Originally posted on Media Diversified:
by Emma Dabiri There is no love left between a black man and a black woman. Take me for instance. I love white women and hate black women. It’s just in me so deep that I don’t even try to get it out of me anymore. I’d jump over ten…
Category Archives: Uncategorized
It creeps up suddenly; self-consciously you adjust your posture to close in a little on yourself. Your eyes drop downwards. Suddenly you feel very exposed. This happens frequently; whether in a meeting at work or walking into a bar and almost certainly when walking home late at night. By slouching, we hope to divert attention away from our breasts, by avoiding eye contact, we can hope they won’t think we brought it on ourselves. We are reminded everywhere we turn, of the temptations we promise, and if we don’t fit the bill, we can be stuffed and pumped up with man-made fillers and human bum fat. If we’re healthy, we’re “starting to waddle”, a timely reminder we shouldn’t eat so much else who will fancy us?
The shaming begins early. They make mini-skirts and boob tubes for 3 year olds. I will always feel sick to the stomach remembering the…
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But last night was one of the best nights of my nursing career. Right up there with the night I saved a baby’s life and the moment a patient had a stroke in front of me and left the hospital with minimal residual effect. Right up with the night I started my first IV. my first NG.tube, hell, the first time I did anything, last night was up there with that night. Adequate staffing, manageable patient loads, and something I can only say a great once in a while “Just this once, Rose, EVERYBODY LIVES!!!). To say more than that would risk identifications. But damn, I had a good night. I gave good care. My patient got good news and I’m writing this down now to remember on all the nights where we’re nurse poor patient rich, when my healthy patient suddenly gets ill, when I have to work thirteen and a half hours without a break, I’m going to remember last night and find energy in that memory to keep going.
(Quote from Doctor Who)
The Continuing Significance of Skin Tone in “the Black Community”
“There’s a rapper, I’ve forgotten his name, he just did a video recently and on the call sheet for auditions, he literally stated “no dark-skinned women need apply.” Isn’t that something?” — Bill Duke, “Bill Duke airs dirty laundryof skin prejudice in Dark Girls”
“Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty. A surge of love and understanding swept through him, but was quickly replaced by anger. Anger that he was powerless to help her. Of all the wishes people had brought him — money, love, revenge — this seemed to him the most poignant and the one most deserving of fulfillment. A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes.” — Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
During a recent dinner…
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Originally posted on Media Diversified:
“I don’t see race; I’m completely colourblind.”
The above is an unhelpful statement that is thrown around way too often. When people say this I often wonder why. Could it really be true that they don’t watch the news? Yes, race is a social construct but the implications of race are something that affects many of us. Race is a reality; the more pigmentation one has in their skin, the more difficult it can be to navigate society without a headache and much stress.
The “I don’t see race” comment doesn’t need to be stated to prove that one isn’t racist, or that one is open-minded or liberal. I acknowledge that we members of the human race are a diverse bunch but because of colonialism and other issues we have all had our minds colonized; we believe things about ourselves and about others that just aren’t true. And our beliefs…
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On December 29, Ani DiFranco cancelled her “Righteous Retreat” at Nottoway Plantation, but did not apologize.
it has taken me a few days but i have been thinking and feeling very intensely and i would like to say i am sincerely sorry. it is obvious to me now that you were right; all those who said we can’t in good conscience go to that place and support it or look past for one moment what it deeply represents. i needed a wake up call and you gave it to me.
it was a great oversight on my part to not request a change of venue immediately from the promoter. you tried to tell me about that oversight and i wasn’t available to you. i’m sorry for that too.
know that i am digging deeper.
I am glad to see Ani reach this point within herself and find the strength to admit she was wrong. She additionally posted a link to this article: 5 Ways White Women Can Address Our Own Racism.
I still feel that if she wants to hold a retreat to encourage growth and music creation, that she should offer one or two scholarships to the retreat, as reparation to the black community, and as a recollection of her own roots. With camping tickets to the original retreat starting at $1100, such an experience is far out of the range of independent artists who could really use such an event.
I still feel upset on a deep level about the initial choice of a plantation for a retreat, but I believe DiFranco’s words to be sincere. You cannot live your life and be a perfect person. When you are famous, your mistakes are going to get a lot more attention. My decision on whether or not buy DiFranco’s music in the future will be based on the black community’s response to her apology, as well as future actions.
Trigger warning for rape
If what his own defence lawyers say is true, Julian Assange is a rapist.
He described Assange as penetrating one woman while she slept without a condom, in defiance of her previously expressed wishes, before arguing that because she subsequently “consented to … continuation” of the act of intercourse, the incident as a whole must be taken as consensual.
In the other incident, in which Assange is alleged to have held a woman down against her will during a sexual encounter, Emmerson offered this summary: “[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration ……
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My mother is in a nursing home, out-of-state. I’m trying to move her to me or move to her. With insurance and health concerns, it has been a daunting task.
But for the holidays, I am spending precious moments with her. Doing, doing. Getting the promised occupational and physical therapy going. Requesting barber services. Checking on meds. And on and on, the work of it.
