23 July 2016

oh cleveland, what have ye wrought?

four days. i watched it every day for four straight days. i even watched most of the opening acts, although i'll admit that i dodged out to watch commentary some of the time, because i started to feel like i was in some fact-proof box and needed to know that there were other people who were just a bit more like me in the world. but i think i probably watched more of the republican national convention than most people who are members of the republican party, and that includes some of the people at the convention, who were apparently just in town for some hot, forbidden gay sex.

i delayed a day in posting my reaction to see if allowing what i'd seen to sink in would result in it making any more sense, to no avail. from the wussiest rebellion in history at the very opening of the convention [technically before the opening] to the pornographic exploitation of a mother's grief at her son's death in benghazi to melania trump's speech plagiarized from michelle obama of all people to donald trump junior's much-praised speech to ben carson linking hillary clinton to lucifer to mike pence's dull but grounded acceptance to ivanka trump's glowing, delusional introduction to the man himself reading a prepared speech that had been leaked hours earlier... it was special in so many ways.

my hands are aching from trying to tweet all the snide quips that crossed my mind, because for cynical bitches like me, this was four days of gold. even the many debates that we've had didn't have quite that level of "wtf" happening. there's really not a lot in the way of comprehensive analysis i can provide, because the event itself was nearly incomprehensible. in that way, it is much like the candidate himself- bluster and anger and talking points without a real narrative or any important details. throughout his shocking campaign, trump has existed solely in the moment, a continuous present tense where he seems confused when people care about statements he's made in the past. never was that more evident than in the pre-convention interview that trump and his newly minted running mate mike pence gave to 60 minutes. for every point that leslie stahl was able to bring up where pence's views [and there are a lot] differed from trump's. trump talked around the differences, told pence he was "allowed" to have different views or flat out said "i don't care", with an expression that seemed bewildered as to why stahl would even think it could be important.

so, unable to pull any thread of sense from the lint ball that was the convention, i thought i'd just take a quick look at the winners and losers coming out of the convention, those who go forward with a spring in their step and those whose next steps are likely to be pretty painful.

winners ::

john kasich :: the man who was a model of class throughout the hard-fought republican campaign and the unlikely last man standing against donald trump, declined to even attend the convention in his home state, much less endorse the candidate. where almost all others folded to pressure and came on board, kasich simply said that he wasn't interested, despite being a republican and opposed to hillary clinton. most touching of all was his assertion that he simply could not have explained to his daughters how he could back a man who has said such horrid things about women. rumour has it that he was offered the v.p. spot on trump's ticket, with the promise that he'd be the most powerful vice president in history, but the man who consistently polled best against clinton both nationwide and in key swing states told the campaign he wasn't interested. there is no reason to think kasich won't be back and when that moment comes, he's likely to poll even better among "soft" democrats.

invanka trump :: although everyone was falling all over themselves to praise her brother donald jr's speech two days before, the eldest trump daughter really stole the show with her natural flow, poise and political but not political demeanour. yes, it could be and was said that she sounded like she'd wandered into the wrong convention, or that she'd had a stroke during her recent childbirth that left her with amnesia, but, while the amazing person she spoke about was clearly nowhere to be found, ivanka herself was flawless. not even her father's inappropriately roaming hands could rattle her composure. the donald floated the idea that she could be his running mate or even the president one day. all of a sudden, that doesn't seem like a half-bad idea.

donald trump :: despite the media's attempts to play up the insurrection, the "stop trump" movement fizzled before things even got properly started. for all the weirdness and flubs and cringeworthy moments, the convention was pure trump. you felt like there was a trap door under every speaker, and that trump could simply clap his hands and the person on stage would be dropped into a pool of sharks. more importantly, trump managed to paper over some of the most controversial aspects of the party's official policies, especially its retrenched opposition to lgbtq rights. in the most spontaneous and human moment of his big speech, trump thanked the audience and expressed his gratification when they applauded his statements in favour of the community. for lack of a better expression, trump trumped his own party.

