Tag Archives: illness

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

domesticviolence1…and also breast cancer awareness month.  I lost a sister to breast cancer, years ago, and I would encourage all my female readers to get regular mammograms.

My focus on domestic violence is mainly because my life was almost lost to it 6 1/2 years ago, so I have first-hand knowledge of the effects it can have on someone.

The night I left my abuser, he had fallen asleep holding a tire iron.  I had no doubt that, once he woke up, he would have beaten me to death with it.  And so I tip-toed out of the house and out to my car, where I had stashed a packed bag in the trunk.

If I had not had a car, I don’t know what I would have done.  I had actually asked 2 people for help leaving (in the form of “come get me”) but both of them let me down.  They ignored my pleas and I was on my own.  Now the car is gone, due to a catastrophic engine failure, and I find myself in a different kind of dire situation due to lack of one – being able to move closer to one of my kids so they can help me in an emergency.

Very soon after, I found the apartment I still live in today, and I was able to get the 2 kittens away from my abuser by “trading” them for the computer I had left behind (the kitties have been living with me happily ever since).

The nightmares have stopped.  I feel safe in my home.  I am ok.  Kitties are happy and healthy.

But I have always thought about other people who have gone – or are going through – the same kind of abuse I did, and how there are still not many services around for them.  I think about how I would run a shelter – one that included pets and also adult children with disabilities – that could really address this problem of domestic abuse.

To have someone endure abuse, and then have to decide if he/she can leave pets behind is an additional burden placed on an already stressed-out survivor.  As far as his or her adult children go, most survivors choose to stay and not leave their child behind.  Most shelters – and this includes the one I fled to – will not allow adult children to stay in the shelter with the survivor.

This is unacceptable.  This policy prevents people from getting the help they need.

In an ideal shelter – in a shelter I envision – there wouldn’t be one house with bunk beds in each room.  It would be more like a compound, with individual units (like motel rooms) where each family and their pet(s) could stay while transitioning to permanent housing.

Counselors would be assigned to the units (maybe 1 counselor to 4 units, for example), and they would help the survivor obtain whatever was needed to help him or her start a new life – whether it be permanent housing, a job, further education, medical assistance, or other resources.

That is my vision.  Unfortunately, I am unable to move on this due to my recurring transportation and illness issues, but maybe this will spark some action from someone who is able to help.

This vision is one of the things that motivates me to continue to push to get well.  Clearly, a shelter that operated as I think it should would cost more than how they are run today, but that’s where grant writing and fundraising come into play.  It also would help to have a paying job on the side.

That’s where the motivation is for me to go back to school and either get my PhD, or find some way to get a license (licensed professional counselor).

So much to do, so little time.  But I have to get well first.  And I may have to travel out of state (or at least to Pittsburgh or Hershey) to get the medical care I need.

On Friday I will see one of my primary care physicians and see how quickly I can get an appointment with an endocrinologist.  Medicare being what it is, I can’t even try for an appointment without a referral from my pcp.  Fingers crossed that I can get an appointment soon, and that it’s in Blair County where I live.

I am a dreamer.  I am a survivor.  And right now, I can use all the help I can get.

Today’s recommendation, if you can stomach it, would be the 3rd and final presidential debate tonight at 9 PM EST.  I watched the other 2 but am not sure how much of this final one I will watch – my blood pressure is high enough, thanks.

The Saturday Night Live parody this Saturday should be quite funny, however, and no doubt we will have every channel doing post-debate analysis anyway, so if you don’t watch it live I don’t think you will miss anything.

In the meantime, here is a short clip of our president that illustrates, for me, how much I will miss him when he leaves office:

I will miss First Lady Michelle Obama, too:

Be good.  Be kind.  Take care of one another.

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“Water, Water Everywhere Nor Not A Drop To Drink…”

Note: I wrote this on January 17.  Since then, I have gotten stranded at the store on the 18th for almost 2 hours in 6 below weather (because the bus driver decided to skip the stop – he has done that numerous times but that’s a post for another day).  

