Sunday, March 27, 2011

Searching for the Simple Things

There is a topic I want to address which is more on the serious side, though I haven't figured out how to best approach once again I need to let it marinate, and sit for a while.  Till it's ready, let me tell you about something a little more confusing, and slightly unnerving!  As I am often reminded in the most unusual ways, people continue to amaze me.  I was heading home from work and driving on the ramp to the highway, as I got stuck behind a man who was weaving all over the road, and driving in fits and first I thought something must be wrong with his car, till I caught a glimpse of his phone propped upon the steering wheel as he furiously texted someone a message.  I've heard of people who text while driving, but haven't ever seen it before...I couldn't believe it!  So I start yelling at him, "STOP IT!!  Put the damn phone down and stop texting before you KILL US ALL!!!!" until it struck me that he actually couldn't HEAR me.  So I ask you, dear readers...who's the most ridiculous??

After I got far away from his car and was able to calm down, I had a good laugh at myself.  And then I started thinking...I must be pretty old fashioned.  Not that I think texting while you are driving a car is EVER a good idea, or that it's a goal to strive for...I just don't get the whole texting thing in general.  I've talked before about the world being too fast, as everyone is always in such a hurry...I often feel like I can't keep up.  But it's more than that...I'm still a person who prefers to write letters, and receiving one is like a present.  I remember a time when a friend sent me an eight-page letter, and it was like I'd won the lottery!  But I find myself straying away from this task, mostly because I'm not sure anyone else really cares for the practice of letter writing anymore.  E-mail's quicker, so that's mostly what I do now...but I miss the stories.  I like communication that takes more than 30 seconds, and sharing that consists of more than just quick, abbreviated sentences.  I like opening up the mailbox and seeing more than sales magazines and heating bills...something I can sink my teeth into as I get a glimpse into a friend's life.  And if you've ever seen my attempt to actually text someone, well...let's just say it's an effort in futility.  I have to search for the letters, and I pretty much spell EVERY word out, because that's how I learned them...and I just can't break the habit!  I have yet to figure out all the abbreviations people use these days other than LOL, but I'll refrain from even typing them--because I'm still not sure if I'm saying something bad.

At least this blog allows me to discuss any topic I wish, and I get to spell out all the words!  It's almost like writing letters to friends, as a lot of them actually log on and read my posts.  I can laugh, cry, vent...even yell, about anything I want to.  And there's no one standing behind me, tapping their foot with impatience...I am on no one's clock to produce a story in less than a minute, and even though these posts are written within the world of technology, there is no need to shorten my words and sentences.  Though what worries me are the future generations.  I have a fear that we are creating a country of people who are pulling away from the details of language in exchange for the quicker abbreviations...and they are missing hidden nuances of subtle humor, and the complicated emotions you can achieve within a simple sentence.  More often than not I see children reading their friend's text messages, rather than reading books...even in the library.  And words have POWER...the power to evoke the senses and draw caring and empathy from the hardest of hearts.  There is so much time spent on improving our technology and creating the latest and the greatest, that sometimes I feel our language gets lost in the shuffle.  And I believe that one of our biggest strengths is our ability to communicate...the biggest and most needed changes can be achieved through words, and those words can move mountains!

As we continue to progress in this world, new technology and new innovations that lie at our fingertips are very hard to resist...and we shouldn't resist them.  They are important and have their place, and as people, we should always strive to move forward and continue to stretch our imaginations to the limit.  From my own little corner of the world I have managed to reach people with this blog, through more than just a simple written letter...not just across the country, but around the world as well.  And I have raised more awareness for CMT than I ever thought possible!  That is proof of the usefulness of technology, and the growth of progress.  Though at the same time it is also important not to forget the 'ways of old' such as the power within words and the art of communication...for those have served me well, combining nicely with the technology of today.  And these old fashioned tools also stretch our imaginations, make us think and dream, and continue to create powerful change.  So once in a while, put the phone down...for goodness sakes, at least put it down in the car!  And whenever you can, encourage your children to do the same.  Pick up a book--or even better, pick up a pen...and write a letter to someone close to you, if for no other purpose than to make them 'laugh out loud'.  It may seem a lot slower than what many of us have become used to, and pretty simple in the grand scheme of things...though I guarantee you will all be better for it!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Tribute To The Past

