Healthcare

One year and 86 pounds later...


It's very hard to believe that I ever got to the point where I had over fifty pounds to lose. I had stayed right around the same weight from college to fifteen years later. And then it all started creeping up. Lifestyle more sedentary, hormones battling against me, already slow metabolism laying out in the street doing nada and me whipping up gourmet meals for family, friends, boo things and the like which I, of course, had to taste along the way.

Last year when I made the decision to have weight loss surgery it was the absolute last  resort for me. I was diagnosed pre-diabetic with high blood pressure and a hormone disorder (PCOS). Fifty pounds needed to go, stat! I had tried working out, eating less, counting calories, cutting sugars and salt and fat. I was at one point eating raw vegetables and only drinking water while working out four times a week and still the scale laughed at me. It wasn't until my doctor explained how my overall health and genetic makeup was fighting me and I needed to lose the weight quickly or die (okay, not that drastic but darned close) that I said fine. 

Looking back from the other side of the mountain, I guess I would do it over again but I would pay more attention to classes where they talk to you about the side effects and your ability to come to terms with what a new you is really about. The first fifty pounds came off in the first three months and it's a shock to your entire system. My hair (my crowing glory) thinned and fell out. When it grew back in it was a different texture altogether. I have accidentally gone natural without planning on it. My hair no longer requires a perm just many lotions, potions and emollients. 

My skin is super sensitive to the sun and to cold now. Winter was a bitch. I ain't lying. Anything under 40 degrees and I wanted to stay in bed wrapped in an electric blanket. No more sun bathing for me without a complete coating of SPF 30 or higher. The days of slathering on cocoa butter oil and laying out to get all roasty and toasty? Gone. I burned to a crisp after fifteen minutes and spent the rest of that vacay under the umbrella coated with aloe vera.

There have been some fun things - running into people who haven't seen me in years and watching them figure out the best way to say I look healthy without saying "you lost a shitload of weight" - it's a game I play... how many ways can they try to figure out exactly how many pounds I've lost without coming right out and asking? The first time you zip up a pair of jeans in a size you haven't worn since 8th grade - these are fun things.

Not so fun things - retraining my brain. Having a singular bite of cheesecake and letting that be sufficient. Learning to like sugar-free (Splenda is so awesome) drinks. Having friends and family nickname me "Six-bite Suzy" because that's all I can eat in one sitting. Having to explain to waiters that you really DID enjoy the meal, you just don't want your stomach to explode.

Funny things - not realizing that going from a size 20 to a size 10 in pants means your underwear no longer fits. I was strolling across the living room of my apartment when my drawers literally fell off my ass, tangled at my feet causing me to trip and land sprawled on the carpet in the most undignified manner ever. Thankfully, no one was here to witness the event. Surely it should not have taken that bit of foolery for me to let the XL undies go.

Irritating things - going to the doctor for the check-up and having him say - "Optimally, you should push to lose 25 more and level out there." Optimally? Man listen, these last thirty pounds were a bitch. If I take off ten more, I'm good. I've accepted the fact that the boobs shall not be moved. I've fought like the dickens to get muscle tone so things don't sag (batwings are not the business). But battling for that size six? Just cause that's "optimal" - err, okay then. There is that thing in the back of my mind of wanting to tighten this and shrink that and wishing things were more taut but isn't that always the way? Is anybody ever completely satisfied with they way they look?

Weird things - my feet shrank. I was never in a wide shoe but I wore a size 8.5 or 9 medium size my senior year in high school. Now I wear a 7.5 or an 8. Riddle me that, Batman? I've given up trying to buy an entire wardrobe. I just pick up a few pieces here and a few pieces that as I go. I've developed a weird craving for beef where before I was all chicken all the time. And bleu cheese is suddenly a food group. Weird.

All in all, it's been a hell of a journey. I don't recommend it for everyone but it's worked rather well for me. My biggest fear now is that six years from now I'm writing this AGAIN because I've somehow put back on all the weight and then some. Then again, perhaps because I'm so terrified of having to write that post, I'll do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't come true.

At any rate, because you all have been with me through the whole journey - thought it would be nice to share the next steps in the journey. Anyone else getting healthier in 2013?

