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Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Are You Playing Russian Roulette With Your Life?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

I recently attended an out-of-town simcha. Among the guests were several acquaintances whom I hadn’t seen in several years. Most looked the same – a few wrinkles here and a extra few pounds there, but no noteworthy differences. However, the vast change in the husband of a friend who had passed away shocked, saddened and angered me. Though still middle-aged, he looked as if he had shrunk. His clothes did not fit properly and his general look was unkempt. His deep emotional grief was reflected in his disheveled physical appearance. He was lost without his wife.

The distress I felt was the kind you experience when someone you are fond of does something foolhardy and ends up damaged, like failing to wear a seatbelt and becoming paralyzed in a car crash. I felt anguish because this was a tragedy that might have been prevented.

My friend – this grieving man’s wife – had suffered from a serious problem which was not heeded. She had a lump that should have been investigated, but she ignored it for a very long time. It was almost as if my friend had resurrected and embraced the childhood belief that if you close your eyes, the monster does not exist. If you can’t see it, then it isn’t there. But that does not work in the real world. Refusal to acknowledge danger signals do not make them go away.

Months later, when she was wreaked by physical weakness and pain, she opened her eyes. By that time, the monster had grown and was difficult to ignore. It is hard to say if early intervention would have made a difference in the ultimate outcome. But I do know that it is easier to put out a small campfire than a forest fire. The devastation of her family could have been postponed.

The price of deliberate obliviousness is very high – emotionally, physically, socially, and financially. Widowed spouses buckle under the heavy responsibilities and burdens of day-to-day living. Simchas are minimized by empty chairs, and grandchildren are deprived of creating memories because magic moments cannot be shared with those who no longer are there.

Sometimes, the inclination to take care of a potential problem is there, but there is a lack of medical coverage. This too can be deadly.

In the case of another friend, her relative – a diabetic with no health insurance – delayed getting treatment for a small cut that ultimately infected her whole body. Her first grandchild, born a few months later, was named after her.

There are so many middle class families who are playing Russian roulette with their lives because of a lack of health insurance. Getting coverage should be their number one priority. In far too many cases, money that should be set aside for health coverage is used for important but not crucial expenses – expenses that have more to do with vanity than with actual needs.

Unfortunately, people think that if they feel well, then they don’t need to go to the doctor, dentist, or optometrist for an annual check up. (Brain, eye, facial, tongue and throat tumors can be revealed during routine eye tests and dental work). But that’s exactly when you should go. Because if you are feeling well when a medical problem is discovered, chances are that any problematic find can be resolved successfully because it is still just a “low-flame” – and not yet a conflagration.

I recently had a series of medical tests, including a colonoscopy, which were not the most pleasant. I had to refrain from eating solid food for about 30 hours, and gulped down three rather unsavory liquids. I had to be hooked to an IV, and while the actual procedure took about 20 minute, I had to be in a hospital setting for several hours for pre- and post- procedure workups. I really rather would have been doing something more pleasant. Like taking out the garbage.

When I was asked by the nurse taking my medical history why I was getting a colonoscopy, I told her that this was just a screening (like a first mammogram) as I had reached the age when it was considered prudent to get one. And thank G-d, I now can have peace of mind – at least in that department - for a decade. The patient next to me, however, was there because she was experiencing worrisome symptoms. Like many people, she opted for a medical examination when she was already not well. Another patient was told he had polyps – a usually benign growth that can predicate cancer, a disease that in his case could likely be prevented. His decision to have a screening probably saved his life.

When a shidduch is being considered, there are so many questions posed by both sides. I strongly suggest that a key question is whether the young couple has medical insurance.

What good is yichus, looks, or midos if there is even a slight possibility that a lack of health care can take the person away prematurely, leaving broken-spirited survivors?

It is crucial that young, old and in-between have health insurance so that they can follow Hashem’s commandment to preserve their lives. Health care is a must, not a luxury. Borrow, beg, or give up your car or move into a smaller place if you have to, but make medical coverage your number one priority. And when there is coverage, be scrupulous about getting your annual checkups and screenings.

