Running Through Fire With an Ostomy Bag. Homeless Without Humira. Can You Imagine?

Yet again I am contemplating and empathizing with the plight of the seriously chronically ill in the midst of an ongoing natural disaster, this time raging wildfires in Northern and Southern California.  This morning I read the story of a woman who had given birth via C-section in the city of Paradise which that very day ended up burnt to the ground.  She was still on an IV drip with a spanking-fresh surgical wound and an hours-old newborn, unable to even walk on her own, and was forced to catch a ride out of dodge with a nonmedical hospital worker to whom she decreed: if the fire overtakes this car, take my baby and run.  Gamely, the nonmedical hospital worker hung this woman’s IV bag from the rearview mirror and in just 9 short hours they had made the 20 minute drive to the next town to another hospital where, I presume, she is continuing her recovery from what is, of course, major (and probably elective) surgery and on top of that, likely major psychological trauma from both the surgery and the fire.

The home she had shared with her husband in Paradise has been reduced to its chimney as a large portion of the state continues to burn throwing hundreds of thousands of lives into prolonged chaos.  Some 10,000 homes have burned and many more people than that have been left homeless, camping out in tents in the parking lot of the local Walmart (if they are lucky enough to even have a tent) living in cars (unless theirs was lost or left behind) or renting a hotel room if they can locate, access and afford one — every room within 100 miles is currently occupied by displaced fire victims and other evacuees.

As a climate refugee myself, before I became a cannabis refugee, I was left homeless after losing my apartment in Hurricane Sandy and I can vividly imagine and feel these evacuees’ pain, stress and grief as they attempt to survive the “aftermath” of an ongoing regional disaster where all has been lost, damaged or destroyed, and that includes all infrastructure, including medical infrastructure.  While the experience of being a climate (or other) refugee in the best of circumstances is daunting, traumatizing and horrific, what are seriously ill people expected to do on top of everything else when they are also tied to the Western medical system either temporarily or for life because they have submitted to alterations/interventions like surgeries, ostomies, picc lines and the like, but where medical goods and services (including ostomy supplies and even intravenous nutrition) become unavailable due to an ongoing natural disaster?  What of those who are dependent on Big Pharma drugs to manage their symptoms or who are addicted to prescription painkillers and psych meds but who, due to circumstances beyond their control, are unable to refill their prescriptions and start to experience dangerous and even life-threatening disease relapses and clinical withdrawal?

Do people even think about these things — the issues of utter dependence — when they crawl into bed with Western medicine and Big Pharma, implicitly depending on infrastructure like physical brick and mortar facilities including infusion clinics and pharmacies; the availability of power including heat, light, water, and related hygiene, comfort and recovery/convalescence issues; and availability of medication/nutrition/supplies and other supply chain issues but where we are seeing infrastructure failing all over the country and by the hour from natural disasters which those in charge are unequipped to handle?  Surely some patients give their engagement with Western medicine serious and holistic thought but the majority certainly do not, just blindly following medical authority figures’ directions off a proverbial cliff of cascading interventions, iatrogenic illness and injury, dependency and even death.  Because the truth appears to be that the more/longer you engage with Western medicine, the more likely it becomes that they will fuck you up so badly that eventually they will nearly kill you and you will then look to them to save your life and look!  In the case of Crohn’s disease patients, now you’ve had 27 bowel resection surgeries.  Now you have an ostomy bag.  Now you take nutrition through a picc line directly into your heart.  And on and on it goes.

As if there didn’t already exist plenty of solid reasons not to engage with or submit to Western medical care if you can help it, in the current “climate” of what we are calling climate change and all that entails, including widespread drought and wildfires, supercharged thunderstorms that drop feet (feet! not inches anymore) of rainwater, tornadoes and softball sized hail, supercharged hurricanes that cause all of that and more including widespread coastal flooding, and the like, I would respectfully suggest that people start thinking about these things now and to consider very seriously how you would fare if the medical infrastructure everyone obviously takes for granted suddenly and even permanently fails.

Of course, once you become chronically ill, you are pretty much fucked any way you slice it: in my own case, although I ditched Western medicine after 2 years of conventional treatment that was only making me worse, I am now completely dependent on medical marijuana to treat the pain and symptoms of Crohn’s disease, without which medication I literally will not survive.  When the shit hits the fan, I and everyone in my position will suffer greatly as the supply chain fails, and that includes the marijuana supply chain as well as the food and water supply chain because so far, I have been unable to supply my own.  But as I contemplate the plight of the latest disaster refugees, including the woman who had the Caesarian and every patient in that hospital and elsewhere who had to evacuate to save their very lives, I think to myself, if I ever have to evacuate again, at least I don’t have a fresh surgical wound.  At least I don’t have an ostomy that requires expensive medical supplies lest I leave a trail of shit wherever I go, at least I don’t depend on highly processed liquid nutrition pumped into my heart from a permanent picc line that’s susceptible to infections, at least I haven’t decimated my immune system with toxic chemotherapy and other drugs which are the best Western medicine can do for my untreatable, incurable and progressive disease.

And speaking of toxic Western medical treatments for Crohn’s like Humira, Remicade and the like, at least I won’t develop antibodies to my medication if I don’t have access to it for awhile, antibodies that will cause me to reject it once the supply chain comes back online, assuming the medication even worked well in the first place.  Can you fucking imagine?  At least that.  Of course, that happens to Crohn’s and other autoimmune patients every day when their health insurance carriers refuse to pay or when/if they otherwise have to miss their infusions for any reason at all.  Do you see what I am saying?  This shit, meaning Western medicine including the medical supply chain infrastructure, cannot be relied on, even when the medicine itself works and it often doesn’t.  So do not rely on it if you can help it.  It will not, because it cannot, end well if you do.

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