Friday, April 16, 2010

A Phone Call

I have been following the adventures of a reluctant activist, my college friend Janice. When her wife Lisa was dying in a Miami hospital in 2007, the hospital denied Janice and Janice and Lisa's children visitation because the hospital said they weren't Lisa's next of kin. Janice and the kids filed a suit against the hospital, which was recently dismissed because there's no law requiring respect for families in Florida, and Janice has since found herself behind podiums at LGBT events all over the country, speaking about equal rights.

Yesterday I was looking around and found this story:
April 15, 2010

President Obama is ordering hospitals to extend visitation rights to whomever a patient designates, including same-sex partners, tying the requirement to federal funding for Medicare and Medicaid.

"Gay and lesbian Americans are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love," Obama said in a presidential memorandum.

The new visitation policy will apply to more than just same-sex partners. Under the order, patients can designate anyone -- a friend or a distant relative -- to be a surrogate decision-maker.

Hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding will be required to comply.

Gay and lesbian groups have been fighting for years to get hospital visitation rights, which vary by state.

"One person in a hospital can make a huge difference," said Dr. Jason Schneider, former president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. "So I think this directive gives weight to the importance of recognizing the variety and the breadth of how people define families."

I emailed Janice and asked if she had heard about this - assuming that she had, but just in case she hadn't. This order, if it had existed three years ago, would have covered Janice and her family. This is the email I received back from Janice: "Oh yes dear. The president called me from air force one as he was issuing the memo."

I must admit that there is no part of that sentence that I do not find totally glamorous. But the really great news is that now the law is on the side of all kinds of families.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Beer And A Bump

From Vesuvio's in North Beach, San Francisco

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Regulation 21

From the "Institution Rules & Regulations
US Penitentiary Alacatraz"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Muscle Memory

I had my first workout with Marlon on Thursday, my first with him since late 2004 or maybe 2005. I walked in feeling very confident, knowing what I needed and having asked for it. I was clear about my goals, and Marlon is very goal-oriented, for himself and for his clients. I was already warmed up when I arrived, since I'd walked on the elliptical for 30 minutes back at my "home gym." Marlon was finishing up with his previous client so he said I should use the foam roller, a torture device by lying on which you can "massage" your own muscles.

I laid the side of my right leg on it and rolled and it hurt. I expected that and grit my teeth for a few rolls back and forth, then did the left side, which hurt even more. I expected that too - the left side is the damaged side from the wreck. I rolled that only a couple times. Then I did my usual stretches to kill the next few minutes until Marlon got to me.

Marlon placed the roller against my buttocks and had me lean back onto it to roll up and down my back. I rolled up (toward my shoulders) and then down, and Marlon said, "You look excited about working out." I said, "I feel scared" and burst into tears. Marlon sat in front of me, looked me in the eyes, and instead of saying "Everything is going to be okay," he said, "I'm scared too. It's been a long time since we worked together, and you've had this really traumatic thing happen to your body." Indeed, how I felt was that this burst of emotion was about the car wreck, unleashed first by the pressure on my IT band (the muscle that runs over the hip and down the outside of the leg), then on my low back, the parts of my body most impacted, in both senses of the word, by the car accident.

I thought about whether my outburst was due to outside reasons, like being tired, or being frustrated that my body isn't as strong now as it has been in the past. But I really think that it is because the body holds emotions of which we are not aware, and holds onto memory in a physical way. We say "muscle memory" to describe the unconscious way that once we've learned something, we just know how to do it without thinking about it - like swimming, or balancing on a bicycle, or the footwork in a dance step. I think that my left leg and low back hold the memory of the accident and fear about getting injured, and the pressure brought all that to the forefront suddenly and overwhelmingly.

Separate from that, the tears made me realize that when I see someone doing something stupid in a car, like cutting through lanes or merging aggressively or thoughtlessly, I do not immediately feel annoyance. My first feeling is fear and my first thought is, "You do not have my permission to hurt me." I often assume that they will merge into me, or that they can't or won't see the car I'm driving. It is why I am a much more cautious driver than I used to be: I do not believe that drivers are always conscious that their cars cannot be in the same place as my car.

Anyway, Marlon and I got through it. He reassured me that he would not let me hurt myself, and would teach me how not to hurt myself when we are not together. He knows me well enough to know that I have a tendency to run with what he teaches me with a little too much, how to put it?, enthusiasm.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Starting Again

I have gone back to the personal trainer I worked with after the car wreck. There is a long backstory behind this, but it's not very interesting. Suffice to say that between not dancing and not going to the gym, my mind has been pretty disconnected from my body. I haven't been going to the gym not because I didn't want to, but because the last two times I did I threw my back out to some degree or another, even with low weights. My body knew I needed to get back to my trainer, but my mind didn't make the time to do it. A couple weeks ago I contacted him and asked if he would take me back. He, of course, said, "Yes, baby. When?"

What made me really examine the state my body is in was a massage I got at the chiropractor's office. I'd attended a two-hour lunch meeting and sat at a table with my arms folded. My shoulder was sore afterwards, but when it continued to hurt the next day I decided to actually get it massaged. My shoulder hurt during most of the holidays, and I figured it was stress exacerbated by the way I hold books, and I read a lot of books in November, December, and January. I started working on holding books in a different way, and then spent many hours watching the Olympics rather than reading. And then my shoulder was right back where it was after a two hour meeting!

I got a 30-minute deep tissue massage and I must admit that it really hurt at times. I could hear the muscle "crackle" at the MT was pushing it around with her elbow, could feel the huge mass wrapped around the shoulder blade. When I left, I felt really, really sad. I had spent so much time ignoring what I needed! Telling myself that I was paying attention now didn't make me feel much better - even though that's what I always say to people when they remark that they wished they'd known or done something earlier. I called Marlon a few days later.

We met on Monday for an assessment appointment - which consisted of me telling Marlon why I was there, and then doing many squats with my arms over my head. I told him that I am done throwing my back out, and I can't seem to complete workouts without doing it. The assessment told him that the muscles that support my back are weak and that most of the muscles in my body are really tight, and that we could work on all of that. My attitude about training has always been "Bring it on"; I recognize that there's a macho thing at work in my head, but it gets the job done. It's really different for me having someone who acts like they really want me to succeed at things I think I'm not good at.

Tuesday night I came up with my own list of goals. Here they are in order of importance:

Strengthen core and glute muscles
-core strength
- support my back
- improve one-legged balance

Lift up to 40 pounds
- increase muscle strength in arms, chest, and upper back
- increase leg strength

Super-long term goals
- not throw my back out anymore
- grace and strength in dancing
- strong bones when elderly

I really like Marlon, and I think it's always good to have a friend or two who isn't much like me. We make each other laugh a lot, which makes it easier to work with him. And like I said, the macho thing helps with my attitude. I feel like I walked in to his gym with confidence, and making this list makes me feel even more confident: I have clear goals, which makes me feel more confident about reaching them.

For The YaYas