Episode 14: Hospital voodoo, and healthcare blues

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 Posted on Saturday, November 4th, 2017

For those who do not know I was in the hospital with cellulitis, and the beginning stages of sepsis. That put a delay on getting my next few podcasts out. Now before I get into the story of what happened in the hospital, I came to a realization this summer. It is going to be difficult for me to be able to record a show during the summer and other long vacations. I know there are other people out there that have jobs and children and still manage to record podcasts. That is just a luxury that I do not have. I currently live in an 850 square foot apartment with my wife and 7 year old child.

There was no way I could record during this time. The recovery process required me to be stuck in bed and my recording area is not conducive to my recovery.

I will try to find a way to continue recording through the months when there is no school, but I can not make any guarantees. It is a difficult process for me as I have taken on the role of the stay-at-home parent due to uncontrollable circumstance that left me unable to find work that I am capable of.

Getting a little personal here, and I am not trying to play the pity party. I am very obese. I had always been overweight, but a life event that brought on severe depression turned being a little overweight to crossing the line into extreme obesity. I got up to over 600 pounds. I managed to get down to 475, but am suffering the negative consequences of carrying that much extra weight all this time. From knee injuries to severe back pain, and extending into nerve damage and micro fractures in my feet. With the panic of the opiod epidemic in America, the only pain management I receive is mega doses of aspirin which may have already damaged my liver.

Enough of the poor me segment. I am doing better and slowly getting my weight under control. So all is not negative. I am slowly increasing my activity level and rebuilding atrophied muscle. This will all help reduce my pain levels.

But enough of this digression and back to my story about being in the hospital.

This illness taught me a valuable lesson, do not delay getting help if you notice an infection. I came uncomfortably close to sepsis and death. If it wasn’t for my wife tricking me into the car to go to the hospital I wouldn’t be alive. I remember very little from the onset of the infection until about 12 hours into IV antibiotics in the hospital. It was a very surreal experience.

(Interesting side note: I found out that I am in the 3% that experience negative neurological effects from the antibiotics I was on. I had troubles finding words, and formulating complete sentences. I did eventually get switched to a different medicine that was not as bad.)

Over all the experience in the hospital never turned too awkward, as many just relied upon and talked about medicine. Yet one incident did leave a bitter taste. I am a fairly fat guy. No I’m not afraid to say that. I know that I am fat and am not afraid to admit it. That is however not the point of the story. The problem is that I earned a reputation while in the hospital as very difficult to find a vein for IV’s and blood draws. It was so bad that I often had the lab techs reaching for the portable ultrasound machine to draw blood. I didn’t mind this at all. But the part that really bothered me is when one of the lab techs actually prayed that she find a vein. Surprise!!!!! she didn’t, she hit the 3 stick limit the hospital had per tech.

1 John 5:14: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

I understand there is a level of confirmation bias going on here. Where this tech probably believes in the power of prayer because she remembers how it felt every time she prayed and something happened. If this is in fact the case. It is equally possible that she has never had a hit, but remember all the hits others claim. I am not going to pretend to be inside this lab techs mind. I will however, go on to say it was a little presumptuous that I would be ok with this. In fact, I began to lost confidence in the hospital staff at that point. Of course, this could have been my own presumption that they would have stayed neutral until such time I alluded to being a follower of her particular mythology.

I do not deny the possibility that I could have been a little over sensitive to this. I also do feel a little bad that I followed up her prayer with a remark of my own. I told her that she is equally responsible for her own failures, as she is for her successes. That may have been a touch insensitive, but why should non-believers be the ones that have to cater to their beliefs when the feeling is not shared.

We do have the whole section of the bible that says to pray in private, and that praying for others to hear is hypocritical. I wonder if that is an item left behind on the buffet at the restaurant today’s believers eat at.

This experience did also give me a new perspective on all of the healthcare issues we have been facing in this country. Just one of the 3 different medications I was on cost me over $100 for a weeks worth. We had to beg the electric company to give us an extension just to cover this one medication. The hospital billed me over $5000 a day plus the way the hospital operates each doctor, nurse, and lab tech charged me each time they came in the room. I had 8 separate bills. Apparently, included in the piles of paper work you get to fill out is a letter stating that the hospital is operated by independent contractors that all get to bill you separately.

This is ridiculous, and the price gouging is a direct result of the way our politicians approach these issues.

We don’t have any healthcare policies. We only have health insurance policies. The issue is that we are emboldening the insurance companies and raising the costs of healthcare.

I understand that we have this feverish infatuation with the idea of free market capitalism. And I generally agree that placing all of the means and manner of production in the hands of a government entity has led to negative outcomes in the past. This is just not the case that I am arguing here. I am arguing that rather than having a government of tyrants, we are instead giving that power to large companies. In particular, the insurance companies and the drug companies.

There was a lot of things about Obama care that helped a lot of people get on insurance. It did however create another large spike in the costs of insurance. As well as creating a whole new set of regulations that required healthcare providers to bring in additional resources. Which in turn caused healthcare costs to go up. The pharmaceutical companies saw a massive surge in new demand for medications due to all of the new people who now were able to see a doctor. They seized upon this opportunity to increase the rate by which the prices of medications were going up. According to an article in Time at http://time.com/money/4406167/prescription-drug-prices-increase-why/ prescription drugs rose in cost by 10% in a single year ending in may 2016.

I am not coming out solely against regulations. I agree with my regulations that protect us. The problem I have is over-regulating aspects of healthcare. When the reality is that we should uncouple healthcare from insurance completely. I am an advocate for healthcare as a right, and not just for those that can afford it. This is a radical ideal, but we are the only developed nation in the world that does not have a universal healthcare system. Insurance lobbyists pour tons of money into fighting against this in America, and for good reason. Universal healthcare will end them, and put lots of people out of work. I understand why this is an argument against Universal healthcare. In fact, I think this is the only argument that really holds any weight against the idea. I am going to be honest here I don’t have the answer, and I am aware that it is a serious discussion to have.

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