healthcare, politicians, politics, religion, Trump

Putting my money where my mouth is…

Last night, I did something I’ve never done before. I donated $500 to NARAL Pro-Choice America. Just now, I donated $200 to Planned Parenthood. I decided to make my donations to these two organizations last night after reading insulting, misogynistic, mansplaining comments from men all day. It started with a guy on Twitter who mansplained the effects of pregnancy to a woman and compared it to a hysterectomy. It ended with disgusting comments from a bearded man who wrote several gleeful comments about forcing “loose women” to give birth. By the time I was ready to go to bed, I was seething, and found myself reaching for my credit card.

When I commented on a Washington Post article about abortion rights that I had donated to NARAL, more men came out of the woodwork to deride, lecture, mansplain, and again, ask me if I wasn’t glad my mom didn’t abort me. I blocked every single one of those fuckheads, as well as the women who were complicit in pushing this view that women shouldn’t be allowed to make private healthcare choices for themselves. All of them can go straight to Hell, as far as I’m concerned. This farcical Supreme Court ruling must not stand. People will die.

On Twitter, when I made this comment to the man who had “mansplained” pregnancy and hysterectomies to a woman, I got many likes. I also got a very nasty, angry, misogynistic response from a man who didn’t want me to have a voice. I blocked that fuckhead, too, as well as the ones who decided to use that discussion to make fun of trans people by asking “what is a woman?”. I don’t have time for those people; I don’t want to hear from them; and I don’t want to waste any time responding to their stupidity. They can go to Hell, too.

From yesterday…
To the guy’s credit, he did come back later with a reasonable response… but many more people than the ones reflected in this screenshot liked my post. A couple wrote that they were about to comment the same thing.

Truthfully, I’ve been wanting to donate to pro-choice organizations for a long time. I firmly believe that overturning Roe v. Wade will make American women less safe, and I feel like I have to do my part to help protect women’s rights to healthcare privacy. Women must have competent medical attention exactly when they need it, not when a lawyer says the doctor won’t be sued or jailed. I know that money is powerful. For once, Bill and I have it, and we can use it for something that might make a difference in the world.

When I posted about my donation, I noticed the immediate reactions I got from men who are happy about the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Some of them “laugh reacted”. Some responded offensively. Some tried to “reason” with me. I know that their reactions cover up their real feelings that more people might do what I did. They’re counting on those of us who are for choice to be complacent, and politically inactive. Historically, I have never cared much about politics. I’ve never voted in any primaries, and I’m not a member of any particular political party. I have never donated money to any political action. I only follow a few politicians. But last night, something in me woke up. I’ve been reading so much craziness over the past few days, some of which is coming from politicians who literally want to change the United States into a theocracy.

Republican Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado went as far as to tell a church congregation she’s “tired of this separation of church and state junk.” That woman actually wants to allow CHURCHES to dictate US law! She actually said that the church is supposed to direct the government. I wonder which church she means. She delivered this speech at Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt, Colorado. It’s a non-denominational church. They hosted Lauren Boebert, who is a well-known gun rights activist and MAGA asshat, and allowed her to spew her political bullshit in their church. That’s a misuse of their non-profit 501 [c] tax exempt status. I think churches that allow these kinds of political statements ought to be heavily taxed. It’s not for churches to tell people how to vote. It’s funny, too, because I just typed “IRS report” into Google, and the first recommendation was “IRS report church”.

As an American, I sure as HELL don’t want Lauren Boebert and her ilk leading my country. Moreover, she’s just plain wrong about what the Founding Fathers were aiming for when they drew up our Constitution. Not that I’m all that impressed with the “slave owners who wanted to be free” that the Founding Fathers were (George Carlin). What Boebert proposes is a Christian version of the Taliban. It’s like we’re seeing Serena Joy Waterford forming right in front of us.

