#COVID-19

Pandemic #3…New Normals

End of week 2 of telemedicine for my patients.

My wife is working one day a week- Saturdays- to essentially pay for our health insurance. The rest of the week she’s home with the boys while I see patients. I saw clients all week, and am booked next week. No one wants to baby-sit for a nurse during the pandemic even a nurse doing telehealth.

I am incredibly grateful to still be able to pull an income during these uncertain times.

I set up a tent. A massive tent. In our playroom for the boys. I put their beanbag chairs inside of it and blankets and pillows and Jackson calls it his bounce house. It’s essentially their man-cave as the doors open to their TV. They can often be found either with the tent completely closed up literally bouncing around inside, or with it all open chillin’ on their “couches” (bean bag chairs).

IMG_8573

It’s an LLBean King Dome tent, I think it was made for 6 or 8 people. But it’s been in our basement since we moved in. We used to use it once or twice a year. I’m not a camper. But the thought of camping is appealing to me. Until I go. Then I want to go home.

But thank God we kept the tent. It’s been a lifesaver.

Tuesday and Wednesday I worked in the office, but saw client’s remotely to avoid being at home. It felt amazing driving into work those days. It felt normal. It felt like I was going to work and all was well with the world. But the roads were empty of normal traffic. My kids were not in daycare; they were home with my wife. It all just felt off.

So by Thursday I decided to work exclusively from home. It felt like I was mourning something, and then I was excited to have it back, and then I realized it still wasn’t what I had before, so I just wanted to keep being home until it truly can be normal again.

Thursday evening we all drove down to my office and moved out what I needed to make my home office more functional. It felt very final. I locked my door with a sense of foreboding that this is going to go on much longer than we anticipated. I then no-showed my own therapy session because I totally forgot/spaced and was so focused on moving stuff out of my office. Then I felt like an ass and asked my therapist for the address to send the check for our missed appointment to and he sort of yelled at me via text to forget it because there’s a pandemic and he knew I was losing my mind a bit. I’m still going to send a check.

I feel anxiety and grief. Grief for what was. Anxiety for what is to come.

I keep picturing stupid things like what some one will ask in job interviews after 2020- “Do you have any questions for us?” “Yes, I’m wondering what coverage and plans you have in place for a pandemic?”

It’s like life before 9/11 and life after 9/11. There will be changes we; just don’t know the full extent and breadth of them. For me I also continue to vacillate between extreme guilt and extreme relief: feeling grateful for being able to work remotely, knowing I have critical care experience and those skills are beyond needed right now, but sitting this one out of the front lines.

Healthcare provider’s are dying. Even with PPE we will get sick and some will die. I worked in the ED during H1N1. Many of us got it. I’ve been exposed to tuberculosis and pertussis and meningitis. I know that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I find out about the exposure. When we find out about co-workers who are sick now.

I furthered my education in mental health partly to avoid ever having to be front lines again. I went into private practice to avoid hospital work. But I’m still affiliated with the hospital, and I still feel this gnawing guilt that I should be there.

I keep reminding myself I have severe asthma. Severe enough to be on a biologic agent monthly for two years now. That I would die from this. It just all sucks.

My clients are all doing okay. I’ve found that they all truly look forward to seeing me for a change. That I seem to be an anchor of normalcy for them in these constantly changing and isolating times. I try and look the same as I normally do. I try and act the same as I normally do. I try and be that presence for them. It’s taxing. But worth it. I’ve had the lowest no-show rates this week probably in the history of my practice. People want to see me.

I treat a lot of healthcare providers. They know I know what they are going through. It’s heartbreaking and raw. These sessions with them.

My kids and wife and I go hiking every day. There are not a lot of people around us, we live very rural. It’s a blessing right now. It’s also one of the very few times I’ve felt blessed to have twins. They entertain each other. They have a built in playmate. They play now in a way that siblings with age differences don’t. They are on the same level. They also are old enough now to not just do parallel play but actually play together. They take their snacks and their art supplies and go into the tent for hours. On rainy days it’s essential!

The hiking has been good. Feels nice to get outside every day. More than we normally do. We also have this built in family time that feels sort of normal now. It will be weird I think when we go back to our “normal” life.

A year ago at this time my Dad was on hospice. He was ten days away from dying. I’m relieved this wasn’t happening last year. That would have been too much to handle. It seems surreal though to approach the year anniversary of his death in the midst of a global pandemic.

My takeaways so far from the pandemic: Work a job that allows for telehealth options. Live in a rural or suburban area (social distancing is built into our infrastructure and town layouts). Have twins (literally only do this if you know there is a pandemic coming). Keep a pop up tent in the basement at all times in case of rainy days. Get outside every day (unless it’s raining then see previous statement). Don’t no-show your therapist during the pandemic. Zoom drinking dates with friends and family are cool. Two of my cousins and I did one last night and it was fun. Take nothing for granted. 

