(cut for some medical grue)
My son has been working as a volunteer at the medical tent at Occupy Wall Street. When he first began there, it was intended as a place to hand out band-aids and cough drops to demonstrators who had gotten a little uncomfortable.
But as the encampment has lasted, and weeks and months have passed, it has come to be much more. The medical tent is open 24/7, it is manned by doctors, nurses, and medics, all working in free time for free. (My son is an EMT.)
The weather has turned colder here in NYC. There has been snow already, and freezing rain. OWS is near the water. Hypothermia is a real concern. My boy has been trying to keep people warm and dry.
But now something else is happening. The word has gone out that there is free medical care. Local homeless are coming in. My son has seen three cases this week of diabetic necrosis. He had one woman come in looking for antiseptic foot spray. Her toe bones were exposed in her wet sneakers. They are people who are living on the street, or nearly so. They may have been seen in the local ER. No doubt they were given scrips to fill. They can't afford to fill them. They cannot go to a clean quiet home to rest.
He has also seen people with bronchitis, people on drugs, people who are probably schizophrenic. He can give them warm socks. Can wrap them in space blankets. He can bandage blisters, and show them where to get laundry done. He can send them to the volunteer doctors for stitches. He can take their hands or feet in his hands. He can take their vitals. He can listen to them. He is doing these things.
(One man had a broken hand from repeatedly punching a piece of steel modern art. My son splinted up the hand. he told the man to go to the ER, and he told him to stop hitting the statue. The man had some complicated reason he felt compelled to keep doing so. Son told to him to at least use the other hand.)
But winter has not started yet. Some people are going to die.
These are not the pretty face of the demonstration. But they are the reason it needs to be. They are the pointy end of the 99%. They are the most fragile, the most needy. We in this country have failed them for so long. It has to stop.