Misogyny in Health Care

zoe

Recently I met with the best breast reconstruction plastic surgeon in Salt Lake City, Utah to discuss a breast reduction. She specializes in breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, so it’s pretty safe to say she knows boobs.

I have been contemplating a breast reduction for at least 10 years. I’ve always been well-endowed in the chestal region, and everyone assured me that after I stopped nursing babies, they would deflate like a balloon and I would be left with two wrinkled raisins on my chest. Only that didn’t happen. Like about a 1/3rd of all mothers, my breasts have only gotten larger as I’ve had more children. What started out as a 34 D in my first pregnancy has become a 34 FF. Yep, I just dropped my numbers on y’all.

My sister had a breast reduction the summer before her senior year in High School (sorely needed) and wasn’t able to exclusively nurse her babies because of it. Because of her experience I wanted to wait until I was completely done having children and done nursing them before I pursued this option. Since the hubs had a vasectomy and we have 4 little offspring ruling our lives, it’s safe to say this womb is now closed. The milk factories have shut  down. It’s time to reduce the number.

The reasons why I would like a breast reduction are:

  1. None of your business but I will tell you anyway.
  2. Even though my breasts are NOT grossly large and disproportionate to my frame (and I’ve been told I carry them well many times – thank you, I spend a lot of money on good bras) I have severe neck and shoulder pain. I see a chiropractor twice a month to alleviate this and have seen one for 10 years now. I see a massage therapist twice a month, to deal with constant knots in my shoulders. Last Saturday when I saw him he said, “Marisa, what on earth did you do to your shoulders?” Nothing. I did nothing. They are always like this.
  3. I do the stretches, massages, stem treatments, adjustments, icing, and Ibuprofen that my chiropractor and massage therapist recommend to me every day. There is not a day where I’m not hunched over my computer where I don’t stop every 2 hours to stretch out my shoulders. And I’m in still near constant pain. I keep a tennis ball at my desk that I use to rub out the knots in my shoulders so that I can keep typing without crying. I have a high tolerance for pain, and I’m at the point where my tolerance is low.
  4. Like I said in #2, I buy really expensive bras. I can’t go in to Target or even Kohl’s and buy a bra off the rack. Nope, mostly I shop online from specialty stores. And the bras I buy are the exact opposite of cute. Function over form. It would be really nice to not have to spend $80+ on a bra that was comfortable and didn’t further worsen my back pain. AND don’t you even dare get me started on swimming suit tops.
  5. My posture is atrocious. Big chested women are not keen on keeping their shoulders back when their breasts already draw a lot of unwanted attention and comments. Also, it really hurts to keep my shoulders back and my spine straight when I got these big bags of flesh/fat/milk ducts/sin tissue weighing me down.
  6. I would like to wear a button up shirt for once in my life without it gaping. So sue me.

However, when my surgeon submitted the pre-authorization to my insurance it took them 3 weeks to get around to telling me that their doctor , who has no specialty in this area, and who is also a man who doesn’t have to deal with breasts, decided my surgery wasn’t medically necessary.

Good for you. I’m so glad a man with no expertise who gets paid a lot of money to deny claims has decided whether my quality of life is worth paying for. I’m glad he decided that the immense back/shoulder/neck pain I feel every day isn’t worth solving.

In 2011 the hubs had a bone impingement in his right hip. He wasn’t in excruciating pain all the time, but it was uncomfortable. The square joint was causing tears in his labrum and severely lessening his flexibility in his joint. The insurance didn’t even think twice about covering that surgery or his 6 weeks of physical therapy. It would have worsened and he would have had to have it addressed sooner or later, but it wasn’t a surgery he had been contemplating for over 10 years. No one ever stopped in the street to catcall him over his square hip joints. He didn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on comfortable pants. No one assumed he was a slut because of his square joints.

