healthcare, LDS, movies

Repost: Do they have “good” hospitals in Romania?

Last repost for today… I wrote this post on April 11, 2018. It’s part current event/LDS church rant, part movie review. Romania has surprisingly excellent films. I should probably watch a few today, since it’s cold and rainy outside.

This morning’s post comes courtesy of a news report I read about a Mormon sister missionary in Romania.  Sister Jacie Robinson was supposed to come home to Utah from Romania today, but instead, she’s in a hospital.  On Friday of last week, Sister Robinson fainted.  It turns out she has encephalitis, which is a brain infection.

I don’t know how this young woman got her infection.  It’s my understanding that encephalitis can come on very suddenly.  I have heard of LDS missionaries getting sick or injured while in the field, due to being exposed to danger.  It does not sound like that’s what happened in this case. 

Someone on RfM posted about Sister Robinson, wanting to know if Romania has “good” hospitals.  To be honest, I’ve never visited Romania; however, I did go through a brief Romanian film phase.  One of the movies I watched was a “black comedy” from 2005 called The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.

A trailer for the Romanian film, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.

I was intrigued on several levels by The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.  First off, I spent two years living in Armenia, which is a former Soviet republic.  Although Armenia and Romania are very different places, they do have some similarities, even in this era of post communism.  Secondly, I studied public health in graduate school, so although I myself almost never visit doctors or hospitals, I do find healthcare interesting, especially in the international arena.  
Some time ago, I rented The Death of Mr. Lazarescu from Netflix and spent a couple of hours watching it.  The film is in Romanian, but it has English subtitles.  The subtitles force you to pay close attention.  The film is billed as a “black comedy” and some parts of it are truly funny, but in reality, it’s a very sad and sometimes poignant film.  It doesn’t just apply to Romania, either.  

The film in its entirety.    

For those who would rather not watch the film (which I do recommend), here’s a basic synopsis.  Mr. Dante Lazarescu is a lonely widower who has three cats and a bad headache.  He calls an ambulance on an old rotary style phone, even though he doesn’t think the headache is serious.  When the ambulance doesn’t come, he asks his neighbor for help.  The neighbors give him some pills for his nausea, reveal him as a drunk, then help him to bed.  The neighbors call again for an ambulance.

When the ambulance arrives, the nurse on board suspects the old man has colon cancer.  She calls Mr. Lazarescu’s sister and tells him she should visit him in the hospital.  She then gets him into the ambulance and the nurse, the old man, and the driver spend the rest of the night going to different hospitals around the city, trying to get Mr. Lazarescu admitted.   

As the night progresses, the old man’s condition worsens.  He loses the ability to speak coherently and wets his pants.  Even though he’s very ill and needs treatment, no one wants to bother to examine Mr. Lazarescu.  He keeps getting shuffled from one place to the next.  He finally gets an operation to remove a blood clot, but the doctor quips they’ve saved him from the clot only so he can die of liver cancer.  

As I mentioned before, I honestly don’t know about the quality of Romanian hospitals.  I did see a few interesting comments on the YouTube videos I posted.  I did have a couple of colleagues who experienced Armenian medicine in the 1990s.  While it wasn’t deadly for them, it was not like what we in the United States are used to.  On the other hand, people in places like Romania probably don’t go bankrupt when they get sick, either.  

I think The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is worthy viewing, if you can stand the dark humor of it.  Some people might find it depressing.  I thought it was an interesting film.  Actually, Romania has put out some great movies in the past couple of decades.  I’ve watched three or four of them and been impressed by their quality.  If you have the patience to read subtitles and enjoy foreign films, I’d say your time will be well spent watching a couple of Romanian flicks. As for Sister Robinson, I hope she makes a full and speedy recovery.  Encephalitis is scary business, no matter where you are!

On another note…  

Bill is trying to arrange for some time off at the beginning of May so we can take a much needed break from Germany.  Actually, I don’t mind Germany… I just think Bill needs a breather.  Work has been rather stressful for him lately.

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healthcare, mental health

High priced help for the hungry…

For some reason, my post about Adam and Darla Barrows’ love story has attracted a lot of attention. I am intrigued, because it’s somewhat uncommon for items in newspapers to generate interest for so long. Usually, you get a burst of interest in the hours or days after something hits, then people move on to the next thing. And I am especially surprised by the interest in my comments on Barrows’ piece, which was a Modern Love story, rather than a hard news item. I’m just an American blogger in Germany. Why do people care what I think? Why do they care so much that they want to respond or even set me straight? And do they know that sometimes their comments lead me on unexpected paths? That’s what today’s post is about– my unexpected trip into high priced help for the hungry in Switzerland. I never thought my post about a newspaper story would lead me there.

I recently got comments from two people who have never posted here before, both of whom have direct experience of loving someone with anorexia nervosa. One commenter seemed to agree with my take on Adam Barrows’ New York Times article about how he fell in love with a woman with anorexia. The other one clearly did not agree with me, and in fact, says my views are “outdated”. Both commenters have children who have suffered from anorexia. I appreciated that they took the time to read and comment. I won’t be surprised if others also comment, since that post is clearly very hot even a month after I wrote it. Adam Barrows’ story obviously really resonated with and rattled a lot of people.

