06272015_AliaJoy_Burdens

The sheet breaks loose from the gurney and the plastic mattress lurches up like a belch when I curl myself fetal. I struggle to position myself away from my body. To push my synapses away from muscle and bone and receptors and find solace in the quiet hush of a body without pain. But the agony lives in me.

How does one escape what hurts from the inside out?

So the doctors scribble on notepads and send for more tests. They tap my veins with gloved fingers and swab me with the cool sting of alcohol before filling vials to send off. They send for specialists. I hold my breath for the count of three and feel the dye flushing my veins as the CT scan closes around me like a casket.

This is where I am supposed to find answers. And they do, a large kidney stone wreaking havoc on my insides.

But she enters the room looking at my chart. She doesn’t make eye contact with me, just thumbs through and tells me that the kidney stone isn’t in a place where it should cause pain.

She frowns at me as if I am a child, faking a tummy ache to get out of school.

I tell her it’s never stopped hurting, not in the ER, not through all the tests, not since I woke up from surgery, not all through the night when the nurse tried to page the on-call doctor because I couldn’t stop hurting. But she’s the one doing morning rounds, and I feel small trying to justify my pain. She says something about consulting the surgeon and she is out of the room, the whole encounter taking less than a minute.

I feel invisible.

I wish I didn’t have to wonder if I would be treated like this if I didn’t have State insurance, the kind you qualify for when you haven’t made enough to buy the real kind. When you have to jump through hoops to see a specialist or get something covered. When you instead learn to live with whatever goes wrong.

I wish I didn’t have to wonder why my white friend with private insurance, who had the same diagnosis was placated and assured and dosed up immediately so she was comfortable.

I wish I wasn’t stripped of my identity in this gaping hospital gown, with no makeup and bedhead and I could make her see that I am a person. I wish I didn’t have to wonder if classism or racism were a factor when she looked at my chart and dismissed me as a drug-seeking faker.

When she returns the next day I am a madwoman, frenzied from the night of anguish. I’ve watched the clock tick mercilessly on through the night, counted the ceiling tiles while I writhed waiting for the next dose of pain killers.

Persistent pain has a way of shocking us into outrage.

When she enters I don’t wait for her to speak. I am no longer small or timid or apologetic for my presence there. I raise my voice and demand to be heard and acknowledged. I demand for her to see me and look at me.

I tell her I am a mother, brought into the ER on Mother’s Day instead of attending church with my family, going out to lunch, reading the cards my kids made with glitter glue and markers. I tell her I am in this hospital under her care because she has a job to do and that’s to make it not hurt, to find out what’s wrong and help fix it.

She has a responsibility to listen first.

I tell her she’s not doing a good job because she hasn’t once looked me in my now bloodshot sleep deprived eyes, and her bedside manner could use some work. I tell her she should watch Call the Midwife and take some notes and then I sobbed uncontrollably. My emotions, pain, and lack of sleep plunder any sense of reserve I might have had.

I can’t see her through the blur of my tears, but she assures me that she’s consulted with my surgeon and my pain is indeed valid. She changes my medication and tries to adjust my care.

My pain is valid now. Now that she’s consulted a surgeon who is her superior. Now that he’s told her that the size and location of the stone can indeed cause horrific pain.

I spent three days collecting IV bruises that blossom along my arms and then my hands. They are yellowing on the edges when they send me home with a pile of prescriptions to numb the pain and a follow-up appointment to schedule my next surgery. That was over a month ago.

I had my last surgery this past week, and the nurse stroked my hand like a child, and her eyes filled with tears for all I’d been through.

After months of health issues, I was desperate to get outside and enjoy the bloom of summer. My children are starved for their mother to tuck them in, to splash in the mountain lakes, to let watermelon drip down our chins under the sway of Aspens.

But when I opened Facebook last week and saw the news in Charleston, I felt cracked open again. I mourn the nine martyrs who were murdered because of the sin of racism. I grieve and pray and cry out to our merciful God who is always close to the brokenhearted and oppressed.

But I lament because I’ve had a small taste of what it is to hurt and cry out and feel anguish tucked inside my own body and not be believed.

To believe that the experiences we have are valid, that the feelings and expressions of them are true and real and worthy of being listened to is one of the greatest mercies we can offer each other.

There is power in lament. It is not just about feeling pain, it is a cry of injustice, it is the piercing howl of protest against evil. It is saying you belong to me and I belong to you. It is saying I am listening even when we cannot fix it. It is subversive and it always lifts from the breasts of the suffering, it always starts in pain.

In a world so broken, we would do well to learn how to suffer well and that always means to suffer together. We bear each others burdens, and in so doing, fulfill what God is calling us to. Love, justice, mercy.

I know what the voices of my black brothers and sisters sound like when they tell me where it hurts.

How can we diagnose it as racism again and again and still, some will let their eyes skitter past and frown and say it shouldn’t cause this pain while black bodies are splayed and bleeding out. While mothers weep over their babies?

Some need to hear someone they respect tell them to pay attention and to listen, to look again and look closer. Unfortunately some only listen to voices that come from skin and stories and eyes that match their own. We’re not doing it right if we’re not listening and indeed speaking out. We’re failing if we’re not just as anguished and broken because racism is pervasive and systemic and tearing the body apart from the inside out.

How does one escape what hurts from the inside out?

The church should be the first to remember the call to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly. How can we act justly without knowing God’s heart about this? How can we love mercy if we cannot even listen to our brothers and sisters? How can we walk humbly if we will not move our complacent shuffling feet toward justice?

Persistent pain has a way of shocking us into outrage.

Our black brothers and sisters have been hurting for a good long while. When will their pain be valid?

