#WomensLives

In between Madonna taming dancing bulls in her Matador outfit and Kanye nearly interrupting Beck’s acceptance speech you may have noticed someone even more controversial on the Grammy broadcast: President Barack Obama.

Speaking to the audience via video, President Obama challenged the artists and all of us to STOP violence against women.

Not your usual performance, however coupled with a strong statement by a domestic violence survivor and a haunting song by Katy Perry, the President’s message was clear…we ALL must be part of the solution.

Yet this is just one fight on a multifaceted front. As demonstrated by a round-up of amazing posts, there is a war going on and women are on the front lines.

That is why you’ll be hearing from me, along with many others, as we partner with BlogHer, BlogHer’s parent company SheKnows Media and Public Radio International to make sure we highlight what is going on with women and women in the news. Why? I honestly think Brown Girl From Boston said it best:

“I couldn’t refuse this partnership because I, too, am a woman like Sojourner Truth stated during a speech about the trials and tribulations of African-Americans during slavery and post slavery but allowing her voice to flow and be strong enough to stated that she is a woman despite her skin complexion and life journey.

During this period of the #womenslives campaign, I will speak my truth, spread awareness in a loving and authentic manner. I am going to share other women’s voices and stories along with statistics that will remind of the role we need to play as women being equal in the world. I hope you all will enjoy the stories and campaign because we are going to bring greatness in an authentic and loving manner.”

So with that, I give you #WomensLives … because THIS is why I got into blogging, to share your stories, to share my stories and to change the world.

The Fairy Godmother and My Glass Slipper?

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This has been siting on my desk, or shelf, or wherever in our bedroom for about three or four years now. Maybe two. I’ve lost track. Let’s just say it’s been around long enough to gather a ton of dust.

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It’s one of my favorite Disney quotes and one of my most hated. I’m a complicated woman like that. You know, the atheist that is currently wearing an Ave Maria medal blessed by Pope Francis. That’s just how I roll when it comes to faith and miracles.

The entire quote/scene might help you a bit more:

“…Cinderella: The ball? Oh, but I’m not…

Fairy Godmother: Of course you are. But we’ll have to hurry, because even miracles take a little time.

Cinderella: Miracles?

Fairy Godmother: Watch. What in the world did I do with that magic wand? I was sure I…

Cinderella: Magic wand?

Fairy Godmother: That’s strange I always…

Cinderella: Why then, you must be… Fairy Godmother: Your Fairy Godmother?

Fairy Godmother: Of course. Where is that wand? I forgot…”

This entire scene comes as a crisis of faith for our poor Cinderella. Now mind you, Cinderella is not one of my favorite princesses. No offense. It was just never the story that stirred me much. I didn’t have sisters, let alone step-sisters to relate. My parents didn’t make me clean much more than my room.

Admittedly I would pretend my oatmeal was gruel and animals talked to me. But that was a skill a child could apply to any princess situation. Or little orphan Annie or wicked Queen has me locked up or Jabba the Hut has me locked up or … you get the idea.

But that scene, the magical one where Cinderella is transformed, THAT part was always fun. And it comes just after our scatterbrained Fairy Godmother finds that wand.

During one weak moment, ok a few hundred weak moments, when feeling like my life has been robbed from me, the snow globe and quote gave me a reminder that maybe, just maybe, a miracle would happen to me.

I don’t, particularly, deserve one in the grand scheme of things. Or need it.

Technically I’m not suffering from a terminal illness. So many others are. They need miracles.

I have a supportive family, even if they have suffered more than I have through this with their worry and fears.

I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and despite three hospital stays in the past however many weeks, they have been for, mostly, the luxury of making me comfortable. So while I may beg and plead with whatever entity I’m feeling aligned with that day to take away this illness, I realize how lucky I am. I do.

But all of that hasn’t stopped me from wishing. I still wished. I STILL wish.

And haven’t stopped since walking out of that stupid doctor’s office over four years ago, with my kids and my father, with the word ‘Lupus’ slipping from my tongue and being texted to my husband. I watched my Dad turn white and learned my husband did the same, as the only thing they knew of this ‘Lupus’ at that point, was that it would kill me.

