Month: October 2016

A Tale of Two Doctors: How I Finally got a New Eye Glass Prescription

A while ago, shortly after getting my new job, I got really sick.  I was out of work for two weeks, going from Dr. to Dr. trying to figure out why every. single. thing.  hurt.  I lost ten pounds or so, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep.

Many of the doctors pointed out my weight as culprit.  I pointed out people bigger than me can sleep and eat and don’t feel like their body is on fire and many slimmer than I am have the same symptoms as I do.  So then they ran tests and said, “oh, blood sugar is high and blood pressure is high and you have diabetes and are just stressing out over it” and when I fought that they said “hey, you work in Medicine, you know people deny diabetes, that’s what you’re doing, and you’re freaking out.”

Ultimately I got medicine for a UTI, YI, and was told I might have had the summer flu at the same time.  for the next three months I had problems with my female cycle.  Oh, and another test of my A1C and another doctor told me I was pre-diabetic, so not quite diabetic but ‘close!  so lose weight.’

During the scare of having full blown ‘omg, you’re going to lose your limbs if you don’t stop drinking soda’ diabetes (and yes, that was said to me) I was told to go get my eyes checked because SUGAR EATS THE RETINAS!  OMG YOU CAN BE BLIND NOW AND NOT KNOW IT!

Doctor 1:

The doctor that I got sent too continued the scare tactics.  There was a 45 minute wait to even be brought back to the exam room, and then I was told I was going to have eye drops.  I don’t recall if I’d had them before, but I do recall telling him how nervous I was because of this whole ordeal.  I had 45 minutes to freak out about everything.  I was being told a lot of things.  I told him I did need a new prescription because I wanted new glasses, but maybe not the eye drops.  I was told that if I don’t do the drops, well then he won’t put it through insurance and I’ll have to pay 235$ so I need to do it.  Then came the fun part.

“All it does is paralyze the eyes for up to 8 hours,” he said.

I was done.  There was no way I was going to do that.  Paralyze my eyes?  I started to cry.  My anxiety had hit it’s limit.  We were now an hour past my appointment time and he was again being callous.  I left, got the money I had pre-payed for my co-pay back, and went to the next doctor I had scheduled, like a dutiful(ish) patient, to have a biopsy of my female parts because OMG they were worried about the UTI/YI and now they decided a bacterial infection with no real proof for 2 out of the three.  And that hurt like hell, too, with no results.

Doctor 2:

This is many months after that initial ordeal and I’ve been feeling fine.  A bit worn out.  That ordeal totally freaked me out but the initial sickness combined with it also sapped a lot of emotional strength so I haven’t been working out regularly like I used to do before it began.  But I still need new glasses!  So I made an appointment at my local Sears.

So different.

First off, the people running the waiting room were super friendly and came out from behind the desk to talk to me.  Yes, it was less crowded than the first, but oh man- the guy working the desk was a huge cat freak, and upon seeing my cat shirt brought out his phone to show me pictures of his giant orange fuzzball, Brutus (who does claw him in the back).  The doctor was running behind, but by 15 minutes.

This guy was older, but so friendly.  For the first time ever the glaucoma test was done on the first try.  When I commented on how that was a first for me, he joked that he’d been doing it for a while.  When I asked questions he explained them and checked for understanding.  He asked how I was doing.  He talked to me like I was a human, not a petulant child.  When I spoke of the diabetes scare he told me of how medicine has no idea about what causes diabetes in the first place and showed empathy about me going through that.  He explained the eye drops process, but that first he would do an exam without it and see if it was necessary to do the drops.  If it was, he could help me arrange a time and way to make it comfortable for me.

Oh My God.  I didn’t realize it could go well, not after the last time.  I was burned, and here he was being so nice and explaining along the way everything about what may happen with my age (I’m at the time when I start having to move things away from me to read them, or take off my glasses and he said it’s not bad yet, but showing).

Part of the workshops I run with my students in health care programs (Medical school, nursing, social work, pharmacy, etc.) involve having patients and students sit down to write about times they’ve had illness, at the same table, eating the same meal, and talking about illness.  It’s struck me how uncomfortable it makes students to talk about times when they were sick, even while the patients are saying, “I like when my doctor acknowledges sickness happens to them.”  One patient wrote a story about how it was the waiting room and front desk reception people who made him feel welcome enough to know that he could get well there.  This often leads to many questions about the importance of the doctor, which he addresses in his story (the doctor is 15 minutes of interaction, the waiting room and reception desk actually do the work and where his time is spent) and again – WOW.  It seems so new to learn that they are not the center of the patient’s health, that the patient wants them to be human and come off the pedestal of perfect health.  As much as we talk about patient-centered care, it’s easy enough to see it’s not sinking in because of so much hierarchy and patriarchy in the field.

I do use my own life a lot in the workshops, and this situation with the two eye doctors ended up being a perfect example.  I was made to feel welcome and heard throughout, and because of it, got a full comprehensive exam.  I’m not afraid to go there.  I’ll be compliant and trust this place.

My other doctors?  I’m waiting until I can choose a new health insurance before I see a doctor again, and will try a new system because the one I was in did not work.


