We need Covid-19 testing–but maybe there’s a better way

Michael was under the weather. I had a sore throat that seemed a little worse than usual. Someone in the area had a birthday party and dozens attended. Our local hospital asked everyone in our area to receive the test. Combine all that with my natural inclination to be an obedient citizen, and getting a test just seemed like the “right” thing to do. Now, I wish I hadn’t.

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Sometimes you critique something you think is important. This is one of those times. We need Covid-19 testing. I just think we need testing to be more transparent and more workable for patients.

First and foremost, I put my family at risk. Going to get the test was the most exposure to covid-19 I have likely had. Social distancing at the testing site? Yeah, sort of. In a technical kind of way. Masks? Most people wore them, but not everyone, and it’s nearly impossible not to fidget with a cloth mask when you are sweltering under the hot son. Anyway, masks are mostly supposed to protest others, not the wearer–so that didn’t seem super effective when only some people were wearing them. Going meant leaving our careful little bubble and coming in close proximity to a group of people who had a high chance of being infectious.

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Second, going took up our hospital’s time, space, and resources. We had been distancing well. There was always a chance we had been exposed through, say, our groceries, but we had no reason to suspect it. Feeling a little under the weather was attributable to spring allergies, which Michael and I both have.

I took up time. Given the long lines, I’d guess the hospital staff had to stay later than they originally planned. I also took up space in the line, which was a big deal given how many people who were elderly had to wait in line the whole time. (Seriously. Elderly patients should not be asked to wait in line under a hot son for an hour).

To be fair, I feel like I should have kept my wits about me better and reasoned that I was not likely to have Covid. But it might have felt a little more intuitive to stay home if the hospital had not requested that everyone, including those without any symptoms and without any outside contact, come in for a test. Especially when so many had to wait in line in the heat, including the sick and elderly.

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Third, going to get the test took a toll on me personally–which isn’t the end of the world, but it would have helped to know beforehand so my family could plan around it better.

It was hot and sunny, and I was not prepared to stand outside for the hour it took. I thought the test would be a drive-up test, as I had seen in videos on Facebook. I was told that if I pre-registered (which I did), it would take a total of 5-10 minutes. My guess is that there were more people than they expected, and they weren’t prepared to handle so much. Which is not their fault, and I don’t think anyone deserves blame. But I still think it’s fair to talk about so people know better what to expect, and if enough people talk about it, maybe some sites could be better prepared.

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Fourth and last, (and probably least important, but still), the test hurt. A lot. I left crying involuntarily, as did the girl behind me. In the single article I’ve found talking about this, commenters said things like They must have been millennials and Some people can’t take a pinprick and It’s just like the flu shot, no big deal. I even saw several comments that said that calling the test “painful” was irresponsible.

Well. It isn’t necessarily just like the flu swab, as there are different flu nasal swab tests. Some go an inch into your nose; some go four inches into your nose and back to your pharynx. This one goes back to your pharynx. Most of the people who’ve had it that I’ve talked to said it was some level of painful.

Also, even if some people don’t find it painful, that doesn’t mean it won’t be very painful for others. For one, everyone has a different nose. Someone could have a different size or shape of their nostril, which could have a big impact on how painful a test was. Someone could have had already inflamed nasal passageways, which could make it more painful. The test felt very painful and invasive to me, and it just feels manipulative when everything I read online says “It might be uncomfortable, but not painful.” Judging by my experience, the test could have have sent Michael into spasms and could have seriously injured him (and hurt the tester, really), had he come with me and received the test. It’s still an important test, but people should know what they are getting into.

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You can indeed have snow capped mountains on a hot summer day.

Some of these issues were specific to my location. I think a drive-by would have been much better, which is what I’ve heard of from most people. That seems less likely to cause exposure in those getting tested. It also would be more sustainable for the sick and elderly.

