Sunday, October 23, 2016

Reposted book review: How to Live With A Huge Penis

Here's another reposted book review.  This one is about a rather silly book I read a few years ago.  It's basically a gag gift and not at all serious.  I see I wasn't impressed by it.

  • Moral support for anyone who has to live with a huge penis

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      October, 23 2011
  • Pros: Somewhat funny.  May make a good gag gift.
    Cons: Not all that funny.  Not much to the book.  The title is the funniest part.
    Hey guys!  Do you suffer from Oversized Male Genitalia (OMG)?  In other words, is your penis HUGE?  Does it rival the size of a Pringles can or a shampoo bottle?  Does it cause you pain or embarrassment?  Have you been the subject of ridicule, violence, or discrimination because of your large member?  Are you afraid for the future because of the size of your penis?  Have I got a self-help book for you!  Dr. Richard Jacob and Reverend Owen Thomas are the authors of the 2009 book, How to Live with a Huge Penis.  It's a book especially for men who suffer from OMG and the people who love them.

    I suppose you're wondering how in the world a genteel lady like myself would ever deign to read a book entitled How to Live with a Huge Penis.  After all, I don't have a penis.  Well, the truth is, I found this book while looking at a hilarious site called  UHpinions is basically a site that showcases funny reviews that have been posted on Amazon, Yelp!, and though I have yet to find one, Epinions.  Quite a few people had reviewed this particular book and one person left a real humdinger of a review.  I was so intrigued that I just had to read this book for myself.

    In all seriousness, what is this book all about?

    First thing's first.  This book was published by an outfit called Quirk Books (  Despite the handsome red cover with fancy gold lettering, this book is not really intended to be taken seriously.  This slim volume is more of a satire of self-help than anything else.  I will admit, however, to finding the handy Length Gauge on the front cover very useful as I determined whether or not my dear husband, Bill, suffers from OMG or is just well-endowed.  Flip to the back of the book and you'll find a Girth Gauge, which again, helps readers of the male persuasion figure out if their penis size is cause for personal problems.

    Book style 

    This book is written a lot like your garden variety self-help book is, albeit with larger lettering.  The font size used in How to Live with a Huge Penis is huge, which ought to make people who prefer larger print happy.  The authors begin by reassuring readers with OMG that they are not alone.  Indeed, they include witty little anecdotes of certain famous men in history who also reportedly had huge penises.  These little anecdotes, while probably not altogether true, are somewhat entertaining.

    Next, the authors address how guys with OMG can deal with negative situations arising from their condition.  These situations are brought up through italicized stories written by anonymous males who have suffered with reassuring answers offered by the authors who no doubt are experts on the subject of OMG.  Toward the middle of the book, men with OMG can learn how they can "unzip" their condition, coming out to friends and family.   There are also handy tips on the care and maintenance of a huge penis and the best ways to enjoy sexual intercourse with loved ones.

    Introspective readers will certainly appreciate the daily affirmation journal at the end of the book, just pulsating with anticipation for its first entry.  And the authors have also thoughtfully provided a helpful chapter about the positive aspects of owning an enormous schlong.

    My thoughts 

    Honestly, I think this book could be much better than it is.  It's meant to be funny and it sort of is, but there's not that much to it.  The book is written in large print and contains pictures... not the detailed, interesting ones, mind you, but more like the stick figures that are used to determine which restroom one should use.  Some of the writing is mildly entertaining and even giggle worthy, but with a title like How to Live with a Huge Penis, I was expecting something much more exciting.  This book is a little like a cock tease in that respect.  Also, there is a Web site on the back cover, but I tried going there and got the front page for GoDaddy.  Talk about false hopes dashed.


    This book might make a funny gag gift for a man in your life.  Of course, it might also be quite offensive to some readers.  If you're the slightest bit intrigued by this review, I recommend checking out and reading about it there, first.  You might actually laugh harder for free.

    For more information:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

It took me over forty years to get so popular!

When I was growing up, I was not popular.  People knew who I was mainly due to my personality.  It's over the top.  Being *known* did not translate to being popular.  I had friends, but not much of a social life.  That trend continued until we moved to Germany for the second time.  Now, I have a social life for the first time in my life.

This afternoon, we have been invited to attend a birthday party.  A week ago, we went to a barbecue.  I've even got ladies to lunch with if I want.  I actually caught myself fretting this morning.  I'm not used to having so many offline friends!  That isn't to say I'm complaining, though.  I genuinely like the people we've met since we've been here.  It's fun to socialize.  What's even more surprising is that Bill, who always claimed to be an introvert, is more of a fan of the parties than I am!

The sad thing about this community is that people are always coming and going.  But, on the positive side, there are always people looking for company.  I think that's one reason why I like living abroad.  You end up meeting an interesting mix of people.  Sometimes you hang out with people you never would in your home country.  I like to mingle with different kinds of people.

Even though we have plans for later, I'm sitting here in my nightgown watching a ridiculous movie from the early 80s.  It's like they found every very popular 80s teen actor and threw 'em together in a cheesy rip off of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Check this out...

Seriously...  Anthony Edwards, Michael J. Fox, Todd Bridges, Nancy McKeon, Crispin Glover, Lauri Hendler, Dana Plato...  the list goes on.  I haven't even mentioned the 60s teen stars like Tony Dow, Ken Osmond, Bob Denver, and Dawn Wells.  They keep referring to "preps", who are all walking around with popped collars.

We were so easily entertained in the 80s.  It's no wonder I'm shocked by my new social life.  I always relied on crappy TV.  On the other hand, I feel older than hell watching this.  It doesn't seem like 1983 was that long ago, but it really was. 

