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Event Horizon (not the movie)

I'll qualify this post by noting that more people in the world have it worse than most of the US, but I live and work in the US, the Pacific NW, in particular, and that's my lens at the moment.

An event horizon is the point of no return at the edge of a black hole. If something passes that threshold it's gone.

I work under Health & Human Services at the county level, specifically in health care delivery. Our state expanded Medicaid and we have over 20,000 newly insured in our county alone. Every medical provider is bursting at the seams with people who finally have a chance to take care of their health. You can imagine the problems it can cause, but it's given so many people the opportunity to take care of themselves.


I had a meeting with pediatric providers yesterday and the discussion morphed into all of us bitching about the numerous ways lower and middle SES kids get left behind, particularly related to trauma. You know what helps kids cope with trauma? Kinesthetic therapy - moving their little bodies around. They don't have the language to talk about their emotions and experiences. But unless you have a way to pay for and transport your kids all over the place for gymnastics, karate, soccer, track, dance, etc., they miss out. Even if you're part of a two-income household and can keep you head above water your kids will miss out because you can't get them where they need to go. There are amazing summer programs where I live, but they run from 9:30am-2:30pm and no before/after childcare. This shit is out of reach for me and we're technically a middle class family.

Then there are mental health services. Where I am it's easier to get kids into services, but if their parents don't take them there won't be any improvement. This is why I don't work with kids. I want to shake their parents and force them to understand how they're damaging their kids and how much they're missing out. It's like talking to a brick wall. I feel so much impotent rage I have to not think about it most of the time, focusing on what *can* be done.

The time I have for any one person is really limited for legitimate reasons. It's gut-wrenching when I can sit with someone who has been horribly victimized and doesn't trust *anyone*, they take the chance trusting me and I have to stop seeing them. Transferring them to another provider almost guarantees they won't continue with treatment and there isn't really a damn thing I can do about that.

I've been very successful at being able to help people without getting sucked into the black hole of needs I can't fulfill, but this week I was tap dancing on the event horizon. There are so many services that could be put into place that would almost put me out of a job because of the capacity to help people heal. Early intervention helps prevent future mental health issues and later chronic conditions (chronic pain, hypertension, COPD, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and so many more). Even from a financial perspective the potential for savings is huge, but it would take at least a generation for those savings to manifest, so we continue to let people circle the drain.


It's fucked up beyond words. Sometimes all I can connect with in myself is rage. Compassion is something that exists between equals* and those with power don't see the 30-year-old woman of color who has three young children, works a shit job, and receives food stamps as an equal. No compassion= no compelling reason to help.

*paraphrase of a quote I recently saw

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