Posted by: Judy M. Goodman | June 9, 2009

The Making of An Unpublished Writer

[Though it may not be necessary, I want to apologize for unabashed grammar irregularities and one improper word. While I’m normally a proponent of making less common word choices, I think the tone of the piece lends itself to both the exception and a few incidents of metaphoric tongue-tripping. Some may consider this piece may be a little over the top, but I’m hoping that by writing it down, I can release the anger and move on.]

The Making of an Unpublished Writer

I forget what it was like when I was two-years-old and the medical profession thought it efficacious to aim thousands of rads at my unfledged neck. However, I do remember about six months later, lying under a very bright light, surrounded by several masked men and women trying to shove an ether mask over my equally immature face in preparation for the tonsillectomy the radiation treatment was supposed to prevent.

The terrifying memory: a helpless lump writhing and flailing my extremities at the air, remains stronger than memories of last week. Suddenly, I felt the first flush of power, just to have the sense of impending freedom ripped away moments after my foot caught a nurse’s chin. Knocked her a good one, I did –– for all the good it did me.

Like an enraged television wrestler, she threw all her weight down on my feet. I was simply a bug to be squashed for overstepping itself. [It took decades to learn any, let alone appropriate assertiveness.]

And now you get ice cream . . . whether you want it or not!

Six years later –– two after my first pediatrician labeled me obese –– a suburban doc prescribed diet pills for me. Eight-years-old and shaking worse than a Parky. My hands fairly buzzed with the tremors, and when Mom complained, Doc said “cut it in half.”

The half pill still made me shake. It also increased my appetite.

Those incidents happened in the Fifties. Since then, we’ve heard about $10.00 aspirins, unnecessary surgeries, expensive, yet inadequate insurance and –– only God knows why –– the first time a surgeon played Heavy-metal Rock music during a procedure. (I suppose it was news because it seemed to the establishment about as sensical like trying to make love to the drum solo in “In Agada Da Vida.” )

Since reaching chronological adulthood, I’ve been extremely lucky with my docs. Not always, but most of them in the past thirty years have listened and tak en me seriously. In an era which deifies medical and insurance lobbies and successful criminals in all professions, that’s more than luck, it’s a miracle.

This bitterness has been well-earned. The radiation treatments have resulted in four surgeries beyond the tonsillectomy. The loss of thyroid and all parathyroids have me locked into a very expensive, prescription Vitamin D source, a prescription which acts like a stimulant on a body now intolerant of stimulants, and a lifetime of mega-doses of calcium which make me pee longer than I sleep in a given week. Not to mention the myriad of annoying side effects of antibiotics which seem unavoidable when bronchitis dares strike a week before surgical procedures.

Bill Gates must learned his marketing strategies from doctors, cigarette advertisers, and insurance salesfolk. “Bottom line before customers” has been the rule for decades. I remember the last time a doctor made a house call for me. I thought it pleasantly odd even at the time. Today, house calls, while not particularly time or cost efficient, seem safer to me than queues of coughing and sagging patients waiting [during the Swine Flu scare] to have their temperatures taken before they’re allowed in the waiting room.

Yes, we are a litiginous society. Malpractice Insurance makes it financially improbable to run a solo practice. Still, we have to face the fact, that stupidity was never supposed to be acceptable treatment.

While healthcare providers want to blame insurance companies, insurance companies want to blame patients, and everyone wants to blame politicians, no one is willing to do what it takes to fix things. Whether it’s Single Payer insurance, tightening the rules so that Practice Laws do not protect idiots, or simply (ha!) changing the attitude of insurers, medical students, practicing physicians, and the healthcare community as a whole, something has to be done.

It’s time to change our priorities. Who do we want making laws? Do we want this oligarchy to continue? He who gets the most money must think only of his contributors’ needs? Or do we only reelect the brave ones who stand up to their contributors?

Recently, as people discuss the healthcare crisis more brazenly than ever, I hear radio callers complaining that their coverage is decreasing despite the cost increase because group plans have to cover smokers and fast food junkies. I’ve yet to hear anyone complain about dangerous drivers. Nevertheless, I attribute that omission to the scarey fact that most drivers today are assholes. Why cut off your nose (or whatever) –– eh?

Frankly, tobacco addicts chap me also; though, I have a better understanding of the causes of obesity. Still, I’m not so blind that I can’t see that the real problem is that no one is required to take responsibility for their own actions. Until they get caught. Then, they want you to feel sorry for them.

Whether it’s falling prey to advertising, peer pressure, convenience, or fear of poverty, we all make choices. We choose to propagate child-oriented tobacco advertising, standardize body images that are unattainable in any physically or emotionally healthy manner, and refuse in anyway to put the needs of others ahead of our own. And don’t give me grief about “fear of poverty!” Haven’t you figured it out yet? Those who fear it most accumulate the greatest wealth and too many don’t care how they do it.