I wished to write my post this week on the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan...though it is so upsetting and confusing to me, I could barely wrap my head around it.  Events such as these (hopefully) make you reevaluate your own life, looking at your own stresses and putting them into a new perspective.  That is what I did, as I watched videos of the destruction that has occurred and read reports of what the Japanese people are now facing.  I realized just how tenuous life truly is, and even though I still have my own daily issues to face I can see how lucky I am.  When I attempt to think about how it must be for those people in Japan, it is hard for me to even imagine...I look outside and see trees, and my neighbor's house across the road.  They are seeing what is left after the destruction, and the rubble that has been left behind.  It greatly saddens me to think of the struggles they are facing now, and I've been thinking about what we, as Americans, can do for their country.  My father also chose this topic for his most recent post at, and commented on the fact that we don't take care of this wonderful planet we have been given...there is too much waste, and disregard for the earth, and because of that things are changing.  Dramatically!  I fear that because tragedies such as the ones in Japan are so far away from our own lives and experiences, the connection will not be made--and this waste will just continue.

Amidst these recent occurrences comes another St. Patrick's of my favorite holidays, of course--a time for my family to get together and celebrate our Irish heritage.  As always, it makes me think of where I came from, and the people from my past that have helped shape my life and the lives of my family.  To some, it may seem trivial to celebrate anything in light of recent events, though I am choosing to look at this another way--I am celebrating life, thankful for the one I have been given and for the people who helped me get here.  I believe it is important to remember those from the past, even the people we have never met...their lives counted for something, and can teach us lessons as we face our own futures.  So as I reevaluate my own life and work hard to make changes for the better, I want to thank those that came before Irish and German ancestors.  I had one grandparent who was German, and all of them deserve to be remembered (even on St. Patrick's Day!)  I would like to share some photos with you now, if I may...and honor those from my past.  Though I have so many relatives, I am showcasing parents, grandparents and great-grandparents...if I were to include aunts, uncles, cousins and so on, I'd have to write a book!  Many of my relatives still live in Ireland, and I hope to someday meet them.  For now, though, let me show you the many photos I have gathered over the years--starting with my Irish great-grandparents on my father's side, Simon Hogan and Elizabeth Brennan-Hogan (Simon's photo is shown above).  Simon and Elizabeth eloped and immigrated to America in the late 1880s.  My father, who is the source of many stories about my ancestors, never met his grandfather because Simon passed away before he was born...he does have memories about his grandmother Elizabeth, and one of the funniest stories he told me was that she used to drink holy water because of an old Irish belief that it made you 'holy inside'...I'm sure it worked for her!

