So for whatever reason, I check Adam Ford’s webcomic almost daily. I decided I had to tweet about his latest comic. I’ve embedded the resulting Storify below:
So for whatever reason, I check Adam Ford’s webcomic almost daily. I decided I had to tweet about his latest comic. I’ve embedded the resulting Storify below:
In Christians circles, especially among those associated with the Gay Christian Network (GCN), there’s much talk about Side A and Side B. They’re shorthand for what an individual believes about same sex relationships and how gay people should choose to live their lives. A person who is Side A believes that gay people should be allowed to enter into same sex romantic and sexual relationships — though possibly with some caveats, such as only with a long-term partner with whom one is committed to lifelong monogamy. A person who is Side B believes that gay people should seek to maintain a life of celibacy.
As I understand it — though I can’t find the sources that led me to this understanding to confirm it — the concepts of Side A and Side B originally started among gay Christians themselves and indicated a personal choice of how the individual felt it best to respond to their sexual orientation in their own life. This is reflected in that GCN welcomes both people who are Side A and people who are Side B.
At some point, heterosexual people who started joining the conversation about gay people in the church also began to adopt the labels Side A and Side B for themselves. The thing is, heterosexual people are not gay, so the original understanding of the concept that which “side” they belonged to no longer represented how they chose to respond to their own sexual orientation. Instead, for heterosexual people, their Side A or Side B status mostly began to represent how other people — namely people who actually are gay — should choose to live their lives1.
This has apparently caused some problems for at least one person. Yesterday, Misty Irons blogged about the misunderstandings that tend to be formed when she identifies as Side B:
A recent article written by Stephen Parelli, who was present at the conference, called “Celibacy at Gay Christian Network: What’s that all about?” characterizes me as advocating celibacy for all gay Christians.
She spends a good deal of time in her post making it clear that she does not advocate celibacy for all gay Christians. She makes it clear that she believes that Side A Christians — even Side A gay Christians — are saved. She states that she believes Christians should follow their own conscience in this matter.
I would argue then, that calling herself Side B is pointless, meaningless, or both. She’s not telling other people what they should believe or how they should live. She’s not making a choice about how to live her own life since — to the best of my knowledge — she’s heterosexual and she doesn’t even have to answer the underlying question for herself.
So why pick a “side” at all? Why not simply say “I believe those who are in a position where they need to make that choice need to pray and follow their own conscience” and leave it at that?
If a heterosexual is not prepared to moralize — that is, tell others how they should live their lives or even look down on those who choose to live their lives differently — then declaring oneself Side A or Side B serves no real purpose. Other than possibly to promote the silly notion that their opinion on the matter is actually important. And who has time for that silly notion and the privilege it represents?
1I suspect at least some gay Christians also feel that other gay Christians should be making the same Side A or Side B choice they are and would like input on how other people are living their lives as well. Moralizing is not the sole domain of the heterosexuals after all. However, at least with gay Christians, there’s still the sense that being Side A or Side B is (hopefully) about a personal choice in their own lives first.
Over the past five or so years, I’ve found myself in the position to help various people on their spiritual journeys. Most particularly, I’ve found myself helping people to learn to communicate with spirit, be it spirit guides, individuals who have passed from this life, or even deity. My most recent experience has been helping someone make a connection to and contact with a particular deity he felt drawn to.
This last experience has been most interesting and even a bit challenging to me, as I have no real knowledge of or connection with this deity myself. If someone were ask me how to connect with and contact Freyja – or even one of the other Norse gods and possibly even a few of the Irish ones – I’d have a plethora of experience and knowledge to draw on. I’d be able to recommend stories to become intimately familiar with, suggestions on offerings to give, and recommendations on how to craft an invocation for calling out to that particular deity.
In this case, I simply had to show the other person how to figure out much of that information himself and explaining to him how he needed to enter a meditative state, set up a sacred space where he could meet the deity, and how to call out to said deity in his own words.
