Malawi: Trinitas Mhango-Kunashe changes women’s lives

Equality matters. Unwritten sanctions against people who speak openly about bodily functions, especially female body functions, seem to exist everywhere. Menstruation is one of these topics. Sanctions against menstruating women are many. Young girls still get their first monthly bleeding without knowing what is happening. We are expected to hide the fact that we menstruate and must make as little fuss as possible. Menstrual products (reuseable pads, disposable pad, cups, tampons, ets.) are expensive. In many countries there is no access to menstrual products. Women must use rags that leak and are forbidden, by unwritten rules, to wash and hang their rags where they can be seen. Girls stay home from school because they bleed through their rags or there is no access to a toilet. Both genders enforce this form of discrimination and body-shaming. However, some women (and men) take steps to make life better for menstruating women. Especially poor countries struggle with access to menstrual products. Malawi is a place where a month’s supply of disposable pads may cost up to two days salary.  Trinitas Mhango-Kunashe’s reuseable pads can make a huge difference in the lives of women.

Easing the menstrual woes

Brenda Twea | May 22, 2016

Menstruation is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health. It is the natural monthly occurrence in healthy adolescent girls and pre-menopausal adult women. The onset can occur anytime between the ages of eight and 16, resulting in about 3 000 days of menstruation in an average woman’s lifetime.

In addition to persisting taboos, women and girls’ capacity to manage their periods is affected by a number of other factors, including limited access to affordable and hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options leaving many to manage their periods in ineffective, uncomfortable and unhygienic ways.

Very often, women and girls miss school and productive work days and fall behind their male counterparts, because of practical needs such as water and space for washing and cleaning the body, material for absorbing menstrual blood and facilities for proper disposal of used materials.

Example of Ms. Mhango-Kunashe’s reuseable menstrual pads. Credit MW Nation€€

Menstrual hygiene and management can be essential in ensuring that one’s everyday life is not interrupted by menstruation. A College of Medicine research scientist and project coordinator for Global Early Adolescent Study, Trinitas Mhango-Kunashe is producing reusable sanitary pads.

“I sew reusable, washable sanitary pads made out of cloth. They can last for two years. This is a low cost alternative, a once off purchase which a girl could use for 24 times or more,” says Kunashe.

Tinapads, as they are called, are made of three types of fabric; flannel, toweling and water proof material. The pattern has wings which are snapped with press buttons to wrap it properly and comfortably on the underwear. “This will ensure that a girl stays in school all year round. If she is absent then menstruation management problem will not be the reason for her absenteeism,” she says.

Kunashe adds that she came up with this innovation after noting that girls usually stay home from school for days due to lack of proper and dignified sanitary materials. She notes that this affects their class work, and translates into poor performances and rises in school dropout rates.

“Our objectives are to reduce absenteeism rates caused by lack of sanitary products, keep girls in school, motivate them to stay in school, break the silence around menstruation and expose girls to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) because our distribution will go along with three sessions on body development, body feelings and changes and how to cope with that,” she says.

Kunashe says it will be a pack of nine sanitary pads, down from the initial 10. The number was reduced in order to bring down the cost.

“In the pack of nine, three will be used on day one, three on day two; and two on day three and the remaining one on day four. The target is for the pads to be used once a month so that when they are washed, they should not be used again until the following month. As such, they will last longer. …”

The rest of the article may be read at The Nation

Linford, Shannon; It gets better with time

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Support magnet

Seven years ago today, at the age of 16, I had a major POTS episode. But at the time, I didn’t know it was a POTS episode. I was undiagnosed and blamed the whole event on myself, my interpretation of my own laziness, my inability to take care of my body.

My heart rate was sustained at 180+ BPM for close to two hours with a mess of other symptoms (nausea, blurred vision, I was white as a ghost, pain in all of my joints, etc.) and I ended up sleeping on the floor of the bathroom with gastrointestinal problems. My mom tried to take me to the emergency room but I was a headstrong teenager and refused. I reasoned that I was just having a stomach flareup and the tachycardia was a response to me being very out of shape after doing a bit of running around in the heat of summer.

