Come together. Peel apart.

You expose me to myself.

I am unfamiliar with your brand of respect

and human decency.

So it’s funny that I almost beg

you to violate me so it can feel right.

Oh to be able to stand in the quiet grace of

our greatness and let it just be that.

Oh but if I could silence her little cries for

validation

and

wholeness

and just BE

with us in that moment.

Even if that’s

All

We

Have.

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Physician Disagrees.

ImageIn 2002 I sat for the clinical exams for my RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist) credential. The easiest part, at least for me, were the straight forward questions on the shit that could easily be found Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care textbook. The shitty part, and the part ironically that would tend to foreshadow what my career in respiratory care looked like, were the clinical simulations. The clinical sims walked you through theoretical scenarios. Some of the patients had blatantly obvious problems like pneumonia, COPD, asthma the stuff you knew you were signing up for as a therapist. It got fuzzy when babies with ambiguous symptoms came rolling through your virtual ED and all you could rely on were your clinical assessment skills. So, Patient Q came barreling through the door with a persistent 3 week dry cough, low-grade fever, and other symptoms that could mean everything yet nothing.

I’d go through a specific symptom, apply the solution that I thought was correct, and would receive the heart stopping response of:

PHYSICIAN DISAGREES

By the 3rd or 4th “disagreement” I thought for sure that I’d killed my virtual patient and shat away the hundreds of dollars that I’d spent on the exam. As it turns out my patient survived because of the choices I made. I walked out of the H&R block testing center fist pumping like 80s Judd Nelson. Now let’s apply that to my real life in respiratory therapy shall we:

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve had an opinion that was the “right answer” in the direction of patient care but was summarily ignored by the physician charged with caring for the patient. The difference in real life is that lives will not be miraculously saved by a test that happens to know which care plan is better. In fact …

*Bombshell Alert*

People get very sick and or die because of physician pride, incompetence, or apathy. I wish I could say that I haven’t seen it as many times as I have in this now almost 14 years as a therapist, but it’s true. When a physician would rather Google how to operate a particular type of life support rather than ask the real live person on duty who has experience with the equipment how to proceed (yes, this happened … to ME), then there is a major problem with how the healthcare team functions and the real losers in this game are, as always, patients. Do I blame all physicians? No.

I blame the set up of the healthcare “system”. Doctors are all too often placed in a position where they cannot be vulnerable, where they can’t say “I don’t know” or appear not to, hell where a patient with no medical knowledge whatsoever can waltz into their office and tell them what to prescribe. This type of system sets doctors up to be on the defensive. They have the image of the authoritarian on all things medical to uphold after all. It’s a sucky conundrum and a large chunk of the reason why I didn’t proceed to medical school.

The only solution I see in this age of information where the patient truly is more well versed about their disease process than the doctor, is a more team based approach where the doctor is still at the helm, but know when to trust the advice of specialist that have seen certain things a time or two more that she/he has. I’ve seen this set up before, mainly at teaching hospitals, and from what I’ve experienced it works. Granted, it then places the responsibility for competency in the lap of staff, but I’d rather have my opinion respected and expected than to just be a “knob turner” at the mercy of a doctor who is burned out, apathetic, and just doesn’t want to be called anymore. Mutual respect to the benefit of those we are charged to care for: Is that too much to ask? Me thinkest not.

Rosie.

I see you, you see me … and that’s cool.

I see you, you see me … that’s cool.

You’ve read my stuff, or you haven’t but surely may after this ;) , I goodly suck at relationships of the romantic variety. I know all the issues behind why and I have prayed the prayers, cried the tears, and burned the effigies.  There remains nothing left for me to do but do the work.  In the process of this work doing I’ve come across a book that I’d actually be given about eight years ago called If The Buddha Dated.  I won’t get into the particulars, but one thing I noticed, and which actually tickled me a little is that old adage “you attract what you are” is kind of true, but not in the negative douche baggy way people tend to dole it out.

