Tag Archives: health care

Don’t Trust the Status Quo. Trust the Possibilities.

You’re tired. You stay up to catch up and tired turns to over tired. You close your eyes but can’t unwind. I have a way to trick my mind toward rainbows and kittens. So called sleep experts say stay away from screens when you wake up in the middle of the night but they obviously know nothing about the power of television programming on the unconscious. Deep breathing while thrashing in bed just pisses me off. I need Shark Tank where dreams come true.

 

Hello morning news that tells me fast food restaurants are going up in Nashville as fast as the food they make.  That’s how they put it. Look how progressive Nashville is. Slow people eating fast food. Let another day begin. We can fight about health care while we choke down cheap meats.

 

Dawn light’s silver beams stunningly sweep the steel surfaces of the massive structures that now line the city road linking plantation memories to town.  Steely towers replace wood poles for wires that cross the tangled sky. To hide them underground would cost money better spent on what I wonder?

Sleep drunk drivers clog the passing lane of Nashville’s pot hole neglected inner city speedway like sociopaths.  Swerving semis hold their ground ignorant or insolent to my flashing lights. Why are so many trucks on this road? They must be part of the construction boom turning an unplanned town into a short sighted city. It’s the middle of the day. A 15 minute ride will double like most days. I’m forced below the speed limit. I could change lanes but they are covered like packed pay parking lots that dot downtown. Comatose drivers are weapons against humanity. My radar is tuned for disaster. My car finds a hole and darts like a fugitive running from the law with nothing to lose. I thread through the exodus like Pacman.

This is the cost of progress.  Traffic and crime are not compensated by the understaffed overpriced overrated restaurants or crowded crappy cluster homes popping up on treeless ground to enclose the herds of newcomers who will not have room on the street to park their cars. Progress is for profiteers.

 

Nashville was number six in the country for rising heat index a few years ago. We hadn’t even gotten started shoveling humans into bird houses on treeless lots.  Replaced nature with cement. Made the cement mixer the state bird and sold the once peaceful state park as an attraction. Opportunists saw a good buy in. They don’t live here but they own here and what do they care about the quality of life that will be a renter’s headache?

 

We don’t bother with infrastructure. We don’t zone. We don’t regulate. If you’ve got the cash, we’ve got a lot you can mow down.   Let freedom ring.

 

I don’t recognize this two lane country road today that connects Franklin to Brentwood. It’s been clear cut since I was here two weeks ago. Oh screw trees anyway. They’re just a fire hazard. Look at the Redwoods in California! We don’t want problems like that here. We live in a basin that holds smog. A slow death from carbon monoxide is more subtle, more Southern.

Sleep drunk drivers sling swaying loads across the broken lines. I just like that line so I put it in. And also, I’m obsessed with zombie drivers on crowded streets. I don’t dare ride my bike anymore lest one of the undead raises a cell phone beside my narrow lane. Or maybe they’re on an Ambien ride.  Or maybe they’re just high. Do the opiate addicted masses drive cars around town? I have no idea but I’m not taking chances.

 

It’s good to stay put. The best nights are dinner parties with friends anyway.  You do need a place for friends to park. But your friends are less visible in the expanse now. Friendship is no longer a contact sport. It’s easy to lose track of people who aren’t in your immediate world. There are so many immediate worlds to navigate these days, some of them virtual but nonetheless exhausting. We are not our World War II parent’s generation who put a premium on civility and social skills maintaining relationships even when challenged. We don’t have to. No one expects it.

 

I’m from the last generation to know life before and after the internet and cell phones. Once our memories are gone there will be no others who know both. There will be no others who consciously crossed over. The impressions here are pressed into type to preserve the outrage that my generation made famous. 

We can’t trust that the existing state of affairs is acceptable. There are not as many legal limits to killing us as we expect from the keepers of a loving country. If it takes a village, it takes a village of individuals who have done due diligence. It takes a village willing to shift when the wind smells like sulfur.