I think it also might be worth embracing alternative testing methods, such as at-home saliva tests, in addition to the formal test. I know that they have a higher chance of producing a false-negative, and that could result in a false sense of security. However, I think the same could be said for the nasal swab if masses of people congregate to the same place for testing. I, for example, received a negative result. If I had become infected at the testing site, I would still have received a negative result, but would have had an even stronger false sense of security than if I had only taken an at-home test.

I also think we need some sense of moving forward and looking for better options–which means being allowed to talk about the risks and problems of getting tested in the first place. I think it is important to offer accurate information for other people who might receive a test. I think people deserve to know if their will be a line with other people or if the test will be painful, even if that would be politicized unfairly. It has to be okay to talk about these things, to raise issues and concerns.

This is a new, strange, bizarre journey for all of us. I hope we can make it the best it can be.

A Spotlight on Sweet: A Literary Confection

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One thing (among many) that I love about the journal Sweet: A Literary Confection is that they spotlight previous contributors and give them a chance to talk a bit about their writing and reading. It was fun to think about what I’m doing with reading and writing at the moment, and putting it into words.

You can check out the spotlight here.

And, if you want to read the original piece I published with them, “On Book Curses: An Apology,” you can check it out here.

Stay safe and sane, and happy social distancing!

 

In Praise of Fiber Arts

Knitting and crocheting and other fiber arts have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years, but they remain, in my estimation, underestimated.

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Baby shoes I made for the youngest.

As a process, yarn crafting and fiber arts offer meditative stillness and gentle momentum. The repetition of pulling through a loop or threading a stitch is natural and ancestral. It bears the rhythm of the elements, the ebb and flow of water and the current of wind. Fiber art pieces develop slowly, appearing in completion like a morning glory after days or weeks of winding upward. Yarn crafting is therapeutic, reducing depression, anxiety, insomnia and dementia, along with having other health benefits.

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Freehand toddler mitten. My son could never quite get his thumb in the right spot, though, so I never made the other side.

For some, now could be an ideal time to learn crocheting, knitting, cross-stitching or hand-sewing. While much thought can go into the colors and design, the bulk of the work is done in simple, repetitive steps. I sometimes tell myself that if I feed my brain good “food,” I won’t want to “snack” as much during the day with, say, endless social media scrolling. I consider crochet as part of the good food category, even though it isn’t as dense or chewy as some things.

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Slip-stitch mittens

Lately I’ve mostly made a bit of progress on a sleeping mat I am making. This is a huge project I’ve already spent, I’d guess, over fifty hours on (including cutting up plastic bags into two-inch rings and looping them together to make plarn). This project is easier done in groups just because of the sheer size of the project, though I’ve also found it fulfilling to work on alone. When I’m done, we’ll bring it to our local homeless shelter. The mats are lightweight and easy to carry, easy to wash off, pretty durable, insulating, thick and cushy.

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This is about half of what I’ve got. I still have about two feet left to go.

Happy social distancing. Stay safe and sane!

 

On a Spring Morning in 2016

Michael and I leave for the hospital at five in the morning. I’m 39 weeks and scheduled for a c-section because my son is breech with a cord wrapped around his neck. My mom, who drove us to the hospital, takes a picture of me in my large pink shirt and black maternity leggings, my hair pulled back into an elastic.

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The receptionist at the desk picks up the phone and says, “Alizabeth? They’re ready for you.”

*

A nurse’s assistant takes me and Michael to our room. There is a round bath with jets that I will not use, a sink, a bed, a cot, and a monitor. Everything seems white, blue or green.

I ask Michael to grab the birth plan from the hospital bag. The fold is uneven and my punctuation is sketchy. Not as glamorous as I envisioned, and I’m embarrassed about it’s lack of professionalism. I give it to the nurse when she comes in with a surgical robe for me to put on, and she reads it. “Skin to skin?” she asks, looking over the paper. “You will be having surgery. Your abdominal cavity will be completely exposed.”

“Will my chest be covered?” I ask, even though I probably sound ignorant or aggressive.

“Yes,” she says. “Your entire body will be covered, and a screen will be in front of your face.”

“Okay, but my OB said I could do skin-to-skin.” Silence. I ask, “How long will it take for them to finish the surgery after he’s born?”