ted cruz :: in the future, when pundits reflect on this convention, one of the most perplexing questions will be how the podium so effectively hid ted cruz's giant balls. forget those who make much of his being booed off the stage, or that he and his family basically had to retreat under armed guard from the premises. the media are short-sighted when they see his gamble as a career-killer, because they are falling into the trump trap of evaluating things only in the moment. the focus on the fury that cruz unleashed by refusing to endorse trump misses the fact that it was possibly the best speech of the entire convention, and many republicans are going to regret the fact that they have no one of his oratory skill to take on the road in the upcoming campaign. [even more so since hillary clinton has chosen a catholic, spanish-speaking running mate, who could play well in the southwest and force the gop to spend more resources shoring up arizona, nevada and new mexico.] in a convention that saw a parade of police officers disparaging the black lives matter movement, cruz praised the family of alton sterling for calling for peace. hate him all you want, but it took a lot of guts to do what cruz did. the trump experiment will implode at some point, even if the man wins the election in november, and when it does, cruz and kasich are going to look like the second coming of gop christ. conservative columnist and former advisor and speechwriter to george w. bush, david frum put it best when he tweeted, "ten years from now, everyone who was at this convention who is still alive will claim that they applauded ted cruz".

losers ::

hillary clinton :: if it weren't for donald trump, the former first lady and secretary of state would have the highest unfavourability ratings of any presidential candidate in history. and boy, do republicans ever know that. it's very possible that clinton's name was mentioned more often than trump's over the course of the convention, so often that it sometimes felt like the election was a referendum on her rather than a battle of party ideas. yes, the criticisms were wildly exaggerated, outright wrong, or just crazy [looking at you, dr. carson], but there's no question that, with that much repetition, people are going to remember these things and some of that shit will stick.

melania trump :: the woman deserved better. even if she said that she really admired michelle obama's sentiments and speeches, there was no reason for the speechwriters to copy the first lady's words so obviously other than sheer spite. written off as a bimbo trophy bride, melania has been with the donald for nearly twenty years, and he is not a man to tarry if he has lost interest, so it seems like she must have something on the ball. she did not sign on for this and, with all the adult trump children more than capable on their feet, it's arguable that the introverted melania didn't need to give the customary "first lady in waiting" speech. trump's campaign has been about doing things differently, after all. instead, her speech became an embarrassment, a sad distraction and fodder for scornful liberal onlookers like me.

tiffany trump :: the youngest trump to speak, tiffany clearly didn't have the gravitas of her older siblings, but she did have a sort of sweetness and innocence that comes from a life of privilege and complete shelter. she seemed like a very nice person who just hasn't quite realised that life isn't so wonderful for everyone. but mostly, she seemed like a young woman desperate for her father's love and attention. her wistful memories of how well he treated her rested on things like his being the first person to call her when a close member of her family died. she didn't even seem to be aware of the line she'd drawn between her father and her family. all of her anecdotes were similar: the incredible parenting skills of the nearly completely absent father, who hadn't even bothered to stay for her speech. at the end of the convention, trump thanked and praised all his family except her for their participation. poor little rich girl.

marco rubio :: the one-time heir to the republican throne clashed openly with trump throughout the nomination process and admitted it was getting hard to continue saying he would support the republican nominee no matter what. oh, how times have changed. now more of an icarus figure, rubio was humiliated by being given the task of introducing ted cruz, the man who, as much as trump, was responsible for his crash back to earth. speaking on screen from what looked like a closet in which he was being held hostage, rubio looked a shadow of his former self, all the optimism and positivity beaten out of him as he surrendered to the inevitability of trump. rubio was once the candidate democrats most feared. now they have to be wondering if they don't have a halfway decent shot of taking his senate seat away.

the republican party :: as he pulled himself together to give the rousing speech the highest-ranking man in the party is supposed to give, former vice presidential candidate paul ryan looked vaguely like he was trying to blink sos signals to the audience. help me. no one understands better than he the troubled relationship that the party has with their chosen candidate, as was evidenced by his own equivocation on endorsement. in the end, ryan barely mentioned the candidate and remained anonymous for the rest of the week, probably downing whiskey and wallowing in self-pity when thinking about the candidate who's leading them into battle. whatever the result of the election, whatever happens during the upcoming months, make no mistake: the republican party has lost and may very well never recover. they've spent eight years of stoking the worst sentiments in their voters, shutting down the government on dubious matters of principle, refusing to compromise in order to get work done, indulging then observer-donald's deranged fantasy of barack obama being foreign-born, parroting the talking points of the national rifle association in opposition to the will of most americans, wasting countless hours on an obsessive campaign to get even the meagre offerings of the affordable care act clawed back from the poor and needy. and now all the poison seeds they sowed have blossomed. the gop has made its bed and now it must sleep in it. with donald trump.