I just want to mention a few things about that post. First off, all of my posts on this blog are mainly just my opinions. I share them with the world, but I don’t necessarily expect people to agree with me, nor do I assume I’m always right. I wouldn’t want everyone to agree, because it’s hard to learn anything new if everyone thinks the same way. Secondly, I really think that Barrows’ story was less about anorexia and its treatment, than the development of Adam’s unique love relationship with his wife. I think a lot of people read Adam’s story and got very triggered by it and felt the need to judge him. He probably knew people would have strong reactions to the story. Ultimately, I think a lot of people missed the point entirely, and focused on anorexia rather than the love story and his perspective as a man who loves someone with an eating disorder. Furthermore, Barrows’ story is not a long piece and was probably edited a lot, so it’s not a good representation of Adam Barrows’ character. It pained me to read so many nasty comments about Mr. Barrows, and that was why I wrote about his NYT piece in the first place. Finally, I’m really glad he wrote that story and shared it, despite the polarized reactions. It has really made me think and, as you can see, continues to inspire new posts for my blog. 😉

Which brings me to today’s fresh topic. One of the people who commented on my post expressed disappointment that The New York Times shared Barrows’ piece and “glamorized” anorexia. Looking on my Statcounter results, it appeared that “Danielle” might have been writing to me from England. If she is from England, it would make sense that she would give me hell about my comments. She may or may not be aware of how different the US and UK healthcare systems are. In the United Kingdom, citizens have access to the National Health Service, which means healthcare doesn’t cost people as much as it does in the United States. A basic level of affordable care is available to everyone.

In the United States, healthcare is very expensive for most people, even for those with decent health insurance, which is also expensive on its own. Mental health care coverage is often woefully inadequate. It’s been years since I last had a “civilian” health insurance policy, but I seem to remember that my coverage only allowed for thirty days of inpatient psychiatric treatment per year. And that’s if there were no pre-existing conditions! Outpatient care was somewhat more generous, but it was not covered the same way or to the same extent a physical problem would be.

In the United Kingdom, there is also a process called “sectioning”, in which people can be involuntarily hospitalized for mental health conditions. The Mental Health Act of 1983 allows for family members and physicians to act in another person’s best interests when it’s clear that they need psychiatric help and won’t cooperate on their own. Anyone who is being sectioned must be assessed by health care providers first, but it appears that a person can be sectioned for a much broader array of reasons than they can be in the United States. Someone who is starving to the point of death because they have anorexia nervosa could possibly be sectioned, for instance, even if they are over 18 years old.

In the United States, we do have the means for hospitalizing people against their will for psychiatric reasons, but it’s a lot more difficult to force an adult into psychiatric hospitalization than it is a child. A lot depends on the laws of specific states. Moreover, in the United States, involuntary commitment seems to be done most often in cases in which a person is clearly a danger to other people as well as themselves, and is not in touch with basic reality. Someone with anorexia nervosa is probably not going to pose a genuine threat to anyone other than themselves. They also tend to be basically rational in things besides their body image. Anyone who is curious about how eating disorders in the United States are treated may want to watch the excellent 2006 documentary, Thin, by Lauren Greenfield. As you’ll find out if you watch this film, a person’s insurance coverage is also quite important in their ability to access care. I can’t say that adult people with eating disorders never get forced into treatment in the United States, but I think it’s more difficult to do it there than it is in England and Wales.

In the 1960s, there was a big push in the United States to deinstitutionalize people with mental illnesses, which meant that a lot of facilities closed down, for better or worse. The emphasis is more on outpatient treatment. In fact, healthcare is more for outpatient treatment for regular medical conditions, too, mainly because of how bloody expensive it is.

An eye-opener about how eating disorders are treated in America.

As I was thinking about Danielle’s comment and chatting a bit with my friend, Alexis, who is herself employed in healthcare, I got to wondering how eating disorders are treated in Germany. I went Googling, and found a few items that didn’t tell me much. But then my eyes landed on an ad for a rehab in Switzerland– specifically, Paracelsus Recovery in Zurich.

I know Switzerland has really excellent medical care. I also know that it’s an eye-wateringly expensive place. I know healthcare is not cheap in Switzerland, either. I was interested to find out what this place in Zurich was like. I found out that it’s a family run business. Clients are treated one at a time, and have the option of staying in one of two huge penthouses.

The fees include five star treatment, to include a personal chef and a counselor who stays with the client 24/7 in beautifully appointed accommodations. There’s a medical staff, including nurse practitioners and physicians, a wellness staff, with personal trainers and yoga instructors, and therapists. If you access their Web site, you can take a tour of the posh penthouse, which includes a bedroom for the therapist. If you like, you can pay separately for accommodations at a hotel, although the accommodations are included in the price of the treatment and I’m not sure if you get a price break for staying off site.

A very comfortable place to recover in Zurich.

This center treats several different psychiatric conditions, including drug addictions, eating disorders, mood disorders, alcoholism, and behavioral addictions (porn addiction or gambling, for instance). It’s a very discreet place and, judging by the fees they charge, is intended for helping only the very wealthy. At this writing, it costs 80,000 Swiss Francs per person per week to be treated at this facility. To put this price into perspective, at this writing, 80,000 Swiss Francs is equal to about $86,000 or roughly 72,000 euros. The fees cover everything related to the treatment, although if you fall and break your arm or get sick with COVID-19 and need hospitalization, you will have to pay for that medical treatment separately. Also not included is accommodation for anyone who accompanies you or a two day pre-assessment, which is an additional 20,000 francs.

