July 21, 2009

CANADA CARE IS LIKE MILITARY CARE

I've been seeing Steven Crowder on TV a lot, and I thought I'd expand on this post from the other day. If you haven't seen his exposé on Canadian health care, you can watch it here.

I just thought I'd recap some of my experiences, which aren't that far off from what Crowder went through in Canada.  A "greatest hits," if you will, of the past two years of my life.

I've already done my listing of terrible bedside manner I've encountered over the years, but let's see if we can dig up some more gems.

I wish my husband wasn't unreachable in Afghanistan, because he has some good stories too.  I seem to remember him needing a physical a while back and thinking he had a 7 AM appointment.  It turns out that 7 AM was just the cattle call: every soldier who needed a physical that day turned up at 7 AM to sit and wait his turn.  I remember him saying there was a sign in the room that said something to the effect of "Have a seat; this WILL take all day."  Heh.

Sean Hannity expressed surprise that Crowder had to take a number like it was a butcher shop or something.  We take a number so often in the military life that I didn't even bat an eye at that.  In fact, I take a number every week when I go in to get my bloodwork done.

In my experience, I have had trouble getting actual human beings to answer my questions and give me the help I need.  Last year when I had Miscarriage #2:

I went home.  And the next day, which was Friday, I was supposed to get a phone consultation with the doctor and a prescription filled.  I called at 10 AM and left a message.  I called at noon and left another message on a different machine.  An hour later, I got a call back from one nurse, saying she'd follow up and make sure my prescription got filled.  At 2 PM, I called the advice nurse and asked if she knew what was going on.  At 3:30, the advice nurse goes home.  At 4:20, no one is answering the phones in reception any more.  At 4:30, you can no longer leave messages on voicemail.  I called the pharmacy: no prescription had been called in.  And now it was the weekend.  My mother said, "You mean NO ONE is available to help you on the weekend?"

My mother was freaking out.  "This is how things work for you?  You haven't talked to a human being all day long, just answering machines!"  But for me, this was totally normal.  I never talk to human beings when I call the hospital.  I don't even know how to call a human being, save the advice nurse.  In fact, that's why I called her in the afternoon, just because she's the only human being I know how to reach!  My mom was shocked that someone, anyone!, didn't call me during the day to let me know what was going on.

My husband called from Iraq at 5:15 PM to see how things were going.  Five minutes later, the doctor beeped in.  I had to hang up with my husband from Iraq to talk to the doctor!  If that doesn't suck, I don't know what does.

Sometimes I've had trouble getting an actual human being to remember I'm being cared for.  During Miscarriage #1, they wheeled my hospital bed back to the ultrasound room, and when they were done, they left me in the hallway and said somebody would take me back to the ER.  Well, somebody forgot.  They left me lying there alone in a hallway after just telling me my baby was dead for an hour.  I begged anyone who walked by me to call someone to come get me, but still no one came.

Waiting...yep, I'm familiar with it.

A few months ago I went to the weekend clinic because I thought I might have strep throat.  I had an appointment but still had to wait an hour past my appointment time to be seen.  He looked at my throat, said he would test for strep, and sent me home.  I was to call in 48 hours for the results, and if it was strep, they would then give me antibiotics.  I called two days later and got an answering machine that said to leave a message and someone would call me back with my results within 48 hours.  Two more days later, they called and said I didn't have strep.  By that time, my symptoms had pretty much gone away, but thank heavens I didn't have strep, because then I would've had to go back in to get the meds.  Four days to let me know if I had strep.  The reason I went in on the weekend is because I deal with children in my job and didn't want to pass strep to them.

And we have the Canadian-style waiting that Crowder experienced.  I had to go to the ER on a Friday night back in January:

Since it was a Friday night and I wouldn't be able to reach my doctor or nurse until Monday, we decided we'd better head to the ER. Luckily we ate dinner first, because we had no idea what we were in for.

I expected to be there until midnight. I didn't expect to be there until 4:30 AM. During that time, I had less than ten minutes of actual medical care -- take blood pressure, ask about my symptoms, quick pelvic exam -- and was eventually told...drumroll..."Geez, I don't know anything about fertility stuff, so just call your doctor Monday morning."

