Missing the Point

I’ve watched this play out before.  A health care practitioner finds themselves on the other side of the bed and they suddenly recognize that the system of providing health care has lost the element of human compassion.  They make public their revelation and appeal for less focus on technology and the itemized billing of every minute interaction – “chargeable events.”  They tout the importance of the human touch for healing, something the nursing staff doesn’t seem to have time for anymore.

Some of the responses posted are extremely defensive.  One practitioner even asks, “What, you want more?” “I just saved your life.”

I think some people missed the point. It was clear that this was not meant to be a personal attack.  The nurse who gave this presentation didn’t criticize the providers, she stated that the system was broken.  She was protesting how it appears nurses have been turned into “scribes for the insurance company.”  And she referenced the term “compassion fatigue,” whereby the staff is so overworked they can no longer summon up that human empathy that allows them to connect personally with their patients.

I believe the presenter recognized all too well the stresses bedside nurses are faced with and was calling for fixing the system, not the nurses.

I too have endured these same pressures.  Of being assigned up to 16 hours’ worth of care to provide in 8 hours’ time in very unsafe environments.  Patients suffer because of it.  The nurses suffer because they can’t provide the quality of care they would like to.  But this is the profit-based system that’s currently entrenched and, at times, it benefits the hospital’s bottom line when patients receive poor care and develop complications or even die.  Hospitals even promote infighting among the nursing staff to keep them from organizing to seek collective reforms.

A word to my colleagues out there still fighting the good fight.  Solving problems usually begins with exposing them, acknowledging they exist, and then you can confront them.  Take a deep breath and hear some of these commentators through.  You might find that they are on your side.  You might find other professionals to network with that believe in your cause.  United you can work to change this system gone astray.

A huge hug and thank you to all of the practicing nurses out there.  Compassionate healthcare wouldn’t exist without you.

***

Photo: A Tiger Swallowtail lands on some red clover.  The butterfly has long been a symbol of transition because of its life cycle.  Transitions, I believe, will become a major theme in all aspects of our society going forward as I believe we are nearing crises in all of our social institutions; particularly healthcare.   I wrote a piece a long time ago called “Institutional Meltdown.”  I might have to revive that one.

The presentation I watched was from Dr. Susan Cooley, Ph.D., RN on YouTube.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-m-cooley-phd-rn-82a29114/detail/treasury/position:820943192/?entityUrn=urn%3Ali%3Afs_treasuryMedia%3A(ACoAAALjfGIBqaMvuCJsgf83SI78msCd8yef0EE%2C51205947)

Go Ask ALICE

Today I added another update to my January 23rd post titled “Balance.”  That post addresses the topic of economic balance and lists out, what I think, are some very interesting statistics.  The stats become illuminating when you start looking at them together as a whole, instead of in isolation.

So, today’s update concerns ALICE.  ALICE is an acronym that stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.”  Basically, this is the number of American households living above the poverty line, but which still cannot afford all basic services or commodities – ordinary expenses.

Based on 2016 data, there were 34.7 million ALICE households — double the 16.1 million that are in actual poverty.  Total these up and have 51 million households, or about 43% of the US population that cannot afford basic goods and services.

“At a time of rock-bottom joblessness, high corporate profits and a booming stock market, more than 40% of U.S. households cannot pay the basics of a middle-class lifestyle — rent, transportation, child care and a cellphone, according to a new study.”

The study is very extensive and it takes some time to wade through it all, but here are some of the results from the Executive Summary section:

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY ALICE HOUSEHOLDS?

• Low-wage jobs: The majority of jobs in the U.S. are low-wage jobs. More than half of all jobs in every state except for Connecticut paid less than $20 per hour in 2014. The percent of jobs paying less than $20 per hour ranged from 49 percent in Connecticut to 71 percent in Idaho. The majority of these low-wage jobs paid less than $15 per hour (if working full-time, this equals $30,000 per year), not enough to support a family Household Survival Budget in any state.

• Basic cost of living: The ALICE Household Survival Budget is significantly higher than the FPL (Federal Poverty Level). For example, for a family of four (two adults with one infant and one preschooler), the FPL was $23,850 in 2014, while the Household Survival Budget, which takes into account geographic differences in the cost of living, ranged from $46,020 in Louisiana to $70,788 in Connecticut.

