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Cannabis vs Opioids Anecdote

12 Jul

More than a decade ago, my dear friend had a back injury that continues to cause severe pain on a daily basis.  When the accident happened, her doctor prescribed a narcotic painkiller.  She refused the prescription.   That is why she is not addicted to opioids.

Instead, she decided to use marijuana (also known as cannabis) for pain relief.

At the time she turned to marijuana for pain relief, it was not legal in her state.  Nonetheless, she was more willing to risk arrest than she was to risk addiction to a narcotic pain reliever.  Since then, the law in her state was changed by voters approving a medical marijuana law.

As a witness of her success, I wish everyone had the freedom to choose.  More than that, I wish we could get scientific data about the medicinal value of marijuana.  I applaud the efforts of lawmakers in the State of Utah to at least research the possibilities before making a decision either way.

As citizens, we have the right to objective, proven facts without being hindered by the religious concerns of someone else.  We would have those facts if marijuana was moved from the Schedule I list to Schedule II–this would enable research, and we need and deserve that research sooner rather than later.

The millions who are fortunate enough to live in a state where they have the freedom to use this drug instead of that drug are currently guinea pigs, guessing on how much THC or CBD (components of marijuana that have different effects) to use.  It would be nice to know the truth about the effectiveness of CBD as an anti-inflammatory–millions who are taking Prednisone for chronic conditions would be grateful to have an alternative with fewer and less serious side effects.

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#NotMyPresident – What That Means For Me

16 Nov

To CNN and anyone else who says that #NotMyPresident is the same as saying not my Constitution, I respectfully disagree and the debate ends there for me.  I have said my two cents and there is nothing you can say that will persuade me otherwise.

As I stated on my Twitter page, which is CalexitCarma @HigherNatures, “I am voting for #Calexit.  If you attack me for exercising my freedom, I will block you.  If you want to know why, reply to this tweet.”  So far, inquiries have been civil.

Now, what #NotMyPresident means for me is this and only this:

  • I will treat him with the same level of respect and give him as much a chance as those who despised, did not trust, feared, ridiculed, and organized against Barack Obama.
  • I will, in every peaceful and legal means available, mutilate his name and castrate his character every time he does something I strongly disagree with or that I simply do not like.
  • I will, in every peaceful and legal means available, dissent and organize boycotts, walkouts that target businesses that A) remain silent on matters of equal rights, or B) act or speak directly against equal rights.
  • I will be vigilant and defend the rights of other members of the human race regardless of skin, birth station, faith or ability.
  • I will invest my funds in bonds that help the states where the majority of voters made it a “blue” state.
  • I will encourage others to dissent peacefully and legally in every way that I have described above.
  • I will fly my state flag at all times.
  • I will donate my time, energy, and charitable dollars in ways that promote education and political activism in favor of humanity.
  • I will stay informed about this administration by researching through Ecosia, Google or Yahoo, and I will not give any traffic to a news site that has failed to report facts and only facts.  The pundits and pollsters who failed me are hereby treated as the failures they are and should be fired.
  • I will refer to FactCheck.org because their “About Us” indicates they stand for what I believe is good and trustworthy:  scientific data.
  • I will follow the money trail to determine who demonstrates an agenda to greedily dominate the U.S.A. and I will inform others of facts.

As I have always done, I will continue to strive to be a joy to work with, as I have always respected others regardless of skin, birth station, faith or ability.  This is who I am and nothing and no one can take it from me.

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Exodus from Social Media Flame Wars

10 Nov

On Tuesday night before any news show would call the election, when it was still too close to call in most battleground states, when it was becoming rapidly apparent that something was very wrong with this picture… that is when the exodus from social media began. News reports indicate that Stephen King is among the many who are abandoning Facebook, Twitter and other inflammatory sites. Before any of this, I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts on Tuesday night and, seeing the stock market falling, I went to Fidelity Investments site and placed orders to move all of my 401(k) and IRA investments from stocks to bonds. All I can do now is stop the bleeding.

Many Americans cannot stomach any more of the nonsense.  It is an exercise in madness to continue to discuss, debate, refute, post facts… we are now living in Trumpland.  It is nauseating, and for some of us, we simply cannot bear the chatter.

