Bull-headed to the Extreme

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I am a bull-headed woman. I know, because my Daddy always said so. My daddy was always right. (You can hear me finally admitting that, can’t you Daddy?)

Over a period of time I’d had episodes of mild chest discomfort. I had also had episodes of palpations. When the palpations occurred I wasn’t too worried; I’ve had them as far back as I can remember. The chest discomfort, well, that was starting to get my attention. It was new.

It would happen for a few minutes and go away. I’d think to myself, “Self, you really need to see the doctor and find out what this is.” But, I’d get busy and not make the call.

Until last week when both hit at the same time. Not severe, mind you, but scary. I drove myself to the ER. (Don’t do this, by the way, its dangerous.) I should have called 911, but I’m independent stubborn bull-headed.

After being hooked up to an EKG machine and having an EKG run I was hooked up to monitors and left to my own thoughts for what seemed like an eternity. At long last the doctor came in and said there some “abnormalities in the EKG, but not enough to say I had or was having a heart attack. Of course, by the time he showed up the palpations and chest discomfort had ceased. 

He suggested wanted to admit me to the hospital. He wanted to run periodic blood tests through the night to be assured that I wasn’t having a heart attack. If they weren’t conclusive, he wanted to continue on with an even longer list of tests. I listened. Panic set in.

I hate hospitals. I hate being in them. I hate them so badly that I find it hard to stay long when I have a loved one admitted. It does not matter which hospital it is either. They scare me to death. I dread them.

I was polite when I explained to the kind doctor that, no, I wouldn’t do that. He was polite and sincere as he explained to me why I should do as he suggested. I said no. After he left the room, I proceeded to pull off all of the EKG stickers. Then I pulled off the leads to the monitor. (Those things put up quite a fuss when you do that, just as an FYI.)  When the nurse came back, I was dressed and only needed him to get that pesky IV thing out of my arm. Luckily there was no IV line attached. Otherwise getting my shirt on would have been impossible. No, I’d have pulled it out myself at that point. (I’ve seen them removed from my husband enough times to know how its done.)

I was discharged after signing a release for the hospital saying I had left against their medical advice.

Since then I have seen my doctor and had blood work, x-rays, and more EKG’s done. Everything is negative. Nothing has jumped out warning of my immanent demise. I’m being treated for stress and anxiety for now, but will be getting more cardiac workups done. I want to know for sure that its just stress and anxiety.

My doctor gave me strict orders: If it happens again and is severe, I am to call 911. I am to stay at the hospital, and be sure I’m OK before leaving. . . when I’m told to leave. sigh. . . I know she’s right.

If I had that day to live over, I would stay and let them do their multitude of tests. Why?  Well, because then I would already know for sure if I have a heart problem. I would have it all out of the way.

I panicked. And I’m bull-headed.

That time I was lucky my bull-headedness didn’t send me straight across the Veil.


Do What We Say…Or Else

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Everyone thought it was a wonderful idea when they came after smokers with a vengeance. Quit, quit now! It is harmful to your health and the health of everyone around you. You will be punished by paying more and more taxes on your smokes. You will be ostracized and driven outside into the weather to indulge your filthy habit. You will pay higher premiums for insurance, health and life. You will not be allowed to stay in most motels, you will search far and wide for an apartment that will rent to you, or you won’t be allowed to smoke inside your home if you do find a rental.

Smokers have dealt with all the flack thrown their way. They stand outside in all kinds of weather, well away from passersby. They get sick more than non-smokers because they have been exposed to the elements and driven out into the cold.

Now, they are going after other members of society. According to a Washington Post article posted on MSNBC’s web site :

Get in shape or pay a price.

That’s a message more Americans could hear if the health care reform bills passed by the Senate Finance and Health committees become law.

By more than doubling the maximum rewards and penalties that companies can apply to employees who flunk medical evaluations, the bills could put workers under intense financial pressure to lose weight, stop smoking or even lower their cholesterol.

We all know that smoking, being overweight, not getting enough exercise, having high cholesterol, etc. are bad for us. We all know that. Knowing it and being able to do something about it is not the same thing.

The powers-that-be are now going to punish more members of society. We will pay additional taxes on soda’s, sweet treats and unhealthy foods like burgers and fries. We will pay higher premiums on insurance if we do not meet the proper body mass index, smoke, or have any number of “lifestyle” issues. They are going after other not-so-healthy members of society now. The smokers knew they would, that it was just a matter of time.

President Obama and members of Congress have declared that they are trying to create a system in which no one can be denied coverage or charged higher premiums based on their health status. The health insurance lobby has said it shares that goal. However, so-called wellness incentives could introduce a colossal loophole. In effect, they would permit insurers and employers to make coverage less affordable for people exhibiting risk factors for problems like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

“Everybody said that we’re going to be ending discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But this is in effect discrimination again based on preexisting conditions,” said Ann Kempski of the Service Employees International Union.

Stopping smoking is hard enough. But fighting the battle of the bulge is even harder. A smoker who is quitting can stay away from temptation. We have to eat. The overweight have the battle of temptation to fight every day with no recourse. Our busy lifestyles make it simpler to grab a burger or other fast food and eat on the run. The economy makes it necessary to cut food budgets and buy more starchy foods which in turn contribute to overweight.

Our daily exercise diminishes as we spend more time at a desk or computer to do our jobs. Not everyone can afford a gym membership or would have time or inclination to go if they could. Not everyone lives in an area where they feel safe jogging or walking in their neighborhoods to get exercise.

We can now add the “fat police” to the “smoking police.” I can’t help but wonder what or who they will go after next.

American Indians Already Have Government Run Health Care

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I have been reading a blog entry by Terry Anderson on The Conservative Underground site that discusses the plight of American Indian Tribes in Montana. They already have government run health care.

Native Americans have received federally funded health care for decades. A series of treaties, court cases and acts passed by Congress requires that the government provide low-cost and, in many cases, free care to American Indians. The Indian Health Service (IHS) is charged with delivering that care.

It is clear to me that a bill will be passed establishing government run health care. I just wanted this article to circulate a bit more so you will have an idea of what we are getting. Such as:

The IHS spends about $2,100 per Native American each year, which is considerably below the $6,000 spent per capita on health care across the U.S. But IHS spending per capita is about on par with Finland, Japan, Spain and other top 20 industrialized countries—countries that the Obama administration has said demonstrate that we can spend far less on health care and get better outcomes. In addition, IHS spending will go up by about $1 billion over the next year to reach a total of $4.5 billion by 2010. That includes a $454 million increase in its budget and another $500 million earmarked for the agency in the stimulus package.

Unfortunately, Indians are not getting healthier under the federal system. In 2007, rates of infant mortality among Native Americans across the country were 1.4 times higher than non-Hispanic whites and rates of heart disease were 1.2 times higher. HIV/AIDS rates were 30% higher, and rates of liver cancer and inflammatory bowel disease were two times higher. Diabetes-related death rates were four times higher. On average, life expectancy is four years shorter for Native Americans than the population as a whole.

Rural Indians fare even worse, as data from Sen. Baucus’s home state show. According to IHS statistics, in Montana and Wyoming, Indians suffer diabetes at rates 20% higher, heart disease 12% higher, and lung cancer rates 67% higher than the average across all IHS regions in the country. A recent Harvard University study found that life expectancy on a reservation in neighboring South Dakota was 58 years. The national average is 77.