“Government healthcare programs everywhere in the world do three things. They promise you the world. They say, oh we’re going to cover everything. Then what they do is they run out of money and they underpay hospitals, doctors, and guess what happens? They don’t want to take care of you. There’s fewer of them, just like what’s happened in England, Canada, places like that.”
~ Governor Rick Scott, (R-Fla), July 2, 2012
I was trying to catch a softball. That’s what changed everything. It was coming down from way up high, and I was charging it down, focusing hard on catching it. I was focused so hard on it, in fact, I didn’t notice my buddy was parked underneath the ball, waiting for it to drop into his glove.
Neither guy realized there was an imminent collision. He saw me at the last second and threw his arms up to cover his face. I didn’t see him at all, and ran full blast, jaw-first, into the point of his elbow. I pin-wheeled in mid-air and landed flat on my front. At the time I was out of breath, and my face stung, but I wanted to be a tough guy and shook it off.
I was lucky my jaw wasn’t broken. As it was, the right side of my face stung for days afterwards. But there was no swelling, and I didn’t want to be seen as a wuss so I worked through it. See a doctor? Nah.
Fast forward to the end of May, 2007, and I seem to be coming down with a bug of some kind. Over the next three days, cold and flu symptoms multiplied, and then intensified dramatically. A sore throat turned to burning pain. My head started aching and then pounded relentlessly. Sniffling turned to a full on, disgusting flow of constant phlegm that wouldn’t stop or let me sleep.
I was the sickest I had ever been in my life. Come the morning of the third day, and my neck had swollen up to a size bigger than my head. It looked like I was trying to swallow a volleyball. There was nothing for it now but to go to the hospital.
“On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year?”
~Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), March 12, 2014
Unfortunately, I was lost in delirium at this point. I shuffled out of my apartment and headed down the street, ostensibly to the hospital. The memory of doing this now is watery and inconsistent, like trying to watch television from the other side of an aquarium. I ended up collapsed in the street, and a friend got me to the hospital.
I spent the next two months there. Six weeks of that in Intensive Care. I was admitted on June 1st, 2007, and wasn’t released until August 1st. In that time, multiple procedures and surgeries were performed on me.
They had to cut my neck open to drain it and performed a tracheotomy because there was a real danger of my airway swelling closed. I was induced into a coma for this. They opened up my back to clean out my upper body. They decided to go that way because otherwise, they would have had to remove my sternum.
I hovered on the edge of septic shock for days. My family and friends were told to say goodbye to me three different times. My oldest friend, who works in an operating room, told me later he was convinced I would not pull through. He’d seen plenty of people who looked as bad as I did. He said I looked like I was “circling the drain.”
I pulled through, of course. I was the only one in the room who had no idea I was in that much trouble. For the next week or so, I was a damn difficult patient. I had no clear idea what had happened or why. I kept trying to leave and go to work. The combination of painkillers and delirium made me unreasonable on many, many occasions.
My neck had been cut open and the dressings in the wound needed to be taken out, changed, and packed back into it. Yes. Back into my neck. Think about having to lie there, unable to speak, while someone took bandages out of your neck and then put more back in. This would happen every couple of hours.
Seniors and the disabled “will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”
~Sarah Palin on Friday, August 7th, 2009, Politifact’s Lie of the Year, 2009
I was helpless on a bed for six weeks while tubes were attached to my side to clean out the infection. Oh hey, ever had to have a feeding tube inserted? That’s what they shove up your nose and down your throat so you can be fed this vanilla pudding-looking stuff. It’s horrible. So they had to replace the feeding tube every once in a while. Remember “Welcome Back Kotter,” and “Up your nose with a rubber hose?” I will never wish that on anyone.
After six weeks my neck had healed enough so that I could eat and drink again. My voice began returning, although I sounded like Kermit the Frog for the first bit. I had spent the last month or so fantasizing about eating and drinking. Apple juice. I craved apple juice so badly I cried a few times.
My healthcare staff were above and beyond wonderful. They talked to me like a human being when I looked like an overstuffed sausage with wires stuck in it all over the place. They held my hand when I was scared, which was a lot. They didn’t hold it against me that I’d been a raving lunatic. They pretended to not know what I was talking about when I wrote apology notes to them.
