Archive for February 2014

crying – by JANE FONDA

Yesterday I went to a friend’s baby shower. I hadn’t seen her since she was pregnant and when I saw her belly and her radiant face I began to cry. When I heard the words of wisdom her mother offered to her–to all of us–about how to raise a baby to be a happy, fully realized, person. I started crying again (and it wasn’t because I wanted to go back and redo the raising of my own kids all over again with more wisdom, though that did press in on me) . . . it was because her words moved me.

I’ve been in New York for the last five days workshopping Eve Ensler’s new play, OPC (Obsessive Political Correctness). Workshopping means actors reading the play, with a director to guide us, so the author can see what works, what needs changing, in the hope that, in time, the play will be performed for a mass audience. The afternoon of the last day, Friday, we performed for a small audience. The play is funny, very funny. A woman (me) wants to run for political office and launches a campaign. Her young daughter (Zoe Kazan) is a freegan, someone who buys nothing, who pays no rent but squats, who eats perfectly good but bruised, day-old food she finds in garbage bins. Freeganism is, in fact, an actual, real movement. The mother worries that her daughter’s eccentricities will hurt her campaign. The girl makes her mother a dress out of apricot, the kind that comes all rolled flat in cellophane like what we put in our kids’ school lunches The mother wears it for her campaign announcement and, in defense of her daughter, says proudly that it’s a reflection of the girl’s environmentalism, “Eat What You Wear” so to speak. The dresses become a humungous hit and start being mass produced in a variety of flavors but people wear them with diamonds and fur which is antithetical to what her daughter intended. With all its humor, the play has some profoundly important things to say about how we humans are destroying the planet with our greed and our waste and how we can/should be living differently. I started crying during my last speech when I tell my daughter what it feels like being in office, being taken seriously and I thank her for helping me and during the daughter’s final monologue about the species that are going extinct and oceans rising and what’s we human are doing to the planet I started crying and couldn’t stop and had to tilt me head back so people wouldn’t see. When the play was over I took Eve in my arms and sobbed for many minutes.

A few days, Roy Teeluk, who does me hair in New York, showed me “Ashes and Snow,” a book of photographs by Gregory Colbert (that is also a film made by him), photographs of elephants sitting with, praying with, bowing with, sleeping with young indian boys and other pictures of people swimming with whales. They are staggeringly beautiful and, again, I cried. Two days ago Gloria Steinem, in an email, told me that “. . . in Cherokee the word for “butterfly” and “elephant” is the same–because of the ears.” She went on to say, ” I wondered how the Cherokee knew that, since there are no elephants on this continent. But we all came from Africa–maybe it’s cellular memory” . . . and Tears came to my eyes.
I can no longer watch news stories or look at photos that show the killing of animals for greed. There was a TV story about the Japanese rounding up dolphins and killing them for food. I got ill. Can’t stomach it–literally.
I’m just mentioning a few of the many times in the last weeks and months that I have cried and it’s got me thinking: how come my tears are so close to the surface? How come pretty things, kind deeds, sad stories, acts of courage, good news, someone’s flax of insight, all get me crying or, at least, tearing up? The Fondas have always been cryers. My father once said, “Fondas cry at a good steak.” My son and daughter are the same. But I find my emotions are way more accessible than they were when I was younger and I’ve come to feel it has to do with age. I have become so wonderfully, terribly aware of time, of how little of it I have left; how much of it is behind me, and everything becomes so precious. With age, I am able to appreciate the beauty in small things more than when I was younger perhaps because I pay attention more. I feel myself becoming part of everything, as if I bleed into other people’s joy and pain. Maybe, without my being conscious of it, there’s the reality that in a few decades (if I’m lucky) I will be in the earth, fertilizing some of the very things I look at now and tear up over. (I’m not going to be cremated, uses up too much energy and gives off too many toxins, nor do I want to be in a coffin. Just dump me in a hole and let me morph into whatever as quickly as possible.) I ache for unwanted children in the world, for polars bears, and elephants, whales and Monarch butterflies, and dolphins, gorillas and chimpanzees. I remember reading once that biologist E.O. Wilson said something like, “God granted the gift of intelligence to the wrong species.” I’m paraphrasing but he explained, intelligence should have been granted to dolphins, for example, an animal with a brain who plays and is smart but has no thumbs and is not a carnivore.
I’ve listed sad things but what startles me even more is how I get emotional about nice things, like Kerry Washington’s belly and her mother’s words of wisdom and Elizabeth Lesser telling me about the new book she’s writing. Maybe because I’m older my heart is wider open, like a net that wants to catch all the things that matter. The first time I heard Jungian analyst and author, Marion Woodman speak, I went up to her afterwards and burst into tears. She took me in her arms and said, “It means your soul was touched.” Heart, soul . . . I don’t know which is which.. I suppose they’re the same basic thing and mine is/are so wide open I have to only wear waterproof mascara from now on.


