Author Archives: Grimalkin, RN
The Side of History I Choose to Fight On
Donate to Keep Abortion Access Available in the West!
Around the same time as Margaret Sanger was going door to door through New York city, another young woman was faced with an unintended pregnancy. Already having two sons, there was no way her family could afford another mouth to feed. My great-great grandmother attempted a home abortion and died.
I love working for Planned Parenthood. Every day I am able to help young people access birth control safely and plan their fertility in a way that will allow them to be young people. I help mothers who were told breast feeding was enough. I help 45 year old women who thought they were “done with all that” (FYI – you’re not). I help trans folks and LGBTQIA folks and I am able to help so many people through my work at Planned Parenthood.
If you are getting this email, you’ve asked me for favors or money or some kind of help in the past, and I hope I was able to provide it. Right now, Planned Parenthood needs you. We need to be able to continue the valuable and lifesaving work we have been doing this entire time.
Please consider making even the smallest of donations. A couple dollars pays for a handful of condoms that we can pass out to 10 different patients. Planned Parenthood is an incredibly frugal organization. We quarter our sticky notes. We push ever single dollar as far as it will go. Please know that a dollar given to Planned Parenthood is a dollar that will help many people, many faces, faces that look like people you love.
Thanks for reading. Please consider donating, or if you cannot donate, please forward my campaign to that friend you have with money.
Stocking up on Plan B? Read this first:
Running in Geesthacht
I talk about living in Germany a lot but I don’t talk about the impression the remnants of the war and my German history education taught me. I’ve talked about it on Twitter, but I haven’t talked about it here.
A young woman in class talked about learning that her grandfather was a war criminal. That he had killed thousands in the Holocaust. Jewish, Queer, Trans, Romani, so many people.
And she said she would think about it at night and that it felt like a weight on her chest, the weight of all those bodies and souls, smothering her. She knew it wasn’t her fault but she said she needed the weight to remember why the Holocaust should never be allowed to happen again.
I follow a couple of other people on here who I knew back then. I’d like to ask you to talk about what you saw and lived when we were in Germany, back right after the Wall fell, and what you learned from it.
I used to run (I know) every morning in Germany. I would run on this path and there was a fallen down building there. When my host parents learned where I was running, they were horrified. I was on a path, sure, but it was a path through where an old minefield had been. The fallen building was a bombed out bunker.
That’s when I learned that in 1993, they had fished out a bunch of mines from around that bunker and the path. My host parents thought they were all gone, but weren’t sure. I ran on the sidewalk after that.
When I went to Dresden in 1995, I saw the Frauenkirche, this magnificent church that was bombed out and left to stand by the people of Dresden so that it would never be forgotten. In 2012, I stood inside the Frauenkirche, rebuilt. I think they rebuilt it too soon.
Today, when I woke up, I thought I had gone insane. Someone I barely knew, but definitely someone who would be targeted by Nazis, was defending a group of Nazis. I couldn’t believe it. I had to run an errand and when I came home, the post was still there. I don’t need a new friend that bad.
I want to remind all my folks.. Trans, NB, Queer, activists. The people who share my marginalizations.. they will come for us, and we won’t be the third or fourth group they come after. Get with the fucking program. We are on the list. You should feel that weight on on your chest, because it is going to smother us.
If you don’t believe this is a serious threat, please talk to me. Talk to someone. There are enough people out there who know the seriousness of what our country and the world are facing with this swing to the right. We are facing another cascade of atrocities, and we will not all survive this.
How I Give Thanks
With my nurse’s stethoscope (inspired by @lilredrooster)
Heard a collapsed lung.
Informed the doc my patient had symptoms of a pulmonary embolism, NOT pneumonia.
Heard fluid and asked for a chest xray to confirm pneumonia
Heard new onset afib before the EKG could get in the room.
Heard that terrible sound a heart makes when there is an incredibly high potassium level
Listened to bruits and thrills.
Heard crackles, rales, wheezes.. and that awful silence.
Confirmed the nasogastric tube I just placed was in the correct spot.
Recognized anaphylaxis and called the code, enabling anesthesia to get there in time
Listened to the racing hearts of newborns
Listened to the last beat of a woman’s heart as I held her hand, like I promised I would.
Caught a BP too low for a machine to catch.
With my nurse’s stethoscope I have saved lives.
I have never borrowed a doctor’s stethoscope because if I ever didn’t have my own, another NURSE lent me theirs.
Change the narrative. Learn what nurses DO.
The Black Square Stays Because I Am Not Okay
My dear white folks who are uncomfortable because I have not changed my user pic to that of a rainbow flag over the last week:
I didn’t change my user pic because I am not over the deaths of the 9 Black people killed in Charleston. I am not over the churches that were burned while I was growing up. I am not over the churches burning now. I need you to know, I am not okay right now, and Black people do not have to be okay either.
I’m not over Rekia Boyd. I’m not over Michael Brown. I’m not over Vonderrit Myers. I’m not over Aiyanna Jones. I’m not over Jack Jacquez, Jr. I’m not over Tanesha Anderson. I’m not over Jessie Hernandez. I am not over Islan Nettles. I am not over Eric Garner. I am not over Tamir Rice. Or Ty Underwood. Or Michelle Vash Payne. Or Yvette Smith.
I am so glad that gay and queer folks can get married, but it’s still legal to discriminate against gay and queer folks in many areas, including in employment, business and healthcare. Trans women, especially trans women of color still die more than anyone else. The Confederate flag coming down doesn’t mean racism goes away, but it does make it harder to see. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it goes away.
I am happy for the progress we have made but I am not over the deaths of so many people in so little time. It is not okay to expect people to just get over a massacre that took place at a monument just two weeks ago. If you don’t know that 8 churches have burned in the last two weeks, you should know.
You can’t just sing some songs and have this go away. You can’t quickly absolve yourself of the ways you have benefited from White Supremacy. You can’t do this work quickly, and you should not try to do it quickly.
So I’m not posting the LGBT rainbow flag. I’m not posting the Trans flag. I’m not posting the gender queer flag (even though it is my favorite of the flags). I am keeping this little black square where my face goes to remind you that many people are in mourning right now. If it is uncomfortable for you to be reminded, imagine how uncomfortable it is for the families of those who have died.
#BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #BlackQueerLivesMatter #BlackGayLivesMatter
Keep Jeanette Vizguerra Home!!
Sign and share the petition to keep Jeanette Vizguerra home! Stop deportations of community members and families!
(Note: Text is copied from information at petition site!)
Jeanette Vizguerra, a Colorado community leader and mother, is facing deportation. Jeanette has lead the fight against her own deportation for over 6 years to great success, part of her secret to success is her die hard community. She needs it again, today! Share this and spread the word.
Jeanette has lived in Colorado for over 17 years, has 3 small children who are US citizens, started a small business with her husband who is a cancer survivor, and has given selflessly as a community activist. She worked for SEIU as a labor organizer and volunteered with her children’s schools, the Aurora Neighborhood Watch Program, Rights for All People, AFSC and contributes to the Romero Troupe.
Jeanette has worked hard to build her community in Colorado and has inspired many with her courage and passion. Jeanette’s story exemplifies the brutality of our immigration system that is unjustly separating families and denying many the ability to live with dignity. Although this immigration system has tried to destroy Jeanette’s dignity, she is still fighting to be with her children and she needs our support!!
Jeanette Vizguerra (A# 089-826-036), came to the US in 1997 with her husband and daughter. They fled after her husband, a bus driver, had been threatened at gun point for the third time. Jeanette worked cleaning office buildings and became a key member of her SEIU local, 105. Eventually she became an organizer, leading the fight for better pay and benefits for all janitors. She also joined a local advocacy group called Rights for All People as one of its founding members. She worked to establish trust and relationship between the immigrant community and the police. She and her husband started a moving and cleaning company and eventually had three more children, all US citizens.
Jeanette’s case began in 2009 when she was pulled over for an expired license plate and then arrested for driving without a license (at that time Coloradans couldn’t get a license if they couldn’t prove status). That traffic stop led to a police officer discovering documents she was going to use to apply for a third job this discovery resulted in a misdemeanor. The economic downturn had impacted the moving company and her husband had taken ill so she was the only breadwinner for her family.
In 2013, as she was awaiting an appeal in her case, she received a call from Mexico that her mother was dying. Despite 17 years in the US and thousands of miles, Jeanette and her mother spoke weekly. There are no humanitarian visas or programs available for those circumstances and Jeanette decided she had to be at her mother’s side before she died. She flew to Mexico the next day and, as she was in the air, her mother died. After 7 months of trying to build a life and send for her children, it became clear to Jeanette that at 40 she was too old to get good paying work in Mexico and decided to return to the US. She was detained at the border, and with the help of community, released back to Denver where she’s been granted repeated stay of removal for brief 6 month periods. Month to month is a hard way to live, grateful for more time with your family but unsure if you’ll continue to stay with them.
This is why Jeanette needs your support. Sign and share this petition widely.
CIrcle of Love for Mama Josie
Josie Shapiro is one of the threads that holds Denver’s eclectic bunch of activists together. Whether it’s raising funds for a funeral, for bail, or organizing a march to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, Mama Josie is always there to Defend Denver.
Last year, Josie and her then partner Dave donated their entire savings to pay for the funeral of Ryan Ronquillo, a young man murdered by Denver’s gang unit. After the funeral, they worked tirelessly to organize marches and keep Ryan’s name in the news so that his death would not be forgotten.
After making her activism so visible to the community, Josie found herself tailed by police. Because of her activism on behalf of the Ronquillos, she lost her job, which she dearly loved, providing doula services to families on their journeys to becoming parents.
Not only did Josie donate her own home to use to raise funds for the Ronquillos, she also raised money for the family of Jessie Hernandez, who was killed by the Denver police in January. Like most of the Denver activist community, she found herself mourning the loss of a vibrant teen while also fighting for the freedom of Sharod Kindell.
At a meeting of activists several months ago, the mother and father of Jessie Hernandez expressed, through tears, their love and appreciate for Josie and the tireless work she had done to help them pay the rent, buy food, and bury their child.
