Monday, April 19, 2010

All Those in Public Safety Check Your Ego at the Door

Hello all,

It's me again going on another rant.  I've been fuming for about a week now about an incident involving a very dear friend of mine involving harassment from police officers and EMT officials.  This isn't the first incident with this friend, but it is the proverbial straw that broke this camel's back.  I've seen examples of police officers and medical professionals overstepping their bounds on top of our collective civil liberties before, and I believe they do it out of some small egotistical power trip.  Before I continue, however, let me be clear.  I am not attacking ALL police officials and medical staff.  I know there are good and heroic people that serve and protect to keep us safe from the "monsters" that threaten our safety and freedom and those that are there who want to make us healthier.  I'm talking about the few people that feel they have to instill feel and use force to exert control for the purposes of insurances of  safety, security and health.

In order to expound upon my point, I am going to give some examples of what I am talking about.  I have one personal example, and a few national ones.  These should drive my point home.

First, let me describe the problems with my friend that I have mentioned before.  His name is Norm, and I'll start from the beginning.  Norm suffers from severe migraines stemming from multiple concussions as a child.  The headaches cause him so much pain that when a severe attack occurs, he blacks out a goes into convulsions that last only a few minutes.  In addition, due to some childhood trauma, he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and panic attacks that trigger his migraines.  Due to this fact, he has to live on Medical Disability.  Now my examples are of three separate incidents during the last three months after he has an attack in public.  Is anyone else sensing a pattern? 

The first incident happened while he was at the Main Office of his low income apartment complex trying to pay his rent.  As he was leaving, he had a severe attack and convulsions.  The office employees called the paramedics, which was good on their part as they felt he was in need of immediate medical attention.  I would have done the same thing if I was unaware of his medical history.  However, Norm has been dealing with his condition for almost twenty years now and knows how to handle these situations.  As soon as he regains consciousness, he goes home, takes his medicine and lays down to rest and recover.  As he is so experienced, it is his opinion that he knows what he needs to do to feel better, and doesn't require emergency medical attention (as this, for Norm, is routine and not emergency).  The EMTs arrive, and as he is slowly recovering he thanks them for their help, but declines their services so he can go home and take care of himself.  However, the EMTs decide, as they are not aware of his situation, to force him to go with them.  He, again, tells them no (as I was under the impression we all have the right to do in this country).  So they call the police to force him to go with them.  The police arrive and threaten to arrest him unless he cooperates with the EMTs (to go to the hospital and get examined by a doctor that's  going to perscribe him more medication, send him home, and bill him for the privilege).  He refuses again, explains he doesn't live very far and he can get his medicine at home and recover.  After a long drawn out argument with EMTs and police officers, he finally convinces them to let him go home.

The second confrontation, occurred while he was out to get groceries.  He is on his way to the store when he has one of his attacks.  EMT's arrived and the same thing happened.  The police arrived, but this time asserted their authority to arrest this disabled person if he refused to go for treatment.  They didn't bother to understand what he was dealing with, they just tried to cart him on an ambulance and ship him off.  As the police wouldn't back down, he had no choice but to go (thus violating his right to refuse medical treatment).  Then, at the hospital, he listed the medications he could have and the ones that he absolutely could not have, as he had severe side effect reactions.  So, after the nurse gets this list, she administers one of the drugs that he told them he couldn't have anyway, and triggers a panic attack.  As he finds this distressing, he informs the nurse (in a not so nice way) that she made a mistake.  The nurse, who after all this, felt she did the right thing anyway, didn't want to deal with this overexcited patient, decided to release him and send him home before the side effects of the medication wore off.  She kicked him out of the hospital.  As he was arguing with her about the ethics of this, she called security to have him removed.  Let me reiterate.  This nurse, who mis-medicated my friend, called security to throw him out of the hospital after her mistake.  As he was escorted out and arguing with security about the matter, a doctor intervened to help security.  He grabbed Norm by the shoulder to throw him out.  Unfortunately, for a doctor, he wasn't too bright.  If he was, he would have read Norm's chart and seen that he suffered from panic attacks.  When he grabbed Norm;s shoulder, Norm panicked, grabbed the doctors hand and used pain to remove the doctor's hand.  Then he left and went to the nearest open pharmacy.  Once there, he had another attack in line.  So the pharmacist called in the EMTs (here we go again).  The EMTs arrived.  Norm explained the situation that he saw no reason to go to the hospital, as he was just thrown out of one.  One EMT, Paul,  got physically aggressive, so Norm, defending himself, broke the Paul's nose.  As the police were called, Norm was taken outside to give his statement about his using self defense.  Paul's partner verified Norm and he was allowed to get his prescription and go home.  WOW.  a whole day wasted by all just because authorities wouldn't allow Norm to assert his right of refusal.

