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A Cautionary Note re: Hypoglycemic Psychosis

Ithe-end-randall-ciotti

Image: “The End Print” by Randall Ciotti. Available  on FineArtAmerica.com

So, just a cautionary note if you, or someone you know (or might know in the future) is diabetic. If one’s blood sugar drops low enough, the condition known as acute hypoglycemia, they might… let’s say “wig out.”

Wow.  I’m writing with a quite painful cracked rib after falling during my first psychotic event a couple of nights back. At least my wife told me I fell, and fell multiple times. I just remember being in a space like that pictured above: monochromatic shades of red, gray, and black, no up or down, thrashing and trying to find something – anything – with which to anchor myself.

Under the particular and highly unusual circumstances my wife thought that I was hilariously, if not dangerously “high.” If she had known the truth she would have been calling 911 WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD DO FOR SOMEONE MANIFESTING PSYCHOTIC BEHAVIOUR. And if you know that they are diabetic, try to safely get some sugar into them immediately.

With the help of a continuous glucose monitor (cgm) I manage my diabetes fairly well but this was a “perfect storm” type event. I had been out of glucose sensors for several weeks. After dinner, having set my dessert aside for later, I ran some errands to include a stop at our neighborhood marijuana dispensary for my semi-annual CBD supplies. While doing errands, I felt my blood sugar dropping and rather than popping a couple of glucose tabs returned straight home to take corrective action. That’s the last I remember, but piecing the evidence together the next day the corrective action taken was to eat my dessert (orange jello with those little tinned mandarin sections) and go upstairs to lie down while things balanced out.

Someone experiencing hypoglycemia may not think things through carefully. Despite the fact that I had made the jello, a rare event in our house unless someone is sick, in the moment I failed to remember that I was testing a “sugar-free” formulation.

“Sugar-free” gelatin does nothing to raise one’s blood sugar. I spiraled down and down into psychosis.

My wife found me growling at the cat sleeping on the corner of the bed.

Knowing that I had visited the marijuana dispensary she surmised that I had taken something recreationally, and too much of it. It would be very unusual but plausible – just plausible enough that hypoglycemia did not occur to her, and neither of us had previously heard of hypoglycemic psychosis. Apparently I answered her inquiries asserting that “I hadn’t taken anything” but it was equally apparent that I was “three sheets to the wind.”

Fortunately, those little mandarin orange sections were not sugar free. Eventually sufficient sugars from them brought me back to an impaired reality where I could just mutter “blood sugars.”

From there we proceeded to take normal corrective actions. But boy did I hurt the next day.

Ironically, the sensors for my CGM which would have avoided the entire incident arrived in the morning.

So just something to file away that I hope you’ll never need.

Special thanks to Ben Constance, M.D., for his advice and support to my wife.

Remembering Evil in a Time of Plague

For some years I’ve followed a young woman on social media that goes by the curious nom de plume “historicity (was already taken).” Her posts are invariably articulate and erudite; her post today was also thoughtful and provocative. I share it here:

The US has had 192,000 #COVID19 fatalities, the vast majority of them preventable. Today is the 19th anniversary of 9/11, and a frequent talking point I’ve seen is that the #COVID19 death rate is now 64.5 times that of the 9/11 death toll not including those murdered in ensuing US imperialist wars, or those who died after 9/11/01-related injuries and illnesses. And you know, 9/11 has the place that it does in the USA’s national consciousness in that it commemorates not simply deaths, but a national trauma; the US being attacked on its own soil. It happened in WW2 as well, but I don’t think that one was as keenly felt because it happened in Hawaii, and not on the mainland, so to speak [and there’s a whole Conversation there that I’m ignoring for now].