• Lack of savings: The majority of households in every state do not have savings to cushion them during a period of unemployment or for an unexpected expense. The percent of households with an asset that could be used for an emergency (such as a savings account or 401k) ranged from 16 percent in Louisiana to 28 percent in Connecticut. In other words, 72 to 84 percent of households did not have a financial cushion.

• Economic challenges: Local job opportunities and affordable housing are critical to the financial stability of ALICE families, yet it remained difficult to find jobs in locations that are near to affordable housing.

People can debate all they want about the various reasons for these disparities, but the fact remains, current social policy in the US is designed to empower and enrich the upper 1% of the country at the expense of the other 99%.

***

Links:

Exclusive: 40% in U.S. can’t afford middle-class basics

Executive Summary

Do You Know Alice?

Alice By State

All links are subject to Link Rot.

Photo: Saguaro cacti in the Sonoran Desert.  This may not seem to fit with a discussion on economics, but while this is a beautiful terrain, it is at the same time bleak and it can kill you.  That seems to parallel the American condition a bit; glitz mixed with bleakness and despair, abundance and sparseness  🙂

Red Coral – To Feel is to Heal

I hike into the canyon and I am marveled by what surrounds me.  It’s Fall.  Greens, golds, reds, oranges, pinks, a rainbow of leaves held tightly by the trees while others, released from that grip, float softly through the air to blanket the ground.  Painting abstract portraits.  Pastel pathways.

There are majestic mountains, and underground streams.  Dry stream beds until the elevation is ripe for the water’s emergence.  It trickles, then flows, then forms small falls over rock out-croppings.  A Damselfly lands on a Horsetail Reed.  Metallic green, it’s wings shine in the sunlight.

This land I walk, used to be on the bottom of the ocean.  Fossil remnants confirm its history.  Bivalves and crinoids and coral.  Once a shell inhabited by an animal, or symbiotic pairings of algae and invertebrates forming exoskeleton metropoles.  All forms of calcium carbonate taking on infinite designs.  All now limestone.  And eventually dust, from which something new will rise.

The silence is broken by the cry of a Hawk.  Its flight interrupted by a Raven that dive bombs it.  A battle ensues in mid-air.  And the Hawk acrobatically rolls onto its back.  Inverted in flight it claws back at its interceptor.  I’ve never seen a Hawk fly upside down.  Never.  I’m amazed at its agility.  What a true gift this vision is.

I am surrounded by life.  I hear it, feel it, taste it, smell it, touch it.  I perceive it.  Enter it intuitively.  And yet I walk alone.  Connected, yet separated.

Night time comes and I’ve returned to shelter.  And I think, how much better the day would have been could I have shared the experience.  To have gazed through more than my own eyes.  To share laughter and surprise.  A warm smile, shining eyes looking back at me.

Being alone is not the same as feeling lonely.  Tonight, I feel alone.

How nice it would be to hold someone in my arms.  Just hold them and feel their touch.  Infinitely.  Hear their breath.  Their heartbeat drum.  Feel their warmth.  Their fire.  Their love.

We all want answers to the big questions.  They usually start with the word “why?”  Why am I walking alone?  But then “where?”  Where do I find the answer?

My inner voice silent.  I look outside into the darkness.  The Coyotes synchronize their howls.  The Crickets, high-pitched chirping.  An Owl joins the chorus.  Life surrounds me in my solitude.  Why?

We all have places or entities to where we direct these questions.  Consult the ancient texts?  Cast stones or charms?  Read cards?  Deep meditation?  Extrapolate from dreams.  We find affirmations from the world around us.  Intuition is valid.  These sources nourish it.

Tonight, I pull a book.  Sacred Path Cards by Jamie Sams.  I draw an accompanying card for a daily reading.  “Coral.”  Some people might call this mysticism, paganism, or even heretical.  But isn’t it strange how these ceremonies end up being spot-on.

Coral speaks to the absurdity of my question.  It tells me to cut the “I am the only one” refrain.  We are never alone.  As the Seneca would say (Ms. Sams’ tribe), we are continually surrounded by “All Our Relations.”  It’s time to reconnect with All.

To paraphrase Ms. Sams:

Coral symbolizes the blood of Mother Earth.  It acknowledges that all “two-legged” have the need to be nurtured from their own kind.  But it reminds us who our true “Mother” is.  Red blood runs through every creature.  Water, the oceans, symbolize the blood of Mother Earth.  And Red Coral, arising from those waters carry that representation.  The “Water Nursery of Creation” gave birth to all life and Red Coral, and its connection to the sea water of its own origin symbolizes our birth and the connection to the “Mother Of All Things.”  Every life form, “All Our Relations,” is sustained by Mother Earth.  Using Coral can allow us to reconnect to our own blood and the waters of Mother Earth.