I think we're going to go out and try to score some farm fresh goodies today.  I need a topic for my travel blog and tonight's party ain't gonna cut it.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Druscilla Penny...

I probably ought to write this post on my music blog, but I figure what I'm about to write has enough in it that isn't about music that it belongs here on my big blog.  Besides, the only reason anyone reads my music blog is to find out about Richard Carpenter's daughter, Mindi, who probably gets unfavorably compared to her famous dead aunt Karen more times than she can count.

Yesterday, I took my dog to the vet.  Zane has had an ear infection and the vet had given us some meds.  I've been using the meds, but his ear is still full of gunk.  The vet wants to sedate him and flush it out.  I'm going to try to have a sebaceous cyst removed from him on the same day.  On the way to the vet's office, I was listening to music.  The old Carpenters' song "Druscilla Penny" came up on the iPod.

I'd like to watch this video, but it won't play in Germany.  For those of you in Germany reading this post, here are the lyrics...

"Druscilla Penny"

Druscilla Penny, what a name!
Are you sure you didn’'t make it up yourself?
You’'re very pretty, yes you are
But with all the junk you wear, it’'s hard to tell

Man, you must work hard to get your hair to look like that
I don’t need a horoscope to tell me where you’'re at
Your family’'s probably given up on you
Since you began to follow groups of long-haired rock'n rollers
I can hear your mother crying for her daughter

Ah, ah, ah ....
Ah, ah, ah ....

Druscilla Penny, what a girl!
Where’s the purpose to the crazy life you lead?
It doesn’'t matter after all
You're so sure instant love is all you need

I’'ve seen your face at least a thousand times
You’'re always standing there behind the stages at the concerts
Waiting for an offer to be with someone after

Druscilla Penny, how’'s your head?
Do you ever wake up lonely in the night?
It isn’'t easy for a girl when she can’'t decide
If love is wrong or right
I hope I live to see a change
Could you ever really love?
Ever really care?
Ever really get it together? no no

This is one of a couple of songs on the Carpenters' 1971 self-titled album that features the metallic voiced Richard Carpenter singing lead.  I read on a message board that this song was kind of a comedy skit, with Richard singing to one of the countless groupies who were waiting around to get with a musician.  I'm sure Richard fielded his share of horny women back in the 70s, though he sounds so uptight and straight on this song that it comes across as funnier than it probably should.

He sings about her crazy life, her love of substances, makeup, and weird hair, and the fact that her family is sick over her departure from respectability.  I've heard this song many times, but yesterday was the first time Richard sounded downright disdainful to me.  Like, I could picture him backstage telling off some poor kid, standing over her like an overbearing father.  It just doesn't seem to mesh with the concept of a famous pop musician.  On the other hand, it does seem to suit Richard's personality. Case in point...

"Piano Picker"... another song that highlights Richard's attitude...

"Piano Picker"

Everybody always asks me
How I got to play so fine
And friends, I'm gonna tell ya
It really did take some time

Yes, after years and years of practice
And a case of real bad knees
Whil the other guys were out playin' with the football
I was home bangin' on the keys
And it got me

Right were I am, this is me
Playing the piano
I hope ya like what I do
It's for you, and I'll try and sing right too

I guess I'm really very lucky
That I've got this thing to play

'Cause it can really make me feel good
Even when it's cloudy and grey

Yes, after years and years of practice
And awful allergies that made me sneeze
And now the other guys are out playin' with their girlfriends
And I was still bangin' on the keys
And it got me

Right where I am, this is me
Playing the piano
I hope ya like what I do
It's for you
And I'll try and sing right too

Someone get this guy a glass of chocolate milk and some Claritin.  And maybe something to kill the bug up his ass.

Actually, the whole "Druscilla Penny" story seems kind of funny to me because everyone and their brother seemed to be taking drugs back in the 70s.  I mean, Richard himself spent some time in rehab for being hooked on prescription meds.  As far as I've read, he was not a drinker even in those days, but he did take Quaaludes or something like them.  And while Karen was getting some help for her anorexia nervosa, Richard was seeking treatment for his addiction to pills.  So why should he be looking down on a groupie whose head is in the clouds?

I know... it's just a song and a rather silly one at that.  It might be funny to hear someone do a cover of it.  I bet Pat Boone could turn it into a big band standard, much like he did with Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train".  On the other hand, maybe it's time I got a life and started listening to music from the 10s.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Unexpected educations from math professors...

Some people are just born to teach.  I was blessed to go to college at a place where there were many wonderful teachers, even if the school wasn't the best known or prestigious university on the block.  Twenty-two years after my graduation, I still get to interact with a couple of old professors.  Thanks to Facebook, I have gotten to know a few of my former teachers more personally, even if communicating online may actually be less personal than talking to someone face to face.

This morning, I woke up to a Facebook argument.  It was between a friend of mine from college and a math professor from our school.  I didn't know the math professor when I was a Longwood student, but after watching her argue with my friend and her apparently very religious family, I wish I'd had her as a teacher.  She makes a lot of sense.  I have a feeling if I'd had her as a teacher, I might be able to understand math better.

The argument that I woke up to was over the very contentious topic of abortion.  I did not see last night's presidential debates, but apparently Hillary Clinton took Donald Trump to task over late term abortion rights.  My friend from college posted a bold status update about Hillary Clinton's belief that women have the right to late term abortions.