BUT I guess when it comes to a man’s comfort, well the insurance will just bend over backwards to make sure that’s taken care of. We can’t have a man suffer, while women are just expected to suffer. I mean, we push babies out of us sometimes with little to no medication, so what’s constant neck and shoulder pain for a woman? Nothing.

However, I’m not going down without a fight. I’ve already contacted the necessary doctors who are going to do their part in appealing this decision. I’ve already called my insurance and wrung ever little bit of information out of them that I can. I know my rights and they are hoping that I don’t and that I won’t raise a fuss. They don’t know me at all. They will rue the day a man with no expertise decided my breasts weren’t uncomfortable enough for me to live with a little less of.

Thing is, I pay over $500 a month for the privilege of having this insurance. Shouldn’t I get something out of it? Shouldn’t I say if this is bothering me my word should be good enough? Especially when uneducated people are making medical decisions for someone like me who deals with this every day.

I will have this surgery. I will get out of pain. And no one is going to stop me.

They will rue the day.

They don’t know ’bout me.

I will not go gentle into this good night.

Eff the Patriachy that has men making medical decisions for women. Eff it.

If a man’s testicles hung down to his knees, the insurance would approve in a heartbeat to get that taken care of. Why is it any different  for a woman?

Because misogyny in the Health Care System.

Boom.

You think you know better but you don’t

Brace yourselves for a rant.

I’m really tired of being accused of being a lazy mother because I medicate my children who have ADHD. I’m really tired of being told I just don’t want to deal with them, so I choose to drug them.

I’m sorry, but no. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a real thing and it’s not always solved with some extra playtime. It is a real psychiatric disorder of the neutrodevelopmental type and is recognized by the DSM-IV. Two of my children have been tested and observed extensively and they are in the clinical range. Their behavior and symptoms are not typical for their age group. Their parents, teachers, and doctor didn’t make up this disorder just because we like drugging children into mindless drooling drones.

Trust me, I wasn’t real thrilled with the thought of my daughter going on medication when she was first diagnosed with ADHD 7 years ago. I was in deep denial. I did not see the behaviors her teacher saw because, her being my first child, her behaviors were normal to me. I thought this was how all six year olds acted. I thought all six year olds could only do their homework for a few minutes at a time before they needed to go run around. I thought all six year olds stole items with little or no value because of impulse control problems. I thought all six year olds lost interest in an activity within minutes. I thought all six year olds had trouble concentrating, daydreamed, were excessively concerned with what others were doing, and had trouble listening and remembering what they were told. I excused her behavior with saying her beloved grandmother just died and so this is why she was distracted in school. I excused it by saying I was pregnant and there many changes in the household with a new baby coming and this is why she acted antsy. It wasn’t until her teacher told me that she missed 80% of what went on in class each day before I got out of my denial and allowed her to be tested for ADHD. And it was even harder to accept that my child was two standard deviations from the typical behavior of six year olds.

Being committed and concerned parents, her father and I immediately scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician. She had us do additional testing just to make sure. That test also came back with her showing signs in the clinical range. She prescribed her a very low dose of an ADHD medicine and waited to see results. We barely saw any and I doubted that my child had what everyone said she had.  Luckily for me at the time I worked with a lot of therapists and child psychologists and I sought their opinions. They pointed me toward a different medication, that is not a stimulant and not addictive, to see if that worked better. She was seven years old and deep into 2nd grade before she finally got on the right medication and her entire world (and our entire world) changed. I’m sure her 2nd grade teacher can tell you the exact day she started medication because she went from a child who literally could not sit down in her chair, so her teacher put her in a spot in the classroom where she could stand beside her desk, to a child her could sit for longer periods of time and concentrate.

adhd download

Do you know what ADHD did to my child in the meantime before we got the right medication figured out? It destroyed her self-esteem. Because she could not focus and concentrate she was way behind her peers in their knowledge. She could barely read a few sight words at the end of 1st grade. She thought she was dumb. Do you know what it’s like to have your 7 year old daughter feel so dumb and worthless she threatens to kill herself? I was lucky I knew therapists and I was able to get her treatment with therapists who taught her behavioral techniques that would help her concentrate and who also helped build her self-esteem. We were lucky to move to a school that had a phenomenal special education teacher who fought for her, with us, to get her into some resource classes so she could catch up with the kids in her grade.