Today when I went to visit, the nursing staff was in a bit of an uproar. “She’s refusing to let us bathe or change her. She says that you’re going to do it.”
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In 2012, I lost 30 pounds with diet and intense exercise and the help of a personal trainer. I don’t lose weight unless I exercise a lot.
Then I developed Morton’s Neuroma’s between my toes. Extremely painful and they made work, let alone exercising, hell. The treatment? Either surgery that would immobilize me for weeks (not an option while working and attending college) or cortisone injections between my toes. They were excruciating. With my doctor’s encouragement, I purchased a $400 pair of orthotics, only to have them blister and bruise my feet. I had them adjusted multiple times and they never fit right.
An effect of the neuromas is that they can cause the muscles of your inner foot to break down, so now I have severe plantar fasciitis, another problem that plagues any population of people who work on their feet.
After multiple treatments by a podiatrist, I was only getting worse. I also had some issues with the doctor, who pushed surgery on me heavily, even when I told him it was really not an option for me. It would take me a year to save the sick time needed for such a procedure, and I do not want to delay my BSN any further.
I switched podiatrist’s and went to one recommended by my primary care doctor. I really trust my primary care. We have a good relationship and I trust him. My new podiatrist is really nice and much more gentle. He prescribed physical therapy and I’m shelling out even more money for new orthotics. I really hope they work. I also got cortisone shots in my heels, OW, and that has helped the pain somewhat.
Tomorrow, while a large part of the country is waking up, I’m going to my first visit with a new personal trainer, as my beloved trainer left my gym. I only have 8 sessions left, but I’m going to use it to kick start exercising again. I want that weight back off and I want to feel good in my body again. Ultimately, it will also help my feet.
Weight loss seems like such a lame goal for a New Year’s Resolution, but I also want to get back into the shape I was before my feet gave up on me.
Other resolutions: Read more books. I read about 20 non school related books last year, and I want to read about 30 this year. I have 4 new books on feminist history and current feminist theory to kickstart me.
Next Resolution: Graduate. I’m due to graduate in August with my BSN, which will grant me a WHOPPING raise. *sarcasm* But if I want to move on to study for my NP, it’s a necessary step.
Additional goals: After Graduation, I’m going to learn to play the guitar and apply to the NP program to start in 2015. I’m going to keep my house cleaner (if possible) and I’m going to work on being kinder to others and being kinder to myself.
Last, I’m going to write more. It is a good coping mechanism that helps me deal with my stress without unloading too much on my husband, friends or coworkers. I’m going to write a few more poems, maybe a story, but I’m going to write.
I have approved all pending comments. I will not be making any further comments on the “Effects on Nurses” blog for a couple of days.
I’m really overwhelmed by the amount of attention this post has gotten.
I’ve seen a lot of people tell me to just get another job, like it was easy to switch from being a nurse to being something else. You’re missing the point. The point is that hospitals, nurses, administrations, need to work together to avoid the dread many nurses feel before a shift. We need to ask, what is it about nursing that makes injury seem preferable than going to work.
For those of you unfamiliar with compassion fatigue, I suggest you look it up. It is different than burnout.
For everyone who has told me to get another job. I’m really good at my job. I like the majority of my coworkers. I like my boss. I love my hospital. Just because my job is physically and emotionally stressful doesn’t mean I want to leave it. With my post, I wanted to encourage nurses to support one another and to practice self care.
Going to sleep now. Have a nice day.
Carie Rael and John Belleci
The Social and Global Justice Project
On a recent trip to New Orleans, we decided to tour Nottoway Plantation, which is tucked away, off the beaten path, on the banks of the Mississippi River about sixty miles northwest of the city on the way to Baton Rouge. Our creeping sense of apprehension began already on the drive in, as we wound our way through Cajun Country past drive-up crawfish stands and some of the most abject rural poverty of Black Americans in the South. That there were so few people and so many churches also spoke to the paternalistic nature of oppression that we found ourselves immersed in.
Nottoway boasts that it is the largest antebellum plantation left in the South. The main product produced by the more than 155 slaves who once toiled here was the sugar cane that was grown on over 1000…
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I have been an Ani DiFranco fan for nearly 20 years. I have so much of her work. I have quoted her so many times. I have sung her songs in a circle with other women, but as of today, that is over. I’m angry. I’m hurt.
A little while ago, @CatPennies made me aware of the blog post: Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Retreat: Please Use Both Hands to Cover Your Ears
Even if I wasn’t horrified, the $1000 price tag for the event would put it far out of my means. The retreat will be at Nottoway Plantation, in White Castle, Louisiana. Nottoway currently functions in many capacities, including offering white washed tours which talk about the “kindness” of the former plantation owner toward his slaves.
There are multiple white feminists going after black feminists on the page, and there’s a lot to be offended by, so please be prepared to be angry.
I have personally emailed firstname.lastname@example.org:
To whom it may concern,
As a longtime fan of Ani DiFranco, and a woman who grew up in the South, I am incredibly disappointed in your choice of venue for your “Righteous Retreat.” I am sending this email to let you know if this retreat moves forward, my financial support of Ms. DiFranco and her label, as well as the vendors and participants in the retreat will cease. As a white feminist actively working in support of black feminists, I am appalled. As a woman from the South, I cannot see how paying money to a venue celebrating a system of oppression that also oppressed all women in different ways, on different levels, is a feminist action.
