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Tuesday, November 07, 2017


[I]t is life that is a calamity to men, and not death; for this last affords our souls their liberty, and sends them by a removal into their own place of purity, where they are to be insensible of all sorts of misery; for while souls are tied down to a mortal body, they are partakers of its miseries; and really, to speak the truth, they are themselves dead.

 - Eleazar at Masada, 73CE, as reported by Josephus

Rmj highlights an awesomely compassionate Lutheran pastor who said this about the cleansing fire of American gun rights:

“It may seem, on the surface, that God was refusing to give such protection to his Texan children,” he writes. “But we are also praying that God would deliver us from evil eternally. Through these same words, we are asking God to deliver us out of this evil world and into his heavenly glory, where no violence, persecution, cruelty, or hatred will ever afflict us again.”

Rmj then links that casual shrugging with the administration's best and brightest at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, summarizing thus:

[S]crew people, we've got to save money!  Medicare and Medicaid aren't about helping human beings, they're about pinching dollars 'til George Washington screams!

Rmj then causes me to link that casual shrugging with the casual shrugging we keep running into as part of the Best Healthcare System In The World [sic].  As Ericka describes her 2-year saga of suffering:

I'm dealing with a medical community that can not--or will not--distinguish between menopause and systemic disease.

Her PCP casually shrugged at premature ovarian failure.  ER doctors have casually shrugged at her myriad symptoms with a body under siege.  Most recently, a neurologist casually shrugged at the month she has spent in agony with viral meningitis, trapped in her home unable to tolerate light or sound.

In a suprising twist to the usual medical horror story, our insurance company has casually shrugged as well.  Not at Ericka's pain and desperate search for diagnosis and treatment, but rather at the increasing, immense costs they have incurred during this ordeal.

As my brilliant wife has asked, why is it that no bean counter has looked at how her interactions with healthcare providers have changed?  From a regular, predictable pattern of annual checkups, flu shots, and the like, to an ever more frequent series of contacts with her doctor, specialists, emergency departments, labs and other diagnostic services...

If you plotted a chart in Excel, you'd see data points hovering around a few office visits a year for her whole life, then a practically logarithmic upward trend in the number of visits and associated costs over the last couple years.  Just in October, insurance has casually shrugged at $12,000, with no end in sight.

Yet nobody appears to have considered why so much money has been tossed around in 3 states with 0 positive outcomes.  Yet another charge for over-priced ER drug administration?  Casual shrug.  Yet another MRI?  Casual shrug.  Still in pain?  Casual shrug.

With America's refusal to address gun violence and our broken healthcare system, we are all reduced to partakers of miseries, something less than human.  That is something Ericka and I refuse to accept.

Eleazar et al are wrong, and Rmj is right: Things don't matter. Ideas don't matter. People matter.

We try remind to people that every time they confront us with casual shrugs, because the alternative is quite literally death.



November 7, 2017 in Family Life, First Do No Harm | Permalink


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