Germany, healthcare, law, mental health, YouTube

“Du bist nicht allein…” There’s always someone helpful out there…

Last night, after Bill left for his TDY to Bavaria, I was left watching YouTube videos. Because I felt a cold coming on, and my stomach was bugging me, I decided to eat some bland leftovers and drink sparkling water. Then, once it got respectably late, I figured I’d go to bed.

Because of the nature of the videos I ended up watching, my mind started wandering to dark places. When you watch a lot of cop videos, you see people in varying states of mental, emotional, and physical distress. Some cops are really good at helping people in crisis. They treat people with basic respect and decency. Some are even kind and empathic. Other cops are rude, dismissive, or just plain mean.

I watched one video last night that I had seen before. It involved a police officer named John Kovach, Jr. from Lorain, Ohio, whose 18 year old daughter, Katlyn, was dating a guy he didn’t like. Katlyn’s boyfriend, at least circa spring 2018, was Makai Coleman. Because her dad didn’t want his daughter dating Coleman, and Katlyn was by then a legal adult, she decided to leave the family home and stay with friends. She refused to speak to her dad, which was her legal right.

Below is the video of the subsequent confrontation that got John Kovach, Jr. fired from his long held job with the Lorain Police Department. I’m sure it also didn’t do much for his relationship with his daughter, at least in 2018. I don’t know if they’ve mended fences since then.

A serious abuse of power…

One of the many troubling things Kovach said as he started to arrest Coleman, for no apparent reason, is that he’d be “making shit up” about Coleman’s “charges” as they headed to jail. But then, once he saw his daughter hiding in the back of Coleman’s car, John Kovach, Jr. decided to turn Coleman loose and force Katlyn into his police car. Clearly, it was inappropriate, as Katlyn is his daughter, and he’s not exactly objective about this situation.

But as John Kovach, Jr. was making his adult daughter get in the back of the squad car, he justified “arresting” Katlyn, because he claimed she was “suicidal”. He said she’d made a comment indicating suicidal ideation the day prior. Katlyn, who was by then screaming and crying, reminded him that he wasn’t with her the day prior, as she had rightly escaped his home to be with more rational people.

According to an article by the Washington Post:

Kovach said that when he spoke with his daughter on the phone, she said, “If I can’t be with him, I don’t want to be here anymore.” He told investigators that he believed his daughter was threatening suicide.

Kovach said he intended to take Katlyn to the hospital for a “psychiatric evaluation”, since she was “suicidal”… which she obviously wasn’t. He just wanted to exert control over her. There were other claims made about how Kovach had threatened to make Makai Coleman’s life difficult. The young man had wanted to join the military, and Kovach said he’d be talking to the lad’s recruiter and otherwise abuse his authority to threaten and harass Coleman.

The way Kovach behaved on that day in 2018, though, was totally beyond the pale. Soon, he’d gone from overprotective father to abusive cop. It was absolutely right that he was fired from his job for behaving in such an unhinged way. Kovach also harassed Coleman’s sister and mother, threatening them with jail and fines for trying to intervene. Meanwhile, Katlyn was screaming and crying, while her father went into creepy control freak mode, barking at her to “knock it off.” I don’t know if he actually took her to the hospital, but it seems like it would have been a real waste of time and resources on many levels.

After I watched that video, I started thinking about life in Germany, wondering if the Kovach family drama might ever happen here. Then I started Googling. I already noticed on YouTube, watching any video that mentions the word “suicide” prompts a notice in German– “Du bist nicht allein…” (you are not alone). Yeah, you can say that again. Big brother is always watching!

What I see when I search for anything with the word “suicide” in it. YouTube includes an explanation here.

I’m kidding, kinda. I mean, it’s good that they have resources for dealing with people who are mentally or emotionally shaky. The YouTube prompt was a link to a page where there are volunteers standing by, willing to talk to someone who feels alone, either by phone or chat. That’s a good thing… although it does kind of lead one to wonder why someone would do that in their free time. I know there are caring and kind people out there who do it because they genuinely want to help people. Those people save lives. But then there are also people like Ted Bundy, who answered suicide hotlines for awhile before he became a notorious serial killer. Ted Bundy reportedly did save some people from offing themselves. He even worked on the suicide hotline with the late true crime author, Ann Rule, who later wrote an excellent book about him. She verified that he ended some lives, but he also saved some.

One thing I do think is enlightened about the German hotlines is that they don’t just address the suicidal. They have nine hotlines that are designed to address a host of issues, everything from abuse to supporting others who need help. They even have a dedicated help line for Muslims.

I got more curious about this topic as the evening wore on… remember I did study this stuff in school, sorta. So I dug a little deeper, and soon found myself on Toytown Germany (a discussion site for English speakers in Germany). In 2006, someone had posted about a someone they knew who had attempted suicide. The person went to an emergency room, was treated for a couple of days, then released. The original poster was shocked, but other people soon chimed in on the subject– some of whom were shockingly insensitive. One person said that they knew someone who had spiked his vodka with dishwasher tablets. The guy was similarly treated and released. The Americans on the forum were saying that in the United States, the person would get a 72 hour hold at least.

