Wednesday, April 06, 2011

My Happiness Evolution

Since evolution is a gradual process, exactly when dogs became domesticated is up for much debate.  Recent studies using mitochondrial DNA, suggest that wolves split off into a different species between 50,000-100,000 years ago and occurred as a result of a mutually beneficial relationship between the two species.   Dogs helped to hunt and with a keen sense of alertness, safeguarded our long-ago ancestors to dangers among them. In return, dogs had an assurance of food, shelter and safety…in theory.
“Who will take care of it?” “Who will walk it and make sure it is feed properly?”
Growing up, my brother made several unsuccessful attempts at caring for goldfish, which just reaffirmed my mother’s stance when we pleaded with her to get a dog.  Since both parents worked full-time, the responsibility would fall on my brother and I.   With each goldfish we had to flush down the toilet, there went our proof that we could take care of another living creature.
Although my desire to have a dog during my adolescent years seemed feasible at the time, as I became an adult, the excuses to hold off became more abundant.   “I’m working all the time, when will I take them out?”   “What happens when I need to travel?”   “I heard they chew on everything and I can’t afford to buy new shoes every few weeks.”   Although I could hold out on the last excuse and just try to enjoy my custom ventilated sneakers, deep down, I just was not sure all the sacrifices would be worth it.
Despite living in Florida, January 2009 had constant frigid temperatures. Bleary-eyed as usual in the morning, I shuffled into work.   It was still fairly early but the office was already buzzing, and there was some commotion coming from the adjacent cubes.   “They’re so cute!”  Disregarding the distraction, I tried to get started on my day, however people were bustling in and out.  Additional comments starting with “ooh’s and awe’s” filled the air.  Mustering up the energy out of utter curiosity, I headed over to the corner cubicle, which had an office door.   People were huddled all around but the door was closed.  “What’s going on,” I inquired.  “Puppies!  Go look at the puppies!”  Un-amused, I opened the door and there they were…two pint-size puppies with adorable faces staring at me.  For a moment, my heart softened.  They were lying on the floor, one, light brown with piercing hazel eyes and the other, its twin, in dark brown fur.
My co-worker Paul was sitting on the floor with them, “where did they come from?”   “We’re not sure,” he replied.   “When we opened the back door this morning, there they were.  We assume someone dropped them off at the Humane Society in the middle of the night.”  The Flagler Humane Society is located across a main highway, Route 1, from our offices.  Which means, cold and dark, they crossed this busy highway alone.
Paul, a dog-owner, was keen on finding them a home.  Asking around in the office, most responded with how sweet they were but either already had a dog, or had the same laundry list I did, why not to take them home.   Deflated, he resigned to the fact that when the Humane Society opened at 10am, that he would have to drop them off.   “Well…” I began with hesitation. “I always wanted dogs, and always wanted two so they could keep each other company when I wasn’t around.  If these two stay this small, it shouldn’t be too bad.”  Paul’s face lit-up!
After a few moments, while attempting to reclaim sanity from the admission of adoption I was offering, Paul’s wife walked in with some dog toys and food she had rushed home to get for them.  Paul had me reach into the bag of kibble so they could eat out of my hands.  Burying their noses into my palms, the two pups nearly inhaled the food.   “Oh look, they are bonding so well with their new Mommy,” Paul cooed.   ‘Mommy!  What?!   Where?!  Who?!’    When I realized he was referring to me, a shiver ran down my back.   ‘What did I just get myself into?’