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In a world so broken, we would do well to learn how to suffer well—which means to suffer together. {Tweet this!}

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Alia Joy,
    Nothing I type will do justice to my thoughts right now…I am so sorry for the pain you have had to endure and not even to have had the decency to be heard and validated for what you’ve persevered through. My heart weeps for you. My heart hurts for the families of the victims in Charleston…how do you make sense of such hatred? My heart grieves for Christian youth who are set ablaze in broad daylight in the streets of the Middle East for professing their faith. How do you wrap your mind around such evil? We need to lift the unseeing veil from our eyes and walk in step with El Roi – the God who sees? When will we truly see? And when will we feel each other’s pain? I pray it will be soon…
    Love and blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Penny

      Blessings to you,

      Penny

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Thanks, Penny…blessings to you sweet friend! xx

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you Bev. That is my prayer too.

  • Jennifer

    I read what you wrote and I feel saddened again. Your pain was real and not validated by a doctor/nurse looking at your chart. But, in your post you make note of the care you were given under what I assume is some insurance under Obamacare. Obamacare is what our future is because too many people do not see the truth. They refuse to see the lies that are being told to them by some in our government. Handouts do not help anyone. Our country will continue to suffer so long as we continue to try to take from one group and give to another. As long as we allow government officials to pit one group against another. Giving without earning doesn’t help anyone. Why are there so many families taking government assistance today? Why do they enslave themselves to their government? Your insurance is only the beginning for our country. We will continue to lose our rights, while some beg for our government to ease their pain.

    And, how does it help your point that we should “see” eachother, when you make such hateful statements as, “I wish I didn’t have to wonder why my white friend with private
    insurance, who had the same diagnosis was placated and assured and dosed
    up immediately so she was comfortable”? So, white friend is being judged by you because she has private insurance? Walking in her shoes, as you must be doing because that’s the point of your whole post, you know how much she has sacrificed, given up, to purchase her private insurance rather than using State insurance? You know exactly what choices she’s made. Because that’s the choice we’re all making now. What will I give up to NOT have Obamacare?? My family of 4 has gone from $300 a month to $900 a month with higher deductible and fewer coverages. I didn’t vote for this but some in our country did! Nope. I bet you don’t know those things about your “friend”. Yet, there you are writing yucky, hateful things about her, and the reader doesn’t even know her! Are we supposed to hate her too, because your emotional post wants us to??
    And as for those ruthlessly killed by an evil man in Charleston, they were not martyrs. They were humans. They too had families. They had lives that mattered. They had the right to be in church and praising God without fear of evil. They are seen by whites; why do you assume differently? Were you not able to see the crowds that gathered in Charleston? Did you not see white faces? You sound racist yourself making such statements (I do not know you so I do not assume you are racist. I can only take your words as your expression of yourself). Why would you assume such unloving thoughts about your fellow citizens? “How can we diagnose it as racism again and again and still, some will
    let their eyes skitter past and frown and say it shouldn’t cause this
    pain while black bodies are splayed and bleeding out. While mothers weep
    over their babies?” Really? Are you just assuming white people, white mothers, don’t weep over their babies when evil raises its head in their lives? Are you weeping for Jews and Christians everywhere who are dying simply because of their religion, not their skin color? Until we get away from such rhetoric, we can never have an open, honest dialogue. Your post was not love-filled. It was judgmental. Yes, racism exists. NOT every white person is racist. Black people are capable of racism as well as whites. Not all black people are racist. I give it all to Jesus, who will have the final say in all matters. I pray your pain has eased and that you get to spend a summer spending time with your family. God bless!

    • KathiDenfeld

      This sounds a lot like not listening; about again invalidating a Christian sister’s pain.

    • KathiDenfeld

      This post looks a lot like not listening; like again invalidating a Christian sister’s pain that goes far deeper than the kidney stone.

      You say:

      “Giving without earning doesn’t help anyone. Why are there so many families taking government assistance today? Why do they enslave themselves to their government? Your insurance is only the beginning for our country. We will continue to lose our rights, while some beg for our government to ease their pain.”

      I am trying to understand what you are actually saying in this. Are you saying that those who are on assistance do not earn, do not work, do not labor? Because I have found that often times it is precisely those folks who never get a relief from the struggling and laboring. Are you working under the assumption that they want to be at the mercy of others who more often than not will make wrong assumptions about them?

      Alia was not stating that she wished her white friend with private insurance would receive poor care, but was pointing out an all too common inequity and bias. That we can’t hear that without defending ourselves is disheartening.

      It is a parallel. It’s about loving the white person and the black person. The gay person and the straight person . The Christian, the Jew, AND the Muslim. Treating the poor with the same care as we do the man who appears self-sufficient. It’s about not dismissing them or rushing to answer them as to why the can’t possibly be in pain when they are. It’s about acknowledging the privilege in our perspective, or at least considering it exists at all.

      • Jennifer

        Thank you for assuming the very best in a person who felt compelled to share her comments to a public post. Assuming that I wasn’t listening, assuming that I make assumptions about those receiving public (I repeat, public) assistance. May I ask, how often you actually interact with those who receive that assistance? If I may, I help quite actively with our local university’s food bank. I go into the homes and lives of those seeking assistance. They share with me the cycle they find themselves in. They love Obama and the color of his skin but tell me that they find themselves to be slaves (their words, not mine) to the system. They can’t find work, they won’t take work beneath them (again, their words not mine) and they want the government to help them find a job. When I tell them that our government isn’t there to provide jobs, they say, “at least our government gives us money, cable and a phone.” It’s a church they call for weekly food. So, they rely upon government and church for all of their needs but complain about not getting out of they cycle. I go into each home with a prayer to God that my words help ease the pain, that I might offer assistance or a loving smile to make their day easier. A great majority of these homes are black families but certainly 25% are white. I don’t go into the lives of these families to bash them; our family prays nightly for their safety and their success in life and in finding God (many profess to not really knowing or caring about God – but NOT all). “Alia was not saying that she wished her white friend would receive poor care” but her words were NOT written well or with love if her point was to show us that we should all look, actually look, at one another. She didn’t appear to be leading in that example. Did/does she look, really look, at her friend? We, my family, really sacrifice our vacations (we take none each summer), extras (like movies, outings), etc. for the added cost to our private insurance. I am sorry that Alia is on State insurance. Why is that though? Can she not afford private? Why is that? I don’t know those answers but I bet she doesn’t know exactly why her friend chooses to afford private insurance. If she’s wanting us to look at one another with love in our eyes, she might want to be the example if she’s the author of a public post.

