Is Your Doctor Really Listening To You?

There you are, in your doctor’s office sitting on the examination table, wearing the flimsiest paper gown with cold air rushing in from the backside and your stress level is climbing like a thermometer in a pan of boiling water.  Finally, the doctor pops through the door, quick pleasantries are exchanged, and then it’s down to business.

Hopefully, you jumped in first, explaining your health story because you know from past visits you only have seconds to relate your story before the doctor jumps in with a question.  After you relate your story, does it seem your doctor is going through a yes/no checklist?   Did the doctor even hear what you’re saying?  Did the doctor understand your story?

Of course, not all visits are like this, but many are. Studies have shown most complaints about doctors have nothing to do with their medical skills. It’s mostly about poor or lack of communication.  

While not surprising,  in a recent study, 75% of doctors believed that they communicated satisfactorily with patients in their care, yet only 21% of the patients treated by those doctors said that their talks went well.  I would call this a huge red flag.

Somewhere, there’s a major disconnect, and as a patient, this can spell disaster.    So, what can we do, as patients, to address this disconnect?  One of the first steps is to develop a rapport or patient-physician relationship.  When developing this rapport, remind your doctor “we’re a team” and it’s you and me, working together for the betterment of my health.  By developing this rapport, you also develop trust with your doctor.  You may not agree with everything your doctor says, that’s ok; and if you don’t, you need to let the doctor know.

Second, have your health story ready when you get to the doctor’s office and insist on telling your story.  Practice until you can tell your story in 30 seconds or less.  Since doctors have limited time to listen to your story, it’s up to you to make sure they understand.  Tell your story the moment you see the doctor so you can make sure he/she focuses on your individual story.   

Doctors sometimes end up asking about symptoms rather than the story and as patients, we get conditioned to talk about their symptoms instead of our stories.  Studies have shown that over 80% of diagnoses can be made just by listening. 

Remember that yes/no checklist I mentioned earlier?  If you suspect it’s being used,  see if you can get the doctor to focus on you by adding personal elements to your answer.  If asked when your leg started to hurt, don’t just say two weeks ago, add that you are a runner, and you normally run 2 miles a day, but for the last two weeks, you can barely make a 1/4 mile before you get excruciating pain and swelling in the back of the right knee.  Give open-ended responses to close-ended questions. 

Here is a tip:  Don’t go into your doctor’s office, saying your leg hurts. Tell the story of it.   (a) When and how did it start?  (b) If it’s been painful in the past, how and when? (c) What you were doing when your leg started to hurt? (d) On a scale of 1 to 10, how is the pain now? (e) How often and when do you feel the pain?

Next, be honest and accurate. Some patients go to the doctor and don’t tell the whole truth.  I know there are subjects that patients don’t feel comfortable with, whether it is the use of internet medical advice, a friends advice, drugs, alcohol or sexual in origin, you need to be able to build up that relationship between your doctor and yourself so you feel comfortable in your visit.  Remember, doctors have heard it all.

Before you leave, ask about your diagnosis and understand what it is.  if additional studies are ordered, ask why.  Are they done to verify the diagnosis or are they being done for routine screening or just protocol?  Every study should be for a specific reason not just protocol.  One additional question you need to ask is if the studies are negative, what would be the next step?

The bottom line.  If there’s a communication problem, it’s probably going to be up to you to fix it.  And if you can’t, you need to find a doctor that you can trust and will listen to you.  If you don’t think your doctor is listening, how can you trust that he/she is making the correct diagnoses and treatment recommendations for you? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loneliness and Parkinson’s

Do you have feelings of loneliness, depression, or have a hard time dealing with the anxieties of daily living and are wondering why? Meet Dr. Laurie Mischley ND, MPH, Ph.D. (c), a clinical research assistant professor at Bastyr University. She is the principal investigator of various Parkinson’s Disease (PD) studies while also operating a PD Only Clinic in Seattle, Washington that monitors the active symptomatology progression of more than 1500 people with PD. Dr. Mischley’s research would argue that one of the single biggest predictors for the rate of Parkinson’s progression is if you answer “yes” to the question, “are you lonely”? Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation. This is generally due to people in pain pushing others away, wanting to be alone, or otherwise healthy people naturally feeling uncomfortable or awkward around someone who is chronically ill. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connection or communication with other people.

Dr. Mischley has observed through her research that loneliness is perhaps one the most destructive aspects of the disease seen in our modern society, in which people with PD may “find themselves heading toward this outcome by default”. She “has lost count of the number of people with PD who have said something along the lines of my friends and family have abandoned me/don’t visit or lost touch”. After reading Dr. Mischley’s research studies, I was very impressed because not only does she have PD, she can relate her personal experiences and care through the eyes of one having and understanding PD.

As we all know, our brains are equipped with positive and negative feedback systems.  The results of the negative feedback between loneliness and the progression of PD generally ends up in extreme highs and lows and can lead to a tragic end. Dr. Mischley can speak from personal experience about loneliness, as she describes “at my lowest point, I too had become very isolated, virtually alone in the house and barely going out”.  Sound familiar?

