Uncategorized Archive

Scleroderma awareness is not all rubber bracelets and t-shirts. It’s about sharing and teaching others about the hard work being done for patients, providers and caregivers

Wednesday is the start of #scleroderma awareness month. There are different types of scleroderma; limited, morphea and diffuse. I refer to diffuse as “The Fast and The Furious” type, because most medical providers have little experience with scleroderma, many patients with diffuse scleroderma find out later in the disease process; which means it’s more likely to be fatal, faster. Kids can get scleroderma as well, forcing them into aggressive treatment on their young bodies. Awareness for the public is a great idea, in addition to the public, medical professionals need diagnostic training. The more physicians and nurses who recognize symptoms and signs, the better the chance of survival for scleroderma patients.

Thirty years ago, scleroderma was a death sentence. Even my diagnosis in 1994, most physicians I worked with did not believe I would live to see my 30th birthday. Here I am in my mid-forties. Make no mistake, scleroderma is a progressive, degenerative disease that hardens connective tissue, which is everywhere. I have fought to stay here by lifesaving treatments and hunkering down to survive the worst. I am only here because of the research done to treat the progression of scleroderma. Donate to research, provider education and patient education and support. You will save lives.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the Scleroderma Foundation, Southern California Chapter walk this upcoming weekend. I will be working on a movie set, thanks to the hard work of those who work to improve lives of all patients living with a progressive degenerative disease. Life didn’t turn out how I planned, but life is good. (Does anyone’s life ever turn out exactly as planned?)

My secret is not a good attitude. (By the way, I hate that poster that the only disability is a bad attitude. It’s fluffy bullshit that makes people who aren’t disabled, feel better. See, my attitude is actually quite bitchy.) The number one reason why I am able to thrive, is because I got treatment for my depression. The chemicals in my brain, actually changed because of my depression. Depression is an unseen side effect of scleroderma. I learned to grieve for my losses and find purpose in my life. Not like some lofty help-the-planet kind of purpose, but reasons I want to be here. I don’t want to be a poster child for scleroderma. I did at one time, but now, no. I want to be known as a mom, sister, writer, comedian and dog love who happened to have scleroderma. I am not my scleroderma. No one is their scleroderma. >(Click to read about my experience with depression.)

    Please visit my blog page, The Mighty Turtle. I was diagnosed back in 1994. I began blogging in 2009. I am currently in a screenwriting mentor program, a stand-up comedian and soon, producer. Life is not over after a scleroderma diagnosis. Research is delaying death for many, but we have much more to do to help patients live with the disabilities caused by scleroderma as well as stop scleroderma from killing those who can’t stop it.

Note:  If you haven’t seen the Wayne Brady episode of Chappelle’s Show, you won’t get the reference below.  (Watch Now)

 

Every year, tens of thousands of patients around the world, get together on social media to inform the masses of scleroderma.  What is scleroderma?  Scleroderma is a progressive, degenerative disease like Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and … marriage.

We have come a long way in research.  Scleroderma patients are living longer, thanks to the hard work of researches, patient advocates and doctors around the world dedicated to helping scleroderma patients live longer, fulfilling lives.  Unfortunately, that is still a minority of patients.

There was a time that when a doctor said to a patient, ” You have scleroderma”, and it was followed by, “Get your affairs in order.”  Scleroderma was a death sentence.  Things have improved for patients, but I’m not going blow smoke up your a** and tell you it’s all unicorns and rainbows, because it’s not.  Unless by rainbow you mean an arch of shades of brown in the sky to warn you of the sh*t-storm ahead ( an anti-rainbow, if you will); and by unicorn, you mean one of the Four Horseman of The Apocalypse proclaiming,”Taste the rainbow, bitches. ”

Scleroderma is considered an Orphan Disease.  300,000 Americans have the disease.  To me, it’s less an “orphan” and more of a “Son of a Bitch”.   There is no cure.   Patients meet with their doctors, and weigh the options of taking medications with side effects that include lymphoma or sudden death versus, not taking medication.  The cure sounds worse than the disease, doesn’t it?  Well, risking sudden death and cancer to get medicine to stop the progression of scleroderma, is usually the better choice.  Yes, scleroderma is that bad.

