The Opposite of Healthcare

I’m scheduled to get an MRI a week from today, two weeks after my doctor found a bone chip in my arm after a fall. This sucks. It really does. I get all sweaty from the pain of loading the dishwasher.

Do I really want to whine about my shoulder? Not really, but I want to scream out about a medical system that acts as though injured people are a pain in the ass. We are. It’s true, but why the hell become a doctor or a nurse if you don’t want to help those whiny people who come into your office?

Here in the Northwest, we are the leaders in HMO insurance. Copays, paying the doctors for the list of well patients of on their computers, ten minute appointments. It’s all there, guiding the doctor to do the least that is necessary, to limit contact.

Last week, the nurse spend the first five minutes in the room with me with her back turned to me. What the hell? Are you talking to that computer or to me? If I hadn’t felt so shitty, I would have waited for her to look at ME before I answered any of her questions.

They don’t like it when you advocate for yourself, but I have to tell you that last week, I was so unused to the pain that I was in a fog. I couldn’t advocate for myself. I came and went without anyone making any kind of personal contact. They didn’t tell me about limiting activities, about medications, or why it would take two whole weeks to get scheduled for an MRI. I called my insurance company this morning and I don’t even need preauthorization to get an MRI. The people at the imaging center said I was good to go as soon as someone called to schedule the appointment. The problem, apparently, is that they wrote on my orders that they would schedule it and let me know. A week later, they still hadn’t picked up the phone to schedule my MRI.

Whine, whine, whine.

This week, I’m getting used to the pain and I want to know if I can go hiking with the dog. I need to mow my lawn and vacuum the floor. I need to sit at the computer and type even though it hurts. I have work to do and no one has told me that I shouldn’t.

No one has even told me to go off the anti-inflammatory the pharmacist said I should only be on for five days because it might damage my kidneys. Okay, I’m smart enough that I went off of it, but I’m in more pain than I was. Do they give a shit about that? And as far as they know, I’m still on that shit.

Nope. They probably don’t. And they probably don’t care.

I’m telling you people, if your company offers you the option of an HMO at a reduced cost, don’t take it. Your health is worth staying with regular insurance. When the doctors and nurses around you start getting into an HMO mentality about your care, you’ll be calling 911 from the waiting rooms of their offices, hoping that someone will get to you before you become unconscious. You’ll be living with injuries for a lifetime because they weren’t handled with care at the beginning.

Unfortunately, the poison of the HMO has traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country because it is a great way for insurance companies to save money. And the doctors? They’ve got 1000+ patients and they could give a shit who you are. You get better answers from WEbMD. Welcome to twenty-first century medical care.

Thank you for listening, jules


Among the Trees

I walked to the falls today. Even the trees seemed relieved that everything had cooled down, that the skies had grayed over. The leaves were no longer limp. Drops of recent rain hung from upturned tips of Western Red Cedar branches. I had thought that the summer heat would never end.

There’s something about being with the trees. When I look up, I have a sense of them waving in the breeze, a sense of altered time. I have to work to remember that half of a tree’s body lies underground, out of sight below me. Do the trees stretch their toes the way I do into warm sand?

When I look out my window, I can now see leaves moving slightly in the breeze. It is the breeze, isn’t it, that causes them to move? I presume.

In ‘Travels with Charley,’ John Steinbeck wrote about sitting under the giant sequoias:

“To me there’s a remote and cloistered feeling here. One holds back speech for fear of disturbing something – what? From my earliest childhood I’ve felt that something was going on in the groves, something of which I was not a part. And if I had forgotten the feeling, I soon got it back.

“At night, the darkness is black – only straight up a patch of gray and an occasional star. And there’s a breathing in the black, for these huge things that control the day and inhabit the night are living things and have presence, and perhaps feeling, and somewhere deep-down perception, perhaps communication.”

“And only these few are left – a stunning memory of what the world was like once long ago. Can it be that we do not love to be reminded that we are very young and callow in a world that was old when we came into it? And could there be a strong resistance to the certainty that a living world will continue its stately way when we no longer inhabit it?”

Sometimes I wonder, do the trees feel my footsteps? Do they sense my need for support as I struggled down the steep path toward the falls? The trees, their age, some two, three, four hundred years, make me feel like a child standing in her grandmother’s lap.

But people are not as benign as all that. The trees bodies littered the edge of the river. There were remnants of the slaughter. Stumps with springboard notches in them remained from trees that were young and lithe in the forest when Da Vinci sketched the ‘Vitruvian Man’ in his notebook. Every child with an axe is a menace. I was no exception. I used to peel bark as easily as I laid on my back to look at the sky through the branches.

If I were a tree, would I chafe at the rootedness? Would I despair over wind and floods and man’s intentions? Would I have the patience to wait until man discovered relativity and claimed it as his own? What is time to a tree, I wonder? What is distance? Does a tree bask in the morning sun the way I sometimes do? Does it raise it’s arms ever so slightly to welcome the rain when it finally comes?

Thank you for listening, jules