The Fight between Fit and Fat - The Struggle Continues


I have gained and lost so much weight over the past fifteen years, it is ridiculous. I have sizes ranging from eight to twenty-eight in my closet. Even more irksome is the fact that I have always "carried weight well"-  my cute did not diminish regardless of shirt size. (Yes, I'm modest as well) I've always been able to work out, I've cooked healthy for years only indulging on special occasions and I had no discernible health problems. Add to that the fact that I've always been able to attract and date men of all calibers, backgrounds and income brackets and overall I was okay on the weight roller coaster.

Fast forward to last summer, I felt - for lack of a better word - crappy. Not to overshare but my periods were coming whenever they wanted to, I was stressed, gaining weight rapidly, I was fatigued but could not sleep and my energy was on zero. But I was faking it because I was dating a younger man, my family was expecting me to be the Michele they know and love, and my friends, fans and followers were expecting me to be fabulous out there on the road.

Finally I hit the wall. I dragged my tired behinds to my doctor and threw myself at her mercy. "Fix me!" I implored. She tested me for everything, weighed me (I was appalled) and checked my blood pressure. Whoa. And then she sent me to the gynecologist. The next day, they asked me to come in and meet with them both. Ruh-roh.

My general practicioner went first. I was borderline diabetic, I was entering high blood pressure range and due to the genetic jackpot my parents gifted me with, it was only going to get worse. Long and short of it, the weight had to come off with some expediency. I needed to lose 50 pounds in a heartbeat, 75 pounds overall. The only problem was... the gynecologist stepped in - I was diagnosed with PCOS - polycystic ovary syndrome. A nifty little "woman problem" that affects (among other things) your ability to lose weight. It was going to be an uphill battle but we were sure we could do it.

Fast forward two and a half months and I had lost 25 pounds. Awesome, I worked harder. And 18 pounds came back. Welcome to weight struggle when you body fights against you. I would lose 6 pounds and four would come back. Finally, we decided that drastic measures had to be taken. Time was the enemy. I decided to explore bariatric surgery. Let me pause here and make a few public service announcements:
  • Only consider bariatric surgery when ALL else has failed. It's no joke. Not to be played with. Did I mentioned no joke? 
  • Your insurance may not cover the surgery. Mine (thanks Aetna) did not. And I had to come out of pocket to the tune of $16,000 + vitamins, supplements, food scale, protein shakes, etc. Cost more than my first car. 
  • Pick your bariatric surgeon with care. The first guy I went to (Dr. Kim) was a complete jerk who told me to quit eating fried chicken and chocolate cake every day. For that he charged me $250 and said he looked forward to seeing me again. And then he called me Marsha. Yeah no. Do not go to a factory where they don't get to know anything about you and give less than a damn. I ended up going to Dr. Provost and loved everyone there. 
  • Some people in your life will not understand why you are having the surgery and how it will affect you. But that's a whole other post.

I decided on gastric sleeve. Gastric bypass seemed too extreme and the lap band meant something foreign was rattling around inside me forever? No thank you. With the sleeve, they basically go in and slice off most of your stomach leaving you with a little sleeve. I had the surgery on April 20th. Yes it hurt. If I had it to do it over again, I'm not sure if I would. Recovery was a nightmare. I'm just now (almost two months later) getting my energy back. But then again, in two and a half months - I've lost 52 pounds. Twenty seven more to go.

The day after surgery you are free of diabetes, they're not sure why. My blood pressure is back to normal. My PCOS is still there but not as severe. I eat four bites of food three times a day and I'm full. I work out about four times a week. My appetite has changed. Some flavors I no longer like and for some reason I like to drink things that are very, very hot or ice cold. But the joy of zipping up jeans from the "maybe one day, I'll get back into those" section of my closet? Priceless.

Overall, I would not wish this journey on anyone. My best advice to those of you in your twenties and early thirties is to get your fitness on now while your metabolism still likes you and all the genetic conditions are still playing nice. In the meantime, I'll be the one over here whining about yoga, how my abs hate me and why I now believe Snickers bars are the devil. 

Anyway BougieLand, feel free to share your weight struggles. Even if you are just trying to lose five pounds to get back down to a size 4, I promise not to reach through and smack you with a keyboard. Struggles are struggles. Questions, comments, insights? Do share...