Right now, on the Facebook page for the retreat, white feminists are telling black feminists to take the opportunity of the venue as an opportunity to grow from the pain of slavery. White people are telling black people how to feel about slavery. Is this where Ms. DiFranco’s message now lies? Have we gone from “Subdivision” to actually dividing and shutting out people and ignoring our history while allowing a symbol of patriarchy, white oppression, and colonization to profit?
Earlier this year, when news of the depth of Paula Deen’s racism and her desire to dress black men as servants for a plantation event surfaced, we were horrified, and Paula Deen has not made a living promoting equality and feminism. If I am hurt by the choice of a Southern plantation, I cannot imagine the hurt feminist women of color must feel. I do not have that experience. Because of the this, as I said in my email, I am calling for a boycott of Ani Difranco’s label and any vendors at the event.
I am not calling for a change of venue for the event. I am calling for a cancellation of the event, reparations to the black community, and if DiFranco still wants to hold a retreat, finding a new location at a different date with some of the proceeds going to fund programs for women of color, and an acknowledgement of why the “Righteous Retreat at Nottoway Plantation” was the wrong venue for a feminist event.
The first time someone told me “check your privilege,” I was incensed. I didn’t have privilege! I am a woman! I have been oppressed. Everything I had learned from feminism told me so. I was hurt and confused and I refused to back down and quite frankly, I made a fool of myself. A friend blocked me, and didn’t want to hear from me again. I was absolutely certain I wasn’t guilty of the “privilege abuse” practiced by men. I was trying to learn more about feminism, and I honestly didn’t see (at the time) how I was being intrusive. I was reading a lot, but I was reading white feminists, and there was NO mention of racial disparity in those books.
Everyone’s life should be an evolution, and one day, mine came. Feminists on Twitter were going as fast as they could, and they were talking about something called “intersectional feminism.” I messaged @JudeinLondon, who gave me a short explanation and suggested I check google. Suddenly, everything made sense. Intersectionality was the missing piece that I needed. The more I researched, all online, the more I understood. The next time someone said “check your privilege,” I knew what they were talking about, and could examine what I’d said. I was still hurt, inside I felt defiant. But I apologized, and asked what I had done. They were absolutely right. I learned, and I grew from the experience.
I’m not perfect. I want to jump into conversations where I don’t belong all the time. I get excited about trending hashtags, and I want to share my opinion. Maybe if I think of something witty, it will be okay. It’s not okay. Hashtags like #solidarityisforwhitewomen by @Karnythia and #notyourasiansidekick by @Suey_Park are not intended for everyone to be included. They were created for and by women of color for feminist discussion. A lot of really amazing discussion has happened and there’s been a lot of opportunity for learning, because unlike having a closed door meeting, we can all see what is going on. This is good and bad, because there’s been a lot of trolling of the hashtags as well. This is where white people CAN be allies. Call out the the trolls. Report them for their spamming of the tags. Use your tweets & account as a shield so the discussion can continue.
This morning Huffpo posted a blog post by Adele Wilde-Blavatsky: “Stop Bashing White Women in the Name of Beyonce: We Need Unity, Not Division.” and the nonsense that has been her Twitter mentions has not stopped.
After a discussion about white privilege, today, I made this tweet:
I then talked to a user who was convinced white privilege doesn’t exist and gave me the “white women are oppressed, too!!!” line. I tried. I failed. I blocked.
A couple of hours later, I got a response from @TeamOyeniyi:
After a bizarre conversation, I thought she’d gone away. But she came back again. And again. And then she left this post in my mentions (Trigger Warning: Racism):
In her blog post, Robyn Oyeniyi attacks the use of the term “white privilege,” and claims it ignores matriarchal societies and that use of the term “white privilege” actually oppresses women of color. She talks a lot about Yaa Asantewaa, a woman who led the Asante people in rebellion against the British. She also claims we need to get rid of the term “intersectional.”
This is my comment to her post:
Yaa Asantewaa remains a figurehead to her people, but Yaa Asantewaa died in exile, under British oppression. While white women certainly have been and continue to be victims of oppression, they are also in many circumstances the oppressors.
Being told to “watch your privilege” is not the same as being oppressed. Women of color discussing their shared experience have the right to request that white women back out of or stay out of the conversation. Because we cannot share their experience, what we’re really doing when we try to join conversations about shared racial experience is hijacking their conversation and appropriating it for ourselves.
Cries of “telling me to check my privilege is oppression” actually furthers white oppression of women of color because you’re literally telling them they have no right to request a conversation remain among women of color.
Refusal to self-check our own white privilege is why many women of color want nothing to do with feminism. Feminism is so focused on white women that women of color feel they no longer have a place. If we want feminism to be an ongoing movement that includes all women, we need to check our privilege. Knowing when to be silent is a powerful gift that you not only give to yourself, but a gift you share.
