Inspired by Vu Le, Nonprofit AF

I attended a Zoom Meeting today with Vu Le of Nonprofit AF hosted by The Gruvin Foundation. Now I know it seems odd for a writer and communicator from the Lehigh Valley to spend time with a foundation focused on Ocean County, N.J., but I had a hunch Vu Le would have a message that transcended geography.

But before I get how right I was, let me celebrate the fact that I attended the meeting in true 2020 remote work fashion—

My Zoom Face

While below the waist, I spotted pajamas.

Let me just say that Vu Le speaks the truth and boldly proclaims what those of us who rely on traditional nonprofit institutions to employ us cannot say.

It’s time for the nonprofit sector to be bolder and more assertive.

Vu Le, Nonprofit AF

He so eloquently described what could be improved about the nonprofit sector. From the basic concepts such as fundraisers should not be judged on how much money they bring in and we should reflect upon the greatest needs in the community versus pushing our own mission.

Le advocates for a change in the ecosystem so that nonprofits stop functioning in silos and foundations and philanthropists stop generating mistrust and wasting time and resources.

For instance, Le reminds us all that GRANT PROPOSALS are a WASTE OF TIME since most never get funded. He poses the question— what if nonprofits employed the same tactics as funders?

A hungry family comes to the food pantry. Before they receive food they have to prepare the following:

  1. Compose an essay detailing how hungry they are.
  2. Include a logic model of exactly how all food will be used.
  3. Prepare outcomes of how this food will benefit your children.

We don’t do that, right?

So, Le asks, why do funders do it to us?

He compares the current nonprofit environment to The Hunger Games and like the book series, he challenges those in the sector to end the game and take down the system.

Vu Le speaking, hosted by Gruvin Foundation

Some more of his simple but mind blowing, completely logical ideas to improve inequality in this country:

  • The “easiest” way to fix society is to elect more women of color. It’s the only way to balance the voice is old white men.
  • The wealthy need to pay their fair share of taxes.
  • Remove corporate influence from politics.
  • Change the two-sided narrative so it’s harder to argue.

Then he reminded us all of this fact: If most social injustice and issues that nonprofits seek to correct effect primarily people of color, why is it that typically…

Non profit boards are white

Non profit staff is white

Donors are white

So white people should allow more people of color decision-making capacity in programs to benefit them. To continue to paraphrase Le, white folks need to stop taking jobs as executive directors for programs that don’t have any impact on white people.

And if funders are only participating in philanthropy to receive the tax breaks, they need to accept that the money is no longer theirs. They need to allow those communities facing the issues at hand to make decisions on how it is spent.

And one of the best ways to promote change in the sector is to encourage funders to give general operating expense funds and let the people doing the work decide where it is needed.

Again, these ideas are not mine but belong to Vu Le of the blog “Nonprofit AF.”

Educational Videographer

There are elements of every week that feel harder than the previous week.

I think I have determined that if I don’t move enough and I sit at desks and in similar circumstances my spine cannot handle it. Perhaps I am a candidate for a standing desk.

I spent yesterday cold and in pain, rotating my chores with cuddling kittens.

The teenager went with her uncle today to build a cat litter box for her room. She’s on her way home so I’m anxious to see how it went.

I was trying to determine what to do with my day when I got an email from my friend Gayle— yes, the same Gayle with whom I walk and who is designing ASPIRE to Autonomy’s annual report— “If only you lived closer…”

And me being me, I said “I’ll be right over.”

What was her dilemma?

Filming how to video mini lectures for her classes in the graphic design department at Northampton Community College.

It was fun to help her discuss magazine layout, master pages and style sheets in one video and cutting and scoring in the next.

Then we went for a walk. Gayle had new shoes she needed to break in before her 9-mile walk on Friday. And my back did just fine on the 4,000 step promenade.

Gayle has new sneakers

She took me for a walk to Fountain Hill, past the house where she used to live. We stopped to talk to Violet who used to feed all the stray cats and I noticed a pretty cool stick. And I stopped at Dunkin on the way home as the Eagles were playing so I got a $1 iced coffee.