Now, Josie finds herself alone. She and her partner of 6 years, the father of her children, are divorcing. Josie is about to find herself without a job, without a car, without a partner, and if we cannot help her through this, without a home. She is looking hard to find work, but continues to pay a heavy price for her activism.
There is no way this amazing, dedicated young woman should lose her home and her independence when she has done so much for her community. Please help us by joining the Circle of Love for Mama Josie, and donating what you can today. Every dollar helps a woman journeying into single motherhood provide for her children and stay in her home.
If you cannot donate, please help by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and other social media. Donations of social media platforms are absolutely donations!
Your OB can get you jailed for a miscarriage and there’s not much you can do about it
#FreePurviPatel – women should not be jailed for miscarriage
I Don’t Fuck With Eve Ensler
Originally written for and performed as part of the pre-show for a performance of The Vagina Monologues. When I finished, I walked out.
I don’t fuck with Eve Ensler. I just need you to know.
Don’t get me wrong, I love vaginas – mine, vaginas in general, and each blessed one I’ve gotten to encounter up close. And I love women – myself and each amazing one I’m lucky to have encountered in my life.
I don’t fuck with Eve Ensler ‘cause at these things I can never tell if we’re celebrating vaginas or celebrating women and they’re not the same thing.
I don’t fuck with Eve Ensler for my sisters without vaginas and my brothers with them. For my siblings of all genders – men, women, both, neither – who wish we we could get away from this vaginas equal womanhood construction.
I don’t fuck…
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By all outward appearances, I am a nice white lady. This gives me a lot of privilege, but it also means people make a lot of assumptions based on my appearance and demeanor.
Recently, I went to Mayor Hancock’s Cabinet in the Community here in Denver. I didn’t really want to go, but I have committed to getting out as much as possible to meetings and events so that I can livetweet the events and keep people updated. I’ve gotten a lot of comments that people like the livetweets, so I try to do them often.
In the first 5 minutes after I arrived, 2 police officers and one city official came up to me and said “I want to know how much I appreciate the way Coloradans for Justice does things.”
This is amusing, because if you’ve been watching, Coloradans for Justice is primarily an activist calendar service. We will organize events if it is needed, but there are so many groups in Denver organizing that it currently is NOT needed. We’re all about doing the work that needs to be done. We are also a really tiny group that does not hold meetings.
When I started organizing, shortly after connecting with @kennyswiley and @eliasheibert on Twitter back in August, none of us knew what we were doing. We didn’t know how to organize a vigil, a rally, a march. We hadn’t taking any organizing classes. Our main experience was that I have BEEN to a lot of marches and protest activities. We called around and no one would call us back. So we made some mistakes and we tried to build off of them and not make them again. I think we did a good job.
A friend of mine pointed out that the Denver police had run through all their informants and probably see me as a likely informant about activist activities. I get why.
Why does the city like the way we do things?
Because we met with the cops. We got permits. We asked permission.
This is why they like us. Because we played by the rules of respectability and this gets you things like handshakes and meetings with public officials.
There is a time and place for permits. If you are planning to hold a rally several weeks in advance for an annual event, you should get a permit. If you are responding to recent events, there may not be time to get a permit. You may not have time to meet with city officials. It is still vital to hold your event. It is still important that there is some level of organization and communication happening to ensure the safety of people attending your action. Having connections with other groups can help with this.
There are also times when you are just NOT going to get permission to exercise your right to free speech. When you have to realize that the requirement to get permission is an insult. That you don’t have to get permission for many activist activities.
I want to be clear that I am in solidarity with the protesters at Saturday’s #DefendDenver March Against Police Terror. I had intended to march and even went to the park, but I was really sick that day and my fellow activists encouraged me to rest. The media and police in Denver were quick to focus on red paint being thrown on a memorial for fallen police officers. They were quick to arrest a friend of the Hernandez family for overdue tickets on the day of the protest so they could claim another arrest that day.
Whenever there is a police involved death in our community, the police are quick to utilize the media to slander the name of the victim. To paint the dead person as a “thug,” to show how they deserved to die. And we, as activists, play our role. We argue for the worth of the value of the life of the dead person. We try to convince the community, the media, the country, that person’s life mattered. It is exhausting, and I hate doing it, but it must be done.
Paint that can be washed off of a statue does far less damage than the actions police take to destroy the worth of a victim’s life. So many people are so insulted by some red paint that was quickly removed… but did you think about how it feels to families who are victims of police violence to hear over and over that their loved one deserved to die?
You’re not going to catch me yelling “fuck the police” because it’s just not my style. I am generally analyzing what is happening, looking around for safety, watching people in the crowd, and looking out for my fellow activists. I’m not going to be yelling “fuck the police” but you can be sure, in my head, I am figuring out ways to subvert your system.
I am not a nice white lady. I am a radical, gender non-conforming activist. You should not let my outward appearance allow you to assume I will be your mouthpiece or your informant. I don’t want the respectability that is being offered me. I understand that in order to effect change, my personal respectability may be affected and I accept that.
The revolution is going to require we give up our attachments to respectability and public opinion and solidify activist relationships with one another. I am here for it. I hope you are, too.
Denver Community Defense Committee’s Official Statement on “March Against Police Terror”
#DefendDenver – #Denver Community Defense Statement on “March Against Police Terror”
Denver Autonomous Action Network
via Denver Community Defense Committee
On Saturday February 14, over 300 people marched through the streets of Denver to show solidarity with families who have lost their loved ones or had their loved one’s lives threatened because of police violence.
When the March arrived at the Denver Police Headquarters, a bucket of paint was thrown by unknown March participants at a memorial to police officers who have been killed while in performance of their jobs. This single action has gained the most attention in the media, and has become a rallying call for Denver police and those who defend their actions.
We, as the members of the Denver Community Defense Committee, the organization that planned the March against Police Terror, voice our unwavering support and solidarity to all those who participated in the protests and March yesterday.
It is telling that at this moment, local media and the Denver Police…
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Solidarity with those arrested during the march against police terror!
Solidarity with Those Arrested During the March Against Police Terror!
During the march against police terror on February 14th, multiple people were arrested. These people are going to need our help and support. We are asking for any and all donations to help with court fees, bond, and other associated expenses. If you would like to donate, go to our Fundly at: https://fundly.com/donate-to-denver-anarchist-black-cross# You can also donate via paypal at email@example.com We thank you all in advance for your support. Solidarity with the arrestees and the families and friends of those murdered by the DPD!
Ration your fucks, for they are precious.
It’s been a year since my blog post went viral and I have faced some rather scathing remarks from people online and offline for my blog post, which was just advocating for nurses to care for our mental health, and for my refusal to take it down. Yes.. I could have taken it down but I continue to receive emails from nurses who have found comfort in that post. Who have found validation that yes, nursing is this hard and yes, people break down, and no, the need to take a day for your mental health does not make you a bad nurse.
First, I just want to reiterate that I am non-binary and do not use “she” or “he” or “they” pronouns. My name is Jo. When you tell me I am a horrible person, please go through the effort to not misgender me while doing so.
Excuse me while I double down.
Frequently nurses are required to go above and beyond. While going above and beyond should be something reserved for doing weekly.. monthly, at the most, once a shift… recent changes at my place of employment now require nurses to go above and beyond multiple times a shift. Indeed, going above and beyond is now the daily order of things and this is becoming incredibly stressful. Nurses have spoken up and I believe we will find resolve to these changes and I hope we come out of this better and stronger and more united.
Last night, I went above and beyond. I took a patient load that most nurses on my floor could not have handled. I notified the charge I would need her to be at my side and she was. How busy was I? The Up – Move pedometer stopped registering my steps and recorded a 3 hour cardio work out. I gave blood. I checked vitals. I assessed and reassessed and reassessed and at the end of my 12 hour shift, there are 4 human beings looking better than they did 12 hours before.
I did so much critical thinking that I started to critically think through this post and that is the last thing we need.
I didn’t do it alone. I had the intern on the floor for the first 5 hours of the shift, working side by side with me, reminding him of protocols and giving suggestions on what we could do. My fellow nurses checked in on me frequently and gave prns. They were also at their max patient load. The aides checked in and did walks, did some of my frequent vitals. I had a lot of help. We all went above and beyond.
My first near break came at 1 AM. That’s when a new grad who has known me for years told me “you need to eat, I can tell.” She was right. I ate. I once more believed in the validity and importance of life and kept on truckin’.
Things got better. Through hard work, my patients all stabilized. I got my charting done. I actually took a break off of the floor. It was amazing.
And then … something horrible happened.
At 5 AM, I ran out of fucks to give.
I remember it clearly. I was priming tubing to give a bolus. And as I watched the fluid roll down the tubing (always satisfying when it doesn’t bubble), I saw the ghost of my last fuck fade away.
I don’t remember who it was who first told me about the importance of rationing your fucks, but as a nurse, this knowledge, this ability, is so important. You must ration the number of fucks you give throughout the course of a 12 hour shift so that if someone falls apart at 6:55, you have a fuck. If you see a wreck on the way home and your feet and back are screaming, YOU NEED THAT FUCK…
And lo, I had no more fucks.
That is how, at 5 AM, I ended up talking to a new grad who has probably never uttered the word “fuck” about the importance of rationing fucks. I used the last dried up wisp of the last fuck in my arsenal to tell her.. do better. Ration. Mete them out appropriately.
Fucks allow you to go above and beyond. Fucks allow you to listen to complaints that you can’t fix but you need it to look like you have TRIED.
Fucks allow you to realize you are running low on fuel and need to regroup so that you can keep being an awesome nurse.
So I dug deep. I found one last, shriveled fuck down in my soul. The fuck that happens when someone gets a hard on at three in the morning and the other person is like… well… okay, why not? It wasn’t an enthusiastic fuck, but it got me where I needed to go. I pushed through the rest of the morning and here I sit, waiting for my melatonin to kick in, once again, begging nurses to care for one another.