The Got-A-Man/Gained-Some-Weight Struggle


@CarolynEdgar and I were discussing this phenomenon a few days back on Twitter. The Got-A-Man/Gained-Some-Weight (GAMGSW) Struggle is real. It's equivalent to the Freshman 10 (15? 20?) and harder to take off because um... none of us are college freshmen anymore. 3N and I have been seeing each other for about six months now and more than a few things have changed.

While in Jamaica, I was shimmying into last year's bathing suit. It fit and looked cute but I was definitively curvier. Let's just say my cups were overflowing. I had a moment in the mirror when I wondered whose thighs had jumped onto my body. No bueno.

When you first start dating, it's all long dinners and wine and desserts. And I had to be all dazzling with the kitchen creations. Plus he has a habit of buying gourmet cupcakes. Next thing you know, it's evenings on couch full of shrimp fettuccine and red velvet cupcakes. So this is totally his fault.

Okay, maybe not. The combination of having someone who already likes what he sees, eating becoming a a romantic ritual and me walking past the treadmill as if it doesn't exist has led directly to this struggle realization moment. And with my metabolism? If I don't nip it in the bud now, those dark wash skinny jeans for fall will be a major health hazard.

Mind you, he still manages to work out four times a week. In fact, he is probably looking even better now than when we met (insert laser beam side-eye here). That just won't do. I (in my sad defense) was on deadline and juggling the HR consulting gigs and it made more sense to get in an extra hour of work instead of working out. Well, things have got to change. I've got to keep my cute. And I can't afford to buy all new clothes. Guess I'll lose the weight. Le Sigh. Prepare for Michele's I'm-on-the-treadmill-eating-salad posts.

Who knows my struggle?

Revisiting the Shiggity that is the Tea Bag Movement

Originally posted in July of 2009, I find this needs few revisions to stay relevant today.

After eight years of G-Dub spending like he was printing money up in the basement of 1600 Penn (and maybe he was); we all of a sudden have all this moral outrage from so-called "Tea-baggers" who are against deficit spending, paying more taxes, an anything they deem to be "UnAmerican". Last Summer on a hot and sunny Saturday, a group of the tea folks gathered up the road at Southfork Ranch to get their complain on stage their protest. I really attempted to watch the goings-on with an open mind. We are a ka-zillion dollars in debt so maybe these folks had some valid concerns and useful solutions to share.

I was only 2.6 minutes into watching the footage when the word "socialism" dropped out of someone's mouth. Gritting my teeth, I powered on. When someone spoke of Obama not "adhering to the Constitution written for REAL Americans," I threw up in my mouth a little bit. Determined not to stereotype, I plunked down in front of the computer and started researching what the tea bag movement was all about.

Besides having the poor taste to pick a name for their movement that brings to mind a sexual act of the XXX variety, the Tea Bag Movement is supposedly a non-partisan movement protesting all things Obama, the federal budget and, more specifically, the stimulus package and the universal health care bill, which the protesters perceive as examples of wasteful government spending and unnecessary government growth. Somehow they equate these programs with government intrusion into their private lives. They oppose the increase in the national debt as well. The protesters also objected to possible future tax increases, with taxes on capital gains, estate taxes, federal income taxes, and cigarette taxes.

So reading between the lines, the TBs don't want to pay taxes, think the mortgage crisis was due to low-lifes not managing their money, healthcare is a socialist principal and are positive Obama is a Non-American Fascist (or the Devil Incarnate - they can't decide which)… seriously? Okey-dokey then, let me ask the TBs a few questions from Matt Taibbi's blog:


  1. If you're so horrified by debt and spending, where were your tea parties when George Bush was adding $4 trillion to the federal deficit?
  2. If you're so outraged by the bailouts, where were your tea parties when the bailouts were first instituted by Henry Paulson and George Bush last fall?
  3. If you're so troubled by pork, where were your tea parties when the number and cost of congressional earmarks rose spectacularly in each year of Republican congressional rule between 1996 and the end of the Republican majority in 2006?
  4. Would you be protesting any of this bull**** if this had been George W. Bush's budget?

