Monthly Archives: October 2009

Still injured and busy

I still have a busted finger, even though it is feeling a lot better. I am also swamped with various things going on in different aspects of my life right now. So, I am going to throw up some links for your reading pleasure.

Jennifer Block of Pushed Birth, one of my favorite writers, has written about two of the stories I wanted to write about, so I can just link to her. She covered Dr. Christine Northrup’s wonderful article about reclaiming our birth right. I have been a fan of Dr. Northrup since before I had kids or was interested in medical school, and as a mother and future ob/gyn, I adore her even more.

The other story is about a woman being forced to travel 300 miles to get her VBAC attempt. An attempt at a trial of labor should be offered to every good candidate for a vaginal birth after cesarean. This recommendation is found in the same ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) Practice Bulletin (#54, to be exact) that hospitals, insurance companies physicians point to when they deny women the attempt. Nice selective application of the care standards. In fact, the recommendation to offer the option to most women is a Level A recommendation (based on good scientific evidence) while the recommendation to have physicians immediately available for emergency surgery is a Level C recommendation not based on evidence, but just ACOG expert consensus.

Hmm, I seem to be typing a lot anyway.

OK, keep that story in mind, because it has intersectionality with another issue I want to talk about.

But first, don’t forget to check out the SEIU site story about the woman who was told to be sterilized by her insurance company because of a prior cesarean!

OK, now to the intersectionality issue. The story at the SEIU site and the second link at Pushed Birth have something in common – people attempting to force women to do things with their reproductive organs against their will. If you followed the link about the woman who has to drive for her VBAC attempt, the pregnant protagonist has “Enter your body without my permission? Sounds like rape to me” on her car, and Jennifer Block chose that as her post title. There are good posts on the subject of using the term “birth rape”. Some people have a problem with that term, thinking it is somehow unjustified for the victims to appropriate the term rape.

I also was involved with a discussion on female genital mutilation (FGM) on a website recently, and many commenters criticized people who drew parallels to routine male circumcision. Like I do in this post. They think this somehow diminishes FGM.

On that same site, someone was complaining recently about a friend whose wife has a disassociative disorder (I swear I am going somewhere with this), and was accusing many other people of trying to claim they also have a similar mental disorder when he didn’t deem them properly diagnosable. Someone else on the board tried to compare that to the “understandable” anger of mothers of autistic children who get angry at people who are “socially adjusted” and still claim to be in the autistic spectrum.

OK, my point. (Ow, my pointer finger. Must go back to hunting and pecking with my other fingers).

My point is that there is definitely room for nuance when someone is discussing the particular hardships of one’s own or a loved one’s particular issue, whether it be sexual assault or autism or FGM or whatever. People should get individualized attention. Hijacking is not always appropriate. For example, when I was involved on the post about FGM, I honored the original post, and at the end of my comment, I linked out to my post about the intersectionality with all genital cutting, and didn’t try to hijack the conversation to be about routine newborn circumcision in the developed world when the original post was about repairs of FGM preformed in developing countries. The post I linked to (linked above) is ALSO about FGM in developing countries, and then goes into the ethical and practical problems of condemning only one type of genital cutting (although FGM is easily arguably worse in many ways) when almost all of the arguments against it apply to all genital cutting, including that of intersexed or ambiguously sexed children, and are hard to convincingly apply to just one type of genital cutting.

Anyway, my point is (sore), finally, that it is not necessary to diminish other victims’ experiences or identification with a form of oppression or disease or disorder or diagnosis in order to support people who have a different, more accepted or more typical association with that disorder, issue, disease, diagnosis, etc. I don’t think my dad, who was in a wheelchair for 12 years, benefited at all if I railed against people with silent appearing disabilities who parked with Handicapped parking passes. I don’t think non verbal or other more “typical” autistic presenting individuals benefit if we diminish autistic identifying (and/or diagnosed) individuals who more easily pass as neurotypical. I don’t think victims of sexual assault benefit when we say victims of “gray rape” or “date rape” or “birth rape” can’t say they felt assaulted and sexually violated and raped.

I was “gray raped”, and I still don’t feel like I can say I was really raped or even sexually assaulted in that instance, because I don’t want people to tell me to get over myself, I don’t deserve to be in such a serious category. This is not the same thing as criticizing people for saying they were “raped” by paying money to the IRS or at the gas station. That is diminishing rape. But am I? Some people say yes. Some people say I am diminishing rape by NOT loudly identifying my acquaintance lack-of-consent sex as rape. It’s hard enough for me to talk about.