To all my nurse friends reading this: I think of you every hour of every day. My heart is with you all in these dark times, it’s just my lungs that preclude me from actually being there. You are heroes. I have a rant about professional athletes that my wife knows well. Doctor’s and nurse’s save lives but it’s the damn football and basket-ball players that make millions. I know how hard it is to save lives. I’ve done it. I also know it’s harder to watch some one die than to save them. You will watch many die in the days ahead. Cry. Hurt. Feel. Survive. You are entitled to feel and act any way you want. Don’t let the bastards in management get you down. Don’t let #45 get you down. You are the bravest people I know.

***Myself and several other mental health professionals are offering free services to any healthcare provider in crisis at any time in the upcoming weeks. Call. 

 

#COVID-19 · politics

Pandemic Journal Entry #2- But Where Did All the Yeast Go??

In an ironic and rather cruel twist of fate I found a use for all the fabric I’ve saved for ten years. Most of which I used to make my own scrub tops back in my emergency department days. I started making fabric masks.

Apparently the United States of America supposedly, one of the most advanced countries in the world, doesn’t have enough masks and PPE (personal protective equipment) for a pandemic. We also outsourced all our manufacturing to China (They also were hit with the pandemic worse and first) so…yeah. Essentially the hospitals here are fucked.

The CDC and JACHO and DPH…all the most dreaded initials in healthcare…have now declared that wearing a bandana is “okay”. Let me put this in perspective. About three weeks ago these were the SAME initialed departments that were ding-ing hospitals nationwide for nurses keeping their water bottles “at the nurse’s station”.

I hope everyone wearing a bandana at work today eats a damn pizza at the nurse’s station.

The jury is out if cloth masks do anything. There are studies showing they don’t.

But of course because I’m smart and a nurse and have had to wear these masks for twelve hours on end I am a step ahead of the average “sewist” (someone who sews a lot? I dunno my Aunt used the term and it sounded official). I started sewing. Something I actually haven’t done much of since the boys were born.

I still got it though. After a first crappy mask. I got the hang of it. I make them three layers- cotton, thick fabric, cotton- with an opening at the top to slide in either a surgical mask or a HEPA filter. I’m using framing wire to make the nasal bridge part malleable and more snug.

I’ve also learned where to make a cinch (yes that’s a sewing term that I actually knew) in order to make it more snug to the nose and jaw. I also practice talking and breathing while wearing it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to open my phone with face ID only to realize I have a damn mask on. They are comfortable. They are breathable and they are better than a bandana. I told my wife I should patent this shit.

But I won’t. I also saw some lady charging for them! Screw that noise. Any nurse I know can have as many as you want.

But while I’m making them I’m just thinking Fuck you CDC. Fuck you #45. No nurse on the front line should have to wear a fabric mask. Why don’t we have enough N95’s? Why are you risking the lives of the only people in the world who can save every one else?

Critical care nurses are not common. We have years of training and experience and most of us leave the game because on a good day it’s taxing. During a pandemic…yeah we don’t want to be near it.

But I would go near it if you had PPE. But you don’t. So you can’t pay me enough.

Yesterday the boys and I went for a 1.5 mile hike together. Only the state parks are open right now. No playgrounds. And there are talks of closing the parks. Please GOD NO! We literally would have no where to go with them. Maybe not literally. We have a yard. Try explaining to a 4 year old why we couldn’t go to a restaurant though. It was rough. He does not believe me when I tell him they are all closed.

We officially have no childcare this week because our baby-sitter’s told us they are abiding by the governor’s order to stay home which is totally valid and I’m not knocking at all. My wife and I had a pow-wow and made the decision that my wife will stay home from work (her store is still open as it is considered essential) so I can still see patients.

I’m worried all the time about everything.

Today was yeast. I bake bread or pizza dough every weekend. I used my last two packets of yeast today. Apparently every one decided that we will not have access to bread?! So there is no yeast anywhere. Not online not in stores. My wife went to over 8 stores before she found some. I know all y’all are not out there making homemade bread. Because every time I make it literally no one has ever even seen homemade bread before.

So where the hell is all the yeast going?! I don’t know. With the toilet paper I guess.

Anyway I made my cinnamon swirl bread today. My wife is stopping work this week so we will be down an income. I volunteered to provide telepsych services for the state of NY due to COVID-19. I also got an e-mail stating any one on a biologic should be excluded from direct patient care…I am on a biologic for my asthma (yes it’s that bad)  so that made me feel validated in doing remote work only. I don’t want to die. I probably would if I got this virus.

