Wednesday, August 31, 2005
*off the net. when i find the source i will credit it*
Let's talk about bigotry using the political machinery of the untied states
in numerous attempts to dictate what our lives and beliefs should be.
Let's talk about the literalist christians who are jealous of all of the attention that we've been getting so they decided to grab some of the attention for themselves by proclaiming that they are being "persecuted."
Let's talk about people who LACK basic civil rights.
Let's start by talking about "those people" who your parents warned you about.
You know who I mean.
How did that list go?
The gay men. The lesbians. The witches who--well, of course they worship satan. The pagans. The promiscuous. The single parent. The welfare bum. The unchurched. The bisexual. The transgendered. The atheist. The humanist. The non-theist. The polytheist. The migrant worker. The illegal alien. The downtrodden. The "turban wearers." The disabled. The "retards." The "mentally ill." The homeless. The druggie. The people ripping off insurance companies and workers comp. The libertarians. The liberals. The radical left. ..........
Anyone who doesn't act like "we" do or believe what "we" do or love like "we do" or look like "we" do.
You know who I mean now, right?
I am those people.
Are we still talking???
Monday, August 29, 2005
Some witch groups have gotten together and have written a letter condemning Pat Robertson for his recent remarks concerning another country's leader. Mr. Pat Robertson apparently wishes that particular human being dead. Mr. Pat Robertson is an evangelist and a christian. He has used prayer for cursing rather than for blessing.
I too object to Mr. Pat Robertson's recent display of prejuidice. While I believe along with Howard Stern that "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it," I also have a right and a responsibility to speak out against injustice when I see it or hear about it.
What I see happening in the United States is an outbreak of hatred. The evangelicals and the fundamentalists got their man in the White House. Now some christians are claiming "persecution."
These same people who claim persecution for their beliefs would deny me my basic human rights to love who I love, to commune with the gods and goddesses of my choosing or to be free from all religions, to raise my children without interference through the "teaching" of "intelligent design" (a ploy for getting creationism taught in science classes in public schools)...
How many christians have been asked to leave a hotel during vacation because they are christian? Two gay men were recently asked to leave a hotel in Maine after one night. Why? The owner objected to them sharing a bed. [The staff person who took their reservation did not mention that the owner might object.] The two men were forced to hotel-hop for the rest of their vacation. It was during Maine's busy tourist season and none of the hotels in the area had a room available for six nights. The right to public accomodation exists for christians and for heterosexuals. It does not exist for non-heterosexuals in many states whether or not the non-heterosexuals are christians.
How many christians have been told that they cannot run for office? In some states, a law remains on the books excluding nontheists from holding public office.
How many christians have been fired from their jobs just for being christian? People who are not heterosexual are terminated from employment due to their sexual orientation. They are shown the door because of a state of being. People who lose their jobs because they are homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered are not being caught having same-gender orgies in the stairwells.
How many christians have been excluded from the hospital bedsides of their spouses? Are excluded from survivor benefits for 9-11? Same-gendered couples routinely experience these things.
Are told as kids by classmates that they are condemned to "hell" because they are not part of the "frozen chosen?" Many children who are being raised as non-theists or pagan have had the experience. In my own sixth grade class, a classmate who was being raised as a unitarian was put on the hot seat by other classmates because she did not believe in any god and she acknowledged evolution as the best explanation for the beginnings of humankind.
Commit suicide because as teenagers they find that they are christian? The suicide rate of teens who are homosexual or lesbian is astronomical. I also am personally acquianted with teens who were kicked out of their homes because they are gay or lesbian or bisexual.
How many christians find that other voters in a state [like Maine] are interested in denying them their right to vote because they reside in a group home for being christian and must have a representative payee for their SSD checks? In Maine, a person residing in a group home must have a representative payee for their SSD checks. In Maine, a person with a representative payee for their SSD check is denied the right to VOTE. Not everyone who resides in a group home has a developmental disability. [what used to be called "retarded"] People with mental conditions or brain injuries or learning disabilities who happen to land in a group home in Maine cannot vote. People with developmental disabilities who are interested can be taught how to become a successful voter. But this does not happen in Maine's group homes.
How many christians were ever forced to sit in the back of the bus or the subject of a protest to end segregation because they were christian--unless they were also people of color? Prejuidice did not end with the Emancipation Proclamation. My little sister at the age of two was taught to refer to little black kids as "chocolate babies." My little sister was not taught to make fun of other christians.
How many christians are kept out of public building by virtue of their christianity? A woman in a southern state who is a wheelchair user had to crawl up the stairs to attend a court hearing about a legal matter. There was no elevator. When she refused to crawl up the stairs a second time on a different date, she was ticketed for non-appearance. People who are mobility-impaired are routinely not able to access some public buildings or some restaurants or some museums due to physical barriers. People who use wheelchairs find that many public forms of transportation
--like most buses--are inaccessible. So they wait for the "special" bus-- if there is one.
