Category Archives: death

Time for a discussion: Guns, mental health, violence

24 Hours Ago… So much can change in a 24 hour period.

Throughout the world, lives are lost each day due to diseases, wars, drugs, mental and eating disorders, famine, violent crimes and so much more. What makes today different is not only is this happening just after the other recent tragedies in a mall, a theater, hair salon, etc but these were children, teachers a principal and those there to help our children.

They lived in one of the top 10 places to live in America. School should be a safe zone. No hate, violence, bullying or fear of dying due to any senseless act of crime. Mental disorders or not. That is not a reason or excuse for violence.

People live with mental disorders everyday without causing harm. People have guns responsibly. The fact is, not everyone is held accountable. Not everyone is responsible with a gun or keeps it away from the wrong hands.

Not everyone has proper medical diagnosis, care and/or treatment for their mental illness. The discussions and resolutions can’t be avoided. Prayers shouldn’t have to continuously go out for lives lost and communities affected by tragedy.

Prayers and attention need to focus on one thing, SAVING LIVES.

Put the politics aside.

People deserve to live and people deserve proper medical attention.

Side note:

I wanted to post this now but I was working on an article following the recent shooting in Clackamas…then this happened, the shooting at an elementary school. I will follow this up with a further article.

Please share your thoughts on this matter. Worldwide, people have been affected in different ways. 

It is time for a discussion.

Not just a story

Our world is under a constant change. That is a given. Those who try to stop change or stand in the way of progress are slowly being rooted out.
That is certainly being seen across the Middle East as they continue to fight for their freedom of speech, equalities and the ability to finally be out from under the unspeakable acts of cowardly dictators that have ruled over them for decades.

As each day passes, bravery becomes more evident because to share the turmoil going on in places such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it literally means risking arrest or even one’s life. Making a phone call, sending a picture, a tweet, updating a blog or even carrying on a conversation on the street or anywhere in public can cost a person their life on the spot or have them detained, tortured, or kidnapped leaving their family to wonder whatever became of them. This is not something that is exaggerated or made up. This is life for the people of these countries and has been for decades.

Most reporters sent in are there under government watch and only go places with government permission, in government convoys and to places the governments wants them to see. Example of this is in Tripoli’s famous Rixos Hotel where a large group of reporters have stayed and covered Libya’s conflict for an ongoing amount of time. This is where Iman Al Obaidi ran in to share her story of what happened while she was held by Gaddafi’s soldiers. Her story became internationally known once it was shared by worldwide news organizations and across social media websites. This became possible only because she risked her life to go into that hotel in the first place.

Other reporters have been thrown out of Libya and other countries for sharing too much of the truth as well as having been detained, beaten, raped or are still missing or or have been killed.

To name just a few, Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, Mohammed Al-Nabbous, Anton Hammerl were killed just recently. These are just a few and are just naming ones killed in Libya.

Why do “outsiders” risk their lives to share these “stories”?

I’ll answer this question very directly so as to be very clear.

These aren’t just stories, this is life. Just because I am an American writing about people that are living all the way around the world, doesn’t make this any less relevant than if I were writing about something locally, not to me.

You see, these people in many ways are just like me. They have hopes, dreams, families, loved ones, and friends.

Rebel fighters at the Wazin Border Crossing(Tunisia and Nafusa Mountains) May11th
Photo Courtesy of: @ShababLibya

A mother losing her child or a child losing their parents somewhere else in the world is just as upsetting as if that happened here, or to me. A friend watching their friend die is no less painful because it is further away or because it is in a time of war. Many of those fighting in these current revolutions are students, lawyers, doctors or young kids. Most are not soldiers and had never held a weapon before in their life. They are protecting their homes, businesses, families and their lives. They didn’t want to fight. They don’t want to fight. They want to be free which is the opposite of fighting.

As an American, I want our government to be able to help, of course.

I also know that many times, U.S. involvement comes with a cost and although at first glance and in a time of crisis, it seems great and the right thing to do when making arrangements but the long term effects, due to diplomatic arrangements made to reach that original agreement, often far outweigh the long term benefit. Doesn’t sound right, does it?

Let me explain. Iraq and Afghanistan.