This last time was the absolute worst of these civil violations.  Norm was going home from paying his rent, when he had another attack.  He recovered, took some of his medicine he had on him, and went home to relax.  Unbeknown to him, someone saw the whole thing and called the authorities and told them he "popped some pills" and showed where he went.  So, while Norm was laying down recovering, police and EMTs broke down his door and accosted him about the incident, causing (not surprisingly) a panic attack.  Is this what we've come down to.  people with difficulties not able to calm down and rest and recover in their own home.

This is one example that I know of personally.  Others examples can include doctors like Conrad Murray or the doctor that prescribed for Heath Ledger.  Doctors that care more about their bank accounts and prestige than they do about proper and responsible care for their patients.  Police officers, like those that brutalize people (like Rodney King) without provocation.  People who have no business being responsible for other people.

My personal belief is that any person that chooses to serve in a position of responsibility should check their ego at the door.  They need to set aside their drives and desires and objectively look out for the welfare of those they are responsible for.  Medical practitioners should care more about healing people and doing that job correctly and responsibly, not caring more about liability, malpractice and seeing as many patients in one shift as though patients are on a conveyor belt assembly line.  Police officers should look to protect people, not harass them  when they are not harming or infringing on others.  There has to be a way to screen candidates for these jobs, and once they're hired, to properly train them in a way to do their job in a way that best cares for and protects people while preserving their rights and civil liberties.  However, until that happens, we have to be leery about our protectors.  Like the comic book said, "Who watches the Watchmen."  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Thoughts on Family

Hey all,

I thought I'd use this post to write about something I care quite passionately about.  The concept of family.  Someone once told me they did not believe in the concept of half-siblings and step children.  That if a family was broke, then that was it.  No more family beyond that.  I disagree.  I come from a large, close family.  In addition, I am a child of divorce.  However, instead of a broken family, I became part of an extendend blended family.  this means that I aquired more family through the break up of my parents marriage.  This, being from including my stepfather and his family into our own as well as when my step mother gave birth to my half-sisters, one of who in now pregnant with her first child (yet more family). 

Now when my sisters were little, I told them many times there is nothing more important than family.  However, lately I have learned that family goes beyond blood relatives.  It's about the people you surround yourselves with.  I have found, that in my family,as I'm sure in everyone's as well, I have some blood relatives that I am less than proud of.  Some of them, I out right resent or dislike.  And there are some that I care for deeply.

However, blended families are just as important.  I've found with my stepfather and his family, the welcomed my mom and myself with open arms and love, like we were already a close part of that family.  In kind, I feel that same love, respect and closeness to them as well, even if I wasn't born into their family by blood.  We are a family.  A larger and closer family than when it was just my blood relatives.  I believe blended families offer more chances to learn and grow as a person with more love and support from a growing, what the military calls, "band of brothers".

This philosophy can be extended even further.  I grew up as an only child.  Therefore My closest friends and many of my first cousins became, in a way, my brothers and sisters.  With that bond as a child, I have been able to hold onto that closeness throughout my life with these people.  One day, while I was disciplining my former girlfriends young daughter, she tried to verbally attack me with the statement, "Well it's no surprise you don't have any friends."  That statement got me to thinking about it.  To her surprise, however, I agreed with her.  I informed her that she was right.  I don't have friends.  Because they are family.  The people, I have chosen to bond to in my life, have become so close to me, they are truly my brothers and sisters, my extended family.  With that I'd like to thank my "brothers" Robbie, Brian, Bob, Robert, Josh, Norm, Fred and the Norris' (as well as their families) for being there for me and allowing me to be there for them.  Due to this extension, the "band of brothers" grows and even more people form a caring community.

Due to the growths of these families, my own as well as others, there is bound to be a bit of "overlap" in these groups of people.  And even though I am a pessimist, I am, also, an idealist.  I'd like to believe that with this overlap of groups of people to care for each other that there is hope society can eventually unite to end destructive conflict, and as the John Lennon song, Imagine, says, the world can live as one.  It might be an unrealistic thought, but I think it's still a good thought nonethe less.

I hope all who read this have a happy holiday weekend.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Is Laziness a Virtue?

