Monday, October 26, 2020

Rice and Sunny

Today I cooked rice in a pot, not in the rice cooker, for the first time in literally decades. I wasn’t sure I’d remember how to do it, but I had a strong motivation: Sunny.

Sunny hasn’t been doing well for many weeks now, and it’s pretty much the same as I described it back in July: Sometimes she’s good, other times she’s not. She has inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, and not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome, IBS). She has trouble absorbing nutrients, and so, needs a lot of fibre (to help slow down her bowels) plus protein for nutrition. Her diet’s also supposed to be low-fat, apart from some “good fats”.

The problem is that because she can’t absorb nutrients well she’s been wasting away: She’s all fur and bones. Basically, she's been in a slow downward spiral for the past several months. So, naturally, I turned to Dr. Google (out of a bit of desperation, really).

The advice from veterinarians was, in addition to the dietary advice I already knew, to feed her several small meals a day, rather than one or two big ones, and to give her dog probiotics, which I’ve been doing for awhile now, and it’s seemed to help a bit. Rice, they said, was particularly good for her. So, I made the rice for her midday small meal.

I haven’t made rice in a pot before because of the ease of a rice cooker, but it means I can make less than the rice cooker does which is important: Cooked rice can’t be kept very long. I knew that Sunny loves rice, but one site said to make it with equal parts water and chicken stock, and I knew she’d especially like that because she likes it when I put chicken stock on her food.

It turned out that she loved it and ate the equivalent of maybe a cup and a half or so. That made me very happy. For dinner I’ll also give her some chicken (for dogs), which I know she also likes.

If this new regimen works, she can put on weight and, eventually, get to a healthier state. If it doesn’t work, it’ll just give her a better quality of life as she continues to decline slowly. I owe it to her to try.

I have no illusions about any of this. She’s 12 and IBD isn’t curable. There really aren’t any drugs, apart from steroids when she had an acute attack, so diet is really the only arrow in the quiver. It may not work at all, or not well enough. But if it does work, she’ll get a longer life. I’m watching closely, but right now, despite everything, she’s bright, focused/present, cheerful (except when her IBD is acute), and loving. As long as that continues, so will my fight for her.

Obviously, this has been extremely hard on me, too. It’s been painful watching her decline and feeling powerless to help, and there have been days I was certain she was on her way out, only to have her bounce back. Other times she’s seemed to be getting healthier, only to suddenly have a bad spell again. It’s been a wild roller coaster for her, and for my emotions.

Despite all that, I keep trying: I give her food she likes, and I feed her by hand when she gets freaked out by her brothers hovering nearby. I make sure a door is open in case she needs to run outside quickly, and at night I leap out of bed if she asks to go out (which she rarely does). And now I’m trying different methods for feeding her because what I’d been doing clearly wasn’t enough. It may not work, but I need to try.

Nigel used to call her his special girl, and they had a real bond. Like me, he wouldn’t want her to suffer—but he also wouldn’t give up on her if there was a chance for her. Nigel and I were completely alike in how we reacted to and treated our furbabies, so I know he’d be completely with me on what I’m doing. Knowing that actually helps.

I can’t possibly know how this will play out, whether she’ll improve or continue declining. She’s already lasted far longer than I expected her to, and that’s encouraging. Come what may, she and I are in this together. She’s my special girl, too, after all—special enough to cook rice for after all those decades.

The photo above is of the rice when I was done, after I fluffed it with a fork (it's a large pot full so I get two meals out of it for her and some for me, too; it was quite nice). It turned out better than it has in years, though, sadly, that was more good luck than good planning (I winged it, mostly). I had a rice cooker in Chicago, then when I came to New Zealand Nigel cooked rice in the microwave, so I did, too. Then we got a rice cooker, and that was that. Until today.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

My fear factor

Gotta admit: Today I’m particularly trepidatious, because I’m finally starting one of my new prescriptions. It’s not the drug itself—I was on it before—but, instead, the fact I’m doing this alone. I’ve had to face a lot of things alone over the past year, some more difficult than others, but this one? Yeah, it ain’t pretty.

On Tuesday of last week, I had a private appointment with a cardiologist to evaluate where I’m at, and what can be done about it. Among other things, he wrote a new prescription for a drug to help control my heart rate (Felodipine), one which, hopefully, won’t make me as tired as the one I’ve been on (Diltiazem). That’s the drug I started today. I’ll wait until later to start new the blood-thinner.

