Tag Archives: racism

Car accident exacerbates injuries Part 1

The one thing I really didn’t need this week was to be in a car accident.

There I was driving along minding my own business when I noticed the traffic behind me wasn’t coming to a stop after traffic in front of me had already done so.

It was cold  outside, but it wasn’t icy. There was no excuse for them not to slow down.  I managed to turn my wheel to the left to try to get out of the lane before I got hit but, it didn’t happen.  I got hit and then he got hit, and then she got hit and there were five cars in the pile up… and every time the car that hit me got hit, I got hit again…

The ambulance, fire department, and police department showed up on the scene and I allowed them to put me in a neck brace because my back and neck felt out of whack.  I could feel pain in my ankles, my wrist, my elbow, and my shoulder as well.

But alas, as the medical crew removed me from my vehicle to place me on the gurney they moaned, whined, and complained and I could feel them exchanging looks and sneering about how much I weighed…

They put that awful brace around my neck to stabilize it but whoever  designed it didn’t realize that you probably shouldn’t put metal pieces along the part that rubs against your chin…

So there I lay on a gurney out in the middle of the cold weather with metal pieces rubbing against my chin barely able to breathe, while so-called professionals are whining and complaining about having to lift me.

I’m shaking from head to toe, partly from the shock but also from the cold.  At this point I’ve already had a good cry while sitting in my car, because it’s the nicest car I’ve ever bought for myself with all the bells and whistles.  I’m imagining my financial situation preventing me from getting a rental car or from replacing the car if it’s totaled.  I’m thinking about being almost a hundred days late on my car payment and how easy it’s going to be for the finance company to just repossess it right from the auto wreck lot.  I’m imagining that the garage door opener stored in the overhead compartment, my keys which were sitting on the passenger’s seat, and my lunch which had been neatly packed in a temperature-controlled lunch box, and all the other things of convenience that I keep in my car,  might never be seen again.

I’m also thinking about the car in front of me which I managed not to hit, where ironically sat my student.. both of us were headed for  our 10 o’clock class.

The pain was radiating from my wrist and I could barely hold a thing.  And all I could think about was the pain and trouble caused by such a careless accident.

Once we got into the emergency room, finally, I had to endure yet more people having to lift me and roll me from side to side with sheets and boards and other contraptions, both in radiology and in the emergency room… I got so tired of listening to their grunts and complaints.  I was hungry and I haven’t taken my medication for the morning yet as I plan to do it at my desk as I normally do before I go to class.  And to be honest I had to pee something awful!  Although I mentioned it to the nurses 3 times, no one took me seriously until I finally said it had to be done.  One nurse suggested that I wait until the radiology had finished and then they could take my neck brace off and I could go to the restroom on my own.  This kind of made me feel like she didn’t want to do her job as a nurse… yet another slap in the face a — rejection of my body?  When the doctor came in and started doing a physical exam by pushing down on my abdomen, I  warned him that it would result in a bed full of pee.   No response.  By the third time I was much more adamant that I really had to go.  My foot was shaking and I wasn’t clear how this was going to happen.  Finally nurse ratchet went and got a bedpan. it seems like I peed for hours but when I finally finished she looked at it and said wow you really did have to go, and she proceeded to walk out of the room with my pee in her hand and I could hear someone that she almost bumped into in the doorway also making a comment about how much pee was in that pan… I felt like yelling out, “Hey quit looking at and talking about my pee!” I’m beginning to understand from that experience what it’s going to be like to be incapacitated and be serviced by nursing personnel… I had better get my legal paperwork together to be very clear how I wish to be treated and what I want done.

But the insult to end all insults came when we finally checked out and I looked at the check out paperwork.  It  said I was treated for neck pain, back pain, and … obesity!  The doctor had the nerve to list obesity as something else I had been treated for, but I hadn’t been treated for that, I had only been treated badly because of it.

I was never weighed. I was never measured. How in the world can he make such an assessment about my physical appearance?  Just on spec?  And if he was so concerned about my physical appearance, why didn’t he say anything about it to my face?  Why did he simply write it on a piece of paper and then give it to a nurse  with instructions to pass it to me, so he wouldn’t have to face me?  Coward and quack.

Shouldn’t I hold his feet to the fire? Since I didn’t receive any kind of treatment or consultation about obesity why should my insurance be billed for such?

Isn’t it bad enough that I could barely walk out of there without pain?  In fact I didn’t walk out  of there without pain!!!  I missed work all week long during the first week of the semester when I’m supposed to be getting to know my students and laying the foundation for everything they’re supposed to learn for the rest of the semester!  It was a major interruption of my life and I’m insulted and angry and still hurt about my car.  I’m worried about the additional expense that my family is going to have to incur and about the lawyers that I’m now going to have to hire in order to have all these medical bills covered!  X-rays and full body cat scans?  That’s going to be a good ten thousand dollars!

why can’t medical professionals be accountable for their actions?  now on top of everything else I need to write a letter to the CEO of the hospital and I need to call the building department and make sure that they have not coded this thing wrong.

And I can barely use my right hand… remember, chronic pain syndrome?

Seems like this week it’s chronic pain in the ass syndrome!