I call bullshiggity. I call overt racism. I call hateration on all ya Tea Bag hat-wearing, American Flag waving (whole other topic, see commentary here), Fox News-watching, Palin-lovin', evil sign holding, no solution proposing, Rush/Glenn listening finger pointers. Guess what? America is not just for you. You do not get to lead unencumbered lives of entitlement and greed without paying the piper. You sat silently by while the Frat Boy you stuck us with for eight years ran this country straight into the ground, pissed off world leaders by the dozen, sent our boys off to fight a fake war and made mothers have to choose between a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk. Your protests are too late and are based on bitterness that your candidate did not win and hatred of things (people) you can not bend to your will. Get over it and get over yourselves. Do what we did, find a candidate that YOU think can change things, get behind him (or her)and vote. Good luck with that in 2012.

Note to Rick Perry and John Cornyn - Good looking out on turning down the stimulus funds. "Boo, hiss and double boo." Oh, I'm too late, they booed you at your own tea party? 'Nuff said. Good lookin' out trying to appeal health care reform for Texas, that appeal is worth the paper you printed it on... and I have a few idea with what you can do with that paper.

Last week on Twitter, I wondered if we needed a fringe group of crazies repping for the Progressive set? By popular vote, the Twitterati decided that if we do get such a group, it should be called the Coffee Party.

What do you think of these Tea Parties? Is it just out of control? Would you join the Coffee Party if it existed?

Raise ‘em up: Health Care Reform passes

Three simple words from President Barack Obama via Twitter: Yes we can. Prez 44 did something no modern era leader of the United States has been able to do… pass a bill beginning an overhaul of healthcare and allowing millions of uninsured Americans access to medical services that will not bankrupt them. NPR's article says it best: Obama Achieves Health Law Success That Eluded Past.

President Obama gave a brief conference after the passage. I wanted to see him come out to Big Daddy Kane's "I Get the Job Done" but that wasn't meant to be. He looked tired, worn but victorious. President Obama said that the House's vote on health care "wasn't an easy vote but it was the right vote." Speaking from the East Room of the White House, the president, who made health care reform a priority for his administration, said the vote wasn't a victory for a political party but for the American people. Obama said the reform plan won't fix everything wrong with the nation's health care system, "but it moves us decisively in the right direction." Here are the major points of the bill (from MSNBC):


Understanding the health care overhaul


If enacted, the reconciliation bill combined with the Senate-passed bill would, from 2010-2019:

-Spend $938 billion on expanding insurance coverage, including $464 billion in subsidies to help uninsured people buy coverage.

-Expand Medicaid coverage to 16 million additional people.

-Require many employers to offer coverage for their workers.

-Collect $69 billion in penalties from uninsured individuals and employers for non-coverage.

-Provide coverage through an insurance exchange to 24 million people.

-Reduce the number of uninsured by 32 million people, but leave 23 million (including illegal immigrants) not covered.

-Cut Medicare spending by $455 billion from currently-projected levels.

-Not affect next month's scheduled 21 percent cut in payment rates to doctors who treat Medicare patients.

-Produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion.

And lest they be forgotten, here are the 34 jack-ass Democrats who did not back their President's play. They shall not be forgotten. Umm-hmm. We see ya'll:

John Adler Jason Altmire Michael Arcuri John Barrow Marion Berry Dan Boren Rick Boucher Bobby Bright Ben Chandler Travis Childers Artur Davis Lincoln Davis Chet Edwards Stephanie Herseth Sandlin Tim Holden Larry Kissell Frank Kratovil Jr. Daniel Lipinski Stephen F. Lynch Jim Marshall Jim Matheson Mike McIntyre Michael E. McMahon Charlie Melancon Walt Minnick Glenn Nye Collin C. Peterson Mike Ross Heath Shuler Ike Skelton Zack Space John Tanner Gene Taylor Harry Teague

More work to be done but for tonight at least, pop a bottle and raise 'em up! My President keeps promises to the American people. How great is that?

Healthcare clears another hurdle: Dems to Repubs, “BRING. IT. ON."