As I was reading about this place, it occurred to me that there must be a market for it. I’m sure their clients are mostly extremely wealthy people, such as royalty from the Middle East, Hollywood movie stars, rock stars, or business moguls from Wall Street. Paracelsus gets excellent reviews online, but I wonder how many people have had the opportunity to experience this kind of treatment. Still, it’s fascinating to read up on it. I wonder what it would be like to work at such a place. I’m sure they deal with some extremely high maintenance people. I also wonder what would prompt someone to start such a practice, which seems to cater only to extremely wealthy people. To be sure, that population is unique and may need special accommodations, but I’m sure the cases are uniquely challenging, too. People with a lot of money are often used to hearing the word “yes” a lot. Maybe such posh surroundings are less effective for people with addictions. But again, I could be wrong. At the very least, it looks like a very competently run place, and in a city well known for psychiatric care.

Wow… very beautiful and very expensive! And no need for a translator.

I found another rehab in Switzerland, Clinic Les Alpes, that has a relatively bargain basement cost of 45,000 Swiss Francs per week, although the typical stay is for 28 days, so you do the math!. It looks like there, you can be treated for exhaustion or burnout or addictions. They seem to focus on addictions the most and offer care that emphasizes comfort, as well as the classic 12 step program to sobriety. It’s in a beautiful area, just off the shores of Lake Geneva, in an area with many forests and no sound pollution (which sounds wonderful to me). But this program appears to be a lot less private. There are 27 rooms for clients to stay in rather than two exclusive penthouses.

I would imagine that healthcare in Switzerland there is delivered expertly, especially if one is paying many thousands of Francs. My experiences in Switzerland have mainly been in a few hotels, a couple of which were high end. The Swiss definitely do high end hotels right, although on the whole, I find it a rather boring, soulless place, even if it is also very beautiful and scenic.

Well… I’ll never darken the door at one of those very special rehabs in Switzerland. I do find them interesting to read about, though. They’re not for ordinary people with big problems. They are for extraordinary people with big wallets. Obviously, there’s a need and a market for them, since at least two of them exist… and to think I found out about them because of a comment on my post about a Modern Love story I read in The New York Times over a month ago! I am always amazed by what inspires me to think and to write… and that’s why I like to hear from people. I’m sure Danielle never knew her comment about how wrong my opinions are would lead me to research luxury rehabs in Switzerland. You learn something new every day!

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complaints, lessons learned, rants

READING IS FUNDAMENTAL, Y’ALL!

It’s no secret that I have a long list of pet peeves. I often vent about them in my blog. One topic that occasionally comes up in this rag I write, is how irritated I get when people chime in on things they haven’t deigned to read. As a matter of fact, I wrote about this topic in December 2019, and I KNOW I’ve written about it multiple times on my old blog. Well… I’m about to write about it again, because goddammit, I get pissed.

Yesterday, I read a poignant article on The Atlantic about a man who spent 306 days in the hospital after contracting COVID-19. Yes, that’s a really long time to be hospitalized. After I read the beautifully written article, I looked at the comments, and so many people were aghast at how large the hospital bill must have been! Comment after comment was left about the hypothetical size of this man’s medical expenses.

BUT— the man in this story was not from the United States. He lives in Britain. In Britain, they have the National Health Service, which covers the costs of everyone’s healthcare (although one can also pay for private care). So no, there was no huge hospital bill for him or his family to pay.

I must have read over a dozen comments about the perceived size of the guy’s medical debts until I finally saw a comment from a woman who commented on the size of the bills, and then openly admitted that she hadn’t read the article because she didn’t want to pay for a subscription. Against my better judgment, I left this comment for her…

“Why would you comment on something you haven’t read?”

I know… it probably comes off as peevish and bitchy to many people, but it seemed like a fair enough question to me. I didn’t use exclamation points or all caps. I didn’t swear at her. In fact, it was a perfectly reasonable query, in my opinion. ESPECIALLY since she could have taken a minute to read just a few of the many comments on the Facebook link and found out that the man was from Britain and didn’t have huge hospital bills. Even if, as an American, someone doesn’t know that most countries don’t have an insanely and inhumanely expensive healthcare system like ours, he or she could have gotten that information about Britain’s NHS system by simply reading a few comments left by those in the know.

But you know what she did? She went to my Facebook page and noticed my tag line, which reads “My life is basically one long Maalox commercial.” I used to have “Wake me in 2021” there, but changed it after Biden won the election. Anyway, after visiting my Facebook page, she wrote:

“Oh, go take your Maalox.”

Well… that WAS a bitchy comment, wasn’t it? So I responded thusly,

Why don’t you support journalism by purchasing a subscription to The Atlantic and reading before posting. Then, your uninformed comments won’t prompt me to need Maalox.”

Which leads me to my next point. Why did she feel the need to stalk my Facebook page just because I asked her why she’d comment on something she hasn’t read? My question to her wasn’t that unreasonable. I mean, she openly admitted she hadn’t read the article and, apparently, didn’t even bother to read any of the many wrong comments about the guy’s “huge” (and non-existent) medical bills, which were corrected by more informed readers. And yet, she still felt she had something to add to the conversation. Tell me. Why should anyone read and respond to her comment if she hasn’t read theirs, OR the article that has prompted the discussion? What makes her so goddamned special?

