After one too many glasses of wine I slalomed the traffic pile-ons on my street (it was my stepmother’s idea). Unfortunately the chair slows down on sharp curves so I wasn’t terribly impressive. It reminded me of something Nurse Bob told me (in case you’re wondering, we love Nurse Bob) about how wheelchair drivers can be charged with DUIs. Think about that. When you get a DUI, the authorities revoke your license to drive. My license to drive a wheelchair is ALS, which technically the cops would have to revoke. Someone needs to give Nurse Bob a grant and while you’re up, pour me another drink.
The cure for ALS will probably seem that easy. All the years of research will soon be forgotten and parents will say to their kids “ you have to understand that back then, it was a death sentence” like I did with my son as we watched Philadelphia on DVD, trying to explain to him the AIDS research strides. Yes, the cure for ALS will seem easy and will most likely pre-date the cure for the American healthcare system.
Obama told a moving story during his presidential campaign about watching his mother on her deathbed, fighting with insurance companies and how it compels him to want to reform our broken system. Doesn’t seem that hard, does it, to move to a model of care that every other industrialized nation uses? I think it will be next to impossible. I won’t bore you with statistics you probably already know, I’ll just share a bit of my experience.
Healthnet, I’m sad to say, has been my “health insurance” carrier (cough, cough) for 16 lamentable years. It is a for profit company that puts roadblocks up for care that they state in writing that they cover. They have rejected my claims for prescriptions, for specialists and drowned me in red tape over breathing machines and a frickin’ wheelchair!!! My health care advocate (who I have thanks to Kris) has 2 appeals out against their rulings and they are out of compliance by not even bothering to respond. Now their nefarious deeds are to be expected, they are after all, an insurance company, but what about the gatekeepers at the doctors’ offices who refuse to pick up the phone and make a call or two to help someone in need, who are rude and act like I got ALS just to annoy them, who cannot be melted even when I explain I have a debilitating fatal illness ( yes, I’m talking to you Julie from Dr. Gjeltema’s office, may you thank the gods everyday that I don’t have that flamethrower wheelchair or you would be Bitch Flambe ). Whose side are these people on???
That’s why I hold out little hope for American healthcare. It’s not just the insurance companies – it’s the system – all of it. Let’s call the Forbes Norris Clinic the standard deviation from the mean – they are compassionate, human, competent, helpful and fun. With them as a notable exception, I have to say that both Australia and Canada have VASTLY superior healthcare systems ( and my German nurse complained about how bad healthcare was in Oz – I told him “never work or get sick in the US.”) For a mere $2000 Australian I had 3 days in the hospital, xrays, ekgs, numerous blood tests and excellent care. Here’s an amazing concept: when you hit the nurse’s button in Australia….someone comes right away! That should seem normal shouldn’t it?
We are numb to how wrong this system is. We are Patty Hearst suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. We have been served a giant turd and all we can say is “this chocolate tastes a bit stale.” We all live one major illness away from knowing just how hard American healthcare sucks.
So write a letter to Obama and tell him to make this right – for the memory of his mother and for all the dying mothers out there who really don’t need this shit.