Friday, March 30, 2012

The Plumber in Albuquerque

Warning: there will be spoilers here. If you haven't yet seen this week's episode of Body of Proof, walk away and I'll see you next week.

And yes, I did previously have a rant about the show. However, this week was the first in a two-part arc about an outbreak and ever since Ebola, I've had an unholy fascination with rare and gross diseases that involve Level 4 biohazard labs, funky oxygenated suits and the CDC. So naturally, I had to watch it.

Can you see the rant coming on?

The show starts nicely with an apparently now disposable regular cast member waiting at a bar for her boyfriend (another regular cast member). She's being chatted up by some guy at the bar who buys a drink, but just before boyfriend arrives, she totters out of the bar looking feverish and dizzy. She dies having a seizure with sufficiently gross blood and other stuff coming out of her mouth. What with a bunch of other people dying the same way, it quickly becomes apparent that Philadelphia is having an outbreak. Shortly after that, the M.E. (Kate) calls in the CDC, which aggravates Megan because now the CDC is going to take away her toys (i.e., the bodies). Or something. Megan is the main character of the show and is played by Dana Delaney, whom I've loved since China Beach. And by the way, when is China Beach going to come out on DVD?

Somehow Megan managers to persuade the CDC that her team should be part of the investigation. Why she's taking the lead on this kind of advocacy instead of Kate, who is her boss, I don't know. Initially, it is thought that this new, strange disease is spread in aerosol form (i.e., you can stand next to me and give it to me by breathing in my general vicinity), but shortly after that Megan speculates that it is spread by bodily fluids and as long as you haven't come in contact with the blood of the miscellanea courses strewn about, you'll be okay. She says and takes off her helmet. Very dramatic.

Even more dramatic, this happens immediately after Kate has stuck herself with a needle as she was sewing up an incision on a body, not paying attention because she and Meagan are having a fight. I forget what it was about, because they seem to have two fights per episode (and both actors involved do it very well - the fights are usually the most real aspects of each episode). Aside from not believing at all that an experienced M.E. would not pay enough attention when they’re sewing up a very body that is a simmering stew of a highly contagious and unknown illness, it gets even more ridiculous.

Until this point, my mother and I had called each other in each commercial thoroughly enjoying sharing this compelling story. However, after Kate sticks herself, I called mor to say that if we come back from the commercial and she (Kate) doesn't tell anyone, I'm turning off the show. We both knew I was lying, because of course I’d watch all of it. Not surprisingly, however, Kate does not tell anyone. Which is completely believable, right? Because a woman who is skilled and experienced enough to become the M.E. of a major city will naturally choose to not say anything about having engaged in an unwitting blood brother ceremony with one of the deceased. Also completely believably, she continues to not say anything after she develops a fever. Instead, Kate stays at work and continues working. Around other people. While having symptoms of an unknown, highly contagious disease with a high fatality rate. Oh, sure.

And then there is some sort of ridiculata around the method of transmission. It is discovered that this outbreak is a result of a terrorist act, during which someone has infected themselves and is going around spreading the disease. Perhaps by spitting on them? Or maybe the method of transmission has changed, because the experienced and skilled FBI agent in charge of this disaster (who’s naturally a jerk) talks about how all this terrorist has to do stand next to someone and he'll pass the infection to them. This is reiterated by Kate when she collapses dramatically at a press conference right after she goes off script and tells the media pack (and The Entire World) that there's an infected terrorist who will pass the disease to everyone. Again, I'm not quite sure how this is going to happen since the disease spreads through blood and other bodily fluids. I also don't know how the terrorist is still alive given that everyone else who’s had this thing have died quickly (and messily).

Not surprisingly, I am not planning to see part two of this disaster and it has a lot to do with the same reason I ranted about the show before. This show was very obviously originally geared toward an audience of grown women with an IQ larger than their shoe size. And because some sort of committee told ABC that they were uncomfortable with any female character being this prickly and sort of unlikable, they started softening her, tinkering away and now we have a woman who is prickly and abrasive in one scene and knows exactly how to comfort a grieving man in the next. They’ve also given her a makeover which has included plastering a caterpillar on each of her eyelids. I know the current beauty trend is for lashes so long they enter a room 2 minutes before the woman herself, but I can't see anything else on her face. They make it hard to focus.

My biggest quibble, however, was the inconsistency in the science. Let me rephrase this: my biggest quibble was the willy-nilly approach to scientific consistency in this episode and how it reflects the writers/producers/network’s assumption that every person who watches this show wouldn’t notice. Which brings me to the plumber in Albuquerque.

