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    I work in a small rural clinic that offers health care to the small community of Pecos, N.M., population 1,473. We also serve many of the small outlying villages and some patients come in from Santa Fe.
   We offer some emergency services ( chain-saw injuries in the Fall and Winter, fish hooks and burns in the summer). We have a substance abuse / Suboxone program, Diabetes program, Chronic Care program and general "Health Maintenance" programs.

   We also have a small, on-site pharmacy and can fill most standard prescriptions, and we offer birth control pills, Plan B, and of course, Viagra.

   So the recent abortion/ contraceptive uproar got me thinking about the ludicrous dialogue among a lot of aging men about what is O.K for a woman to do with her body. Our medical system reinforces this dialogue by having a blatant double standard when it comes to men and womens sexuality.

    A good example of this is all the Viagra, Levitor, and Cyalis prescriptions we regularly renew without any counseling inquiries or physical exams required...They say they need a refill, we refill it.

   I thought of a lot of legitimate questions I would like to ask, questions we regularly ask our female patients at a typical OB/GYN check-up or a birth control refill:

    Are you married or in a long term relationship-
    (If married, we need your wife's presence/ approval of your use of this drug)

    How many sexual partners do you have-

    Are you prepared to father a child-


    Followed by a thorough exam done EVERY month in order to renew your erectile dysfunction drug...check that prostate, check for lesions, and most important, they should have to prove that they really, really can't get it up- yep, because men can't be trusted to tell the truth about their bodily functions.

   That last one is important. I think the proper guidelines should be an inability to rise above the horizontal, plus maybe some sort of "firmness" evaluation and maybe at least 2 impartial witnesses/ evaluators...these details can easily be worked out.

   After this monthly check-up, a group decision will be made based on your results, and THEN, and only THEN, can you get your Levitor, Viagra, Cialis.

    Good to go until next month, when you get to be "screened" again.

    Punitive, yes, but I long to have a man experience a little bit of the personal invasiveness into his sexuality that a woman experiences routinely.

 Just saying.



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Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 07:55 AM PST

What is rich?

by evelette

  I think about this a lot. Where I live, a small Hispanic village, I am considered "rich". I have a regular job, a car, a telephone and enough money to buy wood and propane to get through the winter. Sometimes I imagine I'm on a small hacienda in Mexico...then I would be REALLY rich with my hot running water, adobe chicken coop and an income. Back here in the states I am at the economic level that allows me to take a low-income deductible on my income tax, but I still feel very "well-off".
   I could go in to the riches of having dear friends, my health, an education etc. but in this case, I'm more interested in what financial levels constitute wealth.
   I worked my way through college in the UC system, right at the end of affordable tuition, 1974-78. I was always struggling, but it was doable. I paid $250 a quarter for a full load, could rent an apartment from 150-250 dollars, and had a choice of work-study jobs, plus the usual pizza-joint/ hamburger jobs. I came out with no debt, which was great b/c I then started my next 10 year career choice of waitressing, which does not produce much excess income.
    Nobody came around with great credit card deals, cheap mortgages or any other financial teases in the 80's. I couldn't get a credit card if my life depended on it. My sister, on the other hand, 9 years younger than me, got a Mervyn's credit card in High School! And I have watched her be the victim of credit cards for the last 20 years.
   Fast forward to me getting my R.N. license. All of a sudden, I was the darling of every credit card company in business- I was given credit lines of $30,000 right out the gate b/c now I had a profession.Everybody wanted a piece of the action.
   As an odd aside, the New Mexico Board of Nursing refuses to accept personal checks from nurses when renewing their licenses- too many wrote bad checks. Go figure.
   A regular paycheck was a new thing for me- an absolutely solid chunk of money every 2 weeks, by which you could begin to make plans...I had bought my property at that point and proceeded to aggressively pay it down- voila, 8 years later, I had no was the first time in my life that I had any "excess". That monthly nut for a place to live was gone and money could actually accumulate.
    Because I had lived "poor" for the last 16 years, my first focus was to build up a "cushion", b/c there are so many choices that come up that involve either the car repair or the vet bill or the collapsed ceiling. I hated the feeling of being victimized by my own poverty.
  Then came the question of how much (cushion) is enough? This a very personal number as a dear friend pointed out- my number was around $3,000. That seemed like it could cover most contingencies. Her number was around $10,000 dollars. These were our amounts that would allow some sense of security- if only in our own minds- but I had never had that level of security before, and I truly enjoyed being farther from the edge than I had ever been, definitely good for your health.
   Because I own my home, BECAUSE I HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, because I have a market desirable profession, I feel very "rich", but even now, as I look around at the current state of the economy, I know I'm not invulnerable...that would take millions.
   So to me, being "wealthy" has a lot to do with feeling secure enough to weather various storms and not go under, being able to be generous, be able to grocery shop without a calculator, and maybe even fix all the feral cats that have wandered into a little piece of "Kitty Heaven".
   I'm wondering what rich means to other folks out there...


Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 06:58 AM PDT

Benny the cat

by evelette

  I have a serious number of cats, and ALL of them are Somebody. Benny was a very unique Somebody because he was our special needs cat: he was stone cold deaf.
   To be a deaf kitty in the rural wilds means that we KNEW he would only be with us for a little while.
    And that is the hardest, most precious gift he gave us...we loved him 110% even in the face of the knowing he would have an early demise.
    We didn't know he couldn't hear at first. Claude had been working outside and heard the plaintive mews of a kitten in distress. He followed the sound and found Benny under a milk crate at the neighbors, and promptly bundled up this tiny white kitten and brought him home.
   It took about a week to realize that what seemed odd about his behavior was that he didn't respond to any sounds... the final test was to clap our hands loudly next to his ears while he was sleeping- he never flinched.
  So we had already integrated him in with the other 5 indoor- outdoor kitties and couldn't see a way to re- educate him into a total indoor cat...and we discussed this at length. The final decision was to let him have as full a cat-life as possible, knowing, KNOWING that something would get him eventually.
   And Benny had an amazing life.
    Benny loved to play "fetch". We toss a foil ball, he'd race to catch it, and then prance back with it in his mouth, the proudest little being you ever saw.
  He'd play with the new puppy and held his own easily. He would come with me to visit the feral kittens in the garden and loll about, playing with them gently. Always gentle.
   Because he couldn't hear, he never heard any of the negative feedback from his cohorts ( our aging entitled other cats) who would hiss and spit at this bunny-boy of a kitten who just wanted to play. So he would just keep trying, completely affable, never discouraged...until all of the others just became his friend by default- he wouldn't take no for an answer.
  Because he couldn't hear, he would sit on your feet in the kitchen, to keep track of you... he was also cross-eyed and couldn't see too well either- but he coped in his ways.
  We were hyper vigilant with the cars, always checking 2-3 times that Benny wasn't under the car-he would never get the warning growl of the engine.
  Sometimes he would get lost and he had a very distinctive, off-key meow ( a deaf being's meow) and he would wait patiently for us to track him down...which was better than when he was just lost, because you sure as heck couldn't call for him.
   So this is nothing but a statement of deep mourning. We lost Benny yesterday- the moment that you know is coming- the moment that you had been thinking would be O.K. because you agreed to love him with all your heart...that moment is now and I still love him and I wouldn't do it differently but now he's not here.
  Loving in the face of impermanence seems to be what this whole human world is about. My beautiful Benny offered this great teaching.
  Never, never forget to love all the thing that are still with you...
  Thank you for listening...


THURSDAY NIGHT IS HEALTH CARE CHANGE NIGHT, a weekly Health Care Series (cross-posted at ePluribus Media and Tikkun Daily.

 This is the second part of
my story about surviving Breast Cancer.

   There is a slightly surreal quality of thinking that happens when one walks the halls of cancer. One is asked to consider options that are basically outside normal consideration, and come  down to making choices that are simply variations on levels of suffering...

  The bottom line is DEATH and you get to work up from there.

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THURSDAY NIGHT IS HEALTH CARE CHANGE NIGHT, a weekly Health Care Series (cross-posted at ePluribus Media and Tikkun Daily.  

Thought it would be good to describe a positive journey through our health care system. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of this year.

 My journey starts with the basic advantage of working as an R.N. in a small, rural, non-profit clinic here in New Mexico. Our CEO is a totally enlightened woman who used to run Health care for the Homeless in Albuquerque for about 5 years.

 She was instrumental in getting our staff enrolled in a small pilot program for state insurance coverage for low income folks that was quietly rolled out by Bill Richardson last year. It was quiet b/c they were afraid the whole project would be overwhelmed immediately, which it was. The 100,000 slots were filled faster than the paperwork could be printed. I never paid more than $7.00 a pop for 2 surgeries, MRI's, needle biopsies, ultrasounds and home nursing. I Don't think I've even spent $100 so far.

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