My Onion Pi

If you can figure out the name, you'll know what it's about. Fortunately, I'm literate. I'm also funny on occasion. Just beware of the flying PMS.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Business of Health

Every once in a while I have a day at work that really makes me wonder what's it all about, Alfie? Today was that kind of day. I don't know if it was the excitement of Superbowl Sunday, or the nasty weather, or the phase of the Moon, or just the weirdness of life, but we were so gosh darned busy that for a moment there I thought it was Thanksgiving Day again. The staffing was a volatile mix of a rather power-loving charge nurse, a spastic doc and me...with PMS. Not good. Add lots of ambulances...heartburn, and several drunks to that picture while yer at it. But the funny thing was the patients I happened to get were people whose lives I touched, or was meant to touch in some significant way. I mean, that happens a lot in this field, but it still throws me when it does. I had a young guy, dumped off by the police for intoxication. No one from his family would pick him up, so he had to stay until his ETOH level dropped to nearly normal. I say nearly, because he was an admitted alcoholic, and the last thing we wanted to do was to throw him into seizures from withdrawal. Still, he was there long enough that we got to talking a bit, in between all the chaos. Now usually ER people are too busy to get into all of the addiction counseling, or we just figure, "What's the use." But for some reason I was able to talk to him about his alcoholism and what it was really doing to his life and health. I don't profess to be an expert, but I was honest, and I really cared, and I was straight with him about where all this would eventually leave him. I don't know if it will make a difference, and it very well may not, but sometimes I just get the feeling I'm "meant to say something." I never really know why, or know exactly what I'm going to say beforehand. I suspect it might be a part of that "big picture" somehow. But when I get that sense, that feeling...well, I go with it because I think to myself, "there is a reason for this. I'm not sure what, and I'm not sure why, but I know there is a reason for this."

I had another guy, an older man. He popped his hip out of joint, for the second time in 2 months. Well, we popped it back in without a lot of difficulty - that wasn't really his problem. I mean, it was his "medical problem" but it wasn't what was really concerning him. Like most older men, they don't really let on about what's really wrong - because men aren't supposed to show those kind of emotions. But once we had a little narcotic action on board...he broke down and started to cry. He was crying about the bill he knew he was going to get for the ambulance, the ER visit and all the procedures. (He had been through this before, and he had a pretty good idea of what the total was going to be - and what wasn't going to be covered). Oh he had Medicare - but only Part A. He elected not to get Part B because his employer was providing other coverage. Then, once he was locked into that decision, his employer changed plans, cut benefits, reduced coverage, increased deductible and co-pays....etc. Most people don't realize Medicare Part A doesn't cover a whole hell of a lot. (Part B isn't too much better either.) I know I was shocked when I found out how bad the coverage is. Oh, it's better than "nothing". But if "better than nothing" is all the healthcare coverage we can offer the men and women who spent their lives and health making this country what it is today...well, that's just shit in my opinion. So here I am, with this poor crying PMS and blood just boiling at the injustice of it all...well, he almost made me start crying too. What a sight we were. I couldn't do too much for him. I just felt like I was handing him platitudes of some sort. But, again I felt like I was meant to be there, and discuss this with him - honestly. (I also gave him a little Hammy advice about how to handle those bill collectors...having had a little experience with that sort of thing back in the days when I was a skip tracer). We had a good cry and then a couple of good laughs. I don't know what that was all about. But sometimes...I don't know...sometimes I think I might just be working off some of that ol' bad karma some how. Who knows, maybe St. Pete will consider letting me in after all.

But I'll tell ya this. I've marched my little fanny on Washington for abortion rights, I've written Congressmen and Senators, and in some cases even the White House over issues I have felt strongly about. But nothing has been a lightning rod for me as much as this healthcare situation. I can't stand to see people crying in the ER over the future bill they are going to receive for trying to take care of their health. I can't stand to see people who work full-time and have no healthcare coverage at all. And it burns my ass that George Bush has put a universal healthcare plan in place in Iraq - paid for with our tax dollars - and yet we don't have one in our own country. The truth is that this system exists because the American Medical Association, and now the Pharmaceutical Companies, want it this way. If you ask most MD's about universal coverage they'll look at you like you've uttered a blasphemy and accuse you of wanting "Socialized Medicine". Somehow, in their mind, everyone having the ability to have BASIC health coverage is somehow equated with them having less money in their pocket, and they've been fighting it since the beginning. The list of people who are covered by state or federal programs grows piece-meal all the time: the very poor, pregnant women, the disabled, the handicapped, veterans, prisoners (those who are incarcerated), illegal immigrants (oh yes!), those over 65, children under 18, the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled, politicians (who have an excellent healthcare plan by the way) and those lucky enough to be covered by their employers. The only ones who aren't covered are the working poor, the temporarily unemployed and those in the middle class who can't afford to buy their own plan.

Healthcare coverage shouldn't be left to "luck". Not in this country.

It's an injustice and it's perpetuated by greed and indifference. I guess we didn't learn as much from Katrina as we should have. I don't exactly know what I'm going to do about it just yet. All I know is I have to do something about this situation. It's just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. An opportunity will come my way, and when it does I'll be ready. Well, I guess sometimes I touch their lives, and sometimes they touch mine.

Socialized Medicine!? What the hell is that supposed to mean??

Hmm-mm, Well then, just call me "Che" Hammy


At Mon Feb 06, 10:16:00 AM, Blogger runningman said...

Che Ham,
You really put the Ham in "hamadryad" but I've got a feeling you'll live a little longer than the tree you dwell in. I'm still trying to visualize you at the gates with St. Peter with the worlds finest standing guard and all the folks you've touched (spiritually) at the ER looking through the windows, waiting for the verdict. When you figure out the best path to take on this universal health plan let me know. I will even bring Nadine out of retirement for this one. It burns me up too.
Fletcher Christian Bowhay


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