The good news is that it worked beautifully. Contact with the deity was almost immediate and awe-inspiring, which I credit to said deity’s own deep interest in working with and teaching this person. I am pleased that I was able to help make this happen, but I have no delusions that I was anything other than a helpful middle-man helping two individuals meet sooner than if they had to arrange said meeting by themselves.
Back to the struggle to help someone contact a deity I personally have no knowledge of or connection to, though, the experience has given me yet another appreciation for what it must be like to work with a more narrowly defined tradition. I imagine that those covens that focus on working with a specific deity or small group of deities must have a great advantage when it comes to teaching new members and interested people. I imagine they have a great deal of lore and very specific techniques (such as detailed visualizations and invocations) they can employ and teach those seeking to make that same connection. I imagine that said tools have been developed as a result of the tradition and learning what works best for that specific tradition and working with that specific deity or groups of deity.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t plan on leaving my eclectic coven to join or form a tradition with a narrower focus. Nor do I plan on trying to change my current coven into something other than what it currently is. I love my coven and its members exactly for who they are. They are my family and I wouldn’t change or leave them for the world.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t form an appreciation for the way others have come to do things.
Yesterday, Hemant Mehta wrote a post about about meme where some pastor mocks excuses people use for not going to church by turning them into excuses people use for not attending sporting goods. He also posts a video response from someone that is absolutely wonderful. However, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the things that make this meme ridiculous right from the beginning.
The most obvious is that church attendance is often seen — at least by many Christians — as an absolute and even universal obligation. I’m not aware of anyone who views attending sporting events — either occasionally or regularly — as an obligation. Certainly not a universal obligation. No one has ever questioned my moral character for not attending sporting events. No one — not even exuberant sports fans — have treated me condescendingly for not attending sporting events. No one is trying to convince me that I will be condemned to eternal torment if I don’t attend the Amerks games and believe that their players are the best hockey players ever.
Instead, attending sporting events is entirely optional with little to no pressure on me to do so. I can simply choose not to attend any sporting events. The only “excuse” I need for not attending one is “I didn’t feel like going.” In fact, I’d be hard pressed to think of even five instances in my forty-one years of life where anyone even inquired — let alone demanded to know — as to why I didn’t attend some sporting event.
I have had people ask why I don’t go to church. Several times. And each time, there was a clear implication that the person asking felt I needed a good reason — good enough as determined by them — why i didn’t go. This is why people make all kinds of excuses for not going to church, and seldom make any excuse for going to sporting events. No excuse is needed for the latter.
The excuses in themselves are equally problematic. For example, the first excuse makes no sense because there’s no expectation that a coach at sporting event will come visit me1. That’s not the case for a pastor of a church. There is an implicit — if not explicit — understanding that a pastor is there to provide spiritual care and guidance for the people in his church and even the rest of the community. When a person says that they quit coming to church because the pastor hasn’t come to see them, this means that the pastor and the church as a whole has failed to live up to their obligations. (John Pavlovitz put it perfectly on Tuesday when he wrote, “If you have no scalable system of pastoral care other than telling people to get into a small group, you have a lousy pastoral care system….
Pastor, if all you want to do is preach from the stage or the pulpit, stop calling yourself a pastor and admit that you’re a preacher or a religious celebrity.“) So it strikes me that it is perfectly reasonable for a person to leave a church that is failing to meet its obligations to that person.
There are similar issues with the meme-creator’s other “excuses” when you consider the fundamental differences between the nature of church attendance and going to sporting events. Sadly, this is just another case of a Christian leader thinking he’s being clever when he’s really just demonstrating that he hasn’t really thought any of these issues through. This also leads me to conclude that he’s not really trying to convince people who offer these excuses to come to church so much as he’s sharing a moment of smug self-righteousness with those who already agree with him. Frankly, I find that sort of thing ugly when displayed by an alleged spiritual leader.
1Naturally, I’m assuming that I’m a spectator rather than a player. If the latter were the case, then I see that this could be a legitimate reason for not only not attending those sporting events, but quitting that team.
