Monthly Archives: March 2018

Hot Nurses, Sexism, and the Culture of Silence #metoo

“You have to pick your battles.”  That’s what my friend says to me as we relate the different ways in which we have dealt with sexism over the years.  The culture of silence.  Why do we have to pick our battles?  Because it is so stinking pervasive.  That’s why.  If it only happened every now and then, you could hit it head on, and get past it.  You wouldn’t have to weigh out the consequences and implications of possible conflict in the work place and out.

I wrote this post last year and never published it.  Since then the #metoo movement took off and more women have been speaking up about sexism and sexual harassment.

Sitting on the sidelines of my kid’s soccer game as he was playing another team that was co-ed.  Boys and girls.  There was a mom behind me screaming at her son to, “Get her.  Let her have it.”  Then she spoke to the rest of us.  “He (my son) told me he didn’t like playing teams with girls because he had to be careful. I said, no you don’t!  If she’s playing on a boy team she’s asking for it.  You let her have it.”

I was horrified.  And yet, as is so often the case when we are involved with sexism our shock and confusion render us silent.  Is this really happening?  She feels supported enough in this environment to be so rabidly sexist toward these young soccer girls and in what she is teaching her son about how women should be treated.  The whole, ‘she’s asking for it’ line.

What’s wrong with teaching your son to treat the female soccer players like humans, with good sportsmanship?

Another woman asked me how I felt about co-ed teams while in the same sentence saying that she didn’t like it.  She said that girls develop faster than boys and that gave them an unfair advantage (we were losing to the co-ed team).  I told her that I was glad to see that there were girls on the team and that they were doing well.

But I think that if they hadn’t been doing well, that mother would have said instead, “well, what did they expect, playing on a boys’ field.”  No matter how it was going these women had it out for girls on the ‘boys’ team.

These are grown women.  Mothers of 12 year old children.  And I said nothing.

As a small business owner for 10 years I hadn’t had to deal with workplace sexism.  I was the boss and I set the tone for my environment.  But when I got into nursing in an environment that serves a predominantly male population, it was everywhere.  Patients grabbing me inappropriately, talking about the nurses with reference to sexual fantasies, and from coworkers who would say, “aw let him have his fun.  He’s not hurting anybody.”

Once I had a nurse (in a superior position) approach me with my patient in the hall. My patient was demented and needed to be walked continually to feel that we were going somewhere.  He didn’t know where he was going but he knew he wanted to get out of there.  The other nurse said to the patient, “Why do you want to get out of here?  You have this hot nurse here helping you out?  Look at her.  You’ve got it made here.”  He continued the conversation with the patient, referencing me as the hot nurse repeatedly and in different ways.  I stepped away from the two of them.  My face was flushed.  I had witnessed this nurse trash talking women disrespectfully with almost every encounter.  This was the first time he had spoken about me in that way in my presence.  When he was leaving I came back to the patient’s chair and said to the nurse, “It is not okay for you to talk about me like that.”  The nurse apologized and he hasn’t done it to me since then.  He has not however, stopped disrespecting other women on the floor to their face and behind their back.  They probably felt as disempowered as I so often have, and haven’t found the words or courage to fight it.

More recently there was a nurse assistant who was talking about how rough his life was since he couldn’t get out to the strip clubs.  It’s his right to spend his time as he wants.  But in our work setting I felt uncomfortable listening to him detailing the things he was missing out on because he was working so much. This wasn’t a private conversation he was having with an intimate friend.  This was him boastfully and loudly talking to all of us in the nurses station about how rough his life was because he couldn’t get to the naked dancers and there was no porn available.  Again, I said nothing.  It wasn’t directed at me personally, but it was assuming a comfort level with a sexual topic that objectifies women and devalues their humanity.

I think it’s a combination of shock, fear, and shame that makes us remain silent when we should speak up when being dehumanized.  Even while writing this post I question if I should write certain aspects of it.  I question if I will even post it.  Why?  Because, what if somebody I know reads this, what if I lose my job for talking about the realities of workplace sexism, what if the soccer moms blacklist my son from events because I’m weird and not a part of the ‘good ole boy network’ that believes that women have it coming to them.  We feel shame when we are denigrated like that.  Whether our logical mind buys into the abuse or not, we feel ashamed to be that which is so easily ridiculed and put down.  Our culture is not supportive of rational discussions of sexism.  Our culture, whether it intends to or not, is supportive of silence.  Put your head down and it will be over in a minute.