Some people were making ignorant comments about suicide and suicidal threats. Realizing that the thread was started in 2006, I realized that things have only gotten worse since then. People are pretty jaded these days. Then someone mentioned that an attempt would probably warrant a “stay at Haar”. That made me curious, so I went searching for information on that.

I discovered that Haar is a psychiatric clinic near Munich, and it gets pretty horrible reviews on Google. I’m sure there are other psych hospitals in Germany. Maybe some of them are helpful… but then, you have to consider the source of such reviews. They’re typically written by people who are in crisis and the crisis isn’t necessarily solved by a stay in a hospital. In some ways, it may get even worse after medical and psychiatric “help”, especially if one ends up with a doctor who is an insensitive asshole or something. On the other hand, I realize that it’s not easy for providers, either. Mentally ill people can be very challenging to deal with, especially when they are non-compliant or apathetic. Mental health providers are human, too… and sometimes, that kind of work can lead to burnout.

Actually, watching YouTube videos of American cops and paramedics is a pretty good study in burnout. I’m sure a lot of people initially decide to go into police work or emergency services because they are kind and caring, and just want to help. Some people want to feel useful or powerful… or they want to make a difference somehow. Some of those folks never tire of the work or become insensitive or impatient.

On the other hand, some people do that work simply because it’s a job and there’s always a need. I think of the man who worked as an emergency medical technician in Brooklyn, New York and hit my friend, Matt, with a borrowed Rolls Royce. Matt died of his injuries, and the so-called paramedic never even stopped to render the most basic of aid. He just let him die, while he sped off in the luxury car. This man was an EMT, but he didn’t care about Matt. Now he’s in jail, but he’ll be out before Christmas. Matt, on the other hand, is gone forever.

That’s another things I’ve noticed, too… A lot of people, at least in the United States, act like total barbarians when they get arrested. Some of them do go to prison for a long time. Others, in spite of being totally awful, get their charges dropped or a slap on the wrist. It seems to me that involvement with the police is kind of the same as involvement with hospitals. You never know what you’re going to end up paying in the long run. It depends on who you are, what your coverage is, and which state you’re in when the event happens. You can go to an emergency department and get charged varying amounts, since there’s no regulation of fees. And you can get arrested and end up with any number of penalties, depending on the cop or the jurisdiction… or, again… who you are.

Anyway… this was just one of the darker rabbit holes I’ve been down. Unfortunately, I’m in kind of a bad mood today. I caught a cold somewhere over the weekend, plus my stomach hurts. I’m sitting here with a runny nose, scratchy throat, and a dull ache in my gut, wondering if I may need to call for help myself, at some point. But my guess is that I’ll just be grouchy and thirsty, as I always am when I catch a cold. I think I’ll close today’s post and get on with the day, so I can go back to bed. I’ve got to walk Noyzi and practice guitar before it’ll be time to fall back down the emergency services abyss and see what else I can dig up to discuss. 😉

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Alabama, healthcare, law, obits, politicians, politics

Why in the HELL are women staying in Alabama?

The featured photo is a public domain image of the Alabama state flag.

Don’t answer that. I know moving isn’t so easy for most people. It costs money to move. It requires the ability to travel, and the time off work to be able to make the move. It just galls me about the latest news about the abortion ban in Alabama, where Attorney General Steve Marshall has said that “he has the right to prosecute people” who aid and abet women who travel out of state for the purpose of getting abortion care.

Make no mistake about it. Abortion bans will hurt poor people the most, as they don’t have the money to go where abortion is legal. So when abortion is made illegal in almost all cases, that means these poor women are forced to stay pregnant, even if they don’t have the ability to provide for a baby. People with money will be able to travel without help from someone else, so they can go somewhere else for private, compassionate, respectful medical care. But poor women are TRAPPED.

I know a lot of people would say something along the lines of the women should have thought about the abortion bans before they had unprotected sex (what a romantic thought). However, it’s not really that simple… as a lot of women have sex because they’ve been pressured, cajoled, or even coerced by a male partner, many of whom won’t wear a condom. Many of the same women can’t afford birth control for themselves.

Or the women are victims of rape or incest, or they have medical problems or economic issues that make abortion the best decision for them. WHY IN THE HELL IS IT ANYONE ELSE’S BUSINESS if they travel to get an abortion, or who pays for the travel? Aren’t Republicans the ones who scream the most about medical freedom?

Alabama is not a good place to be a young, poor woman…

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s incredibly creepy and gross that so many conservative white men are so interested in whether or not a woman is pregnant. Especially given how these same disgusting MEN don’t want to do fuck all to hold the MEN who get them pregnant accountable! And they don’t want to pay for any programs that will make pregnancy healthier and more affordable, and parenthood easier for these women.