Vertical sleeve gastrectomy is surgery to help with weight loss. The surgeon removes a large portion of your stomach.

The new, smaller stomach is about the size of a banana. It limits the amount of food you can eat by making you feel full after eating small amounts of food.

You will receive general anesthesia before this surgery. This will make you sleep and keep you pain-free.

The surgery is usually done using a tiny camera that is placed in your belly. This type of surgery is called laparoscopy. The camera is called a laparoscope. It allows your surgeon to see inside your belly.

In this surgery:

Your surgeon will make 2 to 5 small cuts in your abdomen.
The surgeon will pass the laparoscope and the instruments needed to perform the surgery through these openings.
The camera is connected to a video monitor in the operating room. Your surgeon will look at the monitor to see inside your belly.
Your surgeon will insert thin surgical instruments through the other openings.
Your surgeon will remove most of your stomach.

The remaining portions of your stomach are joined together using surgical staples. This creates a long vertical tube or banana-shaped stomach.
The surgery does not involve cutting or changing the sphincter muscles that allow food to enter or leave the stomach
The surgery may take only 60 to 90 minutes if your surgeon has done many of these procedures.
When you eat after having this surgery, the small pouch will fill quickly. You will feel full after eating a very small amount of food.

Weight-loss surgery may increase your risk of gallstones. Your doctor may recommend having a cholecystectomy (surgery to remove the gallbladder) before your surgery or at the same time.

Why the Procedure is Performed
Weight-loss surgery may be an option if you are very obese and have not been able to lose weight through diet and exercise.

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy is not a quick fix for obesity. It will greatly change your lifestyle. You must eat healthy foods, control portion sizes of what you eat, and exercise after this surgery. If you do not follow these measures, you may have complications from the surgery and poor weight loss.

This procedure may be recommended if you have:

A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. Someone with a BMI of 40 or more is at least 100 pounds over their recommended weight. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 25.
A BMI of 35 or more and a serious medical condition that might improve with weight loss. Some of these conditions are sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy has most often been done on patients who are too heavy to safely have other types of weight-loss surgery. Some patients may eventually need a second weight-loss surgery.

This procedure cannot be reversed once it has been done.

Risks for any anesthesia are:

Allergic reactions to medicines
Breathing problems
Risks for any surgery are:

Blood clots in the legs that may travel to your lungs
Blood loss
Heart attack or stroke during surgery
Infection, including in the surgical cut, lungs (pneumonia), or bladder or kidney
Risks for vertical sleeve gastrectomy are:

Gastritis (inflamed stomach lining), heartburn, or stomach ulcers
Injury to your stomach, intestines, or other organs during surgery
Leaking from the line where parts of the stomach have been stapled together
Poor nutrition, although much less than with gastric bypass surgery
Scarring inside your belly that could lead to a blockage in your bowel in the future
Vomiting from eating more than your stomach pouch can hold
Before the Procedure
Your surgeon will ask you to have tests and visits with your other health care providers before you have this surgery. Some of these are:

A complete physical exam
Blood tests, ultrasound of your gallbladder, and other tests to make sure you are healthy enough to have surgery
Visits with your doctor to make sure other medical problems you may have, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart or lung problems, are under control
Nutritional counseling
Classes to help you learn what happens during the surgery, what you should expect afterward, and what risks or problems may occur afterward
You may want to visit with a counselor to make sure you are emotionally ready for this surgery. You must be able to make major changes in your lifestyle after surgery.
If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking several weeks before surgery and not start smoking again after surgery. Smoking slows recovery and increases the risk of problems. Ask your doctor or nurse for help quitting.

