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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sickness (II)

Posted by Raul on April 24, 2014

2014-04-24  Sickness (II)

 

At that point I started seriously to consider suicide! There was no answer; no solution; no money, and only expenses and bills accumulating. All the savings were gone and I had to borrow money from my son to pay bills, from his savings to pursue a Master’s degree; I was using my son’s future to pay my present bills, just to survive!. What was the point on remaining alive! To be sick and in pain? Unable to work and even sleep more than 1 hour a day? To leave family in the streets because of the giant expenses without any income?

At the other hand, I have almost $ 200,000 in life insurance, which would pay the balance of the house off, and still leave like $ 30,000 for other expenses. They wouldn’t be set for life, but at least in a better standing, especially with the house finally paid off. And for me there would be no more pain, no more dizziness, no more lack of energy that kept me most of the time lying in the couch; and I would avoid the future deterioration (even more) that would probably means going to a nursing home in just a couple of years, to never get out alive. What was the point on keep on living?!

I seriously considered suicide!!

But most of my life I’ve been fixing things, and since the doctors couldn’t find my problem to fix me, I decided to give a last attempt at life and try to fix myself. So made a list of all my symptoms, body and mind, together with a chronology, and started to research the net (Google is my God!!!) trying to find sicknesses that would match, or at least would have the same symptoms.

My search wasn’t successful since I searched for Arthritis, Lupus, Under Active Thyroid, Low Testosterone levels, etc, and all of those should be detectable with blood tests; and so far all those tests had already been performed, and all of them came back negative, so I didn’t have any of those.

You might call it chance, luck, destiny, I don’t know, but since I needed a certification of what was my diagnosis, so I could present it in my job, and there was no diagnosis, I decided to ask for an appointment with my first doctor (the one who never called back), and ask her for a release, so I could go back to work, try to make some money, and try to last as long as I could before I collapse, and maybe then they would believe me, especially if they had to call 911 and the paramedics could certify that I had “symptoms” like short breath, muscle spasm and things like that. It wouldn’t prove what I have, but at least it’ll prove in my work that I did have something, and I wasn’t lying! (The lady from human resources at my job had a very “unfriendly” attitude with me so far).

Well, as I said, it could be luck, chance, destiny, whatever! The thing is, the day we went to the clinic (my wife was going with me most of the times to help me) to the front desk to ask for an appointment, there was a lady working there that my wife knows personally, they are not really friends but more like acquaintances. We all said “Hi” and chat for a little bit, and then I asked for an appointment with the doctor. She asked what problem I had, so we told her what was happening and the symptoms I had. She said: “Maybe it could be Fibromyalgia; we have several patients with that syndrome, and they are prescribed Lyrica

Now, the reason I decided to go back to the doctor that didn’t even call back is that she is a PA (Physician Assistant), which I understand is a doctor that is not completely certified, so has to have a certified doctor signing for her. She is very young and unsure of what she is doing, so is easily manipulated into what the patient wants. It happened when I asked her to fill out the forms to get family leave at my work; she didn’t know what to write down in the forms, so I told her almost “word by word” what to write!

I was going back to her so she could write a release form for my job, so I had in a paper what she should write. But after talking with this lady at the front desk, I decided to search the net for Fibromyalgia and its characteristics, before reaching the day of the appointment with the doctor.

To my surprise, my wife’s acquaintance was right! Everything was there; it was often confused with Arthritis and Lupus; it couldn’t be detected with blood tests because the test still show everything is normal, and most of the times the patient, together with having the symptoms I had, are thought of being lying and nobody believe them because the “evidence” (tests) show no sickness at all!!

The article in Wikipedia was describing my situation!! (Good old Wiki!!)

So with more hopes than ever, I went to the appointment with the doctor; explained everything to her and asked her for a prescription of Lyrica instead of a release form. She insisted (after using her phone to Google the sickness and the medicines), that I should start with Duloxetine, since it was the number one medicine prescribed for Fibromyalgia. I said OK and went to buy the medicine. I trusted her, not because she is a doctor, but because I saw her with my own eyes she Google it!! (Isn’t that so ridiculous?!).

After taking the medicine for five days I was feeling a lot better, to the point of being able to do things around the house! Still with pain and low energy, but definitely better, so I could see light at the end of the tunnel (and I wasn’t dead yet!). But by the tenth day new problems developed: Shaking in my legs that made very unstable to walk; to then add the shakiness in my arms, to then add it to my chest. At some point by the twelfth day my whole body was shaking and my heart was racing, even if I was seating or lying in bed! I got scared (now I didn’t want to die) so I simply stopped taking the medicine and waited a couple of days to see what happened.

Raul

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Cycles…We Live by Cycles!

Posted by Raul on March 12, 2013

 2013-03-12  Cycles...We Live by Cycles!

If history is bound to repeat itself, why study history? We can learn about the past by just watching the present! (Just kidding!).