My German great-grandparents, John Hook and Mary Krueglar-Hook, were both born in this country.  They owned the last blacksmith shop in Rensselaer County.  Mary was a housewife, and my father remembers her as being a very gentle, loving and kind person...John was a very soft-spoken man, and pretty small in stature though strong as a bull.  He did, after all, shoe horses for a living--that takes a lot of strength!  Here is one of my favorite pictures I have collected, which is my great-grandparents on their wedding day.  I've been told I look something like Mary!
And of course there's the Irish relatives on my mother's side of the family (and there's a little French Canadian and English thrown in, though no one's sure of the amount...)  First, my great-grandparents, Willard Winchip and Katherine Biggar-Winchip.  Katherine unfortunately passed away when my grandmother was only three years old, so my own mother never knew her...she died during the first flu epidemic in 1918.  My mother remembers her grandfather Willard, and that he used to take her riding in a sled when she was little.  I was able to get a photo of Willard for my collection which is shown below, though the picture I have of Katherine was actually a drawing done by my mother...the whereabouts of the actual photo are unknown.  Did I mention I got my artistic talents from my mom?
Willard may be hard to see, since the photo is so small...he is carrying my grandmother on his back in a basket.  Right below his photo is another small photo I have collected, of my other great-grandparents, Francis Willard and Helen McCarthy-Willard...Helen is second from the left, and Francis is furthest to the right.  My mother never really knew her grandfather Francis, as he passed away when she was only a few months old.  She said that Grandma Helen was one of seven children, and my mother can be found in many photos as a child with her aunts and uncles...her aunts were sometimes known by nicknames, such as Aunt Diddy and Aunt Note, along with Aunt Anna and Cousin Ruth...who was very much like a sister.  My grandmother had no memories of her own mother due to her passing away when she was so young, and so she was raised by the McCarthy's as if she were one of their own.

Onto the grandparents!  I have my own memories about these people, as I was fortunate to meet all of them and grow up with their presence.  My mother's parents, Eugene Willard and Helen Winchip-Willard, I remember as being very quiet.  They lived in a little house at the top of a hill, and when we visited I was fascinated by the tiny arched doorways that led from room to room.  My grandfather didn't talk much to me, though he always called me 'Chrissy' and asked how I was.  From my mother I learned that he worked in the Arsenal during WWII, then after the war ended he worked for Eddy Valve, and made water pipes that were so large, a grown man could stand upright inside of them.  My grandmother was a very small, sweet woman and a very giving person.  My mother said when she was growing up, Grandma would often bake apple pies and take them to friends who were sick, or feeling down because they were housebound...baking pies would be her excuse to knock on their door and provide them with some friendship.  Her favorite pie to eat was lemon meringue, and every year on April 2nd (Grandma's birthday,) my mother gets a lemon meringue pie and has a slice to celebrate Grandma's life.  To the right, you can see a picture of my mother as a child with Grandpa Eugene, and up above is a picture of Grandma Helen as a child...if you look at childhood photos of my mother and my grandmother, you would think they were twins!

My father's parents, Paul Hook and Mary Hogan-Hook, I knew by other names...when I was growing up we always called them Poppy and Bommy.  My sister couldn't pronounce Grandma and Grandpa, and those nicknames were soon adopted.  Bommy was also a very quiet woman from what I remember, though when my father tells me stories about her I am sometimes surprised.  For instance, she worked as a secretary at a cemetery for 22 years...she was so proficient at her job, that she even filled in for the Foreman on days when he was delayed or out sick, and laid out the graves that needed to be dug.  Because of this, she was called 'Cemetery Mary' and at her retirement party, many funeral directors showed up to say goodbye and wish her luck!  Poppy, my grandfather, is the grandparent I remember best out of all of them...we had a very special bond.  I only remember him in a wheelchair, since he had a stroke when I was young.  After Bommy passed away when I was eight years old, he lived in a nursing home...many people in that situation might slow down even more, getting depressed about where they were and their lack of independence.  Not my grandfather!  He became the 'President' of various groups at the home, planning outings and activities...he loved the attention!  What I remember most is our weekly visits to see of the things Poppy liked to do was to have me push him out into the hallway, and we would watch and wait until the resident nurses were away from their desk.  As soon as the coast was clear, he'd yell "GO!!" and I would push him as hard as I could and we would 'run' down the hall and back, until we got caught and yelled at...but would that stop us?  Of course not...after all, Poppy was the President!  

