Classist, Ableist Health Care

Can’t seem to get med refills or doctor appointment before leaving town. They interrupt and don’t listen to you. I even got hung up on trying to explain why people with autism hate talking on the phone and why it’s such a problem for a supposed mental health provider. Hardly any locations in the city or accessible without a car. I don’t know if I’ll be in drug withdrawal for the two weeks I’m in Columbus. This is how Medicaid and King County Community mental health work. Programs for the poor are poor programs.

Today in Poverty

So. Two weeks ago I saw the doctor. She referred me to physical therapy for my arm and an eye doctor for regular checkup (eyes are vulnerable to diabetes). At the Poor People Clinic, referrals never work properly, so neither place had received one from the clinic. I called the PPC and had to insist to speak to the referral coordinator, and ask specifically when they sent the referrals and how. She repeatedly interrupted me, which is infuriating when your brain is autistic, but I try to explain that and people just get indignant. How dare you call out their rudeness! It’s not like they use email or have website where you can do this. Of course, this woman reflexively blamed the clinics and declared there’s no problem with the PPC referral system, even though another worker there explicitly told me otherwise when a previous one took 6 weeks of fighting to get through. She said she’d call the clinics and get back to me. She called back later and said the clinics had received the referrals. I asked when that happened, and she just said Yes, they got them. I again asked when, and she admitted it only happened today. Her earlier claim was a lie, and if I weren’t angry and persistent about this, I’d probably spend another 6 weeks playing go-between among the clinics to get my PT and eye check.
 
Then I called the disability law firm seeking a second opinion. I’ve left them messages before, and they say they’ll call you back in 24 hours, but they’ve never called me back. Someone took some information from me and said they’d call back. I wouldn’t bet on it. My appeal hearing is scheduled for March, and the judge warned that she won’t grant another delay without a “compelling” reason. The clock is ticking, and I’m apparently better off withdrawing my 2 1/2 year old claim and starting a new one (so, July 2019?) than getting an adverse ruling on this one. You see why I want to make sure before I kill and restart the process.
 
The client I’m sitting for has a home “security” system and seems irrationally worried about crime. So when I leave to walk another dog, I set it before leaving. What I apparently forgot is that it has motion sensors inside, and that I’m supposed to leave two big dogs shut in a bedroom while I’m out so they don’t trip it (I don’t think the welfare of animals should be dictated by alarm systems). Apparently they did. While on the bus to walk another dog, client texted me saying the “security” people called. He asked several questions about what’s going on and what I did. He had me call them to explain the alarm, disable it, and cancel the police call. So I had to give them my name, client’s name, and his address and password. Over the phone. From the bus–where riders around you can hear what you say. Then client told me the alarm is pretty loud and might scare the dogs. So this comes full circle causing lots of frustration while accomplishing nothing. The alarm system that was triggered by dogs tripping a living room motion sensor–not any kind of theft, burglary, or crime–jarred the dogs. And bothered my client while he’s on vacation, and interrupted me from my normal day, making me worry about the dogs and the client’s reaction toward me.
 
These systems do not deter crime. They do not protect property. They do not increase anyone’s safety. What they do is prey on racist fear of cities (Seattle has little crime among big US cities), constantly create false alarms (this is hardly my first time), and make lots of profits for the “security” industry. (Recall Rep. Darrell Issa made his fortune on car alarms) They exploit and increase fear, anxiety, aggressiveness, harmful stereotypes, and division among people. They make us afraid of and alienated from each other. Ironically, the reason it takes me so long to get around town is our mediocre transit system; driving is faster, but much more likely to kill you–compared to both riding transit and being a crime victim. The press sensationalizes crime, while car “accidents” are treated only as traffic issues. But if you look at mortality rates, ignoring the causes of death, they are lower in cities because we use cars less, and cars cause more death than crime. If your goal is to avoid crime (which is no more or less than what WE define it to be), move to the suburbs. If your goal is to stay alive, move to the city.

A Brief Relief?

I saw a doctor and got temporary psych med prescriptions. I’m waiting for them to be ready. That should bring some relief by tonight. This doctor wanted me to alter an existing appointment, I forget why, so I go back Friday to see the kind, understanding, pretty doctor (locum) again. My regular doc is back soon, so she’ll be gone. 