My friend has a young son.  When she was six months pregnant with her one and only child, she was diagnosed with stage three melanoma.  She chose not to have treatment while she was pregnant because of the risk that her son would be harmed.  My friend explains that her decisions were focused on her son's welfare.  It never occurred to her to have a late term abortion.  I commend her for making those decisions.  Fortunately, it worked out for the best in her situation.  Or, at least that's what it looks like at this point.  My friend used her situation to make the statement that other women should be legally compelled to do as she did.

Naturally, since my friend called out Hillary Clinton about her stance on late term abortions, a whole lot of people decided to comment.  Most of the comments were supportive; my friend and I come from Virginia, where many people are God fearing red voters.  Quite a few of my friends are Christians who have conservative ideals based on their religious beliefs.  They see nothing wrong with making laws based solely on their beliefs and their world view of what is wrong or right.

One of the commenters to my friend's bold Hillary Clinton call out was the aforementioned math professor.  The professor is clearly someone who supports a woman's choice to have an abortion and/or make that decision privately with her doctor.  After reading my friend's statement about not terminating her pregnancy, the professor wrote:

I am glad you had that choice- would you deny it to others?

My friend responded that she'd made her "choice" when she decided to have unprotected sex.  It was a very quick, simple statement.  I'm sure she thought it would shut up the professor.  Given that the professor makes her living challenging people to think, I must say that very decisive, simple comment was short-sighted.  Did she really not expect the professor to take her on in an argument?

Sure enough, the professor pressed by reminding my friend that she had been free to make a choice.  The professor does not judge my friend for making that choice.  And she wrote that she also does not judge other women who might make a different choice in that situation.  The professor then asked my friend if she would deny the right to make a choice to other women.

That comment prompted a response from my friend's dad, who asked about the baby's "choice" to live.  My friend's mother made a comment about how children are "blessings from God".  My friend also responded, with a lengthy comment about God.  She used very scholarly, high-falutin', correct language, which told me that the professor had indeed challenged her.  But though my friend's command of an affected writing style is very much intact, I don't think she really stopped to think about what the professor was asking her.

My friend wanted to talk about God and God's will.  It didn't seem to occur to her that not everyone believes in God.  Moreover, my friend is blessed with a loving husband, a supportive family, a job, health insurance (presumably), excellent medical care at the University of Virginia, and other means to take care of herself.  Not every woman faced with abortion has those benefits.  Not every woman considering a late term abortion (which are really pretty rare, anyway) is in the same situation my friend was in when she was pregnant.  She was apparently healthy enough to delay treatment.  Not all women can do that and expect to survive.  Should we really expect all pregnant women to die for their unborn children?  Especially if there is no one ready to take care of the child?  Or if there was a good chance child would not be viable when the mother's life ended?

I happen to mostly agree with the professor's points.  Her stance is that people should have the right to make the decisions that work for them with little interference from uninvolved parties.  Although I am personally against abortion in most situations, the truth is, I could never say I wouldn't choose to have one (for as long as my reproductive system is still functioning).  There are situations where abortion, as gruesome as it is to me, might make sense.  I think that choice should be private between the people involved, and not require input from the government.

My friend and her parents, obviously very much pro-life and clearly very religious, were arguing about God's will and their faith.  They made emotional pleas-- all in caps, mind you-- about how abortion is murder and unborn babies have a right to live.  When the professor calmly responded to them, albeit with a gratuitous use of smilies, my friend and her family accused her of "lumping them into a group", "telling them they're wrong for standing up for their convictions", and "insulting their intelligence".

In fairness to my friend and her family, in the face of the professor's calm, logical, and fair minded arguments, I probably would have gotten pissed, too.  They probably felt condescended to, which almost always prompts people to respond emotionally rather than logically.  I am also guilty of getting pissed when people condescend to me.  But I recognize that the key to winning an argument is staying rational and calm, responding to what's being said rather than how it's being said.  The professor was staying calm.  My friend and her supporters were not.

The professor then went beyond arguing about abortion.  She asked my friend and her family what they were doing for the babies who were being born to people who weren't prepared to take care of them.  She asked if they would support making birth control more accessible and affordable to sexually active adults.  She acknowledged that most people are hardwired to have sex and outlawing abortion will not stop them from having unprotected intercourse, sometimes outside the bonds of marriage.  So she wanted to know what my right winged friend and her family were doing in support of another choice besides abortion.  Were they adopting special needs children who needed homes?  Did they support better access to birth control and decent healthcare?  What about education for those unborn souls?  Were they onboard with providing that once the babies were born?

I noticed that my friend, her family, and other supporters had no answers to the professor's very good questions about how they would handle the babies who were born from unintended pregnancies.  In fact, I doubt they even gave much thought to what should be done for those babies.  They probably hadn't considered what to do for the unfortunate babies who might have been aborted late term due to a catastrophic medical problem.  Who takes care of those babies, should they survive birth?  Who pays for their care and gives them what they need from cradle to grave (whenever it is that they actually reach the grave once they've been born)?

I noticed that my friend's dad only comment addressing this is that women who don't want to have babies should "keep their legs closed".  Yeah, that works.  If every woman did that and never fell victim to rape or incest, we'd have no issues with abortion, right?  And every baby conceived would be healthy and wanted.  Keep dreaming, pops.

Many of the same people who are opposed to abortions are also against mandatory health insurance coverage and welfare assistance.  It takes a lot of resources to raise children.  While abortion costs money, it's a lot less expensive than feeding, educating, and otherwise supporting a child until adulthood.

