Monday, January 28, 2008

Black Health and Black Love - Do they go hand in hand?

by The Love Doctor

Is there any feeling worse than the one you have after ending a long-term relationship? It seems that if anything is deserving of a sick day, this would be it.

Well, a Japanese Marketing firm agrees with you. The firm offers its employees "heartache leave" to help them get over the pain of a lost relationship.

Hime & Company says that the time off allows its workers to cry off their pain and move forward with their lives.

"Not everyone needs to take maternity leave but with heartbreak, everyone needs time off, just like when you get sick," CEO Miki Hiradate said.

If you are 24 or younger, you get one day off per year. If you are between 35 and 29 you get two days off. If you are older than that, you get 3 days.

"Women in their 20s can find their next love quickly, but it's tougher for women in their 30s, and their break-ups tend to be more serious," Hiradate said.

The company also offers women two mornings off twice a year for "sales shopping leave".

"Before, women could take half-days off to go to sales, but you'd have to hide your shopping bags in lockers by the train station," Hiradate said.

"But with paid leave, we don't have to feel guilty about bringing our shopping bags to work, and we can enjoy the best part about sales shopping -- talking about our purchases afterwards."

Taking time off for love makes sense, since there is scientific research stating that losing a relationship can be as painful as drug withdrawal. Perhaps firms in the U.S. will consider a similar policy.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lil Wayne and Heath Ledger: Medicating our problems Away

Shortly before Lil Wayne’s arrest, I’d recently become reacquainted with him. I’ve met a lot of artists through time, and even when I’d met Wayne a couple of years ago, I wasn’t impressed. I honestly didn’t feel, at the time, that his music was all that good. But this year, I was proven wrong. Lil Wayne came up like Godzilla from the ocean, and he now has my respect. Sort of.

Heath Ledger has had an equally meteoric rise, with that rise expected to go on full blast with his latest role as The Joker in the new Batman film. The Joker’s presence appears to be the central theme of the movie and I am sure there are rooms full of Hollywood executives trying to figure out how to manage the fact that one of the two most important people in their new blockbuster film is now lying in a casket.

I feel bad for Heath Ledger and Lil Wayne. It appears that both of them had an odd love affair with a set of mind altering substances.

There are at least three clear differences between Heath Ledger and Lil Wayne: First, one guy is dead and the other only has a death wish. Secondly, one guy’s substances are illegal, and the other guy’s stuff should be outlawed. Third, I am not sure if Heath Ledger ever had a chance to experience the greatness of Lil Wayne, and I would not be surprised if Lil Wayne missed out on Broke Back Mountain. I honestly missed it too, it was just too weird.

But that’s where the differences seem to end.

Drugs are everywhere. As a college professor, I’ve seen drugs destroy the lives of many otherwise normal, happy, healthy young people. What’s worse is that many of our greatest drug dealers are major corporations. I tire of seeing one commercial after another, seeking to bring out the hypochondriac in all of us. They overmedicate our kids to turn them into lifeless, wide-eyed, zombies. They tell old men that they can have bigger penises and use them more often. Anyone who can’t sleep or has a series of bad days is given something in a bottle that will make the bad days turn sunny.

Actually, they’re right. People on drugs are usually much happier than those who actually face their problems and work through them….at least for a while.
I am not here to say that psychiatric medication is not necessary. I like the idea that I can escape the pain of surgery and suddenly see Halle Berry in a bikini. However, the idea that our society allows an industry to make money hand over fist by getting us all hooked on their product is quite disturbing. Pookie on the corner offering hits to school children has been overshadowed by men in business suits showing up at the same school to offer a more powerful product.

Heath Ledger had problems, and his doctor gave him prescriptions to make it better. He eventually dies from an overdose. Lil Wayne surely has problems of his own, since the list of haters gets long when you’re on top. He found his own medication. Part of the reason I never wanted to be a huge celebrity is that the psychological toll can be astronomical. In this case, the inability to handle this toll has stolen the life of one of our most talented celebrities, and may steal the livelihood of another.

