kitchen table

ripple effect: the saga of contraception denial continues

For those of you following the Biting Beaver’s emergency contraception saga, you will be interested to know that she has, in fact, become pregnant. So because a pharmacist wouldn’t prescribe her EC, she now has to have an abortion. Again, are these “I’ve got a moral objection to sex” pharmacists completely bat-shit or what?

BB has got a frank and honest post up about her feelings on the matter. Part of her rage is the continuous message she receives about the apparent worthiness of the fetus inside her compared to her own existence and the well-being of her three children.

How often can one person hear that a fetus is more important than their own life? Than the lives of their children? How many times can you be reminded that you are, to them at least, a sack of shit and not worthy of even living?

Am I cold hearted about this? You bet your ass I am. I’m angry that my life is apparently worth so little because I had sex. I’m angry that people would literally try to fucking murder me by sending me a list of fatal herbs via a ‘helpful’ email. And that is to say nothing about the picket lines I will most likely have to cross. That speaks nothing to the shame that this society will attempt to thrust upon me for this situation. It speaks nothing to the anger and rage I feel that the penis which was actually attached to the condom apparently becomes utterly invisible.

Read the whole thing here.


my adventures with methylprednisolone (and birth control too while I’m at it)
August 23, 2006, 12:49 am
Filed under: Feminism, Healthcare, Reproductive Rights

So I got sick last week, really sick. What started as a cold turned into an infection. I entered that tricky place–the one I often get to when I’m ill–in which I find myself both wanting the doctor to fix me and becoming suspicious of our medical system.

Anyway, I was so ill though last week that I crossed over, became practically supplicant to my physician, and ended up filling prescriptions for Claritin (10 mg pill) and anti-biotics. (A small, relevant aside: As a recipient of the state-sponsored medical care, Healthy NY, I shelled out a $20 copay each time I visited the doc as well as the full cost of prescription drugs. There is a Healthy NY plan that includes drugs but I can’t really afford more than my HMO’s single-payer, drug-free plan of $147.33 a month). After some negotiating with the pharmacist, I took home a generic version of Claritin and a less expensive anti-biotic–the original drug was $47, the second $12.

Within 24 hours it was apparent that something wasn’t right with me and my drugs. I developed a gross/cool rash all over my body and on Wednesday morning, landed right back in the Doctor’s office. He took one look at me and instructed that I stop all medications: I had an allergic reaction to one of them, at the very least. He then handed me a pack of Methylprednisolone (steroids, for us lay people) and told me to take them as a boost for my immune system. With a couple warnings about bone thinning and possible weight gain, I started popping.

The only side effect I noticed that first day was trouble falling asleep. The next afternoon however, a casual observer would’ve thought I’d done speed. At 7:30 that night, on a minimal amount of food, I was dragging my boyfriend out of the Target parking lot with a bag full of craft supplies. T-shirts! We were making t-shirts! Let’s go! Let’s go! He looked at me and said I should probably calm down. He told me I had “‘roid rage.”

On the drive home, a couple hours later and still hyper, I read aloud the possible side effects of methylprednisolone, as listed in the accompanying booklet: “Psychic derangements may appear…ranging from euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and severe depression, to frank psychotic manifestations.”

Frank psychotic manifestations? Hey, now.

I made the decision that night to take less than the prescribed dose which may or may not have been a great idea. My hesitation is in part informed by a negative experience I had with the popular birth control pill, Ortho Tri-Cyclen. I had something of an epiphany last year when I went Ortho after a 3.5 year absence; I hardly made it a month before I decided again that it wasn’t my bag. Unfortunately, my brief return was enough to send me into an intense depression, one that hit out of nowhere and made me, well, crazy. (Not an uncommon experience for women on the pill, by the way; this is lore among all my women friends, not just the hippie/feminist ones.) The depression was so familiar and specific–it was the same kind of sudden, pathological self-hatred that triggered, quite out of nowhere, an eating disorder in high school. As I stood last year at the mirror, looking at my body with newfound disgust, it dawned on me that just a couple weeks before my eating disorder suddenly hit, I started taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Only then I didn’t have that revelation to save me, to let me know this mood and its damage would pass.

