One Pill Makes You Larger, And One Pill Makes You Small!


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I think all of us older people can remember those words from Jefferson Airplane's, "White Rabbit" from 1966. The song was about the use of illegal drugs, even though many people didn't realize that fact. But as I have reached those wonderful "senior years", that song takes on new meaning to me.

As a small child, I suffered from severe asthma, but unfortunately, very few medications were available.  I only took one pill when I had an asthma attack, but I did have to have several weekly injections, and later on, monthly injections, to desensitize me from the numerous allergens causing me to suffer. When I reached my mid-teen years I no longer had to take pills or injections, as my asthma was cured, or so I thought.
In my thirties, I started taking a multivitamin and saw palmetto, a supplement intended to prevent problems with my prostate gland. It wasn’t until my fifties that things began to change, but not for the better. First I developed elevated blood pressure and naturally was given a pill to help lower it. Then I began to pee a lot, especially in the middle of the night. Yup, my prostate was enlarging and I had BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia. The saw palmetto I had been taking for years to prevent BPH didn’t work at all! So at first, I was given one kind of pill to take each day, and then this turned into two pills a day.
I then noticed my asthma, which had not bothered me for years, seemed to come back.  I used an inhaler for those times I had difficulty breathing, but it didn’t appear to help much. A few years later I was diagnosed with a combination of asthma and COPD. Great, one more ailment to contend with and one more medication to take.
Then along came my golden years, when one day I experienced an episode of Atrial Fibrillation, which sent me to the emergency room, scared as hell! After meeting with my cardiologist, guess what he did? He prescribed more pills! One pill to control my heart rhythm and two pills to further lower my blood pressure.  And I had another surprise, no more alcohol! What a life changer or maybe a lifesaver! Who knows?
Life would be so easy if we could simply take a pill for each ailment. But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. For every benefit a medication gives us, there is a drawback. Shortly after my experience with atrial fibrillation, my heart rate was fine, but I was dizzy as hell most of the time. There were times walking the aisles of the grocery store I had to stop and regain my balance. I didn’t dare bend over to pick something off the floor, for fear of falling flat on my face. The only time I felt good was when I was lying down. When I contacted my cardiologist he told me I would “get used to it”.
Along with the constant dizziness, I began to suffer from leg pains and daily sinus pressure, which felt as though my head would explode. I don’t think there were two days in a row when I could say I felt good. After suffering for several months and not getting any help from my primary care physician and cardiologist, I switched doctors. After the first visit, my new cardiologist told me I was overmedicated. I went from three pills a day to one pill a day!
After a while, my dizziness became less of a problem, although I still get dizzy bending over or getting up too quickly (postural hypotension). After extensive research into all of my medications, I learned that one of my BPH drugs caused dizziness and destroys the libido, you know, sex life. This drug was prescribed by my primary care physician, not my urologist. At my yearly urologist visit, I asked to be taken off this medication and was prescribed another drug with less drastic side effects. What a difference! Well, at least in the amount of leg pain and dizziness.
Much of the back pain and joint pain that I experience on an almost daily basis is attributed to arthritis, one of the gifts of old age. So, what can I take for arthritis? OTC painkillers, like ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen are the most recommended.  That’s good.  They’re cheap and convenient. But there’s a big problem. With the blood pressure and heart rhythm medication, I can’t take aspirin or ibuprofen. I can take acetaminophen, but that does nothing for my pain.
One of the pills I take for BPH is to help me pee less, but one of the pills I take for blood pressure makes me pee more. To help with my breathing problems I can take supplements, but they either raise blood pressure or lower blood pressure. I can’t take cold or sinus medication for my sinus problems, because they will negatively affect both my blood pressure and BPH. I dread getting a cold because there is nothing I can do to alleviate the symptoms.
I’ve learned that the weather, in particular, the barometric pressure causes my joint pain and my sinus pressure to worsen. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do and nothing I can take. I’ll have to learn to live with it. I also have to learn to live with my breathing problems getting worse in the future. That’ll probably be my demise. As far as the BPH is concerned there are no miracle drugs on the horizon, but advances in surgical techniques look promising. With exercise and a healthy diet, hopefully, my blood pressure and Atrial Fibrillation will be okay.
Modern prescription medications are a godsend to many of us suffering from diseases and ailments of old age. But they can also make some conditions worse, or even kill us. We have to be aware of what medications we are taking and if they interact with each other. Too many of us never question our doctors when we are prescribed medications, and that could be dangerous. Drugs affect each of us differently and we know our bodies better than our doctors. We should always ask our prescribers what the possible side effects or contraindications could be with the drugs we are prescribed.


