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The Joint Commission, which requires hospitals to meet specific criteria in order to receive accreditation, is investigating the healthcare experiences of LGBTQ individuals in order to improve the quality of care we receive. If you have an experience to share or know of someone who might or just think you might know someone for whom this is relevant, please repost or forward this link. Or just give them the email address: lgbt@jointcommission.org

http://lgbttobacco.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/joint-commission-needs-stories-of-bad-lgbtq-healthcare/

My Letter to the Joint CommissionCollapse )

How Do You Bust the Clouds

The furnace is out in Springfield. The inducer motor is fried - the technician said it was bone dry, no oil at all in there. He had no idea why or how it happened. It will cost $358 to fix, but it's not like we have a choice. Thankfully, we have the money to do it. We've authorized the repairs and when we get there Thursday night or Friday, we'll track down the paperwork for the furnace and see if it's under warranty and if the manufacturer will reimburse the cost of the motor.

I feel like I'm coming down with something - that dry, itchy, irritated sensation at the back of my nasal passages that usually precedes a cold. It would not surprise me given the mass of humanity Damnen and I exposed ourselves to on Saturday. I am hoping that maybe it's just the dry air, but we'll see how I feel tomorrow.

I have health insurance! I don't remember if I mentioned that here. Damnen's company erroneously told us that they recognized DC marriages, but that was apparently only if we lived in DC - a detail they neglected to mention when Damnen told them we didn't live in DC. They decided to let me have it anyway. At first, they listed me as her dependent, but soon changed it to domestic partner. I am very excited about this. Tomorrow I'm going to call my doctor's office and set up an appointment. With any luck, we'll get my stomach problems figured out, though since taking the Nexium and Zantac, it has been feeling much better. I've had some heartburn here and there, but very little nausea and I've been able to eat a little more in one sitting than I have in two years.

I think I'm going to request my doctor explicitly write on my medical records that whatever I'm being treated for has nothing to do with my being trans. I'm worried that even though I have health insurance, they will deny payment because I'm trans. They've done it before and this company has the transgender exclusion clause. They just say that whatever is wrong with me has something to do with me being trans and refuse to cover it. It makes no difference whether or not their claim has any basis in truth. Though, this time around Damnen has company lawyers she can put on retainer for a low fee, so if they do start pulling that shit, we'll get legal on them.

We are also considering taking the HRC's criteria for equality in the workplace to the human resources department and seeing if they will voluntarily work toward implementing those criteria. I'm not sure how that will go just yet. We want to make sure we word our request in such a way as to make it a suggestion and not a complaint. Damnen has been there less than a year and we don't want her to be seen as a troublemaker.

I bought a pair of house shoes tonight. A couple of years ago or so I discovered the painful way that I have flexible flat feet. I have insoles I am supposed to wear in my shoes at all time - and I do, but this means having to put on my knee high boots every day because they are my most comfortable pair of shoes. Now I can slip the insoles into my house shoes and not worry about lashing laces up to my knees. It is nice having money and being able to afford these little luxuries.

But that will be about the last of the luxuries for a while. Since we can't go house hunting just yet, we have decided to definitely put it off until after the holidays. In the meantime, we plan to scrape and scrounge and save every last dollar we can to put toward the down payment and closing costs. So luxuries are out until after the house is purchased. I'll be looking up inexpensive recipes when I get back to Springfield.

I might also look for a job, but I am hesitant. We will need to travel for the holidays and I will not be able to work Black Friday. I'm not sure I can get hired anywhere with those kinds of restrictions. But we'll see. I'll probably give it a shot. It would help us save money and I've got some student loans that will be coming due soon. The last notice I received from them said my payments would start in February. Then I got something in mail recently saying my grace period was up in mid-November. I'll need to call and figure that out and plan for the payments. I would rather pay them myself - Damnen has enough of her own loans to cover.
I'm not sure what I'll do just yet. We'll see how it goes.

Also, I bought a new hat with my birthday money. It is wonderful. At some point, I will take pictures and let you see. It only took 3 years and a search that spanned Ohio, Kentucky, northern Virginia, Washington DC, Annapolis, and Baltimore to find the damn thing. I have a small head and the safari style I prefer is rarely in stock. I am also insistent that I be able to try the hat on to see how it looks and fits, which means no internet purchases. So yes, long long search, but a very nice pay off in the end.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Our experience down in the trenches.Collapse )

So that's what it was like being there. And now that I've described the experience, I'd like to explain why I went.