And I don’t think I’m wringing my hands and saying “Oh, but what about the menz?” when I point out it’s awfully hard to successfully tell cultures in other countries to stop cutting the girls’ genitalia but please continue cutting the boys.

Can we talk about the ways our problems intersect without diminishing each other?


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Boo boos

I have various ailments and boo boos right now, but the newest, most painful one is my smashed left index finger. It has been deliciously breezy in my area the past few days, which I normally adore. However, our front door is susceptible to being suddenly slammed by gusts of wind on blustery days.

My left index finger was a victim of one such gust yesterday. It is bright purple right now. I am not sure how the distal phalange (the bone in the tip) could have survived the smash. My finger got squeezed sideways mostly, so I am hoping I may save the nail. For a clumsy person, I have surprisingly never lost a nail, and I don’t want to.

So, anyway, it may be hard to tell, but this is affecting my typing. There are lots of things I would like to write about, and I can’t get to all of them, as usual. My smashed finger will slow me down even more.

Wish me swift healing.


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My day yesterday

Now that I am done with my 12 hour day at school today, I can actually sit back and write about yesterday.

This is a political post. So, if you’re just here for the birth stuff, you are forewarned.

But, considering all the stuff I have posted about race recently, if you are still sticking around, you must be OK with my ranty side.

Yesterday was a fantastic yet very confrontational day. I can feel a little adrenaline release just thinking about it.

First of all, we had a very successful Medical Students for Choice meeting. I billed it as a “Common Ground” event. We had a wonderful speaker, Rev. Dorothy Chaney, a Baptist preacher and a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. I met her at a meeting of the Planned Parenthood Interfaith Council. I was so moved about her story about when her aunt almost died from an illegal abortion. She prayed, and told God that if she survived, she would dedicate her life to making sure this didn’t happen to other women.

Well, now she is a preacher who provides counsel at a local abortion clinic, and supports sex education and outreach through her church in a predominantly black and impoverished community in Miami, one that has a high teen pregnancy rate. She also was part of the Institute on Religion and Democracy at Howard University.

Rev. Chaney did a wonderful job. We only gave one day’s notice for the event. We had standing room only. Many people showed up who were not members of Medical Students for Choice, including a few medical students with bibles. Don’t get me wrong, there are members of Medical Students for Choice, at our chapter and that I have met at the national conventions, that take their religious faith very seriously. But, these particular students with bibles were not there to be members.

A few highlights from what I thought was a very successful event. At one point, after she was done speaking, one of the attendees asked her something about “killing babies” and she corrected him and said “Honey, they’re not babies yet. They’re fetuses.” (Which, technically, they’re not, since we were discussing first trimester abortion, which is still the embryonic stage, but anyway….) The medical student said “No, they’re not, they’re BABIES!”

I wanted to freeze frame them and say, “Hold on, which one is the preacher and which one is the medical student?”

At the end of the event, a first year student held up her bible and said “I have something to say..” and Rev. Chaney said “I have the same bible as you!” brightly. The first year student continued “I want you all to to read the bible for yourself and decide what it says.” And I smiled broadly and said “Thanks so SO much. That was exactly the point of our event to find common ground. Thanks for attending and participating so respectfully!”

So, if that wasn’t enough, there was a health care rally at Senator Bill Nelson’s office. I went, and so did the other research fellow. It was…interesting. There were more pro health care reform people than antis, but not by too much.

OK, I’m pretty biased, but the signs and arguments on the anti side were pathetic. Many referred to killing seniors. I can’t believe anyone would hold a sign with the thoroughly debunked death panels lie on it. I find it really offensive, to tell you the truth. A woman with one asked me if I ever heard of the Heritage Foundation. I said “My father worked at the Heritage Foundation. And he had a living will.” End of life counseling is not euthanasia.

There were also a lot of references to the Constitution (these people who love their federally subsidized flood insurance think that the Constitution outlaws federal spending on anything not spelled out in the original document?) and socialism (and many admitted they loved their Medicare. Except for the guy with the socialism sign who said he had no insurance and took his children to the department of health. Seriously).

Some highlights:

The other fellow is doing research on end of life. She had a bunch of surveys with her, and was asking people to fill them out. It is a research study for the medical school. She is collecting opinions and knowledge about hospice and living wills. It is an IRB approved survey, not biased or politically slanted. One older gentleman with a sign saying “Kill the bill, not our seniors” refused to fill one out.