Listen… I don’t cheer for abortion. I was the poster child for NOT having premarital sex. I actually waited for marriage before my first time. But the vast majority of people don’t do that, and WON’T consider doing it. We don’t have enough resources for the people who have already been born! And we have far too many people in jail, already… although not enough of them are MAGA Rethuglicans.

I have been trying not to write too much about the insane situation going on with US politics over the past ten years or so… I find it very scary and kind of unreal. But these people in power have clearly forgotten that the United States is supposed to be the “land of the free”. These disgusting invasions of privacy into the personal healthcare decisions of pregnant women are not what America is supposed to be about.

I don’t have to worry about ever needing an abortion, but I know there are so many young women who will find themselves in need… and not just because they were “careless”, but because they could die without one. We’ve just got to get the politicians out of our wombs. Otherwise, things are going to get much worse for anyone who isn’t wealthy enough to travel in secret. These assholes don’t care about the women or the babies who will be born into poverty and potentially abusive situations. They only care about money and power, and they are flexing their muscles against people who are least able to fight back. It’s absolutely SICKENING.

I’m glad to see that Mr. Marshall is rightfully being sued by the non-profit organizations that want to help women who need abortions and deserve privacy. I hope he gets his ass handed to him. I would encourage women to get the hell out of Alabama and move somewhere safer, where they aren’t regarded as second class citizens.

In other news…

I just learned that Jimmy Buffett, the great master of laid back beach music celebrating the Caribbean and Florida Keys, has passed away. I was not as big of a fan of his music as a lot of my friends were/are, but I do have an appreciation for his persona. And I have many great memories of listening to his music, especially when I was in college.

Rest in peace, Jimmy.

Alas, I will never have the chance to witness Parrothead mania at one of his concerts. But I still enjoy his live albums, and the festive mood they always bring… and I’m gratified to know that even though he spent a lot of time in Alabama, Mississippi, and of course, Florida, Mr. Buffett was not a Republican.

May he rest in eternal peace…

I also heard that Mohammed Al Fayed, father of Dodi Fayed– Princess Diana’s late boyfriend– has also passed away. He was 94 years old.

I hope he is now at peace… He died the day before the 26th anniversary of Diana’s and Dodi’s deaths in 1997.

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communication, condescending twatbags, healthcare, safety, social media, YouTube

Sometimes it’s necessary to turn off the seatbelt warning chimes…

This morning, I woke up to more negativity on Facebook. I sighed and blocked yet another rando who decided to chime in on my flippant comment on Carolyn Hax’s advice column. I wrote about that situation yesterday, but for those who don’t want to read my rant, here’s a brief synopsis.

A woman in her mid 50s, describing herself as obese, was complaining about her gynecologist’s insistence on harping about her weight at every appointment. The woman wrote that she discusses her weight with her internist, and had engaged the services of a professional personal trainer. The letter writer was annoyed by her gyno’s fixation on her weight, especially since the doctor’s suggestions were not workable for her. She was seeking advice on what she should do about the doctor’s unwanted warnings about her weight issues.

Carolyn’s advice was to find another doctor, or be more assertive about asking the doctor to stop fixating on her weight. She wrote that if the letter writer was too nervous about confronting the doctor verbally, she should write a letter. I agreed with Carolyn’s advice, and yesterday’s long winded rant spelled out the reasons why I agree. A lot of other readers did not agree, and felt that the woman should simply follow the gyno’s orders, annoying as they might be to her.

I was one of the first people to comment on the Facebook post about this column. I wrote “Get another doctor, or be like me and don’t go.” It was kind of a flippant remark, but I was being serious on one level. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I don’t go to doctors very often at all. I realize that many people would say that’s unwise, especially since I can afford to go. But medical situations– at least when they involve me, personally– make me a bit crazy.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a woman named Winnie Jay who blasted me and someone who responded to me, then called me “girl”. Winnie Jay doesn’t know me, and doesn’t know the origin of my comment. Like it or not, avoiding doctors is one very effective way to avoid being lectured about weight loss. It may not be the wisest thing to do, if you want to maintain your health. But it truly is an effective way to silence the shaming, at least from a doctor.

I wasn’t offering advice, though, when I wrote “don’t go.” I don’t expect that the letter writer was reading comments from randos on Facebook to find out what she should do. She wrote to Carolyn Hax, not the Overeducated Housewife. 😉 I was just responding in a flippant way to the column… that is, in a way in which I’m sure a whole lot of people can relate. Who wants to spend money to hear a doctor tell them they’re fat? Duh… most fat people already know they’re fat, and a lot of people have already considered the obvious solutions to that problem.

If I wanted serious advice on losing weight, I certainly wouldn’t consult a gynecologist. The vast majority of physicians don’t actually get that much training on that topic in medical school and can’t offer advice that works. Most of them can only offer drugs and surgeries. If I wanted to lose weight, I’d probably visit a nutritionist and a personal trainer. If that didn’t work and I was still determined, I might go to a doctor who specializes in bariatric surgery.