Ecstatic, Paul rushed out and told everyone that I was going to take our newfound friends.  My co-workers actually started cheering…I felt like a quarterback that just threw the winning touchdown pass.   “Congratulations!"  “Way to go!”  A hesitant smile was my response.
“What should I do now?”   My cohorts advised to take them to the Humane Society anyway so they could be checked out, given their shots…neutered.  Since it would take five days before I could pick them up from all their preparations, I spent that time ‘puppy-proofing’ and preparing for what I was being told, was a life-changing bond.
Everyone kept asking me if I was excited, if nervous counts as excited, than yes…I was VERY excited.   Collars, leashes, dog bowls, water bowls, crate, bed, toys…forgetting something…FOOD.  Need to get them food, but what do they like?  What if they turn their noses up at my choice?   Will they even like me?  Panic was setting in.
Even though I was trying to exude a fa├žade of confidence, the Humane Society volunteer handed me a DVD on pet adoption and care.   I tossed it in my bag with complete disregard.   However, when we got home, the DVD went in, and notepad and pen came out, ready to absorb as much insight as I could.   About halfway through, I realized, “Where were the puppies?”  A quick search revealed they were already making a home in the crate.   Crossed ‘crate training’ off my list with a newfound zeal.
The next morning started with real confidence this time.   Heading to their crate in the next room, I noticed some white substance all over their bed and they both looked very lethargic.  The morning walk turned into a hacking contest between them.  Ok, now I was back to panicking.
The vet diagnosed them with kennel cough to which they were just vaccinated.   Still upchucking white phlegm all over the apartment carpet was not helping.  Since the floor in the minuscule railroad kitchen was linoleum, it seemed to be a more logical location for them to stay, and easier for cleanup.  Luckily they loved peanut butter, so I was able to get their antibiotics down without a fight.  But on the second day, while dragging them out for a walk, the dark-haired pup put his nose to the grass and out came a flood of green fluid.   In turn, I became green and once again, panicking.   “Oh it's just some bile, shouldn’t happen again but call us if it does,” the vet concluded.  Granted, they deal with this every day, but I don’t…I didn’t know how to be so nonchalant.   I felt horrible and scared.   I sat on the kitchen floor with them, rubbing their bellies, when I began to sob.   Having always doubted whether I could truly be responsible to take care anything other than myself, I looked at them and knew...knew that I needed them as much as they needed me.  Sacrificing is not a curse, but a gift.
By the end of the week, they were running all around the apartment, wrestling with one another…tails wagging.  Ah, joy!
When I finally made it back to work, my caring friends inquired after them.  “Oh and what did you name them?”  Grover and Grady!   Because that is where we found each other and became a family…at Hargrove Grade.
Some canine experts claim that dogs do not feel happiness, that actions are based more on instincts, conditions and response to stimuli; emotions are not a factor.  After two years, when I come from work and Grover and Grady come running over to me, with their entire bodies wagging like they are doing the wave at a sporting event, I know they are happy, and despite what research tells us, that happiness is mutually beneficial.
“Animals are not just the backdrop of our own story, but at the center of the whole drama, and how we treat them is one of the great themes of the human story."
Wayne Pacelle, President/CEO of The Humane Society of the United States and author of The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them.

