Category Archives: If You’d Asked Me…

If You’d Asked Me: Long Wait at the ER

Just for you: a chapter from a book in progress. You can buy a copy of the whole book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. See the collected chapters so far, FREE online at If You’d Asked Me… For details, visit our home page or send a request through our Contact form.

23.

Why doesn’t anybody coming to the “emergency room” seem to understand that an emergency means urgent?

Understood that ER workers are stressed to the max and that they have to make quick decisions about who needs care and when. But . . .

Back in the day before ACA, poor people here in the American Southwest used the ERs for medical care whenever their kids had a bad cold or flu and for conditions adults and children should have had treated in their GP’s office. Phoenix has a large population of working poor and unemployed, many of whom live, shall we say, very close to the bone. And in those days, if you didn’t have insurance, you couldn’t even get in to see most doctors. An ER, on the other hand, is not allowed to turn you away. So, when someone without insurance or cash needed to see a doctor, they would go to the ER and sit there until they could finally get in. This meant waits for everyone that extended for many hours.

It was Christmas time. A flu epidemic was raging. And conveniently, my body chose that moment to develop appendicitis.

In terrible pain and throwing up, I persuaded my ex-husband to take me to the ER at a large regional medical center called St. Joseph’s. It was late at night.

The ER was packed. The receptionist, overworked and miserable, was rude to me and gave me a dirty look when I threw up into the bucket I’d brought.

There was no place to sit down. The floor was truly filthy, so I didn’t feel I could sit or lay down on the floor. Three hours later, I found myself sitting outside on a concrete bench, in the cold, next to a woman who was miscarrying and who had been waiting over four hours. We waited another couple of hours without anyone caring whether we lived or died.

Finally, I gave up. I figured if I was going to die, I’d rather die at home in my bed than in that place. I called a friend, waking her out of a sound sleep, and persuaded her to come get me.

At dawn I was in agony. I called the Mayo Clinic, where my old doctor was practicing. They told me to call 911 and have them bring me there. I said I thought they would take me back to St. Joe’s and I couldn’t withstand another fruitless, endless wait. She said no, they have to take you where you ask them to take you.

That, as it developed, was wrong. They would not take me to the Mayo —the twenty-minute drive would take them out of their area. I sent them away and called another friend, who kindly took me to the Mayo.

The Mayo, being in a more upscale part of town, was not crowded with people who couldn’t afford to see a doctor. Within minutes after I walked in, they had me headed for surgery. By then I’d been suffering from acute appendicitis for over 13 hours. In the elderly, this may be life-threatening. Afterwards, the surgeons said the appendix was “a mess,” one of the worst they’d seen.

On the one hand, my feeling is that I wouldn’t be in the ER if I didn’t have an emergency. Obviously, I needed to be seen in less than four hours. Obviously, I needed to be seen when I came in.

On the other hand, I surely understand that when everybody and his little brother and sister use the ER for routine medical care and show up when they have a bad cold or flu, the staff is overwhelmed and the likelihood that they will fail to recognize a true emergency is high. I also understand that an inner-city ER staff sees not only the routine heart attacks, strokes, accident, and appendicitis cases, but a steady flow of knifings, gunshot wounds, and drug overdoses, and so of course they do not have time to deal with people’s colds and tummyaches.

With the ACA, this problem was somewhat relieved because more poor people could get insured. Once that goes away, though, we can expect those conditions to return. When people can’t get insurance and doctors turn the poor away because they’re uninsured and can’t pay, then ERs will fill up again with folks who need routine medical care. And the next time you have a serious condition that really does need immediate attention, you may not be able to get it.

If You’d Asked Me: How to Treat a Swollen Lip

22. What is the treatment for when you have a swollen lip?

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How to treat a swollen lip? Depends on what caused your lip to get swollen.

Got a whack on the mouth, but no busted teeth? Make an ice pack (wrap it in a clean dishtowel or several layers of paper towels) and gently chill the injured area.

Ingested something you’re allergic to? Tongue showing signs of swelling? Betake yourself to an emergency room, now not later.

Got a cold sore? Too bad, so sorry: not much you can do about it. Refrain from kissing people, please. You’ll just have to wait till it passes, which it will in a week or ten days.

If you don’t know what caused it or if some other circumstance that you don’t understand well caused it, consider that it could be a herpes infection. Call your doctor.

If You Asked Me: Squeamish about Insulin Shots?

21. My coworker administers his insulin injections at his desk or at the lunch table in front of everyone. Is it appropriate?

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a) He is not harming anyone by taking a few seconds or a few minutes and administering a dose of life-sustaining medication to himself. If you don’t like it you can get up and go to the bathroom, where maybe you can comb your eyebrows until you figure he’s finished.

b) It’s none of your business.

c) Your remark reveals a great deal about you, and none of it is flattering. It is hard not to feel sorry for you.