I must admit that all of this just makes me sad. But then again, I’m sure some company will soon offer me a drug that can make me it go away. Perhaps I should see my pusher….err uhh…doctor. Either one would be just fine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When Death Comes Knocking

I learned a long time ago that when death comes knocking, there’s nowhere to hide. When the AIDS epidemic hit and spread faster than a prostitute’s legs, I remember feeling a sense of panic and urgency. Panic, because the disease affected anyone and everyone. And urgency due to an overwhelming desire to know. Like most people, I was scared…more like horrified at the thought of possibly having contracted a deadly disease due to something I had done.
I’ll never forget the day that Ervin “Magic” Johnson announced on national television that he was HIV positive. My heart sank, and I cried so hard my tear ducts became dry. Although I was devastated by the news, I couldn’t help but think about my uncle. My uncle was an openly gay male. I became physically ill thinking that he could be infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
A few years later, my fear became a reality. Not for me, but for my uncle. I remember that he had quit his job and moved to the same city as me. When I saw him, there was something different about him. Not only did he physically look different, he started behaving with a true sense of urgency. Although he never confided in me about his condition, I believe he knew that he was terminally ill. The truth was he was in denial. It wasn’t until he began to experience flu-like symptoms that he went to the hospital. That’s when the doctor confirmed that he had full-blown AIDS. Even then, he was ashamed and full of remorse. He didn’t want the family to know, especially his nieces.
Not long after my uncle turned thirty-two, the virus began to take over his body. An MRI revealed that he had a mass on his brain, which impacted his speech and ability to walk. After being confined to a wheelchair and requiring the constant care of a nurse, he was placed in hospice.
“Your uncle died today,” were the words my mother left on my voicemail.
I felt as if someone had sucker-punched me in the gut and left me winded. An invisible vacuum must have sucked the air out of the room, because I thought I was going to suffocate. It didn’t matter that his chances for survival were bleak. I refused to accept his prognosis. I fasted, prayed and pleaded with God for a miracle. There was no miracle, and I was grief-stricken.
The same morning that I received the news about my uncle’s demise, I got dressed, crying all the while, and went to work. After running a red light, I nearly joined my uncle. Because of my tears flowing like a river, my vision was blurred. I arrived at the office, eyes red and puffy, and went to my desk. I couldn’t stop crying. Unable to concentrate, I went back home.
Admittedly, I was having a difficult time. Later that evening, while sobbing in my pillow, I felt my hair being lifted off my shoulders and plop back down. Immediately, I stopped balling and looked around the room. No one was there. I didn’t feel afraid. Rather, there was a comforting presence. Suddenly, I heard my uncle’s voice as clearly as if he were standing in the same room as me.
“Little niece, don’t cry for me,” he said. “I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Now stop crying and go put some ice on your eyes.”
Although I missed him terribly, the grief became more bearable. Having that encounter helped me to understand that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. Energy doesn’t die, it transcends. At his funeral, I shared my experience. Later, I found out that lots of people were comforted by my testimony.
For a while, I had vivid dreams about my uncle. I even participated in AIDS Walk Atlanta. I didn’t want other people to go through what my uncle went through.
Ten years has passed since my uncle died, and AIDS is still an epidemic. Recently, I visited his gravesite for the first time since his burial. I introduced him to my four-year old daughter, his great-niece. I realized that I really did introduce them because a few months later, my daughter came to me with her notebook in hand. She had drawn a picture of her uncle. She didn’t know his name, or at least she didn’t tell me. In her artwork, the man had long hair and wore a crown. She proceeded to tell me that he was no longer with us and that he wanted to be a girl. My jaw dropped. I was shocked and skeptical at first. Then she informed me that while he was in high school, he wore a dress. After high school, he got married to a boy.
Everything she said was true, but she had no way of knowing any of it, unless he had told her. My daughter is young, and I’ve never had a discussion with her, or around her, about same-sex relationships. Thankfully, she wasn’t afraid and neither was I, especially when she told me that he hugged her.
Hearing about my daughter’s encounter with our deceased uncle reminded me that there is still so much work to do regarding combating HIV/AIDS. It amazes me that although the media has done a good job bringing awareness to the disease, so many people are still getting infected. I feel as though I have been personally commissioned to help eradicate this pandemic. Each and every life lost to AIDS related complications is too many. We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of this horrific disease. If anyone thinks that HIV/AIDS is limited to homosexuals, intravenous drug users or morally corrupt individuals, think again.
The United States vital statistics found on the “Until There’s a Cure” Web site suggest otherwise. The following stats are disturbing.
 An estimated one million people are currently living with HIV in the United States, with approximately 40,000 new infections occurring each year.
 70 percent of these new infections occur in men and 30 percent occur in women.
 By race, 54 percent of the new infections in the United States occur among African Americans, and 64 percent of the new infections in women occur in African American women.
 75 percent of the new infections in women are heterosexually transmitted.
 Half of all new infections in the United States occur in people 25 years of age or younger.
The worldwide statics are even more alarming.
 Over 22 million people have died from AIDS.
 Over 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 74 percent of these infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa.
 Over 19 million women are living with HIV/AIDS.
 By the year 2010, five countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, China, India, and Russia) with 40 percent of the world's population will add 50 to 75 million infected people to the worldwide pool of HIV disease.
 There are 14,000 new infections every day (95 percent in developing countries). HIV/AIDS is a "disease of young people" with half of the 5 million new infections each year occurring among people ages 15 to 24.
 The UN estimates that, currently, there are 14 million AIDS orphans and that by 2010 there will be 25 million.
No one deserves to contract HIV/AIDS, regardless of their lifestyle. When death comes knocking, it doesn’t care about age, race, nationality, religion, sexual preference, gender or social status. What will you do to make a change?