Once we reconnect, we can “develop a communication with our physical form that is not based upon addiction, compulsion, fear, gluttony, or selfishness.”  We can recognize that our physical body is our vehicle for connecting with our spirit and our needs.  We, therefore, must learn to respect and care for our bodies.  All nurturing is dependent on our ability to recognize our feelings and needs.  And if we don’t know what we need, how would we identify the needs of others to give comfort.  “To feel is to heal.”

It is time for self-nourishment.  For reunion with the Planetary Family.  To listen to All Our Relations and acknowledge we are never alone.

While I ponder the message, I think back to today’s hike.  I fumble through my backpack and produce a stone I found.  I wipe it with vegetable oil and it comes to life.  Patterns emerge.  Skeletal patterns, flower-like shapes, concentric circles.  It’s fossilized coral. Coincidence?  I quit believing in coincidences a long time ago.  Why did I pick up that particular stone for the later discovery?

While I was on top of the ridge, and while I was down in the bottom of the canyon, I was standing on the ancient ocean floor.  The sea, the blood of Mother Earth, once flowed here.  The many connections I made today with my “Relations,” why did I try to separate myself from them?  They all visited for a reason.

The Damselfly with the power of light.  The Hawk with its visionary power, the guardian. The Raven, the magic shapeshifter.  The Coyote, the balance of wisdom and folly.  The Cricket, the bearer of luck and success.  The Owl, it’s silent wisdom, the visionary of the night.  And even the ocean creatures frozen in time.

While it’s true, I seek connection with another “two-legged,” I have that connection as I share my story of the struggle.  Like the hawk and the raven, we internally battle.  Visions versus fleeting images.  Mirages and echoes.  Our self-deception.  The denial of our eternal connections.

Others can experience what I have, see it through my eyes, brush my hand with theirs, share the joy.  I wasn’t alone, and I can be nourished by nourishing others with my words.

We are never alone.

***

Photo: I found this photo on the Internet in the public domain.  The link accompanying it tracked back to a New York Post article titled: “Forcing Coral to Have Sex Could Save the Great Barrier Reef.”  As with all web-links, this link is subject to “link rot,” and I can only say it is valid at the time I posted this article.

Fracture

A person can live without food for 40 days,

Without water for 4 days, and

Without oxygen for only 4 minutes.

But how long can one live with a broken heart?

Or a fractured soul . . .

***

Photo: I scramble to capture the crescent moon as it’s setting behind the mountains, but the frenzied movement fractures it into a dizzying array – spectral slivers of the whole.  Like a shattered lens, the fragments each project a slightly different refraction.

Sometimes we must pause and re-center, collect, compose, take a deep breath and try again.  The view may still be a bit fuzzy, but we can reintegrate the frame and begin to bring the totality into focus.  But there may still be scars.

Crescent Moon - Setting

Lonely?

I came across two articles today discussing how people are increasingly lonely in America.  This may not come as any surprise, but I was caught off guard by the survey results they reported in a couple of ways.

And why is loneliness important? Well, without meaningful companionship you die sooner. It’s that simple.

Loneliness has been linked to the increased incidence of heart attacks and strokes, depressing the immune system, altering genetics, and impeding recovery from major illnesses such as cancer.

Nearly 50% of those surveyed said they were lonely, with 54% saying they felt like no one knew them well, and 40% reporting a lack of meaningful companionship.  And it seems the group reporting the most loneliness is Generation Z; those born in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

Some research demonstrates that more face-time and less social media is correlated with lower rates of depression and suicide.  Other research indicates that it is a lack of down time that contributes more to loneliness.  Americans are simply too busy and too stressed for their own good.

What do you think fellow bloggers?  Too much screen time?  Or is just everything out of balance?  At some level, I think we are all striving for peace of mind and finding meaningful companionship is a big part of that.  But are we finding it?  Or are we locked into a premature transition out of this physical world?

***

Photo: Shadows through the blinds.  I like playing with lighting when I’m photographing 🙂

Do you keep your shades drawn, or do you let the world in?  Or do you only let a shadow of existence fill your days?

Links:

Americans Are A Lonely Lot, And Young People Bear The Heaviest Burden

Why are young adults the loneliest generation in America?