And finally in 7th grade my precious daughter is finally on grade level for reading and I consider it a miracle. I thank my God above that there is a medication out there that helps her focus and concentrate. She is old enough to know the difference between the days she doesn’t take the medication and she prefers to take it because she knows school is easier to deal with when she does. And she is thriving in Junior High in a way I never dreamed possible. She has wonderful grades and has even been on the Honor Roll. She has taken great strides to become more independent and responsible and she is doing so well. Me withholding medication from my daughter for a real psychiatric disorder would be as dumb as my parents withholding asthma medication from me as a child just because they didn’t want to “over medicate their child.”  I don’t think the strides she has made would have been possible without the help of her medication.

I don’t know why we as a society treat illnesses of the brain as imaginary and it’s shameful to treat them when we don’t do that for any other part of the body. If my child had diabetes there is no question that she would be given insulin. If she had asthma like me, there is no way I would deprive her of a rescue inhaler. All my wishing away her ADHD didn’t work and the strides she has made in the last 7 years are because her medication suppresses her ADHD symptoms and allows her to learn.

I’m not saying every child with ADHD needs to be medicated. I’m just say my kids do and I refuse to be ashamed because of it. So, those of you who think you know better than me, the woman who gave birth to my daughter and my son with ADHD; who think they know more than their father who has devoted his life to raising these children; who think you know better than the doctor who has treated them since the first days of their lives; who think you know better than the child psychologists I took my daughter to to learn behavioral techniques to help her cope, I’m here to say, you think you know better BUT YOU DON’T. When it comes to my children and their medication this is a MYOB issue. I have dealt with this for almost a decade. I have spent countless hours reading research and books. I have talked to many therapists. And you? You read ONE article and you think you know more than me about ADHD? Laughable. Keep your uniformed opinions to yourself.

End rant.

To learn what it’s like to be in the mind of a person with ADHD, read this.

ADHD

Let it Go

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the song “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen because it encourages rebellion and “anti-obedience.” The woman in the movie who sings it, Elsa, has the power to make it snow and turn things to ice. Instead of teaching her to control this, her parents lock her in a room and allow her no contact with her beloved sister. They tell her to conceal her feelings and to not feel them at all. The song is about her breaking free of that. I feel that some things are supposed to be rebelled against, unless locking children in rooms forever and not allowing them contact with the outside world is now considered a normal parenting decision. Not all rules are good just because they are rules and some rules need to be broken. Elsa learned to control her powers through love instead of suppressing her emotions. Concealing and not feeling your feelings only lends to emotional stuntedness. Obedience for obedience sake is not a virtue.

I think that one of the reasons why this song is so popular and so many covers of this song have been done (This, this, and this being my favorites) is because the theme resonates with so many people. Whether it’s letting go of the past, insecurities, abuse, or the expectations our culture places on all of us, there is something in this song that speaks to all of us who have had to let something go. I think all of us have things that hold us back that can make us less than who we could be. Sometimes the best thing to do with that baggage is to let it go and not let it control us anymore. This is what the song means. Sometimes rebellion and not being obedient are crucial to our emotional well-being and growing into the person we were meant to be.

I leave you with this because I’m a huge Idina Menzel fan. She is the one true Elphaba and the voice of Elsa in Frozen.

Like a Girl

I’m really, really tired of the fact that being called a girl or a woman is the worst insult you can throw at a boy or a man. There is nothing shameful about being a girl and a woman, so why is it so insulting to be called one?