We are heading into the week where we will really feel the pandemic. Our numbers are growing. We are at the part of an exponential curve that is climbing with no end in sight to the top. It’s the scariest part to the curve. I tell people with panic symptoms that panic attacks always peak. There is always a time that is the worst after which they start to come back down. This isn’t a panic attack though. These are human lives.

Hang in there America. Shit’s about to get real.

 

 

******Also in case any future person is wondering politically what is going on during this pandemic…Our President sounds like an ass. So nothing new. The senate Republicans are idiots, got exposed, tested positive, and now they need the Democrats to agree with them for votes because too many are absent and they don’t have a 60 vote majority anymore. Can we get a new Supreme Court Justice NOW! In case you didn’t understand- The Republicans are acting and sounding like idiots and as a result are testing positive for COVID-19. The D’s are doing their thing. Squabbling and bitching that the R’s suck and not really getting anything accomplished.

 

#COVID-19

Day…__…what day is it? Pandemic Journal Entry #1.

I read somewhere to keep a journal during the pandemic. I’m thinking this week has sucked and I’d like to forget it. But if it helps someone else in the future trying to learn about the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic read on.
I’m all set with the pandemic situation. That could move on.

I never appreciated or craved my normal life as badly as I do now.

I transitioned all my clients to telehealth. For one week. Still working on next week and the week after.

All the major insurers actually stepped up to the plate and said they are accepting all claims for telehealth whether they’ve approved the provider or not (except for Anthem, shocker. Fuck Anthem). They recognize that there’s a damn pandemic and people are freaking out.

Add the panic e-mails from the hospital I work at assessing every one’s skillset as stories are coming out of Italy of eye doctor’s learning to use a ventilator.

This week I’ve ranged from calm to panic to despair back to calm again.

My therapist told me he has to close his practice for the time being due to the financial strain of COVID-19 causing half his caseload to cancel. I felt incredibly heartbroken for him to be in that situation, terrified that the same thing would happen to me and my practice, and also like wtf. It took me a year to find a therapist who was good and who I didn’t know professionally. Selfishly I was like now I have to find a new one?! During a freaking pandemic?!

Then much of my caseload canceled or rescheduled this week- some because I was waiting on Anthem BCBS to approve me for telehealth- others because they thought this would just pass and we could schedule out for two weeks.

I may have freaked out moderately. But then today I saw 16 patients, all remote, between the hospital in the first half of the day and my practice the second half of the day.

Me seeing inpatient psychiatric patients remotely was a first. It went well for me. The patient’s didn’t seem to mind. One was actually quite happy to see my cat who strutted in front of the camera at one point.

This week has been a new reality. So many unknowns. Lots of pressure to maintain my practice, an income, and support my colleagues working inpatient.

I don’t think my life will ever be the same which sounds dramatic but if anything, this week has shown the fragility of our every day existence and how interconnected we are and how dependent I am on others for my income.

There are too many proposals and not enough action. I’ve read many proposals about freezing student debt and credit card interest but not seen anything set in stone about it. I don’t want to fall behind in making payments to any one or anything but at the same time I’m worried that we won’t have a steady income.

Childcare is a freaking issue. They are with me all the time. ALL the time. We’ve had our neighbors and my mom helping out, but it’s not like I can leave when they are here. I see clients in my home office, and shut the door. I can still hear them. ALL the time.

I’m an introvert. I need my space. My office. My alone time. My time away from home and kids. I feel constantly overstimulated and I’m ready for a break from them.

The first week has been a blur of figuring out how to transition my practice to an entirely different platform and also work inpatient remotely. My wife and I are in constant fear that we will lose everything. I’m pretty sure every one in America in the middle class is feeling the same way as that topic takes up the majority of my sessions with patients.

The phone started ringing today for intakes. It was silent for a few days which also terrified me. But now people are realizing that this is the new normal, they are panicking worse than normal because of the pandemic, and they still need mental healthcare.

For now I’m lucky to have that job security and incredibly blessed and grateful to be able to transition my practice to remote health. I’m grateful I can be here with my kids even though I’m sticking them in front of Disney + for far too long while I see patients upstairs. It doesn’t feel sustainable. I hope it’s not. I hope life gets back to normal soon. But unfortunately I’m not stupid. I see the numbers and the timelines and I fear this is only the beginning.

There will be many more deaths. More illnesses. And many more days working remotely.

