The Rights of the Handicapped

Don’t delay the joy!  My last article sounded good but let’s be real!  I’m not the kind of person who can walk away from a social injustice, especially when it involves the handicapped.  As promised by the customer relations department, American Airlines has refused to communicate with me.  As far as I know, the gates of hell are going to open on Saturday and I’ll just have to endure whatever AA dishes out.  This time, I’ll wear a diaper and keep my walker with me.

Don’t delay the joy!  This is most likely my last trip to Paradise Village with my childhood friends. I’ve been bedridden much of the trip. Parkinson’s does that to you.  I’ve been lucky as I’ve got 20 years worth of memories of trips to Spain, Italy, Hawaii and Mexico!  If I can’t travel, at least I can make traveling better for the handicapped.  My next step is to involve the government and get them to enforce the law.

I’ll keep my readership up to date and ask you to be as vocal aspossible. I have gotten many helpful ideas and I hope you stillkeep them coming.  My favorite idea was to film the transporters as they interact with their handicapped passengers. 

 The handicapped need your help and support.  By the way, this seems to be a system wide problem. At least, United Airlines promised to do something about it.

Don’t delay the happy

I want to thank all of my readers for their support and their stories.  I hope that the airlines will take notice and change their approach to transporting the handicapped.  One of my readers expressed his concern that in fighting the airlines I was missing the gifts of the life I have left.

In 2011 and in 2020, I wrote a series of articles around the concept of “don’t put off the happy.”  I’ve got to confess, I was brilliant.  I must have known I’d be in trouble and left my future self a solution.  In the past, I would have fought Goliath as if I was David.  The airlines are certainly Goliath and my blog is a sling shot.  I’m on the last leg of my life and am NOT going to put off the happy.

So, I’m going to hope that one of you will take up the battle while I enjoy my family, friends, food and alcohol until Parkinson’s takes me.  I’m also going to severely limit my flying and exposure to corporations that abuse the elderly and the handicapped.  Oh yeah, I’ll keep writing.

Here’s a link to the article I mention above. DON’T PUT OFF THE HAPPY!

Here’s your joke: 20 Airline Executives were invited to fly on the newest version of a passenger jet.  On the day of the flight,  they were told that the computer was going to fly the plane.  There would be no pilot or crew. All but one CEO made excuses and left the plane.  When the one remaining CEO was questioned why he felt safe staying on the plane, he answered that if it was designed by his IT {customer service} department, the plane would never leave the ground.   

Customer service conversation

Me:  Ring, ring, Hello.

AA Representative:  Hello, is Dr. Segal there?

Me: I’m Dr Segal, who’s calling?

AA Representative:  My name is not helpful and I’m calling from American Airlines customer service.

Me: I’ve been expecting your call.  I need your help.  I had a horrible experience in Dallas.

AA Representative: I’m sorry. I’ll communicate your complaint to the Dallas team.

Me: Will they call me?

AA Representative: NO! They don’t call our customers! That’s my job!

Me: Then you’ll help prevent this from happening again?

AA Representative: No!  My job s to communicate your concerns!

Me: Then management will contact me?

AA Representative: NO! They don’t call customers.

Me: Do you realize you never use the word help?

AA Representative: I told you Ill communicate your concerns.

The above conversation was ridiculous. Nothing will be done until public outrage forces management to do something.  If you have a similar story, contact me.

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American Airline Continued

I’ve discovered proof that my experience is more common than one would believe. While United Airlines called within one hour of my posting, American Airline has been silent. I called American and was informed that option number three was for people who have had bad experiences on American to vent! Just punch number 3 and they will call you back. Well, I’m venting here!

Frankly I’m scared. I have to fly back to Carolina on an option three airline. Yep, they know their system is broken and, for whatever reason, they have chosen to leave it in its inhumane and dangerous state.  I was bedridden after my forced march from the B Concourse to the D Concourse. I actually thought I was dying. I can’t believe how it affected me. PTSD?

I want something from AA.  I want them to fix their handling of the handicapped services. I want them to comply with the law. I also want their promise that there will be wheAirlineeelchairs waiting for Robert and I that will take us, nonstop through customs, security and our next gate. I cannot bear the thought of sitting in the dumping  ground, waiting for somebody to rescue me.