From Father Nathan Monk’s Facebook page… his astute comment regarding Christianity was immortalized by an artist named panhandle_slim_

Even though I am beyond pregnancy myself, and I know that I will never be in a situation in which I will want or need to have an abortion, I think it’s important to preserve reproductive rights for younger people. My husband has a granddaughter who will be turning 3 in a few days. There’s every chance that she might need an abortion at some point in her life. Her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother have all had difficult pregnancies, to include miscarriages, and in her grandmother’s case, dissociating from reality during labor. She should be able to privately access that procedure without interference from an uninvolved person. And as a soon to be member of the LDS church, she shouldn’t be forced to live under laws that are dreamed up by evangelicals and Catholics. We have religious freedom in the United States, and that’s how is should be… that means freedom to practice any religion, and freedom NOT to practice. And no one’s healthcare choices should be determined by laws that are influenced by a specific religion.

So yeah, I’m really pissed off… pissed off enough that I spent $700 to do something about this fucking mess created by Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of that merry band of misogynists. And you know what? It felt really good. We won’t miss the money, and it will go to what I know is a very good cause– that of preventing power mad Republican MALES and clueless women from interfering in and invading the private healthcare decisions of women who want or need abortion care… or any other type of healthcare. Especially since we all know that the message in the below screenshot is so true…

You can count on that and take it straight to the bank. I think Panhandle_slim_ is also responsible for the above sign, which was photographed on the side of a busy street in Savannah, Georgia.
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healthcare, law, narcissists, Trump

“PLeaSe DOn’T AbORT! wE wIlL aDopT yOuR bAby!”

Recently, I started paying a lot more attention to Twitter than I used to. I never liked using Twitter before, because I don’t like having character limits on my posts. Also, I just never got into it. When Trump was president, he was constantly on Twitter, and I didn’t want to be exposed to his constant stream of shit. I actually blocked Donald Trump on Twitter before he got banned.

But lately, I have slowly been warming up to Twitter and posting more tweets. Most of my tweets are autogenerated by Untappd– a beer tracking app, but I have been making a point of sharing links to blog posts. I’ve also been following the musician, Anthony D’Amato, whom Bill and I had the pleasure of seeing open for Keb’ Mo’ last month. He’s very intelligent, witty, and shares my perspective on a number of issues. I like his music. He’s also pretty responsive.

I probably got more into Twitter in March, when USAA got me extremely pissed. I would go on Twitter to read comments from other outraged customers who have been let down by them lately. Bill and I are trying to divest ourselves from USAA, but it’s proving to be difficult for a lot of reasons. But we did manage to move our car loan and open another checking account at a different bank. As that gets more established, we will be moving more of our stuff out of Texas… USAA is based in Texas, of course, but Texas is also at the root of the abortion access crisis we’re facing now, thanks to the ridiculous decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. I spent the weekend reading a lot of reactions to this decision, and I am truly frightened for the future. I am pretty sure women will DIE because of this nonsense.

This morning, I got an email from Twitter with a digest of people it thinks I want to follow (but I don’t actually follow). In the email, there was a link to someone named Matt Oswalt. I don’t even know who the hell Matt Oswalt is. I should probably find out, since his tweet that appeared in this morning’s Twitter email is the inspiration for today’s blog post. According to his handle, Matt Oswalt is a comedian, and further research shows that he’s the brother of Patton Oswalt, who is also a comedian. And look at that! They’re from Virginia! Okay… now I feel caught up on things.

Cool.

So, this morning I saw the below tweet from Matt Oswalt.

Keep in mind, I didn’t know who or what Matt Oswalt was when I first saw the above tweet. I started reading the responses from people. Some of the comments were pretty funny. Some were outraged. A lot of people were engaging in a conversation that I’ve had with a few strangers myself, lately. Like, for instance, it shouldn’t be up to women who are unintentionally pregnant and unable to access abortion to provide babies for infertile people. Pregnancy and parenting are different issues. Giving a baby up for adoption is an extremely difficult and complicated decision. But, aside from that, there’s something really creepy about this couple…

Eeew.

And this one…

No thanks.

I mean, they could be wonderful people. They sure smile big and pretty. But they also look like the kind of people who would send their kid to a church where girls are routinely taught that having sex before marriage makes them akin to a shattered vase, a chewed piece of gum, a wilted rose, or a licked cupcake. Or maybe they’d “lovingly” kick the kid out of the house if he turned out to be gay, or preferred to be an atheist.