I can't end this post without talking about my parents, J. Neil Hook and Carol Willard-Hook, because they are two of the people who have helped make me the person I am today.  My mother, quiet and giving like her own mother, always knitting and sewing for different groups sponsored by their church...much like those pies Grandma was always baking to bring to someone's doorstep.  My father, as gregarious as his own father, loving the interaction with many people as he teaches classes for the diocese, preaches different masses for their church and stands up on stage, belting out an Irish tune.  You would never know he's sure hasn't slowed him down!  To the right is a photo I have collected, featuring my father and his older brother, my Uncle Paul.  And here is one of my favorite pictures in my mother when she was 18.  Isn't she beautiful?

These photos are very special to me, and I like that I am able to hear stories about people who were once here on this earth, living day to day...facing their own struggles and searching for their own happiness.  At this time of year I tend to reminisce, though whether you are Irish or have a different background, take the time to appreciate those from your own past.  Remember the people who came before you as we face this changing world, and learn from the tragedies of others.  As we search for ways to work against these dramatic changes, and attempt to make our earth a better and healthier place, let us be thankful for the gifts we have been given.  I end this post today with an Irish prayer, for all who came before me...and I say it as well for those people in Japan during their time of struggle.  God bless...I hold you all in my heart!  

May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

And With It Comes Pain...

Sometimes I feel like I'm standing on the outside of discovery...watching and waiting while new developments happen in CMTA research, amazed at how much further we still need to go to raise awareness of Charcot Marie Tooth Syndrome.  This doesn't just mean raising awareness in the general public, so that understanding and acceptance may grow.  That is only a small even larger part is the difficult task of raising awareness of CMT within the medical community.  This includes all facets of medicine--neurologists, orthopedists, general practitioners...the list goes on and on.  As a patient, if you were to say to any one of these professionals "I have Multiple Sclerosis" you would most likely not hear responses such as "What?" or "I've never heard of that..."  I know that it sounds implausible, but I am here to tell you; I've heard those statements when I report the fact that I have CMT...more than once.  That is not to say that doctors wouldn't still need to do some research on a disease such as MS, in order to provide a patient with the best care possible.  That is exactly what should's when such practices don't occur, that it becomes frustrating.

That is one way in which people with CMT still have a big fight on their hands...despite the fact that this disease was discovered in 1886 (125 years ago,) by three French doctors: Jean-Marie Charcot, Pierre Marie and Howard Henry Tooth, there is still so much misinformation and lack of knowledge within the medical community.  125 YEARS!  It is just amazing to me that in all that time, we are still standing on the brink of knowledge...fighting against this misinformation, misdiagnoses and a lack of progress.  I don't envy the CMTA its task of improving this situation, which is why I feel the need to help wherever I can.  Recently an e-mail made its way through the CMT community, asking for people's stories about pain.  You see, right now there is another form of misinformation to be squelched among medical professionals: the belief that CMT causes no pain.  People with CMT are actually being told that the pain they are experiencing has nothing to do with their disease, that it must be caused by something else.  So I pose a question to all my readers out there, because I need help in understanding this latest development...and my question is "WHY is this even an issue??"  If you have a person with CMT, a diagnosis that most likely took years to be determined, why would you not listen to them?  Why would you tell them their pain is due to something else, or worse...that it's 'all in their head?'  If your patient has a disease of which you have limited knowledge, isn't it your duty as a medical professional to search for the answers, and admit when you don't have them?  You may be familiar with the Hippocratic Oath which is an oath historically taken by doctors swearing to practice medicine ethically.  I ask you...isn't the act of listening to your patients, and searching for answers (when you don't have them,) the very definition of ethical?