Some of my top pandemic moments weeks 1:

1- Rounds with an Attending, LCSW, nurse, nurse manager etc. I’m remote on the screen. Both my sons run in and poke their heads onto the screen. They then start chatting. I think I mute the screen. I hustle my kids out the door telling them to be good and I’ll get them a donut, and to go watch Spiderman, and yes I love them too, and No that wasn’t Mama’s patients, now please just stop talking, go downstairs, No donut if you say poopybutt again, I’m sick of it Declan, stop saying poopybutt and gross Jackson quit licking me, just come on….etc. I sit back down. All eyes are on me. I hadn’t pressed mute.

2- Patient clicks in to join the video session. “Hi! Uh, wait are you driving?!” “Yeah, don’t worry I’m getting off the exit, right…up…here….we can start though!” Literally started talking about their meds while driving.

3- Patient clicked in. In bed. Under covers. Just waking up. It’s 3 PM. “Well I made it to the session!” me- “You seriously couldn’t get out of bed and at least pretend you’ve been up for ten minutes?” them- “It’s a pandemic what do you want from me?!”

4- “Mama are you done seeing patients?” Me “No, just taking a quick break” he looks at my wife, “Yeah she does this at Gramma’s house too. Lots of breaks.” then he rolled his eyes! Freaking four year olds.

5. My business partner talking me off a ledge. Multiple times. Some of her words to me “Calm down.” “It’s the flu calm down” “Get a grip.” “Send yourself some Xanax” “You’ve lost your mind” “You’re a mess about nothing” me “It’s a PANDEMIC” Another frequent exchange between us- as in daily sometimes twice daily we just randomly text each other two words. “Fuck Anthem.” No explanations ever needed.

6. The best news of my week which I texted to my wife “Our liquor store is delivery only!!!”

7. At some point I drank wine and made double chocolate chip cookies. They were amazing.

These are light moments in dark times. Stick to the light to lead you through the dark.

 

 

 

 

Nursing

Nurse to Nurse. Hang in There.

I have been walking around with a ball of anxiety in my stomach for roughly two weeks. I knew last Friday would be a turning point. When I left my office that night I packed extra things I normally would leave there. I stopped going to hot yoga two weeks ago.

You know that was hard for me. But I knew from the stories coming out of Italy that after even only a handful of cases in our state the worst was yet to come.

I did a presentation once on mass casualties. The head of emergency response of our state was there. I presented on Hurricane Katrina. The largest barrier for them was helicopters. They didn’t have enough helicopters to rescue people, and they waited roughly 5-7 days to contract with private companies. By then many had died.

I asked the head of operations how many helicopters we have in our state. He said, “One”. You could hear a pin drop. He rushed to add that we “would never see flooding like in New Orleans,” to the roomful of 100+ people now freaking out that we were all going to die.

Two weeks ago I started to get a pit in my stomach because I am acutely aware of the estimated number of ventilators in our state. That was part of my presentation five years ago. I was also acutely aware that the numbers coming out of Italy were bad. Very bad. I started feeling like we were New Orleans being hit by Katrina with one helicopter.

A lot of people are going to die. We are going to be faced with tough decisions. I implored my Mom to stop yoga class and any other outings. I bought into social distancing far sooner than the rest of our country because being in healthcare is a double edged sword. We know the limitations of our system. We know how to interpret statistics and death rates and percentages. I knew two weeks ago we don’t have enough ventilators to save people in a pandemic.

I moved my practice to telehealth only. Of course so did the rest of the USA so it’s been a nightmare dealing with insurance companies. Many patients are still canceling though because they don’t have their own incomes and are worried about medical bills, even small co-pays can be detrimental when people are out of work.

In the midst of me worrying about keeping my practice afloat I received messages from the hospital I work at asking for me to work there in the coming weeks. I know the risks. I also know all the people who work there have their own risks.

I know the doctors with kids with cystic fibrosis, the doctors over 60 with cardiac disease, the nurses with respiratory diseases, the social workers…I know everyone’s story just like they know mine. I know they are risking their health and their families every time they go to work. It’s not a question for me. I have to help out. I didn’t go into nursing thinking there wouldn’t be any hard times.

None of us make enough money for the work we do. But we all take these risks to take care of strangers not just for the strangers, our patients, but for each other. The bonds of health care professionals are what keep us all going. Time and time again when I worked in the emergency department I didn’t show up for management or the money. I showed up for my co-workers. The same is true now.

I know how it feels to be short staffed. I know how it feels to be scared of going to work. I’m scared to go to work. But I’m going to go.

To all my nurses and doc’s and techs and hospital staff- hang in there. You are the true heroes in our society. You deserve the tests that the NBA team received. The disparity in our society that we laud celebrity and neglect our most valuable members of society- nurses and healthcare professionals- is despicable.

I know we are afraid. I know we don’t have enough supplies. I know we are all putting ourselves and our families at risk. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for all you do and I’m with you. I’m showing up at work. I’ll see you there. Tune out the noise and do what we do best. Heal. Tell dirty jokes. Make horrible coffee. Complain about management. And save some lives. We got this.