So, you’ll demonstrate with a sign about end of life counseling and options, but you won’t fill out an opinion survey about it? I guess he has his own way of getting his opinion heard.

Oh, and I got called a “racist bigot”. This is seriously how the conversation went:

Him: “I don’t want to pay more taxes. I like my insurance.”
Me: “Well, that’s where we don’t see eye to eye. I care about the general public good, and you care about yourself.”
Him: “That makes you a racist bigot! You think you are more important than everyone else!”

Yeah, and liberals are playing the so called racism card? I recently got called a Holocaust denier by a friend of my brother’s because I said it was OK (and precedented) for the president to address schoolchildren. What is wrong with these people? If lies about killing the elderly and full term babies (oh, yes, they were yelling about infanticide, too) don’t work, then start calling people the worst random insults that spring to mind, even if they are completely unrelated to the conversation.

And, I’ll end this with some photos of misspelled signs! This one said “KILL THE HEALTH CARE BILL, NOT GRANMA” but his arms got tired before I could take a picture of it in its full glory.

sign 1

And, here’s the woman in the garbage bag with the sign about who works for us. It was raining about an hour before I took this picture. I guess she was afraid the rain might come back, and maybe her clothes were dry clean only. She drove off in a gorgeous new convertible Mercedes. You’d think she’d have a nice raincoat. Or maybe a dictionary. I am sure she earned that Mercedes by merit, intelligence and hard work. Wouldn’t want any giveaways.



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I love it…

…when I guess the Mystery Diagnosis. Too bad this is a sad one: Angelman Syndrome.

I was especially saddened by how the mother was dismissed and ignored at first, then blamed, then turned down by a specialist because her insurance wouldn’t cover even investigating what was wrong with her seriously ill infant, with no referral or hope. She eventually had to go to an ER in a public hospital hours away(!!!) to get someone to diagnose her baby with a severe genetic disorder. Did I mention that this woman HAD insurance?

Edited to add: I went to a health care rally yesterday, and was amazed at how many of the antis thought things like this were a shame when you asked them. But, then they would start yelling about how the constitution doesn’t really mean provide for the general welfare, socialism, and killing seniors, and pretended that they weren’t just fighting for the status quo. I hope to have time to post more about my confrontational day yesterday, but I have a busy day today.


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Doing a presentation on autism

Considering autism is something I read a lot about, whether it be scholarly research on the autism spectrum, talking with parents of autistic spectrum children, or reading the writing of adults on the autism spectrum, I am surprisingly intimidated by doing a presentation on it to my “Epidemiology of Diseases of Public Health Importance” class.

I am going to try to cover the swiss cheese that is the history of diagnosis and epidemiology of the disease, the current state of diagnostic criteria, the controversies over treatments and “cure” discussions, the controversies over the etiology, and the controversies over insurance coverage (or lack thereof) for educational settings, treatment, etc.



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Laughing while my head explodes

I don’t know if the entries at My OB said WHAT?!? are more funny or head-exploding inducing. I sputter and smile simultaneously with each one.

I think my favorite so far is this one: “Your baby may end up being retarded if we don’t do this test” was one nurse’s way of performing informed consent about a fasting blood sugar test.


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Doublethink in health care

A four-month-old exclusively breastfed baby in the 99th percentile for its weight and height was refused health insurance because it has “obesity” as a preexisting condition.

*Shakes head in disbelief*

This story in the Denver Post is a perfect example of the sort of Orwellian doublethink that must exist for people to oppose health care reform because it will add a layer of evil government bureaucracy into medical decision making.

Here’s a great quote from the article:

Health insurance reform measures are trying to do away with such denials that come from a process called “underwriting.”

“If health care reform occurs, underwriting will go away. We do it because everybody else in the industry does it,” said Dr. Doug Speedie, medical director at Rocky Mountain Health Plans, the company that turned down Alex.

This kind of um, logic, for lack of a better term, is what these newly enraged self styled radical libertarians are advocating as a superior framework for guiding medical coverage than the government?

(A tip o’ the chapeau to Hoyden About Town)

Edited to add:

Here is a picture of Z when he was about that age:


I am sure he was in the 99th percentile, if I cared to measure it. Oh, yeah, and he has always been accident prone, like his mommy.


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