I suppose she was disappointed that there’s not all that much public on my page. I think my last public post was one from a few months ago, asking former colleagues the recipe for the savory cheesecake we used to sell at the restaurant where we worked. Not all of my former colleagues are Facebook friends, so I made the post public to allow non-friends to respond. That post has been liked by two creepy guys who tangled with me in the comment sections of political posts. I blocked both of them, not that it matters.

The lady I ran into yesterday also went looking for information on the public part of my Facebook page. I wonder what she seeking? Was she wanting to know my political proclivities? Did she want to know if I breastfeed zoo animals or take opium rectally? Was she looking for evidence that I live in a cave? I mean, I’m just an ordinary person who gets irritated by people who think they need to comment on things they haven’t read. If you haven’t even bothered to read what you’re commenting on, why should I read your thoughts?

After getting good and annoyed by that exchange, I decided to research the Internet to see if I’m the only one who gets irritated by non-readers who spread their stupid egotistical shit in comment sections. Sure enough, I found several impassioned articles about this sad epidemic of a phenomenon. The first one I read was especially interesting.

Back on April Fool’s Day in 2014, NPR decided to play a trick on its readers by an article entitled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?” That is a very provocative title, isn’t it? The people who came up with it knew that it would prompt discussion. Sure enough, it did.

Indeed, what HAS become of our brains?

I hasten to add, however, that Amelia Tait, the writer who quoted the NPR article in her article, got the NPR article’s title wrong, calling it “Why doesn’t anyone read anymore?”. I guess she’s not a careful reader, either.

Notice that there are over 2200 comments on that original post. If the people who commented had bothered to read before opining on the headline, they would have read this.

Ha ha ha!

Notice in the directions, it says “If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it.” Sure enough, of the many of the people who did bother to read, quite a few didn’t follow directions. Or, I can also assume, they didn’t care what the directions were, like to ruin practical jokes, and spoil other people’s fun. 😉

I decided to experiment on my own page with this article. I shared it, and not five minutes later, I got a comment from someone who offered an opinion, admitting that he hadn’t read the article (props to him for that, at least). Then he read it and promptly ruined the joke. I decided not to delete his comment, though, because I wanted to see if other people chimed in without reading the comment section. Someone did, although, she wasn’t tripped up by the fake article. However, she also didn’t follow directions, and commented when she was requested to only react to the link.

The next person simply liked the post, which earned her the grand prize. In this case, the grand prize is my admiration, respect, and good wishes. It occurred to me that if I were a teacher, this exercise might make a great object lesson in the classroom. Because, if you think about it, it’s the rampant liking, commenting, and sharing that people do WITHOUT reading first that helps get dangerous idiots like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump elected and conspiracy theories started. THIS IS HOW FAKE NEWS AND MISINFORMATION GETS SPREAD, PEOPLE. The NPR April Fool’s article probably just made people feel foolish. Imagine how some of the people who fell for QAnon and later regretted it feel (sadly not all of them yet realize QAnon is total bullshit). Doesn’t life present you with enough opportunities to feel foolish without making a basic mistake like not reading before reacting or commenting?

I totally get that we live in a hyper-paced world right now. People are busy, stressed out, and broke. People are also kind of lazy, and don’t want to spend their precious time reading things, especially when they could be writing lengthy posts about something completely non-sensical and irrelevant. But they DO want others to read what they write, otherwise why would they comment? And it seems lost on them that if they don’t even take time to read whatever has prompted the discussion, it’s pretty arrogant and disrespectful to opine about it.

Actually, no I won’t. I want people to read because they’re genuinely interested. And I want people to comment only if they’ve read first.

As someone who writes and has actually made money doing so, I am asking you, for all that’s good and holy, at least take a minute to read a few comments before popping off with a comment that makes you look dumb and/or lazy. I realize that not everyone has the money or the desire to subscribe to every magazine or newspaper whose content they want to read, but a lot of times, there are people who HAVE read and left comments, and you can glean a more informed opinion or at least have some of your misconceptions corrected before you post something irritating. I think Annie Reneau, who wrote this excellent piece for Scary Mommy, sums it up nicely. I encourage you to read and heed her fabulous rant, which is NOT behind a paywall.

Also… journalists have to pay bills, too. You don’t work for free, do you? So don’t expect them to work for free. Show some respect. If you didn’t read, please try not to comment. Or, at least take a minute to read a few other comments before you chime in and post something ridiculous. My Maalox swilling lifestyle will improve if you do.

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family, healthcare

Instant karma’s gonna get you… UPDATED

Last night, Bill and I sat at our kitchen table, nervously watching the political headlines. We were sharing a laugh, because the other night, I got a private message from a relative who had commented on a picture I shared of our latest addition, Noyzi, the Balkan pandemic pup. He happened to be standing next to our booze cart when I took the photo and it was visible, so my relative added, “Wow, that’s quite a collection of booze, btw.”

I’m not sure how she expected me to respond to that comment. It’s true that we have a lot of booze on our booze cart, because Bill and I do like our libations. Moreover, my relative knows full well that in our family, there are a lot of drinkers, depressives, Republicans, and conservative Christians. She knows we’re not teetotalers. And how many bottles constitutes “quite a collection”, anyway? Two or three? I’d put them in a closet or a cabinet, but closets and cabinets are pretty rare in Germany unless you purchase them separately. Just having a lot of bottles of alcohol is not necessarily an indication of a problem, especially when a lot of them are still full or unopened, as is the case for us.

