Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Peeling Onions

Act I. Speak.

What would you say to the people who hold the cards if you got a chance to bend their ears?

I've said plenty. I don't take to the six walls of a box very kindly. I'm just not that kind of girl. I don't believe in blind loyalty to anything, either. I will not kiss the ass of someone who abuses me. You can't piss on my head and tell me it's raining. I know the difference. (I'm a nurse.)

The other day I had a chance to speak. I definitely said my piece and followed up with more information after I talked. Serendipitously I was walking out a door and there was the receiver of my message, walking by. It was a conversation that was long, long overdue.

Leadership is a funny thing. It requires superhuman vigilance. When there are not enough people watching, underlings get away with things that are self-serving, but often short-sighted. Or just plain stupid. Being a leader also means you need to remember that while you are out in front, you're not above.

At conferences where corporate executives meet, like the insurance industry and the health care industry (btw the acronym for the American College of Health Executives is ACHE. Yeah, cute.), I wonder, do they ever have any sessions where they discuss moral and ethical obligations to the public they serve? I doubt it.

From what I've seen, they seem to have lost their sense of service. It's a disservice, what they do most of the time. It often seems like they have a pretty good sense of entitlement though.

Like the other day, someone I know needed surgery for complications from cancer treatment and they had already paid for their insurance, but the insurance company denied coverage, saying the policy had been cancelled, which it had not been, and it was paid in full. The person who was the unlucky recipient of the insurance company's incompetence was on the phone for hours. It still wasn't resolved, the surgery was cancelled, and if this procedure doesn't get done soon it could be a major health threat. As if it's not stressful enough going through all the hassles of cancer treatment.

Speaking with the insurance company, they shrugged it off at first until some attention was called to it on social media. When the company was called on their indifference, suddenly their tone changed. Big companies hate bad PR. They are terrified of it.

When you have that sense of entitlement, it's easy to sit on your throne and say, smile, don't ask questions, say yes, and swing your ponytail. Everything is wonderful. Why is a four letter word. Even when we fuck with you.

That event, plus my opportunity to speak, reminded me again that realistic attitudes are healthier than false positives. That's a lesson that leaders need to remember.

I'm all for having a positive attitude, because I think it does help. But there are times when a dose of reality is healthier, and if it carries some negative weight, well, that's a good thing. It helps balance things out and correct the course. If you never look at yourself critically, you're not being realistic.

If I didn't believe in myself and think in a positive light, I wouldn't be able to do all the things that I do. You have to maintain a basically positive outlook in order to achieve anything. At the same time, you have to be realistic, or you'll miss your mark most of the time.

When someone loses something significant, whatever it is, their good health, their ability to see the future, the promise of opportunity, a relationship, or the life of someone important to them, they experience grief. It's important to acknowledge all feelings. Denying that there are problems, that things are wrong, leads to continuation of the conditions that are heading downward.

Denying shock, disbelief, hurt, and anger at injustice is additional injury on top of the one that occurred in the first place. Eventually it all crashes at the bottom.

When you read about healing from trauma, of any kind- serious illness, abuse, adverse events, the healing is often described as layers of an onion. That's how it feels, you peel back a layer and discard it, but then there are others underneath. And it keeps going, there are many thin and thick layers to be discarded before you get the core, and many people never do completely heal.

It's amazing the amount of healing that needs to be done after you repress grief. It's only been 5 months since I left my old job and the triggers still take me by complete surprise.

So when I had my opportunity to speak my mind, I said some of what I needed to say, but I'm finding that there's more, so much more, an onion.

After that happened, I went for a run. My route took me past a memorial to one of my former patients, and I always stop by and say hi.

Well by that time I had processed quite a bit and had found plenty more to say and instead of the usual high five and run on by, I stopped to talk. Like a crazy person, there I was, talking to the air, blurting out my thoughts to my dead patient. The emotions were bubbling over, and then I started to cry, just as if I were talking to an actual person there. That's because he would have understood how I felt. This isn't usual behavior for me, but this one particular person supported me and would have been outraged by what led to my feelings.

