Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dear Senator Cornyn

Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Cornyn:

The health care system in the U.S. is a mess. It is too expensive, too inefficient, and leaves too many without health care. The cost is due to greedy drug companies, greedy insurance companies, and, let’s face it, greedy doctors.

Every country in Western Europe has better health care at lower cost than we do. How? All of those countries have national health programs, which vary slightly from country to country, but all of them have a form of “socialized medicine” which work better than the system we have.

Our fear of “socialized medicine” is a result of propaganda by the AMA. When England adopted its national health plan shortly after World War II, the “doctors’ union” put ads in all the newspapers warning that “socialized medicine” was a step towards communism like Soviet Russia. That was a lie then, and it is a lie now. European nations provide health care for all their people and also have healthy, democratic political systems.

When my husband and I lived in England for six weeks in 1991, I sprained my ankle. The doctor came to the house, examined my ankle and suggested I go to the hospital for an x-ray to be sure it was not broken. At the emergency room, I waited about ten minutes before taken to have my ankle x-rayed. Cost to me for the doctor’s call and emergency room treatment was nothing.

In Garland, I had a pain in my lower abdomen. After I had a good bowel movement and the pain did not go away, I went to the doctor. She assured me it was not a strangulated hernia but sent me to the emergency room for an MRI. I waited in the emergency room at Baylor Garland for six hours before seeing a doctor. The doctor billed $198.73 for the office visit, and the emergency room charges were $6,119.58! And the diagnosis was that I was constipated! Which was not true – as I had a good bowel movement again, as soon as I got home!

From personal experience, I found the British system much better than ours in the U.S. When is the public going to wake up and demand a national system that works? Of course, Congress will have to stop listening to lobbyists and bring costs down by cutting payments to drug companies, insurance companies, hospitals, suppliers of medical supplies and equipment (another place I know over-pricing from personal experience), and yes, to doctors, too.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bumps in the Road

If life is a journey there sure a lot of bumps on the road. Everyone hits places which jolt them and make them ask, “What happened?” as they suddenly find themselves going in an entirely different direction.

My life has had several places where I turned abruptly. I was 23 years old when I married and went from Fort Worth to Chicago. Boy! Was that a change! Thirty years later, after enjoying the quiet streets of suburbia as a mom with three children, I divorced.

Then came a rough patch where the pavement seemed utterly destroyed. I was embroiled in a lawsuit with my ex. After three years of road blocks and delays, the case was settled and I was free to move ahead.

Suddenly I was on a super highway, married to my Polish Prince, who carried me to New Mexico to live happily in the little fake-adobe house on Sesame Street in Albuquerque. After John died, I continued my journey in the company of stimulating friends from various ethnic backgrounds – Irish, Italian, and Hispanic Catholics, a High Church Episcopalian poet, a Jewish Unitarian-Universalist, and an agnostic who grew up in India.

I traveled on jet planes. How I traveled! Even more interesting than seeing cathedrals in France or castles in Germany was watching buffalo and corn dances at New Mexico pueblos with my Indian friend, who was both a devout Catholic and a total pagan. He was also my partner dancing the Texas two-step at the senior center.

That good life hit a “Road Closed” sign when my kidney doctor said I would need dialysis. I moved back to Texas, where I bought a house (at age 77!) near my brother Don and his wife Mary.

The road ahead looked smooth when a Dallas doctor said, "Your kidneys are damaged, but you may never need dialysis." I took a river cruise on the Danube through Eastern Europe and went with an Elderhostel to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. Last fall I planned to go to New York in October and to India in December.

Then came another road block: My kidneys decided not to work so well. The trips were canceled. In October I had surgery on my left arm, and in January I started dialysis three times a week. No more trips, not even brief ones to Illinois and California to visit my children.

I coped. But again the road became bumpy. Dialysis takes protein out of my body; I was advised to eat two eggs for breakfast. I am tired of cooking and washing the frying pan. Jesus did not come as promised. He always has another job to do when my grass needs mowing.

Now I am making another turn. I found a retirement home with a two-bedroom apartment for a price I can afford. Includes breakfast and lunch, housekeeping once a week, transportation to doctors, aerobic exercise in the courtyard pool, etc. I took possession as of June 30.

The last two weeks have been frantic. Don and Mary moved out excess furniture to “stage the house” for prospective buyers, while I sorted books. In the midst of this, while I was shopping at Kroger, a little man in a big pickup truck tried to make a U-turn into the parking space next to my Hyundai and scraped the side of my car. His insurance paid, but it was a hassle dealing with adjusters and body shop. I panicked when my cell phone was lost for 24 hours, only to be found in the back seat of the rental I drove while my car was in the shop.

Dented car and lost cell phone are mere speed bumps on the little road I am traveling now. My neighbor on the third floor is a delightful man, young enough to be my son, who has surmounted the difficulties of cerebral palsy since birth. We had lunch today with a gal who told about the time her daughter called about a cheap flight to London. The woman said, “I told her, ‘Buy the tickets quick and let’s go.’” My kind of gal!

My life now is on a side street. Probably a dead end. That’s okay. It looks like a pleasant place to end a journey.