Jul 4, 2009

MEDICARE: Why it is going broke

I just emerged from the hospital. I came in with two primary complaints: atrial fibrillation and stomach pain, both of which came about after a vomiting session of about an hour. For nearly 3 days, I struggled to get the old body back on even keel, but it kept wobbling. Finally, I went into the emergency room. By this time, I was dehydrated. In a few hours, they'd stabilized me, then admitted me.

I was then subjected to the usual stream of vampires who came at odd times, pushing their little cart filled with tools of torture, ranging from long slivers of rubber that could strangle a gorilla, to sharp instruments of torture that causes one to remember with shame the lies you told your child when those things were being shoved into their little limbs. And, of course there is the special tape that they put on with a smile, knowing at some point it will have to be torn off, ripping all the hair from the arms.

Little do these creatures care, though. They are designed only to suck blood.

What became fascinating to me during my nearly 6 days of being wrapped in multiple IV-tubes, was the parade of "specialists" that dropped by to see me. It was almost comedic. First, a strange face would appear in the door. Then, he'd step into the room and announce he was Dr. So and So, and ask, "How's your stomach?" Or, "Having any breathing difficulties?" Or, they inquire about something related to my physical condition.

Once I'd mumbled the "I'm all right," he'd trust his stethoscope against my chest, move it around a few times, make me lean forward with the attendant "Breathe deep" command. Then, without more, he would leave.

This went on for days. One doctor never even touched me. He just asked how my stomach was, then dropped his card on the stand and said to come see him in three days after I got out. One of them did identify himself by his speciality (it happened to be "internal medicine"), but mostly, they were a great mystery. (Frankly, I really didn't care who they were.)

And then came the epiphany.

Suddenly, an image came into my mind. I can't get it out. Imagine it with me, and I'll need not say any more:

Picture a scrawny old man (well, maybe not so scrawny), lying in a bed in a special gown labeled MEDICARE, and with lots of pockets. Poking from those pockets are lots of hundred dollar bills. There are half dozen doctors standing around the patient. Each them are doing things that are so ritual, they are almost religious. One doctor touches the patient's forehead with his right hand, and with his left, removes some of those hundred dollar bills. Another takes a stethoscope, touches it to the chest of the patient, then removes several hundred dollars. They are even reaching over each other to get nearer the pockets, and two are massaging the patient's foot in order to complete the ritual.

Get the picture?

This is a bad system. Really bad.

Now, in fairness to my cardiologist and my personal physician, they're not in this caricature. They belonged in the picture. Indeed, it was my personal physician, not the specialists, who diagnosed my problem after reading the CT scan. More tests were made, including an MRI, which merely confirmed my doctor. I never heard a word from the specialists. Nothing. No analysis. No advice. They just floated into my room and out, ghosts in white.

I did notice that my gown's pockets were a bit light.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Voyle, how sad but true! What are we to do? Like the needy believers in Third World countries must do....TRUST IN THE LORD FOR HEALING. Since they do not have "The best medical/health care system in the world" (poor folks) they must pray and seek for God's wonderful care!