complaints, condescending twatbags, News, rants

“If someone is going to be examining your junk, you have the right to exact high standards…”

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I woke up to pee, probably because Bill got up to pee. He was on the potty when I went into the bathroom. After our encounter, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I started reading the news. There was an article about how hospitals in Ukraine are dealing with shortages of oxygen, thanks to the Russian invasion and the high number of COVID patients. I was kind of awestruck by the picture of the hospital interior. I was reminded that Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, because the photo reminded me of the inside of an Armenian hospital I once visited in 1996. I was surprised that the Ukrainian facility still looked like a 90s era post Soviet hospital.

Then I went to the comment section, where some guy was complaining about the paywall. It always irks me when people bitch about having to pay for newspapers, as if they would be willing to work for free or give away their valuables. The complainer maintained that all coverage about COVID should be free of charge, in the interest of health promotion. For many months, The New York Times provided plenty of free coverage on COVID. Moreover, there are lots of news sources out there. The New York Times isn’t a free publication. It never has been. One doesn’t go into a store and read a print edition, as if one would at a library. Why should it be any different online? And how do people expect journalists to do their jobs if there’s no income stream with which to pay them for their work?

I’ve complained about that phenomenon more than once in this rag of a blog of mine. I’m not wanting to do it again today. I’m just building up to my point, which I’ll get to in due time. Suffice to say that people who whine about having to pay for quality journalism really get on my nerves. I didn’t leave a comment for the whiny bastard. Someone else kindly did it for me, and in good style. However, one thing I did notice, was that the whiny bastard left an entitled response when someone recommended that he block The New York Times from his feed and/or find another, free or cost-effective, news source. This is what he wrote:

1. I will not block them from my feed. Even the headlines are of some value. 2. I certainly didn’t need you to tell me there are other sources of information. I’ve examined dozens just today. 3. If they could publish free articles about COVID, then they certainly could do it in this case, for the same reason – to preserve human life. (Profit took a backseat to doing the right thing then, and so it should now!)

Then, when the person who engaged him advised him to stop complaining, he wrote:

The NYT seems to have a purpose behind this article. To provoke empathy for the suffering people. And, knowing the long reach of their newsfeed, it will get the notice of people who could help. So why put a speed bump in the way, an impediment to humanitarian aid. It doesn’t make sense. (And to remind you, I have a right to express myself – remember America is a land of Freedom of Expression. So I’ll complain all I want, for as long as I want! Many times in my past my complaints have produced real change, sometimes they’ve just changed people’s minds. Either way, Not Going Anywhere !)

I still don’t understand why his points about the shortage of oxygen in Ukrainian hospitals entitle him to read the paper for free. It sounds to me like he’s just cheap. He even admitted that “even the headlines are of some value.” So he admits that the paper is valuable. He just doesn’t want to support it by subscribing. Either way, I guarantee that complaining about paywalls in a comment section on Facebook won’t make a happy damn to the bean counters. They offer a valuable product for which many people, myself included, are willing to pay. I use The New York Times every day. It’s worth the money to me.

I was still somewhat exasperated after reading that exchange. That guy is an example of a person I can do without, although he’s probably a nice enough fellow when he isn’t bitching about paywalls. As Bill and I were enjoying breakfast, I somehow got on a tangent about other people who get on my nerves. I was suddenly reminded of a woman I used to regularly rant about years ago. She was just one of those people who irritated the ever living hell out of me. I think that guy’s comment reminded me of that woman, whom I used to call “Ms. Overly Helpful”.

In the years before social media, I used to hang out on a messageboard for second wives and stepmothers. I ran into some really great ladies. I also ran into a few assholes, although in fairness, I’m sure some of them thought of me as an asshole, too. In any case, Ms. OH was just one of those people with whom I can’t mesh. I know she has many friends, fans, and loved ones. I’m just not among them.

There’s no shame in that, by the way. Even the most likable people in the world have some people in their lives who can’t stand them. Bea Arthur, for example, famously disliked Betty White, of all people! I don’t know why, but it was widely reported that Bea didn’t like Betty at all. Even Betty, herself, admitted it. I read that Bea found Betty’s unflappable optimism annoying. To be honest, I think that would annoy me, too. I remember on The Golden Girls, there was even an episode about how Rose Nylund annoys a work colleague by incessantly trying to be his friend, when he didn’t want to be friends with her. Below is an exchange from that episode.

Roger doesn’t want to be friends with Rose. I can relate.

Ms. OH was a little like that sometimes. She fancied herself an “Earth Mother” type, and would offer me unsolicited advice and opinions. Every time I made a comment, she would contradict me in the most patronizing and infuriating ways. And I would try to hold back on the urge to be rude to her, because her comments would almost always rub me the wrong way. Like, for instance, she would question things like whether or not I should buy a new car (used is sooo much cheaper), or a new computer (have I done everything I can to make the old one last)… or whether or not I should be concerned about a strange man loitering by my mailbox (maybe he’s perfectly harmless– stop being so suspicious!). See what I mean?

I remember one time, we had a row that got quite contentious. I commented to her, quite frankly, but as politely as I could, that whether or not it was her intention to be offensive, I found her contrary responses to be disrespectful and condescending. I really tried hard not to be as nasty as I felt like being, while still making it clear that she was pissing me off, and asking her to cease and desist. I didn’t tell her to “fuck off”, though. I just clearly informed her that her comments were offending me. Ms. OH’s response was to send me a private message angrily berating me for “insulting her”. All I really wanted was for her to just leave me the fuck alone! I couldn’t block her on the message board, because we were both “admins”.

So anyway, once we all migrated to Facebook, one day I quietly dropped her from my friends list. For awhile, it was fine. I didn’t have so many encounters with her, and that made my life better. But then I got added to a Facebook group for second wives and stepmothers. It was 2012, so I had just turned 40. I got a message from the local Army clinic that it was time to schedule my first mammogram (which I still haven’t done, and I’m now 49). The clinic had also assigned a primary care manager to me; someone I hadn’t chosen and had never met before. I knew that if I went in to see the physician’s assistant assigned to me, she’d probably want to do other stuff, and quite frankly, that was very scary to me. I have a real “phobia” of medical providers, particularly the ones who want to examine my junk. It’s because I had a traumatic first experience with an OB-GYN.