That being said, although many of the women who are considering early abortion are poor, those who are considering late term abortion generally aren't poor; they are often women who have discovered that their unborn child has a medical problem that would either cause them to die in utero or be faced with incredible pain and suffering upon birth.  Late term abortions are very expensive and very few doctors will do them.  While I suppose there could be bloodthirsty, monstrous women out there who have late term abortions out of convenience, common sense tells me that it's probably not a typical phenomenon.  For many women who are considering an abortion beyond 20 weeks of gestation, the decision is heartbreaking, inconvenient, and just plain gruesome.

In my opinion, the professor made some very sound arguments that were based on logic.  She respected my friend's right to believe in God and refuse to have an abortion.  She also respected another woman's right to not make decisions based on a belief in God.  To me, that seemed like a fair and reasonable approach for everyone, not just people who happen to be Christians.

My friend wanted to make a bold statement about abortion, something that could affect any woman, and declare it immoral based on her religious beliefs.  She seems to believe that the American government should be creating laws based on her Christian world view and not based on fairness to everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.  I'm sure my friend, who is a very good person, would deny this; I truly believe she thinks she's being fair.  But, as someone who has seen the perspectives of people who aren't necessarily devout Christians and/or aren't in a situation where pregnancy is feasible, I can't agree that forcing women to be pregnant when they don't want to be is fair.  Not when so many of them don't have access to decent and affordable medical care or all the other things that babies and their parents need in order to survive.

I'm sure some people reading this might say-- "Aha!  But what about adoption?"  And I would agree that carrying a baby to full term and giving it up for adoption is a very selfless thing to do.  But adoption comes with its own issues for everyone involved.  It's not so easy to ask someone to give up his or her child.  It's admirable when parents do surrender their baby to adoptive parents; but again, it's not always that simple.  Sometimes, there are other issues at play that make the choice for adoption more complicated.  And again, sometimes it's not simply about a woman being inconvenienced by a baby.  Sometimes there are private medical issues at hand that are just plain no one else's business.

I firmly believe that the law needs to be separate from religion as much as possible, especially as our society evolves.  Not everyone believes in God.  Not everyone subscribes to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or any of the other religions out there.  For that reason, in fairness, laws that affect everyone can't lean in the direction of any one set of religious beliefs.  Moreover, while many people want to talk about a "baby's right to live", I have yet to meet a single person who has any memories of life within the womb.  No one I know was conscious of being alive while in a fetal state.  A fetus has no concept of rights, no matter how emotionally certain people want to advocate for them.

Until a baby is born, he or she is part of the mother.  At the point when the baby is born, he or she is a separate being who has personhood and rights.  Yes, we have laws that will put someone in prison an extra long time for murdering a pregnant woman or causing a pregnant woman to miscarry.  I'm not sure I agree with those laws, to be honest.  I think they needlessly complicate issues surrounding personhood.  But even as I write that, I empathize with women who have lost their unborn babies to violence and I understand the reasoning behind those laws.

Anyway... this is an issue that will probably not be solved in my lifetime.  I just thought it was refreshing to see my pre-life friend's math professor friend very logically taking her on in a Facebook argument.  I was moved enough that I had to leave the professor a comment.  I wrote that she was making an awful lot of sense and I wished she'd been my prof at Longwood.  Perhaps she really could have explained math to me, once and for all.

This is an oldie but a goodie...  I know not everyone who is pro-life feels this way, but in my experience, a whole lot of them do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The dentist wars...

When you live in a small diaspora of Americans in a foreign country, you start to see that we all tend to go to the same places for certain services.  People are always looking for recommendations, whether it be for places to buy clothes, restaurants, car repair shops, doctors, or dentists.  Here in the Stuttgart area, we are blessed with several good places to go for dental care.

I know I vented about my dentist the other day, but he truly is very good at what he does.  He did an excellent job on my implant and he's generally very kind and caring.  Yes, he did nag me about seeing a doctor, but I don't think he was trying to be a jerk.  I think he was genuinely concerned and just showed it in a way that seemed strange.  He is half German and has been practicing in Germany since the late 1980s, so I wouldn't necessarily expect him to act as an American would all the time.

Unfortunately, at least one of my dentist's hygienists is a bit rough.  Bill got her the other day and she drew blood as she cleaned his teeth.  Part of the reason she drew blood is because he has a bridge that is very hard to keep clean.  The tissue surrounding the bridge was tender and inflamed.  So yes, there were bleeding gums, but I think she's rather vigorous regardless.  She probably needs to be reminded to ease up a bit.

The woman who cleaned my teeth simply left the saliva sucker thing in my mouth for ages.  I wasn't sure why she needed to do that, since none of the other hygienists have done it.  But I figure she knows what she's doing.  My teeth are clean, anyway.  And I didn't suffer any pain, other than being a bit flummoxed by my dentist's insistence that I see a doctor.  I figure that may simply be a cultural thing.  And ultimately, he's probably right, even if the conversation made me feel kind of uncomfortable.

Anyway, yesterday someone  complained in the local Facebook group about my dentist's hygienist-- probably the same one who cleaned Bill's teeth.  She said that the woman had been too rough on her daughter and the child left the office thinking the hygienist was angry with her.  The mom vented about it.  Naturally, once she did that, everybody and their brother came out with suggestions for the few other dental practices frequented by Americans in our area.  Everyone thinks they have the *best* dentist, too.

I have heard great things about several dentists in this area.  We are fairly spoiled for choice.  I actually had some trouble choosing one, but finally went with the one I did because I noticed that people were praising him when we lived here last time.  Apparently, he used to have an American hygienist.  One of his other patients said that the "trick" was to get the American hygienist.