I want to thank all of you for your kind words and support. I also want something from you.  I want your stories. Rather than push button 3, send me your stories and I’ll publish as many as I can.

Shame on American Airlines

I’m in Dallas waiting for an American Airline flight flight to Mexico. In the last 50 minutes, I’ve been treated as if I were shit on the soles of someone’s shoes.I would apologize for the vulgarity, but the anology is just too perfect. My friend, Robert, has suffered the same degrading, inhumane treatment. I actually feared for our lives.I’ve cried, wet myself and hurt all over. By the grace of God, neither of us fell. I didn’t think anything could be worse than United Airline’s “Dumping Ground for the Disabled.” I was wrong! Robert and I are disabled. We both have problems walking. I’ve had 2 significant falls in the last 3 months. My Parkinson’s is rapidly worsening. Not only is walking difficult, it is so painful. The airlines were notified, in advance, that we needed wheelchairs and assistance boarding the plane. An agent met us at the gate and informed me that we would have to walk up a long ramp and wait for him in the transport cart. He stated he needed to help other passengers first. I informed him that Robert and I couldn’t walk up the ramp and needed wheelchairs. I also explained that we had 45 minutes to get to our connecting flight. My Parkinson’s is bad, Robert’s neuropathy is worst. There was one wheelchair available so I gave it to him. I had two choices, miss the plane or walk. A wheelchair showed up so Robert rode and I WALKED THE PLANK. By the time I got on the cart, I felt like I had walked a 10 K.

It’s erie, but I thought the transport cart looked like a coffin. Deja vu as he belted us in and disappeared. Unfortunately, the story gets worse. Our driver raced through the terminal and finally parked 29 yards from an elevator. He then told us to get out. WE were told to walk to the elevator and we would find another cart waiting for us once the elevator stopped.I said no! I tried to explain our situation to him but it fell on deaf ears.He told us that’s there were no wheelchairs and the only way to reach our gate was to walk. He complained that he was just one man and he wasn’t responsible for the mess we were in. That was BULLSHIT! There wasn’t an ounce of compassion in his voice and his actions. I stopped a group of pilots and asked for help. They couldn’t be bothered.

So again I struggled to walk. Robert couldn’t walk so a wheelchair miraculously appeared. It was at that time that Robert realized that his gel, anti ulcer pad had been left in the haste of changing carts. While we waited in yet another dumping ground, Robert requested that someone call and try to recover his cushion. His request was refused! By this time, Robert could barely stand and fell into the new cart.

Again, we were loaded onto a cart and told to wait. For some unknown reason, the new driver did not have permission to drive the cart.

I was livid! Where begging failed, anger and a stern voice succeeded and she took us to our gate. There was an elderly Mexican with us. For some strange reason, she ordered him to “STAY” as if he was a dog. I regret not defending him!

I had a nightmare last night. I have to fly back to Dallas in 2 weeks on my return trip to Charlotte. MY nightmare is that I sat for days in the American Dumping ground and eventually there I am again, humiliated by the whole experience. I truly don’t know how I’m going to get on another American flight.

There is a bright side to this story. Once I made it to the plane, the two flight attendants recognized my distress and immediately went into action. Cory and Lexi Platz (a father daughter team) took me slowly and cautiously to my seat and checked on me throughout. Unlike the pilots, they CARED about the people on that flight. American Airlines would do well to model their crews after the Platzs.

As to the pilots, I thought the captain’s job was to protect his passengers. If that is true, then the seven pilots I approached pleading for help sure did fail.

Shame on American Airlines and the companies they contract with for handicapped services. I am sure my rights were violated. My friend and I were violated. What’s it going to take to fix this?

LIAR

Finally, we we’re going to tell our children the truth!  Lying, cheating and stealing pay off. Yep, Santos is definitive proof.  He has taken lying to the extreme.  He is accused of stealing funds from a dying dog of a veteran.  His behavior has been rewarded with a position in the US Congress.   He’s a Republican; and, due to the tight margin by which the Republicans hold the House, it looks like the Speaker of the House is going to accept his lies to hold on to the majority.

So much for honesty is the best policy!  I always thought that good people go to Washington and get infected with the Politico Virus.  Now I think I’ve been naïve.  Bad people go to Washington where they can misbehave just because bad behavior is acceptable there.

