Monthly Archives: November 2013

What I’m NOT thankful for: Alzheimer’s

granma jane

Dear Alzheimer’s, I understand you’ve met my Nother. She’s my step-mother, actually. But step-mother sounds so wicked, and she’s anything but that. She’s my other mother, another mother, she’s my Nother. Quite honestly, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a better person. I’m not ashamed to brag on her, but she’s beautiful, intelligent, nurturing and, in my eyes, could absolutely do it all. So, Alzheimer’s disease, you understand when I say, “You suck.”

Sure, every cloud has a silver lining. Now, as her memory begins to dim, she thinks all my stories are really funny even if I tell the same one over and over. Except, really, she thought I was terrific even before this, and I if I told the same story over and over, she didn’t care and still thought I was pretty funny. So I think we can’t count that. Which leaves nothing, actually. There is no silver lining to having Alzheimer’s.

As unspeakably awful as a cancer diagnosis can be, you at least have a chance to fight it with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. People rally around you, have benefits to help out and talk about how brave you are. Even if you don’t win. People hesitate to rally around Alzheimer’s, because it’s awkward and uncomfortable. What do you say to the person who may or may not be able to put you in context or be able to decipher exactly what the relationship and history is between you?

Alzheimer’s creeps in like an insidious fog and takes away the very things that make you who you are: your past, then your future and eventually even your present. Left behind is a person who looks like who you were, but isn’t. A mother, a wife, a mentor, a friend are taken, stolen away piece by piece. It’s as if every day she takes one step further away to a place where we can’t go or bring her back from.

So, Alzheimer’s, I’d tell you to go pick on someone your own size, except I wouldn’t wish you on my worst enemy. Obviously, I can’t stop you. The families who are affected can’t stop you. And, at this point, doctors can’t stop you, either. But know that we won’t forget the fight against brain disease and mental illness, no matter how daunting and difficult it is. It doesn’t get much worse than Alzheimer’s but hopefully soon, it will get better.

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SMACKDOWN: Flies v Mosquitoes

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Texas (where I’m from) and Saudi Arabia (where I live) have a lot of things in common. Texas has big, wide-open spaces. Saudi Arabia has big, wide-open spaces. Texas has its share of crazy people in its government, and so does Saudi Arabia. Texas and Saudi Arabia both have a lot of oil. Texas has mosquitoes that will drive you to drink. But this is where it splits. Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a lot of mosquitoes (which may explain why they don’t drink), but they do have flies. And the flies can make you nuts.

In the late summer on the Texas coast when the mosquitoes are being blown in off the salt grass in clouds, you always have a plan of defense. You can spray yourself in Teflon Off, fog your yard, stay inside, wear long sleeves, and if one lands on you, you smack the little bugger. Game over. You always have sense of superiority over the mosquito; feel that you go into it with an advantage.

It’s not that easy with these flies. These flies are smart. They know our weaknesses and how to push our buttons. I’m suspicious that they might even have the super power of invisible cloaking, because as soon as you try to hunt one down with a flyswatter to slaughter it, it disappears. Only to reemerge when you put the flyswatter down.

Once a fly has zeroed in and targeted you for torture, it has a one track mind. You can’t just shoosh it away, it won’t go. If you go to another room, city, part of the world, know that the fly will go with you. It’s like a virus.

In an effort to get the upper hand, I got online to learn more about my enemy. I’ve narrowed the perpetrators down to Blow Flies. Overall annoying, but harmless according to several websites. Unless they lay their eggs in your nose while you’re sleeping. Suddenly, I’m thinking West Nile, Malaria and Dengue Fever aren’t really so bad. Not when you compare it to having a newly born nursery of blow flies crawling out of your nasal openings.

After learning this, I’ve made some important changes in my life here in the Kingdom. I’ve become a ninja when it comes to hunting and killing flies now. As part of my new ninja training, I’m able to sleep with one eye open. And I’ve learned to appreciate mosquito bites. 

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If you feed them, they will come…

cartoon-deer-8In 1890 researcher Ivan Pavlov was furiously working his way to a Nobel Prize for his work on the digestive system. There by his side was his faithful, loyal dog happily slobbering away on cue every time he thought it was dinner time. As a result Pavlov discovered that you could condition people and animals to react the same way to the same stimulus. He’d ring a bell and Rover would drool all over himself knowing that Puppy Chow was about to hit the bowl.

I imagine it didn’t take Pavlov too long to realize what a little monster he’d created with that trick. The door bell rings, Rover slobbers. The phone rings, Rover slobbers. Microwave dings because the popcorn is ready, there goes Rover needing to have his doggy face wiped again.

Let’s jump ahead a hundred plus years to today. Deer season is opening. Here is a group of people who have benefited from Mr. Pavlov like few others. If Pavlov had taken his Nobel Prize money and plugged it into a deer feeder business, he’d still be topping the lists of the riches guys ever to walk upright. He was probably just too busy cleaning up the puppy drool to do that.

But someone did. And now deer hunters are about to reap the rewards of training deer to respond. For the past months, they have fed the dog – err, deer – trained the dog, I mean deer, and now will shoot the deer when he shows up for his deer chow.

Now before you come down out of your deer stand to send me hate mail, first unload the rifle! And understand that I’m certainly not against hunting. Personally I love Elmer Fudd tiptoeing through the forest trying to “kill the wabbit!” I have never once turned down venison or pheasant brought back by my hunter friends, although after this blog posting I may not have a hunter friend to speak of, but that’s for another day. I just think that there’s a difference between hunting and trapping.

So all I can say about this is, “Run, Bambi! Man is in the Forest!”

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