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Showing posts from June, 2012

Can You See Me: Invisible Disabilities and Discrimination

Margaret* is a kind woman. She is creative, loves animals and helps raise awareness of the diseases that affect her and the people she loves. In addition to sharing my diagnosis of fibromuscular dysplasia, Margaret also has pulmonary hypertension and diabetes. Her pulmonary hypertension specialist worked with her to file — and have approved — the state's official paperwork so that she could obtain a permanent handicap parking permit. 

But when Margaret went to the post office on Thursday, she experienced something that those with invisible disabilities unfortunately are all to accustomed to — discrimination. At the post office, an employee remarked that if Margaret was handicapped, she needed to use a cane. 

"I felt a mixture of emotions," Margaret said. "I was sad that someone would say that to me and make me question getting the permit in the first place. It was a hard thing for me to do to come to the decision that I needed to apply."

In Margaret's state…

Cardiac Perfusion

Alex dialed the number. "Hey, Dad. I've got a real heavy patient load today, so I wanted to go ahead and call because I didn't know when else I'd be able to reach you."

The Seimens whirred softly in the background, its automatic imaging sequence well underway. The patient, tucked under warmed blankets, smiled.

"Yeah... yeah... okay...," Alex nodded into the phone. "Do you know when you and Mom will be here? Will it be tomorrow or Tuesday?"

The patient kept infinitely still, breathing regularly but so as not to disturb her position.

"Okay. I'll see you then, Dad. Bye," Alex said, putting down the phone.

The Seimens continued to scan the patient's heart. Perfusion—a test to see how much blood the heart is holding at rest and after stress. What about the heart that scans the patient heart? That heart under stress, how much can it hold?

"Pshew! Wow. You didn't move a muscle did you? Great pics!" Alex said.

The pati…

Let Me Hear You

Through the open window of my fourth flour Paris hotel room, the sounds of the city never ceased. In the wee hours of the dawn, delivery trucks opened and slammed their doors, engines rumbling about from stop to stop. The policeman with his incessant whistling cued the morning commute, commanding traffic in time with the busy intersection's stoplights. Gangs of Paris metro riders swelled from the underground, crowding the sidewalks with voices. The cook at the crepe stand called customers' orders back to them as he poured batter onto his hot griddle. Two dings sounded as the tram approached and the clicking of high heels clipped along more rapidly in order to board. 
Each noise verbal or non-verbal was a communication, an indication of moving, of doing. To listen to it all at once was cacophonic, like the tuning of a symphony or the static from a radio. Yet a keen ear dialed in each sound as its own. Discordance transformed into dialogue, revealing a constantly changing conver…