Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Pain of Receiving Good Medical Care (1.10.09)

[Like the prophets of old, this blog cried out for expression.]

There is no adequate way to describe the contrast - so you'll have to use your imagination:

On Wednesday we showed up at the Medical Center at 10 am.  We were expected.  It was quiet and peaceful in the waiting room.  The parking lot was nearly full but the surgery waiting area had plenty of seating and lots of dividers for privacy.  Very soon we were led back into a private room about the size of an ER room - but with adjoining bathroom.  A parade of medical personnel quietly and efficiently went about their business.  No rush.  No sense of urgency.  Lots of TLC, information, opportunities for questions.  Very professional, soothing, reassuring - especially no sense of pressure.  Everything just happening in its own time.  More than anything that's what impressed me - no rush, total peace. 

At the same time we could not help thinking of the contrast - people wounded in Gaza, lying there in pain waiting to be found.  People in overcrowded hospitals.  Everyone running around.  Everything crowded together.  Hardly a moment to breathe for patient or family or medical staff.  Sounds of whimpering children?  Groans of adults?  Did they have anesthesia for surgery?  Were they even on the list for surgery? 

We wondered about things like that as we waited in total comfort, as the medical system slowly and deliberately did each procedure with complete calm.  Everything was at hand.  Everyone had time to introduce themselves - including the surgery nurses.  The anesthesiologist was so calming she could practically induce a trance with just her voice I told her.  IV line was started.  Surgeon stopped in.  All was in order.  No one rushed.  Peace and calm prevailed.

Back in the waiting room I found a quiet spot, put my feet up on a stool and settled back with my New York Times and a few books.  It was a strange contrast:  Was it that day I read about the 4 very young children found beside the two dead mothers in Gaza?  Or was it the next?  On the one hand I waited with total peace and calm for an ongoing surgery - even getting an update from Linda (the surgery nurse) - who seemed to expect I would be nervous while waiting.  No, not at all.  I had total faith in the surgeon, in the staff, in the medical center.  Meanwhile, people were fighting and dying in Gaza.  People who had no choice.  There was no peace and calm in Gaza  I was in a strange state - between personal calm and concern for those I could only reach in my imagination.

That night was very long.  I stayed in the hospital with Mr. TheraP.  Neither of us getting much sleep at all, due to the careful looking in once or twice every hour.  Mr. TheraP was in pain, but on a morphine pump and trying to remain as still as he could to prevent the "stabbing pain" of making any movement - and just have the dull background pain.  He couldn't even talk - due to concentrating so hard on being still.  But every so often he mentioned the comparison - his pain versus the pain of people suffering in Gaza.  We were aware of that all night long.  It was quiet.  It was peaceful.  There was no rushing.  There were no sounds of people in pain or bombs or mortars.  No crowding.  Just a quiet room with one patient in bed hooked up to every kind of monitor and another in a fold-out chair with pillows and hospital garb along with every kindness - even as a visitor staying for the night.

It was a very, very hard time to be having a scheduled surgery under the best medical conditions - enough supplies, calm expertise, and above all the cheerful TLC of everyone from a to z.  Very hard time to experience all that - when we KNEW - that there in Gaza people lay suffering and dying, in pain, maybe lying among the dead - wondering when they'd join them in death.  All that dirt and noise and the cries of others - the keening of grief, the agony of wounds.

Very, very painful:  Guernica in words.



Most importantly, it's wonderful that you and yours found peace, quiet & good care within that place, Thera. And all of us are wishing you both the best in the days to come.
And yes, we're all also wishing for peace, quiet & good care for everyone - in Gaza, Israel, for those without insurance in America, and around the world.
But right now, for you & Mr TheraP, just get better. You've put plenty of time & energy into assisting others. You've more than earned time to just take care of home & loved ones, and to enjoy their full return.
What quinn said, and all the best to you!
ps - your sense of compassion is an inspiration to me
Thank you both for the kind words and the good advice. I really was cut off and in a "zone" for 3 days. This post, however, kept nagging at me.
Thanks for holding the fort while I'm (mostly) out of the loop. :)
They did not! They allowed an invasion of wonkerz!
hugz to you and hubby.
Hmmm. And where was the bird? And the peegalito? And the orange cloud? To say nothing of (so-called) "Orlando."
Yeah. "Unavoidably detained."
Hurry back, Thera. These jokers couldn't defend spinach salad.
And. Also.

