Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: My Health Wealth

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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!)

That Old Eclipse Feeling…

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Photo by and Property of Nicole Jackson

I still can’t put into words the “magic” or “amazing energy” that was in the atmosphere on the lawn of the Dixon Gallery and Garden yesterday. I was there almost two hours before the event started. I retrieved my lawn chair, a book to keep me company, and my snacks. I made a donation and I got my ticket. I got my eclipse glasses and now…where to sit amongst strangers?

I plopped down in the shade next to a young lady who seem to be there by herself, too. It was not moments after my settling in conversation began to flow, laughs, and the sharing of our lives. I knew I’d made the right choice when she offered to share her almonds…I love almonds! There were so many “Me toos” and so many things we had in common as two women, two different ethnicities, sharing an exciting moment in space and time. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease and she is a PTA in school who recently learned about about autoimmune diseases a few weeks ago. It was refreshing not to have to explain that it was “not arthritis.” Stories of travel, hopes of travel, life, gardening, family, and bugs! Lol! There was much encouragement to each other in our pursuits of happiness and to continue the journey.

 

 

We talked about how it was great to see the eclipse bringing the city together and sharing in the moment, the good vibes in the air, and people of all races, ages, backgrounds, careers, political parties, etc. in one place and not any of that mattered. How I wish that we could see how nature brought us together and that it’s only natural to work in unison as one. Anything else is disruptive not only to us as human beings, but also to nature.

Soon after the eclipse the weather changed. It became cooler and then we felt a rush of cool air. It gave me goosebumps. It began to rain…a cleansing rain I’d like to think. I sat my intentions as the eclipse passed (ancients say whatever you feel will be magnified. So I chose “good energy” and love of course!) and I think the rain was washing away the remnants of negativity that day.

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Human Mother to Robin Mother: Nature vs Nature

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This week I battled a robin that wanted to build her nest on the rafters of my carport. When I first saw the formation of the nest, I knew it had to come down before it was complete. So, the maintenance guy got it down. The reason that it could not be built there is because if the bird lays eggs it’s illegal to remove the nest and if it builds it where I park my car my daughter and I would be in danger of an attack from a bird protecting her young. And I guess you can say, I was protecting my young as well. It was sort of a woman to bird, mother to mother, type of situation.

Within an hour she was back building again. I was back to stop her. This went on for hours. The night came and when I woke up the next morning…she had started again. We went at it for about an hour and a half. I realized as my arms begin to hurt and my shoulder swelled, I couldn’t keep doing this but, I couldn’t let her build there. Also, the stress elevated my blood pressure. At physical therapy, the PT said “Hey I had that happen to me. I read up on it just like you and I put a plastic owl where the bird wanted to build and it never came back.” So, I thought about the creepy owl I bought for winter decor and when I got home I put it in the rafters. Since Friday, I have not seen the bird. I pray she has found somewhere to build and lay her eggs. I am assured by the wisdom of Matthew in the Bible: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…”

When it comes to problems in our lives, whether it be an illness that turns your life upside down or financial choices, a work situation or a life situation, somewhere in the daunting task of persistence there is a solution. There is a happy medium. There is a method to the madness. And as I trudge through one of the most difficult times of my life, if God takes care of the birds of the air, feeds them and clothes the flowers of the field…how much more will he take care of us? Our angels sends advice, we look up a solution, we try different things, we realize what is not working and soon the solution surfaces. The outcome may not always be what we want at the time, a temporary solution until the a permanent one arises.

~Nikki

 

 

 

 

Less Christian, More Christ

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Do you represent your denomination more than you do Christ? Do you represent theology and the thoughts of man, rather than the thoughts of Christ? Are you dogmatic in your views..”your” views…YOUR views…instead of looking through the lense of the gospel of Jesus, the Christ?

Do you volunteer to feed the hungry, clothe and shelter the homeless, cry when something terrible occurs to others, but that’s as far as you go? Will you protect them via money or calling your representative about bills that need to be passed or halted? Are you nice to everyone at work, no matter their religion or color, but that’s as far as you go? Will you stand up for their rights if your rights are not affected? Do you really…really see other believers as your brothers and sisters in Christ? Or is that only good for religion and not to stand against injustices or a tyrant of a leader that wants to oppress your “sisters and brothers” of color and different cultures in Christ? What about non believers? God still created them. Are they off the list?

I’d like to see less Christians and more Christ.

~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