*Note:  All links are subject to “link rot.”

Sunshine Nordic Little Thoughts Award

I was thrilled to be nominated for the “Sunshine Nordic Little Thoughts” Award by Raynotbradbury.  You should really check out her blog for a wonderful variety of writing, book reviews, and prose.

If I understand correctly this award was created by Ortensia – Truly Madly Ordinary.

The rules are simple:

A thought is provided, and you are supposed to give your first three associations or impressions on that thought.  It was suggested that we be creative – think of a poem, a flash story, or a photo.

Here’s the thought that Ray gave us:

“When I can’t see myself in the mirror, I can’t even feel myself, and I begin to wonder if I exist at all.”

This thought formed one word in my mind; the word “Phantom.”  Somehow, I can no longer tell that I exist.  A “phantom” is defined as an apparition, an appearance or illusion without material substance, as a dream, something recorded but nonexistent.  This is a spooky concept to me, because I’ve extrapolated from this word to mean a person lacking a soul.  I wouldn’t want to exist if I lacked a spirit.

And this concept of being a phantom brought to mind a poem, a philosophical writing, and a picture.

First the Poem

“She Was a Phantom of Delight” by William Wordsworth

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament;
Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
Like Twilight’s, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.

I saw her upon a nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A Creature not too bright or good
For human nature’s daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveler between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warm, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright,
With something of angelic light.

My second association is an existential theory articulated by Harry Frankfurt regarding “first and second order desires.”

A “first order desire” would be simply acting on impulse.  A person desires something so they go after it.  A “second order desire” is using introspection to examine the “first order desire” to see if it’s worthy or ethical to pursue.  According to Frankfurt, humans are separated from the rest of the species by being able to have second order desires or the unique capacity to care about, reflect on, and evaluate our first order desires.  He coins the phrase or term the “Wanton.”  And describes this as being a person who would only act on or follow their first order desires.  Consequently, this person would be pulled around by their first order desires without any evaluative recognition.  A person without second order desires would not manifest freedom of will, would be unconcerned with whether their actions were worthy, and would not be engaging in the struggle for self-creation.

So, I’m kind of drawing an analogy between the “Wanton” and with what I call “Phantoms” or people without a soul.  No self-reflection or introspection, no innate moral gyroscope, no heart.

Third, a picture of myself – my ghost self.

I used a photo editor to create this negative image of me about a year and half ago 😊

Ghost Me

Not sure if this version of me would create a reflection in the mirror or not?

Lastly, I shall nominate the following people and give them a thought to expound upon.

Here is the quote:

“Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.” Kurt Vonnegut

And let’s hear from:

To Dad With Love Poetry

Sevenspheres

Novus Lectio

Lizzy’s Poetry

A Canvass To Describe Feelings

As with all nominations I’ve made, no pressure.  Respond if you wish, when you wish.

***

A Return to Tribalism ?

I’ve been “retired” now for almost 2 years.  Wow!  I can’t believe that much time has gone by, and it appears a window in time for me is getting ready to close.

Because my “retirement” didn’t go as planned, I found myself trying to figure out the next step.  No new jobs were coming my way because of age discrimination and other factors I won’t get into for the moment.  So, I set my sights on finding a new home and a new location, and I gave myself 2 years to do it.  Fresh start.  New life.

But there are only so many ways to stretch a state pension, especially when the state plans on imploding it.  Time bomb’s a ticking.

Shock wave number 2, the price tag on housing has skyrocketed since the time I built the dream home with my second wife.  And the crash of 2008 didn’t really help much because housing costs were so inflated by that time that they haven’t returned to any level close to being reasonable.

I searched all over the country.  Systematically zeroing in on specific localities where I thought I’d like to live while comparing the available services, the climate, if the areas were reasonably progressive, and what the tax burden would be.  Yes, believe it or not, you can really get screwed by double taxation if you’re receiving a state pension and you move out of the state providing that pension.  Both states will tax you on the same income unless you find a tax-friendly state, and from what I could see there are only about 5 of those, three of which I don’t intend to set foot in.

And with the politicians looking at slashing and burning Social Security and Medicare, those of us with employee-earned pensions can’t count on much of a boost in income when the time comes to collect from the funds we’ve paid into for some 45+ years.  The politicians have stolen most of our investment in the SS Trust Fund for other pork-barrel endeavors, and they keep shrinking Medicare payments leaving us to pick up the lion’s share of ballooning medical costs.  Oh well . . .

