Healthcare video

This one is wonderful. It deals with my favorite aspect of healthcare.

Thanks to Evy Mayer.

As they tell you about healthcare execs remember that the head of one of the largest healthcare companies created the Rubin Museum in New York City. It's a great place. He must have had a wonderful time collecting all those objects. I wish I could have done it. And think of the tax break he gets for giving us the museum.

Healthcare revisited

I'm back in Pittsburgh and will tell more about Door County soon. First, my promise to respond to all of you who commented on my previous healthcare post.

"Both parties understand that the current system is broken," House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday. "But what we can't seem to
agree upon is how to best keep it broken, while still ensuring that no
elected official takes any political risk whatsoever. It’s a very
complicated issue."

This quote from The Onion, a humor newspaper available online and in print, sums it up for me. I don't know if I'm more disgusted with Congress or with my fellow Americans.

I just read through all the comments I received and found no one optimistic enough to contradict The Onion. Stacie presented another point of view, which I appreciate.

story is with my grandmother. She had a bilateral stroke when she was
72 years old. The only thing she could move were her eyes. She could
blink. The Doctor would not put a feeding tube in after a week, saying
she would not last another 24 hours. My father and I asked her if she
was ready to die, 1 blink Yes, 2 blinks No. She very clearly blinked
twice, and we fired her Doctor and got a feeding tube put in. After
some rehab, she lived another 8 years, very fulfilled and able to
eventually feed herself. She spent most of her days reading books, and
being doted upon by her family. The Doctor gave up on her too early. He
never thought to ask her what she wanted. Had we left it up to him, she
would have died of starvation. My gut tells me he I do n't think there
is a one size fits all solution to our health care crisis. How does one
know when to "pull the plug" so to speak? I believe the answer is with
each individual, each family. Good discussion to have, non the
less…our culture needs to come to terms with the fact that we all die.

 I certainly agree with her conclusions: we must have these conversations. And, by the way, a living will and healthcare power of attorney can say you want everything possible done to keep you alive. It is a way of making your wishes known if you cannot express them yourself.

Cynthia Friedlob of The Thoughtful Consumer gave some links for contacting your Senator and Representative to give them your opinion:
The House:

The Senate:
Thank you, Cynthia

Thanks to Mage, Darlene, Lilalia, Miss Dazey, Alice and Alexandra for your support. I really appreciate it. Let's just hope that another quote from The Onion, attributed to Harry Reid, doesn't come true.

"No matter what we come up with," Reid continued, "rest assured that
millions of citizens will remain dangerously uninsured, and the
inflated health care industry will continue to bankrupt the country for

My father’s healthcare conversation

My father lived to a few days short of his 94th birthday. When he was 92  the nursing home sent him to the hospital because he coughed up blood. They called me; I rushed to the facility, and got there after he had been given a chest x-ray, an electro-cardiogram and no clear diagnosis. The doctor was about to put a tube down his throat to determine where he was bleeding. My father had a living will, a "Do not resuscitate" order and I knew he did not want the procedure. I had a long, terrible conversation with the doctor: What would he do if he found the source of the bleeding? We would not permit surgery. He said Daddy might bleed to death. I asked if it would hurt. On being told no, I was forced to tell him to let my father die. My father was grateful, but the conversation devastated me. Equally awful was the conversation I had with the nursing home.

My father was going blind from macular degeneration and becoming increasingly deaf. I'm know he found no good way to cope with this and wanted to die. I'm sure he died when his life became unbearable. I am pleased I was able to keep him from one more pointless indignity and a bad sore throat. 

My mother lived to 89. She was completely demented; did not know who my father was, or who I was; saw visions and finally spent most of her last days unconscious. My father took care of her until four days before her death, when unconscious and incontinent I insisted she be taken to a nursing home. After two days the doctor called me and asked if he could take her to the hospital. I said no. He then called my brother, who had  little to do with my mother's care, who said yes. For the next two days my comatose mother was enthroned on a kind of pedestal bed with multiple tubes from her body to multiple machines. Then she died. Those two days cost Medicare $10,000 in 1995. Assuming those multiple machines could have saved her, what would be the point? So more money could be spent on maintaining a completely meaningless life?

I think there should be universal healthcare. I think there should be single payer universal healthcare, although I don't believe it will happen in my lifetime. I don't believe the government wants to kill me or keep me from living the fullest possible life. I would like the government and the healthcare system to allow me to die when my time has come.

For a great discussion of the economics of healthcare listen to this program from the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC. Brian Lehrer has many great discussions about healthcare and other matters of pressing interest.

Wisconsin week

Arrived in Door County about four this afternoon. Overcast with slight rain all the way, making for an easier trip than bright sunshine. Anita welcomed us with wine and cheese, a wonderful dinner, then a short studio session for show and tell with a little brain storming. Brains not working too well after all the driving and wine; tomorrow is another day.

I owe at least two posts, which you may, or may not get: nostalgia for Chicago and what I forgot then remembered as I approached Indiana; visiting with Betty and a trip to the Art Institute.  I'll try to get it all in, but it's hard to be sociable and still think about the computer.

I'm going to try my best to get a post ready for Thursday to add to Ronni Bennett's Elders for Healthcare Reform Day. If you don't know about it, read her post here.

Another week flew by

Mage, I'm just fine. I still have some interesting marks on my face, but they're fading quickly. I've been concentrating on the book so too busy to write. Often I write things in my head as I go through the week. Most of it never gets put in type. Eli thinks some day we'll have a direct hookup from our brains to the computer. I'm not sure I want to see that.

I went to two of my classes last week: stitching and Rachel Carson. Never got to the third one, fabrigami. Instead, I went on an Osher sponsored bus trip to Amish country in Ohio. Spent most of the time on the bus stitching.