The times they are a-changing

So, today is my estranged husband’s 46th birthday. Our daughter— the teenager— worked very hard on a custom gift.

She had $1.80 to her name and wanted to go to Dollar Tree and purchase wrappings.

I told her I could get her to $2.12 for tissue paper and a gift bag.

Now I keep a change purse separate from my wallet. But I usually leave it in my car. I also keep a half-pint “jelly” mason jar in center console in my car for my quarters. Because I believe in “parking quarters.” I think that shows how old I am.

I also keep a pint-sized canning jar in the kitchen for the spare change I forget to leave in the car or the coins that go through the wash or fall in the couch.

I always use that money at Dollar Tree, because even when you’re broke you can afford something at The Dollar Tree using the change from the jar.

So I took the jar with me into the store.

I gave the teenager enough change to have $3.18. That way she could also get a bow.

The cashier said she’d rather have coins than the teen’s dollar.

And then she asked what I had in the jar.

I told her that was my change.

“We buy change,” she said.

And the look in her eye was like I was gripping a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. I was holding a jar of nickels, dimes and pennies.

The line was getting very long but I counted out a dollar in small change and took my daughter’s paper money back.

“That” mom

The teenager is a junior at our local public high school, plays low brass and usually makes the honor roll.

Her entire school career we’ve had “the rule.” You get one bail out per school year. One Mom-SOS request to bring an item to school— band music, mouthpiece, lunch, whatever.

Today, on the first official day of in-person hybrid public education she forgot her school-issued Chromebook.

7:36 a.m. (one minute before the late bell rings) — text message— “Mom SOS.”

I go up to her room and find her refurbished MacBook Air and her school Chromebook. Both stacked nicely on her newly organized desk. Neither plugged in.

“Is it charged?” I text.

She assures me it is.

I try to resist the kittens gathering at my feet. It’s hard— but I have a mission.

I grab her wallet (as she has my keys attached to it at this moment) my wallet, and my flip flops.

I am now “that mom.” I always prided myself on being dressed and groomed before walking my kid to school. But today, I am still as I was when I rolled out of bed: crisp white t-shirt now speckled with some Fiero dust (spicy Taki-style corn snacks in fire-breathing chili lime flavor), no bra, and yoga pants.

When did I become this?

It’s raining lightly, the crickets are singing.

I park the car near the school and buzz the office (which, with me were several late coming students). It’s a small school so the employee in the office pretty much knows most of the parents and all of the kids.

From my sequestered hallway in the vestibule I hand her the computers and noticing the lack of cords she asks me, “Chargers?”

She knows teenagers. She sees it every day.

“She claims they are charged.”

The office employee nods. I realize I really should know her name, but I suppose it’s not a bad thing as I have not become one of “those parents” in addition to “that mom.”

“Those parents” are always at the school dropping things off or calling to talk to someone about their child.

The woman at the window asks if my daughter is coming for the machines, so I text her. (Is this not blatant disregard for the “no phones in school” policy?)

She says she doesn’t think she can unless someone gives her permission. I relay this. The woman in the office calls.

I have not said my daughter’s name out loud this whole time.

It’s a small public school.

I am instructed to leave the technology on the narrow table beside me in the hall. I exit. I see the teenager approaching from inside the locked doors. I wave from the rainy outdoors.

I walk home in the rain— my middle aged self in a white t-shirt. I figure the child will want to drive later so I leave the car there.

Funny part is, it was raining on her orientation day last week so I let her friend use my umbrella. Her friend also had it with her today.

I get home a little soggy and my daughter’s cat is in my spot.

Misty

And to think my daughter asked me — “why are you up this early?”

Apparently for an SOS.

The non-linear days

PART ONE: GLUTTONY

I had to face my pandemic denial today— due to the stressful nature of my last professional position, I’ve been stress eating more than I’ve admitted the last few months.

(And if you read this blog, you know I’ve been fairly transparent about my ability to each an entire Dominos or Little Caesar’s pizza. So imagine the late night bags of chips and the multiple doughnuts I haven’t told you about.)

