Reflections on Roe vs Wade

I spent 15 years of my working life as a print journalist and often I still look at the world stifling my opinions in order to present fairness, equity and facts.

It’s not dissimilar to what some of my small, family-oriented business owning friends say: that you don’t want to alienate those who trust you.

But I grow more and more disheartened by our country every day. With the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade 6 to 3, abortion will be legislated by the States.

“Conservatives” (I say that because America has a long history of not really using the terms conservative and liberal correctly) and pro-Lifers will rejoice. But I am agitated at the illogical rhetoric that our country throws out there when we, as a society, need to tackle important issues. And both sides seem ridiculously unwilling to compromise in any way. Cooperation is a dirty word to our leaders.

All of this is my opinion and here are my lamentations:

  • The logic of changing (and probably eliminating) the right to abortion is usually centered on protecting the unborn. Who is clamoring to take care of all of these unborn? What if the fetus has serious complications? What if the parents are severely impoverished or facing homelessness or addiction? What if the parents are unstable emotionally? We are a society that traditionally does not have the kindest or most efficient or even equitable healthcare, foster care or support for the disabled.
  • So, when we start talking about abortion, it’s an issue of individual rights, isn’t it? And a couple years ago when we started talking about a public health crisis— the pandemic— a lot of people who are probably very keen on pro-life sentiments also balked about the prospect of wearing a mask or mandating mRNA vaccines. Now I still don’t like mRNA technology but I understand my responsibility as the member of society and the philosophical concept of the greater good, so I got the damn “vaccine.” But the same people who say it’s a violation of personal rights and bodily autonomy to wear a mask or force a needle often think it’s perfectly okay to interfere with a woman’s bodily autonomy and health when it comes to abortion— and these same people have no concern or interest about what happens to the woman during pregnancy or to the baby upon birth.
  • This baby, this unborn life, is protected but we live in a land where guns are easily available and shootings are becoming as commonplace as Starbucks. Children can find guns and shoot other children. Teachers die in mass shooters in classrooms. Worshipping people die in churches but we value the sanctity of unborn life. To have a gun is a second amendment right. So protecting life against guns cannot by done, or so they say.
  • The big problem in this country stems from ignorance and poverty. Corporations and politicians, run by those who have financial assets, decide who has opportunity and education. Schools are woefully unequal even a mere mile apart. So while we are taught to work hard and we might achieve anything, it’s just not true.

Tasting things on the teenager’s 18th birthday

Today is the teenager’s 18th birthday — she has a lot of dog walking clients so we stopped at her favorite gas station, the Penn Jersey mini mart, and I grabbed candy and sodas.

I meant to grab two “2 for $1.50” candies and “2 for $3.50” 20 ounce Coke products.

Instead, I grabbed one “2 for $1.50” candy and one “2 for $2” candy.

They didn’t have plain old Coke Zero— or perhaps I’m not used to looking for the new packaging— so I got “space tasting” Coke Zero Starlight and a Diet Coke for the birthday girl.

As for candy, I bought melon rings and colorful juju fish.

The teenager declared the red juju fish the best and the yellow, “nasty.”

Meanwhile, if I had to make what space tastes like according to Coke Zero, I would say cotton candy melted into their cola formula.

The teenager and I traded sodas.

Yesterday, my mother-in-law brought down a birthday cake for the teenager, a baked Alaska decorated like an igloo. The dessert featured layers of cake and ice cream sandwiching a strawberry filling like a big old Kaiser roll, but the Kaiser roll was meringue caramelized in the oven.

Speaking of rolls, I stopped at the little convenience store in my neighborhood— the one with the Latin vibe— and picked out these sweet rolls for a toasted treat. This morning I sliced one very thin and slathered it with key lime curd.

And for her birthday dinner, the teenager wanted to invite her father to Jasmine Sushi and Thai, where they always do such a magnificent job on presentation. My estranged husband had never had sushi in a restaurant before, so this was very fun.