[1] Dog History:  How Were Dogs Domesticated?  By K. Kris Hirst, Guide

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Reverse Snow-Bird

Despite the colder-than-normal winter this year in Florida, many northeasterners still find their oasis on the sunny peninsula. While 49 states are receiving snow fall (yes, even Hawaii gets snow at the top of the volcanoes), Florida allows its residents to go snow-shovel free. No digging yourself out each morning in frigid temperatures; no warming your car up for a good five minutes while you scrap and re-scrap layers of ice off the windows. Yet many ‘now-native’ Floridians, myself included, complain when they have to cover their plants or actually put on a jacket and gloves, we forget how good we have it until…we head back north for the winter.

Though it would be a longer trek to go skiing, I promised myself when I moved to Florida six years ago, that I would try to get back to the mountains at least once a year. Packing for a five-day ski trip felt equivalent to packing for a semester abroad. Ski pants: check. Five sweaters: check. Three pairs of long-underwear: check. Five pairs of wool socks: check. A sense of sanity: left at the ticket counter at the Jacksonville Airport.

Learning from the past plagues of checked-luggage getting “re-routed”, I made sure to carry certain essentials on-board. Heading out into the Vermont tundra without a jacket, is a sure-fire way to become an ice sculpture in less than three minutes. This time, the luggage-gods were smiling. Gathering up bag after bag, I slowly made my way towards the exit. If I were to lean just slightly in the wrong direction, I would surely topple over.

All smiles, my Aunt came rushing towards me, arms stretched to receive a hug, only to be pelted in the face by my ski bag. “We’ll hug later, when it’s safe,” I remarked after making sure she wasn’t hurt. At first, the Burlington air is crisp and refreshing; the exposed skin on my face, tingling. By the time we reached the 3rd level of the parking garage, I was sure my cheeks had frost bite. Wrestling my luggage into her small Saturn, my toes were going numb. Hauling the 50lb suitcase up and into her trunk by arching my back so far a gymnast would be jealous, I was exhausted by the time I was finally defrosting under the car’s heater.

The next day, my Uncle “the human rooster”, awoke me from my cozy slumber at 6am, exclaiming, “Time to hit the slopes!” Climbing out from my four-layer blanket burrito, my feet hit the frigid wood floor and shot me airborne. Time to put on a pair of those wool socks!

The first mountain on our agenda…Stowe! Although technically it is Mt. Mansfield, Stowe is emblazoned on all the signs and gondolas. We hoped on the chair lift, which did move fairly quickly for a chair lift. Towards the summit, you entered into a haze of chilly wind. Looking at my Uncle, I knew the next trip to the top would be in the enclosed gondola, the epitome of ski luxury. At times, the sun attempted to peer through the clouds and luckily that helped warm the atmosphere, slightly.

Took a few runs to get the feel of being on skis again, but much like it is said about bicycling, “you never forget”. The exhilaration of tearing down a mountain returned and although the day flew by, I knew I had two more full days of skiing in front of me… “Pace yourself, Geiss.”

Normally when I visit my Aunt and Uncle, we head to Smuggler’s Notch but we were all feeling adventurous and wanted to try another ‘new’ mountain for the day. Here we come, Jay Peak! Located about twenty miles from the Canadian border, you could tell how far north you must be when hearing most of the skiers speaking French. At least I assume it was French. It had been snowing all day so the sky was a pink-hue, and the powder was in abundance as compared to the normally icy terrain of Vermont. Despite all the snow fall, Jay Peak had this crazy notion that they needed to make…more snow. Snow machines were cranking all over the trails and severely limiting the visibility. Doing my best to avoid their powerful sprays aimed right at any skier taller than three feet, I still had one almost knock me backwards. I must have looked like someone trying to do the limbo, only to hit my chin on the bar. I am sure Jay Peak is a beautiful mountain, if only I could have seen it.

“Oh, I don’t know about this. It is going to be mighty cold!” Coming from Uncle who has lived in Vermont for almost 40 years, for him to say the last day of skiing I have left is going to be “mighty cold”, gave me pause. Huddled over their computer, we studied the weather forecast at Smuggler’s Notch. Minus thirteen in the morning…may warm-up to zero by noon. “But this is it! This is the last day I have of left to ski for a whole year…I have to go!” Seeing my resolve, my Aunt offered to accompany me.

Wearing enough layers to resemble Randy from A Christmas Story, I almost couldn’t put my arms down. Never the ‘snow bunny’ type, I knew at least I would be warm enough to enjoy the day. Greeted by blue skies and still air, it was turning out to be fairly good ski conditions. The low temperatures, or lack of temperature, did result in my toes going numb at one point; perfect opportunity for a hot chocolate break.

We took the last few runs with unexpected zeal. Noting the clock each time we reached the lift, wondering if we made the next run just as fast, could we go once more before the lifts close? When we finally realized this would be our last time down, we took each turn, each corner a little smoother, a little slower. Remarking to myself at the beauty Vermont holds and why I made the resolution to return each year.