 

lesbian mom · mom of boys

The Struggles of Parenting

It’s been a better 2020 so far than 2019. However, our sons have been sick every other week it feels like. They have been as sick this Winter as they were the first year of daycare. It’s been rough. We all are sleep deprived. Because God forbid the fever spikes in the middle of the day or Croup or vomiting or any other one of the hundred illnesses that have run through our house this Winter.

Nope it’s always in the middle of the night when shit hits the fan. Sometimes literally. Then we have an argument in the morning about who has to miss work. She’s at a new job, trying to make a good impression, of course since she started, we’ve been battling the plague like we are ground zero of the infection.

I own a practice and if I don’t work I don’t get paid. Clients also don’t like it when I cancel- rightfully so- as a result I run the risk of losing clients if I cancel them even once.

So with one of our sons sick (also God forbid they get sick at the same time- always consecutive never concurrent) we argue because we are both essentially terrified of losing our jobs because of canceling to take care of our son.

Our society is messed up. Parents shouldn’t feel this way. Pressured to go to work because if we don’t we will lose our job. That has never been said to us to be clear. But we know how it goes. Too many absences means unreliable. Unreliable means bad employee or in my case bad provider.

Then I get asked by any one who finds out that one of them is sick “Did you bring him to the doctor?” My answer is a resounding “No.” Well not always. Croup in one of my son’s can get very bad. So after the first night (When many people would likely call 911 but we stand outside in the cold and give him popsicles until his breathing improves) we do call the pediatrician and bring him in to get a prescription for steroids. I do have a respect for airway issues.

But for everything else. Nope. Viral illnesses happen. I understand that. Fevers happen. Vomiting/diarrhea happens. Unless they are severely dehydrated or still spiking a fever after a week or are compromised with their breathing in some way…we can manage at home.

I’m a nurse practitioner and worked as a staff nurse in a pediatric ED for over six years. Also I don’t want to be dragging my sick miserable kid to sit in an office for half an hour while we wait for the provider who is likely running late. Torture.

It’s also great that these weeks of illness still require us to pay full tuition at daycare. So one of us misses work all week, we don’t get paid, (My wife doesn’t have PTO yet as it’s still a new job), but we still pay full tuition at daycare for a kid or two who are not actually there.

When we said we wanted to be parents I didn’t really think about this part of the deal. Cleaning up puke. Shampooing the carpets. Taking care of sick kids. The stress of missing work and the ensuing financial stress that causes. As well as the stress of worrying that we will lose our jobs because of missing time.

That entire chapter of parenting was left out by anyone who ever told us we should be parents.

Today was another sick day. We finally asked my Mom to watch him because we were both feeling we couldn’t miss more work and the sick one wasn’t horribly sick anymore- not puking, no fevers, for over 24 hours, just still not himself.

The parenting struggle is real. Today required more juggling and taking the healthy kid to daycare while coordinating with my mom for sick kid. Also then worrying and feeling incredibly guilty for being the parents who can’t stay home and take care of their sick child.

But I’d feel worse if one of us lost our job and couldn’t pay the mortgage.

So there’s that.

These days feel like a lose-lose for us struggling middle class parents.

I find myself wishing for the teenage years when they can be left home alone. Then feeling very guilty for not “enjoying” them at this age. Feeling guilty that I was not home with him today.

I remember doing IVF and thinking I just want a healthy baby. I didn’t realize that baby-hood was only the beginning. Parenting hasn’t even begun when they were babies that was more basic survival.

I didn’t go to hot yoga last night and I had to cancel my therapy and acupuncture. Those all seem very first world problems. But they are actually my way to cope with the stress of life. So to miss all three in one day was not good for me either.

But I had to stay with the sick kiddo and at night he had a fever and he wouldn’t go to sleep unless he was in my bed with me in it. So I got into bed at 7 PM. It was kind of nice I’m not going to lie. Had there not been a sick kid with me I would have probably had a great night of sleep.

Anyway. I’m exhausted. My wife’s exhausted. We are crossing our fingers he can go to daycare tomorrow. But have my mom on standby again. At the end of the day we do our best to give them everything, but still go to sleep thinking we haven’t given them enough.

I guess that part of parenting. Giving your all and battling insecurities that it’s not enough.

I’m also ignoring the fact that the most qualified candidate is an intelligent woman who’s doing crappy at the poles losing to two other 70 something year old white dudes.

On the plus side…I have a stockpile of Purell which my business partner made fun of me for buying in bulk when we opened…who’s laughing now?! #CORONAVIRUS #NURSESARETHEBESTATHANDWASHING

 

politics

Who do you want to be President?