americans :: the greatest harm that a candidate as boorish and shallow as trump does is not to latinos, or women, or refugees, or muslims or any of the groups that he purports to hate, but to political discourse itself. it is already exceedingly difficult to get anything other than talking points about the story of the day during an election, but trump's ignorant bluster dumbs things down a little more. i am glad to see that he is making issues of trade deals like the tpp and the need to scale back u.s. military interventions, but even on those, his position is hard to pin down. he wants to get out of the regime change business, but he wants to build up the military, destroy isis wherever they are and put troops back in iraq. on the trade deals, he says that they are job killers and that they've destroyed american manufacturing. but he's taken advantage of them himself and still says that he will tear up these sweeping deals in favour of one-on-one deals with each country, a plan that will create greater bureaucracy and will make america less desirable as a trading partner or a business base for multinationals, who are really the force behind these trade deals to begin with. but the worst part is that he understands little about these issues, aside from his media lines and has shown no inclination to learn more. americans deserve to have an election with serious debates about foreign military intervention, globalisation versus the domestic economy, how to reduce the vastly unequal distribution of wealth within the country, improving the educational system, the medical system, the welfare system and they never seem to get it. this time, they'll get it even less. trump isn't going to debate anyone based on facts and policies and the media is by and large going to let him get away with that. it's a sad state of affairs.

that's my take, for what it's worth. i could add myself among the losers, because i just lost days of potentially productive time rage-watching something whose outcome was never in doubt. but that's who i am. a mentally masochistic sad sack who wants to believe the best, but giddily embraces the worst. now onward to the democrats...

p.s. :: the photos used here are from the ghetto america blog, a look at the grimier side of the american urban experience. 

20 July 2016

making faces :: one more bite won't kill me

i've always imagined that "one more bite won't kill me" will actually be my last words [or, alternately "what does this button do?"], but i hadn't until recently thought that the direct cause would be lipstick-related. now, when i look at the extent of my collection, i'm forced to acknowledge that there is a very good chance that i'll be unable to resist a new bite beauty amuse bouche and get crushed in a very colourful avalanche as i am trying to put everything away. i don't know how much time i've got left, but given the strength of my addiction and the limitations of space, things are likely to get dangerous soon. and yet, here i am, about to tell you about the next new shade of bite lipstick i brought home.

it wasn't that long ago that my principal issue with bite [and it wasn't a big issue, given the quality of their products] was that their shade range, while broad, tended to be the sorts of shades that lots of other brands had already. their new amuse bouche lipsticks showed some increased signs of originality, but their six-shade "sweet and savoury" collection for summer just smashed right through the wall. ok, not every shade is 100% original [deep brown "whiskey" seems like the sort of thing i've seen before, although i couldn't swear that there's an exact duplicate out there], but it's pretty damn close. having already succumbed to the allure of "kale" and "lavender jam", i couldn't resist going back for seconds.

taro
taro
"taro" is a very greyed purple, definitely muted in tone, but dark enough to give a bit of drama as well. intense and muted? that combination seems like it should be impossible, but clearly, it isn't. it's all about the darkness here: depth is what gives the colour both its intensity and its uniqueness. most muted purple tones are softer looking because they are lighter. and for that matter, most of them are pinker. one of the only permanent shades i have that dabbles in this range is mac's "up the amp", but it just looks like a medium sweetheart pink compared to "taro".

l to r :: taro, mac up the amp
with bright blues and swampy greens and even shades of yellow marching into lipstick collections everywhere this year, a shade of purple doesn't seem all that dramatic, but this is a bold choice for a colour. truly cool, muted tones are incredibly rare. when i did my series on lipsticks to suit all the sci\art seasons, true summer ended up with tamped down shades of cool pink and fuchsia. "taro" is something that's meant for a true summer complexion, especially for those who have darker hair.