And of course, it’s in the state apparatus’ best interest to keep that trauma fresh, because it fuels public support for ongoing imperialist wars, and ongoing demonetization of Islam and Muslims. Now, I do get upset on 9/11. Not because it represents a chink in the armor of American imperialism, but because I was an intern at the September 11 Memorial and Museum for 8 months back when it was still in its development stage. I want to avoid graphic descriptions but I got to know on a very intimate level who was in those offices, what happened inside them above and below the impact points, how people treated one another in those last moments, etc. That humanity, and the horror of learning the stories of people in the last minutes of their lives when they KNEW they were in the last minutes of their lives is why this say will always be difficult for me. I imagine many New Yorkers and DC residents feel similarly. Likewise, as I’ve delved deeper into my study of the Holocaust the more intimate it gets; because I’m truly starting to see and understand the humanity and individuals behind that big scary figure of “Six Million.” So, I propose that we, the friends, family, and loved ones of those killed by #COVID19 get loud, and get intimate. Tell everyone about the last hours of your loved one’s life. Tell people who they were, what they were about, if they were recently married or had kids, what their goals were, their hopes, their dreams, their last words. Scream it from the rooftops. MAKE these fools see it and hear it. Make them look directly at a healthy 30-something, someone’s beloved grandpa who just paid off his house, the fireman, etc who died unnecessarily. I’m not proponent of misery porn but people are saying that the #COVID19 death toll is x many times that of 9/11, so let’s take that and make it something real, and something devastating. Maybe that will flatten the curve. Maybe that will get people to wear masks. Maybe it’ll give rise to a conspiracy theory that the pandemic in the US was an “inside job” which…it kind of was (unamused lol). In my time working with hopeless traumatic shit which makes you question humanity and also the meaning of life the first step to making anyone else feel it, is through the loud and repeated stories of these intimate moments. Get on twitter, make it a hashtag, and go.

Amidst a pandemic and civil unrest, a family visit.

JULY 28, 2020

For our anniversary, tired of hearing my annual whining about having to repair / refurnish our K-Mart gas grill, my wife bought me a high end item. For Father’s Day, I received grill tools from my daughter and son-in-law . Today and tomorrow they are...For our anniversary, tired of hearing my annual whining about having to repair / refurnish our K-Mart gas grill, my wife bought me a high end item. For Father’s Day, I received grill tools from my daughter and son-in-law . Today and tomorrow they are visiting from out of state. They are the first people other than my wife for whom I’ve had the pleasure of cooking since the pandemic began.

Tonight’s menu is that posted above. Tomorrow night will be:

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Yeah, I’m humble bragging. But dang it’s good to serve someone again. NB – Yes, on tonight’s menu I misspelled “vermouths,” and the lamb loin chops were a added, and then dropped, when other guests I thought might be stopping by tonight decided to come by tomorrow. The Pinot was the 2014 Chateau St. Jean, I did the Green Goddess dressing with a touch of jalapeno, and we couldn’t even make it to the sparkling wine or following drinks.

JULY 28, 2020

USDA FOUND NO WRONG-DOING, SAYS MEAT INSTITUTE PRESIDENT “ Capt. Louis Renault: I’m shocked, shocked, that there is gambling in this establishment. Waiter: Sir, here are your winnings. “Casablanca,” 1942 ”

USDA FOUND NO WRONG-DOING, SAYS MEAT INSTITUTE PRESIDENT

Capt. Louis Renault: I’m shocked, shocked, that there is gambling in this establishment.

Waiter: Sir, here are your winnings.

“Casablanca,” 1942

JULY 27, 2020

natotack:

odinsblog:

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67 minutes.

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remember his mother’s name too: Mamie Till Mobley

she worked tirelessly for *decades* after his death to make sure that he and other victims of racial violence would not be ignored or forgotten

Off topic, but…

Remember

(via modern-politics111)

JULY 23, 2020

How Has the Pandemic Affected Food Prices? (Click the “headline” to link to the article on the National Farmers Union blog) We can all readily see the impact on restaurants and their staff, but the structural changes behind that are less readily...

How Has the Pandemic Affected Food Prices?