In the meantime, while we were sitting around all night, I also wrote about the family next to us:

The gist is that the daughter had a chronic problem that had been happening for months. The parents were separated and the mother was "too lazy" to make the kid an appointment. The dad said that he works here in the hospital and had asked colleagues about his daughter's problem, but since it persisted, they wanted to have it checked out.

On a Friday night. In the ER.

There was no emergency, no sudden change in her condition that made them feel that treatment was necessary, nothing like that. This dad just brought his three kids in to spend the night in the ER. My husband and I were there for eight hours, until 5 AM, and this family had arrived before us and was still there when we left.

That is not an emergency.

This family was clogging up the ER and making me and, more importantly, other people with more pressing problems wait longer. They were sapping resources. If you work in the hospital, can't you find the time to make an appointment for your daughter? Why are you taking care of a child's chronic health problem in the middle of the night on a Friday?

Because you don't have to pay anything either way, that's why.

Why make a regular doctor's appointment during the week, and have to ask for time off work and take the kid out of school, when you could just bring everyone to camp out in the ER all night. There is no cost difference, so it's just easier to do it off hours.

No wonder it took me so long to be seen. And I feel even worse for the guy with the gall stones; he really would've liked to have been treated faster.

I am sure that this family isn't the only one of its kind. They bog down the system for all of us. A problem that's been going on for three months is not something that requires ER care on a weekend. Make a normal appointment and free up that ER doctor for someone who really needs him.

And that, I think, is the crux of the problem.  We don't pay for any of our care, so for most people, it's easier to take care of things on nights and weekends than it is to do it during the week.  What's the difference, we don't pay either way.  And I'm guilty of abusing the system as well: if I had had to pay $100 to go in and find out if I had strep or not, I probably wouldn't have.  I would've taken a cough drop and dealt with it.  But I used resources because they were free.

Or at least, free to me.  Somebody paid.

After Miscarriage #2, the doctor was telling me my options.  These words actually came out of his mouth: "Well, we could do another D&C surgery, but that costs the taxpayers an awful lot of money, so maybe you could consider miscarrying naturally?"

Don't let anyone tell you that medical decisions won't be made based on cost once the government is in charge.  I have already experienced it firsthand in the military system.

Posted by: Sarah at 07:32 AM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
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July 15, 2009

WORLD'S WORST IDEA

I will try to write this post without using Rachel Lucas-type exclamations like "Jesus tapdancing on a cracker" and such.

But it will be rough.

The Pentagon says it won't ban smoking by troops in war zones despite a  recent study recommending a tobacco-free military.

Really?

I mean, do I have to do any more other than quote the first line of that article?  Probably not, but here goes.

These are grown men and women whose only control over their own lives is the few minutes' enjoyment they might get from a cigarette.  How dare you even consider taking that away from them?  My own husband, decidedly not a smoker, enjoys a cigar or two downrange.  It's stress relief.  It's camaraderie.  It's the one thing they have.  You took their beer and now you want to take their smokes too?  Are you insane?

I don't care if it's bad for you; free adults get to make choices that are bad for them.  Period.

Repealing cigarettes would clear out the Army faster than repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:14 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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July 14, 2009

THIRD TIME IS THE BEST

It was deja vu all over again.

We just did this, just a year ago.  So I forgot everything.  I forgot to stock up on soap and baby wipes for him.  I thought I had already done it.  Turns out that was last year.

We just kept remarking that it didn't seem possible to already be saying goodbye again.

My husband was sad today, far sadder than the last two times.  I think the last two times, he was overwhelmed with stress: his first time, obviously, it was the first time; the second time because he was deploying on his own and his unit made no preparations for him whatsoever.  The plan was to drop him in country and have him hitchhike his own way to his gaining unit.  He was a basketcase.

But this time, this time they departed on the dot of when they said they would.  He was going with the most squared-away team possible.  He had no worries...other than leaving his wife, his maybe-baby, and his pup.

He wanted to mow the back yard before he left.  Really, I couldn't have cared less.  If it didn't get done, I'd bribe someone else to do it.  Not a big deal.  But he insisted.  He made a huge deal of it.  It had to get done, he had to do this for me.  It was his husbandly duty.

