condescending twatbags, healthcare, social media

Repost: Toxic reactions to model’s toxic shock syndrome…

I’m still thinking about what today’s fresh content will be about, so meanwhile, here’s a repost from January 18, 2018. I am reposting it as/is, with minimal edits.

Model Lauren Wasser…

Leave it to George Takei to provide early morning food for thought.  He’s always posting controversial stuff that gets the masses “talking”… or posting.  This morning, he posted about model Lauren Wasser, who, in 2012, lost her right leg to an infection.  Wasser, who is now 29 years old, was 24 when she experienced flu-like symptoms while menstruating.  Wasser was a tampon user and evidently unaware of the risks of toxic shock syndrome, a life threatening bacterial infection that can sometimes come about through tampon use. 

Wasser went to a birthday party the night the infection started and her friends told her she should go home because she looked unwell.  As the night progressed, Wasser grew more ill.  Her fever rose to 107 degrees.  Her kidneys were failing.  She had a heart attack and very nearly died.  Fortunately, there was an infectious disease specialist at the hospital, who recognized the symptoms of TSS and removed the offending tampon.  Wasser’s condition improved, although her mother and godfather were told they should plan her funeral.  Later, doctors told her that she needed to have her right leg amputated or she would die.

Five years after her dramatic medical ordeal, Wasser has also lost her left leg to TSS.  It was the article about her second amputation that I read this morning, just as the coffee was hitting my brain stem.  As horrifying as I realize being a double amputee is bound to be, I was also horrified by some of the nasty comments left by readers.  Some of them apparently think Wasser is wrong to try to bring awareness to how she got so sick. 

Wash your cooter and change your tampon? 

I dunno, maaan. Y’all always be cuttin’ eyes at each other like something may have to go down one day so you don’t wanna get too friendly with each other.

That’s why dudes love seeing gals make out so much: Because we just wanna see y’all gettin’ along. #GirlPower

Yeah I don’t get it. She made a dumb choice and is trying to blame the manufacturer. All tampons come with a warning about TSS and say to leave in no longer than 8 hours. It was also pretty much the first thing you learned in sex Ed. I’m sorry she went through that but there is no crusade to be had.

This is just a sampling…

I will admit, I did laugh inwardly at the one person who compared this situation to that of adults eating Tide laundry pods.  I laughed, not because I think the two situations are comparable, but because I don’t understand how in the world some people can think eating Tide Pods is a good idea.  If I was going to comment about another person’s stupidity and lack of self-preservation, it would be in response to that trend, which seems incredibly foolish to me.  

Wasser’s case, however, just seems very tragic to me.  There she was, a perfectly normal, young, healthy woman living life.  She did what countless women do every month.  She got her period, used a tampon, and came down with a near fatal infection that almost caused her death and robbed her of both of her legs.  I can’t understand how some people think she should be criticized for getting so sick and wanting to share her story.  Isn’t it enough that she’s lost her legs?  

I do remember hearing about the risk of TSS in the early 1980s, when I first learned about menstruation.  I have never been a tampon user myself.  I tried them a couple of times and they were never comfortable, so I have always stuck with using pads.  Some people say that menstrual cups are the best thing going now, but I’ve never used them.  Since it appears that I’m now in perimenopause, I see no reason to try them now.  I haven’t had a period since late November.  This is the first time since I was 14 that I’ve missed a month.  To be honest, it’s kind of a weird feeling knowing that my chances of motherhood are now practically nil.  Where did the years go?  On the other hand…

She’s not wrong!

Anyway, I will be glad to be finished with the whole experience of having periods.  I’m sure some of my readers will be glad when I stop writing about them, too. ETA in 2023: If I make it to New Year’s without having a period, I will be officially in menopause. Yea! 

