Monday, January 29, 2007
I went to get new glasses because my flexible spending debit card came in. I have had a prescription since May and wanted to go ahead and use it before it expired. I went over to Pal Optical because they're covered both by my insurance and a vision programme we have at work called VSP. I chose my frames (they're purple). My insurance actually didn't take more than maybe $20 off the whole thing. But combined with the VSP--the frames were free entirely. I got high index poly lenses with an anti-glare coating (I have trouble driving in the rain and at night and thought this might help) and also the Transitions lenses that change from light to dark depending on the ambient light, given that my eyes are pretty sensitive and again, I have trouble driving in brigh sunlight and usually don't think to put my sunglass part of my glasses on. The grand total without any intervention would have been $316. With the insurance and VSP? $128. The only bad part of it is that it has to go to a special lab that takes 10-14 days, rather than being able to be made in house at the opticians. But hey, with that price reduction, I'm fine with that. It's not like it was an emergency, and I didn't realise that my prescription wouldn't require that anyway. It's fairly high, so I thought it might have to be sent out.
I was called into my boss' office. Apparently someone complained that I had been blogging at work and I had apparently violated our company policy about harassing or offensive communications. Now, I do sometimes blog at work. I try to keep it to short links that take like 30 seconds (usually some library-related one I've found on one of my lists) or when I'm on my break. I admitted that, and I had no trouble with the verbal warning that I was given. However, the thing I can't figure out for the life of me is what I did to offend anyone. She wouldn't tell me who complained or what it was in regard to. The two most imflammatory posts I've made of late, one directed at my ex-husband and one at an ex-friend who stabbed me in the back, were both done on my time.Whatever this was definitely had been done at work, because my boss checked to see if it were true. On re-reading my posts, the only thing I saw that might have been offensive was talking about the parents who kept their child small for better handling. I thought I made it clear that I thought the rights of the disabled were being violated by this, so I'm not sure who would find it offensive. But there you go. If you're the person who complained, you know what it was, and I am probably totally off base and you're having a laugh. But I'd really wish someone would tell me what I said that was the problem. Of course, this means I can't blog from work, but that's okay. It's not a great inconvenience, fortunately. It may mean fewer library-related links, though, since I may not remember to note them down for later.
Was very nice in that I got to sleep late. I didn't have to go in till 2 pm to the gas station and was only working an 8 hour shift. I got my house in good shape, did dishes, took out the trash, went through old mail. My mom and John came up to give me the insurance cards and I met my new doggy sibling. My mom lost her dog Shadow over the holidays when her kidneys shut down due to diabetes. Shadow was a 100-lb Australian shepherd/blue heeler mix. This new pup is a chihuahua/dachshund mix named Sassy. She's all of 3 lbs and not expected to get much bigger. She was, however, very cute and affectionate.
The girl who was supposed to be there when I came though overslept and the others went ahead and left, leaving me alone for a little over an hour with a line out the door. That was a little stressful, but I kept my cool, only tossing a couple of cigarette cartons that fell on my head onto the desk, out of the view of customers, when I got frustrated. But later went fine and the girl amused me by trying to pop bubble gum with a tongue ring. It just doesn't work. :)
In the mail I got a copy of what the public library received when they did a background check. It wasn't too bad; the latest cheque was 2 years ago. It does list dismissed or merged counts along with the guilty ones, so there were several on there. But I'm hoping that it won't mess things up too badly.
The game went really well, followed by the new series The Dresden Files. I've only read a portion of one of the books, and I know it's not extremely close, but I'm enjoying it.
I've been cataloguing all day, listening to the musical episode of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. It's very peppy and good to pace the work. No word from Jessamine County Public yet. I got to eat with D for a few minutes and talk to her for a change. We never get to see each other with her being a mom now and our schedules never seem to meet up, which is a shame. But we're both really good at supporting the other when a sympathetic ear is needed.
That's all. Sorry for the long post. Tonight is notes and Heroes, so I have to go.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
and one that I understand a little too well, being a recovered hoarder (although not of animals--my limit at one point was five).
