Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Quest for the FemCap: Proof that our system favors pharmaceuticals.

WARNING:  Nothing is off-limits to me in this blog. I may bring up things that you don't really want to hear about.  You may not have any interest in knowing what kind of contraception I use.  If this is the case, stop reading this post now :)

The Femcap:

I have chosen an alternative method of contraception.  After ten years of the pill, I stopped taking it.  I went through the experience of ridding my body of synthetic hormones (whatever isn’t stored long-term) and started tracking my body’s natural cycle.  It was really something to behold.  Then I experienced the wonders of pregnancy and childbirth.  Through all of this, I have come to know my body in new ways and I won’t ever go back to hormonal birth control.  I am thinking more freely and openly than ever before, actually have a libido again (hormonal contraception can seriously dampen that one), and have generally embraced my own body more fully than ever before.  I am loving it!  After much research, I have made the choice to switch to the Femcap, basically THE cervical cap in existence these days.  As a user of the Diva Cup, another of my true loves, this seemed like something I’d be incredibly comfortable with. 

With prescription in hand, I set out to acquire the Femcap, which you pretty much have to order from either their website or get from Planned Parenthood (the closest one to me is about 70 miles away).  So the website does not ask for your insurance information and I happen to know that this is something covered 100% under the Affordable Care Act.  I called my pharmacy insurance provider to inquire as to how I might get the Femcap paid for when ordering through the site.  They told me this was not something I could do, but that they covered the Femcap with $0 copay.  I could just go through the Costco pharmacy or the mail order company.  Well, my friends, this is definitely NOT the case.  Not only does no pharmacy have any idea what I’m talking about, once they actually look into it, they discover they don’t have it and they can’t order it.  So the third time that I called my insurance, and asked once again how I could get this paid for through my plan, and they told me yet again to go through the pharmacies or through “you doctor’s office,” I had really had enough.  To the nice lady on the phone, I relayed that not one single pharmacy, brick and mortar or mail order could provide what I needed.  I told her it was time to get creative and asked what the next step was.  She repeated the same old line and what I could practically hear from every person I spoke to during this whole process was - eesh, why don’t you just go on the pill lady, complete with eye roll…

Listen, I know I’m not traditional in any sense of the word, but there is nothing wrong with me.  The fact that I am choosing a different method of birth control should not mean I have to jump through hoops just to get it.  After running around in circles with the gal on the phone, I finally gave up on her ability to think of anything creative outside of the usual script, so I requested to speak to her supervisor.  The end result is that the supervisor created a “case” where she put in some sort of request to see “IF” my insurance would cover me and reimburse me for the Femcap if I ordered it off of their website or if I drive the 140 mile round trip to acquire one from Planned Parenthood.  I will hear from them in approximately 9 business days.

The problem here is that I could get the pill anywhere, anytime I want.  The multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry has made sure of that.  Their products are promoted like crazy, and I know the doctors of my past never went over the real short AND long-term effects that hormonal birth control could have on me.  It wasn’t until I began seeing midwives, with a real whole understanding of a woman, that I was ever properly informed of all of my options and given a real choice.  The issue is, while this minority of midwife healthcare providers is dead set on giving real information and options, the powers that be are not.  In fact, the fewer options you have, the better.  Why not just make up our minds for us?  With the disappearance of real options, this is exactly what is happening.  The false myriad of options is limited primarily to: How would you like your hormones? Injected? Consumed? Placed conveniently in your uterus or vagina?  Would you like to pay for name brand or is generic ok?

Please tell me I am not the only one who thinks this is not acceptable.  The idea that doing what is best for my body is the most difficult option when navigating our health care system is completely unacceptable to me.  It is so obvious to me that this system is really only set up for the financial health of the companies that provide our pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

My question is…  What do we do now?  Now that our “health care” system is owned by people who want to make money off of our illness, off of our willingness to fill our bodies with synthetic hormones, what do we do?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Civil Obedience


I have decided to start a new blog as a new chapter of my life unfolds itself. It’s an awakening, as my husband would say. I can’t pinpoint an exact time when it started because it’s something that’s been happening gradually. A little here, a little there. I’ve started making different decisions, informing myself about different things and putting little changes into action. I think the culmination of these changes is what happened today.

I watched this video about unschooling:

Then I visited this website: http://zenhabits.net/unschool/ which is a parent’s take on the matter. Something inside of me started to get very excited. The last thing that I looked at before a complete realization occurred, was this website: http://unschooling.com/ which I suppose is the organizational page for the unschooling concept and movement if ever there was one. Something I saw there hit an emotional nerve inside of me:

“I would love some help!” It was a link about consulting. Here it said, “Would a consultant be a valuable aid to you on your unschooling journey? As families on the road to the powerful, vibrant life of self direction, connection, passionate pursuits and life on our own terms, we can often grow quickly or take a much desired leap with a little help from those with enormous experience, wisdom and insight. We support you!”

It’s what I had been looking for all along. I almost cried. I could see it in my head very vividly: Me and my son… Learning together. It was so beautiful. I had been thinking about him going to school and it was troubling to me. I know so much of the experience and curriculum and the whole system of it is just… Wrong. I can’t bear the thought of putting my son through it. I know he is meant for more than that, just as all of us are.