I can understand why a lot of women don’t want to give up their babies, even if they are ill equipped to raise them. Adoption may be a very loving and mature thing to do, or it could be a disaster. At least if a woman has an abortion, she knows what became of her baby. If she does it early enough, there’s no chance to bond. But going through nine months of pregnancy, feeling the fetus grow and kick, watching her body change irreversibly, and putting her life on the line has a way of creating a bond. And when the baby is born, those hormones kick into full force. The prospect of handing one’s baby over to a woman with a vacuous stare and the personality of mashed potatoes and her hungry looking husband is not very appealing. Like anything else, adoption is a crapshoot.

I know some adoptees, because when I was born, abortion wasn’t available everywhere. A number of people in my generation were adopted. Some adoptees had really good experiences and were raised by excellent people. Others had terrible experiences and felt rejected by their birth parents. The psychological injury that resulted from that rejection led to significant character disorders.

For instance, Bill’s former wife was adopted, and her childhood was a disaster. She didn’t know her adoptive father until she was seven years old, because he was a Merchant Marine and went to sea a lot. According to Bill, Ex’s adoptive father was comparably decent compared to her adoptive mother. That doesn’t mean he was a really great guy– he was married several times, and once reportedly got his marriage annulled from a woman he’d been married to for two days because he didn’t like the way she smelled. But at least he provided for his kids, and wasn’t extremely abusive to them. I guess he was just guilty of abandoning and neglecting them– or, at least he was guilty of abandoning Ex.

Ex’s mother divorced Ex’s father when Ex was very young. Ex’s mom then married a wealthy but evil man, with whom she later had a couple of bio children. For the first few years of her life, Ex reportedly believed her stepfather was her dad, because her adoptive dad wasn’t in her life. Ex was horrifically abused by her stepfather, and her mother turned a blind eye to it because it meant her husband left her bio kids alone. The end result of that upbringing was, in part, a woman who exploits her children and uses them as weapons against their own family members. That upbringing resulted in a woman who tweets celebrities, begging for money and narcissistic supply. She was rejected by her bio parents, and abused by her adoptive parents, and the reality of that is crushing. It’s the house of horrors that built Ex.

Here’s another example of an adoptee who went off the rails. In 2007, Bill went to war in Iraq with a narcissistic man who was adopted. Bill’s boss hated his adoptive mother. Actually, he seemed to hate all women, as he would openly deride and disrespect them. He would not let female doctors or dentists examine him, and he would be openly disdainful toward female officers. I have a female childhood friend who recently retired as an Air Force colonel. She is extremely well respected in the Army and Air Force, especially in special operations and military intelligence. She once had to report to Bill’s former boss, and he was openly rude to her, simply because she does not possess a penis. This man did not think women had any place in the military, and he behaved accordingly.

A few years after they deployed together, this colonel who had been Bill’s boss was very publicly fired for abusing his troops in Iraq. He had been on track to be a general officer, but too many people reported his egregiously horrible and dangerous leadership. He was relieved of duty and sent back to the States where he was forced to retire as a colonel, instead of the brigadier general he had been slated to become within weeks. There was a huge, embarrassing article about it in the Army Times. A quick Google search still shows plenty of mentions about what an absolutely terrible boss he is and how he disgraced himself in a war zone, abusing his troops and putting them in danger.

I remember Bill would call me from Iraq and talk about his boss… a man who delighted in abusing people. My blood would boil as I heard my husband talk about how his boss reminded him of Ex, and how my husband was in a war zone, which was stressful enough, and having to endure psychological abuse from his superior. I took comfort in knowing that I had warned his boss not to get my husband killed, because I would be coming after his ass if he did. I had said that in a joking manner, but Bill told me his boss took what I said very seriously. He was clearly not used to being spoken to in such a way by a woman, and since I wasn’t his underling, there was nothing he could do about it. He probably figured that if I had the nerve to say such a thing to him, I would follow up on my threats if he didn’t bring Bill home to me. Also… the colonel the narcissistic boss was replacing was killed in a helicopter crash a week before he and Bill arrived in Iraq, and his narcissism would not allow a similar fate to befall him or Bill. So he did take care of Bill, and made a point of not putting him in very dangerous situations. But that care came at a cost. He often mentioned my comment to Bill, and harassed him about it.

