Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Which I Decide to Make New Mistakes

Sometimes, it is necessary for the universe to give you hints of such magnitude and frequency that even someone like me hears it. The combination of holding forth at HealthCentral about giving it a rest when you need to, being called on not practicing what I preach, having less pain when I sit still (who'd have thunk it?) and Carrie's post about actions and consequences laid the foundation. Then I got all self-referential in my last post and put in a link to the description of my injury of six months ago to let potential new readers know how monumentally stupid I can be. I decided to read the post. Just for fun. And realized that I am in the penultimate stage of a very familiar process, in which I put being useful and busy above my health and inevitably cause myself an injury. I also realized that as I haven't yet healed from the last injury, another injury in the same place now might take me out completely and for a long time. Maybe even be permanent.

And it all came together in a moment of such stunning grokking that I’m surprised it wasn’t accompanied by a heavenly choir and beaming light from above (or an anvil to the head) and I asked the question that I should have asked a long time ago: what's most important - The List or my health? Suddenly, it was a no-brainer. Especially as the question helpfully elaborated and specified not health in the sense that it's something I can get over in a week or two, but Health. Ability. The life of my shoulder and elbow in my driving arm. That needs to last as long as possible in order for me to keep my independence.

So I've decided to not make the same mistake for the 4,297th time and will, with very few exceptions, do what I need to do and do it now while I still have a chance for some preventative maintenance. That means puttering around in my home and very immediate neighborhood and most importantly, staying away from the computer. I plan to read fluffy books, watch movies, nap and then read some more. And not blog, because that requires a computer. Dammit. Will you look at that – personal growth!

I'll be back Wednesday next week. Until then, don't do anything I would. Or if you do, please tell me about it because I predict that in exactly 27 hours, I will be bored senseless.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Oops, I Did It Again

As Carrie pointed out in a comment to my last post, I may know the theory of listening to your body, but am occasionally somewhat slow to learn the practice.

It happened again. Out of the blue last Tuesday – well, maybe not completely out of the blue, as I’ve been somewhat busy - my right elbow started making noises uncomfortably close to those it made back in January and minute by minute, it crawled up my arm, immobilizing the entire area from hand to shoulder. Fast on the tail of that was half of my palm going numb and some time in the past week, it's occurred to me to be surprised about what you can get used to. Six months ago when all this first happened and parts of my palm started getting all tingly and numb-ish from a trapped nerve in either my elbow or shoulder - or, as I'm a bit of an overachiever, perhaps both! - I was utterly and completely freaked out. Just think of how many times you palm touches something in the course of your day and imagine every time it does that, being aware that the sensation isn't the same as the rest of your body. Continual freakout, I tell ya. Over time, things improved, but it has yet to get back to completely normal sensation. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what happened. Because unless it's aggravated and starts buzzing like an irritated beehive, I don't notice it anymore. But it is now. Buzzing like an irritated beehive, accompanied by random jolts of pain down the upper arm that feel like lightning strikes, as well as the usual intriguing pain levels all over… well, it’s hard to ignore.

So I sat very, very still and then I didn't, because I had shit to do and didn't have the patience to sit very, very still and yes, it has occurred to me that my lack of patience may - just may, y’unnerstand - have something to do with my repeated injuries. My body being fucked after 40 years of arthritis is also a likely contributor and it apparently requires me to live life like a 18th century lady, all reclined and slow (except with fewer changes of clothes and more baths). Who has time for that? Besides, my arm hurts too much to do needlepoint.

I meandered into my doctor’s office and got the nice woman at the reception to squeeze me into the schedule for a shot of local anesthetic. I get a steroid shot every now and again, but had one too recently for a refresher and the shot of freezing can be very helpful in sort of resetting the clock. My muscles don't tend to go into spasms, because that implies a cycle of them contracting and relaxing. Nope, my muscles are overachievers, too, and so they clench. And every time I get a shot of freezing, I've forgotten the bliss. After days and days of my shoulder being in a tight clench, once the anesthetic hits the right place, the cascade of relaxation from shoulder to shoulder blade to back muscles is almost orgasmic. My eyes close, a smile spreads on my face as all of me relaxes and at some point before I leave her office, I will tell my doctor that I love her. And it helps for a while. Or would, if I sat more still than I do. And I would, honestly, but the thing is, The List, the neverending effin’ List doesn’t stall out when I do. So it’s a bit of a see-saw around here.