Thanks to YKWIA for the head's up. He also put me onto the Mummified baby boy found in 1957 newspaper in Florida. Weird.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Saturday I worked my normal 10 hours, but it was at a different time--1 pm-11 pm. It was wonderful to sleep late (I did try to get up starting at 9 so I could do some things around the house, but that didn't work so well. I got up at noon.) However, being there until 11 made it seem like it was forever. I also had to do a couple of errands afterwards (I'd started my period, so that meant pads and wine for the religious libation. I live near two Liquor Barns but they close at 10 pm (why would a store that's allowed to sell liquor to 2:30 I think close at 10???) and the only other store near me is drive-through only, and I'm not going to choose a wine in a drive-through. So I went over near campus to a store with which I was familiar.) Then I came home, took a bath, and did my religious obligations, and went on to bed.
Sunday I went over to do game preparations early and had to chip my car out of ice due to freezing rain. But the roads were in good shape and the folks who live in town got in alright. We did have one player who lives out in the sticks who couldn't get down her driveway, since it was a solid sheet of ice, so she didn't come in. It was nice to play the game again (we'd been on a short hiatus) and I gave holidaty presents and got a Hound of Tindalos (stuffed, with a long blue tongue) from Dee! :) (It's a monster from the Cthulhu Mythos. Dee's husband owns a gaming store, so she often has access to products that have a game-related theme. One year it was a CD of Cthulhoid Christmas music.)
Yesterday I would have posted, and would have felt better if I could have, but I was busy at work and busier after, running several errands. I went into a panic because my potential boss at the public library sent me a release for a background check and said that the offer of the job was contingent upon a clean record. Now, when they asked about offences, they only asked about felonies, of which I have none. But I do have a couple of traffic stops and about three instances where I wrote a cheque, it bounced, and I didn't get it paid off until after the time alloted, so had to go to court. Everything, of course, was taken care of, the cheques were paid off and the court fees were paid. They were misdemeanours, of course. But she'd said a clean record, so I'd sent her back an e-mail after faxing the release form back to her telling her what they'd find and asking if it would be a problem. Today I heard back from her saying that if there's anything on it, they'd have to evaluate it, and she'd have to get back to me. So I won't probably know anything for a couple of days at least. But, if it falls through, it's my own fault, and there's nothing I can do now except answer any questions they have honestly and go from there. So now the panic is muted, although it's still there. I'm especially concerned that while most were awhile ago, there was one traffic stop this month (the lack of lights) and then there seems to be another cheque in the works that I paid off months ago but I need to go get the papers for to set up a court date. I don't know if that will show up or not.) Argh. Wish me luck.
Well, that's all for now. I'll keep you posted.
Friday, January 19, 2007
It will only be from mid-March to August, and it only pays $11/hour (still better than the gas station gig), but that'll help immensely, plus it gives me reference and public library experience. Woo-hooooooo!
Okay, enough gushing for now. Back to work!
Scientists reconstituted the virus that killed 50 million people during the 1918 epidemic by taking samples preserved in bodies from the permafrost. They then exposed macaque monkeys to the virus, with such dramatic effects that the monkeys were euthanised 8 days into the planned 21-day experiment, according to another article I read. The same article says the reconstituted virus is being held in only two high-security labs--one at Winnepeg and one at the CDC. But if these scientists can do it, couldn't others?
Yes, labs have lots of protocols to keep something like that contained. But protocols do fail. With all the concern over avian flu, it seems odd to bring something known to kill humans back. I admit my understanding of immunology is scant, but I don't think we're immune to that strain now.
The monkeys certainly weren't, poor things.
What did they learn? That the virus was so devastating among people who generally do not fall to the flu (usually it's the elderly and children, or immunocompromised) because it stimulated the healthy immune system into going into overdrive, flooding the lung tissue and causing them to drown in their own fluids.
Lovely. And we have this in a lab now? Makes me feel safe, righto. Just file it with all that smallpox and anthrax.
