“Nobody Dies For Lack of Health Care”

From the “Please tell me I didn’t really hear this” files, a glimpse into the outlandish minds of the Rich And Powerful Right:

https://www.google.com/amp/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/gop-congressman-nobody-dies-because-they-dont-have-access-to-health-care/#ampshare=http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gop-congressman-nobody-dies-because-they-dont-have-access-to-health-care/

Warren Buffett Weighs In On Health Insurance

“Buffett calls Obamacare replacement ‘a huge tax cut for guys like me'” – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-berkshire-buffett-healthcare-idUSKBN1820RI

Yep, tax cuts are for the super-rich.  Buffett knows the ropes and isn’t afraid to call the fattest of the fat cats out on their plans to eat the poorest of the poor.

If I could get a word with Mr. Buffett I’d ask him, “How come, when it’s clear as day that the source of the problem is corporate health insurance, do we hear exactly nobody talk about regulating that industry?”

Oh!  Regulation.  Bad for business, saith Mr. Cruz.  Nope, can’t throw a noose around an industry that, in its 40 year trajectory, has become a millstone around the neck of employers and working people alike.

It’s instructive to see what Mr. Buffett says, because he is a man who literally has nothing to fear from speaking out.  He’s outlandishly wealthy, at 74+ billion, and yet, unlike some who claim to admire him, he’s not shy about telling the truth, when it comes to the real purpose of tax cuts to programs that help the not-so-rich.  Do read the article.

Why We Need Universal Health Insurance In America

I have a confession: since the election, instead of meditating first thing in the morning, I’ve been obsessing over the news.  

It’s a terrible habit.  I can see the negative effect it has on my bodymind.  I need to Just. Say. No.

Problem is, this is not mere news voyeurism.  This is eye-opening, consciousness-raising, holy-fuck-what-could-they-possibly-be-thinking revelations about the minds of My Fellow Americans.

Here, from one of my favorite medicine/science/tech news outlets, is a revealing piece on what a few handsful of voters have to say about the new “repeal and replace” iteration that has just passed the House.

For all y’all who hail from ports afar, this is about the current Administration’s effort to purge the government, and by extension the health insurance system, of “big government.”  What is Big Government, you ask?  From my observations, it seems to mean “any regulations that protect consumers and/or the environment.”  

Here, give this article a read if you have a moment.  It’ll provide a bit of thought material for when you read the anecdote that follows.

https://www.statnews.com/2017/05/05/ahca-freedom-voters/

It was a busy evening in the ER at the Crossroads of Life and Death.  I shuttled back and forth between my domain in the Pediatric Emergency Department and the general ER, pinch hitting the “simple” cases so that the adult ER specialists could attend to heart attacks and strokes.

A guy in his late 30’s had fallen off a ladder while cleaning the gutters on his house.  Unfortunately, he landed on his bum, causing two of his lumbar vertebrae to pancake together.  The neurosurgeons were wheeling him to surgery, but the prognosis was grim: they did not expect him to walk again.

His wife was huddled in my arms, weeping uncontrollably.  He had been laid off from his skilled factory job (no unions in that town).  They were patching things together, with their two oldest boys–they had five–and the father, growing a landscaping business, just starting to climb out of the hole.  Christmas was coming, and they had no health insurance.

“It can’t get any worse!  It can’t get any worse!”  She chanted this over and over.  I tried in vain to comfort her, or at least shut her up, because I know one thing very well:  it can always get worse.

It got worse right then.

The special radio that communicated with the ambulances crackled to life, giving us a quick briefing on the critical patient they were bringing us.

A 17 year old white male, motor vehicle accident, multiple major trauma.  This was my case, since he was under 19.  I peeled the poor lady off of me, apologizing, and ran to get the trauma team ready.  Readiness is everything in the ER.

He was banged up, all right, and needed lots of attention from the surgeons.  I got his vital signs stable and turned him over to the OR team, then stripped off my blood-soaked outer gown and wandered back into the main ER.

The unfortunate wife was still there, now huddled in the arms of the social worker.  Uh-oh.  The social worker was only called in at night when there had been an unexpected death or some similar disaster.  I strolled over.

The wife saw me and burst into even more violent sobs.

“Y-you know you s-said it could always get worse?” Her voice edged on hysteria.  “That boy you just worked on.  That’s my oldest son!”

I still tear up when I write this.  

She didn’t have to say another word.  I knew exactly what was driving her panic.