I feel like all day long I’ve been told by white people that white privilege isn’t a thing. That it doesn’t exist. Yesterday, I was told that the DC area is a magical land where racism does not exist. At the same time, I grew up in the South, I witnessed oppression, I’ve seen men use their privilege and I’ve seen the wealthy use their privilege and I’ve seen white women use our privilege. I’ve seen a lot of people use their privilege in good ways, but usually, it’s people who aren’t aware of their privilege. We are so steeped in privilege we just expect it to happen and when it doesn’t, we (white people) are shocked and offended when people of color aren’t surprised at all.
My fellow white people, we do have privilege. White women, we are oppressed in many ways by a society that favors white men over us. But we are still privileged. When someone says “check your privilege,” they are not necessarily calling you a bad person. They are asking you to examine what you are saying so that you can be a better person. Of course, if you are a bad person, or refuse to acknowledge your privilege, you probably deserve the smackdown that’s coming.
As Charlotte Raven helpfully pointed out in the Feminist Times this morning, wearing high heels is not feminist. Nor, apparenty, is staying in an abusive relationship. After reading her piece, I hope that both shoe aficionados and domestic violence victims see how badly they’ve been fucking up and either shape up or ship out, because the feminist movement isn’t interested in the likes of them. I would also like to thank Ms. Raven for being brave enough to say what no one else was women to say – namely, that women who like fancy footwear and who just sit there and let their partners abuse them are failing all women everywhere and just need to find another way to get their kicks other than Louboutins and men who make them fear for their lives.
If I have one criticism of Raven’s piece, it’s just she didn’t go far enough. Sure…
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A long time ago, my friend Andy was going to be evicted. He couldn’t make rent. His apartment was a wreck, and everything was crashing down on him. So we held a fundraiser. I was broke, but I carefully handcrafted two books of handwritten poetry and sewed them together and other friends bought them at auction for $50 a piece. Andy was saved. The support of our friends helped to bolster him, find ground to stand on, and get back on his feet. It was great. No one ever begrudged Andy a dime.
Crowdfunding sites were really unique not too long ago. First there was Kiva, and I happily chipped in $25 and have watched it be repayed and reloaned over the last couple of years.
Then I joined tumblr, and saw a couple people trying to pay for top or bottom surgery, and threw in a few bucks. Someone’s dog was sick. Someone needed a new laptop for college. A friend of mine needs a car, I don’t mind. An independent band I love is trying to record a new CD. Someone else is going to be evicted. Anything and everything. I try to throw in $5 as often as I can. Sometimes more if I know the person well.
But in the last week, I’ve gotten about 15 requests for Kickstarter funds from different people and I have to say.. I’m tapped out. Financially and emotionally. There are so many people who need money, and me? I’m a nurse. Not exactly raking it in, and I had to face the fact that the amount I’ve been donating to people is starting to seriously affect my life, especially because I don’t always get a full paycheck myself. Every time I miss work due to Meniere’s disease, it’s unpaid.
But still, I want to give. It used to be I could sign up to volunteer some time. Maybe donate clothing or things I didn’t need as much as someone else. Now, it’s just money. Everyone needs money. People need food, people need rent. The Kickstarter funds are starting to be everywhere, for everything.
I really, really wish I had more money to donate. I really don’t have any more. I’m in college. I have bills. I need food. I need all these things I’m donating for. I need to feel okay about not donating to every person who is seeking money for something or other. I don’t know how.
It occurred to me last night that if my husband knew how much I donate he’d be pretty frustrated with me, because he’s taken on a lot of expenses incurred by my doctor’s appointments, exams and college.
I am so very privileged to have what I do have. I’ll probably keep donating every now and then, but I needed to write this down. I feel so goddamned guilty every time I see a new funding request. They are never trivial things. I’ll never say “oh, you should get a job” because these people HAVE jobs. Or they can’t find a job. These are valid needs. I just can’t help everyone and I really, really wish I could.
I remember hearing somewhere that the majority of charity comes from the middle class, not from the wealthy. I feel like these crowdfunding ventures are the middle class, trying to save itself, trying to keep itself afloat. It’s like a bucket brigade, and we’re going to run out of water and people really soon.
So if I don’t donate to your fund, please understand, I just can’t right now. It doesn’t mean I’m not your friend. I’m still your friend with the same job I’ve had all along, unable to get by on my own as well. Hopefully, in more years than I’d like to think, I’ll have my NP license and a better income and I can donate more freely. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to go back to full time at my job, although with my Meniere’s it’s unlikely.
I feel so selfish, and whiny, for going on the internet to seek validation for not donating to every cause that comes by. But I’ve felt this way for a while and it’s not going to get any better. The requests aren’t going to stop coming. I just needed to write this down, get it out somewhere, and hope people understand.
“A cousin of my mom’s survived Polio and lived the rest of his life with its effects. He was not expected to live past his teens but made it to his 40s. I am grateful that modern science can protect us from Polio and other diseases and I choose to take advantage of modern science to give my kid better odds of not dying from a preventable disease. I had heard a lot of noise from people claiming vaccines caused Autism, but never saw any clear evidence. It just seemed to me like people really wanted to point to something as the cause and they latched onto vaccines.”–Jennifer
I have been getting into a lot of discussions about whether vaccines are safe in the last few days. I’m not sure if it’s because of a post going viral about a (terrible) Italian court ruling last year (In contrast, American courts
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Saw a quote on tumblr today:
Damaged people are dangerous. They know what they can survive.
