Messed up society

If you are a regular reader, it wouldn’t take much to figure out that I feel deeply about helping others. Hell, my family still shakes their heads wondering why I choose to do the work I do when I could easily use my talents in the corporate sector. I admit there are days I think I could be like some of my former classmates from grad school living the financially easy life rather than toiling away as the chief officer at a small non-profit organization. In the end though people matter more to me. It’s hard because I strive to truly live according to my values which at times is a test when you have champaign taste on a kool-aid budget. One of the reasons I have such extreme student loan debt was because I initially planned to leave the non-profit sector and move over to the corporate sector, in the end though my desire to help folks won out.

However that is not the point of this post, but it just tells you where I am coming from. Yesterday, the exterminator came by to deal with the pest problem which did indeed turn out to be a return of the mice to our barn. The barn is attached to our house so it was time  to re-bait the barn. I had not seen our pest control guy in a while since it was 3 years since he last came for the mice and over a year since he came because of another pest issue we were dealing with in this lovely old house.

Last time we had seen him, he was recovering from a bout of cancer (specifics escape me) but since we had last seen him he had suffered three strokes and frankly when he showed up I was concerned about his ability to work. Hell, I felt bad calling him but he had his same crazy sense of humor and explained that not working wasn’t an option. In fact just yesterday morning he had contacted our senator Olympia Snowe’s office because it seems his recent health care bills were not being covered by the VA. He further explained that he was still working because frankly he could not afford not to work, so that yes he was slower than he used to be the bottom line was taking an extended time off to recover from his ailments was not an option.

Looking at him, my heart broke yet I was also scared, scared because for so many of us in this country, we have no safety nets. If we have insurance to cover our ailments, the question then is do we have the money to take time off work to truly recover? Yeah, we have things like Social Security Disability but to access those funds takes so much time that you might be dead or homeless on the streets before you get it. Hell, my Mother died before her file was even reviewed when it became clear that she was not going to be working any time soon after her second major surgery in less than two months.

No, I see too many folks struggling to stay afloat and neglecting themselves because we as a society don’t have realistic assistance programs to help folks especially folks who are used to working who sometimes need a helping hand.

In the supposedly richest nation on the planet a man who is recovering from three strokes  as well as being a cancer survivor who can only eat a liquid diet should not have to spend hours dealing with chemicals to rid folks of household pests. The fact that he is not some oddity but one of millions struggling to survive speaks to how fucked up we are as a society.

Romanticizing poverty.. no, it really sucks

Thanks for the well wishes, its really boosted my spirits to know that folks actually read this blog. Its my space to blow steam and let loose, its funny because my day gig involves writing but I really enjoy blog writing since I can just write in a stream of consciousness, and not get bogged down with grammar and shit.

Today as I called the local health clinic again (aka, the place ya go when you got no health insurance) I was reminded of the many folks I know in real life and online who sometimes like to romanticize poverty or being broke. Well as I called yet again trying to get through to my provider, being put on hold again and basically being treated like my time is not valuable because well I don’t have health insurance, clearly I must have an hour to sit on hold. (yesterday I lost 4-5 billable client hours waiting to get a callback from these jokers since a client asked me to attend a meeting on their behalf but I was trying to see the doctor yesterday instead I am still waiting  for a callback)  I was reminded of why being broke sucks donkey balls as my teenager would say.

Now I know even when you have health insurance, you can still can get treated shabbily, overall though as an adult once I got health insurance, my experience has been if I call and say I am ill, the front office folks work to get me seen right away. Well this little clinic in my area that works on a sliding scale (see, its not free.. I do pay something) clearly believes if clients are having a medical emergency they can just avail themselves of the emergency room. Now I don’t know about you but for me the ER is the place you go when you think you are in imminent danger and need help right away. Maybe its because the spousal unit spent years as a medical writer coupled with my social service background, but frankly too often folks of limited means use the ER and its not the best place to go. Yes, I am not well but I know the ER is not where I need to go.