It looked crazy on the outside, if anyone had seen me speaking, but it was necessary for me to process my feelings and emotions that came up, in another peeling of a layer of the onion.

Act II. Science is Awesome.

I got this mug at the Sternberg museum in Hays, Kansas. I don't know why, I am rarely into trinkets, but I thought this was cool.

I'm an old-fashioned scientist. I like reasoned and critical thinking, and reality. I don't like falsified data, biased results, or undue influence/corruption of money. The world has changed, or maybe we're just unable to hide things like we could before the advent of the Internet and widespread availability of information. There's also much more acceptance of the influence of money in all sorts of things. It's mainstream and acceptable to be on the take. That's why we're in so much trouble, because we've allowed it to get to the point where the haves have too much and the have nots have nothing.

I have learned not to accept or believe anything on it's face. You have to weigh the pros, cons, different sides. You have to listen to all the sides, you can't just rely on your own opinion or the opinions of those you think are on your side. At the same time, it's important and affirming to express your opinion. Hiding your opinion is repressive and oppressive.

But before you can say the earth is round you have to make reasonably sure you're not looking at it through curved lenses. Science reporting in the mainstream media drives me crazy for that reason, as does drug advertising on TV.

I've said a lot about corporations and their abuse of power. I don't care if someone makes a lot of money, it's what they do with it and for it that is important to me. If you have the resources and power, then do good with it. There's nothing wrong with living a comfortable lifestyle. But if you've accomplished that by stepping on people's heads and have a total disregard for the plight of people who are just trying to get through each day, I don't like that. The lack of acknowledgement and disregard of that is injurious. I think that having power and resources at your disposal carries with it a lot of responsibility to your fellow human beings.

The insurance companies don't have enough competition and they are going to be raising rates next year, and many people are going to find themselves paying a lot more money for very little ROI, to use a corporate term (return on investment). While in theory the ACA was supposed to lower insurance rates because of a competitive market, those insurance company execs and their lobbyists knew better. They have almost a monopoly in some markets.

I think we're moving backward in terms of civil rights, and people's rights. I grew up in a time where people were just getting used to things like Title IX and the EEOC and were realizing that there were consequences if they didn't heed the law. Not that they still didn't find ways to get around it. But people were more sensitive and awkward about it. Now, it seems like corporations hold all the power and make new rules, because no one can challenge them. Average income people can't afford to, and there are so few decent-paying jobs out there that they are afraid to make noise.

It's amazing, some of the shenanigans used in order to get rid of the people corporations don't like (who question things) and bring in people they do like (the ones who went to the right church or college, or show other promise of being a good ole' boy or gal). If you're the wrong color or your partner is the wrong gender, or you showed an aptitude for critical thinking, forget it. If you ever use the dreaded four letter word Why. It's not uncommon to see the collusion to sneak people into positions without providing fair opportunities for other people. It's like bad science, it hurts us all. The results are biased. The end result is myopia. Important ideas and viewpoints get missed, and the organization loses in the long run.

So I laugh sardonically when people accuse the poor of being on "entitlement" programs, because whatever they receive is so miniscule compared to the people in positions of power and influence. Like those insurance company execs who can not only afford half a dozen homes and yachts, but can afford to buy lobbyists and politicians, and buy their comfort into perpetuity. While someone needing cancer surgery to avoid a life-threatening infection can't even get the services delivered that they paid a significant chunk of their hard-earned income for.

These things happen with a sense of entitlement, that you're above the law, and above your fellow human beings. I've taken care of some big wealthy powerful men who are afraid of needles and can't look when they get stuck, and need someone to hold their hand. Their eyes get big and round and they look like a child. I don't care who you are, we all bleed the same stuff and we're all made of the same flesh. THAT is science.

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