When it's really bad, I distract myself from the computer calling my name all siren-like by watching TV. Not soaps, because that's just too surreal, but working my way through the last season of The Sopranos, watched Dial M for Murder and taping Craig Ferguson to watch with my breakfast. Starts my day with a laugh, often to the point of wheezing and that's never a bad thing. And on the days that are little slower, I’ve had time to notice that it's doing me some good. Things have been so busy for so long and it appears that I am seriously in need of a vacation. Not yet, but soon. I have plans for August. Which will no doubt get fucked up, but at least I’ll have had actual plans for a week off.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Beginner’s Guide to Living with RA

My latest post for HealthCentral:

"'You have rheumatoid arthritis,' your doctor says.

Now what?

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be a relief because finally, you know what's wrong. It's also scary and overwhelming - a new lifelong companion has been found, one you didn't invite and don't want."

You can read the rest of the post here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Table

I don't remember a time when the dining room table wasn't there.

It is made of solid oak, standing firm on two solid legs, a bridge between them. The grain of the wood is cut in swooping curves inviting the hand into a caress flowing from top to bottom and down over the softly carved feet, like a small summer wave caught in wood. Paradise for a child, the source of endless expeditions into mystery lands, each leg the tallest trees in the jungle, the feet a ramp for small toy cars, the entire underside of the table a cave of safety and excitement.

A new generation discovers The Underside

One of my earliest memories is of playing under that table while my mother sewed clothes on the top. Or maybe it’s a compilation of many memories - when I was little, the sewing machine often stood on one end of the table, down by the window to our stamp-sized backyard with the small apple tree and my mother often sewed clothes for me, clothes for herself. The steady sound of the Singer sewing machine chugging away vibrated down through the table, an integral part of whatever adventure I was inventing below. Just as much a part of those memories is the interruptions of colourful language when the sewing didn't go quite as planned. Somehow, though, the end result was always chic.

Every day, we would eat at the table. In the dark of December mornings, an Advent candle before me counting down the days to Christmas and Christmas dinner itself which in my family is so much more than a meal.

At first, a little conscious of our dignity, but after 10 more minutes, we all look like this

My sister and I learned the debate game there, discussing anything and everything with mor and far, words flying and leaping and cartwheeling above the table, building worlds of ideas. We celebrated birthdays there, always with fresh flowers from the garden

I did my homework there, my mother paid the bills there, it is the first place new people in our home were invited to sit. We collected friends around the table for good dinners with good wine and conversations that lasted long into the night, until someone would finally suggest we move to the living room because the chairs aren't all that comfortable. Somehow, once we've moved, the conversation wasn't as good. There were fights around that table and so much laughing and so many tears, not just from laughing. There was Denmark, there was Canada, there was health and sickness and death and grieving and healing. And everything that happened around that table, everything that happened around that centre of my family, happened while we were sitting at it, touching it, imbued the table with collected magic over the years so that by now it is filled with everything we were, everything we have ever been. The table is magic, soaking up all of us, cleansing us and leaving only what has knit us all together - the original four of me, my sister, my mother and father and the extended family, not just the ones related by blood, but the ones we chose to become family, the ones who made us more than we were. Soaked into that table is love and laughter and us.

And now my mother is moving to a smaller place and although the table has been with us through many moves from town to town and country to country and last from house to apartment, there will be room no more for this table that was us, that collected not just our family within, but others as well for over a hundred years and now, it must go. And there is part of me that feels as if much of the magic within my family is tied to the magical object of our dining room table and it feels wrong, so very wrong to let it go. It feels as if I'm letting part of my family go. But needs must and there is nothing for it, so we have to say goodbye.

And I hope that it will find another family that it can knit together with love and laughter.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Random July

To start this month's random link-o-rama off right, click here for a video of Gary Kasparov and the flying penis. Depending on how puritanical your employer is, this may be very NSFW. My favorite moment is when the bodyguard gets ready to throw himself into the path of a speeding…. flying penis?

Apparently wheelchairs are enough of a vehicle that you can get charged with impaired driving. Horses are vehicles, too. Who knew?

Placebo for kids. There's just so much wrong with this that I don't know where to start.

