A Guy in a Skewed World: Still hanging in

It’s been a few years since I updated this blog.  I’ve been dealing with going back to school, getting additional diagnosis, and generally going downhill mood wise.  Life hasn’t been easy, but with my wife’s loving support, I’ve been able to keep from giving up, just yet.

I’ve spent the last couple of years, since I was laid off, going back to school to at least get an associates degree.  That’s almost complete.  I’m at the end of the last semester’s worth of work needed for that.  The question comes in – am I actually going to be able to use it?  That leads into the rest of it.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had several items added to the health issues list.  In addition to dealing with the fibromyalgia, I’ve also been confirmed to have psoriatic arthritis (PA).  This is the red-headed stepbrother of rheumatoid arthritis.  It presents similarly, attacks the body in similar ways, but it varies slightly.  It tends to attack tendons, ligaments, and the skin (including possible discoloration of the skin), where RA doesn’t.  On top of that, issues with my back have been getting worse.  So, between the PA affecting my lower back and other issues affecting my back, standing and walking are very difficult.  Needless to say, getting treatment for the back issues is difficult.

On top of all of the physical health issues, the constant pain, difficulty in doing anything, and not being able to hold down a job, my mental health has gone south in a hurry.  Chronic depression is a constant companion.

I’m worried that I won’t be able to actually hold down a job, anymore.  As it is, anything (including class or doctors visits) that is more than 10 or 15 minutes away, I need someone to drive me, most of the time.  Fatigue, dizziness, distracting pain, and debilitating pain, make it difficult for me to drive any significant distances.  I’m having to nap frequently during the day, just to keep energy levels up for class.  With the absentee rates I had BEFORE my health got worse, I’m concerned about anything that requires me to be physically present to work.  My mental faculties have taken a hit, as well.  Between the pain, chronic fatigue, depression, and mental fog associated with fibromyalgia, it takes me almost double to the time to do anything that it took me, even as recently as last year.

In all of this, the one thing that has kept me going, and kept me from giving up completely, is my wife.  Without her love, support, and chauffeuring, I wouldn’t have made it this far.  My desire to do better by her, and our children, and my desire to not let her down … these keep me going.  Without her love and support, I’d have given up a long time ago.  In so many ways, she is my lifeline.  And she does this in spite of her own health issues and challenges.

Hopefully, it won’t be another 3 years before I update this again.  I’m hoping to get this back to what I intended it to be – a daily (or multiple times per week) journal.  We’ll see.

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Why I Carry

During conversations with various people over the past couple of years, I’ve decided that I need to put down a little better the reasoning behind why I carry a weapon with me whenever possible and why I have one at home, regardless.

Over the years, it has become more and more apparent to me that evil exists in our world. It even lives nearby. I had thought that a good bat, at home and just avoiding the known “bad parts of town” would be sufficient. I thought I was physically able to protect myself, my wife and the rest of my family. I was mistaken. Now, I haven’t had any bad event happen to me or mine to cause a jolt. What I have done is woken up to the realities that I have to deal with in my day to day life. My health is deteriorating to the point where I can no longer protect my family without assistance. I came to the realization that I needed a tool.

XD-9 9mm

(Image source: Springfield Armory)

 

That tool turned out to be a Springfield Armory XD 9mm semi-automatic pistol.  For the most part, the XD is our home defense pistol. I can (and have) concealed it using the basic holster that came with it, but it leaves a little to be desired in comfort (the holster, not the gun).  Locating holsters for it that fit within the budget is a little tough.  When funds are available, a holster from Dragon Leatherworks or The Holster Site is on the list of things to acquire.

LC-9 9mm

(Image source: Ruger.com

When I went to look for something for my wife to use, since she was initially afraid to handle the XD9 due to the size compared to her hand size, we decided on the Ruger LC9.  It’s smaller, fit her hands well, excellent reviews (and shoots like a dream for such a little weapon … must get my review done).  It is, however, a subcompact in 9mm.  The felt recoil is noticeable.  Since she’d gotten over her reluctance to shoot with the LC9, she decided to try the XD9.  She loved it so much that she’s told me that I’ll need to purchase another one if I ever want to shoot it again.

With the XD9 and the LC9 (and appropriate holsters for the LC9), the tools are now in place.