It’s hard to explain what scleroderma does, that causes my body’s immune system to attack itself, but this is what I think it would go down:  It would be like being driven around by Wayne Brady.

I’m in the back seat  of a car, and see Wayne Brady driving and a frightened Dave Chappelle in the passenger’s seat.  Wayne Brady stops the car abruptly, orders us out of the car, gives us spiked baseball bats, points to what he wants to destroy, and we do it, because Wayne Brady is one scary m*ther f**ker.  Then we get back in the car and drive until Wayne Brady sees another spot of town he wants destroyed,. Dave Chappelle and I are ordered out of the car by a screaming Wayne Brady.   At one point, he asks Dave Chappelle and I, if he, and I quote, has “ to choke a bitch.”  

So on July 1st, the teal of scleroderma awareness will fade into the next cause’s color, but not for scleroderma patients and those who love them.  . I understand that scleroderma is not the only progressive, deadly disease out there that needs to be cured, but since you’re here right now, take the time to learn about it by following the links, and sharing what you know.

Scleroderma Research Foundation

 Scleroderma Foundation

Bounce to a Cure

 

 

 

 

If you are “lucky” enough to have the kind of scleroderma that progresses quickly

 

People tell me all the time that they pray for me and worry about me because I have two autoimmune diseases. They often ask what they can do. I used to say, “nothing”. I’d like to amend that.

You can help me: Immunize your kids.

Many people, not just in the United States have a compromised immune system.  A person with a compromised immune system cannot fight infections and the person is more likely to develop an infection.  Often the infection will progress faster than someone with a normal immune system.  A person can have a compromised immune system from an illness such as AIDS or because of medication used to treat some diseases.

What is an immunosuppressant?  A drug that suppresses the immune system.

Who takes immunosuppresant drugs?
1.  Organ recipients:  When someone receives an organ from a donor, the immune system is suppressed so that the organ recipient’s immune system does not attack this new organ.
2.  People with autoimmune diseases like Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. An autoimmune disease or autoimmune response is identified when the body does not recognize it’s own healthy cells and attacks them.  Immunosuppresant drugs slow and sometimes even stop progression.  This is no cure.  many patients take immunosuppreants drugs their entire life.  One example of such a therapy is lower dose of a chemotherapy drug like methotrexate.

But wait, there’s more.
Another group vaccines protect are cancer patients.  There are so many types of cancer, and the short version is that a person going through chemotherapy is more susceptible to infections.

Here is how I am affected:
I take immunosuppressant drugs to delay progression of two autoimmune diseases. Immunosuppressant drugs keep my body from destroying its own healthy cells. As long as I get rest when I feel a cold coming on or get antibiotics right away for a bacterial infection, I’m able to fight and recover well and stay very healthy.

Immunosuppressant drugs have delayed the progression of pulmonary fibrosis and the swelling of my lymph nodes in my chest, so my heart does not have to work harder to keep me alive. Because of these medications, I have avoided a lung transplant and/or death.

Why vaccinating your kids helps me and many other people.  
I am very healthy, and fight infections well, thanks to the immunization of others. If you don’t vaccinate your kids and take them to public places, or a family gathering, you put my life in danger.  There is a great deal of misinformation about immunizations and people who are very immunosuppressed undergoing chemo for cancer. Let’s not forget about children to young to be immunized that are not just at risk, but in danger around people who are not properly immunized.

There is no research that connects autism to vaccinations.  Often, children begin to exhibit the symptoms of autism the same age they receive vaccinations.  When two variables exist at the same time, this is called a correlation.   Correlation is not a cause.  These two things simply occur at the same time and may or may not be related.  The only way to determine if variables that exist at the same time are in fact related in some way is scientific study.  Not just one, but many.  I mention this because in an interview, Jenny McCarthy talks about how there  is a correlation between autism and vaccines.  That part of her statement is correct because both the symptoms of autism and the vaccinations happen at the same time.  But then she goes on to say that because there’s a correlation between autism and vaccinations, that means vaccinations cause autism.