So, how can we help ourselves if we become or currently are lonely?  First and foremost, if you have feelings of hurting or doing harm to yourself or thoughts of suicide, seek emergency medical advice from your General Practitioner, Neurologist, friend or emergency services at once. Second, you may need to change your attitude towards possibly wanting to be alone. Third, if you are visiting a person with PD, or any chronic illness, get over your feeling of being uncomfortable or awkward. Just be your natural self, and those feelings will eventually disappear and a friendship will bloom.

Next, do an honest self-assessment and find answers to the following two questions. Did you notice I put an emphasis on the word honest? If you’re not honest with yourself, the only person who you’re hurting is yourself.

    • What in your life could be causing your loneliness? Some examples could be isolation,  negative attitude, lack of friendship, feelings of guilt, or feeling sorry for ones-self.
    • Are you prepared to take the next step to help yourself?

Did you know, there are many different methods or techniques of helping yourself to stay connected, supported and safe, while living at home with family or living alone that will help that feeling of loneliness? Here are just a few of the basics to start with:

  • Upon rising in the morning, make your bed. This simple act is so important as you will start your day off with your first accomplishment and a positive attitude.
  • Take your medication and take it on time. If possible, always have your prescription with you and why not include the telephone number of a friend in case of an emergency when you leave your house. If you don’t have anyone to remind you to take your medication, set an alarm on your phone, computer or obtain a pillbox with an alarm. Use lots of notes, your phone, computer to remind yourself of appointments, meetings and post a note on the front door that says ‘pills’ to remind you when you leave the house.
  • Do, or have someone you trust do, a safety assessment of the inside and outside of your home. Once this is accomplished and your home is found safe, have someone over to help you clean and declutter. Take the time to accomplish this task. I know you will feel 100% better when your home is clean, organized and decluttered. Take advantage of today’s technology to improve your quality of life; use remotes for TV, radio, garage, gas fireplace and so on, you get the idea. Remember, the Internet may provide relief from boredom as well as loneliness. Plan and simplify your meals. If you’re living alone, reduce your stress and relax, you don’t have to impress anyone, just be yourself.
  • Socialization and exercise should be one of your favorite activities if you are lonely. You need to be an active member of something. If at all possible, regularly attend a Parkinson’s exercise class or maybe a Parkinson’s dance group. Rock Steady Boxing and Stationary Cycling are also excellent exercise programs. These classes, groups, and programs are very enjoyable and provide the exercise and the socialization you need. Start your own exercise program at home, go to the gym, exercise every day no matter how you feel. Again, let me emphasize exercise, exercise, exercise. Did you know exercise releases good endorphins that interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain?  Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Now I know just why the people in Parkinson’s Road Fitness Fun are so happy. The feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.
  • Be an active member of a church social group, active in the local community center, take up a hobby, join a luncheon club; there are literally hundreds of things you can join free and be socializing. Volunteer your time and knowledge to your community. Start small and enjoy what you’re doing. Think about getting a pet for company.  Parkinson’s can be a very frustrating disease as everyone has on and off days. Make and save a list of simple strategies to help you cope with the off days.
  • If you catch yourself starting to feel anxious, isolated or lonely, be proactive. Have a plan in place to reduce the impact of these feelings. Avoid doing things that can affect your balance. Try not to lose your patience when you drop things, or can’t open a can or find what you’re looking for. When this happens it’s best to just remove yourself from the situation and come back later. Phone and arrange to visit a friend for a hug and a cup of coffee or tea set a lunch date with a friend. Sometimes it’s as simple as putting on some music or watching your favorite TV show.
  • Make realistic schedules for shopping, house cleaning, menu planning, visiting or having visitors. Keep your doctors or care team appointments and don’t leave until you or your caregiver have all questions answered and the answers are understood. Remember, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to seek professional therapy for loneliness or depression.

If you can’t afford therapy, some people have found the following successful:

  • Follow a licensed therapist on Instagram or other social media platforms.
  • Read self-help books and visit internet self-help sites.
    • Read the Four Agreements.

    • Another good internet site is Anxieties.com look for their “Free Info Site Page”

  • Journal or engage in some type of self-reflection or self-study.
  • Practice mindfulness, a state of mind that observes one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.
  • Take care of your body (movement, sleeping, rest, food, exercise, etc)
  • Learn to set and maintain boundaries.
  • Build trust with yourself by keeping your word with yourself.
  • Practice self-compassion when you slip and mess up this journey because we all do.

Remember, no matter what path you may take for any therapy, it’s up to you to keep a positive attitude, and advocate for yourself. After all, you’re somebody, you matter and you are important.

Think ahead; what am I going to need in the future or possibly even now? Is it time to have the ability to call for help if I fall and can’t get up? Did you know most emergency services (Fire Dept) will come to your house and help you get up without any cost to you? Ask yourself, do I need any grab bars, am I safe in the bathroom? Am I able to keep up with my cleaning schedule? Can I cook my meals safely? Will I be able to drive myself or is there some form of public/private transportation available. If you find the need for any of the above, there are programs and organizations ready to help.

If you want to read more on the subject of loneliness or depression, I suggest reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Polyvagal Theory” by Dr. Stephen Porges. (Available on the internet as a PDF)

His theory has “startling implications for the treatment of anxiety, depression, and has been adopted by clinicians around the world, and has provided exciting new insights into the way our autonomic nervous system unconsciously mediates social engagement, trust, and intimacy”.