Because for years, those were the things my cardiologists had told me when we asked about my tachycardia.

“You’re fine, you’re just out of shape.”

That night, my mom texted my psychiatrist, the only doctor along with my therapist who believed there might be something else at play besides “harmless” tachycardia. He told my mom to take me to urgent care as soon as possible.

They performed an EKG and they said there appeared to be nothing wrong, but sent me to the hospital where they performed an echocardiogram. Everything was structurally sound. We made appointments with my cardiologist. I didn’t get much help there.

You’re fine, Shannon. Drink more water. Add more salt to your diet. But you’re fine. Nothing’s wrong.

They did a holter monitor a few months later. They never really addressed the tachycardia, the fatigue, the chronic pain, any other symptom. They just referred back to the EKGs and echos. You’re fine, Shannon. You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine.

*

Seven years later, to the day, I just finished up my fourth conference with Dysautonomia International. …

The rest of the article may be read on dysautonothankyou

Menstruation/periods can be extra difficult with a disability

Finally, a frank conversation about disability and periods. My period arrived when I was about 12.5. It was an embarrassing day. Since then, I have wished it away. Slowly, that wish is coming true. During these 40 years of monthly bleeding, I have tried the traditional products (pads and tampons) but never alternative menstrual products (like menstrual cups/menskopp). I cannot use tampons and I would guess that I am not alone in that. Nor can I use silicone products and had no clue there were alternatives. Thankfully, crippledscholar has had experience with various menstrual products and brought the topic into the open. Like she says, there are considerations that people with disabilities have to think about that are irrelevant without disabilities. Maybe my last periods will be more comfortable than the previous ones have been.

Let’s Talk About Disability, Periods, and Alternative Menstrual Products
Posted by crippledscholar on July 8, 2016

There is so much I want to say about disability and menstruation. So much that I could never fit it into a single post. I have noticed that there is very little written about disability and menstruation generally and what little there is is most often not written by disabled people. As a result a lot of it is about control and often menstrual cessation in order to make the menstruating person more convenient for a care giver. This sometimes goes so far as sterilization of the disabled person.

The dearth of material on disability and menstruation from the disabled perspective likely has a number of influences that include the fact that menstruation is still unfortunately a taboo subject generally that people are embarrassed to talk about. Add to that the very idea of disability and sexuality is also still (somehow) widely denied. Which is, I suspect why so many nondisabled people feel so comfortable talking about period cessation as a reasonable solution to disabled people who have periods.

This focus on just stopping the whole business of menstruation is frustrating because it primarily marks the disabled body and its natural functions as too inconvenient. It also means that for those of us who do menstruate that we are left with disability specific information on how to deal with our periods.

It is the latter issue that I’m going to deal with now because the first issue while so important is just to big for me to handle right now.

I am going to talk about disability and the accessibility of alternative menstrual products.

Unfortunately, I am just one person with just one kind of disabled body and so nothing I say will have universal application. This is one of the reasons why we really need more disabled people to share their stories and experiences. If you have a different experience please share it in the comments or write your own blog post about it and share that in the comments.

Hopefully in spite of this I will have something useful to say or spark a conversation to get more voices heard because I really feel that it is essential to demystify and destigmatize not only menstruation and particularly disabled people menstruating.

For context (to see if what I say will translate well for you) I have left side hemiplegic cerebral palsy and am autistic. So most of what I have experience with is dealing with menstruation literally single handedly and the sensory aspects it entails.

I started menstruating when I was 11 and have primarily used pads as my go to feminine hygiene product. I found tampons difficult and uncomfortable for pretty much my entire childhood and teen years. I only started using them rarely when I was well into my twenties.

I have never found pads to be particularly comfortable and couldn’t manage to deal with anything other than the thinnest option. I’m still not a fan of tampons. I find the uncomfortable but sheer pragmatism has forced me to use them occasionally. I am always hyper aware of them the entire time that I do.

In the last decade or so alternatives to the standard and and tampon methods of dealing with menstruation have become more mainstream (though they have definitely existed longer than that).