*For those not in the know, this infamous quote came from Sheree, one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Majority Leader Harry Reid got all up in those Republican hind parts today as this country moves one step closer to enacting universal health coverage for every citizen. Digging deep into the guilt bag, Harry stated, "Imagine if, instead of debating whether to abolish slavery, instead of debating whether giving women and minorities the right to vote, those who disagreed had muted discussion and killed any vote." OH SNAP! We playing the slavery card now, Harry? Pulling out all the stops, equal rights and all that? Go 'head on, do whatcha gotta do. That's a wee bit gangsta though… LOVE IT!

From Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Invoking the memory of Edward M. Kennedy, Democrats united Saturday night to push historic health care legislation past a key Senate hurdle over the opposition of Republicans eager to inflict a punishing defeat on President Barack Obama. There was not a vote to spare.

The 60-39 vote cleared the way for a bruising, full-scale debate beginning after Thanksgiving on the legislation, which is designed to extend coverage to roughly 31 million who lack it, crack down on insurance company practices that deny or dilute benefits and curtail the growth of spending on medical care nationally.

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying the president was gratified by the vote, which he says "brings us one step closer to ending insurance company abuses, reining in spiraling health care costs, providing stability and security to those with health insurance, and extending quality health coverage to those who lack it."

The legislation would require most Americans to carry insurance and provide subsidies to those who couldn't afford it. Large companies could incur costs if they did not provide coverage to their workforce. The insurance industry would come under significant new regulation under the bill, which would first ease and then ban the practice of denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

Congressional budget analysts put the legislation's cost at $979 billion over a decade and said it would reduce deficits over the same period while extending coverage to 94 percent of the eligible population.

At its core, the legislation would create insurance exchanges beginning in 2014 where individuals, most of them lower income and uninsured, would shop for coverage. The bill sets aside hundreds of billions of dollars in tax credits to help those earning up to 400 percent of poverty, $88,200 for a family of four.

The House approved its version of the bill earlier this month on a near party line vote of 220-215, and Reid has said he wants the Senate to follow suit by year's end. Timing on any final compromise was unclear.

All 58 Senate Democrats and two independents voted to advance the bill. All 39 votes in opposition were cast by Republicans. GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio was the only senator not to vote. Montana Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who has labored on health care for more than a year, flew in from his home state on a government plane for the vote and was returning afterward to be with his ailing mother.

After the Senate returns from Thanksgiving break, expect all matter of tomfoolery spirited debate to begin. Experts estimate that barring any unforeseen hurdles, the bill should be ready for a huddle-up with the House in four to six weeks. Come on Congress, all I want for Christmas is some Universal Healthcare! [okay, I want more than that, but go with me on the artistic metaphor.]

I somehow expect the ReThugs to drag this out in the most painful process possible. I'm already wincing at the bullshiggity they are about to drop on C-SPAN. Worst quote of the day came from Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), "Move over, Bernie Madoff. Tip your hat to a trillion-dollar scam." Le Sigh at this crass and poorly-chosen analogy. Just Le Sigh. Congrats Kit, you got your sound bite and still lost. Now GO. SIT. DOWN.

Today's actions bring us one step closer and for that I say – It's Cocktail Hour on Capitol Hill. Harry was beaming ear to ear, hugging and kissing caucus members like Santa Claus came down the chimney early. Ya'll wouldn't get with me on Nancy cabbage patching to Run this Town. How about if Harry could just get the Dems lined up for the Cupid Shuffle (which by the way, ain't nuthin' but the Electric Slide repurposed) and put some Wale Let It Loose on the loud speakers. No? Anyway, one small step for the Senate... you know the rest.

Any thoughts on today's win?

Tuesday Short Rant: Breast Examination & Mammograms

Fresh off a great Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we were slapped in the face by the announcement that women should wait until age 50 to get a mammogram and should quit all the self-examinations. [insert outraged pause here]. From HuffPo/AP:

NEW YORK (AP)- Most women don't need a mammogram in their 40s and should get one every two years starting at 50, a government task force said Monday. It's a major reversal that conflicts with the American Cancer Society's long-standing position.

Also, the task force said breast self-exams do no good and women shouldn't be taught to do them.

For most of the past two decades, the cancer society has been recommending annual mammograms beginning at 40.

But the government panel of doctors and scientists concluded that getting screened for breast cancer so early and so often leads to too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies without substantially improving women's odds of survival.