Getting off the plane in Florida, I called my brother to see if we were still on for playing tennis. No precipitation, 65 degrees, sun…

Returning to my car, I loaded up my skis and luggage, took off my bulky jacket and tossed it in the back seat. Sunglasses on, windows down…it was good to be home.

Published at

Friday, October 31, 2008

Legislating Love


Surrounded by friends and family in a traditional circle of love, their unremitting smiles warming my heart that sunny day on the beach in Cape May. Two close friends vowed their love and lives together. A culmination of 9 years of happiness, loyalty and love through good times and bad…a perfect example of what a marriage should be.


In a 4-3 decision, Connecticut Supreme Court struck down the state's civil union law and ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Connecticut thus joins Massachusetts and California as the only states to have legalized gay marriages. But these progressive inroads to equality are quickly being challenged. In a few days, Proposition 8 will be voted on in California to overturn the courts ruling by banning same-sex marriage. Similar legislation is being issued in Florida and Arizona.

Religious conservatives note that California sets cultural trends for the rest of the country and even the world. They fear that if same-sex marriage is allowed to become entrenched in California, it will open the floodgates to same-sex marriages everywhere. “This vote on whether to stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries. “We lose [Proposition 8], we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.” 1

Argument 1 insists that churches will be forced to perform weddings because churches have a tax-exempt status and that the separation of church and state is a guise by which they hide the approval of these laws. The Massachusetts high court in 2004 held that same-sex marriages were legal. It has been four years since this groundbreaking decision, and there has yet to be a lawsuit against a church not sanctifying a same-sex marriage. Rev. Karen Sapio, the minister of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Southern California, “I have not heard of a single Catholic church forced to marry someone who has been divorced, or a rabbi forced to perform an interfaith marriage or an evangelical church forced to marry a couple who has been living together.” 1

According to the Code of Canon Law 1084, antecedent and perpetual impotence at the time of marriage invalidates the marriage.2 Hedir Antonio de Brito, a paraplegic man, was two weeks away from marrying Elzimar de Lourdes Serafim when he received a shocking letter from the local bishop denying their application for a marriage certificate since his condition rendered him impotent. A requirement for marriage in the Catholic Church is that both parties must be “open to children”. If it is known that one party is unable to produce children, the marriage can be annulled on that basis alone.3 Although this took place in Brazil, the Catholic Church throughout the world, has rules governing who can marry, and despite lack of case law in the United States, the government has never attempted to legislate these church rules.

Argument 2

Glenn Stanton, Director of Social Research and Cultural Affairs for Focus On The Family argues that it “would open the door to polygamy” because the first same-sex marriage that was issued in Massachusetts, the couple commented that they will have an ‘open marriage’. Polygamy was taught and practiced by Joseph Smith, Jr. and formally introduced to the public in 1852. Mr. Smith was the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, which was the foundation for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.4 Ergo in the name of the church, polygamy was first introduced through Christianity. And although the church officially abandoned the practice in 1890,4 anyone who has opened a newspaper over this past year is aware that polygamy is still being practiced.

Argument 3

“The traditional family, supported by more than 5,000 years of human experience, is still the foundation on which the well-being of future generations depends.”5 Let’s see how this ‘foundation’ has done thus far:

The CDC reported for 2005:

· Marriage rate: 7.5 per 1,000 total population
· Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 population

According to Child Maltreatment 2006, the most recent report of data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, approximately 905,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect...
…And, one or both parents were responsible for 75.9 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities. As of September 30, 2005, there were an estimated 513,000 children in foster care in the U.S. alone.6

Justice Barbara A. Madsen wrote in the an opinion upholding the ban on gay marriage in Washington State, “Limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological parents.”7 Despite ignorance rooted in Ms. Madsen’s statement, many people should not be procreating and are in no way fit to raise children. By the way, there are 6.7 billion people on this planet and a current growth trajectory expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2042.8 What we need for the human race to survive is compassion.