A long time ago, I read Linda Ellerbee's memoir And So It Goes: Adventures in Television. I've actually read it several times, as her mix of smart and smartass is just up my alley. In the book she describes doing an evening magazine show and how they did their best to present smart and in-depth coverage of issues making news. It stood out from the rest because the Powers That Be usually insisted that any news show should be able to appeal to "the plumber in Albuquerque," meaning it should be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. It turns out that plumbers in New Mexico are a lot smarter than The Powers That Be give them credit for and the show was a success for a while.

And that is the part about much entertainment that drives me crazy. This assumption that we're all stupid and can't follow along with something smart. This is disproved again and again when really smart stuff is given the chance to make it big (The Big Bang Theory, anyone?) and yet, they persist in assuming that viewers can't follow simple science.

So, it's official. They have removed everything that once made Body of Proof worth watching and are now gearing it to people who switch off their brains when they sit down in front of the TV. Not that there's anything wrong with that in general, but it is very much wrong when they mangle it like this. And this week, ratings were up. Which I’d like to attribute to the icky outbreak, rather than the ridiculous mishmash they've made of the show.

And since I have now felt compelled to twice rant about the show in public, another thing is official. I will never watch it again regardless of how much I love Dana Delaney.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Walking in Sunshine

The weather's been gorgeous here in Toronto, heralding a very early Spring. Not too long ago I meandered out in the sunshine with my camera to see how far we'd come.

The crocus (croci?) are out

As did these white beauties that I have no idea what are

Wildlife was abundant, too

 I love purple

And this hedge on the street right outside my window is the first sign of true Spring. It popped on Sunday, a full month ahead of normal. I'm loving this weather, but it's a bit unnerving


Monday, March 26, 2012


I am a creature of habit. It doesn't take long at all before I settle into a routine and become utterly predictable. Around holidays and other family events I call it tradition and zealously defend these beloved moments against any attempts to mess with them (I should perhaps mention that my definition of such tradition tends to be something we've done twice and liked). I see no reason whatsoever to alter the way I do things all higgledy-piggledy for no reason other than to change things around and not even if there is a good reason for changing.

Enter my commenting system.

Back in the early days of this blog I switched from the Blogger commenting system to Haloscan. I forget why I didn't like the Blogger system - I think it had something to do with not having easy access to someone’s e-mail address - but whatever it was, Haloscan solved it beautifully. It was reliable, hardly ever having technical issues, easy-to-use from the point of view of both me and the person leaving a comment and really, there was no reason to complain whatsoever. Well, perhaps tech-support left something to be desired, but as there rarely were any technical issues, no biggie.

Then Echo bought Haloscan and very happily trumpeted at length about how wonderful they were, giving people the ability to sign in with any ID, they chose (Facebook, Google, etc), thereby facilitating conversations all over the Internet. And my comment count went into the toilet. Because everybody hated it, including me. I could no longer easily find someone's e-mail address (which seriously decreased the already small amount of responses I could do) - actually, let me rephrase that: I could no longer find anyone's e-mail at all. I also could no longer easily find someone's URL, another thing that was really easy with Haloscan (and sort of difficult with Blogger), so I very much wanted to find a way to export my years’ worth of comments and import them into something else. At this point, Blogger had improved their commenting system, so I was willing to come back there. I also wanted to change the look of the blog as the template I'd used since the beginning was not supported by the new Blogger and that meant limited fun with widgets, etc. Besides, it didn't quite feel like me anymore. We hit a wall of not quite being able to figure out how to apply the Echo code to my HTML to keep all my previous comments and were starting to get mightily sick of the whole process.

This was when I discovered that although I could export my comments from Echo, importing them into something else was next to impossible. I put my tech team (a.k.a. The Boy) on it. And despite him being a certified Tech God, he had some degree of trouble figuring it out. He theorizes that by importing them into something, doing some sort of massaging of them and then importing them yet again into Blogger, it may theoretically be possible. However, we both have busy lives and since my commenting system was working - albeit not in any satisfactory way for people who wanted to comment - it got put on the back burner.