in theory, that makes it a very difficult colour for me, since, as a bright [probably] winter, clarity of colour is the most important thing to bring out the best in my complexion. and, as much as i enjoy exploring and am impressed with the results of seasonal colour analysis, i have to say that i'm willing to take the risk for such a unique shade. i adore purples. i have nothing like it. it's saturated enough that it doesn't look insipid on me. i'll accept a less than ideal colour match for a colour this enchanting.

here it is in action...




i wish i could say with certainty what the shades i'm wearing are, but i failed to make proper notes. i reasonably certain it's an assortment of rouge bunny rouge, alongside nars "lhasa" and i'm reasonably sure that the blush is nars "sin", topped with colour pop "stole the show".

since the last review i posted, i notice that the sephora website [sephora being the exclusive distributor for bite beauty] has listed "taro" and "lavender jam" as limited edition, while the other shades from the sweet and savoury summer collection appear to be joining the permanent assortment. so, if you want to prioritize shades, put purple first.

"taro" once again showcases bite at their best. it's getting difficult for me to even look at other brands and let me tell you, that is shocking. and believe me, if i can find unique gems in their collection, healthy, non-addicted folk should have no problem. 

18 July 2016

three things i learned about english by learning other languages

lost in translation :: one spine
in the continuing adventures of kate fulfilling her lifetime wish to learn every language ever more languages than the two i already know, i've found that there is a parallel system by which i am learning a great deal about my mother tongue. [spellcheck just suggested i change that to "my mother's tongue". spellcheck, you are officially creeping me out.]

most of us learn how to speak our native language in the same way: we're taught general rules, but because we're speaking the language all the time, we don't tend to reflect on what those rules are on a regular basis. but when you're force feeding yourself a high-grammar, high-vocabulary diet o, you start to notice things about your linguistic diet up to that point. and here are some of those things that i, as a native english speaker, have noticed.

1. we do something awful to the letter 'r'. we will often snicker, or mimic with great exaggeration, the rolled 'r' that we here in spanish, thinking it's a bit weird that so many people find it necessary to do a drumroll with their tongue in the middle of a word. but once you've fumbled your way through pronunciation exercises in a few different languages, you realise the horrible truth: we're the screwed up ones.

first of all, that extended trill that many anglophones ascribe to spanish isn't how they pronounce the letter 'r' most of the time; it's how they pronounce it when there's two of them. nevertheless, there is still a slight flutter of the tongue used when there's a single 'r' and it's used by virtually everyone who isn't english. we know it's there in spanish and italian, but it's also present in slavic languages like polish and baltic languages like lithuanian do it too. our close cousins german and dutch are even in on the game.

english speakers pronounce the 'r' with the lower jaw and the lips. everyone else pronounces it with the lips and tongue. people who've worked hard to develop flawless accents in foreign languages will tell you that nothing betrays anglophone origins our 'r'. so go ahead and smirk at the rolling "barrio" or "corrido". the joke is on us.

2. our vowel system is bizarre. when you're learning english, they teach you that there are five [and a half] vowels: a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y. [fyi, no one ever bothered to specify when 'y' was a vowel when they taught me that. it was just out there that 'y' would sometimes switch sides. over time, i realised that it's a vowel when it's voiced and a consonant when it's not. but i had to figure that out for myself. thanks public school system.] once they've drilled that into our coconuts, they tell us that each vowel can be pronounced as either a short or a long sound: lamb/ hay, set/ evil, fill/ kite, mop/ stove, fuzzy/ yule. seems simple, and it's complete malarkey.

first of all, even our words don't work that way. if they did, we wouldn't have love/ glove/ dove, where the short 'u' sound masquerades in the clothing of a long 'o'. or trying explaining put/ rut.