I remember asking Bill in 2007 why he wouldn’t report his boss. Bill said that if he reported him, he would be the one who would be punished. In Bill’s situation, it was just him and the colonel, not a brigade of troops, as the colonel was commanding when he got fired. So if Bill had complained, he would have looked weak and whiny. But… if Bill had complained, he would have done his part to try to stop an abuser from staying in charge. It might not have worked in the short term, but they would have had some precedence– a record of his abuse toward an officer in a war zone. Maybe things would have turned out better. Unfortunately, the military still has a long way to go in dealing with abusers.

I’m not at all saying that all adoptees turn out the way Ex and Bill’s former boss did, or even that being adopted was what caused them to be the way they are. I’m saying that adoption is a crapshoot, and sometimes adopted children have hellish childhoods that can turn them into terrible people. A lot of people like to talk about how adopted children are lucky because they were “chosen”, and of anyone, they should be the most in favor of the “pro-life” argument. But I have read comments from people who were adopted and wound up very conflicted, confused, and damaged by the experience. It’s not always a happy ending for those kids.

I do know a number of adoptees who grew up healthy, strong, and mentally balanced– including Bill’s half sister, who was adopted by his father and stepmother. It’s just that in both of the cases I presented in this post, it seems that being adopted had wounded the adoptees in some way. They didn’t feel the unconditional love and acceptance that all humans need to develop normal empathy. If their bio parents had raised them, they might have still turned out to be narcissists. Plenty of non adopted people are narcissistic. But in both of these cases, the adoptees reported not being loved and accepted when they were very young. Ex was used as a source of sadistic pleasure for her stepfather, in exchange for leaving his bio children alone. I’m not sure why the colonel hated his mother– Bill just told me that he had no regard for her, but he worshiped his father. And, in fact, the colonel was fired after having gone home to the States for his mother’s funeral. He probably hates her even more, now.

Adoption causes a lot of issues that the pro-life crowd wants to ignore. Aside from that, people who want to adopt usually want babies… preferably healthy white ones with no intellectual, physical, or psychological defects. Considering that we don’t offer universal healthcare in the United States, it stands to reason that a lot of women who will be forced to gestate won’t have access to the best prenatal care. Or, maybe the woman who is being forced to birth might deliberately neglect herself, hoping for a miscarriage… until the laws are made that force pregnant people to “take care of themselves” or risk being imprisoned, where pregnant people are also treated very poorly (and I’ve noticed lots of conservative men cheering about the prospect of jailing women over pregnancy– why are Americans so in love with the idea of warehousing humans in prisons?).

I mentioned recently that the foster care system in the United States is full of children who desperately need families. As red states gleefully ban abortion, some people are delighted at the prospect of a bumper crop of babies to adopt, as poor women with no means to travel to less misogynistic places will be forced to gestate. But many of those women still won’t choose adoption, so a lot of those babies will be raised in terrible circumstances that will trap them in abuse and poverty.

Yup…

The adoption thing isn’t the only issue to come up after the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision on Friday. Women’s lives are already in jeopardy in red states, because now doctors are feeling that they have to be especially careful in dealing with pregnant women in crisis. Last night, I saw this Tik Tok video from a nurse with a platform. Another nurse had written to her, explaining how a woman had come into the hospital with an ectopic pregnancy just after the ruling was overturned and a trigger law went into effect. The doctor would not treat her until he had spoken with a lawyer about how to get around the law and not lose his license. By the time she got surgery, nine hours had passed, and she had 600 ccs of blood in her abdomen. She had almost bled out and died, when a week prior, the doctor would not have hesitated to immediately do the necessary surgery to save her life.

@travelingnurse #greenscreen I hate it here #nursesoftiktok ♬ original sound – Lex RN BSN

It’s terrifying to be a woman who can get pregnant these days.

Meanwhile, we have moronic Republican representatives like Mary Miller of Illinois, praising Donald Trump for the overturning of Roe v. Wade as a “historic victory for white life”. Her exact words were “President Trump, on behalf of all the MAGA patriots in America, I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday…” What a stupid woman. But she’s probably only echoing what a lot of very ignorant people in the United States are thinking… until they or their loved ones are the ones whose lives are in danger because of this situation.