So, I decided to respond with a matter-of-fact “Yup. We are lushes.” I suppose if I really had wanted to be funny, I could have added this clip, for good measure. She wisely didn’t respond to my quip. I’m not sure if she was just surprised by my response, or got the message that she needed to mind her own business.

I do love my family, but this is really more me before a family gathering in which politics and religion are discussed.

I certainly don’t mean to make light of alcoholism. It’s not a laughing matter at all, and everyone in our family has been touched by alcoholism, even if most of us drink, anyway. But I think it’s rude to make pointed comments about the contents of a person’s booze cart, unless you’re complimenting it. Besides, a lot of the stuff on that cart is either a mixer or really old… or it’s a really old mixer. We have several bottles of stuff I bought about five years ago that probably need to be tossed, if only so we’ll have more space for stuff we’ll actually consume. In any case, our drinking habits are not really her business, particularly since I know she’s no angel in that department herself. At least neither Bill nor I have never been arrested or had a DUI.

So anyway, we were laughing about my relative’s comment and subsequent radio silence. Then, I decided to look up my cousin, who recently died. This relative who had been chatting with me had missed our cousin’s funeral, which had been posted on YouTube. By the way, I think that’s a great way to do funerals, even when a pandemic isn’t going on. I would not have been able to “attend” the funeral, if it hadn’t been videoed.

I thought the video was taken down, but I eventually found a link to the service and sent it my nosy relative. In the course of looking for the video, I noticed that my cousin had been journaling about her experiences with colon cancer. I decided to read her comments. The longest one was about her initial diagnosis. In her entry, she detailed how she found out that she had cancer. She mentioned that she had been experiencing pain for months, but blew it off. She had thought she was getting an ulcer, but neglected to see a doctor. Why? Because she didn’t have health insurance and was waiting for Medicare to kick in. One night, her body made it very clear to her that she was in serious trouble.

As I read her story, I felt a mixture of compassion, sorrow, empathy, and anger. Because as sad as I was to read about her diagnosis and suffering, I also couldn’t help but remember an “argument” we got into a few years ago on Facebook, when some friends and I were having a discussion about the extortionate prices of prescription drugs in the United States. I had initially written about that argument right after it happened in January 2016, when my cousin was still apparently “healthy”. She’d pissed off a bunch of my friends by lecturing us about how Big Pharma was poisoning people. We all just needed to eat right, exercise, and use essential oils. Then she proudly declared that she refused to get health insurance, opting instead to pay a fine. I thought that was crazy, and said so.

In May of last year, I found out that she’d been diagnosed with cancer and remembered that conversation from 2016 in an updated blog post. I knew that she didn’t agree with getting chemotherapy, since her parents had both had it when they got cancer. I can understand and respect that. I fully agree with people making their own healthcare decisions and living their lives. I also agree that many health conditions could be minimized or eliminated if people took better care of themselves, to the extent of their ability to do so. However, I also think it’s very irresponsible not to have health insurance if you can afford it. Nutrition, exercise, and essential oils will do little for you if you have an accident, a congenital disease or birth defect, or are just plain unlucky. And when you do need to access the healthcare system, as she eventually did, and most of us also will, your bad debt will be passed on to everyone else if you can’t pay your medical bills. And that will make healthcare cost even more across the board.

It’s true that our healthcare system is really screwed up and extremely overpriced. Health insurance is also very expensive. But we have to do something in order to make the necessary changes, and the Affordable Care Act, as screwed up as it is, is at least a step in a direction of some sort. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. I live in a country where healthcare doesn’t bankrupt people. It’s pretty damned nice!

I think if we had lawmakers who were actually concerned about serving the people instead of making names for themselves, lining their pockets, and staying in power, we might be well on our way to healthcare that everyone can access and afford when they need it. I get that conservatives don’t like it when the government taxes them or regulates businesses (which is what healthcare has become), but it’s gotten way out of hand in the United States. There’s a lot of greed in healthcare and it’s causing huge problems, particularly as people are dying of COVID-19 and healthcare providers and systems are being stretched to their limits.

Last night, I read about how my cousin had let her disease go unchecked for at least six months because she didn’t have health insurance and was waiting for Medicare to kick in. The dramatic event that led her to her sick role had occurred in May of 2019, but she’d had Medicare coverage since late October 2018. As of May of 2019, she’d experienced severe abdominal pain for over six months. Still, she’d ignored it, dismissing the pain as a potential ulcer until she was passing bright red blood rectally in the wee hours of the morning.

I’m actually surprised that my cousin agreed with using Medicare, since she was a proud Republican and a Trump supporter, and a lot of Republicans seem to think Medicare is a socialist idea. If she had seen a doctor right when the pain started, would she have survived 2020? Would she have had another Christmas and New Year’s with her family? Would she have made it to her 70s and been there to see her grandchildren come of age? We’ll never know, but I suspect that she would have had a much better quality of life and a more favorable outcome if she’d been able to see, and pay for, a doctor much sooner than she did.

