Chronic traumatic brain injury associated with boxing.

Both the government and boxing’s controlling bodies have made attempts to put into place a number of regulations, such as the Muhammed Ali Boxing Reform Act, aimed at minimizing major injuries in the sport. However, head injuries are still a significant concern in boxing. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons says that 90% of boxers will have sustained a brain injury by the end of their careers. Couple that with eye injuries and dementia, which are both effects of being hit in the head, and you can begin to understand why boxing is a dangerous sport…

Don’t Reward Floyd Mayweather’s Abuse

Floyd Mayweather has a history of violence and brutality — and not just inside the ring. I’m talking about a history of battering women that spans more than 12 years. This includes seven documented assaults against five different women, some of them occurring in front of his children.

Mayweather is the highest-paid athlete in the world, which probably has something to do with the fact that he has barely been held accountable for this criminal behavior…

According to the Associated Press, Floyd Mayweather stands to make more than $180 million from this Saturday’s fight — far more than the $135 million the federal budget allocates for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, which provides only bare-bones funds for over 2000 domestic violence programs and shelters across the county.

Please join us by saying “no.” Don’t pay to watch an event that will reward Mayweather with even greater wealth and further endorse his criminal behavior. It’s time we all do our part to stop domestic violence.

Albuquerque’s ‘Baltimore’ protests stay peaceful

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – While Albuquerque protesters marched in solidarity with Baltimore Wednesday afternoon, Albuquerque’s streets were a far cry from the chaos seen in Baltimore over the past few days.

A group of more than 100 marchers took to Central Avenue near the University of New Mexico, forcing Albuquerque Police Department to close the street between Girard Boulevard and Yale Boulevard for about an hour and a half.

Many held signs reading “Black Lives Matter” while others marched with signs decrying police violence. A few of those signs called for justice for Freddie Gray, the young black man whose death stemming from his time in police custody sparked the unrest in Baltimore.

“We have a system here that abuses its power and we want to change that,” said Onesimus Al-Amin with Black Men in Motion…

A New Study Says You Can Shove Your Face With Cheese To Lose Weight

Aarhus University researcher and feces collector Hanne C. Bertram has surmised that the increased consumption of fermented milk (delicious cheese) leads to increased levels of butyric acid, which causes reduced obesity and higher metabolism.

I’m no scientist or feces collector, but from what I can glean, cheese goes in, science happens, and then you lose weight.

But, just in case that’s not really [why] French people are so thin, you might want to also guzzle a bunch of wine like I just did.

Does Cannabis Help Relieve Constipation?

Constipation of intestinal reflexes may be alleviated by the anti-emetic properties of cannabis. Relief of constipation was one of the original cannabis indications cited by Shen-Nung five thousand years ago…

Chemicals in marijuana help regulate the digestive system and have been suggested as a treatment for a wide range of bowel disorders. While marijuana seems to help by reducing bowel movements in inflammatory bowel disorders, it appears to have an opposite effect in constipation…

I’ve never had a lot of digestive problems, even when I was taking opioids.  But now that I don’t have access to cannabis, I’ve noticed that I’m having a little bit of difficulty with constipation issues — problems I didn’t have when I was able to smoke pot every day.  I’m guessing it’s due to all the stress of not being able to manage my pain (along with the stress caused by Unum). Bad enough that I’m too poor to be a member of New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program, but now I have to deal with this too.  I’m telling you, it’s hell to be poor.

The Goat Jumped Over The Moon

“On second thought, I think I am more crazy than my goat.”  Remedios Varo (Spanish artist)

“It really gets on my goat that people keep quoting Dorothea Mackellar’s ‘My Country’ as proof that there is no such thing as climate change. A poem written more than 100 years ago by a homesick 19 year old versus an ever-increasing body of refereed scientific thought… hmm, hard to know which way to jump, really.”  Judy Horacek (Australian cartoonist)

“I remember in the spring of 1971, a hundred thousand people converged on the Pentagon in June of 1971. They threw blood; I guess it was goat’s blood or something, on the steps to the Pentagon. People were being accused of being murderers and baby killers. You just can’t imagine the civic outrage.”  Wesley Clark (American soldier)

“Every man can tell how many goats or sheep he possesses, but not how many friends.” Marcus Tullius Cicero (Roman statesman)

“A close family member once offered his opinion that I exhibit the phone manners of a goat, then promptly withdrew the charge – out of fairness to goats.”  Jeffrey Kluger (American writer)

“Love is not love, without a violin playing goat.”  Julia Roberts, Notting Hill (1999)

(Photo taken yesterday.)