Today I hit a new body weight high. And none of my pants fit. So it was sobering.

And I know part of that is my good intentions gone wrong.

Yesterday the morning started with breakfast with my dad and the teenager. I had coffee, a broccoli feta omelette, home fries, dry rye toast and cranberry juice.

I was proud of my choice because I haven’t had vegetables enough recently and I could bring half of my meal home for today. It was too delicious. So I decided I would skip or have a light lunch.

But then I stress ate a doughnut.

Then my dad and step mom invited me to the pub for dinner. My step mom wanted pizza so I thought I’d have a beer and a slice. I think I ate the equivalent of a whole bar pizza.

This year has not been one of discipline

It’s 7:23 pm and I’m watching the marching band rehearse so my daughter can drive home… I’ll make7,000 steps today but not my goal of 10K.

PART TWO: WARLOCK CRAFT BEER REVIEW

At Three Mugs Pub yesterday, I ordered a salted caramel chocolate Saucony Creek, a craft beer label I typically enjoy. Chocolate stouts and porters tend to be my favorite beers.

They didn’t have it. So I ordered a Warlock instead.

Warlock is an imperial pumpkin stout brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company. It was smooth and not obnoxious in its seasonal flavor. And caused more of a buzz than I was expecting given all the food I ate.

PART THREE: CHICKEN BONE BROTH

Earlier— on Tuesday—while the teenager was still hanging out with my dad…

I finally turned off my crock pot that had been brewing the chicken bones of a whole young roaster I bought at Grocery Outlet on Saturday for $4. I made the chicken in the crock pot that day, returned the bones and skin to the crockpot and kept filling it with water until Tuesday noon.

I carefully poured it all out and squeezed all the goodness out of the now soft bones. I also started a pot of soup on the stove. The yield was nice.

PART FOUR: TRIGGERED

I started my day with coffee— fighting an unusual sluggishness and some unexpected difficulty with my menstrual cycle.

Last week, I had started thinking about my psychological triggers. I have long known that I have an obsessive attitude toward food. Not in the disordered eating way, but in a hoarding kind of way.

I don’t actually hoard food, but seeing a piece of fruit rot or having to throw out an out-of-date food product upsets me far more than it should.

It usually serves me well, but it backfires sometimes and missteps with food can make me unreasonably angry.

Let’s bring this back to that chicken— I didn’t need that chicken. I didn’t even want that chicken. But that was a huge roaster chicken for $4.

I made soup and froze it for the first cold day of the fall season. (I’m not even fond of chicken soup). I separated the white meat and the dark meat and froze that for future use. And I made bone broth.

That’s a lot of food for $4. Good, healthy protein. But… it’s not food I enjoy. So why?

But then this morning as I was drinking my coffee, I heard two people arguing. It was a loud verbal altercation. This is one of my triggers I forgot about— and it’s one I understand. My parents had a lot of verbal arguments and if I’m honest (forgive me for saying so Mom and Dad) if they had enough alcohol the fights could get violent and ugly. There weren’t that many over the years, but enough to create an even more terrifying environment than the mere alcoholism that existed in my childhood home.

So I surveyed my surroundings and couldn’t see anyone. My chest was tightening and my stomach dropping and that odd little internal tremble shook me.

These incidents were frequent when my previous neighbors screamed profanities at each other and threw objects and each other at the walls. It terrified me. They were literally on the other side of the wall, similar to my parents. When I didn’t stand there paralyzed and watch them.

I am not convinced what happened this morning, but I suspect my neighbor had some sort of television program playing in her car.

PART FIVE: THRIFT STORE

I promised the teenager a trip to our favorite thrift store. She bought supplies for her father’s birthday craft and two belts. I bought approximately three skirts, four pairs of business slacks, one pair jeans and one pair corduroys.

Since I can’t try things on, I got everything from size 7 to 10. Far cry from my normal 2 or 4, or my spare/ baggy sizes 6 to 8.

$43.50.