I was so busy last night. I am so tired this morning. My patient load was not unsafe for me because I have been on my floor for a long time and I had good support. An energetic charge nurse. Helpful co-workers. AWESOME CNAS (you live and die by your CNA and so do your patients).
I did well last night because other nurses & staff looked out for me. Everyone knew I had made a sacrifice in order for the team to work efficiently and everyone helped out as they could. I have a stack of thank you notes to write out to people who really did so much to get us through the night.
On multiple occasions last night, others also offered to cover me so I could take a break. They made sure I took a break, when my own inclination was to skip it. That break was what gave me the last fuck I needed to get through the end.
A year after an impassioned, exhausted blog post about the need for nurses to practice better self-care, I am happy to say that thanks to my co-workers (and yes, even my manager), I am better at caring for myself as a nurse. I am better at scheduling my shifts so I do not get overtired and I am a better person for it.
I have learned to ration my fucks. I really hope, if you are a nurse, and you are going to work tonight, you stop and think about how many fucks you have to give and realize you’ll need to parcel them out. You might need to borrow a fuck from someone else.
If you truly have no fucks to give.. tonight might be the night you take that mental health break, and that is still okay. You are not a bad nurse for taking care of your own mental health. Nurses should not fall on the pointed tips of our nursing pins to be martyrs for the cause. Take care of you, take care of each other. Be careful with your fucks, for they are precious. This will make you a better nurse, and even a better person.
Justice For Sharod Rally, 2/2 6PM
Denver Autonomous Action Network
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Justice for Sharod Kindell
Call In Campaign for #SherodKindell – who was unarmed, shot by police& being held in #Denver w/o pain meds.
I was so tired when I got off work that I slept too long. I can’t sleep tonight.
I am working on the Coloradans for Justice FB page and Twitter and the Colorado Activist Calendar because that is what I can do at this very moment to not feel helpless. Pretty sure there are a lot of people up late tonight.
Last night I went to a meeting and struggled to find hope through it. I work with amazing people. We are stronger in numbers. I am glad to have the opportunity to use the skills I’ve developed in a manner that does not serve the system. Last night, there was also a vigil for Jessie Martinez, and the Denver Police watched the attendants from the shadows.
I am not going to argue the vague details of the case released to the media by the police department. The witnesses were all arrested and cannot speak. If people can ask for all the facts when 25 women accuse Bill Cosby of rape, I can doubt 2 Denver police officers.
Three miles from my house, there’s an empty bed where a teenager should be sleeping. If you watched the news, you will see her portrayed as a grown woman. She was a girl. She was a woman of color, she was queer.
I am struck again by her name and face. Tonight, we all shared her face on our pages, calling for action, calling “enough!”
We have been saying “enough” for a very long time.
I should not ever have known these faces. I should not ever have known these names. These people should have been allowed to live their lives and have a future.
I will say it again. Stop killing people. Their lives matter. Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. Women’s lives matter. Queer lives matter. Trans lives matter.
If the police and sheriff’s departments around the country want to stop the protests, then you must stop the unjust killing of thousands of brown, black, queer, trans people each year, and stop the schools to prison for profit pipeline, I’ll calm down. I’ll go back to writing poems about pointless things. I will spend more time on my couch and go back to live tweeting movies and TV shows.
Honestly, I would love to have my old life back, but I know that’s never going to happen.
It is already too late for justice for Jessie Hernandez. Justice only comes if you survive. What I can do, what you can do, is work to create justice. The creation of justice is the cessation of hostilities against marginalized people.
Shiftwork and Activism
From my Facebook Page:
I am going to make a request. While i have tried to be very vocal about this, and the majority of people are respectful, I need to make it clear:
I am a night shift nurse. This means I only work 2-3 days a week and occasionally have meetings at my hospital. This allows for a lot of time to organize and to go to meetings.
What it does not mean is that I can skip sleep to go to meetings. I cannot sleep for a few hours, then go to a meeting, and then go back to sleep. I cannot exist on less than 7 hours of sleep. It is not safe for me. It is not good for my patients. It is also not good for organizing because there is a big chance I will forget what we have been talking about if I have been up for 24 hours.
I work at least 2 weekends a month. I do not have a set schedule, and my work is scheduled 2-3 months in advance. Yes, this can be inconvenient. No, it is not unfair. Most nurses work at least every other weekend and many holidays. Many other careers have unpredictable hours. This should not exclude us.
A Monday through Friday, 8-5 job, is a privilege. It affords you opportunities shift workers do not have. When people ask that meetings be scheduled at more inclusive times, or if multiple meetings can be scheduled around one topic, this is an opportunity for inclusivity.
I love my job. I love organizing. I can do both.
As I have gotten more involved with activism online and out in the world, I have tried to make myself very accessible and available. It is time to set some limits. I will check phones messages, emails, tweets, Facebook updates, etc frequently if I am not asleep, at work, or driving. If I am doing those things, I will check in during my break, before I go to bed, and after I get up. I will no longer receive alerts for Twitter DMs on a regular basis. This is for my mental and physical health.
I know a lot of other shift workers feel this way. I would really appreciate if you are a shift worker and you have trouble with people respecting basic needs, that you post here and talk about it.
Decentering Whiteness in Activism
Somewhere around tumblr, there are posts arguing that the “A” in LGBTQIA should stand for ally, and not asexual. Over the years, I have seen people who identify as asexual mocked and discriminated against for their lack of sexual desire. The clamoring for inclusion of the term “ally” in the ever growing list of letters has always made me very uncomfortable. I have written about my discomfort with the word in the past. In short, being an ally very rarely entails the risk that simply existing as a marginalized person brings. An ally can always leave. An ally can always withdraw. An ally can choose to stop supporting a cause or go find a different group of people supporting that cause. A marginalized person cannot stop being Black, Brown, trans, a woman, or whatever it is that causes them to be marginalized. For this reason, I am very cautious of any male identified person who labels themselves a “feminist,” and yet does not use their platform to uplift women, but instead uses it to silence women who question why they have been granted a position as gatekeeper of feminism.
Last week, Coloradans for Justice, along with other groups, had organized a protest. The protest turned into a large, unplanned march. We marched in solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. The march was largely successful, and sparked another smaller protest the next day.
After the first march, organizers of the previous night’s event were alerted to something that disturbed many of the protesters who were out Tuesday night. When protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter,” frequently, they heard the chant changed to “All Lives Matter.”
I was at the back of the group and we were chanting “Black Lives Matter,” but this was a large protest. I believe the many people who came forward to say they heard “All Lives Matter” and questioned the need for White allies to change the chant, especially at such a crucial protest centered on the lives of Black people, and the worth of their lives. In addition, I have since seen people admit to changing the chant and have even been told by one protester that another instructed them TO CHANGE THEIR PROTEST SIGN to “All Lives Matter.”
This sparked an intense discussion on the event page the day after the protest, when the second protest was being planned. Many Black posters gave reasons for how they felt changing the chant to “All Lives Matter” erases their blackness. Many White posters defended their choice to chant “All Lives Matter” for many, many reasons, in spite of being told in many ways by other protesters of many races that changing that particular chant in that particular way erases Black people, and indeed, the purpose of the protest.
Denver is a very diverse city and frequently when Coloradans for Justice has held an event, Kenny Wiley, one of our organizers, will say “Black lives matter, Brown lives matter.” This is because there are many cases of police brutality experienced by the Latino population. I’ve always felt this was a good way to acknowledge the oppression and injustice faced by the Latino community as well as the Black community. I’ve never felt the need for Kenny to throw in a “All Lives Matter” to appease White supporters.
While there are certainly White victims of police brutality, there are far more Black and Brown victims. We have seen time and time again that even holding something that appears to be a weapon is enough to justify the death of a Black or Brown person. Holding a toy sword. Holding a toy gun. Holding a toy gun in the toy gun aisle of Wal-Mart. Doing these things while also NOT BEING WHITE is enough to get you killed and your killers will go home and sleep well that night. Not only that, but the mainstream media will jump to the defense of the police officer/s who shot you while your family has yet to see your body.
If you’re going to use the word “ally” and you’re going to show up to protest in solidarity with a group of marginalized, oppressed people, you need to be prepared to take a seat. Usually it’s a backseat. This should not be an issue. While your presence, the visibility of your skin and gender, can be a powerful statement, your words may not be needed. You are able to send a message just by showing up. This is also something a marginalized person cannot do. When marginalized groups show up to protest, the media is quick to say they are rioting, while when White people actually riot, it is called terms like “spirited.” Oppressed people destroy symbols of oppression. Non-oppressed people fuck shit up over a sports team’s victory or loss.
Decentering whiteness and working to dismantle White supremacy takes a lot of work, and to be honest, a lot of that work is learning to be silent or how to amplify the voice of the person you are supporting. It doesn’t mean your opinions aren’t valid, but they simply may not be needed at that moment. Save those opinions and speeches for when you are talking to another non-marginalized person who doesn’t believe what oppressed people are saying. Your words have power. Your words have merit. Use them when they are needed. White people, especially men, are used to being heard. We are used to having our opinions be given equal weight simply because it is a White person saying it. We do not realize this is a part of White privilege. A big part of White privilege is the ability to be ignorant that you have privilege. People of color are used to having to shout, and even then, have their voices ignored. White people who are unaware or still fighting awareness of privilege do not believe that people of color have to fight, because they, as a White person, do not have to fight. Please believe me, people of color have to fight.
I’m going to give an example of a time when I chose to stay silent in order to decenter my whiteness. I’m not doing this for activist cred, I am doing this to give White people an example of how to really support a person of color whose voice needs to be heard:
I was at the last Denver Sheriff’s Department reform meeting. These meetings are run on a tight schedule. Statements and questions are kept to under 2 minutes, and they only allow a certain number of people to speak at all. I had raised my hand and was in line to ask my question. Frankly, I already knew the answer to my question, but I wanted to get them to say it out loud. Two other people were set to follow me. A White man, and a young Black man.