Yes, the most affordable housing is in places where people generally don’t want to live and where services don’t exist.  And if you find that undiscovered oasis, look out!  It won’t be long before rich people discover it, take over, drive the home prices up along with property taxes, and the original home owners will become refugees, forced to vacate their home towns.  Better move quickly.

So, what happened in the twenty-plus years that had snuck by since I built the dream home that ex number 2 took along with all the cash?  One major thing was that wages have totally stagnated while the cost of living has been relentlessly climbing.  (See my post Balance)  And since pensions only provide a fraction of what wages are, the numbers don’t crunch so well.

But this trend is not just affecting people in my age group or who are living with similar circumstances.  Nationwide, people are losing the ability to afford housing.  The solution, being forced by sheer economics, is a return to tribal living.

There has to be multiple wage earners under one roof now, or there has be a form of piggy-backed housing on a single property where the multiple workers can reside.  I see this happening more and more, and it’s taking on a variety of forms.

For starters, we are starting to see a return to multiple generations living under one roof.  Grown kids are taking in aging parents who can no longer maintain a home on their own or who are ill.  Additionally, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, 33% of young adults between the ages of 25 through 29 are living with their parents or grandparents.  This is a three-fold increase since 1970 and is the highest in 75 years.  These numbers span all education levels, race, gender and religion.  It’s all about the all-mighty dollar.  Who has it and who doesn’t.  And these youngsters can’t afford to move out.

Another form of tribal living I’ve seen is simply renting out the spare bedroom, and not just the Airbnb way for short vacation stays.  A dear friend of mine referred to this as taking in “strays.”  If you know someone you can trust who can’t afford to rent an apartment, or much more buy a house, rent them a room.  It all equals more incomes under the same roof.  A variety of communal living.  Sharing meal and entertainment space and time.

Increasing in popularity is the “ancillary dwelling unit.”  These come with a variety of names including “tiny houses” and “granny flats,” and they can be framed units or a trailer, or an RV, or a modified shipping container.  ADUs can be subject to various zoning regulations, and they may “stand alone” in the sense that the occupier could have separate utility hookups and waste removal.  The common denominator here is the ADU dweller couldn’t afford a larger home on her or his own property, and the property owner sharing space receives some benefit in return.  Expenses have to be spread out somehow.

ADUs can also be rented out as guest houses for temporary stays, and this can be an appealing situation for a home owner that’s not quite making the bill payments on time.  I’m renting a place now where the retired landowners maintain 2 guest houses to supplement their income.

I can also foresee the restructuring of the traditional concepts of marriage and child rearing.  Will we see a return of polygamy?  I don’t know, but I can easily see 2 or 3 wage-earners living under one roof while an auxiliary spouse, partner, or whomever, stays home to take care of the children.  Child care expenses won’t be outsourced anymore.  Who can afford those?  And, we may see more homeschooling accompanying this sort of lifestyle.

Regardless of the form it takes, I envision more forms of communal living as time and economic pressures continue.  This may not be a bad thing in terms of increased socialization, but that’s hard to gauge too.  Will it result in a bringing together of more people or the formations of small clicks walling themselves off from the rest of the community – compounds instead of homes?  Who knows, but until the economy improves for the average wage-earner, I think we’ll see more forms of alternative housing and the growth of interesting social arrangements.

As for me, I’m now trying to decide between setting down roots or becoming a nomad.  Or just maybe I’ll find a tribe to join.  Time will tell.

***

Photo:  This photo was shot by my one of my Great Uncles in 1928 when he was in the Army Air Corps.  He was stationed in the Philippines at the time and he flew out into the jungle in a pontoon-style airplane, and landed to visit the native homes of the Tagalog.  Over time, he rose to the rank of Major General and he played major roles in WWII and the Korean War.

Links:  For further reading see:

The Great Urban Housing Solution That Has No Good Name
A Record 64 Million Americans Live in Multigenerational Households

 

Jitterbug

If you’ve ever seen one, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But I’ll try to describe the way the Jitterbug fishing lure works so you can follow my analogy. The Jitterbug is designed with a curved steel plate in the front. Because of this plate, the top-water lure undulates, gyrates, billows, rolls, and whirls about in the water as the fisherperson retrieves it. All of the action and noise is great for attracting fish, and there is no more fun in fishing than when a big one strikes a floating lure; rising up out of the water, head thrashing back and forth. Diving back in, running deep to try to escape. (Don’t worry, I usually catch and release, although that too, may have its inhumane aspects.)

