Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Naked Truth about how we treat our Sick and Poor


We refuse a few extra dollars in food sustenance and as a result spend that and more in medical care.

I came to this after having done a food stamp diet for two months in the summer in San Francisco to prepare for a benefit for the SF Food Bank. Links to those stories here. 

Summer in San Francisco with masses of pasta and rice is a vastly different experience than winter in New York as a diabetic.

I came to this via Harlem Hospital. I was asked by Dr. Leaque Ahmed of Harlem Hospital to quit my job and come 3,000 miles to NY in order to work with the diabetes department on Stirring the Pot. He was the conduit, making me a part of his department via PAGNY.

Thrilled to be here I began working hard and as my kitchen was (supposedly) being built I began shopping tours and did an enormous amount of outreach. I created our Facebook page and our blog and put in some very long hours preparing for the program.

3 months later gross mismanagement and some very bad decision making caused the hospital to let go of the program. Now patients may see a nutritionist like Amrita Persaud, at least she told me she is one...I never saw her degree. Rather than hands on cooking lessons that work for the community and their budgets they get a session in an office. 

I continued to run Stirring the Pot as a volunteer, hosting some cooking lessons in my home kitchen. 

I felt I had made a commitment to the people of Harlem, not the hospital. 

When January came and I looked at my pledge to do the food stamp budget as a diabetic I decided to go ahead with it. I knew that I would learn more, and I did. 

At the beginning I was raring to go, I was as creative as I had ever been and I worked it. I made ahead foods to tide me over. I sought out pig tails and other low cost items. 

By the end of month 2 I was hungry and tired. 

I ate the same thing 3 days in a row, not because I had no other choice but because I was bored and depressed. 

It impacted my body.

I lost two inches in my chest, 1 in my arms and close to two in my thighs, muscle loss, not fat. 

As my muscle went down my body fat percentage went up. I began at 11% fat and am now at almost 17% fat. Despite a weight loss of more than 8 lbs my waist is slightly bigger. 

My cholesterol has risen and the ratio is way off. I have elevated triglycerides, free testosterone levels are low despite normal/high testosterone over all. 

My sodium is quite fine despite precious little dietary sodium (I need salt so I took a supplement) my vitamin D levels are still above normal and my Iron shot off the charts. 

This tells me that were I to stay on this high meat/low carb what few vegetables I could afford way of eating I would be sick before long. 

In America we love to blame poor people for making bad choices but they cannot afford to make good choices. 

You can get 4 boxes of off label Macaroni and Cheese for .99 at the .99 store. You can get 6 to 8 top ramen for one dollar. Banquet routinely puts pot pies and 'dinners' on sale for .99 at the beginning of the month. 

Garbage food is affordable for most of us. 

Soup kitchens and other feeding programs are strained beyond words. They rely on donations (often of cheap carbs) to sustain people. Those cheap carbs are killing them. 

On paper I did okay. My carbs were right in line for what I should have had over a 2 month period. I was low in certain nutrients but I have enough stored D from the sun. 

I got more fiber than most Americans...

So what went wrong? 

I got way too many calories from fat. Fat is pale blue, carbs purple and protein yellow. As the time progressed I relied more heavily on butter to both flavor and get more calories. Costco made butter cheap at about two bucks a pound. 

Even when I made the wrong choices I KNEW I was making the wrong choices but was too hungry and tired to care. 

Last night I had an entire head of broccoli, something I could never have afforded on the food stamp budget. 

The poor cannot afford good food, Can we afford the health care cost of not providing it. 

I would love to hear from you. wilderkj@gmail.com

Respectfully submitted,

Karl Wilder 

1 comment:

da bitch in 23 said...

You tell it like it is Baby Boy. Its about time you said what the Hospital done, which was wrong, wrong, wrong, and unfair to us.

That place is run by fools