Americans generally think that their countrymen are the *best* at things.  I as guilty as anyone, I guess.  One reason I picked my dentist is that he's half American and I figured if I needed pain meds, he'd supply them.  And he did give me very strong ibuprofen, which was really all I needed.  He also gave me Ativan, which helped me stay calm during my surgeries.

But there's another practice in the area that is apparently staffed entirely of Americans.  People in our community seem to think they're the best solely due to the fact that the staff is American.  I don't think that's so.  I can't see why a person's country of origin necessarily has anything to do with their ability to provide medical care, except when it comes to cultural differences.  For instance, yesterday I wrote about how I dread needing medical care here...  but then, I would dread it in the United States, too.  Here, though, nudity and modesty are not as big of a deal as they are in the States, so there is a risk of an embarrassing cultural clash.  As far as the actual medical care goes, though, I would expect it would be top notch.

I probably shouldn't care too much about people recommending other dentists.  If everyone goes to the all American practice, that means it'll be easier for Bill and me to score appointments!  I just think it's funny that people turn into cheerleaders for their favorite businesses.

I have a feeling this post will prompt spammers who will try to leave comments for gentle dentists.

In other news, I just booked our trip to Ireland.  Hopefully, the weather won't suck too much next month.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why I don't do doctors...

Yesterday, I read a very interesting account of a woman's experience visiting a gynecologist in Iran.  Bahar Anooshahr, the woman who wrote the piece, is herself an oral surgeon.  She had given up that career for one in writing.  She wrote about the culture shock she experienced when she visited a doctor in Iran.  Anooshahr is originally from Iran, but had not lived there in many years.  She knew it would be much cheaper to see a doctor there than in a more western country.  Since she was no longer practicing oral surgery, money was an object for her.  She got a very cheap gyno exam, as well as a reminder that sometimes you get what you pay for.

I cringed as I read about Anooshahr's experiences in Iran.  The doctor had told her to strip and stood by while Anooshahr got naked.  She got up on the table and the Iranian doctor delivered what sounded to me like a very unkind and embarrassing exam.  Then, to add insult to injury, the doctor gave Anooshahr the samples she'd provided and told her she had to deliver them to the lab herself.

I have read other accounts of healthcare written by Americans abroad.  A lot of women who have babies or even have routine gyno care in Germany are shocked by some of the differences.  I was talking to a German friend the other day and she said that here in Deutschland, women typically see their OB-GYNs twice a year!  This conversation came about after I visited my dentist last week, who gave me a sound lecture about getting to the doctor for a checkup.

My last visit with an actual OB-GYN was in 1995, when I had my first "female" exam... the one that has left me traumatized over two decades later.  I did have an exam in 2007, before we moved to Germany the first time.  It was delivered by a very kind physician's assistant, though, who had to comfort me while I had a total meltdown in her exam room.  That led to several weeks of my having to come back for blood pressure checks because she was certain I had hypertension.  I didn't, at least not at that time.  But I had to spend 24 hours hooked up to a blood pressure monitor to prove that what I actually have is white coat hypertension.  Not good.

I am fascinated by healthcare, especially as it's delivered in other countries.  I went to school to study public health and, had I not turned into "knotty, The Overeducated Housewife", I might have actually had a real career in healthcare.  But when it comes to my own healthcare, I'm negligent.  I think I have a phobia of doctors.  When I visit them, my blood pressure typically shoots up and I get panicky.  The offical name for "doctor phobia" is iatrophobia.  Sometimes people mess up the word and think it's "Latrophobia", which is wrong.  I think they must be mistaking the "I" for a lower case "l".  To remember the word "iatrophobia", all you have to do is realize that it derives from Greek.

Iatrophobia is a word that comes from the Greek word iatros, meaning "healer".  I know this because I also know the word "iatrogenic", which is one that comes up in public health.  A medical problem that is iatrogenic is caused by medical treatment.  Here's an example of an iatrogenic medical problem.  Say you need a heart transplant.  You get the transplant, but then have to take anti rejection drugs for the rest of your life.  Because you are taking powerful drugs that lower your resistance to germs, you end up suffering from chronic sinus infections.  You never had problems with your sinuses before your transplant.  The sinus infections would be an iatrogenic condition.  You would not have had that specific issue had you not sought medical treatment. People who get transplants are also at an increased risk of developing cancer, which could also be considered iatrogenic.  Basically, what it means is that you have a condition that was brought on by your visit with a healer.  The issue may or may not be worse than the original problem for which you sought treatment.  For instance, a scar that results after surgery is iatrogenic, but it's not usually medically harmful.

I suppose my own issues with iatrophobia were actually caused by iatrogenesis.  I have never enjoyed visiting doctors much, but I didn't have a full on phobia of them until one fateful day in April 1995.  I was 22 years old and had applied to the Peace Corps.  A condition of Peace Corps service was that I had to have a very thorough physical.  Most of the physical, as delivered by my local military treatment facilities, was bullshit.  I had blood and urine drawn, got my hearing and vision checked, got tested for AIDS, weighed, and all the rest.  The last part of the physical was the gynecological exam, which the Peace Corps insisted that I needed even though I was a virgin at the time.  The doctors I saw were reluctant to examine me because of my virginity.  I told them I had to have it done.

I remember that April afternoon, sitting in the dingy waiting room, looking at the pictures of all the babies on the walls.  I was alone and very nervous as I filled out the paperwork.  It was a very primitive setup; I recall the form had actually been typed on a typewriter rather than printed from a computer.  I had my blood pressure taken by a kind medical assistant who reassured me that the doctor I was about to see was "gentle".  Unfortunately, she was wrong.

