Sunday, July 29, 2007

Who are We?

I saw the movie “Sicko” yesterday. It made me want to move. Give up on this country and move to Canada. France. England.

I know, there are those out there who say, Then go! Shoo! We don’t want you.

America- love it or leave it. Is that what we’ve boiled down to?

An American woman in this country had her daughter die because she was not at the right hospital for her insurance. Her daughter had a high fever. She went to the hospital. The doctors would not care for her and sent her to another hospital. Precious time ticked away. The girl had a seizure and died.

Ben was hospitalized for the first ten days of his life with a fever of 103. There was a moment, three days into it and all the tests were coming back negative, the fever stayed so high, the medicine having no effect that I thought he was going to die. To this day, I find it difficult to talk about the level of despair I felt, the helplessness.

He was in the NICU and getting the very best care available.

I don’t know what I would have done if he had been denied care. Because of insurance. Insurance always seemed like simply paperwork to me. You fill out the forms, you pay your money, all set.

Not so.

The story had a happy ending for me. I currently deal with the sassy mouth that accompanies the rites of eleven turning twelve year old, along with all the scented products that seem to suddenly be required in heavy doses.

The woman in the film only has only pictures of a smiling, 18 month old baby. A nightmare that will never end, her daughter is dead.

In one moment, Moore asks, as we watch a woman who has been dumped on the street by a cab driver, sent from a hospital where she was seeking care, What have we become?

Who are we?

When did we stop caring?

I don’t know a lot of doctors but the few I do, hate the system of health care in this country. They want to be doctors, not experts at working in a bureaucratic care system. They want to treat patients. They love understanding the complexities of how the body works and the ability to heal with that knowledge.

None of them chose to be a doctor to get rich. In reality? None of them are particularly rich. They don’t play the game of managed care. Doctors in our country get rewarded for less care, not more.

Which makes me wonder, to add to Mr. Moore’s questions, when did we lose our voice?

We used to protest and march and organize in a way that frightened politicians. Politicians are no longer frightened. Their pockets are stuffed with money from the health care industry. Less than half of the registered voters in this country vote anymore. Business profit rules all levels of policy.

We have become a nation of individuals. Me not we. Them not us. We are hunched over our little pots of gold, guarding them fiercely.

I have always been healthy. I've rarely needed much medical care. But when my son Ben did? It never occurred to me that the little plastic card with my name stamped on it with a bunch of numbers following could have been any part of his struggle for life.

I love my country. But when I look into the mirror and see how we are treating the most vulnerable? It’s more than repulsive; it makes me want to leave.


Blogger Diatribal said...

I second your emotions.

I was able to see this movie several weeks ago, and it literally made me ill. I felt as if the scales had fallen from my eyes and I finally noticed that I had been completely brainwashed.

I have taken some public health masters' classes in my local Med School. I still can't even begin to understand why we in the USA do things the way that we do. I hope I do understand someday...or else it all changes.

11:32 PM  

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