I looked up the P.A. online, and found some public photos of her that made me think she wouldn’t be mature enough to deal with my issues. She was quite young and inexperienced. So I casually mentioned to my friends in the group that I thought I would be changing my primary healthcare provider, because the one the Army had assigned to me was a poor fit. Ms. OH, and a few others, were offended by my decision. In Ms. OH’s case, it was because her daughter is/was a young healthcare provider who likes to party. She was sure to tell me that her daughter would give me “excellent” care if I went to her, even though she has a “personal life” and likes to party sometimes.

Of course, I had to sigh at that response… because my situation with the Army P.A. I’d never met didn’t have a fucking thing to do with Ms. OH’s daughter. However, I also knew that I would never voluntarily choose to see Ms. OH’s daughter for healthcare, simply because she is Ms. OH’s daughter. I would rather see someone who doesn’t have such an intimate connection to someone who gets on my last nerve. And that choice should be okay, since there are plenty of people in the world who would happily see her daughter for healthcare, just as the P.A. who was assigned to me had a whole shitload of people on her list who would have no issues whatsoever seeing her.

I was just a name on a piece of paper to the P.A., so it’s not like my choice not to see her was even a personal affront. She wouldn’t be losing any money or prestige by my decision. In fact, she wouldn’t even be the wiser about it. I just wanted someone older and more experienced. What the hell is wrong with that? Like I said… if you’re going to examine my junk, I have the right to exact high standards. I honestly couldn’t see why this was such a big deal, and I never expected the controversy to arise the way it did in that group.

Well, the whole controversy was finally blowing over, until Ms. OH chimed in again, and then the issue blew up anew, with new people berating me for having my standards. They were more concerned about my not offending the healthcare provider by being “prejudicial” due to her public social media posts, than my own comfort and sense of trust. I was pretty flabbergasted, since I didn’t realize my choices regarding healthcare providers was up for debate. I mean, wouldn’t “friends” want me to be comfortable with and confident regarding my healthcare providers? But it soon got very ugly… so I quietly removed myself from the group. Ms. OH noticed, and sent me an email, which was, for once, not totally offensive. She wrote that she was glad I was “okay”. Fine.

Incidentally, Bill did end up seeing that P.A. and it turned out my instincts about her were correct. Bill has hypertension, but his case is unusual because he also has congenital hyponatremia (chronically low blood sodium). The P.A. gave him the usual spiel about avoiding stress, exercising, eating right, and not salting his food. However, because of Bill’s unusual and unique blood chemistry, actually he has been told by physicians that he should use salt. In his case, not salting his food is bad advice, in spite of his having high blood pressure. I’m sure the P.A. has plenty of textbook knowledge, and by now, she’s probably very experienced. But my instincts to avoid her were good, because in 2012, she was still pretty “green”.

A couple of years later, I ran into Ms. OH again on social media, and she made another passive aggressive dig to me regarding alcoholism, which is a sensitive topic for me. Having interacted with me for years, I think she was very aware that it was a delicate topic for me. I didn’t think her snarky comment, along with winkie smilies, was innocent, nor did I appreciate it at all. She also had a laugh at my expense, which angered me.

This time, I decided enough was enough, and I blocked her. Then I told Bill, “You wait. As soon as she sees that I blocked her, Ms. OH will send me an email.” Sure enough, I was right. Within a couple of hours, she’d sent an irate email DEMANDING to know why I blocked her. It was as if she felt I had no right to disassociate with her. My decision to block her was a personal affront, kind of like Rose Nylund trying to force her co-worker to be friends with her, when he didn’t want to be friends.

I was still really pissed off, and frankly, very surprised by her nerve. Usually, when people block you on social media, it means they DON’T want to talk to you. If you’re a basically decent person, you understand that the person doesn’t want to talk to you and respect that. And yet, here was Ms. OH, feeling quite entitled to bother me with an angry and demanding email. Part of me felt like ripping her a new one. But I thought better of it, and simply ignored her. Several years later, I unblocked her on Facebook. She took the first available opportunity to apologize to me, which was nice enough, although still kind of controlling– kind of like Hoovering. It was her way of getting the last word, I guess. I was gracious about it, and thankfully, that was that.

Anyway, I guess that commenter on The New York Times reminded me of Ms. OH, with his complaints about paywalls. How dare The New York Times expect payment for services rendered? And how dare a fellow reader take him to task for his whining, which he mistakenly believes will amount to anything more than laughing reactions and irritated comments from other Facebook users? And how dare I have standards for people who have intimate contact with my medical history and my body? How dare I make decisions about with whom I will communicate? People like the guy on The New York Times thread and Ms. OH are entitled twits. I don’t know the commenter at all, but I have to say that expecting to read newspaper content for free makes him appear to be pretty narcissistic, if not a bit deluded. But, since I don’t know the guy, and I feel that people should get the benefit of the doubt whenever possible, I’ll just assume he simply hasn’t thought very much about how journalists make a living.

Well, the dogs are demanding a walk, so I better wrap this up. Have a nice Monday, y’all.

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healthcare, mental health, psychology

“Please, Doc, don’t weigh me unless it’s really necessary!”

Yesterday marked the first day of National Eating Disorders Week 2022. Fittingly, a few days ago, I read an interesting article in the Washington Post about a new trend in U.S. healthcare. It involves special cards that one can hand to a physician. See below:

I like this idea.
From the More-Love.org Web site.

