Personal Update: On The Home Front

— My mother has beaten the odds; now on the way home

1985, USS Reeves (CG-24) waiting her turn behind USS Midway (CV-41) to take on fuel, South China Sea.

It’s my turn to be sick

Well, I’ve been laid up for a couple of days and haven’t had the motivation to really put something up, but now here I am. Greetings from Pattaya, Thailand. Home.

Every two or three years, it seems I manage to catch a good one—the typical fever, chills, body ache, that sort of thing. Now, fortunately, I have a few girlfriends, and I am certain to be asked how I’m doing about every day. Given that it seems like everybody has been sick multiple times in the first part of this year, my response is, “Well, it’s my turn to be sick.”

I’m guaranteed to be asked four things by every single one of them:

  1. Can I do anything to help?
  2. Have you eaten?
  3. Did you take any medicine?
  4. Did you go to the doctor?

And they’re shocked when I say that when I have the fever, chills, and body ache, I always do the same thing: no food, no water, no medicine. I just go to bed, and it typically passes in 12 to 24 hours. I don’t run out and buy anything, or go see anyone, or seek any advice.

So, sitting here very early in the morning and feeling like I’m over the hump with this thing, I thought I would throw together just a smattering of things. Here we go.

Mom is back

Well, I’m going to chalk up my recent trip back to the US, my first in four years, as the turning point for my mother. I think she was determined that it would not be the last time I saw her. She suffers from a condition called pyoderma gangrenosum for a couple of years. It’s quite advanced on the shin of one of her legs—an open wound, probably a good 8×2 inches. Awful. It’s an autoimmune condition, and basically, these wounds open up and they won’t heal. They don’t really know what the causes are, and there’s no real cure for it; it’s just a management thing. The problem is, it’s not that thing that gets you; it’s the other stuff that goes along with it—the general weakness and lack of mobility.

When I saw her on the fifth of Jan, when I flew in, I pretty much thought that was going to be it, maybe a few weeks at most. Also, they had her pretty drugged up, so she was pretty loopy, at least for the first few days that I was there. But by the time I left, she was totally lucid, and in my phone conversations since, you would never know anything was wrong. I just spoke with her a few minutes ago; she never thought she’d go home again, and there she was, in the car on the way back home. What a trooper!

So that’s good news, and now she has to focus on getting her strength back because she’s been laid up for two and a half months. At her age—she’ll be 83 in April. The fortunate thing is that her mind is perfectly intact. It’s rather amazing, actually—a good save there. I’m looking forward to seeing how things transpire.

So, what was the turning point? There were a couple of them, I think. For one, she finally got a doctor who gave a shit, which is so fucking rare anymore, especially in managed care like Kaiser, you know? I don’t want to go off on a rant about it, but anyway, she finally got somebody who gave a shit and who really thought through it through and figured some things out. So that was big.

Then, she went to a care home. And for all the drugs and interventions and everything they’ve done over the last couple of years, you know what it boils down to? Vinegar, an old home remedy. I don’t know the full details, but evidently, they started soaking it for a half an hour in a vinegar solution, and it’s starting to heal up. They think it might even heal completely. Go figure!

Hard to not often become disgusted with the whole medical industrial complex of keeping you sick.

So, I’ve got a story for you. There’s one medication that they put her on for autoimmune-type skin stuff that was helping, but she couldn’t handle the side effects. Anyway, that medication comes to about $3,000 per month. The co-pay that my father would have to pay is somewhere around, I think, $2,300 or something like that. It comes out to about $60 per pill that she has to take.

So, I started talking to some people I know here in Thailand who are tuned into the whole disparity in drug prices around the world. Like, for instance, a lot of the stuff that Thailand has knock-offs on, some of it’s their own formulation that’s like a fifth of the cost.

So anyway, this particular medication is made in India under license from the patent holder, so it’s not a fake drug; it’s the real thing. And guess what the cost is? Not $60 per pill. It’s $0.50 per pill.

Now, all of you people who harp on about “medical care for everybody,” “medical care for everybody,” “medical care for everybody”—you’re too stupid to understand that that is exactly the result of that bullshit attitude where everybody clambers to live at the expense of everybody else. This is exactly what happens. The same thing happens in education. Why do you think education’s so expensive? Because everybody has to have education, everybody has to have education, everybody has to have education. So, you have out-of-control prices because you detach the receiver cost analysis from the cost of the good or service. You have somebody else paying it. Well, it’s easy to spend other people’s money, idiots.

Sam is gone

I guess every upside has to have a downside, or else what does it mean to have an upside? It’s like life itself. What gives it value? Death, right? So, I’m sad to report that my ex-wife, Beatrice—her father passed away a few weeks ago. It was rather shocking because, although he was 94 years old, he defied all odds. When I would talk to her from time to time, I’d ask, “How’s Sam doing?” And she’d say, “He hasn’t changed.” He still gets up in the morning, buzzes around, and has been the primary caretaker for his wife, Lucia.