Let me be clear, I’m not a Medical Doctor, Psychologist or Professional Counselor. I’m just an engineer with a very curious mind who has PD and wants to know as much about this disease as possible to facilitate a better life for my family and myself.

So how do I know so much about what I have written?

I speak through experience. I know first hand just how you are feeling. In 1970, I was in a helicopter that crashed after taking enemy fire. For a while there I was the poster boy for aggravation, anxiety, depression, loneliness and not wanting to live.

It took three years to get back to where I could reside back in a normal society. The truth be known, I would have preferred to have found a cave to live in away from people until a fellow soldier, who was also a patient, entered into my life and helped me pull my bootstraps up and enable me to head down the road of healing. I can honestly attribute my healing to his help and a good positive mental attitude.

Now fast forward some 50 years, at the age of 70, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, Type II Diabetes and Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) from exposure to a chemical defoliant used by the military. Yes, I was devastated, depressed and very angry, but after being reminded I had been down this road before, I put into place what I have written above. I’m no one special, just a person that has learned to control Parkinson’s, not letting Parkinson’s control me.

Some final thoughts; Keeping a Positive Attitude, Daily Exercise, Following Professional Medical advice, taking Meds On Time, and Socializing can go a long way in moving you along the path of recovery. As I mentioned above, it is also essential that you advocate for yourself. After all, you’re somebody, you matter and you are important. After reading numerous comments, one concern that seems to be constant throughout the Parkinson’s communities is the ability to get a medical appointment when needed, and then having the medical team listen to you. The only advice I can give is “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”.

 

A Veteran’s Message

Good Morning to everyone in this great nation;

On this last Monday of May 2019, it is my pleasure to extend my appreciation and gratitude to all the Veterans, the families of Veterans and all the people who have supported the Veterans. I have no idea who wrote this verse/piece, but it sure resonated with me and I present it to you in honor of all Veterans:

“A veteran” — whether active duty, retired, National Guard or reserve — is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote and blank check payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including their life.” This is an honor for the veteran and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

Today and every Memorial Day, I take time to reflect about a time in my life that no matter what happens I will never forget.  It is a wonderful but sad story of 4 young men that have the world by the tail and are impervious to danger so we thought. It wasn’t that we were reckless, we were young, committed and had no time for the obvious dangers. We had signed on to provide a service to our fellow service members, no matter what. Just like in the verse above, each of us had freely given a blank check for the love of our country and regrettably, two of finest crew members I have ever known had those checks cashed in full.

Today, I consider it an honor to be able to express my gratitude, not only for being their friend, buddy, and comrade and for being three of the most courageous Veterans in my life.  As you thank a veteran today, please say a silent prayer for those men and women who paid the ultimate price, as well as those who through the grace of God made it back and those who are still missing while serving our great nation. Please join me in saying “you are not forgotten”!

In closing, I stand and salute the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of all Veterans from the first armed conflict in 1775 to the current armed conflict in the Middle East.  Be you Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard or Air Force, this great country and it’s citizens owe you a great debt.

The link between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Parkinson’s Disease Under Investigation

The link between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Parkinson’s Disease Under Investigation

28 September 2018

UPDATE

It is thought that human genetic mutations are only involved in a small number of Parkinson’s disease (PD) cases, while the vast majority of cases are of unknown environmental causes, encouraging a huge interest in identifying just what environmental risk factors are involved. The link between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and gastric ulcers has been known for several decades, but new evidence suggests that this harmful bacterium may play a role in PD as well. A new review in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease summarizes the current literature regarding the link between H. pylori and PD and explores the possible mechanisms behind the association.
While doing a comprehensive review of prior studies, researchers uncovered four key findings:
  • People with PD are 1.5-3-fold more likely to be infected with H. pylori than people without PD.
  • H. pylori-infected PD patients display worse motor functions than H. pylori-negative PD patients.
  • Eradication of H. pylori improved motor function in PD patients over PD patients whose H. pylori was not eradicated.
  • Eradication of H. pylori improved levodopa absorption in PD patients compared to PD patients whose H. pylori was not eradicated.
This in-depth and comprehensive review summarizes all the major papers in the medical literature on Parkinson’s disease and H. pylori, the common stomach bacterium that causes gastritis, ulcers and stomach cancer,” as explained by lead researcher David J. McGee, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, Shreveport, LA, USA. “Our conclusion is that there is a strong enough link between the H. pylori and Parkinson’s disease that additional studies are warranted to determine the possible causal relationship.” Researchers also analyzed existing studies to try and find possible testable pathways between the bacterial infection and Parkinson’s to lay the groundwork for future research. They found four main possible explanations for the association:
  • Bacterial toxins produced by H. pylori may damage neurons.
  • The infection triggers a massive inflammatory response that causes damage to the brain.
  • H. pylori may disrupt the normal gut microbial flora.
  • The bacteria might interfere with the absorption properties of levodopa, the medication commonly used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
The onset of PD is often preceded by gastrointestinal dysfunction, suggesting that the condition might originate in the gut and spread to the brain along the brain-gut axis. In the review,  researchers found this has been documented in rats. Screening PD patients for the presence of H. pylori and subsequent treatment if positive with anti-H. pylori triple-drug therapy, may contribute to improved levodopa absorption and ultimately improvement of PD symptoms, potentially leading to a longer lifespan in patients with PD. “Evidence for a strong association among H. pylori chronic infection, peptic ulceration and exacerbation of PD symptoms is accumulating,” concluded Dr. McGee. “However, the hypotheses that H. pylori infection is a predisposing factor, disease progression modifier, or even a direct cause of PD remain largely unexplored.
This gut pathology may be multifactorial, involving H. pylori, intestinal microflora, inflammation, misfolding of alpha-synuclein in the gut and brain, cholesterol and other metabolites, and potential neurotoxins from bacteria or dietary sources. Eradication of H. pylori or return of the gut microflora to the proper balance in PD patients may ameliorate gut symptoms, L-dopa malabsorption, and motor dysfunction.”
Even though the evidence points to a strong association between H. pylori and the exacerbation of PD symptoms are accumulating, more research needs to be accomplished to make a positive nexus to Parkinson’s.