I was permanently put on steroids, oral and a very high dose on that day and haven’t been off of them since. In fact you can now add Cushing’s Disease to my very long list of disorders and ailments thanks to long term steroid use.

But yesterday, I got in the car after seeing the neurologist I met during my most recent hospital stay, with a new medication in my hand and hope. Hope for the first time in a really long time.

We have this goofy thing in my family. If Bob Seger’s song ‘Old Time Rock and Roll‘ comes on…well, you have no choice but to dance. It’s the family’s dance. It came from one of those weekends when we were bored and little, stuck at one of my Dad’s hockey tournaments somewhere in Canada and they would always have these parties afterwards.

Somewhere, upstairs in every hockey rink, there was a room where they sold beer, hot chocolate, hot dogs, and cleared away the tables after the games were over to play some music and let everyone dance.

My brother would always run away screaming if it came on, knowing my Mom was coming for him to drag him out onto the dance floor. I would go willingly, knowing after a few beers my Dad would twirl me around and the four of us would laugh and dance and sing at the top of our lungs.

It was a rule. You had to do it. So if I brought a friend, or my brother did, or if a cousin tagged along…beware the Kotecki rule!

As I started the car, new medication slip in my hand…”…that kind of music just soothes my soul. I reminisce about the days of old…with that old time rock and roll…”

And I danced and hopped around in the car. I didn’t change the station, or call my husband, or text my parents. I sat in a parking lot in Encino, California and danced and sang like a lunatic until the next song came on. I actually worked up a sweat.

Part of these auto-immune disorders for me is vasculitis. This medication is going to calm my blood vessels. My rheumatologist thinks it’s the missing piece to the puzzle and the neurologist told me the journey ends here. She’s sure it will work to change my quality of life. It should keep the TIAs at bay, while simultaneously bringing me some relief all over my body as my blood vessels swell and contract causing me widespread pain.

By this time next year, I may be on this and my Rituxan infusion, which comes every four months. The doctors are working together and believe should all go well, this is a real goal-Attainable and not false hope.

We’re also looking at gastric bypass in Cushing’s patients to speed up the process of my potato like frame. Losing weight will only help reach the goal faster, but it has been all but impossible for me while I’m still on oral steroids daily and occasionally have to get them via IV or shot. My body refuses to let go of the fat while on a steroid.

Understand I wanted to tell everyone the minute I left the office, but also needed a moment to myself. This is the first honest glimmer of hope I have had to find my way back to my LIFE in a very long time. I’m still not sure it’s real. I’m afraid to celebrate but want to, desperately. I’m afraid to tell you out loud, fearing I will be told by someone I’m crazy to think this will make that big of a difference and or they too were told by their doctor this might help and it didn’t or … well, you get the idea.

I don’t want to excite the kids that I may get to my goal of walking a Disney park and not needing a scooter.

I don’t want to excite my husband and prime caretaker that he may have a wife again, not a shell of a woman who looks somewhat like his wife but is really just an ill person in need of constant care.

I don’t want to excite my parents & brother, who have supported me through this ordeal and the rest of our family, including inlaws, all having seen the life-changing affects in one way or another. Helping in one way or another for so very many years now.

I just want to keep dancing in the car, having received what I  believe to be my miracle. So much so I sprinkled glitter on it last night.

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It may not be a glass slipper, but it sure feels like one.

So yeah, that

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Three hospital stays since returning from Hawaii. Not entirely how I envisioned the past 6 weeks.

I’m coping. I’m trying hard not to fall into that dark place and I’m taking solace in words from the neurologist during my last stay…things will change, and this time, next year, I could be a very different woman.

This is chronic illness.

How are the kids and husband coping? Sigh. Can you hear the wave of guilt hitting me as I type that sentence?

I thought, instead of dwell, I would just say that I’m ok. We’re ok.

I will know more Monday and I will know if that promise…that hope…that doctor really can change this life of mine.

In the meantime, go check out our December vacation where, for at least a short while, I felt like I was whole.