        We need to be able to have these conversations if our country is going to survive. We have many good-intentioned people supporting programs that are Socialist in nature. We are a Republic. We are not able to support everyone on the public dole. We should only be helping those who truly need it (naturally). God bless (and I truly mean that!).

        • KathiDenfeld

          I don’t have to go out of my way to find the poor, I live it.

        • KathiDenfeld

          Is it possible that your perspective is still that of someone with advantages that others might not have?

          Poverty is not theoretical to me. I do not come at it from the perspective of the one in power, but as the one who is often at another’s mercy. I am a hard worker. My husband has taken a job “that’s below him” and I think it’s import to consider what you are really asking someone to do in this scenario: work a job (possibly) below their skill set, that typically does not pay enough to meet necessities, that won’t give them hours enough to qualify for healthcare, and will not work around their family life or need for a second job. I know what it’s like having to put additional effort into being put together to increase my chances of being seen as competent in they eyes of my helper. I’ve seen the look of surprise on the face of one who knows me only by my paper caseload, when they realize that I’m well spoken, emotionally regulated, and not addicted or lazy. I also know what it’s like to feel the shame in buying a cookies with my EBT card because it’s my turn to bring something for my child’s class. Or wondering if maybe I look too put together and people are going to assume that I’m milking the system; that I have no real need.

          And hears the thing: that was not even the point.

        • KathiDenfeld

          Is it possible that your perspective is still that of someone with advantages that others might not have?

          Poverty is not theoretical to me. I do not come at it from the perspective of the one in power, but as the one who is often at another’s mercy. I am a hard worker. My husband has taken a job “that’s below him” and I think it’s import to consider what you are really asking someone to do in this scenario: work a job (possibly) below their skill set, that typically does not pay enough to meet necessities, that won’t give them hours enough to qualify for healthcare, and will not work around their family life or need for a second job. I know what it’s like having to put additional effort into being put together to increase my chances of being seen as competent in they eyes of my helper. I’ve seen the look of surprise on the face of one who knows me only by my paper caseload, when they realize that I’m well spoken, emotionally regulated, and not addicted or lazy. I also know what it’s like to feel the shame in buying a cookies with my EBT card because it’s my turn to bring something for my child’s class. Or wondering if maybe I look too put together and people are going to assume that I’m milking the system; that I have no real need.

          And here’s the thing: that’s not even really her point. She was not playing victim, she was simply asking us to listen. To set aside our political agenda and listen when people tell us that they are hurting. Many of the comments on here only reinforce our need to learn to sit in that discomfort–as a society and as a church, it is not something we do well, especially when it comes to race or income, and advantage.

          • Jennifer

            I don’t disagree; we all don’t set aside our political agenda and listen. If I am asked to listen, will those with differing views do the same? I find that many are intolerant and use hateful words. They don’t know me. They don’t care to know me. I am sorry for your situation. I truly, honestly, with all of me, am sorry. But, do I pray for your situation to improve or stay the same? Do you want the “shame in buying cookies with my EBT card” to last forever or for your situation to improve? Obviously, I pray that things improve. I don’t want shame for anyone. That’s my WHOLE point. Until things improve politically, and our government stops trying to be everything to everyone, we will never improve. Do you want to use EBT cards forever? I doubt it; I pray not. But, there are those among us, many that I serve through the food bank, that do not want change, do not want their lives to “improve” if it means gainful employment. They truly, honestly, see handouts and free “stuff” as awesome and something they are entitled to as Americans. They say a job will cut into “their free time.” It can not go on forever. What will happen to them when there is no more money and our government is not able to help them at all? What will become of them when there really isn’t food in the food bank to give to them? What happens when State health care isn’t an option because states are unable to pay for it? Does anyone care about the “what if’s”? Greece is facing those very hardships. People are hungry, out of work and have nothing. We’ve lived through it in the Depression. I am obviously too young to have actually lived through it but we’ve heard about it, right? Well, I pray we don’t live through it! I pray we see each other, help each other but help each other UP and reach for higher goals. My fourteen year old son, who has gone into each of these homes with me (and our family) advises that I stop debating. He sees America as a lost cause simply because he sees that we don’t listen to each other, we don’t see each other. He believes the internet makes communication worse rather than as a tool to help us communicate over long distances. I pray he’s wrong but will stop debating with you. Know this: I have walked in your shoes, I have been on welfare in difficult, trying times in my life. I understand the shame and the heartbreak when you have to decide “what do I buy with the little I have.” Not because I’m white and not because of anything but God’s grace am I not there today. But, that doesn’t mean I care less or don’t remember. I just want things better for everyone. God Bless you, Kathi.

        • M

          This is sad to me. This post goes so much deeper than private vs. state insurance. If you can’t see that, if this is truly what you have chosen to reflect on… well. Quite frankly you are missing the point.

          Does Jesus look at a hurting person, someone who is sick, and condemn them for being on state insurance rather than private insurance? No. And we shouldn’t either. We grieve, we lament and we love them where they are. We wash their feet. We wrap our arms around them.

          This just seems to me like you wanted to rip apart her post and congratulations, you succeeded.

    • http://www.givinguponperfect.com/ Mary Carver

      Anyone reading this post can hear Alia’s heart. And her pain and her honesty. So to respond to this, her sharing of wrenching pain and her own, actual experience, with a critical and [off-topic] political rant seems cruel to me. I’m grateful for writers like Alia who so bravely and generously open their hearts and lives for us. My experience might be different than hers in many ways, but that just makes me even more thankful to read her perspective.

