Tuesday, July 16, 2013


   Today, I have been thinking about the past. Of course, if you have all been reading, you know that my daughter got her shots. The final count of shots was five, by the way. They just kept adding up. But she is doing well, and we got through the first visit with her doctor, and I think that I am really going to like him. I didn't like the last one, which was one that I kinda had to go with, because when we first came up here, I had no job, no GED, and was starting my life over, so I needed state help, which meant state medical for my daughter, and you don't get a choice of doctors. At least, not like you do with regular insurance, which is what I have now thanks to a good job.
    And that has been what I have been thinking about: how different things are now for me and my daughter. Once we were really, really poor. We lived in a one room shack with a tin roof and rotted floors, filled with eight people, on land that had been used to bury trailers. Why did people bury trailers? I don't know, but when I planted my vegetable garden, because I needed more food to feed everyone than my meager salary could buy, I kept digging up weird shit. It's kinda scary that we ate stuff that was planted in that, but you don't think of that kind of stuff when you are desperate.
  When my daughter was born, she didn't come home to a nursery full of new baby furniture or even cherished hand-me-downs. The crib that I had for her was a wreck, and it was missing screws and the wood was splintered so that new screws would just fall out, so I had it rigged together with a wire coat hanger, and this crib is the reason that my daughter shared a bed with me. I was grateful for a lot of the things that we were given, because many of them were good and we really needed them, but why someone gave us this crib, I don't know. I was scared to put her in that coat-hanger crib, so she slept with me. My bed was a busted futon that had the shape of a U, but was much safer than that crib. Eventually, when she was older, someone gave us a toddler bed, but by then she was used to sleeping with me, and that is a hard habit to break a kid out of. (Of course, at eleven, she does not sleep with me still.)
   Cooking was another thing that was hard. In college, when I actually went to a campus and not online, like I eventually switched to, I had someone tell me that people in America don't know what poor is, and that all poor people have microwaves and enough food, and while I do not dispute the fact that I would rather be poor in America than in a third-world country, I want to know how many of you have seen the homeless walking around with a microwave strapped to their backs? I fail to see that. I am not saying that I was that bad off, because I wasn't, but I am just pointing that out. There are plenty of people in America that don't get enough to eat and don't have things like microwaves and TVs and the like. I can take you down to Seattle and show you so many homeless people that the local homeless shelters can't take them all in, and I can also show you that quite a few of them are kids. But I digress...
   We did have a microwave, donated by a generous person, because we did not have a stove. We had a microwave and a two-burner hot plate, and while I was grateful for this, try cooking for eight people with nothing but a microwave and a hot plate on a daily basis. It sucks.
    I was thinking about all of this, because I am grateful that I have so much now. I have been off of all state programs for a year. Food stamps and medical I have been off of for several years, but until recently I did receive state help to pay for child care. But now  I don't get that, and the biggest feeling: relief. I feel like I can take a deep breath and not be ashamed. I never wanted to be on any of those programs, and being on those programs is so hard, because every one assumes that you are abusing the system. I'm really happy to be off of them! The stigma was really hard to deal with.
   I also have my own apartment. I lived with my mom for the longest time, and actually haven't even spent a whole year by myself yet. And my mom was really great, so don't think I am complaining.  I am really grateful for the help that she gave me and my daughter. Asking for that help was really hard though, because on top of the poverty, I was keeping partner abuse a secret too, and that is something that is really embarrassing and hard to admit to and ask for help with. You feel a deep shame, deep in your bones, that you let things get that bad. I had kept all of that a secret, and no one is ever going to know everything, because I just can't talk about it.
   But now we have our own apartment, and I felt really extravagant because I hooked up cable. But we can actually afford it, and  I can afford to do everything on my own, with no financial help from state or family (although I get a lot of other types of support from family, but I hope I supply my share of support to them as well.) And the best thing of all, if I hadn't liked this doctor, I can easily change my doctor. People don't understand a lot of things about state supplied insurance. A lot of providers just will not accept state insurance, finding a good provider can be really difficult, and a lot of time, there is just no choice about who you can see.
   My biggest example was when I was pregnant, in Florida, and I didn't even have a choice at all of where I could go. If I had been considered high risk, I would have gone to a hospital for my check-ups, but I was not, so I went through the Health Department. No choice, go there or go nowhere. And those doctors were not always nice, and you always saw a different one, so you were never sure what you were going to deal with. And one time, during a pap smear (I know, I know, but I won't go into complete detail) I felt really bad pain, and I told the doctor that I was in pain she snapped at me, "You need to learn the difference between pain and pressure. This does not hurt." It did though, and afterwords, I was bleeding: a lot. She had torn me during the examination. (<---- This is probably where my doctor phobia stems from.) Another doctor came in and was giving her a funny look after she verified that I had been torn, and the woman just shrugged. That was all my pain was worth to her.
   That is the type of health care that state insurance provides for people. Okay, to be fair, there are some really good doctors, and some people get really good care, but it's a toss up. So I am really, really glad that  I do not have to depend on state benefits. And that was what I was thinking about a lot today. I'm really grateful that I have been given the support from family and the opportunity to get myself back on my feet. Sometimes I just feel the need to sit back and be grateful for the fact that  I have managed to come so far from where I was. This is one of those days, so  I am sorry for the somewhat sappy, depressing post, but this is my past as well as the funny stories and zombies and games and books. People have a lot of aspects, and this is one of mine. Now go do something fun and be happy. Because I am going too; I feel the need to really reminisce and go play Final Fantasy VII. And after that, I am going to continue to improve my life. Ain't nothing stopping me now. Except maybe bad grammar.

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