If you suspect a problem, if you are experiencing symptoms, don’t close your eyes wide shut. If the problem persists, investigate it. There is no need to panic at every little bump, lump or ache. You don’t have to run to the doctor the minute you have a headache. But if it feels different than normal, or lasts longer than normal, don’t hide your head in the sand.

You may be stoic and say you don’t want to upset your family. Don’t ignore warning signals in a misguided attempt to “protect” them. Because your avoidance, your delay, can have serious, non-reversible consequences. Then, who will protect them?

The Left Gears Up For Battle (Part III)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2001

Ordinary Americans are more or less united in the war on terrorism, but one enters an altogether different universe when paying mind to the torrent of recent commentary from left-wing journalists, academics and entertainers.

This is the Monitor’s third installment of some of the more anti-American or sheerly idiotic (usually both) examples of what currently passes for deep thought on the American and European Left, but an exercise like this merely scratches the surface – for each piece of drivel selected, there are literally hundreds more that could just as easily have been included.

But depressing as it is to navigate the fever swamps of the left, it’s instructive, too. What hits one in the face time and again is the utter mindlessness, the instinctive and constant resort to cant and cliche, on the part of those who against all evidence fancy themselves part of some intellectual elite. And one’s appreciation is renewed for William F. Buckley’s classic observation that he’d rather be ruled by the first several hundred people in the Boston phone directory than by the faculty of Harvard University.

Leading off this week’s lefty lineup is novelist Barbara Kingsolver, who a few weeks ago let it be known in the San Francisco Chronicle that “the American flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry … and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder.”

In case anyone was feeling deprived for having missed that particular outburst, Kingsolver obligingly returned with another testament to her judgment and clarity, this time in the Los Angeles Times:

“It is not naive to propose alternatives to war. We could be the kindest nation on earth, inside and out … I’d like an end to corporate welfare so we could put that money into ending homelessness … I would like a humane health-care system organized along the lines of Canada’s. I’d like the efficient public-transit system of Paris in my city, thank you. I’d like us to consume energy at the modest level that Europeans do … If this were the face we showed the world, and the model we helped bring about elsewhere, I expect we could get along with a military budget the size of Iceland’s.”

And what if the U.S. had followed that prescription and still come under attack? That’s easy. Here again the stupefyingly brilliant Ms. Kingsolver: “The World Court and the entire Moslem world stand ready to judge Osama bin Laden and his accessories. If we were to put a few billion dollars into food, health care and education instead of bombs, you can bet we’d win over enough friends to find out where he’s hiding.”

Next up is NBC’s ever-vapid Matt Lauer, who may not be left-wing in the precise definition of the term but who, consciously or unconsciously (more likely the latter), unfailingly reflects left-wing sentiment. The Today show co-host had this to say to the Air Force general supervising airdrops of food in Afghanistan: “But you can’t deny the fact that when you drop these into impoverished areas, you’re in effect sending U.S. propaganda into those areas; you’re saying, ‘Taliban bad. Here’s a gift from the U.S.’”

But even Lauer - who happens to be living proof that lack of brains is hardly an impediment to success in the world of TV “journalism” - would have had to stretch to come up with the nonsense uttered in a radio interview by the cerebrally under-endowed actor Richard Gere, who urged Americans to view terrorists “as a relative who’s dangerously sick …we have to give them medicine, and the medicine is love and compassion. There’s nothing better.”

And then there’s Dona Spring, a member of the Berkeley city council (which distinguished itself by voting to condemn U.S. military action in Afghanistan), who applied for membership in the Low I.Q. Hall of Fame with the following observation: “Berkeley has always been an island of sanity in terms of the war madness that has prevailed in this country. The U.S. is now a terrorist. According to the Taliban these are terrorist attacks.”

Not to be outdone by Spring on the moral relativism front, a professor named Michael Mandel had this to say in the Toronto Globe and Mail: “The bombing of Afghanistan is the legal and moral equivalent of what was done to the Americans on Sept. 11.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/media-monitor-137/2001/11/21/

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