As for Lauren Wasser, I feel nothing but empathy for her situation.  She’s fortunate to have friends and family who are willing to help her.  Not everyone is so lucky.  I applaud her for being brave enough to speak out about her experience.  TSS is rare, and it doesn’t just happen to women who use tampons.  However, the risks of TSS associated with tampon use should not be overlooked.  I agree with the commenter who mentioned that reading the warnings on boxes of tampons is somewhat akin to reading the terms and conditions on Apple products.  Plenty of women use tampons and don’t know the risks of TSS.  Lauren Wasser’s case puts a tragic face to what can happen.  I think she should be supported rather than criticized.  And if her story saves someone else’s life… or just their legs… so much the better.

healthcare, law, politics, rants, YouTube

Women behind bars are having a bloody awful time handling their periods…

Last week, I wrote a post about how adorable YouTuber, Mama Doctor Jones, who is an OB-GYN and mom to four, did a video about a woman who had a baby while she was incarcerated. I was really moved by Mama Doctor Jones’ reaction video to Jessica Kent’s story. Next thing I knew, I was on Jessica Kent’s YouTube channel, which is full of interesting videos about her time in prison. Jessica Kent is tiny, well-spoken, and apparently sober, having spent much of her youth in trouble with the law.

I haven’t yet familiarized myself with all of Jessica’s story, but I have watched a bunch of her videos. As I listen to how this fiery young woman wound up on the wrong side of the law, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened to her if she’d never gotten arrested. She’s very bright and articulate, and I think she’s determined to go far. Jessica has obviously embraced the power of the Internet, and has a presence all over social media. She’s pursuing a college degree, but I wonder if she’s already making a lot of money creating videos for YouTube.

Last night, I watched a video by Jessica Kent that made me very angry. It was about how she and her fellow female inmates in Arkansas were forced to make tampons out of the maxi pads doled out to them. Jessica explains that female prisoners in Arkansas are not given tampons and, in fact, can only get really poor quality maxi pads– and just two per day at that. Jessica says the pads are state issued, and she’s never seen the type of pads the state issues for sale outside of the prison walls. Because the pads are so poorly made, they have to be turned into tampons, which last longer than the pads do. So Jessica made a video to demonstrate how to make the tampons.

This is absolutely infuriating!

More than once, Jessica implores her viewers not to try to make these “tampons” at home, since the pad she’s using is not really the type she would have used in prison. Apparently, the pads we can get at the store are too “cottony” and “powdery”. In any case, I can’t imagine why someone would want to make a tampon like this if they weren’t incarcerated and forced to do so.

Jessica says that not all states have this draconian limit on feminine hygiene supplies in their prisons. For instance, when she was incarcerated in her home state of New York, Jessica had no problem getting all she needed for that little feminine monthly chore. New York, of course, is a blue state, and human rights are apparently more valued up north.

For some reason, the powers that be running the prisons in Arkansas think that two maxi pads per day are all a female prison inmate needs when she’s menstruating. I think about my own menstrual habits and realize how disgusting and unhygienic that is. As a woman, and a person with a public health educational background, it amazes me that prison officials in Arkansas are allowed to get away with this practice. At the very least, it seems like it would be a serious health risk to everyone who is incarcerated. Many diseases, some of which cannot be cured, are spread via blood exposure. Plus, it’s just so nasty!

I read in another article that, in some prisons, women who can’t get proper feminine hygiene supplies will pass up visits with family or their attorneys when they have their periods. They have to wait until they can get their laundry done, before they’re not sitting in their own blood. Kimberly Haven, the author of that article, writes that before and after each visit, inmates are strip searched, and have to squat and cough. The whole process is so demoralizing and horrifying that a lot of female inmates would prefer to skip it, even though attorneys and family members are powerful advocates for the inmates.

In another article, I read about how, in Connecticut, two female cellmates would have to share five state issued maxi pads among themselves. Every woman is different, of course, so there’s no way to tell how long a period is going to be and how often feminine hygiene products need to be changed. But the inmates in Connecticut also had to learn how to stretch their products out, sometimes by reusing them. The inmates in Connecticut could purchase supplies from the commissary, but for those who don’t have money, that $2.63 cost might mean one less phone call home or not being able to pay for a visit to the prison doctor. Also, realize that prison jobs often pay very little– like 20 or 30 cents an hour. It takes a long time to make enough money to buy the proper supplies if there’s no one on the outside helping.