While reading about compassion, unconditional love, mutual understanding, and facing fear in relationships I realized that these things are often very difficult for me to practice with the men I date because I often can’t practice them with myself. I attract people that I generally want to take care of in someway or another.  They’re usually creative types (me), who are great at what they do (Me), who seek out affection/satisfaction from multiple and usually self destructive outlets (ME), and who are often resistant to any healthy/balance/positive change or growth (MMMMEEE!!!)

The issue has been established.  Now what’s the game plan.  First and most important I continue to fight bravely for my sanity and overall well being while looking at myself with a compassionate eye and speaking to myself in a compassionate voice. I stay OPEN but VIGILANT in my dating situations.  I kindly refuse the literally attached, because they have been the worse type of self inflicted pain in my experience. The rest is just about learning. What my likes and dislikes are, and honoring that. What’s comfortable, what isn’t, and honoring that. And moving through fear!  There’s an excellent passage in the book that goes a lil something like this:

Dating with a Buddhist consciousness means a willingness to confront anything inside that kindles fear or anxiety.  When we start wanting to run away, be deceptive, tell lies, or put on a mask, we need to walk right into our fears, sit down, and talk to them until they become our friends.  This doesn’t mean we have a goal of getting rid of fear; rather, we accept it as a part of our unfolding journey.

Boom.

Just last night I found myself entangled in a conversation with a man that fascinates me beyond words, but rather being IN the conversation and enjoying his company, I kept trying to find ways to make him more fascinated with me out of fear that who I am isn’t enough. I fall into that pattern so often it’s like breathing.  What’s crazy is he was clearly just as uncomfortable as I was!

Last thing, and I’ll step off my makeshift soap box. Landing the man isn’t the goal. There will be no prize, no acceptance speeches to make, and no academy to thank when you have landed said man or woman. In fact, the prize will come in finding out that they are just as fugged up and human as you, and you still wanna stay. As my friend Antoine told me, “Don’t romanticize that shit, relationships are work.”

They damn sure are, and as my experience bears out, can break you in half  if you don’t go in without your priorities straight and your expectations low.  From observing relationships of people close to me I notice that the best ones are ones where people have and retain a strong sense of self and enhance their mate. It gives me hope, that if I pick up the pieces of my enfeebled soul that I will have an equally enfeebled soul to bang life out with … or not.  Either way through my continued engagement in seeking out a relationship I am given the opportunity each time to form a more “perfect” union, with self.

Saying this to self as I say it to you,

Rosie.

PE: The Unseen Enema!

I’m not sure if I ever feel “special” or “wanted”. I have determined the reason for this is an undiscovered birth defect that children in the future will be tested for.  They may even develop a vaccine.  It’d play out something like this:

(A happy couple with their new baby in tow, walks into a pediatrician’s office for baby’s first appointment. The doctor sits behind the desk, shuffles mindlessly through papers. It is apparent that all tests and labs are normal. Then he stumbles upon a piece of paper that causes him to stop and furrow his Andy Rooney like brow.)

Doctor:  Mr. and Mrs. Happy?

The Happies: (anxious) Yes?

Doctor:  I’ve got some difficult news.

Mr. Happy: What is it?

Doctor:  There is something terribly wrong with little Johnny.

Mrs. Happy:  Oh no!  But I did all the right things during my pregnancy! I exercised, ate the right foods, kept my pot smoking to a minimum, and refrained from contact with undesirable societal elements.

(Mrs. Happy dissolves into tears.)

Mr. Happy: (stiff upper lip) Alright doc.  Lay it on us.

Doctor: Little Johnny has PE.

Mrs Happy:  Oh My God No!!! No no no no no no no nonononononono! aaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!

(Mr. Happy slaps the shit out of Mrs. Happy)

Mrs. Happy: (to Mr. Happy) Thanks Honey. (to Doctor) Um, what’s PE?

Doctor: Perpetual Emptiness. No matter how much or how little love and affection you shower that little sonnovabitch with, he’ll still feel like a useless sack of shit, and act accordingly.

Mr. Happy: So, there’s a name for that now?  Thanks modern science!

Doctor: Yes, there is a name, and we are mere decades away from a cure!  Aboriginal children at a camp in a remote area of New Zealand are currently being used to test the vaccine.  When those little bastards stop bouncing off walls and spontaneously combusting we’ll know we’re almost there.

