Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Friday, March 04, 2011

the medical industrial complex is killing us

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This is my part of a conversation on my friend's facebook post about a woman who went to the ER at UNMH and wasn't seen for thirty hours.

now, imagine you're fifty MILES from that ER, have no car and public transportation does not come to your neighborhood, so you have to hitch hike to the train, if it's running when you need it and anticipate spending at least two days in Albuquerque with no place to sleep. People with VEHICLES, out here where I live, just don't go to the ER at all. They barely go to the clinics in our county.
I don't see any "progressives" making it any easier for me to stay alive, either. I'm surplus population. They assume I don't vote or pay taxes. I'm not a corporate lobbyist. I don't consume; I don't carry much debt. I can't even breed a soldier. Let me die, I guess; I'm just cutting into the profit margin.
and imagine you have to go a hundred miles, round trip, wait two days to be seen, have no car and have CHILDREN! Me, I've just got goats. Which is probably worse, actually...

I just went recently with a young mother who was experiencing extreme abdominal pain. after a VERY long time, we finally convinced the nurse: maybe the first thing would be a preggy test. The nurse SMUGGLED one in, without a doctor's permission (what doctor?). My friend has something unusual about her uterus. Her first pregnancy nearly killed her; her baby came out premie and has serious neurological and behavioral issues. She said this felt like it might be a pregnancy. Sure enough, the tests came back positive (somehow, the nurse got the results rushed).

There were three other patients, total. We arrived at 8 am and never did see a damn doctor and had to leave; she needed to pick her daughter up from school. But that's not a "priority" to the medical industrial complex: leaving an unattended five year old outside a closed school alone, with behavioral health challenges? THAT wouldn't get triaged.

So, my friend never got any medical care. Her husband quit his job and they moved back to Louisiana, where they have a NICU unit, one of only four in the country, and she's finally under doctor's care. I just got a Facebook pic of the Baby Bump last week, and she's going through Olive Garden and Raisin' Cane fried chicken like she's an army. I have NO idea what might have happened to her if she'd stayed in this rural community!

"not bothered to get a primary care provider" I HAVE to assume you live in a city, where there are shortages of primary care doctors, already, especially for low income folk. In rural USA, the shortage is "critical"

Shortage of Health Care Workforce Hits Rural America Hard

Out here, if we're lucky enough to HAVE a clinic, the hours are nine to five, closed evenings and weekends. The last town I live in was a hundred sixty miles from Albuquerque and almost the same to Lubbock: the nearest hospitals with emergency rooms. We have to wait weeks for appointments locally.

The woman I spoke of is no sissy. I know how much physical pain she can endure, and it's plenty. And I know she was genuinely terrified, or she wouldn't have gone to the ER. AND she endured the pain for nearly a week, before she finally admitted she needed help. As a new resident, with a fully-employed husband with no medical benefits, she HAD no health insurance, medicaid or medicare.

AND I know she suspected she was having another very tricky pregnancy and that she was trying to protect the baby. The pain was warning her the baby was in danger; she'd been through it before. I also know we went on a week day and that there were three other patients and the waiting room had only family & friends in it.

As to your poor woman who didn't take care of her diabetes: I'm lucky, I guess. I was brought up middle class. Aside from the brain injuries my mother gave me, my brain developed under a good diet, plenty of intellectual stimulation and encouragement to learn. Maybe your poor woman did not. Maybe she was exposed to toxic chemicals or lead as a kid. Maybe she's a fetal alcohol daughter, or the daughter of an addict. i have a high IQ and I cannot understand nor negotiate the system. I can't imagine what it's like for someone who never learned to think for herself, respect herself or take care of herself.

"Drunk" is a judgmental slur for a person with a behavioral health disability called "alcoholism." It's not a lifestyle choice, like yachting or crochet. It is a mental health EPIDEMIC in the US, particularly in rural New Mexico. It needs compassion and healing, not finger pointing and condemnation.

You want us low income, rural consumers to understand the flawed system? But, if we DARE ask questions, we are either condescended, ignored or met with hostility and punishment. How DARE we ignorant trailer trash question the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz! Informed consumerism in the medical industrial complex, ESPECIALLY for poor folks, is not permitted! When you're poor, it can get you diagnosed as paranoid and put on mood altering drugs, to make you manageable!

I guess you work in medicine, or care about someone who does. But i hear burn out and your anger is directed at the most vulnerable victims of the entire system, not at the wall street shareholders, billion dollar CEOs or redneck tea parody assholes who don't want to pay taxes for ANything.

You have to understand, ma'am, especially if you are inside the medical industrial complex system, we are dying of neglect, abuse, condemnation, indifference and a profit margin. My fellows may take this in silence because either they don't know how to speak up for themselves or they're too afraid of the consequences if they do. But I am telling you. We are dying.


find me ONE addict who chose that! And your insistence that we "refuse" to take care of ourselves? Look, there's no mincing words: you're being reactionary, prejudiced and cold.  A lot MORE people are just confused about and ignorant of the system than "abuse" it.

i have given you VALID reasons why we come to the ER, how badly we avoid it, at risk, not only to ourselves, but our pregnancies.