– Josephine Hart
I feel like I’ve needed someone to speak these words for years. Yes, I’ve been hurt and abused. I’ve been dumped, cheated on, beaten. I’ve been screamed at. I caught on fire. I’m covered in scars. I have depression. I have anxiety. I’m overweight. I’m not a prize catch.
I have a disability that can hit at any moment, knocking me to the ground. Still, I work out. I go to work. I live my fucking life.
People don’t take me seriously a lot of the time. Most of the time. Generally, people think I’m a joke until something bad happens, and then they realize I’m tough as nails and willing to push hard to do what needs to be done.
Yes, I’m damaged. Every time something happens I come back stronger.
This blog is the story of me. It’s got a lot of sad things, hard things, funny things. But when you’re reading my blog, it’s easy to slip into the idea that you’re just reading a story, and it’s not a real person at the other end.
I am real. I am tough. I am prepared to survive nearly anything life throws at me.
I’m going to write that quote down to remember for the future, because I think I’m going to need it.
The Crown Prosecution Service has criticised a barrister acting on its behalf for describing a 13-year-old sex abuse victim in court as “predatory”.
Robert Colover also called the girl “sexually experienced”. The CPS said his language had been “inappropriate”.
Neil Wilson, 41, admitted abusing the girl at his home in Romford, London, and was given a suspended jail term.
The Attorney General’s Office said the sentence had been drawn to its attention as “possibly unduly lenient”.
Details of the case come as the head of the judiciary in England and Wales says a select pool of judges with specialist training will be created to handle complex child abuse cases, amid concerns at the way some child witnesses are treated in court by lawyers.
The police were alerted to the actions of Wilson, who now lives in York, after his victim had told a friend. Images of child sex abuse were…
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I am a survivor of sexual assault.
I was very young.
I didn’t tell anyone until I was much, much older. I was 17 and about to leave the country. I went to confession because I was afraid that if the plane crashed, I’d go to hell for having sex before marriage. We’ve already dealt with the “transgressions” I initially believed were sending me to Hell. I was a zealous kid.
The priest I confessed to was adamant in telling me I had done nothing wrong, that nothing was my fault, but the fact that at 8 years old, in the 1980’s, I was afraid I had done something wrong when a group of older boys hurt me should really say something about the way I was raised.
This isn’t just an American problem, although it is a huge problem in the United States to see children as culpable for sexual abuse.
Now, in Britain, a court has made comments that a 13-year old girl who was raped was a “sexual predator.”
A petition has been made at change.org to call attention to the court’s comments and demand action. Please consider signing it.
D was a musician. We dated through my senior summer and long distance when I went to Germany on scholarship during my Senior year.
When I got back from Germany, I went back to work at McDonald’s. My mother immediately (as she always had) demanded my entire paycheck. I offered to pay rent for my room and utilities, but I was working over 40 hours a week and felt I shouldn’t have to give her my paycheck, especially when I wanted to save to move out and go to college.
College. Another story for another time.
I first met him when I was dating a guy named Brian and he had a girlfriend. The next Summer, he started coming through my drive-thru (God, I know). He was my second musician. He had a brunette mullet and a car. He was in Brian’s heavy metal band. He loved my singing, and I started to sing back up in the band. When I had to go for the Summer, he gave me a Candlebox CD. It’s still one of my favorites. He introduced me to heavy rock, and had a real passion for his music. He was an incredibly talented drummer.
Over the year I was in Germany, I thought we were broken up. I didn’t hear from him for a long time, and even thought he had forgotten about me. I saw someone else. Then I started getting long, long letters, expensive phone calls, and cassette tapes with music and talking, which he preferred to writing.
When I got back from Germany, my parents gave me until the end of the month to move out. I LITERALLY MOVED NEXT DOOR THE NEXT DAY. I’d had a horrible blow up with my parents. D’s parents let me spend the night in their guest room. I mentioned it to my neighbor who said I could live with her for $50 a week and housework. I made about $1.50 over minimum wage, so the price was right. D recruited his band, and while my parents were out of the house, cleaned out my bedroom and carried everything over. I’ve never been back. One month after graduating high school and I was effectively disowned, so I thought.
I got a second job. I worked at 2 different McDonald’s because it was my only marketable skill. My parents had an old car and they lent it to me. It was a 1981 Ford Fairmont in horrible condition. My friend Kevin taught me to drive in a day, and then he found me a better job coding mail at Lockheed Martin. It had insurance. I got on the pill. I was having sex with passionate, muscular, 18 year old male. IT WAS AWESOME.
My roommate decided she was going to leave Tennessee, and so I needed to find a place to live. So I made the first major mistake of my adult life. I moved in with D.
It was okay at first. I worked my two jobs. He worked a job with a lot of overtime, so we bought furniture and painted our little duplex. I got him a ferret, then a second ferret.