Mrs. Happy:  What do we do in the mean time?

Doctor: (ponders) Well it’s too late too abort.  There’s always abandonment or general disinterest in his life.

Mr. Happy:  Does that work?

Doctor:   I don’t know.  Go ask your father.

(Mr. and Mrs. Happy share a puzzled look.)

Doctor: Go on, get him out of here. There’s nothing else I can do for him.

(Mr. and Mrs. Happy leave with Little Johnny in hand.  Three months later, they divorce.  Six months later, Ms. Happy, under the assumed name of “Thunder Clap”, begins a lucrative career in striptease.  Little Johnny?  I’m not sure, but it is likely that he’s well on his way to becoming the savior or condemnation of modern society.)

The End.

(Cue Cape Fear theme music.)

I may suffer with PE, and we may be saying hello to my son’s great-grandchildren before there’s a cure, but dammit I know you like me! You really like me! (Please say you like me 😦 … and want me :/ .)

Alright I’m done being a jackass.  Happy Valentine’s Day to the all the lonely hearts!

Rosie.

Consider the possibilites.

“Consider the possibility that we can change the aspects of our lives that we most take for granted.” –– Dr. Angela Davis

I figured I’d take a moment to jot down some of the thoughts that have been jostling around in my head for the last few days. It’s become glaringly apparent to me how small my life use to be and how I very well could have died without achieving much or really even enjoying something as simple as a vacation with my family. It wasn’t until I was an adult that my family and I even went anywhere together outside of the south to visit other family. (I do not count the one horrific trip to Wildwood, NJ I vaguely remember that began and I feel ended with me toileting on the side of the road.)

The point is, it just wasn’t something we thought to do as a unit or if it did come up the obstacles to actually executing it seemed so insurmountable that the effort to make it happen seemed futile.  This mentality infused my thoughts about college: I didn’t even apply when I was in high school because it never occurred to me to apply (and not an adult in my life either apparently). My career choice:  Despite always being a strong writer in school, and even being told by my 11th grade English teacher that I should be a writer.  The idea that I could make a living with my words seemed far beyond me. That was for other people.  Sadly, I come from a culture of folks that continue to think and believe in the same way, and no, I don’t mean black folks.  I mean people who were just not made to feel  that happiness, abundance, achievement,  spiritual and emotional fulfillment could exist on this earthly plane, and if so … not for us.

I’m so grateful that I was “found” and made to believe that in this life I could go after whatever it is I desire. The even greater realization was that the satisfaction dwells in the pursuit, and not the goal. All these themes came up last evening when I attended Dr. Angela Davis’s lecture at Davidson College.  She was amazing, unabashed, and everything that I want to be when I grow into my big-girl self.  She spoke of the freedom fight of Black America  and how it is a galvanizing force in the fight for human rights globally, something I have believed for a very long time.  There was so much said that filled my spirit I  felt sure my heart would burst.

The above quote is what tied all of Dr. Davis’s beautifully simple yet profound words together for me. Although the “wrong” in the world and in our lives seems unconquerable, the hope is  found in latent potential for good/better/the best that lives in us all.  The possibilities  can be unleashed with just the slightest bit of action on our part, like finishing that degree, like making our beds, like spending that extra hour with our family, like spending that extra hour with self. Seems like a load of jive to you? Test the theory, the results may shock you ;).

Rosie.

Greetings from purgatory!

I am now approximately 4 months from moving to NYC and everything seems to be moving at a snail’s pace.  It is the perfect environment for me to develop a practice of patience, but who the hell wants to be bothered with that shit, right?  Instead I choose to entangle myself in every manner of self-destructive time filler I can find from useless men, to midnight jelly heart binges.

Why does living right have to be so damnable hard!? Ugh! Well, I am scoring tiny victories like … 45% follow through on my budget, working out in some capacity one day a week and limiting my social networking time … wait how long have I been on WordPress today? Does WordPress even count as cheating? (nah, it’s sorta like getting head from a hooker, right fellas!)