Today’s doc was naturopathic and suggested cranio-sacral therapy (?) for PTSD in Wallingford. I’ll look it up. She says they found a way to get Medicaid to cover it. She also wants to believe my toe numbness is due to high blood sugar, but I’m seeing diabetics online who have the same side effect from the med I take and say it goes away as soon as they switch meds, so I want to try an alternative. I’ll try to do the intake for longer term psychiatry tomorrow. 

A small present I got myself arrived, so hopefully I can get the broadcast TV channels well and watch Jeopardy regularly. 

I got an email blast from a temp agency I worked for years ago, seeking an executive assistant. They’re interviewing me Monday morning. I expect absolutely nothing out of this. They treated me pretty badly in 2012-13 after I did a great job for them in 2011. I mentioned the idea of unionizing temp workers, and they banned me from their Facebook page. It rubs me the wrong way that they’re even open on MLK Day, let alone having people interview then. 

I emailed a bunch of information to the community mental health ombudsman, and he claims interest in helping but won’t deal over email. I’ve emailed and left phone messages for Larry Gossett about a few things, but the man never answers. I’m ready to vote for someone who responds to constituents, rare as that is. 

So call this all cautiously relieved. Never count your chickens before they’ve hatched.

UPDATE: Two meds filled, one not ready until tomorrow.

Bad Therapy & Good Gender Discussion

I remain convinced that people know what they need but are blocked from getting it. Whenever I try to discuss my lack of love life with health professionals, and often with others, they simply refuse to hear certain facts, they make false assumptions, they lay blame, they ignore facts and evidence, they suggest strategies they know have failed me, and they refuse to hear me when I repeatedly tell them exactly what I need: dating social skills for adults with autism. I sent my new therapist the CBC news clip about the UCLA training program. I explained all the relevant bits of my history I could get in and what I’ve seen on autism websites/in autism groups and what an exclusive match it is. He (I finally managed to get a male therapist, and there’s a male perspective that women just don’t get around straight dating) is still suggesting things I’ve already done, focusing on imagined issues I don’t have (e. g. shyness), suggested DBT–which is fine but hardly helps with dating, is trying to advise me about what to do on a date when the problem is that I can’t get one, is giving me insights I needed 20 years ago but already told him how I discovered myself (the long list of opportunities I would’ve availed myself of except that I had no idea at the time that they were staring me in the face), and acts like I know what to do but can’t or won’t do it. No matter how many times I come back to autism and the unwritten rules and non-verbal communication of NT culture and dating, he won’t address it. Nor will he argue against it. He just changes the subject away from it. He suggests there are different kinds of flirting, dismisses the seduction/pickup “artists” as if sex isn’t or shouldn’t be what I want (why not??), and talks about optimism and confidence–as if you just inject that from a tube you get at the store after a lifetime of being ignored, rejected, led on, abused, systematically crushed and traumatized.

Why do health professionals consistently behave this way? Ockham’s Razor rules out malice. In fact, the therapist said he thinks I’m a likeable guy and should be able to get a girlfriend (which pretty much all my therapists have said). I told him, as I have believed from observation for many, many years; that I’d make a better boyfriend than 90% of the ones out there. I constantly see women with awful men who mistreat them but fit the cultural mold better than I do. They act this way because they are totally clueless. This therapist admitted to me before that he really knew nothing about autism and would have to learn along with me. So of course he doesn’t know what the needs or available resources are–the latter because THERE ARE NO RESOURCES FOR US. But none of them want to admit this. That’s why he neither listens to me nor argues that autism isn’t the issue. They are afraid to say they don’t know and pretend the emperor wears beautiful robes (Kim Jung Un?). They are unwilling to follow the science and either say no one has figured out the answer for us, or that we have a good idea what it would be but don’t have it available. So the default plan is to waste a lot of time, money, effort, and emotional turmoil–for which the blame will all be put on the patient when it finally comes to a head–chasing whatever strategies or programs or resources they DO know about or have available, no matter how irrelevant. The idea there is to run out the clock stalling for time until something becomes available. I’m unable to go along with that.

Also today, I went to a Happiness Initiative event that turned out to be really great, and I wish I could’ve spent the whole day. There was a beautiful young woman there who said some things that positively thrilled me about the constraining, unhealthy gender roles men are forced into; the social, emotional, substance, criminal, and physical problems they cause; how both men and women feed each other to perpetuate patriarchy while both suffer from it; how it feeds rape culture; how men aren’t supposed to be or appear weak, sensitive, vulnerable, or emotional…and the woman whose presentation she was responding to had already said how men were really the key in feminism and gender equality (she’s focused on gender inequality in the home). I don’t think I’d heard women say these things since I was in college! For an amazing change of pace, I could sit back and agree instead of having to be the one issuing strategy and warnings that get me misunderstood and ostracized. (Why is there no feminist equivalent of the seduction/pickup community? How can you achieve equality between two groups of people if you don’t involve both, and how can you expect to appeal to men if you don’t also listen to and address their legitimate gender concerns?)