Then things started getting weird. I was working night shift at Lockheed Martin, and would be mad that I slept during the day. He started acting really weird.
Valentine’s Day came. I bought a silky nightgown and snuck into our room to surprise him. He literally threw me out of bed, into the wall. He broke up with me right then and went to work. A few minutes later, my glasses broke. I was so humiliated. I called my mother for help because I couldn’t see and she took me and got me new glasses.
My mother also called a local radio station and told them her darling daughter had just been dumped and could they please find me a date for Valentine’s Day? I BECAME A RADIO SHOW CONTEST. The radio station decided to have their producer come and take me out. His name was Larry. He had buck teeth and chewed and spit. He had a mustache and the tobacco juice would get stuck in his mustache.
I went out with Larry, came home, slept, and went to work the next day for evening shift. I was resigned that DB and I were breaking up. HE THREW ME AGAINST A WALL.
When I got home, all of the furniture except for my bed and a dresser was gone. All the lightbulbs had been removed from the sockets (I used to be afraid of the dark). The fridge was gone.
He thought he’d left me in the dark, but I still had a lamp he’d hated, in a closet, light bulb intact. I plugged it in, and resolved to change the locks the next day. He’d left me a note saying he didn’t want the ferrets I gave him. I couldn’t believe this was the boy who’d sent me songs and letters while I was in Germany. It was so wrong.
I was in a panic. I’d been paying all our bills while D paid for furniture because he got a discount from work. I called my Grandma and she wired me $500. A girlfriend helped me pick out a couch at GoodWill, cheap dishes, and groceries. My landlord had a really old fridge he brought by. It was old, but it was cold. The stove I’d bought from another friend, and he hadn’t taken it. He had also left A SOUNDBOARD, which I promptly took hostage so he could not take anything else.
I moved on. I lost our washer and dryer, because we’d bought them from D’s parents, but I started using a laundromat. I had kept my second job, so rent wasn’t a problem. I took a trip home and was gifted with a TV from my Grandma H and a load of canned food that weighed down my car. I started going to poetry readings. I learned about Tori Amos. I got a cat and named it Easter.
A woman I knew from some of D’s shows stopped me one day and told me she thought I should know she’d been sleeping with my boyfriend and she had an STD. Ashamed, incredibly ashamed, I went to my doctor and found out he’d given me an STD. Fortunately, it was chlamydia, and curable, and early. My doctor was incredibly supportive, but as he was my pediatrician, he then referred me to an adult provider and a GYN. I got tested for everything else, and was negative.
I felt so awful. I’d finally had sex without a condom on, because my partner was supposed to be monogamous, and he wasn’t. I was young and naive. I never made that mistake again.
I got a better job. I met someone new. I moved on. If only I’d learned more.
A decade later, I was on my computer, on AOL (oh, the days), when a message popped up. D had tracked me to Denver with a private investigator.
He informed me that while I was on nights, he’d gotten into drugs with his band. Nearly ruined his music hopes. Gotten into rehab. He needed to ask me for forgiveness for his behavior, for the STD, for everything.
I gave it to him. I finally had an answer.
I love Buffy. That year, the Buffy website had a competition for some video tapes. The contest? Worst Valentine’s Day ever.
I fucking won that shit. I love me some Buffy.
Amen. I don’t think people understand that each of our actions has a reason, and we don’t always have time to explain, especially if a line or tube is at risk. I also think we have been portrayed as weak and retiring and the playthings of doctors for far too long. When nurses are portrayed, we are mocked, or shown as drunks or drug users, and this does nothing to advance the science and profession of nursing.
And let’s be honest, no one really wants to know what we do. Our patients don’t want to know we are busy with other people, doctors don’t want to know their orders don’t come first and not even our families and friends want to hear about how hard our job is. If we’re not soft and caring, we’re bitches. If we refuse to be abused, we’re bitches. If we have to stop to go to the bathroom, we’re lazy bitches.
The funny thing is, I think many, if not most of us, went to nursing school with the idea that we would be holding hands and healing hearts as well as bodies, only to find out we actually are expected to juggle the maximum (if not more than maximum) safe load. It’s enough to make anyone abrupt and short tempered.
Tonight I was watching the Colbert Report, having a laugh, and then the commercial came on. It was for Bloch & Chapleau, a lawfirm that claims to specialize in men’s rights. The commercial showed a mother being stripped of her rights to her children while her ex-husband and attorney clapped. It ended with a child saying “I MISSED YOU SO MUCH, DADDY!!”
Now, there are bad mothers. Dear God, do I know there are bad mothers. But there are also bad fathers. There are fathers that abuse their wives, their children. There are fathers who bring children on drug deals. There are good fathers.
I have never known a woman to refuse a good man the right to see their children. I remember always wanting to see my father, and I saw him once during my childhood. Once, when I was 11, I spent a week at his house with my step mother, and I didn’t see him again until I was an adult. At that point, my father asked if we could “just be friends.”
I wish I could see that this law firm doesn’t exist only as a way for men to get revenge on their ex-wives, but the commercial clearly showed a revenge scenario. I am sickened.
