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Author Archive: Keisha Ray

About Keisha Ray


by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

The story of Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, beginning in 2014 is a story that most people are familiar with. After changing how their water is supplied—Going from Detroit supplied water to water supplied from Flint river to the ultimate goal of pipelines bringing in water from Lake Huron—the water became contaminated. The yellow-ish brown, foul odor water brought in from Flint River had high levels of lead causing many people to not drink the water or use it for cooking, brushing teeth, or any other life activity that required water. Celebrities, professional athletes, and every day people all donated bottled water to Flint’s residents to help them with this crisis.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

Last week there were two news stories about three individuals who died because they could not afford health care. The first is the story of Josh Wilkerson, age 27 who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Wilkerson could no longer afford his normal brand of insulin after aging out of his step-fathers’ private health insurance. Wilkerson’s salary of $16.50 an hour was not enough to cover the $1,200 price tag and with plans to save for a future wedding, Wilkerson switched to an over-the-counter brand of human insulin that is about $25 at Walmart. The human insulin is significantly less effective than the prescription brand Wilkerson was used to taking but because of costs he made the switch.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

 

In May a twitter user posted a picture depicting the muscular system of a female that included milk ducts. It quickly went viral as people realized that in their various health science and anatomy and physiology courses they had never seen a picture of a female muscular system, only a picture of a male muscular system. After thinking back to my own health and anatomy and physiology courses I took during high school and college, I myself was taken aback by the realization that I had never seen a picture like this before. Like many other twitter users I initially found the picture difficult to view.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

 

For many LGBTQ people (and many others) June is a month of celebration. June is PRIDE month. PRIDE is celebrated all over the United States during the month of June to commemorate June 28, 1969 when New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. The patrons, however, did not go quietly. They rioted and resisted arrest in response to years of harassment and arrests for the crime of homosexuality that occurred even before the Stonewall raid. This month, New York’s police commissioner apologized for the raid, calling the raid and laws against homosexuality “discriminatory and oppressive.”

Although my social media timelines, newsfeeds, and pages are filled with LGBTQ and straight people alike dancing and cheering at PRIDE parades all over the United States and the gay and transgender flags flying high, I’m also reminded of the ways transgender people’s health is under attack.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

Since 2009 Caster Semenya has been the face of hyperandrogenism in women’s sports and today her case is back in the headlines. Hyperandrogenism is when women have high levels of hormones like testosterone. Because of high levels of testosterone, Semenya, a South African, Olympic champion runner has been at war with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over her ability to participate in some of women’s international races like the Olympic games. To participate in races Semenya was required to undergo hormone treatment to lower her hormone levels. For future cases involving women athletes with hyperandrogenism the IAAF created policies that mandated women athletes must meet new testosterone levels of no greater than 10nmol/L to compete against women.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

A sudden and rapid weight gain of 15 pounds over the span of two weeks, despite exercising almost daily and following a nutritionist approved diet sent me to a primary care physician. I have been fat for all of my adult life so I am familiar with the disbelief, questioning, and distrust that comes with being a fat patient complaining of poor health. So I went to this doctor’s appointment prepared. As anyone who follows me on social media knows, I am a meal prepper. On almost every Sunday of the year I prepare 5-6 days’ worth of meals according to an anti-inflammatory, nutritionist approved diet, weighing and measuring all foods, and I post the pictures to my social media.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

“One Day at a Time” is the best show on Netflix you aren’t watching. It focuses on an intergenerational Cuban family living in Los Angeles, California. The mom, Penelope, a military vet and now a nurse, struggles with PTSD, anxiety, and depression while raising her two children in a small apartment with her mom, Lydia, played by legendary Rita Moreno. As a single mom, Penelope struggles to balance dating, becoming a nurse practitioner, her military support group, her ex-alcoholic ex-husband, the needs of Alex—her too-cool for school teenage son—Elena—her feminist teenage daughter who recently told the family that she is gay—and her traditional, yet modern mother Lydia.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

“Nothing about us without us.”– J.I. Charlton, adopted by disability rights advocates

Recently I sat in a room of scholars who teach health humanities in medical schools and undergraduate institutions across the United States and Canada. At the top of the list of topics we discussed was the power of health narratives as pedagogical tools. Patients’ stories of illness, treatment, suffering, and healing were shared, read, dissected. Some participants even shared their own health narratives. But much like educators teaching health humanities across North America, the room of 35 or so participants were overwhelmingly white, upper to middle class, able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual, and very well educated possessing doctorate and medical degrees.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

In a previous blog I wrote about racial disparities in health and health care in which black patients fare much worse than white patients, including worse health outcomes. For instance, black patients are more likely to experience inadequate pain management from their practitioners than white patients. Black people are also more likely to experience lower quality of sleep than white people, which can contribute to other health problems such as hypertension. Recently bioethicists have been somewhat more attention to another racial disparity, the disparity between black and white women who die during or after childbirth.

By some estimates black women are 3 times more likely to die from pregnancy or pregnancy related ailments than white women.…

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by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

(Originally presented at the 7th International Health Humanities Consortium meeting in Houston, Texas)

I’ve had many odd, seemingly racially motivated experiences with racially uneducated and racially insensitive doctors and nurses. From being told by one of my white physicians that I sound white when I speak, to another physician calling me “sista girl” for what seemed like 100 times during our brief 15-minute interaction, or another physician who in disbelief kept asking me “Are you sure you’ve never been pregnant? It’s very rare for a black woman your age to not have had any pregnancies. Maybe you think I mean births, when I mean pregnancies?” At the time, I was only 25 years old.…

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