We got the love boat for 2, which includes the Dragon and California rolls, the Hot Girl Roll, the Butterfly Roll, the eel and cucumber roll and the dynamite roll. These featured crab, scallops, salmon and tuna. Some spicy, some fruity, some crunchy.

We spent $175 for dinner once we got beverages and dessert and left a nice tip, but the teenager is our only baby and she’s 18 now.

Freedom was nice while it lasted

So, as directed by my doctor, I went to see my friends — the occupational therapists at the Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation.

They fitted me with a custom splint molded to my finger (for $50) that despite my doctor’s recommendation that I wear the splint at night only, they want me to wear the splint 24-hours a day for the next week, which for me will be nine days because that’s the day I can get there again.

I am to remove this splint when I bathe, when I wash my hands, and five times a day to do physical therapy exercises.

The exercises are 10 reps of basic hand gestures: straightening the hand, lightly bending the top of the hand, and making a loose fist.

If the hand loses progress instead of gains it, then the cast will be reapplied.

In pondering this, I realize several opinions of mine that may be greater truths:

  • Had I accepted my doctor’s solution of “cheaping out” and reusing my stinky cast as a splint, my recovery from this mallet finger would be more direct versus gradual. I believe gradual, supervised steps toward healing are better and I wonder if there are statistics about patients and the long-term success rates with these injuries with various treatments. How many patients would hear that insurance won’t cover it and end the conversation there without considering that the $50 might provide more than just a splint, but also guidance and expertise.
  • Are my occupational therapists just over-cautious or it is a case (as I think it is) that the therapists see more of this injury and in the same manner than nurses often know more than doctors, do occupational therapists understand more about function than fancy specialized surgeons?

Free the Finger! Cast-free after 9 weeks

I was very apprehensive and so excited to see my doctor at OAA today to get my damn cast off for an evaluation of my mallet finger.

The teenager texted me as I sat in the exam room.

“Free the finger!”

They had a devil of a time cutting it off— apparently after even five weeks in the same cast it was firmly on.

Both the hand/orthopedic specialist and the hand rehab office it’s unusual for patients to maintain a finger cast for so long. That doesn’t make sense to me, because why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to maintain agility and strength in your finger?

Free the Finger!

the Teenager

And don’t give me that “it’s too hard” or “I need my hand to do stuff.”

I work in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse folding clothes. And after my brief stint on short term disability to deal with my balance and hip issues stemming from cerebral palsy (and made more complicated by now not being able to rely on the left side of my body with this temporary injury), I went back to work and performed at 100% and higher with my finger in a cast and restricted hand movement.

That finger had so much caked dead skin and here’s the really fascinating part— my knuckle no longer has wrinkles because it has not bent.

In the beginning of my treatment, I found my doctor cold and impersonal but as he gets to know me I like him more and I get more personable interactions from him.

He told me I should gradually increase my finger flexibility with care not to hyperextend it (otherwise known as don’t bend it backwards) and splint it at night. For the splint, I could take my cast back. And tape it in at night.

“It’s cheap, but it’s dirty,” the doctor said.

Yeah, no thanks. I lived with that grimy thing long enough.

“The other option is to return to the Hand Institute and they’ll make you a splint.”

(Which, coincidentally Cigna, my insurance, does not cover. But as I do not cheap out on my medical care, I will pay for. Because right now my HSA is empty because having a disability and doing everything you can to keep yourself ahead of that disability is expensive. So please, consider this and how lucky I am that I can support myself because if I had to really on family and government benefits to subsidize my care, I’d be crippled.)

I imagine there’s a third option— buy an over-the-counter splint. And I was going to consider that. But to me, the cost of the custom splint comes with the knowledge and enthusiasm of the people at the Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation. These people love and know hands.