And then there’s Utah’s Republican Representative Karianne Lisonbee, who said this:

“I got a text message today saying I should seek to control men’s ejaculations and not women’s pregnancies,” Lisonbee told reporters during a news conference, adding that the message suggested: “that I clearly don’t trust women enough to make choices to control their own body.”

“And my response is I do trust women enough to control when they allow a man to ejaculate inside of them and to control that intake of semen,” she said.

She should be deeply ashamed of herself. What an asinine and CRUEL comment. She’s a traitor to women.

Well, anyway… I am pissed off about this. I am one of many people who are pissed off about this. I’m not sure what I can do, other than to keep writing, tweeting, and voting. We are indeed living in “interesting times”.

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LDS, politicians, politics, Trump

Rusty Bowers is one decent American… wish there were more of them in the Republican Party.

Special thanks to Gage Skidmore for use of a cropped version of his photo, which appears on Russell Bowers’ Wikipedia page.

I’ve been pretty busy since I got home from Belgium yesterday, and because I woke up feeling a little icky this morning, I needed a nap. However, I did manage to read one article about the Arizona House Speaker and Republican who put his foot down against Donald Trump and his goons, who insisted that Biden won the presidential election fraudulently. Bowers had voted for Donald Trump and campaigned for him. But he was unwilling to violate the law for him by overturning the 2020 Arizona election results. Rudy Giuliani, a man who was once lauded for the way he handled 9/11 as the Mayor of New York City, came to Bowers and tried to convince him to cheat for Trump. Giuliani told Bowers they had “theories” but no evidence, that the 2020 results were “rigged” against Donald Trump.

This is a brave and ethical man. Bravo to Russell Bowers. As Americans, we should demanding that ALL of our lawmakers are more like Bowers than Trump.

Bowers, who is an artist, storyteller, and devout Mormon, declared that he would not be fixing the results of the election in Trump’s favor. He explained that his faith teaches that the Constitution is divinely inspired, and he took an oath to uphold it. He would NOT be violating his oath for Trump, even though Trump was the candidate he supported. When Giuliani and his lawyer, Jenna Ellis, as well as other Arizona GOP lawmakers pressed him, Bowers said no. And when he testified in Washington, DC about what happened in January 2021, Bowers reiterated. According to the Washington Post:

“I will not do that, and,” Bowers testified, pausing to control his emotions. “On more than one — on more than one occasion throughout all this it has been brought up. And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired — of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being.

“I will not do it.”

Because Bowers wouldn’t cheat for Trump, he was subjected to death threats and protests. People openly ridiculed him, even mocking him in parades. Trump supporters pushed to recall Bowers, passing out flyers falsely accusing him of child molestation and corruption. Bowers’ daughter, Kacey, was dying as her father was being maligned. His wife, a strong, silent, valiant woman, was standing by as people attacked her husband for simply doing his job and refusing to violate his oath. Kacey died January 28, 2021, and Bowers wonders if her death was hastened by the stress of dealing with Trump supporters who wanted him to “win” by cheating.

On August 2, Bowers faces a new election, and it looks likely that he will lose. However, I think even if he loses, he’s already won, by doing the RIGHT thing and not bowing to pressure. Bowers is a man of religious faith, a strong believer in Mormonism, which I know has its problems. But one thing Bowers can rest assured of is that he has integrity and decency. He may not be re-elected in Arizona politics, but he can hold his head high, because Trump supporters WILL be on the WRONG side of history, just as Hitler supporters were. The more that comes out about what was going on in Washington, DC during Trump’s tenure, the more it becomes clear to me that the man is a menace. And there will come a day when people won’t want to associate with him.

When Bowers was testifying, he read from a journal entry he wrote in December 2020:

“I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner,” he said. “I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to. With any contrived desire toward deflection of my deep, foundational desire to follow God’s will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace. How else will I ever approach him in the wilderness of life knowing that I ask this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course … he led me to take.”