On Thursday, comments stopped showing up on the blog. Not just on the most recent posts, but all my comments. Any post from the previous almost seven years now had 0 comments. Zero. On about 1100 posts. However, they still showed in my dashboard on Echo and in my e-mail. I poked around on the Internet to see what was going on and the only thing I found was a post by someone saying that it was impossible to import your comments into Blogger and this was Echo’s way of "enslaving" you to their crap system. Oh, and did I mention that although I had about a year ago set Blogger to sync my comments, this hasn't happened for a long time? Again according to the Internet, Echo claims this is Blogger’s problem, but in reality it’s theirs to solve. And since I have no intention of paying $10 or more per month to get the Pro version of a system I hate so I can get proper tech support (because there’s not even a help section for the unpaid version), I've been stuck.

And then last week happened and my comments no longer appeared anywhere and it was a gift from heaven. Because much as I hate losing close to seven years worth of really wonderful comments, if no one can see them anyway, why not just switch and dump this unbelievably awful commenting system that I – and everyone else - have hated from Day 1? So I did. The plan is for the Tech team to eventually mess with the old comments to see what’s possible, but due to other obligations, it’ll be a while before that can happen.

I’ll being trying different templates for the blog to see what feels right, so there may be more change coming over the next couple of weeks before I settle on something permanent. It's sort of exciting to try out some new Internet clothes, but mostly?

I hate change. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Preventative Healthcare and RA

in the past couple of months, I have been writing a series on preventative healthcare and RA for HealthCentral. Many screening tests used in preventative healthcare are difficult or impossible to do for people who live with pain or who have mobility limitations. This week, I posted the last in the series (so far), so it's time for a summary of links to the individual posts:


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lunch with the Tinks

Last week was March break here in Ontario and my sister brought the kids for a lovely lunch and a visit.

Liam has joined the race to adult teeth and then some, losing both bottom front teeth and one at the top

Time for a serious chat sister to bother 

Mormor and Liam playing squares


Morgan caught in the Spring sun


The restaurant was getting new furniture for the patio and naturally, it needed to be tested and kid-approved


Then we went to say hi to Lucy and these two fell in love with each other

Throughout the visit, I kept remembering my sister at that age and up. I remembered meals and games and just hanging out, the two of us building a bond that cannot be broken. 

There is a trust between siblings that you never quite fine with anyone else, the shared history of growing up together blending you into one. You may look like different people leading different lives, but not too far under the surface, you are one unit and nothing will ever truly come between you. For the rest of your life, you know that there is one other person in the world will always be there for you. I see the kids in the beginning of this journey, of having their own little world together, the shorthand that no one else quite understands. I see the bond between them shining like a rope of gold. Your siblings will never not be your siblings. And if you are lucky, they will also be your friend.
I am very lucky, because Janne is both my sister and my friend.

Happy birthday, l'il sis!


Monday, March 19, 2012

In the Kitchen

I have attendants. Or rather, I receive attendant care services from an agency. Several times a day, staff come into my apartment to assist with various tasks of daily living (showering, dressing, washroom assists, cooking, etc.). Fairly recently, the field became professionalized in a way most people who live independently in the community do not agree with (but that's a rant for another day). Now, attendants must have a PSW degree (Personal Support Worker). I mention this because them having a degree in the healthcare field is relevant to today's post.

So. There I was in the kitchen, directing the attendant in making me dinner. I was cooking fish and as part of the preparation, I let it sit in a container for a few minutes covered with cold water in which we squeeze the juice of two limes to get rid of the "fishy" taste. It's a trick I learned from some of the attendants who come from the Caribbean.

Once the fish has percolated quietly for a sufficient time – 5 minutes or so - the attendant places the fish on a cookie sheet and puts it in the oven. She rinses her hands in the lime water and moves to cut up vegetables for my salad.

"Would you mind washing your hands first?" I ask politely.

"I just rinsed them in the lime water," she replies helpfully. The lime water in which raw fish had been deposited.

I take this opportunity to explain things like raw fish and bacteria and remind her that I have a suppressed immune system.

"But," she says, "the lime cleans off the germs."

I then take this opportunity to remind her that there was raw fish in the lime water. She opines that the lime would have neutralized the germs and this is the point where I start wanting to bang my head against the wall. We have another conversation about raw fish, bacteria and what it takes to eliminate them. As well as another conversation about the implications of a suppressed immune system. She washes her hands, but I can tell she thinks I'm crazy.

A week later, I have the same conversation with another attendant. Who as an aside in a separate conversation mentions of food handling course she took. And yet again, I have the overwhelming wish to bang my head against the wall.

