Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dear Art

My wife calls her rheumatoid arthritis ’Art' and she's lived with him for 15 years. The irony is her specialist has his own form of arthritis and he like my wife is a triple A personality so they both work their backsides off in their respective trades. Check out the size of her file. That's years of trying to outwit Art.

We share a similar sense of humor and ironic detachment when it comes to politics. Dr Ritter no longer prescribes narcotics owing to new Florida laws aimed at pill mills which he is decidedly not. Ritter knows what arthritis pain is and he is reigned to the fact that his patients who really need relief can't get it from him. He sends them to pain specialists. As they discussed treatment options for a relentless evolving disease I looked out the window into the South Miami street below.

What does the flower seller do for his arthritis, without insurance? Does he rely on a home remedy? My wife tried those in her struggle to evade side effects. She tried them all when we lived in California: Indian, Chinese, diet, massage, herbs meditation on and on and on, every new age treatment that never worked. So it was back to chemistry and expense and side effects.

Thank god we have insurance. As messed up as the system is between us we can navigate the torturous paperwork, we find the co-pays and my wife keeps her government job. As discussion moves in right wing circles toward repealing Obamacare, as it is called dismissively, I wonder how many people with incurable expensive non terminal diseases would like to let insurance corporations cut them from coverage? Obamacare isn't much but has helped. Call it socialism, but for my wife who is uninsurable it is a lifeline.

There's money in medicine and for specialists in low demand fields like auto immune disease there aren't enough doctors, so there's too much work and money enough to expand the offices to try to cope with the flood of patients seeking relief from endless, crippling pain. I read about cancer drugs now going generic that are unavailable in hospitals, about drugs not being shipped to Greece in bankruptcy and I wonder how long before we start an adult conversation on these issues. Rationing? We have it already. Ask the flower seller, if you can stoop to speak his language.

We have tens of thousands of children not eating right, or not eating enough, deprived of access to health care and still expected to shine at school on empty stomachs. My wife and I have neither aging parents nor needy children and we are left to imagine the stress of those situations. We just have to live with Art and his impositions. Exercise daily in the gym and laughter daily with her husband help keep the joints from seizing up. And expensive drugs.

And if like this scooter rider I take to lane splitting (illegally) I run the risk of...well you name it. In any event the biggest risk is unmanageable medical bills if I survive the wreck. We're all an ambulance ride away from joining Greece in debtor's prison. Obamacare? Not enough, but you won't know till you get the diagnosis. Then you join the flower seller at the botanica.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Amanda said...

Obamacare has already proved a boon for us. My husband consulted an orthopedic surgeon regarding his knee pain while still covered by an employer's health care plan. The orthopedist diagnosed an torn meniscus and recommended surgery which my husband elected not to undergo.

Two months later, when we went to apply for individual coverage, he was rejected on that basis. God forbid a new insurance company pay for a surgery that he's trying to delay until the surgery is truly necessary, rather than merely elective.

Now that Obamacare's passed, he's insurable again, despite his unseemly "preexisting condition". Now he can actually hope to get preventative treatment at the right time to keep from needing a total knee replacement.

I'm very glad there's legislation to provide this modicum of a safety net. I wish it did more.

Conchscooter said...

So do we wish for more. My hope is the benefits of the changes will be seen before the Republicans can persuade their voters to get rid of what little it does provide.
Preventative care is where we all save money.

Suwannee Refugee said...

My mom had ART hit her hard around the time she was 35. The docs gave her gold shots, which cured the ART. But ruined her lungs. So she's not in pain any more, but can't breathe.

Conchscooter said...

Gold worked for a little while least she can breathe. There is an absolute epidemic of auto immune diseases among women. I blame a toxic environment but if you accept that you face serious questions about whither our society, and that is as scary as climate change.