Argument 4

“No culture needs same-sex marriage…if it was necessary, it would have been invented earlier.” 9 Let’s see…Women’s Suffrage…1920…Civil Rights Act…1964. It is never too late for progress, and equality is always necessary.

Argument 5

“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same-sex partner of their choice,” Justice Richard N. Palmer declared in the 4-to-3 majority decision for the Connecticut Supreme Court. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”10

But why aren’t Civil Unions sufficient? Civil unions still deny the same financial, social and emotional benefits accorded in a marriage. Therefore producing what the court called a “suspect class”- a group, like blacks or women, that has experienced a history of discrimination and was thus entitled to increased scrutiny and protection by the state in the promulgation of its laws.10


It is not about a bride and a groom, a bride and a bride, or a groom and a groom. It is about two consenting adults vowing their love to one another. Cynics will say that love is not enough to create a future together, but it is the key ingredient that is missing in almost half of the marriages each year. Because love is truly rare, when you find someone to love, hold and cherish him or her, and make sure no law prevents you from sharing your lives the same way that needs be entitled to everyone.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
-- Corinthians 13:7-8

1 “A Line in the Sand for Same-Sex Marriage Foes,” by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, 10/27/2008
5 “Two Mommies Is One Too Many,” by James C. Dobson, Time Magazine, December 18, 2006
7 “Washington Court Upholds Ban On Gay Marriage,” by Adam Liptak and Timothy Egan, The New York Times, July 17, 2006.
10 “Connecticut Ruling Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Marriage,” by Sharon Otterman, The New York Times, October 11, 2008

Congratulations A&J, and M&G! Best wishes to you always!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Paying For Your Life

“Aren’t you kind of young for this?” inquires the pharmacist at my local Walgreens. “It would seem that way except my mother was just diagnosed with colon cancer two months ago. So I am doing this as a precaution.” The pharmacist eyes widened, “Oh my gosh, I ‘m sorry.” “It’s ok…she is fine now thank god,” both breathing a collective sigh of relief.

My mother, a 59-year old of relative good health, underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy to try to find out the reason she has always suffered stomachaches. Having dismissed it as something minor, both her and her doctor assumed they would just find some digestive valves not working.

Three days after the procedure, my mother phoned, asking me to come over after work. When I arrived, my father and her were sitting at the table. Composed, she explained that a tumor was removed during the colonoscopy and that the biopsy revealed it was malignant. Located near her appendix, this would require her to undergo surgery to remove a section of her large intestine, blood vessels, and lymph nodes all in the area where the tumor had been located, making sure the cancer did not spread. Cancer? Our family? Unable to hold back the tears, my sobs became uncontrollable. My mother’s once calm demeanor morphed as well.

A tense two weeks followed, but after a successful surgery and a clean biopsy, my mother was given the ‘green light.’ Now it was my turn. Although harboring my own fears of the outcome, I knew that I was doing the best for my health and if something was wrong-catching it early. My parents motto to my brother and I was that our health was most important. With that in mind, I made the arrangements.

Schedule the doctor, the hospital, pick up my ‘enjoyable’ prep-pack, and call the various billing departments to find out how much out-of –pocket I would be responsible for. Having insurance, I was floored by the $873.21 I shelled out for a 20-minute procedure. Maybe I should have had them take a kidney out while they were there so I could try to sell it to pay this medical bill. And this grand total is WITHOUT anesthesia.

When I was thirteen years old, I had a tonsillectomy, and remembered my parents’ shock at the cost of the anesthesiologist bill. With that engrained in my memory, I explained to my doctor that I do not want anesthesia for this. Understanding, it was the nurses that then urged me to ‘go-under’ when they wheeled me in. Explaining once again, it wasn’t necessary. After pressing me further, I told them flatly, “Not unless you want to pay the extra 700 dollars.” With that, silence.

Doctors, nurses, health care professionals…these are the people in our society that should be making the most money. Not actors, or sports figures, but those who choose to save lives, or at least help make lives longer and healthier. I begrudge them nothing, but there needs to be point where their efforts and the institutions they work for and with, do not cause people financial strain, and in many cases, bankruptcy.