We all know that campaign promises are rarely kept.  In Illinois, it’s not uncommon to see the governor go from the governor’s mansion to jail at the end of their term.  Trump and Biden are both in legal jeopardy.  Both are likely to walk away clean.  So, thank you, Mr. Santos (if that’s your real name) for taking lying, cheating, and stealing to such heights and profiting from them.  Now we can adjust our high school and college curriculum to get our kids ready for careers in politics!

Just imagine the curriculum at the Santos School of Political Pseudo-Science.  Of course, there will be the Legos , Build a Lie series, hosted by Donald; Tax Evasion 101 hosted by various Senators and Congresspersons (or how to get rich stealing from the government); Mastery of Lechery with guest speaker Bill Clinton;  and the all time favorite, Excuses for having misplaced sensitive documents hosted by the dynamic Trump-Biden team. “I meant to bring them back to work but Donald stopped by with some really good pot and we kinda got stoned.  I’ll bring them back next week!” Finally, there  is a short course on Pardon Power.  The ultimate political tool

can forgive all mistakes, big and small.

The joke today is on all of us who elect these Bozos over and over again.

THE TRUTH

I’ve got to tell you the truth.  I’m a food addict.  I made an excellent dinner.  My three-course meal consisted of a mixed salad with homemade Italian dressing, lean hamburgers grilled with onions and mushrooms, fresh string beans and a frozen banana for dessert.  I’m full.

I ate 2 hours ago.  I’m sitting in the family room watching TV and all I can hear is Mrs. Fridge.  She’s at it again. “Hey, come here.  I’ve got a surprise for you.  I’ll make you happy.  I’ll make you smile.  I’m full of everything you like!”

She calls all night, every night.  She’s so hard to resist.  She’s voluptuous. Unfortunately, she really is loaded with everything I like.  I go to the grocery store once a week.  I’m intent on buying good healthy food.  I know what’s healthy and, in the past, my other friend, Will Power would go with me.  Unfortunately, Will is quarantined.  I’m on my own.

As soon as I walk into the store, Mr. Salami starts calling me. “Doc, you’re not going to live forever, might as well eat me.  I’m made from low fat salami, so grab me.  I love when you put me in your cart.”  As soon as I put him in my cart, I hear from Mr. Hotdog.  He’s jealous and gets along well with Mr. Salami.

The grocery store is Nirvana.  There are lots of hooker-like foods, all calling me.  Mrs. Gelato is quick to point out that my freezer is empty and needs filling.  Mr. Bagel begs me to get him some cream cheese and lox.  Sometimes its hard to get out of the grocery store.  There is so much to be eaten.

Lately, my addiction has been worse.  Any hint of a food shortage feeds into my foodie obsession.  My foodie obsession needs to be treated and I start off every day saying “Today is the first day of my new diet.”  Then Mrs. Fridge or Mr. Freeze calls me and I go to them. 

Today is my first day of my new diet. I’ve had 14 false starts this month. This article is my version of an AA meeting.  Hi, I’m Stewart and I’m a foodie junkie. Since I make the rules, my first rule is to substitute something else for food.  RENEE . . .

Here’s a few jokes:

I just started a diet. Here’s a recap of Day #1 – I removed all the fattening food from my house. It was delicious.

I am on a diet and my friend asked me how it’s goingNot good.” I said. “I had eggs for breakfast.”
“Fried?” He asked.
“Chocolate!” I replied

STRESS MANAGEMENT

One of my former patients posted the following:

I have a lot of

Excitement

In my life.

I used to call it STRESS

But I feel much better

Now that I call it

EXCITEMENT.

Sometimes, the difference between a winner and a loser is how they manage stress.  While we all experience stress, a person with good coping techniques/stress management skills can turn stress into excitement (or a host of other sentiments/feelings).

How do you handle stress?  Have you had any stress management courses?  Been in counseling?  Read about stress management techniques?  If not, why not?

Most of us have never had a formal education in stress management.  When you realize that all humans experience stress, it’s remarkable that so little education in stress management is made available to us through the educational system.