As I said in the post last week, Felodipine was the first drug they gave me to control my blood pressure, and I tolerated it very well, so I doubt I’ll have any problems tolerating it now. That’s not what worries me: It’s the “what iffs”.

Over the past five years (the past three especially), I’ve had a lot of prescription changes. That always gave me a certain amount of uneasiness because it’s impossible to know upfront if there will be any side effects and, if so, how bad they’ll be. However, I always had Nigel to be my backup eyes and ears to notice any changes I might not (such as behaviour, flushing, etc.). I always used to start new drugs on a Saturday (sometimes a Friday) because Nigel would be home over the weekend and could help me if I had difficulties, as unlikely as they may have been. He made me feel more secure and safe, and that was worth a helluva lot.

That’s gone now, and this is the first prescription change I’ve had without him. If something goes catastrophically wrong, it’s probable that no one would know for, perhaps, days. To be absolutely clear, it’s highly unlikely that anything could go that wrong. Instead, the actual possible risks are ones I can be aware of and easily deal with—but it would be so much easier on me, less scary, less stressful, and, obviously, much more reassuring, if Nigel was with me.

So, I chose to do the next-best that I could do: I started the new pill today, a Saturday, because the family is off work for the holiday weekend. If I do start feeling unwell, or just get scared for whatever reason, I have people I can call on without interrupting their work (because I know me: Them being at work would keep me from reaching out, which was also true even with Nigel). As I said, I certainly don’t expect anything to go wrong since it didn’t before, however, there’s one thing that’s more possible: The new drug may fail to control my heart rate and I could end up in tachycardia again, the first time in 17 months—and Nigel looked after me that time.

I have devices to monitor my heart rate and heart rhythm. My heart rhythm is controlled by a different drug (Amiodarone) that isn’t changing, but that doesn’t mean that afib couldn’t be triggered if I end up in tachycardia. And that’s what I’m actually worried about.

I put off starting this new drug mostly because of that, but also because I have the better part of two months of the old drug left, and the only thing that can happen to it is to take it back to the pharmacy for destruction—they can’t reuse it in any way. That’s such a waste. As an aside, there’s a common belief that the drugs we return can be sent to developing countries, but that’s not true, mainly because they have no way of knowing if the patient kept the drugs stored correctly, and, if not, the drugs might be useless or worse (and, I realised only recently, it’s also a wee bit colonialist to assume that drugs that are no longer deemed safe for us would be okay for a developing country). Because of that, too, I waited until today. It’s also the reason that I planned on waiting even longer, however, the possibility that I may feel better finally outweighed my resistance to wasting prescription medicine.

The other drug, the blood thinner, is another matter entirely. My current drug (Dabigatran) has unpleasant side effects, but doesn’t otherwise impact my life in any way. I can keep using what I have until I run out, and then switch. This way, too, I’ll know for sure if one drug or the other is causing side effects, because when I change multiple drugs all at once, how I can possibly know which one is causing a problem? That much, at least, was my plan all along (and the cardiologist suggested it for that very reason).

I’m worried about the new blood thinner (Rivaroxaban) because it apparently has more incidents of uncontrolled bleeding. That scares me. Between now and the time I run out of Dabigatran, I have to think about whether I’m willing to take the risk. But that’s not today.

Today I’m anxious because I just switched to a drug that may not control my heart rate and I could end up in tachycardia again, and, possibly, have an afib incident. That would mean hospital again. I could be sarcastic and say that it would mean I’d only need one more hospitalisation to collect the whole set and win the prize of getting on the waiting list for the procedure I need, but, even as irreverent as I am, I can’t see the humour in this situation. I’m actually changing drugs only to give me a better quality of life in case I’m on these drugs for years to come, and that’s a worthy goal. But it doesn’t take the fear and worry away. At all. Nigel could always do that, though.

Today—especially—I miss him so damn much.