Why waste time discussing weight loss at a 15 minute routine gyno appointment, when you could be talking about more specialized topics that a gynecologist would be better able to address, like coping with menopause or enjoying sex during middle age? Especially when the letter writer– obviously someone who values maintaining her good health– is already addressing her weight issues with her general practitioner? Or, at least she claims to be doing that… but why would she lie about seeing a GP?

After yesterday, I thought maybe that pithy comment would be part of my history, but then I woke up to a tag from another young woman who is now on my block list. She wrote something along the lines of, “Sure, don’t go to the doctor, get a disease that goes unchecked, and die. Stupid advice.” That this person called my “advice” (which my comment wasn’t meant to be) “stupid” is what prompted me to block her. I figure if it’s her first inclination to insult strangers online, she’s not someone I want to know, or need to engage with further. Life is short. Especially when you don’t visit the doctor on a regular basis. 😉

At first I was pretty annoyed about the second person’s comment. It stings to be insulted by another person, even when it’s a stranger. But then, after talking to Bill over our breakfast of blueberry pancakes, bacon, and coffee, I came to a conclusion about the weight obsessed gynecologist. And it was all due to the obnoxious comment from that stranger. Perhaps the rude rando did me a solid, after all.

And now… about today’s blog post title.

A few days ago, I was watching random YouTube videos and I came across one by a content creator called “Fixin it”. The channel is about how to do minor household and car repairs. The video that attracted my attention was titled “How to TURN OFF the Annoying SEATBELT ALARM BEEPS CHIMES”. See below:

This COULD actually be very useful information to some people.
Here’s one he did for Nissan cars.

The guy who runs the “Fixin It” channel explained that sometimes the seatbelt alarms go off when they aren’t necessary. In today’s nannyish world, where we have warning chimes and flashing lights for every hazard, the warnings can be overkill. Or, maybe there’s some kind of malfunction in the software or hardware that make those alarms go off when they aren’t needed.

I used to drive a Toyota Corolla and the alarm would go off whenever I put something in the passenger seat. In my car, the alarm would turn off after about fifteen seconds, but sometimes they’d keep sounding. That’s pretty annoying and potentially dangerous, especially if you’re the only one in the car, you’re wearing the seatbelt, and you just want to rock out to the Doobie Brothers while you’re “rockin’ down the highway”. The warning chimes can be distracting and cause unnecessary stress.

I was curious about the comments. Most people were delighted by the guy’s practical advice. They had all consulted YouTube to find out what to do about the annoying nanny chimes in their cars, and the “Fixin It” channel had really helped them. A few people wrote to say that the advice hadn’t worked for them, which is bound to happen sometimes. And I wasn’t surprised to see comments chastising Fixin’ It for offering advice on how to disarm an important safety feature in a car. Below is a small sampling of those reactions…

Or.. and follow me close on this one, buckle your seat belt.

could also make a video on how you dont survive an accident for not wearing seatbelt. because the only reason you want the beep off is you dont wear it and it keeps beeping

dude really? it’s there to save your life.

Not a good act to show

I wouldn’t recommend doing this

I like beeps because it warn me I am not wearing seat belt

You “fix” it by wearing your seatbelt lmao

Here’s a brainwave! If you wore your seat belt as the law dictates, you wouldn’t have any warning noise.

y’all can just buckle up bro.

It seems so simple, right? Just buckle your seatbelt and you won’t hear the beeping. Except sometimes you don’t want to put stuff on the floor of your car, and you don’t want to have to buckle all of the belts to prevent the chimes from going off while you drive. And some of us don’t need a warning chime to do the right thing. Some of us are married to a man who turns into Pat Boone if they don’t buckle up. 😉

There I was, talking about Carolyn Hax’s advice column with Bill, thinking about the two insulting comments those two women– neither of whom know a fucking thing about me– decided to leave for me like sprays from shitstorms, as opposed to rays of sunshine. And then it dawned on me. They weren’t unlike the incessant seatbelt alarms. Then I realized that the obnoxious OB-GYN was even MORE like the seatbelt alarm that won’t turn off.

I stopped to think about that letter again and realized these things:

  • The letter writer self identified as obese. She knows she’s fat.
  • It’s not possible for a person to lose weight immediately, as the doctor suggests it. It takes time and effort.
  • The letter writer has written that she is taking steps to lose weight and get fit. She says she’s hired a personal trainer and works out with them three times a week. It’s true that exercise alone usually doesn’t help people lose weight as much as eating fewer calories does. But it is an important, health promoting step to take, and it is a sign that she’s doing something to be healthier.
  • The letter writer clearly cares about her health. She not only sees a gynecologist regularly, but she also sees a general practitioner. That’s more than a whole lot of people do.
  • Although a lot of people think fat people are liars (and I’ve blogged about that phenomenon, too), I see no reason to assume the letter writer is lying about what she’s been doing to improve her health.
  • Even if she is lying, she’s mainly only hurting herself by doing so. Continuing to nag her about her weight isn’t helpful, and might even be harmful, if she decides she no longer wants to visit the gyno.