(Click the “headline” to link to the article on the National Farmers Union blog)

We can all readily see the impact on restaurants and their staff, but the structural changes behind that are less readily visible. And then, there is this graphic:

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Lobster? We have lobster farms? Folks, I follow commercial aquaculture but pretty loosely, and don’t believe I’ve posted on the topic for awhile, but did any of you know about this?

JULY 21, 2020
Dear Science Side of Tumblr:

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Well, I’m back from my always too short sojourn on the prairie, but I want to thank all of you who responded to my recent “Shout Out” for help. Special thanks to herestothehalcyon and yikesalert. The material available on the web on an open source basis is incredible. I was really pushing for open source textbooks and materials about 15 years ago, but where they’ve really been a hit is not in the U.S. or developed Anglophone world, but in developing countries!

Now I just need to gather the energy to practice what I’m learning.

The support is really appreciated.

JULY 21, 2020

lady-em:

northernlib:

Trump’s unidentified secret police force was not prepared to meet this guy.

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I plan to be in Portland sometime next week. To enter and occupy a city, without the request of either Mayor or Governor, should chill everyone – including Conservatives if there are any true Conservatives left – to the bone. The precedent is now established. The next “Occupy” movement will be just that.

(via pacificnorthwestdoodles)

JULY 18, 2020

This is not promising…

ICE is holding a citizens academy in Chicago. Mayor, lawmakers say ‘vigilantes’ aren’t welcome

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Off topic, but…

A shoutout to my niece whose FB post brought this to my attention. If you know 20th C. European history this will come as a concern to you. If you don’t, this article might help.

If you do not concur, I would welcome a dialogue. Basic question: am I being alarmist?

JULY 16, 2020

terryfuck:

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this is 100% why i never fucked with that “normcore” nonsense and why i’m still extremely self-conscious about what i wear and how my clothes fit, even after my weight loss. wearing “normal” clothes only becomes “fashion” when it’s on skinny attractive people and once it’s on a fat person it’s suddenly the trappings of the tacky and the unwashed poors. fuck out of here. you can make anything look good.

Nothing I can add.

(via gardencorekid)

JULY 15, 2020

Most Americans believe Russia targeted U.S. soldiers, want sanctions in response – Reuters/Ipsos pollOff topic, but….

Sometimes I have to veer into international relations, particularly with Russia or Eastern Europe. Trump has yet to condemn this, and “Moscow Mitch” McConnell has yet to call him out.

Tumbloggers are good about calling out the U.S. when it steps over a moral line. This is another time to do so.

(Source: modern-politics111)

JULY 14, 2020

Farmers and animal rights activists are coming together to fight big factory farms I can’t imagine Democrats making substantial gains in farm country, but if they do, this may be the wedge issue.

Farmers and animal rights activists are coming together to fight big factory farms

I can’t imagine Democrats making substantial gains in farm country, but if they do, this may be the wedge issue.

Liked posts on Tumblr:More liked posts »

Advent 2019 – Year End Report of the Ben And Marj Shomshor Family

(Ben writing this year…)

Fortunately, I was unable to see Marj’s expression. Two days before Thanksgiving she stood behind the bed in ER as the priest set out the necessities for the Sacrament of Holy Unction. Perhaps recognizing a certain trepidation on Marj’s face he quickly explained that our Holy Unction sacrament wasn’t quite the same as Extreme Unction in the western church; ours was a healing sacrament and didn’t imply that …. well, you get the idea. There may be something to it. With the grace of God and copious IV antibiotics, and perhaps a bit of whining on my part, I was released on Thanksgiving day. More significantly, within several days I awoke feeling nominally better than the day before. And so again the next day, and the day after. I’ve not been able to say that for over 18 months. 

2019 has been a year of many adventures, many of them fun and exciting while others were just eventful. Marj and I are still one, together and alive after 49 years, 41 of them in marriage. (Hrmph; and my Aunt told my future mother-in-law that she wouldn’t be getting us much for the wedding. ‘These things never last these days.’)