I haven’t seen a doctor since 2010. One of the main reasons I don’t visit doctors is because I once had a very traumatic and unnecessarily physically painful and humiliating experience with one. I did see doctors a few times after the traumatic experience, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten even harder to make the phone call for an appointment. I know very well that this isn’t the greatest policy for promoting my personal longevity. I could definitely use a check up. However, for many reasons, visiting medical people causes me a great deal of stress. One of the main reasons it’s stressful is because of that goddamned scale, and my long history with eating disorders. No, I don’t mean the obvious ones that might put a person in the hospital. There are actually a lot of eating disorders out there, and most don’t get diagnosed. But they do exist, and I’ve struggled with them for years. I have less of a problem with them now, mainly because I have a very loving and understanding husband who doesn’t body shame me. I would be lying, though, if I said those problems have gone away entirely. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it.

I know I usually have less of a problem going to see a doctor if I know I won’t have to be weighed. For instance, in 1999, I had facial cellulitis that almost put me in the hospital. I had to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor for treatment. He was a great doctor, but one thing that I especially liked about him was that he didn’t force me to get on a scale. He simply looked at the mess on my face and prescribed antibiotics. The family practice doctor who sent me to the ENT guy was kind of an all knower, but he actually reassured me that my weight wasn’t that bad. At that time, it wasn’t that bad, since I was waiting tables and lost a lot of pounds because of that. However, I was never so sick, so often, as I was in those days.

Although I know weight is an important measure for some health issues, I think it’s pretty cool that someone has realized how absolutely mortifying getting on the scale is for some people. The above cards were offered at Element Primary Care in Omaha, Nebraska. A 30 year old woman named Dani Donovan, who is an attention deficit/hyperactivity advocate and suffers from binge eating disorder, happened to see the cards at the office. Donovan reportedly avoids going to see physicians because of the stress of being weighed. She happened to find a practice where, apparently, the staff recognizes this issue, and how it prevents people from seeking care. According to the WaPo article:

“I didn’t even know that saying ‘no’ to being weighed was a thing you could do,” said Donovan, 30, an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder advocate who has a binge-eating disorder and often avoided doctor’s appointments because being weighed was so stressful. The card led to a good conversation with her doctor, Donovan said, that helped build trust and make her feel empowered.

Donovan took a photo of one of the cards and posted it on Twitter. It’s caused quite a stir.

These cards were developed in 2019 by a Los Angeles area eating disorder coach named Ginny Jones. Jones is a survivor of several eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. Jones came up with the cards after many experiences she had when visiting physicians. A lot of them would praise her for losing weight, even when it was noted in her records that she has had eating disorders. She now offers the cards for sale on her Web site. When Jones was contacted for a statement about her cards, she said:

“I wish I could say I was surprised by the ‘controversy’ around the cards. I created them to address weight stigma, and it’s basically fatphobia to jump to conclusions and say blanketly that asking not to be weighed is unhealthy.”

Personally, I think these cards are great, although I can’t imagine presenting one to any of the military doctors I’ve seen in my lifetime. But then, again, I haven’t been to see a doctor in about 12 years. My blood pressure shoots up whenever I’m in a military healthcare facility, and they usually take one look at me and assume I have any number of health issues just by my appearance. I have found that a lot of doctors aren’t good listeners, either. That is especially true with military providers, in my experience.

In 2007, before we moved to Germany the first time, I actually wore an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for 24 hours to prove that I didn’t have hypertension, because my blood pressure readings were so high in the office. As soon as I stepped out of the military hospital, my blood pressure was completely normal and stayed that way. I came back to the office the next day with a bruised arm and documentation in my file that I have white coat hypertension. That may no longer be true today, given my family history, but the way the providers acted during that last visit put me off of going back, even though the person I saw was actually very kind to me when I told her what had happened to me at the hands of an Air Force gynecologist back in the 1990s.

The Air Force gyno I saw back then gave me my very first (of two in my entire lifetime) gynecological exams. It was so painful and distressing that I left her office traumatized and horrified, and actually felt violated on the level of sexual assault. Besides really hurting me with her instruments and not apologizing for the pain she caused me, this doctor also fat shamed me and predicted that when I went to Armenia, I would gain tons of weight. In the 90s, I was dealing with eating disorders more acutely than I do today. Today, I seem to have replaced eating issues with drinking issues. Again… not healthy, and I probably should see a doctor, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Even having these cards probably wouldn’t get me into the office, although I do think they would help, if I found a kind and understanding physician who was sensitive to these issues.

According to the Washington Post article, as well as my own anecdotal experience, there are a lot of physicians who have a bias against obesity. They seem to take obese patients less seriously, especially if they’re women. The article reports, “one piece published in the British Medical Journal found that weight stigma actually led to increased mortality and other chronic diseases and ‘most ironically, (weight stigma) actually begets heightened risk of obesity.'” There have been a number of articles about how the medical community tends to focus on weight, even when a medical issue is clearly not related to the patient’s weight. Like, for instance, someone comes in with a broken arm and gets told that weight loss would benefit them. There’s no doubt, weight loss would be beneficial, but that’s not why the person came in to see the doctor. In that sense, I can see how these cards could be useful. If you’re going to see the doctor for a specific issue that has nothing to do with obesity, perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad thing to skip the scale, at least for that visit.

Of course, some physicians will never be onboard with avoiding weigh-ins. In the WaPo article, a physician named “Umbereen S. Nehal, a former chief medical officer for Community Healthcare Network in New York and a board-certified pediatrician,” reported that she strongly believes patients must “be weighed every time, regardless of when they were last weighed or why they are in the doctor’s office.” The doctor claims to be have sympathy for patients like Donovan, but she’s not convinced that avoiding the scale will improve healthcare outcomes. She says, “Is the hypothesis that somebody who is obese, let’s say, if we don’t weigh them, fatphobia will go away? Those visual cues will not go away. So my beef with this is that it disrupts processes in the system for efficient data collection and that data are used for a variety of things.”

