Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: My Health Wealth

94975321_815998608809901_2070103262337433600_o
My art. It is for sale. 

One time I went to the grocery store with a friend. We both needed to do some shopping and once in the store we went our separate ways. When we met up near the meat aisle, I was SHOCKED to see their basket. It was filled with junk, processed food, sodas, and juices mostly. I literally was shocked because here is a person that has health issues. No wonder when I cooked they needed to add incredible amounts of salt to their food. Even when the food was already generously seasoned. For a moment, I thought it was me. My daughter said it’s not you Mom, it’s them. They were use to what we call soul food with all of the soul, salt, and fat of the ancestors and they were conditioned to love junk food.

I get it. I get when the CDC, the health experts talk about underlying conditions are high in the minority communities. Poverty is high in the minority communities and the wages are low. There are food deserts. No one should have to travel outside of their neighborhood for food and some CANNOT! I’ve been to stores in one neighborhood where fruits and vegetables look TERRIBLE and go to the same chain in a nicer area and produce looks like it was picked that morning. Pair that with the lack of proper medical care, the disparities of care, the cost of health care, and to be honest add the MISTRUST, DISTRUST between doctors and minority patients. It’s a disaster. I have seen the doctor say “It’s not good for you to eat an entire box of ice cream” and upon leaving the doctor, the patient says stop by McDonald’s and get me a number 5, supersized, add a sundae to that. The unwillingness to take health seriously runs deep. “Those doctors don’t know what they are talking about” has been heard and passed on generation after generation. The idea that the doctors are trying to kill us, us being minorities, stem from the history of experiments done on and to minorities without their consent, knowledge, and against their will. The torture, the inhumanity, is disgusting.

My musing on health issues: Where there is a will there is a way. Where there is a will, there is an opportunity to research. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, fibromyalgia, which both lead to diabetes and a slightly elevated cholesterol reading recently. I learned from a white woman, who I took care after she had a complicated childbirth, to ADVOCATE for your health. “I am a nurse and they still would not listen to me. WE KNOW OUR BODIES. If you can, find a female doctor. At least you may have a chance of her listening to you or  understanding you.” These were her words to me in my 20’s. She told several male doctors, nurses,  something was wrong, something wasn’t right. They dismissed her concerns and when she went into labor, she had to be airlifted after birth. I never forgot the conversation. It was later on I also learned that when you are African American, male or female, a minority, you REALLY have to advocate for your health. We are seen as less than intelligent and assumed to be uninformed. WE can comprehend and learn just like anyone else. Obviously, there are all kinds of well educated working class minorities.

I once had a black male doctor that told me I had acid reflux. I went to the emergency room a few times with incredible pain. I remembered what this lady said to me and I began to look for another doctor. The week before I saw my new, female doctor, I went to the ER because I thought I was having a heart attack. The hospital drew blood and dismissed me. When my new doctor drew blood she rushed into my room. What hospital did you go to? She rushed out the room. She came back in. She made a phone call in the room and lost it on the people in the ER! She said the labs showed my white blood cells count was HIGH. In a week I was schedule for emergency surgery for the removal of my gallbladder. It was inflamed, swollen, and on the verge of bursting.

I also had to advocate for my health with a female doctor years ago at a clinic. I had no healthcare because it was too expensive and I needed that money to pay my bills and take care of my daughter (you see the choices some of us have to make!). She insisted I had diabetes. I insisted for another blood panel test and to see another specialists for rheumatoid or lupus. She told me the clinic already spent money for a test on me last year. This is when I could no longer be nice. I had photos of my swelling joints. She did not want to look. I went ballistic. I was not ashamed either. I asked her was it her money? I asked her did she not think I had any common sense or an education because I was at this FREE CLINIC with partial payment plans? Do all black people have diabetes? I KNOW MY BODY. SOMETHING IS WRONG. THIS IS NOT DIABETES. She ordered another test. I had been suffering for a year. It turned out, after seeing another specialist she referred, that I indeed had Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease, and fibromyalgia, and diabetes was a result of the Rheumatoid. She apologized that same day I lost my marbles before she ordered the tests again.