Alternative period products are generally washable and reusable and are considered to be both more environmentally friendly and more cost effective.

The oldest alternative period product is probably the menstrual cup …………..

The rest of the article may be read at crippledscholar

Assigning gender and “experts”

From Hverdagstoy
From Hverdagstoy

My daughter is a woman, yet was assigned male at birth. She has given permission to tell this part of her life.

Here in Norway, even now, anything that does not involve penis-hatred, makes you a person who is not a true transgender. Until the law is changed (in the works) a person cannot legally change their gender without a full surgical change of every single gender identifying body-part. That also goes for intersex people. (This law was changed July 2016 and you no longer need a physical transition for change of legal gender) In addition, hormone treatment cannot start at the onset of puberty – even to delay puberty. Unless, you get the diagnose “F.64.0 transseksualisme” at Rikshospitalet, you will be referred to psychological services instead. So people lie about how much they abhor their bodies. Without dysphoria, no treatment.

Through most of her life my daughter has presented as female. From she was about five years old she grew her hair out. It stayed long until a hair-dresser took it into her hands to cut it off. Never went back there again. When she was about ten years old, she came to me and very clearly told me she no longer wanted to be a boy. We sat down, talked about it and figured out exactly what she meant. I said I would see what information I could find and if there was a place we could turn for help.

I called around and said something like, “I have a daughter who is experiencing …… Is there any person there who can help her.” Norway is a small country (5 mill) and our access to specialists on gender in children is small. One place that is supposed to provide such expertise is Institutt for klinisk sexologi og terapi. Its founder is considered one of Norway’s foremost experts on sexuality. His name is Thore Langfeldt. This is the person we went to, and we thought we were in safe hands.

The short and simple of this acquaintance was that Sophia needed to work through her bullying and all would be well. By “well” it was understood that Sophia would be comfortable being a boy. I am Aspergers. Eleven years ago I was leaving Mormonism and had no clue about what gender really was. I’d always (and still do) presented as non-conformative as female. The idea of gender has confused me for as far back as I can remember. Some people call that gender queer. Me, I call it me. All three factors led me to accept Langfeldt’s verdict, and Sophia’s went through many years of unnecessary identity-struggles.

How life would have been for her, if Langfeldt had listened better and been a bit wiser is impossible to say. Perhaps better. Perhaps worse. Prejudice exists everywhere. What we can know is what did happen. Because Sophia was female in all but clothing (we aren’t exactly very fashion/gender-conscious) the boys would not accept her. But neither would the girls. All because of an initial. Things got dark in periods. Suicide was often thought of and planned by Sophia. During a two-year period she even tried presenting as male. All of the symptoms of depression were there.

Finally, the autumn of 2014, Norwegian TV2 showed a documentary series called “Født i feil kropp“. She once again went to Langfeldt who claimed she was “just gay” and to not tell us. Sophia knew she was very much into women. Thankfully, she found a better shrink. One who claimed that she was one of the most obvious cases of trans-woman that he had met. She told us. No problem. Here she is, one year after starting hormone treatment, and her hormone levels are well within female levels. She looks, sounds and behaves more like the world views women than I do.

Documentary on bi-polar disorder

Some Aspergers/Autists have no co-morbid conditions. Like the general population, many of us do. One of these is Bi-polar Disorder. As with so many disorders, I wonder how people survive being bipolar and how people survive living with a person with BPD. PBS sent a one-hour documentary about highly accomplished US individuals who are diagnosed as bipolar. Not all who struggle with this disease are able to be what society considers highly accomplished. Treatment is required for a person to live an average and healthy life.