And so I share my story of pain...because it is something I have lived with for more years than I can count.  It is real, it is is sometimes so blinding, all I can see is white-hot nothingness until it passes.  And it comes in many forms...some are more tolerable than others, and just cause me to grit my teeth and move on.  Other kinds of pain I have experienced reduce me to tears that are uncontrollable, and embarrassing...and when they finally stop I grit my teeth--and once again move on.  It may be hard to believe after reading this that I consider myself fortunate...because of the many things I have found over the years to help me, my pain has been greatly reduced; the braces, which improve my balance and posture, causing me to walk more efficiently and not run into as many walls, while helping me to stand up straighter (no longer hunching my back.)  The pool therapy, which has strengthened my muscles so that they are less inclined to spasm and cramp...especially improving my core, so that my back is less likely to go out.  Don't get me wrong...I still experience these moments, though the frequency has decreased dramatically.  While there are other forms of discomfort I still live with daily, such as sharp nerve pain and muscle aches in my hands and arms, after I type too much...or struggle to open something...or lift too many pounds.  I still struggle with back pain, though some days are much better than others.  Probably the hardest and most frustrating thing I have to deal with is what I feel when I bang my hand, or arm, or hip into something such as a car door or a desk...those moments bring on the tears I can't control.  When you've lost muscle because of atrophy, there is not much to protect you from the 'elements' so to speak...when you bang your hand into the end table reaching for the phone, or your toes on the edge of the bathtub stepping into the shower, that's when you are blinded.  And there is not much to be done about that, as that protection against those bumps and bruises is gone.

It is my hope that this story about pain and the stories of many others with CMT will be shared with the professionals...that even now, doctors from all different fields of medicine are reading these stories and hearing about our experiences.  To all of you within the medical community; I implore you!  The time is now...your patients are coming to you with the trust and faith that they will be heard.  If you don't have the answers, be honest with a person with CMT, I am always more impressed with the professionals that admit there is still something to be learned.  Hear what your patients are saying, and never dismiss...they deserve a voice, and will have one through you...if only you are willing to listen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Lesson About Beauty

"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart."
Helen Keller

It's not often when I think of myself as 'beautiful.'  If someone asks me to describe myself, I have many answers...I am an artist and a writer.  I have a great sense of humor, and I love to laugh!  I'm a former teacher...and a lover of animals.  And of course, I'm Irish!  It may come as a surprise that the word disabled is further down on the list, despite the fact that I discuss it a lot in this blog (it is after all, a blog to help raise awareness!)  But beautiful? I think I have a lot of beauty on the inside, and a lot of grace (hence the name of my blog--Grace Lines.)  Sometimes it's hard to think of myself as having an outer beauty, because living a life with physical challenges isn't always beautiful.  Putting on hard, carbon-fiber braces--no, wait...let me rephrase that.  Putting on hard black, carbon-fiber braces is for functionality...NOT beauty.  And their color doesn't always match what I'm wearing!  Despite the fact that I own a couple pairs of  Capri pants, I still have not found the bravery and courage to wear them, even in the summerI know that sounds silly, but it's true.  I guess I'm not as used to being stared at as I would like to believe, and it would never occur to me to think I'm being stared at for my 'beauty.'  I usually chalk it up to the fact that I walk differently...I actually meet a lot of people who ask me if I hurt my ankle, because I have a slight limp.  So while wearing those Capris in public would take care of that problem, I've been reluctant to give people another reason to stare!

So the other day my friend (who was also the inspiration for the name of my blog--thanks, K!!) sent me a video I knew I had to share.  This is a very inspiring talk given by athlete Aimee Mullins, who wears prosthetic legs below the knee.  Why is her talk so inspirational?  It focuses on the beauty and poetry that she has explored within her life, and within her disability.  (Though it seems silly to even use that term to describe this woman, who's abilities just shine through the screen when you watch her speak!)  Now, if you've read earlier posts I've written, you've probably heard me talk about that word: disability.  That is a word that has become very misunderstood!  Unfortunately when that label is used, it often has a negative connotation to becomes the way to describe people's inabilities, without allowing for their abilities and strengths.  If the term was used properly, it would be used to describe everyone...because EVERYBODY has an inability in some way.  So do I consider myself disabled?  Yes.  Does that mean I am UNable to do anything??  NO.  I am a disabled, ABLE adult.  I have many abilities, strengths and talents!  Granted, my talents do not lie within the physical, and you won't see me running races anytime soon.  I couldn't relate to this woman's athletic abilities as much as I was able to relate to the artistic and poetic side of her life.  Here is a person, faced with challenges that many of us may not understand, yet it has not slowed her down one bit.  And using prosthetic 'cheeta' carbon-fiber legs to run, you probably could never catch her!  Though she did not stop there...she started thinking about the BEAUTY of her legs.  How else could they look?  How could these prosthetics become more than function?  How could she change those stares from "Look at her--she has fake legs..." to "Wow!!  Look at her!"  I won't describe the different 'legs' she showcased during her talk, because that would give too much away.  Just let me warn you...your viewpoint of a person with prosthetic limbs may change.  And you may want to grab some tissues before watching!  So check out Aimee Mullins at
You won't be disappointed!