“Not long,” she says. “It shouldn’t be more than an hour and a half.”

For the hours I spent looking up C-sections, I missed the detail that I would be in the operating room for an hour and a half after Jeffrey’s birth, my body out of commission.

I’m disappointed. I need my body for that hour after birth, the so-called “golden hour” of skin-to-skin and the first time breastfeeding. And not just for my baby. I need it for me, too.

The nurse starts an IV on the back of my hand but it blows out, a dark balloon of puffy skin, and she restarts it on the other side.

*

My OB comes in wearing green scrubs. At our last visit he said, “We’ll have a birthday party.” He looks at the birth plan and says it looks great. The nurse asks about skin to skin, and he says “We usually do cheek to cheek.” Not what I had in mind, but it’s something.

The anesthesiologist comes in. He’s friendly, calm. He tells me what I will feel at each step as he is working: it will feel like cold water here, like I’m pressing your back here. I assume he’s washing my skin with Iodine and putting on a patch or something, but he soon says that the spinal is done. He tells me that I will be completely without feeling in my lower body.

I start to feel nauseated. Crippling nausea, like those first weeks of pregnancy before finding Zofran and Diclegis, which helped take off the edge a little. I tell him, almost choking. He calmly says that he can fix that, and I close my eyes and wait. This is what I have done for so much of pregnancy: closed eyes, waiting, trying to stay still while my body tells me to puke. More voices. Another doctor comes in.

They put a giant paper pillow inflated with warm air over me in the cold room. Bright, glinting lights. After a few minutes, it occurs to me that I don’t feel nauseated anymore. I tell the doctor “I feel better” and he says “I thought so.” Everything seems a little hazy and disjointed, perhaps for no other reason than that I know I am about to have my abdomen cut open, about to give birth. A body is about to come out of my body.

*

The production starts, faster than I expect. I tell Michael, who sits by my head, that he isn’t allowed to look at the surgery. I check out again, like I have been doing all morning, willing myself into a mental blackout. On the operating table, I don’t even try to eavesdrop on the doctors performing my surgery right in front of me, though they are talking the whole time in a light, casual tone.

I catch one of the doctors saying, “Definitely a boy,” followed soon after by a baby’s cry, the harbinger of all good things in a delivery. Someone explains to me that the room must be very cold for the operation and that my baby will be especially cold, so they are going to take him out and put him in a warmer, and I am fine with that, I just want them to keep my baby warm.

*

I no longer need to check out. I hear the doctors clearly, surprised that they are mostly talking to me. I am able to pay attention, granted the lucidity of joy. My son is carried in, swaddled in receiving blankets and wearing a hat, his eyes open. I kiss him as many times as I can, his cheek held by mine for a minute or so. They take him back to the other room, and Michael follows.

A pediatrician tells me that my son will need CPAP to recruit liquid from his lungs. They will take him to a transitionary NICU. But they aren’t quite ready: he is being weighed or bathed or something. I’m quiet and jittery with surprise, the terrific reality of it all, the actuality of the baby I could never quite believe in when I was pregnant. But somehow, here he is. Even in the other room, I hear him. I hear Michael, suddenly and fervently a father, calling him by name.

 

The Cost of the Quarantine isn’t the Money

I believe that Covid-19 is real, that it is far more dangerous than the flu, and that we should flatten the curve. As a family, we are social distancing from everyone, including extended family. We’re trying to wear masks when we get take-out or get groceries. I believe that the quarantine is constitutional. I believe the protests, especially as mass gatherings, are reckless and ill-advised.

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I am, however, worried about the quarantine fallout.

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I am worried about the parents with colicky babies, and their babies. For these, the cost of social distancing is not foregoing a trip to the salon, or racking up hours of boredom and Netflix binges. Colicky babies don’t stop crying because of a global pandemic. Colicky babies can cry for hours a day. They can take short naps and they can wake through the night and they can refuse to nurse or take a bottle.

