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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shower the people

Reporting from San Diego.

A welcome diversion from the hyperpartisan, nihilistic Asshattery in DC. This is inspiring. I have reached out to these people offering to help in whatever ways I can.
It started with a cab drive and a zinger of a line delivered by a seasoned cabbie. "Welcome to the land of broken dreams," he said. Those seven words, a desire to bring about change, and a belief that mobile/moveable could be powerful set in motion what eventually became Lava Mae.  Started by private citizens who believe that access to showers and toilets shouldn't be a luxury, Lava Mae is a nonprofit project that seeks to reach the  homeless who lack access to these necessities.
When I first saw this, mentioned in an article in the SF Chronicle, I thought immediately of my friend the heroic Dr. Jan Gurley, a national authority on the medical plight of the homeless.
What the NFL and the Homeless Have in Common
May 10th, 2011

With a traumatic brain injury, you feel yourself slipping away. You can’t remember things that used to come easily, things like how to find the grocery store — acts and details that live, mocking, at the edges of your thoughts, just outside your grasp.

You know there’s something wrong, but you have a sense that it’s all your fault. Rage bubbles and pops to the surface, the only emotion that seems to escape the thick stew of depression that dulls your days.

You make lists and lists, trying to get your life under control. But two days later, you stare at pieces of paper, trying to remember what the scribble meant, which thing it is that you were supposed to do next.

Chronic pain is there all the time, and you try to plan and wait and be patient and stick with a process, but then you find yourself sitting, head in hands, unable to remember what’s next. All you know is that something’s wrong. And the rage squirms and writhes, trying to bubble up again.

The behavioral changes and impaired functioning caused by post-traumatic brain injury aren’t poignant science fiction. They’re real.

Traumatic brain injury, especially from repeated concussions, has become a pivotal topic in sport, particularly in the National Football League. Watching a game on TV, it used to be easy to scoff at the concept, as you watched players collide a million times and heard the dull thud of plastic against muscle, bone against bone. You’ve seen players get up and walk it off. How could it be life-damaging? And even if it is, didn’t they kind of ask for it?

Watching these young men with lightning fast reflexes and rippling dunes of muscles – symbols, really, of human perfection – it may be hard to believe that they could have anything in common with the guy elbow-deep in the trashcan on your sidewalk. But when it comes to brain injury, its consequences and our reactions to it, the homeless and NFL players may have more in common than you might think...
...70 percent of the homeless reported their first episode of serious head injury before becoming homeless, suggesting, the authors noted, that “in some cases, traumatic brain injury may be a causal factor that contributes to the onset of homelessness, possibly though cognitive or behavioral sequelae of traumatic brain injury.” What’s more, a study like this may actually have under-represented the degree of injury and impairment associated with head trauma among the homeless, since only those people competent enough to seek services at a soup kitchen or shelter were surveyed.

With so much at stake – the loss of human potential, the damage to our society, the costs of care for these kinds of impairments – you might think that society would take very seriously the prevention of head trauma among the homeless. There is, however, a sense that people on the streets may have brought it on themselves.

Assaults resulting in head trauma are a daily occurrence in life on the streets. A head slammed into a dumpster, a dislocating punch to the jaw, a head laceration that’s been stapled closed: these are so common as to be considered “normal” for the homeless...
This is the toughest of tough stuff.


Looks increasingly at this writing (5:12 PDT) like the Republicans are set to Shower the People with bad checks come Thursday.

Should we descend into Default, I rather doubt that anyone will give a flip about the Meaningful Use initiative on the other side. We will have poured truckloads of salt into our federal deficit wounds. The Health IT MU gravy train will be over. Far more pressing economic concerns will come to the fore.

More to come...

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