Lymphoma & Heart By-Pass in America

So, much better over here; thanks for all of your good wishes. I think a combination of a super-busy weekend, some lapses with the vitamins and a bug all created a sort of perfect storm over here -was never feverish, just lots of joint pain- and for some reason today my tongue hurts, but otherwise, the ship is aright.

But I had some serious news over the weekend, about some friends of ours.

1) Adam, age 18, was away at school and feeling short of breath. First they thought it was a cold, then they thought it was pneumonia. Then they discovered lymphoma within the pleura of his lungs. After removing 5 liters of fluid from his chest cavity, Adam is comfortable, but he is immediately undergoing chemotherapy. The doctors at his hospital were wonderful and told him that as the chemo “recipe” for his treatment is constant, he can be treated at a local hospital or clinic near his school. “Go back to class and try to continue school with the chemo, if you can,” they told him. “School and people may be a distraction. Either way, we’ll get you through this.”

Adam’s cancer treatment began within 6 days of his diagnosis. Doctors are optimistic.

2) Gene, age 80, a man who never likes to sit still and who only just retired this autumn from his “retirement” job on a road crew, which he took on ten years ago because retiring at 70 seemed boring, to him. He found a lump on his torso and had it check out; also diagnosed with lymphoma this week. The doctors are confident the cancer is not advanced and that -being a robust, optimistic sort who has never been sick a day in his life- Gene will withstand the treatment easily and that there should be no problem eradicating this cancer.

Gene’s cancer treatment will begin within 8 days of his diagnosis. Doctors are optimistic.

3) John, age 67, semi-retired (he drives a tourist shuttle in the summer) was experiencing breathlessness. He could not finish a stress-test and was immediately scheduled for (depending on conditions) either the insertion of two stents or a bypass. It was discovered that his blockages required a triple bypass, which he underwent with flying colors, yesterday.

John’s heart surgery came within a week of his failed stress test, less than two weeks from his initial breathlessness. His prognosis: excellent.

These are all family members of friends, and they’re all living in different states, and I think it’s pretty remarkable that each one of these men were able to experience such fast and optimistic -dare I say “can-do” – responses to their situations, without anyone interfering with them or their family about treatment options, or age considerations.

Nobody looked at Gene and said, “well, I dunno, you’re 80, man. Lymphoma treatment is costly, and you’re not exactly contributing to the tax coffers, anymore; you’ve had a good run. Kiss your wife goodbye and take the red pill, already. Do it for America!”

No one looked at John and said, “hmmmm, you’re 67; a bypass might keep you alive for another 15 years, and there will be blood thinners and other meds, check-ups and such. That’s going to be expensive, so maybe we don’t do a bypass on you. Just you know, walk slow and don’t move around too much. We can give you a wheelchair and some oxygen, for a while…”

I don’t want to say that Obama’s is a “can’t-do” America, but I do not see how any of these people could be better served under Obamacare.

For the past few months, we’ve heard that the H1N1 virus was a killer that was going to wipe out a huge swath of the global population. We were warned that everyone must, must get the government-provided vaccination. Then there weren’t enough vaccinations to go around. Then the president decided to declare a national emergency about H1N1 because, apparently, not enough people were sufficiently freaked out about this latest “crisis.”

Nothing about the way the government has handled the Great Big Swine Flu Scare of 2009 has left me encouraged about how it will handle health care matters for individuals.

For that matter, nothing about how the government has handled the “Cash for Clunkers” program, or the investigations into ACORN (oh, wait, there haven’t been any) or has [not] brought the budget in on time (which is, you know…their fundamental job) convinces me that they will be able to do anything but completely screw up our healthcare system.

Now, it’s true, Adam’s parents have good (not congress-critter level, but good) health insurance. Gene, thanks to his union/pension situation which I don’t wholly understand, also has very good coverage. John’s coverage is Medicare with supplemental coverage. And it’s true that not everyone in America has health insurance. The number of uninsured seems to range from 15 million to 45 million depending on which politician you’re talking to, on which day. Let’s go with Obama’s most recent figure of 30 million, just to keep to the average. That’s 10% of the population.