My answer to Dr. Nehal is that a lot of people avoid the doctor entirely because of this issue. She may be getting more data when she weighs patients at every visit, but a lot of people won’t even come see her because of the mortifying prospect of being weighed, the psychological stresses that come from that experience, as well as the potential humiliation that comes from a fat shaming doctor. Seriously… if you’re feeling fine, and you don’t want to deal with the discomfort of being weighed, how likely are you to schedule screenings? Is that the outcome Dr. Nehal wants? For people not to come in to see her at all? Then she won’t get ANY data, and the person will show up in the emergency room instead. And that will not only lead to poorer healthcare outcomes, but it will also lead to much higher medical bills.

Another doctor who was quoted in the article, Fatima Cody Stanford, an internist who specializes in obesity medicine, also insists that weight is an important measure. She notes that U.S. medical schools do a terrible job teaching students about weight, and that many people don’t visit their doctors very often. Stanford says she would tweak the card to something that says:

“I’m happy to get weighed but please do not provide any negative or derogatory comments associated with my weight.”

That way, the doctor gets their data, and the patient doesn’t have to deal with fat shaming. I would add, though, that in my case, it would not be true that I am “happy to get weighed”. I hate being weighed every time. It causes me a lot of distress, and that’s why I avoid doctors unless I’m about to croak. So I think Dr. Stanford might want to rethink that wording, although I appreciate that she recognizes how upsetting being weighed is for some patients.

I looked at Element Primary Care’s Web site, and it appears that their approach to care is different on many levels. For instance, I notice they offer telemedicine appointments, focus on keeping their practice small, and it appears that instead of using a traditional insurance model, they provide care for a monthly fee. This eliminates co-pays and insurance deductibles, and allows patients to access care when they need it. The direct primary care membership plan can be combined with a high deductible/less expensive insurance plan which would cover hospital care or other unforeseen care needs that still use the traditional insurance model. I have heard of a growing number physicians’ practices eschewing traditional insurance coverage, which allows them to be able to make medical decisions that don’t have to go through third parties at insurance companies. I think it’s a great idea, although it will probably take some time for it to catch on nationwide. Change can be slow, but I do think overhauling our health insurance model could be a game changer for a lot of people.

At Element Primary Care, about half of the patients decline to be weighed, but some will weigh themselves at home and report their weight that way. Or, if they have a condition that requires their weight to be monitored, the patient can turn backwards on the scale, which is how many eating disorder patients get treated. That way, they don’t have to know that number, and it won’t affect their psyche. The cards allow the patients to advocate for themselves and be more of team member in their healthcare. It may also make them feel “safer” from judgment and humiliation. Personally, I don’t weigh myself at all anymore, and when I have gone to see the doctor, I don’t let them tell me how much I weigh. I know from personal experience that knowing the number can lead to distress.

I think the pandemic has caused a lot of issues with weight and mental health. I recently read that a number of young people have developed eating disorders during the pandemic. Even President Biden is addressing it, which is very fitting, since National Eating Disorders Awareness Week begins today. Kudos to Mr. Biden for bringing this up, since I know Trump doesn’t care about helping people with eating disorders. I recently read that doctors are seeing a lot of adolescents in emergency rooms, dealing with eating disorders. There’s also a lot of depression and anxiety being reported, due to the pandemic. I think any measure that makes seeking help easier is commendable.

While it may not always be medically appropriate to skip stepping on the scale, I like the fact that some healthcare professionals are noticing and addressing this issue. And I think it’s amazing that some people are empowering themselves by presenting these cards, although I would not be surprised if some people get lectured by their doctors for not being weighed. I would like to see less lectures from doctors as a general rule. People need to take ownership for their own health, and physicians need to stop seeing patients as people who need to be given orders or lectures about taking care of themselves. Especially if they are competent adults.

Anyway… I probably won’t be going to see a doctor anytime soon, and in fact, I hope I don’t live to be super old. I think it’s overrated. But I definitely think the cards are kind of cool, even if I’m sure they don’t always go over too well with more traditional physicians. I know that if I had given one to my ex psychiatrist, for instance, he probably would have laughed me out of his office. And he never weighed me once– but he did fat shame me quite a few times before I told him to stop. He also gave me a prescription for Topamax off label, hoping it would slim me down. Is it any wonder why I hate seeing doctors?

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bad TV, celebrities, healthcare, LDS

Repost: Ricky Schroder’s kids and prejudice about healthcare providers…

I’m reposting this old post from my original OH blog because today I intend to write fresh content about the actor, Ricky Schroder. I may want to reference this post. I’m leaving it as/is, so pretend it’s still 2017 if you choose to read it.

This morning’s topic is somewhat of a rerun with a new twist.  Yesterday, I spent most of the day watching a totally vapid Lifetime show called Growing Up Supermodel.  It starred the children of several formerly hot models and actors.  These kids all grew up in California and their parents are somewhat wealthy… Don’t know if they’d hang out together if they weren’t thrown together for reality TV.

One of the families profiled was Ricky Schroder’s.  Ricky Schroder, as you might know, was a big kid star in the early 80s.  Women from my generation had mad crushes on him.  I never found him that attractive because he was too baby faced for my liking.  However, I will admit that he had a certain ethereal look to him– blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin.  He looked angelic.  That look has now kind of passed because he’s apparently sporting a full beard and darker (probably dyed) hair now.


Ricky doesn’t like the show.

Ricky Schroder’s now ex wife, Andrea, was raised LDS.  She and Ricky have since left the church.  Andrea has a very deep, husky voice.  She sounds like a pack a day smoker.  She and Ricky were married for 24 years when she filed for divorce.  They had four children together.  The two youngest, their daughters, Cambrie and Faith, were featured on Growing Up Supermodel.  Ricky Schroder’s daughters are stunning.  Cambrie looks like a young Brooke Shields.  Faith is similarly lovely.  They probably could be legit models.  Andrea seems a bit immature and evidently lacks parenting skills.  She doesn’t discipline; she claims that was Ricky’s job.  Moreover, in more than one scene, it appears that her older daughter is more mature and actually more of a parent than Andrea is.  I watched Cambrie comfort her mother and try to discipline her teenaged sister while Andrea whined about the divorce and how “lost” she feels. 


