Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Scare Tactics: The Great Reproductive (in)Justice

BlackCelebKids posted this picture in their Hot Topics yesterday and my jaw hit my toes.

This billboard, is a part of an ad campaign by the pro-life group LifeAlways.

A billboard that reads, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb,” has been placed in the heart of SoHo by Life Always™ as a part of a new national campaign to expose the truth about how Planned Parenthood targets minority neighborhoods as they perform over 300,000 abortions a year. This particular billboard is about half a mile from a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Life Always board member Stephen Broden said that Planned Parenthood has had a devastating effect on the sustainability of the African American population.”

Sigh.
My heart is pained.

In case you’ve been out of the loop, there has been huge interest in Planned Parenthood since last week, when the House of Representatives, voted to strip the 95 year old organization of its federal funding. The decision was wrapped up in frilly bows and tape, but the bare bones of the matter is that it is centered around the pro-life movement.   Because Planned Parenthood does in fact offer abortion services,  these crafty legislators feel that they would much rather leave the three million people who use the clinics without care, than be involved with such an organization.

How intelligent. (more…)

Reproductive Health…in a Recession

If I’ve learned anything about politics, its that you can’t please everyone all the time.  No matter how you slice the bread, someone is always going to complain that they got the bad piece.  And in the case of decisions that include health or finance, there will always be one side staring at the other going, “I don’t get what you’re so worked up about”.  When the Affordable Care Act ,was instituted, allowing young adults to remain covered under their parent’s health coverage until age 26, I had quite the over-dramatic moment.  For the thousands of people who were boldly unimpressed with the President thus far, I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug his neck.  I guess, they’d never been where I’d been.

For me,  reading over the details in the fact sheet, it was hard not to remember how I felt myself, when I aged-out of my mom’s health insurance.  I was almost done with college, but silly me, I was not yet done with getting sick and having medical concerns.  No longer covered by my mom’s Blue Cross, I was the only person in my house subjected to making the emergency room, my primary care physician. When I finally got a job that included benefits, some two years later, I learned that health insurance was the fatted calf of all great jobs.  The fear of losing that security is what got me out of bed in the mornings, and for many of us, what kept us working at places we hated.

After finally grasping what it was like again to have a doctor to call, one who knew my name and symptoms, I never wanted to go back to the uncertainty of emergency medicine and unconcerned, overworked board of health doctors.  Well, for many of us facing unemployment and layoffs now, myself included, as well as those of us on a budget who pay for our own health insurance, we are once again looking down that barrel, and I am determined to not go at it with the same depressed attitude.  Health coverage or not, our bodies are worthy of adequate care, and we are the ones to make sure we get it.

For those of us whom our fertility is only a symptom of more pressing matters, not visiting the doctor regularly can be climactic.  For me, the irregular and massive menstrual cycles were just not going to allow me to stay away from the stirrups for too many long breaks.  Just when I would think everything was under control, She and I would spend a lovely 2 months together and I would finally have to go weeping into someone’s triage for relief.  Yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases and even urinary tract infections can also become reproductive health problems for which many women need recurring treatments and maintenance. Finding a comfortable place that can help us monitor our bodies until we can return to more regular care, is vital to creating a healthy reproductive tract.

In beginning my search for a health center, I started with Google.  I did a basic search for women’s health clinics in my area.  When I found a few that looked interesting, I also took my search over to Yelp.com, to check out the reviews.  Hearing what other patients are saying about their quality of care and bedside manner is an excellent tool in making your decision.

Private facilities with sliding scales are a great choice for those of us with little cash to spare, but a desire to remain on top of our health.  Many women’s clinics around the country provide specialized services and empowerment to those in need.  Here in Chicago, for instance, there is the Chicago Women’s Health Center.  This organization provides treatment on a sliding scale, with the lowest appointment fee being just $20, which is the cost of the lab work! The clinic focuses on educating women (including LGBT women) on how to  holistically take care of their bodies.  The health education aspect, along with the self-empowerment focus is what keeps many people who even HAVE insurance coming back to CWHC for years.  Check out the clinics in your area, and be sure to look for reviews and testimonials.  Find out what the fees are for the uninsured or if there are special programs to help you.