Jenny McCarthy has claimed to have “earned” her “degree” from Google University.  I don’t think Jenny McCarthy is solely responsible for the ocean of misinformation about vaccinations.  Let’s not forget the only study that concluded autism is caused by vaccines, then the doctor who did the study, admitted his conclusion was false.  The reason he admitted his study was a fraud is that he was caught.  This is one of the reasons why the ability to replicate any study is so important.  And now, there is a day care center in Chicago where five infants diagnosed with measles because some people took their immunized kids to a public place like Disneyland.  So I’m going to say it again:  Vaccinate your kids.

Frog-Marched 
Commonly used in the Washington D.C. area. Synonomus with “perp-walk”. Used to discibe being escorted to/from court, forcibly by the police.

“Dude, they are so gonna’ frog march Ken Ley.”  (Urban Dictionary.com) 

 

If I have a cough more than a few days and it does not get better, I have to visit my primary care doctor and have my lungs checked.  Because my lungs are damaged from scarring or pulmonary fibrosis and my history of sarcoidosis, scleroderma and MRSA; I never hesitate when my lungs need a listen.

 

Visiting my general practitioner at any VA hospital these past 20 years has always had a long wait, but not as much lately. My GP is part of the Women’s Clinic. I’m not sure if it is more efficient because women’s clinics are new in the VA healthcare system, but finally, it’s good to be a woman in the VA healthcare system. Well, most of the time it’s good. Let’s keep some perspective. I’m still called Mr. Vasquez one out of every three times I visit the VA, but never in The Women’s Clinic.

 

My GP was out on maternity leave. The doctor I saw in her place was great. She actually read my chart before seeing me. If you have scleroderma or any other chronic illness. you know just how rare this is. She also read that I still needed a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. So after she listened to my lungs to rule out pneumonia, she informed me that I was not leaving today without a visit to the imaging department downstairs.

 

So I said, “I will go there as soon as we are finished.”

 

And she replied, “No, the nurse case manager will take you down to mammography”

A few months ago, I had a mammogram. The results of my mammogram came back inconclusive, and required a second mammogram and a diagnostic ultrasound. It’s not the first time I have had a mammogram require follow-up testing. Everything came back normal the first time this has happened. I was a little spooked, but I wasn’t worried.

 

After learning my most recent mammogram needed further tests via a phone call from my doctor,  I went to the imaging department at the West LA VA Medical Center the very next day.  Veterans don’t need an appointment to get mammograms because early diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. A no brainer, right? Right. So I stopped using my brain.

 

You see, the day I went back, it was a busy Monday. I saw that eight people were waiting, and decided to come back another day. I returned the following Friday; the one day a week mammograms are not done. No big deal, I’ll come back on Tuesday. Tuesday came and went. I planned to go for my testing after my rheumatology appointment the following Thursday. The following Thursday came, and after my rheumatology appointment I hit the lab. I was surrounded by people coughing for over an hour before my name was called for a blood draw and urine sample. I was tired of being surrounded by sick people. So, (when called) I peed into a cup, gave up 5 tubes of blood and got back in my car with every intention of returning the following Tuesday. Of course, that didn’t happen

 

The next week, I was determined to get to the imaging department for the tests I needed, but I came down with a cold and decided to stay home and rest. The only thing I hate more than having diagnostic tests, is being sick while having them.

 

I do my bloodwork. I follow up on my medication. When I have an infection or complication, I am on the ball. But something like fasting blood work and mammograms or milestone check-ups, I am a flake A big flake, and if you are thinking that I am an a**hole for not getting my scheduled mammograms and following up on the results, you are absolutely correct. I am an a**hole for avoiding free diagnostic check ups that can stop a treatable disease like breast cancer.