The need for help is there and the desire to help is there but the actual response and outcome is often so jumbled up in politics, the RSVP would have been better to have been lost in the mail.

Some situations are so clear, up front, one would think there wouldn’t be any issues. One would think.

In Libya, Gaddafi was making it abundantly clear that he had no problem with taking as many lives each day as he could without any given reason. He also made it clear he wasn’t listening to reason. Once the UN came to an agreement and NATO started its response against Gaddafi’s crimes against his own people, it wasn’t as quick of a process as it would have once been thought.

At this point, it seems communication on the ground (what little there is) doesn’t get heard by the right people, quickly enough. I personally think if it were, Gaddafi would have been cut off much quicker.

Syria has tried to hide what is going on in their country but they haven’t been able to do this, not completely. The government says one thing and does another. It seems they want to act like Iran, dress like Iran but not be treated like Iran. When do threats from the U.S. end? Syria’s government has clearly chosen its path.

In Yemen today, President Saleh refused to sign the exit deal to hopefully bring an end to the political crises. Saleh has ruled for 32 years.
For months now, Yemen has been filled with protests for him to step down. Hundreds have been killed and he has refused to sign a deal at least twice before.

Saleh is demanding the opposition be present at the signing. The opposition refuses saying it will send the wrong message to the revolution leaders in Sanaa, making Saleh look victorious.

The opposition signed their part of the agreement on Saturday, May 21st with the understanding Saleh would sign his on Sunday.
About Saudi Arabia…this is a country with a great deal of oppression toward women.

I am a woman. I drive. Recently Manal Al Sharif was arrested for doing exactly the same thing in the eastern town of Khobar, Saudi Arabia which defies a long standing ban on women’s driving. Yeh, that’s right.

Manal Al Sharif 32 year old Saudi Arabian woman detained for driving in Saudi Arabia

It’s said that about two-thirds of a woman’s salary goes toward their transportation. They can’t walk on the street or drive so they must pay a taxi or private driver. There’s no public transportation.

On June 17th, there’s a campaign #Women2Drive which is growing in numbers on their Facebook page. The idea is for those women, with foreign licenses, to go out in the Kingdom of Saudi and drive that day. Some are even offering to teach others how to drive. Manal Al Sharif remains detained at this moment but in an interview to Gulf news she said, “Every lady has something to do in the city, she’ll just drive, do her business and come back. So it’s as simple as that. People can’t call it a demonstration, we’re not going against the law, we’re not going against anyone, we’re not even demonstrating.”

I was going to divide this article into two parts but I think it’s important to keep it as one.

You see, as a nation, we have an enormous amount of freedoms. I am writing this article which I will shortly post because I have the freedom to do so. I have the ability to share the information which I freely read about on the Internet or via links that were sent to me. Information is golden.

Education is priceless. The ability to have those available to us should never be taken for granted.

In many parts of our world, these freedoms or abilities do not exist. Our freedoms were fought for by very brave people before us and to take anything at all for granted, to me, just seems wrong. It also seems wrong to take lightly why others would want these same freedoms as well as the loss of lives they are experiencing while fighting for their freedom.

Many have chosen to come here, to the U.S., seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Around the world, America has been known as the “Land of the Free”, but is it? Do we truly know where these people are coming from, why they are seeking freedom and can they still find it here? In coming here, they have often made many sacrifices leaving behind the only homes they have ever known and family members to still live under dictators and the very life they are running from.

It’s been a while since I have written. I’ve been following much of what has been going on around the world, devastating natural disasters, revolutions and our own nation and its many ups and downs.

I hadn’t planned to write quite yet until I read a comment about the woman in Saudi, Manal, who had been arrested for, driving. The comment was basically along the lines of the fact the reader would never live in a place that wouldn’t allow a woman to drive!

My question: What if you were born there?

TAX DAY 2002

Has there ever been a moment when it seemed everything around you was going in fast motion and your world suddenly slowed down to slow motion, sound started to echo and you felt like possibly your head could rupture at any moment? Well, that was this day for me 8 years ago. Most people refer to April 15th as Tax Day. But, to me, it is the day my, then 2 year old was diagnosed with cancer. My world stopped. Well, my world as I knew it then. Everything changed and has never gone back to the way it was before that day.