Important note: This is about my own personal health journey. My experiences are my own, and shouldn’t be taken as indicative for anyone else. Similarly, other people may have completely different reactions to the same medications I take—better or worse. I share my experiences because others may have the same or similar experiences, and I want them to know that they’re not alone. But, as always, discuss your situation and how you’re feeling openly, honestly, and clearly with your own doctor, and always feel free to seek a second opinion from another doctor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Thirteen months

Thirteen months ago today, Nigel died. Thirteen months isn’t exactly the sort of thing most people would note, but this comes just after the end of what was a very difficult time for me, some six weeks centred around the anniversary of Nigel’s death. I knew it would be a bad time and I was as prepared for that as I could be. It turned out that it was also a time of growth. Same as the previous thirteen months.

The six weeks beginning in late August through September began, really, with the first of Nigel’s birthdays since he died, then a few weeks later the first anniversary of his death, though that was a few days after the first 52 weeks were up. Around that time, Facebook served up a “Memory” about something I never talked about here, the Facebook post where I talked about how serious his condition was for the first time. That “Memory” also made me remember the day Nigel left our house for the last time.

However, it wasn’t all unrelentingly bad. Facebook also served up a very happy “Memory” about the day Nigel and I went to file the forms and pay the fee for our marriage. I wouldn’t have remembered that without Facebook’s prompting. Then, at the start of this month another “Memory” made me realise that last year I’d completely missed one of the “firsts” that happened after Nigel died, something that led to decidedly positive realisations.

In fact, despite some very, very bad times, despite times it seemed I couldn’t stop crying, and my stomach literally ached from all that crying, and despite how desperately sad and lonely I felt much of that time, there were days I felt, basically, okay. Not many, but it’s the quality of those okay days, not the quantity, that matters on this journey.

I recently took an entirely new step on my journey. Lately, I’ve been wishing I knew a bunch of other gay widowers so I could just vent with people who understand exactly what I’m going through, and so I could give them a safe place to vent, too. The thing about profound grief is that nearly all of us have dark thoughts, and they pass, but it would alarm other, non-grieving, people if we said them out loud. So, my alternative was to say nothing to anyone, ever.

The recent change was that I suddenly realised that there had to be Facebook groups for gay widowers, since there seems to be groups for absolutely everything else. I found two and joined them—and it turned out to be the single best thing I’ve done for myself since this forced journey began.

The thing that makes it so powerful is that it provides what I was looking for: A safe place to say whatever’s on our minds and to share our experience with others, especially those who are at an earlier stage than we are. It also provides a glimpse of what our futures may be—or not (grief is an entirely individual thing). We can say those dark thoughts out loud to people who thoroughly understand what we’re thinking and feeling, but who won’t judge us for having them, let alone saying them out loud. Because what we mainly need is a place to say stuff out loud—to vent—so we can let it go and move on.

I’ve also seen people say the same sorts of things that I’ve said in these posts, offered the same sort of advice I’ve shared, too. That sort of affirmation is reassuring, and incredibly comforting: My reactions and advice about this journey, and even the earned wisdom, are more “universal” than I knew.

These posts also prepared me for the groups: Because of them, I’m used to being open and honest, and willing to share my experience and earned wisdom. I always said that part of the reason I’ve done these posts is that someone may one day run across them and find comfort and realise they’re not crazy and that they’re definitely not alone. We each need to find that in a place and in a way that works for us, including things like some random guy’s blog or Facebook groups.

So, the time since last August has been particularly difficult for me overall, with some brighter spots, and some good things that came from it. None of that changes the fact that this journey is horrible, of course, and that pretty much describes the entirely of the past thirteen months. It will for some time yet, too.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

This one was for Nigel

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I just dropped off my ballot for the US Federal elections. It cost me NZ$50 to send by international courier because I can’t trust the US Postal Service to be able to deliver it, and it was important to me that I fulfilled a personal mission: When Nigel knew his cancer was terminal, he said to me, “I just hope I live long enough to see that bastard voted out of the White House.” He didn’t, of course, so I made it my personal mission to vote this year despite all the obstacles, to do my small bit to get the result we both wanted. As I completed the transaction, I thought to myself, “this one’s for you, Nigel.” That would’ve put a big grin on his face. Mine, too, actually.

A post shared by arthur_amerinz (@arthur_amerinz) on

Today I sent my US General Election ballot by International Courier. As I said in the caption to my Instagram post today (above, or follow the link), it was a bit of a personal mission: This one was for Nigel.

