Category Archives: Health

Cinci roundup

A few items, in between watching the candidates speak to medical marijuana and decriminalization.

At The Nation, Engaging Youth, For Real. Originally published by Wiretap, a national magazine for a new generation of progressive ideas and action. (Lori Roddy).

T]he last of a ten-part series produced by the All Ages Movement Project, in which the leaders of community-based youth organizations share tips and tricks of their trade. All stories are researched and written by members of organizations using independent music–punk, hip-hop, rock, noise, electronic and more–as a vehicle for social change.

The summer of 2001 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the year of its infamous race riots. (April 2001, a police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas; explosive riots ensued.):

In a community called Over-the-Rhine–a largely marginalized, poverty-stricken neighborhood–several leaders including Life Allah, Islord Allah, Dureka Bonds, and Gavin Leonard decided to take what had been their regular discussions in a barbershop about housing, drugs and police issues and turn them into a community organizing effort.

That summer, a mix of community folks who cared about police accountability founded CopWatch, a neighborhood organization charged to monitor police-citizen interactions. In 2003, volunteer-driven CopWatch became a nonprofit called Citizens Organizing Neighborhoods to Regain Our Liberation (CONTROL). CONTROL decided to found Elementz, a hip-hop youth center, as a way to ensure the young people in Over-the-Rhine were provided with the necessary resources to gather, build community, and promote change.

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The local paper publishes a DUI checkpoint planned for tonight? Well, thanks and all, but doesn’t that sort of miss the point?

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UrbanCincy laments the in/famous Mark Twain quote about Cincinnati, i.e. “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.” (Which, by the way, is attributed to Twain, but not ever verified, as far as my uninspired Google search takes me.) But, come on, Uncle Rando, think about it, at the same time, we’ve got the paper publishing a story on the Go Green Challenge. “Save-the-Earth fervor spreads in businesses, governments,” is the story’s name. Fervor? Fervor! This is 2008, and these few places are just now talking about how to recycle?

I think if Twain (or whoever’s responsible for the quote) were around today, he would perhaps rethink this. (While undergoing chemo for pancreatic cancer or dragging his oxygen tank along.)

The breast pad thing

Hard to imagine anyone who likes a mammogram. At best, there must be those who don’t mind it. It’s not that it’s particularly painful, for me, because it’s not, really — it’s, just as they describe it, more uncomfortable than anything — but I have bad feelings about it. Deeply bad. I resent it: that I have to do it; that there’s controversy surrounding it’s usefulness especially in the face of the procedure itself, the radiation, as harmful to the human body; that there is the disease of breast cancer that is directly attributable to our toxic environment and as such, preventable, and nobody is doing a thing about that. Resentful and fear. Will I, despite my best efforts, going out of my way to avoid the foods, the cosmetics, the g-d water of  rustbelt, not quite post-industrial cities, be one of the ones struck down?

But I do my best with this resentment and fear; you know, all the right things to manage the stress (because stress is a killer, too! you know). Yoga. Deep breathing. Etc and so on.

So I go to the hospital at the appointed time, which actually includes an extra fifteen minutes pre-appointment time to run through another registration cycle. I mean that this on-site physical registration is on top of an earlier pre-registration by phone that took about thirty minutes of my time one afternoon.  After it is clear that today’s registration is stretching well beyond my appointment time, I get annoyed. I point out to the person on the other side of the desk that I’m late for my appointment and that I hope this doesn’t mean that I will then be kept waiting further for my service. Nothing. More clicking on the keyboard keys, more scrutinizing the screen at data I can’t see, then the helper/clerk gets up and goes out of the space, no comment. She returns with another clerk, who after much pointing at the screen and further key-clacking, confirms that, yes, all is as it should be. “Pardon me,” I say, “but what was the purpose of my having spent thirty minutes pre-registering by phone only to come here and go through another lengthy process that causes me to miss my appointment time?” No good answers, the consulted clerk scurries off, my clerk gives (at least) a tepid “I’m sorry” and wan smile. This is something to take up with those powers who be who have enacted processes that are not working as they should. Will I do that? Probably not. Throw more of my time away. Unlikely. And so it goes.

Back in the Breast Health Center, I have indeed missed my appointment time. It turns out that I will wait. But first, more papers to fill out. The chipper clerk behind this counter hands me a pamphlet and wants to know if I would like the breast pads, which cost $5, just check the box here yes or no.  Meanwhile, there are other women coming through, and asked again verbally by the clerk who I must assume just does not bother to look at how each women has checked her form — surely she can read yes or no. Many of the women answer affirmatively. I sit waiting. And think, why? Why if this is now understood as a standard of comfort, a little foam pad to put on the machine to ease the cold, the discomfort of the surface, why put the burden on the patient? What does it mean to decline? (I don’t care about myself? My breasts can take it?) Where in the hell are all these used pads going? Consider there is no “away.” What a gimmick!

Cincinnati Sun and Soot

So there is today finally a bit of sun redeeming Cincinnati, almost enough to make one forget about all the particulates in the air while one is outside. Almost, not quite. It’s a terrible irony that here, while one attempts to do what was once considered the healthy thing to do — get outdoors, in the sunshine , get active, take in the “fresh” air — one is actually taking in the elements of death.  If you’re so inclined, you can get a good look at what this “sunny” deadly day looks like here via the Cincinnati Pollution Air Web Cam, which also gives readings of fine air particulates (ranging just inside the high zone at the moment).

Ohio Public Interest Group:

• Cincinnati ranks 2nd statewide and 11th nationwide for the worst chronic fine particle pollution among large metro areas in 2004. Fine particle pollution was high year-round in Cincinnati and exceeded EPA’s standard for what is safe to breathe over the long-term (the annual standard).

• Ohio ranks 5th nationwide for chronic soot pollution.

In 2005, the Bush administration’s science advisors and EPA staff scientists concluded that the current health standards for fine particle pollution are too weak to fully protect the public. They recommended that the administration make the standards more protective, which would require power plants and other polluters to clean up. The Bush administration rejected these recommendations and instead proposed a very minor change to the health standards. It is unprecedented for an administration to disregard the recommendations of the independent Clean Air Science Advisory Committee.

“The American Lung Association strongly believes that the Bush administration should listen to its advisors and strengthen fine particle pollution standards. Current standards do not do enough to protect the public from the serious health dangers associated with this form of pollution,” stated Joel Kaplan, Executive Director, American Lung Association, SW Ohio.

EPA’s own risk assessment shows that the current annual fine particle standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) and 24-hour standard of 65 µg/m3 protect only 56 million people. The administration’s proposal would maintain the annual standard at 15 µg/m3 and only slightly lower the daily standard to 35 µg/m3.