Today though, she is 10 years old. She is one of the lucky ones. That word lucky is used so many different ways. Some people are lucky because they win a lot of money or they didn’t get caught doing something they shouldn’t have done. I guess either way, “lucky” would be a word that could fit in both cases. Other people use the word “lucky” when they get home and find out their house was destroyed by fire and they weren’t home at the time or their car was nearly hit by a train by mere seconds… (that is much more than luck!)

In today’s world, many people consider themselves lucky to still have their job or to find a new job and yes, they are lucky and grateful and blessed. There is always the opposite of lucky which I guess would be unlucky but I don’t like to just say someone is unlucky because things don’t just play out due to luck. There are a lot of things that are unfortunate and we see that more and more.

But, today I am going to focus on what started 8 years ago.

The world, our world at least, came crashing down! We weren’t thinking about taxes, what I was going to make for dinner, what was going to happen at school the next day…. Heck, I don’t think I even gave thought to if I picked up my purse before we headed from one hospital to the next. Really, everything just stopped for a while. I didn’t feel like someone hit me with a bunch of bad news or anything because for our youngest daughter, things had been going downhill for a few months. She had been going from one doctor to the next for a while. You want answers to why things are going wrong but you never want the answer to be CANCER! Not that answer! You can have that back and give me another answer, thank you.

I remember though my first instinct was to not act upset in front of my daughter, Katia (she was the one that was just diagnosed). She was just a 2 year old little girl that had already seen too many doctors, been through too many procedures and had just spent too much time feeling bad lately. I knew enough about what I was hearing to know a few things right off the bat.

1. Cancer is not always a death sentence.

2. This was going to mean a lot of explaining to her sisters (then ages 7 and 11)

3. Katia was going to get much more sick before she had a chance to get better.

4. We were going to have to face this with a very positive attitude.

All of that was just buzzing in my head and we were put into an ambulance to head across the Bay Area to another hospital that a Pediatric Oncology Unit. This would end up being home away from home for us over the coming years. Pediatric Oncology Specialist, Nurses, Staff are amazing people!

On the way over, Katia was just sleepy and not feeling well but the ambulance had a lot of things kind of bouncing around and it would scare her at times and other time amuse her. I was watching the traffic outside and thinking how I had crossed over the same bridge so many times and never thought about how many people’s lives had possibly changed just as ours were at the moment. People just don’t think about that. I was thinking about the fact I had never imagined one of my kids would be one of those little children fighting cancer. People don’t think about that either. I was trying to imagine what would happen next and I couldn’t. I am a planner. I don’t like not knowing what is coming up next and my whole world now was all about not knowing what was next. I didn’t know anything about tomorrow. I didn’t know anything it seemed! How could my baby have cancer in her and I have never known? I knew everything about her.

When we were wheeled up to the Oncology Unit, different patients and parents were watching us and we were looking around while also being talked to and shown to a room. A lot happened on that day. But, I will never forget that day. We were the “New Family” on the Pediatric Oncology Unit. Over the years, we have seen that many times when new families come up and you never ever want to see that happen. I wish we had been the last ones to enter as new patients.

We went over a lot of paperwork that day. Katia had a lot of blood work done and more set up for the next day. We had a lot of visitors between family and friends. Everyone was just shocked when they heard she had been diagnosed with cancer. She had been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous leukemia. She was very sick and had a long fight with very intense treatments ahead of her. She has not had an easy road, nor a predictable road since that time but the fact is her road is a continuing road.

Katia’s journey has been full of blessings and we have been so fortunate to have met many wonderful people along the way and that we are able to work with still. She has amazing doctors and receives at All Children’s in St. Pete where they have always gone above and beyond to give the best of care and stayed ahead of Katia’s care. Is Katia lucky?? By all means! Katia loves ladybugs and ladybugs are said to bring a person luck so I suppose she is surrounded by luck. Katia has also had a life full of miracles.

So, on Tax Day 2010 I can’t help but to always think how much our life CHANGED on Tax Day 2002 and continues to change each day.

“The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.” James Truslow Adams

To learn more about Katia and her day to day journey, visit http://www.ladybugkatia.com/