Fertility Note: Fertility awareness is taught on-site, which really stood out to me because most people seem to think that if you can’t afford to have a baby right now, you shouldn’t be planning for one, which I find to be a load of crap.

Speaking of special programs, investigate your state!  I found that here in Illinois, there is a Healthy Women card, that I was COMPLETELY unaware of back in the day when I was first uninsured (someone needs to step their publicity game up).  The “Pink Card”, as its called, provides every eligible woman in the state with coverage for reproductive health needs.  This includes yearly pap exams, testing, and basically any other issue that can be narrowed down to general gynecology, even tubal ligations for women over 21. The card is accepted at some doctors offices here, so it could be that some women are able to continue with the doctors they know!   There are different programs for Moms and Babies, and women with larger families or incomes, but this card is valid for the reproductive needs of women like me.  Investigate the programs that your state may have, because just like finding this out proved to me, some government agencies you’ll never know about until you look. (I found similar programs in Texas, Oregon, and Maryland to name a few)

Fertility Note: My favorite line from their website is this:

  • Patient education and counseling about women’s health, family planning and how to plan for a healthy pregnancy if and when you want to have a baby.

Illinois Healthy Women Card

Planned Parenthood remains a crowd favorite for many contraceptive choices, but it is important to note that they do provide gynecological exams and checkups as well.  The cost of many of these services depends on the location, so don’t hesitate to call them and inquire.  Planned Parenthood is a clean and trusted environment where women(and men), have gone for years.  Though I still cringe at the amount of reproductive health clinics that cleave solely to preventative medicine, I have to say that PP is greatly instrumental in keeping thousands of bodies safe and healthy for decades.

Fertility Note: While as I said, Planned Parenthood does seem to lean more towards contraception and abortion, according to their website, they are able to provide information on fertility services in your area if you ask during your appointment.  SO ASK.

Lastly, check out your County hospitals, community health centers and health departments.  These fall to the bottom of my list primarily because of the over-crowding and the enormous wait times,(or maybe that’s just here in Chicago), but I have to say that sometimes these hospitals have some of the best doctors.  They may take all day to get to you, because of the amount of other more serious cases, but when they do, they are going to leave no stone unturned. Do NOT let them intimidate you.  I experienced a colposcopy in one of the most unattractive and un-updated exam rooms, but I was also sure when I left that everything had been investigated.  The comfort of knowing I was healthy, far surpassed the discomfort of that dim, small room.  The health centers in your area may be much different than the ones I have experienced, but either way you owe it to yourself to at least visit and see what its about. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.  To find the community health centers near you, visit the websites of your county, city or village.  The fastest way though, is to visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website and enter your zip code into the Clinic Locator.

With any place that you decide you’re most comfortable, do not leave out your fertility plans!  Even when I was down on my very worst luck, without two pennies to rub together, and in need of someone to please prescribe ANYTHING to slow or stop my periods, I did not leave out the fact that childbearing was something I was planning for.  The usual treatment option for PCOS related symptoms and irregular periods, is birth control pills.   I made sure to note my future plans because I did not want any prescriptions or treatments that would stall my process when I was able to move forward.  Whatever your situation, I hope you (and I) find health service alternatives that meet our goals and expectations, while allowing us to become healthy carriers for the lives we seek.  Not being able to afford building your family is NOT the same as not being able to afford PLANNING your family.

The Prelude to the 2010 A.H.A. Gala

On September 17, 2010, there was a night of outstanding and touching advocacy and awareness for infertility and adoption as it affects the African American community.  A gathering of patients, supporters and doctors, all came together to celebrate and cultivate the amazing community built by The Broken Brown Egg.  A year of planning, a generous sponsorship, oh and a night of almost going to jail…led to this unforgettable evening.  Finally, I’m recapping the Awareness.Hope.Activism gala!

