Friday, April 26, 2013

A Doctor Who Trusts Me - sort-of

Ever since I got hit by that car, I’ve been seeing far too many doctors. Collar bone repair, and check-ups. Hip replacement. And check-ups. Cancer testing and surgeries. And check-ups. 

At the one-year point, my collar bone was declared healed.  My hip replacement is an experimental model so I have to go back every year for 7 years.  It is healed. They’re just concerned about possible problems.

When my mastectomy reached the one-year point, I expected to be set free.  But NO!  The surgeon wanted me to come in every 6 months for the next 5 years.  Why? I asked.  He told me that GPs and Gyns don’t do good breast exams.  So, I asked, What can you do that I don’t do? I found the lump.

He was in a hurry. I’d already waited an hour to see him and he had a waiting room full. Finally, he said, I won’t be insulted if you don’t come back. I have plenty of patients.  Then he offered to be my second opinion if I find something I want checked by professional hands.   Hurray!

Just to prove he is a standard doctor (after making this non-standard offer) he bugged me again about getting reconstruction.   I find the idea of more surgery repulsive and the prospect of a bag of salt water under my chest muscles is disgusting.  And he tried to push tamoxifen or aromitase inhibitors.  I reminded him that there is no longevity advantage and they only reduce my chance of getting cancer again in the other breast by 1.5%.  He tried saying these drugs are recommended and well-tolerated.  I told him I don’t think very many women would take them if they knew how tiny the benefit is and how horrible the common side-effects are.  He gave up. Hurray again!

I think there is something wrong with our medical system if doctors are pushing drugs without giving out the information I found on the web.  It is up to each person to decide which drugs s/he wants to take.  I think doctors should give out the information that I found on the web – not just recommend a drug because it is “recommended.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

Legalize Drugs

Last night, I attended a meeting of the Human Relations Council of Philadelphia.

The meeting was held in my neighborhood in response to an article about my neighborhood in Philadelphia Magazine called, “Being White in Philly.”

The point of view of the article is in general that being white can be a disadvantage.

I agree with that in many ways.

I’m an eco-freak, but I’ve had 3 trash cans stolen, so I now use garbage bags.  Yes, I get the ones made of recycled plastic, but still, they are an eco crime.

There are places where I’m not welcome because of the color of my skin.  When I went to juvenile court to prosecute one of my muggers who had been caught by the police, I was the only white person in the room.  I had arrived early and was sitting in a chair.  Two African American women, one sitting on my left, the other standing on my right, started having a conversation across me.  I asked if the standing woman would like my chair.  She replied, “I want you out of my face.”  It was obvious that I was there as a victim, not a family member of an accused.

When I attended this meeting, the vast majority in attendance were African- American.
I signed up to speak.  I listened to African-Americans tell sad stories about Philadelphia that had not been in the magazine.  Since 1970, the prison population in Philadelphia has increased by 800%.  The average African-American wage in Philadelphia is $26,000. The average white wage is $42,000.  Poverty is not because people don’t work. It’s because they aren’t paid enough.
African-Americans also said there weren’t good ways to meet their white neighbors.  Even block parties seem to be segregated.

One white man said when he moved to Philadelphia 45 years ago, the city owned houses in many neighborhoods and purposely rented them to low-income folks of different races from the surrounding homes, in order to let people meet folks of other races.  That program has ended. Now, the city builds low-income housing and creates segregated neighborhoods.

When I got up to speak, I began with my experience at jury duty.   I had to fill out a form that asked if I or a member of my family had been a victim of a violent crime.  I have been mugged at gunpoint, shoved to the sidewalk and handled roughly while my assailants searched my body for stealable stuff.  I’d call that violent, so I marked yes.  I asked one of the courtroom staffers if this disqualified me.  She said, “No. Every family in Philadelphia has somebody who has been mugged.”  We have a problem here.  