The moderator announced that only the first two of us would be able to ask our questions, that they did not have time for the third person. Of course, this meant that a young Black man would not get to ask his question. I saw the young man’s shoulders slump. It was obvious he was very disappointed. When the moderator turned to me, I said “I’m actually going to pass, because I would like this young man to get to speak, because I feel what he has to say needs to be heard.”The White man in line also elected not to ask his question, in favor of the young Black man speaking. We had each given up our time in order to give a young Black man an opportunity to speak. By doing this, and not demanding we be heard, we decentered Whiteness from that conversation.
It was the right thing to do. The young man spoke of his mistreatment at the hands of the Denver police force, both as a young teen and as a young man. What he had to say went beyond what the other man and I had to say.
I didn’t know that young man, but I had a feeling in my gut that if three White people had been in line, all three of us would have gotten to ask our questions. Indeed, the look on the moderator’s face when two White people declined to ask our questions so that a Black man could be heard, was priceless.
After the forum, I talked with the other man who had elected to not ask his question so the young Black man could be heard. He was also an organizer who has done work against racism in his community in North Denver. I wasn’t surprised to hear this because it is always unusual when you see a White person step back to give a Black person a chance to speak.
If I am talking to other White people, I should talk about dismantling White supremacy and the need to decenter whiteness. I can talk about the centuries of structural oppression that has resulted in such high numbers of incarcerated and dead Black and Brown people in the United States. I don’t need to talk to people of color about their lived experience of oppression. If I am in a group where people of color are discussing race, I have already been given a gift. I have been given an opportunity to learn. They don’t need to learn about me. Generally, when this happens, it is because I am with people of color who know I will not insert myself into their discussion. As a White person in a Black or Brown space, I need to be aware that I am here to learn, and generally have little to teach.
What if you have questions? First, ask yourself, “Could I Google this?” if the answer is yes, don’t ask the question. This is especially important in online discussions because asking for an explanation while someone is already giving information can derail the conversation. If someone quoted someone and you didn’t catch the name and would like to read some of their work, then ask after the conversation has ended and if that person is open to questions. If the conversation was deep and the person you want to ask seems troubled or needs space, respect that. Their need for space is more important than your need for a quote at that moment.
I don’t call myself an ally. I will say “I support this cause,” and then do my best by showing up as often as possible and doing what needs to be done. A lot of my work with Coloradans for Justice is clerical and supportive. I get permit paperwork done. I make Facebook events. I write emails. I write press releases. I canvass. I bring snacks and I make sure the amp is charged and the bullhorns have batteries. I make protest signs with generic sayings for people who want to hold a sign. I bring supplies for people who want to make a sign. I take pictures and video, and then upload it. I tweet. All of these things are things that need to be done in order for protest events to be peaceful and effective. All of these roles are activist actions. This is a part of my activism, and I find it rewarding to see people holding my signs, making signs, showing up and knowing it’s because I talked to them online or in the street. All of this is a huge reward, even if it is not a public reward. It is all the reward I need.
When we are talking about Ferguson, we often say “this is a movement, not a moment.” In order for the movement to be maintained, there need to be more White people willing to take a backseat. To do the clerical and supportive work. To bring the activist cookies. There are a ton of things White people can do to further this movement, including talking to other White people. Black and Brown people do not need to hear about how oppressed they are and how much White supremacy sucks from White people. I promise you, they already know.
Update from Denver: #SolidaritywithFerguson
Tonight in Denver, we held a peaceful protest for several hours at Civic Center park. People gathered in the cold to support the protesters in Ferguson, and to bring attention to the victims of police brutality here.
As the night wore on, and the decision was pushed back over and over, we began to wonder if it would never happen. Then, a reporter team asked me to answer a few questions. As they turned the camera on, I was informed the Grand Jury decision had just been released and asked for my response. The camera was on as my face crumpled. I held it together long enoug to say that I was deeply disappointed and that protests would continue. As this happened, I could hear my text alert begin to blow up.
Deep down, I knew there would be know indictment. Statistically, a Black person probably has a better chance of winning the lottery by finding a winning ticket on the ground than receiving justice for police brutality. And in the rare cases justice has been served …. the damage is done, the life is gone
This was my Facebook post tonight:
Tonight in Denver, we paused twice, at the request of the Brown family, for 4 1/2 minutes, a symbol of the four and a half hours Michael Brown was left to lay on a hot street in August. In the middle of a protest, where noise is the norm, 4 1/2 minutes of silence leads to many thoughts. Thoughts of the death of a teenager who brought us together. Thoughts of the 12 year old boy shot for having a toy gun. Thoughts of the young man in New York shot to death because a police officer was nervous. You think a lot of things in 4 1/2 minutes.
I have always had friends of different races. It’s not that I don’t see color, I just don’t see it as a reason to not be friends. Because I have White privilege, even as a person who grew up poor and white, and therefore hated in the South, I am not at risk of being shot on the street for reaching for my ID. I am not at risk of being shot, unarmed, as I sit in my car. The ability to live life as a series of open doors is a sign of the privilege my skin gives me.
Organizing has brought me into contact with more Black and Brown friends. It has given me an opportunity to learn more about different cultures and beliefs. It has opened my mind. It has given me insight into what is wrong in our culture. Our culture does not value the lives of men of color. Black men. Brown men. Latino. Native American. African American. Asian. Only a significant change in our culture, a change which causes White people to admit to the inequalities of a justice system heavily weighed toward centering whiteness, only decentering whiteness can change the ever quickening spiral of death of young people of color.
This is an epidemic. Because as certainly as families are being wiped out by Ebola in Africa, the creation of families in the United States is being slowed by the epidemic of police deaths here. These are families that will never join. Children that will never grow. Lives that will never happen. And every life matters.
Tomorrow night, we will be out again at Civic Center Park, peacefully protesting the Grand Jury’s decision to not indict and peacefully reminding the St Louis and Ferguson Police Departments that the nation is watching. We must do what we can to protect the protestors in Ferguson at all costs.
Tonight, in Saint Louis, people who were gathered at MoKaBe coffeeshop, a long time activist supporting coffee shop, and a safe haven, were gassed indoors in order to flush them out. People inside the coffee shop were forced to flee and hope they would not be grabbed by police.
Support the Ferguson protesters who are putting their lives on the line to get the message out. Support Michael Brown’s parents who have just been told their son’s life wasn’t even worth an indictment on the 4th, 5th, and 6th shots. Support Black people. Support Brown people. Their lives matter.
Tomorrow night, Denver will be back out to continue to protest the lack of justice Michael Brown and his family have received. We will be spirited. We will be loud. Spirit and volume do not equate to an invitation to violence.
Information on tomorrow night’s protest in Denver can be found here.
On Abuse, Consent, & Life After Childhood Sexual Abuse
Read this. Now.
I’m so sick of talking about Lena Dunham. I’m even sicker of talking about what’s wrong with white feminists. Feel free to read any missing backstory here on how those things intersect for this piece. It’s a lot to rehash & really the Google machine exists for a reason. But, people keep asking me about why I am not on the “Lena’s being maligned unfairly” bandwagon. And no, it’s not about my personal distaste for her work. I don’t like it, I’m probably not going to like it. I’ve long since accepted it’s not for people like me. And I have a long running policy of mostly ignoring it & by extension her because I don’t find “ironic hipster racism” funny or quirky or whatever it is that people are going to tell me her schtick is. That’s life. I don’t like Sarah Silverman, Lisa Lampanelli or a dozen other…
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I was THAT nurse
An important nursing reminder.
The know it all.
The so-called ‘seasoned veteran’.
The ‘I’ve taken care of one of these patients (Diabetic, Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation, etc.), so they’re all the same’.
Yep. I was one of them. I had been a nurse a whopping14 months and I thought I had learned all there was to learn. I had seen it all. I had done it all.
Pffffttttt! I’m and EXPERIENCED critical care nurse – don’t ask me if i know how to do that, or know how to treat that.
Seriously. All joking aside, I really was that nurse. It took a swift kick in the rear from a few knowledgeable and smarter nurses before I started to listen. And even then I stomped my foot like a temper-tantrumed child.
Then I had the life scared out of me by some pretty sick patients. Realizing…
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“Sexy” Nurse Costumes Harm Nurses
It’s Halloween, the time when people seem to lose their respect for others and find the most offensive costumes ever. It’s this time of year when my Facebook feed, Twitter TL and email fill with ads people think I should see.
Here we go.
While another photo circling the internet was photoshopped, the above photo was not.
Let’s remember that hundreds of nurses have died from treating Ebola patients in West Africa. Not because they are lazy or sloppy but because the number of patients and lack of protective gear means nurses have a very high chance of disease. Recently, several nurses died of Ebola after caring for a newborn who had the disease. Their choice was to pick up the baby and care for it or leave it in a box to die.
It’s a long shot, but I believe the “Ebola nurse” costume may be the most offensive Sexy Nurse costume of them all. Already I know some person with very poor judgement and a large amount of racism is going to combine a sexy nurse costume with Blackface and call themselves Amber Vinson. That will be the most offensive I have ever seen. If you see it, don’t tell me about it. I don’t want to know.
(Anyone who puts on Blackface, Yellowface, Redface for costumes is out of line. It’s racist and harmful. Period. Don’t do it. Google “should I wear Blackface” and see what you find out)
I am THRILLED that Amber Vinson, RN and Nina Pham, RN have been cured of Ebola. I am THRILLED. They contracted Ebola in the service of their patient and they deserved the best care the US had to offer and I am so glad they got it. I am also glad that there have been no further cases (as of now) out of Texas.
But what the hell are you doing dressing up in a sexy “Ebola nurse” costume when there are nurses in West Africa probably dying of Ebola right now?
About 2 months ago, I received an email from the CDC, asking for volunteers to train and go to West Africa for 4 week periods of time. I did not answer it. I spent most of the Spring season ill with pneumonia and pericarditis. I am not in the kind of shape to go to West Africa and work 24 hour shifts caring for Ebola patients.