 

I could write paragraphs with reasons for avoiding time on diagnostic tests and not one reason would be valid to any sane adult. And the doctor who listened to my chest that day, knew it. There was no talking my way out of this one. I was going to the basement to put my tits in a plexiglass vice, and that was that. I was sent back to the waiting room to wait for the nurse case manager. I don’t think my medical records were a topic of discussion, but everyone in that department knew why I was seated in the waiting room, again. And you know what, they didn’t have to do what they did. They could have let me go on my way and most likely skip my test and let the chips fall where they may, but they didn’t.

 

So when the nurse case manager came to get me in the waiting room, I got up and went. The word frog-marched came to mind. Not that I wouldn’t have gone, but I hope that will be the last time I need to be escorted by a case manager, who will make sure I stay for the tests I need. Flaking on my follow-up mammogram and ultrasound was selfish, careless and an overall dick move.

 

I had a mammogram before, but this one took longer. Next, it was determined I needed an ultrasound. I went straight from the mammography room to another room for the ultrasound. It wasn’t anything special. They do this for everyone who needs a follow-up mammogram. Before I finished putting on my clothes after the ultrasound, I was given my test results in writing, signed by a physician I did not see the whole time I was there. Was she kept in a cabinet somewhere big enough for her and a monitor. What was this witchcraft?!! We may never know.

 

I am thankful to the staff and providers at the West LA Women’s Clinic, who took the time to show one patient how important it is to take time for more tests, no matter how burned out she feels.

 

Polished men and women in uniform are seen all over our country on billboards, TV and magazines.  Photographs of them incites pride in Americans, and have become a symbol of patriotism and service to country.  They truly are the best and brightest.

 

 

 

 

 

We love to see pictures of our service members bright and new.  Just like we love our flag.  We hang it in front of our homes with pride.  We remember to take it down every night at sunset if we do not have a light on our flag.

Then, life becomes a little more hectic, and we leave the flag out one night, without a light on it.  Then one night becomes two. Days become weeks, then months until all that is left is a faded cloth in shreds.  This is exactly how we treat our military and veterans.  We love them when they are polished, with faces full of hope and service.  But when they return damaged, they aren’t shiny like we remember and our interest fades.

The infamous Shock and Awe, did not occur in 2003.  It happened to veterans and their families when they returned from the war and were denied health care, or asked to wait for more than a year to be seen.    There are aspects of veteran’s health care that have been improving in the past decade.  The knowledge and technology exists to treat veterans and  improve lives of those injured or disabled.  Unfortunately, to fund what veterans need requires and act of Congress.  As Senator Tom Coburn of R-Oklahoma, gave us a great example how one senator can stop a bill passed unanimously from the house in the Senate.  Once again blocking funds to help veterans.

I am certain that most Americans do not want veterans to suffer, but it’s happening.    As time passed, the Afghanistan War, Iraq War and the troops they claim to support,  were pushed into the back of their minds.  Things got busy for them.  Maybe they don’t have time to find news about what’s really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Maybe they work more than one job, and only have time to catch their local news.  With such a limit to free news,  they can easily recall more about Kim, Kanyaye and Kim’s ass, than the details of the H.R.5059 Clay Hunt SAV suicide prevention bill that passed the house unanimously, but was blocked by one senator, Tom Coburn R-Oklahoma.  Senator Coburn blocked it because, “.. it duplicated existing Department of Veterans Affairs programs and was not paid for by offsets elsewhere in the budget.”  (Military News.com)

That’s funny, in 2002, 2003 and 2004, while sitting in a Loma Linda Veteran’s Hospitals with a minimum two hour wait for scheduled appointments, the TV’s in the waiting rooms tuned to CNN and Fox mentioned nothing about cost offsets to fund a war.  In fact, their coverage of the ramp-up to both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars had an ESPN sports channel feel to it.  Then, when injured service members came back wanting care for the mental and physical injuries they earned in war, suddenly cost was the problem.  You see, it takes an act of congress to make any changes to VA health care.  Unfortunately, members of congress have constituents and donors to answer to so the information they are lacking to understand the need for funding goes ignored.  Well, ignored until something so horrific hits the news, it seeps between the Kardashian coverage and angers people with “Support our Troops” magnets on their cars.   Of course, the anger is short lived.  So congress can act like it’s going to do something, put a few bandages in place to give the appearance of doing something, until there’s another Kimyaye pregnancy divorce rumor.   Then, while everyone’s eyes are on KimYaye, they can block something veterans need.  Because like this flag, Veterans are great when they’re new and shiny, but eventually they will be left flapping in the wind, shredded and decaying.  Until another war of choice comes up, and just like the owners of this flag will go out and buy a new one to replace it, congress will fund wars that will provide a blank check for shiny new Soldiers, Sailors, Guardsman,  Marines and equipment.  Then funds stop when they need care the most.  Because that is how The United States of America supports its troops.