Prosperity in 7 Days: Add One Dose of Reality

By Dr. Alduan Tartt - Mental Health Specialist

WOW, there certainly is a market for selling hope and prosperity? Have you seen how many motivational products are on the market these days: “The Science of Self-Discipline, The 4 hour Work Week, Lead the Field, etc.? Isn’t it great that we only have to wait “45 Days to Get Rich” and that we can, “Have the Life of Our Dreams in 90 Days”? In fact, did you know that it is possible to “Achieve a Whole New You in 7 Days”? It certainly appears that society is getting a whole lot smarter because we have miraculously figured out how to obtain riches, live the life of our dreams, and transform our lives in record time. Imagine, our parents, mentors, and ancestors had to struggle and endure for decades to get the same results. One has to think, if they knew what we knew they could have retired earlier and endured far less suffering.

If you’re like me, you have gotten caught up in the hype too. In 2007, I purchased motivational CD’s, tapes, DVD’s, workbooks, and even attended workshops and boot camps to improve my life, get rich, and find my true calling in record numbers. I sincerely cherish my expansive library of motivational products because they have significantly influenced and added value to my life in unimaginable ways. Being a motivational speaker myself, I even got caught up in creating products that would transform people’s lives in record time too. However, there was one thing that kept getting in my way: THEY DIDN’T WORK IN 7 DAYS.

I didn’t “Earn a Million Dollars as a Speaker in One Year”. I didn’t even earn a hundred thousand dollars! It’s taken me years to “transform my life” and I’m sure I’m still transforming. As for my dream life, I had some revelations about that too. I realized through daily prayer and relationship with God that I already was living my dream life and didn’t know it. In fact, when I began to reflect I became upset because I remember vividly that I struggled, lost direction, and got distracted from my true calling chasing “A Million Dollar Lifestyle in a Week”. I began to think that my cherished arsenal of motivational products was a fraud but then something told me to listen again.

When I went back and listened I realized that, almost to an author, I had missed one very integral, salient, and redundant point: Struggle is necessary for success and we only have limited control over when it comes. How did I miss that and why wasn’t struggle emphasized more in the titles? Was I duped, sold false hope, or outright lied to? I mean a 4-hour work week clearly implied that I can have more with less time. How was it possible that I had less money than what I had before I purchased these products when I was adding 5-10 hours per week just to listen to the tapes and CD’s? I mean, I was really mad but then I came to peace with myself.