Thinking of you, Peter Cronkite

Peter Cronkite, Grandson of Walter Cronkite, Dead at 22

Peter Cronkite, the 22-year-old grandson of the late, great TV newsman Walter Cronkite, was found dead in a dorm building at his college over the weekend. He took his own life.

Colby College, the Waterville, Maine, liberal arts school where Cronkite was majoring in classical civilization and minoring in cinema studies, announced his death in a public letter Monday…

Greene described Cronkite, who would have graduated next month, as popular, intelligent, and engaged in both academics and athletics:

Peter was a dedicated member of the men’s rugby team and was sports editor of the Colby Echo. Peter had great passion for the ancient world, and he was slated to receive the department’s Foster Prize for Classical Civilization for achieving excellence in his major. His love of participating in athletics, which had been an important part of his life since he was very young, combined with his intelligence and kind, incredibly likeable personality, won him scores of friends and admirers at Colby.

In a New York Times obituary, his family remembers his love of sports and of film. He spent last summer working for “his beloved Mets,” coached youth hockey, and, as a kid, played Dennis the Menace in an animated film.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK. It’s free and open 24 hours.

Letter from Unum dated April 10, 2015

Dear Ms. Stahl:

We received your request for an appeal review of your Long Term Disability claim on April 09, 2015.

We may need to request additional information on appeal. Please sign and date the enclosed Authorization to Collect and Disclose Information, so we may obtain information on your behalf. Some facilities require a special authorization. We may need to ask for another authorization in the future.

The enclosed Optional Authorization to Disclose Information to Third Parties allows us to discuss your claim with the individuals you list on the form.

During the course of your appeal, we may need to speak to you. If you want us to communicate or share information about your claim with a third party (such as your spouse, child or sibling), we need written authorization from you prior to speaking with the third party.

Since Unum refuses to use email, the only way it can speak to me is through regular mail. Makes the process rather slow, doesn’t it? And why would I want Unum to bother any of my family members, none of whom live with me? So Unum can look into my past and find additional reasons to deny my appeal?

This form also gives you an option allowing Unum to leave messages about your claim on your voicemail or answering machine.

I have no phone, which means I have no voicemail or answering machine.

If you do not want us to discuss your claim with a third party, or allow us to leave messages on your voicemail/answering machine, you do not need to complete this form, and may discard it.

Of course I don’t want you to discuss my claim with any “third party,” including my family members. But if I refuse, I’m sure Unum will use this as one of its excuses to deny my appeal. What to do?

Additionally, the form asks me to list the names of the third parties, including my spouse (I don’t have one) and there’s one line for “Other Family Member” and one for “Other person.” Now, I have a big family, but since I haven’t spoken to most of them for quite some time, I can’t think of anyone I could list on this form. So, I won’t be signing and sending this form back to Unum.

Please send the completed forms to the address noted above or fax them to 207-575-2354. You may use the enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope.

Faxing is expensive, so thanks for the return envelope. But as I said, it really slows this process down, doesn’t it?  If I thought this appeal process had any hope of reinstating my benefits, I would be both frustrated and angry at these kinds of delays.

We are committed to making an appeal decision within 45 days of receiving your written appeal. There may be special circumstances in which the review can take longer. We will notify you if more time is needed.

We both know that my appeal has already been denied, so please, Unum, feel free to take all the time you need before you make it official. In fact, I delayed opening this letter from Unum because I was sure it was the denial letter. And because anything to do with Unum just makes my pain worse, increasing my stress levels and making me angry, opening a letter from Unum is the very last thing I want to do.

Let’s see, should I take care of my own health or try to take care of this appeal? As if anything I say or do is going to make a difference.

Ms. Stahl, if you have questions about your claim or this process, please call our Contact Center at 1-800-858-6843, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. Any of our experienced representatives have access to your claim documentation and will be able to assist you.

If you prefer to speak with me personally, I can be reached at the same toll-free number at extension, 59657. We will identify your claim by your Social Security number of claim number, so please have one of these numbers available when you call.

Katherine Durrell
Lead Appeals Specialist

cc: Beirne Maynard and Parsons/Jan Bright


When Unum’s field investigator interviewed me earlier this year, he requested that I sign another Authorization, even though the one on file was current. So, I refused. I have also requested that Unum provide an Authorization that doesn’t violate my HIPAA rights. And although this new Authorization to Collect and Disclose Information states, right at the top, that it is “designed to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule,” it really doesn’t:

“I understand that once My Information is disclosed to Unum, any privacy protections established by HIPAA may not apply to the information, but other privacy laws continue to apply.”