I have also been quite ill but still doing my volunteer stuff because it is through a federal program (the Senior Companion Program) that pays $2.65/hr and I need money to buy a blood pressure monitor at the very least, or at most to pay for a trip to Pittsburgh to find out why I am so ill.

Basically, I have been getting up, taking the bus to my volunteer job, taking the bus home and going to bed.  On days off, if I don’t have problems like lack of water – or catfood – I stay in bed.  No Facebook, no email, no blog, nothing.

Today is a snow day, so I am home.  And feeling a bit better, enough to write, anyway.

Everything is worse, health-wise.  But, due to transportation issues, I am loathe to go to the ER.

Again, it comes down to one thing affecting another.

I can take the bus to the ER, yes.  That, with transfers, will take 1 1/2 hours.  If I am too sick I can call an ambulance.  And hope Medicaid pays for it.

But if, when I get the the hospital, they cannot figure out what’s wrong, and cannot come up with a diagnosis, then they cannot admit me.  Medicare/Medicaid will NOT pay for a hospital admission unless they have a diagnosis.

Most likely I would get discharged with an admonishment to see my pcp Dr. Wonderful.

The same Dr. Wonderful who told me he was stumped and would send me to Pittsburgh if I didn’t get better.  This is why I have doubts about the ER suddenly figuring it out, because Dr. Wonderful is very skilled and I doubt the ER is any smarter than he is.

Discharged probably after the last bus has already left for Hollidaysburg.  So then I will have no way to get home.  

Nothing is simple when you are poor.  Nothing.  Everything is complicated, takes at least twice as long to do, and has ramifications which you may or may not be able to foresee.

Ok…on the the blog post.

The title is a quote from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge.  But y’all probably knew that.

On January 16, 2016, President Obama declared a state of emergency for Flint, Michigan, due to the contamination of the public water supply.  The water there is so corrosive that it leached lead from pipes, making the lead in the drinking water 900 times the amount recommended as “safe” by the EPA.

How did this happen?  And why are so many citizens – especially children – hurt by this?

Well, in 2014 the city of Flint was not doing well, so to save money they decided to get its water supply from the Flint River, instead of the Detroit Municipal water supply.

The problem was, the water from the Flint River is so high in salt that it corroded pipes – pipes that are made of lead.

Lead.  That stuff you’re not supposed to ingest because it causes all kinds of problems, including brain damage.

Residents noticed the water started smelling like rotten eggs.  Sometimes it was discolored.  But time and time again, they were assured by the city that the water was safe.

Briefly (22 days) in 2014, residents were advised to boil their water, due to bacteria, but then were given the all-clear.

In March of 2015, the government of Flint announced that the water met all state and federal safety standards (“A Timeline of the Water Crisis in Flint Michigan”, Associated Press via the ABC News website, 1/16/16).

But by now, doctors were beginning to notice problems with children – and, despite the mean things written about them, it’s most likely they found this out because their parents brought them in to see those doctors.

Aside #1: “How could those parents let their children drink that? Too busy paying for their drugs and weaves?”  Read that, heard that, yep.  Racism and classism in one ignorant idea.

So the doctors contacted the powers-that-be in Flint and urged them to stop using water from the Flint River.  They were told that the water was safe.

Aside #2:  Let’s not have science get in the way of economic decisions.

It’s not until October of 2015 that Gov. Snyder attempted to do something about this problem, by approving $6 million to switch the water supply back to the Detroit system (Ibid).

A state of emergency was declared this month, but in the meantime, while all this was going on…

There were a few “water filter giveaways” around Flint – if you can get to the locations and can bring a copy of your water bill.  The city leaders are “developing a plan” for those who are homebound (Water Filter Giveaway Branches Out to Four Flint Locations”, Ron Fonger, MLive.com, 10/05/15).

ZeroWater has donated 5,000 tumblers to schools.  The United Way is donating 2,500 dispensers (Ibid).