What happens when you get project managers together on a cold January weekend in Des Moines, Iowa?  The bride and mothers made all the plans for the wedding and two receptions. This included names and addresses for the guest lists, decoration ideas, and menus. Finally, the perfect wedding dress was found. They tell me that when a mantilla was placed atop Sasha’s head, the room fell silent as she whispered “It’s actually real isn’t it. Sean loves me. I’m going to be a bride.”

My health forced us to cancel a January trip to San Antonio but we were able to escort a couple of international students to Los Angeles over President’s Day weekend. Normally, I delight in showing off LA  – or anywhere in America – but these girls were unusually independent and preferred to “do their own thing.” Nor were they up for the hostelling experience. Or maybe they just weren’t up for South Central LA. But I certainly enjoyed our time at the Anderson Estate hostel, and my evenings at The Living Room bar on Crenshaw. 

Haven’t heard of The Living Room? Call ahead to see if there is music that night, and if so, get there early. Great jazz. I first went on a night when the stage was dark but had some nice chats. Mentioned to the bartender that “it’s great to be out.” She responded “Hey, good for you. What were you in for?” She was even more sympathetic when  I explained that I was actually in town chaperoning some high school students. A little more context: You can’t get a Manhattan at The Living Room (no bitters or vermouth) but you can get a Hennessy with coke. Just saying.

March 17th found the Murphy and Shomshor families in Las Vegas for an outdoor gazebo wedding hosted by Elvis. I’d long given up hope that Sasha would be married before a priest, and given the stress that goes into wedding planning (particularly mother – daughter tensions) a destination wedding made perfect sense. Just before the wedding Marj tried to convince Sean that he should be the one to change his last name to Shomshor so they could be Sean and Sasha Shomshor (can you say tongue twister), but he declined.  To tell the truth, Sasha was looking forward to filling in fewer bubble dots on test papers. Nevertheless, everyone had a great time and now both of our children are officially out of the nest. Special thanks to cousin Chad and his wife Shauna who hosted a lovely reception at their home.

Since the wedding was only for immediate family we wanted to share our joy with others so in June there was a pig roast reception (special thanks to Jerry and Nancy Low, and classmates Julie and Lorrie)  at the Fremont State Lakes. Later in August we had a taco bar extraordinaire reception here in Olympia. Marj had been working on the garden for months in preparation. For me, catering my daughter’s reception was on par with how other men might anticipate the Father-Daughter dance. Regrettably, I was admitted to the hospital the day prior with raging sepsis (the first, and worst, of several similar events.) Giving Marj instructions from my ER bed at 1:30am (which included pulling the frozen police from the canning kitchen’s freezer and later finding the tequila – God loves spell check as I believe it is his sense of humor) she marshalled our incredibly talented friends and family to set-up,  mix fresh Margaritas, and prepare lime-cilantro rice, blackened fish tacos, turquia con mole, and bitter-orange pork carnitas. (Suzan, Katya, Nadine, Garry, Dani, and Jeremy, we can never thank you enough.) Sasha’s wedding dress and Sean’s new suit received plenty of wear at all three occasions and the leftovers were well received by the staff on the hospital floor. 

I’d never heard of a “bomb cyclone,” but while we were flying off to Las Vegas this “perfect storm” pushed the Platte River out of its banks and spread debris and fine Valentine sand on roughly 80 acres of our farm near Ames. In some areas the sand was up to 3 feet deep. I described it as being given about 30 acres of beach. Not beach front, of course, just beach. While the farmhouse was miraculously spared our beloved remodeled chicken coop/cabin was not.  Marj and a couple of workers spent 40+ hours in April removing all the mud and mopping and sanitizing the floor but it was not until October that we discovered that there was water under the flooring. We are currently dealing with that. The good news is that as we write this letter excavators are in the fields moving the sand and revitalizing the soil so hopefully most of the acres will be in production next summer. As we flew home mid-October looking out our plane window we saw many fields with standing water in them so we are counting our blessings.  The flooding has provided a great learning opportunity for Marj as she learns about managing soil health and the process of recovering from a flood. Who said you can’t teach an old dog’s new tricks?    

