, not a paid endorsement just a review.  I dictate the post because my difficultly in writing creates a barrier between my thoughts and the virtual paper of the interwebs.  Cognitive failure does affect my ability to speak but most days I talk real good.  Depending on the subject sometimes it can be downright fun dictating the post.  I do crack myself up.

I usually will dictate a one or two blog posts and then focus in on one as the week goes on.  The day before my self imposed deadline I will not allow myself to do anything but write until the post is done.  Right now I have fourteen drafts under construction and I try not to start anything new and instead force and end to one of the ones lying around.  My thinking is that I am avoiding some part of myself in each of those drafts and I should push through and finish them to get that really good catharsis, that deep down catharsis.

That last day of writing is awful, it is all editing.  I used to be smart not like the smartest person in the world smart but pretty smart.  Before I became ill I never had to edit, a few touch ups here and there but what I created was pretty good out of the gate.  My grades from college will bear witness that I was not the only one that thought my content was pretty good (engineer college time not theater college time).  I never learned how to edit in any meaningful way.  Everything was thought out, in the right order and with the right words the first go round give or take.

Now that I am having trouble with the old brain I have learned editing is an important part of writing.  Brain troubles also make it difficult to learn new skills like editing for example.  That last day of writing/editing starts when my wife goes to work and I fire up the laptop and get to it.  I start by spending ten minutes wishing I was proficient at editing and then I dig in.

I begin reading I discover I have a good number of half sentences.  My wife has accused me of using half sentences for quite a while.  I will think I have a whole sentence when in actually I have cut the last half of the sentence off.  Then I start to reading the surrounding sentences because it really should not be that hard to figure out in context what the other half of the sentence should be.  I read those surrounding sentences four or five times before they begin to coalesce.  I have tried to explain before that I have trouble reading but I think this time with a real life example it may be more effective.

I will read the first sentence usually without any difficulty and then I move to the second sentence and all of my focus is required to read it and sentence one begins to fade as sentence is finished and I move on to sentence three and at this point sentence one is pretty much gone but I have most of sentence two and of course sentence three.  Now before you start worrying I am going to go through the entire post explaining what happens sentence by sentence I am not I think you the reader get the gist of what happens.

It has just occurred to me that I do not have a reading problem but an understanding, context, memory and comprehension problem.  I can read each sentence and understand it on its own but I can not keep the sentences together in context and understand the idea that is trying to be communicated.  Lately I have experienced problems comprehending individual sentences but fortunately this has not happened to frequently.  I wish my reading problem reading was limited to my writing but unfortunately it extends to anything that is written.

For a post like this one it will take me somewhere between four to sixteen hours to finish the edit.  I say sixteen hours because sometimes it will take the day the post is to be published as well as the day before to get it ready.  There are a couple of factors, one how difficult the topic is and two how many pistons the brain is firing on that day.  It is hard to keep focus which is why I do not allow myself any distractions.  Somehow the distractions still find me.  The littlest things can become distractions like the ticking of clock (feel like I am in a Heart song) or falling asleep.  It is really hard to stay awake lately but that is for another post.

The reason I gave myself a once a week deadline is to force my brain to move.  My theory is that it will keep what I have left upstairs lubricated and flowing freely.  Posting has become like detention and not in a fun Breakfast Club kind of way.  I am going to search for the joy in writing.  I think the lack of joy may be the reason that a lot of bitching and moaning has been going on lately.  It also might be that being sick sucks and sometimes it gets me down or maybe both, who knows?  I offer no guarantees about finding the joy but some effort will be put in.

I  like being funny.  I love to see people smile.  I keep a mirror with me in case nobody smiles when I am funny because if nothing else I crack myself up.

The contrast between the ease of dictation and the sorrow of editing makes the sorrow that much more bitter.  The ease of the dictation might also explain the fourteen drafts and the long rambling posts.  Easy to dictate hard to edit.  I think I might ramble in person as well as online, the hard time with editing may be in general not just when I am dictating.