Other privacy laws don’t exist, especially for electronic health records, which is why Unum doesn’t list them. Additionally, the form authorizes not only health care and related facilities to release information to Unum, it also authorizes:

“…rehabilitation professionals, vocational evaluators, health plans, insurance companies, third party administrators, insurance producers, insurance service providers, consumer reporting agencies including credit bureaus, GENEX Services, Inc., The Advocator Group and other Social Security advocacy vendors, professional licensing bodies, employers, attorneys, financial institutions and/or banks, and governmental entities;”

That’s a long list of places where Unum will not find any of my medical information. Of course, Unum isn’t interested in using my medical information to deny my appeal — no, it needs access to all of this other information so it can find every other possible reason. You know, because my medical information, which includes a 25-year history of intractable pain, is just not enough to satisfy Unum.

What else do ya’ll want, my fingerprints and DNA? When will Unum tell me that I have to take a lie detector test?

“To disclose information, whether from before, during or after the date of this authorization, about my health, including HIV, AIDS or other disorders of the immune system, use of drugs or alcohol, mental or physical history, condition, advice or treatment (except this authorization does not authorize release of psychotherapy notes), prescription drug history, earnings, financial or credit history, professional licenses, employment history, insurance claims and benefits, and all other claims and benefits, including Social Security claims and benefits (“My Information);”

Unum collected all this information when it approved my claim 7 years ago. But in order to deny my appeal, it needs updated information because the information it already possesses in my file is insufficient. Well, actually, it’s plenty, since Unum doesn’t need valid reasons for terminating disability benefits. 

“For such evaluation and administration of claims, this authorization is valid for two years, or the duration of my claim for benefits, whichever is shorter.”

Authorizations shouldn’t be valid for such a long time. I will be changing this language on the form to indicate that the Authorization is only good for one year.  The other language I will include is:  “Unum should bear all costs incurred by any person or entity which supplies My Information to Unum.”

“If I do not sign this authorization or if I alter or revoke it, except as specified above, Unum may not be able to evaluate or administer my claim(s), which may lead to my claim(s) being denied.”

Well, my claim has already been denied when Unum terminated my benefits after 7 years of paying the claim. And now, because I can’t afford to pay for doctors to complete Unum’s forms (including a Functional Capacity Evaluation), and Unum refuses to pay for these services, my appeal will be denied.

It doesn’t matter how I feel about this Authorization, I have no choice but to sign it.  That pisses me off, and since anger makes my head throb even more, I just want to thank Unum for this exercise in increased pain and futility.

(Wish I had some bud or ranch dressing, but it looks like an ice pack will have to do.)

Very few treatment options for pain patients

We have very little access to treatments that we do find helpful. Some people may benefit slightly from their antidepressant/diet/exercise regimen, but most do not. Although antidepressants are helpful for those that do exhibit depressive symptoms, but what about those who don’t? I was not depressed before I was started on a whole array of different antidepressants. After taking them for some time, I became very depressed. They are not meant to be used for people who are not depressed to begin with because they tend to have the opposite effect. I have tried the two FDA approved medications for fibromyalgia with little to no improvement. I take my vitamins and minerals. I take my muscle relaxers. I use essential oils. I have regular chiropractic adjustments. I do stretches. I exercise regularly. I do acupuncture. I eat well. I fill my body with mostly healthy things. I have detoxed. I research regularly and try new things ALL THE TIME. I have tried nearly every trick in the book to find some sort of relief, but so far not a damn thing has made enough of a difference for me to continue it. The doctor has no idea what to do with me, my family has no idea what to do with me, I have no idea what to do with me. I feel like I have reached to end of my rope, and that nothing can help me. I will keep trying of course, but I am running out of things to try.

Now, I kind of feel like there are two solutions to help alleviate some of the pain, yet they are both illegal. I could go out and buy a pain prescription from somebody, but for many reasons, it is a bad idea. I have thought about it many of times in the past, and still do. I mean if I cannot rely on my doctor, or the DEA, to at least help me make it through the day without excruciating pain, then maybe I should just help myself. Here are the problems with that: I could wind up in the legal system, and trust me, I have met plenty of people that have wound up in the system for 6 plus years for a pill or two. If it is not your prescription, it is a big deal. Very unwise, but doable. Imagine the price of living that way though, both for the money cost, and for the chance you were caught. That is jail time, and if you are lucky, pre-release, then probation for many years after that. Nothing I am interested in. If I beg my doctor then I will only look like a drug seeker. But, really, I am only seeking some relief! My age is an obstacle, I mean who would give a pain killer script to a healthy “looking” 24 year old? I just want something to help!

Another option is marijuana…