Friday, September 06, 2019

Pro-life patients deserve health care providers who share their values

When news broke of a Vermont nurse who sued the hospital she was employed by for forcing her to assist in an abortion, many pro-choice activists responded with the rallying cry of "If you don't want to provide abortions, don't go into healthcare!" In an op-ed published in Vice on September 3rd, Monica R. McLemore, an associate nursing professor at UC San Fransisco, goes to far as to say that "we need to be more discerning about who is worthy of serving the public." She goes on to say suggest that the nurse in the above mentioned case should have put her patient's "need" for an abortion (although privacy laws mean we have no way of knowing if there was a medical need or whether it was an elective abortion) over her own "discomfort".

The use of the word "discomfort" to describe the pro-life objection to abortion shows that McLemore, and those who agree with her, do not understand where that objection comes from. It's not about our comfort level. It's about deliberately the life of a growing, developing, genetically unique human. This makes refusing to assist in and perform abortions different from other applications of the conscience clause.

There are good reasons the conscience clause has a bad reputation. It can and has been exercised as a form of bigotry- refusing to issue life saving and regular medical care to people on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. There's no instance in which it's moral to refuse life saving care to a patient, for any reason. This would include a case where sepsis or an ectopic pregnancy threatened a mother's life. Nor should a health care provider refuse regular care to someone based on the above reasons. But asking a health care provider to assist in taking a human life (as they see it), is in a different category all together, and suggesting nobody unwilling to do that should avoid the field altogether is unfair to patients as well.

When I was having my children, a couple of decades ago now, I sought a midwife who shared my values. This was important to me because I wanted the person managing my pregnancies to value the children I was carrying as patients, as people equal to me, who she viewed as worthy as protection as born human beings. I know many other mothers who have done the same, in some cases driving an hour or more to find and OB or midwife who shared their values. Advocates for reproductive choice must understand that includes the right of parents to receive obstetric care from providers who share their values- and that means including pro-life doctors, nurses and midwives in the field. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Not This Teacher's Favorite Mom

It's not even August, and that video is making the rounds again. A mom walking through a store, ranting about the parents who complain about back to school shopping, telling the world all the things she'll happily buy for teachers because she can't stand being in the same house as her kids.

What bothers me most is not the egregious show of privilege that is evident when when suggests parents should buy teachers anything they put on their list, although parents with means should remember that parents with kids the same age of theirs may right now be deciding between paying the rent or buying food, and actually CAN NOT buy Kleenex for the classroom. What bothers me most is the multiple times this mom frames her joy in buying for her children's teachers in term of school getting her kids out of the house, with only a nod to the teacher's expertise. I, too, am glad that my kid has teachers who have studied things I can't or don't care to teach, and work hard to teach those subjects to their students.
But it hurts my heart to know that if they haven't already, her kids will one day see this video, complete with such loving lines as "Do you know how much I would pay them just to get my kids out of my face" , "...they're not even allowed to hit your kids" and "because this means I don't have to talk to my kids anymore".. How does a parent explain that to their child? "But kids, I did it for the views! And enough money from my monetized account to buy some of those little bottles of likker you see me sipping from on my kid free shopping trip!"
I want parents to appreciate teachers. When possible, partnering with schools is the best way. If parents can afford it, helping with school supplies is great. Asking your elected representatives why schools aren't fully funded is absolutely vital. (Coffee from time to time is nice, too).
But this isn't true appreciation, and it plays into the stereotype that teachers, especially in elementary school, are babysitters. And most of all, it's not funny. It's exploitative of her children (other videos of hers even more so). It's cruel.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

You don't have to solve it yourself, but you do have to support the solutions

By now, there's a good chance you've seen Pennsylvania rep Brian Sim's video, posted to his own twitter, where he harasses a sidewalk counselor in front of a Planned Parenthood. We don't know what the protester was doing before he went live, though it's interesting that he didn't film it (maybe she was just praying, and not shouting at women?). There's been a lot said about his completely unprofessional, Trumpian behaviour, so I don't feel a need to add much to that. Instead, I'm going to focus on one of his early-rant accusations.

Sims, like many other pro-choice activists, asks his constituent if she'd personally put shoes on the feet of a child that day, or put a woman and child up in her home. We see this suggestion a lot: that a person can't be against abortion. This is ridiculous on the face of it. We see the same suggestion from far right, anti-immigrant agitators: You can't support offering sanctuary to immigrants if you aren't opening your home and couch to them. The idea that you have to be personally opening your home to people that you want to live and thrive  limits the number of people who get to have an opinion, and essentially cuts off the poor from having an opinion.

But, more conservative pro-life activists have an equally unhelpful response, which is to say "You don't have to solve a bad thing to oppose it", then shrugging their shoulders and going on to oppose any sort of social safety net. While not everyone is in a position to take people into their homes or donate large amounts of money, it's less than pointless to oppose something AND the solution to that problem.  A truly pro-life person will support free, accessible contraception, free college, Medicare for all, and robust supports for families like paid family leave, food and housing aide, and ANY OTHER supports that make it easier for pregnant people to choose life. Otherwise, you're part of the problem. 