[Content Note: Homophobia]
The title of today’s blog post is based on a search term that someone used to find my site the other week. Strangely, I had a friend who was offering guidance to a young lesbian facing a similar situation ask me for any advice I might offer her several months ago. As such, I thought it would be good to talk about this subject.
First, I have a great deal of sympathy and empathy for anyone in such a situation. One should not have to deal with homophobia – no matter how minor or subtle – from one’s closest families. It can instill a real sense of betrayal and that you don’t belong. So to anyone who is reading this and is facing anything less than perfect acceptance from their immediately family, know that I would totally give you a hug right now if I were able to and you were comfortable with it.
To address the question, we first have to understand what we can do and what is our responsibility to do. For example, many of us – myself included at times – often think that what we need to do is convince our loved one to stop being homophobic. And in a perfect world, our loved ones would end their homophobia. (Well, in a perfect world, they never would’ve been homophobic in the first place, but hey.) But here’s the thing: we can’t make people change their mind or their behavior. It just doesn’t work that way. And trying to do it will only leave us even more frustrated and possibly (more) depressed and a lot of other things. In the end, we have to give our loved ones the freedom to address (or not) their own prejudices and their own actions in their own time.
So instead, we need to look at what we can do. And the thing I think we most need to focus on is the same thing we really should be focusing on anyway. We can and should focus on doing what it is that we need to do in order to feel good about ourselves. We can and should focus on making sure we like ourselves.
Liking ourselves and finding the good in ourselves can be difficult, especially when we have people saying or implying negative things about us. Doubly so when some of those people happen to be close and dear loved ones who are supposed to embrace, accept, and encourage us. In those cases, we have to struggle even harder to remind ourselves that we’re amazing people. (And if you don’t believe you’re an amazing person, please find someone safe to talk with about that fact as soon as you can!) Look at the things you enjoy and the things you are good at. Do you like to write? Write your heart out and cherish what you write. Treat yourself like you’re the next literary genius in training. Do you like to draw? Draw your heart out and treat your drawings like they’ll be hanging in the Louvre some day. Think of all the great qualities you offer the people in your life and the parts of yourself that you have to share with them. The sting of homophobia will never fully go away – especially when it comes from a loved one – but being able to confidently see yourself as a valuable and wonderful person does help.
Another thing that you can do is find the love, support, and encouragement you need. After all, that’s one of the really sucky parts about homophobic loved ones. Loving, supporting, and encouraging you is supposed to be THEIR job, and they’re failing at it in at least some ways. So it’s time to find people – and there are a lot of them out there – who would be happy to take on at least part of that job. Find and focus on other family members who are more supportive. Be honest with them and let them know that you need their support. Focus on friends – and make new ones if you need to – that will give you the support you need. When I came out nearly twenty years ago, I built an entirely new circle of friends. Oh sure, I kept in touch with some of my older friends and even have the occasional contact with some of them to this day. But my new friends were the ones who were both able and willing to walk with me through the process of self-discovery and self-acceptance. They were also the ones who felt safe to go through that process with. Those are the kinds of friends you need.
So if you don’t have them, find them. If you’re in school, see if your school has a GSA. See if there’s an LGBT community center or LGBT social groups in your area. See if there’s an active PFLAG chapter in your area.
Don’t rule out online friendships, either. For the first ten years after I came out, a lot of my friendships were online. Even the close and supportive friends I knew in person were people I mostly stayed in touch with via the Internet. An online friend may not be able to give you hug, but they can listen to you and tell you that you’re okay and that what you’re feeling is okay too. That’s extremely valuable.
You’ll notice that I talked about finding support after talking about learning to love yourself. There’s a couple reasons for that. The first is that while support is important and good, other people ultimately can’t make you feel good about yourself. That’s a gift you give yourself and you need to give it to yourself.