I’ve mentioned that I very seldom go to doctors. I probably should go to one, especially now that I’ve hit menopause (or so I assume– it’ll be official in January if I don’t have a period). But I don’t go to doctors because I was harmed by a couple of them. Both were overly concerned and very critical about my weight when I had come to them for help with other issues. One of them actually physically hurt me and left me with some pretty awful trauma issues.

My decision to not see a doctor could be disastrous if I placed a high value on living for a long time (which I don’t). Or, my decision to see a doctor could be disastrous if I see one that gives me bad advice or just blows me off (see this post for an example of a situation like that), blaming all of my issues solely on my weight. It sure is annoying to have to PAY for that experience, especially when it turns out there actually was a pretty serious issue going on that had nothing to do with weight. Or, I could do everything right and still die in my 50s because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time (see here for an example of that scenario).

Life is a crapshoot. The one thing that is certain, for every single one of us, is that someday, we WILL all die. There is no escaping it. And while most people want to live for as long as possible, some folks would just as soon leave the party early. And then there are people who wouldn’t mind staying longer, but don’t have a date, have no transportation home, and/or can’t afford the bar bill. 😉

If you are an especially risk averse person, you might choose to go see every kind of doctor there is, listen to everything they say, and follow their advice religiously. Maybe, if you can afford to do that, and you still have time to do anything else, you might enjoy a long, healthy, pain free life. But most of us can’t do that, nor would we WANT to do it. Moreover, if you ever venture outside of your bed, you’re going to be at risk of freak accidents that could kill you faster than cancer and diabetes ever could. And hearing the same annoying warning chimes from one doctor, when we’ve already been “buckled up” by another, isn’t effective or useful. Sometimes, it’s necessary to turn off the seatbelt warning chimes to stay safe, and get from point A to point B without having a wreck.

So, I stand by my flippant “non-advice” for the letter writer to find another doctor or, if she doesn’t want to hear the incessant fat shaming warnings, simply stop seeing her (or any other) gyno. Like it or not, she’s going to die someday, anyway. It might even happen when she’s rockin’ down the highway, listening to the Doobie Brothers, while grimacing in annoyance at the sounds of the malfunctioning seatbelt warning chimes.

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communication, condescending twatbags, healthcare, mental health, overly helpful people, pests, social media

It’s not “bad advice” to tell someone to find a new doctor if they are unhappy with the one they see…

Yesterday, I read an advice column by Carolyn Hax of the Washington Post. The first subject came from a woman who described herself as in her mid 50s and obese. Her question was adapted from an online conversation. Below is what Hax put in her column:

Hi, Carolyn: Will you give me a Pap smear or a pep talk? I am dreading my yearly OB/GYN appointment. My doctor, while very personable, continues to care more about my weight than any other issues. I am in my mid-50s and obese, but I am working out two to three times a week with a professional trainer. Those sessions are quite strenuous.

I am not normally at a loss for words, but my mild pushback during the last physical resulted in an irritated doctor, pushing additional “suggestions” — which usually entail signing up for a commercial weight-loss program, visiting a colleague who is not in my network, tummy tucks, etc. I generally reserve those topics for my yearly visits with my general practitioner and prefer she concentrate on my “woman parts.” Yet I know the first thing out of her mouth during the next visit will be, once again: “You still need to lose weight. Are you still exercising?”

— At a Loss for Words

I agreed with Carolyn Hax’s advice, which was this:

A pep talk, then: Get another doctor. If that’s not practical, then state clearly to this one that you are working with your primary doctor on the weight and will not discuss it in this appointment. It’s your appointment, your care. You say what and when. If you lose your nerve in situations like this, then write it down and hand the note over.

I left a very short comment on the Facebook post for this column. I wrote “Get another doctor or, do what I do and avoid going. ;)”

Now… maybe I shouldn’t have have “joked” about not going to the doctor, since that’s not exactly a health promoting suggestion. I actually wasn’t joking, though, in spite of the winky smilie. I don’t go to doctors unless I’m really sick. I know some people think that’s crazy. In fact, given my educational background, it’s probably very surprising that I don’t visit doctors and get screenings. But if you know my history, it’s a lot less surprising. I had a really bad experience with a gynecologist who traumatized me. I also have kind of a bad attitude about life, most of the time. It’s getting worse by the day.

However… I do think the first part of my comment was sound. I do think that if your doctor isn’t a good fit for you, you should find another one. Doctors aren’t gods. They make mistakes sometimes. And if you’re going to one who upsets and alienates you so much that you don’t want to go see them, that’s a sign that you need to find a new doctor, even if they’re not wrong about advising you to lose weight, or change, or eliminate, some other aspect of your lifestyle.