Monday, September 04, 2017

The Life Changing Magic of Accepting Your Pants Size

     I am a big fan of Marie Kondo's "Life Changing Magic of Tidying UP", though I've certainly failed to implement it in my own home. But I decided that at the end of this summer, between summer quarter and the start of my school year, I would go Kondo on my clothing. It takes quite a bit of self acceptance to accomplish this.

     I believe one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people attempting to declutter their clothing is unwillingness to admit that certain clothes no longer "fit"; whether that means actual size, or one's current personality. Giving away that clothing is admitting that you have moved on- that you will never be that size again,or never be that person again.

     It helps, too, to be a thrift shopper. When you know it's time to purge the closet, it's so much easier to do so when the most you've spent on a pair of pants is $4. And if by some miracle I ever get back down to the size of the wish pants I gave away? Then I get to go thrifting again.

     I turned 45 yesterday. Except for a slight weight loss related to my summer's GI crisis, I've maintained a fairly steady weight for years, no matter my eating or exercise habits. This summer's clothes purge contained about 6 bags of clothes that fell into either category of "not fitting", from the pants that won't close to the micro mini and velour lace up tank. (I still kept the gold lame leggings a friend got me at the Goodwill by-the-pound outlet-I'm pretty sure I'll find a cosplay application for them someday.)

     It was freeing to let go of all those clothes, to accept I am and where I am, and to know it'll be that much easier to find what I want to wear during the busy school year.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

After many years, my health issues diagnosed and treated

     Friends and followers know that for some years now, I have been plagued by health issues that have remained undiagnosed  and therefore untreated health issues. These issues started possibly as fare back as fall of 2009, when an undiagnosed illness caused me to be incapacitated by headache and fatigue for six weeks. Following that, I developed intolerance to gluten, a nut allergy, and increased issues with dairy. By spring of 2011, I was suffering from severe constipation, debilitating abdominal pain, periods that left me doubled over and anemic, and an increasing number of foods that seemed to aggravate my abdominal pain, sleep patterns, candida, and arthritis of the hands and wrists. In 2014, I pulled my IT band running, causing another source of pain and debility that I had trouble getting treated.

     In the past 6 years, I could not even tell how much time and money I have spent at doctor's offices, or the total number of specialists I've seen. I have had multiple CAT scans,ultrasounds,  fecal occult tests, X-rays, nerve conduction tests, a colonoscopy, and more complete blood panels than I can count. With the exception of ultrasound showing that I have adenomyosis, which was treated by endometrial ablation. Let me take a moment to say, enthusiastically and without reservation- of you menstruate and kids are not in your future, look into an ablation. It's one of the best choices I've ever made. It changed my life greatly, and I believe I would not be able to work on a daily basis now if I hadn't had it.

     On my quest for diagnosis and treatment, I found myself switching doctors several times, as it took those changes to find the help I needed. Early in the process, I asked my then primary care provider if an endoscopy could help find the problem. She replied that my pain was "too low", and it would be years before I got one. One doctor I saw said that the pain in my leg (from hip to foot) wasn't due to injury, but due to "anxiety", which she based upon the fact that my teeth were gritted and my shoulders hunched. She offered anxiety medication instead of the physical therapy I was seeking. Another doctor, a rheumatologist, asked if the pain caused me to miss work and when I said no, told me to come back "when you're disabled". I gave up for a while after that, with my only medical help coming from chiropractors and from Alleve.

     This spring, the combination of IT band pain/debility and the abdominal pain sent me searching for a new doctor. A friend recommended one, and while that doctor had no openings, another doctor in her practice did. I set up an appointment,and she immediately diagnosed me with trochanteric bursitis and set up physical therapy. We set up a follow up after the school year to deal with the GI issues, though I would finds myself dealing with them long before that.

     Over the spring, my GI pain had been getting worse and worse. I took painkillers, I watched what I ate, I used a heating pad and a TENS unit; nevertheless, I ended up back in the doctor's office at the beginning of June. The doctor who was in suspected diverticulitis,and ordered a CT scan. I went in for that in the morning, but by afternoon was vomiting bile, and my husband took me to the ER. The ER doctor told me I had diverticulitis, an ovarian cyst, and what looked like a gastric ulcer.I was given heavy duty antibiotics, morphine, and sent home. He noted that if they can see an ulcer on a CT scan, it's large and has been developing for a while. I was given antibiotics, and a referral to a GI doctor (this would be my third).