After severe losses, Donald Trump pointed to a homeless man, saying that man was better off than he was. The homeless man, Trump averred, had no money, while he, Trump, was millions (or was it billions) in the hole. I hope now that we’ve heard enough about the vagaries of credit card companies, to realize that the homeless man might have had scads of dough before landing where he was.

Since the 1950s, the power-hungry, self-involved, forces have painted acts of human kindness as Communism, simply un-American. They like it when we point the finger at each other rather than at them –– or even ourselves.

To date, I’ve only heard one Progressive Talk Radio caller point a finger at his own industry. He said, to be totally candid, he had to admit that insurance companies are the villain of the piece, but not for the reason we’d think. Apparently it’s all right to charge more money for less service. However, to him, the greater sin of the insurance industry is that the more the insurance has to cover, the lower the charge. In short, the gross cost of the same procedure is higher when the patient pays for it. How that boils down to the insurance company’s fault, I’m not quite sure, but that’s a definite cause for thought.

I’ve bought health insurance that didn’t pay anything. Contrarily, I had the parathyroid removal, another procedure, and a few hospitalizations without any insurance. I didn’t see a difference. It was still a lot to pay.

Clearly, what the loudest, most powerful proponents of deregulation didn’t want the voters to know was that governments implement regulations for a reason. It’s human nature to put our own needs before those of others. Maybe some of the more savvy voters knew that, too, but those who cared, were not positioned to take action quickly enough to get their piece of everyone else’s pie.

So! Not only the obese are compulsive overeaters.


  1. Wow! You have tried to cover so many issues here. Just 2 comments: this country desperately needs a comprehensive health insurance plan, preferably single-payer. Once every American is covered and does not worry about the money needed for health care, some health issues might disappear.

  2. Thank you, Chobi. If the single-payer option were still on the table, I’d be very happy. However, President Obama ruled that out during the compaign. Terrified legislators on both parties have already taken a stand against the less effective Public Option, backed by their contributors and favorite lobbyists.

    The scary part is that, while everyone agrees the economy has tanked (of which the state of Healthcare is a factor), no one wants to support any fix that will help anyone but themselves. Until this Wednesday, I have not qualified for any stimulus checks from either administration. While I was reluctant to see the benefit of sending them to middle and upper class taxpayers, I did see the wisdom of repaying Social Security recipients.

    No one complained about Bush’s checks even though little of the money found its way back into the economy. President Obama’s stimulus checks, most of which was spent, has stimulated more than the economy. I heard more people actually say “What’s in it for me?”

    My only response could be. “Though I didn’t, you qualified for this check and I’m happy for you. Unless you and everyone else hoard the funds, what’s in it for me is a strengthened economyabout in very odd ways. Wh.”

    Like the woman on Progressive Talk Radio said, change comes en a president determined to create change is elected by however large a landslide, congress gets scared. It uses every available rhetoric to undermine the man and his proposals. They they closet themselves and discuss.

    When the debates are over, they take a poll to be sure the voters still want that for which they elected the president and, when they do, some change is possible. The woman (from some political observation group) thinks we might have a healthcare bill by December.

    In the meantime, I’m hearing criticism of the President’s failure to release a written statement on the death of Michael Jackson. As carefully worded as his remarks were about it, for him to take the time to say something given all that’s on his desk right now is wonderful. Still, I can’t help wondering if the criticism has more to do the the politics of distraction than with disappointment.

  3. Oh you thoughtful people! Well, I’m part of a little local group that is pushing for Single Payer. One of my takes on it when they talk about cost is to simply sell our 860 foreign military bases to the UN. Let’s be part of a world not club people into submission. One slogan I saw was, “Healthcare not Warfare.”

    Yes, I agree, if we turn from might equals right, we might have more not less, good health, healthy goals, and a whole lot less fear.

  4. “Healthcare not warfare” sounds very good to me. However, that would be a much harder sell than Single Payer.

    Now, they’re trying to foist a new option on us. I forget what it’s called, but employees rather than employers would negotiate directly with insurance companies. That way, the insurance follows the employee from job to job.

    Unfortunately, as far as I can see, that doesn’t help the unemployed and unemployable. It would also be a difficult project for employees with limited assertion skills.

    However, the enemies of change will go to any length to skuttle any viable proposal. When they disparage Single Payer with shouts of communism and other fear tactics, they are denying the success of all the capitalist countries who’ve installed Nation Health programs. I’d like one of the enemies to name one country that tried National Health/Single Payer programs and then abondoned it.

    Yes, I’ve heard one really horrifying story about one unsanitary hospital in Canada which has a Nation Health program. I’ve heard many more such stories about the US and other countries without Single Payer.

    It’s very unlikely the US will give up foreign bases for any reason. However, the National Institutes of Health evaluated the difference between the legislative proposal without the Public Option and the later proposal with it. By their figures, the Public Option lowered the overall cost by some trillion dollars — 3, I think. Now that’s the sort of thinking that Congress should be doing!

    Thanks for commenting, Bev.

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