For a month when Jeffrey was newborn, starting a few weeks after he was born, nearly all he did was eat, sleep, and cry. Fortunately, it took him several hours to nurse throughout the day, during which he would sleep fitfully while I held him around me on the boppy. The rest of the time, he was at best antsy and clingy, at worse inconsolable. Our neighbors, who had a little girl themselves, heard him cry so much they came by to see if I had tried gas drops, or putting him in a swing, or turning on the vaccuum. I cried and held Jeffrey while he arched his back, taking in sharp breaths between squalling, piercing bursts, and the mom told me it wasn’t going to last forever, the constant crying. Jeffrey wouldn’t even remember it.

But I remember it, and I worry for those mothers and fathers and babies. Having a break is as important for these families as the ability to go to work is. These parents are at serious risk for self-harm, mental illness, and marital strife. Babies in that situation are at a much higher risk of being neglected or abused. Colicky babies are at a serious risk for Shaken Baby Syndrome, which can happen in an instant even by otherwise loving parents.

Many families with young babies may choose to completely socially distance to protect their family, but many others may have just lost the very supports that were allowing them to take care of their families, emotionally and physically.

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I’m worried about single parents. I have never been a single parent. I have often felt an awe and respect for single parents. Right now, though, I can’t imagine how hard it is for a single parent of one or more children, without the help of school, without the help of friends or family, without the ability to blow off steam at a park or playground or store, all while needing to work. I don’t know what being a single parent looks like right now; I’m sure some are doing very well. But I am just as sure that some are suffering, and that some children are suffering terribly because their parent is stretched to the breaking point, and that child has lost all of their friends and supports.

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I’m worried about those with disabilities and chronic health issues, as well as parents with children who have special needs–because of social distancing as well as the virus. My husband has spastic quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, which means that his entire body is affected. He can’t drive, he has swallowing difficulties, and his body wears out throughout the day. We have two young children. I have my own real limitations and low stamina, and my body is still recovering from a taxing pregnancy. We have built our life around supports–preschool and cleaning help and childcare help.

We are surviving–Michael went from a three hour commute (at a job he loves) to no commute, and we’ve been able to manage. We also have a roomy space and great indoor activities. We have the ability to get take-out frequently and spend more on groceries. I don’t have any other responsibilities. Had this happened when we lived in a smaller space, when I was having more health issues, when Michael had more demands on his time and energy…we would not be okay.

You might think that people with health issues are being taken care of, because the people who support them are under “Essential Services.” Sometimes, that’s true–but here’s the thing. People with health issues and disabilities often do NOT get all of their supports through formal channels. People with disabilities are creative. They have goals that often don’t mesh with available disability-care systems. So they make their own support systems, for cooking or cleaning or self-care or transportation or communication or anything else. And I worry about the people who have lost the informal supports that they truly needed.

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I’m worried about the unemployed and uninsured. I’m worried the mentally ill. I’m worried about those who are in abusive homes with no reprieve and the increase in domestic violence, and I’m worried about those who are in homes that used to be safe but have become unsafe.

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Of course I don’t have all the answers. The virus is a real threat. I do not think we should abandon the quarantine.

But I hope we can mitigate it, even as we try to mitigate the pandemic. I hope we can come up with third solutions–with new jobs, with new ways of doing business, with better testing, with better tracking and the possibility of targeted flexibility. I hope we consider more options for childcare, or can come up with mostly safe recommendations for community support. Who knows how long this will last, or if it will relapse after a time.

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I think we should look harder at what we’re up against with social distancing so that we can take care of more people even as we mitigate the spread of Covid-19. This virus attacks the already vulnerable members of our community, but so does social distancing. If we’re really “in this together,” that needs to mean more than sharing memes about toilet paper or quarantine haircuts that do not even touch the surface of what some people are going through right now. Getting through this together needs to mean more–and maybe even, in some situations, physically distancing a little less.

 

 

 

Trauma, Insomnia, and Circadian Rhythms

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out why my body has such a hard time going to sleep at a reasonable hour, and how to work towards an earlier bedtime–even if that means I’m falling asleep at one or two in the morning instead of three or four.