We thought we could make a difference.  We thought we could share factual information and persuade Millenials and Bernie supporters that Hillary was the best choice and only qualified candidate.  Now it’s too late.  The GOP has the power.  The Supreme Court will be conservative for years to come.  They won.  We lost.

The exodus is happening because millions of sane people cannot stomach this debate to continue for four more years.  We fully thought it would be settled on Tuesday night.  We were ready to sympathize.  Now, there is no sympathy for us.  Only gloating by followers of a male chauvinist pig.  America put a pedophile in power.  It is the most shameful thing that has ever happened in this country.  An admitted groper, a man who has a long history of abusing power, will receive the nuclear codes in three months, and there is nothing, not one thing, we can legally do about it.

So we get back to work, live our lives, in our states.  For me, I hang my head in shame, no longer will I identify as an American.  I am a Californian.peace-and-independence

  • Edit Nov 14:  I joined the California National Party and will vote Yes on the Calexit referendum on the 2019 Spring ballot.

 

A Vow of Sisterhood

26 Oct

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In the spirit of loving one another as we are moved by the divine to perfect, I vow to my sisters here and now and for the future:

  • I will stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, and defend your right to be you, to do you, and to have you.
  • I will protect and defend your human rights regardless of differences.
  • I will treat you with respect and dignity regardless of  differences.
  • I will admit my failures and mistakes, and forgive yours.
  • I will seek to understand your differences and empathize with your experience and perspective.
  • I will do my best to help you grow spiritually and intellectually.
  • I will seek to compassionately inform you when I believe you or saying or doing things that are unwise or likely to cause harm to you and your loved ones.
  • I will honor your autonomy by refraining from manipulation when I utterly disagree with your choices.
  • I will rejoice in your faith and trust that your relationship with the divine–no matter how much our interpretations or valuations seem to be opposed–I will defend your right and freedom to worship, so long as you equally respect others’ rights and freedoms.
  • I will continue to nurture the attitudes of peacemakers who, like Jesus the greatest peacemaker, preached love, humility, grace, mercy, wisdom, and the golden rule of treating others as we would have others treat us–to judge not because none of us wants to be judged.
  • I promise that when I stumble (and I will because I am no better than any other human being) that I will own my mess, clean it up, and carry on as your sister.

The same goes for my brothers.

Everyone is my brother and my sister, no matter who you voted.

And for the record, I am not religious at all, but I will relentlessly defend others’ rights to their beliefs even when I think those beliefs are potentially harmful superstitions.  I would rather die than deny another human being their rights and freedoms.`

Improving America’s Police Force

26 Sep

After a grueling two weeks as Juror #6 in the civil suit Banta v. Walnut Creek et al, there is a lot to say about what went wrong that led to the unnecessary fatal shots to young Anthony Banta.  The jury was only asked to judge if the second volley of shots fired by Sgt. Sugrue and Officer Ezard were excessive use of deadly force.

First, thoughts about the jury.  Eight people were selected.  I don’t know why we did not have twelve, and there were no alternatives.  We assumed it was agreed to by both parties, and our focus was on the single issue put before us.  The jury selection process was excellent, in my opinion, though this is the first time I have ever been through the process.  A group of 40 to 50 people were screened.

Throughout the trial we were instructed not to discuss the case with each other or anyone else.  To my knowledge, all of us obeyed the rules.  Until the moment jury deliberation began, the only comments we had were about the jury selection experience and our thankfulness that this judge seemed to be very good – he kept the trial moving forward with minimal redundancy.  Attorneys for both parties were repeatedly told to move on when witnesses had already been asked and had answered questions more than once in different ways, and he was fair and respectful about correcting questions when the questions posed were convoluted.

As to why we the jury were only allowed to decide on the second volley of shots, I cannot speak for others, but I was very dissatisfied about that.  A lot of things went wrong that night, and I believe with all my heart Anthony’s death could have and should have been prevented.

