Whatever happened to repealing Obamacare? How many promises were spewed by the Republican controlled Congress they would repeal Obamacare if we the people gave them control of the U.S. House and Senate? Then it was the White House. Some parts are gone but the monster is still there. We can all see the results.
Now it’s an election year again, the primaries will start flooding the states and what do we hear about once and for all abolishing that unconstitutional disaster? A whisper here and there by incumbents. They’re busy making sure this final session of the two-year cycle doesn’t rattle anything for those upcoming votes by not taking on certain issues. In the meantime, Americans are still being raped in massive premiums and deductibles.
I want to cover two things in this column as I only do one a week. We all know how health care costs continue to skyrocket year after year. Most Americans have no clue why. Many are in denial they are part of the problem.
Serious health issues like diseases, injuries from accidents – they can happen to anyone regardless of your skin color, religion, political preference or anything else. I call it life interrupted – like what happened to me earlier this year. I’m telling you about my case because it’s important for a couple of reasons which will become apparent shortly.
On January 12, 2018, I woke up at 2:30 am with the most incredible pain in my shoulder. I figured it would go away, but it didn’t so after 4 days I saw my PCP, Primary Care Physician. I told him I needed a referral for an orthopedic surgeon. Right there is the middle man and costs.
I was forced into Medicare at 65 against my will. All my life I have paid MY health care premiums (Kaiser and then TriCare military) because it’s MY responsibility, not yours. Now I have Medicare as a primary and TriCare for Life after my husband died in Feb. 2016. Instead of simply making an appt with an orthopedic surgeon, I have to wait in excruciating pain for a PCP appt and then another week to see an orthopedic surgeon instead of going to him directly.
The unbearable pain in my shoulder was 24/7; relentless. Fast forward: After the MRI the orthopedic surgeon told me I need to make an appt with a neurosurgeon as he saw damage in my neck. I had to get another referral from my PCP to see the neurosurgeon who operated on my spine in 2007, 120 miles from my home. More waiting for that appt while the pain was so bad I could barely stand it without a pain pill. More waiting for another MRI.
34 days later I am on the operating table in Lubbock, TX. Destroyed disc in my neck with considerable damage underneath. Surgery goes fine but now the excruciating pain is in my left arm; shoulder to elbow only.
Weeks go by and I finally see my neurosurgeon again because it takes so long to get an appt. Not enough doctors in this country; the shortage has gotten much worse since Obamacare. While living in unspeakable pain for weeks and weeks (it took a week here, a week there to get appointments and tests), I saw my neurosurgeon on February 1, 2018, but had to wait a whopping 2 more WEEKS for an opening in the operating room all the while in excruciating pain. That’s right. That big hospital only has so many operating theaters and it runs full time. I spent Valentine’s Day in the pre-op waiting area almost 9 hours before being wheeled into the OR. It’s bad all over the country.
Time marches on and still I cannot lift my left arm above my shoulder and other movement problems. Another MRI and a horribly painful test called an EMG. Good news is there is no nerve or muscle damage from the surgery. For a complicated surgery, it went off perfectly. No nerve or muscle damage to my left arm, either.
Neither I nor my neurosurgeon could figure out why the pain re-surgery was my shoulder but shifted to my arm post-op. Since the surgery I can no longer use my left arm in a normal range or control.
Finally, at my last appt with my neurosurgeon April 17th (who has over three decades in his field) he told me I have Parsonage-Turner Syndrome. Only the second case he’s ever seen in his career. Lucky me. It’s very rare affecting 1 in 100,000; seldom a female. Since it is so rare, he didn’t connect it with my pain problem after the surgery.
Parsonage-Turner is one of the most mis-diagnosed and un-diagnosed conditions out there. This particular syndrome has been around since the 1880s. The cause is not known and there is no cure. It’s basically a crap shoot and waiting game.