Andrea and the girls… 

As I mentioned before, I spent all day yesterday watching this show. It was incredibly mindless. At times, it was downright frustrating and annoying. And yet, it was also kind of like watching a trainwreck– awful, yet hard to turn away from. Other people on the show included Kelly LeBrock, who was a hot model/actress in the 80s and is now a very down to earth mother of three. Her youngest daughter, Arissa, is an aspiring plus sized model. She looks a lot like her father, Steven Seagal. I actually liked Kelly and her daughter. I think they should get their own show.

Watching the manufactured drama on Growing Up Supermodel made me curious about Ricky Schroder’s Mormon conversion story.  I know he grew up without religion.  Courtesy of Deseret News, I found a rather sickening tale of how Ricky had struggled to believe in the church, even after he was converted.  His mind was changed when he was hunting with his dad and a friend and shot a buck.  Sadly, the bullet only wounded the beast.  Ricky felt like shit because the deer was wounded and would now suffer.  It was getting dark and he couldn’t find the buck to put him out of his misery.  Ricky prayed to Heavenly Father and, miraculously, was able to find and kill the buck.  This led him to believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “true”.  Or, at least he believed for awhile. 

It’s pretty clear that he and Andrea are now outside of Mormonism.  Andrea was sporting a cross necklace and spoke of starting a drinking habit.  Their gorgeous daughters do not dress like Mormons.  And Ricky, whose conversion story was pretty shaky from the get go, has moved to Atlanta, though plans to come back to California when he’s needed.  Of the Schroders who were featured on the show, Ricky (who says he hopes the show will get cancelled) seems to be the most reasonable and grounded.  Apparently, he was the sole disciplinarian in their clan.  After watching his wife and daughters, I have to say I pity anyone who dates Ricky Schroder now. 

I posted about my impressions of Growing Up Supermodel on RfM.  Afterwards, I noticed someone had started a thread called Mormon dentists.  The anonymous poster, who lives near my old stomping grounds in northern Virginia, says their family is searching for a new dentist and they (apparently) want to avoid Mormon dentists.  He or she was asking how one can tell.  I must admit that I could empathize with their question.  A few years ago, when we lived in Texas, I similarly avoided a dentist who was obviously LDS.  Of course, it never occurred to me to want to ask that question of a healthcare provider ahead of time.  The truth is, I don’t really care what a person’s religious beliefs are as long as they’re private, especially in a professional situation.  But when it’s very obvious what someone’s religion is, it does send a message.  I figured it would be better to choose one of the many other dentists in San Antonio… someone with whom I would be more compatible.  As much as we’d like to be open-minded about everything, the fact is, everybody judges to some extent.  

The responses to the poster’s question were interesting.  I was actually kind of surprised no one lectured the person for being bigoted, even though RfM is the “recovery from Mormonism” message board.  Sometimes, the people who frequent that board can be rigid in their thinking and very vociferous about expressing themselves.  A lot of people have a trigger PC response when it comes to “prejudice” in that they think it’s always wrong.  Honestly, I think many people don’t actually stop and think long and hard about this kind of issue.  Many of us have been conditioned to be open-minded at all costs.  But when it comes to healthcare, I think it’s very important to have a good rapport– if at all possible.  If a provider is very obvious about a lifestyle choice that makes a patient uncomfortable, I do think the patient has the right to seek care elsewhere…  even if that means the person is being “bigoted”.   

If you read this blog regularly, you may have read about my tendency to avoid medical people.  It’s strange that I would be this way, given my training in public health and social work.  On the other hand, maybe it’s partly because of my training that I avoid medical people.  I think the main reason I avoid doctors is because I had a very bad experience with an OB-GYN back in the 90s.  I don’t know if I have a tendency to become phobic or it’s just garden variety anxiety, but ever since that disastrous first “women’s health” exam, I often have almost full blown anxiety attacks when I must see a doctor.  Fortunately, I am ridiculously healthy. 

Because of my anxiety around medical people, I fully support being picky about choosing a healthcare provider.  I think a patient’s comfort and ability to trust is of paramount importance.  So while it may be anti-PC or “bigoted” to reject an obviously Mormon dentist, I think that’s okay.  The main point is that the person gets the care he or she needs from a provider with whom they feel comfortable.  Otherwise, they might end up phobic, like me.

I turned 40 in 2012, when we lived in North Carolina.  Because Bill was still on active duty at the time, I was assigned a primary healthcare provider at Fort Bragg.  Because I had turned 40, they determined it was time for a mammogram.  I got the phone call one October day and the person who called gave me the name of my provider, a woman I had never seen before.

I took down the woman’s name and looked her up on the Internet.  I soon discovered that she was quite a bit younger than I am and likes to party.  Her social media accounts were rather public and, to be honest, turned me off.  I decided I would not see her.  I happened to casually mention this decision to some now former online friends of mine.  Quite a few of them took me to task and proceeded to try to school me, which did nothing more than piss me off.  I got a lot of impassioned lectures about how it’s wrong to be “judgmental”.  However, when it comes to my health, I think I have the right to judge.  If you’re in the business of providing healthcare, it is incumbent upon you to put forth a professional, experienced, and mature image.  If you aren’t experienced or mature, I think you should learn how to fake it convincingly until you are.

I completely understand that medical providers have lives outside of their work.  I also get that a person’s activities outside of the professional environment may have zero bearing on how well they do their jobs.  However, I don’t think it is incumbent upon me to give healthcare providers a chance to prove themselves to me (or anyone else).  It’s my body.  It’s my health.  Due to my past experiences with a horrible (and female) OB-GYN, I have special needs when it comes to my healthcare.  I need to find someone with whom I will feel very comfortable.  I did not feel comfortable when I saw this woman’s public posts on social media.  I had a feeling she would not be mature or experienced enough to deal with my specific issues.  Moreover, I was just a name on a piece of paper to her.  My decision not to see her would not affect her in any way.  Maybe it was wrong to be prejudicial, but dammit, I think I have the right to have high standards regarding anyone who will be examining my private parts.

