Silent Screams (and other odd sounds)

This is what I'm thinking RIGHT NOW. It may not be what I'm thinking tomorrow.

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Open Letter to President Trump

Dear President Trump:

I am a 60-year-old woman who has worked most of her life.  My husband, as well, has worked most of his life.  My parents were members of the working class as well as their parents.  My children also are a member of the working class.  It is the working class that gives the privileged  their wants and desires.  Without them, the privileged would not be able to get quality merchandise despite having the money to pay for them.

This letter is not about being wealthy or not wealthy; it is about dignity.  I have several “pre-existing” conditions.  In fact, I know more people who have “pre-existing” conditions than who don’t have them.  I have health care insurance currently which I pay high premiums for and I still pay high out-of-pocket expenses.  I can only imagine in some small way the astronomical cost of my health care will be under your new plan.  While the Affordable Care Act may have not been perfect, it helped the majority of people.  Yes, there were flaws, but it was new and, in my opinion, could have been improved upon instead of discarded.

I watched your news report on May 4, 2017 and was spell-bound by the smiles on the faces of your staff  as they took away health care to the infirmed and elderly with just a few words.  As I scanned the crowd surrounding you, I wondered how many of them could not afford to pay for their health care if they needed it for a “pre-existing” disease.  I wondered how many of them would change their thoughts if they had a child born with a “pre-existing” disease.  I think of Jimmy Kimmel’s son who was born with Tetralogy of Fallot who will live a lifetime with a “pre-existing” condition.  I can only assume that Mr. Kimmel is a person of wealth, but without insurance, his struggle of keeping his son alive will cost millions making him conscious of every dime he spends; and who wouldn’t spend every dime they have to keep their child alive if they knew they had a chance of living a productive life?

I’ve been talking a lot about the working class, but that is my reality; as it is the reality of most the people in America.  We have “worked the land” in an attempt to make our children and grandchildren’s lives better.  This health care act that you propose will set America back generations.  Those who work with a shirt and tie on will come home and change into jeans and T-shirts, out of necessity,  to head out to their second job to make ends meet.

I have talked to quite a few people concerning the health care we have now as it measures up to a National Health Care System and the people are generally opposed siting “I’d have to wait forever to get anything done.”  Don’t we wait forever now?  Don’t we  have to wait for our insurance company to approve every thing our medical doctor tells us we need?  Don’t we have to wait for a person who has never seen us read down an algorithm to its final destination and then you may or many not get the Cardiac Catheterization you may need to see if your heart is functioning normally?  Currently, I have waited 3 months to see a specialist I need.  I don’t know about you, but I think that is a long time.  I’m not saying that National Health Care System is the answer, but we  have to take a good look as to why it is working in other countries; good countries.

Most of Americans have worked all their lives. Their jobs, in many cases, have contributed to their “pre-existing” conditions.  Shouldn’t those who have worked most of their lives be given the dignity to live their aging years with the knowledge that they have health care coverage of diseases that started sometimes decades ago?  Shouldn’t we, as compassionate human beings, cry out that all people have health care insurance?

Imagine for one minute, President Trump, that you, as a young man worked in a steel mill for the majority of your life and earned a good living as long as you weren’t on strike or laid off.  Imagine further that you and your wife were soon to expect a child…a beautiful daughter named….Ivanka.  Imagine more that your beautiful child is born with a condition that will last a lifetime.  Imagine President Trump, what would you do under your health care plan?  Would your child live….or die?

President Trump, I pray for you every night.  I pray that you do what is right by an entire country, not what is beneficial for a few.

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The Disease of Addiction

Recently I read an article entitled, “Stop Calling Your Drug Addition A Disease”, which at first made me angry but then made me sorrowful.  Personally, I stand on the side that considers drug addition a disease. defines addiction as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”  To me, if I am “enslaved” I can not freely escape my captor.  For this instance, the captor is drugs.

As a Registered Nurse who worked in an Emergency Department, I have seen my fair share of overdoses and substance abuse to last a lifetime.  As I recall the multitude of drug addicts I have taken care of, I can not for one second imagine that the “abuser,” as a small child said, “I want to be a drug addict when I grow up,” or “when I grow up I want to be an alcoholic.”  I imagine that each of the “abusers” that I took care of had dreams and aspirations that all children have had; but once captured they could not escape their enslavement.  Some say they had a “choice” and they  might have had a choice initially.  They had the choice to take a medication a doctor told them to take for an accident they had been involved in or a sports injury.  That is a choice, and for some, that is where addiction starts.  There is an imaginary line that a person crosses into addiction; the problem is that the line is invisible until you’ve crossed it and become enslaved to a substance which now controls your every waking hours.

Consider the most common drug addiction.  Alcohol.  Yes, alcohol is a drug; a drug not taken for an injury or an accident; but a drug made specifically to alter a mood.  Without looking, I would guess that alcohol is used or has been used, at some point in their lives, by 90% of the people in the United States.  Alcohol is considered to be benign by most of Americans UNTIL it is not benign, but by that time it is too late; the drinker is captured because he crossed the imaginary line into addiction.  To most, alcohol is considered to be the “best” addiction to have; far better than opioids, but the truth is alcohol and benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, etc.),  are the only drugs that can kill from withdrawal.  Valium and Ativan are commonly prescribed by physicians therapeutically to help calm the nerves (change the mood) of people.  Doctors do not know who will or will not become addicted to Valium or Ativan but they do know it occurs even if the patient takes these medication initially as prescribed.

I think, as a group, we need to take a good look at what addiction actually is.  In fact, maybe we all need to take a look at where we are on the imaginary line continuum. We might even consider that some may never cross that imaginary line and we must, out of necessity ask ourselves why.  Why do some succumb to addiction while some do not?  Why do some become alcoholic and some do not?  Why do some become addicted to opioids and some do not?  Maybe, just maybe, there is something that exists in the addict that does not exist in the “normal” person.  Maybe those who do not consider addiction a disease will someday cross the line into addiction because of an accident or an injury.

As I have said, I have taken care of my share of addicts and overdoses.  I’ve talked to them and really listened to them.  All of their stories have a common thread; they don’t know how this happened to them and they can’t stop even though they know their very lives depend on it.  Each morning they wake saying, “I am going to stop today,” and by the end of they day they have used.  Their stories are heart-wrenching IF your ears and heart are truly open.

Unlike the author of “Stop Calling Your Addiction A Disease”, I can see the parallel of the cancer victim and the addict.  I have seen both bodies enslaved by a disease.  The major difference I see between the two are how they are treated.  One is treated with compassion; the other with disdain.