Both of my cousin’s parents died of different forms of cancer. I can understand that she probably feared a diagnosis of cancer even more than most people do. She’d seen her parents go through chemotherapy years ago, and she no doubt knew what that experience would mean for her. But I’m still flabbergasted by what happened in her situation, and she felt entitled to criticize my conversation with friends about the need for reasonably priced prescription drugs and healthcare for Americans. In the end, she turned out to be a bit of a hypocrite who probably could have stayed around a bit longer if she’d had better access to affordable care and availed herself of it in a timely manner. I’m truly sorry that she died, and wish it hadn’t happened the way it did… and I hope she is in a “better place”. She wrote this in that first entry of her journal:

A lot of people who upon hearing the diagnosis “You’ve got cancer” recall being horror stricken, bowled over, in a crisis and while these are words no one ever wants to hear, I simply recall wondering, “Lord, how do you plan to use this?” 

I’m sure if any of my family members read this, they might be offended. But I hope they’ll stop for a second and consider our relative’s words. “Lord, how do you plan to use this”… and realize that perhaps her case is an invitation to re-examine their ideas about politics, particularly regarding healthcare. We all need it, and it ought to be available, accessible, and affordable to everyone. And I wish my cousin had been able to do that for herself and her family, whom I know are all missing her very much.

And… to my other nosy relatives who want to comment on my booze cart, this post should serve as a reminder that I’m not 12 anymore.

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bad TV, celebrities, healthcare, LDS

Repost: Ricky Schroder’s kids and prejudice about healthcare providers…

I’m reposting this old post from my original OH blog because today I intend to write fresh content about the actor, Ricky Schroder. I may want to reference this post. I’m leaving it as/is, so pretend it’s still 2017 if you choose to read it.

This morning’s topic is somewhat of a rerun with a new twist.  Yesterday, I spent most of the day watching a totally vapid Lifetime show called Growing Up Supermodel.  It starred the children of several formerly hot models and actors.  These kids all grew up in California and their parents are somewhat wealthy… Don’t know if they’d hang out together if they weren’t thrown together for reality TV.

One of the families profiled was Ricky Schroder’s.  Ricky Schroder, as you might know, was a big kid star in the early 80s.  Women from my generation had mad crushes on him.  I never found him that attractive because he was too baby faced for my liking.  However, I will admit that he had a certain ethereal look to him– blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin.  He looked angelic.  That look has now kind of passed because he’s apparently sporting a full beard and darker (probably dyed) hair now.


Ricky doesn’t like the show.

Ricky Schroder’s now ex wife, Andrea, was raised LDS.  She and Ricky have since left the church.  Andrea has a very deep, husky voice.  She sounds like a pack a day smoker.  She and Ricky were married for 24 years when she filed for divorce.  They had four children together.  The two youngest, their daughters, Cambrie and Faith, were featured on Growing Up Supermodel.  Ricky Schroder’s daughters are stunning.  Cambrie looks like a young Brooke Shields.  Faith is similarly lovely.  They probably could be legit models.  Andrea seems a bit immature and evidently lacks parenting skills.  She doesn’t discipline; she claims that was Ricky’s job.  Moreover, in more than one scene, it appears that her older daughter is more mature and actually more of a parent than Andrea is.  I watched Cambrie comfort her mother and try to discipline her teenaged sister while Andrea whined about the divorce and how “lost” she feels. 


Andrea and the girls… 

As I mentioned before, I spent all day yesterday watching this show. It was incredibly mindless. At times, it was downright frustrating and annoying. And yet, it was also kind of like watching a trainwreck– awful, yet hard to turn away from. Other people on the show included Kelly LeBrock, who was a hot model/actress in the 80s and is now a very down to earth mother of three. Her youngest daughter, Arissa, is an aspiring plus sized model. She looks a lot like her father, Steven Seagal. I actually liked Kelly and her daughter. I think they should get their own show.

Watching the manufactured drama on Growing Up Supermodel made me curious about Ricky Schroder’s Mormon conversion story.  I know he grew up without religion.  Courtesy of Deseret News, I found a rather sickening tale of how Ricky had struggled to believe in the church, even after he was converted.  His mind was changed when he was hunting with his dad and a friend and shot a buck.  Sadly, the bullet only wounded the beast.  Ricky felt like shit because the deer was wounded and would now suffer.  It was getting dark and he couldn’t find the buck to put him out of his misery.  Ricky prayed to Heavenly Father and, miraculously, was able to find and kill the buck.  This led him to believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “true”.  Or, at least he believed for awhile. 

It’s pretty clear that he and Andrea are now outside of Mormonism.  Andrea was sporting a cross necklace and spoke of starting a drinking habit.  Their gorgeous daughters do not dress like Mormons.  And Ricky, whose conversion story was pretty shaky from the get go, has moved to Atlanta, though plans to come back to California when he’s needed.  Of the Schroders who were featured on the show, Ricky (who says he hopes the show will get cancelled) seems to be the most reasonable and grounded.  Apparently, he was the sole disciplinarian in their clan.  After watching his wife and daughters, I have to say I pity anyone who dates Ricky Schroder now. 

I posted about my impressions of Growing Up Supermodel on RfM.  Afterwards, I noticed someone had started a thread called Mormon dentists.  The anonymous poster, who lives near my old stomping grounds in northern Virginia, says their family is searching for a new dentist and they (apparently) want to avoid Mormon dentists.  He or she was asking how one can tell.  I must admit that I could empathize with their question.  A few years ago, when we lived in Texas, I similarly avoided a dentist who was obviously LDS.  Of course, it never occurred to me to want to ask that question of a healthcare provider ahead of time.  The truth is, I don’t really care what a person’s religious beliefs are as long as they’re private, especially in a professional situation.  But when it’s very obvious what someone’s religion is, it does send a message.  I figured it would be better to choose one of the many other dentists in San Antonio… someone with whom I would be more compatible.  As much as we’d like to be open-minded about everything, the fact is, everybody judges to some extent.  