If I didn’t already have such a paranoia of having children, this would increase it even more.
By: Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, Career Guru for Nurses and the “Dear Donna” columnist at Nurse.com
The job market for nurses has shifted permanently. Not only is care, and the relevant jobs, moving out of hospitals and into alternative inpatient care settings, the home, and the community, but our health system is moving from an illness treatment model to a prevention and maintenance model. The bottom line is that nurses – both new and experienced – need to look in new directions for employment, must learn new ways to find and get those jobs, and will have to take steps to get and stay competitive in a new job market.
So what’s a new grad to do? For starters, focus your job-finding efforts on networking (a.k.a. word of mouth). One way to do this is to join and attend local meetings of your state chapter of the American Nurses…
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This is not just a story about a burn. This is the start of stories about my mother. This is also the story I judge people by. The rapidity with which a person asks me about my scars has replaced any other first impression I have from people.
I would not be able to tell this story without the help of my surgeons and grandparents. I contacted my surgeons years after my injury and surgeries, when I had started nursing school. My mother’s stories didn’t match with what I was learning, and I needed the truth.
When I was a 10 year-old girl, I did not make wise choices. One of those very unwise choices was to ignore multiple warnings against playing with flammable items. Some neighbor kids, my sister and I blew things up. We did it for at least 2 days. We were putting chemicals from the house into a Planters peanut can and blowing them up. At some point, someone kicked the can. I think it was my friend Terry, because I remember his shoe caught on fire.
My shirt, covered in fumes from the chemicals, and made of polyester, caught fire. I didn’t stop, drop and roll. I ran, tripped and fell. Someone (I think my sister?) grabbed the hose and sprayed me. I remember I said the Hail Mary.
I ran into the bathroom to put more water on the burn and my sister ran to our neighbor’s house. My sister had just turned 9, so her actions were remarkably well controlled for her age. My neighbor came over immediately. I remember she brought her aloe vera plant. Immediately, she ran and got her car, scooped me up and took me to the Emergency Room. Julia, wherever you are, thank you.
I was treated in the Emergency Room for my partial-thickness to full-thickness burn, which extended from my ribcage, across my left breast and neck, and burned off quite a bit of hair, but not scalp. I nearly lost my ear from infection. I was lucky. I remember getting a tetanus shot that made my arm ache forever, but I was crying and flailing, so I don’t blame the medical staff.
My doctors immediately recommended hospitalization, but my mother insisted on taking me home. My doctor wanted to send me to a plastic surgeon for reconstruction and grafting immediately, given the placement of my burns and my proximity to puberty. My mother refused.
That was July 27, 1997.
First: Why were we alone?
My mother and step-father worked. We had a babysitter who was the daughter of a friend of my mothers. I remember her name was Tammy, and I remember she watched television all day and paid no attention to what we were doing. I also remember hearing people say later that Tammy was developmentally delayed and never should have been tasked with watching children.
My mother did what she always did when something terrible happened, she called her mother. A couple of days later I was driven to Missouri with my sister and my grandparents took over caring for my burns until school started. I saw Dr. TJ. When he first took down my bandages and saw my wounds, he asked why I wasn’t in a hospital getting a skin graft. He reluctantly took my case when he was told my mother refused to let me have surgery.
I don’t remember much of that Summer. I sat in my grandmother’s cleaning shop, in the heat, in bandages, on pain meds. Sometimes I sat at my other grandmother’s house. They took turns. They changed my bandages. My grandfather devised a method of washing my hair without getting my ear wet, getting the chemicals out of my hair over a week after I was injured. That’s right, I went for at least a week after this injury without any kind of a bath.
Changing my bandages was hell on my grandparents. I screamed, I fought. My grandparents were told to wipe of the Silvadene cream, an antibiotic ointment from the raw burn, reapply it and rebandage it every evening. They did this the best they could. Sometimes they gave up or did as much as they could with me flailing, screaming, and at times hallucinating.
My mother had recently returned to her Episcopalian faith and was flirting with Catholicism at this point. She’d given me a scapula to wear. My scapula melted into my shirt and after the fire was out, I believed I would go to hell because I had burned the sacred pictures of the saints. I had nightmares and pain induced hallucinations about burning in hell. I had these nightmares for years after my injury. I would cry in my sleep, which would further break my grandparents hearts.
When school started, my mother had to come pick me up. I was sent to school in bandages. My mother was tasked with changing my bandages. She encountered the same problems my grandparents did. Eventually the doctor prescribed valium for doctors visits and dressing changes, but I don’t remember it helping much. I was still on Tylenol 3 for pain.
I lived with an open wound for months. My doctors tried again and again to talk my mother into surgery and she continued to refuse. They tried implanting a mesh called pigskin (not sure if it was real pig) over the open wound in order to give my breast a chance to heal beneath it. My breast began to heal. By this time, my neck and armpit had healed into horrific contractures, locking my head down and to the left, restricting the use of my left arm.
