Diagnosis Fat Druggie

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I’m crying in the doctors office again.

This is turning into the very worst types of patterns. I feel helpless and hopeless and the woman in front of me couldn’t care less.

The last time I cried in the doctors office it was for a different, yet interlocking reason. It was in another office, with another doctor in the same practice. It was during my first visit with my new primary care doctor, a slender yet very visibly pregnant young woman who somehow looked more like a rock star than a doctor.

That time I was crying because my doctor derailed our introductory visit to ask me the same open-ended question over and again.

“What about your weight?”

She asked, an overabundance of faux concern dripping from her voice.

I told her that all of the women in my family are skinny until they have kids and then look like me afterwards.

“What about your weight?”

I told her how I had gained weight with my first pregnancy, then gained more afterwards, then lost so much weight in my second pregnancy that I was below the chart.

“What about your weight?”

I told her I had lost weight when I had a routine walking schedule, but gained it and a little bit more when my schedule changed and I was unable to keep it up.

“What about your weight?”

I wasn’t crying yet but I was frustrated. What did she want me to say? What kind of question was that?

“I need a doctor who can treat me as a whole person,” I told her, fighting the tears in my eyes, “not just concentrate on my weight.”

She told me I would have a long hard struggle to find a doctor like that. And seemed fine with being an obstacle in that path.

Now I’m crying again in the rheumatologists office. Ever since my diagnosis of fibromyalgia a year and a half ago–I don’t know if my symptoms are worse or if I’m acknowledging them more? But it’s been hard. So much pain! Pain that tracks certain precise pathways, gathering at trigger points and shooting through my forehead like someone took a knitting needle and jabbed it from the base of my neck to my pineal gland, or  crippling me with pain in one shoulder so bad I can barely move only to abandon that shoulder for an equally intolerable pain in other one the next morning.

And when it’s not pain it’s fatigue. An overwhelming fatigue and/or brain fog that drags me down into uselessness and makes my brain barely functional.

The rheumatologist has me on a low dose of Gabapentine. Really low. I’m supposed to take 200 MG but I’m taking 100 because 200 causes so much fatigue I am afraid I’ll hurt myself or someone else, get into a car accident maybe.

But it’s helping. It feels like a blanket muffling my pain, muffling my brain, acting as buffer between me and this evilness that is my flare-ups. I can feel it from when I take it at night, and I can feel it wearing off roughly the same time the next day. I can also feel the sharpness of the pain on days I forget to take it, along with my sharpness of thought, still dampened by fibro fatigue but freed of the drug induced haze.

I told her all of this.

When I researched it online other Fibro sufferers said their doctors prescribed them something to counteract the fatigue. Some people were proscribed adderoll but most were proscribed something else that I can’t remember at this moment. Why didn’t I write it down?

I’m struggling to remember it now because I don’t think it was a classic stimulant and because of the look my doctor is currently giving me. I just asked for something to counteract the fatigue and now she is looking at me like I’m a junkie searching for her next fix. Besides coffee I have never taken stimulants–don’t even really like the idea of taking them but I just want to not be in pain AND get out from under the smothering blanket of fatigue that makes it impossible for me to function at home or at work for hours on end.

“Why do you need to counteract the fatigue, what about trying a different medication?” She asks.

“Well it’s not just the fatigue of the Gabapentine,” I reply, I get fatigue from the fibromyalgia, too.

“Fatigue is not a symptom of fibomyalgia.”She states baldly.

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Wait–what? My world is spinning. Every bit of research I’ve ever done had fatigue and brain fog as the second and third most reported symptoms after pain. (A quick google search would later confirm this).

“You need to do a sleep study to find out why your so tired. Then maybe they will proscribe a stimulant”

It sounds like too much, at the moment, another hoop to jump through. I had so much hope going into this appointment that she’d adjust my dosage a little bit, and maybe proscribe an extremely mild, low dose something to clear the fog, but no, it’s more hoops, along with disbelief, distrust. Hostility.

Tears streak down my face. It feels hopeless. I feel helpless.

“I’m going to proscribe you cymbalta,” She says, and declines to explain any side affects except that it has a negative interaction with gabapentine. “so take gabapentine at night and the cymbalta in the morning.”

“But what about the fact that the gabapentine lasts 24 hours?” I ask, but I can see the answer in her eyes. “Oh right, you don’t believe me.”