So this was a kind of small group training, and tomorrow is part of their conference, which I can also attend. I’m not sure whether to try to connect with this girl. 1) Chances are she’s significantly younger than I think, and 2) Basically every woman I pursue after meeting in real life turns out to be unavailable. Or 3) I get one of the standard online dating results: being ignored, rejected, or led on. But she’s on my mind as she was very pretty AND demonstrated a true understanding and fairness about gender.

UPDATE: This was a couple weeks ago. I gleaned the beautiful young feminist’s email from a group message we all got after the training. From that I quickly learned that she is about 26 and got married last year. And has cats. 🙂 Egged on by a couple friends, I replied all to the email and expressed my enthusiasm for what she and another woman had said. But contrary to my friends’ predictions, I never heard from her–in the group or individually. So it’s a good thing I didn’t try to flirt with or date her. She is still beautiful.

The Case of Liz C (2002-2016)

I’m going to tell you a story.

In 2002, a very attractive young woman moved into an apartment down the hall from me. Like most of us who went to DC from elsewhere, she was smart, driven, ambitious, and successful. She had a neat job working on a public broadcast show I really like. I developed a crush on her. But for some reason she never seemed to be around, and I hardly ever ran into her in the building. Once each in the elevator and laundry room, but this is when I was still extremely shy. Of course she never said anything to me either. For weeks I did my laundry at the same time and day hoping to see her again, but no luck.

I was on the Board of Directors of the building, and for a while in 2003 we had an idiotic president who attacked me on the building’s email listserv. Not long after that, this girl came up to me in the Metro one morning as I was waiting for my Red Line train and said she strongly supported me, before quickly leaving for the other end of the platform. It was a nice boost, and I took it to mean she actually knew who I was. I resolved to ask her out. And I did. Or at least I thought I did. I believe I sent her an email, since I never got a chance to see her in person despite living about 60 feet apart. I told my therapist and was advised that I may not have been clear enough, and the girl may not have realized what I was asking. So I got a greeting card, asked her out more explicitly in pen, and slid it under her door. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, a friend in the building who saw her a lot told her what a great guy I was and suggested she go out with me. This surely looked coordinated or creepy, and I never heard a peep from her. Shortly after that, I noticed on Friendster that she added a boyfriend.

A few years later, in Montreal, I was watching the show she worked on when the host announced her departure and recognized her on air. I sent her a short email of well wishes. No response.

In 2014 I saw on Facebook that she was back home, in the Pacific Northwest. I sent her a short message apologizing for the clumsy/creepy ask out attempt, pointed out several things we had in common, and wished her a Merry Christmas. No response (Facebook showed that she saw my message).

This April, after basically giving up on Facebook and caring who knows what or expecting anything here, I sent her a friend request. To my shock, she accepted it. I messaged her to thank her and said I was pleasantly surprised. No response (again, Facebook showed that she saw my message).

I learned that she is back in DC and about a year older than me. And still very attractive. My heart sank when I saw a post she made about Linked In and said it suggested ex-boyfriends as connections to her. I have no exes, nor money or a successful career or popularity like her. She never interacted with any of my posts, so I tried to comment very sparingly on hers. There weren’t many. She only ever responded to a remark about food (Kerrygold makes the best butter; Tilamook is best at ice cream). Then I noticed that she had deleted me. I messaged her to ask if I’d offended her. No response.

This is just another classic example of what happens to me in trying to date–I never had a chance. None of it is in my control or influence. I am almost always ignored, led on, or rejected–and I can’t change any of those. I can’t even get any kind of explanation. I don’t think there’s anything more or different I could have done; she simply never interacted with me. I am just not wanted; I am a surplus man in a culture where men are the demand, and women are the supply. Yes, that is crass and horrible. Yes, that is economic and capitalist. But it is true. There is nothing I can do and no hope of getting my needs met.