None of the professional pants fit. The red jeans (Old Navy low cut Rockstar 10) fit but are snug. The corduroys fit (size 8). One size 8 skirt fits, the other two did not. The medium skirt fit.

I’m sorry, guys. I also wanted to update you on Aspire to Autonomy, Lady Boss Entrepreneurs Club and some recent make-up unboxing from Dolls Kill and Target.com. But I’m wiped out and this is really long. Oh — and William Prystauk’s third novel appeared on Amazon.com today so now you can read the latest Kink Noir masterpiece and get your mystery/romance/crime/BDSM on.

More tomorrow?

In the meantime: enjoy this unboxing video:

Unboxing a Dolls Kill package

Silly, sweet Saturday

So, I have come to the conclusion that all I have to do is call Nan and ask, “Are you busy?” and she will grab her white cane and meet me by the door.

Unless NASA has something going on— like a hatch opening or a spacewalk or a launch or a capture.

Today the teenager got up early, at 8 a.m., which in teen time is somewhere between “I had no idea the sun came up this early” and “wow, I can eat breakfast at actual breakfast time.”

Speaking of breakfast, the foster kittens have learned the word “breakfast” and their little ears perk up when you say it.

The teen wanted to go to Petco and Dollar Tree, while Nan and I had our eye on a brief trip to Grocery Outlet to look for smoothies and lentil pasta. Their circular advertised Bird’s Eye steam-in-bag lentil pasta, which Nan and I both like, for 99 cents.

It normally runs $3-4 per bag.

As a blind person, Nan likes the fact that she can make lentil pasta without dealing with boiling water as one has to do with traditional pasta and it’s not a mushy mess of preservatives like canned pasta.

We were both disappointed to discover that they only had lentil/zucchini pasta with olive oil, as opposed to the “sauced” varieties.

But I get ahead of myself. As I mentioned yesterday (see Growing Up), the teenager is now driving. This trip with Nan— because of course she said yes she’d come— would be her first trip with the teen behind the wheel.

Yesterday, we not only drove several highways but I took her to Wendy’s to try the drive-through. She aced that.

We set a rendezvous time with Nan for 10 a.m. and head to the car with a sneak peak at the garden. My fancy little imported peppers have started to grow, and the massive pumpkin vine that originated in my compost heap has started to yield pumpkins not on the ground but on my fence.

Petco passed without incident and Grocery Outlet had minimum disruption as well. But the teenager found Maple Doughnuts (as a brand name) in an unlabeled decadent 12 pack that weighed at least four pounds for $1.99.

“Quality you can see since 1946,” I chuckled while reading that to Nan.

The plan quickly morphed into a trip for coffee at Dunkin’ and doughnuts from Grocery Outlet. The teenager helped us load up the car and she headed to the Dollar Tree and we contemplated beverages.

Except McDonald’s was closer and cheaper. By the time the teen returned we were still deciding because I had a coupon for “buy one milkshake and get one for a penny.” But we had doughnuts.

Nan wanted a chocolate shake but protested that she was pretty sure drinking milkshakes before 11 a.m. was frowned upon, in the same manner as day drinking.

I assured her it would be 11 by the time we received the milkshakes.

So I ordered one small chocolate and one medium strawberry milkshake and one large Diet Coke.

One of us had to pretend to be sensible.

10:35 a.m.

The drive thru is ridiculous. But that’s how it is now. The line at the McDonald’s is like a trip to the DMV whereas getting your learner’s permit at the DMV is relatively instantaneous. Another Covid-19 reality.

11 a.m. — to the minute— we receive the shakes. Nan and the teenager split a chocolate doughnut. I eat a cake doughnut with icing and crystallized sugar. And then a glazed donut with chocolate icing and a thick layer of maple icing.

A relaxed and joyful start to a sweet Saturday morning.

Why I Aspire

It’s been an exciting week for Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., and an even more exciting Friday night!

As early as Monday, the communications team at Aspire will be sending out a press release talking about all of this excitement. If you are reading this, you are getting a taste of what the media will learn Monday.