It happened before and it’ll happen again. The names change, the locations change, the political structure change; yet the same happen all over again.

It is not the political system…they all fall sooner or later. It is not the economy…they all started from different situations and ended up at the same place. It is not the geography, climate conditions or race…the results are, again, the same.

The problem seems to be the natural instinct of following the shortest and easiest path.

When situations are complicated, there are fights and self pressure to achieve; take for instance what’s happening in the Middle East and North Africa right now. The expression of opinion and the pressure for change can be done with violence at the risk of personal life.

When the situation becomes easier, the instinct of following the easiest path becomes the norm and the brain rests. Compare the previous example of protesters with the ones here requesting the end of war; holding signs, walking…then lunch.

In both cases the documents for the end of the cycle are signed off.

Consider the differences between Capitalism and Communism.

-An extremely brief and very loose description 

In Capitalism there are no limits to go up, and all will depend (theoretically) on each individual’s effort; but after just a little bit comes the realization of the problem with those without the required characteristics to succeed, who need the help of the system to survive. Then the need to implement an egalitarian system which will provide to those in need, becoming the dead weight of society, and the opposite of the system itself.

In Communism the equalization is the norm, so the same opportunity for everyone to achieve what is the most desirable activity as a profession, without the problematic of different incomes. Then people dream of wealth and the possibility of establishing differences between themselves by the differences in material possessions.

Both, in the essence are good systems; both are manipulated by people who seek their own wealth; and both are sabotaged by the people who, after just a little while, want the opposite of what the system stands for.

What seems to be the common point?  Acting by instincts, rather than by decisions made based on observation and thoughts that are supported by logic and education: The creature moves by its instincts rather than its brain capabilities.

So we are back to square one!

Everything starts in the direction that seems to be the appropriate one, just to be turned around after a while in the search of the “other” possibilities that aren’t “naturally” contained in the original direction and intentions.

If it starts, it’ll end. Cycles!

“An empire might be built on logic and reason, but it’s run on passion and faith” (Sorry, I don’t remember who said that)

“The permanence of a system will depend on decisions made out of logic and reason rather than passionate feelings” (I said that)

Yet every time the systems are run in the same way a person is run: by the provision to instincts, rather than using the instincts as a “fail-safe” integrated system of the machine (for its self-protection) that supports the thinking entity, it’ll be inevitable to go back to square one, as an instinct to remain at the same safe level.

So what goes up must come down. An instinct controlled society will remain cycling at the same level since the objective of the instinct is to remain in a stable level. Only when society becomes controlled by logic and education will the system stop cycling back to become a unidirectional growing society.

Just my personal opinion.

What is your take on this? Do you think we live in cycles? Are they generated by the perpetual use of instincts rather than logic?

Raul

 

 

It’s Shopping Time!

Posted by Raul on May 3, 2011

 

It can be an empty fridge; it can be just being bored; or maybe tiredness of finding the same clothing in the closet; the thing is…it’s shopping time!

When I was a child, one of the games we had was to make a small hole in a box (like a shoe box) and from a set distance trying to get little crystal marbles in the box by giving them a little impulse, just enough to get them rolling to, and inside the box through the little hole.

Now, when remembering those times, I feel I was playing “Publicity Expert”

Like a superior being, watching from above, finding a way to make those little marbles roll to, and enter the store to shop.

But the rolls have inverted…now I am the marble slowly rolling to, and inside the box. How the hell did they do that?

I suppose to be the superior being with amazing capabilities, controlling the game of my life? How did I become the tool they use, to make me do whatever they want?

Practice makes perfect, or at least better. I got good enough at getting those little marbles inside the box. Now I am the marble being good enough at getting inside the store!

Shit!

A society of marbles, slowly rolling by the gentle impulse given by…

Is there anybody out there?

Is there anybody controlling this thing?

Are we, small marbles, being gently pushed? Or are we just “suggested”, so we fall. Like inclining the surface on which the marbles stand, and letting them roll on their own to their happy demise.

Like a crystal marble that prides itself in its shiny composition, yet is externally controlled by unknown forces, denying with it its own power to float in space, magnificent, unmovable, amazing.

When I was a child I used to play getting little crystal marbles through a small hole in a box. Little I knew I was witnessing society from the eyes of a publicity expert in the world of adult life.

Raul

Microcar’s Dreams

Posted by Raul on April 26, 2011

1958 Messerschmitt KR200

Are microcars making a comeback?

From the 40’s, and during the 50’s and 60’s there was a full line of manufactures creating all sort of very small, cheap cars. The intention was to reach a market of people who didn’t have the money to buy a “normal” car and to pay for the highly priced fuel in Europe.

These so named microcars were part of the scene in cities and roads of the European world, and some of them even made it to the US. But while fuel prices here were low, and roads long, microcars didn’t stand a chance against the big, luxury local vehicles of the time, so those little examples of basic transportation became simply curious toys, if not the target of all kind of jokes.

