Hey, we got covid tested yesterday. Never thought I would need a covid test, but I am /was some kind of sick. Weird since I don’t go out–I don’t even go to the store lately. Ming is our family’s designated shopper.
Responsibility is important to me. I love public health, private health, mental health, radical mental health, health reform, alternative health… I think a ton about health choices, science, information sharing, health ethics, power, how mainstream medicine works money-wise. The fuckery of Big Healthcare, Big Pharma, and the multi-billion dollar insurance industry. Capitalism is pain.
I also think of the beauty of individual people actually doing their best for the well-being of all. Good street medics, Ming working the vax clinic, some wonderful acupuncturists, massage givers, and energy healers, my friend who does public health in Sacramento.
Probably looking at me, you would not guess I’m very concerned with health. Yeah, I’m a health nut; I work hard on mine. Workout clothes, body type, and class have nothing to do with it. My values are not represented by costuming.
Quitting smoking was my greatest accomplishment as a young person. Way more than any degree. I used to say, “I quit smoking–I can do anything.” Nowadays that’s how I feel about quitting the bipolar cocktail I was sedated on for 11 years. Tapering off those drugs took a long time, and I had support from Ming, but that’s mostly it. Our society doesn’t support its most vulnerable.
Health is a responsibility I cherish. My ancestors worked hard to survive and hand me these gifts. The least I can do is try to use them. I feel my feelings, experience sensations, trust my own body, consult experts on what I’m uninformed about, talk everything over with Ming, respect myself, and keep my own power as much as I can.
It’s like radical mental health, but radical physical health.
Ming and I live in community with disabled elders. My health affects theirs. We’re all connected, but especially the ones who are near. I want to cook them nutritious foods, smile at them, ask how they’re doing, and help them know someone cares about their life.
It makes a difference. Social connection is important to health. I hope their lives can be long and as happy as possible. Never would I want to harm their health with a germ.
Ming and I are also disabled ourselves. I’m a poor, middle aged fat woman with multiple health issues including a psychiatric diagnosis under the schizophrenia umbrella. I know you don’t think of me as worthless, reader. But a triage nurse could think of me that way!
My chart says “morbidly obese.” My BMI is out of this world. BMI is a scam, but it means health care persons don’t need to think or see people as individuals. How long I can dance, how often I exercise, the nutritious foods I eat, and the loving care I give myself are not considered in a medical context. Let alone who loves me or the reason Mother God put me on earth. Let alone how my value has nothing to do with my health. Neither does yours. Health does not determine value.
But no one would prioritize me in a eugenics situation. I got no money, no job, no kids or grand kids. I’m not even a has been. I’m a never been.
Sounds sad–you know I love myself. But I’m talking about how I’m seen. Few people look deeper than appearances. You’re not like that, reader. But most people are.
Surviving in hospitals is a competitive sport. I wish that were not so. I’m not going to win the ventilator. Someone who matches the decision maker’s idea of a valuable person will get the ventilator. They will choose a thin person, a younger person, a richer person, or it will be chance.
But I was going to tell you about the covid test. I dutifully swabbed each nostril for 15 seconds. Then I made sure the lid was tight on the test tube and dropped the plastic bag in the proper place.
Ming did it too, at a van by the library. The generator was so loud.
Afterward I asked Ming, “How was that?”
“Pretty good,” he said.
“It wasn’t a big deal for you?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
“Not a rite of passage?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
rite of passage
“Oh, it was for me!” I said.
“Yeah?” he asked. “You liked it?”
“No!” I said. “I hated it! I think it was horrible. One more example of the failure of our medical system to properly care for us. The failure of our whole fucking country. Our joke country. This is like the Walmart of countries.”
“Oh, ok,” Ming said.
The slowness of the test, the lack of rapid tests in our area, the rumor of free tests coming the mail…who knows if and when. The two bored young people working the covid test van. Low wages I’m guessing they’re earning.
The work of making appointments for ourselves in the parking lot. Answering questions on my phone and needing to verify an email address as the generator roars. Taking pictures of our insurance cards with our phones awkwardly.
Trying to figure out how long to quarantine, depending on the whim of what google shows us in answer to our questions. All the different factors–fever, number of symptoms, vaccination status. Confusing flow charts made by school districts in Washington state.
We have a crisis-based health care system that can’t handle public health crises. The suffering of people of color, the poor, sex workers, the unhoused. The suffering of the trans, the abused, the isolated elderly, the uninformed, disconnected, and lonely.
“Just what happens when money is more important than anything. Than health or anything,” I said.
I’ll let you know the results if and when we get them. No word yet, but I’m feeling much better.