When I went to court for the trial of my adult muggers (I must look tough if it takes 3 young men with 2 guns to mug me) I saw that most of the crime and most of the victims of crime in Philadelphia are African-American.  And I heard that most of the crime is drug-related.

Note: this wasn’t just one day – possibly a fluke.  I had to go to court 14 times to get my muggers tried because of assorted errors.  

So, my suggestion to make Philadelphia a more pleasant place for everybody to live: Legalize drugs.   If people who use drugs could get that at a drug store, for the price of a pack of cigarettes, they wouldn’t be out mugging little old ladies for pocket change.

Our courtrooms and jails would not be bursting with convicted drug users and dealers.  We could even collect taxes on the sales of drugs.  This is a win-win solution.  We’d save the costs of trials and jails. We’d save folks from being mugged.  We’d save our youth from becoming convicted criminals who then have trouble finding jobs.

I’ll say it again: Legalize Drugs! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

More Doodling

Doodling fascinates me. I’ve invested in a set of colored markers.  Free plug: Staples has a pack of 24 Sharpies for $10.

I’m amazed that the simple act of committing myself to doodling for 10 or 15 minutes is relaxing, much like meditation.  And when I’m done, I have something to show for it.  Something I like looking at.

I’ve been playing around with Zentangle techniques.

In short, the steps are:
Draw a box in which you want to doodle. 

Make a squiggle or two inside that box, which divides the box into areas.  

Decide what you’d like to draw in each area. 
The Zentangle folks have over 100 fill patterns. Plus most cultures have fill patterns that aren’t copyrighted. Or create an original design.

Then when you’re done doodling, you can color it in, or shade it with a soft pencil.  I even learned a color combining trick that works with colored markers.   You need a piece of flat plastic, like a pin box. Color an area about an inch square on the flat plastic with a dark marker, say red.  Then take a light marker, such as yellow, and wipe it across the dark patch on the plastic.  When you start to color with the marker, it starts out red, goes through shades of orange and ends up yellow.

Bottom line: I enjoy it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

EcoFreak at the Mammogram Shop

I am an eco-freak.  I bring my own bags to the grocery. I bring my own boxes to restaurants in case I have left-overs. And I wore my own blouse to the mammogram shop.

I have to wash what I wear at the end of the day anyway.  So, on days when I have to expose my breast (used to be breasts), I wear a front-closing blouse.  

The mammogram shop was running late. I had to wait 90 minutes before they called me back to the changing room.  I told the woman who escorted me that I would not be changing. I’d remove my bra and put my own blouse back on.  She showed me the silly costumes on the shelf, as if seeing the patterns on them would change my mind.  When I refused a 2nd time, she let me use a changing room to remove my bra and prosthetic. 

When I came out, she showed me how to use the lockers so I could lock up my bra, and bike helmet and bide saddle bag, and jacket.  She seemed to want to check on me that I really had removed my bra and didn’t have it anywhere near, where I could sneak it back on again.

Then she showed me to a 2nd waiting room.  I told her I had an appointment with a doctor one floor up 5 minutes ago. She agreed to call him and ask if I should come right up or reschedule.  The doctor wanted the mammogram results, so I sat there.

While I sat, 3 staff-women asked me, “Don’t you want to change?”  I assured each of them that my bra was off, my blouse opens down the front, just like the costumes and NO, I do NOT want to wear a costume and create more laundry.  I will wash my own blouse when I do my laundry. I will wear my own blouse for the rest of the day.  I am an eco-freak.

When I was finally called for the mammogram, I didn’t give the technician a chance to ask about my blouse.  I told her I’m an eco-freak, and I’m wearing my own blouse.  She didn’t blink.  She just asked me to remove my blouse.  I presume she had the other women remove their costumes. She smashed me in the machine, and led me to yet another waiting room, where they would come get me if I needed more x-rays or a sonogram, or to let me know everything was okay.

At about the 2 hour point, they gave the All Clear and let me go up stairs to my doctor’s appointment where I had to wait another 90 minutes.  And again explain why I wasn't going to wear their costume.