The responses to the poster’s question were interesting.  I was actually kind of surprised no one lectured the person for being bigoted, even though RfM is the “recovery from Mormonism” message board.  Sometimes, the people who frequent that board can be rigid in their thinking and very vociferous about expressing themselves.  A lot of people have a trigger PC response when it comes to “prejudice” in that they think it’s always wrong.  Honestly, I think many people don’t actually stop and think long and hard about this kind of issue.  Many of us have been conditioned to be open-minded at all costs.  But when it comes to healthcare, I think it’s very important to have a good rapport– if at all possible.  If a provider is very obvious about a lifestyle choice that makes a patient uncomfortable, I do think the patient has the right to seek care elsewhere…  even if that means the person is being “bigoted”.   

If you read this blog regularly, you may have read about my tendency to avoid medical people.  It’s strange that I would be this way, given my training in public health and social work.  On the other hand, maybe it’s partly because of my training that I avoid medical people.  I think the main reason I avoid doctors is because I had a very bad experience with an OB-GYN back in the 90s.  I don’t know if I have a tendency to become phobic or it’s just garden variety anxiety, but ever since that disastrous first “women’s health” exam, I often have almost full blown anxiety attacks when I must see a doctor.  Fortunately, I am ridiculously healthy. 

Because of my anxiety around medical people, I fully support being picky about choosing a healthcare provider.  I think a patient’s comfort and ability to trust is of paramount importance.  So while it may be anti-PC or “bigoted” to reject an obviously Mormon dentist, I think that’s okay.  The main point is that the person gets the care he or she needs from a provider with whom they feel comfortable.  Otherwise, they might end up phobic, like me.

I turned 40 in 2012, when we lived in North Carolina.  Because Bill was still on active duty at the time, I was assigned a primary healthcare provider at Fort Bragg.  Because I had turned 40, they determined it was time for a mammogram.  I got the phone call one October day and the person who called gave me the name of my provider, a woman I had never seen before.

I took down the woman’s name and looked her up on the Internet.  I soon discovered that she was quite a bit younger than I am and likes to party.  Her social media accounts were rather public and, to be honest, turned me off.  I decided I would not see her.  I happened to casually mention this decision to some now former online friends of mine.  Quite a few of them took me to task and proceeded to try to school me, which did nothing more than piss me off.  I got a lot of impassioned lectures about how it’s wrong to be “judgmental”.  However, when it comes to my health, I think I have the right to judge.  If you’re in the business of providing healthcare, it is incumbent upon you to put forth a professional, experienced, and mature image.  If you aren’t experienced or mature, I think you should learn how to fake it convincingly until you are.

I completely understand that medical providers have lives outside of their work.  I also get that a person’s activities outside of the professional environment may have zero bearing on how well they do their jobs.  However, I don’t think it is incumbent upon me to give healthcare providers a chance to prove themselves to me (or anyone else).  It’s my body.  It’s my health.  Due to my past experiences with a horrible (and female) OB-GYN, I have special needs when it comes to my healthcare.  I need to find someone with whom I will feel very comfortable.  I did not feel comfortable when I saw this woman’s public posts on social media.  I had a feeling she would not be mature or experienced enough to deal with my specific issues.  Moreover, I was just a name on a piece of paper to her.  My decision not to see her would not affect her in any way.  Maybe it was wrong to be prejudicial, but dammit, I think I have the right to have high standards regarding anyone who will be examining my private parts.

Incidentally, Bill later saw the woman to whom I’d been assigned.  It turned out my instincts about her were dead on.  He said she was quite inexperienced and tried to prescribe medications for his blood pressure that he can’t take.  She also lectured him about too much salt on his food.  In addition to having high blood pressure, Bill also has hyponatremia.  It’s a rare hereditary condition he shares with his father.  It means his sodium level is abnormally low, despite the fact that his blood pressure is high.  Most people with high blood pressure need to reduce their salt intake, but if Bill did that, he’d be putting himself at risk.  Experienced doctors know that if one has hyponatremia, salting food is essential, even if the person also has hypertension.  Extremely low sodium levels in the blood can be deadly.

Bill said the provider I rejected gave him a lot of textbook answers during their visit.  She was clearly very “green”, which I understand is normal for new providers.  They have to learn somehow.  But she would not have been a good choice for me.  I don’t have to volunteer to “train” this provider if it compromises my comfort.  Making people comfortable is a very important aspect of a healthcare provider’s training.  I think if I feel uncomfortable before I’ve even walked into a provider’s office, that’s a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.  Also, the older I get, the more I realize that I should listen to my gut feelings.  They usually turn out to be right.

Naturally, there are times when you won’t have a choice of providers.  If you’re in an emergency situation, you may find yourself being tended to by a doctor with multiple tattoos and piercings.  Some people are fine with that.  Other people aren’t.  Or you may find yourself being resuscitated by someone who looks like he just got off his Mormon mission.  You won’t have a choice in that situation.  You may even find that it doesn’t matter anymore after that.  On the other hand, I didn’t have a choice of OB-GYNS back in 1995 and I wound up with a woman who really hurt me.  So now, I insist on being comfortable.  I think everyone should, as much as the situation allows. 