The other reason is because knowing what you like about yourself also helps you think about what you have to offer friends and possibly how to find them. If you’ve figured out you love to write, then finding friends that accept you for who you are and share that love of writing is an excellent plus. Maybe you can find a writing group locally or join a writing site online. The same is true of drawing or any other talent or interest you have. And the bonus is that they’ll encourage you and remind you that your talent or interest is awesome and valuable. Hey, other people can’t make you like yourself, but they sure can remind you of what there is to like about yourself!
The last thing to consider about finding love, encouragement, and support is to consider whether you want to and would benefit from talking to a trained mental health professional. If you have someone who is frequently – or even only slightly frequently – saying and doing things, that can really take a toll on you. It may be helpful to have someone in your corner who is trained to help you sort through that.
The final thing that you can do to take care of yourself in such a situation is try to limit your interactions with said loved one as much as possible. This can be tricky, depending on your circumstances. At 41 living on my own, I can get away and stay away from any homophobic relatives I may have as much as I want. If you’re a younger person who’s still living at home, you may be stuck living with a homophobic parent or sibling. If that’s your situation, you again have my sympathy. That totally sucks. It especially sucks if there’s more than one homophobic person in the house with you, or even if others in the household doesn’t see what the big deal is with the homophobic person’s behavior. Maybe they think you’re overreacting. They’re wrong.
In that situation, you can only do the best that you can do. If you can stay in your bedroom – and the rest of your family will leave you alone rather than barge into your room and try to force conversation on you – that may be what you need to do. You may need to find ways to keep yourself busy. (Again, this is where having those loving and supportive friends may be helpful – as you can go spend time with them whenever possible and get away from the homophobia.)
You may also want to consider calling out the homophobic person’s behavior when they’re being hurtful and disengage. “I feel what you just said or did was hurtful to me and I would like you to leave me alone now.” Then walk away if you can. Be aware that this can be a difficult thing to do. The other person is likely to get offended. They’re likely to try to get you to tell them exactly why you found what they said or did was hurtful – most likely so they can tell you that you were wrong to feel that way. If you decide to go this route, don’t let yourself be drawn into an explanation or an argument over it. Simply say, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I need time to be alone.” Stick to your guns. Go talk to one of your supportive friends or loved ones, someone who will totally understand why you’re hurt and will tell you that it’s okay to feel that way.
At any rate, that’s the best advice I can offer to help anyone going through such a situation. My readers are welcome to offer their own insights in the comments. Maybe some of you found something that helped you. Please feel free and encouraged to share.
Moderation Note: All comments complaining about how “easily” the word homophobia gets thrown around will be deleted. Any commenter trying to open a debate about what does and does not constitute homophobia will be banned. This is not the space to get defensive over how your words and actions are properly labeled. This is a space for you to listen and carefully consider how your words and actions impact the LGBT people in your life. If you try to do the former rather than the latter, than you’re part of the problem, and likely a bigger part than you want to admit.
Some of my regular readers (I have a few of those, right?) may have notice my site has been down for the last couple of days. That’s because my hosting provider detected that my WP installation had been infected with malware and shut my site down until I could get it fixed. So I spent a little time waiting for them to provide a list of files that were infected, dutifully replaced or removed (most of them weren’t even needed by WP, which was weird) them, then waited for them to verify that everything was clean so they could bring my site back online. Unfortunately, that translated into two days because…well, you know what it’s like communicating with customer service. Don’t misunderstand me, my hosting provider’s customer service agents are friendly and extremely helpful. But the response times can be a bit slow.
I’m not sure why my site got infected with malware. Was it just a random occurrence? Is someone out there gunning for me in particular? Maybe I pissed off some hacker with a huge crush on Grindr who took issue with my last blog post. Who can say? But the important thing is that everything should all be better now. As a bonus, I also added a monitoring plan to the site. Now the monitoring software should detect and remove malware automatically, rather than leaving it to the hosting provider to discover and lock everything down. Here’s to hoping!
Like a lot of gay guys, I have an account on Grindr. I have what I think is a pretty nice profile picture up. The about me section has been pretty boring. I mean, Grindr only gives you 255 characters to work with, and it’s hard to be funny, seductive, and witty with only a couple dozen words — and that’s only if you stick to monosyllabic words! So this has been my profile recently:
I don’t get a lot of messages or responses on Grindr. Unless you count the spambots I get anywhere from one to five times a day.
