Tag Archives: health care

Life Hazards, Or, How I Learned to Argue with Doctors

Yesterday at 1:22pm, after coming into the office from lunch I had to deal with someone at my syringe exchange and in the process I received a needle stick injury. I am not going to write about the details of how that happened, certainly not online, but enough people have heard about my injury that there’s little sense in not talking about it at all. I’ve known ever since working for this nonprofit that working in the exchange carried some risks, and I’m proud that after fifteen years in operation, this is the first accident in the program.

However, if I thought there was a readily accessible and understandable protocol for dealing with needle stick injuries that I could work through in the hours after the injury, when it is most critical to get care, I was sorely mistaken. For a town known to have a great number of medical personnel and a nursing program, I had to work through six different care organizations and several staff who were close to incompetent, who had poor patient listening skills, and little cultural competence. Here is what happened after I washed my wound out in my office rest room.

I called the health department, saying I had a needle stick event and needed to talk to the infectious disease nurse, who knows me professionally because of my position at the nonprofit. She told me that I needed to contact Occupational Health at the hospital beause those are the folks who deal with needle sticks that have occurred in the workplace. I pulled up their web page and called the number at 1:30pm, eight minutes after the event, and got a recording saying their normal working hours were 8:30am until noon and 1:00pm until 5:00pm, but I could leave a message and they would call me the next day. I hung up and called again. Same thing. I texted Susanne, knowing she would be in class until 2:20pm.

I drove to the emergency department, got a bracelet, and was ushered back to a bed by 1:50pm. I texted the president of my board who offered to join me. I accepted. The nurse on my case told me her computer said to send me to urgent care because they are associated with the occupational health department. She cut the bracelet off my wrist and I drove half a block to urgent care. My board president met me there. At 2:30pm they brought me back and a nurse took my vitals. She was concerned that my blood pressure was 148 over 90, but I said given the circumstances it wasn’t going to get much better. I tried to relax; but my BP readings were just borderline high, which is atypical for me.

The doctor came in and asked what happened. I told him I run a syringe exchange and that I received a needle stick injury through my rubber glove. He asked me the name of the “source patient,” science-speak for the owner/user of the syringe. I said I didn’t know his name as this is a confidential program. This began a strange discussion in which I outlined: Read More…

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What’s Wrong with Transgasm.org

UPDATE: Jody and Buck have ended Transgasm before it even started, due to pushback from the trans communities. On their site they now call people with critiques full of “hate.” My question is, if Transgasm couldn’t last one week under pressure, what was this project really about?

Somewhere between the endless Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, health care reform, and frequent trans community infighting, it had to happen. I mean, it couldn’t go on forever that the huge disparity in supply and demand for gender identity-related surgeries didn’t motivate someone to come up with a scheme touted as the solution to all of our troubles. Yes, there have been top surgery parties for years, and the swath of crowdsourcing applications seems to continue unabated, but these are at the initiative of the person seeking a surgical procedure. On Friday last week, Buck Angel and Jody Rose launched Transgasm.org, which sounds like a porn venture, but has nothing to do with the “gasm” spectrum.

Transgasm markets itself as a positivist campaign to fund trans-related surgeries. From their site:

Transgasm.org is an organization that will fully fund surgeries in the FTM and MTF transsexual communities and help to create income for the transsexual community, its supporters, and for anyone else who identifies the way they choose to identify.

Still following?

Putting aside the conflict and issues with definitions like “transsexual” and “the way they choose to identify,” there are some clear points in the sentence. Things like “fully fund” and “organization” are specific terms, even if “anyone” and “create income” are not. And the vagueness in the FAQ for the site, which is supposed to be the page where questions are clarified, winds up being real cause for concern. Here are the issues I have with Transgasm.org: Read More…

National Coming Out Day’s Offsping

colorized street in DCThe joke when I first started telling people I was queer was that it took a broken leg for me to do it. Truth be told, I started admitting I was pretty darn gay a couple of weeks before my fateful trip around Goldstein Auditorium on roller skates, but it made for a nice chuckle, and who am I to deny anyone a moment of fun? Besides, hobbling around on crutches with plaster caked up to my keister could potentially, I thought at the time, help me get a date. I was one of only a few people I knew (even still) who came out without a relationship as the main motivation.

This was May of 1991. I was about to turn 21, which, as it turned out, was much less a big deal for my life than I presumed it would be at the time. But I felt like freedom was close—I’d finished my junior year of college, and the humongous Real World pressed upon me—and I needed to fully explore it. Which okay, was a little challenging in my then-current condition.  Read More…

Baby Class

baby entering the birth canalThis whole life creation thing makes for an unpredictable voyage, and not just because Susanne and I have been coming at it from an alternative place—I get that not every baby started out with their parents combing through medical histories and sperm count data. And I hereby note, for what it’s worth, that I may hear some unusual rantings when our child is 14 or so about how they entered into this world, in the midst of their teenage angst. I’m okay with that. We’re still going to sit through the six-week course at St. Mary’s Hospital, with the pillows brought in from home clutched to our chests as we watch painfully accurate portrayals of live births on a wide screen in the training room. Vernix is a necessary substance, I’m sure, but it does not do wonders for anyone’s look. Read More…

A Guy Walks into a Doctor’s Office…

top surgery stitchesI admit it: I was a touch fearful about talking to the doctor on Monday. I’ve got a short list of items about which most physicians get lectury, after all. But for the reasons I expressed in my last post, I needed to have a local doctor, so I was willing to lay it out there. Susanne declared it was a “test” of his cultural competency. I liked that as an approach enough.

For some reason, the appointments at this family practice (it’s the same practice as the one for Susanne’s baby doctor) are significantly late to start. I know we all complain about start times at our doctors’ offices, but I can’t for the life of me understand why they set up 11:30AM appointments when all of the nursing staff, en masse, goes to lunch for 90 minutes, especially as they’re 45 minutes behind schedule by the time noon rolls around. Read More…

Dear Doctor

ring from the medical college of the univ of pennsylvaniaMy physical is tomorrow. I suppose most people call it an “annual physical,” but I haven’t had one in a couple of years because it’s been a while since I saw that physician. So it’s more my biennial physical, bordering on every 30 months at that.

For regular checkups regarding my hormone therapy, I drive out to Portland, Oregon, because I haven’t found a doctor in Walla Walla who knows anything about the whole gender transition thang, and this particular doctor sees more than 1,000 trans patients. Plus heck, it’s a pretty enough drive along the Columbia River, and I suppose it keeps my stamina up for long car rides. Read More…

You Can Swim But You Can’t Hide

baby duckWhere once we were used to a monthly routine of trying to conceive, which came with its own arc of emotions, we’ve had regular prenatal visits with the good doctor here in Walla Walla. The good news is, she’s more than competent, a fixture in the city for newborn delivery, and there are no more fingers crossed visits in which we plunk down a lot of money and spend down our reserves of hope that we get knocked up. As folks know, we are happy to have a fetus in formation.

The bad news is, the doctor looks like Sarah Palin. Read More…

Health care: the next frontier for the queer fight

I want to offer a suggestion, of sorts, that is born out of decades of research. Well, not really research so much as a lifetime of experience with front-line medical staff, the stories from my friends, and the reading I’ve done as an adult about where our health care system is weak, and who falls through the cracks in its tired structure. No way is any of this scientifically stated, and hopefully I won’t rely on generalizations to make my points, but I’m sure if I do, someone will point it out to me. So let me just jump in with my suggestion.

Health care and health insurance ought to be the next priority for the queer community. Read More…

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