I am concerned about the direction the far right is heading. I am just as concerned about the direction the far left is heading. Both parties have diverged so far from common sense and reason that I wonder sometimes if they all get together behind closed doors and laugh at us and the spectacle they have created. I mean, do they really believe we are that stupid? Are we that stupid?

I consider myself a Democrat, but I am not a party line Democrat. I support the 2nd Amendment. I do not approve of language policing, even if it means someone insults me. I'm an adult; I can take it and we will never remove the stigma from hurtful words if we insist they remain stigmatized. I am conflicted about affirmative action and classifying crimes against minorities as hate crimes. I support universal healthcare, but am not 100% sold on Obama's method of getting us there. I am against forcing people to purchase health insurance, but I do approve of many of the restrictions about to be placed on the health insurance industry. I don't think giving them several years worth of a heads up was a good idea (remember how the credit card companies dealt with that?).

I am for tax cuts if we can reduce the pork spending - it's just that I don't see that happening. Therefore, I am against tax cuts. We are a nation drowning in debt and tax cuts will not help us pay it off. I am undecided about taxing the rich at a higher rate. Yes, they have more money, but that doesn't necessarily mean they value it any less than the poor or did not work as hard to get it. But at the same time, they do have more money and could afford to give a little more and maybe higher taxes are the only way to get them to do that. Maybe higher tax brackets are the only way to get them to pay a comparable amount of taxes after all the loopholes they can hire an accountant and tax advisor to find. I don't know.

But I can't ally myself with Republicans because I am against the sort of moral regulation and legislation they appear to support. I do not want my morality legislated by someone else's religion. I support marriage equality - not just same-sex marriages, but true marriage equality. I would like to see gender identity protected in the work place. I want equality for all members of the LGBT community. I would like health insurance to cover reassignment surgery, because it sure doesn't feel cosmetic to me (I also realize that's asking a lot to some people). I believe very strongly in candid and honest sex education and teenagers having access to birth control. I support a woman's right to have an abortion. I have no problem with masturbation and don't care what you do in the privacy of your home with consenting adult partners.

I wish someone would pass legislation barring legislators from tacking unrelated addenda and laws onto bills because they know it won't get passed otherwise. Let each issue be decided on its own merits and not passed because it is attached to something popular but completely unrelated.

But that's just a small snapshot of my beliefs and stances. They change and adapt as I gather new information and I don't blindly follow things just because one party or the other says it's a good idea or that the world as we know it will end if I don't.

So that is why I went. Because I am not an extreme and the extremes do not represent me. Because I like to think I am using reason and common sense when deciding what I support. Because I am a part of the middle, moderate majority and I no longer feel that I am represented or appreciated by my government.

I realize the rally was meant to be light-hearted and humorous, but there was a serious side to it, too. That serious side was me and Damnen and all the other people who showed up because they feel disenfranchised by the extremes. I showed up because maybe someone was watching and taking note that there are more moderates than extremists and I wanted to add my person to the final count. In essence, to me, it was a vote for moderation. It was a vote against the screaming, fear-mongering extremes. It was a vote for a return to civil discourse, reason, and common sense because the terrifying alternatives pandered by the extremes are misleading and intolerable and I have had enough.

One last happy tale.Collapse )

The best laid schemes o' Wife an' Fen

As if life needed to be more frustrating, it turns out we probably cannot get a loan just yet. Although Damnen checked her credit score, she was only able to access one of the scores - the other two are not as high, apparently. So, instead of the 680 we thought she had, according to the lender her combined score is at about 580 due to the car loan and a default on one of her student loans. He said both should drop off in a couple of months and her score will improve. It kills me that he can see these things will drop off, he knows about the situation that produced the default and how that is fully resolved and not a problem now, and there's nothing he can or will do about it. What ever happened to underwriters?

That being the case, I suppose we might get around to house hunting in December or January... or later. There were a couple of houses we were very excited about. I hope they are still on the market then, but in this area that isn't likely.

I am very sick of living apart.