Please don't talk to me about persecution until you have walked in my sneakers. Because although you have a right to claim persecution for your freely held beliefs, I have experienced prejuidice and discrimination for my state of being. Shout all you want to but I will not be listening.
I will be out there fighting for my basic human rights as a bisexual, as a person with disabilities, and as a pagan witch. I will be out there fighting for the lesbian who lost her children because of who she is. I will be out there fighting for the "mentally ill" people in Maine residing in group homes who are denied access to the voting booth. I will be out there fighting for the wheelchair user who refuses to crawl up courthouse steps and who is blocking non-accessible buses with my comrades from ADAPT. I will be out there fighting to ensure that public school education remains free from the demands of the creationist non-science people and free from christian recruiting.
The witchvox link I have provided is a source of news for witches and pagans.
The artwork is my own, made with the help of "Paint Pro."
Thursday, August 18, 2005
I am so sick of the wheelchair
sign for accessibility.
Not all of us use a wheelchair.
Along with Dan Wilkins and my other acquaintances from the organization ADAPT, I
vote for getting rid of the wheelchair sign and using the all inclusive letter A
A is for Accessibility.
A is for all of us.
A is for "an inclusive society" that does not distinguish between "obvious" and "invisible" disabilities.
A friend of mine who has neurofibromatosis [von Recklinghaus disease or "Elephant's Man Disease in the vernacular--a cancer of the nerve cell endings caused by a genetic mutation] came up to see me once. She has a "handicapped" permit. Some man pulled up behind us and started verbally abusing her. She looked at him and said, "I have CANCER, do you mind?" That is just one example of why I vote for using the letter A for accessibility. Society is used to equating "handicapped" with people who use wheelchairs. This needs to change.
When my friends who use wheelchairs cannot access independently the entryway to a medical clinic that gets medicaid funding, THAT IS WRONG.
buildings do not provide
accessible elevators and restrooms,
THAT IS WRONG.
Every time any member of this society is denied services, access to public places, or the ability to move within this society, THAT IS WRONG.
It should not matter whether any individual with a disability uses a wheelchair, has hearing or vision problems, mobility problems, cognitive problems, a mental condition.......
What should matter is that ALL OF US need to be able to maintain real employment [not sheltered workshops thank-you as they are akin to slave labor], housing, public accomodations, transportation, education, financial solvency, intimate relations, etc-- with or without supports-- of OUR choosing.
When the regional VESID office refuses to sign off on a waiver so that I can get a job coach and work less than twenty hours a week, that is discrimination.
[Yes, I am complaining.]
When the "special bus" has a very limited schedule or is too "busy" to pick up disabled tourists in Myrtle Beach so they can go out to dinner at a restaurant of their choice, that is discrimination.
When a human being with a history of severe trauma and resultant mental condition who has self-inflicted healing scars on their arms is asked to leave a diner in Pennsylvania because those scars are upsetting to the other patrons, that is discrimination.
When I went on vacation in Montreal in April of 2005 with my cane, suddenly there were obstacles that I do not have to deal with in my hometown--uneven broken sidewalks, long long walks to change metros [read:underground subway trains], and people who could not wait for me to find the words to express myself with in retail establishments.
YES, the whole world needs to be accessible to wheelchair users. YES, insurance should pay for equipment that would most improve quality of life. YES also, many of us need society to be INCLUSIVE OF ALL DISABLED PEOPLE.
When I brought the disability papers to one of my doctors to fill out when I was applying for SSD, he said, "But you can do housework and drive!" And I thought to myself, hmmm, I'm the one who got the brain injury here???
I did get the SSD-- but there are horror stories about people with cancer on chemotherapy being denied SSD because some bureaucrat believes that between fatigue and throwing up, they should be able to find some time and energy to work.
Cross-disability work is so important, now more than ever. Let's get rid of the wheelchair sign and substitute the letter "A." Let's gather together as a coalition to fight for the same rights that the temporarily abled around us take for granted. The horror stories need to stop. There are real people behind the horror stories suffering because our politicians and our big lobby insurance companies want to save money at the expense of our lives.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I have alot of frogs, usually around fifteen or so. Once in awhile one of them dies off.
Currently I have a Cuban tree frog named Sticky Che who lives in his fish filter and responds to the sound of my voice by pulling himself half-way out to look at me, two african yellow underwater frogs named Henry and Lucy, one african bullfrog named Hobbit, two little green tree frogs from southern usa--the male is a loud yakker and the female swims and catches feeder fishies to eat, and a bunch of firebelly toads.