"The benefits are less and the harms are greater when screening starts in the 40s," said Dr. Diana Petitti, vice chair of the panel.

The new guidelines were issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, whose stance influences coverage of screening tests by Medicare and many insurance companies.

Um, yeah – I will have call a flag on the play and shout bullshiggity on this whole thing up and through here. You are now saying that not only should women wait to get a mammogram but they should not do self-exams? The HELL? Now I am from a medical family, father and brother both physicians BUT what I hate about these so called "medical panels" is that they tend to talk out of their asses. There was a time about ten years ago when a new study was coming out weekly about what caused cancer: bacon, strawberries, Equal, white bread. Over the course of the next five years, each of those studies was contradicted by differing studies. Remember when oranges were the superfruit? Now it's pomegranate or açai berry? This leads me to believe that beyond the big three (cigarettes, asbestos and genetics), folks have no clue where cancer comes from or how to prevent it.

Why wouldn't you recommend something that aids in awareness and prevention? Who is this "task force" to tell women not to check themselves? I smell an insurance company hustle. The days of the free "Well Woman" exam are about to be thrown under the bus.

Kathleen Reardon, a professor at USC, wrote an article for HuffPo called
I'd be dead by now – The New Breast Cancer Guidelines. An excerpt:

I'd be dead by now if it weren't for breast self-examination. And had my doctor been less convinced of his own guidelines regarding women without a known history of breast cancer, my cancer would have been detected earlier and I would have been treated sooner and less aggressively. I was 32 years old.

The latest research is one more piece of information for the decision process women must make each year regarding mammography. That's it. If breast self-exam gives you greater peace of mind, no set of guidelines should deter you from it. If someone in your family found a lump in her breast that turned out to be breast cancer, what a team of doctors and researchers tells you is simply one piece of advice and perhaps irrelevant to your situation.

They are researchers looking at numbers. You are a person they do not know. I have high regard for many of the doctors weighing in on this subject, but let me bring it back to you, your wife, mother, sister, or friend. Anecdotal information is valuable. It is part of the larger picture. You also need to know yourself. If you're more interested in being sure than worried about being scared, find yourself a doctor who agrees with you. And get the mammogram recommended by the American Cancer Society before the insurance companies take that option away.

One other question: Where's the study on men not needing a prostate exam? [insert stern side-eye here] The American Cancer Society reports that the breast cancer death rate has been going down over the last fifteen years, they attribute this primarily to early detection. Damn the panel, check it yourself and get it checked if something doesn't feel right. What did ya'll think of this story?

Healthcare wins in the House: Dems to Repubs, “GO. SIT. DOWN.”

Okay so that's a paraphrase. In OneChele's world, the Democrats looked at the Repubs and started chanting, "In YO Face! See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya and guess what else… we don't need ya!" Then they blasted "Run This Town" over the speakers in the chamber and commenced a cabbage-patch Soul Train line down the aisle. C'mon now, deep down don't ya'll want to see Nancy poppin', lockin', droppin' it like it's hot? No? Just me? Moving on…

Representative Joseph Cao of Louisiana FOR. THE. WIN. The Republican representative was the only one of his party to cross the aisle and vote for the historic legislation. The comprehensive healthcare bill passed by a vote of 220 – 215. A squeaker yes, but as they say in the sports world: SCOREBOARD! A win by five is still a win, spike the ball and kiss the cheerleader. Alright, I'll calm down. The bill has miles to go before it sleeps. Here's come info about today's happenings (from AP):

WASHINGTON — In a victory for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled House narrowly passed landmark health care legislation Saturday night to expand coverage to tens of millions who lack it and place tough new restrictions on the insurance industry. Republican opposition was nearly unanimous.

The 220-215 vote cleared the way for the Senate to begin debate on the issue that has come to overshadow all others in Congress.

A triumphant Speaker Nancy Pelosi likened the legislation to the passage of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare 30 years later.

"It provides coverage for 96 percent of Americans. It offers everyone, regardless of health or income, the peace of mind that comes from knowing they will have access to affordable health care when they need it," said Rep. John Dingell, the 83-year-old Michigan lawmaker who has introduced national health insurance in every Congress since succeeding his father in 1955.

