Lead Pipe Syndrome

December 10, 2014 Ed Democracy BLOG

It is known as Lead Pipe Syndrome, in the traumatizing world of childhood lead-poisoning.

As in, “it’s a ‘lead-pipe’ cinch!” Let’s just spell it all right out just as one’s brains might well spill out when hit with a lead pipe.

cinch
sin(t)SH/
noun
  1. 1.
    informal
    an extremely easy task.
    “the program was a cinch to use”
    synonyms: an easy task, child’s play, a snap, a walkover, nothing;

    informala piece of cake, a picnic, a breeze, kids’ stuff, a cakewalk, a pushover,duck soup, a walk in the park

It was an all-too-common catch phrase in old TV shows – harkening back to a darker more violent time far beyond the dim fuzzy black & white & gray mists of history.

Stop talking about it as if it is commonplace and expected and condoned and eventually it will wither away, right?

It’s a start and it’s worth a try. Is progress really so slow? Evidently.

But, we have made, at least, some progress, haven’t we? It seems we do not hear, “it’s a ‘lead-pipe’ cinch!”, anymore, at least not as much. It seems we do not hear of people being “brained” with lead-pipes, anymore, at least not as much. For one thing, there are fewer lead pipes available to those who might ever do such a thing.

Similarly, there is not as much lead-paint since it has been banned since the 1970s so it is mostly a problem in old housing stock where old paint is worn off and collects on floors inside and the ground outside – where babies and toddlers crawl, toddle, and touch everything and put everything in their mouths.

When it is safely encapsulated under layers of new, lead-free, low VOC paint it cannot harm anyone – “lead-safe”, as it is called (safe-enough … let sleeping dogs lie).

Yet, there, it remains, lurking NOT like some late-night cheese-ball villain waiting to attack innocent, unsuspecting victims.

“NOT like” because THIS IS A REAL VILLAIN waiting to attack innocent, unsuspecting victims!

When it escapes – on its own or with the aid of an ignorant uncaring accomplice or an unwitting dupe – it will attack!

It could escape via the friction surfaces of a window or a door or the drawers of an old piece of furniture – unused for years and now getting overused by an active busy exploring young innocent human being just getting started on their adventurous learning journey here on planet Earth.

It could escape via the sanding of some young, excited, hurried, parents busily readying or improving their apartment or house for their young family.

It could escape via the sanding of some young, excited, hurried, worker/landlord busily readying or improving an apartment or house for a young family.

It could escape via the sanding of some not-necessarily-so-young, not-necessarily-so-excited, yet quite-hurried-and-greedy-and-thoroughly-ignorant-and-devoid-of-care worker/landlord busily “readying” or “improving” an apartment or house for a young tenant family of renters and future renters.

It could escape via the friction of the wind and sand and rain and time from the old flaking paint on the outside of a house onto to ground where children will play and breath in the lead-filled dust and gather it on their hands and help to spread it around for other children to ingest – quite happily and innocently.

God’s will? Guess again! Too obvious! Guess again! Right! Ignorance and Chaos incarnate! Very good! Ignorance and Chaos incarnate – yet invisible – locking arms and spinning wildly creating a torrent of tiny lead atoms like so many BB’s and ball-bearings and shotgun beads launched silently into the lives and, ultimately, into the blood streams, bones, nerves, and brains of our youngest, poorest, most innocent and vulnerable.

They depend upon the adults to create safe homes, schools, and play areas.

They grow up and, as adults, they depend upon the community to make and to enforce laws to create safe homes, schools, and play areas.

Well now we know. Some know better than others. But now we, as a collective society, know. No more excuses. Somewhere someone should have known and should have prevented every single case of childhood lead poisoning.

Well now we will pay.

And we have been paying.

We pay through higher insurance rates for those who were covered – both health and liability insurance rates are higher.

We pay through higher medical bills to pay for those who were not covered.

We pay through higher property tax bills for special needs school programs for lead-poisoned children – diagnosed and undiagnosed.

We pay through higher costs for the countless social & economic effects of lead-poisoned children – diagnosed and undiagnosed.

We pay by having all that Ignorance and Chaos propagated and spread virulently via the infected children whose health and lives have been threatened.

Some parents find out their child is lead-poisoned when it is too late to do much of anything – most damage happens when very young:  in utero (a fetus is lead-poisoned by their lead-poisoned mother), a baby who is breast-fed can be lead-poisoned by breast milk, babies, toddlers, etc.are most exposed to environmental lead in the home and most absorptive when growing so fast).