Do I ever expect to need the pistol in my pocket or on my hip while running errands?  No, I don’t.  But then again, you cannot predict when predators in our society will think that I am prey.  My weapons are just a tool for me to use teach these people that I am not, nor will I be, their prey.  I am not a victim.  I will not willingly give up what is mine, whether it is my life, my money/property or my family.  At the least, I intend to put a price on whatever they try and take from me.  A price that can be so high that they will think twice about paying it.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg of the reasons that I carry. It all comes down the simple facts I will not be a victim.  I will not depend on others for the safety of myself or those I love.  I will not be left to the mercy of the merciless.  I. Will. Not. Be.

I am.

God willing, the tools will be never needed.  But like

  • the first aid kit in the car
  • the first aid kit in the closet
  • the spare tire in the vehicles
  • the jumper cables kept in the vehicles

and other tools and items kept on hand “just in case they’re needed”, so too is my concealed carry piece.  It’s a tool on hand, just in case it’s needed.

Youth’s Respect for History Lives On

There’s a video going around that is, well, let’s just say that it’s inspiring.  A young lad back in 2014 wanted to pay his respects to the men who gave their lives on D-Day to start the liberation of Europe in World War II.  His project, called Project Vigil, saw him visiting the American Cemetery in Normandy.  He spent several days there, leading up to the 70th anniversary of the storming of the beaches.  The young gentleman, dressed as a U.S. Infantryman would have been dressed when wading ashore all those years ago, presented the story of three of the paratroopers buried there in the cemetery.  Due to the police blocking him from entering the cemetery on D-Day, he took his vigil down to the beach.  With his 48-star U.S. Flag (identical to the one flown on the day of the invasion), he stood for over 90 minutes, saluting and watching the spirits of our soldiers making their historic, and deadly, climb out of the waters.  To get the true impact of it, however, you need to watch the video.

Since I’m having difficulty embedding the video, click here.

It’s inspiring to see something like that out of our young people.  Too many of them, today, have lost the respect for history, and the sacrifices required to keep us free.

It’s a Panda’s Life #1

My wife decided that she’s going to some interesting things to make our stuffed panda’s life a little more interesting. So, I’m going to be posting a series of posts with the pictures.

Since today is Valentine’s Day, this one seems appropriate to start with.

Meet Peep.  He’s a Purple Panda.

IMG_1243

Enjoy!

Fire arms crime and the graphics that matter.

Now, I am not a statistics guy. Never have been. I can follow the rabbit trail if someone wants to take the time to walk me through their logic/reasoning/math, but I get lost rather easily when I try to do it myself. Fortunately, I’ve got someone else to that math for me, in this case. Linoge (of Walls of the City) does a wonderful job making it easy enough for us uneducated slobs to understand. He even provides pictures for those of us who need the graphic aid (which I do most of the time).

The FBI has recently released the 2011 Uniform Crime Report. This report shows all reported crime, from districts all across the nation, and makes it available to the public. Linoge has been taking this data and converting it to graphics for us for several years now. With the 2011 report out, he does it again. Here is the graphic that he created to show the trends.

Graphics Matter by Linoge @ wallsofthecity.net

The trend that he discovers is fairly obvious is you look at the data with unbiased eyes. Since 2006, the rate of Crimes Committed with Firearms has decreased. Since 2007, the TOTAL number of crimes committed with a firearm have decreased. All while the total number of firearms owned has gone up. All of this to say that there is a negative correlation between total fire arms owned and crimes committed with a firearm. Take a look at his explanation for more detail.

Just remember, when dealing with folks who are anti-gun or think that more guns causes more crime, we have the statistics to show that this isn’t true. More guns does NOT equal more crime. Also remember, there is currently not enough evidence to make a correlation the other way (more guns is the cause of less crime). Remember this.

— sham

Shotgun Breakup

I was reading a post over at guns.com about a girl having trouble with an ex-boyfriend who wasn’t quite convinced that it was over.  It turned violent on the part of the ex and he took actions that could be considered kidnapping.  Police were called.  Then Dad was called. 

Now, reading it, a question is asked – at what point does an altercation like this cross the point where you feel that deadly force is authorized?  Was it when the ex tried to prevent the daughter from leaving?  Was it when he followed the daughter to her house while threatening her?  Was it when, confronted by dad with a firearm, he knocked dad to the ground and proceeded to physically assault him?  Each of us has a different point where someone’s crossed that line.