What I believe is the Parsonage-Turner Syndrome manifested itself the morning of January 12th. But, because it was my shoulder, I thought it was orthopedic. But, once the orthopedic surgeon saw the MRI, he saw the damage to my neck, thus the surgery to correct that. I might have gone many more months before the damaged disc became an issue. Strange how things work out.
Bottom line: A very large percentage of people who have to suffer through this regain 70-90% use of their arm. Some 100%. It can take 1-2 years before it eventually goes away; in rare cases, up to 3 years. I am still in the acute stage which means pain 90% of my waking hours. Sometimes screaming pain, sometimes just run of the mill pain. According to all my research on this, the next stage, about 6-8 months down the road, the pain starts to recede and one begins to regain movement of the arm without scorching pain.
I still do a lot of things with my left arm because I have no choice as a widow; my doggies don’t do housework! I kick the laundry basket from my bedroom to the laundry room. I do dishes, awkwardly but I get them done. No blow drying/styling of my hair.
I am so blessed to have such wonderful, caring friends who live across the street. They have been there for me since I got home from the hospital and are always there to help me when I need something I just can’t do with my arm because it doesn’t work. Plus, my best friends who live 2 miles away.
BUT, there is light at the end of the tunnel for me. When they amputated my late husband’s leg mid-thigh, it didn’t grow back. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have greater problems than mine. As difficult and painful as this has been and will be for perhaps a couple of years, I consider myself lucky it’s not worse. Now it’s the waiting game. Worst case is a couple years down the road if I don’t regain use of my arm (being able to direct it and lifting above my shoulder), surgery on the tendons is an option.
Let’s get to the cost. I’ve had half a dozen appointments with my PCP, orthopedic surgeon, neurosurgeon, MRIs and the surgery; one overnight hospital stay after the surgery. TriCare just sent me a breakdown of all the costs to date: $93,743.25
Yes, you read that correctly. Almost $100,000 for one medical issue. What Medicare doesn’t pay, TriCare for Life picks up the rest.
One is forced to pay Medicare taxes just like SS taxes. In case you didn’t know, if you refuse Medicare you will lose your SS benefits. In a column I wrote, March 24, 2014, Medicare’s unpaid liabilities were a whopping $89 trillion dollars. Today the figure is $27.8 trillion. What? How did the federal government $21 trillion in debt come up with roughly $62 trillion to pay down Medicare’s liabilities? Someone’s cooking the books. Don’t the American people understand these ‘entitlement’ programs are unsustainable?
In my lifetime I will never pay $100 grand in Medicare taxes yet look what just one medical issue for one patient costs. Why? It all goes back to our debauched currency. That worthless paper money we call dollars issued by the privately owned, unconstitutional ‘Federal’ Reserve. We know labor is by far the biggest expense in the medical field. From the employee who cleans the floors to the employee at a company that makes and/or sells thermometers.
It doesn’t matter if you work for a hospital, a company that makes wheel chairs or a company that manufactured an x-ray machine and make $100 an hour. It will never be enough which is why Americans need higher and higher wages. The ‘Fed’ creates inflation, deflation, stagnation, recessions and depressions. They control our currency and the majority of adult aged Americans have absolutely no interest in finding out the why and the cure.
Congress doesn’t want the American people to know the truth. Why? Because they need to keep borrowing more debt to spend debt for all the unconstitutional spending by both parties. It’s a disaster that continues to boil and one day it will explode. If you want to help educate your family friends or anyone else, my little 44 pg booklet, Why A Bankrupt America, explains it so everyone can understand and the cure.
What No One Wants to Talk About
A fat America. 30% of Americans are now obese.
Now, some things are beyond our control. Other than what I call ‘structural problems’, I am, thank God, very, very healthy with no medications or diseases. It’s weird, but the truth. I’ve had five surgeries since 1973: AAA (Acute Abdominal Aorta – mine burst. I came within a heartbeat of leaving this life), two on my spine, gall bladder removed and my neck. I don’t get sick, I just get surgeries.