While that kind of activity is wonderful for fishing, it’s not so good for our brains. Yes, I had one of those mornings where as soon as I was up my mind was filled with a million different things pulling my limited attention span in a million different directions. The Ancient Toltecs call this the “Mitote.” The thousands of voices in our heads. All speaking, screaming, and demanding simultaneously. Many put there by societal dictates, others from our parents as we were growing up, more from our educators, still more from employers bossing us about and giving us deadlines, and even more from all those other significant people in our lives.

But where’s our one, individual, true voice? The one that can lead us in the right direction? Submerged in that dark sea of pulsating neurons? Roaring, crashing waves of words, beneath gale-force winds?

Time to quiet the mind.

Once and a while, or maybe as often as we can, we need to give ourselves a little time and attention. It’s important to take care of ourselves and this means our mind and our body. And if the mind won’t slow down consciously, it’s time to work on it through the subconscious and through the body. Take a spa day so to speak.

So, after rising with Jitterbug brains today, I climbed into my portable infrared sauna. Admittedly, it’s not quite as good as the real thing, but it’s not bad either. And it’s an economical way to start putting my body in a meditative state, since the gray matter is not listening.

While sweeting out all those nasty toxins, I relaxed with a guided meditation. Even better. Although our brains won’t always follow along, our subconscious mind is listening.

I followed this with a relaxing Epson Salts bath. If you do this, you’ll want to stay in long enough to absorb some of the magnesium – at least 20 to 30 minutes. The magnesium will relax your smooth and skeletal muscles, and it’s a good detoxing agent too. Essential oils are good for this too.

While laying back in the tub, I listened to some good meditation music. And, if you follow this blueprint, make sure you support your neck, a rolled-up towel can help here. The idea is to restore calm and relaxation, not strain your system further. Add your favorite vitamin water to replenish your cells.

After that, a little preening. Yep, condition the hair, gnaw down the claws, a little organic coconut oil to restore the moisture to the skin. Whatever your body is craving that you’ve been ignoring.

Now that I had my body prepped and got my subconscious mind to pay attention, it was time to bring it home with some Chi Gong exercises – moving meditation. I followed that with some Resonant Movement Meditation and capped it all off with some foot reflexology massage.

Finally, I could focus. And so, I wrote this. 😊

I hope you have a great day. I’m going to continue mine with a little yoga and maybe a little Tai Chi, a good book, maybe some more writing, drifting with the wind . . .

***

Photo: I found this photo on the internet in the public domain. No other attribution could be found.

Antimony, Stibine, Babies, and Death

Recently, I was tested for heavy metal poisoning and the tests showed abnormally high levels of 4 different metals, and not-so-good levels of another three.  One of the metals that was abnormally high was Antimony.  Now I remember this metal, barely, from college chemistry courses, but how on earth did it end up in me, and in an elevated amount?

It seems Antimony is used in fireproofing textiles and plastics.  It can be found in battery electrodes, ceramics, pigments, and gun powder.  It can also be found in soft plastic bottles used for water and the water can become contaminated depending on storage conditions.

Blankets, mattress covers, and even clothing have been treated with this chemical.  And much like the spraying of insecticides and fungicides (biocides) on clothing, manufacturers do this to extend the life of their products and theoretically increase public safety.  The big problem is that the toxic effects of all of these chemicals are being discovered later.  This stuff can be absorbed right through the skin, our largest organ.

No, not all things in life can be improved through chemistry.  In fact, some of this chemistry may prolong the life of our clothing and fabrics, but it may also be killing us and our babies.  It turns out, our clothing may remain long after our bodies return to dust.

You see, some New Zealand researchers proposed a hypothesis, gathered evidence, and then other experts set out to disprove their hypothesis and research.

Boiling this all down, the theory is like this:

Mattresses and mattress covers contain the fire retardant chemicals Antimony, Phosphorus, and Arsenic;

These chemicals can be broken down by molds to form the toxic gases of Stibine, Phosphine and Arsine;

In particular, Antimony can be broken down by the mold Scopulariopsis brevicaulis to give off the gas Stibine;

This mold is present in mattresses and mattress covers, especially once they become damp with a baby’s bodily fluids;

Stibine is a very powerful neuro-toxic gas that is heavier than air and in the breathing zone of infants;

A small amount of Stibine, when inhaled, can produce respiratory paralysis;

Infants dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (“SIDS”) have been confirmed to have elevated levels of Antimony in their bodies;

Although the “UK Expert Group on Cot Death Theories” could not substantiate and is said to have discredited this theory, in New Zealand, where parents followed a protocol of sealing up these mattresses and covers, no further crib deaths have occurred.