Should Combat Veterans with PTSD be prosecuted for crimes in the same manner as the civilian population?

This article is about “Should Combat Veterans with PTSD be prosecuted for crimes in the same manner as the civilian population?” nothing else. This is a fairly cut and dry subject once you have taken the time to remove your self-imposed blinders and ask as a society just what have we done to make these veterans act in a manner we object to.  After reading many comments on the subject, I am left asking myself why bother trying to inculcate people who have a closed mind or have no idea just what they are talking about or worse, a talking head, one who regurgitates everything they hear not knowing if it’s true or false.

So why do I bother to explain how PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) affects these veterans?  I am a US Army PTSD survivor. In able for you to understand the how and why of military PTSD, you first need to understand the major cause and why as a society are responsible for what has happened and then the need to help these veterans.

During the Vietnam War, at least for the US Army, about 25% of combatants were drafted, with the majorities of combatants 65%, volunteering and 10% were conscripted from the reserves.  This will become important later.  Then it was off to basic training where 18 – 20-year-old soldiers were told what to do and how to do it.  Lots of physical, psychological preparation, sleep deprivation, marching, weapons training, hand to hand combat to bring you down to your lowest psychological state and then re-trained in the Army way.

Then it was off to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) where they trained you for specialty combat actions and how to kill the enemy without a second thought.  Then it was on a plane off to war.

Once in country and assigned to a unit, within two days you were more than likely on a combat patrol or supporting someone who was.  During your time in combat, you learned to ignore the countless long days and nights in the bush, the smell of burning human flesh, dismembered bodies, standing by a buddy one minute and then seeing him without a head because a large round had hit him.  The mutilation of human bodies, a friend dying from falling into a pit of punji sticks, soldiers burning to death in armored vehicle and helicopters.  There was so much blood on the ground; it caked your boots like soft clay.  The screaming of the dying, especially the ones that had been hit by white phosphorous and nothing could be done in the field to stop it from burning or being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a flechette bomb went off.

For many, it was pure hell! They thought they were doing their duty as soldiers for their country and had no idea (because most had never served in a war) or what they were up against. Jungle, poisonous snakes/spiders, booby traps, heat, humidity, torrents of rain, foot rot, scabs on their body from cuts that got infected from moisture and dirt and while out in the field, a letter comes from your lifeline back home and it’s a “Dear John letter” thrusting any psychological state you had into non-existence.  From that point, most volunteered for the most extream and dangerous missions.

The horrors of this war also led many soldiers into a fog of drugs just to cope. Smoking Marijuana was like smoking a cigarette. They had no idea what type of enemy they were up against and the American Government had underestimated their enemy. Americans didn’t have snipers (at first) and it was the Vietcong that had them. They were picking off American soldiers right and left until they, in turn, relied on their own snipers.

It was difficult for American soldiers to tell the Vietcong from the villagers, and yes, the soldiers had no option except kill or be killed because the Vietcong would hide behind villagers and hide their weapons in the villages. Fear was the factor in this case for the villagers (they were caught between the Vietcong and the American soldiers.) Mothers would hand a soldier their baby or a little boy would walk up to a soldier (how was a soldier to know these were not the innocent like in his own country) and the baby would have a grenade attached to it or the little boy would throw a grenade at the soldier.

Hard to believe, but it happened. Unfortunately, this is where good old America back home heard the term “baby killers!” You can thank some of the reporters for these misleading bits of news. Only a very few reporters actually bothered to care enough to get the real story from the American soldiers. There were tunnels everywhere in some villages where the Vietcong hid out as well as tunnels throughout the jungle. Booby traps were everywhere.

The soldiers that came home were not only broken in body but mind and spirit. They came back to the call of “baby killers” and were spat upon.  No one took the time to hear their side of the story. Not all American citizens treated the Vietnam vets in a shabby way, but it was difficult for them to find jobs and many were ravaged by nightmares, drugs until eventually, some formed a support group of their own. No one could possibly understand the hell that they went through.  There was no PTSD support at that time and the government and VA provided no help to these soldiers.   A great many committed suicide.