OB-GYNs, in particular, are examining a very intimate part of the body, and that requires great trust in them. I am a firm believer that any doctor who is putting their hands in orifices where the sun doesn’t shine needs to be very professional and sensitive to their patient’s needs. I feel that way because of that first (and only) OB-GYN doctor I saw, who treated me like a slab of meat, insulted me, and physically hurt me. Then she basically told me to shut up while she continued her exam.

Afterwards, that doctor blamed me for the fact that she wasn’t as thorough as she’d wanted to be, because I wasn’t “relaxed”. As if I, as a virgin on whom she’d just used a large, metal speculum that hurt like hell, could easily relax, under those circumstances. She abused my trust. I left her office in tears, feeling like I had just been sexually assaulted, and knowing that technically, I’d only just had my first pelvic exam. That experience still made me feel extremely violated. Now, I don’t trust most doctors at all. Intellectually, I know it’s irrational to think that all doctors will do what that woman did to me. I’ve even had some good experiences with doctors since that incident. I still find it terrifying to see most physicians… even the ones who don’t require me to get undressed for them.

The doctor in the above scenario sounds like she’s basically competent, but she’s pushing “solutions” that aren’t feasible for the patient and are wasting precious time in an appointment that is probably already too short. So, I don’t think it’s wrong if the patient decides to try another doctor in that case. She may find, after trying another doctor, that she likes the first doctor more, or she may find that the second or third doctor she tries is better for her needs. If she has the flexibility to try different practitioners, I think she should. It’s her body, and her healthcare… and ultimately, it is her LIFE.

I got some likes for my very short comment, on which I didn’t elaborate. One person left me a “sad” smiley. But then, I got a comment from someone calling herself “Winnie Jay”. Winnie Jay decided to blast me and another commenter, then chastised me for “joking” about such a serious matter. She then ended her diatribe by calling me “girl”.

I know it sounds crazy, but Winnie’s comment really infuriated me. Especially, since she called me “girl”, which is a very diminishing and disrespectful thing to do. I mean, she’s not wrong to write that obesity isn’t healthy and is correlated with chronic diseases, and people often lie about what they’re actually doing to protect their health. But does she really expect people to take her seriously when she’s so confrontational and rude? My first instinct, honestly, was to tell her to go fuck herself.

However, instead of firing back at Winnie, who unceremoniously “pooh poohed” on my brief and basically innocuous comment, I wrote “Thanks for your input, girl.” And I left it at that. I didn’t even use a “reaction” or an eye roll smiley. If she has a brain, the fact that I reciprocated by calling her “girl” won’t be lost on her. If you want people to take you seriously and hear what you have to say, you shouldn’t go out of your way to alienate them… which is exactly my point about the doctor described in Carolyn Hax’s column. Fortunately, Winnie didn’t come back, nor did I get any other comments. As of this morning, Winnie is now on my block list; so we won’t run into each other again.

I looked at the responses on the Washington Post’s article itself, as opposed to its Facebook page. Quite a few people were pointing out that the doctor was right to aggressively harp on the woman’s weight at every visit. As a former student of public health, I agree that obesity isn’t healthy, and competent doctors should address it, or at least encourage healthy weight loss. However, physicians should do that with sensitivity and respect, as well as some situational awareness of the patient’s reality. Good people skills are important. Most folks don’t like to be lectured, especially if they’re adults. Chastising adults as if they are children is a good way to get fired.

I realize that asking doctors to have a little sensitivity might be a tall order when you only get about fifteen to twenty minutes for an appointment. But, if the doctor is spending some of that time promoting things like commercial weight loss programs, tummy tucks, or out of network doctors that the patient can’t, or won’t, access, that’s precious time wasted that could be used for coming up with a better, more effective solution, that will fit the patient’s reality and ultimately have more of a chance of success.

Medicine in the United States is a business. People can and do leave reviews for their doctor’s services. I don’t think that is a bad thing, either, because it helps people choose a practitioner who can give them the best care for THEMSELVES and THEIR OWN BODIES. Some people like authoritative doctors who tell them what to do; it gives them a sense of security. Other people prefer a more collaborative approach. Some people like doctors who are very relaxed and calm. Others feel like a doctor that is too calm isn’t doing anything to help them.

Fortunately, there are a lot of physicians in the United States, depending on where you live. Anyone living in the Washington, DC area will have a lot of options for receiving basically good care. So I think Carolyn Hax was right to tell the letter writer to look for another OB-GYN who is more in line with offering her care that is appropriate for her situation and preferences. After all, she’s paying for the doctor’s time and expertise. It might as well be time that is as pleasantly spent as possible, especially since she seems focused on improving her health and hanging around in this hellscape we’re in right now.