So, I know you’re like, “Wait, almost going to jail?”

YES.  Almost going to jail.  Well, almost being involved in a robbery, and THEN almost ending up in jail.

Picture it, Chicago, around 2am the morning of September 17.  I had been at my aunt’s on the south side, finishing up the programs and centerpieces for the gala all Thursday evening.  I knew that I should have gone and gotten gas while it was still a reasonable time of day,but nooooo, I was determined to finish the beading of the centerpieces and packing the cars for things to be transported to the Loft the next day. So needless to say, when I left that night, alone, I had to stop for gasoline.  There are four gas stations near the expressway ramp leading from my aunt’s house to mine, and though I hate stopping there, I knew that it was either that, or wind up on the side of the road.  So,…I stopped, prepared to have such a fast fill-er-up that pit crews would envy me.

As I pulled into the gas station, I noticed only one car, and it was parked alongside the actual door of the station.  I thought it seemed a bit suspect, but I also didn’t pay too much attention to that, because I planned to pay with my card, so I pulled up to a pump anyhow.  Now, here’s where things started to go really fast, so try and keep up.  As I looked down into my wallet to find my debit card, two Chicago Police SUV’s pulled up from the wrong way of the one-way street that is alongside the freeway ramp.  Before I knew what was happening, two cops hopped out from either side of the trucks and almost instinctively, I looked down at their hands and realized that YEA, those were GUNS..ALREADY UN-HOLSTERED GUNS.  Immediately, I realized that the car I’d seen at the door seemed suspicious because it WAS suspicious.  They were robbing the place!  And these cops were about to have a shootout at the BP corral.

Now…When I tell yall that I pulled out of that gas station like a Nascar driver…I’m not exaggerating.   The gas station is on 99th street, in less than a minute, my Honda and I were at 79th street, DO YOU HEAR ME!  I got the H-E-double-hockey sticks out of dodge.  My heart was beating a hundred times a second, and my brain was thumping because not only was I terrified, but I was quite sure that I still needed gasoline.  While I was contemplating that…I realized that there was a car speeding up towards me a bit faster than the other cars…and then I realized what had happened just as the police lights flashed blue.  My speeding off from the gas station made the cops chase ME!

Yall can’t see me but I’m shaking my head just remembering.

I pull over and then, just to add insult to injury, I realized how I and my poor car looked.  Yeah, let me fill you in on that part.  See, along with finishing up the gala decorations, I’d also had my locs tightened (my hair), and so there were 50 or so silver clips in my hair as it set.  Oh, and why were the clips necessary?  Because to tighten my hair, my sister had to wet it.  Which meant that my hair was dripping onto my shirt and hanging heavily like baby garden snakes.  Also, on the passenger seat, was my mother’s 2001 HP printer, so that I could go home and finish printing out programs, along with the four reams of paper I’d stood in line at Office Depot for 35 minutes for earlier that evening.  Hanging from the back window, was my gown.  Along the back seats were boxes that contained the finished centerpiece setups and the four boxes of auction items and door prizes.

So adding all that up, I looked like a frightened and soggy castaway from an episode of Hoarders.

Pretty Much like this dude.

But they couldn’t see that.  All they saw was a car fleeing the scene of a crime.  So there I was, on the side of the expressway, with detectives surrounding my car, hands on holsters! At a quarter to 3am…quickly running out of gas.

Now, you’d think, with all of that drama, fate would allow me to at least encounter an officer who had some better dialogue.  But no, what does this fella say when I opened my window?

Why’d you speed off?”

I thought to myself, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME, MAN?!”

but I said, “I saw guns pulled out, all I wanted was to get some gas.  I had no intention of being involved in whatever you guys were about to do” and laughed nervously.

Looking frustrated that I wasn’t the Bonnie to his Clyde, the detective goes, “well, you got a license?”