In the run-up to a final vote, conservatives from the two political parties joined forces to impose tough new restrictions on abortion coverage in insurance policies to be sold to many individuals and small groups. They prevailed on a roll call of 240-194.

Ironically, that only solidified support for the legislation, clearing the way for conservative Democrats to vote for it.

The legislation would require most Americans to carry insurance and provide federal subsidies to those who otherwise could not afford it. Large companies would have to offer coverage to their employees. Both consumers and companies would be slapped with penalties if they defied the government's mandates.

Best tweet of the night came from AverageBro: How much history has Obama made in 10 months? Healthcare. SCOTUS. Nobel. What did we get with Bush? Lots of vacation days and a $300 check. Okay, second best tweet. The absolute best tweet came from our President who simply said: This is history.

I can only add to that by going old school: WORD. Great step forward for the Obama agenda, looking forward to his continued success. Any thoughts?

Today's PSA: The Ultimate Accessory – don’t leave home without it

I so very, very much did not want to write this post. In fact, I've been sitting here in front of the computer for over an hour trying to write ANYTHING else. Like any good blogger, I keep a few posts tucked away for those days when I am hung over or singularly uninspired on vacation. I went through my list twice and even checked my random post-it notes musings to see if there was something else to say. Nope this is it. I feel somewhat like a public service blog this week but after watching today's Oprah, it had to be written.

Why the discomfort, OneChele? Well, sex is not something we discuss in the BougieFam household. Iz you iz or iz you ain't… we shan't be discussing it. Just the way it's always been, and I'm good with it. As you may have noticed from my postings, I will often allude to sexual acts but if you are waiting for me to break it on down… well, buy my book (I save the steamy stuff for the fiction). I watched Ms. Oprah's show with tear-brimmed eyes. I received no less than 10 tweets asking about my opinion and an equal number of emails. With a sigh, I recognized that the following must be said:

For those of you that may have missed it, Oprah had a show about a man here in the Dallas Area who had given the HIV virus to no less than 15 women that he was juggling at once. These were all women "of a certain age" positive they had discovered a true love. Some of them simply never thought to ask his HIV status, others asked and he point-blank lied. Yeah, we don't play that brand of bullshiggity here in Texas. Using a loophole in the Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge they were able to hit old boy with multiple felony counts. This bastard came to court and tried to say that one of the women had infected him. Hello? Welcome to the DNA of disease, they were able to do some CSI forensic magic and prove that the strain of HIV in all the women's blood originated from him. He's currently serving forty-five years with the possibility of parole in twenty-two when he will be seventy-two years of age. Someone warn the Golden Girls if this jerk gets out. Click back to Tuesday, October 20 show to see highlights.

As I watched the ladies answering questions, I noticed how utterly devastated they were and how angry and defensive they became when an audience member asked them why they didn't insure their own protection. "Do NOT blame the VICTIMS!" One woman snapped from the stage. While I understood what she was saying, I still couldn't help but think… in this age of sexual tomfoolery, really no condom? Another woman exclaimed tearfully, "This is a man that each of us thought we were in a long-term intimate trusting relationship with. He was clean and well-spoken and employed, you would never had thought he carried this deadly disease."

I had to press pause. I understand that these women were a bit older. My generation and the ones behind it came up in the post-Magic Johnson era. Condoms became something you could scoop up at the Student Union next to the campus newsletter. Getting that this was not their experience, I still goggled that someone still believed you could look at someone to see if they are carrying diseases. STDS and AIDS are not like meth-use, you can't eye someone up and say, "Umm, they on that stuff." And psycho-assholes like this dude go out of their way to appear as normal and healthy as possible. Even if I set aside unwanted pregnancies and STDs (a lot to set aside), I simply don't trust someone to care as much about my health as I do. It would never occur to me not to have the full-blown conversation or break out the foil packet, or both.

Today's PSA: The fast growing population of HIV/AIDS infected citizens are African-American females. Please peep these scary-ass facts from the CDC:

Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV and AIDS have hit African Americans the hardest. The reasons are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to some of the barriers faced by many African Americans. These barriers can include poverty (being poor), sexually transmitted diseases, and stigma (negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions directed at people living with HIV/AIDS or directed at people who do things that might put them at risk for HIV).