Disability vs accessibility

I have a mobility disability. Currently I am planning a trip with my husband and daughter. Having me along makes the holiday much more expensive. This is why:

  1. I need to bring my wheelchair along. That means leasing a car. My wheelchair does not fit into most cars due to its solid frame. It has that frame to make it lighter so I can lift it in and out of cars. When it comes to cars, that means I will need a car with a fairly large boot. Environmentally, I feel guilty because my imprint is much larger than a person without mobility issues.
  2. The places we stay need to have access to parking (obviously). They also need to have an alternative to stairs. It’s not that I cannot walk up stairs, but after a day of sightseeing it will be intensely painful. In fact, everything will be more painful, so I do not wish to make it worse than it will be.
  3. Some places are inaccessible to me. I am fortunate in that I can walk, so getting my chair in and out of places is a simple matter if I have a person with me (read husband/daughter/son). But once I am inside, the chair has to be accessible. That is because I cannot sit on many surfaces. It hurts too much. My wheelchair is adjusted to my body (as much as possible) and I can deal with that pain. Guided tours usually do not work for these reasons.

Being disabled is expensive. Both economically and environmentally. But I have the feeling that compared to a huge percent of the population our impact is very little. That is because we generally have to put quite a bit of planning into what we do. I would guess that is the case for most disabilities to a greater or lesser extent. This article about the twitter discussion on Lazy vs Disabled vs Environment is highly relevant and thought provoking.

So there’s a debate going on, on Twitter right now between disabled people and people who either claim to care about the environment and or just want to complain about “lazy people”

The tweet that started it all

orangegate cropped

Image Description: tweet with a picture of peeled oranges in plastic containers on a grocery store (whole foods) shelf. Tweet reads “If only nature could find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them”

The original tweet has been shared over 70,000 times. Whole Foods has apparently agreed to remove the prepeeled oranges from their stores. Environmentalists and those who hate laziness rejoice!

The problem is that this discourse completely ignores how preprepared food impacts people with disabilities. The most common complaints about the sale of these oranges is either the wastefulness of the additional packaging (which is true but somewhat misdirected as I’ll discuss later) or that anyone who buys this must be incomprehensibly lazy.

As a person with limited hand dexterity, I look at this and see an easier way to eat healthy food. I actively avoid eating oranges, not because I dislike them (they are definitely tasty) but because I have so much difficulty peeling them. Any attempt to peel an orange is likely to result in an unappetizing mess because I’ve squeezed the orange to hard while trying to maneuver it for peel removal.

I don’t have access to peeled oranges from my grocery store though I’d probably take advantage of them if I did. I do buy precut vegetables all the time because it is more convenient and safer for me to do so.

Preparing food with limited mobility is both hugely time consuming and potentially dangerous. While adapted cooking tools do exist to help offset those issues they are really expensive (I wrote about thathere).

Anything that helps make my regular acts of daily life safer and more convenient is always a plus. So I was one of a number of disabled people who pushed back against the wholesale shaming of preprepared foods. The responses I got were informative in looking at how nondisabled people disregard and try and shut down discussions of accessibility. Rebuttals to inserting disability and accessibility into the conversation included what I consider the most ridiculous attempt to maintain the moral high ground. It was,

I mean accessibility is nice and all but you know that wasn’t the thinking behind this product. It wasn’t designed for disabled people.

You know what, that’s probably entirely true. Whole foods was probably trying to cater to the convenience aspect. This is supported by the fact that the protest against the product on environmental and anti-lazy grounds was so successful.

The thing is this argument is hilariously irrelevant. In fact it shows that things don’t need to be directly conceived as accessible products to function that way. In many way things that are accidentally accessible are better than things that are specifically designed to be. This is because things that are accidentally accessible are marketed and available to everyone and are thus likely to be more easily available that an accessible product which is likely only sold in specialized stores. Seriously, accessibility that requires no thought to implement is the best.

Other arguments I got were,

Peeled oranges have a shorter shelf life so how convenient are they really?

This is true and it indicates just how much planning has to go into living while disabled. I have to plan my meals around the fresh produce I buy more strictly that others because I buy some things precut. This can be inconvenient but it pales in comparison to being forced to rely more heavily on canned or other processed foods that have a longer shelf life. My disability doesn’t disappear just because a whole head of cauliflower will last longer in my fridge than smaller prepared florettes.

and

Peeled oranges are certainly going to cost more than unpeeled and isn’t that a barrier?