 I have been in the Veteran’s Heath Care System since 1994. Over the last ten years, I have been hearing veterans health care providers and staff use a phrase that is turning into mantra to ‘soothe’ veterans.  It’s not just one hospital,  I have heard it at three.   I have heard it said so many times, it almost overshadows the chaos and despair lingering in the halls.

“The Veteran’s Health Care System has a very large case load.  By jumping in line like that, you are delaying the care of your brother and sister veterans.  We all need to be very patient.”

It should not be a veteran’s problem the Veteran’s Administration is understaffed and under financed.  But the citizens of the United States make it a veteran’s problem.

As a patient who has put aside her fear of wasting a doctor’s  time in the emergency department or waited patiently in a specialty clinic waiting room for cancellations and no-shows,  I do not wish anyone else’s care to be delayed.  I do question the statement used to ‘calm’ veteran’s down by playing on their guilt.   I know we are supposed to be nice and share, but since when has good manners trumped health?   It is a well know fact that those who fight in combat, fight for their fellow warrior.  A veteran will fight, but if you tell them that that speaking up on their own behalf may hurt a fellow warrior, well that’s like shooting fish in a barrel.  The only thing that may stop a warrior from fighting, is if it will endanger the well being of another veteran.  It’s quite brilliant.  I’d like to shake the hand of the douchebag that came up with that gem, and punch them in the face.

Asking someone to wait in an overcrowded system seems like  a perfectly reasonable request, but not if someone’s  life or well being depends on it.  In fact, many after-combat problems like amputations or infections could be prevented with early intervention.   Is it the VA staff?  No.  I have met many who work in VA facilities that want to provide veterans with the best possible care, but often have to justify funds spent on an individual if it’s not something obvious like a heart attack.  And after making requests and being denied the resources to help a veteran, eventually the goal becomes to just keep the veteran alive until the resources are available.  Does that sound okay to you?  Allow me to rephrase that:  Would that be acceptable for your son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father?

Americans do not support their troops no matter what their car magnets or Facebook statuses say.   The truth is, we’ll shop while you’re at war, and when you come back, we’ll ask you to wait for medical care.  Am I over reacting?   We did allow Congress to leave for winter break without financing programs veterans and service members desperately need.  If anything, I’m under-reacting.

Over the last ten years,  many Veteran’s Health Care providers have been asking veterans to wait for health care.  It’s nothing new.  Veterans have been fighting for benefits and care my entire forty-four years on this planet.  When I entered the VA health care system in 1994, it wasn’t about asking for treatment, it’s about solving the riddle of your own health to figure out how to ask the right questions to get the correct treatment.

I had to learn to set aside my fear of wasting someone’s time in n emergency department, or crash a specialty clinic like a college class and  wait patiently in a waiting room to take the spot of  a no-show or cancellation.  You know, veterans can be seen in Veteran Hospital Emergency Departments is they need to wait months for care.  It takes patience, but I have done it on many occasions and in at least one case, it has saved my life.   Veteran’s must not be guilt-ed into waiting for care they need.  If we really ‘support the troops’, why is the burden of sacrifice on veterans alone? The answer: Because on election day, they got in their car with a yellow ribbon magnet and flag sticker on their bumpers, drove past their polling place to get home in time to vote for their favorite contestant on American Idol.    I think this flag is a great representation of how by actions, the citizens of the United States really  feel about service members, veterans and their families.