I’ll say this, though I’ll bet it doesn’t apply to your case: When I was a little girl, my family and I lived in a Third-World country. We had to take about a half-dozen shots, and some of them were pretty painful—about every six months my parents dragged me, literally kicking and screaming, down to the clinic for another hurtful episode. In those days, cholera, typhoid, and typhus shots were very painful, and the rest were just not any fun.

One time a nurse threw me flat on the floor and put her foot on my chest to hold me down so she could jab me with one of those ferocious shots.

That experience along with all the lesser events left me phobic about injections. Whenever I have to have a shot or have blood drawn, I cannot look at the equipment or watch the procedure, or else I will have a panic attack or even faint.

Okay . . . so maybe you’ve had some traumatic experience that left you with the heeby-jeebies about injections. In that case, I take back my implication that you’re kinda pathetic. But even if that is the case, all you’ve got to do is say, “Excuse me, gotta go to the men’s,” stand up, and walk out of the room for a couple of minutes. How hard is that?

Dizzy Days: Meds and vertigo in elders

20. My uncle has severe chronic vertigo, and the doctors don’t know what’s causing it. Have any ideas?

Just for you: a chapter from a book in progress, If You’d Asked Me, I’d Have Told You. You can buy a copy of the whole book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. See the collected chapters so far, FREE online at If You’d Asked Me… For details, visit our home page or send a request through our Contact form.

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Is he taking any prescription medications? If so, find out what the potential side effects are. Don’t take a doctor’s word for it that any drug has no side effects or is harmless. Many of them don’t know—they’re not pharmacists, after all—and often if they do know, they won’t tell you because they want to persuade you to stay on the medication no matter how sick it makes you. Look it up yourself. You can find out by looking up the drug on the manufacturer’s website: this will list all the potential side effects.

My stepmother had vertigo and eventually developed cognitive problems so severe she was checked into a nursing home. My step-sister, who definitely is smarter than the average snail, then got into mom’s bathroom medicine cabinet and discovered a cache of Rx medications going back forever. She discovered that the doctor had made NO RECORD of the meds he was giving the old lady.

Elderly people are especially sensitive to OTC and Rx medications, because we do not metabolize drugs as fast as younger people do. Hence drugs that may have no malign effect on people in, say, their 30s or 40s can make an older person very sick, indeed.

When my stepsister raised Hell and put a block under it, the nursing home staff took mom off all the drugs—including one that, it turned out, was addictive(!). Within a week or two, the old dgal was back to normal and happily back in her apartment.

Moving House…to another website

So long…

So, Facebook having royally screwed up my marketing plan by unfairly banning me from its sacred environs, I’ve had to come up with new avenues to bring the golden words to the public’s attention. The new plan will require me to move the copy I’ve posted here as *FREE READS* to other platforms.

And that will require me to delete said copy from Plain & Simple Press, in order to avoid duplication. The desirable platforms explicitly ask that contributions not appear elsewhere.

Truth to tell, it was highly iffy to publish each chapter as a blog post and then to merge them  into coherent books (Ella’s Story, If You’d Asked Me, and The Complete Writer), each in its own web page. I do not know whether Google has zapped me for doing this, but I expect if it hasn’t, it soon will.

…good-bye…

It takes about two weeks for Google to register published copy as not published (so I’m told, anyway). So what I will do is begin taking copy down, a chapter or two each day, beginning today. Then about two weeks from the take-down date, I will re-post these chapters at Medium or at The Writing Cooperative. Gradually, then, all the content will eventually move to the new platform.

I’ll post announcements of these moves here and on Twitter — that is, I’ll let you know exactly when a given chapter-in-transit reappears at the new platform. If you want to follow me on Twitter, follow me as “Funny about Money,” not as “The Girls”: @FunnyAboutMoney

…au revoir

For the nonce, though, I will remove one or two chapters at a time, starting at the beginning of each book, on the days that I publish a new chapter for that book. For example, on Friday — that’s tomorrow, already! — I will post chapter 15 of The Complete Writer, and I will also remove TCW‘s first two posts from this blog, comprising chapters 1 & 2 and chapter 3. In 14 days, when those chapters begin to appear at the new site, most of the old content will be “disappeared” from this site. Since I’ll then be two weeks ahead of myself, after that I should be able to delete one chapter at a time until I run out of content.

The books will have to come down, too. I will remove them on Saturday, replacing the content on their respective pages with a description and an offer to share the content-in-progress in PDF format. So you have about a day and a half to download that content, if you care to do so.