Years later, because of public outcry, hundreds of more suicides, drug use, homelessness, unemployment and the destructive nature exhibited by some, the VA started the current PTSD support and treatment program.

So, the question asked, Should Combat Veterans with PTSD be prosecuted for crimes in the same manner as the civilian population?”  Not an easy answer is it?  My answer is no. To judge these veterans, you have to judge yourself. It was our society that trained and sent these soldiers into combat while you were at home enjoying your freedoms. When I say “our” this means “you”.  That’s the price you pay for freedom.

If you are part of society that reaps all the positive benefits but rejects the negative, you need to re-think your position, as you are responsible for causing the PTSD.  No matter what, no matter what excuse you make, you still have a responsibility for what has happened to these veterans and their care.

NEW SOUTH KITSAP HIGH SCHOOL, YEA OR NEA

NEW SOUTH KITSAP HIGH SCHOOL, YEA OR NEA

Only Time Will Tell

 

Well, it’s that time of the year where the good citizens of South Kitsap divide into two distinct camps; one voting for the South Kitsap High School Bond Measure and one voting against the Bond Measure.

The last time the district passed a bond was about 30 years ago and that includes the last failed attempt.  There have been many attempts to pass bond issues, but all have failed.  The sad part of these statistics would suggest there is a major problem between the South Kitsap Community and the South Kitsap School District.  The word that comes to mind is “Trust”.

To understand just why we find ourselves in this quagmire, one only needs to review the past relationship between the South Kitsap School District, the last South Kitsap High School Bond Measure results and how the district responded after the loss.

The last election was a fierce one. I don’t need to remind you how close it was. The mid-night fires burned in both camps as tempers blazed like an out of control forest fire.  After the election, it seemed everyone in the pro-bond camp made excuses why the bond failed.  I actually think the district was caught flat-footed when apprised of the results.  What I found interesting and somewhat insulting was the excuse put forth “poll results would have been different if everyone who has a vested interest in South Kitsap Schools (and South Kitsap for that matter), would have voted”.

It is unfortunate that the pro camp assumed the 40.08 percent who voted against the last measure didn’t have a vested interest in South Kitsap Schools or South Kitsap itself.  I guess the pro camp overlooked the fact that a non-vote might as well be considered a no vote, and if I’m not mistaken, this single fact ultimately made the final decision.  The simple truth is, it is just iniquitous for someone to imply only the 59.92 percent of voters who voted for the last measure were the only ones to have a vested interest in South Kitsap Schools.

If that wasn’t enough, there were other bizarre issues brought up like United States Post Office failed in their duties in postmarking, delivering or something like that and the lack of drop off boxes for the ballots caused a great hardship on the voters.   Look, we have been voting and dropping off ballots the same way for many years.  If it was good enough for our national elections, it should be good enough for this election.  Again, does the pro camp or the district lack confidence in the citizens’ ability to post or drop off a ballot?  Why is it, no matter what, the losing camp always has to bring up such petty complaints to try to add cannon fodder to these issues?  The pro camp should have been adult enough to understand “the people have spoken”, and to be fair if the other camp had lost, they would have been the ones complaining.

After the last election, the school district aggravated their local community by thumbing its nose at them and regrettably left themselves with a huge hurdle that now looms over the bond measure.  In the article “Election Update”, the author reports “The school district’s Board of Directors has stated that if the bond doesn’t receive voter approval this election, it would bring up the measure again until it is passed”.   This comment seems counterproductive when asking the voters to pass anything.

The statement begs one to ask, just who the hell do you think you are not abiding by the will of the people?  How much does it cost each time this issue is placed before the voters, and then what is the cost when you multiply that by “until it is passed”?   No voter likes to be told “you do it or else” on any voter issue.  Statistics show that when trying to pass an issue multiple times, using the “until it is passed” attitude seldom achieves the desired goal.

I would like to remind the School Board that the age demographics of South Kitsap indicate roughly 46% of voters’ children have already passed through the education system and they voted or abstained because they do have a vested interest in South Kitsap Schools or South Kitsap itself.  I would think a better choice of words than “until it is passed” is needed when you address this segment of the voting population as these folks have the absolute power to make or break an issue.

I, as well as others in the community, find it very suspicious that additional students were moved from the middle schools and added into the high school population after the election when there was already a major issue of overcrowding.   Then came the publicity and pictures taken at the high school showing the severe overcrowding, but nowhere did that article say the district made its own overcrowding worse to embellish their cause.  In my opinion, that was one of the dumbest events series of events to take place as it makes the district look vindictive.

It would also be very interesting to see the statistical analysis for this move and review the ratio of middle vs high school overcrowding data.  There are many in the community that perceived this move as “punitive” because the bond failed.  After all, there is that huge hurdle “until it is passed” raising its ugly head again.

So today, we now find ourselves in that precarious position of voting on not one, but two revenue measures for school construction and renovation on November 6th.. The school board has put forth a new strategy that may prove to be a game changer, and if I may say so, it’s brilliant.  The district appears to be separating the high school and renovation issues.  The district now proposes a 25-year, $185 million bond measure for a second-high school plus a four-year $22 million capital levy for major renovations at existing schools, new technology and improved security throughout the district.   A capital levy only requires a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote whereas the bond would still require 60 percent approval to pass.