Incidentally, Bill later saw the woman to whom I’d been assigned.  It turned out my instincts about her were dead on.  He said she was quite inexperienced and tried to prescribe medications for his blood pressure that he can’t take.  She also lectured him about too much salt on his food.  In addition to having high blood pressure, Bill also has hyponatremia.  It’s a rare hereditary condition he shares with his father.  It means his sodium level is abnormally low, despite the fact that his blood pressure is high.  Most people with high blood pressure need to reduce their salt intake, but if Bill did that, he’d be putting himself at risk.  Experienced doctors know that if one has hyponatremia, salting food is essential, even if the person also has hypertension.  Extremely low sodium levels in the blood can be deadly.

Bill said the provider I rejected gave him a lot of textbook answers during their visit.  She was clearly very “green”, which I understand is normal for new providers.  They have to learn somehow.  But she would not have been a good choice for me.  I don’t have to volunteer to “train” this provider if it compromises my comfort.  Making people comfortable is a very important aspect of a healthcare provider’s training.  I think if I feel uncomfortable before I’ve even walked into a provider’s office, that’s a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.  Also, the older I get, the more I realize that I should listen to my gut feelings.  They usually turn out to be right.

Naturally, there are times when you won’t have a choice of providers.  If you’re in an emergency situation, you may find yourself being tended to by a doctor with multiple tattoos and piercings.  Some people are fine with that.  Other people aren’t.  Or you may find yourself being resuscitated by someone who looks like he just got off his Mormon mission.  You won’t have a choice in that situation.  You may even find that it doesn’t matter anymore after that.  On the other hand, I didn’t have a choice of OB-GYNS back in 1995 and I wound up with a woman who really hurt me.  So now, I insist on being comfortable.  I think everyone should, as much as the situation allows. 

As for the person asking about how to tell if a dentist is LDS, I think he or she has the right to determine a comfort zone.  If someone’s obvious religious proclivities are a turn off, I think it’s okay to make another choice.  There’s no shame in that.  Northern Virginia is full of people who need healthcare and plenty of people will not have issues with a provider’s religion.  Some people would even choose a provider based on shared religious beliefs. 

It’s all about getting the best outcome and being comfortable.  And frankly, knowing what I know about LDS beliefs, I think I’d be a bit wary myself of someone who is very obviously Mormon.  Think of Ricky Schroder’s decision to believe in the LDS church because he was able to find and kill the buck he wounded.  It’s all about exercising good judgment.  When it comes to healthcare providers, it’s probably best for them to leave religion out of the picture and lock down all social media accounts.  Don’t give people a reason to get the “wrong impression”. 

And here are the original comments:

6 comments:

  1. AlexisARDecember 30, 2017 at 3:37 AMYou need to be comfortable with an OBGYN. A younger health care provider really should to be all the more cautious with regard to social media than should a more established healthcare provider. She may be highly professional while on the job, but, unfortunately, if one does not succeed in keeping one’s private life truly private, it’s possible for one’s actions while not on the job to interfere with others’ perceptions of one’s professionalism.ReplyReplies
    1. knottyDecember 30, 2017 at 7:06 AMYes, exactly.  

      Plenty of women would reject male OB-GYNs simply for being male. They could be excellent doctors, but many women would rather see a mediocre female doctor than an excellent male one. The woman who examined me the first time was pretty awful in my opinion. Others might love her.

      I’m surprised you don’t have any comments about Ricky Schroder’s family. Maybe I’m just getting too old.
    2. AlexisARDecember 30, 2017 at 8:12 AMThe OBGYN I see is male. I’m very comfortable with him. i might be equally comfortable with a female OBGYN in the future. It just depends on the doctor. 

      I hadn’t read the “Mormon Dentists” posts. I noticed that Scott posted there. He thinks it is inappropriate to ask. I’m inclined to agree. I have no problem with anyone rejecting me as a physician or surgeon based on my religion. If for any reason they don’t want to be treated by a not terribly devout Catholic, I would rather they go elsewhere. At the same time, I don’t think I would answer the question if posed to me in a professional setting. It’s no one’s business. If a person would rather not be treated by me because I don’t want to answer any questions about my religion, that would be fine with me. And I do get why someone might want to know, as there have been times in my life when I wouldn’t have wanted any of my insurance funds to go to supporting the Mormon church. If a person is over-the-top religious, it’s not usually hard to determine his or her religious affiliation with very minimal sleuthing. If the person isn’t extreme, I personally don’t think his or her religion matters. 

      I don’t feel strongly enough about it to instruct my staff never to answer such questions. That would be up to them if they actually knew the answer. I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve to the extent that my future employees would necessarily know of my religious affiliation. If someone works for you for long enough, it probably comes up in a conversation eventually, but the person might not know right away.

      I noticed that Cheryl at RFM, whom I usually agree with, thought it was perfectly OK to inquire as to the religion of a dentist. That surprised me. I know that she was a teacher. I wonder if she would have been be OK with students’ parents questioning her about her religious affiliation. I can’t imagine that she would have welcomed such questioning. I’ve substituted but will never be an actual teacher, though I’ve been around family members including my mom who were or are in the education profession for my whole life. They’re pretty consistent on not wanting a kid in their classes if the kid’s parent would prefer for any reason that the kid be taught by someone else, but at the same time I think the consensus would be that a parent has no business asking questions about a teacher’s religion. (What the parent does does in a gossipy setting is of no consequence; I’m referring to asking the teacher herself/himself or asking administration about it.) If a parent has good reason to believe that something inappropriate has been said in the course of instruction eithr with the parent’s child or reliably reported from an earlier situation that was somehow influenced by the teacher’s religion, that’s a different matter, and the discussion might then be appropriate, but most teachers don’t say inappropriate things pertaining to religion or to much of anything else.
  2. knottyDecember 30, 2017 at 9:56 AMI think it’s inappropriate to directly ask about religion, too. But if it’s obvious what the religion is, that could be an indication that problems may arise. People are going to be picky about all kinds of things. No matter how we try to squelch prejudice, it’s always going to be an issue to some extent.ReplyReplies
    1. AlexisARDecember 30, 2017 at 11:12 PMI understand prejudice and don’t actually have that big a problem with it. Despite the fact that my cohort was 54% female initially and is still 50% female, a whole lot of people want to be treated by male doctors. in the end, if someone wants another surgeon to operate on his or her kid, i’m good with it. Whatever. I don’t want to operate on anyone who doesn’t want me to.

