Monthly Archives: September 2020

Mothers are Dying

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Mothers are Dying

Conservatives have a lot to consider. I’m sure the idea of overturning Roe v Wade has you chomping at the bit and why wouldn’t it, this has been on your to do list for decades. You’ve been ticking off a lot of boxes since Trump became POTUS. This is all fantastic news unless you happen to be female. Hear me out.

I respect the Pro Life stance…at least in theory. From the surface it looks like the high moral ground, truly it does. Don’t kill your offspring sounds like a reasonable rally cry. The only problem is that the conservative movement may be killing women. Like so many other issues impacted by health and socioeconomic conditions, it kills women of color more frequently.

How you ask? Well thank you for asking…accessibility to reproductive healthcare is one of the reasons. All that fuss over Planned Parenthood caused them to withdraw from Title X. They left $260 million federal dollars on the table because they refused to comply with the gag rule implemented by the Trump administration. The gag rule basically is this – you can have Title X federal dollars as long as you do not refer patients for abortions. Fun fact, sometimes abortions are medically necessary to preserve the life of the mother.

So if you are a female who relies on Planned Parenthood for affordable reproductive services, you’re kind of screwed (and not the fun way of screwed that makes this a relevant conversation). I think of all the women who have limited resources trying to make the best choices they can regarding their health – exams, birth control, cancer screenings – many of these women can no longer afford the sliding scale prices of PP because the scale slid too far for their limited means. As a prior client of PP I can tell you I never had an abortion – never contemplated one because I had access to affordable birth control.

Will the women that can’t get screening services now get some divine intervention which will prohibit them from getting ovarian or breast cancer? Um, no. It will just be harder if not impossible for them to get screened. They will have to chose between a screening or birth control because they can not afford both.

These policies will create more unwanted pregnancies. Which gender is more impacted by unwanted pregnancies? Which gender has their career side lined by unwanted pregnancies? Which gender is more likely to encounter domestic violence during pregnancy? Honestly there are so many life long consequences of unwanted pregnancies and women bear the brunt of it, always.

And while I am capable of having a conversation regarding Pro Life/Pro Choice, I can’t entertain the anti-birth control conversation. That is too much of a personal invasion, too much control handed over to mostly men for “religious” purposes (or perhaps just trying to control the female gender). This is a hill I may be willing to die on for the next generation.

Another fun fact, for a developed country, America has a staggeringly high maternal mortality rate. In 2018 our national maternal mortality rate was 17.4 (that’s the number of deaths out of 100,000 live births). The rate for non-Hispanic black women was 37.1 (yup, more than double the national rate). Don’t take my word for it you can read about it here – https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/maternal-mortality/index.htm

Maternal mortality rate really needs to be considered in all matters related to female reproductive rights. I state this as someone who has survived two high risk pregnancies. At 39 weeks pregnant with my first child it was discovered that I had a Deep Vein Thrombosis (they claim about 9% of maternal moralities), access to life saving procedures is why I am alive today. When I became pregnant again we knew it was high risk. Once again I had access and resources needed to mitigate my risk….what if I didn’t have that access? Should women without access to life saving procedures (in my case it was an IVC filter used to break up blood clots) be forced to have a full term pregnancy? It is not my place to tell another woman how to handle that situation especially if her life is on the line. To be clear, I don’t think it’s your place either and that is why I am Pro Choice.

I’m not suggesting that the conservative movement is solely responsible for the increase in maternal mortality, there are many factors to consider. Data collection for maternal death has increased in recent years so that has identified more cases. The disparity in healthcare access along with our inability and/or unwillingness to address that shows up everywhere in our woefully inadequate American healthcare system. What I am stating is that more women will die from pregnancy/birth related complications if we continue the trend of limiting access to reproductive health services.

When does the mother’s life matter as much as the unborn child?

Let The Games Begin!

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Let The Games Begin!

Let the games begin! I give a chin up nod and raise a plastic glass to my reflection in the bathroom mirror before starting the colon prep that will literally own my ass for the next 18 hours. This may be the most 2020 thing I do all year and doesn’t it feel appropriate.

I was supposed to do this after I turned 50 a couple of years ago. I wasn’t in a rush, further delayed by my father’s death. He had an emergency colonoscopy, got perforated and subsequently died after a couple of weeks in the hospital. You can understand my hesitation. 

At this year’s physical I was reminded again that I was overdue so I decided to put my big girl panties on (or is it Depends?) and request the appointment. For this GI practice you mail in the paperwork and they call you with dates a few weeks after your information is received. They offered me a date in September so I took it. Turns out my colonoscopy happens to be on the anniversary of my father’s death. I’m trying not to think of that, 2020 is one spooky bitch.

The prep started 5 days ago with a low fiber/low roughage diet. For the past 7 months I’ve been focused on eating better – whole grains, fruits, vegetables – all that is out the window as I welcome back a bland low fiber diet of white bread and pasta with no raw fruits or veggies. I thought I would enjoy the diet relapse more but not so much. 

One thing I was looking forward to was a guilt free night of no cooking and sequestering myself in my bedroom after 4:30pm, some well earned “me time”. I had a busy day shopping for clients in the morning and taking my mother to a medical appointment in the afternoon. 

Outings with my mother always lack efficiency. You plan to do one thing but 6 more things get added to the list with some unexpected twists along the way. Sometimes it’s my mother’s doing and sometimes it’s the Universe just f*cking with me. It reminds me of the children’s book – If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff, here’s an excerpt –

If you give a pig a pancake, she’ll want some syrup to go with it. You’ll give her some of your favourite maple syrup, and she’ll probably get all sticky, so she’ll want to take a bath. She’ll ask you for some bubbles. When you give her the bubbles..