Also true but here’s the thing, being disabled is expensive and costs for accessible products can be prohibitive. It is however easier to budget for the extra dollar or two that prepared fruits and vegetables are going to cost every couple weeks than the dozens or hundreds of dollars buying adapted cooking equipment will cost up front. This is a case where the cost should be the cause for protest not the cost being used as an excuse to protest the product. I’m all for my life being more affordable.

Other disabled activists dealt with other arguments. The person who argued most ardently with me was actually pretty tame and seemed more clueless than anything as they clearly didn’t think their arguments through and went away quietly when I calmly rebutted their arguments. Others were not so lucky. Things got a lot messier and ableist as Twitter user Ana Mardoll learned as she systematically tore apart those arguments (for a full view of this thread click here)

Issues arose when protesters prioritized the environment over the experiences of disabled people. Though as Ana points out those plastic food containers are hardly new. They are a ubiquitous sight at any grocery store deli housing things like artisanal cheese, salads and mac & cheese. Yet how is it that the wastefulness arguments crops up over something that is accessible, rather than the widespread use of plastic containers generally. Not to mention at least these look like the could be reused or repurposed. Where is the protest over bags of prepared salad? I guess peeling an orange is to easy but the convenience of salad in a plastic bag is to much to be denied.

Ana further points out that disability inherently comes with a greater need for product consumption. Disabled people need mobility aids and other tools that inevitably have an impact on the environment. Many of the people she encountered appeared to suggest that in the fight for the environment, disabled people are too inconvenient and should not be accommodated………

The rest of the article may be read at Crippled Scholar

Når jeg våkner…

Ingen kan forstå graden av utmattelse som oppstår ved kroniske smerter før man selv har levd med den forbannelsen.

Skynd deg langsomt

Mange tror at fibromyalgi består av smerter. Og jaggu har de rett. Det er en konstant brennende, stikkende, sviende, maurspisende smerte som jager konstant gjennom kroppen. HELE kroppen. Gjerne ispedd kraftig hodepine og/eller migrene. I forskning blir det mer og mer funnet at fibromyalgi er nervesmerter. Hvor er det du ikke har nerver i kroppen? Svært få steder. Slik ser nervesystemet vårt ut:

Nervesystemet vårt

Når man spør en med fibromyalgi hvor de ikke har vondt, får du gjerne svaret: «Håret kanskje?! Eller til nød nesen…».

I tillegg har ofte fibromyalgi-pasienter smerter i leddene og generelt i alt bløtvev i kroppen. Bindevevet til nyrer, blære, livmor, brystkassen, bryster, binyrer, milt, lunger, ja egentlig alt bindevevet over hele kroppen inkludert muskelatur. Mange har store ansikts og kjevesmerter.  Man har regelrett tannverk i hele kroppen. Ja, er det egentlig rart at fibromyalgi-pasienter tidligere ble ansett for å være hypokondere? Nei, hadde jeg truffet en person…

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The Economics Of Sex, Or, The Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility (The Establishment)

I wish there had been something like “The Establishment” when I was young. Of course, there wasn’t an Internet in the sense that we have internet today, but still. Denece Mohammad has written a great article (January 12, 2016) that brings Economics into sexual territory. It got me thinking about what I have observed in people I have met and the stories they have told. The illustrations are by Barbara Moura.

Law_of_Diminishing_Main

I have always liked economics. I’ve always been drawn to the way in which its concepts could be applied anywhere. Economics as a social science, “aims to describe the factors that determine the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.” In practice however, its theories can and have been applied throughout each sector of society.

Even in our everyday lives, we make choices based on laws of behavior that most of us are probably unaware of. Everything is governed by economic theory in one way or the other.

The law of diminishing marginal utility states that, (with all things held constant), as a person consumes more of a product, there is a decline in the additional satisfaction a person derives from consuming one additional unit of production (or marginal utility). Continual consumption will at some point result in negative incremental satisfaction. The most typical example used to demonstrate this law is the concept of an all-you-can-eat buffet, wherein the more plates you eat, the less satisfied you become by the meal, until you eventually make yourself sick.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of marginal utility lately.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.44.18 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.16.48 PM

Looking back, there is a good chance I romanticize the night that started things off. There was a party, mostly a group of us sitting around playing cards, drinking whatever we had brought, and a lot of smoking. There was some baked weed concoction passing around. We laid in bed and traded some drunken small talk, cuddling led to kisses and kisses led to sex. And that was it.