I'm Not Sure If I Am Amused or Ashamed, But I'm Definitely Not Surprised!


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Every day I read some of the news from my hometown, basically to see who among my friends and classmates has passed away. Luckily, for the past few days of checking no one I knew had passed away.  But the news feed was full of the featured story, a fast-food chicken franchise was recently opened. I'm not going to reveal the name of the franchise or the name of my hometown. I doubt that anyone I know from my hometown will ever read this, but I'm still a bit embarrassed.
For three days photos and articles were showing long lines at the fast food restaurant with the ensuing traffic jams.  There was even a picture of the Trump sycophant congresswoman at the grand opening, hoping to grab some headlines for her far-right campaign. It appeared that this was the most significant event the city had seen since the end of WW II.
What was really sad, was reading the comments of some of the residents of my hometown.  You would think this was the second coming of Christ.  Numerous people commented on how the opening of this restaurant would save the town. From what, I don't know. They were thankful "the Lord's chicken" finally came to their little Red town. Amusing, but I'm not surprised.
Now for a little history of my hometown. It is a very Conservative city that has been struggling with high unemployment and poverty ever since I can remember. They have almost always voted Republican and the hardcore Republicans always seem to vote against their best interests. There is little industry there. The largest employer is the US military. The population has been slowly declining since I left. There is a community college, but most people leave the area after graduation, due to the lack of opportunities. It is and has always been a very conservative area, with numerous churches, especially evangelical churches. It is 85% white and predominantly Christian, with very people of Jewish, Muslim, or Eastern Religions. When I live there everyone seemed to get along quite well.

I must admit it was tough, being gay, growing up there. I understand it is much better now, except for your usual religious fanatics.  I can remember when I was in high school our own version of "the Church Lady" fought to ban a certain book at our public library over the nudity in the book. It was a book of Michelangelo's artwork! It seemed back then there was always something the religious nuts wanted to ban, whether they be books, movies, bars, or the gay flag. 

Now back to the "lord's chicken". It seemed odd to me that people bitching about the high price of gas would sit for hours with their car idling, wasting gas, just for a piece of frigging chicken. And the media, instead of covering news or topics that would be of some use to the poor people of the area, cover the opening of a fast-food chain restaurant. I have to admit that I have never been to one of these restaurants because of their financial support for movements to abolish gay marriage and LGBTQ rights. I do not wish to support a business that is trying to destroy my marriage and my life. When I see people in my hometown, lined up to pay for a piece of chicken at a business that supports destroying who and what I am, all in the name of religion, I feel anger and disgust, and even pity.

My hometown is not unique. There are towns like this scattered all over our country. Some are better, and some are worse. I have some good memories of growing up in my hometown and there are a lot of good people there, including many old classmates, but I couldn't go back there to live.  What's the old saying? You can never go home again?







Covid Finally Found Me


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Ever since the coronavirus pandemic came on the scene my husband and I have been extra careful.  We both received the vaccines and the boosters we were eligible for.  We avoided crowds and made sure we were masked when we went out in public. We had many friends and neighbors who came down with Covid, but we avoided them until long past the time they were contagious. We began to feel lucky that we were among those who had not gotten sick. Well, that soon changed.

We decided that it was safe enough to take a much-needed vacation to New Orleans. When the time for us to leave arrived we made sure we had enough masks to last us the week we would be gone. We realized that those times we may be at the highest risk of contracting Covid were on the plane, at the airport, and in very crowded areas, so we were extra careful wearing masks and sanitizing our hands after touching anything.

Luckily New Orleans was not very crowded during the week we spent there and we managed to avoid large gatherings of people. We both had a great time seeing the sites and especially eating the great Cajun and Creole food. We walked a lot, burning off the calories we consumed, and remained quite healthy the entire trip.  We didn't even get overly tired with all of the walking.  It was a great vacation.

