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.

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

It ain’t about Django …

I and apparently thousands of other Americans went to watch Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchanged over the Christmas holiday.  This post is not about that film … really.  It is about why the film, like it or not, is an important move forward in the discussion of who tells the stories of blacks in America and at what cost.  Hollywood (film and television) for better or worse is how many people globally are exposed to African Americans and/or African American culture.  If one keeps in mind the images of African Americans that are put out through these vehicles it is no surprise that we are highly misunderstood by the much of  world at large. The fact is the “African American Experience” is as broad and diverse as the people who live it. This is a fact that is often over looked or blatantly disregarded to the detriment of Blacks in America.

Our story is this country’s dirty laundry, shoved aside, hid under humor, rage, and stock characters but never fully exposed or wholly understood.  Whose responsibility is it to tell the story of blacks in America?  The most logical answer would seem to be the people that have walked through it.  The next questions could then be:  “which” people?  Black people, white people, hell the entire country for that matter has some level of interest/perspective in African American history.  There are as many “truths” as there are people, but what I feel cannot and should not be discounted or disrespected in the telling of any  story of Blacks in America is the ugliness of the past and it’s legacy that bleeds into the Black American existence to this day.

Even then the question of what counts as “disrespect” lingers.  It’s all too sordid and was the main reason I left Django Unchained mildly enraged and only vaguely entertained. For me it just leaves the flood gates open for random violation of a history that has already been looted and pillaged beyond recognition. (See shit like this:

DjangoGame… *sigh*)

I wanted lay into their asses something awful, but what would be the point? There is no united front of black folks that are prepared to shut down the Hollywood machine on the strength of disrespect of our culture. (see: Jews vs. Mel Gibson‘s career)

What is there to do if anything about protecting, preserving, and presenting a diverse view of what it is to be Black in America?  Well from where I sit there are a few options:

1.  Tell my own Black story as open and honestly as I can and do my best to ensure  it reaches somebody then somebody else then somebody else …

2.  Stop depending on/expecting Hollywood to tell your, my, our “truth” (see: Awkward Black Girl)  They don’t give a shit bout nothing but a dollar, period.  If they think it’ll put asses in seats … it’ll get made.

3.  Stop feeling like it is our responsibility to make people out side our race and culture understand us. Fuck that.  We have no control over how people are going think or feel about us. If they really want to understand “the black community”* then they better damn well get off their asses and do the research.

Okay, I think I got it all out. At least for now … until the next bit of unintentional bigotry surfaces … which is probably goin’ down right now at some hipster drinking establishment in Williamsburg. (ugggh!)

Rosie.

* this term should be outlawed and those insisting on using it systematically tortured … but that’s another post all together.
 
http://youtu.be/aAthMi5Kz5g

As the curtain closes.

“…twilight is that time between day and night … limbo … I call it limbo.”      – Twilight Bey (Organizer, Gang Truce)

Tonight will be the last time I perform with the cast of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 and likely the last time I perform in Charlotte, NC for a long while.  In a few months I’ll be relocating to New York in preparation for graduate school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. It seems so unreal  that my theatre career has brought me here when all it was initially was refuge from the emotional baggage of my divorce.  I’m beyond grateful.

As I mentally prepare to take the stage this evening I can’t help but to think about the process that we as a cast and crew went through to bring us to this night. It has been far from easy.  There have been  things said, done, and not done that has caused friction along the way.  I would like to apologize for anything that I may have said, done, or not done that has contributed to conflict, confusion, or hurt feelings.  The last thing I want any theatrical processes I’m a part of to do is leave a participant hurt and/or disillusioned. I understand that sometimes this is unavoidable. How fitting that the cast and crew of a show about human conflict, anger, and miscommunication have become a self fulfilling prophecy.

This is why I’m a theatre artist.  It’s so healing and therapeutic. It’s an opportunity for me to look at myself within characters and their situations and gain insight on life that I might not have gotten any other way.  The best part is having a gang of people as crazy as I am to do it with!

