trying to be healthy isn’t easy

I do a lot of ranting about the medical field. I suppose it’s funny that I’m trying to train to be IN the medical field – I’m going to radiology school! – but my problems with the industry aren’t with medicine or science, it’s with the people who try to run it.

So here is my latest…

Office personnel.

I don’t think I would be writing about this, I probably wouldn’t even be thinking about this, if it weren’t for the fact that over the years, I’ve conferred with many, possibly hundreds, of people with medical conditions that force them to deal with health practicioners regularly. I’ve been on blogs, forums, run communities and talk in person with so many people about all the issues surrounding health care and there is one thing that comes up again and again as a common experience. Shitty office personnel.
Here is a small list of grievances I have heard over and over

1) attitude – It blows my mind how many medical staff seem to think that because they work in a health care environment, they have the right to be terse, rude and callous towards the people who are forced to run their gauntlet. I suppose it is a positive feedback loop; patients have no choice but to put up with whatever treatment they are given and as such offfice personnel believe they have been given the right to treat patients any way they please. Perhaps it has to do with stereotyped perceptions – patients who contact office personnel often are in dire need by the time they show up and as such they may be anxious, angry, in pain, whining, or afraid and so the personnel believe they are the ones “putting up with” the patients. I worked retail for many years and I do know how shitty the genpop can be when they feel wronged or unsettled. But rather than make any attempt at placation or peace, office personnel seem to adopt a permanent emotional eye-roll towards “difficult types” despite the fact that those difficult types are probably the ones most in need of gentleness and understanding.

2) bad skills – apparently I am too good to work in a medical office. I’m pretty sure of this because medical offices were on my list as a “good job” for a long time yet they never once would call me for an interview. After experiencing one too many mishaps with my information and files I can only conclude that the medical office personnel ideal is someone with barely a 7th grade understanding of English, who types 10 wpm and only understands computers with Windows 95. Clearly phone trees are the devil’s work, putting someone on hold is more complicated than just hanging up on them and leaving a message is less reliable than sending a raven through a winter storm. I have been in situation my mouth literally agape at the sheer ineptitude an basic ignorance of logic a medical office personnel seems to have. Quick example: my insurance company wanted the date I would see a specialist before they would approve the visit. The office personnel of the specialist I was allowed to see would not book a firm date without insurance approval prior. I discussed this catch-22 with the office personnel of the medical specialist no less than three times each before finally succumbing to screaming the phone number of the insurance company’s rep then hanging up. Why was this so frustrating? Because while the insurance company rep understood the problem, they had no way of resolving it through ME, they needed to speak to someone at the office. But all anyone would do at the specialist’s office was repeat the mantra “We need approval before we can book the procedure” over and over as if saying it more times would unlock the holy sepulchre of insurance red tape and let the reimbursement monies rain down. I could not get them to call the insurance rep and when the rep tried to call them, they merely insisted they could not discuss the issue with them because HIPPA. It was maddening. Of course the real problem was that the office personnel had a few rules and to go by and nothing would make them waver from that script. Not even basic logic.

3) HIPPA violations -I’m not talking about violations like have been published in the news – stealing people’s info and selling it or whatever. I’m talking about secretaries and assistants essentially feeling entitled to your medical history and information and then insisting that you broadcast it all over the waiting room. It is has become a habit of mine now, when I am asked by the new person-with-a-badge “so what’s wrong? what brings you here?” to say immediately “no offense, but who are you? Are you my nurse? my doctor?” to remind them that I am under no obligation to tell them ANYTHING. Maybe it will make their job easier to know my details but that’s not my problem. If I don’t want to let the entire ER floor know that I’m shitting out massive quantities of green peanuts, it’s my right to keep that to myself until I’m talking to the person who is actually going to treat me. Yet, the lower down on the medical heirarchy you go, the more offended they will get when you assert your right to be close-mouthed. I ask for their credentials and it’s never the professionals who get mad. You know why? Because professionals know quite well how important it is to establish your credentials before taking control. But ask the person behind a desk why they needs to know the details of why you are standing in front of them, trying not to puke or bleed-out and watch them get huffy as a rooster.

[more later]

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Emelia Holden video: No, it’s not a double standard

To the knuckleheads who say “but it’s not okay if a man does that to a woman?!” in reference to the Emelia Holden body slam video: No, it’s not okay. Because when a man is upset with a woman, all he needs to do is puff up and yell, and she will be intimidated because men are usually larger and scarier than women. When a woman wants to intimidate a man, she has to get super physical. If you doubt me, imagine if Emelia had just turned around and yelled at him,. He would have smirked and kept walking or said something infuriating like “hey, calm down honey” blah blah blah. She had body slam him to get his attention and make him realize she’s just as scary as him. THAT is why it’s okay for a woman to do it to a man and not the other way around. If a woman touches you when you don’t want to be touched, you can raise your voice and yell at her and she will likely be intimidated. If she’s not, feel free to get physical about it. But remember to pull your punch depending on how big she is. The object isn’t to hurt the offender, but to make them realize that you have power too.

