Holistic Medicine

Holistic Medicine

Find a beat that aligns with your drum
Matches your rhythm
And the pitch of your hum

Find a wind that lifts your wings
Billows your sails
And makes wind chimes sing

Find a notch to settle in
A perfect little crevice
A nestling nook
A cozy little place to call home 

Find where you belong
As everyone has their own little place 
In this world

For purpose gives us life
And purpose gives us strength
Purpose can suck the ilk and the ire 
Of pain

From the numerous struggles we are bound to face
And it is through purpose that our palpable mortality
Becomes peace

By Sierra Snead

(Image Credit: EventCombo)

Race and Class Complacency in America: What Happened to Love Thy Neighbor?

If a gunman was holding you hostage, with a weapon at your head, what perfect words would you tell them in an attempt to save your life?

I ask myself the same question every time I sit down and try to conjure up the proper words to convince others to care about social justice movements, the perfect words to plead for recognition that mine, and many other marginalized lives, matter. It pains me to perceive that, from my friends and family that remain ignorant, your complacency is an indirect message that your fondness of me is not worth as much as some time spent educating, participating in, and supporting social reform. I understand everyone has their own life filled with conflicts and careers that demand your time, but they do not demand your conscience, and it is timeless to simply listen to the millions of Black voices that are crying out today. 

Do you not believe it is true, the vehement racism, sexism, and other isms that dominate this country? I could cite research articles from the National Institute of Health that acknowledge the negative health impacts that racism has on minority groups directly, making us more susceptible to illness; which is only heightened when coupled with the food desserts preventing access to affordable, healthy food. I could cite the systemic lack of support for Black schools that has crippled the education of Black youth for generations, and continues to do so today. Yet, even so, we are labelled as ignorant thugs and barbarians without any further thought into the proven link between crime, miseducation, and poverty. 

I could testify to my personal struggles with health that have surmounted from a stressful existence in this country as a queer, black woman; giving the gory details of every waking moment that I spend in excruciating pain, begging for some reprieve, only to find discrimination at the door of various health “professionals”. 

I could reference the millions of direct testimonies from nonwhite Americans that suffer so deeply, experiencing both direct and indirect acts of prejudice. My entire family has accounts of acts of hatred, from the casual to the deadly. For every “good cop” story you could tell me, I could tell of ten times as many instances where I or someone I know has felt their life endangered, needlessly, by the presence of a police officer. The historical role that police have played in suppressing nonwhite communities, from returning slaves to enforcing segregationist laws, is often overlooked despite its proven implications in today’s law enforcement. How can you claim American prisons are any sense of just with the predatory profit generation of mass incarceration and the existence of a massive monopoly of private prisons? The facts, the resources, and the proof is readily accessible for most of you, yet you turn a blind eye. 

I could – and thousands of scholars already have – quite literally lay every piece of evidence in front of you, and yet it would make no difference. The reality is that people do not care about our struggles no matter how credible and frequent all the accounts are, and it puzzles me to find that I cannot inspire empathy in my fellow Americans despite how much floral rhetoric and niceties I employ. 

(Photo Credit: The Guardian / Phil Bergerson)

Early morning ER thoughts: Black patients receive pain medication nearly half as often as their white counterparts

In my white and lavender slippers that are just one size too small, I shuffle shakily towards the wheelchair being rolled in my direction. Just a few difficult steps and my tiny, hundred- and thirty-pound frame collapses heavily into the medical chair. The whole time, I am doubled over at the waist, clutching the same solid-gray hospital waste bucket that they had given me on my discharge just yesterday. I cannot even look up as a temperature gauge scans me for fever to enact proper COVID-19 protocols. After the quick scan, I’m rolled, achingly slowly, over to the triage nurse that instantly addresses me by name. I am impressed that they know me so well through my frequency of visits. The nurse asks me standard questions, like what my symptoms were, how long they’ve persisted, and my medical history; all a very slow, painful recounting of the morning’s events. I woke up. I felt pain. And now I am here, simple as that. With registration complete they wheel me over to get some vitals done, my head practically buried in my waste bucket the whole time. I can barely croak out measly responses to their rapid questions. This whole introductory protocol takes about fifteen minutes of sharp, pulsing agony before I am finally wheeled back into a hospital room. My fiancé, having stood sentry and assisted in my care the whole time, helps me climb into the uncomfortable little hospital bed and change into a gown. From there, the second longest wait in this process begins, the wait to actually be seen by a medical professional; the first being the hours spent in sheer pain trying to convince myself not to go to the hospital because of expense and previous gaslighting of my symptoms. It can take minutes, it can take hours, but either way I lay there in the fetal position begging for some semblance of peace in the near future. 

I think it was probably the umpteenth time of being stuck with a needle that I finally stopped responding to the pinch entirely. It was incomparable to the hot pain snaking through my abdomen at the moment. After waiting what feels like decades for a doctor to appear, there are a few medical interventions that can or cannot be enacted dictated solely by the doctor’s bias. The most common line I hear in the ER is, “We will not be prescribing you any narcotics”, as they claim it will do more damage than this frequent, intense, vomit-inducing pain will. An ignorant and empty observation from my perspective, as I know that I have far more knowledge from my direct experiences of living with this ailment than this half-empty opinion based in historic racial discrimination. 

Black patients receive pain medication nearly half as often as their white counterparts. This is exactly the situation presented to me as I have been told directly that it is their personal bias dictating this decision and have even brought it up myself; which ends up with the doctor shutting down any further conversation with the frustration almost akin to a child’s fit. I am hurting. I am in pain. I need a serious medication to stop that yet next door I can hear a man getting prescribed four milligrams of morphine for his inexplicable “back pain”. And yes, before you ask, he was an older gentleman of white complexion. For what I have to fight for, they are given so liberally without argument. The result of such medical ignorance is me, a scrawny twenty-one-year-old, writhing in agony for hours with no true medical aid. I tell them which medicines do nothing; they administer them anyway. I tell them what actually works, they just turn away. I am entirely powerless here and all I beg for, with every aching minute, is for someone to open their heart and help me. It hurts and I am hurt, and the American healthcare system continues to fail and ignore me. 

(Image Credit: Shannon Wright / Today)

A day in the Life of a Chronically Ill Black Woman

A day in the Life of a Chronically Ill Black Woman 

As the first rays of dawn 
Crest upon the morning sky 
A trickle of pain begins dribbling, 
At the courtesy of severe IBS, 
From my lower left abdomen. 

With that, 
Sudden jolts of pain right me from my sleep 
And send me scrambling to the bathroom 
Pleading for sweet relief 
Sometimes it comes, 
Other times I’m hospitalized, 
But all the same 
I am in pain. 

This 5 o’ clock routine is followed by 
An assortment of possibilities 
For my mental and physical health 
A 9 o’ clock rerun of the morning’s sickness 
Or perhaps a 10 o’ clock report 
On the little hospital television 
That another Black american has been killed 

If it is not my body that cripples me 
It is the fact that this country can 
And very well might 
Kill me 
And you won’t ever hear my name 
Whether it be in the street 
Or from institutions racist towards me.

(Image Credit: Adelaide Damoah)