Now for that passive aggressive attack.  Okay not really, this post started because I was mad at my sister.  It quickly took a hard right but I think I can squeeze in what is left of that attack here at the end.

Not this last Sunday but the one before that my sister came to my house for a visit.  It was a nice visit and I truly love my sister and I appreciate the effort she has put forth to stay connected and be a part of my life (that was a lot of ands).  For all of my life my sisters and I have teased each other.  Outside observers have called our family teasing a blood sport and tears have been shed on more than one occasion.  Now there is some color commentary and history of what goes back and forth between my sisters and I.

My sister mocked my brain damage.  I was bothered at the time and brought it to her attention but not that forcefully.  Either I had just said something intelligent or she was referencing one of my posts that was intelligent.  I can't remember which but she said that my brain damage was obvious.  This was sarcasm and the gleam in her eye and smile on her face did not make me think of love at home.  As time elapsed the bother transitioned to anger and I started writing this post I think as a passive aggressive message to her.  I mean look at the scientific paper I have included sis, my brain damage is not to be mocked.

I began writing and some of the anger was for my sister.  I was angry that my sister thinks I mention brain damage in order to milk my illness for attention.  I do not get a lot of real world physical assistance from people so she must have thought I was being a martyr to garner attention.  I do not seek attention for being sick.  I seek catharsis and that is my main motivation in writing this blog.  There is some ego involved and I would like people to validate the way I persevere despite what comes because it is hard and no lie I would like the occasional high five.

As I keep writing I think, does my sister think that my post about suicide was about getting attention?  Does my sister think that I have exaggerated everything and that I am doing it all for attention?  Sometimes she does act like that.  Now right here I pause and think the last two paragraphs should all be in capitals to really punctuate my discontent and make it jump off the page and then I think maybe it might not all be about my sister.  What my sister did is not out of the ordinary for us.  My response should have been it bothers me when you make fun of my brain damage, I think you are minimizing the severity of my illness.

Even after I realized it was not out of the ordinary I was still angry.  Anger completely disproportionate to the offense.  I find that unexplained anger is usually just redirected fear.  What are things that I am afraid of that might be relevant?   I am afraid of being forced to rely on people and I am afraid of being pitied.  I am afraid that I will be relying on people outside of my wife for my day to day care and I am afraid that those people taking care of me will pity me and I am afraid that the world at large will pity me and I of course will be unable to stab them.

I think this post was about my fear, sorry sis :(

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Does Jesus hate me and gays part 3 (Have I offended you or do all victims go to heaven?)

There are a couple of things that I need to explain before you read any further, first I did not intend for there to be a part three and second I wrote parts of this post at three different times and of course the way I think and feel have changed over time.  If it seems a little disjointed that's because it is but honestly most of my posts are disjointed so you will probably not notice a difference.  Thanks!

The genesis of this post is a text message my wife received the day after part 2 in this series had been posted.  As you may have guessed the text was from the former friend that was the topic of part 1 and 2 and from here on will be refereed to as the former friend.  In part 2 the former friend had said this to me after she was no longer my power of attorney:

"No problem. Remember we're available to help in any way you need. If this is the result of anything I've done to offend, please let me know so I may apologize; I love and value the two of you."

I assumed this was genuine and as anyone who read part 2 knows I reached out to my former friend to explain what I had found offensive, long story short she told me to shut up and I was to never mention what had offended me again.  Now that the exposition has been finished here are the contents of the text message that was sent to my wife, the only thing that has been changed is my wife's name was taken out other than that it is a direct quote:

"Hey Fats Wife, I haven't heard from you in a while, so I assume I have offended you. If so, I beg your forgiveness, and I'll be available if anything changes."

Now when I read this I was mad, not angry, mad.  Mad is more emotional than angry, it is based more in the gut than in the brain and the main ingredient is pain.  To tell the truth mad is always pain that is masked and that is done to try and protect yourself from more pain.  There is pain throughout the words that follow and I lash out at times during this post.  A part of me wants everyone to feel that pain and betrayal and as it is said misery loves company.