I was thinking about this recently when I was watching “The Sandlot” with my kids. I triple love that movie and part of it was filmed in my hometown. I’ve loved that movie for 20 years, but there is one part that has always bothered me. When Ham is trading insults back and forth with the rival baseball team his penultimate insult is to tell the other player that, “you play ball like a girl!” Everyone is shocked! How dare he go there? THAT WAS THE WORST DIS IN THE HISTORY OF TIME!!!

What does that even mean? This movie is set in the 1950s during a time where America had a professional girl’s baseball team. Shouldn’t playing ball like a girl be a compliment since back then there were professional female ball players and they were just kids in a sandlot?

There is a company in Salt Lake called Pick n’ Pull and they have rather annoying radio commercials. In one of their commercials the two guys in the ad are arguing over telling each other’s secrets. One of them shouts out at the end the other guy used to ride a girl’s bicycle that was pink. So what? What about him riding a “girl’s” bicycle as a child should be embarrassing or shaming? He got to ride a bike as a child. Congratulations, you’re richer than 90% of the world’s population.

Speaking of bikes, my son rode his sister’s bike to school the 2nd day of school because his scooter is broken and he didn’t want to walk. He was mercilessly teased on the way home. He came home bawling his face off because people were so mean to him about riding a “girl’s” bike. My daughter’s bike is black and just has a tiny butterfly sticker on it. Why the hell does it matter so much what bike he rode to school? Why is supposed to be so humiliating for a boy to ride or have anything remotely feminine? The sickening thing was that the child who teased him the most was a girl. It makes me sad that at a young age she is internalized the message that being a girl is wrong and shameful and she should attempt to humiliate any boy who does anything remotely feminine. It makes me so angry.

I’m still trying to figure out what “like a girl” even means! One time this kid told me I ran like a girl. My response? “Good because I AM a girl, dumbass.” Why was this kid trying to insult me by saying that something I was doing was feminine? What is so wrong with being feminine? What is wrong with being a girl? What is wrong with being a woman?

NOTHING!!!!

So, dear culture at large: stop trying to insult boys and men by saying they are girls. It’s not an insult to be a girl. Stop calling them names like the p-word that rhymes with wussy and all the other “delightful” euphemisms for female reproductive parts.  There is NOTHING wrong with being a girl. There is nothing wrong with being feminine. There is nothing weak about being a girl. There is nothing shameful about being a girl. There is nothing wrong with having a vagina and the ability to bring forth life. That, my dear, is the very essence of strength. (Pop 4 kids out of your reproductive parts and we’ll talk about whether you can use the p-word as another word for being weak, bucko).

So boys and men, next time you’re insulted by being called a girl or a woman, think about why. Think about it. Sit with it for a minute.  Is it because our culture has sold you the lie that it is shameful to be feminine? That it is shameful to be a woman? The culture is wrong. The culture is misogynistic and hates women, otherwise being called one wouldn’t be such an insult to you. Just like being a more masculine woman is not insulting. One gender is not better than the other (I’m totally aware of intersexed and transsexual people, but I’m talking generally here and I could write a whole other post about why transwomen are more likely to be killed and/or hurt because of transitioning to a female).

Next time someone tries to insult you by saying you’re “like a girl” in some respect, turn around and say “thank you!’ Because there it nothing wrong with being a girl. Nothing. And I refuse to let my children grow up in a world where being half the population is considered an insult.

 

 

I feel a rant coming on…

I’ve been watching a docu-series on We TV called High School Confidential.  This series follows 10 girls, living in Chicago, for all four years of their high school experience.  Some of their stories are heart-wrenching and they leave me wondering how these girls manage their school work along with their home lives (parental illnesses, job losses, foreclosed homes, domestic violence).  My heart really goes out to these girls and I’ve been totally captivated by their stories.  On last Wednesday night’s episode (1/02/13) there was one story-line that really, really had me fuming.