The biggest change for me came this spring. While our youngest child went off to University in 2010, it wasn’t until this March that we truly became “empty nesters.” WeI’d kept the house – and the table – full with boarders, students, and the occasional “unhoused” individuals. A sudden convergence of departures (or disasters) prompted us to reconsider our business model. It’s been quite a change, particularly for me. I’ve not cooked meals for two in over thirty years. (Tip: Don’t. Cook for four or six, and schedule and freeze the leftovers. Or eat the same thing two nights in the same week.) Things are starting to settle down now and I’ve had the pleasure of cooking with Marj instead of just for her for the first time in many years.

While planting and harvest on the plains was trying this year, the home garden and orchard need pretty well. No plums this year, nor sweet cherries, but we did manage to score both sweet cherries and apricots on our way back through eastern Washington. Didn’t get kraut done this year, but with Marj’s help did get some fermented pickles in the crock. 

It seems that at a certain age people start considering their “bucket lists.” While I’ve done pretty much anything I ever wanted to accomplish (and maybe I’ll just have to accept that learning Russian, Latin, and Calculus just isn’t going to happen) Marj has postponed some things that matter to her. She managed to mark off a big one this fall. 

When we were growing up we both watched an enormously popular nature show sponsored by Mutual of Omaha, “Wild Kingdom.” The show was not exclusive to a particular area but certainly featured plenty of African mega-fauna. And while I may have been happy with seeing Giraffes and Wildebeests at the Zoos in Kansas City and Omaha (and while she doesn’t remember one of our best all-time dates, sunbears at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo) Marj has always wanted to see them in — well, Africa. (Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for a nature show of comparable quality and longevity covering lichens, liverworts, and slime molds, and I’m quite happy just looking down at my feet.)

After all the wedding activities Marj decided she needed a bit of a break.  Since I was not interested in joining her we called upon the best man from our wedding to step in and escort.  Ric Chantry graciously agreed. First stop was Rome as this was on Ric’s bucket list. Word of advice – don’t do Rome in August, especially not this past August: hot and way too many people.  Nevertheless, together Ric and Marj explored the many sites of Rome, walking 5+ miles each day. After three days the two headed down to Niarobi, Kenya and much cooler weather at 6000+ feet. 

The first few days were spent seeing the sites in and around Nairobi: an elephant orphanage, giraffe center, Karen Blixin’s (aka Isak Dinesen of “Out of Africa” fame) museum and house, making of Kazuri beads and learning how to barter for souvenirs. Ric is an old African hand. After a couple of days Ric and Marj were joined by two other Nebraskans: Don Wesely and Michele Casanova and for the next 9 days they traveled Kenya seeing many animals, fabulous landscapes, a gorgeous sunrise and miles and miles of very bumpy roads.

Don Young, an old college friend and history major, is in the business of providing high-end photographic safaris. Turns out his father used to work for Marj’s father back in the 60’s. This interesting fact everyone learned on the first night of introductions as we explained how we knew each other and where we grew up.  Who said the world is not a small place? If you are interested in hearing more about Marj’s trip she has put together a wonderful photo album that she would love to share or check out her photos on Facebook.

I’ve had my own “adventures.”  In 2015 my daughter looked me in the eye and told me that if I wanted to accomplish something in life besides work, I should consider retiring sooner rather than later. As she was sitting at the end of my hospital bed it was a persuasive argument and so I retired in 2016 due to failing health. I’d imagined getting better and doing the many other things I wanted: writing on food systems and agricultural politics, coaching high school students for ethics competitions, participating in mushroom clubs, garden societies, and world affairs councils. Sitting in on jazz jams. Well, at least I imagined that. Unfortunately, it’s been pretty much a downhill slide. The second half of 2019 has been particularly challenging. It appears that a long term autoimmune condition began to affect my kidneys.  In any event I’ve had at least one hospital stay each month since June. At this time we do not have any real answers as to what is going on nor do I anticipate hard conclusions. In the last few days I’m doing better, responding to some therapies and considering others. Marj asks that you keep your fingers crossed and keep sending prayers this way. I would remind us that ultimately we pray that “[His] will be done.” But I wouldn’t have made it this far were it not for my family and friends, including my siblings that I fail to acknowledge enough. Bill, Mimi, thanks. 

