Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I don't like your phraseology

In every discussion about health care reform, at every level, it's inevitable that somebody is going to use the phrase "socialized medicine," and it makes me crazy. Why are these same right-wing ideologues not up in arms about our nation's socialized education system or our socialized air-traffic-control system? Why don't we hear them taking brave, principled positions against Medicare?

Disaboom: New commercial site for disabled community

The other day, I did something I can't really remember doing before: I actually clicked on a banner ad, something for a site called Disaboom, which will premiere this weekend, promises to be "the revolutionary solution to the difficulties faced by an untapped market of more than 650 million adults worldwide living with disabilities and a valuable resource for their caregivers, families, rehabilitation providers and employers."

I'm not sure how I feel about being characterized as a part of "untapped market," but the site appears to offer disease-specific medical information and discussions, plus news, reviews of products and services, job listings, and classified ads. Something to watch, I guess.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fla. pardons MS patient

A disabled MS patient in Florida was convicted on drugs charges after forging prescriptions for large quantities of pain meds. Prosecutors argued he must have been selling the drugs because of the quantities involved, but presented no evidence of actual sales. A judge bound by a mandatory-minimum law sentenced Richard Paey to 25 years in prison. After 4 hours in prison, Governor Charlie Crist pardoned Paey. Snip from the AP article:
Paey and his supporters have argued that he never distributed any drugs — that he purchased and consumed huge amounts on his own for constant pain. Paey has been debilitated by a 1985 car accident, suffers from multiple sclerosis, and uses a wheelchair.

He refused to accept a plea because he didn't want to be branded a drug dealer.

The case illustrates flaws in the law and how people who are dependent on strong pain medication can get tangled up in the government's effort to combat drugs, Paey's attorney, John Flannery of Leesburg, Va., said. Because of mandatory minimum sentences, the judge in Paey's case had no choice but the 25-year sentence after he was conviction.

The board — Crist, State Attorney Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson — voted unanimously to approve Paey's release, overriding the recommendation of the parole commission that his application be denied.

State Attorney Bernie McCabe, whose office prosecuted Paey, said he had no reaction to the news.

This kind of thing really makes me crazy. There's lots to rant about in this story--our insane approach to drug policy and crime in general, limitless prosecutorial discretion--but today, I choose to rejoice, because after everyone else in the system failed Richard Paey, the last little safety valve in the system actually worked. Huzzah.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Doubling down: a second mortgage

Tuesday morning we'll be at the credit union to close on a home equity loan for home improvements. After aborting a more expensive plan last fall, we've been working on a more limited plan for a small covered deck and some new windows. It's something we've known we'd need to do almost since the moment we moved in almost 5 years ago, and it's going to be a big improvement, but it makes me a little queasy just the same.

With Carmen out of work and back in school, we're doing fine, but the margins for error are going to be tight for a while, especially until we finish paying off the car in March. I just can't really think of a better way to do it. We can't really put it off longer, for various reasons, and I'm not sure there's a good way to do it for less money. Until Carmen gets out of school, I guess we've got to keep all of our eggs in one slightly disabled basket.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Biogen's MS simulator

No, really. Snip from the press release:
With Step Inside MS, participants interact with cutting-edge media and technology to simulate a realistic approximation of the MS patient experience. Accompanied by a trained attendant, participants enter a small theatrical simulator that houses a treadmill where they will be outfitted with goggles and sensory gloves so they experience many of the symptoms that people with MS often encounter, including unpredictable loss of muscle control and coordination problems, numbness and tingling in the hands, hot flashes, and visual and cognitive impairment such as memory loss and decreased verbal ability. The simulation also illustrates social hurdles that a person with MS often faces.

If it wasn't already 3:30 in the afternoon, I might have been able to come up with a decent joke for this, but it's that time of day when I get a little dopey and distracted by the burning sensation in my butt/thighs. Does the simulator simulate that? How about bladder trouble? What about depression or loss of sexual function?

I guess the point is that if you created an accurate MS simulator, nobody would show up to experience it.