Well, almost.

Getting there.

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40

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I’ve been wanting to write and write and write and write and write…

I turned 40. 

I don’t feel much different. Or older. Minus my body continuing its march to disintegration. But mentally 40 feels much better than 20. Even 30. I actually like getting older.

We went to Hawai’i as planned and it was amazing, as planned. And, as if as planned, I landed in the hospital upon our return.

I have a really bad habit of going and doing something awesome and then having to spend a few days in the hospital because of said awesomeness. This time I can honestly blame a combination of the shingles and travel. Had it just been one or the other I would have been fine. But… no. That would be too easy.

But back to my awesome birthday in Hawai’i. I fell in love with shaved ice. I finally got myself a Disney Dole Whip (they have them at Aulani… no line… swear to God) And I loved nothing more than sitting on the balcony in the morning and watching the ocean waves. Admittedly I didn’t want to leave.

 

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I even asked a friend to just bring the dog. I told the kids we could make shell necklaces and sell them to tourists. They usually look at me like I have 4 heads so…no worries. I even got into a rather cold ocean at 9am and swam with some dolphin pods and saw some sea turtles. I couldn’t believe how many were just zooming by right under us. To watch the kids go from afraid and tentative to nearly screaming through their snorkels was pretty fun too.

In fact, the entire trip I think I delighted in just about everything the kids enjoyed. Simply because they were enjoying it.

I think that is what 40 is all about. Watching those you love enjoy the wonder of the world around them. Having them burst into the room talking so fast about paddle boarding with Dad you can’t even keep up or hearing about the fish swimming around their feet and the crabs that were snapping their claws just inches from their faces and oh by the way here’s another shaved ice.

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Yeah. 40 is much like today. Christmas. Where I love seeing everyone’s face as they open their presents. I love seeing the kids peek around the corner of the landing and then around to the stairs…and watching their eyes grow wider and wider as they realize and recognize familiar sights under the tree.

40 also means the three days in the hospital were painful and upsetting. 40 also means I recovered in enough time to see the kids perform in their school winter program, attend their end of school parties, and then catch a stomach bug that knocked me out for 24 hours.

40 is making it harder to fight. Its not that I don’t want to fight. My age is just making it harder. The recover is a bit slower. The punches I’m throwing back aren’t landing as often. I’m still landing them though, don’t worry. In fact, I’m doing well but no one believes me. I guess it’s hard to believe a woman in the hospital or fighting a stomach bug.

The truth of the matter is despite its hardships, 40 is my favorite so far. I know who I am. I know what I enjoy. I know what I need to do.

If there is one gift I wish I could give everyone this Christmas, it would be the gift of knowing who you are, what you enjoy and what you need to do. If you are younger than 40 I hope you don’t have to wait this long to figure it out and if you are over 40 I hope you’re looking at me laughing because you know how much better it gets from here on out.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a new plan to concoct… something about shells, necklaces…and shaved ice. Lots and lots of shaved ice.

Black Lives Matter

I was going to write a post about being entirely disgusted to find myself cited by the infamous Ann Coulter in her 2009 book Guilty: the blah blah I hate liberals they are ruining the world book to make me money crap fest.

She wrote and released this book when I was in the worst of the throws of my Lupus diagnosis. You know, having strokes, losing organs, being hospitalized and having multiple surgeries. So she’ll have to excuse me that it didn’t come to my attention until now that I’m in her piece of trash.

Apparently she’s trying to make the case liberals were freaking out over a Barack Obama presidency and if he’d be killed. She thought we were blaming the right-wing nut jobs for targeting him (to be clear, I blame some of them for stirring the pot) and she attempts, rather poorly, to point out that it’s been nothing but liberals shooting up the country and killing people.

Let me make something very clear here…it’s been white males engaging in mass shootings for various reasons that everyone likes to call ‘mental illness.’ I will agree if you want to shoot up or have shot up anyone or anywhere you have mental issues. Something we need to tackle. But to be perfectly clear to Ms. Coulter and everyone else…Black males have a target on their back and it’s simply for being who they are. Black CHILDREN have targets on their backs for walking, driving, talking, BREATHING while BLACK. And when they sell cigarettes illegally or they allegedly steal a pack of cigars they are vilified that they deserved what they got. I had no idea these allegations brought about the death penalty without charges or a judge or a jury.