      • Jennifer

        Sorry, Mary, that you see my comments, free as I am to leave them, as a political rant. I viewed her post as a judgmental rant. We, luckily, are free to disagree. I subscribe to incourage to receive a message about God and His connection to us in this world. I don’t read it for political, judgmental points to be made. Alia’s post was the first of such that I’ve read. I felt compelled to write. If I was able to write to her and have it be a private message, I would obviously have done so. Having complete strangers accuse me of being cruel, uncaring and unable to understand the plight of others is not something any of us want. Thank you for your kind response to my address to Alia.

        • KathiDenfeld

          Did you listen? Did you set it all aside and hear the heart in her message.

          This is very much aligned with the heart of God.

        • Beth Williams

          Jennifer,
          You are possibly the only one who sees it that way. If she had left the part out about insurance no one would have ever known. So what she has Obama care or some other insurance. The point was about being noticed and for her pain to be shared by the RN and staff.

  • Susan

    Awesome! Thank you!

  • Deanna

    Understand this lament. This is not about healthcare but about the hearts of people in a country that is blessed more than any in the world. Yet all sorts of evil still rears it’s head more than it should and we let it alot more than it should. Loved what I saw in Charleston. Lord help our hearts to see and feel as You do and then we Christians treat each other accordingly with Godly love and respect. All so the love of the Lord can spread like like wildfire.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    I love you. I have been praying and continue to pray and it just feels like we need another August get-together – maybe in Bend this time. I could add (many) more words, but I suspect you know them all already! Stand Tall, my friend… you are not standing alone! (Insert the rest of Gushing Comment Here) xoxo

    • Alia_Joy

      I love you, friend. Thank you for hearing my heart here and always standing with others. You did it so well and I’m so grateful to call you friend.

  • Guest

    All I CAN SAY IS WOW. THIS ISN’T ABOUT PAYING MORE FOR YOUR INSURANCE. I DON’T RECEIVE OBAMACARE AND I WEAR THE SAME SKIN AS OUR WRITER. IT’S SAD BUT TRUE THAT SOME ONLY SEE COLOR OR BANK ACCOUNTS AND THAT DETERMINES WORTH. YOU CAN NOT DISCOUNT HER EXPERIENCE. IF YOU WANT TO LIVE AS GOD COMMANDS US TO THEN YOU WOULD NOT SEE OBAMACARE AS A HANDOUT BUT AS CARING FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED; NO MATTER SKIN COLOR. WE ARE ALL CREATED BY HIS HANDS AND IF YOU ARE HIS CHILD YOU WILL CARE FOR HIS CREATION. IT ALL BELONGS TO GOD EVEN YOUR MONEY THAT PAYS FOR YOUR PRIVATE INSURANCE. WE DO NOT KNOW EVERYONES STORY BUT GOD KNOWS. RACISM EXISTS AND IT CAN BEAR ITS UGLY HEAD IN LITTLE WAYS AS WELL AS BIG AS WE SEE IN CHARLESTON. I LOVE SEEING BLACK AND WHITE BROTHERS AND SISTERS TOGETHER DURING THIS PAINFUL TIME CARING FOR EACH OTHER. THIS IS NOT NEW. WE CAME TOGETHER WITH CIVIL RIGHTS AND OTHER TIMES IN HISTORY. OUR WORLD IS BROKEN. I DON’T THINK SAYING HER FRIEND RECEIVED DIFFERENT CARE IS HATEFUL. UNFORTUNATELY IT IS TRUE. WHY SHOULD SOMEONE WHO CAN NOT AFFORD PRIVATE INSURANCE (NO MATTER THE REASON) BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY. I HOPE THAT YOU NEVER LOSE THE WEALTH YOU EARNED AND HAVE TO EXPERIENCE WHAT OUT WRITER HAD TO EXPERIENCE. I AGREE WHITE MOTHERS GRIEVE AND HURT FOR THEIR CHILDREN TOO BUT IN THIS COUNTRY SKIN COLOR PLAYS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN HOW ONE IS PERCEIVED OR TREATED OH YEAH ALSO WEALTH. SO I DO HOPE YOU GIVE IT ALL TO JESUS AND I PRAY THAT YOU GET TO KNOW HIM. OBEDIENCE IS FAR BETTER THAN SACRIFICE.

    • http://pttyann.wordpress.com/ pat

      Amen!!

  • Bethany Brooks

    Alia Joy, thank you so much for writing this. I had kidney stone trouble last spring, and the pain is like nothing you’d really expect. And as I kept reading, it saddened me to hear those awful words of someone doubting the truth of your pain. I definitely agree that as the church we can counteract that hardness when we step outside of our own comfort zone to carry one another and let Christ speak through us. When I was working out in California this year, my horizons were stretched and opened by meeting brothers and sisters in Christ whose skin and background doesn’t match my own- and they have become some of my closest and dearest friends :) I was talking with my roommate the other day about racism in the U.S, and she said how much God must love diversity. That He could have made us look all alike but He didn’t. And He knows that is good! From how uniquely He has made each of us to the variety of our cultures to how we function as parts of the Body of Christ. Well, I can go on to make this a really long comment, but I’ll try to end it here :) Just thank you for reminding us how important seeing, weeping with, and supporting one another is. That’s my prayer too!

  • Penny

    I read through your post and felt deeply saddened for you. NO ONE should ever have to feel belittled at a time of suffering. There are so many incidences recently that are just outright heartbreaking. I’ll continue to say my prayers for all those who are and have been suffering.

    Prayers to you to be pain free Alia Joy

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you Penny. Your prayers and your heart are so appreciated.