The Air Force physician, a major who was wearing her uniform, had a nurse in the room as she performed the exam.  She was very rough and physically hurt me.  I was lying naked under a paper sheet while the nurse stood by silently and the doctor proceeded to use a cold metal speculum that was much too large.  When I shrieked in pain, she told me I had to "calm down" or we couldn't do the exam.  Since I needed to have the exam done and she'd already assaulted me with her instruments, I bit my lip as she removed the first overly large speculum and inserted another one.  It hurt only marginally less.  I almost fainted from the pain and shock.  She chastised me for my reaction as she roughly examined my breasts, my ovaries, and my rectum.

When the very thorough exam was over, I was invited into the doctor's office.  She said "Everything looks okay, although I didn't get the 'world's greatest exam' because you weren't very relaxed."  She told me I'd gain weight in Armenia and advised me to go on a diet.  Then she asked me if I wanted birth control pills.  I remember looking at my medical records and the impersonal notes she'd written.  I felt utterly worthless and humiliated.  I left that office feeling thoroughly violated.  I don't want to use the word "rape", because I don't know that the exam was necessarily like a rape.  But that exam definitely had a horrifying effect on me.  I felt like that doctor saw me as a big slab of meat and had treated me accordingly.  It was a terrible experience that still makes me cry when I think too hard about it.  While I don't regret my Peace Corps service, I can't deny that it helped lead to the situation I'm in now.

Still, I realized the importance of medical exams even after that awful experience at Langley Air Force Base.  As I was leaving the Peace Corps in 1997, I tried to have another exam done by the Peace Corps Medical Officer.  The physician's assistant was a nice lady that I had gotten to know.  She assured me she'd be gentle.  She told me to get undressed, but failed to mention the paper gown I was supposed to put on.  When she entered the room, I was completely naked and should not have been.  She was shocked and did nothing to hide it.  So that was horribly awkward for both of us.  In the end, I couldn't let her do the exam.

I fainted my last day of being a Peace Corps Volunteer.  The physician's assistant tried to draw blood, missed my vein, and instead of trying again, simply tried to dig for the vein in my arm.  I remember it hurting, telling her I didn't feel well, and then waking up confused.  She told me to get a blood test in the States.  I didn't bother.

The funny thing is, from what I've read, here in Germany it would have been perfectly appropriate for me to be standing there naked, waiting for an intimate exam.  They don't even leave the room while you disrobe.  That's apparently how it's done here because nudity is not a big deal.  No thanks.

It took another ten years after my aborted pelvic exam before I could bring myself to have another exam.  That time, the pelvic exam was pretty much painless.  The PA who did it was extremely gentle and understanding.  I still cried; but she gave me a hug and listened.  I was really relieved that the exam was painless and delivered by an empathetic person.  On the other hand, the painless exam also pissed me off.  Because now I know that my first exam didn't have to hurt so much that I'd almost pass out on the table.  Now I know that there was no reason for that first doctor to traumatize me, other than her own convenience and insensitivity.  I was too young and scared to do something about her abusive treatment of me.  And now I know that, while I could end up with a very kind and understanding healthcare professional, I could also end up with someone who might make my issues even worse.

In the late 1990s, there was a time when I did willingly seek medical care.  In that situation, I truly needed to see a doctor because I had developed dangerous skin infections that made me legitimately sick.  I'm pretty sure the germs responsible for those repeated infections (I got my first one on a trip to Turkey in 1996) came from my time abroad.  It took a good three years before I finally stopped having problems with random bouts of cellulitis.  I had to take powerful antibiotics and, at one point, almost ended up in the hospital.  I fought going to the hospital and turned out to be right, but it wasn't without a lot of arguing with authoritative doctors about it.  I did find a doctor I would trust if I still lived in Virginia.  The guy was a saint.  But so many of them talk to you like you're stupid and/or unwittingly cause harm by being bad communicators.

That time post Peace Corps assignment was very stressful for me because, besides being sick, I was also broke and suffering from clinical depression and anxiety.  The positive side of that experience was that, for the first time in my life, I was getting medical care from civilian providers.  They were a lot better than the military docs I had seen throughout my childhood and adolescence.  My mom was never one to take me to the doctor unless I was sick, so even my experiences with military docs was somewhat limited.  But then I married Bill and ended up back in the military healthcare system.  I fought using it for two years before I finally gave in and gave up my civilian health insurance.  Here in Germany, I could go on the American installation if I needed to, but most medical care would involve seeing a German doctor.

So now, here I am in my 40s, when I'm supposed to be diligent about check ups.  I even have advanced education in healthcare.  I realize that I'm probably being stupid and I may end up paying for neglecting my health.  Still, the idea of seeing a doctor terrifies me.  So many people, Bill included, have asked me to get a check up.  I know in my head that I should do it, but I can't bring myself to it.  Aside from that, I have a bit of a death wish anyway.  It comes from the low grade depression that has dogged me my whole life.  I guess I'm somewhat lucky in that I've always been very healthy.  I have a sister who hates seeing doctors and went through many years when she would actually faint every time she was in a medical setting.  She told me some time ago that after many years of repeated fainting, she finally stopped.

I know I have written about iatrophobia before, but the subject is coming up again.  Apologies to those who think it's too personal.  I really am writing it because I think this is a problem that many people face.  I want to tell my friends that I appreciate their concern when they ask me to see a doctor.  But I also want them to understand that I have a phobia and it's not so simple as making an appointment because someone says I should.  Also, while I understand why people engage in scare tactics, I want to tell my friends that trying to scare me into seeing a doctor won't work.  If anything, it simply makes the anxiety worse.  Why would I want to make an appointment to see a doctor if I know that he or she will simply give me bad news that may mean I'd need to come back for more?