Photo by Karen Vasquez taken from her car in Orange, California on Christmas Eve, 2014.

























Am J Public Health. 2007 December; 97(12): 2132–2142.

WAR & Military Mental Health

The US Psychiatric Response in the 20th Century

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2089086/

“Herbert X. Spegal,  one of the first psychiatrists to observe soldiers suffering from war neurosis in Tunisia, was convinced that soldiers were not primarily motivated by hatred for the enemy or the ideals of liberty and democracy, but by the bonds with their buddies and regard for their officers.”

 

He Told Us To Go Shopping, Now The Bill Is Due 

By Andrew J. Bacevich

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Washington Post

No Thunder, Thud

By Karen | Filed in Uncategorized

Well, the Thunderclap did not happen, but it wasn’t a complete failure.  Now I have a post in my blog I can update and add to whenever I wish.

 

A very heartfelt thank you, to all who participated.    There are so many events going on this month, I will see you around  in many of the great social networking campaigns on the interwebs!

Now, back to writing whatever I want, and sharing stuff to help raise awareness and funds.  Happy Tuesday All!

Today was the 12th annual, Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma walk by the Southern California Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation.  It was a roaring success.  I am in awe of these amazing people who get together every year not just to walk, but encourage those fighting and remember those we have lost.

This year, I arrived at noon.  I could see people dressed in teal shirts hugging their goodbyes and  packing their camping chairs and tarps into their cars.  Once again, the walk was a wild success.

Murphy watching the Pride Parade in Long Beach a few weeks ago.  Forgot to get pics at the park.

 

I met up with some friends I only see at walks.  It was great to see them and was really the only reason I went.  But isn’t that why everyone goes?  To show support for each other and visit?  My feet had been hurting, and I didn’t feel much like walking.   Yet I still  took a walk through the park with my dog, Murphy.  I felt guilty about not coming to the walk earlier, because as much as my feet hurt this morning, it felt good to be walking.  As I walked away from the festivities, I felt better.  Then, I realized my true reason for not getting to this walk on time.  The truth is, I don’t want to be there.

 

 

 

I enjoy the people.  I enjoy the food.   I just don’t want to be there as a scleroderma patient.   And this doesn’t feel like a pity party, it just feels honest.  Look, no one there wants to be a patient, or know someone who has it, they just handle it more socially than I do.  And friendlier.  And less whiny-er.

I don’t like walks because I don’t want to be a patient.  Maybe it’s more about my social skills.  Or that most of my life involves doctor appointment.  I have missed so much time with my son because of appointments and tests.  This is the last week of school for my son.  I won’t be able to attend his awards ceremony because of one of four appointments I have this week.  Yet, I’m still able to make time to do stand up comedy.  It’s really the only thing I have been doing not related to medical appointments, without my son.

It’s funny because I go to my classes, and perform to get do something not related to scleroderma.  Guess what my topic is in my routine?  Scleroderma.  WTF??  I have to talk about it because my hands are obviously damaged and it needs explaining.  And I have to talk about it because it is at the forefront of my mind.  I’ve gotta get all of this our of my system so I can talk about something else, for corn’s sake!  But  in order to talk about something else, I suppose I should do something else.

If you skipped to the end…
I don’t want to have scleroderma, or live with the damage it has done.  I would like to change it.   I hope I don’t get snubbed at walks because I hate going.  It’s really not about the event itself.  Not liking to be at events is about not wanting scleroderma.  Duh.  No one wants scleroderma.

 

I have written many positive things about the care I have received at  VA hospitals.  There are some amazing people who work there, and listen to patients.  I have received medication that would not have been available to me because of cost,  like Viagra and Remicade.  I would be missing fingers and toes had it not been for the VA.