Most people don’t care, a few would like to help but can’t, and a tiny fraction of those will admit it (and then usually disappear). The King County-funded crisis clinic laughs at you and hangs up on you. The health clinics that take Medicaid have no one who knows autism. The support groups are for kids and their parents. The autism people at Children’s Hospital only help low-functioning adults and refuse out-of-hand to address dating. The UW autism center only does medication management and will not replicate a UCLA program since Washington and California autism researchers are rivals. The autism and Asperger’s websites, Meetup groups, and Facebook pages refuse to touch any question about relationships or sexuality. Same for the more general disability ones. The ones on sex education, research, and positivity won’t touch anything on people with disabilities. Tim Burgess, the former cop and closet Puritan who falsely conflates sex work and sex trafficking, keeps increasing penalties on “soliciting”. He has the ableist privilege and lack of empathy to assume everyone who pays for sex is a criminal who should be maximally punished. His office will not answer questions about people in my situation, he will not adjust any of his positions or policies, and he won’t read any of the books or watch any of the movies I’ve asked him to. If you’re suicidal, people call 911, which sends the police out to re-traumatize you, and potentially you get locked up as an inmate in a social service hospital. They won’t do anything to PREVENT suicidality–they won’t even listen to WHY your life is hell or what could make it better. On the contrary, they’ll complain that they don’t want to hear from you even if you’re answering their call to supposedly check on your suicidality. It’s a program that’s typically Seattle–pretty window dressing that does nothing substantive or helpful. So we are stuck. This is life in America in 2016.

P.S. I’m getting more matches on Tinder since changing my height to 6’3″ and saying I drive a Ferrari and have a trust fund.

20 May 2016

It’s been a hell of a day–again. I met with the new client who’s looking for a couple dog walks a week. She’s four bus stops from me. We chatted for 3 hours. Pets, Asperger’s, health care, housing, transportation…and Ruby licked and cuddled me, though she’s kind of reactive. The client also just moved and has boxes for me. 🙂

Then I went back to Goodwill. The printer was still there! I even found a power cord to match. And a sturdier case for my dying phone for $2. I can’t get my phone out of it, but that seems secure in a way. I spent $31 total. The printer weighs 30 pounds, and the Car2Go home was another $17. Denny and parts of I-5 were congested. We could fix most of that with a Denny subway and highway tolls, but we don’t like to do tough or sensible things. The navigation on my phone is better than the car’s. Yet again, the trunk refused to open. After Goodwill I picked up my study materials to upgrade my ham license. The tests are updated every three years, and these are good to 6/30/19. I didn’t even know they’d tried to deliver the books, or that they weren’t coming USPS. The call box at my building only works for land lines. And this is 2008 construction. We dealt with call boxes and cell phones in 2002-04 when I was on my co-op board in DC. I’m going to see about getting that fixed.

On Capitol Hill I passed the shuttered Harvard Exit theater. It’s so sad. Such a great old building with countless memories. I took my Meetup group there on Christmas 2008 and saw Slumdog Millionaire. STG saved the Neptune, and SIFF saved the Uptown and Egyptian, but I guess our arts community lacked the resources to save this one (our millionaires don’t, but they spend only on their whims). Meanwhile SIFF is showing films in Kirkland, Shoreline, Renton, and Bellevue. Toronto (our rival in North America) does nothing like that–if you hurry you can get between all their venues on foot. I also passed the former diabetic-friendly Mexican restaurant Galerias. It was among my favorites here, but they had a fire and didn’t reopen. The first time I went there, a young woman was dressed up playing a harp. No one seemed to notice when she switched from classical music to Stairway to Heaven. Now it’s a Tex-Mex place called Rooster. :/ Our best Greek restaurant, Costas Opas, is gone too; replaced by a damn Chase bank branch–2 blocks from Lenin.

InterConnection is having a $30 sale on smartphones, but they’re old. So I saved a trip to Fremont. My health clinic just got my MRI results, but the doctor hasn’t analyzed them yet.

Shockingly, Bruce Harrell’s staff got back to me about the vacant lot next door. It’s fenced off, with intermittent barbed wire, and neglected to the point that it has 3-4 foot grass, and thorny branches poking out. Not the right message to send in the heart of the neighborhood. I asked who owns it because I want to see why it’s just sitting there, and at least get them to maintain it a bit in the interim so it’s not so ugly. So is it notorious slumlord Carl Haglund? A developer stuck in permitting? A rich guy who’s holding the land to sell when it’s worth more? Nope. It’s… The Seattle Housing Authority! What the hell?!? Are they waiting for the housing levy to pass before building something? We could really use 6 floors of affordable housing above shops and restaurants. (The zoning is 40 feet–stupidly–but we make exceptions all the time) This is crazy. I have to get to the bottom of it.