Hello all,

It's a question I occasionally think of, but haven't put much thought in, until now.  Have we as a society gotten too lazy for our own good.   We've become a society of having everything at our fingertips now, without actually having to lift a finger to get it.  Between remote controls and internet shopping, no one has to take any time to do anything anymore, and I think it has created a lot of problems with our society.

Let's start with the obvious, obesity.  I probably won't cover any new ground with my statements on this particular point, but I think these statements should probably be made again.  I'll start with the obvious, video games and remote controls.  Now, I'm well aware that I'm a big user of both, and am overweight.  Is there a correlation?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I'm overweight for 2 reasons.  The first, is I eat A LOT of stuff that isn't good for me.  The second, is that I don't get any exercise.  I don't get any exercise because I've always been an indoors kind of guy.  This means that I've succumbed to the temptations of video games and cable TV, which pretty much makes me a couch potato.  That pretty much SCREAMS laziness because I don't have to get up for anything.  Everything is run by remote control.  I don't have to go outside to play sports because I have some of them as video games.  Which has left me with a lack of physical ambition.  However, this is where I can comment in the hopes that others don't make the same mistakes that I do.  For example, One of my closest friends is providing a wonderful balance with his 4 year old son.  This is a boy that has beaten more video games in 4 years of life than I have in 15 years.  But, even though he plays a lot of video games, he is also encouraged to play outside.  His favorite outdoor activity is Freeze Tag.  My friend, also, plays football, baseball and golf with him too.  This boy had his own set of golf clubs, real clubs not toys, when he was 2 years old.  Due to this exposure, he's as comfortable being physically active outside as he his playing his games and watching his cartoons inside.  I think if more people took the time to take other people outside more, we would at least start to have a healthier society.

But, the problems go deeper than just video games and TV.  Let's move on to drive thru's.  This has taken all the effort for someone to actually stop their car, turn it off, get out, and go into a place of business and interact with others.  When did we decide we had to have something so bad, but didn't need to get out of the car for it.  And by extension, the same can be said for internet shopping.  This form of "laziness" has ended up secluding us from each other, and this seclusion has taken all the humanity out of a lot of things that we say and do.  It's almost like other REAL people don't exist because they're just a voice through a drive thru speaker, or a voice on a radio, or a face on the TV, or a face on the internet.  No real connection between people.  To me, that's sad.  It's almost like being a hermit without ever needing to leave the village.

With the advent of the internet, this problem has seemed to increase.  I have already mentioned online shopping.  But what about the other issues.  Let's start with texting.  Since people have started being able to text, they don't talk to the same people as much.  I wonder if they can even remember that person's voice, or face.  The opposite can, also, be true.  People that actually did just communicate in person, or over the phone, are texting each other a few minutes later.  I have an example of the second extreme.  A few years ago, I was visiting my father and his family.  As I was visiting, I noticed my teenage sister sitting with a friend next to the computer, chatting with a friend, that lived just down the road, and talking to another friend on her cell phone...ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  WTF.  What happened to a GROUP of friends just getting together to hang out.  This example leads to the next problem with texting...carelessness.  The biggest statistic for this is the fact that more auto crashes are caused by people texting than by drunk drivers.  Alcohol has become safer on the road than technology.  Again, WTF.  However, shopping and chatting aren't the only activities to be done electronically.  Dating and sex have been taken to this extreme as well.  It seems the days of going out and socializing with different people in order to meet that special someone are gone.  Now, you seem to be able, for a fee, to meet someone special (as long as they fit within pre-programmed parameters).  And cybersex is COMPLETELY impersonal.  You might as well be looking at a porno magazine.

Now I'm all for people who work hard during the week taking time out to be lazy and relax.  But to go to the previous extremes is ludicrous.  Since I've moved back to New England, I have found I take time to go outside and enjoy what it has to offer.  I don't use a drive thru all the time, so I can take the time to go inside the establishment and interact with different kinds of people (it, also, helps in my chosen career of customer service and sales).  In addition, I don't own a cell phone, so I don't have to be interrupted while I'm driving or interacting with others.  As I've stated previously, I'm a TV and video game junkie, so I'm not anti-tech.  However, technology shouldn't replace our humanity and connection to nature either.  So take a break from your text, or show, or email, or video game and go outside and explore.  Who knows, you might encounter something that fascinates you more.

To be clear, I'm not trying to guilt or force people to change how they live or do certain things.  I would just like you to take a little time and think about this.  Please let me know what you think.

Until next time...