Monthly Archives: August 2008

Quote of the Week

A little family humor to get you started on the long holiday weekend:

Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken.
               – Bill Dodds
                  American humorist

Have a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend!

First Comes Sex…

When I was a kid, all the sitcoms showed married couples sleeping in separate beds.  Evidently, it was unseemly to show married couples sharing the same mattress, lest the idea of “sex” pop into anybody’s mind!

These days, it appears that TV finds marriage unseemly – but not the sex.

A recent study by the Parents Television Council shows that marriage gets little respect on network television.  Instead, extra-marital, kinky sex, partner-swapping, and pedophilia are more likely to get center screen.

The report said that visual references to practices such as voyeurism and sado-masochistic sex outnumbered married sex references by a ratio approaching 3 to 1.  The report contends “Behavior that once was seen as fringe, immoral, or socially destructive has been given the imprimatur of acceptability by the television industry and children are absorbing or even imitating it.”

When parents want to identify and block such programs via the V-Chip, they’re lulled into complacency by the inaccurate and inconsistent designations, such as “S,” signaling sexual content.

The programs the Parents Television Council included in their report were from four weeks of scripted shows on the major networks at the start of the 2007-2008 season.  ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, and NBC, the networks in the study, all declined to comment.

It’s disgusting that the so-called “family hour,” the first hour of prime-time TV, which draws the most young viewers, contains the highest ratio of references to non-married sex vs. married sex.

Respect for Elders, Part 2

I received a ton of mail about the call I described in yesterday’s blog.  The following letter from a listener is representative of the wide range of reactions people had to that call:

Dr. Laura:
While listening to your program with my incredibly sexy husband yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel some sadness and frustration toward the caller who resented her loved one with dementia.

My grandparents, who will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in just over a month, are currently battling dementia, and watching the progression of the disease can be heart-wrenching.  I spent so much time with my “Pop” and “Mi-mommy,” learning important principles like “Can’t never could do anything,” and “pretty is as pretty does.”  They were known by others for their compassion, kindness, and wonderful wit.

They both began experiencing symptoms of dementia about three years ago, with simple forgetfulness turning into frequent short-term memory loss and the loss of the ability to perform simple tasks.  Dementia is a progressive illness, and although they battle it with all their might by taking medications to help slow the disease, we can see the constant decline.  Resentment has not been a feeling anyone has expressed.

When my grandfather tells the same story 5 or 6 times in a 30-minute period, we listen like it is the first time we’ve ever heard it told.  When my grandmother weaves together in her mind multiple stories and comes up with a muddled collage of a past experience, we engage her and help her to recall the old memories.  When they are struggling to remember how to pour water in a glass or operate the TV, we patiently help them recall.  We don’t do it out of obligation or even to keep from feeling guilty.  We do it because, years ago,  THEY taught us to show kindness and love and compassion.

I work in hospice, and on a professional level, I know all too well the course this mean, aggressive disease takes.  I cherish every moment that they can tell me a story, and I will treasure every time I hug them and they know who I am.  I know that one day, I will sit down and hold their hands and they won’t be able to tell a story, and they won’t know who I am.  They won’t be able to hold their heads up or smile, but I will still be there with them, because that’s the person they have helped me to become.  If I sat with them and listened to them and held their hands every day for the rest of my life, there is no way I could repay them for what they have given me.

In October, I’ll be walking in the Alzheimer’s  Association  Memory Walk (http://www.alz.org/memorywalk/) in honor of my grandparents.  I will do everything I can to fight this brutal disease and I beg those in our society to think about the compassion we owe our fellow man.  A wise physician I once worked with said “The measure of a society can be seen in how we treat our young, our old, and our dying.”  I pray that our society does not let me down, and that we treat our elders with the love, respect and dignity they deserve.

Striving to be half as wonderful as my grandparents,

Alison

Respect for Elders

I was a bit flabbergasted when a recent caller to my radio program described how incredibly resentful she was that her elderly aunt, deep in Alzheimer’s Disease, would repeat and repeat and repeat old history again and again and again.  This caller was furious that her aunt wouldn’t recognize her, wouldn’t deal with the here and now, and was so “unbelievably annoying with the same old stories.”

What pressed my “flabbergasted” button the most was that this caller had been neglected and abandoned by her mother and father and had been raised by this aunt.  Notions of gratitude, graciousness, patience and, above all, respect seemed beyond her view, as she was simply focused on what she wasn’t getting from her aunt now.  This caller was no sensitive, confused, naïve teenager – she was in her late forties!

I explained that the word shouldn’t be “wouldn’t;” it is, indeed, “couldn’t.”  It was as though the caller was hauling her resentment about her abandonment by her parents into this “mental abandonment” by her aunt, and making the decision not to see her aunt anymore out of ancient, misplaced rage.