Well recently, I ended up creating a second Grindr account. This one is completely blank. No picture. No information. Not even my age. I won’t post a picture of what that looks like. If you want to know, just download the app. I can almost guarantee that there will be at least five guys near you who have no picture and/or no personal information entered.
So I had this other account, and I soon discovered that guys were contacting me through it. Yeah, that’s right. Guys will apparently line up to contact a completely empty profile while passing by guys who are trying to present who they are and have something to say. But that’s enough bitterness on my part.
Of course, most guys that contacted that profile opened with asking for a picture. (Those that didn’t usually asked in their second message.) I simply told them that I didn’t have a picture to send, figuring they’d go away. Strangely, not all of them did. In fact, most of them persisted. So I decided to have a little fun with it.
Sadly, I don’t have a capture of the conversation that really brought out my mischievous side. Because that guy gave me a chuckle, I decided to send him a picture after all and got rewarded with an instant block. But basically, when I told him I didn’t have a picture to send, he asked if I was Casper or something. (My reply: “Casper? What makes you think I’m friendly?”) So that gave me the idea of giving whimsical responses to requests for pictures. The best one — fortunately I was able to do the screen captures before this one eventually blocked me — is the following:
It amazes me how much some of these guys can really push despite being told no. Granted not all of my exchanges have been as witty. Some I just turned down normally. Even those have been entertaining, though. After all, the butthurt can be something else. Take this fine example:
I haven’t had anyone announce that I must be fat. I suspect it’s a matter of time. To be honest, I’m looking forward to that moment, because I already have my response planned: “Took you long enough to figure it out, dipshit.”
I’m not sure, but I think this guy was hoping that I’d offer him money:
He didn’t respond after that, so I’m guessing he doesn’t have a thing for guys with a terrific sense of humor, after all. Le sigh.
I suspect I’ll be having this kind of fun for a while. If I have any more really awesome exchanges (be it butthurt on their part or particularly clever responses on mine), I’ll be sure to send them.
Also, one other good thing came out of this thought experiment. I now have a less boring profile for my other account:
[Content Note: Homophobia, transphobia, mentions of anti-gay and anti-trans violence, mentions of suicide]
My niece posted a link to this webcomic earlier today. I decided the webcomic artist deserved a response.
Dear random Christian dude who wants to reassure me he doesn’t hate me by writing a lengthy and completely impersonal webcomic,
Look, I get it. Your uncomfortable with the fact that many LGBT people think of socially conservative Christians as hateful. The thing you need to understand is that A LOT of your fellow Christians do indeed act terribly hateful. Some of them may even be people that you and your church support and revere.
Plus, the other thing you need to understand is that you don’t have to be screaming obscenities or anything equally obvious to act in ways that are hurtful and even come across as hateful. So let me do you a favor and go through your webcomic and point a few things out to you that you get terribly wrong.
I am a Christian who believes the Bible is the Word of God, any homosexual practice is sinful, and marriage will only ever be the life-long union between one man and one woman.
But I promise you, I don’t hate you.
You know, it’s hard to believe you don’t hate me — or at least that you have my best interests in mind — when your first volley in your “reassurance” is to state unequivocally that you will never consider any emotionally and sexually intimate relationship that I might build with someone to be anything other than irredeemably sinful and illegitimate. I mean, you could have started demonstrating your commitment to loving LGBT people by talking about what you are trying to get the church to do about the fact that many states still allow employers to fire people simply for being LGBT. Or you could have talked about what you’re trying to get the church to do about anti-LGBT violence — especially violence against transgender people who are most often targeted. Or you could have talked about what you want to do about the problem of increased instances of homelessness and suicide rates among LGBT youth.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. There are a lot of very real problems that LGBT people face, and you could be doing something right now to help alleviate and address those problems. But instead, you decided to start by drawing your line in the sand. Or let’s call it what it really is, your chosen battle line. Try and understand just how false that makes the rest of your claims sound.
