Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Must Talk to My Doctor

It’s not easy to watch TV or read the paper without being bombarded by ads for a variety of diseases. In the paper I read this morning there was an entire page asking questions like - Do you have restless leg syndrome? Do you have a pain in your head that won’t go away? Have you tried unsuccessfully to rid yourself of toe fungus? Is it possible that people stay away from you because you have bad breath? And how are your hemorrhoids feeling? There were more but you get the picture, and it’s not pretty.

What was strange was my reaction and instead of turning the page I found myself answering the questions. Yes, it is personal but I want to share. 1. When my legs get restless I simply give my husband a good kick. I do it at night so he thinks the beating was inadvertent. 2. The pain in my head is never as terrible as all the pains in my tuchas...should I name them. 3. Yech.... 4. I wish it was just my breath that kept people away. 5. My hemorrhoids feel so great we’re going to have a celebration for them.

We have become a society obsessed with ridiculous health issues. The issues aren’t ridiculous, people are affected by terrible diseases, but the way we deal with them is absurd. Take for example the nightly advertisements that bombard us with suggestions to call your doctor if you think you have heart disease, cancer, or Alzheimer’s—of course then you can’t remember to call your doctor, but they are repeated so frequently it is likely that at some point a person might pick up the phone immediately and make that call. So you get your doctor on the phone. Then what do you ask? Does the conversation go something like this?

“My nose is running and I thought it might be esophageal cancer so can we do a biopsy, have an MRI or is there a pill available to cure it?” After you have the conversation with your medical professional and they hang up the phone, turn to the people in their office and guffaw, what is your next step?

Hopefully, there is no next step except to get a grip. OK you may have a dreaded and oft fatal disease but shouldn’t you call the drug company instead. Of course, you call and ask for customer service, get the name of the person to whom you will speak, start to list all your symptoms and then, when they suggest you call your doctor, you say, “I don’t have a doctor. I can’t afford to go to the doctor because thanks to you (the money you spend on advertising), and the insurance companies, costs are so high no one can afford to have a health issue without selling their house or first born.”

That’s what drives me nuts. When you listen to all the people running for President, each has a plan to cut the costs of health care and health insurance. On the Republican side they keep saying we have the best health care system in the world. And that may be true if you have the money to participate in it. The Democrats want to make sure all the children are insured and they each have a way to do it but these things take time and are so complicated. And what about the elderly? And what about the getting elderly? (Yes, it’s all about me). My mom, thank God, has Medicare and Disabled Veterans benefits – It’s terrible but when you see what other elderly people have to go through to pay a bill --often having to make a choice between medication, rent, and food, I am grateful that my dad was disabled. And FYI, Medicare isn’t enough to cover drug costs. You have to have Medicare Plan B. Thanks to George Bush not only aren’t elderly people covered automatically, but they are guaranteed to be confused. My cousin, who has a law degree and family management business read the change about 100 times before she understood it. I guess if you are poor and have Medicaid you can celebrate but, of course, not be able to buy party favors—they are not covered in any plan. We thought that if we sold all Mom’s worldly goods it might mean that she wouldn’t have to worry about costs but alas, we needed to do that when she didn’t need care. Someone needs to do something soon and I’m afraid that no Congress person or elected official will understand how dire the situation has become because they all have plenty of health care. Their insurance is amazing. In fact, every citizen (this is not an anti-immigration sentiment but you have to start somewhere) should have access to the same insurance as the people we elect to federal office. Why not? What entitles the powerful to better and more reasonable care than the public. OK, the insurance companies won’t do that. Here’s another idea, let’s take all the money we will spend in Iraq over the next 12 months and buy universal health care for all the people who want it. Unrealistic, I think not if we admit that the American public has needs that might take priority over the Iraqi government.

David tells me that after 30 years, our insurance company is no longer going to offer the benefits to which we have become accustomed. That means that when we find a new insurance company they will not honor medical costs for any preexisting condition. Well, how do you get to be our age without any preexisting conditions. And you know that the new company will scour the records to see when we sneezed and if we had flu shots. It is incredibly frightening.

So maybe we should be calling our doctors. In no time, their insurance costs will prevent them from healing and ours will prevent us from being able to afford to go to one. It’s a sad story but here’s the good news. The ads are entertaining, (if your erection lasts for more than four hours) and since we can’t afford the medication anyway we won’t have to worry about the horrible side effects. (If your erection lasts for more than four hours). We’re just sayin...Iris


Anonymous said...

Welkommen zu Amerika.

Allen Franken has the answer. Just watch his you-tube video:

I think we'll soon reach the breaking point.


Anonymous said...

I have a lazy Susan, other than that, im fine.

Move to Canada. We'll take care of you for free. Restless leg and all.