     Without sharing every detail, I ended up in the ER two more times, didn't eat or poop for a week, but came out on the other side on the path to healing. I finally have a GI doctor who knows what he's doing. I finally got the endoscopy, which confirmed the ulcer and ruled out anything scarier. It turns out the Alleve I was taking to deal with my many types of pain *caused* the ulcer, which makes me even more upset at the years my pain issues weren't treated.By treating the sources of my pain, I now need to medication for pain. I am on ulcer medication, and in addition I'm on a low FODmap diet, which has made a huge difference in how I feel. How I eat has been such a huge part of my healing that it deserves a separate post. Oh, and I graduated with PT, with much higher flexibility and strength.

     If you have ongoing, undiagnosed medical issues, please keep searching for help, as much as your resources allow. You deserve respectful care from doctors who won't brush you off as hysterical or a drug seeker.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

On the seemingly impossible task of gently raising tough kids

     When my teenagers were little, I surrounded myself with like minded moms. Moms who co-slept, who baby carried, who fed on demand and let children self wean. We didn't spank or shame or isolate our children. Many would go on to homeschool. We were going to build more peaceful homes, and a more peaceful world.

     Ideals are a great thing, until reality sets in. I do not, for a second, regret any of the above parenting choices.But guess what? My kids still fought, and the world is still not gentle and kind. I still wanted to raise my kids peacefully and send them out into the world able to make it better, while recognizing the world I would send them out into might not return the favour. I did not want them to be hard, but I wanted their protective outer shell to be.

   This was anathema to the proper attachment mom. My kids were preschoolers when I started noticing that most of the kids around me were "very sensitive", and this only increased when we started joining homeschooling groups. I know some people *are* just born more sensitive, but it almost seemed like a point of pride with some of these moms that little Starshine was so sensitive that "Wallace and Grommit" gave her nightmares, or that Moonbean couldn't stand to have his hair washed and could only wear sweatpants and rainboots. It seemed like these other moms were purposely creating kids who would fall apart the first time the world was cruel to them, and I didn't want to do the same.
     Without compromising my base principles, I started raising them for the world they would inherit, rather than the one I wanted them to.

     Because I knew the world *would* judge them based on what they could produce, I didn;t settle for anything less than 'A' work in their schoolwork. Many assignments went back 2-3 times for improvement.
     Because the world would value their independence, they had to start riding public transit-alone- at about 12.
     Because "letting them be kids" sounds nice but I didn't know how to do laundry when I left the house at 18, my kids started chores as soon as they could walk. By the age of 5, they all helped with dinner, did their turn handwashing dishes, and did their own laundry from start to finish.
     Because someone out there might try to hurt them physically, I stopped getting in the way of their fights. We bought practice swords and took them to ken do. I'm a pacifist, but my kids can defend themselves.
     Because I knew the world might not be kind and kids verbally abuse each other to the extreme,we raised them with a healthy dose of sarcasm that allows them to laugh at insults.

     I wanted to raise kind, compassionate kids, who would in at least small ways, work to make the world better. And they are those people. They give blood, go on mission trips, volunteer with the homeless shelter and with Northwest Harvest. But they're tough, because the world isn't padded with cotton fluff and wallpapered in trigger warnings.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ready for Preschool? 4 things more important than numbers and letters.

It's the time of year when teachers are going through their back to school lists, planning our lessons, our classroom set up, and contemplating how we're going to do it all. Parents of first time preschool students are working to get their little ones ready for school, and I've learnt over the past two years that that usually involves drilling them in the alphabet, colours, and numbers. Most children are naturally curious about how we label the world around us, and it should be a topic on conversation with our little ones. Too often, that's the main focus, leaving some important skills unaddressed. Here are four skills to work on before preschool starts:

Eating at the table: This may seem basic to some and unnecessary to others, but if your child goes to school, they will probably eat there. Snack time at preschool is not just important to maintain blood sugar levels, but to teach children social graces. Many small children are used to grazing at home. While small, frequent snacks are healthy, walking around with a baggie of crackers is both a choking hazard and a hygiene issue. Your child's teacher will thank you if she doesn't have to spend three months reminding him that we eat at the table.

Queuing: When I homeschooled my own children, the emphasis brick and mortar schools placed on standing on line was often decried as part of making our children into mindless drones. But knowing how to stand on line is an important part of living in society. As tempting as it is to keep your little one strapped in the cart or run errands when they aren't with you, gently teaching them how to line up to pay for things will make them better citizens. We all know those people who never learnt the lesson, and who wants to raise THAT person?

Fine motor strength: Before your child is physically and intellectually able to write, her little hands need to be strong enough. Cutting playdough (with real scissors!), using tongs,eating applesauce and yoghurt with a spoon (rather than from a pouch) and these squeezing activities will make sure than when your child's brain is ready to write, her hands will be too.

Sitting through a story, in a group: Hopefully, your local library has preschool story time. If so, taking your child is one of the best things you can do for them: perhaps one of the most important. Sit with them and gently redirect them when they start to move all over. Aim for sitting through one story, at first.

Bonus: Teacher's Coffee Order: Just joking. Maybe. Depends on your child's energy level.