The world sets us up as polar opposites, though. It says we’re bitter enemies in a “culture war,” lobbing Molotov cocktails at each other on the front lawn of the White House.
Do you know who actually uses the phrase “culture war” regularly, and insists they’re fighting one. Many of your fellow Christians. People at the AFA. People at the FRC. People at Focus on the Family. Pat Robertson. These are extremely visible and powerful Christians. They’re the ones pushing the “culture war” framing. And that’s when they’re not comparing LGBT people to sexual predators, calling us mentally ill, or saying God sent AIDS to punish us. There are a lot of other terrible things they say, too. I encourage you to do some research.
So my question to you is what are you doing to real in your fellow Christians who are pushing this “culture war” frame? Are you pushing back and telling them to shut up? Are you making sure that neither you nor your church supports the Christian organizations that are actually promoting and acting as aggressors in the culture war? Or are you just remaining silent and hoping that I and every of LGBT person will magically know you don’t agree with them and “aren’t like those Christians” (or believe it just because you say so)?
If you are gay, your fallen heart tells you to lust after people of the same sex.
God calls that sin.
My fallen heart tells me to lust after people of the opposite sex who are not my wife.
God calls that sin.
Did you notice the major difference between those two statements. You see, according to you, God offers you a context in which you’re allowed to embrace and explore your sexual desires. But according to you, God offers LGBT people no such context. Any such exploration we may consider is sinful. Full stop. End of story. Try to understand how cruel that makes your vision of God in my eyes.
Also, stop to consider how you’ve just implicitly reduced all same-sex relationships to nothing more than sexual gratification. You’ve completely ignored and invalidated the fact that many same sex relationships also involve deep emotional intimacy, mutual care, nurturing, and many other qualities that I’m sure you value in your own marriage. Again, when you start trying to caricature our relationships to fit your “sin” narrative, it’s rather difficult to accept that you’re as hate-free as you claim.
The liberal “churches” which are now saying, “Oh hey! God changed his mind and is totes cool with the gay stuff now 4 real!” do not really love you. They want your approval.
Sounds to me like you need to write a follow-up comic to let liberal churches know you don’t hate them, too. Though I’m not sure they’ll believe you any more than I believe you. But on a more serious note, I think it’s entirely condescending of you to claim you know the hearts and motives of others. Also, I’ll note that many of those liberal churches have actively backed their claims of love by actively doing things to address all of those serious issues facing LGBT people that I mentioned earlier. You haven’t done that yet. I trust you’re familiar with he phrase “action speaks louder than words.”
Not because I say so; because God says so. (See: entire Bible)
There’s a problem with that claim — and it’s really relevant to your rather disparaging comments that liberal churches say God “changed his mind” by the way. People have been saying “God says so/the Bible says so” for centuries, only to later decide that maybe the Bible doesn’t actually say that after all. I mean, there was once a time when many Christians insisted that the Bible said that it was okay to own slaves. In fact, at least one denomination (hint: it’s the largest and most well-known Baptist denomination in the United States of America) was founded on the principle that the Bible clearly states that slave-owners are allowed to own slaves. I don’t know any Christian who would insist that the Bible says that anymore. I doubt that you or any of your fellow Christians today would phrase that change in belief or interpretation of the Bible as “Oh hey! God changed his mind!”
Truth of the matter is, the Bible is hugely open to interpretation and always has been. There have been huge arguments over what the Bible allegedly says, and people on both sides of many of those arguments have insisted that the Bible “clearly says” whatever position they happen to hold. So please, accept that liberal Christians might actually legitimately come to a different interpretation of the Bible, lest you fall into the hubris of thinking you are the authority of what the Bible says. Trust me, history is rife of examples of why that may not end so well for you.
Repent and believe that gospel.