Again I thought, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME, MAN?!”

but I said, “Sure do,” and handed it to him.  Meanwhile stealing a glance at my quickly dropping gas levels.

Again, he looked at me and my hoarder-esque car, and made a face of utter disappointment that I was not a raving criminal, and handed me my license back.

Well…slow down.”  He said, and just like that, they were gone.  Leaving me to torn about whether to be glad that I didn’t get a ticket for doing 100 down the Dan Ryan expressway, or if I should call them back to see if they could give me a ride to another gas station.

By this point, it’s 3am, and my Dude wakes up and realizes that I’m not back home.  He calls…I tell him that I’m terrified.  He talks me through getting gas at a station near downtown.  Whew. So, I know what you’re thinking, “Well, Regina, that was a lot…guess you went to sleep then.”

Are you new?  Do you know things are NEVER that easy round here?  Of COURSE, I ain’t go to sleep. LOL  Why?  Because I still had to drop all the things off with Tasha, my assistant and event planner.

Calming down a bit, Tasha and I ended up on her porch for another hour.

At 4:30 am…I finally made it to my apartment.  And I know what you’re thinking, “Now, I know you went to sleep, Regina.”

You’re a slow learner.

NO. I spent the next thirty minutes printing out programs, burning the tribute video (which didn’t even work on the venue screen at the gala), and painting my toenails because the only shoes I could find to match my gown were open-toed.

At around 6am…I believe I passed out.

But those programs and centerpieces were Sharp…if I say so myself.

(Part II coming up next week!)

Dear DCFS, this is 2010, Thought You Should know

So, with November being National Adoption Month, I wanted to give you guys some information on adopting through the foster care system.  So I began researching, (as usual).  I tend to peck around my own neck of the woods before venturing out into the world so my first stop was the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services website.
Insert Regina’s, “Are you effin kidding me” face.

Mrs.Tiye's "What the Smelly Hell" face

This site is a DISGRACE to its mission!  Being a librarian, I spend a lot of time looking at rather boring databases and ancient websites.  However, with the staggering amount of Illinois children in need of homes, one shouldn’t need a technology degree to navigate the website of an agency that exists to help.

I’m sure there are a lot of computer literate people who have a hard time finding information on the site.  For those who may be interested in this family-building option, the mere appearance of the site is overwhelming and off-putting.  There was absolutely no consideration for literacy when designing this website.  I’m convinced that the information was only placed here, so that no one could say it wasn’t.  In fact, there were quite a few things wrong with the website, specifically concerning visual literacy, so let’s just take a moment and decode, shall we?

  • Text Size – My eyes are 29 years old, and they were ready to turn in their letters of resignation on me.  I could hardly keep my vision straight. Especially when I went to the adoption page, which was my focus for this particular search.  Very small fonts and practically no spacing was a huge hindrance for me, and I’m sure many others.
  • Language Sensitive – If I were a person who was not as comfortable reading in English as in perhaps, Spanish, this site would have failed me.  In websites that are sensitive to the cultures and nationalities that visit them, there is usually some way for visitors to translate the site’s content into their preferred language.  This would cost you no money Governor Quinn, with all the technology available to us novices, it really wouldn’t take but a moment.  This very site, for instance, if you take a look down there at the nifty toolbar I’ve added, will let you translate the Egg to whatever language you choose.  In a state with as large of an urban metropolis as Chicago, there should be far more attention given to the kind of patron that may visit.
  • Non-Linear  Searching – The most frustrating thing about my experience had to be the spread between each topic and it’s additional info.  I click a topic on the far left, get confused by the jibberjab in the center, and then find that to narrow it down, I should have looked at the far right. Who designed this crap?   Obviously someone who was very good at html, but awful at information-seeking.  When a site is done, it should be in the mindset of the kinds of questions visitors will be asking.  My small search about adoption took me to four different pdf files, two dead-ends and a jumbled list of laws.
  • Now, I know what some of you are saying,
    “Why didn’t you just call?  Or go to the office?”
    First, you get this face,

    Seriously?