“Just exercise!” She belts out as I leave, a wreck, crying, barely holding myself together. In my head I hear “you fucking fatty!” at the end but I don’t know if that’s what she would have liked to say or if I’m reading into it.

_____

I’m sure both these doctors thought I was a difficult patient. Now I read that doctors are less able to to do their jobs if they perceive their patient as difficult. Since I’m a bad fatty who refuses to prostrate herself to doctors as the bad bad bad bad fatty that I am and who has a basically unknown and barely recognized disease AND whose body responds differently from the textbooks to medications I feel like I will always be “difficult”.  I wonder if I will ever find a doctor who will treat me like a human being? Will I ever find a doctor who I can trust? Have clear communication with?

How can I trust a system to heal me when it sees me as a deathly fat lying druggie?

 

End the Frame-war on Racism

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If you ask most white people to define racism they’ll say it is racially based prejudice.

If you ask most people of color to define racism they would tell you that racism is hegemonic systemic white supremacy based on a formula of prejudice+ power.

So who’s right?

Drum-roll please….I’m about to give a brilliant definitive answer…

Both! Neither! It doesn’t matter!

Wait…where are you going? Stick around and let me explain.

First of all, English is a flexible language, and if enough people use a certain word in a certain way–that becomes a legitimate usage of the word!

For example: If enough people use the word literally to mean figuratively–boom! it literally means figuratively–and not in a figurative way.

I would argue that despite either conscious definition, most people use racism fairly fluidly between both definitions, with people “getting” which meaning is implied through context clues. There’s an excellent episode of Blackish (Season 1 Episode 10) that illustrates this nicely. (If you haven’t watched Blackish I highly recommend it!)

But regardless…or irregardless…my point is, that now that we know that both usages of the word are, we can stop frame battling over them, move past the argument of whether or not “black people can be racist.”

Since there is no Black Hegemonic Systematic Oppression, the important conversation is not whether the word racism includes white systemic hegemonic oppression, but what are we–all of us–going to do to make this world a fairer, freer egalitarian society with equality, liberty and justice for all?

What are we going to do to stop cops from killing unarmed kids? Or at least prosecute and jail them if they do? What are we doing to make our schoolrooms and our board rooms representational of the beautiful diversity of this country? What are we doing to acknowledge or privileges and challenge our prejudices?

White people: when you hear a POC say “Black people can’t be racist” just…let it slide. Even if you prefer the first definition–now you know the second one–replace racist with white supremacist in your head and see if you still want to argue  the point. I know, I know, I grind my teeth every time my 12 year old daughter says she “literally died” but you know what, it’s not a battle I can win, or that’s even worth fighting.

If you want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem, you will accept this second understanding of the word racism, and move on to more constructive conversation.

POC: if you really want to argue with a WP who has just described being beaten up every day at their minority-majority school while being called whitey, latte and snow-bunny that that wasn’t racism–I mean, be my guest–but dismissing peoples lived experiences as just being mean or just prejudice is unlikely to win them over to your side or do much besides give you a headache or a smug feeling of being right.

Post Script: I explained all this to my Girlfriend: Her reaction: “But the first definition is right! It’s in the dictionary!”

Me:

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I’m On the Bloggess!

Kinda sorta. Scroll way, way down

Getting Though

A black friend on twitter has asked for help trying to “get through” to his white friend, who has expressed a number of troubling ideas that display blind white privilege at best, outright racism at worst.

After a number of people told him to she was a lazy racist who would never be a real friend, he still was looking for answers.

“What do you think I could say to make her understand? ” He asks.

This post is my response, since I couldn’t fit my thoughts into tweets:

First of all: there may not be anything that you can say to make her understand, understanding requires an open mind, and unless your friend is committed to opening her mind, it may not be possible for her to understand.

Your friend is actively engaging people of different races, and doesn’t understand why everything has to be “all about race.” Now I can’t think of a POC who would not like for everything to stop being all about race. Unfortunately, white people won’t let them. POC have responded by creating their own spaces where instead of being marginalized, their voices are honored and privileged.

Based on what I saw, your friend is one of the statistically few white people who has gone beyond the ubiquitous “black friend” and actually entered POC spaces. Once inside POC spaces she realized that within POC spaces, POC voices are privileged. Not only that, but that some POC made assumptions about her based on her race and may have been pretty mean about it. She has discovered what it feels like (within the narrow confines of POC dominated spaces) to be the minority, to feel silenced, denigrated, and (somewhat) oppressed.