Yes, we need a second high school, and while I voted to approve the last measure, I am not so naïve that I don’t recognize just why there was such a high percentage of no or non-votes.  It is a well-known fact this community is worn-out from the districts’ glad-handing, murky transparency and lack of trust.  Believe it or not, an opportunity has presented itself and it would be beneficial to both camps.  The School District needs a new high school and the community needs employment; it’s a win-win solution which can possibly gain common ground for both camps.  The district would do themselves a great service with respect to the mistrust issue and to show they support the community by taking advantage of this opportunity.

No glad-handing or lack of transparency, just black and white contractual terms stating the project prime contractor would first seek local (Kitsap County) workers and suppliers.  I have written thousands of contractor contracts and as long as it’s to code or specifications, you can have the contractor doing almost anything including wearing pink hard hats with feathers.  Below is just a brief example of problematic questions that need to be answered by the district that directly affects this community;

 

  • What is the current rate per square foot with respect to this bond measure as compared to the current commercial rate per square foot in Kitsap County?

 

  • Is the contract being written to provide local contractors with a real chance to obtain work instead of bringing in outside county or state workers?

 

  • Will the contract be written to disallow weasel words when it comes to the prime contractor hiring local contractors, such as; may, should, can? You get the idea.

 

  • Will the contract be written to use local suppliers for the building materials needed?

 

  • Is there a place where the citizens of this community can review/look at a complete set of building plans? In this digital world that should not be a problem.  I doubt that anyone wants to tell the district how to build the school, but someone needs to ensure you’re not using gold-plated light fixtures, imported Italian marble, or buying administrators $13,000 desks.  That’s called fiscal responsibility and that means getting the best bang for your buck.  I am sure others, both pro, and con, will have equally important questions.

 

  • Who is going to ensure there will be no cost overruns charged back to the district, and eventually to us, the citizens of South Kitsap County? We all know, or you should know, that a contractor makes a great deal of profit on change orders or modifications to the contract. These need to be kept to a very minimum and if there is a mistake, someone needs to be held accountable.

 

All the information provided by the district so far has been tongue-in-cheek except for the small artist rendering of the conceptual site plan showing the layout of a second high school.  I hope the school board has taken note of how the contract was written by the State of Washington for the tunnel in Seattle.  I have no doubt a document like it will become a model document when using public money to hire a contractor in the near future.

Having had the pleasure of living in South Kitsap for over 50 years, I have seen both camps go at it for many years and while both have merit, very seldom do they find any middle ground.  One camp has always accused the school district of fiscal irresponsibility and lack of accountability by reallocating bond monies, while the other camp wants to provide the best facilities available to educate their students no matter what it costs.  This is extremely unfortunate because many feel the district has lost touch with the community and the kids are paying the price when both camps are unable or unwilling to reach common ground.

One additional note to remember;  this community has been “bonded to death” in the last few years.  Everyone wants money, Fire and Rescue, EMS, Maintenance Operations, and Public Safety are just a few bonds/levies that South Kitsap has been asked to approve.  The district needs to make a concerted effort that the new revenue measures they seek, when added to the existing tax base, would not be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

By now, you would be justified in asking if I still support South Kitsap School District, and at present, I would have to say yes and no.  Yes, I support the overworked, underpaid teachers and principals at the individual schools and No, I do not support the School Board, Administrators or Superintendents Office.  In my opinion, the Board, administrators and Superintendent should be required to take a remedial course on how to effectively deal with the parents and the public, as well as attend a lecture on “why did I forget the world doesn’t revolve around us.”

Why such a negative attitude?   I, like a lot of parents, are sick and tired of the administrators trying to placate parents and students when there is a real problem.  Yes, like a lot of parents, I have had problems with the district.  In my case, they were Special Ed issues.   The school administration ignored the IEP we had just negotiated with them.   It seems before they act, they want to see just how far you will go and how serious you are.  They challenge everything and make it extremely difficult knowing that many parents give in.  I didn’t give in and I achieved my goals.  That being said, like a lot of the community, it is getting harder to not let my personal feelings cloud an achievement that would create a real, substantial, life-altering benefit to our kids in this community.

 

 

 

 

ARE WE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN HELP EACH OTHER?