Just a little while ago, he had a minor heart issue, went in, got that taken care of, and was back home. Then, apparently, it cropped up again, and then he was gone, just a short time later. It was a rapid thing, but in the scope of things, that’s exactly what you want. You want to live a vibrant life and then just drop off a cliff right at the end, rather than what the medical-industrial complex would prefer, so they can make the most money possible off of you.

Anyway, Sam and I had our differences, our ups and downs, but we also had some really great times, and I’ll miss him a lot.

Dr. Michael Eades and Anthony Colpo bury the hatchet

“Now you can add peacemaker to your talent stack.” — Mike Eades

If you’re out of the loop on this one, allow me to sketch the contours of a long-standing intellectual tussle, likely harking back to the mid 2010s. Dr. Michael Eeds—an advocate of the low-carb paradigm—and Anthony Colpo—a layman researcher, blogger, and author dissecting the cholesterol con—have been locked in a dialectical dance for years, parrying through blog posts

I’ve navigated the fringes of their dispute, maintaining a real-world camaraderie with Mike and, more recently, earning Anthony’s friendship here in Thailand. We shared a good five weeks of intellectual jousting and camaraderie before he trekked up to Chiang Mai.

The bone of contention between them isn’t the validity of low-carb diets per se, but rather the nuances of why it’s efficacious for some. The past is prologue, so let’s not dwell. Suffice it to say, my position likely diverges from both of theirs. But what of it? We’re omnivores, and individual responses to diet are as varied as our fingerprints.

Now, the backstory adds layers to this narrative. Having corresponded with both men over the years, I was well-acquainted with Mike and, upon meeting Anthony, could offer Mike a firsthand character assessment. Anthony is the epitome of a gentleman—his comportment toward others is the litmus test of his integrity. Politeness and respect aren’t throwaway virtues

In turn, I relayed to Anthony the distinction between Mike—a clinician with a front-row seat to the transformative power of a low-carb diet on his patients—and the cacophony of keyboard warriors and hawkers of low-carb snake oil. Context is king.

Then serendipity struck. Anthony, through a singular insight, had obliterated my chronic heartburn—a revelation I shared online. Mike, reading this post, reached out in disbelief. He, too, had stumbled upon the same solution independently. A nugget of wisdom, buried in some forgotten tome for Anthony and woven into his lifestyle, had now echoed in Mike’s experience.

This exchange became a conduit for thawing tensions, allowing them to lay down arms and, perhaps, to bury the hatchet. For those ensconced in the low-carb or paleo spheres, this détente might pique your interest. It’s a testament to the value in exchanging ideas and the possibility of convergence amidst staunch divergence. For the rest, it’s a mere footnote in the expansive annals of dietary discourse.

Well here’s what I think…

Further on the topic of Dr. Mike Eades: for the last several years, he has been writing a weekly newsletter called The Arrow. At first, he was hosting it somewhere else, and then he moved over to Substack. In my regular correspondence with him, where we talk about business stuff more than we ever discuss low-carb diets—honestly, we hardly ever talk about low-carb diets—he mentioned that he was transitioning to a new platform.

Within the last couple of weeks, he made the move to that new platform called beehiiv. I wondered why he would do that, so I went and took a look. It turns out that the creators of a very popular newsletter called Morning Brew, which has about 4 million subscribers, put this new platform together. Essentially, it allows anyone to start a newsletter using the same tools they used to grow and monetize Brew. And what a platform it is! Yea, you can start for free.

I had already decided to stop cross-posting to Substack, Medium, and Patreon. It gets me nowhere; it’s just pointless. Then, I had an epiphany. What if I create something completely separate from this blog and make it a pure weekly newsletter? I’d start with five articles per week in the 500 to 1000-word range, all of good quality. I’d make two of them free at the top, and the remaining three for the paid level. To make the paid level accessible, I’d set a no-barrier-to-entry price at $3.50 a month or $35 for a year.

So, I spent last weekend throwing that together. The first one went out a day late on Wednesday rather than Tuesday, due to a learning curve and a hiccup with beehiiv itself, but I got that all ironed out. I’m off and running, and it’s already given me a great, positive outlook. I’m up to about 10,000 subscribers, with a good handful of paid ones, and that’s just within the first few days. I expect that to grow.

Will it compromise my work here on FreeTheAnimal? No, it’s more content. Those who are members here need not worry because the email I put out will be posted here in its entirety for the membership. So, there’s no need for a double membership.

This setup makes a difference for the freeloaders and the cheapskates.

If you’re one of them, you now have an opportunity to get solid material without needing to scrounge around here for the occasional 2-3% of free content. You’ll get a solid two articles a week, ranging from 500 to 1,000 words—sometimes more. Last week, I even put in a bonus third article. You can go there for free every week and not have to scrounge around or spend much time or effort like the old lady who clips coupons and drives all over town to save a buck—you don’t have to do that anymore. You can get your free stuff easily, and if you decide to pay, it’s 1 Starbuck per month for 150% more content. So there you have it, moochers—have it your way.

Well here’s what I think… (what.freetheanimal.com).

Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, lifestyle...to philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More

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