I’m familiar with the basics of sleep hygiene: go to bed and wake up at the same time each day; avoid naps if possible, or at least avoid late naps; keep your room dark and quiet; try to limit screen time and eating before bed.

The thing is, I’ve tried all of these in concert for extended periods of time, with little success, and I’ve had sleep difficulties since I was a little kid.

When I was a teenager, I could get by on just a few hours of sleep a night without too much difficulty. I saw a doctor who diagnosed me with idiopathic insomnia, stressing that I shouldn’t worry too much about it if I just couldn’t sleep but otherwise felt fine; some people just need less sleep. He was making the best diagnosis with the information he had at the time, but now I know better. I need sleep.

I also know, now, that often I can sleep enough, as long as I’m allowed to sleep in. The problem is that I just can’t fall asleep until well into the night–even when I’m waking up early in the morning each day.

I’m not a doctor, and I can’t diagnose myself. If I were to see a doctor, though, I’d suggest that I might have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, perhaps with elements of Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (sometimes, it seems as though my body thinks there are too many or too few hours in a day, and cycles through sleep wake patterns out of sync with the clock).

Which brings us to bright light and melatonin.

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We know that we need light to help regulate our sleep cycles, so I won’t belabor the point. But yes, light–especially sunlight–helps us recognize day, and darkness helps our brain recognize night. Ideally, our brains recognize day and night at the right times, and then dispenses melatonin (the sleepy hormone) accordingly.

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The connection between sunlight and melatonin, however, isn’t automatic. There are at least three working parts: the right environment, the right sensory processing, and the right neurological response. We need the sun, our eyes, and our brain.

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Any of these three parts can interfere with the connection.

In the case of having not enough sunlight or too much night time light, there is an environmental barrier. This can happen because of where you live (such as if there are two many or few daylight hours), night-time screen time, or work environment. It might even happen if you are stuck inside all day, such as if, say, you are in the middle of a global pandemic and there are limited safe outdoor opportunities available to you.

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Often, there are things you can do about environmental barriers, like:

  • Use a darkscreen app on your electronic devices at night (and reduce screen use at night if possible)
  • Go outside during the day OR open your windows and camp out in the natural light
  • Use bright screens during the day
  • In some cases, obtain artificial bright lights, such as those used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Basically, leverage your environment to get more light in the day and less at night

However, it doesn’t matter what your environment is like if your eyes aren’t receiving the waves of light. In this case, you have a sensory barrier.

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Most people who have Non-24-Hour Sleep Wake Disorder are totally blind. If you are blind, you may be getting plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure, but your eyes are not registering sunlight, and as such they aren’t telling your brain when to make melatonin. In this case, taking artificial melatonin may help, though if not, most schools and workplaces are required to accommodate an alternative schedule for those with Non-24 Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (as protected by the ADA).

But suppose you have a good environment and your eyes are able to detect day and night signals around you. Even if you get a lot of bright light in the morning, and even if your eyes are sending those signals to your brain, you STILL might not have a regular sleep-wake rhythm if your brain just doesn’t produce melatonin at the right time. In this case, you have a processing error.

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I certainly don’t know all of the reasons why brains are prone to short-circuiting this way, but a few vulnerable populations include those on the autism spectrum and those with depression or anxiety. I’m also partial to the idea that there are genetic night owls. I think I might be one (but then again, when it comes to delayed-sleep-phase people, don’t we all feel like this?).

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But of course, one REALLY BIG reason why our brains just don’t make melatonin is trauma.

Scientists way smarter than me have found that those with PTSD have fewer melatonin secretions than those without PTSD. And it’s a two-way street: PTSD and insomnia or other sleep disorders can perpetuate each other in a vicious cycle.

Right now, most if not all of us are experiencing at least a minor trauma. Some of us are experiencing a lot of trauma.

