Sunday, September 28, 2008

Universal Health Care

On NPR this week I heard someone (sorry I'm not sure who it was) debating why Universal Health Care is sooooo bad for everyone. This person argued that in places like France and Sweden people don't get to choose their doctors. They may not get treated immediately, and overall the health care quality will not be as good as it could be if health care was privatized.

Now let me be completely honest with you for a moment, I'm a big fan of Universal Health Care. I think it is ridiculous that people have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on health insurance every year, and the moment they have an accident or get sick they still get stuck with paying a good portion of the bill (or all of the bill) because insurance companies try to weasel their way out of paying for as much of the bill as possible. Then after all that, you are guaranteed to have your insurance rates go up. And even worse, if you have some sort of terminal illness or precondition to something like sleep apnea you then have to pay loads more money for them to pay a portion of your bills, that's IF they allow you to keep them as your insurance provider.

So now that you know my view on that, let me tell you about my personal experience with Universal Health Care. In 2004 I was studying abroad in southern France. One night near the end of March I was in excruciating pain. The lower/right hand side of my back was throbbing. I didn't know what was wrong, and I just prayed and prayed it would go away by the morning. It took hours to fall asleep. In the morning I felt ill. More ill than I have ever felt in my entire life. I had planned to spend that day being a tourist with a friend in Lourdes. I told my friend how sick I was, but I didn't want to miss out on an adventure so I went anyway. Around 11 am I thought I was going to pass out. I found a bathroom, and tried to calm down. I was breathing heavily, and I couldn't see straight. Since I was in the bathroom, I decided to relieve myself (sorry to be so disgusting, but this is an essential part of the story). I realized immediately that I peeing blood. I started crying. I didn't know what to do. I was in a foreign country with socialized health care for gads sake!

I told my friend that I was peeing blood (this friend was a friend I met in France, and hence was French). He immediately called up some people and asked what doctors they would recommend I go see. Then I called and made an appointment for the next morning. I chose the doctor. The next morning I arrived to my appointment on time, and I didn't even have to wait. Nor did I have to pay some huge health care cost :) My doctor was very knowledgeable. She made me feel comfortable. She performed a whole exam even though pretty immediately she identified that I had a kidney stone. She informed me of all my options, and told me her highest recommendations. She then sent me to a lab to get my pee tested. At a time when I was feeling physically at my worst, and was scared of out my mind to be sick in a foreign country, it was a relief to have such a great experience with the French SOCIALIZED health care system.

I honestly don't think that our experiences with our doctors will change that dramatically if we adopted Universal Health Care. I do believe that more people will receive health care, and that people will be able to afford health care. I think it is a great idea and American's shouldn't be so scared of socializing something that everyone requires once in a while.

Besides, we are already socializing banks (due to the Wall Street/Bailout crisis). As a matter of fact I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher and heard Chris Rock (I believe) mention that Americans are so afraid of SOCIALISM, but now with the whole Wall Street-Money Crisis-Bailout thing going on, we are SOCIALISTS and aren't receiving any of the benefits of Universal Health Care, equal education for everyone...and that sort of stuff. Of course he was making a joke about the current crisis, but he does make a good point.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

On The Road

Yesterday while I was driving on the U.S. 101 South at 1:30 in the afternoon something odd happened. I was in the middle lane, traffic was running smoothly right around the 65 MPH speed limit, when all of a sudden all of the cars around me hit their brakes. I figured there was an accident, or road construction, or something. After all traffic isn't usually stalled at that time of day, even on the 101. I drove for a few minutes, I didn't see an accident. I didn't see construction. I didn't even see a car pulled off to the side of the road having car troubles. What I did see was a horizontal line of cars leading the following pack of cars I was in (I was actually quite near the front of the pack). Leading the pack of cars was a typical black and white police car. It had it's lights flashing and it was behaving oddly; It was driving diagonally, back-and-forth, across all of the lanes, not allowing any cars in any of the lanes to pass it. I thought, "well, this cop must know something I don't. Surely NOW we'll come to some construction, or a terrible accident of sorts". Minutes and miles pass, we are all driving about 25 MPH. I don't see any construction. I don't see any accidents, not even a car pulled off to the side of the road. Then all of a sudden I see the cop speed straight ahead, off into the distance and disappear, and nothing else happened. Isn't that weird? Very strange in my opinion.

So speaking of driving, I was watching Elizabethtown at about 3:30 this morning, and it inspired me to want to go on a road trip. I'd like to travel across the country and listen to music and see places I've heard of, but never seen. Someday.

Speaking of "on the road," On The Road by Jack Kerouac, is one of my favorite books. I haven't read it since high school, but I remember when I read it I felt like going on a road trip and changing my life. For a moment I really wanted to be a beatnik.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Humans are made to RUN

Yesterday my older sister, Jannifer, completed a 100 mile race. She took third place out of all the women, and finished 3 hours faster than she had planned on! I'm so proud of her! That is amazing! About a month ago she competed in a 50 mile race, and I was amazed then. I almost can't believe that she ran a 100 mile race!

It is hard to believe that anyone could run this kind of distance, it must take an incredible amount of training, high levels of pain tolerance, and a huge amount of mental strength!

This morning I discovered this article:
You should read it. It is kind of long, but super interesting. It is all about how humans are designed to run. from the ligaments in our legs that do nothing for walking, but are essential for running, to our BIG butts that balance us when we run, but do nothing when we are walking or sitting (It is even believed that our butts have to be "big" for us to be able to run. That makes me feel better about the size of my buttocks!). The article talks about how our body is more efficient at regulating heat than any other animal, and that is the reason why we can outlast any animal when running long distances whether they are faster than us or not. At some point the animal will have to stop or it will overheat and die of heat exhaustion. Even our neck and shoulders have evolved to help steady us when we run. Incredible.

I don't think I'll go out and run 100 miles any time soon, but it is nice to know that if I set my mind to it and trained intensely I could do it.

This is my sister Jannifer and my brother Nick, the two most amazing runners I know :)