There are theories questioning the motivations and financing of the UK Expert Group.

Reading all of this information, I can’t say one way or the other if these types of fire retardants cause SIDS.  I can, however, say with reasonable certainly, that I am only one of many who are now contaminated with this chemical that does not belong in our bodies.  And because of multiple chemical exposures, my and other people’s bodies’ natural detoxification processes have become overwhelmed producing all sorts of disabling effects.

Another thing I can say is that I’ve never met a corporate entity that hasn’t put profits over people.  One just needs to look at the tobacco industry to guess how this will play out.

For years there will be denial that the product is unsafe.  Research will be stymied because of big money and influence brought to bear on regulating agencies.  Deaths will continue.  Maybe someday a plaintiff will prevail in a lawsuit.  In the meantime, fearing litigation, some producers may change their lethal chemical mix to another lethal chemical mix in order to keep moving the ball making it harder to make the connection between chemical exposures and illness.

Delay in correcting the problem equals more money for the companies and their shareholders, while increasingly turning the planet into a toxic waste dump.

If you’re interested in reading more, I have included some links.

***

Antimony-LIt seems Antimony was also used by the Egyptians in the form of Stibnite as a black eye makeup.

Postscript:  How these chemical exposures will ultimately affect us is a big question, but it can’t be good when toxins keep turning up in our bodies.  The CDC’s most recent report indicates that some 212 chemicals tested for, which are not supposed to be in our bodies, were in most people’s blood or urine.

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Images:  These images were found in the Internet in the public domain and no other attribution could be found.  The feature image was linked to a webpage called Live Science.

Links:

Cot Death and Antimony

Has The Cause of Crib Death (SIDS) Been Found?

The report from the “UK Expert Group on Cot Death Theories”

SIDS: A Preventable Tragedy?

Six Deadly Chemicals You’re Carrying in Your Body

Health Effects of Chemical Exposure

National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals

 

Some Random Thoughts

I haven’t posted anything on the blog for the last few days, and you, or even I, may wonder, where is this guy?  Clearly, my daily musings aren’t being posted daily 😊

I have to say it is difficult to stay balanced at times.  And by “balanced” I mean we need to use our limited time in the ways we find beneficial across all spectrums of our lives. Time is really the most important commodity we have, and it is the greatest gift we can give someone else – to share time.  I express gratitude whenever someone graces me with their time.

We need to devote time to friendships and relationships.  We need to exercise, sleep, and eat – the basics.  And hopefully, we can engage in activities that are expansive for our consciousness, whether those activities be attending certain events, reading, writing, meditating, or getting out in nature, or whatever you might find “valuable” to your personal existence.

Of course, we all have to be engaged in some activity that provides food, clothing and shelter too – more basics.  Others seem to own our time in that department.

How to balance all of this?  It seems I’m constantly creating in my mind, but I can’t always find the time to translate those creations into printed words.  I’m playing catch up.  Again, and again.

So for these past few days, where have I been?  Well, I took a 7-mile hike in the wilderness one day, and a 3 1/2-mile hike through a rural subdivision on another.  One hike involved observing nature, the other people.  I also attended a gallery opening in a major city, that I must say was one of the most enjoyable and magical evenings.  I’ve also been resting, reading, meditating, working on a book, getting medical treatment, dreaming, detoxing, and doing mundane things like house cleaning.  There will be more on “detoxing” to come in other posts.

The days have been full, and many activities can overlap, meeting multiple needs.

Being that this is the beginning of a new week, you may wish to do a little review of your own.  Ask yourself if during the past week if you achieved a balance in those things you find meaningful.   Were you able to have work and play in the amounts you desired?  Can you eliminate time constraints and the pressure of deadlines?  Are there ways to restructure your time to allow you to be happier?  Can we not pay attention to the stats on our blogs for a few days 😊

Hopefully, despite the chaos and confusion surrounding us, we can find some time for attaining inner peace.

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Photo:  Hiking somewhere near the border at about 7000 feet in altitude – balancing . . .

 

 

 

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