Likewise, most of us are experiencing a disruption to our routine. We’re being asked to stay home as much as possible, and for many, that equates to largely staying indoors. So we’re being hit with environmental changes and brain processing changes. Then, if our sleep is affected enough, we may be experiencing even more trauma than we otherwise would be, which then makes it harder to sleep again.

Hopefully there’s more then one take-away from all this, but the most important part, as I see it, is that taking care of your sleep is a basic but foundational need right now.

If you can manage healthy sleep with regular “sleep hygiene,” then prioritize that.

If you need more bright lights, a later (but consistent, if possible) wake up time, melatonin supplements, or even other sleep aids, then go for it. You may not be able to have a normal persons sleep schedule, but you *might* be able to improve what you would have otherwise had.

And if you are worried that you aren’t doing enough to get good sleep, try to cut yourself some slack. There’s only so much you can do, and there’s a lot out of your control.

I am still going to let myself sleep later (Michael is a hero, yes), but I’m at least a little bit hopeful that taking melatonin and using bright lights a half hour before I naturally get up will help me shift my schedule, even if just by a little bit. If I can get myself to fall asleep an hour or two in the morning most nights, I’ll take that improvement gladly.

 

 

Are You Going Back to Law School?

A week ago, we went on our family quarantine walk at BYU campus (a relatively good place to go, in some ways; there were more people than I expected, but not more than we could easily avoid, and there are extra wide sidewalks). Michael and I took turns pushing the stroller Sam rode while Jeffrey took turns running ahead and then back to us. We stopped in front of the law school building, which Jeffrey has been to many times, and he wanted to go inside–but we couldn’t, of course. Even if we had a compelling reason to enter, the building is only open to staff, students and faculty–which none of us are.

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Since our walk by the law school, Jeffrey often asks to play family, telling me that I’m his little girl and that he needs to go to the law school but he’ll be back soon.

The ABA lets students complete their law degrees within seven years of law school admission. BYU gives students five years.

I was admitted in fall of 2018–which means that I would have to start this fall if I didn’t want to reapply (though even that case, I would need to petition for re-entry and pay $500.

This year, starting up is not an option, whether or not it was an otherwise good idea. I withdrew from law school during my first semester because of severe pregnancy sickness, and now my baby is here and the sickness is gone–

But that doesn’t mean my stamina is back, or my ability to pull full-time hours and then come home to take care of my little family. My health is far better than it was during pregnancy, or even than it was three or six months postpartum. I am resurfacing. I just still have a ways to go.

If BYU had a part-time option, or even if there were ABA acreddited online law schools I could take part-time, I would restart. But those aren’t the facts.

Even without pregnancy recovery, I would have a strong preference for part-time law school. I love school. I love deadlines and assignments and classroom discussions. At least, I do until I am so strained that I feel like I can’t do a good job at anything, in or out of school. Full-time law school before Sam’s pregnancy danced right on that line–sometimes I loved what I was doing and other times I felt utterly drained and empty. Some days I finished my work at five in the evening and came home to have a wonderful time with Michael and Jeffrey; other days I had nothing to give my studies or my family and I felt helpless while I tried to read or spend time with Jeffrey, only to find my efforts slipping past without any traction like truck tires stuck in a ditch.

Under my current abilities and responsibilities, as long as my local school remains a full-time only program and the ABA refuses to allow for online schools to be accredited, law school is not a realistic option.

If any of those conditions changed in the future (including if my abilities increased), law school might come back on the table. But I can’t say with any certainty that I would go back then. There are two things I want from law school: 1) the ability to provide for my family in a way that I enjoy and think I’d be reasonably good at, and 2) the chance to be an advocate for causes I believe in. Whether or not it was my main job, I would want to be an advocate for victims of assault or trafficking. The other two areas of law that interest me are environmental law and intellectual property, both of which I view as types of advocacy.

But I am going to be an advocate, whatever I do. As a writer, I am an advocate, and there are many volunteer opportunities in advocacy that don’t require a law degree.

Financially, I have other options, too. In the years ahead, law school will probably often be on my mind, but I’ll be trying other ways to become a financial provider. (Michael, by the way, is a great provider–but I want the security of knowing I’d be able to take over in a pinch should the need ever arise.)