When we look at HIV/AIDS by race and ethnicity, we see that African Americans have:

  • More illness. Even though blacks (including African Americans) account for about 13% of the US population, they account for about half (49%) of the people who get HIV and AIDS.
  • Shorter survival times. Blacks with AIDS often don't live as long as people of other races and ethnic groups with AIDS. This is due to the barriers mentioned above.
  • More deaths. For African Americans and other blacks, HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death.

The rate of AIDS diagnoses for black women was 22 times the rate for white women. Some reasons might be:

  • Sexual risk factors include high-risk sexual contact such as unprotected sex with multiple partners or unprotected sex with persons known to have or be at a high risk for HIV infection. People may be unaware of their partner's sexual risk factors or have incorrectly assessed them.
  • Stigma, a "negative social label that identifies people as deviant", also puts too many African American communities at a high risk of infection. Many at risk for HIV infection fear stigma more than knowing their status, choosing instead to hide their high-risk behavior rather than seek counseling and testing. Therefore they continue to be at risk and may infect others .

WTF ladies? As women (and black women) we have a hard-enough path to walk without adding this to the journey. Why in all that is holy would you not buy, carry and use condoms unless you are in a long-term committed relationship with some whose test results you have privy to? And by long-term I don't mean six months. They continue to research incubation periods and probabilities between exposure and infection. So someone your boo slept with x number of years ago can come back to haunt you in more ways than one. That kind of risk is a game of Russian roulette I have no desire to play.

They are coming out with a male birth control pill, great – it doesn't cure AIDS. They have a preventative shot for HPV, excellent – it doesn't cure AIDS. Get a condom, keep a condom. NO excuses:

  • "I hate how condoms feel." Everyone does, lookie here – Trojan came out with some new stuff that's supposed to be the bomb-diggity. Can someone who has tried the new Ecstasy joints write in and let us know if it's as advertised (in PG-13 language, please).
  • "It was only once." Yes and just like with pregnancy, once is all it takes. I don't care what freak-nasty stuff old boy pulled out of his bag of tricks, is it worth your life?
  • "He swore he was clean." He probably swore he was single/straight/employed too, right? You would check his resume but not his test results? Come on now.
  • "It was only oral sex." Hmm, sounds familiar – 'there was only one bullet in the gun' – still a lethal weapon, people.
  • "AIDS is a survivable diagnosis." And a car crash is a survivable accident but I'm not deliberately trying to have one, now am I?

Rest assured that these poor Texas women are not the first (remember that high school cluster in Georgia with 21 infected teens) or the last to get tragically burned by bad choices. Just be smart, be part of the solution and don't become a statistic. GET TESTED and know your partner's status! One in FIVE people infected with HIV doesn't know it!

You can look up a free clinic for testing here. If you don't want to bust up in a store and buy some condoms (please grow up), here's a link for some freebies and here's a Trojan coupon. Okay, I'm off the soapbox, here's Barack to talk to ya'll.

I can vividly recall one gent who came at me with the "just this once will be fine" bullshiggity. I bounced him outta there so quick no doubt both of his heads were spinning. I gave a damn. Can anyone give me a reason for sexually active people not to carry around and use condoms? Seriously, one good reason? Probably not so comment as you will…

p.s. tomorrow I write about something trivial and fun if it kills me J

Raise your Cosmopolitan up for BougieMom: Breast Cancer Survivor

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I have intimate knowledge of this disease, it's no joke. BougieMom is a two-time breast cancer survivor for over fifteen years. Early detection, aggressive cutting-edge treatment and diligent follow-up aided in her recovery and survival. Basically, she kicked cancer's ass and said, "NOW who wants some?!" We send up multiple prayers for her continued good health.

If you are able, please donate directly to the Susan G. Komen Foundation or the Pink Ribbon store (icon on the right sidebar). Close to 200,000 women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer. That is one out of every eight women in this country!

Take a moment this month to raise your glass up not only for survivors like my brilliant mother but also for the unfortunate 40,000 women a year who die from this insidious disease. Raise 'em up for the Cure, ya'll.