Nobody ever seemed annoyed that they had to clean me up every time I had a bowel movement. One nurse sang softly when she cleaned me because she could see I was mortified. Everybody knew my name and what my interests were. They talked to me about baseball and Star Wars.
By the time I was released I had learned to stand and walk again. There were therapists for that. Across the board, everyone was encouraging and confident I could come back, and that helped give me the confidence to do so. It wasn’t the most pleasant summer of my life, but I sure learned a lot.
It turned out to be an abscessed tooth. I had chipped a corner off of my right rear bottom molar that day trying to catch a softball. The pain of it had blended into the general soreness of my entire face. When it became infected, I had no idea. By the time I got help, it was so very close to being too late. That’s how I lost the summer of 2007.
What happened to me could have happened to anyone. Yeah, it was a freak accident and odd circumstances, but I was healthy as a horse before that. Never broken a bone, never had to stay in a hospital before.
“Realize that the doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can’t socialize the doctors without socializing the patients.” ~ Ronald Reagan, October 27, 1964
Now, what do you think that bill would be? Two months in the hospital, six weeks of that in the ICU. Multiple procedures, intricate and sophisticated. Around the clock care, teams of medical professionals in all areas making sure I was healing.
Food. Medication. Therapies. Use of dozens of machines, ventilators, monitors, and what have you. You would need a top notch insurance plan for that, wouldn’t you? Luckily, I had one. This happened in Canada. I was automatically covered. There were no bills. Had this happened to me in the USA, I would have been buried under crushing debt.
Growing up, my mother was often very ill. She suffered from diabetes, and it took her a long time to adjust to life with the disease. There were many harrowing days, racing her to the local hospital. We lived in a rural area of the province, and she needed to be airlifted to the city more than once.
While my mother’s health was a constant source of worry, her care never was. That was how I grew up. That’s how everyone should grow up. If you are sick, if you are hurt, then get the help you need. You won’t be turned away. You don’t need to worry about how you’ll pay if your insurance won’t cover you. You might be poor, but you are still human.
And yeah, taxes are high. It’s worth it.
“The question is how can you go step by step to improve the American health care system? It is already the finest health care system in the world.”
~ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
The Affordable Health Care Act, regardless of the debate over it; the fifty some-odd attempts to repeal it; shutting the government down over it; and the recent SCOTUS ruling providing escape clauses from it; is ultimately a good first step for Americans. It makes no sense to me why it’s so viciously opposed. Taxes? The evils of “socialism?” Political partisan-ship?
It’s a combination of all these factors, and a few others. But it is absolutely mystifying to me why there is so much resistance to improving America’s healthcare system. Just look at how much damage the Republicans have done in their raging against it. And it’s all needless, every last bit of it. People are dying every day the longer the GOP drags this out, and they don’t need to die at all.
Canadians have always been mystified when Republicans lie about our healthcare system. It isn’t just me who thinks this. Stop listening to conservative lies. They don’t know what they are talking about. Check that, actually they do. They have to know they are lying to you.
And meanwhile, the ACA is working, despite all of the opposition. Personally, my family has seen our health insurance costs halved, just in time for the arrival of of son. There was a brief scary moment, but the professionalism in that New York hospital was on par with Canada’s. But there sure was a lot of talk about billing while we were there. You don’t get that in Canada.
Everyone needs healthcare eventually. It is not “if” it is “when.” The main difference between Canada and the USA is the healthcare systems of both countries. The Canadian system is far superior to America’s. It’s not even close. Don’t believe me? Ask Sarah Palin.
There are critics who will dismiss my experiences out of hand because they’re “anecdotal evidence.” Whatever. Doesn’t make them any less true. And, funnily enough, these are usually the same folks who go on and on about how terrible the Canadian healthcare system is. They’re lying. I’m not.
It’s up to you to choose who to believe.
He lives in Hell's Kitchen with his wife and son and their gigantic cat.
Chad also writes for spoiledNYC.com, quietmike.org, and contributes at politicalmoll.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ChadMac19 and on Facebook as well!
Latest posts by Chad R. MacDonald (see all)
- Gun Fanatics Are Creeping My Facebook Profile - September 3, 2014
- Busted: TX Anti-Choice Groups Are Stalking Women’s Clinic Workers And Patients (VIDEO) - August 13, 2014
- The Dangerous Sadness - August 12, 2014