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

If you are or might be pregnant
What drugs, vitamins, herbs, and other supplements you are taking, even ones you bought without a prescription
During the week before your surgery:

You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), vitamin E, warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.
Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
On the day of your surgery:

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery.
Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
After the Procedure
You can probably go home 2 days after your surgery. You should be able to drink clear liquids on the day after surgery, and then a puréed diet by the time you go home.

When you go home, you will probably be given pain pills or liquids and a medication called proton pump inhibitors.

Your doctor, nurse, or dietitian will recommend a diet for you. Meals should be small to avoid stretching the remaining stomach.

Outlook (Prognosis)
The final weight loss may not be as large as with gastric bypass. And this may be enough for many patients. Talk with your doctor about which procedure is best for you.

The weight will usually come off more slowly than with gastric bypass. You should keep losing weight for up to 2 to 3 years.

Losing enough weight after surgery can improve many medical conditions you might also have. Conditions that may improve are asthma, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and gastroesophageal disease (GERD).

Weighing less should also make it much easier for you to move around and do your everyday activities.

This surgery alone is not a solution to losing weight. It can train you to eat less, but you still have to do much of the work. To lose weight and avoid complications from the procedure, you will need to follow the exercise and eating guidelines that your doctor and dietitian gave you.

Alternative Names
Gastrectomy – sleeve; Gastrectomy – greater curvature; Gastrectomy – parietal; Gastric reduction; Vertical gastroplasty

Moy J, Pomp A, Dakin G, et al. Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy for morbid obesity. Am J Surg. 2008 Nov;196(5):e56-9.

Richards WO. Morbid obesity. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 15.

Woodward G, Morton J. Bariatric surgery. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ. Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 7.

Update Date: 1/29/2013

From Dawn – through Kelly W


Friday February 7th was a life changing day for me. I saw that Rosie was going to be back on the view and I made it a point to watch. I missed part of it so I went on the website and watched each segment. I was particularly interested in the segment where she spoke on her heart attack…I lost my father in 1985 to what is termed “the widow maker” and the fact she beat it made me very happy.

Later on that night, after dinner, I was watching tv with my boyfriend when I noticed I wasn’t feeling very well. Tightness, kind of resembling gas, in my chest. Didn’t think much about it until it felt like it was radiating to my back. That’s when I realized I had been having left arm pain for a couple weeks and it felt worse too. Again I had dismissed the arm pain to the fact I carry an extremely heavy computer bag and purse, to and from work.

When I started thinking about what was happening I went on webMd and researched heart attack symptoms in women. While I was on the site I noticed that I had half the signs. I was still not admitting what was happening. My daughter had even said, “mom, you really ought to think about going on to the hospital!” So, being the stubborn person I am, I got in the shower thinking it would make me feel better. As soon as I got out, the nausea hit and I remembered what Rosie had said… I told my boyfriend to take me to the ER NOW.

They hooked me up and did all the tests but nothing was definitive showing I’d had a heart attack but they said they still couldn’t rule it out and asked me to stay for a stress test the following morning. I almost blew it off and started to tell them I would just go on home, but her words had stuck with me. Something was wrong! I needed to know what it was. The answer came after my blood test…the enzyme your body produces after a heart attack showed significant and they promptly cancelled my stress test and scheduled a heart cath.

On Monday February 10th the cath showed 90 percent blockage on one and 68 percent on another. The one with 90 percent had already started making its own bypass. They put in a stent while they were already in there and I went to recovery. 6 hours after the procedure they were taking the sheath out of my leg and it started to bleed. I was losing a lot of blood. I also developed a HUGE hematoma around the site. That is when the 2nd attack happened. I was short of breath…like someone was sitting on my chest. I got so hot they turned the air down to 50 something and my mother stood over me fanning me. I remember telling them “OMG I’m gonna vomit!!” The next thing I knew there were 5 nurses working on me trying to stop the blood and get the hematoma to stop growing. The blood finally stopped and the hematoma broke up…12 hours after the procedure I was finally improving.

My doctor came in the next morning, Tuesday the 11th, and told me that the enzyme had spiked in my blood again (that’s when I had verification on the 2nd attack). He said it was minor and it was where he had opened the blocked artery and the branch that had been developing was now deprived. I went home later that night and have been recovering there since.