If someone out there who does understand the process better can explain to me why we shouldn't be concerned, I'd appreciate it. But my first response was one of, 'they did what?' But then I rather think science runs amuck sometimes, even though I generally support it.
I read a book about a family fleeing the killings in Turkey when I was a child (The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl by David Kherdian--based on the author's mother's experiences). It, along with several children's books on the Holocaust (including The Diary of Anne Frank) fueled my interest in genocide and how to prevent it in the future--and remembering what happened so that we learn from the past. As a result, I've gone on to study the situations in several of the genocides of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Turkey does acknowledge the deaths, but insists that it was not genocide, even though Armenians were targeted specifically because of their ethnicity and religion (they are Christian; the bulk of Turks are Muslim). They say it came during the unrest as the result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Sounds like what happened in the Balkans in the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Communist rule that was keeping various ethnic groups relatively together. I think we can agree that what happened in Bosnia was, in fact, genocide.
I don't think the past should keep Turkey from joining the European Union per se. It would be good it they acknowledged that past fully. I'd like to think it was a different country now. But Dink was tried for insulting Turkey with his words. And now he has paid a far greater price.
It's sad that this sort of thing continues in the world. Violence cannot destroy ideas, only bodies.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
So the bad news is I had a card on my door last night from a sheriff's deputy, meaning I probably have a summons for a cheque I wrote last summer (and paid off in November). So I need to check on that. Hopefully it will be dismissed, since I paid it so long ago. I'm really trying to be good. The only cheques I write these days are to the bank directly for cash when I'm getting a money order for rent, etc. Debit cards make things so much easier (so long as you keep the receipts, which I'm pretty good at). And I check pretty regualarly to make sure I'm in line with the bank. So I'm getting this whole-balancing-the-account thing down. It's about time; I'm almost 40.
I have another interview at the public library today. I'm in the outfit my mom bought me (I hemmed the pants this morning). It's brown pants, a gold crossover top, and a gold faux-suade overshirt that has a belt that ties around it or you can wear it loose or without the belt. I prefer it loose. I'm really not sure about the colours, but I've gotten several compliments today about it. I blew-dried my hair and put product in it this morning. I don't know if anyone can tell. I'll put some makeup on before I leave.
That's all for now in the saga that is Lisa/Eilir. Have a good day.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
In 2004, the Iraq National Library and Archive in Baghdad was set afire and looted. Dr Saad Eskander has been trying to rebuild the library's collections. The British Library has helped with this endeavour, and they present his diary regarding the efforts to rebuild.
In early December, Dr Eskander and his staff re-opened the library and archive, despite problems with the security of the area. May they succeed in providing the Iraqi people with access to the information of their past and fulfilling the information needs of their future.
This links to diary entries from November and December 2006. Reading it puts so much of what I grouse about in perspective. A five-day cover operation to get the salaries to the workers. Workers who are killed or whose families are being decimated. The knowledge that every time you walk out of the office (or sit in it for that matter), you could be killed.
It's amazing what they're doing under such circumstances.
Can you imagine this here in America--such chaos? It's very sobering.
- My lock was frozen on my car door. I got in using one of the other locks, but then couldn't shut my door all the way. So I drove the short way to work holding my door shut. Fortunately it thawed, so I was able to close it when I left it in the parking lot. I'm not sure if I'll have to do that again when I leave, but at least I know running the car for a few minutes will thaw it out, so next time I'll just do that. I have some de-icer somewhere (and even thought it was in the de-icer place), but apparently not.
- I forgot my phone bill comes out of my bank account on the 17th, so I dipped below zero in my account. Fortunately I should get paid today at the gas station, and I definitely get paid tomorrow at the hospital.
- I threw up as soon as I got to my desk this morning. Well, I started to and managed to make it to the bathroom. I don't feel sick or anything. I think it was a combination of an antibiotic on an empty stomach and the Provigil which I dropped in my water and then took after a little of the coating had washed off. One of my co-workers, a nurse, checked on me since she heard the vomiting. At least I did have an empty stomach. I've since eaten something to settle things. I only have one of those antibiotics (AVelox) to take, at least.
