On August 23, 2017

Regressing: Recovery and American pride

By Brady Crain

I continue to do too much. I am between the rock and the hard place of being far more capable than I was before my surgery, and inexplicably in more pervasive pain than I was before my surgery.

What is puzzling about the whole thing is that this is not disabling pain. I can go run 10.5 miles with 2,500 or so feet of vertical climb (I did just two days ago), maintain a good pace, and walk off the trail feeling great. But I wake up sore in the morning. It used to be that sitting down or hunkering down on my haunches or driving in my car would immediately cure my pain, but now the nerve burn is at a lower level all the time, and has no easy solution.

The easiest way to get this pain to go away is to ice my back whenever I am not exercising. But the problem with icing flesh is that while it reduces inflammation and swelling, but it interferes with healing (it should be obvious that injury-related inflammation is the body’s way of increasing blood flow and getting more
resources to the insulted area).

At the advice of both my surgeon and my acupuncturist, I had to pull back from the Naproxin because it was exacerbating a natural water retention during hot weather, possibly revealing a kidney deficiency. And now I have also had to pull back from icing because it is perhaps elongating my healing curve.

Though this is discouraging, and I am pretty sure that there is no Ultra or Vermont 50 in my immediate future, I do not despair. The consensus of chiropractor, acupuncturist, and surgical staff is that if icing reduces nerve pain, we are still dealing with surgical inflammation as opposed to chronic inflammation or impingement.

This makes sense. Icing never made a dent previously: it was all about posture. Now posture doesn’t matter as much. I wake up sore (quite possibly, because my back turns into a pretzel if I sleep on my side or stomach), and that puts pressure on the incision. Driving in a car with lumbar support puts pressure on the
incision. It’s like pushing on a bruise, right?

I have now lived two days without ice, and it’s not that bad. My expectation was that if not addressed, the pain would get worse. But it does not often get worse, unless I do something really silly, and those pain moments are brief. The one thing I lack is patience, and I have no patience for patience.
Standing up for Heather, for an America for all Americans

Another thing for which I have no patience is Nazis and Confederacy worshippers. According to the lore of my grandmother, I come from what is basically the royal line of the American South. I am sick to death of the “lost cause” worship, the antebellum myth of the “rising south.” When I see a Confederate battle flag, I wonder what it must feel like to be a person of color and see a flag that was the hallmark of a leadership group of treasonous, bigoted traitors, who wanted so badly to be able to own human beings that they started a war that killed about 620,000 soldiers (and untold collateral deaths among citizenry). When I say this, by the way, I refer to the leadership rather than the soldiers.

During the Civil War, the population of the United States was about 25 million. This means that in round numbers the military deaths alone during the Civil War were a whopping 2 percent of the overall population (meaning, realistically, that about 4 percent of all United States males, of all ages, were killed in action).
To put this in context, in the terms of the proportion of today’s United States population, the death toll would be just shy of 8 million soldiers, or  more than 16 times the loss we suffered during WWII, and about 24 times the loss we suffered in WWI.

The per capita losses during the Civil War were staggering by any count other than the Russian Revolution/WWII/Purge losses, which numbered in the tens of millions in the mid 20th century; the Holocaust; and the Chinese losses (more than ten million) during WWII.

There is no place for Confederate leaders in the pantheon of heroes.

Nearly all of the monuments to Confederate leaders were put up in the 20th century, during periods of increasing racial tensions and greater enactment of Jim Crow policies (thus, the motivation for their always being in victorious postures). These statues were a literal finger in the eye of civil rights efforts, intentional intimidation.  As long as these statues serve as rallying points for white supremacists, they need to come down out of public spaces. Now.

When Donald Trump was elected, I did my best to hold on-to my conservative friends. I did my best to understand them, talk to them, engage them in discussions. I learned some things from this.

Given the events last week in Charlottesville, and the subsequent equivocation between literal Nazi/fascist factions and people who are protesting for the civil rights of themselves and others, I am no longer making this effort with those who continue to support such leaders. This current debate is dividing the conservatives from the fascists within their own party.

If you look at this situation and see bad people on both sides, you are not only ignorant but you actively dishonor the memory of every single soldier who died fighting Nazis or Imperial Japan.  Both my uncle and great uncle fought in the Pacific, my great-uncle (a marine) falling prisoner to the Japanese and enduring incredible horrors and deprivation for his efforts opposing fascism.  My great uncle is still alive today at the age of something like 96. Believe it or not, he doesn’t like Nazis.

If you think a Confederate flag is “part of our history, can’t get rid of it,” then you are part of this problem. If you think that you can’t possibly be racist because you have a black, Asian, Jewish or Latino friend, think again. If you claim “I don’t see color,” then you have to be white. Because people of color do not have the privilege of seeing no color, because in many parts of the country, their lives depend on what color they see, and how they act and are treated in accordance.

There is a “Free Speech Rally” (this title is a dog whistle to white supremacists) in Boston that I plan to attend this weekend (Aug. 19). Because I am no longer willing to stand aside while others fight for the society I think we should have, I am going to be part of the resistance there.

One of the main reasons that this problem has festered is because of the inaction of good people.  What I mean to say is that there are a great number of good, well-meaning people in the United States, who are far removed from any civil rights struggles. We go about our lives, we have our jobs, we have our daily financial struggles, we keep our heads down, and we go to bed at night. I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but I personally (especially since the election of Barack Obama) thought it was better than this. I thought we had at least nominally moved on.

Now it is clear that the United States has not moved on, and we need to address it. Research has been shown that the most effective way to create a rapid change in behavior patterns is public shaming, and this is what we need to do. We need to teach these people to be ashamed of white supremacy. We need to teach people that it is shameful to equate someone fighting for the rights of themselves or others, to Nazis.

So please, if you hear someone saying something that smacks of racism, don’t politely nod. Don’t equivocate. Stand up, straighten your spine, and call them out on it. Call them what they are: a racist, a bigot, a normalizer, an equivocator. I went to Boston to stand up and be seen and be heard. The ruthless murder of Heather Heyer, and the attempted murder of dozens of others has awokened.

The thing that saddens me most about this, and it speaks volumes about me, about us, is that this outrage, my outrage, our outrage, didn’t come sooner. Hate crimes occur constantly. Ask people of color. Do the research. Matthew Shepard, James Byrd, so many others, these poor souls did not spark our outrage. For the United States to wake up, murders of people of color or gays were not enough. For us to wake up, it took the murder of a nice white lady. Think about that.

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