Harlan Ellison

Ellison was the first writer I fangirled over. I proselytized about him everywhere. I gave away his books, I collected old copies from the used store, I bought in auctions et cet. But I knew nothing about the man as a person. Somewhere in my late 20s when I had gotten more “serious” about being a fan (joined forums, went to gatherings, started writing my own fiction, interviewed folk et cet) I heard stories about him as a person. It did not take long to develop a very negative viewpoint of him. So then he became my first writer to feel conflicted over. As a woman, I despised what I kept hearing about him over and over. But his words, his writing still stirred something deep in me and fueled me to keep writing.

Ultimately, I believed the only way to enjoy his work was to dissociate it from the man whenever possible. The more I learned about him as a person, the more flaws I could find in his work but it didn’t change the fact that the man was monumentally talented and a workhorse to boot. But he was also a bully. This is not my personal opinion, it is well known that Harlan Ellison loved to mock and humiliate others.

So, I don’t feel one way or the other about his death personally. I feel like another chapter of my maturation has ended but that’s what happens when you turn the corner on birthday and swing into your 50s.

Bon Mots to you Ellison, you old talented asshole.

Bishop Briggs Show

If you can see her, I highly recommend it. She puts on a great show. Her voice is even more impressive live. She has ungawdly amounts of energy – she runs, bounces, jumps up and down. Screams. flails, air punches; you name it. That woman does not STOP. I’ve never seen a performer with so much energy. I’m fairly certain she is not on meth because she didn’t speed up or twitch she just seemed to never tire. Her words were measured and normal as she talked with the audience. She would tell a few short stories to catch her breath then would launch into another song. She also amps the audience. She loved getting us all to sing her lyrics.

As my best friend, LaFemme, pointed out; all her songs are EPIC. The pounding, thrashing, sounds that blend with her voice are truly moving. You just have to hear it to get it. I liken her to what Portishead would sound like if they did gospel instead of hip-hop.
Kind of both?

But, bonus! She tested out a new unreleased song – which was uncharacteristically CUTE.

In fact, everything about Bishop Briggs is adorable. Every time we cheered she’d tilt her head and beam that big smile with true gratitude. She was so THRILLED that we loved her. But how could we not? The woman is a powerhouse singer with outrageous energy who absolutely loves to perform. It was worth every penny of reseller ticket costs. I’d put it in my top ten of best shows.

…yes she did “Like a River” and it gave me goosebumps.

Glenn Branca is Dead, but not in my heart

He was a crucial part of my growing up from obnoxious teenager to starry-eyed young adult. I had met a lot of musicians and actors but meeting him nearly made me faint. I Ardently loved him for what he did. I didn’t want to be a groupie, I wanted to sit at his feet and learn.

I don’t tell too many people this but when I did get to hang with him in person (I’d talked to him on the phone a few times before) (i’d also technically met him in person but at the time all I could get out of my mouth was “that was a great show” while staring) we talked about a lot of things and he told me he was managing a new band in New York. HE ASKED ME IF I WANTED TO MOVE TO NEW YORK TO BE IN THE BAND.

Sadly, at the time I had no desire nor means to move to New York, but I’ll never forget that My hero, Glenn Branca offered me a chance to be his protege. But I was intimidated. Yes, Me. I was so terrified by the notion of failing in his eyes that I said “oh wow, no, not right now… maybe in a year?” I said no because I wasn’t ready for that much change.

The band was named Rat At Rat R and I have two albums by them. I liked them but they never really took off. It doesn’t matter; Glenn Branca did a lot of work and I could have POSSIBLY worked with him. I could have massively changed my life by moving to NYC and joining some band he produced. But it just didn’t seem like a rational thing to do. and I was absolutely petrified at the notion of doing something with that much expectation. I was 17. I was just happy to be considered his “biggest fan…. possibly my only fan haha”

I’d written to him a few times after that and always received cordial replies. I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of the email I was using last time I emailed him.

But it doesn’t matter that much…. I let him know how important he was to me and that’s ALL that ever mattered to me when I met my heroes. Just to give them the validation and appreciation they had earned.

Oh Glenn… I hadn’t talked to you or even checked out your new work in a while but I will always love you. With all of my starry-eyed, hungry, girlish heart.

smart phones and the decline of society

I am coming to the conclusion that it’s not smartphones that are screwing up society, it’s the indirect effect of “immediacy” – because of tech like smartphones, everyone expects immediate answers. So it seems like everything you do requires another meeting, another answer, RIGHT NOW

that’s what’s driving me nuts. Before this tech, people communicated by phone and letter,. so people were used to waiting and scheduling things in advance or just muddling along without everyone’s input all of the time

now in order to be a part of something you are expected to show up all the time and be an active participant on everything

no more assuming people will just do their job. You have to go to endless meetings and discuss every freakin thing at any hour of the day and figure everything out together. Which normally I’d think is great but geeziz it’s true of EVERYTHING. nobody will just do a decent job of whatever, they expect everyone to be a part of it because after all you have a car, you have email, you have a smartphone so clearly you can just show up