      I just don’t want to be asked about my religion in the workplace, and would assume that most healthcare professionals feel similarly.

      It isn’t hard to find out. And if the person is the offensive and over-the-top sort of Mormon (or anything else, for that matter), it really isn’t hard to figure it out. If it’s very difficult to find out a health practitioner’s religion, chances are that it won’t impact his or her patients in a very significant way.
    2. knottyDecember 31, 2017 at 6:21 AMI agree. Usually the really obnoxiously religious show themselves before that question would need to come up.
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healthcare, Military, Trump

Some Trump supporters finally turned blue…

This morning, I read about how some folks in Omaha, Nebraska ended up having to visit a hospital after spending several hours stranded in below freezing weather. Why did this happen? Because they decided to attend a late night Trump rally at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield, a site served by a two-lane road. There were so many people there that the demand for shuttle buses was very high and people had to wait, apparently unprepared for prolonged exposure to the frigid temperatures.

According to The Guardian, there were thousands of people waiting for shuttle buses hours after Trump’s plane had already departed the area. Some people attempted to walk to the distant parking lots where their cars awaited, about two or three miles away from the rally site. Then, once they got to their cars, they were stuck in snarled traffic for hours. Many of the people who were at the rally were elderly people, and several of them were so badly affected by the cold that they needed urgent medical attention.

I imagine a scene much like the one Bill and I experienced after we saw Elton John in concert in Stuttgart in May 2019. He happened to be performing at the same time as the 2019 spring festival, so traffic was hellish. It took a couple of hours to make it the few kilometers to our hotel, but at least we weren’t freezing cold. I just remember really having to pee.

In a Washington Post article about Trump’s rally, Johnathan Sundat, a 19 year old attendee from South Dakota who had driven four hours to the rally with his girlfriend, posted a tweet demanding an explanation from the Trump campaign. Sundat is quoted:

“There’s this belief that Donald Trump is for the common people, and that’s part of the reason why he won in 2016. But the reason why I wanted to tweet it is because I do believe in part of his message; I believe in some of the things he said that night, and it was kind of disappointing that a campaign would treat you like that.”

Interestingly enough, when I tried to read Mr. Sundat’s tweet, it had been deleted. I kind of wonder if maybe he got some backlash for daring to question Trump after being quoted by a major newspaper. Other people also tweeted their dismay that they were literally left out in the cold by Trump just days before the election. Add in the fact that all of these people were gathering during the pandemic, and a lot of them weren’t following social distancing guidelines. According to The Washington Post, there were about 25,000 people at the rally. And although the campaign staffers took temperatures and provided face masks, many people didn’t bother to wear them. Instead, they all crowded on risers. When the event was over, some of the people who attended were still waiting for a bus back to the parking area 3.5 hours after Trump had left on Air Force One.

Frankly, I think this event nicely illustrates what Trump has done since 2016. He’s figuratively left a lot of people “out in the cold”. And I think Mr. Sundat was quite astute when he realized that Trump’s image of being a plain speaker like the “common folk” was not actually based in truth. I hope that means Mr. Sundat will reconsider voting for Trump next week, but somehow, I have my doubts that he’s learned from his own newly acquired insight. Indeed, in the article, Sundat was quoted as saying that his feet were a little numb, but he’d probably do it again:

“Like I said in my comment, it was pretty disheartening,” he said. He added that he didn’t blame Trump himself: “It’s probably not him scheduling the buses.”

No, it’s not him scheduling the buses, Johnathan, but it is his event and ultimately, it’s his image on the line. People hired on his behalf to set up this rally let down you and thousands of other people. He’s been doing that for years now. Haven’t you learned? And those people who needed medical assistance will be stuck with the bill, not Donald Trump. The buck should stop with Mr. Trump, but you want to give him a pass because he’s not scheduling the buses? Why didn’t he expect his people “scheduling the buses” to foresee this disaster and avoid it? Why isn’t he concerned about the people who came out in the cold to support him, at great personal and financial risk?

My husband spent thirty years in the Army. He’s often told me what the Army expects of its leaders. For example, in the early days of Bill’s career, he had a company command. That duty entailed leading enlisted Soldiers in training, rather than sitting behind a desk. Bill told me that in the Army, good leaders make sure their followers get their needs taken care of first. For example, after a full day of training, everybody’s tired and hungry. But as an officer in charge of a large group of young Soldiers, it was Bill’s duty to see that they all had a chance to eat and drink. That meant waiting until every last man or woman was served, and potentially not getting any food or being stuck with whatever was left. A good leader also never asks anyone to do anything that he or she is unwilling to do.

Trump literally left those people who came to support his re-election standing out in the cold. It’s the kind of thing he’s been doing for decades. Why his supporters can’t see that, I will never know. And now, some of those people had to visit a hospital, which is especially risky right now, thanks to the pandemic. And some of them will end up with hefty medical bills that they may not be able to pay– bills that they would have avoided if they had simply stayed home. And the longer Trump stays in office, the more emboldened and reckless he seems to get with other people’s lives and livelihoods.