This is a blog I wrote earlier this month and posted to another Parkinson’s Support Group, “Parkinson’s Road” and now they are asking questions about ALL aspects of Parkinson’s or Parkinson’s related issues. In my opinion, this is one of the best peer-to-peer international support groups for Parkinson’s to be found.
At the time this article was written, I had made the decision not to post it because it might have ventured into one’s personal space and I did not want to offend anyone. After reading Debra ~~~~ post yesterday and the positive responses it was given, I have changed my position and will post it. Here goes;
I am of the opinion, traveling down the Parkinson Road with other folks displaying the same symptoms and associated problems, we should be able to discuss all aspects of the disease freely. It seems that people are somewhat hesitant or possibly embarrassed to talk about these related issues and what they have possibly done to curb or help relieve them. Please remember, don’t be embarrassed or hesitant to ask questions, we all have Parkinson’s in one shape or another. One additional item to remember, if you’re a member of a peer-to-peer site like “Parkinson’s Road”, you’re a not stranger, you’re a friend, a confidant, a parky and a PD warrior.
In my 72 years of life, I have found that people all over the world are resilient, very creative and willing to discuss their accomplishments and share helpful ideas, hints that may help you with the devastating symptoms of Parkinson’s, all we need to do is ask. Let me give an example; it seems that a while back I developed what you might call a leaking problem. Without me knowing I would mark my spot like an old Harley leaking oil. My yoga instructor offered help by doing pelvic floor exercises.  I leak no more.  See how easy that was.  My yoga instructor passed along a tip that helped her.  I know this sounds very simplistic, but in many cases, it works.
Think about what advice can you give to another PD warrior that may help them with any of the problems below if they ask? The key word is “ask“. No one knows what problem you need advice on unless you ask. Remember, we’re all in this together.
It is unfortunate that even the best doctors/neurologist have little information when it comes to palliative care for patients with Parkinson’s. It’s not that they don’t care because they do. The suggestions/advice that makes our lives a little better are generally developed by Parkinson’s patients out of necessity and it would be awesome to pass it along to the Parkinson community.
I know you have heard this before, but it never hurts to review the troubling areas that Parkinson’s may cause.
Motor problems: There are seven distinct areas: Balance, Communication and Speech, Dyskinesia, Dystonia, Freezing of gait (feet stuck to the floor), On/Off Fluctuations, as well as swallowing problems.
Non-Motor Problems: Anxiety, Apathy, Bladder problems, Constipation, Depression, Cognitive problems, Drooling, Excessive sweating or chills, fatigue, Impulsiveness, Loss of smell or appetite, Pain, Sleep problems, Sensations of tingling, aches, cold feet/hands, Sexual dysfunction, and vision problems.
One thing to remember, we, at least most of us, are not medical doctors, so we can’t give true medical advice, we can say what our doctors are doing for us and we can give non-medical advice as to what helps us individually.
Ok warrior’s, I’ll get off my soapbox and have an awesomely productive day.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness My Constitutional Right?

While helping my grandson research information for a paper he was required to write on “The Declaration of Independence and how it compared to the Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech” we happened to view a video that made a reference to our “Constitutional Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and these were set down by the US Constitution, one of the foundation documents of the United States of America. 

We both looked at each other as to say hold on, stop this train as it is heading down the wrong track.  We know this fact to be in error because we had been studying the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for the last couple of weeks.  The video reminded me of Nancy Canfield, who in 2010 published an article for the “Yahoo Contributor Network” titled “Constitutional” Rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?  It was a serious but funny article that pointed the finger back at those arrogant, superior know-it-all who seems to have trouble differentiating between the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

In Nancy’s article, she questions and rightfully so, “why is it that every time people chastise her for her unreasonably restrictive attitude on some hot-button issues, they speak of their “Constitutional” right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Little do they know the phrase, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are not from the Constitution, but from the Declaration of Independence.  One only needs to read the preamble of the Constitution.  It reads:

 “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 As you can see, there is nothing in the preamble about life or the pursuit of happiness. Of the seven original articles in the Constitution, Articles I, II, and III pertain to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Article IV pertains to the states, Article V, amendments, Article VI, debts, supremacy, oaths, and Article VII, ratification. There are 27 amendments to the United States Constitution, the first 10 being called the Bill of Rights.  Absent from this document is anything about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Now, just for fun, let’s review the Declaration of Independence, you know, to see if that “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” thing could be here. The intent of this document is rather magnificently stated.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness……”

I don’t know about you, but I get goosebumps every time I hear or read this.  So by now, it should be very clear that you’re Rights to Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.  Well, I looked at my grandson with a smile and said I guess that shows all those arrogant, superior know-it-alls that keep saying my “Constitutional” Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness were misguided.  I also explained that he needed to remove all the data about this video from his citation and reference page since data is not reliable and it couldn’t have been peer-reviewed.

Thinking this was the end of the subject, I started on another project when he asked “how many people do you think know that you’re right To Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution?  I have no idea and continued on my project.  He looked at me and said let’s find out by conducting a poll.  A poll, you want to conduct a poll?   Ok, you figure how we are going to do this and get back to me.  Thinking this would be the last time I would hear about a doing a poll, I went back to my project.

About two days later my grandson came running to the house with a hand full of papers yelling I’ve figured how to do the poll.   Ok, let’s take a look at it.  To my surprise, he had calculated everything we needed to take a poll.  The question was simple with two answers.  What guarantees the Rights to Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?   (1) Declaration of Independence or  ( 2)  The Constitution.  The place he selects was a shopping center standing next to, of course, a snack bar.  Getting permission from the shopping center, to say the least was nothing but interesting.  Had to show the sign be used as well as the question and answers.  Could not be construed as political, could not offend anyone, must wear shoes, no firearms, make no disturbance and the two-page list went on and on.  Right, we have been approved for one hour!

 The day finally comes.  We’re all set up ready to do some polling.  Hold on, here comes someone briskly walking down toward us.  Oh no, it’s Paul Blart the mall cop with papers in his hand, yelling stop! stop!.  Now I have to sign a waiver just in case someone dislikes our poll taking and decides to hurt us.  I had to ask, do people get this upset at poll takers?  His response was, lots of weird people come to the mall.  Have a nice day; call this number if there are any problems.  Off he went.