The “lucky ones” find out relatively quickly when their child(ren) are young.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that your child(ren) have been lead-poisoned.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that your child(ren) have been lead-poisoned by you – or your ignorance and your failure to prevent it and to protect them.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you do not have time to process your guilt.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you have to leave your home – leave everything behind – and get your babies out of the place where you lead-poisoned them! (…losing a home is among the most traumatic experiences a human being can experience all by itself…)

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you have to find a new home for your babies – one in which you will not lead-poison them, this time.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you have to learn a lot of new and complicated information.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning just how much new information you would need to process when the good doctor hands you a thick heavy book with THE latest “OFFICIAL” medical literature on childhood lead-poisoning treatment protocols.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you, now, must gently but firmly guide your babies through a rigorous and tightly-scheduled treatment regime of nutrition and medicine to draw out the lead-poison that has already been absorbed by your babies’ bodies and to prevent the lead-poison that is in their system from being absorbed.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that, when you got deep into the medical literature and learned about childhood lead-poisoning and why the treatment regime is so tightly scheduled and rigorous, only then would you realize, you had gotten your brain back.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning how much gratitude you are feeling toward the good doctor because, knowingly or not, by respecting you and informing you about your babies’ medical treatment and the role you must play for it to be effective, the good doctor also gave you back your brain.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you will have to wait months or years to have an idea of what degree of success you might hope for with your babies’ treatment.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that even if the degree of success is near complete long-term, you will carry this with you for life.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you had no idea and there are other innocent parents and babies out there right now who have no idea and we can tell them! Someone has to tell them! I can tell them! Is anyone else telling them? Maybe not. Nobody told me! I can tell them! I have to tell them! It has to start somewhere and there must be someone else out there! I will find them and they will find me!
“Never doubt that a small number of dedicated people can change the world – indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead, right?!? …yeah…

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you are in no condition to change the world – you’re lucky to keep up with changing diapers.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you still have to try to do something.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that there are a whole lot of people with a whole lot of money invested in the way things are and they play hardball and nobody is going risk losing their jobs to bring the change necessary to truly & completely solve this problem and stop anyone else’s baby from being lead-poisoned ever, again!

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that – forget about pesticide, BPA, and, most of all, forget about replacing the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that even if you can get laws changed here and there, getting them enforced and adjudicated is another matter.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that you can get building codes changed, you can get federal and state disclosures mandated, but you want us to actually hire code enforcement professionals and actually pay them to actually enforce the codes?!? Huh! Well, maybe we will study that if ignoring it doesn’t work perfectly well.

Lead Pipe Syndrome is the overwhelming shock of learning that … this could go on forever…

Until we start doing things differently, we cannot expect different results.

We cannot expect the traumatized to organize sustainably.

We can hope the traumatized can grieve and heal.

Who, then, does the tasks of organizing the work for change?

When trauma strikes, tasks have to happen and they have to happen quickly.

In the immediacy of the trauma, fight or flight kicks in and we either take action or take flight, as appropriate.

Then, we go through some level of shock. Then, we crash. Then, we pick up the pieces. Then, we grieve. Then, we heal. Then, we get on with our lives.

When trauma strikes, unless it is a purely random accident, it is a manifestation of the need for change … a consequence of a failure or a series of failures coming to its inevitable fruition in a particular event.

When trauma strikes, who knows better the need to act to prevent this from happening to someone else than a victim to whom it has happened?

Can some community organizer come along and fully do and say what needs to be done and said absent the impetus and depth and resonance of real experience?

Certainly, we cannot demand a trauma victim to do more than they can. It is purely up to the individual in their own situation. One knows if one can or cannot.

When one cannot, we can only hope, then, for a community organizer to come along and do and say what needs to be done and said as best they can.

Certainly, we cannot leave it to those whose failure upon compounded failure year after year, decade after decade when they either could not or would not see the problem or could not or would not bother themselves to disturb their comfortable career!

Who then? Trauma creates a vacuum. Either people are physically gone or they are socially and emotionally absent. Their absence creates a vacuum. Power abhors a vacuum. Who will fill that vacuum? How will they fill that vacuum?

In many ways, this is the history of humanity. Same story, different century … different millennium.

Do we really need huge crises to react to and stampede us like a herd? NO!

Why, then, is that the most prevalent dynamic?

I submit, it is nurture (BAD: neglect) and culture (BAD: vulture) rather than nature and biology.  Our hardware is fine. Our software (operating system & apps) needs an upgrade.

Is there a Millennial in the house?  …a Generation Z? (aka: “digital natives”)… wait! …the drums!  …the “digital natives” are restless! …good thing they’re on our side!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Credit is due to the truly courageous human beings whose true stories inspired this piece.  They carry on bearing a very heavy burden. One hopes, the more we learn of true human tragedies, the more we can learn to be proactive in preventing them in the future.

#RememberNoyeschildhood lead-poisoningcommunity organizinghealthy homesMaineNoyes StreetPortlandRememberNoyesStsafe housing


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