I have stated before in this blog that I’m not a big fan of incarceration, but I especially dislike inhumane treatment toward people who are incarcerated. Yes, it’s true that the best thing for anyone to do is to avoid going to prison in the first place, but people who are locked up are not going to improve their behavior if they’re treated cruelly. Forcing women to handle their body functions in this way is demeaning and cruel, and it doesn’t deter crime. Prison is supposed to be unpleasant– it shouldn’t be dangerous and unhealthy.

According to my reading:

In 2017, then-Sen. Kamala Harris and her colleagues Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Durbin introduced a bill to provide free menstrual products to incarcerated people in federal women’s prisons. The Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a guidance memo, separate from Harris’ bill, mandating that menstrual products be available to all incarcerated people in federal correctional facilities at no cost shortly after. In 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, a more general justice reform effort that included access to menstrual products. 

So… if you’re a woman who goes to a federal lockup, or a prison in a blue state, you’re more likely to be able to take care of these basic body function needs. But there’s no legislation in most states that require state prisons to accommodate menstrual periods. Frankly, I think that’s a sin, and I would love to see some high profile lawsuits happen that force states to do a better job in this area. In a wealthy country like the United States, this unsanitary practice should be outlawed. We’re supposed to be “better” than this… although I think many Americans are fooling themselves thinking that the United States is a civilized country. When we have female prisoners who are sitting in their own menstrual blood every month for want of adequate feminine hygiene supplies, we’ve lost the right to refer to ourselves as “civilized”.

It’s also unfair that prisons don’t automatically take care of this issue, since this is not a problem that male prisoners have to face. In fact, men don’t even need toilet paper as much as women do, but according to Jessica’s videos, women in Arkansas prisons only get two rolls a week. That’s really not much, especially when it’s that time of the month. But a lot of men involved with making laws don’t want to hear about this problem. It’s too “gross” for them. The first paragraph of an article in the Public Health Post opens with:

When Arizona’s all-male House of Representatives heard House Bill 2222 on feminine hygiene products, Representative Jay Lawrence said “I’m almost sorry I heard the bill…I didn’t expect to hear about pads and tampons and the problems of periods.” Introduced by Rep. Athena Salman, Arizona House Bill 2222 allocates funds to provide women in state prisons with unlimited and free access to feminine hygiene products. Access to sanitary menstrual products is considered a basic human right in European prisons. Not so in the US.

Wow, Jay… you’ve shown us just who you are with your lack of compassion or comprehension of how necessary it is for you, and your male colleagues, to hear a bill about providing necessary supplies for women who menstruate. I wonder if Jay Lawrence can even fathom how humiliating and shaming it is for a woman to have to deal with this problem when she can’t get the supplies she needs. Does he have any women in his life that he loves? What an asshole.

Aside from how gross, messy, and unsanitary this problem is, the practice of turning pads into tampons could potentially be unsafe or even deadly. Consider that the inmates probably don’t have the cleanest surfaces for improvising these products and they may not be able to keep themselves optimally clean. Then they’re sticking the tampons into their body orifices, where the improvised tampon might abrade the skin or otherwise introduce pathogens into the body. An inmate could potentially get very sick or even wind up with toxic shock syndrome doing this. Toxic shock syndrome can lead to sepsis, which can cause a person to lose limbs or even their lives.

A tampon did this to Lauren Wasser.

Model Lauren Wasser, who was not incarcerated when she left a tampon in too long and got toxic shock syndrome, lost BOTH of her legs to the sickness. She very nearly died.

I know a lot of people don’t care about the plight of prisoners. Personally, I still see them as human beings who are entitled to decent, respectful, and humane care when they are incarcerated. And part of being humane is making it possible for people in custody to be able to take care of private, personal body functions like menstrual periods. I know I would support legislation requiring that clean and hygienic feminine hygiene products be made available to women in prisons. I hope others can see how important this is.

And… once again… I am so glad menopause is around the corner.