So I wrote two pieces for Tonic, VICE's health section.
The first was on why some people may feel more comfortable with a doctor of the same race or cultural background:
When you're nearly incapacitated from debilitating agony thanks to an infected cyst near your spine, the last person you want diving into your back with a scalpel is a dusty, ice-hearted surgeon. That's exactly who greeted my friend, Sarah (who prefers not to use her last name), when she wound up in an operating room to have the mass removed. Beforehand, all she received was a flat warning that the applied anesthesia gel might not be strong enough.
It wasn't. Ignoring Sarah's screams, Dr. Apathy resolved with a huff that she couldn't help her if she insisted on crying. She covered Sarah's incision with tape and gauze, and sent her on her way, cyst and all, without pain medication or a referral to another surgeon. Sarah saw another doctor for stitches and pain medication the next day. Turned off by the straight-faced barbarism of the second doctor as well, she received what she describes as humane treatment from a staff of black doctors after she moved back to her Caribbean home
"The difference was like night and day," she says.
Lupus is especially dastardly because it's an autoimmune disease that causes one's overactive immune system to attack your skin, body, and organs the same way it would normally fight bacteria and viruses. It affects everyone differently, has no cure, and can affect every organ. It's big fun.
Ninety percent of those with the disease are women who typically develop the disease between the ages of 15 and 44. Like disenfranchisement and harassment from racist jerks on the eve of a Trump presidency, lupus affects Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women significantly more than white women. There is no clear consensus on why, but many experts point to environmental factors over genetic ones.
Read "The Male Faces of Lupus"Also, I wrote a thing about self-care and learning to sit the hell down and relax while out in California recently:
Just now in Denny’s, sitting in the same booth I sat in countless times with homies during my time here as a timid dancer, and fleshed out that memoir outline. It feels real. Doable. And then the title came. And I skeeted in my pants a little. And then I opened the Google Doc with the dusty outline for a book of essays and had a moment of exuberance in that joint right quick. Then I had an eight-second dance party and asked for the check. And the ancestors heel-toed in jubilee.
At home, I hadn’t been able to relax enough to pursue any personal, exploratory writing that wasn’t tied to a check or “work” in any serious way. Here these few days, there’s no endless hustle or slothlike crowds to drive up my pressure. No appointments, packed and musty trains, or rat bastard rheumatologists (who uses mucho omission and a one-sized-fits-all approach to prescribing life-ruining lupus medications) to harass my spirit. I’ve been writing like a motherfucker out here.
And breathing. And eating.The Extraordinary Negroes and have a nice squad of contributors forming. Come on over and have a gander. Oh, and subscribe to The Extraordinary Newsletter.
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