The main reason so many people lack health insurance is because of its cost.(1) Currently 47 million Americans are without insurance(2) and increasingly, this is a problem for the middle class, not just the underemployed. Seventy-four percent of people without insurance are part of working families; sometimes they can’t afford their employer’s health plan (employee premiums have skyrocketed 74 percent since 2000) or their job doesn’t provide benefits. Michelle Jones is a single mother of two working as a case manager at a center for brain-injured adults. Grossing $36,000 a year, rent already gobbled half her take-home pay. The medical coverage that was offered with cost her over $200 per pay period and there was still a $500 deductible. Crunching the numbers, she turned down the coverage.(3)

For those looking to gain insurance, they can have doors slammed in their face because the insurance company may suspect that they will not make money off of you. Cheryl Gorham eats right; exercises regularly…can’t even remember the last time she took a sick day from work. Applying for an individual health plan, she was baffled when she was denied. “I’m young, I’m healthy, I don’t smoke,” says the 42-year old. “I never thought I’d have a problem getting insurance.” Turns out, the insurance company cited preexisting conditions, namely uterine fibroids and “infertility with consultation/treatment.” She had experienced bleeding from fibroids while on birth control pills but once she went off the Pill, the bleeding stopped. As for infertility, Cheryl had been trying to get pregnant but with no success. Her doctor sent her for a hormone test, which came back normal but the simple fact that he’d given her a referral, made Cheryl uninsurable. “I had no idea that anything you tell your doctor can wind up hurting you.” (3)

Even with the phony safety net of insurance, you can still be denied treatments and pay outrageous out-of-pocket expenses. In 1999, Sandy Flanigan was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Her insurance company promptly raised her monthly premiums to more than $2,000. Over the next four years, Sandy received chemotherapy and immunoglobulin treatments to boost her immune system costing $46,000. This expense does not include the doctor bills, body scans, lab charges, medicines, vitamins and special food. Sandy sold her jewelry, car and dining room set. She and her husband cashed in annuities and, as a last resort, their children’s college funds. One illness has shattered her family financially. Sandy had worked all her adult life and always carried health insurance, yet she cannot obtain the care that might keep her alive. An estimated fifty five percent of bankruptcy cases are caused at least in part by medical bills. As Sandy puts it, “you’re one diagnosis from being where I am.” (3)

Even people like my mother who had no symptoms, was lucky enough to find this tumor at the early stages, but even that ran a bill of almost $45,000. Screenings are recommended to start at age 50, but many people refuse because they cannot afford them. Deaths could be cut in half, meaning 26,000 lives a year could be saved, if all those who need screening where to receive it.(4) What costs $2000 for a pre-emptive colonoscopy could cost an insurance company tens of thousands for extended care for letting a condition develop further. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy…for a tumor that might have been easily cured if it had only been found sooner. And why wouldn’t health insurers want their ‘customers’ to live longer and therefore, pay more premiums? Because with older age, usually concludes more health care expenses that an insurance company would have to pay out. With that, they look for excuses to deny coverage.

At 65-years old, Mary Rose Derks began scrimping together about $100 out of her grocery fund each month to pay for an insurance policy that promised to pay eventually for a room in a assisted living home. Twelve years later, after bouts of hypertension and diabetes had hospitalized her dozens of times, she reluctantly agreed it was time. Moving into Beehive Homes, she filed a claim with her insurer, Conseco. Conseco denied her claim stated that Beehive Homes was not an approved facility despite its state license and that Mrs. Derks was not sufficiently infirm, despite her early-stage dementia and the 37 pills she takes each day. More than four years has passed and she has yet to receive a penny from Conseco while her family has paid about $70,000. “The bottom line is that insurance companies make money when they don’t pay claims,” said Mary Beth Senkewicz, who resigned last year as a senior executive at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “They’ll do anything to avoid paying, because if they wait long enough, they know the policyholders will die.”(5)

With insurance companies having a stranglehold on our lives, we need each individual to push policymakers to enact regulation to protect Americans from financial devastation due to improper insurance and overwhelming medical bills. So far the cries have not been loud enough…in October 2007, a bill providing health insurance for 10 million children failed to override President Bush’s veto.(6) Administration officials had stated that it should be the states that make better use of the money they already have.(7) This is unacceptable and each representative that did not vote to override the bill, should have their constituents vote them out of office. Health care affects each American and there are representatives that want to help.