Every surgeon told me one of the reasons things went so perfectly is because I am not overweight. My weight has stayed at about 117 since my early 20s even after having my daughter. Since the surgery, my weight is 111 pounds and for whatever reason seems to want to stay there; I’m 5’3”.
When a surgeon has to cut into all that blubber in a big gut or through layers and layers of extra fat in your back area, hips, legs or even your neck, it really does complicate things. I don’t say that to be mean because anyone who knows me knows I am not a mean or uncaring person, but under that big belly is serious medical trouble: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, insulin resistance and so much more.
Many years ago, I wrote about this national epidemic:
Sloth, gluttony & the coming medical financial tsunami– Everything I said in that column back in 2007 has come home to roost only the numbers are even higher. Both columns brought a ton of screeching emails, most profanity laced. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m a mean, horrible person. One lady said she was 5’4”, weighed 185 and in good health. Denial. Just wait down the road.
So many people need hip and knee replacement. Sure, a percentage is from sports. My neck problem, a destroyed disc, is more commonly seen from auto and sports accidents. Mine, just old age. But, when you’re fat or obese, never mind morbidly obese, all that weight is sitting on your hips and knees – for decades.
Without proper nutrition which most Americans know nothing about, those bones and joints wear out. The cartilage gets down to bare bone and the pain starts. Add all that weight and when it comes time for surgery, your surgeon has to fight his/her way to the area. Recovery can be more painful and long simply because you’ve had invasive surgery and all that weight is loaded on top.
Not to mention high blood pressure, bad cholesterol and a myriad of other problems associated with being fat or obese. The ‘biggee’ of course is diabetes. Type 2 is most prevalent in this country (29.1 MILLION Americans have it) but it IS preventable. Here’s a true story. A family member overweight about 80 pounds for her height called and told me I need to get tested for diabetes. I say why? She said because she now has it and it runs in the family. Huh? No one in our family had it.
But, I made the appt at one of the big medical centers in Sacramento. The doctor came in, looked at me while holding my file and said, oh, I must have the wrong room. I just looked at him. He said you’re here for a diabetes test? I said yes, a family member has been diagnosed with type 2. He said you are very slim and the chances of you having diabetes 2 is remote but he would do the test if I wanted. I said no thank you and went home. Don’t have it, never had it.
Losing weight is one of the hardest things a person can tackle. No, I don’t have one of those metabolisms that runs like an Indy 500 car. I am very careful what I put in my mouth and have since I became a photographic face and hair model at age 17. The key is to never let your weight get control – even if you bring a beautiful baby (or babies) into the world. It ain’t easy but it does require discipline.
What makes me sad is seeing how many children and teens who are fat. Not chubby baby fat, but fat fat. I see it all the time wherever I’ve traveled in this country. I see it in my hometown. Not only is it a killer for a child’s self-esteem but parents are setting their child(ren) up for a lifetime of medical problems.
Why do so many American stay fat or obese?
I see couples all the time who look like Humpty and Dumpty. I’m sorry but sugar coating this issue isn’t going to make it go away. I think to myself: How did they let themselves get like that? Yes, there are some medical conditions and medications that do make you gain weight. What I’m talking about is Americans who are gluttons eating themselves to death.
I guess couples who are both fat or obese figure neither one has any room to criticize the other so instead of joining together to lose the weight and get healthy, they simply hang at the trough and keep shoveling it in.
How much time do you spend at a doctor’s office every year? I don’t mean from horrible diseases like cancer, I mean all the medical problems Americans develop because they are fat or obese.
I believe, and this is just my opinion, the reasons so many fat or obese Americans refuse to lose the weight are:
When a person – even in their 20s – loses 50, 75, 100 pounds or more, their skin just doesn’t have the elasticity to bounce back and they end up with rolls or bags of hanging fat. Yeah, it’s terrible and I do feel sorry for men and women who work so very hard to get rid of all that weight and then are stuck dealing with all that excess skin.