The firebelly toads and the little green tree frogs live to gether. Henry and Lucy have their own tank. Sticky Che and the Hobbit both live alone.
Each frog has his or her own personality and likes and dislikes in terms of food and froggie friends. That is something that I would not have believed before I got into frogs. But now--most definately!
I also have seven catfishies--the only tank fish that didn't die on me within two months so consequently I am very fond of them--and a large snail who lives with them. The snail is so big that he has a little bat-like face. The catfishies and the snail seem to leave each other alone. They keep their tank the cleanest, followed by Sticky Che.
Besides the frogs and catfishies and snail, I also have a dog, two cats, and a husband. Blondie has a red nose, black tongue, husky tail, webbed feet, and strawberry blonde hair. Netta is full-grown but a small cat. She is a tortie and has the tortie attitude. She also goes limp when she is picked up. When she wants attention, she will sit where a person is sure to pass. Bramble is a red and white kitty--already twice the size of his adopted sister. He is only half-grown. He loves to sit in windows and he loves to pounce on Netta. Netta does not always agree that this is a great idea. I think deep down underneath she really does like him but does not want us to know it.
Pretty soon, husband and I will be packing up the dog and the two cats to go to his family's cottage on an island in Maine for a week. It is quiet and peaceful up there (with the exception of my mother-in-law who is loquacious) and I am looking forward to the rest.
Speaking of rest, good night all.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
I hate insurance companies because they have forgotten the basic ingredients that constitute a good relationship with their customers:
responding to concerns in a timely manner
daunting customer service
I hate insurance companies because they are part of a sick System
that assigns blame to the injured party.
I hate insurance companies because they conduct themselves as if every injured party is having a grand ol'time collecting money.
I hate insurance companies because in cutting costs, they have forgotten
that their customers pay them for a service.
What we need is a revolution in thinking.
We need to change
the way that insurance companies operate.
We need to challenge the sick System
and interrogate the lawmakers
who respond to large wealthy lobbying groups
with laws that benefit the bureaucracy and neglect the common people.
I pledge to be part of this change.
Monday, August 15, 2005
ganglion axon cells firing in the brain
*from Wisconsin University
at Madison collection.
In November of 2003, I was involved in a serious car accident. The driver behind me had by his own admission smoked one joint before getting behind the wheel that afternoon. Apparently, he shouldn't have.
I saw him coming up behind me "too fast." I attempted to avoid the accident by turning into the parking lot of a store on my right. I did manage the turn. And he did hit my car anyway.
The other driver hit my car so hard that I ran into a house, leaving a hole in the foundation. I didn't know I had hit the house until the following evening when I went back to see the scene of the accident.
I remember hitting my head repeatedly against the ceiling of the car and my head rocking back at least once. I thought to myself when I saw the house coming, "This is it. I'm dead." I had no attachment or feeling to those words.
The next thing I remember is the airbag going off and my car stopping by hitting another parked car. The other driver continued downstreet where he caused a head-on collision. They all got the broken bones. I got the brain and spinal injuries. That knowledge would come a month later.
One of the things I never knew before that day is that when an airbag is activated, a puff of smoke comes out too. I thought that the car was going to be on fire. I was surprised to find myself alive, and not wishing to burn up--I got out.
People gathered around and after several fruitless 911 calls--and the storeowner across the street driving to the police station to demand help for me--the ambulance came. The people downstreet were being airlifted to a trauma center in the next city and for awhile, I had been the forgotten casuality.
The woman in the ambulance kept talking to me and demanding that I answer her questions. I was very tired but she wanted me to stay awake. I would not open my eyes because the brightness of the day bothered me.
At the emergency room, the doctor and nurses there "forgot" about my head. The doctor ordered x-rays of everything BUT my head. I was sent home two hours later with a diagnosis of a cervical strain. "Concussion" had not even been marked off on the instruction sheet for aftercare.
I slept for twenty hours a day for the next two months. When I was awake, I drank a ton of coffee, swore constantly, and told my mother-in-law filthy vile obscene jokes. I don't remember the jokes now. I remember drinking coffee and cussing and my husband trying to shut me up whenever I opened my mouth in front of his mother.
A month after the accident, I realized that there was something wrong with my vision. I went to a regular eye doctor. The chart looked like Chinese characters. The eye doctor at one point was holding my very tender sore head and screaming at me to "follow the finger" without moving my head. I could not do that, and to this day that is very difficult due to my TBI-related vision problems. But I did not know that then.
Finally the doctor said to me that I can't read the chart because I am near-sighted, told his assistant to write down "post head trauma" on my chart, and left the room. She left too. I had to go home and look up "post head trauma" on the internet to find out what it was. And that is how I found out that I have a traumatic brain injury caused by the car accident.