The new printer has no ink, but I managed to set it up after a long call with Filipino tech support. I’m blown away. It has features I’ve never seen in a printer. It’s a 2014 model; mine is 2007. It can automatically scan and print double sided, has a top feeder so I can scan much more quickly, two paper trays so I can do regular paper and envelopes for example, very low cost per page, can fit legal paper…I can even print over wifi from my phone! And I think it may be able to print remotely via iCloud. It’s a productivity boost I’ve needed for a long time. Money well spent.

I made some final tweaks to my info flyers for the bus stop out front and posted them in the shelter. Hopefully they’re helpful to riders. I still want to represent the information visually since many people here don’t speak English, but it’s great for now. I got another round of things from the house and can print the food stamp paperwork on my old printer until I get ink for the new one. I got my mail for the first time in 10 days and need to do laundry for the first time in 2 weeks. I walked 13,000 steps today. Tomorrow there’s still more to do before a brief sitting job in Greenwood.

April 19, 2016

I saw my therapist today, which was kind of frustrating. We don’t know when I’ll get in to see a new psychiatrist at one place or another, so we don’t know how long I’ll keep coming in. I don’t think she really grasps how impossible and torturous it is for someone in my position to try to date. I’m not sure she appreciates how demeaning and soul-crushing dating is for straight men in general, let alone how futile and hopeless it is for a short, feminist, non-drinker without the ego of Donald Trump. She was confused that I want social skills/non-verbal communication training for dating yet am certain it will be just as hopeless and maddening if I had those skills. I can only go for an hour every two weeks, and they won’t communicate outside sessions except for scheduling, so I gathered all kinds of relevant materials around dating and printed out a bunch to bring her. In them was covered most of what she didn’t understand or asked about, but of course she only asked if there was a particular one I wanted to discuss and made no commitment to read them outside session. I have far too much knowledge and experience to impart over years of sessions in person, and I despise having to start over telling my life story to someone new who may be helpful or harmful. But then you assemble everything and give it to them in one packet, and they don’t read it. I told her that was only the A-F files, and I wondered if I should compile a binder divided into sections. Like extemporaneous debate.
Then I went downtown on the same fare to get lunch in a double points promotion. I only got single points, and only after I stopped someone and had them check. :/
I stopped at the bank to trade $4 in bills for four dollar coins. I got Adams, Quincy Adams, Lincoln, and a Susan B. Anthony. They always ask for your card now just to get change, and they claim it’s federal law. #AreWeSafeYet? 
The weather looks like it will cool back toward normal before summer, so I went ahead and shopped for a new pair of jeans. I had a credit at the Gap; otherwise I don’t shop there. The ones I got are ok, but it frustrates me how the shapes aren’t designed for real human bodies, the size increments make little sense. They only come in waist sizes of even numbers of inches, unless you’re lucky enough to be 31″ or 33″. This might make sense if we used centimeters, and the employee agreed. So nothing ever fits quite right, and I’ve learned to get the next size down and have them stretch with time. I keep two pairs of jeans in rotation and buy one a year. 
I picked up meds at Target (which between their takeover by CVS and my moving to Rainier Beach, I think is coming to an end), and got a couple things including a birthday card for my crazy racist grandpa who’ll be 95 Saturday. I send a paper card so it’s harder for him to respond. With my food stamp allotment gone, I’m about to run out.
Then I needed to beat the heat, so I used the best air-conditioned place I’ve found in Seattle: the train. I rode up to UW, down to the airport, and home to Columbia City. Several pretty girls on the trains, and some cute dogs. I don’t dare talk to the girls though. I listened to a chunk of Jon Meacham’s biography of George H. W. Bush. By the time I got off, it was down from 81 to a comfortable 73. I decided to hit PCC for a snack and was stopped by a guy asking for money. I may write more on that separately. I gave him the 4 dollar coins. 
Not done today: paperwork for intake session at new mental health clinic, call disability law firm to ask how to fill out latest SSDI paperwork, any progress on my late night transit article for TRU, schedule shoulder MRI (PT is over for now unless insurance approves more), check on apartment inspection/move-in date and food stamp restoration. I rode the 9 (which won’t be possible after September), 8, and Link.