So how is your day so far?
On a good note, I'm well rested and I have fragrant primroses on my desk. I'm down to two apples and an orange in my fruit bowl. I've definitely been eating the recommended amount of fruit per day between the ones at home and at work. Now if I can just get up to the full eight cups of water per day. I average about four. And apparently it's important to drink 8 when on the Avelox, although I've already had two this morning before I threw up. Oh, well, here's to it getting better from here.
Now, the only problem with this is I do have some things to do, like wash dishes and clean up some papers. I think I'll try to do some of that in the morning. Or, maybe this trend can continue. I feel more like myself since I'm getting some rest and having to spend some time alone, something I go out of my way to avoid because being alone sometimes makes me uncomfortable, though I often long for it.
Now, I've eaten some macaroni and chees, yum, and it's time to head to bed. Goodnight.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
It is for children ages 6 -12 years old whose parents have died while in the military. It's interactive and allows the child to write or draw part of the story in the book itself. It's sounds like a very appropriate gift during a sad time, and it's very timely given the Iraq/Afganistan wars.
1) I can't really remember what I did on Friday. I did notes, I know that, but beyond that it was a blur.
2) I worked my normal 10-hour shift at the gas station; it was a harder than normal day. I had things like major coffee spills, a drive off, and an entire rack of cigarettes cascading down on my head. It was not a time of happiness. Then I ran a friend over to work so he could do an overnight shift. Then I went home and collapsed into sleep.
3) Early morning Sunday, I picked the same friend up, went grocery shopping, cleaned house, and got hooked on a Japanese show they have on G4 called 'Ninja Warrior', where 100 people start through a four-round course requiring strength, coordination, and agility. Only 11 made it to round two. The only American made it to round 3, which I thought was pretty good, especially as this was the first time in 7 years anyone managed to make it through round 4 (making only two men who have ever finished the course). It was pretty exciting and addictive, I must say. One of the contestants was a man who worked his way from gas station attendant to manager. I discovered that in Japan they are called 'gas jockeys'. Gods help me, I am a gas jockey. Then I did notes, then I went home and crashed about 8 pm and woke up about 8 this morning. I feel loads better although I think I'm a little hung-over from too much sleep.
Today I went to the ATM, went to the gas station for about half-a-tank (it was $1.99 a gallon!) and now I'm having my new improved breakfast of Quaker Oatmeal to Go (same sort of enrichment and protein as a Pop-Tart, but only 14% of daily carbs, not 75%, and half the calories (it's also great for tucking in a dog pill and giving a bit without being spat back out)) and a banana. I brought a fruit basket into work to add some colour on my desk and make sure I didn't let it ruin at home, since I'm so rarely there. Those, along with some primroses, have been very cheery through this spell of rain. Meanwhile, my amaryllis and paperwhites are shooting up pretty quickly. The amaryllis has a shoot coming up off the side; perhaps it made a baby bulb? The paperwhites added new shoots this weekend.
I have another job interview on Thursday at a local public library. I didn't get the last job but there's a chance I could get a temp position from about mid-March to August that would be during the week and then every 4th Saturday. I think my schedules at both other jobs would be flexible enough for that. So wish me luck.
Okay, I'm fortified and ready for my day. Hope yours goes well.
Friday, January 12, 2007
They're not releasing much else, but Christina Woods was strangled to death. The final autopsy report is not complete, so authorities do not yet know if she were sexually assaulted.
Authorities have not explained why they seized bullets, knives — one that was covered in blood — two computers, and pornographic magazines and movies from the home. They also took the clothes Neace was wearing. It sounds like they're doing standard and thorough investigation techniques. Good.
It sounds, though, like they're thinking along the same lines I am.
Columnist Leigh Buchanan muses on what she would give an office for the holidays. Among the presents? A librarian.
A librarian. Yes, I know, much of what you need is available online and your staff Googles with the best of them. Still, corporate librarians operate with a level of nuance and finesse that technology can't match. They can uncover sources so obscure as to be practically nonexistent. And they know what's what--they not only tell people what is known but also warn them what isn't.