On Monday, our new team of 6+ social work interns from the graduate programs of Kutztown and Marywood universities started work with Aspire. So it’s great to have new people with new energy and new voices.

In the middle of the week, as Darnell and I were trying to put the finishing touches on the organization’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, Amber let us know that Northampton County had approved Aspire’s grant application for more than $8,000 to provide masks and hand sanitizer to the underserved and unsheltered.

Today, Aspire learned that Just Born has awarded the Community Intervention Service pilot program a $2,500 grant.

On top of all of this, Aspire had the opportunity to host a hot meal distribution of quality vegetarian Indian food from Aman’s Artisanal Indian Cuisine on Northampton Street in downtown Easton.

Aman’s worked with Lehigh Valley Sikhs to pay for and prepare these generous meals that Aspire distributed to the elderly, disabled and other underserved individuals identified as part of the Communities Impacting Communities program, primarily in West Ward, Easton, but also in Wilson borough.

Bulk meal distributions happened at Third Street Alliance for Women and Children and other Lehigh Valley non-profits. I helped distribute some meals at Third Street, with teenager in tow, and delivered others to families in my own neighborhood who I know have been furloughed since the beginning of the pandemic.

As I was leaving, Darnell gave me one of the single person bags to give to my blind, senior citizen friend, Nan.

I hadn’t even thought about her— her fixed income, her disability, her reliance on friends for what she needs, and her age. To me, she’s just my good friend and partner in crime. I was touched that Darnell remembered Nan and wanted the outreach to help her too.

This is why I Aspire—the Lehigh Valley is one of the most populated regions in the state. Its transportation infrastructure makes every other region of the country super accessible. It has proximity to New York City, Philadelphia and the New Jersey shipping ports.

Human trafficking happens here and it may not look like what you expect it to look like.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery.

Aspire to Autonomy wants to find trafficking victims and give them the tools and support they need to rebuild an independent life. But they are forward-thinking and broad-reaching and grassroots in their vision.

They celebrated their second anniversary in July and they are gaining momentum every day.

Their anti-trafficking vision also helps strengthen our communities and forges partnerships and connections that hopefully will improve life for every underserved citizen. Because traffickers prey on the vulnerable, and if we strengthen our bonds in our neighborhoods, traffickers won’t have a place to hide. Or a place to hunt.

This is Why I Aspire. Anti-trafficking may sound like a niche, but helping our neighbors is not.

So, as I wrote this, Nan finished her first meal of the goodies from Aman’s that I brought her. As a blind person, she couldn’t quite recall what everything was but she offered strong reviews of the deliciousness.

She had some of the “cross between vegetable soup and vegetarian chili” (lentil and black bean curry) and loved the “cucumber salad” (cucumber salad with chick peas) and had to dip a spoon in the “fruity pudding” (sweet pudding). She reports that the individual bag is at least two meals, but the cucumber salad probably won’t last the night.

She confirmed that she has never had Indian food before and that she is now a fan.

And she asked me—after making me promise to thank Darnell, “is it okay to have Indian food for breakfast?”

The disappointing nature of the human race

The pandemic. Unemployment. And a host of social issues that start with our federal government and cascade down to our neighborhoods.

It sounds like I have a bowling alley above my kitchen, and the teenager’s bedroom smells like an animal shelter— both due to the five kittens we are fostering on behalf of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. (See their web site here.)

Our Artemis might be listed for adoption soon.

One of my peers working with FURR posted to Facebook this morning about some of the new additions to the FURR family— including two adult, declawed cats left behind when their owners moved.

It always irks me when people desert their pets when they move, and it’s bad enough when they take their pets to the animal shelter, but to just leave cats to fend for themselves… well, that is a not-nice human being.

And to find out these cats were declawed tells me the owners invested in these animals at some point probably to protect their furniture annoys me even more.

Declawing, in my opinion, is a cruel surgery. And to do that to your cat and then not even bother to take it with you when you move… I can’t even fathom!

But then I’m the one that not only took in five kittens to help get them ready for homes, but keeps working to socialize the one that bit me and sent to to the hospital for a lovely 4-day, 3-night spa vacation.