There have been quite a few giveaways of water in gallon jugs (“Local Organizations Host Bottled Water Giveaways”, Lauren Chapman and James Felton, WNEM website, 9/28/2015).

All this is good.  But it doesn’t address the other issues that complicated this problem.

Do you know that, after all this, and the state switched the Flint water back to the Detroit system, 1,800 people got shut-off notices (“1,800 Shutoff Notices Issued in Flint”, ABC12 News website, 11/5/2015)??

That’s right.  They couldn’t use the poisonous water after the switch to the Flint River was made, but then when the city admitted they made a mistake they then went after the residents for money, after Flint got that $6 million grant to switch the system back.

Here’s the last line of the story I just referenced:

“Many people living in Flint have boycotted paying their water bill after a water emergency was declared, but the city says people have to keep paying their water bills no matter what”(Ibid).

And that’s part of the problem.  A completely callous misunderstanding of how poor people live and pay their bills.

“Well, I pay my bills so why shouldn’t everyone else have to?”  I can hear that from, well, just about everyone who never thinks beyond their front door.

So I am going to tell you why.

Imagine you are already struggling to pay bills.  You live on social security, or you have a minimum wage job, and you live in a neighborhood where the local store is one of those little stores that sells junk food, canned food, and minimal stuff like milk – a “convenience store”.

Sure, they take food stamps, but it will cost you sometimes as much as twice the price than if you went to a regular grocery store.

In other words, you live in a “food desert”:

“Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.” – U.S.D.A. website.

Ready to Roll!

If you read my post yesterday, you know I was upset and crying.  Mostly because I still don’t know what in hell is wrong with me, and because during a routine test the doctor found some not-so-good things.

Today, I have a different attitude altogether.

Many of you who read my blog are friends of mine since high school.  You know that, back then, I was often in detention, once suspended (for saying the word “shit” in a speech at school), and more than a few times called into the principal’s office to argue politics (he thought of it as, “disciplinary action”; I thought of it as, “arguing with the fascist administration that runs my school”).  I was a hellraiser, no doubt about it.

Not so unusual these days, I guess, but when I was raising a stink about things, it was 1970.

I was a sarcastic, mouthy, sometimes foul-mouthed little thing who looked at the world in terms of capitalism vs everyone else.   To my friends, I was a source of amusement and a ‘nice, sweet girl’.

Hey, we’re all mutidimensional beings, yeah?

And, in some ways, I haven’t really changed much.

I have dialed down the sarcasm, a lot.  Sarasm can be terribly passive-aggressive, and in a few cases has gotten me in more trouble than it’s worth.  Like, “Ah’m gonna beat yo’ ass” kind of trouble.  That’s a southern accent, in case you’re wondering.

I am not really foul-mouthed, or I try really hard not to be.  I realize I called the anesthesiologist a “bitch” in my post yesterday, but I didn’t call her that to her face (but to be fair, it was probably because I was unconscious).  And I stand by that assessment.  Bitch, and a sadist.

I can get mouthy.  I find that things irritate me at pretty much the same rate they always have, when it comes to people being treated unfairly or unkindly.  The difference is, I don’t get mouthy with people with whom I disagree – it’s just not worth the aggravation.  If all they’re doing is thinking wrong-headedly about something, well ok.

Now, if they try to impose their wrong-headedness on me or on someone they are hurting, all bets are off.  I am going to say something.  Probably not loudly, and definitely not passive-aggressively.  I will address someone straight to their face, in as calm a tone as I can manage.

Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.  It works well in PA because people do NOT expect others to be like this.  But, to be fair, I haven’t seen a lot of Central PA folks trying to impose their wrong-headed ideas on others.  They seem to be, on the whole, live-and-let-live kind of people.  I have had 2 run-ins with people hitting me with sarcastic one-liners as they were walking by (yeah, strangers too, I have no idea why), but in general – ASIDE FROM THE HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS – people have been really nice to me.