As for Winnie… I could have told her off, if I’d felt like it would have done some good. Winnie was likely looking for a fight, and she made some erroneous assumptions about me. She might be surprised to know why I responded the way I did, but instead of being respectful and kind, she decided it was more effective to be hostile and insulting to a stranger.

If I had decided to respond to her, I would tell Winnie that a person could be the BEST trained and most educated doctor in the world, who recommends all of the right treatments and medications and is very highly regarded and respected. None of that will do a single whit of good if a person feels so uncomfortable and alienated that they can’t bring themselves to make an appointment and go in to see the doctor.

Because of what happened to me when I saw a FEMALE OB-GYN, I have a really hard time seeing doctors today. Just the thought of calling one for an appointment fills me with dread and anxiety. I’m smart enough to know that not seeing a doctor is risky, especially at my age. But I also know that I don’t particularly want to grow old, anyway, and spending time talking to someone who is obnoxious, offensive, or oblivious isn’t my idea of a good time. Especially if I’m paying for it.

I also know that I am not the only one who feels this way… I’ve blogged about it before, with links to articles about people who have gone in for a specific medical problem, and the doctor remains hyper-fixated on their weight. That approach really can cause a person to feel like they don’t matter and their actual needs won’t be addressed; and it makes it that much harder for them to ask for medical attention when they really need it.

Again… just my thoughts, y’all. I have an issue that probably should be addressed by a doctor, but my choices here involve either going to a military doc (like the asshole OB-GYN who hurt me), or seeing a German doctor, who may go into lecture mode. Neither option is very appealing.

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complaints, healthcare, politics, rants, social media

I get angry when people use the anger emoji inappropriately…

Apologies in advance for this post, because it may be upsetting to some readers. I don’t mean to upset people. This post is meant more of a reminder to be considerate.

Earlier this year, I found out that some people take what I write much more seriously than I ever realized. It was funny how it happened, too. This person reacted inappropriately to one of my posts. I shared a viral photo of someone and she said I looked “great”, mistaking me for the person in the picture. I probably should have just laughed it off. That’s the (unsolicited) advice people usually give me in such cases. Unsolicited advice also tends to piss me off. 😉

I ended up venting about that incident in this blog. My former Facebook friend (also a relative by marriage), who had been so complimentary of a picture that wasn’t of me, read the post, got offended about my vent, and blocked me. It’s not a big deal. I don’t miss her, since she pretty much proved to me that she’s not a real friend, anyway. What I feel is more disappointment than anything else.

What puzzled and upset me most about that exchange is that it started out perfectly innocently. With no malice whatsoever, I shared something I liked, and thought was important. My former friend reacted inappropriately and mistook the person in the photo for me. Instead of excusing herself, she just “laughed” it off… which made me feel belittled and disrespected. After a lifetime of that kind of thoughtless treatment from so-called loved ones, I got kind of mad about it, so I processed the disrespect by writing about it my blog. I naively figured that was better than telling her off on Facebook. She read my post; and the next thing I know, I’m an even bigger asshole to her. Oh well. I guess our family reunions will be more awkward from now on. 😉

At the risk of sounding like an asshole again, I’m going to write a similar post today. Once again, I’m feeling kind of disrespected and need to unpack it this blog. If you see yourself in today’s post and feel offended, please know that I do feel your pain. But I’m writing this because I was offended, and my feelings count, too. This is just my way of processing stuff. It helps keep me sane. The alternative is me either bottling up my feelings or ripping someone a new asshole in a more public setting. So I’m warning you now… don’t keep reading unless you can handle the truth.

Still with me? Okay… here goes.

A few months ago, a college friend of mine was in a really terrible car accident. She was very badly hurt. Her mom and a cousin posted a little bit about the wreck when it happened, but they never really followed up on my friend’s progress after that. They kind of left us hanging about her well-being. I kept checking my friend’s Facebook page over the summer, wondering how she was doing, but there was never an update.

Yesterday, two of my friend’s family members shared a crowdfunding post on her behalf. With their post, they included a rather disturbing picture of her right after the accident, which I’m sure was shared as a way of provoking shock, sympathy, and emotion. Personally, I’m not a big fan of taking photos of unconscious, intubated people who are hospitalized in intensive care units, and then sharing them publicly. But, under the circumstances, I guess I can understand why my friend’s family did it that way. They really need financial help, hence the GoFundMe post. A dramatic photo of someone who is grievously injured, hospitalized, and on the brink of death, is much more effective for fundraising, than a photo of someone who is conscious, somewhat healed, dressed, and sitting in a wheelchair.

I decided to donate some money. I know that people who are dealing with medical crises need financial assistance, and at this point in my life, I’m in a position to help. There was a time in my life when I had no money and people helped me. This is my way of paying it forward, and I do it with Bill’s blessing.