I hope that my sons will see a female opponent the way they see a male opponent, as a human to be treated with respect and good sportsmanship.  I hope that they will stand up for women in the workplace and recognize that it is not good sportsmanship to allow an elderly man to grab a nurse’s  breasts because, “let him have his fun.  He’s not hurting anybody.”  The fact that these elderly men haven’t learned that it is assault to grab a woman’s breast should not be a deterrent to educating them now.

I hope for myself that I can recover more quickly from the shock of these situations in the future and hit them head on without fear of backward consequences that blame the victim.  Because of course, according to some people, I’m asking for it.  What I’m truly asking for is to be treated like a human, that all women be treated equally as humans.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, runner, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

 

Share

Massage Times Available

Massage appointment times available March 23rd, 30th, April 6th, and 8th, 13th, and 20th.  Text 479-466-8294 to request an appointment or request an appointment through the Integrated Massage Facebook Page

I love my job as a nurse.  It’s another way of serving, and I have found that my life makes more sense when I am serving others.  Left to my own devices my brain becomes a treacherous self involved place.  There are a lot of things I don’t love about it, but some of the things I do love about it are my coworkers–I work with some amazing humans and I’m fortunate to be able to spend my days with them.  I love the patients.

Mostly I work with grouchy old dudes.  They are often cute and curmudgeonly.  I love it when I get to send them home after a bout with pneumonia, flu, or infection.  I especially love it when I get a patient who is open to taking responsibility for their health and they want to hear about food, meditation, and exercise.

Another thing I love about it is that it allows me to have large chunks of time off when I can create other things, be with friends, develop curriculum for teaching massage, take on a few massage clients, write.

Today is the first of 5 days off.  But there is soooo much I want to do!  I’m developing curriculum for continuing education classes, compiling information for writing a book, spending as much time as I can with my kids, repairing the siding on my house, helping my kid paint his bedroom, giving my kids massages, hanging out in the hot tub with them, training for a 25K, teaching a dance class.  There are so many things to do in this life.  I wish the days were longer.  I’m grateful for my job that lets me have time at home to play.

I’ve been doing massage on Fridays and some Sunday afternoons.  Usually the times fill right up, and often if there is a cancellation there is somebody waiting to take that spot.  I’m really grateful to be doing some massage now.  I’m especially grateful that my  children, even my adult children  still ask me for massage.  It’s pretty special.

Let me know if you want some time on the table.

Share

Good Solid Chiropractic Adjustments

During the Persian Gulf War I was an Airman in the Air Force working in a warehouse, driving trucks, forklifts, and lifting heavy boxes.  I hurt my low back then–was out of commission for about 3 months.  The medical doctors did x-rays and tests, they put me through physical therapy, ice therapy, and electrical stimulation.  They put me on light duty for months.  It wasn’t until I got out of the military and was in massage therapy school that I had the ah-ha moment of chiropractic.  I was in excruciating pain and my instructor said, your sacro-iliac joints are misaligned.  You need a chiropractic adjustment.

It was miraculous.  The next day I felt almost 100% better.

I have had to manage low back pain ever since .  It’s a process and some days are better than others, but the tools I have developed over time to help are what I have shaped my life and occupation around.

  • Eat good food.  (Maintaining a good weight is definitely a factor in low back pain)
  • Move it or lose it.  (Exercise is imperative)
  • Yoga-intentional stretching (I’ve been bad about this lately)
  • Massage.  (of course)
  • And Chiropractic

I have gone to many chiropractors over the years, and always,  when I go, I see clients I have referred there.  I love trying out new chiropractors, but like any profession, it’s good to get a good referral.

Until recently I have paid cash for my chiropractic visits.  That pay range has been between $35 and $55 a session.  I’m not interested in getting on  a program, and I’m not interested in the bells and whistles–heat, TENS units (especially since they re-use the stickers-yuck), ice, machine manipulation–I can do all that stuff on my own.

My son needed a couple chiropractic adjustments to help him recover from a soccer injury so I took him and used my insurance.  2 times to the chiropractor–$400.  The adjustment itself was affordable, but all the bells and whistles were through the roof expensive.

I just want the adjustment.

And I told them that.  I was getting adjustments there as well.  And even though I stated very clearly that I was not interested in electrical stimulation or heat, my chiropractor ushered me to the treatment room after my adjustment anyway.  The tech person took me into a room and showed me how to stretch my piriformis–I think I know that one by now.

It’s a money making machine.  If insurance will pay hundreds of dollars for adjunct therapies, then everybody is getting them.  This is so much what I dislike about our health care system.  The system will pay it–so we’ll do it.  It’s the difference between a $55 adjustment, and a $200 visit.