But, here is where the facts comes in. And I want you to USE these facts: Black males are 21 more times likely than their white counter parts to be KILLED by police. Just for being darker than a ‘mentally ill’ white boy.

They don’t get the benefit of the doubt of being ‘mentally ill.’ No. They are killed. Murdered. Snuffed out. Because, apparently, Black males can’t be mentally ill or be taken into custody with a baton, a taser, pepper spray, with back up help…no. No. Instead they are perceived as dangerous and a threat and shot and killed or choked until they could no longer breathe. Or simply walking around with a toy.

So my column, of which Coulter pilfered and called me insane for writing, stands even more true today than it did in 2007. Our President, just by his Blackness, has brought out the racists in this country and he has lead phenomenally under circumstances that are beyond insane.

12-year old African-American boys aren’t even given more than TWO SECONDS to react when they play with their toy guns in a park before being gunned down by cops. That is how much we are taught to believe everyone with skin darker than ours is a threat that must be eliminated and given zero benefit of the doubt. EVEN THE CHILDREN.

I will tell you right now, my son could play with every nerf gun, fake AK-47, and real looking toy gun with the orange tip scraped off on EARTH in our nearby park and no one would bat an eyelash. But you give that to a Black child and the cops don’t even HESITATE to shoot him on sight. They didn’t even HESITATE. Two seconds. TWO SECONDS.

The lack of indictment in the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown are further proof of my original assessment…that it would take a sacrifice of the First Family to stand strong in the WHITE House as the scum from under the rocks of America came and continue to come crawling out to finally proclaim in broad daylight they have issues with race. They have issues with an ‘other’ leading our country. They can’t even manage to leave the First daughters out of their sheer hatred and contempt for our President and call them classless and bar sluts. When these girls have been nothing but the epitome of amazing, good, classy tweens and teens.

Yes, our country has become divided – they can’t even handle the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. They have to protest .. but…but … #ALLLivesMatter.

No shit. But you don’t hijack a hashtag where people are bearing their souls and jump in with this ‘ALL’ bull crap. We know ALL lives matter but this IS NOT ABOUT YOU. This is, specifically, about Black Lives. As I saw on twitter…would you hijack a cancer hashtag and say ‘but..but.. LUPUS matters too!’ No, you wouldn’t.

So sit down and shut up and finally LISTEN to these amazing members of our community who are SCREAMING for you to hear them. SCREAMING for you to walk a mile.

Once you have taken your time to sit and listen, then you need to take the time to stand up to the subtle and not so subtle racism you’ve been around your entire life. And you know exactly what I am talking about, so don’t even act like you don’t.

That uncle of yours that calls our President a ‘coon’ or a ‘porch monkey’ or the n-word if he’s just a total dickhead. That cousin who discusses how great cops are (which, many many are) and how they have to deal with these ‘savages‘ and ‘animals‘ – when their white ‘savages’ and ‘animals’ seem to get away with the same behavior when their favorite sports team wins a championship. Really? REALLY? You are telling me your sports team is more important and this behavior is ok so long as you win a game? But NOT when people DIE?

CALL THEM OUT. The time is now.

Do you hear me? Silence = agreement. People are DYING. Children are DYING. The time for you to sit on your hands and say nothing of the ‘sake of the family’ or to keep the ‘peace at church’ or ‘I don’t want to upset my grandpa’ is OVER.

The civil rights era has begun, again. Not that it ever really ended. I think we just swept it under the rug for awhile, despite our friends of color telling us otherwise.

Stand up. Be counted. Do NOT be afraid and do NOT allow ANYONE to get away with the usual crap that goes on over the holidays.

Give them facts. Give them stats. Let them know we will NOT tolerate this another second. Another minute. NOT another day and NOT another life.