None of us believed that Anthony lunged toward the officers.  At most, he tried to get up, after the first volley shattered his right femur and injured his left shoulder.  Was there time for the officers to regroup and try a different tactic to safely take him into custody?  Yes, there was.  The only reason that the feather came down on the scale for the defendants (the two officers who fired the second volley) was because it was more probably true that the officers believed two victims upstairs might be bleeding to death after they were engaged in a struggle and the line went dead (the call to 911 was disconnected).

The only evidence that the officers might have known the two people upstairs were okay, was that the dispatcher had said, before they entered the unit, “suspect is known to them, his name is Anthony.”

We learned that Anthony was 5 feet 5 inches according to the Coroner’s Report, and approximately 130 pounds.  He was petite.

I was never convinced that the four officers who responded to the 911 call were forthcoming about their memories of that night.  All four gave a different version of events and there were a lot of “I don’t recall” answers.  The excuse for that was, as it always is, that it all happened very fast and they had a lot of adrenalin in their systems.  But let me interject here, because I have been through traumatic events when my life was in immediate danger and everything happened very fast, and for me, forty years later, every detail is as clear as if it happened yesterday.  So I don’t buy “I don’t recall” and I do not believe that they told the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  As a juror, it is my right and my duty to decide whether or not a witness is telling the truth.  So I am stating for the record, I did not and do not believe the officers told the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  I hope that puts the fear of Karma in them.  We all reap what we sow.  There is a justice system that no one can escape forever.

Why, then, did I vote to excuse them for the second volley of shots?  Because there was no evidence or testimony proving that they knew going in that the two people upstairs were okay.  If they did know that they were okay, there was no reason to rush.  One of the expert witnesses, Roger Clark, testified that in his experience (and he has a lot) the officers could have and should have put some distance between themselves and the suspect, that they did have time and were morally and legally obligated to re-assess the situation and try a less lethal way of disarming the young man.  As he described it, “Distance plus cover equals time.”  There were four handguns ready to fire, was it really necessary to shoot?  In my judgment, having heard all the testimony and having looked at the forensic evidence, it was not.

As I stated in my blog immediately after the verdict, the only reason I conceded that it was reasonable is that it seemed more probably true that they believed the two people upstairs could be bleeding to death.

There were four officers who entered the apartment and crowded at the bottom of the stairs with four guns pointed at one little man with a big knife.  I will grant them that it was scary.  I will grant them that a big knife can be thrown and can maim you.  But why did all four of them crowd at the bottom with guns ready to fire?  Was that necessary?  Shouldn’t the commander, Sgt. Sugrue, tell one of them to try to find out if the people upstairs were bleeding or okay?

One of the officers was trained in psychology and crisis intervention tactics.  Instead of practicing her training, she and Sgt. Sugrue yelled repeatedly at the suspect, who was obviously not in touch with reality.  I believe that Sgt. Sugrue reacted to the suspect as an “intruder on drugs”.  If I am to believe every word out of his mouth, it never occurred to him that the suspect might be deaf or having a mental breakdown.

Sgt. Sugrue described Anthony’s appearance as “zombie like” and “crazy” eyes and said it was the scariest thing he had ever seen, even in horror movies.  Note that he spent time in Iraq and had other military experience.  I sincerely doubt that this little guy’s “crazy” eyes is the scariest thing he’s ever seen.  I suggest he has PTSD and should be required to learn how to manage it better.  From what I saw and heard while he was on the witness stand, being a patrol officer on the graveyard shift is probably not the best use of his skills and bravery.

Long story short, I am very disappointed in the way this whole situation was bungled, from the moment the 911 call was received to the way the officers failed to diffuse the crisis.  I am writing this because I want to see improvements across the country in the mandatory training and procedure guidelines for handling a mental health crisis.  What happened to Anthony Banta could happen to any of us, any young adult, any teenager.  Our peace officers must be better trained and better equipped.  How about tranquilizer darts?  They work for tigers and bears!

I hope that the four officers who confronted Anthony Banta’s “crazy” eyes will take it upon themselves to get trained better and practice situations dealing with someone who may be having a mental breakdown.  I also hope that the dispatcher(s) who failed to relay vital information to the officers will learn to listen and communicate better.  The word “sleepwalking” was never mentioned, though it was one of the first things the 911 caller reported, “Anthony is sleepwalking again.”