That said, I do think about the law school often. I miss my classmates and classes and professors. I watch law school vlogs on YouTube. I talk to Michael about what I remember from my classes, and was very happy that I correctly remembered that “In re Greene” was a consideration case (though I initially got it mixed up with Hamer v. Sidway and then the one about the theatre ticket lottery). There were some real challenges, and I want to remember those as I make important decisions for me and my family, but there was also a lot to love. Some days, I even miss my poorly lit, hard-chaired carrel.

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Jobs for Essential Times featuring Anne Marie Malbica

My brilliant sister has been working in Essential Services since she was sixteen, from being a chef to a nanny to a behavior specialist. Now she’s getting a PhD in special education. She knows a thing or two about Essential Jobs. So, we collaborated on this post! She wrote, and I made the picture. Take a look and what she has to say, and give this post a share on behalf of some Essential Workers in your life!


Essential Jobs for Essential Times

by Anne Marie Malbica

I sense a shift coming to our society and I hope that it is a good one. Faced with so much uncertainty, people are realizing how unprepared they are–hence the TP crisis on top of the earthquakeandvirusmeggedon. Hopefully people are also thinking about what means most to them in this life. For me that is family, friends, and helping others. For me these things are #essential.

It is interesting to me to see things unfold. Interesting that in the United States the biggest catalyst and cause for panic across the nation was not the WHO declaring a pandemic, but the fact that the NBA season was cancelled. That was when the panic set in. Against recommendation from the WHO, hoards of people flocked to grocery stores stocking up on #essential items.

Each day, more and more things shut down and the initial shock and panic grows and grows. Fear is abounding that soon the only things that will remain viable are #essential jobs.

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Let’s take a look at some of these essential jobs. Jobs that people rely on day in and day out without a second thought, like getting people food, shelter, and water. Jobs that hold other people’s very lives in their hands. These jobs are essential. These jobs #essentially save lives.

I have worked in human services for 16 years, and am now working on a PhD in Special Education with an emphasis in Behavior Analysis. My field depends on healthcare workers, cleaning and culinary services, behaviorists and direct care staff, among so many other workers who tirelessly provide the #essentials of life.

Essential carriers have not only become less desirable, but frowned on as a “stepping stone” for people to use while they pursue bigger better things.

For years I have watched these jobs dwindle in popularity as newer, more exciting careers are born. Why would anyone want to take out the trash, fix toilets, or support those less fortunate when they can make a six figure salary working on the next hot take or make millions being a star? Essential carriers have not only become less desirable, but frowned on as a “stepping stone” for people to use while they pursue bigger better things. We live in a very convoluted world when “It takes a special person” to want to do the careers that are #essential for survival.

Let us take this as a lesson. There are essential jobs! They are NOT the jobs that make millions. Essential job workers need to be able to make a living wage. Essential job workers deserve a pay raise because they save lives! This is my call to action to invite a rapidly changing workforce to consider these essential jobs, as well as to raise pay rates and appreciation of all of the undervalued jobs that are #essential for humanity.

#teachers #DSP’s #socialworkers #garbagemen #groceryclerks #nurses #electricians #plumbers #mechanics


*Please share, whether you know someone who works in an essential job or just want to say thank you!

Anne Marie Malbica is currently a PhD student in Special Education at University of Utah and has worked in direct support services for over a decade.

Since the Pandemic Started

OpArtSinceThePandemicStarted (1)

[Text:

“Since the pandemic started…
More people are going camping.
More people are going to the mountains.
More people are gardening or raising chicks.
More people are opening their windows.
Tomorrow is promised to no one.
We are staying apart to protect each other. While we do, the earth and sky are still here for us.
This pandemic will not last forever.
A tomorrow will come when most of us will be able to work and travel and socialize more freely.
When that tomorrow comes, let us remember that tomorrow is promised to no one. Each day of our lives and each part of our earth is a gift worth protecting.”]