We’ve watched schools be shot up, neighborhoods be war zones, and those in authority waltzing in like they own the place and forcing people of color to keep their heads down and say ‘no sir’ and ‘yes sir.’ Might as well be ‘no masser’ and ‘yes masser’ – because that is what it amounts to.
Go ahead and let your Mom blame you for ruining Christmas dinner. It’s that or let another Black person die.

Your choice. 

I Believe

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I don’t want to talk about Michael Brown.

I don’t want to talk about Trayvon Martin.

I don’t want to talk about Tamir Rice.

I don’t want to talk about Jordan Davis.

I don’t want to talk about Timothy Stansbury Jr.

I don’t want to talk about John Crawford.

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I could go on…but I don’t want to.

We can argue all day and night. We will not get anywhere. Jury’s. Indictments, non-indictments. Trials, no trials. Armed, unarmed. Fearing for lives, just living their lives.

No one believes all cops are bad. There are members of law enforcement I respect and love with all my heart. I appreciate their work.

No one believes all white people are racist. There are allies who are working hard and listening.

No one believes all protestors are looters and out to destroy. We watched for 109 days your civil disobedience where little to nothing was damaged and non-violent marches and vigils took place.

With all of the things we all know no one believes…I have one question:

Why does no one believe Black America?

It doesn’t seem to matter if there are statistics to back up their pain.

It doesn’t seem to matter if there are facts and studies and numbers to give the rest of us something solid to hold on to instead of just emotions.

It doesn’t seem to matter if they ask nicely or scream loudly or speak from the highest office in the land. As the President of the United States said, “But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.”

Why? Why does no one believe Black America? The PRESIDENT has to remind us communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. Why on earth do we think they are? Why would we QUESTION their life experiences??? Who are we to say what they live every day is somehow, not true? Why.don’t.you.believe.them?

If there is any hope for any of us, if there is any chance to heal decades of pain, to right wrongs, to have the slightest bit of empathy for our fellow man…we need to believe.

We need to believe when they tell us they hurt.

We need to believe when they tell us their truths.

We need to believe when they tell us their lives are not like ours.

We need to believe when they ask us to listen and learn.

We need to believe in our friends, our neighbors, our family, our community as they write, speak, sing, scream, march, and plead for us to HEAR THEM.

I hear them. I believe them.

Do you?

No Fight at MY Fridge


I’m not going to lie, this family, sometimes, has (!gasp!) fast food for dinner. We allow our children to have pop (you crazy people call it soda) while at a theme park and occasionally at home or elsewhere if the situation warrants – we love pop for belly aches, or to wake up sleepy kids who were up late gaming (another no-no) because they like the flavor or because Mom or Dad has one sitting on the table and they want a sip of something. We even, now sit down when I tell you this, feed our children junk food, sugary cereal, sports drinks filled with sugar! I could go on and on and on. Fingers would be pointed. You’re already judging me… I know you are. Here’s the thing – we don’t care. The kids are healthy, happy, and know these are treats. Heck, sometimes even their pediatrician says to give them some of these things because my kids are skinny and could use a little extra. IMG_6531.JPG Yes, I realize I’m lucky. Obesity is not a problem for my kids’, but I attribute this not just to their good metabolism, but to our reasonable food and drink expectations. Sometimes it’s really ok to say ‘Yes.’ Just like the First Lady will tell you she allows cake and candy, she pushes veggies and water. For the most part – 75% of the time – our kids eat and drink appropriately and within the guidelines you see coming from most doctors and officials. However, that other 25% we are just fine with junk food night. Just fine with those drinks, so long as it doesn’t mess up bedtime. If you say ‘No’ to all of it, they are going to see it as some taboo, rebellious act simply to eat what is advertised. No one wants that. Kids absolutely love to do all the things we as parents want them NOT to do. I’m certainly not going to make food and drink a battlefield when there are so many more important wars to be fought from drugs to sex to education. You want a Friday night of nothing but licorice, soda, & lollipops… with a side of pizza, burgers, and fries? No problem. We’ll even make a celebration of it because it can be so much fun. The next day they are back to drinking water and eating all of their broccoli with the fish Dad grilled. Kids in pjs Food and drink have become political due to the very serious problems we have as a nation finding balance and moderation. As a Mom, I hope I’m sticking that balance early and with some silly fun… because sometimes it really is only food and drink and it really only is silly fun, not a war to be won.