So as my head has been too hazy to work and I have spent most of this week on hold, I was reminded of folks I have met who think being broke is cool, that living off less is fine. Well the events of the past several days reminded me that while frugality is cool, not having enough to meet your needs really sucks. Growing up I rarely saw a dentist, why you ask? My folks had no cash to pay and no dental insurance, at 17 I had to get a tooth that could have been repaired pulled because it was more affordable for my parents. I spent my 20’s spending thousands of dollars fixing my teeth and getting then in shape. Now I know my folks did the best they could, but as parents it was their responsibility to take care of basic needs. To me dental care is a need not a want since bad dental hygiene can have repercussions health wise.

No, when you are broke in America it means not having enough and not having enough especially when it relates to health-care can have disastrous effects. Its one thing to earn just enough money to get by and needing to be frugal, we can all benefit from a bit more frugality in our lives. Yet knowing folks who rely on food pantries every month to feed their kids and who are ok with that, well that’s plain old fucked the fuck up.

As for me, I am going to try and be patient and also thankful that while this time is humbling, the reality is I will have health insurance again next month so getting my medical needs addressed in a timely fashion will happen soon enough, I just need to get through this month. So here’s hoping a sista doesn’t keel over anytime too soon.

Checking out early.. we don’t live long

Its starting to feel like every time I go on-line, I am hearing about another Black person dying, generally someone who is in the prime of life. In the past week and a half, both Issac Hayes and Bernie Mac died, within a day of each other. Today, I saw a report that LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of the Dave Matthews Band had died, he was only in his 40’s. Then a few hours later I saw a report that Stephanie Tubbs-Jones congresswoman from Ohio had died after suffering a brain aneurysm and she too was fairly young, only in her 50’s. I must admit I am wondering who next?

Then again, I don’t have to look far to see folks dying young, my own beloved Mama, died 4 days after turning 50 from a 8 month battle with cancer; her dad, my Paw-Paw was barely in his 50’s when he died. Thankfully there are some folks in my bloodline who live to old age but I must admit the older I get, I do wonder if I will live long since statistically the odds in my family favor checking out early, which is a damn shame since this is one instance I want to run on CP (that’s colored people time for readers not familiar with that term)  time, not regular time.

All jokes aside though, statistically on average Blacks die earlier than whites and while we know there are reasons for it as far as the inequities in the healthcare system, even when factoring for socio-economics, middle class Blacks still die earlier so its not just po folks with no money to see a doctor. Even when we have the resources our illnesses are detected later, a year ago Mother Jones magazine did a piece on this where the author, a Black man spoke of his own father dying in his 50’s and he was a physician. Shit, that’s scary when you think about it… you mean Black doctors don’t even live long?

Now we all know about the dangers to the young, especially  young Black men, but the folks dying young that truly trouble me are folks 35 and up who I don’t expect to die young. I find myself wondering what can I do? What can we do to stop Black folks from dying early, personally I do try to watch what I eat, thanks to the internet while I am by no means a doctor, I can read up on things. Truthfully though I must confess I have one bad habit I struggle with and that’s smoking. For the past decade I have wrestled with quitting, I have gone anywhere from 1-3 years where I quit but then something triggers me and I fall off the wagon. Right now I am off the wagon, but thankfully I smoke less than I ever have before in part because I don’t smoke in the house, car or around the kids which doesn’t leave too many places to grab a butt. I recently had my annual physical and everything came back good, in fact I was bothered by how surprised the doctor seemed that my blood-work was good… damn, Black folks in good health can’t be that rare? Then again, I know if I don’t quit smoking for good that may not always be the case.

I sometimes wonder is it the food today that has us all fucked up? Seriously, what is it that keeps us unhealthy? I guess I got no answers on this but I say join me in commiting to good health, for me that will entail quitting the butts once and for all and truthfully I can stand to increase my activity level a tad more. I am not sedentary but I would like to be more active.

After all when it comes to reaching the end of this game called life, this is one time being late to the game is better than being early.