The next time I saw him, we went for drinks and fucked in the backseat of his car on the way home. We talked about making the sex exclusive that night. As is the way of commitment phobic 22 year-olds, we assured each other that we would not catch feelings. Things fizzled two months later when his presumed ex (to be fair, my presumption) visited and we agreed it was best he not see me for a while.

I must have cried a lot in this period. Or was just righteously mad. I can’t remember which it was, or the combination that carried me over months of loneliness. Other things that happened in this period: buying my first car on my own; being steadily belittled at the most meaningless of jobs; drinking, a lot; falling into a hole of depression and anxiety I hadn’t realized I had started digging.

When he did reach out I was sure that it was him (or something like him) that I needed to make things better.

Law_of_Diminishing2

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.21.55 PM

There were apologies and notes of me deserving more and him wanting to be more. There were his promises of trying to give all that I wanted, but slowly. And my promises of not wanting much. There were dates, and sex in beds, and introductions to friends. Slowly I started feeling important or at least wanting to feel important. I broke my promise first and asked for too much too soon. We decided it was best we stay friends.

I learnt about the benefits of break up sex that afternoon.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.44.18 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.24.56 PM

I had previously spent a long portion of my life lying to the people around me, and most of all, myself. Sometimes, it’s easy to slip back into the lying—like slipping on that old, worn hoodie that’s seen better days—lying that had become second nature at one point will always feel like a second skin. The best and worst parts of getting closer to people is them recognizing the lies you tell before you recognize them in yourself.

At this point in my life I was struggling with the lie I wanted desperately to believe: that I was not in love, and that I was okay with the casual nature of our relationship. We went back and forth between sleeping together and being friends, or close approximations of these.

Utility is completely subjective. In logic-driven fields of study like economics, the subjective nature of satisfaction never made much sense to me. Utility can only increase for an individual if that person considers his state of affairs improved. That said, utility is pretty difficult to measure as well. In fact, outside of theoretical discussion, utility cannot be measured among different people; it can only be said to be higher or lower from the viewpoint of an individual.

There was a moment a couple days ago: I looked in the mirror at work, adjusted my glasses and realized I didn’t quite recognize the person looking back at me. I knew it was me, but something about me looked older, more mature, a little hardened. My cheeks were slimmer, but not the slimness of my teenage years when the milk was still fresh in my face. My posture was straighter, my stance more deliberate, less casual. Can utility be subjective even to yourself?

Can your past-self derive greater satisfaction from a situation than your current-self? It would certainly seem so.

Law_of_Diminishing4

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.25.33 PM

There were no more conversations about our status at this point. We had wound up sleeping together one day and didn’t stop. There were sleep overs now, and birthday celebrations. There were introductions to parents, family breakfasts, and Valentine’s Day dinners. There were days and weekends spent in bed.

There were also anxiety attacks and accusations. There were tantrums thrown and in one particularly embarrassing night over 12 phone calls made one after the other, and none answered. There was social media stalking and interrogations of friends. In the lowest moment, I was hunched over his phone while he slept, succumbing to reading his messages instead of leaving his house. The night we broke up he told me he loved me. He told me he could marry me. He cried against my stomach as he hugged me tight. ………………………

The rest of this article may be read at The Establishment

My dad’s prostate cancer

This post has been moved from my book-blog to this one. My dad finished treatments this spring (2015) and no longer has cancer. The original article was posted 13 August 2014.

The inner workings of a male below the waist
The inner workings of a male below the waist

My dad went in to the hospital today to get his treatment schedule. First he will receive hormone (androgen deprivation) treatment with pills every day for three months, then gold will be inserted into his prostate, then an MR, then seven weeks/five days a week radiation treatment of the gland and finally injections every 12 weeks for the two years after his final radiation treatment.

