Remembering to Be Human – Guest Blog

acupunctureOn May 12 2013, we had a special Mother’s Day guest. One of our nurses, Barbara, asked if her daughter, a licensed acupuncturist, could offer her services at the clinic for the day. Knowing how many patients are crippled by pain that a professional with this skill set could alleviate, we said YES! The post below is a description of her experience at Occupy Medical. For more on Erin or to read more of her insightful blog posts, go to Radiant Heart Acupuncture.

Remembering How To Be Human*
by Erin Telford, L.Ac

I had a glorious, profound experience this past weekend. I flew to Oregon to surprise my amazing mama for Mother’s Day. Since my visit was unexpected, she was already on schedule to volunteer at Occupy Medical in the center of downtown Eugene. We decided that I would come with her and volunteer my acupuncture services.

This is a fantastic setup to provide free medical care and a myriad of services to the under-served population in Eugene. They have doctors, nurses, fresh food, an herbalist, and even a person to cut your hair! It was a gorgeous warm day and I had a nice little line-up of people to treat.

I have never worked with under-served populations. Under-served by my definition are people who don’t get enough. They don’t get enough food, they don’t get enough medical treatment, they don’t get enough comfort, warmth, nurturing, empathy or love.

My second patient of the day was a prostitute who was afraid to be homeless on the street because of her background. She told me a lot of stories, most of which left me slightly stunned and sad. I usually feel like I have some things to say when I’m working with patients. Some pretty reasonable, helpful, relatable things to say.

I like to have a golden nugget here and there that someone can take away and feel uplifted by. It might be ego-y but I feel good making other people feel good. So when this fellow human says to me, I sell myself for money when I’m depressed, I’m stumped.

I felt kind of like a jerk. I don’t have a pretty bow to put on this one. I can’t say, “Yeah, we’ve all been there” and have a laugh because we haven’t. I had nothing. Nothing. I started and stopped. Silence. Awkward? A teeny bit. But then we just looked at each other.

Okay, I thought. Let’s just be here. Because THIS is what is happening right now. This is her reality. I didn’t need to make it better or make it different. My reality and her reality were crossing over and we were just being humans together. So we just sat for a minute or two looking into each other’s eyes. I’m saying I hear you, I understand you, that sucks and I love you in my mind. I hope she felt that. I think she did.

I treated a young woman who was kicking a speed addiction and was grieving losing her children on Mother’s Day. I treated a woman with a painful bunion who was craving more connection with her family of origin. I treated a very sweet man who wanted to propose to me with a ring made of a pine cone and string. All were in heavy transition with very loose foundations, all were very anxious, all really, really needed to tell their stories.

The Dalai Lama had just been in Eugene the day before and everyone was quoting him. It was a bit surreal. The major theme of his talk seemed to be around compassion, nurturing and the responsibility and power of the feminine. We were putting these teachings into direct action on this day.

My mother is a registered nurse so she was camped out on the bus checking vital signs and taking care of wounds. I’m in my own little section of an outdoor tent with just a few battered folding chairs and a metal table that we pulled off her deck and covered with a pretty cloth to use for a workspace. There was no glamor. No flannel sheets, no table warmer, no aromatherapy, no music.

It was still perfect and functional. When you strip away all the bells and whistles, there is just the work. You just give everything you have to give. Nothing else is necessary.

Mother Theresa said that the problem of the world was that we have forgotten that we belong to each other. We are humans. We are all doing this together. It makes no difference if I live in a 2 million dollar apartment on Park Avenue or I sleep on cement steps with my dog to protect me.

We will all take hits in this life. You will never know by looking at someone what kind of trauma they have had to endure. It does not matter. We all deserve to give and receive each other’s kindness and utter humanity.

It’s easy to see other humans as annoying, frustrating obstacles. They are in your way. They aren’t giving you what you want. They are frustrating, shady, slow, entitled, etc.

It’s a choice to remember that we are all made of the same stuff. We all need warmth and touch and sweetness. Be in it together-even with “strangers.”

Connect and serve.

*Used by permission by the author

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Oregonians Speak Out – Charlotte’s Story

Here is a personal testimony from one of our faithful donors.
“My employer switched to United Healthcare a few years ago. Fortunately, I haven’t had a major medical issue since then. I actually get a little anxious sometimes wondering what would happen if I did. Three years ago, after I had a seizure, I missed a lot of work over the year from medication changes/withdrawals and lost $10k in income that year, I almost lost my house! The #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in this country is medical costs!!! We are the only developed nation in the world without a universal health care system and we rank 37th in overall quality. Our infant mortality rate is higher some of the Scandinavian countries. This is ridiculous! SINGLE PAYER NOW!”
When I asked Charlotte if we could reprint her story onto our website, she agreed wholeheartedly. She understands that these stories need to come out into the open so that we can resolve our healthcare crisis. Charlotte continued in her typically eloquent way:
“It’s IMMORAL that 93% of the wealth creation in this country that’s occurred since 2008 has gone to line the pockets of the 1%. Economies don’t do well when there is such an extreme disparity of wealth. Personally, I am now required to work MORE for the same amount of money, which is outrageous.”
Thank you for sharing your story, Charlotte. Together, we can win this!
*If you want to share your experience with the degraded state of health insurance with our community, please reply to this post. Remember to keep your story simple and short. Also be sure to include your permission for us print it on this website. Let us know if you want your name attached to the post and how to reach you if we have a question before we print it. Remember that this is intended to support the cause of single payer healthcare for Oregon. This is voluntary. No payment will be given for posts.