Her two breadwinners, smashed up, facing long hospitalizations, surgeries, rehabilitation, long recoveries.

Her other four kids, the youngest in kindergarten.

Their home, nearly paid for…but not quite.  They would lose it.

Their fledgling business, down the tubes.

Bankruptcy, in those days (the 1990s) highly stigmatized, especially in the ranks of skilled laborers.  

Public Assistance.  Their children would be ostracized.

Medicaid.  At that time, there was only one doctor in town who accepted Medicaid patients.  His waiting list for new patients was out the door and around the block.

This is why we need universal health care.

Medical disaster is the #1 trigger for personal bankruptcy.  This is not due to “poor planning,” as some of those in Washington (and many voters who, justifiably or not, feel financially secure and don’t like to share) like to preach.  There are literally thousands of ways to plan very well, only to have disaster leap out of hiding and gobsmack you.

If you doubt that investing in America’s health, and by that I mean the health of ALL Americans, is “good for business,” consider this: 

Healthy women make healthy babies.  Healthy babies require well child care.  Healthy children grow up to be healthy adults, who require much less healthcare spending than do sick adults.

Healthy adults enter the workforce, where they contribute to the economy, resulting in a net gain in productivity, which will offset the initial investment in their healthy childhood.

After this initial investment in maternal-child health, at some point there will be a small percentage of children and adults who have congenital or acquired conditions, such as diabetes.  With appropriate healthcare, many conditions are so manageable as to make their economic impact negligible–but only with active management.  The flip side is a deficit both in functional health and productivity.

Health is wealth, in the words of my late grandfather, a tradesman who became disabled, lost everything, and never recovered.

Health.  Is.  Wealth.

Is that not a simple concept to grasp?

The camps of chronic illness explained (with a little help from Monty Python)

This post is so bitchen cool and also right on, that I gotta reblog it. Plus which I’m wicked happy because I just could not squeeze anything worthy out of the old content canister today, and here comes Kara and drops this doozie of a post.

Please click on the original post so you will be commenting on Kara’s blog. And if this is your first exposure to this amazing lady and wonderful writer who often causes me to choke from laughing so hard (thanks pal), please follow her blog. Then you too can have your tea go up your nose. Trust me, it cleans out your sinuses.

Polishing Dookie

Those of us who enjoy life with one or more chronic illnesses likely fall into one of three camps. Positivity porn slingers, Tell-it-like-it-is’ers, and Neutral floaters.

giphy1Positivity porn slingers: Perhaps you’ve just been diagnosed and now that you’ve finally got your diagnosis you feel that there’s hope, that things will get better. Or perhaps you’ve had your diagnosis for decades and you’ve FINALLY figured out how to live with it. You see other chronic illness patients who seem to have a dark cloud hovering over them and boy, do they ever complain! You vow that you won’t become like them. After all, a big portion of owning your disease is having power over your mind. Youavoid these people like they’re lepers. Some of them might actually be lepers.

b089c7711c3bc30d651ecd7e835764d9Tell-it-like-it-is’ers: Ah, the complainers. My compadres. It’s likely you’ve been around the block a few too many times, have possibly…

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Trump says he thought being president would be easier than his old life | Reuters

In the “What could they possibly have been thinking when they elected a petulant child to the White House” department:

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN17U0CA

Article: Cannabis compound may halve seizures for patients with severe epilepsy

Cannabis compound may halve seizures for patients with severe epilepsy

http://flip.it/UjtIiI

Um, yeah.  

Ohio State University scientists have proven what those of us who have been using the herb medicinally have known for years: Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a powerful antiepileptic medicine.  The article mentions a few of the other conditions and illnesses that CBD is known to help.

And in the tradition of medications being used precisely because of their side effects (think belladonna [atropine] which dries up respiratory secretions), note that the only side effects to CBD mentioned are sedation and appetite loss.  Useful, those, in certain circumstances.

While this publication is great news for helping to refute idiot attorneys general who still think cannabis has no medical benefit, it’s also cause for caution: right now the biggest threat to unrestricted adult use is…Big Pharma!

Yes, Big Pharma knows good medicine when it smells the scent of Big Money.  And friends, cannabis is big money, no matter how you cut it.

Big Pharma would much rather see the money from cannabis medicine in its own pocket, and we all know that Big Pharma has lots of senators and other influential players in its own pockets.