Yay for a positive blurb on librarians in the media.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
a 'fully animated flash-based interface for Microsoft's Windows Live Search'. It's basically eye candy--a beautiful 'futuristic librarian of sorts who constantly prompts you to the enter the right search, quickly grows impatient if you spend time on the site without searching and even gives humorous comments about your searches'.
And it's annoying as hell.
What were they thinking? Is this what happens when testosterone-laden programmers have nothing better to do?
Firms Fret as Office E-Mail Jumps Security Walls - New York Times (free with registration)
I don't forward work-related things to my own account, but I do have a Gmail account specifically used for receiving interlibrary loans. I set it up after several requests got lost in the aether because they were too big to come to my work inbox. I may have to rethink that, but it's worked really well so far. The only personal information is a last name of a patron found on the DOCLINE receipts.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
What was it I was doing again? (she doesn't have it set up for linking to posts, so you'll have to look for January 2007 in the archives if you read this after it falls away from the main page).
Now, it's not really my business how much she makes or spends, or whether she's dug herself into beaucoup debt. But it maybe explains why things went so badly when she 'helped' me. She apparently didn't know what she was doing, but thought she did. By comparison, I have a really good role model now and am learning to do better in my own finances, although it's always a struggle. As far as I'm concerned, that person is the only one who has a right to lecture me about finances, because of competency and genuine affection. If you notice, I don't complain as much about my finances this day. There's a reason for that. They're not sorted out that well, but they're much better than they have been in awhile.
Granted, I'm still somewhat sore over our 'friendship' and how it ended, so maybe I'm biased. But really, if you read her blog (and ignore the knitting obsession), she just does and says the strangest things. Like plunking down $300 for a dog bed and house for a neighbour's dog. She doesn't even like dogs. Whenever I've seen her, she's been aggressively bitchy and acted afraid of them. She went on at great length about the evils of the neighbour's dog on the other side of the house. We never heard what the outcome of that one was, probably because most anyone receiving this bounty would have been offended that someone didn't think they were taking care of their dog. Oh, yes, thank you for the hideously expensive things that I couldn't provide my pet. No, that's not how people would react. Yet her 'friends' were leaving comments on her blog about what a wonderful person she was for doing that. Not one gave her a dose of reality. Oh, yeah, the ones that would do that were discarded years ago.
It's also a sore point for me because the one other person who has lectured me about fiscal responsibility is my grandmother, who 1) sent money to people who told her she'd won a lottery, 2) bought a new car when she had two in the garage in an impulse buy, and 3) had to change her bank account and phone number because people were debiting money from her account that had no right to, using information that she probably gave them. (My grandmother has lots of issues, although I doubt she realises it. She was the one who, when I explained I was studying mediaeval history, thought it wasn't true evil, just a little evil. Sigh.) I love her, but we clash in our ideas a lot.
What is it with people that they feel they can lecture someone as if they don't have any problems at all? Sane people recognise they have shortcomings and try to overcome them without striking out at others. But on the other hand, Liz also calls me the 'Crazy Librarian' and yet she is so off balance herself and has a pathological distrust of all things psychiatric, so I doubt she'll get the help she needs. She'll just keep going off at her 'friends' and driving them away when they don't tolerate her behaviour anymore. I don't think she much cares.
I don't know why I continue to read her blog. I have a perverse need to know where people who have wronged me or ones I love are, I suppose. I keep tabs on my father, my ex-husband, and Liz, and a few minor players when possible. You know, keep your friends close and your enemies closer and all that. I guess part of me would love to see them get their comeuppance. I'm starting to feel like Liz is headed for hers.
Okay, I've ranted bitchily. I feel better now.
So I did a little digging (foregoing Fresca for awhile). Apparently scientists funded by the NIH have found the culprit in grapefruit drug interactions, and it may may help juice produces remove the offending chemicals, called furanocoumarins. These inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme in the small intestine that helps break down about half of all marketed drugs. As a result, more of the drugs enter the blood stream, resulting in doses that are too high.