I even made sure the kitten that bit me got her next dose of medicine before I went to the ER.

Speaking of which, my family doctor is very happy with the care I received and as of 10 a.m. this morning, the infamous cat bite looks like this:

Rant over.

If you bring a pet into your home or feed a stray, be ready for the responsibility of that animal’s life.

Hospital “jet lag”

I don’t feel like writing right now. I don’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping.

No one prepared me for how weird it would be to transition back into everyday life after 72 hours plus in the hospital.

It’s a lot like jet lag for similar reasons— your sleep schedule is screwed up and your routine in general is topsy turvy.

And I had neither major illness nor invasive procedures.

I got home on Thursday a little after 11 a.m. The cats were aloof but Nala was glad to see me.

I took one of the longest showers I’ve ever taken in my life. And I put on a pretty dress, just because I could.

And when I got out of the shower I discovered a text that alerted me to a cake on my porch.

The best baker in the neighborhood made me this coffee cake

I immediately texted my neighbor in the other half of my house and asked if she wanted to have coffee and I would bring cake.

Knowing I haven’t had decent coffee since the previous weekend, she started a pot immediately.

I left from there to go meet my daughter at the high school and help her carry her marching baritone home.

This is where I have to give my daughter all the props. Monday was her first day of high school band camp. If you don’t already know this about the teenager, she is in her fourth year of playing low brass in marching band.

So when I wandered off to the ER at 6-ish a.m. Monday morning, and was texting her “I’m not coming home.” Well, first she thought I was dying and then she suddenly became responsible for her own meals, her own laundry, and the care of 3 parakeets, 1 cockatoo who won’t go to sleep without someone in the room, our four cats and five foster kittens.

And we had a tropical storm.

And she handled it all.

Our neighbors offered an amazing support network, as did my friends, especially Gayle who brought me t-shirts so I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown.

I took several walks that first day home, including one for my medicine at CVS. I was ecstatic to see I only had a few days of Augmentin to take.

And the hand has improved every day.

Wound: about 10 a.m., August 8

My dad and stepmom came down to visit and take us to dinner at Three Mugs Pub. That almost made me cry because on Wednesday, after the doctor told me he couldn’t discharge me yet, all I could think of was a Shruty’s burger at Three Mugs Pub.

One of the best burgers around

When Three Mugs Pub was still Shruty’s, my husband and I were the first people to order the Shruty’s burger when they debuted it. It’s a really good burger topped with pepper jack cheese, shrings (tempura battered deep fried banana pepper rings) and Texas petal sauce.

In my opinion, this burger is one of the best in the Lehigh Valley, on par with the much pricier peanut butter bacon burger at Two Rivers Brewing, another favorite of mine.

And I had a Guinness to celebrate my arrival home.

They had a new appetizer on the menu— a hot buffalo chicken dip. We tried that too.

The teenager declared it her new favorite chicken dip, better than her father’s. I respectfully disagree. Her father’s is extremely good. I prefer it.

After that meal I slept 10 hours.

Now, on Friday, yesterday, everyone kept contacting me or stopping me to ask how I was doing and then Darnell stopped by to inform me of all the things that had happened while I was gone.

And everyone wanted a piece of the coffee cake Janie made me.

I shared.

And then my neighbor Jan let me watch a movie at her house, cuddling with her dog, and she even gave the teenager and I a bag of brownie M&M’s. The teenager thought they “just tasted like M&M’s” whereas I thought if you piled enough of them in your mouth at once it was like having a mouthful of brownie batter.

Not that I’ve ever eaten a bowl of brownie batter.

Or an entire pint of ice cream with brownie bits.

And then I slept 10 hours again.

I rolled out of bed a little after 8, expecting to have the last slice of Janie’s decadent coffee cake, after all, I need the food to take my antibiotics.

But then my mom told me she was bringing sticky buns.

So I made my morning coffee and as the espresso machine started steaming, I got on the scale.

I’ve gained two pounds since I got home from the hospital.