  • Guest

    mar·tyr
    ˈmärdər/
    noun
    1.
    a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs.
    “saints, martyrs, and witnesses to the faith”
    a constant sufferer from (an ailment).
    “I’m a martyr to migraines!”
    verb
    verb: martyr; 3rd person present: martyrs; past tense: martyred; past participle: martyred; gerund or present participle: martyring
    1.
    kill (someone) because of their beliefs.
    “she was martyred for her faith”
    cause great pain or distress to.
    “there was no need to martyr themselves again”
    Origin

  • Guest

    I am sorry for your pain but I am also sorry you jumped to the assumption that the doctor on call was a racist because you were not given the attention you needed. Why is that the first thing or conclusion that everyone’s mind jumps to? We do not know their story. You do not know what kind of person she is or what she had to deal with before coming to work. I agree she didn’t have the best bedside manner but to assume she was a racist?! I’m sad that our world throws that word around and blames everyone’s demeanor on it. Some people are just rude and nasty. May not have anything to do with race or religion or what kind of insurance you have. You might feel embarrasses by the low coverage you have and assume people will look down on you for it. That’s an insecurity you have to deal with. Don’t bring that down on someone else.

    • KathiDenfeld

      So our solution is to tell people it’s their problem? Their imagination? That this bias does not actually exist? That people who experience this daily are really just insecure and need to get that in check? Have you stood in line with a food stamp card or had to explain your pain to someone who thought you were med-seeking and would not even stop to actually see you? Have you cried out as a black person and been accused of “just stirring the pot”?

      We can offer grace to the medical worker or policeman, and I hope we do, but let’s not forget that it is their JOB to act justly and that that’s not always done; it’s not an attack to point out that care for those they should be serving is not always distributed equally.

    • Alisha L. Gordon

      Racism is like the Matrix: only those who have experienced it OR have learned how to SEE it knows it’s there. These feelings and perceptions are not imaginary. They are real to those of us who know the “matrix” exists.

    • http://www.givinguponperfect.com/ Mary Carver

      Yes, some people are rude and nasty. This post was about more than one nurse, though. It was about joining arms with our brothers and sisters who are in pain. Like the way we can do here and now with Alia who has shared her pain with us.

    • Lisha Epperson

      You’re right when you say rude isn’t a color and extends beyond anything we can call racism. But in my experience, it’s the people with low coverage who are treated differently. I stated in my comment I’ve been on both sides of this game and the difference in treatment is astounding. I think Alia shares her experience beautifully. She’s giving you, all of us, an inside look at another world. If you’ve never experienced it you’d do well to simply listen. We all should.

      • Alia_Joy

        Thank you for listening, Lisha. I appreciate your heart and your willigness to sit in the tension of grace and truth. You do it beautifully.

    • Alia_Joy

      I didn’t actually say the on call doctor was a racist. I said I wish I didn’t have to wonder if that were a factor in my care. It might not have been. It might have been class. And you’re right, she could’ve been having a terrible day or worked all night or some other thing. But I will say, I have experienced racism directly. So unfortunately, it does exist and for people of color, it is often a factor in how they’re treated. For my black brothers and sisters, it can be exhausting to be accused of playing the race card when in fact, there are glaring discrepencies in how our government has structured equal rights and treatment. Also, I didn’t write everything about my interaction with that doctor into this post, but I will say that for some reason there was a strong bias in my care. Enough for others to notice. And I don’t feel embarrassed by my low coverage. It was a gift from God that covered some major expenses for a limited period of time. We no longer have it as his employment situation has changed but I purposefully left that in the post because this is exactly the kind of thing that people get hung up on that shuts off their ability to listen.

  • kate

    I am sorry for your health isdues. I have had many myself. I have private insurance and have listened as my drs have told me my insurance won’t pay. Many white people are living with state insurance. Many many white people are living with racism…being called bigots.. We have been hated for being white. as no black person is fully black…no white person is fully white.

    Washington has created an era of race baiting .
    When we stop talking in color…red yellow black white, only then can we speak with compassion and civility.
    There will always be wars and rumors of wars. By countries and by individuals. We are broken.
    In this world there will be suffering.
    Mother Teresa focused on what she could do in a small area of India. She did not let politics, race, rich, poor get in the way. She simply did her work. The world was impacted for the good.
    Please don’t succumb to being a victim.
    As the world declines it is my job to love. Do good where i can. Remembering this. Jesus overcame the world at the cross.

    • Alia_Joy

      I don’t feel that stopping talking about color is the answer. I know many genuine and loving people advocate for being colorblind in an attempt to reconcile people and bring about peace, but I believe God created us to be colorfull and by ignoring it, we as an American culture always default to white. It is why even though I was born here, I am still asked where I am “really” from. Our nation was founded on protecting white interests in both cultivating land and prospering on the backs of slaves. We cannot ignore that there are systemic issues that continue today. Ignoring them and claiming peace peace when there is no peace is not loving, it’s negligent. God calls us to love each other beyond color but not by ignoring it, by embracing and cherishing it as the image of God in each person. I love my white friends, my white husband, my half-white self and kids. It is not a value judgement against whites to say that we should listen to people of color when they say that something is wrong. I agree that poverty is an issue for white people as well. And all suffering and oppression is close to God’s heart but these are places where injustice occurs and we as Christians are called to seek justice, not just for ourselves but for others. Even Mother Theresa, whom you referenced took a political stand when she prayed at a sit in in support of better treatment for the Dalit people who were low caste and recieved horrendous treatment. She stood in opposition of discrimination and she was accused of being divisive and sectarian yet she believed that justice meant attending and in her own way protesting on their behalf. She saw justice as an essential part of love. It is our job to love and to seek justice and to do it in a humble manner, remembering the grace we’ve been given and the love and mercy we’ve been shown. I pray we all endevaor to do it well because you are so right, we are broken and this world contains no end to suffering until Jesus calls us home. But while we’re here, if we can ease the suffering of others just by listening and sitting with them in their pain, or speaking on their behalf, or standing with them in solidarity, then I think God would have us put down our opinions and listen for His heart.