But other people did. Right now, Kaci Hickcox, RN, is sitting in a tent in New Jersey, in paper scrubs. New York and New Jersey say this is their plan for healthcare workers who return from treating Ebola patients in West Africa. Humiliating treatment for a person who has spent a month caring for the very sickest of patients, who watched a child die of Ebola her last night in West Africa. This is a person who has risked her life. She deserves better than this.
Sexy nurse costumes are not funny. Don’t wear a sexy nurse costume. They’re disgusting. If you want to be a nurse for Halloween, wear real scrubs. Being a nurse is an honorable profession. and not worthy of being mocked or sexualized.
In the blog post that made my life miserable, “The Effects of Nursing on Nurses,” I talked about the heavy mental and emotional toll nursing can place on a person. That was a post made after three incredibly busy night shifts when I was tired and dismayed at seeing a nurse I admire burst into tears. I’ve had some pressure to take the post down, but I’m going to let it stand because it still gets about 50 views a day. If any of those views are a nurse looking for someone who feels the same way, the post should stand.
Sexy nurse costumes add to the burden nurses already bear.
Nurses are highly trained professionals who put themselves at risk for you and your families over and over again. In my career, I have been groped, hit in the abdomen, smacked in the face, and smacked on my behind. I’ve had a physician slide his hand up my thigh. I’ve been called a bitch and a cunt, by PHYSICIANS. In addition to these physical assaults myself and nurses everywhere are frequently subjected to harassing comments, jokes, and behavior. This IS workplace sexual harassment, and somewhere right now, another nurse is dealing with it. Nurses are expected to laugh off harassing behavior and very few patients ever experience repercussions.
Nurses who are attacked by patients or even physicians rarely are able to seek justice for themselves. I do not know of any cases where a patient has been successfully prosecuted for sexual harassment of a nurses. This is similar to the behavior experienced by waitstaff. Additional cases of nurses who have tried to take on physicians can be found in Suzanne Gordon’s Nursing Against the Odds. I also Tweeted extensively about laws in Texas that do not allow for anonymous complaints against physicians and hospitals. For more information, you can check the #WinklerRNs hashtag, which stands as a reminder to what happens to nurses who whistleblow in Texas.
And last, I’m going to talk about costumes for doctors and costumes for nurses. See below:
Here is another advertisement, this time showing 9 nurse costumes and one doctor costume. Notice the difference? The doctor costume is not hyper-sexualized, it’s respectable. This advertisement is a symbol of how nurses are perceived by the public. When you wear a costume like this, you degrade nurses. If you look back in your life, or talk to your parents, you know nurses. You know someone who works long hours, through the night, and you probably have a story of how a nurse saved someone’s life.
I was wearing a blue plaid shirt and jeans the day I stopped on I-25 near the Colorado/New Mexico border to aid a man who had hit the side of a mountain. He had been flung from his vehicle. As I ran from the South side of the interstate to the North, I saw at least 20 people standing around him. I asked for help, and no one responded.
I quickly assessed the man and noted he had multiple broken ribs, resulting in a flail chest, which compromises breathing. He had a head wound, compound fracture of the leg, and an arterial bleed from his arm. Someone had thrown a towel over him.
I knelt over this man, clamped the towel around the artery, put pressure on his ribcage with my knees and secured his airway. Immediately, he drew in a breath, his color returned and he began to struggle. Still, none of the bystanders would come to my assistance. I was stuck. I was using every piece of my body and strength to hold this man still.
After what seemed like an eternity, the paramedics arrived, listened to my report and took my place. I got back to the car and cleaned up with the bleach wipes I keep there.
Do I deserve to have my image and profession mocked?
That’s what a nurse looks like. Someone risking their life for yours. Don’t degrade us. Don’t mock us with hyper-sexualized costumes. Respect nurses. As someone said on my Twitter timeline last night, “we are here to save your ass, not fuck it.”
Edit: Prior to writing this post, I had not seen any “sexy male nurse” costumes, so I did not include them. I was wrong.
Nurses, Ebola and Whistleblowing: A Recent History
Nurses, Ebola and Whistleblowing, A Recent History Regarding Texas
In which I discuss laws against anonymous whistleblowing in Texas, which has led to a culture of fear among medical staff and patients, which could lead to a worsening outbreak of Ebola in Texas.
Why We Shouldn’t Be Surprised a Nurse Contracted Ebola in the U.S.
Note: I have intentionally not linked to NBC’s post about Nina Pham, RN’s nursing experience. Critical care nurses must meet exacting requirements prior to receiving critical care certification. Critical Care certified nurses have already put in the time. Please reference this FAQ from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses
Anyone making comments about the nurse who contracted Ebola and her competence or her thoroughness needs to read this article. If you are a nurse or physician or other healthcare provider who does not work in a biohazard containment facility, you need to rethink. Remember: people who are experts with this clothing get Ebola. Are we surprised that people who are not experts could contract it? The issue is training and skill level. We should not be surprised that people who have never been around Ebola are not experts at containing or contracting Ebola.
(update added at end of post)
I’ve known for years (and I think a lot of people have) that Ebola would get to the U.S, but I still haven’t been afraid of it because you remain more at risk of being shot by a police officer or security guard even if unarmed in the United State than of catching Ebola. Even as a nurse. You are at higher risk to die of diabetes, the flu, or by a drunk driver than you are from Ebola. You have this risk simply because you live in the United States.
But what I DO know… due to my burn scar, I can’t wear a traditional TB mask. I have to wear a PAPR hood. However, I’ve never worn one. I don’t even know how they work. Still, if I had a TB patient, I’d be expected to learn how to care for the hood as well as the patient. I’ve never worn one. That’s…. not comforting. (In addition, workers at Texas Presbyterian were not given Hazmat suits until a positive Ebola test was received).
I think it’s time hospitals, nursing, and medical schools started adding biohazard PPE training to their regimens. I think the United States should fund this. I think they can do it by reversing the decision to slash the Hospital Preparedness Program from $515 million to $255 milllion in 2014 and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program from $900 million in 2005 to $610 million this year. (Links found from “Ebola Highlights Public Health Crisis“)
The United States has thousands of hospitals, all staffed by medical professionals who have dedicated years of their lives to careful education and preparedness for the care of any individual who may be hurt or ill. Is it too much to ask that the United States not ask for actual years off of our lives?
After initially posting this, I came across this article from Oregon Live that states, according to records obtained by the AP, Texas Presbyterian did not place it’s staff into Hazmat suits until Duncan’s Ebola test was positive.
Patient from Liberia: Check
With explosive diarrhea: Check
High fever: Check
Hazmat suits? Let’s wait for blood results.
I really hope that article is wrong, but I don’t think it will be.
National Day Against Police Brutality – October 22nd, Denver, Colorado
Facebook information here: on.fb.me/YU8WKx
Since 1996, protests around the country have been held on October 22nd to remember victims of police brutality and speak out against this ongoing practice of violence against the citizens of this countr.
Coloradans for Justice, in coordination with other groups, has added Denver to the group of locations around the country.
We will gather at 5:00 PM MST with the event to start at 5:15. There will be speakers from the community: family members who have lost loved ones to police brutality and those who have experienced it first hand. In addition, you will here updates on progress in the community made since our September 3rd forum.
Please come out! If you would like to be added to the CoForJustice mailing list, email us at COforJustice@gmail.com.
We need volunteers!!! If you cannot come to the event, if you could pass out flyers close to the event, even just to your local coffee house, it would be extremely helpful. Flyers for the event are in the works. If you are a graphic designer, we could really use some assistance creating a logo for COforJustice, as well as a basic flyer for this event. Please contact us at CoforJustice@gmail.com or tweet us @COforJustice.
Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements
[tweetmeme source= ‘yourtwittername’ only_single=false]
Some people may have seen this article already, which has been making its rounds on Facebook and the blogosphere, but INCITE! blog editors loved it so much that we wanted to share it here. The piece was originally published in make/shift magazine’s Spring/Summer 2010 issue and written by Courtney Desiree Morris.
In January 2009, activists in Austin, Texas, learned that one of their own, a white activist named Brandon Darby, had infiltrated groups protesting the Republican National Convention (RNC) as an FBI informant. Darby later admitted to wearing recording devices at planning meetings and during the convention. He testified on behalf of the government in the February 2009 trial of two Texas activists who were arrested at the RNC on charges of making and possessing Molotov cocktails, after Darby encouraged them to do so. The two young men, David McKay and Bradley Crowder, each faced…
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When Disability Affects Your First Amendment Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I have been protesting for about 11 years, most of that in Colorado. In those years, protesting has changed.
The Occupy movement had a profound effect on protesting in Colorado. In order to squelch the ongoing protest, the City Council pushed through an urban camping ban. Residents may still protest on the sidewalk without a permit, but must keep walking in order to do so. They may not sit or stand still.
On the one month anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, I met with two women down at Colfax and Broadway and we simply held signs during rush hour to remind people that Darren Wilson has not been arrested and Michael Brown has been dead for a month. No one bothered us, but I was prepared and we discussed the need to keep moving while we protested.
After @COforJustice organized the #NMOS14 in Denver, and the following March for Justice, I became increasingly aware of how activism increasingly requires the activist to be physically fit. Because we are not allowed to sit or stand still, those with chronic fatigue, COPD or other conditions may not be able to protest. If a person is in a wheelchair that requires them to push the wheels, they must be creative if they wish to hold a sign AND keep moving.
When we held the March for Justice in Denver, we worked to keep the march at about 1 mile. We got a last minute permit to use the Capitol steps. People who could not march could meet us at the steps. This was a compromise and I know many were still unhappy at the need to divert to ramps or to be unable to participate in the full scope of the protest. This is something I will keep in mind when organizing in the future, and see what can be done to allow people who do not have the strength to march to be a part of the march, whether it be by finding wheelchairs or other means of transportation through the march.
The morning of the March for Justice, I sprained my ankle. As one of the organizers, I could not back out of marching. I was ahead of the march, ensuring people got safely across the street. By the end of the night, I was in so much pain I was biting my lip and holding back tears. That mild sprain took weeks to heal. I cannot imagine how someone with a permanent disability would have been able to do what I was doing.