To be real, I wasn’t duped. The authors told me the truth and I bought the PR and marketing hook, line, and sinker for one reason: I wanted a short cut. I certainly didn’t mind skipping struggle, losing money, or working for the rest of my life. I realized that I had gotten caught up in the hype. We’re living in a microwave society that wants and expects everything NOW! We watch reality TV shows, MTV, and VH1 and see everyday people transform into stars, in what appears, overnight and we want the same thing. I mean, it’s OK for children to think that Peter Pan can fly, Santa Clause can fit down chimneys, and WCW wrestlers really fight each other but what about adults? We’re grown and we know better, don’t we?

Television, radio, and those damned infomercials (my weakness) are so powerful. Even as adults, we forget that television is contrived, scripted, and fantastical which means that the extraordinary is the norm in Hollywood. What we forget is what is edited out, fast forwarded, or outright skipped. However, I’ll admit that I did turn the channel when the spokesmen kept it real about struggle, patience, and self-discipline. I didn’t want to hear that. Instead I bought what I wanted them to sell me: Instant Results! As a society, we now expect instant gratification, boundless energy, success, wealth, and prosperity without having to work for it. We desire the results now and could do without having to struggle, persist, or depend on God for it.

In retrospect, I’m glad that things didn’t work out for me in record time. Had I been so lucky, I most certainly would have traveled the world encouraging others to do the same while I openly and naively challenged their belief system if things didn’t work out for them in 7 days. Now that I struggle, I can better identify and appreciate the exhausting journey of obstacles, trials, and tribulations that we all must endure in order to be successful. Rome was not built overnight and neither were Les Brown, Oprah Winfrey, or Jay-Z for that matter. Certainly none of my heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, or Nelson Mandela learned how to be leaders from listening to motivation tapes and CD’s. Instead they all followed their dream, worked hard, struggled, endured, and prospered…and in that order!

Who are we to take short cuts? The moral here is that no matter how much we get mesmerized by instant success productions in a microwave society; there remains one tried and true formula for success: Belief, patience, persistence, and hard work- Notice that no specified time was included. God knows what we need, what we can handle, and has the ultimate time table for our success.

Remember that struggle is part of the process, builds endurance, faith, stamina, and ALWAYS precedes success. So, don’t give up on your dreams because you did not achieve your dreams in 7 days. Remember that the harvest takes time and fruit can be long-bearing. Keep stringing together 7 days of hard work, persistence, and faith in God and watch what happens over six months, one year, and two years! Besides, success stories without conflict don’t sell very well and ultimately rob you of your testimony to encourage others. Embrace and enjoy the journey.

Dr. Tartt is a licensed psychologist, power life coach, and motivational speaker in the Atlanta, Georgia area. He is available to speak on a variety of topics and enjoys coaching and supporting believers on their walk with faith towards a better tomorrow. He can be contacted at or 1-877-377-4002.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Drug Claims to Get Replace Sleep

Researchers at the UCLA Medical Center claim to have found a drug that can get rid of sleep deprivation. Sounds a little scary, but it could be true.

A nasal spray was found to eliminate sleep deprivation in monkeys, making them look "awake" on PET scans. The first application of the drug is likely to help those who suffer from narcolepsy.

The treatment is "a totally new route for increasing arousal, and the new study shows it to be relatively benign," said Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA one of the authors of the study. "It reduces sleepiness without causing edginess."

The drug is called Orexin A and is believed by the scientists to be the wave of the future. Traditionally, stimulants have been used to fight sleep deprivation, causing high blood pressure, crankiness, and other side effects. But this drug was found to be clear of any readily apparent externalities.

In the tests, monkeys were deprived of sleep for 30 to 36 hours and then given Orexin A or a placebo. Afterward, they were given cognitive tests. The monkeys on Orexin A scored as well as those monkeys who were not sleep deprived. The placebo group scored poorly.