For a while, we were actually considering having Damnen apply for jobs in Ohio and just give up on moving to Virginia. I was the one who put the final foot down on that, though, for several reasons. First and foremost, if she wants to advance her career (and she does), she'll have an easier time doing it in Virginia with her current company. Second, we had to fight to get me on her insurance and I'd hate to lose it now. Not to mention that there are not as many companies in Ohio willing to offer domestic partner benefits. I think sometimes this matters more to her than to me, but I'm used to not having insurance at this point. Third, we both would rather live in a more liberal and educated region of the U.S. with better access to museums and culture. (Not too liberal, though. I am not a fan of the extreme liberals.)

But for me, the biggest reason is that I feel a lot safer here than in Ohio. I want to live in a place where I am not afraid of my neighbors knowing I'm trans. We love our neighbor Jim - he is a wonderful guy and seems really laid back and tolerant - but I just don't feel comfortable revealing to him that I'm trans. It's not even so much that I worry about judgment or ostracism from him, but from the rest of the neighborhood. I'm sure if we told Jim he would tell his sons and they would tell their friends and soon the whole neighborhood would know. And I would worry every day that we were a target and worry every time we left that we would come home to a burning house and dead cats. I don't want to live that way.

The people out here don't seem to care. Damnen has mentioned to potential roommates and her current roommates and her co-workers that I am trans and they have basically said, "Oh, cool." They might ask a few questions for clarification and beyond that, it has not been an issue. I do not have faith that Ohio will treat me as well in the long run. Especially not when we live in a city where the florist advertises their extreme right-wing beliefs on the sign out front and seems to do pretty good business. If I should actually finish my autobiography/memoir, publish it, and get even marginally well known, I would worry living in Springfield. Which is sad, because I actually like it there.

So, I guess we're looking at a few more months of living apart. I hope we can get moved by January at the latest, as I will be terrified to have Damnen driving from Virginia to Ohio in bad weather.
Damnen and I seem to have slipped into monogamy. We're not sure exactly when it happened, nor are we certain it is a permanent thing. Of course, we are not sure that it is temporary, either.

Sex talk follows. Nothing sordid and graphic, though. Sorry.Collapse )

Everybody Knows the Boat Is Leaking

Years ago, Damnen and I attended a very small, private lecture on complexity and power laws. The lecturer was trying to explain some system or method of measuring - I can't remember - but the metaphors he used were confusing (involving bathtubs being filled and lightening, among other things) and he was mixing them so liberally that we could not figure out what he was trying to say. He was also frequently interrupted by the attendees and would lose his place and start over or skip ahead. Frustrated by our inability to comprehend his lecture, Damnen and I started passing notes. Recently, I found the notes.

-+-

Damnen: Listening to this w/o context makes it seem very nonsensical.

Fen: Very & the jumping around is quickly losing me.

Damnen: Agreed. I have nothing to put this to (no meaning). I understand what's being said, but where it's going and why... WTF?

Fen: I'm barely getting it. I keep thinking things like, "Hey! Radians! I know what those are!... Wait... No. I'm lost..."

Damnen: Why? What's the point? What are we trying to do? Where the hell do these bathtubs come from? Why bathtubs?

Fen: He was talking about them Tues. Something about them representing some equation... If they are being filled, the level of the water goes up & we can see it rise... But I was never quite clear about it. I mean, are we talking clawfoot or standard? What if it's a hot tub? And does it matter if anyone is in there?

Damnen: It's a clawfoot missing its drain plug. If there's a big hairball in the drain, then the level of the water will increase & decrease to stability... but it doesn't matter b/c it's [smudge] input as an experimenter.

Fen: Hmmm... I see... Though I think the bathtub is getting awfully deep. Have you got a life preserver or inflatable raft you could spare? Perhaps a paddle?

Damnen: Well, a paddle would do little good w/o a boat, unless there are sharks in the bathtub? He finally gave a description to why this is important. So... an integrator and the capacitor are the same things, right?

Fen: I'm not sure. I think so. He's rather astutely mixing his metaphors... bathtubs, integers, lakes & capacitors... We've got math, bathrooms, nature & electricity. I wish there were sharks in the bathtub; they could bite his bum.

Damnen: Really now, math, bathrooms, nature & electricity. So... an outhouse with a light bulb where you do your math homework. Maybe it's a bathtub in a field where you get struck by lightening? This would make more sense w/o all the interruptions.