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now and it’s not something I’ve hidden from my daughter or her older brothers (I’d do the same for them, but it’s more obvious and out in the open with her).  It’s been so obvious that my daughter instantly dubbed Cleaning This Gun by Rodney Atkins as my theme song the first time she heard it.  So, this isn’t a topic that I take lightly. 

For me, the point where I would start considering the use of deadly force would start at the beginning of the encounter when he tried to prevent her from retreating from the confrontation.  These actions are a clear threat to the health and safety of the girl, and should be treated as such.  When he stalked her back to the house and then threatened her dad … well, for me, let’s just say that the police wouldn’t have had to worry about chasing him and his buddy (the getaway driver) wouldn’t have had the police find his hefty stash of pot.  He would not have made it that far.  Would I have killed him?  If necessary to stop the threat.  It’s not something that I take great pleasure in contemplating, but it is on the table if it’s necessary to take it that far.  

As is covered all over the place (one of these days, I’ll actually pull the research together and put a post together about it … just toss it on the growing pile of things to get to, around here.  :), folks who attack someone unprovoked or threaten to attack someone unprovoked  break the agreed upon social contract between members of society.  Breaking the contract removes any and all requirements by me to show undue restraint.  I will act to remove the threat, using any means necessary.  Sometimes, this is as simple as a display of force.  Sometimes, this has to go farther to a limited use of deadly force (initial short prompts the aggressor to back off, etc.).  Sadly, other times, the threat cannot be removed prior to repeated and effective use of deadly force. 

Now, know what actions I might take in a given situation doesn’t mean that I am ignorant of the consequences of the necessary actions.  I’m aware of (and moderately prepared for) the legal repercussions of deadly force in a defensive situation.  I am aware of the possible mental/physical/emotional issues that might arise from the defensive situation.  I’ve studied them, to an extant.  I’ve tried to prepare myself for them.  However, never having been in this kind of situation, or other combat related situations, I have no idea about how my mind/body will react, afterwards.  But, I do know that I am going to deal with the consequences.  No matter the hell that the legal community will try to put me through, or the devestation that my mind and conscience might subject me to, I know that there is one thing make sure I will do the same thing in that situation – my safety, and the safety of my family, mean so much to me that I will act to defend them, using deadly force as necessary. 

So, to answer the question the author at Guns.com asked, in that scenario, the young man was in danger as soon as he started threatening the daughter.  When he made threatening moves against the dad at the house, well, if that was me, I’d be getting the bleach, rags, and paint and brushes to clean up the bloodstains that would mar my wife’s nice porch.

A Guy in a Skewed World: Update

Okay, so I know it’s been awhile since I last updated this.  I think I left it a little too long.  Sorry about that.

Anyways, as I mentioned previously, I’ve been seeing a new rheumatologist for the last several months.  He and his staff have been wonderful.  They’ve even called me in on short notice after I called and said the meds they put me on didn’t seem to be working.  I was in their office for a scheduled appointment the next morning.

After a complete workup, including x-rays, blood tests, and a very thorough physical exam, he’s come to the conclusion that the FMS I’ve been dealing with for the last several years is a secondary condition.  The primary condition is an inflammatory arthritis (he’s not specified, yet but is leaning towards Rheumatoid Arthritis).  Since we started treating that with corticosteroids (prednisone) and methotrexate, most of the issues with my hands and feet have become bearable.  Along with that change, a good number of my FMS symptoms have come under control, as well.  They’re not gone, but they’re now at the level where I can deal with it.

Now, Methotrexate is a drug that has proven to work with RA, but it’s primary function (in much larger dosages than I am on) has been as a cancer treatment drug.  Because of this, the side effects can be rather intense.  Nausea, fatique, insomnia, loss of appetite, etc. are all part of the list of possible side effects.  I take it on Fridays, so that I’ve got all weekend to deal with the worst side effects to be able to work the following week.  Well, until the beginning of September, the side effects were so bad that I was out of work on Mondays quite frequently.  However, the docs made a change to the Floric Acid supplements I was taking (now a triple dose on the day before, day of, and day after taking the methotrexate).  Even with the boosted dosage they put me on, it’s made a world of difference.  I’m now able to do some things on the weekends where before I was practically incapacitated all weekend.  I’ve also managed to not miss any work for the last month.