This is new book that is being very well-publicized called Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions. It's got a website and everything and I'm not exactly sure what I think of the concept. However, I will refrain from judging something I haven't read, except to say if it's the taste of millions, it’s hardly unique, innit?

Some time ago, Donna from Million Dollar PetPix Time Capsule sent an e-mail inviting me to check out her site and I have. It's pretty cool - in addition to creating an online time capsule about your pet, which you can share with friends and family all over the world. You can then make your pet a Star and by a large pixel or small pixel, which stays for 10 years. The site also contains interesting articles with topics ranging from parrot pigments, condos and pet rights, guide dogs and children autism to information about puppy mills. Useful, while enabling us to share our Furred Wonders with the world. I like that.

A couple of people have sent me various links for a British reality show about disabled models - I'd love to give credit to everyone who alerted me to it, but my inbox is an unholy mess and I'd be sure to miss someone (there's a more in-depth article here). Please know that I'm grateful to all of you and feel free to identify yourself in the comments. All I can say is that I wish the show was being broadcast on the side of the pond because I'd love to see more. I read an entry on a blog a little while ago about the show - and can of course not remember where it was and am starting to get very disappointed in myself at how very vague I am about something I'm this interested in. Anyway, the writer of that particular blog had seen one of the episodes and found it very disappointing that aside from the disability, the girls were catty and bitchy - in other words, just like any other reality show about models. Which, quite frankly, I find reassuring and delightful. Because instead of being Role Models or Saints, it shows that people with disabilities are just like everyone else. Some of us are nice, some of us are not. I really, really wish they would show it in North America.

Apparently, these voicemails from Dimitri the Douchebag had been around for years, but it's the first time I've heard of it. Although I'm sure it's a joke, it's enough to send me into long-term celibacy.

And lastly, to take us out on as surreal and note as we started, this link is from my friend Leslie. For the excitement of many, they have discovered that 'srooms are good for you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hand of Water

This one happened on its own - no human manipulation of waterdrop involved.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Not too long ago, I had a nice little rant about pedestrians and their walking incompetence, in which I did not include pedestrians while they are behind the wheel of a car. Because then I would never have stopped writing. Suffice to say that the amount of moronity (is too word) displayed in walking is often carried over into driving.

On Saturday, around two o'clock, I got an overwhelming urge for plums. I'd already been out twice - the first time immediately after getting dressed when I ran up to the Farmer's Market to get strawberries and blackberries, hair still wet from my shower and by the way? If you have never tasted an Ontario strawberry in June, put it on your Life List. There is nothing better. While I was there, I got sucked into buying cherries and gooseberries, then made myself stop with the fresh produce and go home for breakfast. Later, I went out again to rent a couple movies, came home, fed the cat and was about to make lunch when above-mentioned overwhelming urge for plums descended upon me. I tried to argue that I had a significant amount of fruit about my place, but there was nothing for it and so, I decided to pop over to the market.

I turn the corner and go up the street a little, only to discover that some asswipe who’s the proud owner of a sporty black car with blacked-out windows decided to park it so it blocked the entire sidewalk while he’s at a fancy store. He chose to do this despite there being a perfectly nice wide alley right in front of him where he could’ve pulled in while he’s at the fancy store. However, as this would require him to move up a whole car length, be considerate of others and entertain the thought that he might not be King of the World, it was apparently too much to ask. I go up next to the front passenger window and wave, attempting to get dude to move, but he doesn’t. Likely because he’s not actually in the car, but at this point, I’m unsure about his whereabouts. Squeezing myself past the car’s rear end seem unwise, not just because there’s so little left of the sidewalk that it’s not quite safe when you use wheels instead of legs, but because I don’t know if he’s in the car (blacked out windows, remember?), preparing to back up, which would most definitely mean I’d get squished, as a seated person doesn’t show up in the rearview mirrors at such a time. None of the group of people on the other side of the car – store employee, customers – notice me or when they see me, do anything about it. They're too far away and there's too much street noise for me to be able to yell loud enough to get their attention, so I sigh, mutter invective, turn around and prepare to go back down the street to the crosswalk and go on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. As I have done many, many times before when someone has blocked the sidewalk, their driveway past the sidewalk or refused to clear the snow. The years of accumulated aggravation does nothing to my bloodpressure levels, but I have no choice, so I turn around to take me and my elevated blood pressure to the crosswalk.