I wasn't gunna tell! (honest)
I'm so glad all is well...loves
I missed you TheraP. I am a deist sometimes. I will prey for a fast recovery.
You are a good person, TheraP and I know Mr. TheraP is also.
TheraP, your post had a very special quality to it, and I am glad you wrote so honestly.
I "send white light your way and in the direction of Mr.TheraP." May you both receive comfort and healing in full measure.
Warm regards from Carol.
I have logged many hours such as those you describe with parents, friends, etc. -- but never with the one person (my son) whose pain could stop my own heart. I admire your appreciation of the professional care givers; surely your appreciation of them, that you communicated quietly, ensured the very best treatment Mr. TheraP could have received. He, like you, is a person to be admired --- to think of those in Gaza at a time of such personal stress is remarkable. Whatever global karmic movement there may be, perhaps one or more person's pain in Gaza was calmed by your thoughts for them. That actually happened to someone I know. Trapped in a wrecked car, he says he felt the acute concern of a passerby, someonw who in fact called the authorities and pulled over until the EMS arrived. We are all our brothers' and sisters' keepers.
Take care; we are thinking of you both, wishing you well.
I am deeply touched by all your comments. I wish I could write an adequate response - and an answer to each of you. Let us send these wishes also for the healing of all who are suffering - especially those who feel totally alone in their suffering - who feel no one knows or cares.
Thera P:
All the best and strength to you and to Mr. Thera P.
Thank you, Bruce. Believe me, I understand you're feeling a different type of psychic pain. And I feel for that as well.
Shalom. Even if it takes a miracle!
TheraP, you of all people know the perils of being the caregiver. Make sure to take care of yourself as you take care of Mr. TheraP. Godspeed and fast recovery. It's remarkable that you are both able to think of others in a worse place than you at such a difficult time. Be strong.
I'm glad you had such a pleasant hospital experience. It's terrible the people in Gaza are being blown to pieces. What you have to thank is that you and MrTheraP weren't enduring his surgery in a war zone.
Those you have to thank for that are our previous leaders who made it a point we be the preeminent military power in the world. To wit; Ronald Reagen. You owe support to those who wish to protect our country, and decry those who wish to weaken us. I pray MrTeraP is recovering comfortably.
Those you have to thank for that are our previous leaders who made it a point we be the preeminent military power in the world. To wit; Ronald Reagen. [sic]
The last person Thera should be thanking is Reagan. The country was barely recovering from his damage to America as a fair and honest country when Bush was elected and nearly finished the job. The Republicans destroyed our military, they have killed thousands in their quest for profit and unadulterated greed, and hurt our international standing, probably permanently. Together they are responsible for hatred of America and Americans in South America and the Middle East. That hardly makes this country more protected. The opposite, actually.

Uh . . .
What my feathered cohort said, in spades.
Now please run along, your Dubya action figure doll needs attending to.
Bwakfat: What you said. Whether the chips are up or down, you are someone really valuable to have as a friend.
I so agree with you, Wendy. Bwakfat is there for you when you need support or when you need a reminder. I so appreciate that kind of friend.
Thera, I send thoughts of healing to you and yours.
I appreciate and share your concern for those unfortunate souls in Gaza who have been so horribly injured and harmed as the result of being placed in harms way by Hamas. Infact, I can't really even imagine what it must be like to live in country in which my government would place a weapons cache in my home, or in the school next door to me. Or where my nation's soldiers would choose my home, or my neighbor's home as the site from which they launch missile attacks on a neighboring nation. Neither can I imagine what it must be like to not get adequate health care because my country's leaders have sold the hospitals' medical supplies in order to afford more weapons. Weapons which they have been quite capable of smuggling in through any number of hidden tunnels. Why couldn't they have smuggled in other supplies?
Thera, I do wonder that you didn't feel similar concern for your fellow Americans who lacking adequate health insurance cannot receive the type of high quality health care you and yours have experienced. I'm talking about the millions who can't even afford to obtain a necessary surgery, scheduled or otherwise.

Apparently you have not read my previous blogs. I have much sympathy for anyone without health care. (you have missed a great deal if you assume this blog says everything about health care)
As for Palestine being a "nation," they would like that very much. At the moment, they are an oppressed and imprisoned people. That is a sad fact.

Howdy ... Nana ...
Did you just recently drop in?
Stick around...
You'll be amazed at what you'll learn.
Violence begets violence.
Today in Gaza, but any day really this is true. Sometimes it is the violence of war. Even more often it is the violence of poverty. Gaza is an immediate and starkly unnecessary outburst of killing. An offense to humanity. So too are the more mundane but just as obscene and horrifying conditions the world imposts on the poor everywhere.
Mexico City...
Rio de Janiero...
The Bronx...
Chicago's south side...
East St. Louis...
And . . .
East Los Angeles.
Thank you both for extending this issue. Of course I feel for all those who are impoverished, who lack health care, who lack basic necessities of life - whether at home or abroad.
We are all visitors on this planet - for a brief time - and we all share a common humanity.
Goes without saying that you care for all. You are a pretty rare presence. Thank you!
I take that as a high compliment, coming from you, oleeb.
Oooommmm . . .
My meditative powers for the Ever Present Energy to envelope you and MrTheraP and for all who suffer.
That is so beautiful, OGD!
Thank you.
... It's the very least, yet the greatest one can do.
Here is the site where I have had that picture posted with a short message since learning in mid-2007 that my dear friend and fellow traveler had been diagnosed with throat cancer.
He's totally in remission now and happily helping to assist in the healing of others.