I totally believe it was divine intervention that I knew I needed to watch her that day. Someone somewhere knew I needed that information. I know Rosie gets a ton of flack form a lot of people, but like her or hate her, she knows what she’s talking about and SHE helped save my life that day and for that I will always be grateful.

Thankful for Rosie…


russell brand on addiction

The last time I thought about taking heroin was yesterday. I had received “an inconvenient truth” from a beautiful woman. It wasn’t about climate change – I’m not that ecologically switched on – she told me she was pregnant and it wasn’t mine.

I had to take immediate action. I put Morrissey on in my car as an external conduit for the surging melancholy, and as I wound my way through the neurotic Hollywood hills, the narrow lanes and tight bends were a material echo of the synaptic tangle where my thoughts stalled and jammed.

Morrissey, as ever, conducted a symphony, within and without and the tidal misery burgeoned. I am becoming possessed. The part of me that experienced the negative data, the self, is becoming overwhelmed, I can no longer see where I end and the pain begins. So now I have a choice.

I cannot accurately convey to you the efficiency of heroin in neutralising pain. It transforms a tight, white fist into a gentle, brown wave. From my first inhalation 15 years ago, it fumigated my private hell and lay me down in its hazy pastures and a bathroom floor in Hackney embraced me like a womb.

This shadow is darkly cast on the retina of my soul and whenever I am dislodged from comfort my focus falls there.

It is 10 years since I used drugs or drank alcohol and my life has improved immeasurably. I have a job, a house, a cat, good friendships and generally a bright outlook.

The price of this is constant vigilance because the disease of addiction is not rational. Recently for the purposes of a documentary on this subject I reviewed some footage of myself smoking heroin that my friend had shot as part of a typically exhibitionist attempt of mine to get clean.

I sit wasted and slumped with an unacceptable haircut against a wall in another Hackney flat (Hackney is starting to seem like part of the problem) inhaling fizzy, black snakes of smack off a scrap of crumpled foil. When I saw the tape a month or so ago, what is surprising is that my reaction is not one of gratitude for the positive changes I’ve experienced but envy at witnessing an earlier version of myself unencumbered by the burden of abstinence. I sat in a suite at the Savoy hotel, in privilege, resenting the woeful ratbag I once was, who, for all his problems, had drugs. That is obviously irrational.

The mentality and behaviour of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help they have no hope.

This is the reason I have started a fund within Comic Relief, Give It Up. I want to raise awareness of, and money for, abstinence-based recovery. It was Kevin Cahill’s idea, he is the bloke who runs Comic Relief. He called me when he read an article I wrote after Amy Winehouse died. Her death had a powerful impact on me I suppose because it was such an obvious shock, like watching someone for hours through a telescope, seeing them advance towards you, fist extended with the intention of punching you in the face. Even though I saw it coming, it still hurt when it eventually hit me.

What was so painful about Amy’s death is that I know that there is something I could have done. I could have passed on to her the solution that was freely given to me. Don’t pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. It sounds so simple. It actually is simple but it isn’t easy: it requires incredible support and fastidious structuring. Not to mention that the whole infrastructure of abstinence based recovery is shrouded in necessary secrecy. There are support fellowships that are easy to find and open to anyone who needs them but they eschew promotion of any kind in order to preserve the purity of their purpose, which is for people with alcoholism and addiction to help one another stay clean and sober.

Without these fellowships I would take drugs. Because, even now, the condition persists. Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.

If this seems odd to you it is because you are not an alcoholic or a drug addict. You are likely one of the 90% of people who can drink and use drugs safely. I have friends who can smoke weed, swill gin, even do crack and then merrily get on with their lives. For me, this is not an option. I will relinquish all else to ride that buzz to oblivion. Even if it began as a timid glass of chardonnay on a ponce’s yacht, it would end with me necking the bottle, swimming to shore and sprinting to Bethnal Green in search of a crack house. I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary. I still eye the shuffling subclass of junkies and dealers, invisibly gliding between doorways through the gutters. I see that dereliction can survive in opulence; the abundantly wealthy with destitution in their stare.

