Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform

All day long I've heard a lot of bashing of the recently passed health care bill. As one of the 10.7% in Ohio who are currently unemployed and one of the millions who has in recent years have spent several months with no health insurance and been scared to death, I have a different perspective issue.

Let's be clear, I am not one of the uneducated, too lazy to work stereotypes. I'm a college graduate, a licensed professional and when working these days am actually one of the many classed as being under-employed. I want to work, and have in essence taken a 75% pay cut in order to earn enough to survive and have a job with some form of health insurance.

Right now, thanks to government picking up 65% of the cost, I managed to hang on to my health insurance. If I had had to undergo my recent health issue and subsequent surgery without health insurance a couple of nasty things would have happened. First, my issue probably would not have been diagnosed until it had almost killed me, because without health insurance I was avoiding the doctor for fear of being diagnosed with something that would then be classed a pre-existing condition, making me uninsurable. Second, the cost of treatment would have skyrocketed because of the delay. And third I would have probably lost my house and/or had to declare personal bankruptcy because of the cost of care.

No one should be forced to choose between their health and being able to eat. Between their health and having a roof over their heads. Between their health and bankruptcy. But that's what the existing system does.

We are the richest nation in the history of the world. We spend more per person on health care than any other country on the planet. Yet the average person doesn't even see a physician in any given year, our life expectancy is lower and our infant mortality rate is higher than the other developed countries. And the major difference between us and them is universal healthcare. We have known about this problem for more than 20 years and we have let it get worse. We say we're going to change it and it just gets more expensive and fewer people are covered, and nothing changes.

Do I like what the politicians came up with? I don't know enough of the details to be able to say. Will I like everything they came up with? I doubt it. Do I think that big insurance and the religious right had too large an influence on it? Not a doubt in my mind in regards to the insurance industry, and the arguments about abortion make me wonder about the other. Personally I don't think they went far enough. I would welcome a one payer system like Canada's. Despite the horror stories fed to us by insurance lobby, I haven't met a Canadian who doesn't love their doctor and love the treatment they have received. They must be doing something right.

Do I think this is going to solve everything? No. But I think it is a start in the right direction.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Winter Olympics

I love the Winter Games, both sports and knitting. Four years ago I designed and knit myself a coat. I was a fairly new machine knitter and wanted to stretch my skills. I had a great time and was a successful medalist. This year is a different story. Much like the weather in Vancouver my life has been experiencing some unfavorable conditions for an Olympic competition.

Right before Christmas I was experiencing some really painful backaches, but between the holidays and the standard female issues, had to put off the visit to my doctor until January 4. When I went in I insisted on a full female exam, which like most women I truly despise. Nothing makes your day like having your doctor ask you if you are sure that there is no way that you are twelve weeks pregnant. I pointed out that Christmas would be moving to July if that were the case. (Never let it be said that I'm not a smart a.. in the face of potential problems.) Additional testing and consultations with a GYN resulted in me being scheduled for surgery to remove a defective part on the fifteenth, three days into the Games. In the run up to this, I had all a complete physical which said I was incredibly healthy, great heart, good cholesterol, clean lungs, everything else checked out A-OK. Just a bad part, one the warranty had evidently run out on. And I'm cleaning my house, cross country skiing, shoveling snow, dealing with parental health issues. In other words living a normal life.

I had let a several friends and a few family members in on my health issues, but not my mother. About the time this all happened she was having health issues of her own, a newly diagnosed diabetic, she was having a hard time getting it under control. I was forced to tell her on the eleventh, when she called to tell me that she had scheduled a meeting with the dietitian for herself, my father and me for the seventeenth. My sister drove me to the hospital and stayed with me all day, our pastor waited with her through the surgery.

My understanding of the events that morning are that they opened me up and the endometriosis was so bad, that the intern thought it was really cool, and the team couldn't believe I had actually been able to cross country ski the day before. The surgery was extensive to remove the diseased tissue and separate it from my healthy organs. A complete hysterectomy was performed. When I woke up in recovery, it was later than I expected and my only question was how much was removed? (Everything) My first question to my sister, was Do I get to keep my hair. (Yes).  I spent the day in and out of consciousness and hooked up to a morphine pump.  What was supposed to be an overnight stay, last four days, and the one week recovery at my sister's house became ten days.  Needless to say I didn't meet my Olympic challenge.  But life happens.