Watching her speak got me to thinking about the beauty in my own differences.  I spoke last week about wanting a magazine to showcase people's physical differences and individualities as the 'in' something beautiful.  But after watching this video, I realize it's more than that...I need to see it in myself before I can expect others to see it.  I need to look beyond the functionality of my braces, and see that they are truly BEAUTIFUL.  They have opened up doors for me that would remain closed otherwise, and literally allowed me to step out into the world.  But let me be honest...I'm still working on it.  I may not always feel it when I strap on those braces in the morning, but I'm going to start trying to find the beauty, and the poetry that lies within the function...because I know it's there.  As a society we are taught that we should try our best to "look like this famous movie star" in order to be beautiful, and it just isn't true.  And even though I know this, every so often I still let vanity and embarrassment take over...and I fold those Capris and place them back in the drawer.  If we EVER get past this horrendous winter, and see the spring blossom in New York(please, God!) I promise I will pull them back out and try them on again...and do my best to step outside, saying "Hey, world--it's me!"  And if I get stared at??  Well, so be's just because I'm drop dead gorgeous, right?  I will tell myself that's what lies behind those looks, before going on my merry way.  And I'll be sure to hold my head up high!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

If Love Were Money...

I decided I needed to rest my brain.  I think I bruised it writing that last post, and when I'm having conversations with my cats and expecting them to answer, it's time to take a break!  So instead of writing an in depth story that makes me frustrated and teary-eyed, I'm just going to relax and share some of my random thoughts with you.  I also wanted to try out the 'pic' option on this blogging father puts different pics in his posts all the time, and I certainly can't let the competition get the best of me, now can I??  So bear with onto the random thoughts!

Imagine if America's currency was love?  To increase your income, there would be no more rushing out the door with a cup of cold coffee to fight your way through traffic--just to get to a job you hate (and to make that weekly paycheck.)  Instead, you would call your friends and family to share how much they mean to you...or hold your child in your arms and listen to their stories about school...or throw that tattered tennis ball for your golden retriever...or maybe you could just lift your head up and smile at a stranger, and say "Good Morning!"  Just imagine if every time you had a kind thought or a kind word for someone, the amount in your bank account increased?  Think what it would be like--instead of striving to hurry through life, gathering all the material goods you can grab so others can see how much you have, you slowed down and appreciated what you had already?  And the more love and positive energy you spread to others, the more 'money' in your pocket?  It would work both ways, of course...just like our money does now.  Today, if you are rude to your boss and lazy on the job, you get fired...if you max out your credit cards in order to gather all those 'goods' you end up in debt.  If love were money, then hate would put you in debt...negativity and rudeness to others would make those bills grow larger, while your bank account would slowly deplete.  Putting your child off because you are 'too busy' to listen to them right now would be like paying a really big bill...ignoring your family pet because you can't be bothered to throw that beloved ball would make even more money disappear!  If love were money, how would you fair?  Would you feel safe and secure, with an overflowing bank account?  Or would you be bouncing checks left and right, never seeming to catch up?  Wouldn't it be great if you were remembered for being RICH because of the love in your heart and how much joy you were able to spread, not for all your old possessions collecting dust on someone's shelves?