I would be remiss if I failed to share with you a few items I’ve learned from these experiences.

  • Keep a medical thermometer at home. Don’t try to substitute a soil or oven thermometer. Go on in to ER when your fever hits 100.5 F. 
  • When hospitalized, be a good patient. Chat with the staff about their lives. Ask what you can do as a patient to make their job easier. Then do those things.
  • Five years ago, pain management was a major goal in ERs. Now you have to explain to a physician how to diagnose chronic pancreatitis. 
  • If you have a “complex” medical history carry a summary of events, diagnoses, and procedures with you when traveling. 
  • While grilled cheese with tomato soup may be the quintessential American comfort food, NEVER order this in hospital. The same goes for takeout or hotel room service. Any cook or waiter knows this, but sometimes under duress we may forget life’s fundamental truths.

In January our son Anton will complete 12 years of service to the nation. He is currently flying the Marines’ Sea Stallion helicopters out of Marine Corps Air Station New River near North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune. In November Anton and his wife Melanie shared their big news with us that God willing we will be grandparents some time next July.  We are all excited for 2020 to welcome in a new little Shomshor. Meanwhile I’ve already begun to plan and purchase gifts for the next 18 years – including CN silver polar bear coins for distribution by the tooth fairy. 

We will end 2019 with a Shomshor-Heyne family get together in December in Nebraska.  Marj’s mother is 97 and everyone wanted to spend at least one more Christmas with her. 

We hope that this letter finds you and your families in good health and cheer.  May all of your days be flood free and your families safe and healthy.  

Seasons Greetings,

Ben & Marj Shomshor

 

             

XLV Annual Chili and Apple Pie Feed

So what is this? Chili is not a dish to make in small portions. I make a substantial pot once a year. A lot of it will go downtown to feed people who lack a place to cook their own. Some will go to the firehall. We feed as many people at our home as are able to come, and we hope that you will be one of them. Any leftover is frozen down in family size portions and used over the course of the coming year.

Substantial Pot? The size has increased over years. At this point, it’s #20 South African cast iron Potkie (pronounced pot-gee) which is about 17 gallons. Don’t worry about running out.

Did I get this invitation in error? I’m not sure we even know you. It’s possible that you received it in error. Or maybe it was fate. In any event, stop in.

May we bring guests? Of course. Children, parents, other neighbors. Give me a heads up if you’re bringing a football team. Actually, it would be great to have a rugby team show up.

May we bring anything? Bring your own beverages. We’ll have a washtub of ice to put it in. Sometimes people forget to leave with their unopened alcoholic beverages.

What if I or my child don’t like chili, or are vegetarians? In addition to the regular chili which has beef, pork and beans, I will prepare a small pot without pork. I will also stock some cans of vegetarian chili. If I know to expect kids, I have a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup ready. And the apple pie is vegan.

I wish I could come and see you guys, but I can’t make it that night. No worries. I’ll do this for another five years or until my health gives out. And beginning in January 2019, I hope to host topical Soup Salons at least one Sunday night a month. Let me know if you would be interested and if there is a topic you would like to hear discussed.

Anything else? A few things. We are supposed to be downsizing at our age. You may have to leave with a book. We may do a drawing for a few odds and ends that need to go. There may be some fresh sauerkraut or pickles to take home. Finally, it was a bountiful summer during which I put up more jams, chutneys, compotes, switchels and vinegars than we could ever use. Please take at least one home. If you are so inclined, small donations for them will be forwarded to EGYHOP – downtown Olympia’s outreach to homeless youth.