    Secondly, I DID call.
    I got a busy signal.
    REPEATEDLY.
    And third, this is 2010.   Being a municipality is NO excuse for remaining in 1987 computer trends.
    I felt like Whoopi Goldberg in Jumpin’Jack Flash for a second.
    While there are many independent adoption agencies in this state, and this country for that matter, foster-adoption is an important and necessary part of the family-building discussion.  This is ESPECIALLY in the African American community.  In Illinois, for instance, though blacks only make up 15% of the state population, we make up 64% of the children in foster care.  That is jaw dropping to me (and hopefully to you too).
    My concern was not so much because I’m a bit of a website snob.  My angst erupted from thinking about the children who are potentially forgotten because the process seemed too overwhelming.
    Ridiculous, Illinois.
    Completely embarrassing.
    Do Better.
    In my hunt, I also began looking at other states to see if we were really as bad as I felt we were.  I have to say that perhaps the Children and Family Services offices of this country need some serious overhauls!  Here were a few others I found.
    I have to say, Indiana and  Arkansas, you done me proud!
    Oh..but Nevada, how you suck.  You frustrated me so fast!  Click here to watch me try and click a link on their site.
    Anywhoo, perhaps I’ll return to this post a in a while, so that we can go over the helpful links I was able to find while digging my way through our pitiful website.
    Here’s a little bit to give you some insight on the foster care statistics: Children and Family Research Center of UIC
    Photobucket

    Thank You in Advance

    The very first day that I mentioned hosting a fundraiser for Infertility Awareness on this blog, was about a year ago.  From that time, I’ve received support and collaboration from the most unexpected places.  There have been some very high moments, and some low points.  In my personal life, things have taken more dips and turns than a trip to Six Flags.  Yet, the importance of this mission…for someone out there who needs it more than anything, has kept me moving.

    Tomorrow night, at our first annual gala, the following video will be played as a slideshow tribute.  I am debuting it today, because I felt an enormous sense of gratitude for each and every person who visits this blog, interacts with us on Facebook, or just supports the mission of The Egg.  I could NOT have gotten this far, without you.  There were so many great statements collected via our Facebook page, so many in fact that there was just no more room.  I THANK everyone who participated, and will be finding a way to highlight those messages as well.

    Anyway, I haven’t slept yet…and I’m rambling. LOL  So without further stall…

    THANK YOU.  From The Egg and I.

    Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

    Can’t Hold It In: A Sneak Peak at the Auction!

    Really quickly, because I’m giddy, I wanted to share with our readers who may not visit us on Facebook, a quick peek at one of our auction items. This gift set comes courtesy of

    an AMAZING adoption resource licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia and Connecticut.

    Included in the set is:

    Two Picture Books:
    Tyler, Michael. The Skin You’re In
    Monk, Isabel. Hope

    Three Adult Titles:
    Caughman, Susan and Motley, Isolde. You Can Adopt
    Ehrensaft, Diane. Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families
    Wolff, Jana. Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother

    Also Included:
    Adoptions from the Heart Beach Towel which reads: “Love Builds Families
    Adoptions from the Heart hand sanitizer packs
    Adoptions from the Heart mouse pad
    As well as a few more choice goodies.

    BUT, the KING of the entire package is a gift certificate which waives the application fee!! This certificate alone is worth $500!!
    I am in absolute awe of this beautiful package and I’m sure you will be too.
    So, if you haven’t already, enter the contest for your free tickets to the gala, or purchase them pronto!
    Also, take a few minutes and check out http://adoptionsfromtheheart.org as well as their outstanding blog.
    This resource is outstanding and I can’t wait to see who wins this great gift!

    Sidenote: As a Librarian and advocate for knowledge and research I was ELATED to see so many BOOKS in this gift.  I’m just…14 days yall.

    1 2 3