And that’s when I see the cop. Coming down the street, he has noticed my predicament, makes a U-turn and my insides start to smile. I stop for a moment, thinking to thank him as he steps out of the cruiser, but he’s – get this – on the radio checking dude’s license plate! So I meander over to the other sidewalk, keeping an eye on the cop, the car and the crowd of people, one of whom has been called over to the cruiser and am getting what I'm sure is a rather stern lecture from a law enforcement officer. And then the sporty car with the blacked-out windows moves up a length into the alley.

After years, nay, decades of being forced to swallow taking the long way around due to some fuckwit’s lack of imagination (or megalomania), after hundreds of incidents where my only option was mumbling swearwords while more distance and time was added to my path, finally, a fuckwit was challenged and made to correct his action. You have no idea how satisfying this was. No idea.

When I came home with a paperbag filled with plums, I called my local cop shop and left a message for the officer, thanking him. And spent the rest of the day grinning.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Adios Mi Amiga

Earlier this week, Dave the Wonder Repair Guy came to do some repairs on my wheelchair. While he was here, I asked him to take my old wheelchair back to the shop, where they could take the parts they could use and leave the rest for scrap. It's been standing unused in my storage room for coming up on two years, the seating in my new chair is so substantially different that I wouldn't be able to use the old one without extreme pain and although I'm halfway convinced that now that I've let go of it, I'll need it at the latest next Monday, I'm re-organizing my domicile and I need the room. It was perfectly logical to let her go. And yet, it broke my heart. Which is an overused cliché, but my heart ached and my stomach felt hollow and I'm pretty sure those symptoms qualify for the description.

I first got the chair in March, 1996, right after I’d moved into my own apartment. Yes, I didn't leave home until my early 30s, because finding an apartment with attendant care takes years and years of being on a waiting list. But I digress. This chair, my new chair, was as all-terrain as you could get and having moved to downtown where you go walk everywhere, I needed that kind of chair.

I had adventures in that chair, on my own and with my friends. It took me everywhere, travelling all over downtown, leaving home in the morning and coming back in time to make dinner. I’d go to the movies and walk ½ hour to get there, go shopping at the Eaton Center, have lunch with friends who worked downtown, go to live music events and come home late, hang by the water down at Harbourfront almost every day in the summer. Sometimes, I took the ferry to the Islands and explored there. That chair was independence. That chair was freedom.

I can’t do that anymore. The travelling and the social life. My body can’t handle travelling much further than my immediate neighbourhood and most days, I don’t mind. Almost everything I need is here, after all - I have a different life now, one in which I spent a lot of time in front of the computer, writing. So my life looks different and I try my best to focus on what I can do, instead of the things I can't.

But seeing Dave the Wonder Repair Guy drive my old chair up the ramp into his truck and closing the doors felt like he was closing not just a chapter in my life, but closing the doors on the possibility of getting it back. I don't actually believe I'll ever get it back - at times, I am excrutiatingly realistic - but the chair seems to have been a symbol of the possibility. And maybe it's because loss and adapting to loss has been a general theme lately, some in my life, some in the lives of the people I love, but despite trying to logic my way through it, watching my old chair leave felt like my freedom, my wings leaving. And I found that I minded.

I minded very, very much.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Three Rs

Nope, that's not reading. ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, but reduce, reuse, recycle. Pardon me while I get on a soapbox.

A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting of the local Neighborhood Association (I am the rep for my building) and one of items on the agenda was a presentation by the city's Solid Waste Management Department to provide information about the city's new initiatives to reduce and divert garbage and the three Rs have been much on my mind since.

Earlier this year, my friend Andrew and his family went to somewhere in the southern United States - North and South Carolina? Florida? The details are vague to me. However, he told me something stunning and it has stayed with me since: wherever this mystery location was, there were no public recycling containers. Only garbage cans. And just imagining throwing things that can be recycled - pop cans, water bottles, newspapers and magazines - into the garbage makes my insides cringe and scream Nooooooooooooo!! Recycling has been around for a long time here in Toronto, has been a presence on the streets with the 3-in-1 waste containers for bottles and cans, paper and nom-recyclable things and after all these years, it’s entrenched in my psyche. But it still cringes and moans noooooooo! when hearing that every day, 70 trucks leave Toronto with garbage for landfill somewhere and every year, the city spends almost $200 million to collect and transport garbage. That’s an insane amount of garbage and that’s just in my city.