Movie Review: Purge: Election Year


I love the Purge movies, which I didn’t expect.  The first one was so claustrophobic.  I really felt it, being trapped in the house with someone set to kill.  I also liked the concept, as it was one my friends and I posited to each other many times in college, albeit ours was slightly different.  We asked each other what we would do if you woke up one day with a loaded gun and the knowledge that there would be no consequences for what you did that day – including regret.  Purge asks us what society would do if for 12 hours once a year you could do whatever you wanted with no legal ramifications- and shows us the chaos that decision brings.

Purge one was about one family.  It was in the home.  It showed us that through the Purge you can see just how much envy and existential boredom leads to pleasure in murder.  Purge:  Anarchy takes us to the streets and a bit more political:  we begin to see that the Purge is a system to allow those with privilege to outright murder those without, it’s making explicit the way many see the systems implicitly work now, to terrorize and subjugate basically anyone who is not a white male, to the point where we’re all there to be the hunted ‘things’ and aren’t human.

Purge:  Election Year hits far to close to home in that we have a female running for president against old white money male.  The female, Charlie, is young and lost her family in the Purge so wants to rid the country of the dire sociopathic straits it has found itself fallen into by the ‘new founding fathers.’  Old money doesn’t want this to happen, so decides to assassinate her during the Purge.  Thus begins the chase, as her faithful security guard, Leo, attempts to keep her alive long enough for people to vote her into the presidency.  They end up at at old man’s neighborhood grocery store, where she and her guard are the only white people there and. . .neither are afraid of the non-white people because, hey, they’re people too (refreshing!) so they join forces to just try and make it through the night.

The Good:  I about had a heart attack with this film in the good ways, but did have to stop it a few times to breathe.  It gets you, or got me, because I have seen that look of entitlement in peoples eyes or heard it in their voice when they think the world is owed them.  For example:

We first meet Joe, the owner of the grocery store, when two teen girls in a catholic/private school are trying to steal candy from him and they are busted.  They come back on the purge to kill him because if they want chocolate, they’re going to get it and it’s theirs.  That soulless logic got to me, but I’ve seen it and was too believable.  They then get mad at him for defending his store so come back with reinforcements.

Another great example of how I think this could happen, or why it feels real, is a segment in the film on ‘murder tourism’ with people coming to the US on Purge night to kill people because, of course they would.  It’s a no-brainer.  We have sexual tourism, running of the bulls, and probably already do have murder tourism as well so calling it out in the film kind of got to me and was brilliant.  People will travel and pay to openly exploit others for their enjoyment because not all people are created human in the eyes of others, it’s something I see all the time working in a healthcare center that focuses on refugee health.

The Purge is turned into a religion by the ‘old white men and women’ who gather in a church to cleanse themselves by stabbing those they get off the street, and the end scene is brutal but scary and ‘good.’  They really kept my heart rate up the entire time.

The Bad:  I flip back and forth about the race relations here, so I’m not sure ‘the bad’ is great for this but does need to be mentioned.  Charlie is white, blond hair blue eyes white female.  She wants to end the Purge because she recognizes it’s just another way, and an incredibly violent one at that, to abuse the poor and other already marginalized parts of the community.  Everyone in Joe’s grocery store is non-white and they talk about voting for her to help them.  Now, she ends up at that store and they work to save her, which on one end is a great twist of the Mighty Whitey trope, where a white person comes into a community not their own and saves them from themselves and outside forces. Everyone works really hard to save Charlie, even putting aside their own needs (Joe loses his store, Bishop loses his quest to kill King White Man and keeper of the purge) to do so.

BUT, they are doing this because ultimately she IS The Mighty White person who can save them all.  And they die to make sure she survives to do it.  I honestly am not sure how to weigh in on that.

The Female:  There are a lot of men in this film.  A LOT.  There are teams of them coming after Charlie.  There are her bodyguards.  There are those in the community trying to save her.  Doctors, politicians, etc.  There are TWO females with names I remember, not counting the girls who try to steal from Joe’s place.  They are:

Charlie:  The current senator and great hope of the downtrodden.  She will rise up and rid the world of the purge thus making her a target.  To some extent, what she goes through is the every day life of a female.  The outside space is not safe for her because she can be attacked at any time.  She has to have a man, her bodyguard, to protect her from other men, just like a woman has to say she’s ‘taken’ by another to get some guys to leave them alone.  And unintentional metaphor on their part, perhaps. She has lines, she speaks, she’s shown to not care if a person is black or white and to be otherwise saintly (Such as talking to some guy in an infirmary and laughing with him and imploring that her rival not be murdered and become a martyr) but she is the protected one.

Laney:  The bad girl gone good.  She drives around during the Purge night to bring injured people to a volunteer infirmary.  She loves Joe, who helped turn her around, and is loyal to him.  She kicks ass and has agency and is trying to help save her community.  She saves a lot of people during the purge, including Joe and Charlie.

While there are only two women in the film, at least they are prominent and I do believe they talk to each other about silly women things like surviving, so it passes the Bechdel test (2 women, talking to each other, not about a man).

I definitely dug this, even if it ups the anxiety a bit as it seems so close to happening!