This is going to create a huge hassle, and to the extent that this site has readers, it will undoubtedly cause a reader hemorrhage. I do know a number of people are following Ella’s Story, and I apologize to you for the inconvenience. I invite you to rejoin the story at its new venue.

And yes, if I could afford a lawyer you may be sure I would hire one. I’ve looked for a class action suit to join, but so far have found none. One report claims that 22,000 people have provably been banned from Facebook unfairly, but apparently that is not a large enough class to support a lawsuit. Too bad.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Medium has far more visibility than either Funny about Money or Plain & Simple Press. Apparently contributions appear on its front page briefly, giving you a shot at catching the attention of a reader or two. Ultimately this may turn out to be a good thing.

Meanwhile, it’s already resulted in some benefit in terms of fleeing the cobra’s stare: this past week instead of plopping down in front of the computer and fooling around with Facebook every damn morning, I’ve turned out with the dogs at dawn for a mile-long run. As of today, that comes to eight (8!!) health-enhancing miles of running.

Clearly, Facebook is not only bad for your nation’s body politick, it’s bad for your health. I can’t avoid Facebook’s unwitting (we hope) deconstruction of America’s democratic republic, but I sure can avoid letting it glue me to a computer screen until I turn into a cardiac invalid.

 

If You Asked Me: Trying to Steal My Dog? *FREE READS*

19. What should I do if someone follows me home while I’m walking my dog? I believe they were trying to steal my dog.

Just for you: a chapter from a book in progress. You can buy a copy of the whole book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. See the collected chapters so far, FREE online at If You’d Asked Me… For details, visit our home page or send a request through our Contact form.

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Don’t go back to your place. Go to a neighbor’s home, ring the bell, and if they answer explain that someone is following you. This is a good reason to get to know the neighbors: so they’ll recognize you and let you in.

Carry a cell phone when you walk the dog. If someone is following you, dial 911 and ask for police help. That assumes you’re in the US . . . if not, call your local emergency number or, lacking that, call someone you know and ask them to come pick you up.

Another option is to go to a crowded place, such as a fast food joint or a convenience store, and tell the proprietors you’re frightened because someone seems to be following you. In the US of course it’s against the law to bring a dog into an establishment that serves food, but they probably would make an exception if you said you felt threatened.

If You’d Asked Me: My Boyfriend Killed My Dog *FREE READS*

Just for you: a chapter from a book in progress. You can buy a copy of the whole book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. See the collected chapters so far, FREE online at If You’d Asked Me… For details, visit our home page or send a request through our Contact form.

To follow the progress online, click on the little orange icon beside the P&S Press feed, over there in the right-hand sidebar. ⇒ ⇒ ⇒

SECTION 1, Continued:
God Is Great, Beer Is Good, and People Are Crazy

18. Should I report to the police that my boyfriend killed my dog?

Please get away.

If this man has not harmed you yet, eventually he will. People who abuse animals will also abuse people.

Killing your dog IS abusing you. This kind of behavior escalates. He is likely to become very dangerous. He could even kill you.

Before you report the man to the police, you must go away to a safe place, without letting him know that is what you plan to do. Contact a woman’s shelter or arrange with a friend or relative to stay at their home. Apply for a credit card and have it sent to an address other than your home—even if you are not living with him, he might come across it in your mail.

If you have a joint bank account with him, go to another bank or (preferably) a credit union and open an account in your name only. Arrange to have statements sent to a different address or emailed to an account he does not know about. If you have a job, have your employer direct-deposit your pay to the new account.

Do not report the man to the police until you are in a safe place. At that point you should file a police report and get a restraining order against him.

This sounds all very drastic . . . but it’s nowhere near as drastic as what a man with this mentality can do to you. This is not an exaggeration. Do not wait to give him a second chance—get away now.

If You’d Asked Me… What’s in your daughter’s purse? *FREE READS*

Just for you: a chapter from a book in progress. You can buy a copy of the whole book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. See the collected chapters so far, FREE online at If You’d Asked Me… For details, visit our home page or send a request through our Contact form.

To follow the progress online, click on the little orange icon beside the P&S Press feed, over there in the right-hand sidebar. ⇒ ⇒ ⇒

SECTION 1, Continued:
God Is Great, Beer Is Good, and People Are Crazy

17. If you had a 16-year-old daughter and accidentally knocked over her purse one evening while she was asleep, how upset on a scale of 1 to 10 (increasing) would you be to find each of the seven worrisome items in the detail below?

Condom: meh! Zero . . . be glad she has enough sense to protect herself.

Loaded gun: 10/10. What is going on in her life that she feels the need to protect herself that way? Or is she planning to stick up the local branch of Wells Fargo??