Personally, I have Meniere’s disease. While I can and do lead a full life in spite of this condition, I know that if I am having a flare of the disease, which causes vertigo, that I cannot protest while ill. I would need to sit. I could not keep moving.
Forcing protesters who are disabled to keep moving during a protest restricts our First Amendment rights. If a person cannot keep walking, they face arrest or ticketing and fines on the grounds of violating the rule that people who are protesting must keep walking. I use the example of COPD because it is a disease which restricts physical activity. While a person may be able to get to the protest site, they may need to sit to protest, they may not be able to keep moving.
Now, I know how to have a protest without being forced to keep moving. In order to do this you have to get a permit from the city of Denver or the state of Colorado. But that in itself goes against the nature of spontaneous protests. It is wrong to expect protestors to give the city 30 days notice after something horrible has happened so that they may protest what is happening. The state of Colorado was very helpful in getting us a permit in the space of 48 hours to have our protest, as was the Parks and Rec department. But that does not solve the issue that in order to protest, we have to ask permission to be in that space. The nature of protest is that it is without asking permission. It is our right to speak, even if it is inconvenient to the city or state that we be there.
Here’s the rub: CONGRESS is not making rules against protest, but cities and states are. They are able to control the numbers of protestors through urban camping bans and rules to keep walking and permit processes. If you are disabled, there is a strong chance you cannot exercise your First Amendment rights.
This is what was so amazing about Occupy. While there were many inspiring marches, there was also an opportunity to protest while sitting, while laying down. The occupation was the speech. As long as you were present, you were protesting.
Denver shut it down. They brought in a new police chief, passed the urban camping ban and forced Occupy off of city property. Now, homeless individuals who have no place to go face jail time and fines for sleeping on a park bench or over a grate. Yes, there are shelters, but there are not enough.
If that wasn’t enough, they began to enforce a ban on temporarily parking next to Civic Center park, which meant people had to walk over a mile to deliver supplies to the protestors. During Occupy, I worked several overtime shifts in order to be able to donate blankets, clothing and food to the protest. Now I had to come to the protest, pull someone away, pay for parking and carry supplies for a mile to the protest. Again, extremely difficult to do if I was feeling ill (which is my usual state of being, I just push through it).
Denver also began to enforce a little known ban on honking on city streets. While many people supported the spirit of Occupy, many were unable or uncomfortable with joining the protest. Still, they would honk their support. When you are standing in the cold and rain, trying to keep moving and holding your sign, those supportive honks do a lot to hold you up. They began ticketing anyone who honked on Broadway in support of the protestors.
I remember being at work one snowy night during the Occupy movement. Protesters were playing in the snow, and had built a very small igloo. The Denver Police Department brought in heavy equipment to take down the igloo. A shovel would have sufficed, but the message was clear. We are here to crush this moment of playfulness, this spirit of joy. We have the means and the method, and we’re going to crush this protest.
The last time I saw any Occupy protest in Denver, there were 8 protesters corralled on a sidewalk and about 15 police cars surrounding them. Again, I was on my way to work, and unable to stop and be part of the protest. I cannot just not show up to my job as a registered nurse. My patients and co-workers would suffer. But I remember the sorrow I felt for those few determined sign holders.
We as activists have got to start pushing for inclusion of the disabled in our movements. Disability should not be an automatic disqualifier from activism. The disabled have a lot to protest, and they have the right to protest. It is up to community organizers to ensure that our activism creates the possibility for all to join in. It is our responsibility to point out that not everyone can keep moving on the street, and this should not be reason for fines or arrest. Every person in the United States should be free to exercise their right to free speech. Those of us who are physically able, who are loud and vocal, should lend our voice to those who cannot shout, and give access to protest to anyone who would have it.
BOARD DELAYS CONTROVERSIAL COMMITTEE DECISION
This really bothers me, as does any attempt to “prune practices that should be prohibited.” We must teach the true history of the United States and students must be aware they have a right to dissent.
I feel like this is pushing us more and more towards a society where people do not question the government and when the government is question, we are punished.
Just Keep Walking and Why I Stop
Trigger Warning: Racism. Domestic Violence. Violence Against Women
My friends who know me, know I stop. I stop for hurting people. I stop for hungry people. I usually don’t have cash or change to hand out but I almost always have some food in my bag. It’s what I can do. I’ll tell you if you need to go to a hospital or doctor or not. One of these days, stopping might get me in trouble, but I’ll probably keep doing it.
It embarrasses my friends.
It embarrasses my husband.
It embarrasses my family.
I keep stopping because I take the role of the nurse in the community seriously. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a nurse. You shouldn’t be shocked. And don’t go #notallnurses on me because we all know there are different kinds of nurses.
I feel guilty about what I’m about to write. I’ve felt guilty for a long time, even though I was a young child when this happened. But I want to speak out about this culture White people have created and what has been adopted. Because ignoring violence against women, especially Black women, is a huge piece of White supremacy that needs to come apart.
It was a sunny day. I don’t remember what time of year. It was in East Nashville. Somewhere along Eastland Ave. We used to live on Benjamin St. I went to Cora Howe Elementary. I think we might have been coming
I don’t remember where we were going but I was walking with my mother. There was an apartment building nearby that had a reputation. Most of East Nashville had a reputation at that point.
A Black woman came running out of the building, screaming for help. A man ran out after her and tackled her, beating her on the ground. I wanted to run to the payphone and call 911. I told my mother we needed to help. She held me harder and said “Just keep walking.”
Now.. was my mother afraid for her own safety? Probably. Was she afraid for our safety? Probably. But could she have knocked on a door or done SOMETHING? Yes. My mother worked for the Metro Nashville Police Department for years. She wasn’t a police officer, but her call would have brought half a squad. I’ve seen it happen.
And she didn’t. She walked us to the car, she got in, and she never looked back. We lived close by. She could have driven home and called for help and never identified herself to the abuser. She didn’t.
I remember that woman. I remember she had long, natural hair. I remember this because the guy used her hair as a weapon. It was how he stopped her before he tackled her. I remember her screaming in our direction, because we were the only people out there. But I don’t know what happened to her.
I also remember my mother and step-father(s) abusing me and my sister.. I remember when we tried to get help because our parents had threatened us with beatings if my sister failed a test. My sister, suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia, failed the test. My sister is INCREDIBLY smart. She’s just dyslexic. But when we went to the Kroger on Gallatin Rd, that had a giant “Safe Place” sign in the window, we weren’t helped. The police jumped to help one of their own. My sister and I were taken to a counselor, we were never allowed to speak without our parents present, and we were told if we persisted with our complaint, we would be split up, pulled from our school (the only haven we had), and how selfish we were to accuse our parents of these behaviors. I remember how we went to subsequent “therapy” appointments after that, where the therapist called us lazy and told us we had to do more to help our mother. Our abuser. Again, we were not allowed to speak without our parents present.
So now I stop. I call 911 if it’s needed. I help. If I need to, I’ll scream my head off to draw attention to what’s happening. You don’t get to abuse someone near me and feel that’s it’s okay because no one stops. I’m going to stop. If I can’t stop you myself, I’m going to get someone who can. I couldn’t stop when I was a little girl, but I can stop now.
Making rules for yourself and standards for the people you associate with IS NOT easy. It doesn’t even really get easier. But it does lead to a more fulfilled and honest life. I’m not done learning, changing and growing. But learning to stop was one of my earliest rules for myself as an adult, and it’s a good place to start.
I have had the very great honor of working with Kenny Wiley for the last few weeks as we organized events to bring the community together against police brutality after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Kenny speaks here openly about being Black and fighting depression. Black people are often told to be quiet and be strong, erasing their need for assistance and visibility at a time of trial in their lives. I am sharing this because I want you to read about how depression and race intersect, and because these words are powerful. Please read Kenny’s post and forward it on.
I have depression.
I am young and black.
These two basic truths of my existence do not directly correlate, nor did the latter clearly cause the former. Yet the statements ought not be separated. I am depressed. To the extent that depression ever has a ‘cause,’ mine is both chemical and situational.
Long have questions and thoughts about race consumed me—and, for nearly as long, I have wished I could stop caring. During my childhood small books on Rosa Parks, SNCC, and the March on Washington littered my room.
Even as I came of age in mostly white external spaces, from school to church to friend circles, questions of race—of supremacy and history and inequality—did not let me alone. In high school I grappled with black voices across the political spectrum, trying to find my way without a guide. I read books from Toni Morrison, Malcolm X and Shelby Steele, feeling…
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I am racist, and so are you.
And the sooner we both acknowledge this, the sooner we can begin to address the problem. So let’s talk.
“Wait just a minute here, Rachel. You’re like, the least racist person I know. You’re always sharing stuff about race and racism. You couldn’t possibly be racist.”
Here’s the deal. Racism isn’t just guys in white robes and Paula Deen shouting racial slurs. Racism is subtle, racism is insidious, and our culture is so deeply steeped in it that it’s impossible to grow up in the US and not be racist. It’s a kind of brainwashing: a set of default configuration files that come with the culture. It’s a filter, built up from birth, that alters our perception of the world. (Literally–racial bias makes people see weapons that aren’t there.) Racism isn’t just conscious actions; it’s judgements that happen so fast that we may not even be aware of…
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On the Road to Her Dreams!
Look between your couch cushions, your kitchen drawers and in your pant pocket…right now!
Help my dear friend and fellow creative, Brittani Lee of menspired.blogspot.com make her
fashion dreams come true. Every dollar counts. No contribution will go unnoticed.
Click here to donate.
It has been a long 10 days since I responded to @KennySWiley’s tweet asking if there were people in Denver interested in organizing a National Moment of Silence. At the time, I was on my break at work, reading about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Like many people, I felt helpless. Like many people, I felt tired. The killing of Black people in the United States by police, security and vigilante justice, as well as the incarceration of so many inside the Prison Industrial Complex is genocide. This is not new. This has been going on for centuries.