  • http://pttyann.wordpress.com/ pat

    Alia awesome post! I tell ya white Americans have not a clue as to how much we suffer just because of the Color Of Our Skin! Even white Christians who say they know and love the Lord are distant and clueless. I can not express the pain we’ve been through are are still going through. But I know God and He sees,He Hears and He cares for us! I do believe with all of my heart God is going to bring about great changes for us! He will not let this evil Racism continue,He will not! If we don’t raise our voices sometimes it’s really as if we are invisible what a shame, how much we have to suffer because of who they think they are in this world. But you see this is Still God’s World and He Hears our Lamenting He is going to turn things around.
    Love in Christ Pat

    • Alia_Joy

      Yes, God sees and hears and cares so deeply. My heart breaks thinking of the pain so many have endured when their experiences are discounted by the very body we all belong to. He hears our lament and He is merciful and just.

      • http://pttyann.wordpress.com/ pat

        Amen!

  • http://threebeesinabluebonnet.blogspot.com/ Rebekah

    Sweet friend – it is with a brave heart that you put this out there and I continue to pray for you – both in health issues (been there in that raw, vulnerable place on the gurney/hospital bed where no ones seems to listen) and in the struggles we cannot seem to shake when it comes to race, color, and other things that seem to divide us. I’m grateful for your words and for your willingness to put it out there in the face of potential misunderstandings or just plain rejection. Standing tall with you in God’s grace and for his glory.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you for standing with me. Thank you for listening and hearing and praying. Thank you for being such a beautiful friend to me. I love you. That is all.

  • Alisha L. Gordon

    I appreciate the paradox of pain: how our own pains can be very real, very present and still, pale in comparison to the pains of others — pains that are seldom soothed by proverbial pain killers or solvents.

    It seems that many are still missing the point, still missing what it means to have your pain invalidated. Lessons like these are best learned when experienced. Keep speaking truth to power, sis.

    • Penny

      Blessings to you Alisha,

      Penny

      • Alisha L. Gordon

        And to you, too!

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you Alisha. I don’t know what it will take for people to hear but I’ll keep speaking.

  • Anna

    Alia, thank you for your words. I am so sorry you had to go through such an awful experience in such pain. I don’t live in the States and am not an American, neither have I had to cope with racism or with a country that does not give everyone access to healthcare. It’s something I struggle to comprehend. However, I personally understand the need for this, as you put it:

    “To believe that the experiences we have are valid, that the feelings and expressions of them are true and real and worthy of being listened to is one of the greatest mercies we can offer each other.”

    As a sufferer of depression, my heart hurts at how this is SO often missing when it comes to those with mental illnesses, who like those of a different colour are often left on the fringe of society, alone in their plight, even within the church.

    • Alia_Joy

      I’ve written often about my own struggles with depression and I can relate to that so much. There are so many ways we make people “other” or “them” and never stop to really hear. I think it all breaks God’s heart when we bypass people’s pain, move to other side of the road, dismiss suffering with excuses to why they deserved it. I think God calls us to mercy and compassion and love and we can only do that when we think of others as our neighbor, who we love like our own self.

  • Janet from FL

    Wow, I guess you hit a nerve, Alia! Being a cancer survivor, I have been there, when a doctor did not treat my pain because he chose not to listen to me, but follow rules. Luckily, I had other doctors, who knew I needed meds to control my pain. Some people in the medical profession are caring, some are not. Some are just too busy to give good care.
    Yes, the Christians who were murdered, are martyrs. They died because they were living out the love of Jesus, instead of protecting themselves with lies or guns. It is unbelievable the hate that can live in one person, to kill such loving people. Evil is here on earth. We all have to deal with it in one way or another. I pray for the families who lost their loved ones. May they find comfort in Jesus and the promise of Heaven, and in the prayers of many friends and strangers.

    • Alia_Joy

      I’m so glad you had other doctors to care for you. I had a very kind surgeon who listened to me and also wonderful nurses. I was very thankful for each one of them. There is something so vulnerable about being at your weakest and in pain, and a kind person in your time of need is a great gift. I pray too. It is tragic and horrible and so evil. And yet God in His goodness brings comfort to the greiving families. Their witness to the world is beautiful. My prayers rest with them too.

  • Christine Gaeta

    Dear Alia Joy, We can all take comfort in knowing that the LORD is working strongly throughout our times of suffering and also in our waiting. God allows us to go through great trials of sufferings in this life in order to bring us into a maturity that we would not have without it. Everyone regardless of race or status goes through various trials of pains and sufferings. I am learning each day to commit everything into God’s hands.There are two scriptures that come to my mind in when situations like you decribed arise: 1. Hew. 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame,and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God” 2. 1 Pet.5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”When I look around at the state of the world today, I look up and know that our redemption must be drawing near! Also Jesus, our Blessed Hope will come and restore justice to the earth. Men fail us, but God’s Word,and His faithfulness will never fail.My prayer for the body of Christ is that His love will be perfected in us in and through whatever we must endure.All glory to God!

  • WLjackson

    Very well written and you reflect the hurt of so many, thank you because you challenge me to love more and love intentionally!

  • http://momentsandinvitations.com/ Dana Butler

    Oh, my treasured friend. You are brave and wise, and what a costly offering this is. On so many levels.

    I just want you to know I resonate with your words here so deeply, and I stand with you. Arm-in-arm.

    I love you.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you, friend. I know your heart and the way you reach out and the way you truly desire to see people and love hard. You are beautiful.

  • Susan G.

    So sorry you have had to go through such terrible pain and suffering. I believe God wastes none of our pain… I think one of the reasons (there may be many) you had to go through this was so that you could write this beautiful piece for us all to read…and ponder, and mull over, and pray over, and share with others.
    I have been praying for you!
    I pray you are now on the road to recovery and never to go through this pain again.
    Love and prayers from a fellow Oregonian!

    • Alia_Joy

      Hello fellow Oregonian! Thank you so much for your prayers. I am doing well overall. I agree, God salvages all of our brokenness and uses it for His glory. I’m so thankful for that. He makes all things new.