It's a miracle. I don't have food poisoning on a weekly basis.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Real RA: Side Effects of the Miracle

Yesterday, as I moved down the street with the first vague sense of woozy pressure building in my sinuses, it came to me that the next post in my Real RA series should be a look at the cost of the miracle. And by the miracle, I mean Humira and everything good and beneficial it does for me and my life, something about which I'd been known to wax rhapsodic. Repeatedly. I rarely, if ever, wax rhapsodic about the price I pay for this miracle and no, I'm not referring to the exorbitant financial cost (for which the Trillium Drug Program has my everlasting gratitude).

I am referring to the side effects.

Before I move on into this fascinating world, one caveat: I have always been ridiculously sensitive to medication and prone to developing as many side effects as possible. Perhaps my body sees this as a competitive sport. Also, getting fibromyalgia made this worse. Most people aren't quite as overachieving in their response, instead having a more reasonable minor – and usually manageable - handful of side effects. Therefore, if you are considering the Biologics, assume that you will not be like me.

Anyway. Back to yesterday. My family doctor had just given me my shot (I can’t do it myself due to dexterity issues with my hands) and sent me on my way with the usual goofy joke. I love my doctor. I leave her office, then the clinic, go down the street and by the time I'm halfway down the block, I can feel that woozy pressure building in my sinuses. A friend of mine who has a degree in pharmacy claims there is no way a medication can make its presence known that quickly. After 7 years on Biologics, I beg to differ.

I pop to the supermarket to buy groceries and by the time I’ve made it home half an hour later, my nose is nicely plugged. Some time later that day, I will have a sneezing fit that doesn't stop until I have cleared my sinuses. This can take up to 20 sneezes. This will also only temporarily solve the problem, because thanks to the Biologics, my sinuses have been in various stages of inflammation since January 2005.

In addition to the "sinus crap" as I poetically call it, I will also spend the next couple of days being more allergic than I normally am. It means that I can't eat adventurously during this period of increased histamine response and most certainly stay away from tomatoes to prevent hives. Not surprisingly, with increased allergies comes an increase in my asthma symptoms, but it is far more manageable than it was when I was on Enbrel. Back then, I could smell the moth balls in my downstairs neighbour’s closet.

A couple of hours after my sinuses make themselves known, the tired hits. A sense of fuzzy creeps over me, muzzing out my view of the world so everything's a little removed. On the day of my shot, my Mandatory Rest Period gives me the best sleep and I spend the next few days dragging somewhat. Not just in terms of higher than normal fatigue, but also dragging mentally. That sense of fuzzy I just talked about permeates my brain, as well. Things slow down and sometimes, things slow down a lot. Writing becomes more of a struggle, because it takes longer to find the words and then you have to string them together, nevermind making it all interesting. When I can, I try not to write on deadline on these days. If I have to, not much else gets done.

The first day of having my shot is also the start of an approximately 48-hour period in which I feel a vague sense of looming anxiety. Depending on my stress levels, this can become a fairly high level of anxiety. I've learned to ride it out, telling myself that I'll examine it more closely if I'm still feeling anxious after three days, but by then, I've usually forgotten about it all.

Approximately 6 hours after my shot, the ache starts. I don't notice at first, just get restless. Move around a lot in my chair, fidget, then start pacing. Sooner or later, the muscle pain will permeate the filters I normally slap on top of pain and I'll recognize that it's time to "enjoy" another effect of the drug: muscle pain. More like tiny muscles spasms. This usually wakes up my fibromyalgia and the two of them have the kind of ecstatic reunion normally reserved for long-lost lovers. You'd figure they’d get over it, what with it only being two weeks since the last time they met, but this is not the case. This party usually lasts a couple of days, although depending on other factors – stress, weather - it can set off a prolonged fibro flare.

Humira stings going in. As far as I can figure, it's because it contains citric acid as a preservative, but why matters less than the fact of the sting. It stings so much your eyes sweat. It stings so much that my doctor and I joke about people walking by her office hearing the swearing from within and being very confused by the contrast between the blue streak and the smile I usually wear going out. So. The medication stings going in. It also stings coming out. Which, combined with the muscle spasms, can make for an interesting situation down south. Until I started Biologics, I never really connected to the fact that the bladder is a muscle. By now, I’ve become used to feeling like I have a UTI coming on for couple of days after my shot. You can learn to live with a near-constant discontented muttering from your bladder.

I saved the most amusing side effects for last: the gastrointestinal festivities. It starts with a 50-50 chance of spending 2 days in one of two camps. One where everything smells wrong and nothing tastes right, where the queasiness means not a lot of food and not caring. Or the other camp where there's a yawning void in my stomach that can't be filled and I eat everything that isn't nailed down. There's no way of saying which way it'll go.