Finally got to the plastic surgeon as instructed by both the ER doc and my GP. He was great; looked at my nose, which looks about the same as always, assured me he would fix it if it came out crooked (no age discrimination just because I'm an old lady) and told me he wouldn't do anything in my case–exactly what I wanted to hear. Told me, using other words, this was a 'cover your ass' situation. Ain't American medicine great.

I come away from this experience, as I always do when I encounter our medical system, with many thoughts about it. When I finish the book I'll do another post about health care.

Since this one is for you, Mage, I'll tell you a little about shopping. The most exciting part of it is that I can now get into regular sizes. I'm still under tall, but that's a condition I can never fix. When I was in New York I bought one pair of black pants, two tee shirts, one yellow, one beige, and a jacket I haven't worn yet: white with a black print that almost looks like embroidery, all at Chico's.

Mostly I've been shopping in my own closet. Yesterday I went to Nordstorms with Robin and Charna. I bought, on sale, a very handsome pair of black pants and a black and white print top. This will be for fall. I hate to pay Nordstrom prices, but I like wearing their clothes. The pants are size 16. Years ago, when I was somewhat thinner than now, I would take a 14 or 16 top and 18 pants. That says much more about what's happened to sizes than what's happened to me. Also, the more you pay, the larger the size.

One last thing: I'm back to walking–three miles in Frick Park on Saturday. 

Dear President Obama

What happened to the man I voted for? The man of courage and confidence who entered the election with overwhelming odds against him, and won. What happened to that man who was going to change the world? It looks to me like you have lost the stomach for the fight. By working with what you consider the possible you are giving up the chance to make the world better for all of us.

Thinking it was just an aberration, I didn't write to you when you selected Geithner and Summers. And I didn't know much about finance, although I am certainly learning about it.

I know a lot about healthcare, about fighting with insurance companies, about not being able to get insurance when my husband was made redundant (don't you love that word) at the age of 56. The only real answer to the healthcare mess in this country is to get rid of the insurance companies and institute a medicare-like single payer system.


Does that mean you have chickened out? Or are you now in the pockets of the insurance companies and big pharma?

David Sirota at talks about your early support for single payer:

In that speech six years ago, Obama said the only reason single-payer
proponents should tolerate delay is "because first we have to take back
the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take
back the House.

then asks some of these same questions:

So it's back to why — why Obama's insurance-industry-coddling
inconsistency? Is it a pol's payback for campaign cash? Is it an overly
cautious lawmaker's paralysis? Is it a conciliator's desire to appease
powerful interests? Or is it something else?

We need you to fight this battle just as you fought to get elected. If this is an impossible dream, your election was an even more impossible dream. Keep that in mind while you fight and win this one for us. Don't let  us down now.

Heart disease technology

I am going to become an expert on technology for diagnosing heart disease. Last month I wore a Holter monitor for 24 hours to see if my heart was behaving properly. It was not. After a stress test I was put on a double dose of the beta blocker, which seemed to take care of the problem until two nights ago. Now I have an event monitor to wear for 30 days. Fortunately it's much smaller than the Holter monitor, although after only three hours with it, I can tell it's not going to be easy to deal with.

The Holter monitor, which records your heart beat (activity) for the entire 24 hours, was huge. You wear it hanging from your neck with straps or clipped on to your bra. I wanted to go out the night I wore it so I wore a long scarf around my neck that covered what looked like my huge, third breast. Fortunately, it was cold out and no one noticed.

This new monitor is the size of a beeper, clips on to my waistband and connects with only two electrodes instead of the five used on the Holter. It records continuously but only keeps the recording when you recognize a problem and hold down the record button. At least, that's what I was told. After recording two events I am supposed to call an 800 number and send the information over the phone.

Evidently it also recognizes arrhythmias that I don't notice and then rings like a telephone. It's rung three times so far, really startling me. I called the number and the tech told me that it's doing it because of my irregular heartbeat. But the recording didn't come through properly. It hasn't rung since so I wonder what is going on. I think I should ask if I'm supposed to press the record button when it rings. I did not do that, but maybe that's why the recording didn't come through properly; there wasn't any.

The Osher term has begun again and I have this terrible feeling about it ringing when I sit in classes. I'll deal with that when it happens.

Some things are never clear

I went to my pacemaker doctor (cardiologist) for a checkup, on Friday. I think he was worried because I was out of the country for such a long time. Everything checked out fine. Under his questioning I finally confessed that I had had a couple of incidents when my heart was beating too fast (one of the symptoms that won me the pacemaker), and another occasion when I felt funny, like maybe short of breath, but I didn't really know what short of breath meant. We had quite a long discussion about all of this, the question being, when should I call him, or when should I go to the hospital. He told me that the fast heart rate wasn't important if it didn't last too long. What is too long? I was thinking three days. He said ten minutes, thirty minutes and I should get to the hospital. He urged me to call and come into the office if I have another "shortness of breath" incident. I guess that makes the whole thing somewhat clearer, but the truth is I still don't understand what constitutes an emergency. Obviously none of these incidents qualifies; it's been many days and he thought I was just fine.

More healthcare

Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By has posted a wonderful article about healthcare. This one, written by AQ, a retired Navy Corpsman and a Red Cross Disaster Services Volunteer who blogs at Always Question, details how costs are figured by the insurance companies for payment by Medicare and, of course, by us. If you are interested in the thorny questions about healthcare, be sure to look at this post along with the New Yorker article I linked to yesterday. One other consideration no one seems to mention: what happens to the economy when we add those insurance company employees and the paper pushers in doctor's offices to the unemployment statistics.