Parenting Preemies

3 Aug

 No parent dreams of spending time in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  Most of us plan to have children and then the imagination takes us on a journey, but never to a place so dark an…

Source: Parenting Preemies

Parenting Preemies

3 Aug

NICUday1a Day 1

No parent dreams of spending time in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  Most of us plan to have children and then the imagination takes us on a journey, but never to a place so dark and surreal as the NICU.  We make love, we hope, we pee on sticks, and from the moment that stick changes our lives forever, we dream of what he or she will bring to life!

We get ultrasounds.  We find out if it is a boy or a girl–or choose to be surprised.  In 1976 when I had my first pregnancy, this option did not exist.  Fifteen years later, I had two ultrasound exams.  The first on October 2nd showed that I was 5-6 weeks pregnant.  I was thrilled.  The father was apprehensive because we were not living together at the time I found out I was pregnant, and although we had seen each other frequently in August, he was aware that I had dated someone else in mid September.  I understood his skepticism about the paternity of this child, but I knew without a doubt he was the father.

Nobody dreams of starting a family this way.

I had been dreaming of my second chance at motherhood for more than a decade.  I had failed on my first opportunity–single parenting in 1977 turned out to be too hard for someone with too much empathy.  It was excruciating to watch my little angel’s future swirling down the toilet because of my stupidity.  She deserved better (than me).

Fifteen years later, the joy of being pregnant was an early Christmas present.  I was so happy!  I was relieved.  It had taken so long–many years since I had stopped taking birth control pills.  I was past the point of seeking help from a fertility doctor (my ex husband was supposed to go first because that is the way they figure out why you are not getting pregnant).  Anyway, this is not about how we get pregnant, it is about parenting preemies.  My point is, none of us ever imagined being in the NICU.  One does not know what a NICU is until one wishes they did not know.

My second ultrasound was on December 31st.  “Have you been spotting?” the technician asked.  Spotting–you mean bleeding?  No.  Why did she ask?  Was something wrong?  There was…a “partial placenta previa”…that meant there was a risk of rupture.  Nobody said that word then.  Rupture.  Nobody mentioned the probability of a premature rupture of membranes, a different kind of PROM.  No, the only hint of a warning received at that poorly managed prenatal clinic was a yawning instruction that if  I started “spotting” to call the clinic.  This is where Day 1 in the NICU begins.  With an innocent mistake like this.  Yes, I did start spotting and of course called the clinic, and was told to lay down and keep my knees up until it stopped.  And whew, it stopped.  And then a week later the traumatic event happens and suddenly you have to be the grizzly mama, fighting for survival and the survival of your cub!

‘Parenting preemies’ means that long after your tiny one has grown into a fine young man pursuing his dream through a college degree, you are still concerned about all tiny ones because you shared the NICU experience with 31 flavors of family.  There were 30-plus babies in there on any given day.  My son’s NICU was a Level 4, and the premier hospital for preemies in the region.  Babies were flown in helicopters to this hospital because these neonatologists and their team were best in class.  These specialists were consulted by doctors from all over the globe!   That’s how lucky my tiny one was–but don’t think for a second that that was sufficient to give me an ounce of peace.  You know the agony of which I speak!

Day 1 of the NICU holds the terror and nausea and numbness of a shell-shocked combat veteran.  It took me five hours to go downstairs to see him there like that, not because I slept for five hours after surgery, not because I was unable to get from the fourth floor to the first floor…it took five hours to go to the NICU because something was absolutely blocking me from even thinking about it.

So today, for no apparent reason other than I simply stumbled onto something about it that has to be brought to light, 24 years and 163 days since it happened, I extend a hand to those who are parenting preemies today in the NICU…and today in the sensory integration playground…and today in the pediatrician’s waiting room.  I reach back to tell you it is going to be okay-ish.  Hang tough.  These tiny ones are mighty big fighters!

carma_chan

Carma & her son on graduation day, BHHS 2011

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