Living with Sjogrens, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and General Aging

Every day it’s something new … Today, I am not able to hold my tea cup and saucer in my right hand … and I’m right-handed.  Today I walked up the three steps to my front door with both feet on each step before moving up … as my neighbor stared quizzically … Today I finally told my two sons about my diagnosis, because I’m worried about losing their respect, and because I need their help.

With Sjogren’s Syndrome and Rheumatoid Arthritis, there are good days and bad… On good days, I don’t notice the pain so much, I don’t obsess over it, or think about all the things I cannot do that day… I don’t wonder if my kids will think of me as lazy, or if my friends have forgotten me because I haven’t been around as much … I’ve been in bed or on the couch … gaining weight and feeling bad.

ImageOn bad days, I ache.  A couple of days ago, I noticed hardened bumps on the joints of my index fingers that make my hands look like the stereotypical picture of a wicked witch (pardons from all my Wicca friends and real witches.)  I happened to notice when I took a picture of my nail polish on one frivolous-feeling day and uploaded it to a Facebook site with lots of sister girlfriends on it…I had to do a double-take when I checked my status!  Could those be my hands or are those the hands of a strange, elderly woman who’s worked too hard and scrubbed too many dishes in her life?

I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome (Chronic Pain) and Degenerative Joint Disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis) in early 2013… and thank goodness, actually … My body had been falling apart and I couldn’t figure out why.  My blood pressure and cholesterol had been on the rise since 2008, when I started teaching full time at a small college… The job that I had so enjoyed as an adjunct professor, had become unbearable, bullying, and at times, violent and the stress was becoming unmanageable through traditional methods … My life has been about struggle, so I chalked it up to just another … but this college, this place was strange … I had never encountered such resistance to progression … such vitriol towards any and all things new or different … it was ugly and it was racial.  But I’d dealt with this before in many parts of my life.  This is not new… why now?  Why is my body responding so negatively now?  My doctor started me on a regimen of pills… I was abhorred!  Pills?  So I refused to take them for six months… then I saw her again, and my blood pressure was very, very high.  She warned me that this is serious and I left her office and filled the prescriptions.

The weight began to pile on … I hardly noticed, until one day I did.  I had ballooned to 242 pounds.  I can’t believe I just typed that.  Two hundred forty two pounds.  When I finally couldn’t take the weight gain any more, and stopping the medication was a no-go, my doctor helped me out.  In 2011-12, I lost 42 pounds, and I hadn’t felt, or looked, that good, for a long time…Image

I used the Spark People program, and it really worked for me… I needed the support and camaraderie the site provides…  So it seemed to reason that losing weight was supposed to help my body feel better, not worse.

But my journey into weight loss is accompanied by a constantly financially-burdened life … In spite of extraordinary intelligence (I’m not bragging, I’ve really just learned to come to terms with it), hard work, incredible opportunities, and the will to do better, I have not accomplished anywhere near my potential, and feel constantly disappointed in that fact.  Coupled with these new physical challenges, it overwhelming at times, and I feel a lump rise in my throat, chest tightens, shoulders rise …

This disease requires me to change the essence of the way I see myself, and as I’m learning, the way others see me as well… I am not accustomed to playing what medical sociologists refer to as the “sick role” … I graduated with honors from Stanford University with two degrees in five years, all while diagnosed with a brain tumor, working two jobs, and completing the requirements for my commission in the U.S. Air Force!  Image

Surely, I can make it to and from the kitchen while holding a full tea cup and a saucer?  But no, I cannot always do that.  I am learning how to live with Sjogren’s, because it isn’t going to learn to adjust to my previous lifestyle.  Opening doors with doorknobs, a no-go.  Running from one end of the neighborhood to the other (which I had finally accomplished during the weight-loss period of my journey) a no-go.  Zumba for one hour a day, four days a week… a no-go.  Simply washing all the parts of my body with only my right hand … nope, not any more…

That brings me to my last point for today’s first blog … I have never told a soul … I have anxiety … high stress (which is now accompanied by high blood pressure — just add a few more pills to my ever-tightening pill box!) … and I’ve been prescribed an anti-anxiety pill… True confessions? Yes, because I can hardly believe I’ve typed these words … I am not the one to be sick! (Today was the first day I spoke it out loud: “I am sick.”)  A mental disorder like anxiety?  I have always been high energy, high accomplishing, high fun, highly motivated, high achieving me.  Last semester, I actually had to take time off of my job (gasp!!!) to sit down and relax at home… This makes no sense to me.  I cannot compute.  Leave work early?  I’m that employee who always has an abundance of sick leave hours to donate to whomever is ill and out of hours … I’m the person who rarely takes vacation days (how can anyone ever afford to do that when there’s so much to be done at work?!)  There’s always another essay to grade, another assignment to create, another video to review, another blog to write…But my body was telling me another story: Blood Pressure 180/130 … Time to stop.  Time to slow down.  Time to accept.

This blog is about that journey to stop, slow down, and accept.  I’m a new grandmother, and I want to be healthy for that beautiful baby boy…

I want to document my struggle, because it’s in the documenting, that I come to terms with my own pain and disappointment, my fears for the future, and my successes as I master the challenges headed my way.

I don’t know if anyone’s reading along, but if so, I hope you will join me, and I hope you will find comfort and understanding in my journey.  I would be so happy if you shared your stories as well, and I wish us happiness and acceptance, but above all, health!

Yours in peace and understanding,