The word “gospel” means “good news.” I ask you, what “good news” are you offering to LGBT people. Quite frankly, I don’t find “you have to live your entire life without any sort of sexual or emotional fulfillment or intimate companionship” to be all that good of news. Can you do it? Why not? After all, the Bible also makes it clear that it would be better for you to remain unmarried. And yet, you mentioned having a wife. Why are you trying to place burdens on other people that you have not accepted for yourself?
We love you, so we must tell you the truth.
Okay. You’ve told me. You’re at least the 100th person to tell me this. (Seriously, do you really think LGBT people have never heard all of this before? You might want to check your facts.) I’m telling you, I don’t buy it and it stinks like yesterdays garbage after it’s sat in the sun all afternoon.
But while we’re on the topic of how much you allegedly love me, let me ask you something: What good is love without relationship. You don’t know me. You haven’t taken a single moment to get to know me. You haven’t listened to my story or shared in my joys or my woes. To be frank, all you’ve done is preach at me, possibly hoping that the cutesie webcomic format will make it more tolerable. If your love is that impersonal and impersonal, then I think I’ll still with the “vote seekers” and “approval seekers.” Once again, at least they seem to understand some of the real and serious problems I and many like me face and are actively trying to do something. They’ve shown real, tangible acts of love.
So thanks, random dude who knows nothing about me and likely will do absolutely nothing to change that. I hope that your webcomic gave you that sense of “being loving” you were trying to create for yourself. It did absolutely nothing for me.
A gay man who just doesn’t quite believe you.
Moderation Note: This is a no proselytizing thread. Comments trying to convince me that I need to “repent” will be deleted. Commenters that repeatedly ignore this rule will be banned. But don’t worry, there’s no need for you to tell me the truth. Adam Ford has already taken care of it. You can even see the proof for yourself.
[Content Note: Health Issues, Heart Disease, Heart Failure, Needles]
Before yesterday, my last appointment with my cardiologist was last May. I’ve seen my GP a few times since then, as well as urgent care doctors when I’ve had a cold that lingered just a little too long for my tastes. So when my cardiologist reviewed my chart at the beginning of this week and saw that the doctors in internal medicine had been playing with my diuretics, He decided it was time to see me again now rather than waiting to the appointment I had scheduled for May.
I showed up at his office a few minutes after my appointment time, a bit frazzled. (A nasty accident on Elmwood turned what should have been a half hour drive to nearly an hour drive.) Needless to say, the stress of being late had my blood pressure up — even more than it normally is due to my penchant for white lab coat hypertension.
After the technician took all my vitals and got me seated comfortably in the exam room, my doctor came in less than five minutes later (the advantage of scheduling the early morning appointments is that they’re usually neither busy nor falling behind schedule yet). He asked me what was going on and I gave him a brief run-down, then gave me a brief exam. We talked a bit more and said I probably need to go for an echocardiogram since my last one was over a year ago. Also he noted the same symptoms they were seeing in internal medicine, so he said he was going to change my diuretic and double the dosage. Then he went to talk to the supervising doctor in the cardiology department.
The supervising doctor came back in the room — as is common — and talked to me some more, then asked me to hop back up on the exam table so he could take a look too. He checked me out and found the same symptoms every other doctor has found. However, he wasn’t eager to blame them on my heart. He noticed other signs that suggest that my heart may just be fine and pointed out that the symptoms I am exhibiting can be caused by other factors1. As such, he said he didn’t want to throw more diuretics at me without a definitive answer. So in addition to the echocardiogram — which he managed to get scheduled immediately after my visit in cardiology — he recommended a chest X-Ray (to determine if there actually is any fluid in my lungs) and some blood work. Which meant spending an hour or two hopping from department to department in the hospital.
Since it was right next door and is the only thing that had to be scheduled, I immediately went over to get the echocardiogram. That’s always a fun procedure, and this was my third time at it. Basically, you take off your shirt, lie on a bed and let the technician run an ultrasound probe all over your chest while fiddling with the controls. This time, though, the tech also took shots of my abdomen and throat, which was a new experience. I look forward to finding out what that was all about.