Reasoning is also a natural thing to do when someone is being "stubborn" about visiting a doctor.  What I think people should understand is that phobias are irrational fears.  While reasoning makes sense if you're rational, a phobia is by definition irrational and ridiculous.  So telling me about all the things that could be wrong or explaining that it's not so bad does little to cut through the anxiety.  What is helpful is kind reassurance, active listening, and, frankly, a little firm insistence.  The last time I saw a doctor was in 2010.  Bill made the appointment for me, drove me there, and escorted me into the medical facility.  When I needed an ultrasound, he did the same.

I'm sure this post will resonate with some people.  Look up "doctor phobia" online and you'll find that a whole lot of people don't do doctors.  I suppose there will come a day when I'll have a crisis of some sort and end up seeing one because someone called an ambulance.  I realize that's a ridiculous way of getting over a phobia.  It's not fair to Bill, who genuinely cares about me and shouldn't be stuck with a big bill due to my negligence.

I do mostly feel fine.  Ignorance is bliss.  I know it's stupid and ridiculous.  Believe me, I know.  I know I could have cancer or diabetes and die a painful death at a young age.  Knowing those things doesn't make me want to go to the doctor, though.  I'm not sure what the future holds.  I may die younger than I have to.  The good news is, that when I do finally kick the bucket, I doubt that many will care.  Some may actually cheer.  And ultimately, life is 100% fatal anyway.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Merciless mocking of Marines...

Yesterday, a friend of mine shared a picture of a female Marine who appeared to be very overweight. The caption to the photo was "Semper Pie".

This is the photo in question.

If you read this blog regularly, you may already know how I feel about people ripping off photos of people and posting them online simply to ridicule them.  Nevertheless, the person who posted this wasn't quite as nasty as he could have been.  I went to the original source of the photo and read comment after nasty comment about the woman pictured above.

My comment was "Perhaps she's in a family way?"  By that, I meant maybe she was either pregnant or had just delivered.  Then I added that when I read mean comments on pictures like this one, it makes me want to kick some people in the nuts.  Maybe that's not the nicest thing to say.  Sorry about that.  The guy ended up deleting the post because he thought I was upset about it.  Someone messaged me to find out if I was.  What was said in our group was pretty tame.  What annoyed me were the comments on the original post, made by a bunch of mean spirited males.

Anyway, another friend who is now a retired Marine, mentioned that the woman pictured above had been in an online group she's in.  She had just delivered twins and had been on bedrest for much of the pregnancy due to it being high risk.  She has apparently since left the Marines and lost a lot of weight.  The jokes stopped after my Marine friend commented.

Bill and I talked about this yesterday, how a lot of times, people in the military feel fine about mocking strangers about their appearance.  It's usually men who do this.  It's especially bad if the person being mocked is also in uniform.  It never seems to occur to these folks that perhaps the people they are mocking have legitimate medical reasons for being the size they are.  They are just easy pickings for a laugh.

One thing I don't like about military culture is that sometimes, the people within it are very intolerant of people's feelings.  If someone is legitimately hurt by someone's words or actions, some people in the military accuse them of being "butthurt".  I will agree that sometimes people whine about things that I don't think are ultimately that important.  On the other hand, who am I or anyone else to decide what is or is not hurtful to someone else?  Why should anyone have the right to belittle another person's feelings?

When you marry someone in the military, you become at risk for being mocked for being a "dependa".  That is a derogatory term used by some military members for spouses who sponge off of them.  But, I have also seen spouses get mocked for trying to make something of themselves.  Just a week or so ago, someone complained about spouses who were advertising their home based businesses.  

My comment was that people are kind of damned if they do, damned if they don't.  Either they are lazy, good for nothing, "dependas" who aren't worth a shit.  Or they are "uppity" or annoying for having a business, getting a degree, or otherwise making use of their time on Earth.  It's a good thing that I love Bill so much.

It's depressing to think about all the unhappy people out there who enjoy making mean comments to other people.  I kind of wonder where it comes from and I'm glad my husband isn't one of the mean ones.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rape culture in churches...

I just read a very disturbing article about a lawsuit that was just filed against a Jehovah's Witnesses church in Weber County, Utah.  The lawsuit was filed by a woman who claims that she was repeatedly raped by a church instructor and JW officials later her made her listen to a recording of one of her assaults.  The woman seeks a jury trial and $300,000 to cover medical care, legal fees, and general damages.

According to the article I read, the woman may or may not have gone to the police after she was allegedly raped by a church instructor.  The Salt Lake Tribune states that members of the JW faith are encouraged to bring problems to church elders rather than involving outsiders.  Having done my share of reading about Jehovah's Witnesses and having had a relative who was once a member, I can affirm that this attitude is prevalent among people involved with the Witnesses.

In this case, the assaults against the woman allegedly took place after she went out with the instructor on a date.  He took her cell phone from her and said she had to kiss him on the cheek to get it back.  She refused, so he kicked her out of his car.  Later, he came back for her and the assaults apparently escalated from there.  When the assaults were brought to the attention of JW officials, they began an investigation...  but it was not an investigation against the perpetrator.  Instead, the young woman was investigated.  Below is a quote from the article linked above:

In April 2008, the Roy church formed a judicial committee to investigate whether the girl engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior — "a serious sin" in the religion. During the meeting that included her mother and stepfather, the lawsuit states, church leaders played a recording of one of the purported rapes, obtained from the instructor, for four to five hours "repeatedly stopping and starting the audio tape ... suggesting that she consented to the sexual behavior."