So, let us stipulate that that 10% of our population needs health insurance, and let us further stipulate that costs are too high; that there does need to be some limited health insurance reform that should include interstate competition and perhaps limited tort reform as well.

Why can’t our congress offer their own insurance plan (which is so great they have no intention of giving it up to stand in lines with the rest of us) to the underinsured, at a reduced rate, based on a sliding scale? Surely a government that believes it can treat 300 million Americans on a case-by-case basis can efficiently insure 30 million of its needier citizens on a case-by-case basis, and administer to them some appropriately priced insurance? Surely that would -in the long run- cost less than overhauling the entire healthcare system? Surely managing healthcare for 30 million people is easier than managing health care for 300 million?

Let someone who can pay $20.00 a month pay it, someone who can afford $100.00 a month pay that, with the government covering the rest of their premiums and assisting with co-pays, where needed. Why is that considered not doable, while a systemic and dubious overhaul, with government bureaucrats deciding on treatments for the masses, is seen as doable and desirable, even in the face of daily evidence that the government cannot do the most fundamental of its jobs?

I would much rather see my taxes go to the purchasing of insurance for 30 million than for this unworkable boondoggle that the president and congress are determined to shove down our throats, even as we’re screaming we don’t want it.

Please pray for Adam, Gene and John, if you will. Great health care can still use prayers!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Myssi

    prayers going up for your friends. God bless them everyone.
    And, unfortunately, I think you are right about Obamacare making things worse and that they are going to shove it down our throats anyway.

  • Gayle Miller

    Definitely prayers are going up for your friends. I feel that I owe a debt of gratitude to my own good health insurance plan that uttered nary a peep when this 67 year old woman (who is still working, thank goodness) needed a roto-rooter job in both carotid arteries in her neck (left and right). The bills were paid, the doctors were paid, the sum total was $20 for co-pays! My gratitude is boundless to not only be alive but to be alive AND feeling so good. My cognition is greatly improved, my “silly” has returned and I am in love with life again!

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  • Jenny H

    Best wishes and prayers to John. My Dad(almost 10 yrs older) had a similar situation but only a double bypass. All happened quickly and his surgery went super. The recovery is tough. You have good days and some not great days but little by little you get back and feel better than before.It teaches one patience and what kind of fighter you are.(both for patient & caregivers) Laughter, love and prayers helped out tremendously! Go get ‘em John!

  • T Harris

    I think that a lot of folks are under the misconception of what the legislation brings to the table. Let us wait and see what the legislature has drafted first.

    I do believe that I will still be able to see my own doctor.

    I do believe that record’s management and testing will be made much more efficient. My father had excellent care under medicare while he was alive, and we were allowed to choose our own Doctor’s to see.

    I do believe in Tort reform, and medical malpractice reform.

    I do believe in a sliding cost care system similar to HMO coverage.

    I do believe in state’s rights in deciding to provide a government option.

    I do not believe the following:

    The Lobby interests groups.
    Those who are paid by these groups.
    Politicians that have received substantial funding from the insurance or finance industries, either pro or con.
    Those who directly benefit from this legislation such as health care professionals including Doctors, PAs, Nurses, Dentists, and medical assistants.
    Those involved in clinical research.

    Looking for an objective perspective is never easy and will only be proven by the test of time. I see how well my Mother and Father were treated by the Medicare system and I hope that the same outcome may be achieved from the Healthcare act.

  • mcnorman

    There is absolutely no way that we the people will ever get that sweet Federal Indemnity Plan. There must be the “haves” and the “have nots.”

    We ARE the “have nots.”

  • Susan K.

    I will refer back to this posting for future talking points when I put in another call to the Washington lords, excuse me, legislators about health care legislation. Since we needed another second hand vehicle, we called out “car shopper guy” who said the Clash for Clunkers program made good used cars higher in price and a bit scarcer. Par for the course when the government comes up with a program to “help.”