How do you keep your kids healthy yet not make this issue a fight at the fridge? I’d love to hear you tips and tricks… Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!

Coke, Dr Pepper and Pepsi understand that getting a balanced mix of foods, drinks and physical activities for your family isn’t always easy. That’s why they’re coming together for the first time ever to talk to teens about balancing what they eat and drink with what they do. With tools to help teens get active and information to help them think about when they’ve had too much, or maybe when it’s time for a treat—America’s beverage companies are supporting our efforts to find a balanced mix that works for our families.”

Visit www.DeliveringChoices.org to learn more about Mixify and finding balance for your family. MyMixify is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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When You & Your Dirty Kids Are Just Another Number

It’s been awhile now since I stood before the judge in that cold courtroom on Wilshire. Since I heard the worlds “entirely disabled” and “incapable of any work in this economy.”

It was like a punch in the gut and a weight off my shoulders all at once. I would continue to collect my long-term disability benefits, as contracted to me by my employer…however this appeal meant the long-term disability benefit insurance company could now deduct what I would be receiving from Social Security and what my kids would be receiving, since their Mom was now entirely disabled.

It also meant I was given Medicare.

What I didn’t know, until a few weeks ago- when two large packets arrived in the mail, was that the kids were also eligible for MediCal.

Except we have private insurance for them. So I ignored the big packet and went about life.

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Then, about a week or so ago, two letters came in the mail demanding I choose a MediCal plan for each child or they would choose one for me. So I did what most people would do, and I called the number on the letter to let them know “thank you, but no thank you…the kids have private insurance through their father’s work.”

Except it was’t that easy.

It also wasn’t pleasant. At all. 

After a series of “Press 1 if you are calling to ask about your child’s benefits. Press 2 if you are calling to find a provider…” and so on and so forth, I finally found a real person.

Except I needed to hold.

57:18 later someone picked up.

Yes, this is Dainelle, how may I help you?

Hi, I’m sorry to bother you but I received some paperwork for my children in the mail not too long ago…and now I’m getting letter saying they will be assigned a plan…how do I…

Ma’am what is your social security number and should you not have that number handy I can give you time to find that number. 

My social security # is 123456789

and what is your date of birth?

My date of birth is 12/10/I’mgoingtobe40OMG

And ma’am what are your children’s full names?

My children’s names are Count Waffles the Terrible* & Princess Peanut Punk as Fuck*

Ma’am what is Count Waffle’s SS# 

Oh… hang on I have his card right on my desk just give me a moment … 

Now at this point I was sitting on my bed upstairs. My desk is maybe 5-7 feet from my desk. So I quickly stood up and began to walk to my desk when I heard…

Ma’am you have 1 minute to find the information, if you can not find that information in 1 minute you will have to call back

Oh I have it it right here, my desk is right next to me, let me just grab it…

Ma’am you now have 30 seconds 

Uh… that took 30 seconds? There’s no need to be rude or rush me, it’s right here

Ma’am you now have 10…9…8…

It’s RIGHT HERE.. his ss# is 123456789

Now may I have your daughter’s ss#

Yes, here’s is right here as well, just in a different drawer 

The same rules apply ma’am you now have 40 seconds to ..

Yes, yes.. you know I was on hold for nearly an hour to talk to you all, you would think you could wait more than a minute..

Ma’am I don’t appreciate your tone and should you speak to me in a manner I find threatening i can end this call at anytime

I have the card right here 

You now have 10 seconds…9…

My daughter’s card is in my hand … do you want her #?

Give me the # or I will end this call

Her ss# is 123456789

At this point, I’m FUMING. I felt humiliated. I felt trapped. I felt like she was treating me like the scum of the earth – why? Because I’m on Social Security and my kids are required by my long-term disability insurance, as was I, to file for benefits in order to collect what came out of every single paycheck of mine.