for most people, short and long vowels are exactly what you'd think they'd be- the same sound held for a shorter or longer period of time. sounds like our long 'a' aren't seen as a single vowel sound at all, but as a combination of vowels. many other languages are constructed based on phonemes: the tiniest units of sound used to form words. vowels are one of those sounds, stripped down to their bare essence. to get more complex sounds, other languages string them together. english does that too, but it's just confusing, because we don't distinguish between a combined vowel sound like in 'bait' and what we call a long 'a', like in 'kate'. [the tendency of english words to use different letters to create the exact same goddamned sound is one of the things that drives learners to distraction. why does 'horror' require 'rr' but 'unrequited' and 'barometer' don't? what purpose is served by that distinction, other than annoy people?]

in order to accommodate the range of vowel sounds a human can make, many languages have adapted by extending the number of vowels. they do that by adding diacritical marks or accents to letters, and sometimes they even add them to consonants to account for common sounds like 'ch' or 'sh' in a single letter. but oh no, we decided that there are only five and a half vowels, and we'll jam every sound into our system, no matter what. failing that, we'll just pretend certain sounds [like the german 'ö'] don't exist. [ notice that i used the word 'accommodate' there. it includes two double letters 'cc' and 'mm', which sound exactly the same as their single versions do in the word 'coma'.]

so in short: our versions of long and short vowels make no sense, because they're not long and short versions of the same sound. we use different letters to create the same sound and the same letters to create different sounds. and when we come across a sound that doesn't fit in our model, we either ignore it [put/ rut] or pretend it doesn't exist.

3. our annunciation game is weak. remember what i said in point #2 about other languages using combinations of vowels to come up with the sounds we think of as "long vowels"? the truth is that we flatten those sounds, like the 'ai' in 'bait' or the 'ei' in 'weigh', so that they come out the same as the vowel sound in 'kate'. as a result, we've lost certain subtleties of pronunciation are difficult for us. the lithuanian words 'sveikas' and 'kaip' [both used in greetings] have a subtle difference in pronunciation, because of the different letters. our ears are sharp enough that we can actually perceive the difference, but we're not used to pronouncing two vowel sounds like that unless we do it really slowly. everything comes out of our mouth sounding like 'hay'.

we've found ways to get around our annunciation troubles like splitting up 'a' words and 'an' words. by any standard, it's a simple rule: one goes before consonants and the other goes before vowels and whichever one you use in front of a word starting with 'h', someone will tell you you're wrong. the reason we invented that isn't just to be confusing, but because it makes certain things easier for us to say: 'a apple' is a lot more awkward for us than 'an apple'. [and in defense of english, we're hardly the only language to do this. italian allows you to use 'ed' instead of 'e' if the word falls between two vowels. french insists you change 'je' to 'j'' to get around the difficulty of saying 'je étais'.]

our limited ability to create sounds would seem hilarious to native speakers of languages as far flung as finnish or hawaiian, where words can be three miles long and you pronounce every single letter. seriously:

hääyöaieuutinen

and we don't even consider the implications of tone. for us, it's all about the meaning of the words. we can shift emphasis through tone [e.g., why are you reading this blog? why are you reading this blog? why are you reading this blog? why are you reading this blog? all mean the same thing, but with clues as to the specific information sought by the questioner], but in languages like mandarin chinese or japanese, the entire meaning of what you're saying can be different. so not only do you have to know spelling and pronunciation, but you get to explore the new language with the knowledge that the wrong tone of voice could be the difference between asking someone what the soup of the day is and asking them the size of their mother's vagina. have fun!

our lazy pronunciation turns language learning into an actual workout: if you want to nail the sound as well as the words, you need to train your mouth to do things it's not used to doing. your jaw muscles and tongue will actually feel like your thighs after leg day. stop thinking those dirty thoughts.

those are a few of the things i've noticed, and since i'm given to being a bit long-winded, i'll let you off with those three. but trust me, i have never learned so much about english as i have learning how to not speak it. 