Visit your governor’s, senators’, and representatives’ websites to see if he or she has prioritized reforming health insurance. You can find their contact information at Call, write or send an email outlining your concerns. Also go to the National Conference of State Legislatures ( for up-to-date information on which states have proposed health-insurance legislation. Numerous non-profit organizations are dedicated to health-care reform such as CodeBlueNow! ( and Health Care for All. The Commonwealth Fund ( has a quarterly online newsletter that outlines state initiatives...sign up and get informed!

How much will you pay for your life?

(1)“Health Care as if Costs Didn’t Matter”, David Leonhardt, New York Times, June 7, 2007
(2)“Health Plan Used by U.S Is Debated as a Model”, Reed Abelson, New York Times, October 24, 2007
(3) “How Bad Does the Health-Care Crisis Have to Get”, Fran Smith, Redbook, June 2007
(4) “Cancer Patients, Lost in a Maze of Uneven Care,” Denise Grady, The New York Times, July 30, 2007
(5)“Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers,” Charles Duhigg, The New York Times, March 26, 2007
(6)“House Fails to Override Child Health Bill Veto,” David Stout and Robert Pear, The New York Times, October 18, 2007
(7)“Child Health Care Splits White House and States”, Robert Pear, The New York Times, March 1, 2007

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Country Music Half Marathon

Marathon Weekend-Thursday, April 24th to Sunday, April 27th: Despite many people staying in to rest the first night in Nashville, Janine and I closed down the bars. Hitting up numerous spots, we knew Friday night would be early to bed. Setting a 3:30am wake-up call, I awoke to Janine yelling, “Geiss, you gonna get that?” Morning person, I am not. Janine, however, was ready to go! Dragging my feet all the way to the hotel lobby for a group photo, we then packed into the buses and heading out to Centennial Park where the race was to begin at 7am. It was raining at a steady pace and we spent the next two hours finding new ways to stay dry.

Our corral finally started at 7:40am and the rain subsided at that point but it remained overcast. Thousands of spectators cheered throughout the entire course. Nervous about the “rolling hills”, my legs took better to the ups and downs than I thought they would. I was able to stay ‘in the zone’ for the first six miles when I realized I should probably get a little water, though most of it ends up on you rather than in you, my clothes were now wet from the earlier rains, sweat and dribbled water that was meant to be ingested. By mile 12, I hit a wall (no, not literally). Blisters were forming on my feet and sweat was pooled in every orifice. Even the theme from Rocky was not motivating me!

My mind turned to the previous evening…huddled in our TNT chapter after the Pasta Party, one by one; people stood up and told stories of how blood cancers have affected their lives and the ones they love. One young woman burst into tears at the memory of her brother that she lost three years ago. Sobbing, “…he was my best friend”, my eyes welled-up. Why didn’t anyone tell me to bring Kleenex?! As if that wasn’t enough, another woman cried out that her mother just called and told her that her brother’s liver just failed and would not have much longer to live. So at mile 12, I thought about these people and what they were going through. My legs heavy, my whole body aching and wet, I had nothing to complain about. The pain and exhaustion I felt was insignificant compared to what these people were going through. So with the last ounce of energy I had left, I kept running. Crossing the finish line in my personal best time of 2 hours 16 minutes and 39 seconds. But I was not alone. Each one of you, who donated and supported me through my training, was there with me. It might sound ‘hokey’, but it is true.