Monthly Archives: February 2008

>The Health Ostrich

>Is it just me? Or is everything we have to say or write about health embarrassing?

It seems wrong to be constantly complaining about how one aches, or does or doesn’t digest food, or feels dizzy or slow.

Maybe it is this: I have begun to assume that any malady effecting me, after 50 or after 55, is just me getting old. That’s the sum of the sickness and I just have to suck it up and get used to it.

Lately, this has turned out to be a terribly dangerous path.

I am chastened to say this, so here goes: For the last few months, really since November, I have been dizzy, really dizzy. The kind of wobbly where when I get up, I have to hold the wall. I have to take my Pilates classes and position myself near the wall. I have had to sit up in bed and focus on a point in the distance before getting up to go pee. And also embarrassing, I have been getting up wobbly every ninety minutes for the same three months.

I attributed ALL OF THIS to getting old or older. “Get used to it girl, and get on with it,” I counseled coldly. “OK so you will no longer have uninterrupted sleep. You did it with babies — you can do it now.”

Dizzy, NO you CANNOT STOP EXERCISING. You have to push yourself. DO more, not less. There goes that horrible Puritan part of me, not my mother’s Italian heritage, that says, YOU ARE LAZY, just do more!!!

And so I did. I cooked for 36 at Thanksgiving and kept up a frantic pace through Christmas and the New Year. I loaded wood and wrote and edited for a friend who had a stroke. I kept riding my bike uptown and downtown and I just got more unstable and tippy.

I went to the doctor for a check up and she did blood work that indicated I had an infection somewhere in my system. But I didn’t want to take antibiotics on a whim. I’ll beat this on my own I crowed. And two weeks later it was no better, really: IT WAS WORSE. And my doctor said, after the urine culture came back positive for infection, “OK, NOW YOU GO ON CIPRO! No more fooling around. What is the matter with you anyway? ”

I know the answer, but my doctor is 12 and I don’t think she’ll get it. I was trying to be tough, to make my body heal itself. That is one part of the answer, the other piece, and this is so sad: I thought this was who I had become with age and this was who I was going to be from now on. Another side effect of aging, like the white hair I color, or the less than vigorous body, which I attempt to tone up with exercise and occasional good eating. But the frequent visits to the loo, as the Brits say, well I was going to get used to that.

My doctor screamed at me, “Having to pee every ninety minutes is not frequent, that is insane. Having to stabilize yourself using a wall is crazy and not what it means to be middle aged. It is a sign you are ill, that you have an infection!”

And so I sheepishly rode my bike home from the doctor, went and filled my prescription and prepared to go back to work. WHAT? Well they are firing lots of people at work and it scares me that I may lose my job with the economy on the skids and a kid still in college. So I went back in until the February issue was sent to the printer. Then I went home and cooked dinner and today I rode my bike, not bundled well enough, to Pilates and now I am home writing in a big fluffy blanket feeling a little better. Thank You.

Tomorrow I am going to write, cull through magazines and eschew exercise, cooking, maybe even worrying and just give myself a well-deserved DAY OFF.

I need to recognize sooner when I am in trouble. health wise. I once shared with a close friend the sensation that I often couldn’t tell if I was upside down or upright. It was my way of conveying how confused I get with all aspects of life. When she moved last year from NYC to SF she gave me a small artwork done by a friend. It is a faux packing tag that reads, “This end up “ with an arrow that points down.

I have to move the tag to where I can see it and allow it to remind me that I can be just fine if I allow for the fact that middle-aged people do get sick and wobble and they recover. They return to stand up right with no grasping at walls. That is not my fate for the next 30 years or whatever I get.

I know too many people who are hypochondriacs, but the opposite is just as dangerous. I think I may be just old enough to take a moment to check out how I feel without it being about my failing middle aged health, but rather just a moment in time where I don’t feel too swift and I am going to get some well deserved help.

>Hearing the passion in Obama’s Downtown supporters


I have lived in Tribeca for over 30 years and certainly in its graying, last decade, when its residents either got just older, or older and riche, it has seemed as if my neighborhood was a very indifferent place, politically.

Many of us who came of age in the Mark Rudd, S.D.S. anit-war protests of the ’60s and ’70s, of late have tread the road more taken. The political apathy of the generation formerly known as activist, rabble rousers is renowned — as we are more often cited for parenting vigor or traveling aggressively. But on Monday night, the official observance of Martin Luther King’s birthday, and the same night that three Democratic candidates were slinging mud in a debate, there was a political meeting in Tribeca.

It was the brain child of an unlikely foursome: Downtown resident Ruth Charney who offered her big loft in the old Bob DeNiro, Harvey Keitel building on Hudson St.; activist comedian Reno who is the resident celebrity in my building on North Moore St.; long time Obama friend, and supporter, the lawyer David Carden; and the final member being economist Jeffrey Shafer, currently the head economist and political strategist at Citigroup’s global banking division. These four had met at a previous Obama rally, and Jeffrey Shafer and Reno concluded that if the Obama movement could bring together souls as disparate as they are, then there must be something more happening. And so they endeavored to set up a Tribeca meeting designed to allow undecided voters to gather information about Barack Obama, the man and candidate.

Reno acted as the emcee managing the crowd of over 75, who took chairs, leaned against walls or lounged with kids or dogs on the loft floor. She took pot shots at the current administration and other politicians, as well as herself referencing her well-known lesbian activist roots: “I thought I had to be for Hillary because, well she is a woman and I am a woman, at least ‘menza menza’ I am a woman. But we asked people to come and hear about Obama, people who might be on the fence.” The meeting took off when Jeffrey Shafer, under secretary of international affairs in the Clinton administration’s Treasury Dept., told why he was supporting Obama. The distillate of Shafer’s path to Obama involved reading Obama’s books and simultaneously writing to the Hillary Clinton campaign with ideas, and getting no response from her advisors. In a 20-minute presentation involving great quotes, and personal stories, the essence emerged. Shafer came to the conclusion that, “Obama understands how other people see the world. He understands that unity is the great need of the hour.”

David Carden followed; a thin man, brimming over with facts, experience and information all strung together with an intelligence that heated the room. Carden unfolded his path toward supporting Obama and recounted how strongly he feels that we must have inspiration and real intelligence in out next president if we are to in any way redeem our country in the eyes of the world. Carden said, “If you had asked me 22 years ago, when my wife was working at the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago and Obama was organizing on the South Side of Chicago, if this man could be president, I would have said, yes. Let me tell you why. He is the best listener I have ever seen. He emits empathy and intelligence. This is what led Obama to stay in the business of other people’s business, which is what politics is.”

The formal presentations ended and the questions, queries and worries from the audience began to pour out. A variety of neighbors questioned electability, experience and even specific votes for both Hillary and Obama. There was a sense from some attendees that the evening had turned from fact finding to a rally for Obama. And it certainly was difficult not to be caught up in the passion evinced by Shafer, Carden and some other guests who had been in Iowa canvassing for Obama. Carden’s retelling of the Iowa trip was moving as he recounted the personal stories of those he met. He concluded with this: “We need a shared mythology. We are the stories we tell and we are also the stories others tell us.”

Certainly this evening, when dozens of neighbors rallied to share their thoughts, ideas and stories, had gone a long way to providing the assembled with both facts and the effect surrounding Barack Obama. It also had perhaps the unintended effect of uniting us as a community. We forget that we have to listen to our neighbors, know their stories, as well as our own and respect our differences and the vibrant similarities.

Yes, information was shared, but the energy, the belief that we can still be passionate was the most important byproduct for this too often apathetic voter.