One of the most frustrating parts of the whole experience, stretching from the days of the eating disorder until the revelation of its trigger years later, is the lack of connection between the three health care professionals who treated me during that time. My physician, psychologist, and caseworker at the Eating Disorders Association never suggested that pumping my body full of hormones could affect my mood, could fuck with my mental health–they all knew I was on birth control, I told them. I

So when I read last week that the steroid I was on could cause frank, psychotic manifestations, my instinct was to quit cold turkey. Further reading of the booklet told me that it was worse to drop off completely, better to go gradually. I’ve been taking the pills guiltily ever since because I also secretly love the way they make me feel. This scares me too.

Today was my first day without any steroid (I’ve got half of the free pack left) and I’m back in that place of limbo: trust and suspicion, desiring and knowing better. To pop or not.

Overheard conversations, the low-down, & illness-induced web browsing
August 15, 2006, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Activism, Blogroll, Feminism, Gender, Healthcare, politics, Reproductive Rights

From Feminist Law Professors, a post describing Catholics’ desire for female priests. This reminds me of a conversation I mostly overheard and minorly participated in at my boyfriend’s family party last weekend. His mother and a cousin–his mom raised in an Italian, catholic community on the West side–were discussing the shrinking number of nuns. When they were in school, both went to private high schools from what I gathered, it wasn’t uncommon for a graduating class to “give” upwards of 30 girls to the order. Among the few women who didn’t leave the order for careers or marriage, the youngest age group is nearing 60. BF’s mom was saying that they needed to find another role for women in the church–that something had to change–because those nuns were treated like crap by the priests and women aren’t interested in it anymore. I sat back and listened as I find nuns–and the conversations of older women–to be interesting. Very interesting.

Along similar (if not stretched) lines, Nicole J has some photos up of her thesis project Viola Swamp School for Girls:

It was an interactive installation that allowed viewers to rummage through, among other bags and containers, a pink Jansport backpack. There were notes, biology lab reports, and signed permission slips–all handwritten by Nicole–along with lunches, post-it notes from Mom, and fortunte tellers. Totally brings me back to that time known as middle school.

And finally, Bill & Melinda Gates came out strong for sex-worker rights and the framing of the AIDS epidemic as a woman’s issue. The 16th International AIDS conference is being held just an hour and a half North of this woman’s table, in Toronto, and it was with much nodding that I read the following quote this morning, “We need to put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women. This is true whether the woman is a faithful married mother of small children or a sex worker trying to scrape out a living in a slum. No matter where she lives or what she does, a woman should never need her partner’s permission to save her own life.” That’s Bill Gates talking and no matter how many other people have been saying the same thing for years, I’m still darned glad to hear it coming from his white, influential, rich-ass mouth. Read more at Common Dreams.

In other news, I have an allergy-attack rash all over my body. Grossssss.

healthy competition?
August 11, 2006, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Healthcare, politics

If one more co-worker tries to be competitive with me regarding the amount of sleep I didn’t get, or how much of my personal life I’ve sacrificed in the name of Work, I will scream. The lack of humanity in these kinds of exchanges is unbelievable. I don’t have a problem with working my ass off–it’s not that–it’s the encouragement of what is, essentially, an unhealthy lifestyle and the competition to be the most masochistic.


90,000 square feet
July 27, 2006, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Activism, Healthcare

A living wage coalition in Chicago just successfully lobbied for the passage of a law requiring big-box stores, notably Wal-Mart and Home Depot, to pay employees a minimum of $10 an hour. Additionally, at least $3 an hour must go towards benefits for employees.

This legislation seems to be part of a larger trend of laws targeting big box practices. Earlier in the year, Maryland passed a law requiring Wal-Mart–the only business in the state to fit within its parameters–to spend a percentage of its profits on its employees’ health benefits. Unfortunately, that law was overturned last week.

New York State’s Working Families Party, along with a handful of labor unions and community organizations, proposed a similiar bill called Fair Share for Health Care. It didn’t pass this session but I hear the WFP will make it top priority this fall as well. The bill had its fair share–oh god, pun totally unintended–of criticism and like the minimum wage hike a few years ago, received a lot of complaint from businesses worried that it would be bad for the mom & pop’s. I don’t really buy that but I understand some of the other criticism its received. Anyway, I’ll be interested to see how this legislation in Chicago pans out, especially in light of the news in Maryland.