 

 

 

 

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The Others

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I am the others.  Hours waiting in a medical facility on the North side, the side for people without health insurance, without money, without connections, I am privy to the service of the underprivileged.

I am a white middle class statistic without health insurance with a shoulder that was hurt in a white middle class Iyengar studio and a fused sacrum that’s becoming more troublesome.  I cannot do my job as well as I need to. I am in pain and I am a lucky one because I am allowed free medical attention through an effort called Art Docs which is to alleviate the suffering of starving artists.

Turning the corner into the hospital parking lot I pass a shoot -out at a pawn shop. The parking garage that is the only option for General Hospital is full. I make several passes before parking several floors above ground and my instinct in an unfamiliar setting tells me to take my chance on the stairs. Do not get into an elevator in a parking garage in the hood.

The entrance and alien waiting area is stripped down and I think of an army triage in a war zone. The place feels abandoned but for the gentle mannered young girl behind a plastic window who takes my name and steers me to the elevator toward my destination. It smells of cigarette smoke and despair.

I enter the next waiting room and then another. I have not seen another white face. I have seen the legless, the toothless, and the hobbled before old age, the starved and overweight, the overburdened and the other world.

The nurse who checks me in laughs when she weighs me and tells me of her battle to lose weight. She takes my input and seems bemused that I have nothing to note but an allergy to Sulfa. Do you drink, smoke, suffer abuse; any meds, surgeries or accidents?  No, no, no and I know how lucky I am to be a rare statistic here. I am sensitive to being out of place; an observer who can walk out through the worn doors to freedom.

Two hours later I’m seen by a kind very young doctor who attempts to use each of the hand sanitizer wall dispensers which are empty. He quickly rinses his hands at the sink and thoughtfully extends one to me with his introduction. He has me go through some mobility tests. He tells me that MRIs and X-Rays are expensive and he doesn’t think I need surgery so why bother. He gives me exercises to do that I have in fact been doing since last November and suggests I double up on anti-inflammatory meds.

I ask him about my displaced sacrum and he says he doesn’t know what to make of it but I can tell my time is up. Relieved, I thank him and head quickly out the door catching the eye of a woman in another room. A scarf covers her head. She sits on the table with her husband in a chair by her side and casts me an imploring glance, making a gesture of helplessness with her hands.  She calls softly; I have been here such a long time. No one is coming.

What can I do but smile to say that I get it. No one is coming feels like the banner for the poor.

I stop at the plastic window to have my parking pass validated. There is a distressed young man, a dark skinned foreigner with poor English accompanied by a parking garage guard. His car has been towed. He didn’t understand the sign; explains that he doesn’t read English and now his car is gone and the powerless clerk behind the plastic window just repeats again and again; you parked in veterans parking. There is a sign. I can’t help you.

He gestures for me to hand him my pass. I am the lucky one. For this guy… no one is coming. As I walk away I hear the guard asking the hapless desk clerk what he should do. I wish I had the money to get this guy’s car back but I’m dealing with first world problems that leave me no resource but my prayers for the helpless.

I live in the light, where civilization seems to flourish but I know it’s an illusion. The leader of our country wants to punish Syria for spraying poison gas on its innocents while Monsanto is allowed to poison our innocents and those we import our produce to. We pick and choose who we will champion based on its bang in our bank and how it might affect our future. We mandate equality for all and demand societies whose constructs we do not understand to follow our moral code while our people go hungry and illiterate and our financial leaders dictate our compass.

We are not protected. The leaders may think themselves immune but few can stand the allure of Tolkien’s ring. My precious will ensnare all who come in contact; that can touch the power, feel the power, be befuddled by the power.  We are pawns on that board. Our future hangs in a precarious balance; all of us.

Still, some of us have a better cushion than others; a bigger space between us and the grit. Some of us are lucky. I am the lucky one. It’s up to me to pay that forward. I began today with a greater effort, extended myself purposefully into the discomfort where I can do some good as I’ve done before but confess to being so often relieved when my extended hand is not taken. Today I did not take silence for an answer but kept pushing.

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