Want to know if your drugs interact with grapefruit juice? Try:
Drug Interaction Center, from the University of Florida
Grapefruit-Drug Interactions by Dean Elbe, BScPharm (the site hasn't been updated for awhile, but has a listing of drugs known to be affected and those suspected)
Grapefruit Juice and Drug Interactions from the Mayo Clinic
Facts about potential drug interaction with grapefruit juice, Questions and Answers from Medical News Today
I'm only on one that's listed, but that's in the 'possible--more studies needed' category. I used to be on one with a strong interaction, so that's good to know if I ever have to go on that again. I haven't had any adverse effects with my present course of therapy. The amount of grapefruit juice in the soda is probably negligable, so I don't think it should be a problem for me. (And I don't tend to eat grapefruit of drink the juice, although I like it on occasion). Still, it would be a good question for Dr Nesbitt or a friend who's a pharmacist next time I see them. In the meantime, I thought I'd put up the links just in case someone was looking for information on this topic.
archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. Both provide a stable, permanent, and free-to-access online digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed research publications.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
But you have to wonder why Christina Woods is dead. I mean, you have a naked 16-year-old in a master bedroom with accelerant around the bed, a stepfather who has been stabbed in the chest and who was the only other person in the house when the fire fighters got there, and lots of questions about what went on in that home. Michael Neace goes before a grand jury on Friday, so we may learn more then. In the meantime the authorities are remaining tight-lipped in there investigation (always a good plan, to be honest).
The thing is, it does seem to fit a pattern. If it wasn't murder, then was it self-defence? If it was self-defence, then why would a 16-year-old girl stab her stepfather? I think this case is going to prove to be a very uncomfortable can of worms. I'm hoping I'm wrong about what happened. But I'm going to watch this one closely.
- Girls with ADHD:
- lag in maturation (I always did better with kids that were younger than I, although my mom thought as a result that I was more mature than my peers)
- have trouble applying learning to new situations (they'll learn in one situation but not apply it to a different one, even when the underlying problem is the same)
- have trouble being self-aware
- have trouble dealing with several stimuli at once
- have trouble with change or transitions
- have a need for structure to overcome a lack of self-motivation and overcome inertia
- tend to react badly if 1) there is too much stimulation in their environment or 2) not enough
- many have a hyper-sensitive central nervous system, affecting such senses as touch, hearing, taste, and vision.
- may have coordination difficulties
- may have obsessional behaviours
- may have bladder issues into the teens--I once lost control during a 7th grade vocabulary test and nearly fell through the floor in shame
- experience an abundance of shame
- may have psychological distress
- may be emotionally needy
- may eat to calm themselves
- may have disturbed sleep
- may have a need for extended wind-down time before sleep
- may have trouble with social skills and missing social cues
- have trouble belonging, seeking out younger children or much older people rather than peers during school-age interactions
- have trouble planning and following-through
- have trouble prioritising and sequencing
- have trouble with their memory, particularly with accessing and retrieving stored information, assuming it got stored in the first place
- may have trouble writing and listening at the same time--in the game this is also a trouble because of having to interact whilst writing
There were more issues discussed, but those were the ones I found applicable to me.
Now the problem is, how do you overcome those things? The book seems to have some good suggestions. I may check it out after I get it on the shelf.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Some studies looking at libraries, rudeness as a problem, and
fears parents have in raising their kids in today's society: (They require registration to read the contents, but an abstract is available without registration.)
Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century
Aggravating Circumstances: A Status Report on Rudeness in America
A Lot Easier Said Than Done: Parents Talk About Raising Children in Today's America
One colleague who works in an inner-city library described the library closing it doors after school hours as 'a bunch of wimps'. But it is a real problem libraries are facing during a time when they're trying to maintain a safe and inviting place for kids to come rather than hanging out on the streets. And of course libraries are also challenged by those who are attracted to kids who may prey upon them, with the library being an excellent place to troll. But librarians aren't really baby-sitters, either. Parents need to take more responsibility for their kids in public places. A lot of libraries have policies about unaccompanied minors, for example. And sometimes homeless people are a problem in libraries, although many libraries try to be a place that serves the needs of everyone, especially those who do not have access to information otherwise.
