No One Listens

Today, I was back and up with my internet connection, after a weekend of no service, and I was all set to post something on persons who feel helpless, but the actions of Dr. Nancy Synderman at NBC-TV, the doc whose cameraman came down with Ebola, stopped me in my tracks.

After being, from what I understood to be in “self-quarantine” in the interests of everyone here after her return to the US, Dr. Nancy apparently felt she had had enough of that. According to one internet source (I haven’t searched for ALL the resources), she was seen eating out. Ah, but she was in her car, not in a restaurant? Does that make it ok? Let me be clear here.

The first indication I had that she had left her home was when I saw that Whoopi Goldberg on The View, blew up when she heard about it. Then I had to look into it. Rosie Perez also found it to be “irresponsible” of Snyderman, a former bigpharma VP, to place the public at risk and to instill fear in the public. I very heartily agree. Nancy isn’t exempt from spreading the virus and she had no way of really knowing much about this disease other than what she’s read or been told. She’s not a researcher as far as I know. Paid the big bucks may just have gone to her head this time and it’s now the business of the local police where she lives to bring her back into the barn.

Here’s what the on-line article said: “On Tuesday, NBC News President Deborah Turness said in a statement sent to staff members that Snyderman and her crew were doing well and in good health. “While they are deemed to be at low risk, we have agreed with state and local health authorities that our team will not come to work, and they will stay at home taking their temperatures twice daily and staying in touch with the local health authorities for the remainder of the recommended 21-day period,” Turness said.

“Snyderman is not under any kind of mandatory quarantine order by the CDC or the state because she is at a very low risk of contracting Ebola. Any confinement is voluntary.

NBC did not respond to inquiries about Snyderman today, and Snyderman could not be reached for comment.” You know, it’s really comical, if you can see the black comedy here.

So, if Dr. Nancy was acting so wonderfully in the interest of public safety, why did she need the dark glasses and hair pulled back? Disguise to protect her public image of sainthood? Did she really crave that take-out food so much and is she so sure it was entirely prudent to do what she and her buddies did in the car in New Jersey? Nah, I don’t think it was prudent at all and, at the very least, it was incredibly BAD PR for her to do it. Now, she’ll have her feet and those of the NBC talking heads put to the fire over this one.

Enough said about Nancy. She’ll have to explain this one until she’s blue in the face and we’ll leave her to it.

Take stock of the things you’ve done already today. Did you get up this morning and fix yourself breakfast, take a shower, get your clothes ready and then hop into the car or onto a bus or train? All pretty simple stuff, right?

But not for everyone. Next time you’re in your home or your apartment, look around and think how easy it is for you to navigate these spaces, go up the stairs, easily glide through doorways and get into your car. Even if you don’t have a car, you have probably rented one and it was all so simple and easy. You open the door, slide into the driver’s seat and off you go.

No need to have someone slip a transfer board between your wheelchair and the seat. No need to have your special hand clip adjusted so that you can push it onto the spinner on the steering wheel so you can drive. Oh, yes, of course, things are a bit different now, but for those who are paralyzed below the neck, they may breathe but their hands aren’t available to them as they are for us. Well, of course, they’ll just have to get one of those nifty vans with the automated lifts that bring them right up in their chairs and put them into position. Easy as pie if you have what is it $75K or more now?

Life is a series of “challenges” we like to call them now. They aren’t “problems” anymore because that’s such a passé word, isn’t it? Let’s put a positive spin on things and see them as challenges to be met and conquered. Isn’t that what all the news stories tell us? But what about the other “challenges” that are there, but never recognized as such, or, if they are, they are somehow pushed back with slick words and tentative offers that never materialize in clear-cut action?

What am I thinking about? I went to a health fair today and I sat at a table where the people were offering information to persons with disabilities. You know, those who have vision, sight or perhaps mobility problems. But for all the help that’s there, it’s the lack of follow-through that is most disheartening and frustrating.