Now, saying that, the first thought through a lot of people’s mind’s would be, “A month?  That’s not a big deal.”  Now, bear with me for a moment.  This is the first time in at least a year where I did not miss a single day of scheduled work time.  For me, that’s a big deal.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to drop me a line.

A Confused Conservative

I originally wrote this on another blog. The majority of the points are still pertinent.

———————————————————–
I know what y’all are thinking. Any conservative person in America today has to be confused. Far be it from me to disabuse you of the notion.

I should say that I’m a confusing conservative. I believe in several things that put me in that camp.

I believe:

There is a God who sent His Son to die for us over 2000 years ago.
Every person (male, female, black, white, purple, etc.) has the right to my respect.
Every person has a right to lose my respect as soon as they prove that they are no longer worthy of having it.
Every person has the right to live their life as they choose, in the boundaries of their own values, as long as they don’t force those values upon me (see #3 above).
Every person has a right to be free of me forcing my beliefs on them. A corollary to #4 above.

Given these beliefs I tend to fit in to the conservative group.

Where things get confusing is that, while I am very conservative (Def: “Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.”, primarily the “oppose change” part), I am very much an independent thinker. I don’t fit into any one whole. I am an octagonal peg being shoved into a triangle hole.

I am pro-life. I believe that all life is sacred and special. However, I understand that not everyone agrees with me. I understand that others believe that taking that life before it ever gets a chance to start is acceptable.

I am for the freedom of speech. I won’t necessarily agree with what you are saying, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it.

I am all for debate prior to making a decision. However, once that decision is made, our support should be behind that decision. A classic example of this is the war in Iraq. I did not believe all of the rhetoric given for going in prior to it starting (I still don’t), but I support the effort going now, because I believe our soldiers need all of the support at home that they can get. I’ve seen what happens when soldiers return home and get scorned, tormented and abused. I’ve seen friends’ fathers withdraw from their family and friends because of this treatment. This is a lesson we need to learn from Vietnam. These men and women need our support.

I am an avid gamer. I play all kinds of computer, board, and role-playing games. Yes, role-playing games. That’s a whole OTHER rant. I’ll probably get to that tomorrow.

My politics are even more confused that my personal beliefs.

I believe in a small, minimally interfering government. However, I believe in a state supported welfare system.
I believe in a state supported welfare system. However, I believe that it should be limited in scope, time, and have responsibility on the part of the recipient to earn/work for these benefits.
I believe in a strong, well paid/supplied military. However, I think that some of the decisions made by said military are down right stupid.
I believe that killing people is wrong. Period. Full stop. HOWEVER, comma, I believe that the death penalty is a viable punishment for certain offenses. One way that my thinking has changed over the years since this was first written. Anyone who threatens my life or safety or the life/safety of my wife and children are taking their lives into their own hands. I will not refuse to use force, up to and including the use of deadly force, if my life, or the life of my family is endangered. While this might seem like a stretch, it’s just a tweaking of my thoughts on the death penalty. It’s just a little more immediate. If someone chooses to violate the social contract to the point of jeopardizing me ore my family, well, they made their choice. I’ll deal with the consequences to my conscience, but I’ll still have my family around to help me with that.

In this past Presidential election, I was in a bit of quandary. I disagreed with all of the candidates. And I agreed with all of the candidates. See what I mean about being confused?

Oh, well.

*wanders off scratching his head*

— sham

A Guy in a Skewed World: Better Living Through Modern Chemistry

One of the things that I’ve had to come to grips with while dealing with my FMS and other arthritis conditions (little of which actually shows up on x-rays. Go figure) is the experimentation that doctors go through. Let’s try this drug and see if it helps. Take this drug for a couple weeks and then come see me. Anybody with a chronic, long term condition is familiar with this cycle of ups, downs and completely freaked out reactions of your body.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I appreciate the hard work that doctors do to try and help us reach a point where we can live a functional life or put us back together after we do something monumentally stupid. My rant (because it’s not really a complaint, because I can see and understand the logic behind it) is born out of an overloaded sense of frustration.

It’s frustrating to deal with the cycle of hope and disappointment that comes with each new treatment plan.