Fen: Yes, it would. I'm thinking it's maybe when you're on a boat floating on a salt lake & you're in the bathroom working equations during a thunderstorm & lightening destroys your boat & as you're treading water awaiting rescue, a shark bites your bum.

Damnen: Hmmm... I think you're right. I wonder if the systems engineers took into account the shark's influence on the system? Ok, I really want to go home now.

Fen: They couldn't have. You can't anticipate the sharks. That's part of their power, their mystique. They could be anywhere, any time, always ready to bite your bum.

Damnen: That's just terrible. Someone should really do something about them. I bet there's a power law to show the attack of butt sharks.

Fen: Ooo! If you looked at the frequency of butt shark attacks over time, they would be power jaws!

Damnen: That's just terrible. [underlined]

Fen: Terrible that no one has studied it yet.

Dream - Tigers in the Basement

I dreamt Damnen and I were living in these apartments in my dreamscape (perhaps analogous with the condo where she is staying in reality). The building was rectangular brown brick with a black roof and housed four apartments. There were three more identical buildings on that block and four more on each of the blocks to either side. And plenty more as you drive back through the subdivision. Across the street was an open field that rose to a pleasant hillside lined with wooded areas on the left and right. Our building, just like all the others, had a covered concrete porch that faced the street and the field on the other side. The sun was shining directly overhead - a bright, crisp light that washed out the colors.

I was in school, but taking only one class and it was scheduled to meet that morning. I couldn't seem to remember what time it met, though, and thought I might already be late. It wasn't that big of a deal, since it was the very first day of class and much of the time would be spent going over the syllabus. A friend of mine was taking the class, as well, and I was considering emailing her and seeing if I could get her notes. But I was also worried this would get me off on the wrong foot for the rest of the quarter.

I was in the bathroom doing the usual morning prep. The walls were dark and water stained. The mirror was faded with extreme age. Only one bulb hanging from the ceiling over the mirror lit the whole room. The sink was 30s or 40s style, white and small and standing alone. Everything seemed dirty and smudged. A huge black ant nearly 2 inches long fell into the sink. I found a shallow cardboard box and shooed it in, but as I was carrying it away, I tripped or the wind caught the cardboard, and the ant fell down into the heat vent. It bothered me a little that it didn't make it outside.

Damnen came home early from work. There's an interaction here that I can't recall and a jump in time - it was mid-day with a bright sun, then morning, then dusk, then day again. We discussed several things that I can't remember.

There was a woman at the apartment with us, an older lady, but I can't remember who she was. She accompanied us as we walked Damnen's dog, a golden retriever with a name similar to Molly. It is overcast, the sky a dark steely grey and the ground squishy beneath our feet. The grey sky makes the grass seem unnaturally green. The dog led us to a sewer drain, one of the large, circular concrete ones with the steel bars on top. She stood on top and wouldn't stop barking.

When we didn't seem to understand, she nudged the ground around the edges of the concrete and pushed the grass and dirt out of the way. Underneath was piping... or rather, pvc pipes just laid against the concrete like the spokes of a wheel. They were connected to the concrete pipe, just laying there. The dog kept barking. We didn't react again, so she nosed all the piping out of the way and revealed another layer of identical piping underneath. We were watching her do this, but couldn't figure out what she was getting at or why she was doing it. Finally, when she still wouldn't stop barking and started digging even deeper, we led her away.

Back at the apartment, it was sunny again, the same crisp, but washed out light as at the beginning. We saw movement in the basement window of our neighbor to the right. This was nothing new; they'd been hoarding cats in their basement for a long time. We'd tried to get the Humane Society out, but to no avail, so we just caught what cats we could and whisked them away to new homes. The glass was broken, so it was common for some of the cats to get out - the ones who could figure out how to get to the window, anyway. This time, though, the movement was different. We looked closely and realized they had white tiger cubs in the basement. Something very large moved past - all we saw was bloody greyish fur brush by the window - and we realized they must have the mother, too.

I'm not sure if we called the Humane Society or were just meaning to. Either way, Damnen took some treats with her and sat in a chair outside the basement window, trying to lure the cubs out. I left her there and went back inside for something. When I returned several minutes later, Damnen was surrounded by a variety of small animals, vying for her treats. She was laughing, amused, and a crowd of people were standing just off the porch and watching. I started to say something to her, when a small rhinoceros charged her from behind. Only, when it got up to her, it stopped and just nudged her chair, throwing her off balance for a moment.