Take for example the smallish women in her early 80s who comes with two minor challenges. Her husband has Parkinson’s and he uses a walker. And they live in a small apartment complex where there are no cuts in the sidewalk for him to make the transition from their apartment to the small shopping center just a block away.

The frail couple must make their way another block or two in the opposite direction to the single sidewalk cut accessible to them. Then they have to walk in the roadway until they come across the next cut which is now two more blocks away. Forget about the fact that the town is quickly gaining a reputation for pedestrian deaths and that, as a result, they have “secret” pedestrians trying to ticket people who don’t stop for pedestrians in the roadway.

The roadway is more than dangerous. It is an invitation to hospitalization, except for the fleet of foot. The couple take their physical health and their very lives in their hands each time they attempt a simple trip to the deli nearby. But it doesn’t stop there. Yes, of course, they’ve spoken to the mayor, the man in charge of public works (the state gave funds for sidewalk cuts), and the owner of their apartment complex. The unanimous response from all of those empowered to help them? There are other priorities, but they’ll get around to it.

Or, they’ve heard nothing at all. They’ve been ungraciously ignored as unimportant and their lives seen as expendable. Who cares if another elderly couple disappears into the recesses of some hospital or nursing home? The rent can go up and younger people can move in who won’t ask for sidewalk cuts. Another challenge solved.

The woman had another request. Could someone tell the buildings department that the iron stanchions around the entrance to the supermarket wouldn’t permit entrance with a walker? “Even if they would only take one of them out,” she pleaded, “it would make it easier for my husband and anyone with a carriage or wheelchair.” But, as she continued, “Everyone complains but I’m the only one who says anything about it.” They don’t listen and the grumbling continues with the continuing inaction or lack of voicing to those in authority. She speaks not just for herself and her husband. She speaks for all of them.

Try using a walker for a day and see how you do. And remember those sidewalk cuts when you do. Lack of such cuts, and lack of a sidewalk leading into the parking lot of a major supermarket chain, resulted in a woman in a motorized wheelchair being hit by a car as she navigated the slanted driveway into the parking lot. Why was she in the parking lot? Ah, you see, it’s the only way you can get to the front entrance of the store. There is no other way. It’s surrounded by a parking lot. In case you’re interested, the woman suffered two broken legs and other injuries. The supermarket still hasn’t installed a sidewalk, cuts or no cuts.

Is there anything else? “Yes, they told us that we have to get an internet phone because they’re removing all, what is it, the copper wire and we won’t have a phone if we don’t switch.” Challenge there? “Yes, we don’t have cable because we can’t afford it and with my eyesight, it’s useless.”

What she didn’t know, of course, is that when the electricity goes out so does the cable and along with it any cable phone services. This, then, leaves her and everyone else with an internet or cable phone without any way of getting help in this time of emergency. This frightening scenario was played out during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 when some areas were without electricity for two weeks or more.

How many people in their early 80s or their 90s are now being frightened into buying a service that they don’t need? The phone is their lifeline to family, friends and vital services. They couldn’t live without it. That is what the cable customer service representatives are counting on, fear. It is a potent sales technique when used correctly.

Who else is going to try to fleece our seniors for their own corporate convenience and stockholders’ wishes? The elderly are getting it from all sides and when they have a disability, as most of them will, it’s worse.

Everyone has a cell phone, correct? No because enough of the elderly can’t afford that, too. Want a phone with larger letters and really adjustable volume for those with increasing hearing loss? That will set them back $200 at least. Want one that also has a screen where they can read large type if they can’t hear the conversation? Don’t ask what that will cost. And isn’t it wonderful that the phone service only costs $160 a month? Oh, my, that is a real dent in their monthly Social Security check.

The world of the elderly is shrinking even as we see this group expanding in size. Services are popping up all over the place but who will pay for it? Do people really have such unrealistic ideas about the financial situation of elderly persons? I think they do. And, when it’s all said and done, how can we hold our heads up and allow this to happen to The Greatest Generation?

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