I think it should be considered fashionable to be physically different.  People magazine could write an article regaling us with the latest and greatest in leg-brace 'club wear'...bearing tawdry pictures of the rich and famous, sporting this month's fashionable AFO's.  SHAPE magazine could post the top 10 ways to put on those extra 30 pounds, and Julia Roberts could share a story from childhood with Reader's Digest, about the time when she got those thick glasses, and the boys wouldn't leave her alone!  Kids in schools across the country would be standing in line, waiting to be chosen for a team in gym class--all hoping the boy in the wheelchair would call their name first!   The popular kids would be all shapes and sizes.  And the 'in' thing to do would be to find your own individual style, and be proud of your differences!  To grow up and become a famous model in one of those magazines you would have to eat regular meals, wear comfy sweats and shop at Walmart.  Businesses would seek out those with disabilities, who would be treated like experts on being different, and revered for their knowledge.  And all of these differences would be accepted...individuality would be something to strive for!

If you had a wand like Harry Potter and could make changes in your life, what would you do first?  Would you change the physical things about yourself, or not at all?  I went back and forth on this...we all have a 'list' of what we would change about ourselves, and with a wand in our hands it would be SO easy.  And probably could be very addicting!  My fear is that the simplicity of it all might take over, and before I knew it, what makes me special would be lost.  It might occur to readers that the first thing I would change would be to erase my disability.  And I have asked myself that very question and struggled with the answer (no, really!)  In the end, I think I would eventually change things so that I no longer faced those struggles (though I do have other things I would take care of first.)  It certainly would make my future seem a little less tenuous, and I wouldn't have to hesitate before tackling any activities in my daily life.  Though I would never erase the past 39 years, living with these physical hard as it has been sometimes, those challenges and memories (even the bad ones) make me the person I am today.  There are lessons I have learned because of the obstacles in my life, and I would want to hold onto all of them.  But if those physical struggles were gone, there are so many things I would have the energy to do that are beyond my reach right now, such as travelling around the country helping to raise awareness for CMT.  Plus, I'd just really like to be able to wear a sexy pair of high heels!  I know Harry Potter and his wand are fiction...but once in a while it's nice to dream, don't you think?

Have you ever wondered what state our health care system would be in if drug companies couldn't sell their products?  I know I'm slipping back into the realm of health care, and I promise not to stay just occurred to me as I was watching a commercial for the latest and greatest drug, that despite the LONG lists of side effects, drug companies continue to jack up the prices for their wonderful medications and somehow continue to sell them.  I am not saying that ALL of these products are bad, or that there is no medical use for them.  It just surprises me how much money they are allowed to charge (to the point that many people cannot afford their medications,) when a lot of these drugs seem to cause more problems than they actually cure.  I think these companies should have to promote their drugs with COMPLETE honesty.  When they start to list the side effects (such as breathing problems, loss of hair, depression and FANNY fungus,) I don't think the actors should be running through fields of flowers on a sunny day.  It should NOT be soon as the words 'fanny fungus' leave the narrator's lips, the black clouds should roll in, and it should start to POUR.  And no more of this beautiful piano music.  If I develop fungus on ANY part of my body because of a drug, I want to hear the sound track from JAWS...and if it's located ANYWHERE in my nether regions, sitting and playing the piano will be the last thought on my mind!  It just seems to me that if we allow these companies to bombard us with sunny days and beautiful music, we are giving them too much control...we are very visual in this country, and respond too easily to pretty advertising.  Let's take back some of that control before it's too late!

Well, there you have it!  It was nice to share my random thoughts with you, without getting too deep into any one topic...I can feel my brain starting to heal already.  And now that I know how to add pictures to my posts, I'll leave my opponents in the dust!  Hope you enjoyed it, and that one or two of these quick little ideas got you thinking as well.  And if not, I hope at least you enjoyed a laugh!