This episode featured the girls’ junior year.  Vanessa has just blossomed into a beautiful 16 year old girl.  She is of Italian and Puerto Rican descent.  At the beginning of the episode we see Vanessa having professional modeling pictures taken.  Her modeling agent is talking to her father (a professional fitness instructor) about how Vanessa’s hips are measuring at 38 inches and they need to come down to at least 34 inches in order for the agency to send her out on professional jobs or else she would be a major embarrassment to the agency.  Her father says that because of her ancestry, Vanessa is naturally curvaceous and it would almost be next to impossible for her to lose 4 inches off her hips, but he was going to try!   For the rest of the episode that featured Vanessa, she was at the gym, doing school sports, and talking about dieting.  After 8 months of dieting and exercising, she goes back to the agency to look at her pictures and her modeling agent measures her again.  Vanessa’s hips are now 39 inches.  The horror!  Later the agent calls Vanessa’s father and tells him that her pictures are going to be immediately pulled from their website and she is suspended, basically, as a model until she loses 5 inches from her hips.

I wanted to scream.  This girl Vanessa was tiny to begin with.  Absolutely tiny.  She looked very thin on TV and that was after the camera, supposedly, makes a person look bigger.  She is/was gorgeous.  A very beautiful girl.  And this stupid freaking modelling agent was making her feel like freaking Quasimodo  because of her natural shape.  For her to try to go against her Italian and Puerto Rican genes in order to fit this modelling agent’s “standards” she would have to starve herself.  This poor girl dieted and worked out like crazy for 8 months and added an inch to her hips, so obviously she would have to become anorexic in order to achieve this stupid standard of beauty.  What the hell is wrong with the entire fashion and modeling industry if 38 inch hips are an embarrassment?

Not only was I internally raging at this freaking modeling agent, a woman who is perpetuating body-shame onto a vulnerable and susceptible young girl and all the other high school girls who are watching the series and are now hating their hips for being over 34 freaking inches,  but I was mad at her father as well.  I know what I watched was extremely edited, but every time we saw Vanessa’s storyline her father was getting after her for not working out enough or eating/drinking such horrifying things as milk.  So not only are her shapely hips not good enough for this sycophantic modeling agent and her bullcrap standards of beauty, it’s implied that she’s not good enough for her father either.  Telling your very thin daughter she’s too big or too lazy and too unmotivated to be physically perfect is just wrong.  That’s a very, very dangerous message to send to a 16 year old girl.  He should be telling her that no matter what she looks like she is perfect just the way she is!  It seemed like the only person standing up for Vanessa was her mother who argued with the father against putting so much pressure on her.  (Like I said, the show is very edited and it’s obvious is other episodes that Vanessa’s dad is a very loving father who is very proud of her…I just didn’t like how the show only portrayed him being on the modeling agent’s side and haranguing Vanessa for not being thin enough).

When is enough enough?  That is a question a beautiful young teenage girl asked on the documentary Miss Representation about media/society/culture’s pressure on women and girls to meet an unattainable standard of beauty.  This is something I’ve wondered my whole life but it just seems to be getting worse and not better.  That is why I love the website Beauty Redefined and their wonderful message of body/self-love for who/what you are.

Vanessa, you are a beautiful, intelligent girl.  Please don’t buy this crap the media, that modeling agent, and whoever else is selling you.  Don’t base your self-worth on the width of your hips.  That measuring tape can only measure inches.  It cannot measure the worth of your soul, the depth of your compassion, the immensity of your future, or the expansiveness of the love you have to give.  Chuck it, and any body-shame anyone else puts on you, in the garbage where it belongs.