You address me with slurs about "drunks and meth-heads," insinuate we're lazy, scamming the system and choosing REAL disabilities!

you are, basically, taking your frustrations out on ME because THE SYSTEM doesn't work!

You won't even address the issues I bring up, as a low income, rural consumer. You just keep heaping more and more of the FAULT OF THE SYSTEM onto people like ME!

I'm sick and tired of people with privilege condemning me because THEY reject, neglect, abuse, exploit, persecute, prosecute and compare themselves to me! How low would a person's self esteem have to be to so desperately need to compare themselves favorably with a disabled homeless woman??? Or an alcoholic. Or a meth... I can't spell that.... addict?

I DID NOT CREATE THIS CORRUPT SYSTEM! I am just trying to stay alive, on the edges, out of the way, so I won't get shot at!

It's just simple class warfare: them stupid darkies/wetbacks/fill in the epithets are just too lazy, too ignorant, too greedy, to criminal too....... only now, the language gets sneakier and, at the same time, more honest: we get our goodies at YOUR expense, poor folks! We don't even CARE what color you are anymore! You're all just meat, just cannon fodder, just body parts, just a sucker to exploit with payday loans, selective enforcement of laws, pharmaceutical drugs, slum lords . . .

and the Liberals get their pint of blood, too, with their social "welfare" programs: most of US fall through the cracks, they get the admin. jobs from the grants, a few tokens are processed through the programs to be held up as "successes" (and let me tell you how thoroughly the applications processes make sure almost everybody falls through the cracks before they're accepted, so they won't screw up the "success rates" of these token programs), they pat them selves on the back and get their pictures taken at "important luncheons" with politicians. . . and we're still out there, on the streets, suffering horribly, when they drive their Prius home to their solar powered condos to eat their Whole Paycheck organic foods....

You ever live for fifteen years in the War Zone of Albuquerque? What about out in Meadow Lake, where the primary source of income is drug labs and marijuana growing? You ever have to eat Top Ramen every damn night for a week, until next month's three-week supply of food stamps came in? You ever wait in an emergency room with a dying baby inside you in so much pain you had to press your abdomen into a cabinet for hours, standing up, until someone came, as blood oozed down the inside of your thighs? You ever have to hitch hike a hundred miles, round trip, for groceries? You ever live fifteen months without taking a shower but six times at neighbors' houses? You poop in a bucket, screened by fabric, in your driveway, cuz you have no toilet and live in a damn house trailer, cuz the house you rented is too unfit to live in? You ever been screamed at, threatened with a tazer, told you'd be locked in jail and your dog put in the pound if you ever hitch hike to the nearest town, forty miles round trip, for groceries? You ever have your neighbors threaten to burn down your house and kill your animals because you're just poor, don't have a car and can't do everything that needs to be done to survive all alone???

You ever plan, in detail, how to kill yourself, rather than become a dependent on the medical industrial complex and a ward of the state when your own medical condition gets to the point you can't do all of the above anymore?

THAT is MY life.

Lady, don't you DARE talk to me about PAIN! You don't know what pain is!
Janice, I have a policy, because of my brain injuries and post traumatic stress, of not reading comments I think might upset me after eight o'clock at night. So, I was afraid to read your comment just now. I was afraid you might I don't know be One Of Them, the ones who won't believe my life experiences and my opinions of them have any validity, that i should be ignored, shamed, silenced, "unfriended," blocked, censored, censured, branded a crack pot because THAT would be very convenient, now, wouldn't it?

I go through my life sucking it up. Because, if I ever let myself really feel what is happening and has happened to me, with my post traumatic stress, things could get very ugly. I am capable of both homicide and suicide. I can't afford the luxury of indulging my feelings. I can't even afford self pity. I looked up "pity" one day; it's actually a GOOD thing, corrupted by a corrupt system that doesn't WANT us to have any compassion for each other. If anybody deserves pity, I've earned it and, since I've been so rejected and isolated from human affection and contact, I ought to be able to provide it to myself when I need to be loved, soothed, understood. But I can't take a chance on breaking down, dissolving, becoming depressed or cycling into a rage, so i live without any love or affection, except from my animals.

So, i want you to know your comments mean a lot to me and I'm glad I took the risk to read them, even though it's late and it could have kept me awake, worrying and trying not to hate myself. I think you might know something about that: internalizing society's hate rhetoric.

I know a lot of people don't take me seriously, for a lot of reasons: my poverty, which they don't believe is as bad as it is; my behavioral health issues, which gives them a perfect opportunity to dismiss me as "crazy," and how silly I can be, in my ongoing attempt to live like Mary Poppins, Pippi Longstocking, Carl Sagan, Dr. King and a whole bunch of other people who choose to be idealists, optimists and dreamers, in the face of those who mock our "naivete" and absurd notions that life should be fun, fair and flamboyant.

You heard me tonight, Janice. That hardly ever happens. I've always been a little scared of you, since you hang with that Albuquerque crowd, or at least, speak to them and oh, they fear and suspect me! And a lot of folks, in my experience, who identify themselves politically like you do can be pretty um rigid? Not much fun to play with? Arrogant?

So, yeah, I'm crying tonight. But it's not because, one, more time, some asshole put me in my place, told me to shut up, mocked and threatened me or just ignored me. You heard me tonight. It makes all the difference in the world.


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