The hardest part of the echocardiogram is the contrast dye. They inject it into a vein to get better contrast in the images, which helps them take more accurate measurements. The put it in through an IV port. That means that — unless you have other tests scheduled that also require an IV port — they put one in, take about ten minutes to do that part of the procedure, and take it right back out.
After that, it was off to the outpatient lab to get blood drawn. They needed three vials this time. I joked about that to the phlebotomist and she responded, “Yeah, we only take as much as they need.” I told her that was good, as I kind of like my blood. I was also pretty impressed with the this phlebotomist. Not only did she manage to get blood with only one try, but I think it was the closest I’ve come to having blood drawn completely painlessly. (Well, other than the time in the hospital when I’m pretty sure I slept through the whole thing.) I barely even felt the needle.
After that, it was off to radiology for chest X-Rays. I was a bit concerned about how long that would take. When I had a chest X-Ray back in October, they were packed and it took them about half an hour to call me. Even then, they actually took me to a different part of the hospital because they were so backlogged. (I”m guessing this is probably why the radiology department validates parking for their patients.)
However, they were pretty slow yesterday morning. They called me in less than five minutes. After that, it was just a matter of posing for the nice woman, praying that the radiation would give me superpowers instead of cancer, and going on my merry way.
Now the hard part is waiting for my cardiologist to look over the results and call me back with answers. Fortunately, I’m able to see all my results (except for the echocardiogram) this morning. What I can see looks pretty good:
So unless the echo shows something to be concerned about, this is probably a good indication that my heart is happy. Hopefully the cardiologist will be able to shed some more light on things whenever he calls.
And hopefully we can figure out what really is causing my symptoms so everyone will quit throwing diuretics at me until they’re actually necessary.
1This seems to be the problem with getting a diagnosis of something like congestive heart failure. If a symptom can be attributed to that diagnosis, most doctors are inclined to assume that’s what’s going on and act accordingly. That’s great if they’re right. If they’re wrong, you end up wasting a lot of time treating the wrong thing.
Tuesday, Right Wing Watch reported that Pat Robertson warned pregnant women against putting pictures of their ultrasounds on Facebook. His reasoning, according to the report, is rather interesting:
“I don’t think there is any harm in it,” he said. “But I tell you, there are demons and there are evil people in the world, and you post a picture like that and some cultist gets hold of it or a coven and they begin muttering curses against an unborn child. You never know what somebody’s going to do.”
This is yet another glimpse into the dark, horrible world that Pat Robertson believes he’s living in. He believes that there are “Satanic witches” who have nothing better to do than scour the Facebook to find random ultrasound pictures from people they don’t know and curse them. In Pat Robertson’s fantasy world, people unlike him run around looking to commit evil for evil’s sake. It leaves one wondering if he also imagines us laughing maniacally and twirling over-waxed mustaches or cackling around cauldrons1.
The thing is, most witches don’t work curses at all. Those who do are really unlikely to curse random strangers for a number of reasons2. If a witch is actually going to work that kind of magic, said witch is going to work it against someone they have a personal investment in hurting.
So why on earth does Pat Robertson imagine evil figures doing all kinds of evil that makes no sense? Does he enjoy the way that it ties his followers to him with fear and terror? Is his desire to paint himself and those like him as the soul heroes of the world so great that he needs to paint everyone else in the world as evil as he can?
Or is he actually trapped in his own fear? Has he warning about evils for so long that he actually sees and fears them wherever he looks? If so, I have to say, that’s a horrible way to live.
1Okay, I’ll confess. The cackling around cauldrons thing actually happens. I mean, every now and then you’re in the middle of a solemn ritual and someone flubs a chant or sends one of the ritual tools skittering across the room due to clumsiness. That’s bound to crack up anyone with a sense of humor.
2The two major reasons are “trying to curse someone you don’t have a connection to is nearly impossible” and “no one in their right mind is going to work with and connect themselves to the kinds of energies a curse entails unless there’s a deeply personal reason to do so.”