It’s frustrating to have something start working, and then having to quit because the side effects are more dibelatating than the condition being treated.

It’s frustrating to realize that there might not be a way to actually bring my health levels back to a point where I can remain a functional member of society.

A recent visit to a new rheumatologist (and one that doesn’t think it’s all in my head) has me hoping again that we might be able to find something that’ll work. New tests, x-rays, and a willingness to not assume that I’m making it all up for attention. Those have sparked something that’s been missing for awhile (despite my family’s best efforts).

Here’s hoping that we can finally break this cycle of hope and despair and get something accomplished.

— Sham

Originally posted at http://shamandin.blogspot.com on 03/23/2012.

A Guy in a Skewed World: Intro to FMS

For a good number of years, I dealt with issues that baffled me.  You see, my family has a history of autoimmune disease.  My grandmother suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for many years before passing away due to complications. Several years back, I started feeling chronic fatigue (often even after a full night’s sleep), muscle spasms, frequent and excruciating muscle cramps, frequent muscle aches and muscle weakness. I went to my normal doctor to see if we could figure out what was going on.  With the family history and being the primary means of support for my wife and family, I was concerned about what could be happening.  Fibromyalgia (FMS) is diagnosed, not through positive test results, but an elimination of other conditions. My doctor ran tests (and reran the tests) for lupus, RA, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases.  Over the course of several years, the symptoms only got worse.  It got to the point where I was going to work maybe 3 days out of 5 due to dealing with the symptoms.  My boss was very … lenient … where my absenteeism was concerned.  After approximately 3 years of trying to figure out what it is, my rheumatologist tested me for the 18 tender points usually associated with FMS. Out of the 18 points, I was (and still am) tender in 16 of them.  She then diagnosed me with FMS.  Not that having a diagnosis made life any easier, but it did set my mind at ease.  I had some idea of what I was dealing with.

For those that aren’t aware, Fibromyalgia Syndrome is called a syndrome for a reason.  Not everyone who has FMS has all of the same symptoms.  Some deal with muscle aches, sleep deprivation, depression, joint aches.  Others deal with the muscle aches, muscle spasms, cramps and fatigue.  Others mix and match the symptoms in different ways.  That’s part of why it’s so difficult to diagnose FMS.  It’s also part of why there are still doctors today who don’t believe that FMS is real.  If you’d like more information on FMS, check out the nice WebMD article about it.

As a male with Fibro, I’ve managed to beat the odds rather dramatically.  It’s a disease that’s currently diagnosed in females more than males.  Depending on which set of statistics you pay attention to, it’s either 95% or 10:1.  Now, this could be a gender bias on the syndrome.  My take (and this is backed up by some studies that I’ve managed to lose the links to), it’s probably more common in men than is currently diagnosed, but due to male pigheadedness (aka machismo), help is not sought, so no diagnosis.  Most of the symptoms, taken separately, are all things that men are taught to ignore or work through.  Men don’t admit (to themselves, much less others) that they’re hurting, tired, weak or any of the other myriad symptoms.  It’s seen as being weak.  It’s seen as being less of a man.  It’s. Just. Not. Done.  Ergo, fewer men get diagnosed with fibro. 

Even with the limitations on my activities due to the fibro, I’m still working.  It’s been hard.  Some days, it’s all I can do to climb out of bed and get ready for work.  I’ve been blessed with a boss that’s been extremely lenient and willing to work.  I’ve come close to being fired several times, especially during the period where I didn’t have a definitive name to put on what I was dealing with.  There were several times where I think my boss stepped out on thin ice to give me the time to work through it.  I’m glad he did.  Earlier this year, I hit 16 years with the company. 

I will say that a good part of why I’ve managed to make it and get back to a semblance normalcy is my family support system.  Through it all, I’ve had the unconditional support of my loving wife and our children.  My-in-laws and my parents have all shown considerable support over the years.  Between their support and a wonderful doctor (who also happens to be one of the last old fashioned country doctors), I’m back to something that vaguely resembles a normal life.  I do have to be careful in what I do because overextending is very easy.  I’m back to working 19 out of 20 days.  Which, as an American Male – I’m glad for it.

Looking at it, I’m looking at turning this into an extended series.  Look back for more.

 
 
— sham