I will try and distill that pain into something we can all use and learn from.  All of what follows is speculation on my part.  I think the choice of words offend and offended from the two messages are key to how my former friend continues her narrative that she is the victim.  I think her thought process is that if she is acting in a "Christian way" and someone is offended that is on them and has nothing to do with her.  I think she bullies people from the high horse that is the "Christian way" in which she acts.  I believe she thinks that Christ has gave her a lift up onto the high horse but in fact she has climbed up there all on her own.

The previous paragraph was distilled pain which is not my favorite spirit but I do drink it upon occasion.  In the month since I posted part 2 I think about my former friend daily and I think that has brought me some peace but has also brought me some anger.  A lot of that anger is directed at myself.  How stupid am I that I missed that part of my former friends character?  Hindsight is always 20/20 and I should have seen the signs and distanced myself.  What kind of special idiot blinders did I have on that I allowed myself to be dependent on a person that had this amount of anger and vitriol in them?

That last question lead me to be a little easier on my self.  At that time I had become terribly ill and I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually weak.  I had always been the rock for my wife and now I was crumbling.  When my former friend came in and offered to shore up the crumbling rocks and there for my wife I did not do a lot of questioning, I was just grateful.  That is enough about me for now, I definitely got side tracked there but I think it is a good insight to what I have been living on this topic for the last month or so.  One more detour and then back to speculating about my former friend. 

I had a friend about fifteen years ago that was a devote Catholic and a philosophy teacher.  I had no credentials other than my own arrogance and the fact I was pretty darn smart.  We both had a love for Rene Descartes.  I will try and paraphrase from memory one point from one conversation that my Catholic philosophy teacher friend said that I think will eventually be shown to be on topic: 

First we both agreed that Descartes was a Catholic apologist and wanted to prove the existence of God with philosophy, science, you know that kind of stuff.  Not everyone agrees that Descartes was a Catholic apologist but just go with me here okay?  Second we both agreed that Descartes was a brilliant man whom me both admired for his contributions to philosophy, science, math and theology (fill in the rest yourself he did a lot of stuff) .  At the time I was an existentialist atheist and I would often say that if Descartes the most brilliant man to walk the earth failed to prove that God existed the rest of us should just give up and live our lives as atheists and pick a nice philosophy and stop killing each other over different "God" stories.  I was annoyingly self righteous back then.

My Catholic philosophy teacher friend at this point said that both Descartes and I had missed the point, you can never prove the existence of God and God never intended that we be able to prove His existence.  Jesus does not say "Prove that I exist and you will be saved" he says "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" or in other words you must have faith.  At the time I said he was coping out and that the whole faith thing was his escape from the argument.  Looking back I can say that regardless of what side of the argument you are on most atheists and most Christians would say that belief in God is all about faith.

This is where I tie all this rambling back into the post and hope I make a point that was worth the detour.  I think that my former friend lives in a constant state of worry and fear.  I think she takes the Bible literally because for her it is then not a religious text but a scientific text book.  Once the Bible is a text book she can go to places like the Creation Museum and they will provide the "proof" she needs to know that the Bible is literally true in the young earth creationist kind of way and God has then been proven to exist.  Why is it important that the Genesis account of creation be that God literally created the earth in six days as opposed to it being literally a beautiful poem that truly expresses the creation story poetically?  The answer is simple, if it is a poem it would require faith in God as opposed to the alternative which simply requires you accept what is written in the text book and you have "proof" that God exists and no faith is needed.

My speculation is that my former friend must have everyone believe what she believes because she is trying to convince herself and not everyone else but hopes that when everyone is convinced she will be convinced.  Sadly when everyone is convinced it will only drown out her doubt while she surrounds herself with the white noise of other people but in the quiet moments that come to us all when we are alone she will still be scared and will turn to her faith and still find it lacking.  In truth she needs the Bible as her text book because ironically she does not have the faith or the belief in God and the Bible.  She judges people based strictly on the most literal interpretation of the Bible because there is not enough faith to look at it any other way.

