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Once again I am recovering from a bout of illness. This time it was pneumonia. I am finally starting to feel better after three courses of Levaquin and a four day stint in the hospital’s ICU.
It started out as a high fever and headache. It wasn’t how I usually get colds so I thought that if I kept hydrated and slept that I would get well quickly. I was mistaken.
I went to a follow up appointment with my primary care doctor a week after coming home from the hospital. She did scold me. Apparently if I have a temperature over 100, I should go straight to the ER. I have done that before and didn’t receive the treatment that I needed. So I am wary. I am pretty sure I will try to do it myself once again for a couple of days before I give in.
What got my doctor upset is that she lost a family member at the age of 40 to pneumonia. I really do understand her concerns. I don’t enjoy going to the ER and having some ER doctor tell me that I came to the ER too early. Or even worse being treated with condescension. At least this time the doctor, and he was a VA doctor by the way, saw the danger to my kidneys immediately. He started appropriate measures while I was waiting in the ER.
I haven’t had too many good things to say about hospitalists, but the one that treated me recently at the Las Vegas VA Medical Center was smart and made sure I had good treatment. The nurses were also good.
This stint in the hospital reminded me that I am always on the edge. The stress I have been feeling hasn’t helped me to stay healthy. I have had personal stress due to illness and money. Plus yesterday when the world went crazy about Charlottesville and the two crazy groups clashing and hurting each other, I felt the stress. Plus in many ways these ideas of white privilege and white supremacy attack me and mine personally.
If you look at my family, we are quite diverse. I have full siblings that look Hispanic. One of my brothers was in Saudi Arabia with work and he could pass as one of them. There are Native Americans in my family. So when I am told that I have “privilege” just because of my skin color, I laugh– I admit it is a bitter laugh.
I grew up in a cabin, sixty miles from the nearest town. My privilege included “no running water,” and “no electricity.” I’ve lived in a small trailer with nine other people before the birth of my youngest brothers. I have put ditch water in barrels, put alum over the top to settle the mud and dirt, then use the water to wash clothes by hand.
I have worked in a huge garden. We would grow enough food to feed us for the entire winter. Our growing season was about three-four months. I canned food for weeks. The work was brutal. I would sometimes light a candle so I could see what I was doing in the dark of night as I finished up the last of the canning on the gas stove.
I had to go into the military so that I would have the GI bill so that I could finish college. I received no scholarships and no loans. Still through shear stubbornness and grit, I received a college degree in English literature when I was 38 years old.
“Check your privilege,” I hear all the time on the ‘net. No, you check your privilege.
I didn’t have a TV until I left home. When we did have a telephone, it was on a party line. I bought my first computer in the early nineties and received my first cell phone in 2005.
My life hasn’t been easy.
We live in the richest era of all. We can buy our food and clothing. It is easy to get a place to live. We have computers and entertainment that fill our days. No matter our color or place in life, we have more now than in any time in history.
I am grateful for not having to make all my clothes, grow and can all my food, and wash my clothes by hand. I am grateful that there is medication that can keep my diseases under control. Fifty years ago any one of my conditions would have killed me by now.
I want you to know that all of us are privileged to have what we have and to have the leisure time we have now. My challenge to you is to use it wisely. Quit the scuffling and name-calling. Take advantage of the opportunities.
And as Ellen DeGeneres says every day– “Be kind to others.”