And there there's the really special stuff. Very shortly after my shot, the bloating starts. The injection triggers the development of a truly astonishing amount of gas, while at the same time significantly slowing down my bowels. That means the gas doesn't have anywhere to go. By the evening of the day on my shot, I look like someone placed a small beach ball in my mid-region. Sometimes it's fairly manageable, sometimes the pressure can almost be painful, making me wish for a hollow syringe I could jab in my distended belly, much like you do to cows that got into the alfalfa. Needless to say, gas-producing foods are not on the menu during this time. Only burping offers relief and I have learned to have a completely unladylike desire for the kind of belching that can rattle windows, even when they arrive without warning. I have also learned to not care much about this uncivilized behavior, although do try to keep my business meetings and outside activities to a minimum for a few days until my body is more predictable again.

Approximately 48 hours after my shot, my bowels wake up again and decide to get rid of all this accumulated air and engage in this process of excessive flatulence with an abandon that would be endearing if it wasn't also embarrassing. Research has shown that the average person farts 14 times a day - I don't want to think about what prompted that study - and RA medications generally easily double that number. Biologics… Well, let's just say that if farting were an Olympic sport, the Biologics would be considered performance-enhancing drugs.

So there I am, two days after my shot and there's nothing for it. You can't hold on to what you don't have in your hands, so I'm sure you can imagine what happens. See above re: schedule workaround to avoid being near other people. Which was a lot easier back in the days when I was single. When I chose my life partner, I didn't think to add “easily tolerates windy girlfriend” to the list of requirements, but it worked out well anyway. When in my vicinity a couple of days after Humira, David, bless him, pretends that this overachieving display of excessive air releases turns him on. It's one of the many reasons I love him.

Although the side effects continue on a low level, the worst of it is over after the first two days. That gives me another 10 days or so to not worry about the sky falling, wheezing, sneezing, hurting (more than usual) and being as gassy as a herd of cows that got into the alfalfa.

At the end of the day, none of this matters. Because Humira has giving me back my life and the side effects are just a minor cost for a miracle. In the big scheme of things, a bit - OK, more than a bit - of farting is nothing compared to this gift.

Just don’t stand downwind of me after I get my shot.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

How To Have Satisfying Sex Depsite Chronic Pain

In Febriary, a bunch of HealtHCentral writers participated in the Valentine's Day project. We wrote about sex, romance and other relationships and how they can be impacted by various illnesses. I posted my last contribution today - yes, I am aware it's March, things got a bit delayed:

"Sex is important. It puts a smile on your face, gives you a bit of a cardio workout, creates a connection between you and your partner, improves your self-esteem and can even make your skin healthy! Chronic pain can be a significant barrier to expressing yourself sexually, causing a drought akin to the Sahara. How do you maintain a healthy sex life with chronic pain?"

You can read the rest here.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Girls with the Dragon Tattoos

Last summer, I immersed myself in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium universe and loved every minute of it. I wish I could read these books again with that fresh sense of discovery, but alas, this is not possible. Instead, I've been watching the movies and although I know the storyline, there is still a feeling of surprise when you see how they approach the story.

The American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been in theaters for a while now and I admit I often don't see the point of remakes. What's wrong with the first version? Anyway!. Today is not about a rant, it's about good movies. I've seen both versions now, the the Swedish original and the US remake and as a break from posts about fatigue, disability politics and more fatigue, I thought I'd contrast and compare. And for those of you who haven't read the book(s)or watched the movies, I'll do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum, but it's inevitable that there will be some. If you'd rather be surprised, walk away now and I'll see you on the next post.

Lisbeth Salander. The heroine of the tale, Lisbeth is all angles, both physically and emotionally. She is fierce, fearless and frighteningly intelligent. She is also vulnerable and fragile. In the original, Noomi Rapace created a Lisbeth that encumbers all of these traits and something more. Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth was surprisingly effective given that she was trying to create her own version of the character that already had a pretty definitive interpretation by Rapace. Still, I felt that the American Lisbeth didn't work quite as well. There was something slightly softened about her, more of an emphasis on the vulnerability, almost as if the filmmakers didn't trust the audience to rally behind someone prickly and hard to understand. Also, and this is a minor quibble – Mara was the only actor in the US movie who chose to use a Swedish accent. On one hand, I think it helped set her character apart from the rest, making her seem more strange, on the other hand… This thing drives me crazy. It happens so often in movies where American actors play characters from other countries. When they speak in "their own language," they use an accent. It's ridiculous - we know they're all supposed to be speaking Spanish/German/Swedish/French, so take that leap and just speak English! (Especially because not many actors can do a foreign accent convincingly and then it just becomes distracting)