Saturday breakfast from Mimi

Lunch was a business mixer with the Easton chapter of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club at Sogo Asian Fusion in the downtown.

A random young black women yelled at us from her car, “You guys look so pretty.” So I asked the teenager to take some selfies before our arrival. The teenager had just given me a haircut. I thought my hair looked untamed because of my hospital stay. I was wrong.

That random compliment from a stranger meant a lot to me as I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.

The teenager and I had the Out of Control roll, Fire Mountain (with scallops! and it really was a mountain, and it was so amazing) and a Philadelphia roll. The teenager squealed with delight and the staff at Sogo gave me the rubber-banded chopsticks because I was using a fork.

I guess the teenager will have to teach me to use chopsticks.

The remainder of my afternoon was spent cleaning, walking with my neighbor, and trying to earn the trust of our foster kittens.

YouTube playlist of our foster kittens

And now, I’m feeling a little nauseous and I wonder if it’s because of all these penicillin-family antibiotics in my system and the fact that I had so much more water in my system in the hospital. Every time I had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics in the hospital, they increased my IV fluids. So I’m trying to drink more here at home.

And a few minutes ago, my mom texted. She got bit by a friend’s cat today.

Waiting for my ambulance

If you look at my last few entries, you will read about the tiny, little cat bite that sent me to urgent care and then to the ER at St. Luke’s Easton Campus. I never expected what happened next,

Right away, at 6:40 or so a.m., the doctor in the emergency room explained my options. They preferred to start IV antibiotics, then transfer me to one of the larger hospitals in the network.

Which would require an ambulance.

So I asked, “Could I just go to the hospital myself?”

And he explained I could, but he would be discharging me against medical advice, and then I would start over in the other emergency room. Which might mean two separate emergency room charges. And not being monitored. And losing my spot in the triage line.

And he recommended asking for removal of the transfer charges.

Now they have drawn on me with surgical marker at this point and i can see my finger swelling and my infection spreading. Two knuckles are completely swollen and angry.

I want to get this treated ASAP. So I agreed.

I’ve seen every episode of House MD, I know infections that spread are bad.

That was an attempt at levity. I don’t think all doctors are like House.

This is only my first real hospitalization— unless you count childbirth.

Now, Easton Hospital has a long history in the small community where I live. When I moved here, Easton Hospital was still a small, independent hospital. A few years ago, the Steward Group bought it and made it a for-profit hospital.

Which, for the sake of trivia, increased the tax base in our borough.

But over the course of the last year, Steward closed down entire departments. When Covid-19 hit, Steward threatened to close the whole damn hospital if the state didn’t offer massive financial support.

In May, St. Luke’s University Health Network bought the hospital. My doctors are all affiliated with this network so when the urgent care suggested going to the emergency room, this one is about 600 steps from my house.

I didn’t know that in the transition, the hospital has not fully rebuilt its services and wasn’t equipped for my care. I would have gladly driven to the larger hospital. Oh well.

By about 10 a.m. my ER nurses have given me a second antibiotic (the urgent care had given me oral Bactrim), hand x-rays, and fluids. They also swab me for Covid as a safety precaution prior to transfer. That was squiggly. The hospital where I must go is full, so I have to wait for another patient to be discharged.

And it is the full moon.

I have my own triage room in the ER. At about 11:30, my neighbor, Sarah, comes and brings my phone charger, iPad, teddy bear and my favorite sweat shirt.

We talk, play cards, watch TV and learn that I am not allowed to eat. My hand may need surgery. The nurse apologetically offers me clear fluids but also offers me a milk. I ask for the ginger ale.

Lunch was Shasta. It was a perfectly tasty and cold Shasta that hit the spot.

Sarah and I play cards as I drink my Shasta

The Easton squad arrives at 2:20 p.m. for my 2:30 transport. I am happy to report that my blood pressure has been good. I joke around as they strap me on, which this is really the silliest medical transport ever.

It’s almost 9 p.m. I’ll finish this tomorrow.

The wound at the time of transfer