At doctor’s visits, I went through debridements, painful procedures where the doctor would pull dead tissue off the burn, and scrub it, while others held me down. I went through whirlpool sessions, which I was unable to tolerate because I felt like the bubbling water was going to boil and burn more more.
Second: Why Wouldn’t My Mother Allow Surgery?
Months went by. People at church called me the “little burned girl” and offered my mother help, and attention. Everywhere she went with me, people felt sorry for her and wanted to do things for her. I do not know for sure, but I think she took money from people for my care. Yes, my care was very expensive, but my mother had healthcare insurance through her employer, and I had Tricare insurance through my father. My healthcare should not have cost her much with those two programs. The Air Force would also have provided me with excellent burn care, but my mother refused to seek out their care as well.
My mother is also an animal hoarder. We always had at least 10 cats, kittens, dogs, and rabbits in the house. An immunocompromised child combined with that many animals is an accident waiting to happen, and on Halloween night, 1997, it did. A kitten jumped onto my chest, sinking it’s claws into my freshly changed bandage.
A few days later, I was massively infected. The pig skin and tissue under it turned from healthy pink to green. The smell was incredible. Years later, my doctor said seeing the infection felt “like a kick to the gut.” He told my mother surgery was required to save my life, and threatened to involve social services. My mother finally agreed, and I met with Dr. B, a plastic surgeon who specialized in breast reconstruction. He immediately asked why I wasn’t brought to him months ago.
On November 11, 1997, I underwent a resection of the burn, removal of my nipple, and reconstruction of my neck and armpit. I remember waking up and thinking “I’m straight.” My neck was straight for the first time in months.
My doctor prescribed physical therapy to rebuild my atrophied left arm. I don’t remember going to many appointments.
Getting the skin graft was the beginning to the end of so much of my pain. The raw, infected tissue was removed and covered with new skin. The worst part of the procedure was getting the skin graft dressing off. I had also lost many, many nerves. To this day, I have daily pain in my neck and breast, “phantom pains” from my missing breast. I will never breast feed. My right nipple is there, but too damaged to ever allow milk through. That’s a whole other rant.
I was fitted for a Jobst pressure suit to improve the chances of my neck healing correctly. Due to the position of my burn, on my neck, the suit was not very effective, and I still have a severe contracture that gives me neck, shoulder, and headache pain. I have tried to have reconstruction done, but have been denied each time by my insurance because the surgery is now considered “cosmetic.” My doctors have sent xrays, letters, talked on the phone, and been denied each time. United Healthcare. Cigna. Kaiser. I have given up.
I did have 4 additional reconstructive surgeries following my burn surgery. During these procedures, plastic expanders were placed under my skin. Weekly, I went to the doctor’s office and had saline injected into the expander. The first expander operation failed. In the Summer after my burn, my mother converted to Catholicism, divorced my first step-father and married my second. She literally introduced us to another man as “Daddy.”
She also sent us to a new Catholic school. Kids are cruel, and some of the kids at this school were exceptionally cruel. Given the weight of the expanders on my fragile skin, I was not supposed to lift. I was required to share a locker with another student, and was given the top shelf. He would frequently throw my books down on the floor. Eventually, the incision holding the expander dehisced, opening up. The next day I had emergency surgery and the surgeon attempted to do a reconstruction, but there wasn’t enough skin growth. Another set of surgeries was planned, and my surgeon insisted I be kept out of school.
I stayed at home alone during the day, except for twice a week visits from a teacher. It was during this time my love of science began. My teacher quickly noticed I loved science, and encouraged me to complete the book. I don’t remember her name, but my teacher was with me for 2 years off and on.
The second reconstruction was successful, but we began to run into “cosmetic” surgery refusals from insurance companies. My grandfather is a Mason, and used his connections to win me an offer of help from Shriner’s Hospitals. The only catch was that I would need to stay in Cincinnati, Ohio for a month. I was now 14. My mother refused to allow me to go to Cincinnati unless someone paid for her wages and for her to stay in Cincinnati with me. My one chance to receive reconstruction was gone.
I didn’t originally know half my breast was gone. I had fatty tissue and a firm scar, so I had what looked like a breast, but once I was in my 20’s, it became obvious something was different. I had an X-ray that showed I had one full breast and one half breast. I was never told about the removal of my breast. At this point, I was in nursing school, and contacted my doctors.
They told me the above story. Since learning the truth about my burn and reconstruction, I have been unable to be civil to my mother. When I confronted her about her choices, she first denied the doctor’s stories and then just said “Well, I’m a bad mother.” My decision to cut her out of my life came a few years later.
Today, I’m okay. I get annoyed when people ask me about my scar, unless it’s children. Then I tell them I played with matches. I finally learned to say “it’s not your business.” Someone’s got to be a cautionary tale. I tried going to a burn survivors support group, but I really didn’t fit. My burn was 15 years old by that point and while I don’t like my scar very much, I’m very used to it.
My decision to enter nursing versus medicine was partially based on my experience with the nurses in the hospital. It was not my doctor’s fault, but I associated them with pain and terror. The nurses were gentle, and brought pain medication. They spoiled me. Combined with my interest in science and other life events, nursing eventually became an inevitable choice.
That’s another story for another time.