The study is going to be published in the December issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The product is expected to be widely used if released to the public, since 70% of all Americans get less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep.

Latanja Watkins, President of The Black Women's Health Institute says not so fast. "We have yet to see the long-term consequences of these drugs," says Watkins, a researcher in issues related to African-American health. "I would wait a few years before trying it, since everyone on earth is going to try to use this drug when it is released."

Congo Rape Victims Have Yet to Receive Justice

The epidemic of rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. This year, thousands of women have been raped and sexually assaulted. Rape has been used as a weapon of war in the civil war between North and South Kivo in Eastern Congo. Amnesty International reported that 20 armed groups, government soldiers from DRC and Rwanda, police officers, and civilians are the perpetrators involved in these attacks.

It is an everyday reality for a woman to be tortured and raped in front of families and friends. Some have been forced to eat feces or drink urine. Pregnant women have lost their babies from perpetrators that have cut open their stomachs. Above all, perpetrators have enjoyed forcing foreign objects, such as the barrel of a gun and sticks into the rape victims. This type of torture caused victims excruciating abdomen pain while sitting and jeopardized the possibility of ever having children. Some women suffered from internal permanent injuries, such as fistulas or rips in vaginal walls and the anal areas, which required extensive surgical treatment. Recently, an 80 year old woman died from permanent damages. She was gang raped by several militiamen. There were over 40,000 untreated rape victims that contracted the HIV virus.

According to the United Nations Patch News, a 28-year old rape victim said, "Every woman in the village leaves at night to sleep in the bushes because of the raping. They still loot but if they can't find us they can't rape us. Women in many villages dare not sleep in their own homes. Others are too afraid even to go to the outskirts of their communities to tend to crops because so many women have been seized in the fields, contributing to the rise in malnutrition and disease that has claimed so many lives. People live in fear so they live in the bush. They expose themselves to diseases: malaria, gastro-enteritis. It's cold at night. All of this claims lives.”
Van Woudenberg of Human Rights Watch, claimed that women who want to bring charges of rape have little rights. "The investigation is never properly conducted and there are hardly any women magistrates or investigators. Women are treated so badly when they raise these issues and when they go through court proceedings."

Many women are fearful of turning to the country's courts for help. There is a widespread of lack of faith in the system where justice is available to the highest bidder. This is quite typical, and only 200 of the thousands of rape victims have dared to legally pursue their attackers. Another major problem is the lack of access to the legal system. There are courts in the North Kivu towns of Goma, Butembo and Beni, but most women are attacked in rural areas, miles from the nearest police station, court house or lawyer. Only two percent of the sexually violent victims have access to legal assistance. In the near future, the Human Rights Watch advocate plans to implement a new law on sexual violence which was passed by parliament in 2006. It was designed to speed up the prosecution of rape cases and impose stiffer penalties.

Young boys are rape victims as well. North Kivo reported 40 male rape victims.

Whites More Likely to Receive ER Pain Killers

CNN is reporting that whites are more likely than blacks to receive painkillers when waiting in the emergency room. The results are from a 13 year study of 150,000 emergency room visits. The gap exists for every type of pain, and for both urban and rural hospitals.

"The gaps between whites and nonwhites have not appeared to close at all," said study co-author Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco.

The results are to appear in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Linda Simoni-Wastila of The University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Pharmacy argues that the racial gap may be due to the fact that doctors suspect minority patients of being drug abusers and lying to get narcotics. This would be ironic, since the rate of white prescription drug abuse is far greater than that of African-Americans.

The researchers argue that stricter protocols for prescribing narcotics may help close the gap.

In the study, opioid narcotics were prescibed 31% of the time for whites, 28% for Asians 24% for Hispanics and 23% for blacks. Minorities were slightly more likely than whites to get aspirin, ibuprofen and similar pain-related medication.

In kidney stone visits, whites got drugs 72% of the time, Hispanics 68%, Asians 67% and African-Americans 56%.