The woman alleges that she was raped several times.  Realizing the patriarchal culture within the Jehovah's Witnesses, it's possible that she felt like she had to do what this man said.  She was likely taught to do whatever the church officials told her to do.  As the attacker was apparently her church instructor, she probably felt that she had no choice.  It really is a shame that people continue to get and stay involved in religious organizations that promote this kind of thinking and do nothing to empower everyone, not just the men.

This situation among the JWs in Utah sounds an awful lot like the recent hullabaloo about Brigham Young University's policy of bringing rape victims up on Honor Code violations.  Women who dared to report rape to the police or University officials were getting in trouble for putting themselves in situations where they might be assaulted.  For the record, I think these kinds of policies are disgusting and they keep our society in the Dark Ages.  

Of course people-- male or female-- who choose to sexually assault others should be held responsible for their actions.  At the same time, I don't think it's wrong for people to look out for themselves.  I wish these churches and universities like BYU would do more to promote personal safety outside of the religious sense.  I wish they wouldn't simply tell women to protect their virginity and purity because that's supposedly what God wants.  They should be empowering them to protect themselves because they don't want to be victims of crimes.

It's interesting that this subject came on my radar this morning.  I just saw a Facebook post by 11th Principle: Consent about how rape culture develops.  Although I would absolutely never say that it's okay to rape someone, I do think it pays to be careful.  One young woman made a comment about how she'd gotten very drunk at a party and was raped while she was unconscious.  She wrote that it was wrong that she was raped, but she shared some responsibility in the situation by drinking so much that she passed out.  She got a lot of indignant comments from people who said that no part of the rape was her fault at all; she bore absolutely no responsibility toward the crime perpetrated against her.

At the risk of pissing off a lot of people, I will go on record as saying that I agree that rape is never a victim's fault.  However, I do think that everyone-- males and females-- should take some responsibility for their personal safety.  One of the comments I read on the 11 Principle: Consent Facebook page was this:

- if you went for a walk, but someone chose to stab you, should you have stayed in?
-if you decided to go for a drive, but someone drove into your car, is it your fault?
-if you went for a swim, but someone drowned you, was it your fault because you put yourself in a position where you could be drowned?

My response is that in the above examples, precautions could have been taken to lessen the chance of harm or mitigate the harm that did occur.  For instance, when you take a walk, you choose areas where there are people around.  You carry a cell phone that is charged and ready in case of emergency.  You tell someone where you're going.  You might learn self defense.  These are things you can do to lessen the chance that you'll be a victim.  You might still end up being victimized, but you will have taken steps to lessen the chance of it.

If you go for a drive, you wear a seatbelt (even though I hate them).  You make sure your car is safe to drive.  You don't drink alcohol or take drugs before getting behind the wheel.  You make sure you are well rested.  You might still have an accident, but you've done your part to lessen the probability.

If you go for a swim, you make sure you can actually swim.  If you can't, you learn how and stay out of the deep end until you have the appropriate skills.  You take someone with you when you swim.  You use floatation devices if you need them.  You might still drown, but the chances are not as high as they could be.

When it comes to assaults, sexual or otherwise, I think the same responsibilities apply.  Don't get so fucked up that you black out.  Don't go to parties alone, especially if you don't know the people hosting them.  If you do get assaulted, it's certainly not your fault.  But my guess is that you will learn from the assault and take steps to be sure it doesn't happen again.  It sounded to me like the young woman who said she shared in the responsibility of her attack had simply learned from it.  She'd made a mistake by getting so intoxicated.  I have made the same mistakes myself on a number of occasions.  There, but by the grace of God, go I.  

Is it ever your fault if you get assaulted?  No.  The person who chooses to perpetrate a crime is always the guilty party.  But the point is, there are things you can do to lessen the chance that you will be a victim.  I don't think it's wrong to acknowledge that.  I don't think that line of thinking promotes "rape culture".  I applaud the young woman who realizes that she was wrong to get so drunk that she passed out.  At the same time, I think it's sad that there are shitty people out there who would take advantage of a woman so distressed.

I'm reading the article about the lawsuit against the JWs just as everyone's talking about Donald Trump's infamous "locker room" talk.  I have friends of every stripe opining on a potential U.S. president talking about grabbing women by their pussies.  I have a number of very religious relatives criticizing Hillary Clinton because-- well, probably because she's a female liberal.  These same supposedly God fearing people see no problem with voting for a man who brags about forcing himself on women and grabbing their crotches.  But if a woman gets assaulted, instead of being outraged, they look for ways to blame her.  I don't think that's right.  But I do think there are things people can and should do to protect themselves.

As for the woman suing the JWs, I don't think it's wrong that she's filed a lawsuit.  This isn't the first time I've heard of a pervert ending up in power.  It's not just the JWs, either.  Lots of churches empower creeps who then victimize their supposed underlings.  I've read about plenty of religious organizations who don't do enough to keep bad people from powerful positions.  I think they should be held accountable when these things happen.  Again, from the article:

A leader from the congregation apparently warned the girl's parents in November 2006 that the instructor — who previously attended church sessions in Ogden and Oregon — was a "bad kid" who had "engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with a female member of the Clearfield congregation." The plaintiff says that warning wasn't enough.

How did the guy end up a "church instructor" if church leaders knew he was a "bad kid"?  One has to wonder.  At the same time, isn't it crazy that someone like Donald Trump, who openly admits to being a pervy creep-- even if it was privately-- might end up leading the country?  No wonder we have issues with so-called "rape culture".