That started my contact with the local RCIL, and the round of doctors who did know about tbi. There was almost immediately the special eye doctor--a developmental optomotrist, and a chiropractor who knew about tbi. Then came the needle-sticking neurologist, the second neurologist when the first one moved away, the anesthesiologist, the neuropsychologist, the psychiatrist, the "cognitive rehabilitation art therapist" who threw me out! of her version of art therapy for refusing to go to HER internist for more drugs, two bouts of physical therapy, a TENS unit, and hydrotherapy which was successful in treating my spinal pain.
I also joined BIANYS--the Brain Injury Association of New York State, the local traumatic brain injury support group, and began to fight with VESID (like OVR in other states) to get appropriate specific tbi-competent services so that way I can someday get back to working. The fight with VESID is still happening. They do not want to help me until I am able to work twenty hours a week. If I was able to work twenty hours a week, I would not have gotten SSD. Go figure.
Today, there are things I am stuck with. I never did get cognitive rehab except for what I have done on my own through the internet. The spinal problems are permanent. The TBI-vision related difficulties have improved somewhat with extensive vision therapy but I still have double vision and my eyes still balk at working with each other or with my brain. Vision originates in the brain. I have hyperreflexia with clonus--a very common after-effect with closed head injury. Clonus is easily demonstrated with the little rubber hammer that doctors are so fond of--my muscles are jumpy and do not stop moving when they are supposed to. The second neurologist told me that I am fortunate that I can walk so well and that my balance has improved to "excellent." Usually people with clonus have balance problems and need an ankle brace or an ankle-knee brace to walk. I don't. My muscles stiffen up if I don't exercise. I do stretching, strengthening, and ROMs daily. I have to. I had to get shots to lessen the trigger points in my neck and my back. I had to get three sets of nerve blocks put in the back of my head to stop the headaches which were 24-7. I have occasional difficulties with mild expressive aphasia. Very few people notice because I'm able to think fast enough to find the word I want or a similar word. I can no longer multi-task. And I suffer from a vastness of fatigue I never have known.
I am also very fortunate. I am not dead. I can walk. I can drive. I can see. I can talk, read, write. I know this. I have beaten death.
The laws need to be changed. Insurance companies think that everyone who files any type of claim is faking. So they send us to their doctors for Insurance Carrier Exams. I refuse to call them "Independent Medical Exams" because they are not independent nor medical. The common scenerio for many people is that the insurance company involved will find some "reason" to withhold payments until the last possible moment. That happened to me but I have learned that I am in a crowd of company. The insurance company also sends people with cameras to take pictures of the injured in an attempt to show that the injured is "malingering."
My attorney does not permit me to speak with my insurance company. I think he decided that around the time when the hospital collection agency called me asking me why I have not paid them my co-pay yet. This fifty dollars I believe is NOT my responsibility--at the time, none of the medical bills were being paid by my insurance carrier yet. The medical insurance (wrongly) picked up everything but my co-pay. And I wasn't having it. I told the grossly rude collection agency dude to *uck himself, and then I called him back and repeated myself, in case he didn't hear me the first time.
Now here in New York State, we have "no-fault automobile insurance." I think the 'no-fault' in our policy means, "It ain't OUR fault so we ain't paying til we gotta," or "No matter what happened, it's YOUR fault." This has to change. When I feel better, I am going to create that change so that no one else has to go through what I went through.
The Workers' Compensation system and Social Security Disability laws are also adversarial. They also use "their doctors" to claim that the injured and the disabled can work. I have heard many horror stories from victims of those agencies also.
Now there is going to be a limit on the number of prescription medications that a person can have Medicaid pay for. Sometimes I really think that all of these insurance companies and agencies are hoping that people will DIE so they won't have to pay.
I acknowledge that there are abuses within the system. I maintain that the system is far more abusive than the 5% of people who really are "faking." And there must be something wrong with anyone who "fakes an injury" because they are willing to jump through the hoops in order to get some money.
And by the way folks, it's NOT free money. I paid into the social security system for many years. I also paid my car insurance premiums. But when misfortune happens and I need help, it is not forthcoming. In fact, the help is delayed.
If you haven't been there experiencing these things, then you DON'T know what it is like. Please don't judge me until you have walked in MY sneakers for the past year and a half.
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goal-setting has always been hard for me. now, after my accident, it's been damn near impossible.
the 43 things site has lots of ideas and soon i was off and running. i now have specific things i can do to work towards my new goals this week.
why oh why wasn't i ever taught how to set goals effectively? or maybe i was taught and was just too preoccupied to pay attention? oh, who knows?
really, we can't "fix" our pasts. we can determine to head for a better future.
43 cheers for 43 things.