Spurred by Amy’s death, I’ve tried to salvage unwilling victims from the mayhem of the internal storm and I am always, always, just pulled inside myself. I have a friend so beautiful, so haunted by talent that you can barely look away from her, whose smile is such a treasure that I have often squandered my sanity for a moment in its glow. Her story is so galling that no one would condemn her for her dependency on illegal anesthesia, but now, even though her life is trying to turn around despite her, even though she has genuine opportunities for a new start, the gutter will not release its prey. The gutter is within. It is frustrating to watch. It is frustrating to love someone with this disease.

A friend of mine’s brother cannot stop drinking. He gets a few months of sobriety and his inner beauty, with the obstacles of his horrible drunken behaviour pushed aside by the presence of a programme, begins to radiate. His family bask relieved, in the joy of their returned loved one, his life gathers momentum but then he somehow forgets the price of this freedom, returns to his old way of thinking, picks up a drink and Mr Hyde is back in the saddle. Once more his brother’s face is gaunt and hopeless. His family blame themselves and wonder what they could have done differently, racking their minds for a perfect sentiment; wrapped up in the perfect sentence, a magic bullet to sear right through the toxic fortress that has incarcerated the person they love and restore them to sanity. The fact is, though, that they can’t, the sufferer must, of course, be a willing participant in their own recovery. They must not pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. Just don’t pick up, that’s all.

It is difficult to feel sympathy for these people. It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk and see them as sick and powerless. It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you and steal from you and forgive them and offer them help. Can there be any other disease that renders its victims so unappealing? Would Great Ormond Street be so attractive a cause if its beds were riddled with obnoxious little criminals that had “brought it on themselves”?

Peter Hitchens is a vocal adversary of mine on this matter. He sees this condition as a matter of choice and the culprits as criminals who should go to prison. I know how he feels. I bet I have to deal with a lot more drug addicts than he does, let’s face it. I share my brain with one, and I can tell you firsthand, they are total fucking wankers. Where I differ from Peter is in my belief that if you regard alcoholics and drug addicts not as bad people but as sick people then we can help them to get better. By we, I mean other people who have the same problem but have found a way to live drug-and-alcohol-free lives. Guided by principles and traditions a programme has been founded that has worked miracles in millions of lives. Not just the alcoholics and addicts themselves but their families, their friends and of course society as a whole.

What we want to do with Give It Up is popularise a compassionate perception of drunks and addicts, and provide funding for places at treatment centres where they can get clean using these principles. Then, once they are drug-and-alcohol-free, to make sure they retain contact with the support that is available to keep them clean. I know that as you read this you either identify with it yourself or are reminded of someone who you love who cannot exercise control over substances. I want you to know that the help that was available to me, the help upon which my recovery still depends is available.

I wound down the hill in an alien land, Morrissey chanted lonely mantras, the pain quickly accumulated incalculably, and I began to weave the familiar tapestry that tells an old, old story. I think of places I could score. Off Santa Monica there’s a homeless man who I know uses gear. I could find him, buy him a bag if he takes me to score.

I leave him on the corner, a couple of rocks, a couple of $20 bags pressed into my sweaty palm. I get home, I pull out the foil, neatly torn. I break the bottom off a Martell miniature. I have cigarettes, using makes me need fags. I make a pipe for the rocks with the bottle. I lay a strip of foil on the counter to chase the brown. I pause to reflect and regret that I don’t know how to fix, only smoke, feeling inferior even in the manner of my using. I see the foil scorch. I hear the crackle from which crack gets it’s name. I feel the plastic fog hit the back of my yawning throat. Eyes up. Back relaxing, the bottle drops and the greedy bliss eats my pain. There is no girl, there is no tomorrow, there is nothing but the bilious kiss of the greedy bliss.

Even as I spin this beautifully dreaded web, I am reaching for my phone. I call someone: not a doctor or a sage, not a mystic or a physician, just a bloke like me, another alcoholic, who I know knows how I feel. The phone rings and I half hope he’ll just let it ring out. It’s 4am in London. He’s asleep, he can’t hear the phone, he won’t pick up. I indicate left, heading to Santa Monica. The ringing stops, then the dry mouthed nocturnal mumble: “Hello. You all right mate?”

He picks up.

And for another day, thank God, I don’t have to.