Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Years later, a pacemaker and lessons learned

Uh oh. I'm getting reflective.  In April, I turned 32.  November 9th I celebrated the 30th anniversary of my first open heart surgery.  I didn't celebrate by having a huge party that day, but by having an electrophysiology study that was supposed to lead to a cardiac ablation. Fortunately, they found put the root cause of my problem.  I had sinus node attacks, which isn't an allergy attack.  It caused extremely slow heart rates and wasn't discovered using an echocardiogram or an EKG.  I was given a pacemaker 2 days later.  In fact, I'm sitting at a friend's house typing with one hand now.  The pacemaker isn't solving the whole problem, but tomorrow I find out if it means I can take new medication and other therapies for my irregular heartbeat.  I think it it is a pretty awesome gift.

These past 30 years, I've learned a few things:

  1. I know my body.  If I'm not feeling well, I need to listen and force doctors to listen and act.
  2. Life is a gift I treasure everyday.
  3. Never make a New Year's Resolution.  That day doesn't have meaning for me.  I make a resolution every November.  
  4. Make specific resolutions I can keep.  I never promise to lose a dress size. I promise to be up front about my condition, to ask for accommodations when needed, to volunteer 30 hours for the year, etc.
  5. Never hide the scar.  It's a source of pride, strength, love.  It reminds me that I'm lucky.  There are people worse off than me.
  6. Give back.  I feel great volunteering.  I may have physical limitations, but I can still help someone else.
  7. Know my limits.
  8. Never be afraid to ask. 
  9. Failure is not doing anything.
  10. It's ok to ask for help.
  11. Love really is the most important thing in the world.
  12. Reach for the stars. 

Why the #occupy demonstrators are selfish

I’m part of the 1%.  I admit it freely.  No, not that 1%, the other 1%....I’m 1 out of 100, the estimated number of people born with congenital heart defects.  I’m also part of the percentage of people who are looking at the occupy Wall Street people and thinking, “you’re selfish.” 

There. I said it. I put it in writing even.  I think they’re selfish.  Where were all of them when gays weren’t allowed to be married in certain states? When they were getting beaten, bullied and killed?  Where was all their outrage when people were being called “retarded” like it was alright?  Where were they when it was deemed that Medi-Cal and Medicare didn’t have to pay for therapies for children with Autism?  Why is it that they aren’t all lining the streets every time the “n” word is used or others are being called wet backs?  The Boycott Arizona Movement seems to have died down, hasn’t it? Voting laws are being passed that are taking us back to the Jim Crow era and they’re occupying Wall Street. 

The Super Committee put social security up on the table.  They’re looking at making huge cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.  This will negatively impact current and future generations, especially those who have disabilities and the elderly.  All research shows that people with disabilities utilizing the federal medical systems do so at a disproportionately high rate.  There are more hospitalizations, medical appointments and prescription drug costs.  These costs cut into the amount of money these individuals receive from federal resources and private savings.  When the occupiers pooled their money, it went towards:
A.      A.  Helping the elderly and people with disabilities make mortgage/rent payments
B.        B.      Helping the elderly and people with disabilities pay for medications
C.       C.      Organizing rides and paying for transportation to the polls for the elderly and people with disabilities
D.       D.     Paying for a commercial
For all of you that answered, A, B or C….I’m sorry.  But, the people occupying Wall Street paid for a commercial.  You know, to tell others what we already know.  That despite the cost of the medication we all need right now, the inability to keep a roof over the head of a person who receives less than $900/month to pay for all needed items in the state of California (without a Section 8 voucher or food stamps), that despite voting is important and many are disenfranchised due to the inability to use public transportation, a lack of pick up by ACCESS services and not enough money to get to the polls, a commercial to inform us that banks are the root of all problems was more important. 

In Los Angeles, the group of Occupiers refused to let a Farmers Market reclaim their spot.  A movement that is for small business owners, the hungry, the unemployed decided that small farmers should not sell their goods, that the workers should get paid less, vendors who paid the city for a booth should not sell their wares, workers, the underemployed, jobless and the unemployed should not eat fresh, local, potentially organic food downtown and that produce should go to waste.  That’s what their actions said.

When they surround the banks, do they think of the small business owner who is bringing cash and checks to the bank to make payroll? How he or she must fight through the crowd of angry people before the bank closes?  Do they think of the people who have disabilities who must arrange for public transportation to drop them off at a certain time and pick them up at a certain time or else they don’t have a way home?  That those people have accounts there too and must decide if as someone who is elderly, uses a wheelchair, walker, cane, fear of crowds, has a seeing eye dog (or miniature pony as my allowed assistive animal due to the Dept of Justice ruling), no computer for bill pay because they never were able to afford one even before the mortgage crisis, can get through the crowd and take care of their business without being afraid of getting hurt? On top of that, I alluded to people who have a fear of crowds. Not everyone has a visible disability, one that comes with “hardware” or assistive technology.    

I’m all for protesting, but where were they when Medicaid rates were cut?  Where were they when the elderly didn’t get a raise in their cost of living?  Where were they when voting rights were getting cut in certain states?  Where were they when their representatives in the senate were voting on the jobs bill?  That’s right….they weren’t occupying their offices…no.  They were occupying Wall Street.  When key votes happen on a nonpresidential Election Day tomorrow, where will they be? Occupying Wall Street. Once their demands are met and they get what they want, where will they be when historically disadvantaged groups need assistance?  At their high paying jobs with health insurance and 401k glad they occupied Wall Street and still uncaring about the injustices that happen to the people with disabilities and people of color who stood next to them, who will still be Occupying Wall Street and the Capital without news coverage.