Saturday, October 1, 2016

Big Business

I have read Runner's World magazine for most of my adult life. And why not? Every month there is a whole cover to cover magazine dedicated to the best sport ever! Granted, it does seem like there is a finite amount of things that can be said about putting on shoes (or not--barefoot running is in, after all) and going out the door to run. They always come up with something good though. And now there is even a new set of running magazines dedicated to trail running.

Trail running is becoming big business. There are hundreds of trail races all over the world, many of them ultra-marathons. People are starting to dope for them, so you know they are real competitions. They now have dogs sniffing the granola and gatorade at rest stops to ensure everyone is following the rules. Not really, but they might have to start doing this. They could have the athletes pee in a cup at mile 72, but their impending renal failure might preclude that, so dogs are probably the best option. I have long suspected that gatorade IS urine, derived and purified from the bladders of the athletes who advertise for them. It is magical and tastes a little like sucking on distilled kidney stone juice. Disclaimer: I am not getting any kickbacks from Gatorade corporation.

I love trail running. I am sort of bummed it is turning into such a thing, but I guess maybe I should be happy or at least a little pleased because it gets folks outdoors and has more people passionate about protecting our environment. They might be less likely to have the bumper sticker I saw this past week on a truck in front of me: "Environmentalism is a disease". When I pulled into work I immediately when to Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine to read up on the disease of environmentalism. It kept talking about how hurting the environment can be linked to the rise of certain diseases. Maybe that's what that guy meant with his/her bumper sticker? Anyway, trail running is a big business now. All the shoe companies make "trail running shoes". I used to think this was stupid till I ran the Headlands Marathon a couple of years ago, and was slip-sliding on these steep single track sandy, rocky, slick trails. I could of used some serious traction.

These days my running is pathetic. I am too sad about my son to run much, and have slowed down considerably. I suppose I will get it back at some point. I probably just need to drink more magical Gatorade.

I did visit my son, in jail, today. He is on day 61 or so. He has not seen the light of day except through a distant window. He does try to exercise during rec time. For awhile, he balled up papers to play basketball, as they had no ball. He also walks laps around the room. It takes 35 steps to circle the room. I may be choosing not to exercise as much, but honestly cannot imagine being barred (literally and figuratively) from moving my body, and from being outdoors. I get people in jail and prison are being punished, but I wonder exactly how helpful it is for making an 18 year old with addiction into a better person?

Prisons are a big business. Our president helped move along the phasing out of private federal prisons. This is a good step. The more profit in it, the more prisoners there will be, and prison is not always the right answer. Also, if you profit from someone being in prison, why would you want to rehabilitate them? I never pictured myself having a personal stake in this whole issue, but therein lies the rub. We need to care about stuff because it could affect others in our community, and maybe one day us. I think Jesus' whole thing about visiting the prisoners and tending to the sick is akin to doing the same for Him should be reason enough for the Christians in our country to give a shit about healthcare and justice equity. But I digress, and too many Christians see profit as a God-given right. Bah humbug.

Nursing homes: big business. Locally, we are facing the closure of 3 of 5 of our nursing homes, because they are not profitable. The mission of a nursing home should be rehabilitation (sound familiar?) and for those not rehabilitatable (now there is a mouthful), a place to be housed, fed, cared for, loved, kept clean, kept safe. How, exactly, should profit fit into this? I work for a program, PACE, that serves people at risk of losing their independence due to health issues and frailty. The nursing homes, under the company The Devil--oops I meant Rockport, decided last year they did not want to work with us because we "take away business from them". We found a solution to care for people who needed temporary or longer term placement for support and rehab. But my eyes were opened to the absolute folly of making care of other humans a profitable endeavor. Some things can be big business: running shoes, cell phones, um.....hold on. Do I want 10 year old in China making my running shoes or my iPhones? Dang, it is hard to be a good person in this day and age.

It is certainly an opportune time for our community to rethink how we care for seniors. I wrote about it a bit in my column this month on person-centered care. Maybe money is not the most important thing. I know Mother Teresa supposedly said "without money, there is no mission" but truth be told, the money to do good works is not nearly as much as the money it takes to please a board of directors to a big business. A community can decide to support a good cause. A community can help create change.

I am a preacher's daughter, as well as the niece of 6 other preachers, so forgive me if this is getting preachy.

Take home points:
-Environmentalism is not actually a disease. I looked this up.
-Trail running is awesome and does not take a magazine to tell you how to do it.
-For profit institutions meant to rehabilitate people are a really bad idea.
-The Netherlands gets it right. See below, if you don't believe me. This is well worth 20 minutes of your life to watch.
-I need to get back to my running.

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