  • Lisha Epperson

    I’ve lived both sides of the health insurance world and sadly what you share here…your experience, feeling judged and invisible is heartbreaking but true. We don’t live in an unbiased world and the divide between the haves and have nots only grows deeper. The whole system is dehumanizing. “Poor people” (the unemployed, the working poor, anyone who for whatever reason finds himself on the other/wrong side of the road) are treated as an inconvenient nuisance at best. I am sorry you experienced such treatment when you were hurting Alia. As Kathy pointed out, it was her job to “care” for you. Kudos to you for finding the strength to speak up for yourself. In doing it for yourself, you did it for others. Thank you for sharing.

    • Alia_Joy

      I have as well. I have had private insurance before the housing market crashed and then we’ve had state insurance off and on for periods when our income was super low. The difference in care was often astounding. I almost edited out that part in this post and focused primarily on pain but at the last minute I left it. I felt I was supposed to even though that is not what this post was about. I was not advocating or indicting Obamacare and the irony is that we don’t even have it now. My point was that we often have biases that make us unable to listen and we can dismiss another’s pain instead of embracing them. I never meant to cause such a commotion but it is my story and I told it the best I could. Thank you for listening and truly hearing me.

  • http://www.creeksideministries.blogspot.com/ Linda Stoll

    I’m so saddened by your pain, Alia. I’m praying for the kindness of His mercy to cover and surround you, even as we speak.

    May healing come in every way that’s needed, friend …

    Hugs.

  • Robin Puchala

    Alia, thank you for sharing your private pain…I will hold you up in prayer. I wish I could have testimony like this from our sickle cell patients, but they are dependent on their healthcare professionals & aren’t talking! I would love to connect with you if you can…& always lean on our great God…He hears the plight of those downtrodden…like ancient Israel…we shall OVERCOME! GOD BLESS!

  • Diana Fleenor

    Alia Joy, my heart shares with you in your suffering; the physical suffering you experience, the lack of compassionate care from the doctor and the long term suffering you must have endured that is rooted in racism. I read this near the beginning of the day and have been pondering it ever since. I want to write something that demonstrates the main point of your blog…a willingness to listen. It just seems so hard to display “listening” in this social media context. So, I’m praying for the Lord to lead me, to help us do this, because I’m not sure what it looks like.

    Not long ago I read an article about what true listening is…that it is active. The author stated that active listening includes at least the following: 1) Hearing: this requires dropping what you are doing and paying attention, 2) Interpreting: paraphrasing what you’ve heard and asking clarifying questions 3) Evaluating: This means steering clear of quick judgment and jumping to conclusions. Making sure you have all the pertinent information before forming or expressing an opinion, 4) Responding: Give feedback to let the speaker know that you heard them.

    These points seem to fall in line, at least somewhat, with what you are expressing is needed. Would you, or others here posting, agree with these points? In your interaction with the doctor, Alia, would this be the type of listening you would have found helpful and validating?

    I have experienced the deep invalidating ache of having my physical pain dismissed, minimized and ignored by various medical professionals, family, friends and even those who were part of my church family. I have invisible illnesses which have been debated for years as to whether or not they are “real”. I have experienced the perspective that my word that I’m in pain is not sufficient for validating it. They want/need an objective measure (i.e. test) or more “reliable” witness (e.g. the surgeon in your case). I longed for someone to listen like outlined in the four points above. In my case, I am a white woman with private insurance, so racism or classism didn’t come into my mind. Perhaps sexism has a factor and I have wondered so in a similar as you did. Bias of any kind will fuel injustice and lack of compassion.
    I have met a few doctors and other caring people who display what you noted as the call of the Christian: act justly, love mercy and walk humble before God. For each of these, I am grateful the Lord brought into my life.

    I am continually seeking the Lord for help in how I, myself, can respond with a Christ-likeness to the injustices that surround us. When it’s personal, against myself and/or people of a group that I am associated with, what does Jesus call me (and equip me) to do?
    First place He brings me is to Himself. We need to cry out to Him for help, for justice against our adversaries. In Luke 18, Jesus said, “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry out to Him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”
    So, I pray for you and me, Alia Joy and for those suffering from racism, from classism, from sexism, from any other kind of bias there is that our heavenly Father will draw our hearts to Him through faith in Christ Jesus. For those who are in Christ, we must know that our primary identity is in Him and not our skin color, our class, our gender, our profession, or any other earthly identity. And, He is the One who promises to right all the injustices that we experience. I recognize to be able to have conversations with others about deep hard topics like racism, I need to be deeply rooted in Christ, living by the Spirit, or else my emotions will dictate how I respond to the sinful responses.
    I admit that I have much to learn about what people of another skin color experience in a “white privilege” culture. I so desire to be one who “acts justly and loves mercy and walks humble with my God”. I’m praying for this daily asking Him to give me opportunity to do so trusting in the Holy Spirit to work it out in me. I ask for grace and patience from those around me as I learn. I hope to be one who gives it when others are trying to learn to walk with Jesus as well. God bless you, all of you!

    • Alia_Joy

      Yes, our identity is in Christ. He is the one who uplifts us. And we all have our biases no matter who we are. It takes work to push past them and pray for the good of someone we don’t understand or even don’t like. It takes work to want their best when they seem intent on offering their worst. It takes work to listen when we disagree and choose to stay in relationship and conversation because we know and believe in the same God and Kingdom work calls us to die to ourselves all day long. It means doing the hard work of getting along and believing the best and perservering even when it would be easier to call it quits. It means learning to lament when others hurt because we weep with those who weep. It means belonging to each other and bearing each others burdens. I truly believe we may not always get it right and we may make mistakes or say the wrong thing but if we’re truly desiring to honor God with our words and honor eachother with an open heart and ears to listen, God will teach us.

  • Joanne Peterson

    Alia Joy,

    I am so saddened by the nurse who would not validate you, and treated you as though you were a nobody and invisible and caused emotional pain in addition to the physical pain you had. I am saddened by the time it took for you to receive real treatment for your kidney stone. I am saddened by the whole situation in Charleston. I am saddened by the way we treat our brothers and sisters who are a different color, religion, economic situation, debt, etc. I am saddened by the mistreatment other people are put through because of blindness, ignorance, deceit and being deceived, greed, needs,etc. I don’t have good answers, and I don’t honestly know what to do other than pray for God’s justice, mercy, and love to break through the evil one’s devices so we instead love one another instead of destroying each other. I don’t want to get so accustomed to the news that I become numb and unable to hear and feel what other people are going through and act when I am prompted to action. Thank you for having the courage to write this post and to open to our eyes and our hearts. Those could each be our children.