Thank you for the links as well. :)
Very moved. Thank you for the link.
I hope Mr. TheraP's recovery is swift and complete. And, having spent so much of my life immersed in my own and my parents' surgeries and illnesses, I hope that your medical coverage will not leave you with the added burden of costs for this care that worry you and impede a return to health and ease.
As well noted above, Gaza's horrors are sadly paralleled elsewhere in this harsh world of ours.
In this country, however, we have a deeply cynical approach to getting the medical attention we need: If we can afford it, we can get it. If we can't afford it but we get it anyway, we risk our futures by putting everything we have on the line to get that care—up to and including our homes. If we can't afford it and we are at the "mercy" of a profit-based medical system, our care is at best cursory and inadequate.
As I've read and heard about the medical workers struggling to help the injured in Gaza, I've not only been deeply impressed by the dedication they give to caring for the people, but also how they are blind to who the people are and what they have. The only goal is to help and heal.
I'd like to think that this would be the attitude to carnage like this in the US, but as more information about the post-Katrina nightmare emerges, I'm not so sure.
Gaza's horrors are beyond my grasp and influence. They go far beyond the need for health care that is there for everyone, no matter what their illness or their circumstances.
But this country's problems frequently come back to this issue, and universal access to health care—preventive, curative, and catastrophic—would resolve many of them. Imagine looking for a job without having to consider whether or not its medical benefits are sufficient. Instead, we could seek out jobs that fit our skills and our interests.
Imagine companies not having to factor in health care costs when setting their budgets for employment—or trying to figure out how to cut corners in their benefits.
Imagine getting sick and being able to focus on getting well, rather than on the fears of losing our jobs—and what little insurance we have—for being sick too long, or worse, our homes.
Imagine also a body of elected officials who can make decisions about the health care of the nation without the influence of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies corrupting those deliberations.
So many of the rancorous fights between management and labor, constituents and Congress, haves and have-nots would vanish if putting a price on health and its care were taken out of the equation. Much of the class struggle in this country would vanish, as well.
Americans seem to fear the terms "socialized medicine" and "universal health care" because of the associations drummed into us—the Soviet State, Marxism, and all of those un-business-friendly and thereby evil governments that threaten our "freedom."
Some clever people have found the term "single-payer health coverage," which is much less threatening to freedom-loving Americans. And there's a plan to give this to all of us in this country.
To me, the greatest freedom would be to live my life focusing on having my work and avocations contribute to my society, without factoring in the costs for my monthly insurance premium, my co-payments for therapy and check-ups, and my medications.
HR 676 is single-payer health coverage being called "Medicare for All." It's sponsored by John Conyers and 92 other members of Congress. It has the support of a majority of physicians and nurses, and their professional associations. It terrifies private insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.
This is not the way Obama is going, sadly, but it can still happen. We can make it happen. We can make our representatives support it and commit to voting it in. We can make it clear that we want and need a country that doesn't dole out medical care on the basis of how good our insurance plan is but simply because we need and want it.
We can make this a country that has compassion for all of its residents, no matter who they are. And then, once we learn that assuring that every person in our country deserves health and security simply because we exist, we might be able to apply that to how we treat the rest of the world.
HR 676 is a big step toward that goal.
Brava, Fecilltarix. Amen. Ditto. Thank you.
Facilitratix: sorry about the typing of your name. Excuse -- admiration comes before spell check or submit.
Comment below is for The Facilitatrix! How it ended up by itself... we'll have to check with the software gremlins....
If it terrifies insurance companies it is a good thing! I'm for single payer for a trillion reasons but first and foremost because it is the right thing to do. I wish we had a President that agreed, but we don't and apparently won't. A pity that.
Great Pity! Yes.
What a beautiful comment, my dear. You should turn it into a blog!
I especially love this:

We can make this a country that has compassion for all of its residents, no matter who they are. And then, once we learn that assuring that every person in our country deserves health and security simply because we exist, we might be able to apply that to how we treat the rest of the world.
And I'm happy to report that he has Medicare and we have a secondary that covers everything.
Spend more time with us here....
I'm getting there. I'm doing some writing for Progressive Democrats of America (, which has as its main platform Healthcare not Warfare. But it's not opinion stuff. Not yet.
I'm glad you're covered well. Even with the pretty good insurance I have, combined with Medicare, I've started saving up for the time I'll lose from work, the days in the hospital, special things I'll need to help me, etc. when I have to have my hip replacement replaced. That's (I hope) four or more years away.
It's tough being a single, middle-aged, disabled gal in America.
Keep me posted, dear Roberta. Glad to hear you're writing - and about health care!
Oh, dear about the replacement of the hip replacement. Maybe by then, there will be relief for people on limited budgets.
I'm not sure if you saw my previous blog on health care. You might want to take a look:
Thanks for the link on this group you're writing for.
And I hope the current hip replacement lasts a good long time!
Peace be with you. May the Obama administration keep people like you in the forefront!

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