On our flight back home, from Charlotte, NC to Rochester, NY, we were unfortunate enough to have some asshole sitting behind us who coughed constantly during the entire flight. We were careful to leave our masks on, except for that one time while we drank our juice and ate our pretzels.  We were among the very few people on the plane who were wearing masks.  Masks are optional on American Airlines flights.
We returned home on Saturday and felt great. All of this changed on Sunday. Kevin began to feel sick with a scratchy throat and chills.  I just had my usual sinus problems which affect me on most days. Kevin tested negative for Covid on Sunday. Since he was negative I didn't test myself.
On Monday Kevin had a high fever, muscle aches and pains, and a bad cough. I felt okay.  Kevin tested positive for Covid, so I tested myself too, and I was also positive.
We both had a scheduled doctor's appointment for Tuesday but cancelled.  Our doctor spoke to us by phone and suggested Kevin be prescribed Paxlovid for Covid.  Since I was taking medication for Afib I could not take Paxlovid, so I had to ride it out. Paxlovid was not easy to get. Wegman's doesn't carry it and there was a bit of a wait at Walgreens's.  
When Kevin finally began to take the medication he almost immediately began to have side effects.  He had a terrible sore throat and trouble swallowing.  After conferring with our doctor he stopped taking Paxlovid.  After about a week Kevin no longer had a fever and began to feel better except for the bad cough, aches and pains, and fatigue. He did, however, lose his senses of taste and smell. I never developed a fever or muscle aches or any of the other usual symptoms of Covid, except for extreme fatigue.  It felt as though I had a bad sinus infection, which is nothing new to me.
About 2 weeks after initially testing positive, we both tested negative and were feeling much better.  Kevin is slowly getting some of his sense of taste back, but not his sense of smell.  We are slowly getting back to normal and feel lucky that we both had our vaccinations and booster shots. We both are going to wear our masks when in public and will take all precautions to avoid getting this again. Covid can still get you when you least expect it!

I've Finally Found Something That Works for Arthritis Pain and Stiffness

Like many older people, I suffer from arthritis. On any given day I have back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and knee pain.  Every morning it seems as though every muscle and joint in my body is stiff and painful. It sometimes takes me more than an hour after waking to be able to move somewhat normally.  When I sit for even a short time the stiffness and pain returns and I have to move about again to ease the stiffness. When I walk for too long my back and hips begin to ache and I have to sit down for a rest.  When the weather is hot and humid or rainy I feel as though I got hit by a truck.  My whole body hurts.  Since I also have chronic sinusitis the weather makes my head explode.
I used to take acetaminophen, but that does little or nothing to ease the pain.  I began to take turmeric supplements and that helps minimally.  The only thing that helped was ibuprofen, but I was a little leery of taking it too often. With this summer's hot and humid weather I really suffered from the aches and pains of my arthritis. I felt much better when I went to the gym, which has excellent air circulation and air conditioning. But as soon as I left the gym the pain and stiffness returned. On some sweltering and humid days, I couldn't leave my air-conditioned house.
Last year I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and because of the medications I was prescribed, I could not take NSAIDs for my pain.  I could only take acetaminophen, which for me was useless.  The pain was so bad a few times that I took ibuprofen anyways to relieve the pain, hoping I wouldn't get a reaction with my prescription drugs.  
I began to extensively search the internet for supplements that would help with my pain and stiffness.  It seemed as though every time I found one that might work I discovered that it couldn't be taken in combination with the prescribed drugs I was taking or they could cause a rise in blood pressure.  I'm already taking meds for high blood pressure, COPD/asthma, and BPH, so I had to be very careful choosing the right supplements. 
As I was searching the Arthritis Foundation for help I discovered a supplement called Boswellia, which they recommend for osteoarthritis.  I searched the internet looking for information on Boswellia, in particular side effects and contraindications.  After searching for a few days I could not find anything that would discourage me from trying the supplement.  I searched for the best brands and found that NOW Boswellia is quite highly rated and available on Amazon for a reasonable price.  The price in the above link is $26, but I paid $15.90 on Amazon.
A couple of days after I ordered the supplement from Amazon I received it and immediately took my first dose.  The recommended dose is 1 to 2 capsules per day. I started out with just one capsule and then decided on the second day to take 2 capsules.  Most articles I read said that it would take about 7 days, and sometimes less, to notice a difference. On the 3rd day, I noticed a significant difference in my pain and stiffness, especially on waking in the morning.  
My research found that taking Boswellia with turmeric, which I already take, enhances the pain-relieving effects.  I feel much better, even on hot, humid, and rainy days and will definitely continue taking this supplement. I would highly recommend Boswellia to anyone suffering from the pain and stiffness of arthritis.  There are numerous brands available, but you don't have to choose the brand I use. Choose the one that is right for you.  Hopefully, you too will feel better!