Twilight folk:  I love you all so much and wish you love and light moving forward. I hope life decides to give us another opportunity to work together. Maybe next time it’ll be in something lighter, like Noises Off or some shit, because honestly … it was fairly unrealistic to believe that we could give birth to a baby as heavy as Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 and not have to have a few stitches ;). (Okay that was gross.)  Anyway … One more time people! Let’s make Anna Deveare Smith proud ;).

Rosie.

 

Unseen.

I wish there was a way to “unsee” everything that I’ve seen in my career as a therapist. Well maybe not everything, as there has been a large amount of good. It’s just that there’s so much that comes with knowing.  If the story of Eden is true, then this is how they must have felt. Overwhelmed with the beauty and ugliness of the world, with each bringing its own type of pain. Beauty, no matter how beautiful in the end we know is as finite as our lives. Ugliness, when in the midst of it, seems to have no end.  I’m sleepy, and perhaps in a state of exaggerated emotion after a long night, but no matter how long I’ve done this it still doesn’t seem fair that babies should die and old folks are kept alive to suffer because “we just aren’t ready to let them go.”

Rosie.

You B**** You!

*the following is a reflection of my experience as a triple minority (black/fat/female), any similarities to your experience(s) or that of your loved ones is purely coincidental. Yes, I do realize that my views may be irrational to some, but this here is my blog … I write what the hell I want.

Some folks make we want to draw the purse strings of my human decency closed … Around their neck … Until they are dead. Case in point (and keeping it one hundred, the reason for this post): My dearest friend Eric and I arrive at a high end apartment complex on the high end side of town. We unemployed/lower middle class plebes actually have a friend that lives there. Upon entering the building, walking past an intense argument between a young Asian gentlemen and a female building attendant bickering over the gentleman’s squatters rights, we approach the elevator. The doors open. Dog. BIG dog. REALLY big dog, one of those sombitches that could stand taller than a human being. I don’t know dogs (i.e. breeds, temperaments, blah, blah, blah), but I do know my history with dogs. It’s dicey at best.

Upon seeing the beast my knee jerk reaction came in words:

“That’s the biggest dog I’ve ever seen in my life.” (a slight exaggeration, but it was preeety damn close to accurate.)

Then came an unexpected rebuttal:

Really?” (dripping with sarcasm)

Pan up from the annoying shoe gloved feet, to slender frame draped work out couture, to JINORMOURS diamond encrusted left ring finger, to almond colored skin, to oval face, to the jenkiest weave I’ve seen in three months.

again, in that bitchesque tone she says:

“Really?!”

As if I were her child and I was carrying on over some non-existent ghost under my bed.

“Yes, really.” I managed.

“He’s a Golden.” she quips …

…like I should have known that at birth, when I honestly didn’t give a fuck what breed it was and didn’t in fact own a pet of the furry variety until I was 22. It wasn’t long before I realized that the dog should have been the least of my worries.  It’s master had already proven herself to be a bigger bitch than it could ever dare to be.

Already exasperated by a day full of assorted strangeness we board the elevator.

“Two, please.” I says.

*blank stare* (I mean blank fucking stare, as if I’d been speaking Mandarin.)

Now, regular well adjusted human beings on an elevator standing next to the buttons will often extend the courtesy of pushing the button for the floor(s) others will be heading to. This bitch was not a regular well adjusted human being. The dog actually had a better shot at being one.

“Oh, I don’t work here.”

In that instant I became more disgusted with her than I had been with any human being in a very long time.  Her snobbish tone and don’t-you-know-who-the-fuck-I’m-is glare made me want to break something … like her face, her fingers, her legs, well you get it.  And I’ll be straight up and say that it’s mainly ego that made me so furious with her.  Nobody likes to be belittled openly or covertly and this is what this chick was doing.  Somehow the circumstances of this … woman’s life had lead her to believe that extending common courtesy was grossly beneath her, and I’ll go further to say she believed that my friend and I were beneath her.

