Q is for querulous

Welcome back to 7 sins and friends…. Have you ever felt querulous?

1. full of complaints; complaining.

2. characterized by or uttered in complaint; peevish:

a querulous tone; constant querulous reminders of things to be done.
Querulous is like a sophisticated version of whiny.
I used it in an alphabet poem, for querulous quail. And the truth is that I thought of myself and my sister as the quail. Right before that was One old orangutan’s pompous pronouncements were being ignored by many merry meercats. My sister and I and our cousins again… and the orangutan was my father. My mother did the illustration…. and it does look like my father when he was in THAT mood….

ambulating antelopes
bellies bearing beer
carrying cantelopes
deride damp deer

elegant elephants
feeling fitly fat
give generous gifts
handing hippos hats

ignorant iguanas
jealously jeer
keen kindly kites
lilting laughing leers

many merry meerkats
nearly never notice
one old orangutan’s
pompous pronouncements

querulous quail
reject reports regarding
shimmering snow snakes
tearing through tunnels

undulating ungulates
veer vivaciously
wondering why whales
xerox xylophones

yellow yaks yell
zip zap zoo!


fraud in medicine: cow thymus guinea pig

We are making a change in clinic. We ask all new patients to bring ALL the pills they take. Prescription, vitamin, supplement. Most of them don’t. So now we are telling patients that they need to bring all pills or they will be rescheduled.

I want to know what my patients are taking. My town is a delightful spectrum mix from very conservative to very liberal and some libertarians thrown in. But I look at the ingredients of the bottles.

With prescription medicines, people will say “I am on metoprolol.”

“What strength?” I say, “And is it the short acting, middle or long acting?”

Some patients: “Uh…. it’s blue. It’s a small blue round pill.”

Eye rolling would be unprofessional. I pick the lowest dose and type in “unsure dose”. “Bring it next time.”

I examine vitamin bottles. Some contain multiple herbs as well as vitamins. Most people don’t seem aware of this. Sometimes people have four different vitamins with vitamin A in them. “The fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K can build up in your tissues and people have managed to kill themselves. I would recommend you take less then you are taking.” And then there are the high dose vitamins: one with 3999% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Hello. Why is this being sold? I guess people have the right to take things that can kill them. But I wish they wouldn’t.

Supplements. I read the ingredients. One ingredient is cow thymus. “This has cow thymus in it.” I say. Medicine seems a bit vague on what the thymus does, though it is involved with myasthenia gravis: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myasthenia-gravis/multimedia/thymus-gland/img-20007802

“Oh.” says my patient.

“I am very unenthusiastic about taking cow thymus.” I say. “Unless you are working with a naturopath who has prescribed it for a compelling reason. Who prescribed it?”

“Uh, it’s not prescribed. It’s made by a good company.”

Right. Like I trust corporations. Scamming thieves and liars. Sell anything that isn’t nailed down in pill form. Including cow thymus.

My medical philosophy is as few pills as possible. Prescription, vitamin or supplement. Eat food, exercise, make friends, work well, be kind to yourself and others and avoid pills unless necessary. We don’t know how cow thymus and metoprolol interact. The FDA considers supplements to be natural, like a carrot. A pill is not a carrot. It doesn’t grow on a tree or in the ground. It has to be made by people. The supplement companies do not have to do any testing for medical safety and efficacy and I frankly hate the pills with multiple herbs in them. They have to use ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe” which is pretty lukewarm: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/. Also, kidney failure is on the rise from too many pills. Everything is metabolized by either the kidneys or the liver and kidney failure is in the top ten causes of death in the US.

And I don’t want to be a guinea pig. I don’t want to be the personal home chemistry trial of cow thymus plus metoprolol. No way. And I will bet that you don’t want to be a personal home guinea pig either.

I took the photograph with a zoom lens looking down from the dock in Port Townsend Bay in 2014.

P is for pride

Pride is the fifth of the seven sins, in our seven sins and friends.

Which of the following is a sin?

1. a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
2. the state or feeling of being proud.
3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.
4. pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself:civic pride.
5. something that causes a person or persons to be proud: His art collection was the pride of the family.
6. the best of a group, class, society, etc.: This bull is the pride of the herd.
7. the most flourishing state or period: in the pride of adulthood.

Two quotations come to my mind:
Pride goes before a fall.
Death be not proud.

Pride goes before a fall: Proverbs 16:18, King James Version, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Here is the whole chapter: http://www.christianity.com/bible/bible.php?q=Proverbs+16&ver=kjv

Proverbs 16:5 is also relevant. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

And then Death be not proud is from John Donne: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44107

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


I am ambivalent about pride. I have mixed feelings. I find it easier to be proud of my children than myself. I am aware of my faults. Also, when I am really proud of something, I am more liable to mess up! To say something arrogant, to not pay attention, to lose my keys, to hurt someone’s feelings not on purpose! An analyst wrote that in their household, whoever has the best week, the most accolades, has gotten a prize or had a really good week: that person is in charge of the cat litter box for the next week. I think that is so sensible, to keep everyone grounded and connected to the daily tasks and remind us that even if we do something brilliant, the cat litter box still needs attention and the bathroom still needs to be cleaned. It is hard to keep a swelled head while scrubbing the toilet. I am proud that my children both did chores every weekend and my son still pitches in when he is home from college!

And now… the cat is reminding me….

I took the photograph in 2012 and came across it yesterday. Sometimes we get lost in a fog of pride or fantasy or emotion……. service to others and basic tasks like cleaning ground us again…..