Being the only white person in a POC space is an opportunity. An opportunity to learn what it actually feels like to not have your voice privileged, and sometimes an opportunity to see what it feels like to be on the other side of racial animosity. (Prejudice against the people oppressing you seems like a pretty natural reaction to me) But it’s just a shadow, a pale reflection of the white supremacy that POC face every day.

Your friend can leave POC spaces, and return to the white dominated spaces that take up the majority of the country. She can easily find white silos where she can speak as frankly and with as much racism as she likes.

Meanwhile, while your voice may be privileged in POC circles, but as soon as you step into the rest of White Supremacist America, it is not.

I would encourage your friend to take these feelings of silencing and racial persecution, and multiply them: multiply them by ten, by a hundred, by a million. Imagine the experiences she has had expanded beyond words and hurt feelings to include poverty, violence, death,  or the threat of all three.

By gaining entrance to POC spaces, with the concurrent mixture of welcome and antipathy, your friend has a wonderful opportunity–an opportunity for empathy. But only if she can use her imagination, opens her mind, and get over herself.

 

I Married a White Woman

White hands with wedding rings.

Well not really married…who can afford to lose free health insurance and food stamps by getting married? Committed to, living with, what have you.

Although I have been open to dating all races, for years I lowkey thought I’d end up with a black woman. But when I found myself falling hard for a kind, smart soft white butch. She gets my jokes, she puts up with my faults, and she pays most of my bills. (Nothing + nothing equals nothing, ok?)

I tried to tell myself she’s not “white-white.” her Guayanese co-worker calls her “one of those hood-ass white girls.” She was one of the only white girls in her school growing up, her 20+ year best friend and her ex and her son are all black. But her outlook…it’s still very white.

The first worrying moment was fairly soon after we moved in together: we were trying to choose a movie, and for whatever reason I was feeling the black cinema offerings (out of the admittedly crappy selection on Netflix). She confronted me afterwards, referring especially to a movie I lingered over about drug dealers in the Hood.

“I’m white. I don’t relate to the hood” She told me angrily. “It’s not my experience!”

I was flabbergasted. First of all–she basically did grow up in the hood, if not the drug dealing part. (Although her sister sure is an addict) And second of all–it’s the point of a movie to bring you into things outside of your experience. I’ve never been to South Africa, but I was able to enjoy White Wedding I’ve also never been to space, or the distant past, but I was able to get into Star Wars.

Then recently she asked “who’s Floetry”

Increduous Face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Followed a few days later: “Who’s Nina Simone?”

Really Incredulous Look

“Do you even hang out with older black people?” I asked.

Her: “No why would I?”

Me: (why wouldn’t you?) “Let me learn you something!”

So I made her watch What Happened Miss Simone

Ok, so our shared black media experience starts when we fell in love with Hip Hop in ’92. I could get used to that.

But then I made the mistake of talking to her about Sandra Bland.

Photo Of Sandra Bland

Now, it took me a day or two to even click on a link to find out what happened to Sandra Bland. She was just so beautiful, I couldn’t bear to think of her life ending pointlessly in a Texas Jail cell. When I look at her I see someone I would have wanted as a friend. I see my aunt. I see my cousins. I see a vibrant intelligent soul. I see one more victim of the horrible scourge of white supremacy that gives police near impunity to kill black people and get away with it.

I was so depressed after reading the details of her arrest and death that I could barely get out of bed. Barely made it to physical therapy.

Despite my melatonin deficiency, this video sums up how the news and my Facebook/twitter feeds have had me feeling lately.

So I made the mistake of talking to my Boo about Sandra Bland. She agreed that Sandra’s death was wrong and the fault of the cops. But apparently HER facebook feed was full of different stories from mine. HER feed promised “incontrovertible” “video evidence” that Sandra took her own life.

I still haven’t read one article that backs this claim, but the most striking thing from our conversation was this: she’s not angry. She doesn’t feel the deep, abiding anger in her bones. Just this overwhelming violent angry rage and sorrow as black person after black person gets modern-day lynched for the most imaginary of offense.

When I asked: “What if this was your son?” She asked:”Why did you have to take it there?”

Because she doesn’t look at Sandra, Treyvon, Tamir, and see her son. Even though the cops sure as hell will one day. She sees all these incidents as wrong, but ultimately as single incidents.

She sees these incidents as a white person, a white woman.

I married a white woman.