Mikael Blomkvist. The hero of the story, Mikael is an investigative journalist played by Michael Nyqvist and Daniel Craig respectively. Mikael is an intellectual who is skilled in research and investigation, but although he has served in the Army (Sweden has the draft, all young men go through the Army), he is not comfortable with violence and physicality. I remember reading a review/article somewhere about the movies where the writer mentioned that Daniel Craig's version of the character is less of a "male bimbo." I looked it up and bimbo seems to mean vacuous, stupid, with somewhat loose morals and none of that applies. Both the Swedish and American movie don't shrink away from the character’s active sex life, so that can't be it. Mikael is certainly anything but stupid, so I don't see how that applies, either. In his review of the US movie, Roger Ebert mentions that Nyqvist’s take on the characters seems "less confident, more threatened" and that Daniel Craig "brings along the confidence of James Bond." I do think that Craig does a good job in terms of toning down his usual comfort with danger and violence, but not quite as effectively as Nyqvist. The Swede is more effective at making us see that Mikael is a man who lives in his head and, as most writers, is not naturally comfortable when things get physical.

The Tattoo. Hands down, the Swedish version wins. I tried to find pictures of both, but could only find Mara’s version. Not nearly as badass as Rapace’s.

The Bad Guys. There are numerous bad guys in this series, but the two primary villains in the first book/movie are Lisbeth’s trustee and the killer. The trustee is wonderfully creepy in both movies, but less obviously a slimeball in the Swedish one. One of things I loved about this series is the way it depicts evil (if you will) within ordinary people. The surprise of terrible acts being couched in banality is more of a shock to the system and makes the story more effective and, I think, better reflects reality. The Swedish movie, with the classic Scandinavian understatements and low-key society shake you up more than the American version. In terms of the killer, it's a bit of a toss-up. Stellan Skarsgaard, who I love, dons this character in the US movie and does such a brilliantly creepy and evil job that instinctively, I want to give him the prize. Still, when you remember that most such killers tend to be described as "such a nice, quiet man," the Swedish movie did it better.

The Revenge Scene. I'm not going to get into details, but there is a horrific scene in which Lisbeth is the victim of a sexual assault that is crucial to the story. Equally crucial is her revenge and I wouldn't be surprised if every showing, the women in the audience cheered. Again, although both the US and Swedish versions of these two scenes are very effective, cringe-inducing and visceral, the Swedish wins. It made me cry. It hit me at a much deeper emotional level, triggering a number of very complex emotions - sadness, fear, rage, protectiveness.

The movies overall. After watching all three Swedish movies in the series, I remember telling someone how good they were at showing people thinking. This is really hard to do visually and most movies therefore focus on the action. However, the defining characteristics of our two main characters is crackling intelligence and, in the case of Lisbeth, genius. It is such an important part of the story that their minds almost become characters, as well. In the US version, you get the sense of how smart these people are, too, but more through their actions and research skills. I probably wouldn't have known to have this quibble if I hadn't seen the original, because it was such a unique experience to see that in the movie.

Giving my ratings in each category above, it's probably not surprising that I think the Swedish original comes out ahead. It could be simply because of the Swedish - as I mentioned in my review of the book, "it's so %*&ing Scandinavian.” There is a cultural difference between Sweden and the US and although the American movie does a very, very good job at trying to be Swedish, at the end of the day, it's a costume, not regular clothes. Would I notice if I wasn't born and raised in a Scandinavian country myself? Probably not. Still, I recommend that you watch both movies and do your own comparison. And then come back and tell me what you think!

At the end of the day, that's my bottom line. That I want to talk about the story, the books, the movies - they are all compelling and worth spending time on. It's not often you come across something that makes you think so much and have quite so many opinions and it is a wonderful ride.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Relationships and Chronic Illness: An Interview with Sherrie and Gregg Piburn

I had the opportunity to speak to two amazing people for an article for HealthCentral:
"Marriages in which one partner has a chronic illness have a divorce rate of 75 percent. That's a daunting statistic reflecting just how much stress a chronic illness brings to the mix. How do you get through with your relationship not just intact, but stronger? I spoke with Gregg Piburn, author of Beyond Chaos: One Man's Journey Alongside His Chronically Ill Wife and Sherrie Piburn, his wife of over 30 years about relationships, chronic illness and the value of honesty."

You can read the rest here.