Blogging, Why Do I Still Do It?

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I've been blogging on and off for probably 15 years.  I've started and given up on at least three blogs when they got no attention whatsoever.  I started my first blog when I retired and moved to Malaysia. I had some success describing my move and life in a new country.  I recently deleted that blog since my return to the U.S. I now have 3 blogs that I choose to concentrate on. One is about living with my pet cattle dogs, "Cattle Dog Kids" and the other two are about my views on politics, social issues, and everyday life, "Steveso Thinks, and of course, this blog, "Stephen Sovie's Blog".

I didn't start blogging to get rich but to pass my time during retirement. It wasn't until later that I realized that I could make money through blogging.  I didn't intend to blog full-time to earn even a part-time living, but I thought I could earn enough money to pay for my blogging expenses. After 15 years I realized that I couldn't even make enough money for a couple of Starbucks coffees a month!

I have earned the most money republishing my blog posts on Medium, but this still doesn't pay for the cost of maintaining my blogs. Over 10 years ago I had Google AdSense ads on one of my sites while living in Malaysia but after a friend tried to help by clicking on the ads, Google suspended my AdSense account.  After explaining to AdSense that I was not responsible, they immediately denied my appeal and banned me for life.  That was over 10 years ago!  Google is very unforgiving!

Recently I moved 2 of my 3 blogs, from Google's Blogger to WordPress, where I was able to place ads from WordPress.  So far I have made a whopping 86 cents!  The big difference between using WordPress over Blogger is that WordPress costs $120 per year per blog, whereas Blogger is free. I also use Amazon Affiliate and Chewey Affiliate advertising on all three blogs but haven't earned any money from them.  I also have a "Donate Button" on my blogs, but once again I have earned nothing.

In blogging, you can't make any money if you don't have any visitors, and you can't get advertisers if you don't have visitors.  So the most important thing about having a successful blog is to attract a lot of visitors.  And that is the most difficult part of building a blog.  If you don't have the technical knowledge of SEO (search engine optimization) or the money to pay for it, you're doomed.  

It's easier to attract visitors if you have a product or service to sell or if the subject of your blog is popular or in demand.  One of my blogs is about my pet cattle dogs, and the other two are personal blogs related to politics and social issues.  Neither attracts an overwhelming amount of interest.  So, I don't have much of a chance to hold my head above water.  

So why do I do it? Why do I go through the aggravation and periods of depression and hopelessness and times of hope and renewal? Why do I deny reality and look for any glimmer of hope of succeeding? I'm not really sure.  If I stop writing my blogs and delete them, I'll save a lot of money, but in a way, I'll be giving up on myself.  After all, I spent 15 years expressing myself, my feelings, and my opinions.  Writing my blogs has allowed me to stand up for what I believe and show my support for the ideals I hold dear. I feel better when I can vent, even though no one is listening. At least I feel better.  I also can show my pride in my pets and share the happiness that my cattle dogs, Cato and Lucky have given me. 

I may never grow the readership of my blogs, or make any more money than I make now, but I refuse to give up.  I don't even know why I am writing this post, as most likely no one will see it or read it.  I guess it's my way of saying I may be down, but I'm not out. After all, blogging is just my hobby, not my career.

Don't You Just Love American Dental Care?

Many Americans fear going to the dentist, but it's not always the pain they fear.  The biggest fear is the cost of dental treatment.  Sometimes we see people with obviously missing, broken, or crooked teeth and automatically think they are low class or indigent. That is until we have to go to the dentist for a problem ourselves.  Many of us have dental insurance through our employer or personal private insurance.  But that only covers a certain amount per year, usually $1200 a year.