Here’s the version for my mom, who goes by Nannie:

If you take Nannie to the bank she will also want to go to the food store. While in the food store she will curse loudly because they don’t have the right Swifter pads. Then she will leave her cane in the shopping cart while complaining that the stores near her house aren’t big enough. When you leave the store she will want to get something to eat, after she eats you will take her to the doctor. While walking to the doctor from the car she will realize she left her mask at Starbucks and you will have to beg the receptionist for a mask…on the way home from the doctor you will get detoured for twenty minutes due to an accident…

Seriously, all that sh*t happened. Back to my prep – as I mentioned I was looking forward to a little me time. Clearly nothing exotic just not cooking or cleaning up after people for an evening would be a treat. At 4:30pm I announced that I was going upstairs. The hubs looked at me and said something about dinner…I may have blinked really slow. I reminded him that I was taking the night off for medicinal purposes and I wished him well. Of course this would be the week that he has a huge project on his plate but really figure it out people. I texted him an hour later to remind him to make sure our daughter eats.

I could hear the discussion taking place regarding dinner – the guys were set with chicken parm subs, the girl was requesting Mexican take out. I got a text from my daughter requesting help, I told her to come upstairs. She had to place the order by phone and apparently that is more scary than hairy spiders for her. I talked her through it while she stood in the doorway of my bathroom and I sat on the toilet.

Daughter: Mom what’s the name of that Mexican place I like?

Me: Aztlan (pronounced Azz Land because WTF not)

Daughter: What’s the name of those nachos I like?

Me: Aztlan Nachos

15 minutes later I get a call from my son who was sent out to pick up the nachos.

Son: Mom what’s the name of the place with the nachos?

Me: Aztlan

Son: What’s the address? Is it on the same street with the tailor and the church…

Me: I don’t know honey can you Google it, I gotta go (still on the toilet).

The day before the colonoscopy is a liquid diet. I had jello, chicken broth, tea, water, more water and for a change, water. The prep includes a concoction which tastes like rancid cough syrup mixed with dish soap. You dilute that with water and when you finish that you drink more water and then you explode, maybe

Before I finished drinking the first round of 48 ounces (second round is the morning of the procedure) I got a headache and the chills, apparently this happens. It passed after about an hour. While I was Googling side effects, I read that orange jello is a no-no which is most unfortunate because I ate several bowls of the stuff. I wish I was joking. The instructions from the GI office state you should not consume red or purple jello or beverages. Nothing about orange so I’m hoping this doesn’t derail me. 

Speaking of “go”, the prep is effective. All the things you hear about the prep are true – vile, disgusting, rancid, rank, gross, gnarly (this is taking on an 80s Valley Girl theme, like Oh My God) Satan’s cocktail, poo primer, make up your own name it’s fun (sad, sad, fun). Anyway I was able to drink it and not vomit so yay me! The fireworks started within an hour…more like water works. I don’t speak for everyone but somehow my ass turned into a faucet. Even more odd was the faint chicken smell, guess it was the broth I had. Pretty much an all liquid event with varying shades of yellow, gray and eventually clear. This apparently is the goal.

The next morning I stepped on the scale because who doesn’t want to weigh themselves after 14 hours off liquid evacuation. I lost 1.8 pounds. I realize some people sneeze that in a day but for me this is big news. It takes me weeks of clean eating and consistent exercise to lose that. And yes, I suspect it will be back up tomorrow, shhhh, let me have this moment.

A few hours later….

The hubs dropped me off at the appointment and I gave him instructions to come back in two hours. I was fairly certain he’d be back. There’s only so much take out they can eat and those people (my family) won’t even wash fruit FFS. 

I registered and was directed to my waiting stall. I was instructed to keep on a bra and socks. I told the nurse I hope a camisole is acceptable because I haven’t worn a real bra since March (and I’m never going back to that titty prison). While in queue for a procedure room I had to use the bathroom TWICE. It was a bit of a spectacle, I had to navigate an IV pole while holding my gown closed, tricky business. 

It was finally my time and I was wheeled into the room.I just got oxygen clips in my nose when, uh-oh, I had to go again. I said Jack (nurse) I need to get untethered so I don’t sh*t the bed, he was quick about it. Took care of business, met my doc and went night-night. 

I woke up to hearing I didn’t have any polyps which was good news. My doctor spoke to me about how fabulous my colon was and how I did a great job with prep (no mention of orange jello, phew). Unless things change, I don’t have to do this for 10 years.

So here are the takeaways:

I think the low fiber/low roughage diet for 5 days prior helped with the prep. I had minimal cramping and bloating was eased as soon things got moving. 

The nausea passed soon after I finished the solution. During the second round I would take a long swig of solution and then have a small sip of water to ease the after taste. 

I had a headache and chills each time I drank the solution, that’s just how it is for some people. I was allowed to take Tylenol which helped. 

I got cottonelle wet wipes to help with the burning sensation (did I mention the ring of fire? Just imagine you have 1,000 papercuts THERE, yup that’s what it feels like)

Go light on the food after your colonoscopy. I got a little too enthusiastic at dinner and I think it was too much after the day’s events.

Colonoscopies are recommended starting at age 45 for African Americans, 50 for most and younger for those that have a close family member that had colon cancer.