Although it kind of made me cringe to do so (mainly because of the scary, dramatic photo), I also shared the GoFundMe post on my Facebook page, because my college friend and I have mutual friends who might also want to help her. I know sometimes people stop following other people on social media, but still think of them as friends. It’s happened to me a few times. 😉 Maybe some of our mutual friends still follow me, but don’t follow her anymore. That’s probably unlikely, though, since she has never been a particularly frequent poster on Facebook and probably annoys people less often than I do.

Minutes after I posted the GoFundMe, I got an “angry” emoji reaction from someone who doesn’t even know my friend. This person didn’t explain why they were angry, so I was left to wonder about it. Were they angry at my friend’s family for asking for money? Is it because her insurance has run out and she’s being “kicked out” of the rehab hospital? Were they angry because she got t-boned by a 19 year old who broadsided her? Or were they angry at me for sharing the post and messing up their feed? I really don’t know, because they never explained.

I asked what was wrong. I didn’t get a timely response, so I deleted the post. Or, at least I thought I deleted the post. Then I made a new post, this time with a little more information about my friend.

Later, I got another “angry” emoji on that post. It was someone else who doesn’t know my friend, but works in the healthcare field. This person decided to leave a rant about how “greedy” rehab hospitals are, and how they can’t just kick her out if she has nowhere to go. That may be the truth, and as someone with a background in social work and public health, I certainly do know there are people who are trained to assist in these situations. But that post wasn’t the place for her rant.

I was also irritated that she had left an angry reaction on a post I thought I’d deleted and reposted, as a means of getting rid of the first angry reaction. But looking at it more closely, I realized that she had commented on the first post, which evidently wasn’t deleted after all. So now there were two inappropriate angry emojis. I started to respond to the rant, but then decided to try to delete the post again.

Imagine my unpleasant surprise this morning, when I woke up to two more angry reactions on the first post, which I thought I had deleted but clearly it hadn’t disappeared from my timeline. One person left a comment that I didn’t read, because I was further pissed that–

1. People were not keeping in the spirit of the post, which was simply asking for help for someone who really needs it.

2. There were a bunch of aggressive orange emojis staring back at me, when all I was doing was trying to help a friend… someone I actually know offline.

3. Twice, I had tried to delete the post, but people were still inappropriately responding to it.

Meanwhile, the new post I put up, edited with a request not to leave rants about the healthcare system, went completely ignored. I wondered if anyone could even see it. In fact, I just took it down, because I don’t like looking at that frightening photo of my friend, and I can see that other people have donated. I don’t want to feel angry today, especially while looking at people’s orange emojis on a post that was meant to do something good for someone else.

I wish Facebook would allow people to disable things like reaction emojis, comments, and gifs on serious posts. Far too many people are careless, situationally unaware, or just enjoy being trolls. Then they leave reactions that cause negative reactions in me. And, while I totally agree that the healthcare system sucks, and my old friend shouldn’t be threatened with being “kicked out” of rehab due to losing her insurance coverage, that post was NOT the place for a soapbox rant.

I should also mention that I’m not aware of the specifics of her case or the local laws where she is, nor do I know what type of facility she’s in. As I mentioned before, her family wasn’t very forthcoming with information in the weeks that followed the accident, not that it was anyone else’s business. But, because I don’t know the specifics, I can’t really speak to whether or not what the rehab hospital is allegedly doing is “legal” or standard.

However, I DO know, from being a social worker with a health administration background, that people in my friend’s situation pretty much always need financial support, regardless of what kind of insurance coverage they have, or what the official “rules” are. And that was the spirit I had when I initially shared the post for people who know and care about her.

If you can’t or aren’t interested in helping, just keep scrolling. It’s not that difficult. Leaving inappropriate angry reactions and rants isn’t useful to anyone. And leaving the first angry reaction is basically an invitation to other people to follow your lead, which is obviously what happened in this case.

I don’t want to tell people what to do… and God knows, I don’t want to tell anyone to “refrain” (hate that word) from doing anything. But I do wish people would be more thoughtful and considerate, and not make things about themselves. I’d love it if Facebook would let us just share things without allowing reactions or comments, so this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

On a side note… I noticed that my friend and her family members are folks who wholeheartedly support(ed) the orange overlord who is about to be booked in Fulton County Jail this week. I wonder if this situation might help them realize that everyone needs access to affordable healthcare, and that asking your friends and loved ones to send financial support is kind of akin to taking welfare– only instead of applying for government assistance, you’re playing on people’s emotions and hoping they’ll be kind and open their hearts and wallets.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind helping my friends when I can. But we all need access to healthcare that doesn’t break people financially and put their loved ones’ livelihoods in jeopardy. It really is for the public’s good that decent, affordable healthcare be a human right. I know my friend never thought she’d be in a horrific car accident right after she took a vacation to Hawaii. Now, according to her family, she’s homeless and about to discharged from a rehab hospital she evidently still needs. That shouldn’t happen in the United States in 2o23.

So ends today’s rant. If you feel like blocking me because of it, have at it. I just hope it inspires some consideration in a few people.

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