One chilling example: Arizona’s 2016 ballot measure that would have legalized adult use was narrowly shot down, largely due to a fierce anti-cannabis campaign bankrolled by the drug giant Insys, which is quartered in Arizona.  Insys produces a large proportion of the synthetic opioid fentanyl that is produced in the U.S.  Fentanyl is used in anesthesia and various delivery systems for treating pain.  It’s also been the culprit in many of the recent opioid overdose deaths we hear so much about.

You may be thinking: oh, right, statistics show that in states with legal cannabis, opioid prescriptions decline by about one-third.  So of course an opioid manufacturer doesn’t want that!

It gets worse.

Seems that Insys was just on the point of rolling out its first synthetic cannabinoid, a THC analog that is pretty much redundant not only because there are already synthetic THC products on the market, but also because anyone with a medical marijuana card can get their THC straight from the source.  

But that’s “not good for business,” as Texas Senator Ted Cruz pointed out when I mentioned that rolling back clean air laws is not good for children.  So Insys spent half a million bucks a couple of weeks before the election on a rabid T.V. ad campaign, spreading fear among the uninformed, mouthing the old saws about how marijuana causes violence, crime, unemployment, blah blah blah, and it worked.

So on one hand, the more good science, the more knowledge, the less fear, the better the public can understand and accept cannabis as medicine.

On the other, the more science, the more Big Pharma sees opportunity, the more danger that our access to this amazing plant could be once again restricted, in its natural form, in favor of…pills.

The Coolest Thing I’ve Heard In A Long Time

https://m.soundcloud.com/the-show-about-science/028-cracking-the-genetic-code-with-kevin-esvelt

Six-year-old Nate Butkus has had his own podcast, The Show About Science, for nearly two years.  He’s clearly a pro!  His interview skills are right on the money as he digs deep with his guests, who started out being easily accessible family friends, and now are respected scientists and other famous geeks.

I’m happy to see how Nate’s dad supports his kid.  When Nate said he wanted to do a show about science, his dad, instead of mumbling something about being way too busy, actually took Nate to a sound studio.   Then, when things took off, Nate’s dad made room in his busy life to be his young son’s recording engineer.  Good on both of them!

I hope you enjoy Nate as much as I do.

Big Pharma’s War on Marijuana

While I’m working on the next post, have a look at this.

My next post will give you a second serving of food for thought on this topic!

Patients for Medical Cannabis

On this episode of America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio discusses the reasons why the marijuana legalization effort failed in Arizona and speaks with Justin Strekal, Political Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, about what pharmaceutical companies have to gain from keeping marijuana illegal.

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Cookie Monster on the Dole – The New Yorker

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/17/cookie-monster-on-the-dole?mbid=nl_170411_Daily&CNDID=19928113&spMailingID=10801900&spUserID=MTg4OTQzMTcxMDk5S0&spJobID=1140854609&spReportId=MTE0MDg1NDYwOQS2

Feets of Dexterity

As I watch this astonishing circus act–one woman’s virtuosic dance with one fabulously flexible body, four limbs, twenty digits, and five juggling balls–several feelings cycle through me.

The first, of course, is wonderment and admiration.  What pure joyful dedication!  You have to see this.

The second is sadness, for myself and everyone else who once knew the joy of a body that did pretty much whatever we needed or wanted it to do for us, but are now struggling to come to terms with some kind of wreck.

The third is fear.  I fear for this circus performer.  Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, what will her life be like?  Will her joints and muscles and nerves continue to serve her faithfully?  Or will she, too, face the late consequences of connective tissue that behaves like a new rubber band in youth….and an old worn-out rubber band in middle age and beyond?

Will she sail into her old age like Martha Graham, the dancer and choreographer who performed her final ballet at age 75?  I hope so, for that is the dream of every dancer, every artist whose body is the medium for not only the expression of life, but the medium for experiencing life itself.

Martha Graham wrote about what happened when she retired from the stage in her memoir, Blood Memory:

It wasn’t until years after I had relinquished a ballet that I could bear to watch someone else dance it. I believe in never looking back, never indulging in nostalgia, or reminiscing. Yet how can you avoid it when you look on stage and see a dancer made up to look as you did thirty years ago, dancing a ballet you created with someone you were then deeply in love with, your husband? I think that is a circle of hell Dante omitted.

[When I stopped dancing] I had lost my will to live. I stayed home alone, ate very little, and drank too much and brooded. My face was ruined, and people say I looked odd, which I agreed with. Finally my system just gave in. I was in the hospital for a long time, much of it in a coma.