15 July 2016

hey, hoosier boy, i have some questions

don't get a mental image
since donald trump rather confusedly canceled his press conference to announce indiana governor a list of questions that should be asked of [since confirmed] candidate hillary clinton. i anticipated then that none of them would be asked, and thus far that's proven true. herein lies the problem when you have a candidate like trump in the race: other candidates never get the scrutiny they richly deserve and important issues fall by the wayside.
mike pence as his running mate and then blurted it out on twitter when he realised that pence had to officially withdraw from the gubernatorial race today at noon anyway, and since they've already debuted their campaign imagery and vaguely buttseksy logo, i figured it was as good a time as any to put some questions out there. a few months ago, i came up with

i don't have much confidence that anyone will ask any of these questions of governor pence, but i would say it's just a hair more likely that we might hear some of them crop up at some time. still not holding my breath.

1. you have a long history of opposing rights for the lgbtq community, such as your statement in 2000 that the u.s. congress should resist any effort to extend the protection of anti-discrimination laws to gays and lesbians, your 2009 opposition to the matthew sheppard hate crimes act, your support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and your state legislation that would have allowed business to refuse service to people on the basis of sexual orientation. however, the majority of americans support equal rights, including the right of same sex couples to marry. do you plan to use your position as vice president to lobby for changes in existing laws or to the constitution in line with the views you have stated? if so, why would you choose to do so, given that it would conflict with the views of the american public?

2. in your time as governor, indiana has seen the poorest growth of any state in the midwest and, while you have lowered unemployment to 5% and have a very healthy workforce participation rate [65%], much of that has been driven by lower-paying jobs. as a result, the steady decline in wages in indiana [which started well before your term as governor] has continued to increase, with workers in the state expected to earn only 86% of what the average american earns per year. what case do you make to the american people that they should trust you to take a major role in running the national economy?

3. related to question #2, your running mate donald trump has said that he believes national employment figures are deeply misleading, because they do not take into account issues like underemployment or the number of people who have given up on finding work [and therefore are not counted in the official numbers]. what is your response to the accusation that indiana's low unemployment rate benefits from this same sort of "trickery"? have you discussed this issue with mr. trump?

4. when mr. trump proposed a ban on all muslims entering the country, you described it as "offensive" and "unconstitutional". however, you have taken action to stop refugees fleeing the civil war in syria from being allowed to settle in indiana. does this mean that you have changed your position on the temporary ban on muslims entering the country? if yes, what was it that made you change your mind, both in terms of its being acceptable and its being constitutional? if not, what is the plan for you and mr. trump- who still strongly supports the ban- to address this issue?

5. likewise, you have supported the trans-pacific partnership [tpp] trade deal, while mr. trump has said that it represents "a continuing rape of our country", especially in states like indiana which have seen a sharp decline in their manufacturing sectors? have you changed your mind about this or any of the other trade deals you supported during your time as governor and in congress? same follow-up questions as above.

6. mr. trump has repeatedly emphasized that he never supported the 2003 invasion of iraq, while secretary of state hillary clinton did. you also supported the invasion and voted in favour of the resolution that authorized it while you were in congress. how do you respond to mr. trump's assertions that the invasion was one of the greatest errors in modern american history?

7. you have supported a number of laws that have increased the penalties for minor drug offenses, including one that you implemented as governor that requires a mandatory minimum sentence for relatively minor offenses [second or third arrests for simple possession rather than possession with intent to sell]. given that there is a significant body of evidence that mass incarceration does not alleviate the issue of drug-related crime, that it tends to create long-term problems within already disadvantaged communities and that the laws are unequally applied between whites and non-whites, why do you support these sorts of measures and what evidence are you relying on in order to justify your decisions? will you push for similar laws to be enacted federally?

these are hardly the only questions that governor pence should face, but i think that they're fair ones. after all, he should be evaluated on the basis of his record, as all politicians should. it's time to cut through the sound bites and campaign crap and give people some real answers about the people they'll be voting for [or not] in the fall. so get off your collective butts, you people in the media. it's time to show the people why you deserve their attention.


13 July 2016

playing doctor

nonetheless, i persist in checking up online when i have a problem, just to see if i have signs of
anything serious. most recently, i found that my body was showing a lot of signs of a sluggish thyroid. and the thing is, that's something that i can attempt to deal with myself, because there are dietary changes and over the counter supplements that i can try without even making an appointment. seems to me that that actually helps the healthcare system, since, at the worst, it delays the time that it takes me to make an appointment and lets me assure my doctor that i've tried some of the basics.

in the interest of those who'd like to try "helping", i've made this little list of hints on how to consult the internet for health advice without incurring the wrath of the medical system.