It was sweet.

He was mushy today.  He's rarely mushy.

And watching him say goodbye to the dog was torture.  He misses that creature so much when he's gone.  I snapped this photo about a month ago of them: him doing push-ups and Charlie thinking it's a game that needs toys.



If I could let him take the dog, I would.

But he may not need that this time.  This time he is deploying with friends.  If I had to deploy, I'd love to take three of my closest friends with me.  It might not be so bad.

I told them all to stay safe...and to try to have a little fun too.

I told him I hope when he comes home, I plunk a baby into his arms.  We'll see where we stand on that tomorrow morning.

Thus starts deployment three.

Posted by: Sarah at 06:16 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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OBLIQUELY RUN, BUT PLEASE STAY SAFE

As I post each time...

A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING.

by John Donne

AS virtuous men pass mildly away, 
    And whisper to their souls to go, 
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
    "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."                     

So let us melt, and make no noise,                                       
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys 
    To tell the laity our love. 

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
    Men reckon what it did, and meant ;                              
But trepidation of the spheres, 
    Though greater far, is innocent. 

Dull sublunary lovers' love 
    —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit 
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove                                    
    The thing which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined,
    That ourselves know not what it is, 
Inter-assurèd of the mind, 
    Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.                           

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
    Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
    Like gold to aery thinness beat. 

If they be two, they are two so                                         
    As stiff twin compasses are two ; 
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show 
    To move, but doth, if th' other do. 

And though it in the centre sit, 
    Yet, when the other far doth roam,                                
It leans, and hearkens after it, 
    And grows erect, as that comes home. 

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,                                   
    And makes me end where I begun. 

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NOT ENOUGH MINUTES TO GO

Today feels like this. (Well, except for the dying in the end, heh.)
But you keep checking your watch, noting aloud how much time you have left.
My husband keeps changing the words to this song and making me laugh.

"Well, we're cursing at Quiznos and I'm mowing the yard, with X more hours to go..."

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July 07, 2009

THEY ARE A TEAM

I write about my husband's team on Facebook often, but rarely here.  For a little while now, I have been taking them hot lunch once a week: enchiladas, manicotti, meatloaf, etc.  Today I took them their last lunch, complete with a cake for all the fellas who will be deployed over their birthdays, starting with my husband.

This branch of the Army is unique in a sense, in that the whole thing revolves around four-man teams.  My husband goes on training missions with them, shares an office with them, does PT with them, eats breakfast with them, and will deploy with only them.  In short, they have grown very tight.  And while my husband had the same type of closeness with his tank crew back when he was in Armor, it's just somehow a little different.

The average age of the team is 27.  They have spent a combined total of 10 years in combat.  They have more tattoos than I'm able to count.

They've grown so tight that it annoys the other teams.  They're so tight that their commander has split them up on occasion because it looks bad that they shoot better, run faster, lift more, and just click better than anyone else.

They truly are a team.  I am so grateful they have each other.  I thank heavens my husband ended up with these three outstanding men.

And I will miss taking them lunch.

Posted by: Sarah at 01:14 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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July 01, 2009

"MORE FAIR" REVISITED

This is a rant I probably oughtn't make...

Remember the post I wrote about how the Army had to make my husband's upcoming deployment "more fair"?  The last one was 7 mos so this one had to be 9 mos because they were both supposed to be 8 mos.  We have to even it all up so it's fair to everyone.

The way it works in my husband's branch is that four-man teams deploy to a variety of places.  Of the teams in his company, two of them are going to Afghanistan and the other teams are going to various other Middle Eastern countries (not Iraq).

It turns out that the teams going to other countries have had an unforeseen complication.  So they have to wait it out.  One team is estimated to be gone by August, another may hem and haw until October.  So those teams won't deploy in two weeksish when my husband does.  But apparently everyone's still slated to come home at the same time.

The two Afghanistan teams will therefore be the only people deploying for nine months!

More fair?  More FAIR?  You're kidding me, right?

The teams going to the dangerous country will be gone longer and paid much much less.

I'm not good at this branch.  I think I need out of it before I hurt someone.

Posted by: Sarah at 07:55 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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