Our Idiot President is Dangerous

Other than walks with my dog, today was the first time I left my house in eleven days.  I drove my mother to get a blood test. We pulled up to the facility, and a nurse wearing a mask and gloves came to the car door. After taking my mother’s name, the nurse pricked her finger. She secured the sample, thanked us, and walked away. The whole process took less than five minutes.

I then went to the post office for stamps. There was a sign at the entrance instructing all people to stand at least six feet apart. Only four people stood in the wrap-around line that would normally fit at least twenty people, yet I couldn’t move much past the door. The person in front of me stood at about six feet. No one tried to enter the post office as I stood there, but if they had, they wouldn’t have been able to come in. They would have had to wait outside the door until the line moved up.

These are the times we’re living in. Staying home, drive-thru blood tests, closed bars and restaurants, and six feet of separation are the new normal. But it’s all worth it. People are dying and it appears things are going to get worse. We’re not even at our peak of infections and death, and already the idiot president in charge is talking about opened business and packed churches—in the middle of a fucking pandemic.

Being home twenty-four hours a day, with twenty-four hour news channels of constant Coronavirus coverage, as well as social media, can be overwhelming. I am overloaded with news, and most of it fills me with anxiety. I no longer watch Donald Trump’s news conferences because I’m sick of being lied to.

Here is a president who was briefed on the severity of Coronavirus in January, yet spent two months publicly downplaying the virus’s threat in the States. Trump refused test kits offered by the World Health Organization in January because he didn’t want to know the numbers for fear that they’d hurt his re-election chances. So he spent two months lying to the American people (he’s actually spent his entire presidency lying to the American people) while telling us that the virus was contained and it would all go away in April with the warmer weather and in two weeks we’d be down to zero cases.

The lies continued into March, even as Trump finally decided to take this virus serious. He told us everyone who wanted a test could get a test. That wasn’t true. Then he said there’d be a millions tests available at the end of the week. That wasn’t true either. The next week he said there’d be over four million test kits available. There weren’t. Hospitals were running out of masks. Trump said there were millions available. Yet another lie.

The next three weeks will deliver us more deaths, but Trump’s main concern will be the Stock Market and his re-election.

God help us all.

 

 

 

When Will it Stop Being About the Money?

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For a long time our healthcare in this country (US) has operated more like health(s)care. This is not a reflection of the doctors or nurses who invest so much of themselves into helping sick people get better. I have had the great fortune of having wonderful doctors with tremendous bedside manners watch over my health, as well as caring and devoted nurses who have made my time spent in hospitals as comfortable as one could hope for.

The problem with America’s healthcare is the system. It’s all about the money, and when the bottom-line is always priority, sick people lose. This is a sad and dangerous sentiment when we’re talking about people’s lives. Those who need their medical treatment and medications to keep their hearts beating, or their lungs filled with air, never really have a decent night’s sleep because they know if God forbid they, or their spouse, loses their job, and subsequently, their insurance coverage, they will never be able to afford the outrageous price of insurance on their own.

No one can be assured the next job they apply for will have good insurance. Strong health benefits, as well as pensions and 401(k)’s, are slowly disappearing from employers’ packages to workers. There are many claims that companies like Walmart are deliberately cutting weekly employee hours so their workers won’t qualify for health insurance. Why? Because Health insurance is expensive and, like everything in business, it’s all about the money.

Up until a few short years ago a person could be denied insurance coverage just for being sick. Pre-existing conditions is what they called it. Insurance companies didn’t want to offer insurance to people who might actually have to use it. So the unlucky millions of Americans who had the audacity to get sick while not having insurance, (didn’t matter if they lost their jobs through no fault of their own like a company closure, or mandatory lay-offs) those individuals were deemed “uninsurable.”  At the same time, a stigma was placed on people without insurance as being “irresponsible freeloaders.”

During the 2012 presidential campaign, health insurance was a hot topic (still is) because President Barack Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (Yes! Obama Cares! Thank you Republicans for a great nickname). I remember vividly Republican Presidential candidates Gov. Rick Perry and Gov. Mitt Romney expressing their opinion that people needed to keep continuous insurance coverage to assure coverage when they suddenly got sick. The issue of hard-working people losing their jobs, and not being able to afford programs like Cobra, never came up. If one couldn’t afford high premiums it seemed to be their own fault for being poor.