I’m not a big fan of religion, and I’m really not a fan of Mormonism… but I would say that if the Mormon version of God influenced Bowers to do the right thing by his office, that’s certainly one point in its favor as a belief system. I wish there weren’t so many other issues with the church… like the way it treats people who are homosexual, or don’t want to be LDS anymore… divorced and single women, and the way some members feel emboldened to do Baptisms for the Dead for people who clearly had no interest in Mormonism. On the other hand, there were decent people in the church who helped younger daughter escape her mother’s abusive clutches. So my opinions about Mormonism have softened somewhat for that reason… and reading about Rusty Bowers doing the right thing because of his faith is another reason. Also, I see in his photo that he has a nice smile… probably because he doesn’t drink coffee, tea, or red wine. 😉

Personally, I don’t think it was the church that led to this decision. I think Bowers is simply a good and decent man who plays by the rules. I don’t think a person has to be a believer in a deity to be decent or good. But if having strong religious faith helps one decide to do the right thing, I’m all for it. On the other hand, I know there are many men of “faith” who would have justified cheating for Trump as “God’s will”, the same way they justified his election– a man who is about as far from decent and good as a person can get.

I wish Rusty Bowers well… not just because he’s an honorable, honest, and patriotic man, but also because he has the same nickname my beloved pony had. If it turns out he loses the next election, I hope he will go on to do something rewarding for himself and his wife. I’m sure they need time to heal, especially having lost their daughter during that awful time. Maybe now is a good time to jump off the sinking Trump version of the Republican ship.

If there were more Republicans like Rusty around, I might consider voting for them again. Sadly, too many Republicans are more concerned about money and power and not pissing off a narcissistic asshole than being decent and honorable. Shame on them.

Donald Trump is a criminal who needs to go to prison. I doubt it will ever happen, but I sure would vote for it. The more I read about what happened after Trump LOST the election, the angrier I get that he was ever allowed to run for president. We’ve GOT to do better.

ETA: I read that Mr. Bowers would still vote for Trump if he ran against Biden, and I think that’s not a good thing. But I also think people should be free to vote their consciences. Like I said– I don’t agree with his politics or his religion, but I appreciate that he was brave enough and had enough integrity to uphold his oath. That is admirable, given the pressure he was under not to do right by the American people and Arizona.

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musings

More French hospitality…

A bigger organ than Putin’s…

We will be going home tomorrow. I have to say I’m ready to go, not because we haven’t had fun, but because I’m worn out. I am not used to so much hospitality. Today, after we visited Obernai and Saverne, we came back to our room and I promptly fell asleep. Now, I’m up, but only because we booked dinner again in the restaurant. Last night, we did the big tasting dinner. Tonight, I hope for something simpler and shorter in duration. I am ready to go to bed, get up in the morning for one more excellent breakfast, and go home to Germany, so I can write up all of our fun and share pictures… and of course, see my dogs. I have missed them, too. French people love dogs, and they are everywhere.

Right this minute, I’m watching French news about Ukraine. I have a lot of thoughts about that situation. I have a friend whose wife is from there, and she still has a lot of family members who are trapped in Kiev. I get highly irritated listening to Putin and his threats. He really is a nasty character… one of those people who probably ought to be blown straight back to Hell. However, I am very grateful that my husband is no longer in the Army. I have a feeling the Army will be getting involved eventually, although I hope they won’t.

I do get kind of tickled when I notice the difference between French news and US news. A couple of nights ago, I happened to watch the news when the death of a famous French presenter was being reported. The anchor was openly crying as he spoke about it. He kept saying “Je suis desole!”

I notice that they spell Putin’s name “Poutine”. So now, when I see him, I think of a giant deep friend cheese curd.

And tonight, I saw a protester holding up a poster of a hand drawn tiny penis. It had a caption that read, “Putin: 3 centimeters”. I find it outrageous that one, very toxic man, can hold the world hostage this way with his threats. At the same time, while I don’t think Joe Biden is the best person to handle Putin, I do thank God Trump isn’t in office. He’s a moron who thought Finland was part of Russia. You bet your ass he’d just let Putin do what he wants. Putin probably has dirt on him.

It’s a little scary watching this stuff happening in Ukraine. It’s not that far away. I fear it could get much worse. I am old enough to remember the Chernobyl accident… and I remember that the effects from that crossed over Europe. Bill’s first landlady in Germany died because she got cancer from Chernobyl. The fallout affected the whole continent.

But I guess Putin doesn’t care about that. He just wants land and power… and it doesn’t matter how much humans suffer. For once, I think I agree with Lindsey Graham. I hope someone takes him out.

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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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