I’ve been asked this a couple times and considering my many political posts it’s a fair question as I’m not quiet about my politics. In this case I did give money to a campaign for the first time in my life.

But to who is not important. Not this year. This year what’s important is evicting #45.

In answer to that question, “Anyone but #45”. Get him out. The damage he’s done by placing conservative judges in lifelong positions in federal courts and the damage he will continue to do…because as much as I love certain elderly Supreme Court justices I just don’t think they have another 4 years in them…will be felt throughout my lifetime.

MO introduced a bill challenging gay marriage. There’s a chance it could be taken up, and if it made it to the federal courts it would get through to the Supreme Court.

The Republicans are better organized and more cutthroat than Democrats. They played the long game and they are winning.

Women’s rights, immigration laws, LGBTQ rights have never been more at risk.

I don’t think any of the Democratic nominees have the energy and charisma of Barack. Perhaps he was just one of a kind. But he also wasn’t cutthroat and didn’t push hard enough or long enough for Merrick Garland.

I want Democrats to step up to the plate and play the game that Republicans are winning.

Honestly I think Pelosi is the most cutthroat and she’s a little nutty. But if something happened to first and second in line I wouldn’t be sad if the Speaker of the House took over as President.

I’ll say it again. I want any one else but DTJ to be President. Preferably a Democrat. Preferably some one who is pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ rights. Preferably some one who will hit the ball out of the park instead of taking the walk.

Yes I contributed to a campaign. Yes I have a favorite. But if they don’t get the nomination I will vote for whoever the D. nominee is. As should you if you want him out. Don’t vote independent. An independent candidate won’t win and will take away electoral votes from a Democrat. It could all but guarantee a win for DTJ.

If I hear anyone complain about the D nominee I’m going to get irritated. Any one is better than our current administration. The bar is shockingly low as anyone who hasn’t said on television they can freely grab women by the “pussy” because of their fame….or who hasn’t been impeached…or who hasn’t asked a foreign country to meddle in our elections…or who believes in science…etc…anyone is better than this.

My end goal is for him to be out. What’s yours?

PCOS & Endometriosis Recipes

My Favorite vegan Bean/Veggie Burgers

These have been tried and tested with many combo’s over the years- below is my go-to:

What I found through my many bean burger and veggie burger trials is that I needed to have all the ingredients hanging around. Many veggie burger recipes call for several ingredients that I often have to put on the grocery list. This recipe is made with staples that I always have around so I can make them when we think we have “no food”.

Put all ingredients in a food processor

  • 1 15 oz can black beans (rinse)
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (rinse)
  • 1 red onion (small and diced)
  • 3 pieces celery chopped
  • red wine vinegar to taste (I use 1/2 tbsp, I don’t like vinegar too much, if you like it you can use a full tbsp)
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (gluten free is what I use)
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • Garlic fresh minced or powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoningIMG_8486.jpegIMG_8485.jpeg

Put them through the food processor- until half is smooth and half is still chunky, then I open the food processor and run the spatula through it a few times to make sure there’s not any big chunks. If there are I pulse it again.

Then I form into patties. You can cook on a griddle, frying pan, or air fryer. I did air fryer this time at 320 degrees for 8 minutes, then flipped them, and cooked another 5 minutes.

They can be frozen and they can be eaten immediately. They keep in the fridge also.

I ate them last night over an arugula salad I made. They can be dry so you want to put them with dressing of some kind. You can eat like a traditional burger with the bun and lettuce.

This morning I had some over lettuce with eggs on top with some hot sauce. These are by far my favorite, easiest meal for breakfast lunch and dinner. They are dairy/gluten free and I think qualify for vegan also as there are no eggs.

homophobia

Straight Hate.

This is a term I learned recently. It was said jokingly about my blog.

Ha. Ha.

I don’t hate straight people. I used to be one. (Anyone get the Mrs. Doubtfire reference? You are my people if you did.)

I do feel a certain type of way about heterosexual individuals who are not aware of their het-privilege and then become defensive or deny when it is pointed out to them.

I am very aware of my white privilege. I also have felt the gut instinct to deny it exists because it is uncomfortable to sit with it.

It’s likely not hate you are feeling from me. It’s an uncomfortable niggling in your gut that you have heterosexual privilege and I am ripping the band-aid off and making you look straight at it.

It’s human nature to deny that you are “better” than some one else. Especially when you’ve used the privilege to your advantage without even being aware you were doing it. Especially when you haven’t used your privilege to help and advocate for those without it.

Heterosexual privilege exists. Trust me. It exists every time you make plans for a vacation. Do you ever consider your safety? When traveling within the United States do you ever wonder if you can travel to South Carolina or Alabama because you might not be welcome there? I do. We literally don’t travel South unless it’s directly to a friend or family member.