By the end of the call, I think she understood and realized that, as uncomfortable and annoying as her aunt’s behavior might be, she was as honor-bound to be there for her aunt, as the aunt had been there for her.

Olympic Stories

Matthew Syed, a former international table tennis player who represented Great Britain in two Olympic Games, wrote a list for the TimesOnline (7/15/08) of the Top 50 Greatest Olympic Games Moments.  These are some of his choices (in no particular order):

1. In London (1908), Wyndham Halswell from Scotland won the 400 meters as the sole runner.  In the initial “final” race two days earlier, officials declared the race void and ordered a re-run when it was deemed that two Americans had conspired to block him from passing.   In the rescheduled race, all the other competitors refused to run against him, allowing him to take the gold.

2. In St. Louis (1904) US gymnast George Eyser won two golds, a silver and a bronze.  What’s the big deal?  He had a wooden leg.

3. In Munich (1972), the U.S. basketball team, going into the final with Russia, had been unbeaten in 63 Olympic matches.  With three seconds remaining, Russia led 49-48, when a foul was awarded to the U.S.  They nailed the first two shots, but a horn blew during the second shot.  The third shot failed, and the Americans started to celebrate their 50-49 win.  But an official said he had whistled for play to stop after hearing the earlier horn, and the Russians said that they had requested a timeout before the shots were attempted.  The referee ordered the clock to be reset to 3 seconds to replay the inbound.  Russia failed to score.  Then the officials said that the clock was still in the process of being reset when the referee put the ball in play!  The Secretary General of the International Basketball Federation, stepped in and ordered the clock to be reset to 3 seconds and the inbound replayed.  The Russians scored and were crowned champions.  The Americans refused, unsurprisingly, to turn up at the medal ceremony.  The silver medals still sit, unclaimed, in a vault at the International Olympic Committee headquarters, and some members of the American team have written in their wills that no member of their families may claim the medals after their death.

4. At the Games in Rome (1960), Ethiopian Abebe Bikila became the first runner representing an African nation to win gold in the marathon at the Olympics.  He did it barefoot, and set a world record in the process.

For more Top Olympic moments, go to: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4316031.ece?token=null&offset=0&page=1

It’s Not Over Until …

As I have mentioned on the air many times, I race sailboats.  I’ve won some races and lost some, but the favorite wins have been the ones that I least expected would or could happen.  I remember the time that we were over early at the start and had to do a penalty turn of 360 degrees, after getting out of the way of the other starting boats.  We had a heck of a time starting again, as, by the time we finished our penalty turn, many boats were already in our way. 

This incident happened early on in my sailing training, and I became despondent almost immediately, because I realized we now had absolutely no chance of even a third place finish, let alone a first.  My coach and tactician sternly yanked me out of my doldrums and told me that we were “down but not out,” and we had to work even harder now to catch up.  Frankly, I thought this was philosophically lovely, but hugely impractical, and I could barely see the sterns of the boats in front of us as they had so much distance on us.

Nonetheless, after considering breeze, windshifts, current, direction choices, steering, and crew work, there were enough variables to work with to keep our chins up. 

We pulled together as a team, and worked very hard to maximize every option we had, and we ended up winning the race.  I learned a lot that day.  It’s a lot more gratifying to succeed when it is a righteous challenge than when it seems like more of a slam dunk.

Jason Lezak knew this lesson.  Fifty meters from the finish line in the 4x 100 meter freestyle relay at the Beijing Olympics, Mr. Lezak doubted he could overcome the half-body length lead of his French opponent, Alain Bernard, who also happened to hold the world record in the 100-meter freestyle.

Instead of just accepting the probable loss, a determined Mr. Lezak pulled grit from down deep, and swam the fastest he’s ever done, and touched the electronically sensored wall, winning by eight one-hundredths of a second.  He shattered a world record and won a gold medal. 

And then he heard the fat lady sing…the American national anthem!

Fat by 40

No, I don’t mean by the age of forty; I mean that if the trends of the past thirty years continue, it’s possible that every American adult could be overweight forty years from now.  This is the warning coming from the Federal government’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  You can read all about this in the journal Obesity (online 7/24/08).

They estimate that 86% of American adults will be overweight by 2030, with an obesity rate of 51%.  By 2048, all U.S. adults could be at least mildly overweight, a/k/a fat.

The researchers also estimate that the healthcare costs directly related to excess body weight will double each decade, and reach almost $1 trillion in 2030, accounting for at least one of every six healthcare dollars spent in the USA.

Being fat is voluntary.  Healthcare costs are skyrocketing, largely because people “volunteer” to move less and eat more.  Our Presidential candidates can mull over healthcare plans, but we need to take more personal responsibility for the state of our own health.