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.  Dictionary.com 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.

 


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A Renewed Faith in Youth

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Not too long ago I saw an advertisement for two local boys who wanted to do some landscaping.  I viewed the advertisement skeptically thinking that two boys, juniors in high school, would even know how to weed and mulch flower beds much less be any good at it.  After a long discussion with my husband, he won and we hired the two boys to weed and mulch my flower beds and do some landscaping.

The boys arrived when they said they would and I took them around to the areas I wanted done.  I showed them that the beds along my driveway, both sides of my sidewalk, the beds in front of my porch and on the south side of my  house along to the west side of the house and then the area along my deck.  To me it looked like a daunting task and I was sure they would decline to take the job.  I told them I would not pay by the hour but by they job; they were in agreement much to my surprised.  I told them I’d leave them alone to discuss the price and after they had one in mind they should knock at the door.

It wasn’t long before I heard the timid knock on my door.  They had a price.  “I want to be fair so if you think it is too much please tell us.”  The price was more than fair and I told them they had the job.  Thinking they would be starting the next day, I was surprised when they got the equipment they needed to do the job out of the back of their car trunk.

The boys told me they thought it would take 8 solid hours of work and told me when they would be at my house doing the work.  They said, “we will be here 4 hours today and 4 hours tomorrow.”  I nodded, maybe even grinning to myself a little. that these two 17-year-old kids would be pulling weeds for 4  hours in a row and come back the next day to do it again.  Needless to say I was more than a little skeptical.

They worked steady that first day, stopping only to take a few gulps of water and ask me if I wanted certain dead flowers removed or was I wishing they would spring up again.  At the end of the 4 hours, they cleaned up the debris and assured me they would be back the next day.

Walking around my house I was surprised at how much they accomplished but I was still skeptical that they would be back that next day to do more.  Once again they arrived right on schedule but the job took longer than they expected and the 4 hours passed into 5 and then 6.  They were working with flashlights in the dark when I finally came out to send them home.  “No ma’am, we promised you that it would be done today and a promise is a promise.”  I shook my head, these two boys becoming more and more endearing to my heart.  “No,” I said, “finish up tomorrow or the next day.”

The boys left and I smiled to myself thinking, “now these boys have integrity.”  They did indeed return the next day and worked about 1 hour longer to finish up.  Afterwards they asked me to do a “walk through” with them to see if I had any more suggestions or if I wanted it done differently.  I didn’t.  It was perfect.

Yes, I know all they did was pull up some weeds, move some dirt around and spread some mulch.  That is all they did physically, but the lesson in life they gave me was far greater than the money I gave them.  They renewed my faith in our future and the youth of America.  There is more to our youth than the negative stories we see on the news; there are eager young boys slowly turning into wonderful young men.


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Bumps in the Night

...Of_Nightmares

Vivid images flash; one more intense than the last.  The heart rate increases;  pounding out of the chest and bounding into the ears.  Small droplets of moisture begin to form around the curves of the lips and between the breasts.  Slowly at first and then more rapidly the mind begins to fire electric charges across its synapses allowing the brain to connect the sharp images to emotions.  The final electric shock fires harshly across the gray matter and bolts its victim upright.  Tears mixed with sweat burn the eyes and flow over the soft flesh of the cheeks until they reach the chin, dangling momentarily before falling onto the  heaving chest mixing with the sweat gathered there.  The surrounding air breezes across the deep rising and falling of the chest; a slight chill over the damp flesh as the sufferer begins to take in the surroundings.  Slowly the eyes adjust to the darkness, making out the surrounding images.  The poor wretch shudders as if to shake the images from both body and mind.  Ever so slowly, the night terror dissipates, the heart rate lowers, the skin dries in the morning air. The respirations return to a slow and steady pace.  All is calm.  Or is it?

While nightmares of the Zombie Apocalypse or the Walking Dead may be easy to dismiss from the mind; not so of the nightmares of the “things” that could actually be or come true.  It is the bump in the night of being jilted by a lover or experiencing the death of a child or even the fear of being involved in a devastating accident that linger into the day and disrupt the waking thoughts.  It is those nightmares that can raise the heart and respiratory rate during the day that are not so easy to shake off.  Yes, those are the worst.

 

 

 


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My Mere Presence

My eyes survey the room for a face familiar
That I hope not to find.
How would I greet them?
What would I say?
I’ll take the chair in the corner,
It’s comfortable but stiff.
I can hide there quite nicely
and
just look away.
Read my book in earnest,
Or pop my headphones in my ears.
I can ignore the whole world
As well as all of this.
My mere presence mocks them.
Bald heads fill the room.
Some covered, some scarred.
Empty holocaust eyes piercing
With lacrimal glands restrained,
Wanting to steal the very life from within me.
Sallow flesh covering emaciation
Hanging loosely from brittle bones.
My skin in contrast, is tan and firm;
My eyes clear and bright.
I am out of place in this land
My mere presence mocks them
They are a family of strangers.
Thrown together by similar destinies
All different; yet all the same.
Touched by the malignancy of life.
Each with their own set of hopes and dreams;
Most of which will never be realized
Each wanting to tell their own story
Of who they are; who they hoped to be.
Each talking loudly with soft quiet voices
Saying “Don’t forget me, I was here.”
Still, my mere presence mocks them.


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America the……

Headlines stripped from pages tattered and torn,

Not a damn thing have we learned.

Echoing a time past that man swore would never come again has reared its ugly head taking a stronghold in a country on fragile ground.

His rancid words like golden bile fill my throat; burning the tender flesh from within. If my eyes are closed I might even feel that fine gray ash drift from the furnace and touch my eyelashes; sticking to my cheeks as I cry for what was and what I thought would never come again.

But some of America smiled and embraced all that this self-proclaimed wise man had to say.  They breathed in every vile word spoken from his pursed lips.  Did he not have wealth and splendor far greater than most of us could gain? Didn’t his silver pen give him the right to make all he spoke true? And some of America bowed to his wealth and his words while others dropped to their knees in honest prayer.

A country, born on the ideal that all men are created equal, is on the verge of making all that our forefathers paved, seem lame.  Who would have ever thought that the poem of greater than 200 years inscribed on our icon of freedom “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door,” is slowly being morphed into “two legs good, four legs better”

But some of America smiled as those “yearning to breathe free” were suffocated by a man whose mantra belied his words, “Make America Great Again.”  Once again, the white Anglo-Saxon people will rise as it is meant to be and those with alternate skin colors, religions, and beliefs are herded into encampments which we are told will make us feel safe but really is intended to keep their spirits from soaring.  My soul screams out, “save from the native Americans, aren’t we all immigrants born to mothers and fathers who left a homeland to make our lives better?”

I am not looking for a revolution. I am seeking a resolution.  My mind can only imagine a country moving towards an evolution of all that is diverse, living harmoniously in what used to be a great country.  But a trump card has been played and many have laid down before it, eating all that has been spewed before them.  Perhaps this belief that the King of Spades has laid at their feet is merely a reflection of what many people have held in their hearts.  I shudder at the thought.