Sadly, I think a lot of people just plain don’t understand what a good leader is and what should be expected of them. Just this morning, as I was waking up, I read an article in the Military Times about how medical personnel from the United States are being flown to the Czech Republic to help take care of people with COVID-19. The virus is overwhelming the medical system in the Czech Republic and there is a critical shortage of medical personnel and equipment there. Many of the people taking care of COVID-19 patients in countries like the Czech Republic and Poland are getting sick themselves, compounding the shortfall.

I read some of the comments on the Facebook page for the Army Times, which is where the article was posted. Many people, who had clearly not bothered to read the article before commenting, were opining about “socialized medicine” and how it’s “so bad”. First of all, anyone who has been in the military and received treatment from a military facility ought to know something about what socialized medicine is. Yes, we have it in the United States, although it’s only for a certain segment of the population. And secondly, socialized medicine has nothing to do with the spread of COVID-19. It’s a very contagious virus about which we still know very little. Even before the pandemic struck, there was a shortage of medical personnel in parts of Eastern Europe. One commenter had this to say:

You didn’t see the US having other countries come in to help with our surge….🤷‍♂️

However… quite a lot of healthcare providers in the United States come from other places, too. And some of them are undocumented immigrants who have been at risk of being deported, thanks to Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies. So… actually, YES, we in the United States do depend on people from other countries to take care of our healthcare needs, too. Moreover, I saw a lot of ignorant comments made by people who have either clearly never lived abroad, yet spouted propaganda about socialized medicine that doesn’t reflect reality, or are tragically misinformed about what the healthcare systems in other countries are like.

I got quite a kick out of a German woman’s comments to an ignorant poster who believes that Germany’s healthcare sucks because he thinks it’s government run. First of all, it’s obvious that this fellow hasn’t the foggiest notion about Germany’s healthcare or how the United States compares to other countries in terms of healthcare quality. Let me put it this way– despite the idea that “you get what you pay for” (which is literally what one uninformed guy wrote)– that ain’t necessarily so when it comes to healthcare delivery. According to a nice, America friendly, U.S. based layman’s source, US News & World Report, as of January 2020, the United States ranked 15th in the world for the most well developed public health system. Given our response to COVID-19, which dates after this article, I’m sure the U.S.’s reputation has slipped. Wanna know where Germany stands on that list? Number 5. Yep… the guy who wrote this:

you get what you pay for. Exactly why The US leads in medical innovation. 
I would be scared to live where health care is free and you wait months on end for a visit while you die. And the “authorities” decide if you “deserve “ treatment… Dear God that is horrid. The VA not much better… mostly treats symptoms and sends you on your way…

clearly has no idea of what he writes. Yes, we spend a lot more on healthcare, but that doesn’t mean our healthcare is the best. In fact, it surprises me that someone who clearly identifies as a political conservative would believe that “throwing money at healthcare” will make it better. Aren’t Republicans the ones who criticize Democrats for spending money to solve problems rather than taking a more restrained fiscal approach?

The German woman who took the above guy to task wrote this to two different commenters who think they know what German healthcare is like:

I am literally laughing. You served? Got some Tricare, eh? What do you think that is? Paid for by WHO? 
Dude, I am from Germany. I had universal healthcare all my life. You know how great it feels when you are REALLY sick and don’t have to worry about how to pay the medical bills, if your house gets foreclosed, or if you still have a job once you get better? 
No you don’t. Go sit down in the corner somewhere. 🤣🤦🏻‍♀️

Guess she’s married to an American serviceman or retiree. She added this comment later.

I am about to fall off my couch. Typically you get way better care at a german hospital. Why? They don’t kick you out 3 days after heart surgery, because ‘insurance won’t cover it’. 
Oh you don’t feel good? Well, too bad…later. 🤣🤣🤣
You get the 250,000$ bill in the mail. 😏

And then she added this for the guy who thinks the US system is better:

what makes you think healthcare is free? We all pay for it. We just are smart enough to understand that getting ill can happen to everybody. 
Who do you think, picks up the bill of american uninsured folk who, when they really can’t take it anymore, show up at an ER. WHO? 😏
Anyways, I understand pretty much everybody who has big opinions about other countries universal heathcare has NEVER experienced it and is clueless about how it works and what the actual benefits are. 😏
Btw ‘made in Germany’ still means something way better than ‘Made in the USA’. 
Where do you think, do 90% of all surgical instruments come from? 😎
You too, go and sit down somewhere.

She’s absolutely right, too. In fact, Bill has an American colleague whose wife was recently diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at Landstuhl, the American military hospital located about 90 minutes from where we live. You would think a diagnosis like that would inspire healthcare workers to want to get cracking on treatment. But no… she couldn’t get a timely follow up appointment from Landstuhl to address the cancer, so she ended up calling on the local system. The German doctors told her to get her ass to the hospital within a couple of hours because they were ready and willing to take care of her NOW. Moreover, the treatment costs less, although since Landstuhl is a military hospital, the cost factor would depend on a lot of things. I’m not sure if her husband is a retiree, for instance, and whether or not she would qualify for free “space available” care at Landstuhl as a family member.

I noticed the guy came back with a smart-assed answer to the German woman who took him to task. I could try to take him to school myself, but I’ve gotta go wash my hair. In any case, it’s clear that he doesn’t know what he’s writing about and has no clue about what constitutes “good” medical care. He would prefer the American system because that is what he knows, and he is convinced that paying a fortune for basic care is what makes medical care in the United States superior to that of what you can get in Europe. It’s a myopic viewpoint that costs people their lives and livelihoods. The fact is, the United States has comparatively poor outcomes, especially considering how much money is spent. Moreover, we have a lot of unhealthy people who can’t access care because they can’t afford it. What good is all that so-called “medical innovation” if you can’t access it? This, my friends, is a topic in my wheelhouse. If I weren’t an “overeducated housewife”, I might have been using my master’s degree in public health to research this stuff.

But anyway… I have already rambled on long enough. I’m glad it’s Friday. Bill will come home later to telework as we gear up for another partial lockdown. Meanwhile, I’m going to pursue making myself a better and more interesting person by practicing guitar. Ciao, y’all.

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