Heroin fixings: 10/10. Full-blown horror show under way.

Half-full pint of vodka: 8/10. Who gave it to her, where did she consume the first half of the pint, and was she in a car at the time?

Cigs: 9/10. There are better ways to commit suicide; cf. the gun. Is she trying to harm herself? Definitely would seek medical or psychiatric help for a kid who had a nicotine addiction.

Positive pregnancy test: 10/10. Who is the sire, does he know about this, what kind of complications is THAT going to cause, and what does she intend to do about the pregnancy? This could get expensive on top of all the drama.

Ticket to a naughty movie: meh! Sixteen-year-olds are not what they used to be. Your 16-year-old is a lot more sophisticated sexually than you were at that age and way more so than I was. It won’t harm her to learn the facts of life. Just be sure she knows the difference between fantasy and reality.

If You’d Asked Me: Is America Worth Illegally Immigrating?

This book is a work in progress. You can buy a copy, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. See the collected chapters so far, FREE online at If You’d Asked Me… For details, visit our home page or send a request through our Contact form.

To follow the progress online, click on the little orange icon beside the P&S Press feed, over there in the right-hand sidebar. ⇒ ⇒ ⇒

SECTION 1, Continued:

God Is Great, Beer Is Good, and People Are Crazy

15.

Is life in Mexico bad enough to justify immigrating to the US illegally?

I’d like to hear from Mexican citizens, illegal immigrants, and other viewpoints. I think Americans discount their luck for being born here.

Yes.

I recently indexed a book of short memoirs by second-generation descendants of Mexican immigrant farm workers. Some of the authors describe the conditions their parents were fleeing.

What they came to, in the fields of California, were working and living conditions that those of us who are middle- and working-class Americans can’t even conceive . . . but they were better than what people had to deal with in rural Mexico. And they had hope that their children could build better lives—something they did not have in Mexico.

The book, recently published through the University of Arizona Press, is titled Claiming Home, Shaping Community. It is an amazing thing to read. You should get yourself a copy . . . it’ll change your point of view on the immigration issue.

If You Asked Me… Young Girl Harassed in Public: How to Handle It?

This book is a work in progress. You can buy a copy, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. For details, visit our home page or send a request through our Contact form.

To follow the progress online, click on the little orange icon beside the P&S Press feed, over there in the right-hand sidebar. ⇒ ⇒ ⇒

SECTION 1, Continued:

God Is Great, Beer Is Good, and People Are Crazy

14.

My 11-year-old daughter is getting stares when we go out in public. What should I do?

She wears shorts and bright colors. She refuses to wear black, dark gray, or dark blue. When it gets cold, she wears an oversized green hoodie.

Here’s my take on this, as a woman who was SO relieved to hit the age of 40 and have the ugly stares and the lewd catcalls come to an end:

You can go on all you want about how women should be able to wear whatever they want in public (even flimsy knit booty shorts with “Property of the GDU Athletic Department” stamped across the backside) and look however they want and go wherever they please without harassment. That’s all very nice, but the reality is there will always be men who WILL harass women and girls, and there will always be predators who give away what they’re thinking by the way they stare and the remarks they make.

If she’s bothered by this behavior—and most normal women are, because at best it is intrusive and embarrassing, at worst it can presage an assault—then you need to teach her how to protect herself. That does not entail fantasy martial arts scenarios in which she is going to beat back a predator like Xena Warrior Queen. Good luck with that.

It entails keeping your wits about you at all times. As you’re walking around, know where there’s a crowded store or restaurant you can dart into. Be confident enough to walk up to a strange but reasonably safe-looking man and say “someone is following me—would you mind if I walk with you until we get to (fill in the blank).” Train yourself to yell “FIRE,” not “POLICE” or “HELP” if assaulted or threatened: people will always come out to watch your house burn down, but most of them don’t want to involve themselves in a violent confrontation. Do not wear revealing clothes (it appears your young woman doesn’t . . . but just in case, advise her). As you’re driving, know where the nearest police station, fire station, or hospital emergency room is and if pursued, don’t be shy about driving up to the door and leaning on the horn. Lock your car doors, and keep the doors and windows in your home locked. If your living circumstances make it possible, keep a large dog and take it for a doggy-walk whenever you go places on foot.

Does that limit her freedom? Darn right it does. But everybody’s freedom is limited. You could argue that disallowing covetous gazes and lewd remarks limits men’s freedom. It’s a commonsense trade-off you make for your safety.

I speak as the escapee of three attempted rapes, two home invasions, and an attempted carjacking. The best way to cut this kind of behavior short is to keep alert, always have an escape plan, and avoid getting into risky situations in the first place.