Our insurance is fine for cleanings, x-rays, the occasional filling, and possibly a root canal, but that's it. But what happens if we need a crown, a bridge or God forbid an implant?  Then we're sunk.  Employer dental plans don't cover those kinds of dental care.  They're not usually covered by private insurance plans either. And if you are retired, you have neither employer-sponsored dental insurance nor insurance through Medicare.  
The other day I had an appointment for a consultation with a prosthodontist which was recommended by my regular dentist.  I have some missing molars which make it difficult to wear a bridge and my bite changes.  Reluctantly I agreed to this appointment because my dentist thought my insurance might cover any recommended work.  On the day of the appointment, I put the address into my auto's GPS and went on my way. As I turned off the main highway towards my destination my initial reluctance began to be justified.  I entered an area populated with stately oak trees and well-manicured lawns surrounding impressive-looking office suites.  There were probably 15 such buildings within this forested office complex.  As I looked for my final goal, I could see employee parking lots with the occasional  Corvette Stingray, Maserati, Lamborghini, and numerous Lexus and Mercedes.  I remember saying out loud, "holy shit, this is going to cost me."

Upon arrival at the prosthodontist's office, I was immediately taken into the exam room.  When the dentist asked what he could do for me I told him that I didn't expect he could help me, but the appointment was my general dentist's idea.  He then proceeded with the exam and studied the x-rays I had brought with me. He jotted down some notes and then gave me his opinion of what could be done for me.  Then he gave me the cost!

He told me I had 2 options, one was doing just enough to improve my bite a little with a couple of implants and the other option was to fully restore my bite with more implants. The first option was $32,000 and the second option was $115, 000!  I laughed and said, "no way in hell"!  He then said that the only other option was to suggest my dentist make a mouthguard to wear at night which would prevent further damage to my teeth.  The cost would be up to my dentist and it probably would be covered by my insurance. 

As I was driving back home I wasn't disappointed or depressed as I knew that dental care in this country sucked, unless you're wealthy.  If you're a senior citizen or poor you can look forward to a life of liquid diets or gumming your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners!  You gotta love "merican dental care!

You might like a similar article I wrote on expensive dental care published on Medium.

Why Do Republicans Value the Second Amendment Over All Other Amendments?
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" is the second amendment of the Bill of Rights.  There are 9 other amendments in the Bill of Rights and 17 more amendments added to the Constitution since the Bill of Rights was written.  But why do Republicans value this one more than any other amendment?
The ignorant, ill-educated white supremacists armed to the teeth to go to Burger King are as far away from a well-regulated militia as can be.  Comparing these morons to the fit, well-trained members of the National Guard or a unit of any of the armed services is like comparing a Lamborghini to a rusty old tricycle.  The biggest difference is that the members of the National Guard and the regular military serve to protect our country or our community, whereas the gun-toting fascists serve to promote white supremacy and hatred of those of us who may be of different skin color, race, sexual identity, or religion.
The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press,  the right to assemble,  and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  To Republicans, this amendment is not as important.  It is only important when the rights mentioned are in agreement with their own views, their own religion, and their own ethnicity.  Even though the rights mentioned in the first amendment are the foundation of a democracy,  an assault rifle is more important to Republicans.
The Ninth Amendment states that American citizens have far more rights than those explicitly described in the Bill of Rights.  To Republicans, this amendment has absolutely no value, as they choose to deny the rights of women to choose an abortion, the rights of Blacks to vote, or the right of gay people to marry.  This amendment is only important as it narrowly pertains to them.
So why do Republicans value the Second Amendment over everything?  Could it be because they need a gun to affirm their masculinity? Or to reinforce their false sense of superiority?  Or could there be another more sinister reason?  Perhaps they want to be able, sometime soon, to be able to take over the government in another armed insurrection! This is the only way for the Republican party to remain in power forever. 

Are Drug Companies and Congress Trying to Kill Off Old People?

  Bernard Gotfryd - Library of Congress        As people age, they are more likely than not to suffer from chronic diseases such as COPD, At...