    Blessings,

    Joanne

    • Alia_Joy

      Prayer might be the most powerful weapon we have against the evil that tears us apart. God is faithful to guide willing hearts. Thank you for reading and listening and caring.

      • Kelly

        This was such a wonderful article for me to read tonight. I am a white mother to three wonderful adopted sons, two of which are black. Thank you for sharing from your heart and your experience. Thank you for loving us enough to risk being vulnerable with us. I don’t understand why when racism is mentioned in Christian circles that it is sometimes met with anger. Sadly, racism exists in America. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the white churches decided to take a stand, with our black brothers and sisters in the faith, against racism? I wonder what that would look like? I wonder if anyone is willing to risk being vulnerable, risk hearing criticism, risk not pleasing their neighbors, friends at church, (etc) by doing this? I wonder who will cross the street to lock arms with their sister who has a different skin color and say that they see their pain and that they weep with them?

        • Alia_Joy

          Sometimes I wonder too. Sometimes it breaks my heart wondering. I can imagine your mama heart asking who will care enough? I see and I weep and I’m standing here and I know I’m not alone. There are many voices coming awake, many hearts softening, many eyes opening. We just need to keep listening, keep speaking, keep hearing the voice of God saying these are my people. They matter.

  • KathiDenfeld

    Gracious as always, friend.

  • http://www.natureofaservant.com/ Andee Zomerman

    Ok – adding to the plethora of comments.

    1. Kudos on the analogy of knowing what it’s like to be ignored and comparing that to the massive problem of this country ignoring racism. I loved that you took something so painful for you and likened it to a huge problem in this country.

    2. You had every reason to wonder about the doctor’s care. I’m sure she gets tons of drug seekers and I bet sometimes its tough to believe who really is legitimate. As a white woman whose husband has worked in health care for 23 years, I STILL have had really crappy doctors who’ve dismissed and mis-diagnosed. But you know what? I never had to wonder if it was because of my skin color. I automatically put the ignorance on the part of the doctor. Interesting, huh? You thought it was because of who YOU are, I assume it’s because of who THEY are. This proves there is still cause for concern of racial/class injustice in our society.

    3. Anyone who says Washington is race-bating is too lazy to read or listen to true problems of African Americans, as well as other people of color. This has been going on since the Puritans and Pilgrims. I don’t know if it will ever go away. I will pray – but it’s not new. If we as a church don’t buck up and do something, our grandchildren will be having the same argument.

    4. I didn’t actually read the word “Obamacare” in your post, but nevertheless, these issues are WHY the dang thing exists! Is the policy perfect? No. But if it helped you get the care you need – yay for that! Yes, some take advantage. However, when it helps families it’s intended to help, I bet that makes the administration proud. Also – for people who don’t like ACA – what’s the alternative? Medical costs are a joke. Health insurance can’t keep up. It’s a messed up system.

    5. If ANYONE of color tells me racism is a thing of the past, I will reconsider my view. However, anyone I’ve ever heard say it is white. Light skin loses credibility in this argument.

    6. Black churches are burning.

    7. Black men are dying at the hands of police officers “restraining them” after selling illegal cigarettes or being transported for questioning. D. Roof mass murders 9 people and gets a bullet proof vest and Burger King.

    8. A black, unarmed teen is killed by a freaking HOA neighborhood watch guy. The killer goes free.

    9. #5-8 have nothing to do with your post. I was on a roll. Sorry.

    And that’s what I have to say about that.

    • KathiDenfeld

      I’d say five-eight have everything to do with Alia’s post, and that you are quick to see a connection.

    • Alia_Joy

      1.) Thank you! 2.) There were a lot of wonky things about my care. So much that the nurses were confused and baffled about why she basically accused me of being a drug user. 3.) Race-baiting might be my least favorite phrase becuase it automatically diminshes anyone’s experience to a percieved slight and antogonistic myth. How can we be for each other in any way when we use dismissive language like that? 4.) That’s because I never wrote the word Obamacare into my post. That’s just what some people fixated on. 5-8) The fact that there are only 3 bullet points means you held back. 9) I like how you roll. :0 sorry cheesy, I know.

  • http://www.lisanotes.com/ Lisa notes…

    Ugh. Crying as I read this. Beautiful story, beautifully told. When we will begin to hear the pain of others? Care about it? Do something about it? One story at a time, one voice at a time, we are capable of change. God, move us.

  • Beth Williams

    Alia Joy,
    So sorry you had to endure such pain without any validation. An RN should at least pay attention to patient’s complaints. Their job is to console & help heal people not make the pain worse by ignoring it or stating you are imaging the pain. Praying for better health!
    Jesus would have come & listened to you–looked you in the eye and cared about your pain regardless of skin color, wealth, etc. He would love you as His own & we all should do the same!
    Blessings :)

  • http://www.adrielbooker.com/ Adriel Booker

    Alia, I’m only just now able to read and comment on this. And honestly? I’m baffled that anyone would turn this into a “controversial” post. Perhaps my 15 years of living outside of the US has rendered it nearly impossible to relate to some of the standard American rhetoric surrounding race and class (and, yes, healthcare). I’m sorry that in the sharing of your pain people have seen reason to manipulate it into something it’s not. I’m glad you finally received the care you needed, but so sorry the road there was so tumultuous. Breaks my heart, Alia. xo

    • Alia_Joy

      Honestly, it baffled me too and I’m prone to cynicism. I expected some push back when it comes to racism because living in Bend and hearing pushback all the time regarding race and class has prepared me for those awkward conversations but yeah, baffling. I’m doing much better and miss you heaps.