Stay Healthy or Else

I have found myself thinking about my health a lot more these days.  I think slowly we are all becoming more mindful (even obsessed) with our bodies and the stuff we put in and yes even the lovely things that come out.  Everyone poops you know, even if we are all insanely embarrassed about it.  Look away now, the dog is emptying his bowel.

Healthy foods are still relatively more expensive than their evil (but good) counterparts.  Buy one, get one free!   I know lots of people who are still infatuated with the chemical buffet that are frozen foods.  Pop it in the microwave and poof, it’s ready in minutes.  The finishing product never ends up looking like the picture in the commercial—never mind tasting as it probably should.  We still eat it and we all go back and buy some more.  That’s capitalism for you.  One man’s trash is another’s treasure.  But seriously, what if it’s just all trash?

All those chemicals I’m sure take their toll on the body after a while.  They cook our insides.  One study will confirm this, while another will almost simultaneously contradict it.  Regardless, the media will eat both studies up, and regurgitate it for the masses.  We will nod and smile even as we frown.  Most of what we eat contains all kinds of unpronounceable chemicals.  We even radiate vegetables now too.  Something warm and soothing for the stomach.   Open wide.  There now, sleep tight.

We live in a country with all kinds of health coverage and not much in the way of health care.  We have some of the best doctors, nurses, facilities and equipment in the world, but they’re all useless without an insurance company’s approval.

When we buy our insurance coverage we sign away our money as quickly as we sign away our health.  The problem is we know about the former, but by the time we face the later, it’s too late and we are too vulnerable to have many options.  Please pay the ambulance on your way out.  Don’t worry, we take Visa or Mastercard.  Watch out for the IV line.

I went to a doctor recently, and was prescribed a CT scan.  I was going to have this test done as an outpatient procedure in a hospital.  I made the appointment. I picked up the three bottles of contrast—the nastiest thing ever created for consumption—plastic, cylindrical, and plain looking.  I had to check to make sure I had been given something for humans.  The bottle just looked so plain.  Even a bottle of motor oil was more visually appealing.  It’s funny the things that stick. Why do we come up with all these ways to torture ourselves in the name of healing?  Right then, I think I would have preferred radiated broccoli (even if it would be frozen).

I went through the motions of course.  I wanted to find out if I was dying from some cancer or hernia or something only a doctor could pronounce and understand.  I drank one bottle the night before the test (easy I thought), and had the next two the following morning.  I felt like a big boy.  I did what I was told and did not make a mess on myself.

At the hospital, during registration though, I was told that my doctor had not been able to receive approval from my insurance company to allow me to have the scan. I almost made a mess on myself then. Allow? And here I thought I was all growed up.  I was in grade school again, craving for a Mickey Mouse sticker, but getting a disapproving gaze from the teacher instead.

I could feel my stomach become heavier, the faint taste of the contrast slapping me.  Had I really drank that stuff for nothing?  I think I might have cried—thankfully, the hospital employee helped me out.  After attempting calls to the doctor’s office she said to me, “You’re having your scan done. Especially after drinking that stuff”.  And I did.

The doctor’s office called me later that day, to explain that they were unable to get the approval.  Interestingly they were able to get the insurance to approve the scan after I had annoyingly told them that I had already gone and had the scan performed. There’s something wrong with this for-profit bureaucracy.  And I think too often doctors and nurses wrongly have to bear the brunt of the backlash.

The sad part is not everyone’s story is as trivial.  Not everyone’s story has a happy ending either.

I think every family, if not every person, understands the terrible and immoral state of our supposed health care system.  Everyone has been touched in some form or another by someone’s story about the struggles with their providers.

Who are these corporate people coming between us and our doctors?  Would they know more about my health, sitting in some air-conditioned office, than my doctor standing in front of me?  For years we pay, and when we seek to use the service we are denied.  These companies don’t have the decency to ask us to drop our pants before they screw us over.  Our coughs become cries, muffled by the sound of the shutting coffin.  We are the whore that pays the customer.  More fools paying up every day, and the price is rising.  No two for one deals here.  You’re not paying to play.

Our government of course, sits by and does nothing.  They promise.  Get elected.  Bring the cameras by and strike a busy pose.  They smile and tease us with notions of progress, tuck us in for the night with a kiss and the same bed time story.  “One day,” they say.  And we sleep soundly, feeling safe.

Then gradually things stir in the dark.  Something always comes up—the dreaded monster in the closet!  That’s when we wake up.  Hitting our head as the rug is pulled from under us.

Where are the liberals, self-described champions of universal health care? Soiling themselves.

Where are the conservatives, self-described champions of the little guy and fighters against big bad government?  Making the liberals soil themselves.

It’s all a game to most of these people.  They don’t realize (or don’t care) the costs burdening the people—eventually it is not something measured in dollars, but in body bags.

Capitol Hill is like a school cafeteria.  She spreads the rumors, he has the occasional fight, they stay away from each other afraid to get the cooties.  Everyone wants the last word.  I’m smarter than you are. Then you have the twisted system that pits the “kids” against each other. The nerds, the freaks, the jocks, the cheerleaders, and the loners, we all belong to a group.  As such we have traditional foes and allies.

He’s a socialist!  She’s a fascist!  They kill babies!   They carry a bible!  There’s no thinking anymore, just automatic demonization and hatred.  No listening. No civil discourse.  There is only shouting—it keeps the reason out.

We allow this to go on.  We do not hold our representatives accountable for the lack of progress.  My congressman is working hard; it’s those other people getting in the way.

Those other people?

We live in a society of US vs. THEM.  We are too busy arguing while our Rome burns around us, and the few, make out like bandits.  When will we take responsibility for ourselves and stop blaming others? When will we stop and see that the only way to make things better is by uniting our best liberal and conservative ideas.

I went to the zoo once, and watched as the giraffes stared from their enclosure.  They seemed happy (food and water is all it takes). One female was even pregnant.  Eventually from a higher platform, one of the keepers waved a lettuce leaf and the giraffe was intrigued.  They approached and as if practiced took the leaf from the zoo keeper and had the snack.  It chewed and chewed and chewed, until there was nothing.  It looked at the keeper and when he saw that she did not intend to give him more walked away looking at us, wondering when we would go up and offer a leaf of our own.  I wondered, if they realized they were being used for our enjoyment.  Thinking back, I wonder if the lettuce was radiated, and if it was, would the giraffe even notice?

A lot of things happen in life that goes unnoticed.  Babies are born and only a few people know.  People die and only a few know to cry.

Somewhere right now there is a couple buying food at the grocery store, picking between milk and meat or their prescriptions.  In another place there is a man sitting working late, enduring because his family needs the health insurance.  Others are home, after a long stressful day, probably placing some frozen food tray into a microwave setting the time and watching it cook.  This final person is probably feeling guilty, thinking about exercising and reaching for the box to read the label.  The packaging tells them it’s healthy.  Reassuring.

And then there’s the CEO of a major insurance provider, probably getting his bonus, watching the latest video of activist from all sides shouting at one another.  The politician scratching his head.

I think I prefer watching the dog empty his bowel.  Sadly, I think the result and smell will probably be the same.  Though I hope for something different: stay healthy or else.

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