Have you ever held your breath when a stranger starts admiring your kids and you are not in a totally safe place, and they mention their “Mommy” and you wait for your kids to correct them and say, No this is my Mama, Mommy’s not here. Giving away your secret. I have. I have exhaled in relief when my kids didn’t mention that they have two Mom’s and then later felt a deep sadness that they will have to hide this at other times in their future.

Have you ever left a job because you couldn’t be “out” about your partner? I have.

Have you ever lost clients or customers because of your sexual orientation? I have.

Have you ever been asked about your sexual relations leading up to pregnancy? I have.

Have you ever been unable to marry the person you love due to your genders? I have.

Have you and your partner ever been harassed at bars or in a restaurant by another male who thinks ‘you just need a dick in you both’?  We have.

Have you ever had a bible shoved in your face to show you how you’re going to hell? I have. Three times. By three different people.

Have your parents ever called a homeless shelter and told you to go to one, and that you have two hours to pack a bag and get out? My wife has.

Have you ever known some one who has been physically assaulted by their parents when they came out to them? I do. Too many people. Injuries included dislocated joints, broken bones, and black eyes.

The list could go on. Your privilege exists because you have not had to experience any of these things in order to love who you want to love.

Me pointing this out is not “straight hate”. It’s Queer love. My yoga instructor always says, “Sit with the uncomfortable. Move through the uncomfortable.” That’s what I encourage every one to do when examining your privilege. Put away the defensiveness and denial. Acknowledge it exists. Stop perpetuating the idea that it doesn’t. Stop perpetuating the idea that anyone pointing it out spreads hate.

I’ve said it before. I have a homosexual agenda. It’s to show everyone that my marriage and who I love doesn’t define who I am. Who I am defines who I love.

My agenda includes bringing light to an issue that has been stuck in a closet in the dark for far too long.

Straight hate probably exists in some Queers. It doesn’t exist in me. But the knowledge that more hetero’s need to acknowledge their privilege…that does exist. That mission of mine won’t stop.

If that’s not something you can handle…probably read a different blog then.

 

 

 

mom of boys · politics

Visiting the “Scary” City with Twins

I’m going to preface this with a few things. 1- We moved to the suburbs from a city- where we loved living, but while I was home on maternity leave there was not one but three home invasions all within a block of our house. One of the houses we shared a corner of our yard with. I was home alone for 14 hour stretches because my wife worked an hour away. I had visions of armed intruders coming while I was breastfeeding twins with no defense.

My car was broken into one night. And with my sister and I standing ten feet away some one came running toward her running car to try and steal it. So there were a few things that led us to move.

2- I didn’t want to live in a space as rural as we do. But we fell in love with this house and pool and the house we lived in for nine years was very close to the neighbors. I’d be cooking in the kitchen and suddenly a neighbor would be literally in our window chatting with me if it was open. My wife didn’t want that anymore. So now we have over an acre of land to separate us from our “neighbors”.

The trade-off of space and a pool was a white Republican town. I’m not sure we will stay but here we are for now. We had to move daycares too. We are now in much smaller and more suburbia type daycare with far less diversity in the teachers and kids. Previously my two little white boys were the minority. I liked it that way.

By moving here I knew we’d have stuff to deal with. But Sunday morning caught me by surprise.

Declan named the closest city and said, “It’s a scary place!” I was surprised that the name of the nearest city was in his vocabulary and also that he had formed an opinion about it. My wife facepalmed because she knew this was going to lead into an angry rant about ignorant white people by me.

First we asked where he heard this. But as he noted my intensity and interest grow Declan stopped talking. My wife and I hadn’t made this statement so it had to be some one at daycare.

I went into my rant. “It’s not scary. I work there at the hospital. You were born there!” my voice apparently was rising and my wife tried to calm me down, and I said, “No, this is all because of ignorant freaking white people in this area of our freaking state who think that “insert name of city” is bad because there are Black people there. Freaking racist bullshit.” Declan then started talking about stickers obviously trying to change the topic of conversation. Yes I swore in front of my kids. I was pissed.

I interrupted him. “We are going to ‘city name'” They looked at me surprised, Declan said, “Today?” I said, “Yup.” So we went.

It’s not a particularly big city and in my humble opinion not scary at all. As with all cities there are parts and bars that you should avoid after midnight but what’s interesting about working inpatient psychiatry is meeting all the homeless people that live in the city. I generally see several people I’ve taken care of walking the streets and the green and receive waves and nods so I never particularly worry about my safety. I’ve generally met the “Bogeymen” on my unit. They aren’t scary. Just ill.