Alright, contestant number 1 is approaching.  She looks at the sign and quietly marks her answer on the paper.  We thank her and off she goes.  The next 10-20 people do the same thing without much interaction between us and them.  The next contestant came over and asked my grandson if this was a “demo” or “replumb poll?.  I interjected it was neither.  He said it had to one or the other.  I told him the poll was a school project and strictly nonpartisan.  He stood back and blurted out; I knew you were demos.  You’re the ones trying to take away my gun. 

Right about then Paul Blart the mall cop happened by and winked at me as to say, I told you lots of weird people come to the mall and went to the snack bar to enjoy a cup of coffee and more than likely the muddled look on my face.  I turned to readdress this man who was upset, but he had turned around and was headed for the door.  At that very instant I thought, let’s make a break and hide in the car.  No, we had 10 minutes left and I wasn’t going to disappoint my grandson.  Just then, 4 senior citizens walked up and said they would like to take our poll.  Three of them made their selections and handed it back to us.  The fourth lady said she didn’t need to mark a paper and then recited the Declaration of Independence.  Wow, just who is this lady?  After chatting for a few minutes, she acknowledged being a retired teacher from Iowa and her teaching career started in a one-room school teaching all grades.  During that time the only items they had to hang on the wall was a map and a copy of the Declaration of Independence

It was time to gather our stuff, head home and tally our results.  We tallied all the results, twice.  We were not impressed, maybe slightly embarrassed.  What had we just done?   We did this poll knowing we could get the positive results showing it was a minority of people who did not know the correct answer.  So, just what were the results?  Let’s just say we did not obtain the results we were looking for and are very disappointed, to say the least.  On the plus side, the four seniors were spot on the mark.

 

 

LOSS OF FRIENDSHIPS WHEN DIAGNOSED WITH PARKINSON’S

I was having lunch with a group of parki’s the other day and one of the conversations lead to a fascinating question. “Why do we lose true friends when diagnosed with Parkinson’s?” What an interesting subject to say the least. In my opinion, there are two very distinct causations to the problem, they are complex and both linked together. First, one day you are told you have Parkinson’s and then sent out alone with emotions on high alert, not knowing whether to cry or strike back like a junkyard dog.
Then that day comes you have that good fortune to meet with one of your friends. You tell them you have Parkinson’s Disease. Unfortunately, they have no idea what Parkinson’s is and the first spark of brain activity puts them on high alert because you mentioned the word disease, then the second spark of brain activity asks is it contagious. Their rationalization is now in full panic mode, asking if it’s not contagious, why are you shaking so much or what happened to your balance?
You try to explain without much success because their brain hasn’t moved from “is it contagious”. One fact to remember, humans are hard-wired for self-preservation, normally referred to as “fight-or-flight response”. Backing off from a perceived danger is normal and we with Parkinson’s must live with this.
Then you, because of the disease, have to change your priorities, way of thinking, daily schedule and a general attitude about life itself. Then to add to your new life, the stress of those sweet little munchkins called kids, you’re significant other, the pain, the fatigue, constipation, exercise and your overall feeling like crap, it’s a wonder you have time for friends, let alone yourself. Unfortunately, your true friends have no idea just what you’re going through, they just know you have changed and have no idea where they fit in new your circle of friendships.
So, were they, good friends, to start out with? I think the answer is yes. Generally, once they are educated correctly on what Parkinson’s is, they become more understanding and less stressful. Should you expect your friends to change their schedules because you can’t participate that day, worse yet any longer or to continually hear you complain about Parkinson’s? These last two questions will require some deep soul searching and need to be answered by you.
When it comes to friendships, attitude is paramount in making or keeping friendships. Once you have decided this disease is not going to rule your life, you have changed priorities, set a realistic schedule, are on an established treatment plan and feeling better yourself, reconnect with those old friends, you very well might be surprised.
Ok folks, one last comment; Remember, “You are the captain of your ship, the master of your destiny”.

Oso mudslide families are upset at the idea of tourists rafting through the slide zone

The slide was a horrific event and I think most people understand there is nothing anyone can do to bring these family members back. I, like most people, hope we learn something from this tragedy as well as providing any additional support to help heal those suffering.

That being said, closing access to the river is wrong in many ways. Yes, people died and that was a tragedy but closing the river won’t bring them back. You say it is hallowed ground, but all who perished have been found. If someone wants to build a memorial, I think there would be an abundance of support for that. I would think the best way to honor the people who perished, would to let other people see what and where it happened.

I can understand why some of the families who lost loved ones in the Oso mudslide are upset at the idea of tourists rafting through the slide zone. Pacific Northwest Float Trips, made a small mistake by not advising victim’s family members first. If public lands and rivers were closed because of someone’s death, we would have no open public lands or rivers.

I’m not sure what the victim’s families want to see changed with respect to the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River being free and open. The chances of that river’s status being changed from free and open are about 0%.

I hope Pacific Northwest Float Trips can come to some type of agreement with the families, though I’m not sure an agreement is necessary, as this float trip will honor those who lost their lives.