Having to deal with the extra skin problem after a large weight loss can be depressing. I have not found a single health insurance group that pays for removal of all that excess skin so the person has to either pay out of pocket, borrow or set up a ‘GoFundMe’ page asking for donations – which I have seen in my research. $10,000 – $20,000. So, rather than deal with that, men and women terribly overweight simply stay that way.
Inability to learn to live a healthy eating lifestyle the rest of their lives because they rely on the billion-dollar a year ‘diet’ industry for the magic solution that is no solution at all. You do not have to spend big money to lose the weight nor do you have to work out at the gym six nights a week. So many simply give up because they don’t see results.
Those who simply do not care and then wonder why they have so many health issues that clog up waiting rooms at doctor’s offices. What I call the ‘constant patient’. They lack self-respect, eat like pigs and the ones with no health insurance expect YOU and me to hand over our earnings to pay their medical bills.
Americans abuse their bodies as a way of life, sad to say. Booze, pills galore, illegal drugs, they eat garbage passed off as ‘fast food’ or food in restaurants they have no idea where the vegetables come from or what pesticides were used. If the chicken, beef or pork is free range and free of anti-biotics; same with dairy products. They dutifully line up to get vaccines that not only do not prevent things like the flu, in my opinion most are deadly down the road.
But, weight is something we can all control, difficult as it is. Man, would I love half a dozen slices of pizza right now. I would, but I won’t. I’m half Sicilian – it’s in my blood! Maybe an easy justification but once on the lips, forever on the hips – male or female. It’s what I think about when temptation presents itself in front of me.
Do you want to be a ‘constant patient’? Do you want to spend your ‘golden years’ in one doctor’s office after another? Other than pain medication (and with my neck surgery a temporary anti-inflammatory which did nothing so I quit taking it), only once did I take a medication for a digestive problem. After one prescription I said forget it and went the natural route. Never had the problem again. No way was I going to get trapped into taking the ‘little purple pill’ the rest of my life.
God put natural remedies on this earth for us to use long before big pharmaceutical companies came along and starting addicting people to their ‘medications’. Keep ‘em medicated is the bottom $$ line.
Would you like to get off all those medications? Would you like to be a person who doesn’t have diabetes? I know about diabetes and all the problems people have living with it. Geesh. No thanks. Saying no to the pizza or basket of yummy hot rolls is a lot easier.
Would you like to feel better about yourself when you stand naked in front of the mirror or when you’ve finished getting dressed and you no longer see all those rolls and bumps? I’m talking about both men and women.
If you have to, God forbid, have a surgery like mine, wouldn’t you like the surgery to be as successful as possible and your recovery as easy as it could be?
Very few of us will have the same body form past age 60 we had as teens or even our early 20s. Unless you have a fast metabolism, I think most of us have a few extra ‘vanity’ five pounds. The hardest weight to lose, especially if you’re short like me.
Things shift over time. Just the way it is no matter how you control your weight. But, the more pounds of fat you add to your body doesn’t just look bad in your eyes, it can shorten your life from a stroke or heart attack. It isn’t just stress that kills.
Do you want to be around to see your children and grand children grow up? Instead of spending time in a doctor’s office wouldn’t you rather spend it doing something you like? Instead of sitting in a doctor’s office, how about having a good attendance record at work making you a good candidate for a raise or promotion? Or spending precious time with your grand kids?
Don’t get mad at me for writing about this epidemic in America and what it’s done to our health care system. Overloaded, long waits for appointments and tests. If you do need to lose more than those ‘vanity’ pounds, be honest with yourself and do something about it.
Items you might have missed:
‘God damn you to hell!’: Former Trump campaign consultant explodes at Democratic Senate aides (My comment: Please include Mueller and his Mule Team)
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