We walked the streets. We had lunch at a restaurant with live music and chocolate chip pancakes. We saw people of all ethnicities and most importantly we showed the boys that though different from our sleepy town it is not scary and we were not scared to be there.

Considering we live in the Northeast there is significant racism in our “liberal” state. I will not be raising my white sons to fear a place or people because they look or seem different than us. We told them repeatedly that they could tell their class we went to the city and it’s not scary. I hope they did.

Going downtown is challenging because of parking and you know…twins. But we will have to suck it up and do it more frequently in order to raise them with the mentality that suburbia is not the only way to be or the right way to live or the better way.

As I said we are both unsure of staying here. Safety wise we are better off than where we were. But diversity and raising our sons in such a Republican white town, I don’t know that we are better off. The home invasions were real and scary. But white suburbia is apparently just as scary to me.

I don’t know the right answer. I just know that last Sunday we had fun in the scary city.

politics

Gender Journeys

I have the privilege of treating many transgender and non-binary teenagers. I’ve been doing this long enough that now I’ve seen several teens from pre-transition to post.

One time some one came in to see me, they are someone I started seeing prior to transitioning, prior to even telling their parents or anyone else for that matter.

When I saw them in the waiting room I almost didn’t recognize them. The changes were immense. They were now on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and the affects of it were noticeable as they could now pass for their self identified gender.

Some clients respond well to comments about physical changes, some don’t, so I never comment on it. I tried to contain my smile as I thought in my head, ‘There you are,’ Because there they were. Smiling, confident, carrying themselves differently, talking differently, making direct eye contact.

The change is often astounding for me to behold as the dysphoria lifts and the depression eases, to see the person emerge who has always been struggling to come out- there are simply not enough words that describe the impact of that moment. That moment when they walk in and I haven’t seen them in a few months and they are themselves. For maybe the first time ever.

Some one came in who I have been treating for almost six years. I always see them monthly sometimes more frequently than that. They’ve struggled in the past and eventually came out as transgender. After supporting them through coming out to family and then  transitioning and interventions, we finally scheduled our next appointment out two months. For the first time ever in almost six years we both agreed they were doing well enough to push our check in our two months.

Anyone who has seen the before and the after; you can see it’s not just the physical changes. The emotional vibes they give off in the room change. There is a quiet confidence that was absent before.

For those people who have never seen/interacted with/known a trans person from the before to the after…well they are the individuals who make statements like, “I just don’t understand it,” because if you saw the process- the before of the hurt/depression/anxiety/insecurities/self harm/suicide attempts/hospitalizations to the during- coming out to family/friends/healthcare providers/judgement/being disowned/being kicked out/being cut off financially to the treatment- HRT- Shots, side effects, lab work, dealing with pharmacies and transphobic pharmacists/surgeries-secretaries, billing departments/new license/new social security gender marker/transphobia everywhere/insurance companies now not covering a hysterectomy because your gender is “male”…to the after….quiet calm confidence.

If you experienced that moment when I go to get them in the waiting room and almost don’t recognize the person sitting there- but then I scrutinize their face and I think ‘there you are’. There they are. Smiling. Not depressed. No self harm. Not suicidal. Beautiful. If you saw what I see you would have no choice but to “get it”. Because when you bear witness to that over years- it’s impossible to see it with anything but sincere admiration for their strength, resilience, and perseverance in a world that often wants them to fail.

I often have trans clients relay to me stories of transphobia. I do not have one client who has never experienced transphobia. Not one. They all have been discriminated against at some point very openly- either spit at, cursed at, told to leave a restaurant, fired from jobs, and disowned by family.

Recently one client told me they were asked “Are you sure? That you’re trans?” My client laughed, and said, “If there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that.”

Note to reader: Don’t ask that question. It’s rude and invalidating. My client is good-natured and confident and was bothered by it but also recognized the source of the question and was not surprised by their ignorance. Don’t be that ignorant person. 

There is a lot of press lately about transgender medical interventions and the validity of them. A lot of bills being introduced to limit and/or deny accessibility of HRT and surgical interventions for teenagers.

If you’ve seen what I’ve seen and the drastic changes they create in people and teenagers- you would never think to question the validity of interventions. You would only question the intelligence of the people questioning the validity.

In this case though I don’t think it’s a lack of intelligence in our lawmakers. I think it’s a lack of love, kindness, and overt transphobia and hate emboldened by an administration that is potentially the most toxic in our history toward minorities.

To all my genderqueer, gender non-conforming, transgender, non-binary people; I see you. There you are. You are beautiful. Your feelings are valid. Your journey is your truth. I’m sorry to my core that there are people in this country making you feel less than. You deserve better and you have allies.