I vote in general elections every two years, and it’s a duty I always take very seriously. This year I haven’t been in to it, mainly because of losing Nigel, but he’s also the reason I wanted to be sure to vote.

Nigel didn’t make me promise much before he died, but one thing I promised myself was that I’d vote in honour of him. In a sense, it doesn’t matter whether I voted or not: Illinois is solidly Blue and Joe Biden will win it handily. And, as we all know, the popular vote nationwide doesn’t determine who is elected president. However, in 2016 the current occupant of the White House lost the nationwide popular vote by just under 3 million votes, and what if this year it was 13 million? If the nationwide popular vote for Biden is big enough, it will make an Electoral College victory more likely. It would also be very satisfying to see the Republican candidate hit with a large and humiliating rejection by voters, and it’s in that sense my vote actually does matter.

I marked my ballot using the same pen I used to vote in the New Zealand General Election. Also, just as I wore a red shirt to vote in the NZ election (red is the colour of the New Zealand Labour Party), today I wore a blue shirt (blue, of course, being associated with the USA’s Democratic Party). On both days I wore Nigel’s bracelet to bring him with me. It was the first time I voted in a US election “with” him (in previous years, he was at work).

My vote won’t actually matter in the big picture, but it was important to me, and has been all along because I needed to reject the current regime in the only way open to me. But my main motivation was that I promised myself I’d go out of my way, if necessary, to do it for Nigel (and spending $50 to send my ballot qualifies as going out of my way, in my opinion). That’s another promise to Nigel kept, the only one I made to myself on his behalf.

Obviously I have no idea what will happen next month (or beyond…), but I at least know that I did my part to make Nigel’s desire to see “that bastard voted out of the White House” come true, even though he didn’t live to see it. And that’s why this one was for Nigel.

The important part at left, the whole thing at right.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Maybe this time

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: I met with a cardiologist and it’s promising. Yes, that’s happened before. Maybe this time it really will lead to something better.

This morning, I had my private appointment with the cardiologist, and I’m happy with the result. He’s going to try to get me on the waiting list for the cryoablation, and, in the meantime, he’s changing my drugs to ones that, hopefully, won’t make me so !*#$%&@ tired all the time. He’s also changing my blood thinner to one that doesn’t have the gastrointestinal side effects of the one I’m on now. In short, it went exactly as I’d hoped, because regardless of when the procedure is done, I still need to change medication now so that I can have some life in my life until then.

The new drug to help control my heart rate will be Felodipine, which was actually the first drug I was put on for blood pressure control back in 2016. It will replace Diltiazem, a drug which I was put on back in June 2018 to try and prevent tachycardia without using beta blockers. I was exhausted, so they reduced the dosage of my statin. Then, I was hospitalised for afib in September of that year, and they increased the dosage of Dilitiazem. In May of last year, I was hospitalised again for afib, and that meant having my heart rebooted. They decreased the dose of Dilitiazem and added a new one, a potentially dangerous drug called Amiodarone. That’s what I’ve been on ever since.

The cardiologist asked me about my typical resting pulse rate, and how high it gets when I’m active, and I told him it was in the 60s or low 70s at rest, but didn’t go much above 100 even when I was doing something vigorous. He asked if I thought that’s why I was tired, and I was pretty emphatic in saying yes, because it’s been my suspicion for a long time. The Felodipine shouldn’t slow me down as much. Well, that’s the hope, anyway.

The current drug cocktail leaves me feeling extremely tired all the time, so much so that I can’t even do ordinary stuff around the house: There’s just no gas in the tanks. On the other hand, it’s also kept me out of afib for some 17 months, the longest streak without it by far.

So, I may possibly have increased energy levels, but what I’m afraid of is that it may not control my heart rhythm and I may end up in afib. However, if I end up in hospital, I may get the procedure faster, so there’s that, I suppose.

The other change is that removing the anti-clot drug Dabigatran, which they also put me on back in September 2018. The new drug is Rivaroxaban, a drug also used, among other things, to prevent strokes in people with afib. It has fewer side effects, in particular, the gastrointestinal side effects that I’ve dealt with for two years. However, the new drug has a higher risk of bleeding, which is concerning. In a perfect world, I (hopefully…) wouldn’t need to be on it as long as I’ve been on Dabigatran, and the less time I’m on it, the less the risk. Rivaroxaban’s also taken only once per day, unlike the other, which is twice a day.

