Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vile Fox News

I went to the gym when I got home and got there just in time to watch the nightly news. With my headset plugged in, I watched and listened to Brian Williams interview Obama about the criteria by which he will pick a Supreme Court Justice. He sounded so beautifully articulate and knowledgeable. Afterall, he really IS a Constitutional scholar. In contrast, McInsane's running mate doesn't know what the role of the VP is as written in the constitution. Nor did McInsane's chief advisor when asked by Chris Matthews on Hardball. She said, "I'm NOT a constitutional scholar" using a tone of voice that sounded like she was offended to even be expected to know the answer to this 9th grade civics question. To my right of this TV screen was another screen with the Fox (fair and balanced news) channel. I didn't hear anything they were saying as I was listening to Obama but they kept flashing "BREAKING NEWS". And there was Ann Coulter who must have come out of hiding since she had the nerve to say such mean things to and about Elizabeth Edwards. Their breaking news was showing videos of Rashid Khalidi, the professor and supposed "mouthpiece" of the PLO, followed by William Ayers, followed by Reverend Wright with Obama's face, color darkened in the background. How vile, how desperate, how stomach turning. This is all they have to try and win-lies and fear. It was hard to even look at. 

I see that McInsane and Sarah Palin are now palling around with Joe the unlicensed plumber. Yes, Joe. You're just like everyone else; trying now for a book deal and even a country western recording contract. Unbelievable. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another person on our staff got her car broken into today. It happens almost weekly. I've been lucky so far.

Poverty and a bad healthcare system

Some stories from my patients today: I saw a new patient to our clinic who is Spanish speaking. She came to the clinic with two of her three sons. Her oldest son, who's in the 9th grade interpreted for her. He's a very good-looking, sweet kid and was attentive to his mother's problems. He told me he goes to the high school about two blocks from my clinic which is considered the roughest high school in the city. It's known for it's gang activity. On occasion, I go to the Starbucks near this school right around the time school lets out. There's often 5 or 6 police cars with, well, two police in each car so that means I've sometimes seen 10-12 police officers getting coffee at the same time I'm there. I've often thought it's a shame I'm not into men in police uniforms. BTW, this doesn't include the police cars already parked at the school. I asked this young man if it's true about all the gang activity there and he said, "Oh yeah!" I told him I hoped he doesn't get involved with any of that. He assured me he doesn't and his mother, who was able to understand some of this conversation said in her broken English, "I tell him all the time not to get involved with that." I couldn't help thinking once again how lucky my kids are that they didn't go to a school like this. How lucky I am that I never worried about them joining a gang or being around gang activity. It just wasn't a part of their reality. How can kids learn in this kind of environment? I always ask new patients if they have smoke detectors. He told they have one but it's not working. He then started telling me all about the things that aren't working in their apartment but the apartment manager won't fix them. I expressed my sympathy and I also know this is typical of the poor who live in sub-standard housing. I asked him if he has plans of going to college and he said he does. His mother said, "I hope he will go." I left the room to get something and when I came back he asked me if I'd heard the story of the girl who was stabbed to death with a screwdriver and then thrown in the lake. I told him I hadn't because I don't watch local news. He told me she was his friend. He said she was a "gang-banger" and someone from another gang killed her. After I expressed my shock, I asked him how he was doing with all this. He said, "Oh fine. I mean she wasn't a really good friend of mine." Was he minimizing this because he's just a 9th grade boy who doesn't want to show his feelings or has his environment desensitized him. I'm guessing it's a little of both. The mother, who didn't go past 6th grade in Mexico has a smart and good kid who has a lot to say. I can tell he wants his life to be different. I have high hopes for him.

I talked to a patient on the phone who needs more pain medication. He's supposed to have surgery on his arm and shoulder but he can't afford to take the time off work. He's a maintenance worker. The surgeon told him he'll need to take 3 months off work after surgery. He told me he's been trying to save enough money to do this and thinks in a few months he might be able. In the meantime, he takes narcotics for his pain and keeps working with a bad arm and shoulder. 

A nurse in my clinic told me that last year around this time right before I started working there she heard gunshots outside the clinic. She got down on her hands and knees and crawled away from the window. Police were there soon after. I said, "Oh great. No one told me this story when I interviewed." The truth is, I would have taken the job anyway.

I was overhead paged to come to the front right before we closed. This usually means someone is having chest pain. So I swung on my stethoscope, ready for the job. When I got there, a medical assistant was helping a man up after he'd fallen because he was so weak. His girlfriend brought him. He'd never been to the clinic before. He'd been sick for 5 days with vomiting and dehydration. He looked confused but was able to tell me his name and where he was. I told them he was much too sick for us and he needs to go to the ER. I wanted to call for an ambulance but his girlfriend wouldn't let me because he doesn't have insurance. I gave them the address to the county hospital and hoped his body systems didn't completely shut down before they got there.

Monday, October 27, 2008

All in the name of Allah

We have a lot of Somali patients at our clinic. There's a baseline of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since they've come here after the civil war in the early 1990's that happened in Somalia. I've heard stories from patients that I can't even imagine. These stories include mothers being separated from their children, the sound of bombs going off, and life in refugee camps. Not long ago, a patient came into the clinic dressed in her Somali attire as they all are. She told a story, through an interpreter, about how she was hit by a bomb and she still has shrapnel in her head and face. She lost her ear and hearing in one ear and was paralyzed on one side of her face so her mouth was drooping. She had six surgeries already and was considering having another but then decided not to. She had a meek voice and said, "I know I'm not beautiful but this is what I look like now." I said, "I think you're a beautiful woman and you've been through so much. You're strong and beautiful." She thanked me and then said, "Well, Allah had plans for me and I know he knows what he's doing." When I left the room I wanted to cry. How could she explain her ruined life by saying Allah had plans for her? And then I thought about her country destroying itself. If you haven't read the book, "Infidel", it's a must read.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Do I eat or take my medicine?

My first blog post! I feel like I have to have the perfect entry for this momentous occasion and finally decided to just write:

There was an article in the NY Times the other day about how some financially poor people are opting out of buying their medicine because they need to make choices. These are choices no one should have to make: do I eat and pay my rent this month or do I buy my medicine. I see this often in the clinic where I work. Just the other day, I was seeing a patient who came in just to have me put his medications in his pill box and to talk to me about them. When I took his blood pressure it was 190/110. For anyone who doesn't already know this, that's high. He is also a diabetic, although not on insulin. When I asked him if he'd been taking his blood pressure medications and his medications for his diabetes, he said he'd skipped them this month because he couldn't afford them. I reminded him of a pharmacy our clinic uses which gives patients many medications for only $4 but he said he couldn't afford that. He very sadly told me he's been out of work for a long time. When I asked him what he used to do (he's only 59 years old) he told me he used to work in construction. Then he said, "I send my resume out all the time but no one wants me now. I'm too old." I just listened to him and looked at his sad face, once again feeling angry and frustrated that we are a country of the haves and have nots. I reminded him to vote, got him some samples of some of his medications to last him for at least a little while, and arranged for him to meet with our eligibility worker so he didn't need to pay for that visit.