As a doc, it was not uncommon for me to find myself in highly stressful, life and death situations.  The 60-year-old male having a heart attack in my office was always a stressful event.  When I read the above statement, I realized that I channeled that stress into excitement as I ran my code procedures and waited for the paramedics.

How is it possible that I went all the way through undergraduate, graduate and post graduate training without a single stress management course?  Maybe it’s because admitting that you are stressed is taboo, unmanly.  I do know that I innately possessed good stress management skills.

When I was an ER doc back in the dark ages, the most stressful thing I had to do was put in a chest tube.  In those days, putting in a chest tube was somewhat barbaric.  While I had no problem opening the chest of a 24 year old patient with a knife wound in her heart, I had an unexplainable fear of putting in a chest tube.  My stress management technique was to go to the men’s room anytime a patient needing a chest tube came into my ER. It worked until, one day, Dr. J pounded on the bathroom door.

Dr. J – “Segal, gets your ass out of the bathroom and put in this chest tube.”

ME – “I’M TAKING A DUMP.  PUT IN THE CHEST TUBE YOURSELF.”

Dr. J – “She’s going to die if you don’t get your ass out here.”

Me – “Fuck, What’s wrong with you?  Go put in the tube.  I’ll join you when I’m finished.”

Dr. J – “You’re finished now!  Time to man up and get past your fear.’

Dr. J was a great teacher and he worked side by side with me until I conquered my fear.  Stress management can be taught in a classroom, at work or at home.  There are hundreds of books and programs on stress management.  Is it time for you to get an education? The answer is YES!

There is not much I can guarantee in life but I can guarantee that, if you take a course in stress management, you will be glad you did.

Here’s today’s joke:

Three engineers were arguing.

The mechanical engineer, the electrical engineer, and the civil engineer. They were arguing about what sort of an engineer God must be.

“Well, God must be a mechanical engineer, because look at the human skeleton. Look at all the stress it’s able to absorb.”

“But look at the nervous system. Look at all the wiring. God must be an electrical engineer.”

“Well, God must be a civil engineer, because only a civil engineer would run a liquid waste disposal unit right through a major recreational facility.”

THE WHY

Here’s an oldie but goodie, still pertinent 10 years later ;

Everyone is interested in the “whats” and “whens” of illness.  What do I have?  What are we going to do about it? What is going to happen to me? When will I feel better?  When can I go back to work?  While the “whats” and the whens” are certainly important questions to ask, the “whys” are the most helpful.

Today, I had a lengthy conversation with one of the brightest individuals I have ever met.  Conversing with him is intellectually stimulating.  During our conversation, he mentioned that most people skip the “why” and race to fix a problem before truly analyzing the issues involved.  It dawned on me that the “why” in medicine is often more important than the “what, when and where” questions.

While I can’t always answer the “Why?” of illness, the true path to health lies in finding the “Why?” and preventing it.  Over the last few days, I have been trying to focus on the known “whys” of illness.  “Why aren’t I getting well?”  Answer, “You keep smoking and the smoke is destroying your airway.”  “Why do I need all of these medications for my cholesterol and blood pressure?”  Answer, “You are not on a DASH diet; you are eating fatty red meats and not even trying to change your sedentary lifestyle.”  “Why am I having problems getting an erection?”  Answer, “You are massively overweight and out of shape.  Sex might actually kill you!”

The answers sound harsh.  Reality is sometimes harsh.  The only way to stop the cascade into illness is to find the answers to the “whys” and then do something to change.  Am I frustrated?  Yes!  I often refer to myself as a fireman, pouring water (medication) onto a fire, trying to put it out.  My patients are often arsonists, pouring fuel on the fire and yelling at me to put the fire out.  As I increase my fire extinguishers (medicines), I get yelled at, “I’m on too many expensive medications.  I’m spending $500 a month.  You have to do something.”

I have witnessed the success of those patients who have found their “whys” and then done something about them.   I have had lots of success stories over the years!  I also have had too many failures.  The failures frustrate me.  How do I motivate people to find their “whys”?  How do I convince my patients and myself to tackle our problems head on, to take personal responsibility for our wellbeing?

The first step is to make sure they don’t forget to ask why!

Here’s your joke;

What’s the difference between an oral and a rectal thermometer?

“The taste.”