I’ll fill the prescription for both and start them in a week or so (because otherwise the drugs I currently have would need to be thrown away, and I hate that kind of waste). After all, I’m changing not because they aren’t working, but because they’re keeping me tired all the time.

Today I wore Nigel’s bracelet because he’d have gone with me if he was still alive, and that was my way of bringing him with me, something I especially do at times when, like today, I need him the most. I know he’d be happy, and also proud of me, that I keep pushing this. I know he’d be pushing on my behalf, moving mountains, if need be. That was him.

Huge thanks to my sister-in-law for going with me today. It was great to have someone who understands medical stuff (she’s a nurse), but it was even more important to have someone there as an advocate and support. Here in New Zealand it’s quite common for people to have what’s usually called “whānau support” at meetings like that—basically, a trusted friend or family member goes with you. I’m so lucky that I have such an awesome and supportive whānau.

As before (many times over now…), I hope that today’s cardiologist appointment really will lead to something better this time. Maybe. Hope is strong, but not necessarily rational. I’ll probably know either way soon enough.

This post is a greatly expanded version of something I posted to my personal Facebook earlier today.

Important note: This is about my own personal health journey. My experiences are my own, and shouldn’t be taken as indicative for anyone else. Similarly, other people may have completely different reactions to the same medications I take—better or worse. I share my experiences because others may have the same or similar experiences, and I want them to know that they’re not alone. But, as always, discuss your situation and how you’re feeling openly, honestly, and clearly with your own doctor, and always feel free to seek a second opinion from another doctor.

Monday, October 12, 2020

A good weekend, despite it all

The past weekend I had another adventure, advanced one small aspect of finishing the house, and had social time, too. It was a good weekend, all things considered, and a welcome diversion.

It’s fair to say that the past six weeks have not been my best (a topic all on its own), so good times have been especially welcome lately, which is what made this past weekend so good. As usual, it started on Friday.

I had some of the family around for dinner on Friday night, and I decided to make beef stew using what my mother called, “THE Family Stew Recipe” when she wrote it out and sent it to me while I was in university. It was the recipe that my mother used to teach my siblings and me to cook, and I’ve made it many times over the years, mostly because I really like it, and also because of the family connection. It was nice to share a bit of my personal heritage from the USA with family here in New Zealand.

However, my mother didn’t write down the dumpling recipe, so I had to find (and adapt) one in a classic American cookbook. I picked the one that sounded the most similar to what my mother made, tweaked it a bit, and the results were perfect.

The next day, my cousin-in-law and I went to the “New Zealand Motorhome, Caravan, & Leisure Show”. She has a motorhome (camper), and because shows always have show specials, it’d be worth checking out because of that alone. The show specials were among the draws for me, along with the fact that the stuff they put in caravans and motorhomes, especially small stoves, fridges, and the like, are often used in small houses and tiny homes, something that fascinates me. It fascinated Nigel, too, but mainly because he was interested in being self-sustaining and, as much as possible, “off-grid” (apart from the Internet, of course).

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to go was because the show is held at an events centre called Mystery Creek, which is just beyond Hamilton. I’d heard about it ever since I came to New Zealand mainly because of an annual event ordinarily known as Field Days, which bills itself as the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere, and it probably is. The show has stuff for the farming sector, of course, but also those with much smaller land on which they want to grow a bit or maybe farm some animals. Because I saw it on TV every year (except this year, due to Covid-19), I wanted to see Mystery Creek (but not Field Days, really) for myself.

I assumed I might find a thing or two to buy, but wasn’t expecting much, really. We saw a booth for a company that, among other things, sold supplies for the brand of BBQ we both had. I’ve long wanted a pizza stone for the BBQ I have because I love pizza, because a covered BBQ can make a great pizza oven, and have I mentioned that I love pizza? Nigel and I never bought one, though not for any particular reason. However, they are expensive, with the chain retailer distributing the brand charging $79.95. The people at the show were selling it at a markdown from their normal price, and in the end I ended up paying a much more reasonable $44—which was savings enough to pay for both our tickets to the show, plus a coffee, too (though I didn’t buy one).