And I knew suddenly that the zoo was letting the animals out for a day. They were supposed to be supervised, but I didn't see anyone around. Nor was I certain that applied to the tigers in the basement.

And then I woke up.

Like Grace from the Earth

Yesterday, Damnen and I bought a box of tissues. It was a momentous occasion full of joy and anticipation. You see, tissues have always been a luxury item. Why spend that desperately needed money when toilet paper does the same job just fine? For the longest time, we joked that we'd know we'd made it when we felt it was reasonable to buy a box of tissues.

And that time is now. We are officially in the black. All bills for September are paid. The first bills of October are paid. The paycheck today will pay the rest of October. We will have two more checks coming in October, which will allow us to pay November's bills way ahead of time and put money in savings.

As soon as Damnen gets back from Ohio, she'll make an appointment to talk to a loan officer and start the ball rolling on a home loan. Her credit score is recovered and we're planning to make some lump payments on the two credit cards and pay them down as soon as possible (which we might have to do before buying a house, but I think it can be done). Very soon, she should hear back from the student loan consolidation people informing us the loans are consolidated and our payment is several hundred dollars lower than it was, which will free up more money to go toward home inspections and such. And all of that we will get back, as it is reimbursed by the relocation package.

Now, if I could just stop worrying that by saying this, I have jinxed us and something awful and expensive will soon occur.

The Crocodile and the Possum

I dreamt Damnen and I were in a huge, beautifully appointed house, with a tree growing in the main room. Were there spiders? I think there were, but not every time I looked around. They were large spiders, but not bothering anyone. The house was in my dreamscape and I actually told someone in the dream that it was. I've never done that before.

My nieces were there, and some of my siblings, I think. We were all staying there... or did one of us own it? Not sure.

Damnen and I were in the main room where the tree grew up to the 40+ foot ceiling, when we were attacked by a crocodile. We climbed the tree to get away, but it climbed up after us. I tried to find a branch I could break off and beat it with, but the tree was too healthy. We kept climbing. I was afraid I might fall.

Did someone go after the croc from the ground? Maybe. We were out of the tree, on a different floor of the house. The threat was over, but not completely gone.

I was touring the house with my nieces; they were showing me each room and telling me whose it was. At some point, other people joined us - both strangers and family. I glanced down to find I was naked. At first it bothered me - my nieces were there and strangers. But no one seemed to really notice, so I didn't let it bother me. I looked around and finally found a long button-up that I could put on to be polite. No one seemed to care that I was nude, but I didn't want to be rude in front of the strangers or my nieces. Also, my body was as it actually is, and I worried everyone would start calling me "she" despite its strange androgyny.

The crocodile returned down a dark hallway, only this time I chased it. As I trapped it in a corner, I realized it wasn't a crocodile at all, but a small, bruised, and bloody possum, cowering and hissing at me. I ran it off.

One More Tired Thing

After all the hell we went through to figure out what it would take to get me on Damnen's insurance, and after all the mad rushing around and difficulty of coordinating a marriage over such long distances, I think we had reason to believe we were through with all the bullshit.


Hardly.


Turns out, Damnen's company only recognizes DC marriages for insurance purposes if you actually live in DC. And we don't. They have been kind enough to consider me a "dependent" of Damnen's, which will allow me to get health insurance, but not life insurance. How very white of them, but I guess I can live with that.


It would have been nice if the lawyers had pointed out the precise requirements in the first place. Damnen even told them we don't live in DC and aren't planning to live in DC and they did not mention that that would be a problem.


It's not that I regret getting married. I don't. Not even for a minute. It's just that I get so tired of all the bullshit and the run around and the lack of coherent answers all because my genitalia aren't a perfect match to my brain. Of all the stupid fucking reasons to create this much hassle. It seems like it just never ends. Just when I think I have tied up all the loose ends, someone cuts the rope in a different place.


And I'm bothered that their misinformation gave me what I thought was a valid and necessary reason to set aside my ethical resolution not to engage in a legal marriage until marriage is legal for everyone. Now, to a certain extent, I feel as though I have undermined my own principles.


It's just frustrating. Were the lawyers lying to us? Were they misinformed? Who knows!


I try not to assume the worst of people, but sometimes it's damned hard not to.

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