Obamacare gave us some well-needed regulations in the practices of insurance companies. One practice Obama put an end to is the pre-exisiting conditions clause. Insurance companies can no longer deny a person for being sick. Alleluia. My only wonder is why the hell did the American people put up with this kind of a system anyway? Obama cited watching his mother fighting with insurance companies when she was diagnosed with cancer as his motivation for taking on the healthcare in this county, and thank God he did.

How many sons, daughter, wives, husband, mothers, and fathers watched their loved ones die because either insurance companies denied them, or the companies had found ways not to cover the treatment needed to save their loved-one’s life (yes, insurance companies were (are) very good at finding reasons to deny certain procedures).

Why did it take so long for something to be done? Easy. Insurance companies are powerful. According to ThinkProgress.org, United Health Group made a profit of 2.1 billion dollars in 2013. Two billion dollars buys a lot fancy lobbyists with plenty of incentives to offer members of congress to vote for policies that favor insurance companies.

Insurance companies are powerful, and, when standing alone, people are weak, but standing together…?

I don’t know why we, the people, never stood together as a country to put an end to the greed that lines CEO’s pockets off the backs of sick and dying people. It’s quite repulsive when one imagines a wealthy CEO making hundreds of millions of dollars a year (base and stock options), flying in private jets with all the luxuries, while a family huddles around the bedside of a dying loved one who possibly could have been saved if not for the unscrupulous practices of some insurance companies.

When sick people are deemed “undesirable”, a lack of human compassion is expressed when decisions and policies are made that affect sick people’s lives.

Take the profit out of healthcare. A single payer system is what we need.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Michael Myers Versus the Needle.

I have a condition that requires infusion treatments called IVIG (Intravenous immunogobulin) treatments. No big deal. I sit in a chair for four hours with an IV stuck in my arm as a clear, gunky-like liquid substance slowly drips from a bag, through a tube and into my body. And for the next four weeks I get my life back (thanks to the healthy individuals who donate their plasma so people like me can enjoy some semblance of their old life).

Developing a life-changing illness (and there are many) can happen so quickly you feel you were teleported into this new life of constant blood work, invasive medical examinations, tests, doctor appointments, surgeries, hospital stays, pills (lots of pills), because you can’t remember how you got here. “Wasn’t it just yesterday that I hadn’t been to a doctor in over five years.” Um. No. Those days are over. And it doesn’t matter how young you are. If your body no longer works the way it’s supposed to, you see a doctor and you see them often.

Being diagnosed with a disease (any disease) takes you to a scary and lonely place.  I was never alone, but I was often lonely even though I had no shortage of family and friends calling me and offering their help, support, their love and their time. But still I felt a profound disconnect to the healthy people around me when I was the only sick person in the room.

A person with health can only empathize so much. Though my family makes me feel safe when I am at my sickest, they can’t look in my eyes and know, really know, how I feel the way another sick person can. The condition may not be the same, but the doubts and fears are.

I had no idea how much I would rely on other sick people to make me feel better because the first time I walked into the Infusion center I almost cried. It was a room set up in the back of a doctor’s office. There wasn’t anything spectacular about this room. It was a slightly-larger than regular sized room – emphasis on “slightly.” About eight or nine reclining chairs lined the walls in a circle. We sat next to each other with just enough space between us for a small table and maybe a handbag. There was no privacy. I could see each person and they could see me.

I almost cried and not just because of the lack of private space, but because the room was filled with sick people. Though I’d been sick for a while, denial allowed me to believe I was really a healthy person suffering from temporary set-backs. But I was there that day because my condition was getting worse, and yet I was still lying to myself. “What am I doing in the same place with all these sick people? I don’t belong here.”

But I did, and soon I realized how much I needed that place. Needed those (sick) people. After almost four years I have developed close relationships with my nurses and other patients who have become familiar faces with names and shared stories.

That place makes me laugh even when I want to cry. Like the time a woman (now known between my nurses and me as “The Screamer”) walked in. I barely noticed her… until she started to scream. Whatever her condition is, it doesn’t affect her lungs. That woman can scream. I couldn’t see her face because two nurses were sitting on either side of her, holding her down, but her feet were flailing. And those screams.

I turned to my nurse. “What are they doing to her?”

My nurse sighed deeply and said, “The same thing we do to you. They’re starting an IV.”

An IV? A simple needle? But those were “Michael Myers is in my room and he’s trying to kill me!” screams.

From then on whenever my nurse says to me, “Hey Alicia, ‘The Screamer’s’ coming in today.” I smile because no matter how sick I may feel, there’s always something to look forward to. More screams, please.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net