Keep it Moving

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A long time ago I used to go to this Black Lesbian night in Southie called Slainte. Twenty years prior a small clubs worth of blank lesbians venturing into this staunch Irish neighborhood coulda ended in bodies, or at least blood, but in 21st century Massachusetts it was cool.

I used to go with my dancing buddy, a cute tomboi who could tear up the floor. One night we were out dancing and some gorgeous back to Africa type sistas walked in with their effortless prints and radiant smiles.

There was one woman particular who intrigued me: she was so beautiful with her rich brown skin and thick curves. Each step and dance move owned her space and honored her body.

I told my friend how beautiful I found her and she tried to get me to talk to her.

“Naw.” I shook my head. “She’s not looking at me”

She and her friends were wrapped up in themselves and in each other and in the music.

So I respected them and didn’t try to intrude. I danced with my friend and enjoyed my night while she enjoyed hers.

Part of being in that space was respecting the people there. I’m sure a lotta folk might have tried to insert themselves in some way into their evening; but that would have felt wrong to me.

I’m not sure why my attitude is so difficult for others to take on. Check her out and if she’s not checking for you? Keep it moving. Everyone can still have a good time. That’s all I’m saying.

My Second Arrest Part 2

Start the night here. (yes this post was 3 years ago, so?)

Butch Prison Guard

They took me down to the station where once again I was jammed into a holding cell: a glass room with about 20 prostitutes, all accessorizing their skin tight ho clothes with bright orange jail shirts or pants like wearable  OJ was some kind of new fashion statement.

“Oh honey what are you in for?” Asked the only non-orange clad ho. I don’t know what it was about her, but she seemed like the classiest of the group. Her velour top and clingy pants were revealing but tasteful in a way that made tohe other prostitutes in their the skimpy remains of their ho garb look shoddy.

“Obstructing the sidewalk.” I spat out weekly.

“Aww honey,” A brown-skinned ho looked at me pityingly. “If I couldn’t sell my cooch I’d be homeless asking for money like you.” That seemed so strange to me. Asking for change seemed way less degrading than selling my twat, but not to her.

“You’re pretty,” the classy ho sized me up. “Ever thought about going into the business?”  I shrugged politely. The thought of anyone touching me sexually who I was not attracted to disgusted me. Being homeless was part spiritual quest for me–distancing myself from attachment to objects and limiting my needs to the basics.  All I needed was a couple bucks a day to get by and I didn’t have any addictions or children to make me need more. “You look tired, here, lay on this shirt.” I thanked her and reclined on an orange jail shirt.

“I love being a ho.” One of the women chimed in. “Anywhere I go I can always sell my pussy!”

“I need to sell my pussy,” the “classy” one said, “I have my four year old son to take care of.”

“How did you get in the business?” Another one asked her.

“Like a lot of women do, I was a dancer in a club and I realized hooking could make a lot more money…”

That’s where I started coughing. And coughing, and coughing. Sleeping outside in the cold damp winter combined with smoking had given me a nasty cold. I spat some blood into the common toilet sitting exposed in the corner of the cell.

“Are you alright honey?” Classy ho asked.

“Yeah, I’m ok. I just coughed up some blood tho.”

“Coughed up BLOOD?!” One of the hos yelled. “Oh my god do you have TB?!!”

That’s when all hell broke loose:

“TB?!!”

“She has TB!!”

“Guards, gaurds, she has TB!”

After a few minutes the guards moved me to another holding cell. Only it wasn’t a regular holding cell, it was a white tiled room with every inch–floor, walls and ceiling–covered in blood stains of varying shades. It had a drain hole in the middle of the floor presumably for when they failed to wash the stains out. Or maybe for the blood to drain down. I didn’t know. All I knew was there was NO WAY I was touching anything!!!

I couldn’t sit down without touching the floor  (no benches in this room) so I paced the room wearilly. In a desperate attempt to look at something besides blood stains my eyes traveled accross the room. The holding cells were set up in a circle like a glass menagerie around a cubicle farm. cops in their uniforms non-chalantly processed paperwork while us chattel watched from our glass pens.

The men were penned up accross from me and to the left, and then–my eyes stopped. Directly accross from me was what looked like a padded cell. Unlike the rest of the cells this one only had a tiny windoe, but it looked soft and white from where I was. Not only that, but it was inhabited. Inhabited by what looked like a naked woman. A naked woman staring straight at me and screaming in anguish. Screaming and screaming and screaming.

That’s when I realized I had been listening to her scream all night…

 

 

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