Then I thought back. I thought back to my Junior year in high school. I thought about a moment in my Topics of Algebra class. I was looking down at the floor behind my chair. It was this horrible grey carpet. I drew a big star on it in permanent black marker, felt better and then thought nothing more of it. A few days later, I was confronted by my teacher with a school janitor if memory serves. She pointed down at the star and asked if I knew anything about this vandalism. My mark of beauty in this drab room, where a duller-than-dull class was taught by a less than capable but earnest woman, was just called vandalism. So of course, I said that I didn’t know anything about it. Mrs. Pyle said, “Of course you don’t dear. I knew you didn’t. You are just too bright for something like that.” What did that mean exactly? If you are smart enough, you don’t draw on the carpet? It hadn’t even occurred to me as vandalism. There was no ill will or destructive intention behind my action. Of course none of this was considered by her. She spoke volumes in that small interaction about everything that is wrong with our educational system. Apparently, that carpet was only intended to be grey and dull, just like the class, like school, like life.

Now a bit of background… The only reason I was even in this class was because my guidance counselor had recommended it as a brush up on algebra after having taken geometry, so I would have a better transition into the college level algebra class I’d take my senior year. When I think about this now, the whole thing was ludicrous. My guidance counselor had no idea what I really needed, only what most kids in the system did. She had never seen my math abilities and I ended up wasting an entire semester in that class. Well, I shouldn’t say it was wasted. I did catch up on my naps, in between correcting the teacher on the errors she was making when showing the class how to solve a problem. When all was said and done, I finished the class with a 105% and a new sense that bringing beauty into the world in my own way could be a bad thing. This actually was a real pattern in my education. While I learned the lessons taught as part of the curriculum at least long enough to be tested and graded on them, they were often meaningless monotony to me. I inevitably always came away really learning something else entirely.

In the larger realm of the standard school system, I learned just a few major lessons:

1. How to play the system like a child’s board game – School taught me that succeeding is only a matter of finding one formula that works for everything. An unchallenged brain will try to find a way to connect dots that seem impossible to connect. I came out of a lifetime of school knowing how to employ “the formula” to everything from writing English papers to performing science experiments or completing a project or math test. Ingest, memorize/reorganize, regurgitate, and when you are done, dump it to make room for the next task. Voila! I am a testing/writing/knowing wizard with hardly any effort or retention at all.

2. How to supplement lessons myself - I was rarely even remotely challenged as a student, so during class time, I would try to figure out how to do things different ways, backwards even, just to have a little fun. This got me to be quite talented at certain things, I will say.

3. Go along to get along because no one wants to hear it – Developing complex thoughts and arguments about any given subject and voicing them in a class, which might be challenging the material taught, is a big no-no. You are there to learn what they want to teach and then regurgitate it.

Even within our educational system, I obviously managed just fine. This however, was due to a few select people who went beyond the formula, who challenged me to learn outside of a set structure and to gather all I could from every resource I could find. These people essentially kept alive my natural, insatiable hunger to learn. Here, I give credit to:

My mom and dad who supported my natural talents and passions, and always encouraged me to seek out knowledge myself with the myriad of tools, books and people available to me.

My French teacher Dianne Tilford Halligan, who encouraged us as students to learn in so many different ways and from different sources, even beyond our “level” and created and stood firm on many rules to allow us to better ourselves as people. “Jettez le chewing gum dans la poubelle s’il vous plait!” She also knew when to break a rule.  Most important of all, she spoke to me on an adult level, as an equal about all kinds of different things. I still consider her a friend.

My art teacher, Chris Buhrmann, who pushed us to find art everywhere, to have adventures, and to learn skills, but to not always follow the rules.

My College Algebra teacher Janna Snyder, who taught me how to do the math without a graphing calculator, per my request. She also recognized my natural aptitude toward math and encouraged me to help the other students by explaining things in my own way. Learning by teaching is truly valuable, and I won’t soon forget she allowed me such a privilege.

My Biology and Science teacher Heather Stretch, who brought so much passion, fun and humor to the learning environment. She had such a wonderful grasp on the fact that to learn means to play.

My sophomore English teacher Claire Culbertson, who recognized something in me I didn’t even really know was there. She gave me extra readings beyond the “class level,” just because she knew I would like the challenge of them. I wasn’t graded on any of it, and it was in addition to regular class work, but I loved it. I would read a short story she gave me and I would just stay after class to talk to her about it. I learned more from those moments than any of my other English classes.

These were the people in my life who understood that learning was more than just textbooks, assignments and tests. They fed my curiosity and really encouraged me to challenge myself, which guess what… Helps you learn and grow. I consider myself really lucky for having interactions with these people. They were far more valuable than the entirety of the rest of my institutional schooling. Sure, there are other people, teachers and instructors that have taught me things, but it was really mostly instruction. These people I’ve named gave me a framework with which to truly learn. I don’t think most people are so lucky, and I don’t want to rely on this luck for my son’s education. These kinds of experiences will be the entirety of his education and his life. Outside of the system, it is not only possible, it is an inevitability.

Everything new

New thoughts and ideas. New plans. New art. New focus. That's what this blog is all about.  I have decided to start fresh. I have decided to start truly pursuing my passions.  I wouldn't want my new son to learn any less form me.  So whatever new thing I stumble upon that I decide to embrace, you will find it here.  I hope I can inspire you to maybe start thinking a little differently too.  Alter your thinking, perceptions, actions. Consider an alternative lifestyle, belief, practice. Focus on something new.