I don't work in this environment, but I can see it must be very challenging to balance one's mission with maintaining an atmosphere where people can seek the haven of books without worrying about their or their children's safety.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
Also, it's official: I have the crud (as my doctor put it) and have for two weeks now. It really hasn't been all that bad beyond the blowing my nose a lot and coughing like I'm going to hack up something. He told me to keep on the cold medicine I'd chosen and also put me on a non-narcotic cough medicine that's prescription (narcotics make me a little crazier than normal, and itch like the devil). That should help.
All in all, I'm not having the best 24 hours of my life, and it's raining and grey outside too. But it'll get better, I'm sure.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Frozen in time, the girl who can never grow up
Treatment keeps girl child-sized
Parents defend decision to keep disabled girl small
Attenuating Growth in Children With Profound Developmental Disability: A New Approach to an Old Dilemma
Parents of a child in a vegetative state have had her have a hysterectomy, breast surgery to inhibit breast growth, and large doses of oestrogen to ensure she doesn't grow beyond her present 9-year-old stature. They say they did this to make it easier to lift her and maintain a good quality of life.
That exposes her to surgical risks and who knows what the risk to those doses of hormones are, all for the convenience of the family. I'm really surprised they got doctors to do it; certainly it should have gone through an ethics review (that's not covered in the news, so it may have for all I know). Still, since the child is not able to let her wishes be known (and they're not even sure how much she is conscious of--only that she responds to music and seems aware of her surroundings--the parents do legally have a right to make medical decisions for their child.
On the other hand, it is wrong to sterilise a child simply because she is disabled. That's something they did decades ago; it was wrong then, it is wrong now. Tinkering with her growth to relieve a burden is wrong, too. The child remains anonymous, identified by the name Ashley (the parents refer to this course as 'the Ashley treatment' on a website defending their decision). I know the parents have gone out of their way to explain that they do not consider her a burden and that this is not why they did this to Ashley--they have several rationalisations for each step--but doctors and others are concerned about how this could set a precedent that would impinge upon the inherent dignity of the disabled, not to mention violate the primary tenet of 'first, do no harm'.
I can't say I support the decision. It seems wrong to me. I'm not in a position to change that decision, though, and in this case, the damage, if any, has been done. But I hope other parents don't go down this road. I don't know what I would do if I were faced with a similar situation, but I do know I wouldn't subject my child to these 'treatments' just so I could turn her in her bed easier, or not have to deal with a pregnancy should she ever be molested, as they gave as one of their reasons. One of my co-workers, when I mentioned this story, said, 'gee, if they feel that way, why don't they let her die and be done with it?' In other words, at the heart of it, this decision was selfish and not in the best interest of the child. What I think it really comes down to it is that the parents cannot accept that their child will grow into an adult without the ability to function as one, and that they can continue to care for a cute little girl, their 'Pillow Angel' as they call her, since they put her on a pillow and she'll stay there. There's some strange psychology in this situation, that's for sure, and I think the doctors involved should really be taken to task for going along with the parents' wishes in this case.
PS [01/05/07] In order to be fair, and because I am, after all, a medical librarian, I obtained the actual article reporting this case. (Gunther DF, Diekema DS. Attenuating growth in children with profound developmental disability. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2006 Oct; 160(10):1013-17.) Some things I gleaned:
- An ethics review was made
- The main adverse effect of oestrogen therapy in such doses is thrombosis
- The authors make compelling arguments for this 'therapy' as a means of keeping more children in care at home rather than institutionalised
- They have a large section of the article regarding ethics of sterilisation and the history of the practice and the debate over it
- They attempt to answer the 'do no harm' objection
Still, their arguments, like that of the parents', seem to stretch a bit to fit what they want to be the case. No one knows what real effects this will have on this girl. Oddly enough, she is characterised with having minimal consciousness, yet the other concern as a problem for her other than her physical comfort (which the short stature and lack of breasts and menstruation is supposed to allow) is boredom. It seems to me that boredom does imply consciousness. I suppose you could characterise a lack of response due to lack of stimulation as boredom, but I'm not sure it truly applies. How do you judge responsiveness and interest in a child with minimal brain function?
