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.

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Pet Sitting Bad for Sleep Disorders

For all the bullshit about sleep “hygiene”–as if it’s an issue of cleanliness or moral weakness–it seems bloody obvious that sleeping in a different place every weekend with different animals, noises, beds, etc. is one of the MOST disruptive things you could do to your sleep. I’ve been pet sitting for 3 1/2 years, but not one health care provider pontificating at me about sleep has bothered to consider that. I need to be at home. Which means I need a different source of income. Which should be SSDI, but you can die waiting for that. I just managed to summon all the energy to arrange a trip to Florida; I’m in no position to fight the disability denials or start something like online editing for hire. I need someone to help me with that stuff, the energy of initial startup, but that would require them to be paid for their time. And a minimum wage sure as hell won’t do that, no matter how high or low. But situations like mine are invisible to those who choose a solution based on ideology, insist it’s perfect and ideal, and blind themselves to the human suffering it causes. I’m just collateral damage.

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.

19 May 2016

I met with the vets opening the Columbia City clinic. I think it went well. They invited me to their opening party next month and said I could bring a stack of business cards. They also might have a receptionist job in a while, though it would be full time and sounds stressful. At least they might keep me in mind when they’re ready to hire one. 

  1. I got a used water filter/tank and went to the disability law office to ask about doing some forms SSA sent. They said I can disregard them entirely! 😀

Then I called to check on my food stamp application. They already have at least 9 documents from me totaling 36 pages. But they want more! They want self-employment business statements that don’t exist. They want bank statements I already gave them (because they need more information, which is somehow gained by sending more copies of the same documents). And now that they’ve taken so long to process my application (April 22nd online), they want all my statements for April. They SAY that should be enough and my benefits should resume soon after they get this round of paperwork, and that my benefits will be retroactive to my application date. But I’ve also been told many times in the past that they never give retroactive benefits (like the Utility Discount Program, which I downloaded 6 forms to apply for). I have stable housing, no addictions, and no severe mental illnesses. If you were homeless, alcoholic, and untreated schizophrenic; how on EARTH could you navigate all these hurdles just to get money for groceries? It’s infuriating. 
Going to get my free ice cream and look for stuff at Goodwill, then pick up a few more things from the house to bring home. New client visit postponed to tomorrow. So far today, I’ve ridden the 2, 7, 36, and Link. (Update: the 10 and First Hill streetcar too)