His form of prostate cancer is somewhat aggressive but not very aggressive.

These treatments will in effect neuter him. So sex-life isn’t going to be the same. I do realize my parents have had one. Four children does indicate that. It’s just not something that I think about in conjunction with my parents. I think I’m feeling kind of sad that my dad is going to lose that part of his life (if he hasn’t already lost it).

How will this affect my father?

Some of the potential side-effects of his hormone treatment are:

  • Reduced or absent libido (sexual desire)
  • Impotence (erectile dysfunction)
  • Shrinking of testicles and penis
  • Hot flashes, which may get better or even go away with time
  • Breast tenderness and growth of breast tissue
  • Osteoporosis (bone thinning), which can lead to broken bones
  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Depression

In some ways I guess we could say that what he is going to go through is what women go through when they enter menopause. I am at that stage in my life and for me it hasn’t been too bad. Hopefully, the intensity of my father’s side-effects will be no worse, but it is impossible to “see” into that future.

His intermittent treatment after the end of the radiation treatment would seem to have some but not all of the above side-effects.

There is a lot of discussion about the various manners of hormone treatment, their effectiveness and their side-effects.

Side effects of his radiation treatment:

I think the type of radiation treatment my dad is going to get is called Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). There seem to be no side-effects to the treatment except for the possibility of tender skin where the beams are being shot.

Prostate cancer is common

Once a guy hits 50 his prostate gland is likely to grow without it having anything to do with cancer. By 70 eight in ten guys have enlarged prostates. My dad is 74. Some of these develop into cancer. In fact, it is the most common form of cancer among men. As with all sorts of cancer, early intervention matters along with how aggressive the cancer is. Age also matters. The older you are when you develop cancer, the likelier it is that you will survive it. Some men die of other causes without ever having known that they have developed prostate cancer.

Am I worried? NO, not even a little bit. I just wish my dad did not have to go through the process that he is about to enter. I also wish he didn’t have to be neutered. That sucks royally.

——————————————————-

Sources:

Enduring bullying – one of my heroes

This post has been moved from my book-blog to this one

Hans Petter som liten

Man, I’ve re-written this article so many times. Who knew something like this could be so difficult.

My little brother. The baby of the family. A baby who is 195 cms worth of length. I think that translates to about 6’4″ for those of you who have not yet advanced to the metric system.

We go back a long way. In fact all the way back to the time when I was about 6,5 years old. I have no memory of him being born. In fact I have very few memories of him as a very small child other than the fact that he was really cute, I wanted to bite the top of his head and we would swing him between us down the long hill from church. He loved that.

My memories of my youngest brother do not really amount to much until the time our family moved to the US. He was around 7 years old at that time and his life was about to get really tough.

You know how some kids take to bullying like ducklings take to water. Well my baby brother had the great misfortune of meeting up with some of those kids. As a seven-year old boy my brother had three things that made him stand out. The first was that he was a gentle kid (he is now a gentle man) who did his best to avoid trouble. The second was that his English was poor due to us just arriving in the US. Finally, he has dyslexia. Three gifts for a bullier. Some kids and their parents I just want to beat to a pulp.

Five years of hell ensued. How did he respond to the bullying? For one thing he never changed from being a gentle person. He just wouldn’t give in and give up. He was fiercely protective of those he loved. At one time he even took on another kid for something that kid said to me. I didn’t stop the fight. In fact I figured it would probably give him credit with the other kids. But that was and is the kind of brave person he is. If someone he loves is being hurt, he will do his best to protect that person even if it means getting hurt himself.

It’s one thing to do something like that if you are good at it – whether you fight with words or physically. But my brother has never been one who has quick come-backs or been a good fighter. Granted, all he has to do is sit on you now and he’ll probably win, but still. Fighting with words and body has never been his strength. He has paid for that a great many times.

Why would that make him my hero? It’s all about love. His love for people is so great that he is willing to risk himself (and he knows he is risking himself) for them so they might hurt less.