"Yes officer, it IS a car!"

 

Now we are faced with increasing fuel prices and crowded cities, so many people look at European models that might have something to offer for the local roads. So far the VW Beatle made a comeback, together with the Mini (under a different manufacturer), the Smart Car, and now it seems the Fiat 500 will be roaming American roads by 2012.

These are not the same as they used to be of course. These are updated models that meet all the requirements for new cars to be legal in this country, so what once was a small, simple, affordable transport vehicle, has become a luxury; highly technological device that reflects modern’s times.

My 1957 BMW Isetta 300

 

I’ve always been fascinated by small cars, to the point that I own a little Isetta 300, so when I heard of the Fiat 500 comeback, I had to go and see it with my own eyes.

It was a pleasant surprise to see that little car among the other “monsters” at the showroom. Retaining the simple lines inside and out; small but roomy enough, and even with some luxuries included such as electric sunroof and power windows.

I was ecstatic for the availability of the vehicle in a short time, and even the crazy thought of eventually buying one in the future did cross my mind…until I saw a picture of both; the old and the new Fiat 500 standing side by side.

Fiat 500 "New vs Old"

 

What happened to the little car concept?!

If you take a look at the picture of both cars, you’ll see that there’s nothing small about the new one, well, in all fairness, the original one was classified as a “microcar” so I guess the new one could still be considered a “small” car. But for someone like me, that like the original concept of the microcar (think of a scooter with a body for rainy days), the excitement of a brand new microcar available for purchase in the present, dissolved like the colors of the picture under a heavy rain, and floating down the street drain it disappeared once more.

I guess is still about restoring the little one to make it shine once again in the presence of others; those who remain in the race of incorporating more and more elements, size and weight, as the way of natural growth nowadays.

So no…microcars are not coming back…  :(

Raul

(Sigh!)

Running Downhill

Posted by Raul on March 13, 2011

 

It is sad to see how more and more houses become empty, with a sign “For Sale”, waiting to be occupied again.

We could compare the economy of a society with walking. When times are complicated and the economy is bad for the majority, it’ll be like walking uphill -lots of efforts to cover very little ground.

But for the past several decades in the US the economy was at continuous growth, becoming a slight but increasing downhill walk for the people.

“Only a slight amount of energy is required to get in motion when walking in a flat, level surface. Once in motion, the amount of energy required is even smaller”

By the simplification and increased efficiency in many areas of work by the companies leading the economy, more and more was imposed the “learn at the job” structure and mentality. It worked well for several decades, but the price tag is a society that doesn’t consider or even hold, the need for a strict and pushing educational system.

“A downhill walk requires us to reduce the amount of energy applied in order to remain in motion. Less energy to acquire the same original intended result”

By consuming, thus generating movement in the market, the economic growth became independent of the production needs. A system that feed itself in its own circular motion, based in buying and discarding to buy more. The temptation of reaching dreams by credit became the flag and promotional tactics of corporations in search for bigger profits.

“Walking in a downhill, taking more and more ground at a faster speed becomes a temptation due to the very small amount of energy required”

Having the possibility of acquiring more and expensive items no longer was a privilege of the wealthy. Every one with a decent credit could “afford” by credit the possession of luxury items that would reinforce his/her image and self esteem.

“At first, gaining speed and covering more ground faster becomes intoxicating and motivating for having more”

By the time momentum has been gained, the elements of luxury became a standard need, rather than the luxury they suppose to be. The need for reaching then the next step became the norm in a cycle repeating itself time and time again.

But the economic system, relying in the continuous movement of a circular process of consuming, like a wheel spinning faster and faster until it reaches speeds that set it out of control, started to fall apart, disintegrating the basis of the economic system.

“Running downhill then becomes scary and the realization for the need of slowing down to a safer speed takes in”

The level of expenses incurred in became too much for the capabilities of the transforming economic system, so people had to adjust to new standards already forgotten, or simply considered “sub-standard”.

The amount of credit taken, based in an economic system that didn’t suppose to change, created a burden on people living at a dreamed social level. But credit incurred in (mortgage, car payments, etc) couldn’t be discarded so easily.

“Running downhill we realize we are going to fast for safety, but it’s too late to regain control, and only the attempt of just not falling while running scared by the situation is the only option”

The once high life by credit became a continuous struggle for survival. Deterioration of the luxury elements by not being able to renew as often as the economic system suggested, became the first signs of the end of the party, the awakening of the dream.

From then on, for many it has become just a continuous fight to remain “alive” financially, not knowing when the personal situation will finally collapse, and throw them into the unknown.

“Running downhill at an uncontrollable speed, waiting for the moment were we know we will fall and get badly hurt, but also know it’ll be the only way to stop this runaway situation. We just don’t want to face the moment, so we keep trying harder to keep up, until we succumb by exhaustion and total lack of control”

Raul

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