The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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Debbie does Discourse
In May 2 Issue
Russell County News
By Debbie Bell, Columnist

This week the state of our healthcare, welfare system and the general state of our economy has been on my mind.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to think about these things very much because anger is not good for the body or the soul.

The foundation for welfare was laid during the 1930’s with FDR’s “New Deal” but wasn’t implemented until the 1960’s. The system was meant to help the working man when he lost his job and fell on hard times. It was supposed to be temporary, until one could get on their feet again, it was not meant as a way of life.

My parents’ philosophies on doctors and hospitals was that you only go when it was an absolute, true emergency, or death was imminent, whichever came first.

Even though my husband and I have been lucky enough to have health care for most of our married life, we have followed my parents’ philosophy.

My husband is 57 years old and has only been to the doctor one time. Except for the birth of my two children, I’ve only been hospitalized once. Last year I went to the emergency room, reluctantly, thinking I’d be given a shot an promptly released only to find out that I had pneumonia in both lungs.

So, I was admitted to the hospital, kicking and screaming all the way. I knew from having my two children that anything extra that I buzzed the nurses’ station for would go on my bill and quadruple the cost, such as a $5 Band-Aid or a $10 Q-tip.

Besides, nurses and hospital personnel have better things to do than be at your beck and call.

My roommate, who was healthy as a horse, was like watching a comedy routine. She would buzz the nurses’ station a hundred times a day.

Buzz. “Could I have some tea sent up please?” Buzz. “I need some more sugar.” Buzz. Could I have something else for supper?” Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

While I was pleading with the doctors to let me go home she was begging them to let her stay another day. Of course it was like staying at the Hilton for her. She had a medical card, it was free, the taxpayers were footing her bill.

A few years ago my husband lost his job in textiles. We were without health insurance for a long time. A small mole on my forehead started to grow into a monstrosity, the size of a dime, it protruded from my bangs and every time I turned around I would bump it on something.

Blood would run down my face and then it would crust over until the next time I ran into something. Being in the theater there were very few parts for a cyclops or unicorn.

I knew it was cancer but there was nothing I could do about it. There was no money and everyone wanted the money up front, no payment plans available.

They might as well had a sign up front saying “Pay now or die later.”

 I couldn’t even go to my family physician to confirm what I already knew. There would’ve been a record of the condition and then later when we out health insurance it would’ve been considered a pre-existing condition.

Finally, after a couple of years we got health insurance. It was cancer but luckily it was a simple basil cell type of cancer. The doctor had to go from one side of my forehead to the other to get all of the cancer but the bonus was that I got a mini face-lift in the process.

A dear friend of mine has had gallbladder problems for years. He’s employed, works hard, but like so many others has no health insurance.

When the problem got so bad recently and his gallbladder was in danger of rupturing, he knew he had to take action.

His gallbladder was several sizes what it should be. Surgery can’t be done until the swelling goes completely down. So, until such time, he sees his doctor once a week, pays for his office visit and takes three pills a day at $5 each.

Meanwhile, his brother, who is healthy and strong as an ox and has a medical card, runs to the emergency room on the average of two to three times a week.

Maybe he has a headache or upset stomach, it doesn’t matter. It’s free and doesn’t cost him anything. He’s met some of his best friends there, you know, the people you see on a daily basis. The nurses there have the charts pulled and put in a special place for all these “repeat offenders.” This makes it extremely hard for a legitimately sick person to get in to see a doctor.

I recently watched a report on “60 Minutes” about how many oncology (cancer units) have had to reduce treatments or completely close down because of the economy. Those who have medical cards and those who are wealthy and can afford it are the only ones who can receive treatment.

People with terminal illnesses who had recently lost their jobs or didn’t have proper health insurance were turned away, time after time.

Whatever happened to the compassionate, old-time doctor that would get in his horse and buggy, ride out to the farm tend to the sick with no consideration as to whether he received pay or not. His only concern was for the health and well-being of his patient.

It’s all about the big bucks now. The incompetency of many doctors astounds me. When my niece was 8, she caught a simple cold that would not go away and her body was covered in bruises that would not heal.

I’m no doctor but it was obvious to me. My mother and I suspected leukemia from the beginning. My sister took my niece to many specialists and for many tests and still they couldn’t figure it out. When she voiced our fears she was told “Oh no, we have to rule out everything before we make a diagnosis.”

After months of time, money and needless tests my mom and I were unfortunately proven correct. My niece is one of the lucky ones, she is a healthy, beautiful 17-year-old now.

I have even been upset with my daughters’ perfectly legal, but nonsensical usage of a medical card. They don’t have health insurance but my 2 year old grandson has a medical card which I am do OK with. Children are innocent and they all deserve to be covered.

Having just turned 2, my grandson can only say a few words, no complete thoughts or sentences yet.

My daughter, concerned and comparing him with other kids his age, spoke to his doctor about it.The doctor recommended a speech therapist some for home visits.

I had a fit, he’s 2 for God’s sake. But, you can’t argue against what you don’t know, so I stuck around to observe one of these home visits. I had no qualms whatsoever with the speech therapist, she was a very nice, cordial lady. She brought in a bag of toys, all of which my grandson already had.

She spent 30 minutes with him asking him for certain shapes. These are things I do with my grandson all the time. What really got my blood boiling was when she started talking an 8 month old she was working with. What in the world does an 8th month old need a speech therapist for?

I had those same motherly concerns with my son. My doctor told me that there is a scale they go by but it is not set in stone.

Children progress at their own rate, especially boys, who tend to be slow starters. My son did not talk well into his third year and I didn’t start him in school until he was 6 years old.

This slow starting son of mine did not miss a day of school in 12 years, finished high school with a 4.0 GPA and graduated salutatorian of his class.

Then there are those young, seemingly healthy strong people who draw disability while sick people who need one can’t get one no matter how many times they try.

Perhaps socialized medicine or universal healthcare is the way to go, but I’m sure these institutions have their own set of problems. There is a story my granny used to tell that stuck with me:

She told me that when she first moved to eastern Ky., she had a huge pear tree and would take pears to her neighbors, but they wouldn’t accept the gift without money or something in return. This pride seems to have vanished all across the nation. Our sense of pride seems to have been replaced with an ever-growing sense of entitlement.

Til next time, Forward Ho! 

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Phone: 270-866-3191
Fax: 270-866-3198
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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FISCAL COURT: 2nd Monday of month, 6 p.m. in the Courthouse
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