They think we are poor. They think we are just one of those families.

SO WHAT IF WE WERE?

Does this give those helping people in need the right to treat us like absolutely SHIT? To put us on hold for nearly an hour, and then once speaking to us to enact bizarre hold rules and threats of hanging up for anything from my “tone” to my inanbitly to open the drawer in my desk fast enough? It’s not as if I was rummaging through papers for 15 minutes, wasting everyone’s time. I KNEW they would need these things, so I put them in the top drawer and right on top of the pile. It took me all of 20 seconds to get them. Unless you speed count like Danielle.

But let’s think about this from another perspective. What if I had needed my cane that morning? It might have taken me longer to get that 6 feet to the desk. What if I needed my wheelchair? What if I left them on the downstairs counter thinking I was going to make the call from there, instead of upstairs?

Click. Sorry sweetheart. Call back and wait on hold another day. THAT is what would have happened.

Instead, politely as possible.. I gave the woman on the other end of the phone ALL of the info she asked for and in the manner in which she requested it- as politely as I could possibly muster I even offered additional information.

Then, she finally asked me, what was the nature of my call. I could hear her tone. I could tell she hated me, for presumably being poor and needing benefits for my kids. Or maybe, just maybe, she was having a bad day? I was about to find out.

Yes, I’m calling because my children are not in need of MediCal, we have private insurance…

Oh, you pay for private insurance? 

It was as if she didn’t believe me.

Yes…my husband and I …

…Oh well in that case Ma’am, Mrs. Vest, you need to call this other number. I’m so sorry but we don’t handle those in my department. Let me see if I can get you connected right away. I’m so sorry you had to wait, and I apologize for my shortness with you. It’s just that we get many calls per day with people trying to, you know, get things. 

Suddenly she was Miss Mary Sunshine. And I went from feeling humiliated to feeling complete RAGE…yet my jaw was hanging open. I was knocked entirely speechless.

All because…we pay.

We’re weren’t those people.

The people I was not 10 seconds earlier that had her COUNTING DOWN before threatening to hang up on me. That had her, like a nasty robot from Jerk-Planet, speaking with such a tone I was sweating and fumbling with paperwork and feeling about an INCH HIGH while trying to simply give her information.

This. This is how we treat those in need in America.

This is how we treat those who are the least fortunate – a mother with a disability/deadly disease and kids in need of insurance – as far as she knew- THIS is how we go about treating them.

As if they are a burden. As if they are a total waste of time. As if they are undeserving of any kindness, compassion or even simple curtsey in a phone conversation.

Yes, I learned a lot in the hour-plus as I waded through SSDi, MediCal for my kids this week and I was left feeling sick.

We have to do better. WE MUST do better.

Those who are most in need are the ones also most in need of your smiles, your warmth, your COMPASSION.

Even if it’s a simple phone call attempting to iron out eligibility.

I feel sick to my stomach as I am typing out this story to you, because this woman made me feel not like a mother or woman while on the phone with her, but like trash. Like whatever situation I was in, requiring my children eligible for MediCal, it was most certainly my fault. I most certainly could do something to make it better, and she looked down on me worse than any of those snotty Moms at the Grosse Pointe pool when my Mom would take me along with her to meet up with friends she had who lived in that city.

As I continue to get healthy I am determined to change so much of what I have seen to get to where I am. And when I AM healthy enough to take on some of these challenges, Lord help people like Danielle…because there will be training and re-training and if you can’t get it, eventually job loss. Because you WILL treat everyone you encounter with respect, no matter their reasons for being in the situation the are in.

Our country as a WHOLE needs to learn this lesson, but…baby steps.

Those of us who are in current need have paid into the system and have every right to take it out, but we also have the right to DIGNITY while doing so.

To those of you currently in the system and doing what you have to in order to feed your family, provide them with health care, whatever it is you are doing…know that I believe you are amazing, hard-working, and I am so sorry this is the sort of treatment you encounter.

I promise you we’re going to make this better…make them SEE what it’s like to be us, to walk a mile in our shoes.

They’ll never count down, threatening to hang up on us, again. Ever.