I have experienced and witnessed backlogs in the VA Health Care System since 1994.  What I find so shocking, is that in 2014, people are just now learning this, or at least willing to acknowledge it.   I was at the he Loma Linda, California VA, 2001-2013.  During the ramp up to Iraq, veterans were waiting more than three hours to see a doctor, two hours to get a prescription filled, and stand in line over an hour for travel pay, while we were waiting, Fox News would be on TV, making a case for war in Iraq.  Veterans with their respective war or command ball caps, would gladly talk about how we needed to go to Iraq.  How easy the war would be, and how Iraqi oil would pay for the cost, yet they sat there as casualties of prior wars, waiting ridiculous amounts of time to have their continuing war wounds treated and were so willing to put men and women in harm’s way,  with a back-logged Veteran’s System.  To say I was puzzled, is an understaement.

I was receiving my health care at the VA Facility in Loma Linda, and locally in Murrieta, California, thanks to “golden insurance” provided by our small business.  Both health care systems were crowded.  Murrieta had a population of about 39,000 when we first moved there in 2001.  By 2004, the population had jumped to nearly 90,000.  I remember being in the ER at my local hospital in 2003 during one of my visits, when my blood pressure was high, and there were four of us in one room.  There were pregnant women in the hallways.  I was waiting to see them stack us in bunk beds.  The local healthcare system had been flooded with new families moving to Temecula Valley,  attracted by affordable homes.

I bring the overcrowding of private hospitals into the conversation because I saw both systems become overcrowded because of poor planning.  The community of Temecula Valley, built thousands of houses, but forgot to have infrastructure in place.  just as the United States started two wars, without preparing for service members when they became veterans.  There was a whole lotta of cheering, flag waving and saber rattling, but no plan.  We didn’t learn from Vietnam.  We didn’t learn from Desert Storm.  We were a country cheering about how great we were, and “getting” bad guys.  I even quit listening to Howard Stern,  because he said, “Gas prices will pay for the war.”  I was making my bed I heard that.  I remember what color sheets I was putting on the bed.  I was placing the flat sheet, folding it down, heard what he said, stopped what I was doing, walked over and turned off the stereo.  I don’t know if he was kidding.  Maybe I was just hypersensitive.  Maybe I was just the hysterical female I was used to being called when I was in the Navy, and at nursing stations in VA hospitals.

And Howard Stern wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t being said all over  radio, television and at kitchen tables.  Eventually, I discovered progressive radio and it gave me hope, but over the years,  statements that could fit on a bumper stickers seemed to prevail over facts.

We have a long way to go in order to solve veteran’s healthcare.  This is not news to patients like me, but it amazes me how upset people are getting now, the people who knew the problems of overcrowding existed, and experienced it first hand.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled people are finally upset about this.  Over the years, I have learned to live within the system by speaking up and crashing clinics like college classes.  Veterans are finally speaking up about backlogs.  I’m not sure if I am angry because it’s taken so long, or because it seems to fit the narrative.  I just hope now that people are talking about it, it will actually receive the change needed, or just be part of political campaigns and fade away after elections.

 

And I’m Back Here.

By Karen | Filed in Uncategorized

So, forget about those last few posts.  Away we go!

When it comes to language, I am not a fan of banning anything.  Yet here I am at 3:30am, wide awake and writing about the #BanBossy campaign.

 

I don’t disagree that #BanBossy is part of a marketing campaign for the book Lean In, but as far as getting people to talk, it is proving to be effective.  Women are sharing their experiences and it’s more than just the word, “bossy”.

 

So, why I am up at 3:30 unable to sleep?  Because we don’t need a campaign to ban a word to know that women are not viewed as leaders by many.  But,  there is a conversation going on based on a word banning campaign.

 

I can give many examples of judgements and actions based on discrimination because of gender.  Bossy is one word and I have seen and heard the term “female” used as a negative too many times to count.    Words are just a tool, and like any tool  the outcome of the job is based on how a tool is used.  And like any tool, words will be replaced.  Maybe the actual ban of one word isn’t what this whole thing is about.

 

I was born in the 1970’s.  I was told I could not do do many things because I was a girl.  I don’t blame how successful I am or not, on being told that.  I’m stating a fact.   #BanBossy won’t solve the  the problem of gender discrimination, but it’s got people talking.  So yes, so far one word is making a difference.

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