The Bible is not sufficient for her and she requires proof that the Bible is strictly and literally correct and that is why she looks outside of the Bible to places like the Creation Museum to provide proof that the Bible, her textbook, is literally accurate because the alternative is that the Bible is not an empirical text book and the Creation Museum does not provide empirical proof that the Bible is accurate and that if you are a Christian you must have faith.

I do not think my former friends faith is strong enough for her to believe in the Bible without proof and that is why she is scared and lashing out.  I think this is why she attacked me on those occasions and it is what will drive her to lash out in the future if somebody disagrees with her about creationism or gay marriage or anything that contradicts the literal interpretation of her textbook because she is scared.

When Jesus was asked what where the most important commandments he said that in fact two commandments contain the whole law of God:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength;Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

There is a lot of love there and it is what I strive for everyday.  I fall short everyday and what follows is me falling short.  I do not think it is loving to attack a sick man about his opinions on gay marriage, not defend yourself but instigate two fights about gay marriage and then when you lose those fights threaten the sick man that you will abandon him and his wife in their hour of need if he ever brings up that he was attacked by you.  I think she tells herself that she did not attack me and that I have been offended by her "Christian ways" which are not really attacks and that my wife is not upset about her attacking me and that she is also offended by her "Christian ways".  My former friend knew why my wife and I had been "offended" but if she were to acknowledge that she knew why we were "offended" then she would have to admit that her actions at least played a part in us being "offended".

In my opinion my former friend is ignoring the parts about love in her text book.  In order to be saved there is not a requirement for someone to stop sinning and in they do not even need to have read the text book (Bible) but only that they believe in God and accept his Grace.  Then the Holy Spirit will begin to work in your heart and of course you nurture that with fellowship and study.  I have been saved and I do not think you could find many evangelical pastors to say that I am saved I am now going to hell because I am pro gay marriage.  I think the important thing to do is Love thy God and Love thy neighbor and by doing these two things bring the Good News to your neighbors and friends. No where in the Bible does it say that you must be perfect and if that if you are not perfect you should expect attacks from your fellow "Christians" especially if you are sick.    

The end of the post is finally here and it is apparent to me that I have more to work through on this and although I would like for part 3 to be the end of this series I am afraid there will be a part 4 and hopefully I will not fall as short as I did here.


Unfortunately it would not be hard to find an evangelical pastor to say I am not a Christian so if you wanted to use this post in discussion with your less than tolerant Christian friends be aware they are just going to say I am not a Christian.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Christmas not too bad missing dad (Temporary title that I could not change)

This was my first Christmas without my father. Both my sisters were in town, there was in town sister and my New York City sister flew in from the east coast.  Everyone making the effort to come here to the sick room literally caused me to tear up.  All three of us are not in the same place at the same time very often.  I don't often admit/say this, it was nice to have my sisters around.  It helped fill the absence created by my father.  It was melancholy not having my father there to see and made all the sadder by the fact that his kids did not argue.  My dad always wanted us kids to argue once he was dead.

I probably will end up moving to a lower elevation.  I have been postponing it and will postpone it as long as possible.  It is hard to leave friends and family and it is hard to choose between a few more healthier years and the ambiguous quality of life.  Blah blah blah, you get the idea.  When I move I will be farther away from my sisters than ever before and combined with my ability to travel dwindling; The point is this might be the last Christmas or any holiday where all three of us will be together.  It was melancholy that it was the last holiday for us siblings together.

I wrote the preceding two paragraphs the week of Christmas 2013 and every time I came to finish this post I would read the first sentence and say to myself I will finish it later.  It is now March as I am "finishing" this post and I might have come to terms with the fact that the temporary title which indicates that is not too bad missing bad was in fact a lie and I have not finished this post because I do miss my dad and I miss him badly.

I purchased a nice urn for my dad to hang out in.  The urn sits under a piano bench and has not been displayed coming up on a year now.  There are pictures of my dad that I have had framed but they have not made it up either.  My autograph photo of Kate Mulgrew/Katherine Janeway has made it up.  Even a blind man could see the pattern at this point.  I miss my dad, everyday I hope he calls to tell me that he has another virus on his computer and I hate to get those calls.