So I responded. When someone asked if I’d done this before, I said no, but there was a first time for everything. Thanks to my years of working as a secretary, as a customer service rep, and as a nurse, I have learned you can get a lot done quickly if you have the determination, the support, and the time to make things happen. Thanks to the advice of and work of complete strangers on Twitter, I was able to help navigate the process of finding a space for the NMOS. It was the work of many. We called to the community, the clergy, and Denver responded.
Last Thursday, and tonight, at the Denver March for Justice, I heard many people talk about how tired we are. And some people don’t like that language. We are full of energy. I agree, I am full of energy. Being out of college and having free time made it possible for me to take a part in co-organizing these events. For that opportunity, I am grateful. But I admit, I am also tired.
I am tired of ideology that Black people are disposable. I am tired of the killing of my Black neighbors. I am tired of the loss of these fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers. I am emotionally, spiritually, mentally exhausted. Every 28 hours, another Black person is killed by police, security or vigilante justice. I am no where near as tired as the members of the Black community. I cannot fathom the level of exhaustion felt by people for whom waking up and going about their day is a revolutionary act.
I spend a lot of my time tired. I’m a nurse. I work nights. I frequently have to move my sleep schedule around. But I have found the more tired I am, the more I can accomplish. I call this “being a special kind of tired.”
I am tired. I am the kind of tired that forces you into action. The kind of tired that demands you find caffeine and push forward. I am the kind of tired that tells me I will not really rest until I work to make change happen. I am the kind of tired that fuels effort and change. I am that special kind of tired you become when you have been pushed to your limits.
The world has pushed me to my limits. As Kenny said, I have moved past the point where blog posts and twitter posts and arguing with my relatives on Facebook is sufficient. I must act.
Tonight I had the opportunity to take a member of the march home to Longmont, Colorado. This man, who marched in Selma, Alabama in the 1960’s, talked to me about his years of activism. The injuries he has received, the injuries he has cared for. Being in the Civil Rights Movement, he learned the skills of a field medic, and if he was not marching, he was caring for the injured. He shared his poetry. He told me about people I will never see in a history book.
He is tired. He has been tired for years. But he keeps going. He keeps pushing. He is that special kind of tired.
Never assume complacency from a tired person. Yes, we are tired. But it is this deep emotional, spiritual exhaustion that has pushed us to action. Many people have reached this state of exhaustion and are moving. We cannot stop moving. We must push forward. One day, there will be real rest. There will be time for enjoying the sun and the grass and the sky. A good book. But for today, our exhaustion is fuel.
We are tired, but we are not out of energy. We are exhausted, but we will not rest. We are going to change the world, and that requires a special level of tired to get the work done.
Rally for peace in Denver marches through downtown
I am so proud of my community tonight. So amazed at how many people came out to protest in solidarity with Ferguson. So incredibly lucky to be a part of it all. Thank you, Denver.
Coloradans For Justice
The National Moment of Silence in Denver on Thursday was a success. We held a peaceful vigil and members of the Denver Ministry came and spoke. We sang. We linked arms. In silence, we remembered Mike Brown and then we spoke the names of the dead. We collected signatures. At the end, the crowd dispersed quietly.
I personally was very nervous about the event. I’ve never organized anything before, and neither had any of my co-organizers. I feel that for something that started in the middle of the night on Sunday, we did really well.
But that was a moment. We need a movement.
We are working on planning a march in Denver on Tuesday. More information is forthcoming.
In solidarity with the protestors in Ferguson, Missouri and in recognition that we cannot stop fighting police brutality, we have created Coloradoans For Justice.
Please like the page and follow the Twitter account for updates on a march we are planning for Tuesday.
More information to come.
National Moment of Silence: Denver
We will be gathering at Civic Center Park in Denver on the Broadway side at 5:00 PM August 14th.
Women Against the Feminist Backlash (CN)
A few years ago, after a mental breakdown that had been a long time coming I made the decision that I was no longer a feminist because I felt so utterly let down and victimised by women I’d assumed were feminists (due to the nature of the work we’d done together). At the time I was going through another period of acute mental distress as a reaction to my father abusing his new family. I’d been as transparent as I could about it at work but I didn’t feel supported and eventually the toll of dealing with domestic abuse in my own life (along with a myriad of cultural oppressions) whilst trying to prevent it in the lives of many others manifested in a few very bad decisions that ultimately led to my seclusion from society.
Yes, I was guilty of dissociating when my triggers were at their worst. This…
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The Mommy Blame
A response I wrote in my Women’s Studies class that I wanted to save.
1) How does the ideology of “the ideal nuclear family” affect people’s ideas and public policies concerning personal relationships and family life? Use material in Chapter 7 (readings by Crittenden and Chambers) and Chapter 8 (reading by Parrenas). Think in terms of micro-,meso-, and macro-level factors.
2. What are the opportunities, limitations, and losses for women in the global South arising from the globalization of the economy? What responsibilities of people living in a relatively rich country like the United States to address social and economic problems faces by women from countries of the global South? What can be done? Think in terms of race, class, culture, and nation. Also think micro to global levels of analysis and action.
In the United States, we have bought into our own myth. We have been raised to believe that a nuclear family consisting of a husband, wife, and assorted offspring – heterosexual and of matching race – is the cornerstone to our society, when really, if we looked at our history, the ideal of the nuclear family is the result of a romanticization of a brief period in United States history when the White middle class was briefly able to sustain itself on the income of one individual.
It is important to acknowledge the romanticization of this time period. Post World War II, pre-Vietnam War, the Baby Boom. These times are held up as idyllic when even a rudimentary examination of what life was actually like for the majority of individuals around the world at this time. In Europe and England, massive reconstruction and redrawing of borders, and wars would continue to take place for decades. In Japan, reconstruction from the devastating fall out of two nuclear bombings, and in China, the oppression of it’s dicatorial system and one child policies continued to ensure that infanticide of female babies was often seen as the only hope. And in the United States, the Civil Rights movement was underway. In Ann Filemyr’s essay “Loving Across the Boundary,” she discusses the embrace of White people of their own naivete about what was so eloquently described by W.E.B. Dubois as “the color line.” Indeed. The color line is not invisible. It’s not indescribable. And that brief, romanticized era of United States history is not what we should set as our life goals.
Programs to encourage marriage in the United States and demonize single mothers or working mothers draw heavily on the myth of the 1950’s working family. Wealthy White families who are able to thrive on one income are held up as examples to the working poor. You should be able to have this, the US says to its people. You can have this! As long as you remain married, have children, go to church, and work hard, you should be able to have an ideal life, own a home, retire well, and relax as your life nears its end. I mention going to church because the Conservative movement in the US has a deep investment in marriage as a religious institution. In order to maintain this highly unlikely promise of the benefits of marriage, modern Conservatives have done what White religious movements have been doing for centuries: demonizing single women, especially single mothers, and in the US, especially Black single mothers.
Essays throughout our chapters document this pressure felt by women, but most especially felt by Black women. The pressure to give back to a poor family and community is felt by all children who do better than their parents or better than their siblings, but it is most acutely felt in the Black community. Veronica Chambers writes about how a couple who set aside $500 of their monthly budget to give to family. She also writes about Angela Kyle, who said “I felt that I didn’t have the right not to marry a black man. I felt I had a responsibility to have a Black child.” (Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, 2013, p.351.”
When you combine Chamber’s essay with Ann Crittenen’s essay about “The Mommy Tax,” we quickly see this is a trap women cannot escape. If you work to have a successful career, you may face the inability to have children later in your life. If you have children when you are young, even if well educated, you can expect to be hired for less and to receive smaller increases in income throughout your life. If you have a child in the middle of your career, the need to take maternity leave or the desire to take a few months to spend with children is likely to affect you for the rest of your career. All of these factors will affect you when you reach retirement. In these years, when you would want to help your children attend college, your retirement may hold hundreds of thousands of dollars less than it would otherwise, and you may find yourself inable of assisting your children, even after a long life of dedicated motherhood and work. If you are single, all of those numbers go down. And if you are single and Black, you are now termed “pathological.” What is seen as the descent of the United States way of life and economy has been placed on the shoulders of single Black mothers as solidly as a yoke, and the burden is destructive to the body, soul, and mind of Black women, and Black children. By placing false blame for a perceived deterioration in society on Black single mothers, Conservatives and the Liberals who take part in this game maneuver Black women into a corner they cannot escape.
Women living in the global South, and traveling as labor from the global South to Northern areas face similar persecution for perceived abandonment of their families. While men also travel, a large portion of the blame for increased stress upon children and family bonds is placed not on the shoulders of the father, but again on the shoulders of the mother. While carrying this burden in their hearts, women from the global South work as housekeepers, nannies, nurses aides and caregivers. Because they cannot find work at home that would provide their children with food and shelter, they move to other countries to do so. They are rewarded by being shouldered with the blame for the perceived decrease in the quality of their society and culture.
When the United States exports its idealized tv shows and movies that continue to extoll the virtues and rightness of the White, 1950’s US family, it places pressure upon families in other countries. It creates dissatisfaction with one’s primary culture and way of life. Additionally, it creates unrealistic explanations for those who migrate to the United States, Australia, Europe, and Canada. Very few migrant workers who come to the United States will more than scrape by. There are horror stories everywhere about the treatment of the women who care for the families of those in so called “developed nations.” Denial of health care, denial of food, sometimes denial even of personal space or a place to sleep is a common theme about what happens to women who come North looking for work to support their families.
I see a rather radical need for change in the global economy that would improve the lives of women around the world. And yes, White women, I mean our lives would be improved as well. What needs to occur is a split from the ideal of the 1950’s US nuclear family. A push toward fair wages for domestic workers, as well as fair working conditions. Implementation of funds for parents to assist them as they raise their children in order to prevent them from needing to leave the country to work. And for the upper echelon of businesswomen, a move away from viewing having children as a bad thing in an employee. Paying mothers less is ridiculous and companies do it because they can get away with it easily. Mothers, especially single mothers, know they have to take jobs that come their way. They know they have to buy the most economical products, which often means using items made in terrible working conditions in factories in the Global South.