In the past few years, the push to reduce garbage and increase recycling and composting has picked up speed hereabouts, hence the City presentations to the public (lots of interesting information here). It was incredibly exciting and since that meeting, I've become positively en fuego with recycling zeal (a somewhat disparaging alternative term could be The Recycling Nazi, but we'll skip over that). Yes, it's quite possible that I need to get out more, but stay with me. The target is 70% waste diversion by 2010 and this is going to be accomplished by increasing recycling and composting bin distribution, until every household and apartment building in the city have the tools to divert the 70% of their waste that is recyclable and organic. Garbage containers will be provided, as well, with users being charged depending on the size of bin they take (i.e., by how much garbage they generate). As our taxes are being used to fund the garbage disposal system, if you get the smallest bin, you actually get money back every month - talk about incentive! In the presentation, they also talked about large items, such as electronics and furniture. One mattress takes up 1 yd.³ in a landfill and that doesn't sound too bad. Until you realize that in the city of Toronto, every year a million mattresses go into landfills. 1,000,000 yd.³. I don't know exactly how big that is, but it sounds very, very big and multiplied by however many years your soul can handle thinking of, it’s overwhelming. And that’s just mattresses. So the city’s working on recycling components of larger garbage items and who can’t like the sound of that?

Sometime last year, I posted about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - a huge mound of plastic the size of a minor continent somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, so big that there is six times more plastic than plankton in the middle of the Pacific. There’s plastic everywhere in our society and it ends up either in landfills (or parks or forests, etc.) where it takes up to a thousand years (!) to decompose (after having killed wildlife first) or in the ocean, where it eventually moseys on over to the rest of its colleagues in the GPGP. A very short excursion into Google and Google images about the GPGP is enough to turn your hair white overnight - I found one organization that has hours’ worth of reading about our not-so-great impact on the natural world and their section on plastic alone made me want to curl up in a corner, sucking my thumb. I keep wondering why they haven't invented biodegradable plastic yet - I would certainly be willing to pay more for that, because ever since I read about the GPGP, I ache when I throw out plastic (it occurred to me to revisit Google and apparently, biodegradable plastic bags are indeed available, e.g., here. ‘Scuse me while I get out my credit card). But there's research out there and just last week, there was an article in the paper about to a 17-year-old student from Waterloo, Ontario who's invented a composting system for plastic. The world is changing and that's a good thing.

We only have one earth and it’s suffering. Suffering so much that when I look at the Tinks, I wonder what their earth will look like. We treat our planet as if it’s endlessly renewable, instead of a fragile, precariously balanced eco-system. We forget that we don’t own it – we’ve inherited it from our parents and will pass it on to our children. Don’t we owe it to future generations to take care of it? There's a rule of civilized human beings who get to borrow a friend's car, cottage or house and that is to leave it the way you found it. We have used the earth as our garbage can for too long – isn’t it time to leave it at the very least the way we found it, maybe even a bit cleaner?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Wooden Guy

Found this one at the fleamarket. Alternate title: Sorta Creepy.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dead from the Waist Down

The other day, I meandered into the clinic for my shot and had a chat with one of the nurses. Specifically, I had a chat regarding the examination tables in the clinic. Not that they are any different than examination clinic in any other doctor's office or hospital in the city. In fact, I didn't know there was an alternative to the 5-mile high fixed table o’ torture until I for a mysterious administrative reason had to sign in at the MS clinic across the hall for an appointment with my rheumatologist. In there, all the examination tables were adjustable! Blew my mind. Anyway, just as you send your car (or wheelchair) in for annual maintenance, it’s a good idea to take your body in for a check-up and this involves a Pap test. Not that I want a Pap test - I've yet to meet a woman who thinks that particular medical procedure is a hoot - but it's generally a good idea. Except for the inaccessibility of the 5-mile high fixed table o’ torture to someone with extreme pain issues.