So….anyway…I woke up today thinking about that anesthesiologist.  And I got angry.  Then I got an email from the colonoscopy folks, asking me to evaluate my experience (they are all into customer service, don’t ya know).  So, gleefully, I let them have it about the whole propofol/no lidocaine experience, told them I blogged about it, wouldn’t return AND would tell others to avoid them, and by the way was going to file a complaint against her.

Man, that felt good.  I even left my name and phone number, in case they call and I can rail against them some more.  Or find out the anesthesiologist’s name.  Hard to file a complaint if you don’t know their name.  I’ll find out eventually.

This got me thinking about Dr. Manic from State College, and another doctor (whom I have not yet blogged about) who actually made me cry during our appointment.  I made a big stink about him to his agency but I doubt it will do much good.  He is really a dickhead.

You might think, if you don’t know me, that I cry easily.  I don’t.  Well, I don’t think I do, anyway.  I think I cry when it’s normal to cry.  And when someone is putting me down, yelling at me, and/or playing head games with me – and it’s unexpected because I was there to see a professional as a patient – that’s going to make me cry.  After I get over the shock of being treated like that.

I am sick of it.

I am sick of being treated like crap because I am an ELI (extremely low income) person on Medicare/Medicaid.  And it doubly pisses me off because I am physically sick, so at a disadvantage in terms of being ready and able to defend myself.

Look at that – “defend myself”.  Why in hell should ANYONE have to be ready to defend themselves when they are going to a doctor for help or a procedure?  “Defense” shouldn’t even come into it!

No. No more.  I am currently looking to see if there are any consumer agencies in PA near me that I can join.  Because I want to cause problems for these healthcare providers and I don’t know how to do it alone.  Of course, I would guess that 90% of these agencies have a
*wink wink* “adversarial” relationship to the healthcare folks they are supposedly at odds with, so this is why I need to take awhile to find the one right for me.

Like, Minnesota has a patient advocate in every hospital there.  But they are employed by the hospital, so there are limits to how far they will go for a patient.  I know how that works, I’ve been fired enough to know.

Side note: I know that in some ways, Central PA can be really cliquish.  I learnt that when I was job-hunting last time, and when I worked at a local clinic (whose director was the sister-in-law of the business manager for the clinic, and there were other “personal connections” to the home office *wink*), and when I was subsequently fired from said clinic, and my subsequent (but few) attempts to find work in my field after that.  “Cold day in hell” I think is a good way to describe it.  Because they all know each other.

Now that the mental healthcare “community” knows me from the other side of the desk, so to speak (I have PTSD from the domestic violence and job loss), there isn’t one mental health/drug&alcohol agency that will hire me. There is that much stigma connected with a therapist actually going for help with a mental health problem. 

So I know what I am sort of up against.  That’s why I need to look at what agency I contact/volunteer for really carefully, because the last thing I want to do is waste my time and talent on an organization that’s as corrupt as the system I would like to take on.

So the search continues….and I will let you know what I come up with.

The bitch is back.

Today’s weirdness comes from the Huffington Post:

“Pizza Hut’s New Menu Supposedly Reads Your Mind…”

Apparently there is a new menu being tested in the UK for Pizza Hut, that uses eye-tracking software to make a pizza suggestion for you.

And we thought basic research had no real-world uses!  Eye-tracking was just beginning to be a hot research topic when I left the Cognitive Science Lab in 2000.  We didn’t imagine how this would impact the important world of pizza!!!

Movie recommendation, though I haven’t seen it…

“The Imitation Game”, starring the wonderful (Sherlock) Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly (Elizabeth Swann from “Pirates of the Caribbean”), and Matthew Goode (“Masterpiece Mystery: Death Comes to Pemberley” on PBS).

It’s about Alan Turing, how he cracked the Enigma Code during WWII, and how horribly he was treated because he was gay (which contributed to his suicide in 1954).  If you don’t know who Alan Turing was, go here.  If you don’t know how important his contribution was to the future discipline of cognitive science, go here.

I think this will be a good film.  Certainly the acting will be top-notch.

Until next week, or sooner as news develops….