Monday, May 01, 2006


TRD101: Chronic

by Michael Maynard

May 1, 2006

No, I’m not talking about Dr. Dre’. “The Chronic”, let he and Snoop Dogg discuss the virtues of top quality marijuana. I know nothing about that subject. What I do want to discuss is word chronic, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “having long had a disease”.

I have two chronic immune system illnesses: chronic fatigue syndrome and Celiac’s disease. I have had extensive, sophisticated blood and other tests for both diseases, and have tested positive. Immune system illnesses, which include HIV, multiple sclerosis, lupus, lyme’s disease, fibromyalgia and many others, can take a long time to develop. You can first become infected as a child and not develop full blown symptoms until you’re an adult. Many of these illnesses have similar symptoms: deep fatigue, joint pain, dizziness, “brain fog”; or are confused with other non-immune system illnesses. The probability of being misdiagnosed is very high and the likelihood of not being correctly diagnosed for many, many years is even higher. 97% of people with Celiac’s disease, which is 1% of the population, are never diagnosed properly and the fortunate 3% that are, on average, take 9 years before being diagnosed. (Source - “Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic co-authored by Dr. Peter H.R. Green, the director of the Celiac’s Disease Center at Columbia University, and Rory Jones.)

Fortunately, I’ve responded well to following the gluten-free diet. It’s really not that much of a sacrifice. There are plenty of good gluten-free breads, pastas, and cookies. I do have read the labels on foods, since most processed foods contain some type of gluten product as a preservative, and my menu choices when dining out are limited. Chicken caesar salads without the croutons or other types of salads have become the primary options. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms I’ve described above, I cannot stress too strongly to you to have your doctor order a Celiac blood test for you and to have an gastroenterologist perform an endoscopy to test you for Celiac’s disease. Or you can try a gluten-free diet for 3 months to see how you react, as long as you understand that beyond the diet will alter the results of subsequent medical tests for Celiac's disease.

But the toll of having chronic disease is extensive. I seldom look “sick” so many people wonder if I’m faking the illness or have other problems. Since I often never know how I’m going to feel from day to day, and sometimes hour to hour, it makes my reliability, which is highly important to me, sometimes questionable. And having a silent, non-apparent chronic illness takes a toll on those around you as well. They want to help, but there’s nothing they can really do and they become tired and frustrated. They see a healthy looking person, but one who is constantly physically and mentally tired. A promising career is stalled, a public life put on hold, a long-term relationship left hanging by a tenuous thread. Consider the lost productive hours, the talents unable to be used, the stresses on families, the lives in desperation of all of those who have chronic illnesses - the societal devastation is beyond comprehension.

One of the hidden results of chronic illness is how it drains you of emotional content. You’re just too tired and too self-absorbed with being sick to interact with others in a normal and usual manner. You’re too tired to think at times, and have to rely on others to do your thinking for you.

Being constantly tired also makes you fearful. It was legendary NFL Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi who said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

Webster’s has another definition of the word chronic that is even more significant and devastating: chronic - “continuing a long time or recurring frequently - a chronic state of war”. Throughout our history and especially in the 20th century, the United States has been in a chronic state of war. Is it just because of geopolitical realities or is it a permanent mind set of the American people due to collective fatigue because of chronic warfare?

One of my favorite socio-political writers is Douglas Hofsadler, especially his “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”. Hofstadler wrote:

"simply because no other word adequately evokes the qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.

It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

The paranoid style ... is, above all, a way of seeing the world and of expressing oneself. ... In the paranoid style, as I conceive it, the feeling of persecution is central, and it is indeed systematized in grandiose theories of conspiracy. But there is a vital difference between the paranoid spokesman in politics and the clinical paranoic: although they both tend to be overheated, oversuspicious, overaggressive, grandiose, and apocalyptic in expression, the clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him; whereas the spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others. Insofar as he does not usually see himself singled out as the individual victim of a personal conspiracy, he is somewhat more rational and much more disinterested. His sense that his political passions are unselfish and patriotic, in fact goes far to intensify his feeling of righteousness and his moral indignation.”

Sound familiar?

It has been primarily the recent Republican leaders of our country who have exploited the collective fatigue and fear to use to their own advantage. Perversely, they have managed to make the majority of the populace believe that their cowardice is a form of patriotic bravery.

Ronald Reagan had the boogeyman of the Soviet Union to scare us in to submission. The Soviet Union was never the threat to the US that Reagan made it out to be and his State Department and CIA knew this. For those of you who want to credit Reagan and the US military arms build up, Wojtyla and others for the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Soviet economy had been in collapse for decades. It was the political changes made by Mikhail Gorbachev that led to the modern Russia and all the “stan” states. And look what this “collapse” has wrought, a metrosexual Breshnev. Be careful what you wish for wingnuts. With one or two exceptions, the new states are as repressive and militaristic as the USSR.

Richard Nixon had the domino effect and used the patriotism card about Vietnam to try to stifle dissent and create a quasi-police state. The Nixon Administration’s breaking of laws that led to Watergate and impeachment are piddly compared to what has been done the past 6 years.

I think the small-minded George Bush genuinely panicked on 9/11/2001 and has remained panicked and paranoid about another terrorist attack ever since. However, the disciples of Nixon and Reagan, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (and their disciples within the Bush League administration) have reprised and expanded upon the past very effectively. We have a greater quasi-police state with the same Nixonesque stifling of dissent by using patriotism and homeland security as the excuse, same total disregard for the Congress and the law, wire tapping on political rivals and federal government infiltration of legitimate political policy adversarial groups, and the same failed military tactics, such as carpet bombing, to conduct an unjustifiable and unwinnable invasion.

That we as a nation have not reacted with the same or greater outrage to all of the illegal and immoral police-state activities of the Bush Administration should lead us all to ask about the real emotional character of this country. It is those of us, in spite of the continued and increased crackdowns and threats from the Bush-Leaguers, who have stood up in opposition to these horrific and wrongheaded policies who are the brave, as are the soldiers who have and are sacrificing their lives to carry out these policies. The rest of us, who have hunkered down into our homes, tuning out what we don’t want to hear or know, who have become cowards due to fatigue.

Now is the time for us to question what is the real political psychological state of our country.

Are we, as a nation,

suffering from chronic fatigue due to chronic war?

suffering from chronic war due to chronic fatigue?

or inevitably drawn by collective tiredness and fear to period to suffer both chronic fatigue and chronic war?

TRD101 knows this: Chronic illness undermines the lives of those infected. Chromic warfare undermines the political structures and the political will of this country.

And that is The Real Deal 101 for today, like it or not.

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© Copyright Michael Maynard, TRD101, March 2006.

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