I am not a health expert. I am not a work out fanatic. I do know ORGANIC and NATURAL foods are EXPENSIVE (and I could say hospital bills are high but, that’s irrelevant to someone struggling to make ends meet). Medication is EXPENSIVE. I have had to pay for 15 pills when I needed 30. I have had my parents “charge” my medication on their credit card. I have gotten a full bottle of pills and took them every other day or every two days to make them last.

I walk. I do yoga (gentle yoga, yoga for seniors, yoga for rheumatoid, fibro, lupus, etc…it’s out there). I don’t have to have a gym membership but, I do. There are YouTube work out videos. It’s not safe in some neighborhoods to walk. I don’t really like to walk in this neighborhood because I am not comfortable. In my old neighborhood it was different. It was better. So, I go to the park in my old neighborhood. You can find work out equipment at the dollar store. You can find equipment for sale on Facebook Market. Walking in place “seems” silly but it works. I don’t walk fast. I can’t.

Eating healthier? Choose more fresh fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to fry inexpensive cuts of meats. You can ween yourself off so much sugar, salty food (I love salty and sweet) sweets, and sodas. I went from 8 lumps of sugar and 8 packs of creamer to 2-3 lumps of sugar and 2-3 creamers in my coffee. It was rough. I didn’t know how addicted I was. There are so many ways to cut back, add other choices, use coupons, and to try something new. Yes, my people, try something new. You can still have soul food without it raising your blood pressure and doubling your insulin levels.

These are some things we can somewhat control. Most of us. Not all of us. There are always EXTENUATING circumstances. I can’t do all the things I use to do and I can’t do the things others do. But I can do what I can do. I do have the power of choice. I am in no way at the weight I will be happy with, not what my doctor would be happy with. I had to figure that out, too. There are carrots and celery, ginger shots, and water in my fridge. There is birthday cake ice cream and a Pepperidge Farms lemon cake in the freezer. I rarely buy sodas because I will drink them just because they are there! I don’t have all of the answers. But, I do know things have to change in the minority communities and it starts with conversations and choices.

~Nikki (Whew! That was long…sorry!)

Crosstown Concourse: Memphis, TN

Crosstown Concourse, formally known as the old Sears building, has been rehabbed and remodeled! It has given life to the Crosstown area which businesses and neighborhood committees have worked tirelessly over the years to revive. They are still at it and we appreciate it because this is the inspiration Memphis needs.

The shell of the old Sears building, which holds memories for many Memphians, is still there in it’ massive form. The photos that line the building of the renovation are astounding. On level one there are shops and restaurants mainly. On several levels are businesses and health facilities such as the Church Health Center and the YMCA. There are dental offices, tech companies, educational and nonprofit organizations, and….residencies!

It’s an artsy building and that is one of many of Memphis’ niches. It is architecturally appealing and spacious. It has local bars serving beer and cocktails and a coffee shop for all of us coffee connoisseurs.  So much more is on the way!

 

20170819_152840
Artist painting a mural and the photographer of the day

20170819_141453

 

20170819_144423.jpg
This will be amazing!

~Nikki

SundayMorningCoffeeMusing:I Won’t Set My Clock Back 300 Years

I won’t set my clock back 300 years. No one is going back to a time where it was hell for some and paradise for others. The God I serve is a progressive, forward thinking God. Therefore, I cannot go backwards. We are here NOW. The only time that exists is NOW. Nature is progressive. Humans are progressive. Though some minds may be still trapped in the illusion, that somehow, by skin color they are superior.  Even though, by gender, some may deem themselves smarter. Even though, by religion, some may deem themselves having the rights to God (though I am sure, you cannot own God, nor claim Spirit solely for yourself, since you didn’t create it or him or her).  Even nature gets ill. Even nature has diseases. But it thrives and those that are dis-eased…die out or have to be cut out in order not to affect others. I’ll set my clock for a better future. And be prepared, to do whatever needs to be done to ensure we continue to progress.

~Nikki

Stop. Breathe. Think.

istock_000063242503_medium

Each morning this week, before you walk into work, before you receive your first client, before you decide to talk crazy on social media to somebody, just remember you are not the only one going through some things. Other people that are minding their business are probably going through some things too. So before you spread your bitterness, open your mouth to say something sideways, just think how incredibly strong they must be going through their storm and not making it rain on everyone around them. Blessed are the hurting people who don’t hurt other people.-Nicole Jackson