I was happy with my purchase, and thought that would probably be it. I picked up some tourist brochures for parts of New Zealand I haven’t yet been to, mainly because I’d like to see more of New Zealand, even if overseas tourism becomes possible again (something that’s unlikely to be practical even after it eventually becomes possible).

And then. We were going through the last pavilion, and there was a booth for Vegepod (I have not been compensated in any way to mention them by name; it'd be too confusing not to), which is a line of raised garden beds. Naturally, they had show specials, some 20% off, as I recall, but the the thing that pushed me over the line to buy is that they were offering free delivery, which is important to me because it wouldn’t fit into my car. So, saving a delivery fee and getting a good price was enough for me, and I bought the medium sized one (1 metre by 1 metre) on a trolley (rather than the cheaper stand, so I can move it if I want to, and because it makes it a few centimetres higher).

I’d been looking into raised garden beds (enough, apparently, that I constantly get ads for them on Facebook…), but could never find one that seemed quite right. I wanted it to be high enough to sit on so that I wouldn’t have to bend over (a concession to my ageing back), but that meant it had to be strong, probably made of wood. That, in turn, meant it needed to made of macrocarpa, a wood naturally resistant to rot (because treated timber can leach chemicals into the soil, and so, into any food grown in the planter boxes). Such a timber garden bed would have cost around $600-$700. The raised planter and trolley I bought costs considerably less.

I’d been intrigued by these raised planters since I first heard about them, and even priced them a few months ago at one of the more expensive garden centres, where the price was quite high. I then basically forgot about them—but I never completely. The main thing that intrigued me, apart from how well they handle water, is that it’s basically at waist height—no bending of any kind will be required. My back will thank me. It will be delivered later this week.

My cousin-in-law and I (joined by some other family members) are going to a home show here in Hamilton a few weeks from now, and there I hope to get some show specials on things I want to do to the house. I expect that will lead to several blog posts.

We made one small mistake going to the show: We didn’t buy tickets online ahead of time. The photo up top is of the queue waiting to buy tickets. At one point a staff person walked along the queue telling people they could still buy online and skip the queue. An older (than me…) man told her it was too hard for him, and she replied, “I have faith in you!” which I thought was a brilliant way to head off him asking her to help him, something that’s always a fraught experience.

My cousin-in-law pulled out her phone, bought us tickets, and then just had to show the QR code to the ticket taker at the entrance. Nothing about it was clear or easy, to be honest, but it worked, and that’s the main thing.

The next day I picked up Nigel’s mum and we went to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house to join them for dinner and a bit of rugby on TV (Nigel’s mum and I got there during the halfway point; neither of us cared all that much about seeing the game).

There was nothing particularly unusual about what I got up to this weekend—all of it was the kind of stuff I’ve done before and will do again. This weekend’s adventure advanced one small aspect of finishing the house, and I had social time, too, all of which made it a good weekend. Because of everything else, it was an especially welcome diversion. I’ll take it—and do it again.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Vote like a boss

The New Zealand Electoral Commission has always advertised to promote the NZ elections, from registration through to actual voting. This year is no different, but this year they’re trying to motivate younger voters to turn out to vote.

The ad above, “Vote Like A Boss”, is part of that effort to reach younger voters. It features Kiwi humour, and the attempt to help young people see that they can determine who is elected—they can be the boss. The ad is in reasonably heavy rotation on New Zealand TV at the moment.

The most common ads during election season ar the more general, and once voting opens, the ads encourage voting. Right now, there are two such ads in heavy rotation.

First up: “Vote now in the General Election and referendums”:

I’ve seen this ad on TV the most of the two in the series. The voice track in the ad was also recorded in Te Reo Māori and in Mandarin This ads can be seen on the Electoral Commission’s YouTube Channel.

Next is “Vote now in the referendums on End of Life Choice and cannabis”:

Like the ad above, this ad is also recorded in Te Reo. This ad originally started running at the start of the Advance Voting period.

There may be more, different ads before the NZ General Election on Saturday, October 17, but these are likely to continue running right up until then. While these particular ads are new for this year’s election, they run such ads every year.

We politics nerds look forward to the ads every election season—of course. But the important thing is that such ads are run at all: We need to encourage people to vote so the results have full legitimacy. It’s important—and a lot of work for some TV ads.