As for the person asking about how to tell if a dentist is LDS, I think he or she has the right to determine a comfort zone.  If someone’s obvious religious proclivities are a turn off, I think it’s okay to make another choice.  There’s no shame in that.  Northern Virginia is full of people who need healthcare and plenty of people will not have issues with a provider’s religion.  Some people would even choose a provider based on shared religious beliefs. 

It’s all about getting the best outcome and being comfortable.  And frankly, knowing what I know about LDS beliefs, I think I’d be a bit wary myself of someone who is very obviously Mormon.  Think of Ricky Schroder’s decision to believe in the LDS church because he was able to find and kill the buck he wounded.  It’s all about exercising good judgment.  When it comes to healthcare providers, it’s probably best for them to leave religion out of the picture and lock down all social media accounts.  Don’t give people a reason to get the “wrong impression”. 

And here are the original comments:

6 comments:

  1. AlexisARDecember 30, 2017 at 3:37 AMYou need to be comfortable with an OBGYN. A younger health care provider really should to be all the more cautious with regard to social media than should a more established healthcare provider. She may be highly professional while on the job, but, unfortunately, if one does not succeed in keeping one’s private life truly private, it’s possible for one’s actions while not on the job to interfere with others’ perceptions of one’s professionalism.ReplyReplies
    1. knottyDecember 30, 2017 at 7:06 AMYes, exactly.  

      Plenty of women would reject male OB-GYNs simply for being male. They could be excellent doctors, but many women would rather see a mediocre female doctor than an excellent male one. The woman who examined me the first time was pretty awful in my opinion. Others might love her.

      I’m surprised you don’t have any comments about Ricky Schroder’s family. Maybe I’m just getting too old.
    2. AlexisARDecember 30, 2017 at 8:12 AMThe OBGYN I see is male. I’m very comfortable with him. i might be equally comfortable with a female OBGYN in the future. It just depends on the doctor. 

      I hadn’t read the “Mormon Dentists” posts. I noticed that Scott posted there. He thinks it is inappropriate to ask. I’m inclined to agree. I have no problem with anyone rejecting me as a physician or surgeon based on my religion. If for any reason they don’t want to be treated by a not terribly devout Catholic, I would rather they go elsewhere. At the same time, I don’t think I would answer the question if posed to me in a professional setting. It’s no one’s business. If a person would rather not be treated by me because I don’t want to answer any questions about my religion, that would be fine with me. And I do get why someone might want to know, as there have been times in my life when I wouldn’t have wanted any of my insurance funds to go to supporting the Mormon church. If a person is over-the-top religious, it’s not usually hard to determine his or her religious affiliation with very minimal sleuthing. If the person isn’t extreme, I personally don’t think his or her religion matters. 

      I don’t feel strongly enough about it to instruct my staff never to answer such questions. That would be up to them if they actually knew the answer. I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve to the extent that my future employees would necessarily know of my religious affiliation. If someone works for you for long enough, it probably comes up in a conversation eventually, but the person might not know right away.

      I noticed that Cheryl at RFM, whom I usually agree with, thought it was perfectly OK to inquire as to the religion of a dentist. That surprised me. I know that she was a teacher. I wonder if she would have been be OK with students’ parents questioning her about her religious affiliation. I can’t imagine that she would have welcomed such questioning. I’ve substituted but will never be an actual teacher, though I’ve been around family members including my mom who were or are in the education profession for my whole life. They’re pretty consistent on not wanting a kid in their classes if the kid’s parent would prefer for any reason that the kid be taught by someone else, but at the same time I think the consensus would be that a parent has no business asking questions about a teacher’s religion. (What the parent does does in a gossipy setting is of no consequence; I’m referring to asking the teacher herself/himself or asking administration about it.) If a parent has good reason to believe that something inappropriate has been said in the course of instruction eithr with the parent’s child or reliably reported from an earlier situation that was somehow influenced by the teacher’s religion, that’s a different matter, and the discussion might then be appropriate, but most teachers don’t say inappropriate things pertaining to religion or to much of anything else.
  2. knottyDecember 30, 2017 at 9:56 AMI think it’s inappropriate to directly ask about religion, too. But if it’s obvious what the religion is, that could be an indication that problems may arise. People are going to be picky about all kinds of things. No matter how we try to squelch prejudice, it’s always going to be an issue to some extent.ReplyReplies
    1. AlexisARDecember 30, 2017 at 11:12 PMI understand prejudice and don’t actually have that big a problem with it. Despite the fact that my cohort was 54% female initially and is still 50% female, a whole lot of people want to be treated by male doctors. in the end, if someone wants another surgeon to operate on his or her kid, i’m good with it. Whatever. I don’t want to operate on anyone who doesn’t want me to.

      I just don’t want to be asked about my religion in the workplace, and would assume that most healthcare professionals feel similarly.

      It isn’t hard to find out. And if the person is the offensive and over-the-top sort of Mormon (or anything else, for that matter), it really isn’t hard to figure it out. If it’s very difficult to find out a health practitioner’s religion, chances are that it won’t impact his or her patients in a very significant way.
    2. knottyDecember 31, 2017 at 6:21 AMI agree. Usually the really obnoxiously religious show themselves before that question would need to come up.
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