Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Some Thoughts on "The System"

I sent the following out to a few of my friends, if you feel like responding to it, please do:

I hope things are going well for you and your family, and if they are not, I hope they turn into situations that broker extremely well for you.

I'm actually feeling almost human at the moment, so I'm writing down my thoughts. Typing is very difficult because it's one-handed due to my left hand/arm situation, the days of my typing 110 words a minute are long gone. If I don't sound coherent please let me know ... at this point I'm beginning to wonder if I'm becoming a mental case.

I am totally astounded at the way I have been treated, not only in the public health system, but by the agency of DPSS.

The poor and the destitute are being treated like cattle and mindless beings in our "system".

I am being treated this way, I guarantee you others are as well -- others who have less of a voice than I do. At this moment, I assure you, I feel as if I have no voice at all.

I have been told things like:
"you don't fit neatly into any of our categories"
(with the inference that I don't qualify for assistance, or that my assistance may be taken away).

"If you're not suicidal, not a violent menace to others, or have a substance addiction, you cannot get mental health treatment -- unless you get insurance or pay upfront for it -- our facilities only treat with medications to keep people from hurting themselves or others"
(this in response to a request to be allowed counseling for the loss of the use of my arm and other mental anguish at not being a viable person due to being in the GR/food stamp system)

"if you had insurance and cash you could be seen within a week for your arm"
this from a doctor at the free clinic less than a week ago, when I've been put on hold for nearly 3 months to have an MRI because I'm a GR recipient.

"there's physical therapy that could be recommended, but you have to pay for it"
(this from a different doctor about two months back who is no longer with the same free clinic).

"well, if you had insurance we could recommend you for physical therapy for your arm, but we can't"
this by a doctor at a different free clinic when I first started seeking help some months back regarding my arm.

I am continually told that nothing can be done about my impending homeless situation, until I am actually homeless and on the streets. This is the same spiel I have been fed for the many months I have been dealing with this situation.

Some of the "professionals" I'm dealing seem to be as overwhelmed or nearly as overwhelmed as the people (like me) they are supposed to be helping.

The request to get me reviewed as disabled with SSI/Federal Disability was quoted as being a 120-day process and upon following up on it 60 days later, that quote has now been changed to a "many, many months to many years process". It was implied that I should feel sorry for the system because it and the people working in it have been so affected by cut-backs.


I should feel sorry for the system that is supposedly there to help me? The system that is supposedly there to dole out compassion and assistance to me -- and I ought to feel sorry for it and the people involved in it?

There's something truly wrong with this picture.

Requests for mental and physical help are continually denied with the reason that I don't have insurance or cash to pay for the assistance needed and that public health can only do so much.

It has been stated to me by a doctor in the system that I have to be convincing because if I don't fit a textbook case I'm faking.

I feel appalled, hopeless and like a victim -- often. Can you imagine what people who may be less educated in the ways of words, or less aware of other venues available, are feeling as they are ensnared by this public welfare/health system?

I am also astounded by the people who work within the system who seem to feel defeated by it.

A number of people I have dealt with speak and act with an apologetic demeanor as they deliver what appear to be rote responses to me.

Something needs to be done about this treatment -- if the people of the system are treating one person this way, they are treating others this way.

At the moment I'm not certain what can be done.

There is a dichotomy in what the middle-class person thinks public welfare/health is and what it actually is. When I take the opportunity to speak with others outside the system, I am treated to responses like "I can't believe they did/said that"; "you need an advocate"; "well try here".

There seems to be an apparent belief that the way I am being treated *must* be a fluke.

It's not a fluke.

I don't know that the public welfare/health system works even for anyone who supposedly "fits into the categories". Since I know you to have been an activist in the past -- and I'm not asking you to act for me -- I'm simply asking for resources, do you have any suggestions on what activist steps I might take?

Let me re-assure you, if you have no thoughts on the subject, I can understand. Thanks for listening.

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