Oh, please

I know that Tuesday night’s election results were very discouraging for a number of my friends.  I know a lot of them, mostly Mormon, invested a lot of time, effort, (possibly money), and emotion into Mitt Romney winning the Presidency.  Well, he didn’t and now they are left with a lot of questions and disappointment.  I’m very sorry for that.  I know how they feel.  It’s exactly how I felt in 2000 and 2004 when I had to lick my wounds after the person I voted for for President didn’t win.  In fact, I probably feel more disappointment on election day more often than they do every 2 or so years because, being a blue liberal in red Utah, no one I ever vote for wins.  Except that one time I voted for John Huntsman for a second term as Governor.  Out of 10 or so races this election day only one person I voted for won.  One.  That’s it.  And yet, being a blue liberal in red Utah, I’ve learned and dealt with since 1996 (the first time I could vote) how to very quickly accept reality, move on, and get on with my life.  And I can do it without demonizing or casting aspersions on my fellow citizens for not being as “intelligent” as me to mark our ballots the same way.  I mean, there is something to be said about being a gracious loser and a gracious winner.

And as hard as it is for my Mormon friends who voted for Mitt Romney right now, I’d like to invite them to walk in the shoes of a Mormon who doesn’t fall in line with the status quo politically speaking.  Have you been told you should be excommunicated for your political beliefs?  Have you had family members call you names, write you hateful emails, or unfriended you on Facebook because of your political beliefs?  Has anyone ever suggested to you to your face or in the written word that you should have your temple recommend taken away and face disciplinary counsels for your political beliefs?  Have your friends posted things on Facebook saying that the way you vote is a vote for Satan, is an evil choice, or are not righteous because of which box you marked on your ballot?  All of these things have happened to me and not just this election cycle.  Some of these things have been said to me since I was a teenager.

Being a liberal Mormon means swallowing your pride, biting your tongue, and putting up with your fellow brother and sisters in the Gospel judging you on a regular basis.  It’s enough to make me want to move out of the country where my fellow Mormons don’t define their faith with their politics.  But I stick it out because I love my friends and my family.  My feelings for them have nothing to do with who or how they vote.  We expect children playing sports to be emotionally mature enough to accept the outcomes of wins and losses, congratulate each other on the game played, without throwing temper tantrums or accusing the other side of cheating/being evil/stupid.  And yet, I haven’t seen many grown adults behaving this way since Tuesday night.  I understand the disappointment…what I don’t understand is demonizing your friends who voted differently.   Let’s cool it with the hyperbole and vitriol, please?  Oh, pretty please?

I’d like members of my church to please read the statement the First Presidency of the LDS Church released the night of the election.  Mormons care very much about what their leaders think, say, and behave.

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement Tuesday:

We congratulate President Obama on winning a second term as President of the United States.

After a long campaign, this is now a time for Americans to come together. It is a long tradition among Latter-day Saints to pray for our national leaders in our personal prayers and in our congregations. We invite Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to pray for the President, for his administration and the new Congress as they lead us through difficult and turbulent times. May our national leaders reflect the best in wisdom and judgment as they fulfill the great trust afforded to them by the American people.

We also commend Governor Romney for engaging at the highest level of our democratic process, which, by its nature, demands so much of those who offer themselves for public service. We wish him and his family every success in their future endeavors.

If church leaders aren’t making any prophetic judgments about the end of the world due to an Obama presidency, then it’s members probably shouldn’t either.  If the LDS church leaders aren’t casting aspersions on the President or calling him the anti-Christ, then it’s members probably shouldn’t either.

Finally, I’d just like to say to my conservative friends, I’m sorry you are disappointed by the results of Tuesday’s election.  I’m sorry that you’re sad that who you wanted to win didn’t.  But please, stop calling me names or questioning my testimony or righteousness for voting differently than you.  And I’ll give you the same courtesy in all the local elections that didn’t turn out the way I wanted to or the next time a Republican is voted in as President (which I’m pretty sure will be in 2016 since that’s usually the way the cookie crumbles).  I don’t think you’re evil, or stupid, or unrighteous, or all the other things I’ve been accused of the last 48 hours.  I think we as citizens all vote our conscience and I respect you all enough to know that you are all thoughtful, intelligent, researched people who are doing what you think is right.  So am I.

I’m going to continue the long-standing LDS tradition of praying for my leaders to make good choices and decisions regardless of who is in office and whether or not they represent my values.  I hope you can do the same.