REALISTIC GOALS

Today, I want to talk about setting realistic, obtainable goals. Over the last 35 years, I have watched my patients, family and friends set grandiose goals and then fail to reach those goals. I have been guilty of the same. My patients have taught me many lessons and I want to share two patients’ histories with you.

Paul was morbidly obese. He had been on multiple diets, losing hundreds of pounds and ultimately finding what he had lost plus some. This time Paul’s stated goal was 75 pounds. I pleaded with Paul, requesting that he adjust his goal to a more realistic and sustainable number. I like 10 pound goals. Ten pounds is relatively easy to lose. I told Paul that once he lost his ten pounds, he could go for another ten if he so chose. Paul was insistent on losing 75 pounds.

Paul lost 50 pounds and then hit a plateau. He just couldn’t manage to lose his last 25 pounds. As he struggled, he got more frustrated. He lost sight of how good he looked and how much better he felt. He saw himself as a loser. One month into his plateau, Paul’s dedication to losing 75 pounds faltered. He started gaining weight. Today, Paul has found the 50 pounds he lost plus twenty more.

Had Paul set a realistic, obtainable goal of ten pounds, he would have won the battle five times. He would have been able to revel in success. He would be ten pounds from his next goal and been able to survive his plateau. Often, we set ourselves up for failure when, in fact, we had achieved a great success.

Joan decided she needed to exercise. She was overweight and truly out of shape at the ripe old age of 35. She had been athletic in high school and college. Her mind remembered what being in shape felt like, but her body did not. Joan decided to buy an exercise routine from the internet, PX90. Her desire to exercise was laudable but her chosen method questionable. On the fourth day of her newfound exercise routine, Joan presented to the office with severe abdominal pain. Two days and many hundreds of dollars later, it was determined that Joan’s pain stemmed from a severe muscular strain caused from intensively exercising out of shape muscles.

Both of these patients had the right idea. Both wanted to be healthy. Both live in a world whose inhabitants strive for instant gratification. Both set very high goals. Both failed. If you look at life as a sprint to the finish line, Paul and Joan got out of the blocks quickly. If you look at life as an endurance race, neither paced themselves and both failed to reach the finish line. It’s the story of the tortoise and the hare all over again.

From a doctor’s point of view, life should definitely be a marathon race. It’s not how fast you get to the end of the race; it’s how long can you run. Setting long -term goals makes sense. The proverbial chicken gets to the other side of the road 1 step at a time.

The next time you decide to exercise, start by walking just 10 minutes and stretching 10 minutes a day. After a week, increase to 15 – 20 minutes a day, then to 30. When you can walk 30 minutes without hurting, pick up the pace. When you can run at four miles an hour for 30 minutes, you are ready to add light resistance training. In high school, the saying was, “No pain, no gain!” In the adult world, it should be “Pain, no gain!”

The next time you decide to lose weight, be happy losing 10 pounds. Ten pounds is a significant win! Ten pounds lowers your risk of hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol problems. You can revel in your success. If you want, you can go for ten more. Most people never really lose weight; they just misplace it. Resolve that what comes off stays off.

Most of all, don’t set yourself up for failure. Be happy, be healthy and run a very long race!

Here’s today’s joke:

I went on the vodka diet recently.

I lost three days in one week.

One more:

So I’m at Walmart picking up a bag of dog food for my dog. Waiting in the long line the lady behind me strikes up a conversation. She asks if I have a dog, and I think, why else would I be carrying this big bag of dog food?
Then I said “No, I’m starting the dog food diet again. Even though I ended up in the hospital last time.” She looked horrified. I continued, “But I had lost 50lbs before I woke up in the hospital with IV’s and feeding tube and a broken arm and pelvis and a concussion.”
“Oh Dear!” She said. I told her that it was the perfect diet, that you fill your pockets with the nuggets and when you feel hungry you just pop a couple and eat them. And since the dog food is nutritionally complete it works great, and I really want to try it again.
Now everyone in line is listening to me and our discussion. She asked, “Well, was it the dog food that put you in the hospital?”
“Oh, no,” I answered, “I stepped off the curb to sniff a poodle’s butt and a truck hit me…”
I thought the guy behind her was gonna have a heart attack he was laughing so hard…

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