The clinic where my family doctor’s at has a higher-than-average number of patients who use wheelchairs, as this neighbourhood is very accessible. After the nurse had given me the number for the person in charge of equipment buying and we’d exchanged a mutual (and cynical) “probably not in the budget” sigh, I asked her what the clinic did for those patients who for one reason or another were required to be in a reclining position. When they could, people would be lifted up onto the table. Or if they had a tilt on their wheelchair, an internal exam would be done in the chair, with additional clinic staff holding the person’s legs to provide access for the doctor (lovely mental image, that). I opined that although having an internal exam is not the most dignified of events, this seemed excessively undignified. Then the nurse mentioned that they used to have a trauma chair that could be repositioned into a bed-like thing, but this contraption had been taken away when the storage room was made into an additional exam room, "so they could serve more people". As the nurse is not the person making these decisions, I chose at this point to bite my tongue around the statement that expanding their practice had essentially served to block a percentage of their patients from having equal access to medical care. I then asked what they did if the person, for weight, pain, spasticity or other reasons, couldn't be tossed around like a sack of potatoes or didn't have a tilt on their chair and she told me that such patients were sent to The Anne Johnston Health Station. The only barrier-free clinic in a city of 5 million people. 15% of the population has a disability. Miscellaneous impairments are on the rise with the aging babyboomers. An adjustable table would serve all patients - not just people with miscellaneous impairments - and this is yet another example of how barrier-free design benefits everyone. It’s called universal access. I wish more places would think about that.

But barrier-free design is not the issue of today's rant. Barrier-free thinking is.

I'm 45 years old, have had a chronic disease since I was 4 and used a wheelchair since I was 16. In my entire life, I have yet to have a doctor initiate a conversation regarding my crotchal area, maintenance of same, sexuality, contraception and whatever else you can think of related to that part of the body. When I was about to start methotrexate almost a decade ago, I did my research (as usual - I'm pretty sure many doctors find it annoying that I do research and have questions, but I'm not here to make their life easier, it's the other way around). I had agreed to start the medication and my doctor went through possible side effects with me and was making the final notes in the chart, wrapping up the appointment, when I piped up and asked about how the drug causes birth defects. She froze for a second, looked up with an utterly gobsmacked expression on her face and asked "are you sexually active??". Which in our culture isn’t an unusual thing to consider of a single woman in her 30s, right? Except, apparently, when the woman uses a wheelchair. A study in the US reveals that women with disabilities are underserved in reproductive health care. For instance, when women with disabilities visit an OB/GYN, they are 20% less likely to receive a Pap test than are able-bodied women.

From a brief excursion into Google, the guideline appears to be that all women who are/have been sexually active should have a Pap test every two years (until the age of 70, I guess because that's when reproductive organs and sexuality disappear in a puff of smoke, but that's a rant for another day). And there we have it, because the world prefers people with disabilities to be asexual and if you're a woman with a disability, asexuality is practically a requirement. There's a substantial ick factor with disability and chronic illness, which means that if you have a partner, s/he is automatically viewed either as saintly (because the relationship couldn't be other than patient caregiver to the poor sick person) or creepy and perverted (because only someone who is disturbed could be attracted to the poor sick person). We with the disability are not considered at all - apparently the role of tragic cripple is incompatible with sexuality to the point that the genital/reproductive area is not just an empty space, but a non-space. It doesn't exist.

The problem is that this preference for us to be potted plants - come to think of it, plants are probably allowed more action than we are - affects not just the ability to refrain from staring when a couple is holding hands in public or gushing messily about how saintly a partner is. The problem is that it affects health care delivery. Imagine what would happen if people with disabilities were recognized as sexual beings, too. Imagine what would happen if, amid all the programs for physical and social rehabilitation, there were some for sexual education. Which might include talking about what to do in case of abuse (because lord knows, that’s not covered anywhere else). There’s an insane rate of abuse, sexual and otherwise, in the disabled community - one study reports that 40% of women with physical disabilities report being sexually assaulted. Or such initiatives could talk about ways to facilitate a healthy sex life and provide information regarding alternate ways of having sex, contraception and how to get your doctor over the ick factor and ask for a Pap test.

Of course, that would involve doctors buying adjustable examination tables and that, apparently, is not in the budget.

Late note: Haloscan appears to be down AGAIN. If you wanted to leave a comment, please check back - I hope the problem will be resolved soon. I will be spending some time re-thinking commenting in this space.