And … I’ll go even further in my attempt to be honest with myself about the situation and say her impudence carried an extra sting because she was black.  There is an implied sense (at least in my black experience) that we are all in this together.  This implied sister/brotherhood was grossly violated, and I resented the hell out of her for it.  I’d come to expect this type of behavior out of certain types of white folk, but I’d venture to say that even their sense of superiority wouldn’t have prevented them from pushing  a damn elevator button for another human being.

During that small exchange  some small part of me knew that I probably had more grace and character in my toe nails than she had in her entire self-centered frame. Me having the common sense that God and my Nana gave me I knew the truth, but my ego didn’t.   Thus this passive aggressive post, because sometimes I just have to allow myself to be fully angry. Now I have been, and since carrying resentments are like eating rat poison and expecting your enemy to die, I’ll let it go. I’ll move forward knowing that in the not so distant future when I am a filthy rich and famous writer standing by the buttons on the elevator of my exclusive condominium complex, when someone boards and says:

“Two, please.”

I shall not hesitate to have my well trained, denim clad chimp press 2. 😛

Rosie.

ok … I’m done for real.

A is for African-American, B is for Black … hell yes it matters.

Given the history of race relations in this country I find it 100% absurd that black Americans are often silently requested to mute their pride in America’s first black president.  At the same time we’re also asked to ignore the fact that every president before him was white and male.  God bless America and it’s bottomless self-denial. God bless America’s blissful ignorance that allows people to ignore the air of bitterness, resentment, and out right hatred have supposedly has nothing to do with the color of our president’s skin.

I refuse to hold my tongue a second longer.  The fact that Barack Obama is our president and black at the same time does my heart good. Something that was deemed a mission impossible that quite frankly I’d given up hope of ever seeing happen, happened in 2008.  I was proud of our country’s ability to galvanize behind someone that more closely represented what we’re supposed to be as a nation, and it’s tragic that some don’t see it that way.

As much as I disliked George Bush, I never hated him.  I never wished ill on him. Did I question his decision making skills?  Yes. Did I or anyone I knew for that matter create racist bumper stickers lobbying against his re-election … No.

Well, wait. I’d have to be in a position of power or a member of a dominating majority, thus enabling me to withhold certain rights and privileges from another group to in fact be “racist”. So umm no, couldn’t have done that effectively if I’d tried … moving on.
 

There is a dialogue about race that bubbles under the surface of this country that longs to be had. That erupts in groups like the Tea Party that call for a return to the America of our “Forefathers” who may I remind,  grew this country on the backs of slaves.  It’s the continued perpetuation of falsehoods about President Obama’s nationality and what religion he practices. Really? Like any of that nullifies that he’s probably one of the most intelligent presidents this country has had and that his story and that of his wife are walking interpretations of the “American Dream”.

The story of blacks in America is a story among many thousands of stories about people who endure adversity around the world. It begins and ends with race for black people in America. Period. To deny the story of  race in America would be like Jews denying the holocaust. We would never dream of asking Jews to forget the atrocities of the holocaust, so why then does it seem within reason to ask that blacks in America forget, deny or (my favorite) “get over racism” when it penetrates every facet of our lives? You don’t see it?  Then there’s a great chance you’re not black.

My race is not ALL that I am,  but it has played a major role in making me who I am. Why am I playing the race card? Because it is the card I was dealt, and dammit  we have to play the hand we are dealt.  Barack and Michelle Obama played the  hell out of theirs and they inspire me to achieve despite any circumstances that are in my way.  That lesson applies across race, creed, sexual preference, physical ability, you name it … it applies.  Republican or Democrat you can’t deny that.

Barack Obama’s success can be our success as a country. We as a nation have to “call a spade a spade” when it comes to the underlying rage displayed by so many at the mere mention of the Obama name. We’re better than this. We must allow ourselves the opportunity to see the significance of who Barack Obama is and what his story means outside of our feelings one way or the other about his politics.  And after that damn speech Willie Clinton laid down, I don’t know about you, but I am FIRED UP and READY TO GO!!! I’m ready to believe, like a five year old in the tooth fairy, that this country can be a nation united.

Rosie.

My President. My Inspiration.