Anyway, let this lil news brief be a literal, if not quite literary, representation of me “keep on, keeping on.” One day very soon, I shall be writing lofty blog posts about the beautiful misery of graduate school live and direct from my 5’x12′ foot apartment in Fort Greene. In the mean time, if you’re in a waiting place like I am try your best (and BELIEVE me I know it’s hard) to shift focus inward and stay grounded, knowing you have a sistah (that would be me) in the fight *fist raised*.  My tiny bursts of discipline and self nurturing have actually kept me  just around the frays of sanity.

That’s all I got.

Rosie.

Kiss my suppressed anger … please.

About ten years ago I was fired for the first, and prayerfully the last time.  It went a lil something like this:  I worked at No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina. It was set to be a busy shift and we were short, so good times were definitely not on the horizon. I’ll keep in mind that it’s been some years since this happened so the details are hazy, but the long and short of it is the therapist that was in charge that day opted to give herself a fairly cushy assignment while giving the other therapists bullshit.  Not uncommon in my line of work, but digressing … I made her aware of this.  We exchanged words, nothing too over the top, but we did.  I took my assignment and proceeded to take on the 12 hours of the shift.  She didn’t call me all day.  She didn’t come through my unit. I didn’t in fact see her until the end of the shift as another co-worker and I were walking out.  I’ll preface the following with the fact that we were black females. My fearless leader for the day was a white female.

Admittedly, me and other said black female threw heavy shade on the way out the door, but nothing that should have ended with me looking for employment.

One day later …

I come to work.  It’s an ordinary day.  Patients are on ventilators. I’m taking care of them.  I’m doing what I do.  The moment I signed my last vent check on my last patient at @4:30pm, (this I remember because I can remember looking at my watch and thinking what the fuck?), I am called to the office.

Mr. D. Whiteman, the manager of the cardiopulmonary department, a man who seemed like he could have been the defensive line for his college football team is sitting behind his desk. He is sweating and clearly nervous.  He asks me to have a seat.  I do.  He then begins to unfurl the most blatant bastardization of facts that I’d ever had pass through my ears up to that point in my life (my son would later best him in this capacity).

The above tale of shade throwing and home going was spun into the following fairytale:

Brunettey Locks & The Two Big BAAAD Coloreds 
by D. Fensless Whitewoman

Once upon a time while working her job to the best of her ability, the fair and innocent Brunettey Locks was headed home to feed woodland animals and contemplate world peace.  Suddenly there was a raucous noise behind her.  It was cackling laughter. “It’s them!,” she thought, “The Two Big BAAAD Coloreds!” she’d been hiding from them all day, but they’d finally caught up with her.

“Eek!”, she thought, “Maybe if I’m really quiet they won’t notice me.” Brunettey locks got reaaallly quiet and walked reaaallly slowly, but to no avail.

“There she is!”, croaked Big BAAAD Colored 1. “Let’s get her!”, the other Big BAAAD Colored groaned. “I’m gonna bust a cap in her ass!”, the perverted urban menace Big BAAD Colored 1 announced. They erupted in beastly laughter then proceeded to chase the chaste and ever fair Brunettey Locks to her vehicle! Guns blazing, big bubbly lips giggling, massive brown thighs rubbing together.

Brunettey locks, by the grace of Billy Ray Cirus Jesus, escaped the wretched beasts, but was shaken to her very core.

The End.

Now … am I being  just a smidge facetious?  Yes. Is the story she told nearly as ridiculous? Yes.  After being told that story I received, courtesy Mr. D. Whiteman’s trembling hand, a piece of paper  to sign.  I was being “suspended”.  In his anxiety about my menacing nature he accidentally pushed my co-worker’s suspension* form in front of me. Both of the Big BAAAD Coloreds were being removed.  Never to return to No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina again.

 
*Suspension is a fancy word for “fired”, gentles.  “Suspension”  prevents big baaad coloreds from showin’ out as security escorts them to their cars in utter humiliation in front of all their co-workers!
 