This is why health care is so expensive and inaccessible to the masses.  It doesn’t make sense.

Frustration in that situation led me to seek out a friend I’ve known for 12 years but have never visited for services.  Dr. Joanna Hudec.  She has always been active in our community, attending race events, supporting the massage therapist community, teaching bodywork professionals.

She does a great adjustment, she listens to what my concerns are, she doesn’t give me unnecessary bells and whistles, and she cares about her community.

Effective adjustments.  And, she takes insurance.  Bonus!

If you are looking for a good chiropractor, go see them at Spine Sports and Rehab.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a local hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

Share

Middle Aged Heart Attacks–What You Eat Matters!

Heart Attack.

My patients come in waves.  The most common patients I have are grumpy old dudes with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.   I’m pretty fond of them.  This week all of my patients were younger, some younger than me, with coronary artery disease at huge risk for heart attack.  One had a diastolic blood pressure that never went below 120, one had to be taken for a stent (to bypass arteries that are ‘clogged’ and not able to allow blood to flow to the heart), and another had had a heart attack and stroke the week before.

I knew when I was getting in to nursing that I did not want to work with cancer.  A lot of things cause cancer, but it’s not as easy to determine, and it can be quite indiscriminate.  One of the biggest predetermining factors for cancer is age.  Eventually it’s going to get you.  That’s depressing and I don’t want to think about that all the time, cancer seems nigh unconquerable.

Hypertension, coronary artery disease, and atherosclerosis–these are things with direct cause and effect relationships with food, exercise, and lifestyle choices.  Yes, there is a genetic component, but we can control the variables.  These are diseases that I can focus on and get excited about.

When I was helping my middle aged patient on the stretcher to go to the hospital that would put in his stent, the family was talking about where they would go for dinner on the way to the hospital.  The ambulance workers were telling the family where all the good fried chicken restaurants were.

This is a family who is looking death in the face through the lens of an atherosclerotic coronary artery.  This man’s father had died young from a heart attack.  The ambulance workers recognized The ambulance workers recognized his family name because the siblings called 911 for chest pain frequently.

My input?  Fried chicken clogs arteries.  We are sending your dear sweet husband to surgery for clogged arteries and you are going to stop on the way and buy some more grease.  Now I realize that lifestyle change takes time and education, but it is frustrating when our behaviors are so obviously self defeating.

I gave them my ‘what for’ speech about packing an artery with their food while sending hubby under the knife to carve out a new pathway to oxygenate the heart, and then I recommended the health food store deli across the street as a great place to pick up something fast that wouldn’t take years off their lives.

As I was walking away I could hear the ambulance worker reinforcing the idea that fried chicken was a perfectly fine thing to eat when under stress and the family seemed to agree that this was no time for health food.

I’m at a loss.

A couple weeks ago I was trying to convince an older congestive heart failure and COPD (he can’t breathe well) patient of the same thing.  His family was bringing him fast food and he kept asking me to bring him sodas.  Of course every time he asks me for a soda it comes with a lecture on the evils of putting bad fuel in your engine.  He argued and argued with me that he just wasn’t a water drinking kind of guy and that fast food tastes good to him.

This is a man who weighs over 300 pounds and is in the hospital for shortness of breath.  The extra weight he’s carrying alone could make a person short of breath.

One day, while I was caring for him, I said, “You wouldn’t put bad fuel in your car would you?”  He stopped and looked at me for a minute.  He said, “You got me there.  I can’t argue with that.”

There’s a sign in the shoe store for runners that says, “Don’t choose your shoes because of the color!”  Runners choose their shoes for their function.  Yes, you can choose food because it tastes good, but the function of eating is to fuel the body.

“But I don’t like that kind of food” is not a good defense.

It is hard being a human on the planet.  Making good choices is hard, and it’s a process.  And our culture does not support healthy food choices, even our ambulance paramedics are advocating for fast food.  Food is addictive.  We want what we want and it’s hard to see the direct cause and effect that can carve time off of our lives.

I don’t know that my constant re-education of patients on lifestyle and food choices does any good, but I’m at a loss as to what else to do to try to affect change.

But I do have an idea for a book that surveys hospitals that are doing healthy food well and asks how they got that way.  Maybe we could use that kind of research to affect policy change in a more systemic way in our hospital systems.

In the meantime I’ll continue with the one on one approach on the front lines.  What you eat matters!

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a local hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

Share