And if I can only teach others one concept about your health, it is this: invest in yourself, meaning, find the right medical providers for your team that understand your needs and share your personal philosophy and concerns. This requires being vulnerable in a way that might be uncomfortable and it might mean having difficult conversations with people you don’t like. But it may also lead you to better understanding of yourself and of those people who seemed like callous know-it-alls disinterested in you.

I peppered my hand specialist with questions today— rapid fire as he typed my splint referral into the computer. And he respected them. The questions.

How much movement is okay? What should I watch for? I pack boxes and fold clothes and put things on conveyer belts. Should I splint the finger at work if it starts to feel weird? Is there certain motion I should avoid?

“There are no rules,” he said. “Just be careful and the occasional splinting wouldn’t be bad. I’ll see you in a month.

He made eye contact with me as if to say, “you know your body. Follow your gut.”

But he also knows I’m the patient who kept a finger cast on longer than the average Joe. So maybe, just maybe, he trusts me.

For previous installments on my finger injury: click here.

Also: a YouTube video

Messages from the street team

At work today, by my math, I did 102% in my home department folding clothes— 159 fixes to be exact during a ten-hour shift that started with a 20+ minute meeting. Yesterday I shipped 565 packages in Freestyle, which is 113%.

Those were some of my fixes.

Sunday we were off, a paid holiday to recognize Juneteenth. The teenager and I used the time to visit the senior community where my mom lives as one of her neighbors wanted some of my books.

Grandma S bought all three of my current novels and a copy of the Parisian Phoenix anthology, Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money, as it contains essays by me, the teenager and her father.

Grandma S, the teenager and I had a lovely visit where I finally got to meet her mammoth cat.

And we all know I love a cat.

We stopped to see my mom and her partner on our way out — thought it would be a good surprise for Father’s Day as the teenager has good memories of my mother and her roommate that involve Yoo-Hoo and tractors and cornfields.

My mom asked for several books as well.

And then some discussions happened that made me think maybe the senior community might be the closest thing I have to a “street team” to publicize my books.

Grandma S said she saw my clumsy video of me reading from Manipulations on Facebook and wants to read more.

Mom apparently enjoyed deciphering the locales and familiar faces in the novel. One of her friends reported that the first novel jumped around too much and was hard to follow. She’s apparently reading the second now.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to get my cast off.

Babbling to Andrew Gurza

One of the very first things I did when I opened my bank account for my business, Parisian Phoenix Publishing, was to buy my art director Gayle a pastry at my favorite pie shop. But the next thing I did was head to Patreon and support Andrew Gurza, a queer man with cerebral palsy who records the podcast “Disability After Dark.”

I requested to join him on the podcast, thinking it would be a great way to promote my business and share my experiences. I wanted Andrew to know how much his honesty means to me and how much I leaned on his support– even though he didn’t know me– in my journey to accept my identity as a person with a disability, in this case spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

I had to reschedule once due to a doctor’s appointment with my current hand injury, and he had to reschedule once due to his IBS flares. He even started a podcast to talk about various GI issues and he called it, “This Shit is Real.” And I admire him for that openness. A recent and very occasional complication with my CP has been incontinence. Sometimes I can’t feel when I have to pee until it’s the very last second. And that is scary.

We finally had our chat today, and we barely scratched the surface of what both of us could say, and I know by the end I was talking too fast. Nala even behaved, but then my parakeet Yo-yo starting singing.

I hope he can salvage the audio.

I was so excited to have that chat with him as I have listened to the podcast for more than a year now. And he asked if he could contact me again so we can talk about book publishing.

Andrew can contact me anytime! The world needs more people that force discussions that we all need to have. We need to release ourselves from sensations of shame, anxiety and insecurity and accept each other and the perspectives we bring to the table.

I had a notebook because I wanted to write down the brilliant insights I knew we would have together and we had a great, great talk. But I babbled. And now I don’t have much to share with you.

So I guess we’ll have to wait for Andrew to release the episode.