In short, the woman occupying Earth in the year 2014 is trapped in a cycle that only few escape. And when those few escape, they are held up as models of society, without acknowledging the backs of the other women they had to walk across, or the fact that they may have had additional skills, additional resources, additional advantages that other women did not. They managed to find that high paying job, have their children at exactly the right moment, and then they are able to afford the advantage of paying another woman to leave her family in order to care for their own. Even at the height of the pinnacle, women like Sheryl Sandberg are caught in “The Mommy Trap,” and perpetuate its cycle. Instructions to “lean in” or “ban bossiness” in little girls are only instructions to continue the system of least resistance that we all are a part of: the patriarchy.
Concerns and Suggestions About the Future of the ADN and the BSN
I am finishing my BSN, FINALLY, and I have …. concerns
When you view the chart, realize that the higher in the chart you are, the fewer years of experience you are actually receiving.
Above is a link to a rough post where I have graphed a very rough flowchart of where I think nursing is heading. I believe current goals will result in a forced exodus of experienced nurses from existing acute care facilities when they are not able to accommodate their schedules and finances to higher education.
I believe the push for higher nursing education is a good one, but if hospitals want to keep their best nurses, they need to begin to formulate a plan that sets aside paid time for educational goals and work with universities to bring the needed education into the hospital. BSN programs need to be closely reviewed to be sure the information they are teaching ADNs is relevant to practice and the goal should be to increase knowledge of the ADNs instead of simply fulfilling the core tenants of a Bachelor’s degree. In a utopic situation, the course would be created so that ADNs coming into a BSN program would actually emerge with a certification reflective of their years of experience and knowledge and placing them higher in the nursing hierarchy than new graduate BSNs with no experience.
Yes. This will require hospitals to pay nurses floor pay to attend classes. The hospitals will benefit with higher patient satisfaction scores, lower patient injuries, and better physician/nurse relations. Many hospitals already offer education assistance and scholarships in exchange for time worked after graduation. This does not need to be any different.
If nurses have time set aside for classes that they are attending with their coworkers, they have a ready made support system, which is necessary for successful education. If nurses are allowed to work fewer hours on the floor while they are receiving their education, advancing ones education will not appear so monumental and burdensome.
As far as funding these paid hours that are performed off the floor, hospitals should look to their political force. This is a viable method that can be used to increase the knowledge and the size of the nursing force, at a time when an influx of patients threatens to cripple the current United States medical system. Nurses will emerge from these programs empowered, better team players, and will receive knowledge they can apply to the bedside at their next shift rather than trying to find time to take off work, struggling through APA format and trying to find a way to pay for their own college education as well as that of their children.
No ADN currently working full time should be forced to carry a burden of student loans to maintain their current career. This is a burden that many nurses with families and current student loan debt cannot handle. Instead of requiring 2 years of work in order to receive student loan relief, while paying student loans, give the relief IMMEDIATELY, and require nurses to pay back a prorated sum if they leave the area or change careers.
It is my belief that this kind of incentive is what is needed to get ADN nurses into BSN classes. Current BSN programs focus on papers and theory, but there is very little meat added to the pot of nursing experience already held. This is a waste of the time of experienced nurses. Because it has already been decided that management roles should be held by holders of nursing doctorates and master’s degrees, only individuals who are interested should be required to take additional classes in nurse management. Nursing programs need to be divided into tracks: Research. Management. Advanced Care. Hospital Management.
Instead of this, we have nurses sitting in History, Music and Philosophy classes to earn their BSN. All of these are valid courses of study but are they actually efficient for people whose priority is to get back on the floor? Nurses who have an ADN and have years of floor experience do not necessarily need these classes but could use classes in new techniques, evidence based practice, and advanced practice.
As a floor nurse who has worked in multiple hospitals, including LTAC, rehab and nursing homes as I made my way up from being a tech to a RN, I feel the the nursing profession is missing a valuable opportunity to increase the abilities of their current workforce while making nursing a more rewarding experience.
On being a thing
I do not write personal essays. This is the first, and likely the last, you will see.
I write articles that have resonated with millions of people, often in an emotional way. But I never write about myself or my personal life. I have multiple platforms and if I wanted to, I could. I choose not to – in part because I think focusing on myself distracts from the social and political problems I depict, but also because I value my privacy.
I am like this in “real life” too. I have been described as aloof, but I try to be generous and kind. I take care of my family and my community. I don’t care about fame, which is much more of a curse than a gift. I reject most media interviews. My priorities are my loved ones and my work. Yesterday I was reading Charlotte’s Web to my…
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When Chronic Illness and Acute Illness Combine
In January, I met with my ENT. He is still a fairly new doctor for me and believes I don’t REALLY have Meniere’s disease, but that I have an autoimmune or allergic response to something in my environment. I’ve tested negative for autoimmune diseases many times. I’m going to get an allergy test done, but I don’t think we’ll find an answer there. My doctor’s opinion is that my Meniere’s should have burned itself out after 10 years, there is no way I should have Meniere’s for 13 years. Because of this, he had taken me off my medication, to see how I would do. I immediately had a return to severe vertigo attacks.
Of course, there is a thing called atypical Meniere’s disease in which you don’t burn out, but because I agreed to get an allergy test in the next few months, my doctor agreed to prescribe me the fabulous medication that keeps my attacks at bay : 25 mg Spironolactone. Not exactly looking for crack here.
A couple of weeks after getting on the Spiro, my Meniere’s symptoms began to lessen, like they always do. Frankly, I don’t really care if my “label” is Meniere’s or not, but my condition sure seems well controlled by a weak dose of a diuretic.
The first week of February, I got bronchitis. I got really sick, and I just didn’t get better. I tried to fight through it, going to work, doing breathing exercises, but no matter what I did, it got worse.
End of February/Early March, I had severe chest pain and went to the ER. After a cardiac workup, I was told I had pleurisy, given robitussin with codeine, and sent home. The pleurisy hung around, so I went to my regular doctor’s NP for a prescription for pain killers, which really helped.
On March 17, my husband took me to the doctor’s office because I was unable to go alone. I had pneumonia. They put me on strong antibiotics, and over the last several weeks, I’ve gotten stronger. I was finally able to take my new puppy for walks and go back to work, of which I missed about 3 weeks. I kept getting better and was planning to start working out this week.
Then Thursday, I woke up to get ready for work and had severe shortness of breath, chest pain, and a 101.5 fever. I took tylenol, used my nebulizer, and called in for my shift, knowing I couldn’t make it through a 12 hour shift. Finally, the pain got so bad, and the fever wasn’t going down, so I went to the ER. There, I learned my white blood cell count was 24. That’s really high. I was nearly septic. But just nearly. So they wrote me a prescription for pain medicine and sent me home. I’m seeing my doctor’s NP for a blood exam Tuesday and then meeting with my primary care doctor next Monday.
THAT’S THE THING ABOUT BEING A NURSE. ONCE YOU ARE A NURSE, YOU’RE NOT REALLY QUALIFIED TO BE ANYTHING ELSE, BUT BEING A NURSE IS EXHAUSTING AND IT’S NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE TO WORK WHILE SICK.
This was not the plan. The plan was to heal the sick and when I went to nursing school, I knew I had Meniere’s, but it wasn’t bad. I had no idea I would develop asthma. Because I have asthma, when I do get sick, I get sicker than people usually do.
So here I am. Up in the middle of the night, which isn’t a problem, because I work nights, but feeling like crap. I’ve used my nebulizer, taken my pain meds, used my Incentive Spirometer, which helps to increase lung volume. Once again, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do to get better.
I feel like my health care providers don’t give a shit, which is awful because these are people I know. I know I’m on the edge of a “final warning” for attendance at work. Because I dropped to part time to finish my BSN, I don’t qualify for FMLA. It’s so frustrating, all together.
And the only good thing is that my attacks have really nearly stopped with the medication. But I’m at my wit’s end with being sick, with being in pain, with not being able to breathe.
This is the thing about chronic illness… you spend every day barely getting by, and then when acute illness hits you, recovering is a battle you don’t have the resources to fight. That’s where I am.
Just a note: I don’t like “spoon theory,” it doesn’t work for me, so I really don’t want to hear about it on my blog. I’ll delete comments suggesting I use spoon theory for focusing energy. I don’t have the luxury of limiting the energy I have when I’m at work, when I’m at home. There’s too much that MUST be done.
Patient Rights Note
I lead a discussion on Twitter yesterday and learned that many people are unaware of their rights as a patient, and that some people avoid going to the doctor due to being put on a scale.
You have the right to refuse to be weighed at your doctor’s office.
You can also ask to be weighed without looking at the scale and ask not to know your weight.
Personally, because I am usually wearing heavier clothes, and I am required (for medical reasons) to weigh myself daily, I tell the medical assistant my weight. If they argue, I tell them they are making me uncomfortable, and they stop.
Generally, I am coming to see my doctor about an acute illness, not my weight. My doctor does not need to know my weight to order a blood test or many medications.
Times when your doctor may insist on a weight and you should probably comply:
- If you are at a hospital, about to have surgery or need antibiotics – proper weight = proper dose
- If you are at a hospital and are not eating or are on medications, they may want to weigh you daily to check effectiveness.
- If you are coming in to specifically talk about weight loss or gain.
- If you are coming in for a physical (although still, you can refuse, but I would suggest weighing yourself at home).
- If you have had weight loss surgery, you can expect to be weighed at each appointment before and after.
Your doctor can refuse treatment if you refuse to be weighed. You can fire your doctor. You can call your insurance, report your complaint and find a different doctor. You have rights, and I want you to know what they are.
Nurses: Remember it is our job to advocate for our patients. If a patient is not coming in for a weight related problem, we may not need to know their weight. Ask yourself if insisting on a weight is going to cause the patient stress.
Food Anxiety Chat
Today at 5 PM EST on Twitter, I will be hosting a chat on food anxiety and the different forms it takes. Please join! If you want to send questions anonymously, please email me questions to GrimalkinRN@gmail.com
We will be discussing what forms food anxiety takes, how it develops, how we cope, and what happens when we can’t cope.
Please share this post if you have a moment!