I've read accounts from other parents who care for disabled children (on both sides of the debate). I recognise that 1) it is an extremely difficult job to care for such children, with little rewards and 2) our society is not supportive of home care and caregivers in general. I'm not saying that all that can be done to make the job of caregivers easier should not be done. I'm just afraid that this crosses an ethical line, blurring the details. What I'd really be interested in is how those dealing with disabilities would feel about this case.
I sought the closest thing to an ethics expert I could find and asked about this case. I was told that there was no reason the parents shouldn't seek this to make things easier in an already difficult situation. After all, they didn't expose her at birth. They are caring for her. From an Aristotelian point of view, as well, she does not truly meet the criteria for a person.
But this is a human being we're talking about, a person with a soul. She may not be able to truly live a rich life, but she does have a certain inherent worth and dignity. (Yes, that's the Unitarian in me). I just don't think carving and shaping a person to meet another's ideal of their physicality is right. I know I'm arguing from an emotional standpoint, and that invalidates an argument, but I still believe that this was wrong.
How eerie it will be for her siblings to grow up and go on with lives and she will remain a child, at least in appearance. I wish Ashley could go on to lead a normal life, but that isn't to be. It does seem she is genuinely surrounded by those her love her. I just can't agree with the way they show that love.
But again, it's not my call. It is definitely something that should be debated in an effort to solidify those blurred lines and make sure that medical practice is ethical and for the greater good.
PPS [01/07/07] I can't seem to just let this go. I keep coming back to it. Now that the doctors who performed this procedure are getting more requests for the 'Ashley treatment', I'm struck by everyone referring to other cases where children might be 'frozen' in development. But is it children, or is it girls? Not to play the feminist card per se, but how do you do this to a boy? Would you remove his testicles or give him some sort of hormone injection? Would anyone feel any differently if that kind of radical surgery was done on young boys? I think so. But how different is surgical castration different from a hysterectomy? And if it can be achieved chemically, isn't that a lifetime sort of thing, rather than the relatively short course of treatment in Ashley's case? Just wondering.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Some people say New Yorkers are self-absorbed and not inclined to help anyone out. This shows a different face, as a man risked his own life by rescuing a teen by getting him into the trough under the oncoming train and avoiding the electrified areas. Two trains went over them, with about 2 inches to spare. It was a very close thing. Wow, is all I can say, and kudos to a very good deed.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Maybe that will offset a little bit of the increase in my medical flexible spending account withdrawls.
Hope the new year brings you good news, too.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Oh, well. Maybe I'll try again later.
Hope you're having a happy new year so far. I'm going to go release my frustration with Mah-Jongg.
They say whatever you're doing at the changing of the year you'll do throughout the year. I was on the computer searching online. Go figure. In a little while, once things die down in terms of partying, I'll take an offering of wine out to Hekate, who guards liminal points, of which the changing of the year is one. In the meantime I'm drinking some sparkling grape juice (which is actually rather nasty--I should have gone with the apple cider) and having my own private celebration. I would have liked to have spent New Year's with others, but of my friends only one is unattached, and really couples should spend New Year's together, and no one needs a third wheel. And I'm generally not the type to seek out the company of strangers (except that one inexplicable New Year's where I allowed a couple of neighbours to kidnap me downtown for the celebrations. I don't know if I was blogging then; it was a little different).
I'm not making New Year's resolutions this year. I'm tired of manic lists that show all my goals that I'll never reach. I'm just going to try to do the things I know I should do better this year.
Well, wherever you are, have a very Happy New Year. Let's hope 2007 is a little more peaceful than 2006.