1. read from good sources :: the reasons that doctors get furious about self-diagnosis is that so many people are getting their information from blogs that offer only anecdotal evidence, if any at all. if you're going to do this, do it right. reliable sites are ones that provide their sources and link to backup like studies or peer reviewed papers. you can be as skeptical as you want about "big pharma", but the fact is that the only way to determine the scientific validity of treatments for any condition is through carefully controlled testing that is reviewed by others in the field to confirm its validity. [and fyi, that also goes for beauty products, which are notorious for their use of unverified, qualitative data.]

2. understand interactions :: many over the counter drugs, including natural supplements, can interact with prescription drugs. before you take anything, make sure that there is no possibility that it can compromise what you're already taking. this sort of information is readily available online, from reliable sources. and remember to always inform your doctor of any supplements you're taking.

3. remember ockham's razor :: if you hear hooves, think horses and not zebras [unless you live in the african savannah, in which case reverse that]. if something is described as a rare condition, it's because it's bloody rare. whatever the most common explanation is for your symptoms is the most likely answer. and while we're discussing symptoms, make sure that you look at a list of all the symptoms of a condition. symptoms tend to happen in clusters, even if you don't put them together. unless you can say without hesitation [i.e., without thinking "well, i kind of feel that sometimes"] that you have a symptom, assume you don't. that said, if you're able to look at a list of symptoms and realise that while they might not have seemed related, they are all things from which you've suffered in the last thirty days or so, take that seriously. when i "diagnosed" myself with a sluggish thyroid, i had experienced about 80% of the symptoms listed on several reliable websites. no other condition even came close to matching up and it actually linked up symptoms that i hadn't thought of as related.

4. prescribing information sheets are your friend :: these are the "cheat sheets" that are prepared by drug companies for doctors and pharmacists. in practice, pharmacists know them really well, while doctors have a general familiarity. if you're thinking about asking your doctor about a specific drug, you're going to want to know what's on that sheet really well. in fact, the best thing you can do is print it out and bring it with you. prescribing information sheets aren't like marketing pieces. by law, the company is required to disclose all the information it's assembled on its drug, including testing that proved its efficacy and incidence of adverse reactions, as well as potential interactions.

5. get copies of your tests :: blood tests? ekg's? you're entitled to a copy of any physical tests that are done on your person. your doctor gets them automatically, and may charge you to get a copy from them. the clinic, lab, or hospital that does the tests should provide them free of charge. [that's in canada.] get them, read them, look up the results online to see what they mean. the threshold for clinical conditions [like hypothyroidism and anemia] are drawn at a specific point. you can be close to that threshold without meeting it and still be feeling symptoms. ask your doctor to talk you through the results and ask them if there are any areas where you should be concerned, without there being a clinical problem yet.

6. be nice :: this is generally good advice in life, but if you want to avoid alienating your doctor, it's necessary. doctors don't mean to be dismissive of your symptoms, but a lot of them are overworked and are moving too fast to put signs and symptoms together. in an ideal world, they would have time to reflect on every patient's history and develop a profile that allowed them to see the larger picture. in the current reality, that doesn't happen and, in a lot of cases, it's not because they don't mean well. dom had the same doctor for years and he never managed to work out that he had multiple sclerosis. that didn't make him a bad doctor. it made him busy. your doctor is probably the same. ask them if it's possible certain symptoms can be related. tell them that you've read about a condition that could explain your symptoms, but that you'd like their expert opinion. if he or she really won't listen, then you should consider finding another doctor. [easier said than done, i know.] it's one thing to disagree with the information you've found. it's another matter entirely not to take it seriously when you've done real research.

those are really the keys that i've found to success. i will say that i find younger doctors to be a lot more open-minded than previous generations about self-diagnosis and the information available on the internet. having been raised and trained with the technology, they know that some of the information can be useful and appreciate when their patients take the time to evaluate the sources and ask pertinent questions. i'm hoping that's not just my experience.

go forth and play doctor, my friends. but don't give up on actual doctors. 
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