Two weeks ago:

I come down to the emergency room at Current Workplace Hospital after being called for a nebulizer treatment. My patient isn’t there, which I found slightly annoying, so I rolled my eyes and blew out air as annoyed people do.  The calling nurse (we shall call her Nursey Poo) , whom I did not ask for feed back, decides to announce that the patient was there when she called.  To which I reply, “I wasn’t able to get here the moment you called.” To which SHE replied “I didn’t SAY you had to be here right away.”

This is a trap.  She is begging for it.  She’s baiting me even.  I refuse, because thanks to my experience with Brunettey Locks, I am fully aware of what color I am and what a show down like one she’s bucking for would mean for me. I go to follow up with the manager on duty, and before I can do that my patients return.  I treat them, and return to my gripe session about Nursey Poo seeking out a manager to talk to when over storms Nursey Poo to the major desk area of the “busiest emergency department in Major City, NC”™, in a decided rage.

“Are you over here talking about me!?”

“Wah?!”, says Blackey Locks*, “No ma’am, I’m in the middle of patient care and we will not be doing this right now.”

*Blackey Locks = Stacey Rose RRT
 

I walk away, wanting ever so badly to buss her in her mouth so hard that the end result would be her portraying varying forms of The Predator for Halloween the remainder of her life.  I wish I could say it ended here. Nursey Poo follows me into a crowded supply room and proceeds engage me in a shouting match.  My memories of No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina in the forefront of my mind, I do not engage.

She rants loud, hard, and fast directly in my face in a manner that my own damn Momma rarely has.  There are references to my “attitude” and the fact that I had the audacity to roll my eyes when I came down stairs. This immediately signals my rage.  I am metaphorically biting my tongue.  I am goin IN, inside my head.  I have called her every form of  bitch conceivable. The only thing coming out of my mouth?

“Ma’am.”

In a manner that a McDonald’s drive thru attendant my try to quell a customer irate about the absence of pickles on their McPig Heart sandwich. I continued at varying octaves and inflections for what seemed like an hour as she let loose. It descended into insanity when she too got on the “Ma’am” train, drowning me out completely.  I then made her aware of the fact that her behavior was threatening.  To which she replied, “Good, you should feel threatened.”

Friends!  Let the record, my own damn record, show that if I had even danced around this kind of behavior there is a significant chance that I would have been looking for a job the next morning, or have spent the evening in the Major City, NC jail. (I’m mean I’ve spent time in there for even less). Nursey Poo was allowed to “cool down” and return to her work. My assignment was changed (to be transparent, I volunteered for this.) I have yet to hear what the repercussions of her action were and at this juncture, I don’t really care. And yes, whether or not anyone wants to admit it I wholeheartedly believe the bias lies in race.

Black women are simply not allowed their anger, not in its full capacity.  We’re always being asked to stifle or suppress it in some way, especially in the professional setting.  Professional black women are held to particularly high standard of decorum at the work place. No matter if any real level of wrong that might have been done to us, no matter if we, like any damn body else, are having a bad day.  We don’t want … no we can’t afford to be viewed as an angry black woman … God. Forbid.  Other women’s anger could get them called a bitch, odds are not to their face. It may even get them a stern talking to by the powers that be, but a black woman’s “attitude” signals inherent danger. A danger that, gone unchecked, could dissolve the universe creating a gaping black hole in the galaxy. (Well maybe this is slightly true … but that’s another post.)

Immediately post face off, I wanted Nursey Poo’s job.  I wanted her first-born. I wanted her to experience levels of suffering that would make Jean Valjean shudder.  Then, like all feelings, my anger passed and I got to what the root of what I really wanted.  I wanted the ability to experience frustration and even full-out anger without fear of retribution.  Now should I have carte blanche to show my ass in the manner that Nursey Poo did? Hell no.  That type of behavior is inexcusable for anyone.

Alas, I’m not sure when or if ever we’ll get to an America where we can escape the stigma of our stereotypes.  Hell, maybe that kind of world wouldn’t be as interesting, but one where our feelings didn’t unnecessarily put us at risk at loosing our livelihood or worse.  That’d be a world I’d sign up for.

Rosie.

I’m not justifying this level of crazy, BUT when people don’t know how to STFU …

http://youtu.be/mZjgi-tQR9o